Capitalist Hawk for Kerry

by | Oct 4, 2004

“A half-battle is worse than none: it does not end in mere defeat–it helps and hastens the victory of your enemies.” Ayn Rand John Kerry is despicable, and I will vote for him. Contrary to the position of some Objectivists that President Bush is doing a defensible job fighting our enemies (let alone that he […]


“A half-battle is worse than none: it does not end in mere defeat–it helps and hastens the victory of your enemies.”
Ayn Rand

John Kerry is despicable, and I will vote for him.

Contrary to the position of some Objectivists that President Bush is doing a defensible job fighting our enemies (let alone that he “is one of the best presidents we’ve had in 100 years”), he is in fact doing worse than nothing. No other president in history was provided with the kind of perceptual evidence offered to Bush on 9/11 of the consequences of a selfless foreign policy. What has he done in response? Has he destroyed, from high altitude, the regimes that every thinking adult knows are the main sources of Islamic terrorism, as he easily could have and morally should have? He has not. He hasn’t even named them in connection with the attack.

Instead, Bush has implemented a faith-based, Christian response to it. He has effectively hog-tied our soldiers with altruistic restrictions on how they can wage a so-called “war on terrorism” (remember the “war on blitzkrieg”?) and sent them off as sacrificial lambs to “liberate” Afghanistan and Iraq and bring “democracy” to the Middle East. Have conservatives or Republicans objected to this atrocity? Of course not: Bush is their guy. On what grounds could they complain, anyway? According to the Bible, they’re supposed to love their enemies and turn the other cheek; if anything, their guy has been too harsh on the enemy and sacrificed too few American soldiers.

Today, over three years since the attack, our major enemies remain unidentified, unsought, undefeated, and undeterred. Bush has given them all this time and leeway to build nuclear weapons, “educate” more children, train more terrorists, and plan more attacks. Moreover, he has shown them that America will not target regimes that abet attacks against her; she will target only a few worker bees, while sacrificing more Americans in the process. That must be seen by the sheiks and mullahs as a bargain.

And what affect has Bush’s sacrificial foreign policy had on the minds of Americans? Since it has been sold to them as “hawkish,” it has excluded from debate the possibility of a genuinely hawkish policy; it has established in their minds the false alternative of: the status quo vs. a more dovish approach. Consequently, what will the American people call for after Bush’s folly leads, as it will, to another 9/11 or worse?

Such are the effects of half-battles, package-deals, and false alternatives.

Is it possible that over time–perhaps after a nuclear bomb goes off in Manhattan–Bush will come to terms with reality and see that a half-battle won’t work? Might he eventually call a spade a spade and do what needs to be done? Not a chance. The Christian ethics won’t let him. As Ayn Rand explained:

A moral code impossible to practice, a code that demands imperfection or death, has taught you to dissolve all ideas in fog, to permit no firm definitions, to regard any concept as approximate and any rule of conduct as elastic, to hedge on any principle, to compromise on any value, to take the middle of any road. By extorting your acceptance of supernatural absolutes, it has forced you to reject the absolute of nature. By making moral judgments impossible, it has made you incapable of rational judgment. A code that forbids you to cast the first stone, has forbidden you to admit the identity of stones and to know when or if you’re being stoned.

She may as well have been speaking directly to Bush about his foreign policy.

Also relevant is Bush’s faith-based domestic policy, under which he has signed a ban on D&X abortions, called for a ban on human cloning, approved a Medicare prescription program that increased welfare spending beyond any liberal’s wildest dreams, expanded farm subsidies likewise, signed McCain-Feingold and Sarbanes-Oxley, imposed tariffs on the steel and lumber industries, and generally done untold damage to individual rights and the economy. And all of Bush’s statist measures have been taken in the name of “free-markets,” “the principles of America,” and “capitalism.” By packaging statist policies with capitalist terminology, Bush has removed the concept of capitalism from the domestic policy debate.

Human values are conceptual. If there is no concept of capitalism, there can be no capitalism.

The crucial issue of the day, however, is the war we should be waging but are not; so let us return to that.

Here, in essence, is what Bush has done. By packaging a permission-seeking, capitulating, restrained, dovish foreign policy with lip service to an independent, firm, do-what-needs-to-be-done, hawkish one–he has removed the concept of the latter from the foreign policy debate. Kerry, unwittingly, would put it back on the table; this is why I will vote for him.

With Bush in the White House, the debate is between his half-battle, with which the Right is content–and something less, which is what the Left would prefer. With Kerry in the White House, the debate would be between his half-battle, which is the least that America would let him get away with–and something more, which is what the Right would demand no matter what Kerry were to do. In other words, whereas Bush is willing to wage only a half-battle and will never be pressured to do more, Kerry would have to wage at least a half-battle and would constantly be pressured to do more. And regardless of what Kerry were to do–even if he somehow were to get away with doing less than Bush has done or nothing at all–at least his actions or non-actions would not be called hawkish.

That “a half-battle is worse than none” is not hyperbole; it is a principle. A half-battle shows that we are morally uncertain of our cause; it provides our enemies with moral confidence, time, and leeway to further theirs; it gives us a false sense of security while they orchestrate the slaughter of more Americans. That package-deals destroy crucial concepts in people’s minds–that false alternatives remove the correct alternatives from discussion–and that a commitment to religion makes one incapable of rational judgment–are principles, too. These are the relevant principles in this election.

It is an ugly situation, but there is a self-interested course of action to be taken: Vote for Kerry and try not to vomit; aim for a Republican Congress; and redouble your efforts to spread Objectivism.

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Craig Biddle is the editor and publisher of The Objective Standard and the author of Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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