Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Reply to Dominick Armentano on Donald Trump on the Use of Nuclear Weapons Against ISIS

 Dominick Armentano comments at my post, Donald Trump Doesn't Rule Out Using Nukes Against ISIS:
Robert, at the risk of having a long, fruitless debate on this, let me just say that it may be legitimate under certain circumstances, to threaten lunatics with total destruction should they initiate maximum force against people or property. North Korea and ISIS have both argued that they would have no qualms about leveling NYC if they could do it. Soon, these lunatics (and more) will have missles that can travel 5,000 miles and nuclear weapons. If you say impossible, I say wait 5 years. So, I say that suggesting that lunatics who intend city-wide destruction should, themselves, be threatened with destruction (nuclear or conventional) is entirely appropriate. Hopefully this will act as a it did in the Cold War, and such weapons will never be used. Now I know that Trump did not put the matter this carefully....shame on him. Nonetheless, I don't think that your reading on Trump-think is accurate nor do I think that there are serious libertarians that "support" Trump. Hillary is the only serious alternative to Trump and our judgment is that she would be far worse than Trump in every way....including "nuclear." A vote to abstain, or a vote for some near-libertarian with zero chances, is de facto a vote for Clinton.

My response:

Dear Dom,

I do not believe these kinds of back and forth are fruitless. You take libertarianism seriously and so do I. Any time spent polishing off the edges of the theory, and practical applications, is time well spent in my view.

If the concern is that ISIS may have nuclear weapons in the future that may level NYC, I have no objections to anyone trying anything to hinder the direct development of  such weapon making, or to taking the weapons out if they are actually created. However, to jump from this to the idea that ISIS  might have nuclear weapons in 5 years and threaten them now with nuclear attack does nothing but escalate the madness and plays into their hands.

It is an ISIS recruitment video in the making.

I really still don't understand why we should care what ISIS does on the ground in the Middle East. I will be impressed when a US president appears on television and says to the people of the region, "We are pulling out of the Middle East. We have no business in your part of the world. Fighting is foolish, I hope you can find peaceful ways to resolve your differences. Good luck."

As for vigilance against terrorist attacks now, or after such a presidential statement, I subscribe to the Jeff Deist proposal in A Better Approach to Terrorism: Leave the security up to individual firms and individuals, in other words, let's leave it up to the free markets. Who knows, we might even get peace as a bonus. It won't  come via government force or threats. Government protection is a myth, They get us into more trouble than they keep us out of. The birth of ISIS can be directly traced back to the US removal from power of the "evil" Saddam Hussein (SEE:A Must Read Briefing on the Evolution of ISIS) .

I am really sick and tired of US government attempts to allegedly bring peace and democracy to the Middle East or elsewhere. Or to kill enemies in far off lands. The last thing I want is a president who wants to agitate these clowns even further. The US should be a country that should lead by example. A country that lives peacefully, that doesn't have leaders that make threats to leaders around the globe.

Trump is no different from any of our other wannabe leaders. He just approaches with blue collar brashness.---and a touch of gold-plated white trash lying.  In my view all the candidates are nuts.

 The only difference that I see neetween Trump and Hilary is that she would likely face more of a battle with Congress, while Trump would get his blue collar followers riled up about all sorts of damn things--and we could really start to see the country change and not for the good. I could see the country under Trump going from, at the start, an NYC-style stop, frisk and "papers please," to a "Knock, steal and arrest." For the good of the country, of course.

In other words, I really don't want to roll the dice with a guy who lost in Atlantic City when he was the house. How does that happen?

As for third party candidates, I don't believe that is the solution. Anytime spent voting is a waste of time,. I would rather spend the time telling someone I didn't vote and explaining that I favor a Private Property Society and explain that as a fallback option I would consider is a president who didn't mettle in foreign affairs and who didn't mettle domestically. But because none of the candidates are advocating such, and, even if they make one or two good points, candidates have also proved to be liars about what they will do when in office. I don't play the election shell game where there is no chance I am going to come out a winner.

I really have too much respect for myself to vote and choose between a clown who doesn't understand free trade, changes his positions on most issues seemingly between interviews, appears to have an authoritarian streak and on the opposite side of the ballot there is a social justice warrior, who is half socialist and half crony.

Elections are for the masses. It will make them feel good. I understand the scam too well to actually take part in it.



  1. Robert,

    Food for thought:

    You do take part in the election. Every time you comment on a candidate, post an article or even a link to an offsite article, you steer the conversation and even profit from the election and its participants.

    As I also don't vote, I understand and agree with your reasons to not vote. That said, I too follow all the commentary on the election and enjoy it. I just don't kid myself into believing I don't participate. Like Shaffer, I don't vote as I don't wish to give tacit support to the system but neither do I delude myself into thinking I am not a participant. I pay my taxes, go to court when I have to and completely follow the politics of the day.

    That, mon frere, is participation.

  2. Libertarians should take part in elections if for nothing other than signaling. If we vote Libertarian or "liberty candidates" in big enough numbers, others will come join the crowd. If we stay home, there is no signal. People aren't tuned in enough to understand that a non-vote is a vote against the system.

    This of course assumes that having liberty-minded people holding office is a step toward a freer society. I think this is a good assumption. That can never happen if we don't achieve a critical mass.

  3. Limelemon where are you? Do you think this is another case of self defense?

  4. Robert

    I agree with you that what ISIS does "on the ground" in the Middle East is of no concern whatever; never said that it was. I am only concerned with their pledge that should they acquire nukes they will not hesitate to use them against us. And I say that they (any terror group or state) should understand without ambiguity that the acquisition of nukes with a pledge to use them deserves (at a minimum) a threat of equal retaliation. If that radicalizes them even more, so be it.

    I also agree (of course) that any President that announces that U.S. military forces are leaving the Middle East (and Africa, and Germany, and Japan, etc.) forever would earn my respect. (The probability that President Trump would make such an announcement is slightly higher than zero but far higher than President Clinton in my view). But clearly the reality is that all of this good stuff will not happen in the near term. No serious and principled libertarian candidate; no libertarian President; no libertarian Senate, or House, or Supreme Court. So what does a principled libertarian do? We could sit on our hands and I would respect that. I have not voted for any President of either major party in my lifetime. And there is no question that Trump is an unknown commodity on the political front...but, Robert, Hillary Clinton is not. She has a demonstrated track record of support for almost total statism; Trump does not. Hillary supports statism at home and statism abroad and has pledged to expand both with Presidential bullying and Executive orders.(And don't assume that any Republican Congress will choose to stop Hillary's bad stuff, especially foreign adventurism; they haven't stopped Obama's bad stuff). I see Trump the way Murray Rothbard saw Pat Buchanan when he was a candidate for President; flawed (especially on trade) but with several "compensating advantgages" (self financing; business experience; skepticism about nation-building) and a serious threat to blow up a good share of what passes for government legitimacy in other areas. Politics is a crap shoot and Trump deserves a roll of the dice. But I could be wrong. After all when it comes to strategy (on achieving a move toward more liberty) no one has a monopoly on the truth.

  5. I want my president to mettle in foreign affairs, but I don't want him to meddle in foreign affairs.

    1. Don't you want him to show mettle? Mettle being a noun.