Monthly Archives: November 2006

What To Do In Iraq? Ralph Peters’ New View

I haven’t followed Ralph Peters’ columns closely, but Iunderstand he has in the past supported the Iraq war in part because overthrowing a dictator and establishing “rule-of-law democracy” is “noble” (not because itcould bein America’s defensive self-interest). On November 2 in USA Today he wrote, “I supported the removal of Saddam Hussein. I believed that Arabs deserved a chance to build a rule-of-law democracy in the Middle East.”

Recently Peters seems to have had a change of heart, and has realized that American self-interest is the priority. In his most recent editorial, he even emphasizes the importance of well-defined terms to aid in thinking logically, and the importance of a well-defined, self-defensive purpose in war.

In his November 30 columnin The New York Post, he writes regarding the inaccuracy ofcalling the Iraq situation a civil war, “In a civil war, you have clearly defined sides struggling for political power, with organized military formations and parallel governments.”

He writes that instead, “the violence in Iraq comes from overlapping groups of terrorists, militias, insurgents, death squads, gangsters, foreign agents and factionalized government security forces engaging in layers of savage religious, ethnic, political and economic struggles – with an all-too-human lust for revenge spicing the mix….No military lexicon offers a useful term to describe the situation in Iraq.

“This matters. We not only speak, but think, in language. To communicate effectively, we must describe things efficiently. Agreeing upon its name is essential to a deeper understanding of any phenomenon. Nouns are the handles with which we grip reality.”

This of course is true. But the words I think he’s searching for are “anarchy” and “altruism” (as in American self-sacrifice). Anarchy results in part from an ineffective government with no Constitutional commitment to defendingliberty, and no philosophical basis in the culture for defending individual rights.

So what do we do now in Iraq? To his credit, he does not support Bush’s altruistic idea of staying there, taking no aggressive actions,allowing our soldiers to die or get wounded day after day,until the Iraqi government saysthey don’t need us anymore.

Peters writes, “The administration and Congress have to face a fundamental question: Which result is more important – preserving Iraq as a unified state with a facade of democratic government, or protecting our own national-security interests?

“The two priorities now conflict. Really taking on our enemies – not least Moqtada al-Sadr and his legion of thugs – would require us to defy the elected Baghdad government we sponsored. To kill those who need killing to pacify Iraq and re-establish our ascendancy would mean that we would again become an outright occupying power.

“Not that it really matters, but doing what it would take to win would also tear up our permission slip from the United Nations.

“On the other hand, the prospect of endlessly shoring up a corrupt, divided Iraqi government unwilling to protect its own citizens, and to do so at a cost in American blood, would be a far more immoral course than ordering our troops to kill the butchers who’ve been assassinating them and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.”

Note that he uses the term “immoral” correctly; he is saying that altruism and the sacrifice of Americans to a corrupt Iraqi government is immoral. He is calling for our troops to actually take action against the “butchers,” saying it is the more moral course. (It is hard to believe–but plainly true–that our troops are literally prevented from taking such action! They are just supposed to stand there and be targets, apparently.)

Peters begins his conclusion with these words:

“A fundamental problem is that the mission in Iraq remains vague. And vague mission statements are not conducive to military success.

“Generalities won’t do. Let’s tell our troops precisely what we expect of them: Are they there to defeat our enemies, or just to buy time with their lives in the forlorn hope that something will go right?”

In fact, according to President Bush, our troops are there to altruistically assist the democratically elected Iraqi government (that includes Communists and Islamic Theocrats) in any way they want, for as long as they want, because democracy (i.e., unlimited majority rule)is some kind of holy thing, the same holy thing that put into power Hitler in the 1930s and Hamasin 2006.

Peters ends with these sensible words: “And let’s not lose sight of the incontestable fact that, while being liked in the Middle East would be nice, being feared by our enemies is essential…we need to remember that, whatever else our government does or fails to do, its ultimate reason for being is to protect Americans and American interests.

“Saving the dubious Maliki government is a secondary concern, at most. The uncompromising defeat of our enemies is what matters.”

What are the best solutions to the Iraq situation? There are probably a few.One is Peters’ idea of becoming an “occupying power,” andunleashing our military to smash the enemy within Iraq, but also (my own addition)imposing a constitutionally limited government.

Another idea is to juxtapose two actions nearly simultaneously: Withdraw our troops from Iraqand the next day launch massive attacks on Iran, including nuclear facilities, government sites, Islamicfundamentalist schools and terrorist training sites.Overwhelm the totalitarian Islamists. Warn the other nations to shape up or we’ll strike them.Then when the dust settles, give moral and intellectual support–notmilitary support–to aÂpromising group trying to establish an individualrights-respecting governmentin Iran.

Well worth viewing or listening to is Yaron Brook’s “Democracy vs. Victory” on the Registered Users Page of www.aynrand.org. First register, then see http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=events_ari_eventsand go to the right side and click on Free Online Video Selections, Registered Users Page.

