Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Apr 1, 2006

Carnival of the Objectivists

Nick Provenzo takes advantage of his second Carnival of the Objectivists to rag me some more on the one political post I've made in approximately two months. Oh, well, I'll live.


softwareNerd said...

Hopefully, the taunt will intrigue readers enough to click-through.

Jennifer Snow said...

I'm just grousing at him because I've gotten the impression that it makes him uncomfortable. I don't think he likes tackling gray area; he wants things to be definite.

I'm not a huge fan of gray area (which is why I hate arguing about actual, concrete politics any more), but I've learned that when it comes down to a question THAT snarled up and difficult, sometimes there IS no right answer. You have to decide to the best of your ability based on the information you have.

And you have to make it your primary task to keep getting more information.

Anonymous said...

"You have to decide to the best of your ability based on the information you have."

"And you have to make it your primary task to keep getting more information."

Kudos to you!

Jack Wakeland said...

Not a fan of grey areas?

You had no trouble answering the "grey area" questions of what kind of rights immature or impared humans have (after your "Courage in Action" post).

It's the same with the epirical problems of what specific policy will be most effective in war. There is sometimes no obvious philosophical answer and no single right path to take. But anything that seems grey at a distance is actually all black-and-white up close. There are supreme values at stake, philosophical principles to defend, moral limits on what kind of actions are acceptable, and -- very importantly -- philosophical principles as to what methodology to use to discover the best, most effective actions to take.

One black-and-white issue I'll stand up for in war is that a nation that uses force only in self-defense should, within the best of its abilities, limit the scope of destruction to that necessary for victory (or survival).

To quote from my TIA article on the invasion of Iraq "The Centurions of American Ingenuity":

In his speech on the Aircraft Carrier Lincoln, President George Bush summed up the achievement of th[e] new, more powerful, more precise American military machine:

"Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision, speed, and boldness…the world had not seen before…In defeating Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, Allied Forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians…[I]t is a great advance when the guilty have more to fear from war than the innocent."

Free nations have always had an advantage in the use of force. The moral basis of their sovereignty – the delegation of the individual’s right to self defense – becomes a practical principle for guiding a nation’s actions in war. It establishes rational purposes and limits in making war. It focuses the power of the armed forces on enemy military objectives, the destruction of which materially affect the outcome of the war. It spares, as much as possible, the people of the conquered nation from the destruction of war – liberating them without killing their families and destroying all of their possessions – making grateful friends of former enemies.

By contrast, dictatorships always go down fighting in an orgy of killing – surrounding their headstones with the graves of as many of their own countrymen, soldiers and civilians alike, as their limited material capacity allows. For dictatorships war is merely an opportunity to greatly expand scope and speed of the murder of their own people. Hitler converted his invasion of Eastern Europe into the “Final Solution” to the Jewish question. Simultaneously, Stalin took advantage of the chaos his army’s collapse in 1941, during the initial German invasion, and ordered the head of his secret police to liquidate over 1 million suspected opponents.

Jennifer Snow said...

I'm not a HUGE fan, but I can tackle it when the need arises. A good thing, because it certainly does! Still, I eventually get Politics Fatigue, whereas if I were a really serious politico, I never would.

My difficulty lies not with specific issues or methodology (both of which are, in my mind at least, not tremendously difficult), but with personalities. It can be so difficult to know an individual's motivations (especially if that individual has severely mixed premises) that it can become almost impossible to sort out who is the best person to support for some specific task.