Category Archives: Rights

Rules of Engagement are killing Americans

The military’s self-sacrificial Rules of Engagement are costing American lives andthreatening the success of the war against Islamic Fundamentalism. This is not to say that the rules present a potential threat,but a real and concrete one. When you send your military to war, but do not allow them to safeguard their own lives, you make a mockery of the principles upon which that war is being fought. How can you claim to fight for individual rights,yet sacrifice the livesofthose who defend our liberties in the name of those who threaten them?

Yet that’s what the rules do. Marcus Luttrell, the only survivorin a group ofNavy SEALS fighting in Afghanistan in 2005 recounts the events in Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10. Diana West of The Washington Times summarizes:

Dropped behind enemy lines to kill or capture a Taliban kingpin who commanded between 150-200 fighters, the SEAL team was unexpectedly discovered in the early stages of a mission whose success, of course, depended on secrecy. Three unarmed Afghan goatherds, one a teenager, had stumbled across the Americans’ position.

This presented the soldiers with an urgent dilemma: What should they do? If they let the Afghans go, they would probably alert the Taliban to the their whereabouts. This would mean a battle in which the Americans were outnumbered by at least 35 to 1…If the Americans didn’t let the goatherds go — if they killed them, there being no way to hold them — the Americans would avoid detection and, most likely, leave the area safely. On a treeless mountainscape far from home, four of our bravest patriots came to the ghastly conclusion that the only way to save themselves was forbidden by the rules of engagement. Such an action would set off a media firestorm, and lead to murder charges for all.

The SEALs sent the goatherds on their way. One hour later, a sizeable Taliban force attacked, beginning a horrendous battle that resulted not only in the deaths of Mr. Luttrell’s three SEAL teammates, but also the deaths of 16 would-be rescuers — eight additional SEALS and eight Army special operations soldiers whose helicopter was shot down by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade.

The first chapter of Luttrell’s book can be found here. Of the Rules of Engagement (ROE), he says:

[From] the standpoint of the U.S. combat soldier, Ranger, SEAL, Green Beret, or whatever, those ROE represent a very serious conundrum. We understand we must obey them because they happen to come under the laws of the country we are sworn to serve. But they represent a danger to us; they undermine our confidence on the battlefield in the fight against world terror. Worse yet, they make us concerned, disheartened, and sometimes hesitant.

I can say from firsthand experience that those rules of engagement cost the lives of three of the finest U.S. Navy SEALs who have ever served.

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Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! This is the one day of the year when Americans excuse themselves to be patriotic, to be proud of our ideological heritage. Although perhaps sad that they need an excuse, it’s still a day of celebration. This great nation was founded on the principle of natural rights, the idea that the individual is born with certain unalienable rights that it is the duty of the government to defend and uphold. The pride in our independence is not some nationalistic tribal bias, but a passion for the political innovation called America. The history of the world before America was wrought with conflict, between barbarism and pseudo-freedoms, between coercion and freedom by permission. America was the first in history to establish freedoms by right.

As Michael Berliner writes in “Put the Independence Back in Independence Day”:

“Independence Day” is a critically important title. It signifies the fundamental meaning of this nation, not just of the holiday. The American Revolution remains unique in human history: a revolution–and a nation–founded on a moral principle, the principle of individual rights. Jefferson at Philadelphia, and Washington at Valley Forge, pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.” For what? Not for mere separation from England, not–like most rebels–for the “freedom” to set up their own tyranny. In fact, Britain’s tyranny over the colonists was mild compared to what most current governments do to their citizens.

This is the meaning of the American Revolution. In the past, a naton’s greatness was measured by its conquests. A nation was great if it controlled lands across the globe, as Britain did; it was great if it wielded power. America teaches us that the power of coercion is illegitimate, and that the only power that creates belongs to the individual. It is the individual that thinks, that innovates, and trades values. There is no such thing as a “nation’s wealth”. Nations do not produce. Wealth and success in a culture is the product of individuals purusing their self-interest. The measure of a country’s greatness is the respect it shows toward man’s needs as a rational animal. The independence of America does not only mean its independence from Britain, but the independence of the individual from tyranny, whatever the source.

