State Sovereignty

            GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has very publically made the accusation that the United States violated Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s state sovereignty by invading both countries, and therefore, such an action has stripped any legitimacy in our efforts in those countries. This stance is again a troubling aspect of Rep. Paul’s foreign policy, because it holds a never before held belief that a state’s sovereignty is sacrosanct, and must never be violated under any circumstance. The international community, as well as, the United States government has never held this position, and should Rep. Paul’s candidacy be successful, this position would place the United States in a very untenable situation within the international community.

            The complexity of state sovereignty has perplexed international relations theorists for decades. Many have asked the question, “When does another state have the right to violate another state’s sovereignty?” Ultimately, this question originates under the “just war” argument, and brings with it a moral aspect of declaring war.

The “Just War” (jus ad bellum) theory, first broached by St. Thomas Aquinas places criterion on when and how to go to war, these criterions are as follows:

  1. 1.     Just Cause: The reason for going to war needs to be just, and cannot be fore solely for recapturing things taken, or punishing people who have done wrong; innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life.
  2. 2.    Comparative Justice: To overcome the presumption against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other.
  3. 3.    Competent Authority: Only duly constituted public authorities may wage war.
  4. 4.    Right Intention: Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose—correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain or maintaining economies is not.
  5. 5.    Probability of Success: Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.
  6. 6.    Last Resort: Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical. It may be clear that the other side is using negotiations as a delaying tactic and will not make meaningful concessions.
  7. 7.    Proportionality: The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_War)

By examining these principals we can find justification for violating another state’s sovereignty. Should that state be guilty of violating another state’s sovereignty, were to cause egregious damage to a state’s populace and infrastructure, were to pose an imminent threat to another state or its own people, then another state would be just in violating that state’s sovereignty in order to bring justice and security to the international community.

Viewing state sovereignty through this prism we can see that the United States was just in its actions taken against Afghanistan. Though proportionality would have compelled the United States to have simply targeted military and terrorist targets. The imminent threat the Taliban posed towards its own people and the world around it by being a base and training ground for Al Qaeda also justified regime change. Yet, not so clear cut an argument can be made in regards to Iraq.

The conflict in Iraq, and the arguments leading up to the conflict may be the strongest argument Rep. Paul has about the United States being guilty of unjustly violating another state’s sovereignty; however, it can be argued that the United States followed the just war policy, and therefore is not guilty of such a violation. The United States gave Saddam Hussein’s regime ample amount of time to allow international inspectors to inspect known and suspected weapons factories, but Hussein sought to prevent the inspectors having access. Such actions, and the numerous violations of UN sanctions gave enough cause to believe that Hussein was a danger to the region, and a clear and present threat to the United States. Though the evidence used to convince the international community of action against Iraq has since been proven faulty, the process used to go to war with Iraq held to the just war principal.

Hindsight often benefits those on the outside of an issue, because they can claim that an action is unjust. However, hindsight is not a luxury that many leaders have, and they must make their decisions based on their convictions and the information available to them. Rep. Paul has demonstrated that his convictions lie in the belief that it is never just to violate another state’s sovereignty. Mr. Paul advocates talks, talks and more talks before action is ever taken. Even Just War theory allows for war if the talks are seen to be fruitless, or are discovered to be a stalling tactic (which many believe was Saddam Hussein’s tactic in the lead up to the Iraq War, so that he could hide, displace or destroy his existing stockpiles of WMDs). Though Congressman Paul should be respected for his staunch holding to his beliefs, one fails to see the wisdom behind talking with mass murders and terrorists who are hell bent on destroying the west. In order for talks to be successful both parties that are sitting across the table from each other have to be rational actors. This is unfortunately not always the case.

 

(Next: Part 3, Not All States are Rational)

The GOP are fielding a very diverse field of candidates for their 2012 presidential nomination, and no other candidate has caused more stir than two time hopeful Congressman Ron Paul (TX). Rep. Paul brings with him a strong belief in his platform both on the domestic and foreign policy front. Even Rep. Paul’s supporters have given themselves over to this platform, and are these ideal’s most ardent advocates. Congressman Paul continues to demonstrate a strong showing in the early primary polls, with a consistent third place ranking, and a strong second place in the Iowa Straw Poll. Many in the GOP and Conservative movement do not find much fault in Rep. Paul’s fiscal and domestic policies, but where there seems to be great concern is in the kind of foreign policy Congressman Paul vociferously advocates. Rep. Paul loudly advocates for an isolationist foreign policy that many Conservatives find naïve at best, dangerous at worst.

