Some links on war and anarchy

Ram Jethmalani is living in Wonderland

First, let me repeat, I do not suggest a war with China. Our membership of United Nations and adherence to its Charter puts it out of the list of available alternatives. Secondly, we are bound by a constitutional commitment under the 51st Article of our basic law to eschew war as an instrument of foreign policy. Thirdly, the same Article mandates that all international disputes should be resolved by the pacific method of arbitration.

We must, therefore, loudly proclaim our peaceful intentions and desire for an honourable and urgent settlement. Arbitration is the best method of resolution. International tribunals are available for this purpose. In 1947 we determined the boundaries of Bengal, Punjab and Assam by appointing a commission of three judges who did a remarkable job. We graciously accepted its awards and no difficulty of any kind has arisen since then.

Let us be clear that our weaker economic and military position in any event should put armed conflict out of our thoughts. The Charter however permits defensive arrangements between nations. We must endeavour to have such defense treaties with friendly democracies of the world. The US, the European Union, the Commonwealth countries, Russia and Japan are candidates for forging with them bilateral or multilateral alliances. This is nothing but practice of the old doctrine of the Balance of Power, a dominant principle of successful diplomacy for more than 200 years. When a powerful state poses threat of aggression and war, the only solution is a coalition of other powers who individually are not strong enough to stand up to the aggressor. We had a treaty of the same kind with the Soviet Union once. Let us then offer arbitration to the Chinese. If they reject it, India will have strengthened its moral case and created reliable friends to fight on our side….

The cold war between India and China got me thinking about a libertarian “philosophy of war.” Rothbard has some articles (look it up on mises.org) [edit: like this one], but his argument against nuclear weapons isn’t convincing. MAD is a concept that cannot be disposed of that easily. Apparently there’s one book on the subject by someone who’s been influenced by Mises and Hayek…

While looking up counterarguments to Timothy Sandefur’s critique of the Randian position on IP (if you can refute her, then you have refuted all valid arguments for ip—her’s is the only moral argument that I am aware of; utilitarians can take a hike), I came across this “discussion” (slugfest?) on anarchy at Diana Hsieh’s blog. One of the participants is Stephan Kinsella. I can both take and give “nasty.” But this really is something.

Two more interesting posts (plus comments) from the same blog, on anarchy” and war.

To any pacifists (“no war. ever.”) out there, the position is both immoral and impractical.

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Comments

  • you12  On October 16, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    If war is necessary then we might as well believe that pigs fly.

    A state exists for preservation of rights of the man and not to self sustain itself. Thats why there can be no compromise with freedom as its not the job of the government to protect itself. Ofcourse it can ‘defend’ itself and its subjects from threats other than its own subjects, if the foreign objects are actual present threat who are currently attacking or have made serious and inmotion plans to attack. Not just dissenters or detractors.

    Perceived threat can never be acted upon as its just a figment of the imagination. Lets all attack USA for being the top culprit for AGW.

    If rand believed that innocent people should be killed for not replacing a tyrannical state then she should have put a bullet through her own head. She didn’t agree much with the US government either but she didn’t consent. Nor did she actively replace it.

    There is a difference between pacifism and surrender. pacifism IMHO means to not attack until attacked. If someone comes to your house and starts looting and if you do nothing than thats not pacifism but surrender.

    That is why the state is immoral . A form of surrender is often required for it to exist. Open consent or private dissent.

    War can happen for three reasons:

    1. Self defense. if attacked it is necessary that state defends itself by the voluntary help from its own subjects. (no drafts ,no force). And if the threat is not from the nation but organizations within the nation than fight with them.

    2. Expansion. Unjustifiable.

    3. Crazy leaders’ perceived threat: Again, lets attack USA for AGW. Lets attack every single muslim for perceived Islamic militancy. After all most muslims belong in the ‘immoral consenting majority’ group.
    Lets kill everyone in mumbai for making people like RT,BT, Dawood, and every other major gang criminal.
    After all no one did nothing when these goons were rising.

