It included a wonderful group of speakers who presented on many topics surrounding problems with government regulations. However, one exchange stood out in its seeming non-libertarian view, pro-government, militaristic perspective.
A financial analyst, Marc Joffe challenged one of the speakers, Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, with regard to ARI's position on using nuclear bombs.
An article on the ARI web site expresses support for using nuclear weapons against Muslim countries on the grounds that residents are active or passive supporters of jihadist ideology.
The article published in 2001 and written by Onkar Ghate, senior fellow and the Chief Content Officer at the Ayn Rand Institute, reads in part:
America is at war.
To win, we must destroy not just individual terrorists like Osama bin Laden and his allies in Afghanistan but the power of brutal, authoritarian governments to send out their armies of terrorists against us. Central among these is Iran, but the enemy includes...Syria, Sudan, the PLO and others.
The task ahead may be difficult, but we must not waver. We should constantly remind ourselves that these dictatorial regimes are arming themselves with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons aimed at our destruction. We dare not wait for another massacre before we eliminate their ability to attack us.
Many are now wondering, aloud or silently: Should the United States use nuclear weapons to destroy the enemy?
Determining what are the proper military means of achieving America’s objective in the war, and whether those means include nuclear weapons, is an issue for our generals. But the real worry behind the question is whether the U.S. government has the moral right to use its full military arsenal in waging the war. To this question I can say, as a philosopher, that morality answers with an unequivocal “Yes.”
Morally, the responsibility of the U.S. government is to destroy the aggressors and minimize U.S. casualties. If our military decides that in this war, as in WWII, it needs nuclear weapons, so be it.
But what of the “innocent” civilians in enemy states that could be killed in the process?
Many civilians in those states hate us and actively support, materially and spiritually, their tyrannical regimes. They are not innocents. As we drop our bombs, should we worry about the lives of Palestinians who celebrated by dancing in the streets on September 11?
Other civilians in enemy states are passive, unthinking followers. Their work and economic production, however meager, supports their terrorist governments and so they are in part responsible for the continued power of the aggressors. They too are not innocent — and their deaths may be unavoidable in order for America to defend itself.Joffe asked Brook about this position and went on to ask, "How can policies based on assigning collective guilt be reconciled with a belief in individualism?"
The civilians in enemy territory who actually oppose their dictatorial regimes are usually the regimes’ first innocent victims. Any such individuals who remain alive and outside of prison camps should try to flee their country or rebel.
Below is Brook's response: