War and the NIFP ... again!
My earlier article
about the war on terrorism (invasion of Iraq) and the NIFP left some
unsatisfied. A bit of digging has revealed the reason: Pithy formulations
of the NIFP (such as the one I used) omit important details and are prone to
being misunderstood. Thus, the feeling by some that I wasn't actually
addressing the NIFP as they understood it by that formulation. After all,
isn't military invasion an initiation of force? We weren't acting in
retaliation to force directed at us.
One critical factor which I ought have mentioned in my original article is
proxy retaliation against the initiation of force.
Police officers, for example, act as proxies for ordinary citizens when they
use force to apprehend criminals. This is unobjectionable and in fact highly
desirable, because it permits retaliation to be brought under the control of
objective standards and to practiced by people who specialize in that role.
Likewise for military personnel, of course recognizing that the standards of
conduct in criminal and military operations are quite different.
In the case of Iraq, the role of the United States is (hold your breath for
the inexcusably lame analogy) like a policeman. The world's policeman.
There, I said it,
now let's never mention that again! Of course we haven't been "hired"
in any way by the Iraqis, we're doing this pro bono
from their point of view.
The United States is retaliating on behalf of the Iraqi people against the
force initiated by the Hussein regime. This is why the invasion is
justifiable under the NIFP.
Additionally, here's a highly relevant analysis by Ayn Rand in 1963. I trust
I can quote her as authoritative on the matter. From her essay Collectivized "Rights" in The Virtue of
Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the
right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the
right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether
a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest,
not of respect for the nonexistent "rights" of gang
rulers. It is not a free nation's duty to liberate
other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the
right to do it, when and if it so chooses.
This right, however, is conditional. Just as the suppression of crimes
does not give a policeman the right to engage in criminal activities, so
the invasion and destruction of a dictatorship does not give the invader
the right to establish another variant of a slave society in the conquered
A slave country has no national rights, but the
individual rights of its citizens remain valid, even
if unrecognized, and the conqueror has no right to violate them. Therefore,
the invasion of an enslaved country is morally justified only when and if
the conquerors establish a free social system, that
is, a system based on the recognition of individual rights.
Since there is no fully free country today, since the so-called "Free World"
consists of various "mixed economies," it might be asked whether every
country on earth is morally open to invasion by every other. The answer is:
No. There is a difference between a country that recognizes the principle
of individual rights, but does not implement it fully in practice, and a
country that denies and flouts it explicitly. All "mixed economies" are in
a precarious state of transition which, ultimately, has to turn to freedom
or collapse into dictatorship. There are four characteristics which brand
a country unmistakably as a dictatorship: one-party rule — executions
without trial or with a mock trial, for political offenses — the
nationalization or expropriation of private property — and censorship.
Any country guilty of these outrages forfeits any moral prerogatives, any
claim to national rights or sovereignty, and becomes an outlaw.
Does that clear everything up? Let me know!