I am currently reading Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. There is a particular scene that strikes me now, that I want to share, and I will leave the post with Hugo’s words. Those who’ve read the book will understand the context, and those who haven’t will have to forgive my limited introduction. The novel of course is set in France in the early to mid 19th century. There is a character by the name of Marius who was raised by his grandfather and estranged from his father by the family’s political rivalry. When he learned of his father’s past following his death, of his loving devotion to his son and to his country, he developed a love for him and for his service in the military. It was through his research into his father’s past that he developed a mistaken passion for the conquests of Napolean. At this time in the story, many years had past since Napolean’s defeat at Waterloo, and the country was still alive with revolution, still finding its direction. Marius stumbled upon a group of student revolutionaries after being kicked out of his home by his grandfather for his political views. In a lively debate, a quiet Marius found his Napolean attacked by his new friends and felt obligated to defend him. In an eloquent speech he argues for Napolean’s greatness and his passion at being a citizen in a country transformed by that greatness.

Everyone was silent, and Enjolras looked down. Silence always has a slight effect of acquiescence or in some way a backing a person to the wall. Marius, almost without taking breath, continued in a burst of enthusiasm: “Be fair, my friends! To be the empire of such an emperor, what a splendid destiny for a nation, when that nation is France, and when it adds its genius to the genius of such a man! To appear and to reign, to march and to triumph, to have every capital for a staging area, to take his grenadiers and make kings of them, to decree the downfall of dynasties, to transfigure Europe at a double quickstep, so men feel, when you threaten, that you are laying your hands on the hilt of God’s sword, to follow in one man Hannibal, Caesar, and Charlemagne, to be in the people of a man who mingles with your every dawn the glorious announcement of a battle won, to be wakened in the morning by the cannon of the Invalides, to hurl into the vault of day mighty words that blaze forever, Marengo, Arcola, Austerlitz, Ièna, Wagram! To repeatedly call forth constellations of victories at the zenith of the centuries, to make the French Empire the succeessor of the Roman Empire, to be the grand nation and to bring forth the Grand Army, to send your legions flying across the whole earth as a mountain sends out its eagles, to vanquish, to rule, to strike thunder, to be for Europe a kind of golden people through glory, to sound through history a Titan’s fanfare, to conquer the world twice, by conquest and by resplendence, that is sublime. What could be greater?”

“To be free,” said Combeferre.

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Supreme Court rules against racial quotas in public schools!

[photopress:3228205741.jpg,full,alignleft]WASHINGTON (CNN) — A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued what is likely to be a landmark opinion — ruling that race cannot be a factor in the assignment of children to public schools.

The court struck down public school choice plans in Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky, concluding they relied on an unconstitutional use of racial criteria, in a sharply worded pair of cases reflecting the deep legal and social divide over the issue of race and education.

A conservative majority led by Chief Justice John Roberts said other means besides race considerations should be used to achieve diversity in schools.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” Roberts wrote.[read the full article]

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, liberals!

I’m so psyched. This is a double victory. First, against the injustice of state sponsored discrimination based on race, and secondly against the collectivists running our public schools. I guess the Seattle school administration is going to have to do better than “revise” their definition of racism, aren’t they?

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Ron Paul, and thou shalt obey the Constitution

[photopress:160px_Ron_paul1.jpg,full,alignleft]In a recent Dennis Miller interview, House Representative Ron Paul further illustrated for me exactly what it is that I find so bothersome about the Libertarian Party. Paul ran as the Libertarian candidate in the ’88 Presidential election, and is now a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC), a group within the Republican party that seeks to elect Libertarians to office.

In the interview, explaining why he believes in limited government, Paul says, “I think you follow the Constitution; that is virtually what we were instructed to do.”

The problem with Libertarianism is that it treats liberty as an axiom. The movement has no philosophic grounding with which to present a case for government’s primary function, to protect individual liberties. Instead, it accepts liberty without definition, and for that reason cannot offer a true defense of this principle. Rather than explain why government should be restricted to protecting our freedoms, what those freedoms consist of, Ron Paul takes this duty as a commandment passed down by the Founders. That is an example of the failure to think in principle.

