Re: If we do get Afghanistan, what shall we do with it?

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Mon Nov 19 2001 - 23:44:54 MST

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > As laudable as these things are, we have absolutely no right to
> > impose any system of government on Afghanistan or any other
> > country.
> I thought you said you weren't a relativist. Some actions, including
> some practices of government and/or culture, are both inherently evil
> and inherently dangerous to the safety and well-being of others.

I thought that you weren't for the US running the affairs of
other nations. If you believe in sovereign states then it is
not defensible to disrupt another state just because you do not
like the way it is run.

> Even
> the most die-hard anarcho-capitalist libertarian like me, for example,
> would find it completely unacceptable for a neighbor to stockpile
> biological weapons without proper safeguards near my house.

The biggest stockpile of biological weapons in the world belongs
to the US. More nations have been disrupted and had their
governments forcefully destroyed and/or changed by the US using
illegal means (our definition of terror) than any other nation.
So, will we apply our righteous (and I agree many of them are
righteous) standards to ourselves first and foremost? Or will
we apply them haphazardly whether there are enough other agendas
for us to acheive benefit by interfering?

>I would
> have not only the right, but the ethical duty, to interfere even
> before he used the weapons, because the chance of an accident
> threatening my life is high enough to justify preemptive force.

This is NOT the case in most of the countries we have interfered
in so I don't see this thought-experiment as being terribly

> If he were just keeping conventional weapons, or could convince me
> that his storage methods didn't threaten me, then I'd have to back
> off and respect his rights; but if I have cause to believe his actions
> threaten me, I _do_ have the right to demand that he prove otherwise
> or cease.

Do other countries have the right to demand that the US proves
its intentions and the safety of its bio-weapons? Do we have
the right to insist our assertion is sufficient and to ignore
any and all restrictions, rulings, demands by any third parties
we helped set up to monitor and verify the assertions of nations
in these matters?
> It's a little harder to make a similar case for Afghanistan,
> but the idea that there's _nothing_ they or any other nation
> could do that would justify active intervention is nothing but
> a total abrogation of the responsibility for self-defense.
> If, for example, there were old Soviet nuclear weapons there,
> we would be ethically required to use force to ensure that the
> government set up there could properly deal with them, or else
> we would have to remove them by force.

I did not say that there was nothing they could do, etc. I said
that there is no inherent right that we have to force our
cultural values and governmental style on another sovereign
nation. There is quite a large difference.

Hmmm. Most of the old Soviet nuclear weapons are still in
Russia and there is good reason to believe that they are not
totally well-managed and safe today. Are we then ethically
required to forcefully go in an seize these weapons before they
come to harm?
> It is a difficult and unsolved problem in libertarian ethics
> and politics to determine exactly when and under what conditions
> an imminent threat or danger rises to the level to justify
> defensive force; but there is such a level, and those judgments
> do have to be made. Absolute dogmatic non-interventionism is
> irrational and dangerous.

Sure. As it is irrational and dangerous for us to go pull the
splinter out of another country's eye while ignoring the beam in
our own.

- samantha

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