    Thats why no war ever,unless attacked first.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On October 17, 2009 at 2:13 am

      # “Perceived threat can never be acted upon as its just a figment of the imagination.”
      The doctrine of preemption does exist. The question is, where do you draw the (hard) line. When does “perceived” become “imminent?” The other position to take would be to give up defense altogether. Only when a person (or state) causes actual harm to you is it morally permissible to act. Even if X taunts Y with a gun, Y should keep quiet. When X puts a bullet through Y’s head, Y (if he is alive) or his agents can then take revenge. I don’t think many people will buy this.

      (Those who give up the right to defense, together with the right to retaliate, people like Gandhi, they are what I would refer to as pacifists.)

      # “If rand believed that innocent people should be killed for not replacing a tyrannical state then she should have put a bullet through her own head…”
      That position of hers has troubled me for some time. Because if you consider the position in isolation, it means passing a death sentence on someone for their beliefs or non-action. But once you tie it up with her politics it makes sense. She believed that a government with a monopoly over the use of force is necessary. From there, its a small step to national interest, and all violent crime is seen in terms of how it impacts society. The Rothbardian theory of punishment (crime as tort) wouldn’t apply. Her government wouldn’t let the victim or his agent have any say in the punishment meted out because that wouldn’t be objective. (This is my interpretation based on second hand information. I don’t recollect her exact position right now.)

      Further, once you give up (voluntarily or otherwise) your right to retaliate and place it under the control of a government, you are essentially supporting the actions of your government. If you don’t, Rand might say, and your country is an uncivilized one, get out. (If she could manage it and run off to the US, why can’t others.) If you don’t, you are not “innocent.” And if your tyrannical government then uses you as a human shield, its your fault. Compare this to a situation where a man is holding someone hostage in such a manner that he cannot be stopped without killing the hostage but he can kill anyone at will. In this way, he could kill hundreds while everyone looks on, unable to shoot. The hostage, here, cannot expect others to give up their lives because he finds himself in such a predicament. He should either make a run, try to kill the gunman himself, and if nothing is possible, pray for a miracle. The man who’s responsible for his predicament is the gunman, not those who are trying to save their own lives. Apply this logic on a bigger scale and you get your justification for the death of innocents during retaliation. The caveat, however, is that the war must truly be “just.”

      # “She didn’t agree much with the US government either but she didn’t consent. Nor did she actively replace it.”
      She did think that the US was the freest country on the planet, flawed but free. If, in the future, a truly free country comes into existence, and the US then tries to attack it, Randian politics would allow such a country to retaliate against the US for the same reasons mentioned above—those who love freedom should have made their choice and left the US; if they didn’t, its their fault.

      # “Thats why no war ever,unless attacked first.”
      My “ever” left no options for buts and unlesses. It was an absolute position. That is what, as I have explained above, I would call pacifism.

  • blr_p  On October 25, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Arbitration is the best method of resolution. International tribunals are available for this purpose.

    Like Nehru insisted on with Kashmir ?

    What i don’t understand is his urgency for any settlement. The Chinese are not going to attack because they would never be able to hold any territory obtained and therefore no gain to be had.

    We have been sitting on the land and they on a part conceded in ’62. Thats the actual situation which won’t change anytime in the future.

    We will just continue along with other less contentious issues and just sweep this one under the rug.

  • blr_p  On October 25, 2009 at 1:59 am

    A major reason Chinese cannot accept AP as Indian is it would also necessarily imply that Tibet was once independent, as the agreement was made with them & the Brits back in Simla in 1914

  • Aristotle The Geek  On October 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    # “Like Nehru insisted on with Kashmir ?”
    Nehru didn’t understand geopolitics. That’s why he was a failure when it came to diplomacy. I am not aware of the intricacies of the Kashmir dispute. Only that he took the matter to the UN, and that’s how the LoC came into being.