When asked about his opposition to the Iraq War, Paul gives two reasons. First he explains that Iraq is the wrong target, which I agree with. However he goes on to say that Islamic terrorism is misunderstood. Radical Islam is not the cause, but US aggression in the Middle East:

If you understand what motivates suicide terrorism, you’ll realize it’s not radical Islam. The most motivating factor is that fact they are being occupied by a foreign force. They cannot mobilize, they cannot recruit. So we are serving the interests of Osama Bin Laden by him getting more recruits than ever before. Yes, there would be problems in the Middle East when we leave. Everybody knows we’re gonna leave because we’re gonna go broke; we won’t be able to afford it! All empires end because they eventually go broke. But who knows, there may be a tremendous incentive for them to settle their disputes. Already there’s a large number, it’s not the majority of them, of the members serving in the Parliament, Sunni’s and Shiites, that are talking to each other! And they’re getting ready to vote to ask us to leave. The Arab League could fill the vacuum; and they offered some peace treaties with Israel that are very attractive; by recognizing Israel. All kinds of good things can happen.

This is exactly the kind of evasion that is possible when you do not define your terms. Radical Islam is not behind the terrorism? Why, then, are there no atheists or Christians or Hindus in al Qaeda? Why is it Muslims who are bombing our embassies, kidnapping and killing our citizens and who ran two commercial airliners into our World Trade Center and Pentagon? The attacks are a response to US occupation? Then why have Germany and Japan not gone to war with us, since we have retained bases in their countries since WW2? It is Islamic fundamentalism that is telling Muslims to die for Allah, to kill the American infidels, and to reap the rewards in the afterlife.

The Islamic world in the Middle East has adopted a culture of death. There is no such thing as freedom of religion under an Islamic state, or even in so-called “secular” states such as Syria. To be Muslim in that region of the world means to live under an Islamic law, to practice the madates of the holy book or be punished. Libertarians like Ron Paul would have us believe that United States occupation has violated the rights of those living insuch aculture, and that what we are experiencing now is a righteous backlash that only a general retreat can cure. However to say that a country whose code is “live our way or die” is being violated somehow by the presence of the US – whose founding principle is respect and protection of Individual Rights – is absurd. Only someone who does not understand what rights consist of would make such an irrational claim. One could argue (and should, when appropriate) that troops and funds are being wasted in conflicts where US interests are not at stake, but a dictatorship – whether run by a monarchy or the mob – has no right to exist and any free country has the moral authority to reduce it to ashes if they find doing so is in their best interests.

One might wonder if I’mexaggeratingor distortingRon Paul’s argument.

In one interview, he explains that aggressive military deployment in the Middle East caused 9/11, including the bombing of Iraq. In another public appearance, he likens Islamists to Americans under attack, asking what you would do if your homeland was invaded. Because he believes terrorism is the result of attacks from the US, what is his solution? – Withdrawal of our troops and negotiation with the militant groups that seek to destroy us.

Ron Paul told Dennis Miller that his duty as a politician was to follow the instructions of the Constitution (even, as he jokes, when he would rather not). However obedience is not a substitute for understanding. If you fail to understand what freedoms mean and identify the threats against them, you cannot possibly defend them or live up to the Founder’s vision.

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The unalienable rights to life, liberty, and…dating services?

Here’s a humorous and disturbing find. Linda Carson is suing the online dating service eHarmony because their profiling system is not programmed to find matches for gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

“Such outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age,” Carsonsaid.Her complaint has prompted lawyers to seek a class action suit on behalf of other non-heterosexual singles.

Carson’s lawyer commented that, “This lawsuit is about changing the landscape and making a statement out there that gay people, just like heterosexuals, have the right and desire to meet other people with whom they can fall in love.”

To say that eHarmony’s product in any way violates the rights of homosexuals and bisexuals assumes a right based on entitlements. Carson’s objection is premised on the belief thatshe has a claim on the services of the service provider without their consent.Her “right” to find love doesn’t mean the right to meet people and pursue relationships, whichsheis free to do without the help of the online dating industry, but to receive “equal treatment” from businesses. According to this view, if the business is unwilling or unable to provide the service she desires, it’s the government’s job to strong-arm them into doing so.

Considering the state of our “mixed”government here in America, with its market regulations from anti-trust to the FDA to welfare and Medicaid – all based on the idea of natural entitlements at the expense of property rights -this threatened litigation against eHarmony is really a drop in the ocean. However, I will be interested to see the result. Willthe Individualism implicit in this country win out, causing the case to be laughed out of court? Or will the courts side with state law and turn their backs once more onthe Constitution?

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