Brook shows that victory and defending Americais not President Bush’s plan at all. As hard as this once may have been to believe, it is made chillingly obvious by Brook.

(To contact Zigory please email me at zigory@comcast.net )

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Chuck McCann on The Zigory Show

My latest interview on The Zigory Show was a delight to conduct, andrecommended to youif you have an interest in the entertainment business and especially the history of comedy and the early days of children’s television. My guest was Chuck McCann, and you can hear the interview online at http://zigory.solidvox.com/ right now!

Chuck McCann is a veteran Hollywood comedian and actor, who created many children’s television shows primarily in the New York area in the 1950s and 1960s, where I first encountered him.

I watched him probably from my birth until he went off the air when I was about 6, as he performed with puppets, played The Great Bombo (an inept magician and escape artist), portrayed a large Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, and many other characters.

He was a student and friend ofStan Laureland has often portrayed Oliver Hardy on television.

A highlight of my conversation with Chuck McCann is his commentary about Stan Laurel the man, and the influence of Laurel and Hardy on later comedians.
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He is the voice of numerous cartoon characters including Duckworth on DuckTales and The Thing on The Fantastic Four.

He directed and performed in a feature animated film called The World of Hans Christian Anderson and he played W. C. Fields in the 1982 TV movie biography of Mae West.

He starred in The Projectionist, appeared in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and several Mel Brooks films, and added his spark to numerous TV commercials.

It was a great pleasure to speak with Chuck, and to thank him for being part of my happy childhood memories.

Here is the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) filmography on Chuck McCann: CLICK HERE(over 100 listings!): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0564841/

My interview with Chuck McCann is at http://zigory.solidvox.com .

(To contact Zigory please email me at zigory@comcast.net )

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Election Day USA

Well, I voted. It’s done.In the past I have occasionally voted for Democrats in local elections (variousmayoral, city council,and county elections in New Jersey, and also, I think I voted for Democratic Mayor Ed Koch once in New York, and I had planned to vote for Democratic Senator Pat Moynihan once but I may have moved out of state and was unable to do so). More often I have voted for Republicans or refused to vote for anyone when both major candidates were unacceptable. This is the first time I have voted for unacceptable candidates (current Democrats in my state) as a protest against anunacceptable party (current Republicans nationwide) in order to shake up and shape up the GOP and our government in general.

When Leonard Peikoff suggested voting for Clinton in 1992, I did not see that as a wise choice, so I voted for nobody. When he did it again in 1996, I disagreed again, and ifmemory serves I voted for Dole, despite his shortcomings.

But this time, after much thought, Iagree with Dr. Peikoffinhis advice to vote for the “rotten, enfeebled, despairing” socialistic Democrats and vote out the “rotten, ever stronger, ambitious” theocratic Republicans. (http://www.leonardpeikoff.com/).

I gained a lot of insight from reading (and participating in) the electrifying debate on the election and on Dr. Peikoff’s declaration on theHarry Binswanger List(www.hblist.com).

Here are my posts from that list, with one by Matt Johnson in between (posted here withMatt’s permission), which shows the evolution of my thinking on the election.

I initially wrote:

My problem with Dr. Peikoff’s argument is that my local
Republican candidates simply are not more dangerous or wrong
than the Democratic candidates. They may be unacceptable, but not
worse. Therefore, I believe that my voting for the Democrats, as
opposed to withholding my vote altogether, is the moral equivalent
of dishonesty or lying.

Strategic voting against all members of one party for the purpose of taking away a party’s power, regardless of the merits of any
individual candidate, strikes me as dishonest, chess-game voting.

=| Harry Binswanger replied: I can’t imagine why. It is a fact of our political system that
there are two parties and the power they have, e.g., to rule
committees, depends upon their total numbers. |=

The most direct, honest, rational and therefore moral thing to do is
to vote for any competent candidate whose essential views you can
support, and don’t vote for any candidate who doesn’t measure up
to your minimum acceptable standards. Voting for the candidate
who is worse is misrepresenting your true values and opinions. If
neither candidate is acceptable, voting for neither candidate is the
best and most honest choice. Yes, if it were Hitler vs. Hillary, it
would be an emergency.

I’d vote for Hillary, to save lives and liberty from an immediate
threat. But my local GOP candidates are not Hitlers, while
Democrats appease and even fund Hitlers such as the leaders of Iran
and of the Palestinians. This is an immediate threat. Relatively
speaking, theocracy in America isn’t an immediate threat.

I reviewed the positions of my local NJ candidates and discovered
that GOP House candidate Mike Ferguson is opposed to abortion
rights, stem cell research, and human cloning, and is in favor of
school prayer. So I will not vote for him, but I also cannot honestly
vote for his opponent, Linda Stender, who is wrong on every other
issue.