    # “The Chinese are not going to attack because they would never be able to hold any territory obtained and therefore no gain to be had.”
    Its not a question of territory, but that of power. After annexing Tibet, they haven’t really gone on an expansionist military campaign, have they? All they need to do is show India its place, by limiting it to South Asia. Whatever can be done to achieve that, they will try.

  • blr_p  On October 26, 2009 at 12:50 am

    # Only that he took the matter to the UN, and that’s how the LoC came into being.
    Precisely my point wrt to intl. tribunals and we know how that turned out. So was surprised to read this from the hotshot lawyer.

    After annexing Tibet, they haven’t really gone on an expansionist military campaign, have they?
    Xianjiang (or New Dominion) with its Uighurs followed after, tho not miltary but annexation who are now outnumbered by Han in their own homeland. Reeba Khadeer was in a movie screened at the Melbourne film festival and the Chinese true to form got very upset at the Australians.

    Yes, its power but other than throw a hissy fit it did not produce the intended result. Film got screened & the Dalai Lama is still scheduled to visit Tawang middle of next month :)

    # Whatever can be done to achieve that, they will try.
    I think all of it was in reaction to the PM’s visit in Feb this year as well as the president’s in April to Tawang. Not that i’m against it in the slightest, at least we are beginning to respond appropriately. New devlopment announced in the area soon along with the requisite military movements.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On October 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm

      I don’t think that any India-China, US-China or US-Russia war will ever breakout. It will be limited to jousting of the diplomatic kind and minor scuffles on the ground. That’s the beauty of MAD.

  • blr_p  On October 26, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I don’t think that any India-China, US-China or US-Russia war will ever breakout.

    I don’t know about China. Its incentive currently not to wage war is to favour development. It’s aim is to become a middling power by 2049 along the lines of a Germany, on a per capita level.

    MAD did not prevent a minor war that could have developed into a nuclear one in ’69 between her & the Soviet Union. It’s said Mao ordered nukes to be readied but his order was disobeyed.

    The other point is trade does not act as a deterrent either. Best example is France & Germany were each other’s biggest trading partners prior to the two world wars.

    The only hope is that democracies don’t usually go to war with each other or at least thats been the case till now.

    With China’s increasing prosperity there is the chance that its autocrat govt would eventually give way to a limited democracy. But it’s not clear whether this will be gradual or a sudden switch only that its inevitable if China continues its current path.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On October 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm

      # “MAD did not prevent a minor war that could have developed into a nuclear one in ‘69 between her & the Soviet Union.”
      I don’t rule out “minor scuffles” between “rational” actors. But the body count that one witnessed in WWI and WWII, that isn’t going to happen again, not between these countries. With satellites, nukes, nuclear-powered submarines and ICBMs becoming common place, the number of people that can die, not to mention the fallout, is not an insignificant or “acceptable” figure. Even “national pride” has a price. I can’t predict what a madman at the helm would do. Such people don’t care about their citizens any way. But Hirohito did surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the US role, and whether the bombing was necessary, is a different question). People like him will think ten times before waging all out war.

      # “The other point is trade does not act as a deterrent either.”
      Why do countries fight? Why do people fight? Its either over property/ territory, or pride. Country A and country B trading heavily amongst themselves doesn’t mean anything as long as they have unresolved issues. Cheap sugar, or excellent apples, one can live without, a patch of land where even grass doesn’t grow, one cannot.

      # “The only hope is that democracies don’t usually go to war with each other…”
      In case of real democracies, where the military obeys civilian authority, yes.

      # “…autocrat govt would eventually give way to a limited democracy.”
      It has to. Given the way the UK and US are headed towards totalitarianism, however, one doesn’t know how stable or how limited it will be. “Even the US has adopted…” is a powerful argument to convince people who don’t know any better.

