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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 Selfishness:

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 country.

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!