On the other hand, Tom Kean, Jr., my Senate GOP candidate,
supports stem cell research and abortion rights, as well as
supporting private Health Savings Accounts, the war, and
surveillance of terrorist suspects. I believe he deserves my vote over
his Democratic opponent, Robert Menendez. As Leonard Peikoff
wrote in OPAR, page 268, “The man who seeks to obtain a value
through faking is confronted by one fundamental obstacle: that
which exists; i.e., the particular facts he is struggling to erase or
rewrite”–which in this case are the unacceptable positions and
harmfulness of the Democratic candidates.

=| Harry Binswanger replied: There’s no faking involved in using your vote to combat
whichever candidate you judge *in full context* to be the greater
threat. Your vote is not a signed statement that you consider person
X to be better than person Y. And all it *implies* is that you judge,
in the full context (including party-politics of the whole system)
voting as you did is the best option open to you. |=

Incidentally, I have sinceheard that Tom Kean, Jr. in fact keeps changing his position on abortion and stem cell research and his view on the war in Iraq,perhaps to please his specific audience, and seems mediocre at best as a leader or thinker.

Matt Zachary Johnson wrote:

A central premise of many of the pro-Republican arguments for the
election is the idea that we are at war, and that in one way or
another this makes Republicans a superior choice. But I think
America is at war only in the minds of some Objectivists, not in
reality.

As you do, I wish we were at war. And it makes sense to regard
9/11 as the initiation of a war. Of course, it should have been.

But in foreign policy we are in a state of careful diplomacy, security
forces distributed throughout parts of the middle east, and
intelligence gathering for making arrests of individual terrorist
conspirators who are treated as criminals and not military enemies.


Domestically, we are in a state of heightened security.
ÂThere has been no declaration of war, and in the mind of the
Commander-in-Chief there are no enemy *nations*, only individual
conspirators (he forgot the “Axis of Evil” a long time ago). There is
no military *action* going on. Iraq is the strongest example of our
go-through-the-motions-while-doing-nothing policy.

=| Harry Binswanger replied: Absolutely right. |=

We *should* be at war, but we are not. And there is no reason to
think this will ever change under Republicans–they are *never*
going to go to war in the Middle East.

The Democrats have the imperative of doing something *different*
from the Republicans. That’s the way a two-party system works, by
differentiation. If the Democrats took the election it would punish
the Republican pacifism and introduce politicians who are under
pressure to do *something opposite to the Republican policy.*

People know that the current Republican policy is not strong or
cowboy-ish. The solution is to choose what is set opposite to it, the
Democrats. And even though the Democrats will still be too weak,
when and if they win, the meaning of the election will be a demand
for strong national defense.

The Republicans took congress and the White House because people
wanted a strong national defense and thought Republicans would
provide it. It has become extremely obvious that they have not and
never will–that is a main reason I agree with Dr. Peikoff that it is
morally mandatory to vote Democratic.

I read and pondered this, and also other posts on HBL that reminded me that a Democratic Congressdoes not mean Democrats will get afar-left agenda passed, sinceDemocrats once elected will have to moderate their positions because mostvoters aren’t pacifists who seek high taxes. It will, however, open up debate. I realized that there is no need to panic over the thought ofa weaker America with a Democratic congress, as Bush willremain the President,and hewill still be in charge of the armed forces,and he will not become more of an appeaser or pacifist than he already is.

Finally, I wrote the following:

Eureka! Matt Johnson’s “What War?” post was the single most
persuasive argument I have read in support of Dr. Peikoff’s voting
recommendation. Although HB’s replies to my own post cleared up
the issue of honesty vs. strategy, I was still not convinced (by the
full context as I understood it) that I need to change my voting
plans. Nobody budged me until I read Matt’s post. (Now I have to
seriously consider voting strictly for Democrats rather than
abstaining or voting for only the secular Republicans.)

To the extent Republicans are disappointed in the Administration
and the Congress, it is mainly because of their too-slow, too-
compromised efforts in the “war on terror” and on the forgotten
Axis of Evil. The Republican (and even the popular) vote for
Democrats will be seen as that kind of protest vote. I doubt it will
be seen by most as a vote for pacifism and surrender. Pollsters will
find that the American public don’t support that answer, as they
didn’t in 2004.

There are extreme leftists who do want pacifism and who do see the
Republicans as “cowboy-ish”, but they are a tiny minority.

This election is indeed about getting people to “do something
opposite” in the war (such as actually conducting one). Voting for
Democrats can work. And slowing down the march to theocracy is
another benefit of doing so. I may well be excited about making this
happen.
Also, now is *the* window of opportunity for a protest vote.
Whereas in 2008, if an effective, strong-self-defense, secular
Republican, specifically Rudy Giuliani, runs for President, voting
for the opposition will not make sense.

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