  • blr_p  On October 27, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    #Given the way the UK and US are headed towards totalitarianism

    In what way(s) are the above heading towards totalitarianism ?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On October 30, 2009 at 3:48 am

      Neither country gives a damn about the “rule of law.” Lobby hard enough, grease enough palms, scare a sufficient number of people and you can get anything done in these countries. Given the positivist attitude they have adopted towards law and justice, nothing is safe, not speech, not life, not property.

      America has already had two dictators, Lincoln and FDR. They were not in the league of a Hitler, or even an Il, but dictators nonetheless. Every crisis has only added to the powers of the federal government. These powers haven’t been rolled back post the crisis. Consider the fact that the Federal Reserve and the federal income tax are about a century old, and ending them is unthinkable. The interstate commerce clause, the second greatest mistake in the history of the US (the federation was the first) has been used to maintain control over, “regulate,” every area of American life. The first amendment has been gutted by carving out exception after exception. The list is endless. What’s missing is something on the lines of a president for life. That would be the last nail in the coffin. The founders of the country were naive, and so were most people. Its like Vidal says.

      Read this post of mine, and this.

  • blr_p  On November 1, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    You say that speech, life & property are endangered as the current legal systems allow for thier gradual erosion. Therefore the two concerned countries are trending towards totalitarianism as laws enacted during crises just pile up.

    Vidal adds further its because corruption has defeated every constitutional system out there. He toasts to a better republic, but leaves to the imagination what exactly that is or should be, perhaps some utopian one in which corruption does not exist (!)

    Clearly, terrorism isn’t the catalyst, to what is already a rotting core per him, doomed from the outset [due to corruption]. It was only a matter of time. Question is how much time ?

    Lincoln presided over a civil war and FDR during a depression. These are anomalous situations to be in for any system. They require a strong, decisive leader to see them through. Will they be borderline dictators, sure. Lincoln went further than he should have but then a civil war is a more serious affair than a depression. He did his best given the available information at the time, just like good ol’Dubya.

    FDR, however was from a different, more dangerous era. FDR was a progressive whose goal was to undercut the drive of socialists & fascists of the time towards upheaval & revolution. He had to keep the poor quiet.

    Social security was a tool against a socialist fascist movement gaining real steam in America. If FDR had not pushed the Social security act and a certain pissed off doctor had not taken out the King Fish we might have had President Huey Long and every man a king as president with his socialist-populist agenda. Germany, Italy, Japan fell to wackos… but not the US. FDR was the least evil of what could have been. So think you can’t divorce these two leaders from the context they lived in.

    Today I can’t help wondering whether the various freedom endangering laws passed recently here & abroad are just to parry the opposition over whether a ruling administration is doing enough to stem terrorism. Because otherwise they will be voted out for a party that would take it even further and have the temerity to claim a mandate !!

    As a result, Dubya got another term, Blair too and Maharashtra still kept Congress. Course the laws enacted still remain on the books even when the threat dissipates later and we go chasing the next big one.

    Already here isn’t it, AGW, but will leave that for another time.

    # Every crisis has only added to the powers of the federal government. These powers haven’t been rolled back post the crisis.
    Tho you were specifically referring to US & UK.

    Consider MISA–>TADA–>POTA

    MISA you could argue was by far the most restrictive compared with the rest. Brought in during the emergency but successively diluted over time. You still get banged up for a long period pre-trial on suspicion but its much more narrowly focused now.

    Just wondering whether the same pattern might not apply elsewhere as well.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On November 2, 2009 at 8:37 pm

      # “Question is how much time ?”
      I ‘ll repeat what I said on the “faux liberalism” post—one cannot predict the time frame. One can only say that if things continue the way they do, and no one stops it, the collapse will happen.

      # “These are anomalous situations to be in for any system.”
      Two ways to look at it. Someone who wants to preserve the status quo, who settles for the lesser evil, might think that there is nothing wrong in adopting the “anything goes” strategy. The question is, does it work? The US of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century was freer than the US of today. Lincoln prevented secession, but he also strengthened the federal government in the process. FDR, one cannot defeat one’s enemy by adopting his methods. When I first thought about such interventionist practices based on “social justice,” keeping the poor “quiet,” I called it “ransom economics.” If people in a society erupt at the slightest of provocations and hit out at imaginary enemies, the right thing to do is to stop feeding their delusions. If that doesn’t help, such a society doesn’t deserve to exist, and one cannot sympathize with anyone wanting to “preserve” it.

