The Essential Conflict: Freedom Versus Dictatorship

by | Mar 29, 2005

We have the military power; we have the moral right. The defense of our lives only requires that we properly identify our enemies and eliminate them.

Our enemies in the Islamic world intend to kill us. They regard the United States as an evil presence – “the Great Satan” – that must be expunged. That’s why they murdered 240 of our Marines in Beirut in 1983. That’s why they murdered 270 people on Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. That’s why they murdered 220 people at our African embassies in 1998. In 2001, they murdered 3,000. What’s next – 3,000,000 Americans murdered by the detonation of a nuclear bomb in New York City or Washington, D.C.?

Philosophically, this specific conflict is militant Islam versus the essentially secular West. The Fundamentalist Muslims are religious fanatics who worship sacrifice and death, and who hate the West because of its this-worldly orientation and its consequent advances in science, technology, industry and living standards. But the war is wider than the secular West versus Fundamentalist Islam.

Those who hate the U.S. form a roll call of most of the world’s brutal dictatorships. Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and in the non-Muslim world, North Korea – these are the regimes committed to America’s destruction. This Axis of Evil holds no respect for individual rights or human life, and hate their opposite: the United States, the freest country of history. The crimes of these brutal regimes include, but are not limited to: enslavement and execution of political dissidents, suppression of religious freedom, utter subjugation of women, murder of people attempting to emigrate, slaughter of ethnic minorities, infanticide and military invasions of neighboring countries.

By contrast, the world’s freest countries, the ones with the highest degree of respect for the rights of individual human beings – notably England and Israel – support us in this war.

Observe a critical difference between the antagonists: the United States and its allies respect the rights of their citizens, including their Islamic ones. America was founded on the idea that rational persuasion, not brute force, is the only acceptable means of dealing with men. But the terrorist nations brutally subjugate their own people and attack their neighbors. They are not strong enough to attack the United States head-on, so they use the tactics of the weak: create chaos and fear with terrorism.

Terrorism is merely the latest tactic of war on the international scene. As such, the war on terrorism is simply the continuation of a century-long conflict between the Free World and the Statist World, which has changed its form only as variations on a theme.

The Western Allies defeated Fascism in the desperate struggle of World War Two, but America’s massive Lend Lease program, which provided $11 billion worth of unrepaid industrial aid and armaments to the Soviet Union, made Communism stronger.

The United States emerged triumphant from the ensuing Cold War against the Soviet menace it had helped create, but made a fatal error, for it had already strengthened another statist monster: the Islamic theocracies and military dictatorships of the Middle East. As a means of waging the struggle against Communism, the United States trained and militarily supplied the Islamic fanatics fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, making possible the Taliban. Further, it was in that struggle that the monstrous Osama bin Laden learned the techniques of covert warfare from CIA training

There is an important pattern here that America must identify: we have repeatedly strengthened our future enemies. We construed World War Two too narrowly as a battle against Hitler and Fascism, and so built up Stalin and Communism. Similarly, because we conceived the Cold War too narrowly as a struggle against Communism and the Soviet Union, we armed and strengthened sundry Islamic dictators. What’s next? Would we arm the murderous Chinese dictatorship in a war on Islamic terrorism?

To change this pattern, we must grasp the essential nature of the struggle. As Ayn Rand identified forty years ago, statism as such is freedom’s fundamental enemy. “A country that violates the rights of its own citizens, will not respect the rights of its neighbors. Those who do not recognize individual rights will not recognize the rights of nations…” Just as criminals necessarily victimize honest, productive men, so statist regimes (international criminals) necessarily plunder and destroy free and prosperous nations. It is because of their statist principles that any dictator — whether Hitler, Stalin, the Ayatollah Khomeini or Saddam Hussein — were, are and will eternally be threats to our freedom and lives. World peace requires the elimination of statism because it is the root cause of war.

Terrorism is neither an isolated phenomenon nor a fundamental aspect of this conflict. It is a derivative technique of warfare employed by dictatorships too weak to invade and conquer the freer enemies they intend to vanquish. These regimes cannot defeat us – but they can murder our civilians and cause us to live in chaos. The destruction of terrorism involves two related steps: First, we must topple the statist regimes that sponsor it, notably Iran, the source of anti-Western terrorism. Second, and more broadly, we must cease arming, supplying and strengthening dictators around the globe.

Above all, it is a matter of life and death that we do not construe this war narrowly as one waged exclusively against the terrorist regimes. Any dictatorship is a potential threat to us. We must declare ourselves the sworn enemy of statism worldwide and wage this war to the death. We need not declare war on every dictatorship around the globe, only those attacking the United States. But we must cease giving any of them the benefits of our brains and productivity by supplying and arming them. If the West ends its aid, these murderous regimes will collapse from their own evil, like the Soviet Union.

We have the military power; we have the moral right. The defense of our lives only requires that we properly identify our enemies and eliminate them.

Andrew Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the City University of New York. He lectures all over the world.

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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