      # “Today I can’t help wondering whether the various freedom endangering laws passed recently here & abroad are just to parry the opposition over whether a ruling administration is doing enough to stem terrorism.”
      Out of sight. Out of mind. The effects remain though. When the rulers are at the mercy of the opinion of the majority, or many vocal minorities in an alliance of convenience, the nonvocal minorities get screwed. The power to influence the discovery of law has to be taken away from the mob.

      # “Consider MISA–>TADA–>POTA”
      You are only concerning yourself with terror and national security laws. Those are serious indeed. But I am referring to (all) economic laws, (all) laws relating to private affairs of citizens, etc etc. These have a much bigger impact on lives that terror laws because they can be used to harass individuals. The only domestic function of the government is fighting crime—against people, and against property. There it ends. Every law beyond these two areas is not only illegitimate, but also a recipe for disaster.

  • blr_p  On November 3, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Lincoln prevented secession, but he also strengthened the federal government in the process.
    Did Lincoln have a right to prevent the south from seceding ?

    Your answer in the other thread would indicate no. He should have dissolved the union and started afresh. This would be according to the wishes of the ppl (at the time) and respecting individual rights.

    If we apply that thinking to several countries, in Czechoslovakia, and the former Soviet Union, this is exactly how it went. It was attempted in Canada but the sepratists were appeased. In our case we did so at partition time, if we were to do it again there would be no country left.

    This is the state argument, one that puts itself before the people. If you look at the US today, could one say Lincoln was wrong ?

    We cannot have state coming before the people in some situations and vice-versa in others or can we ?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On November 4, 2009 at 1:45 am

      # “Did Lincoln have a right to prevent the south from seceding ?”
      From what I have read, the US constitution doesn’t permit secession. So, in theory (limited to a literal interpretation of the US constitution), yes. From the anti-federalist papers-

      The fate … of America may depend on this. … Have they made a proposal of a compact between the states? If they had, this would be a confederation. It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government. The question turns, sir, on that poor little thing — the expression, We, the people, instead of the states, of America. …

      I don’t remember where I read it, but someone said that the fact that, in modern times, the phrase “…the United States is…” is used instead of “…the United States are…” is very revealing.

      My position is that the US constitution is flawed on many counts, this included. I am talking about the principle that should be followed when it comes to states and constitutions.

      # “We cannot have state coming before the people in some situations and vice-versa in others or can we ?”
      Someone who took ideas seriously will say that its not possible, and that it is not true to the social contract under which the state was formed. But historically, the state has always sacrificed its constituents to keep itself alive. When, in the future, principled people think about politics, they should pay attention to this.

  • blr_p  On November 4, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    # I don’t remember where I read it, but someone said that the fact that, in modern times, the phrase “…the United States is…” is used instead of “…the United States are…” is very revealing.

    Person that said it was Shelby Foote in the 1990 PBS documentary, The Civil war. Implying after the war, ‘is’ became the norm over ‘are’. This is disputed.

    The short answer is the Americans gradually preferred the singular to refer to collective nouns, just because it sounds better (!) over the Brits, that still retain the plural :)

    It became official when the House of Representative’s Committee on Revision of the Laws ruled in 1902 that “the United States” should be treated as singular, not plural.

    For the longer answer see here & here. In a followup post, the use of ‘is’ by the US Supreme Court is examined.

    “In the case of U.S. Supreme Court opinions, we apparently became an ‘is’ somewhat gradually, between 1840 and 1910. And the effect of the Civil War (or at least its immediate aftermath) was apparently to retard the change, not to accelerate it.”

    Language use here might not be adequate to explain why the state became more important than the people.

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