The Cost of War

Representative Paul has advocated on many occasions that the United States should bring our troops home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, because such action is a violation of state sovereignty (a subject to be discussed later) and the costs are bankrupting this country. Yet, Rep. Paul takes it a step further and demands that the United States stand down in places like Europe and South Korea, and that we should downgrade our military to a national defense force, essentially cutting our defense forces in half.

Yes, such a policy would save the United States government, and US taxpayer, hundreds of billions of dollars every year, but it also has another cost. In a world where China is building their navy, air force and nuclear stockpile, where North Korea will sell their technology to the highest bidder, and where Iran is beginning to expand their influence into the Western hemisphere it is a poor time for America to begin weakening itself militarily. Though Mr. Paul advocates that technology enables us to minimize our forces, he also fails to realize that the size of our forces is also deterrence. The ability to take the fight to the enemy, and crush his will no matter where he resides, has been an effective deterrence through out the years, and as China begins to grow their forces, a larger, more technologically advanced force would be needed should China decide to flex its muscles. Granted this argument is was the justification for Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), but international scholars would argue that MAD was what ultimately kept the Cold War cold, and what bankrupted the Soviet Union.

Another president pursued such a policy when he was first elected. He decimated the US Army and Navy all in the name of economics. His policy had such a negative affect that when the United States was finally forced into war by the actions of a hostile foreign navy, there were only a handful of Army Division, a dozen airplanes, and maybe a few dozen battleships. The United States was woefully prepared for their response when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the president who desired to downgrade our military to a national defense force because the country couldn’t afford it was FDR.

Yes, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost money, and American prestige over seas; however, American prestige has not been good in foreign countries for some time, and would not have improved had we never invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Also, the cost of maintaining a standing military, even in a time of war, according the nonpartisan CBO is approximately 4% of GDP. Entitlements and Social Security take up over 60% of GDP, and the cost is climbing. It seems that perhaps the real threat to the United States’ national security is not maintaining the best trained fighting force this world has ever seen, but in making social promises we can’t afford or keep.

 

(To be continued. Next issue: State Sovereignty.)

The talking points have gone out, and the DNC are on the attack. Fearing that they will see even further blow back from S&P’s decision to downgrade America’s credit rating (first time in American history), the DNC has now instructed their people to begin calling the down grade the “Tea Party Downgrade”. This is evidenced in the White House, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and others using the same verbiage over the weekend to try to put the onus squarely on the Tea Party and their representatives in Congress. This blind accusation forgets the role the DNC played in the whole debt ceiling debate, and completely ignores that the only party to actually put forth multiple plans that would have satisfied the credit rating bureaus’ anxieties was the GOP and the Tea Party members within the GOP.

Three times the GOP sought to ease America’s debt through legislation in the House, but every time those solutions were met with veto threats from the White House, and procedural cowardice in the Senate. First, after the Senate overwhelmingly voted down President Obama’s budget 97-0, the GOP and Tea Party controlled House passed a budget that would have cut spending by $6T, but such a budget never received a vote in the Democrat controlled Senate. Second, the GOP and Tea Party controlled House passed the “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill, which would have satisfied the credit bureaus’ requests while also cutting the budget by $4T and requiring a balanced budget amendment; however, President Obama threatened a veto, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tabled the measure, thus, not allowing a vote. As a result, we were lead to the drama of the last few weeks where one negotiation after another failed, because President Obama at first refused to negotiate, then joined the negotiations only to back out of his own deal, and then forced the final attempt at trying to prevent default and downgrade. This final attempt led to a bill that neither party could really stomach, but had to be passed or the Untied States faced assured default and downgrade.

During this last year the President has been absent, or at least aloof, when it has come to the important decisions this country had to make. In 2010, the American people rejected President Obama’s policies, and his response was that he did not do a good enough job articulating his message. This administration has demonstrated that it has no understanding of reality. During the debt ceiling debate, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner proclaimed that the United States’ credit was never going to be downgraded. If this was the message that the White House was giving to its people, and the Democrats in Congress, it is no wonder they felt they could resist the GOP and Tea Party with impunity. However, Secretary Geithner, and the President took a huge gamble with America’s future by making such proclamations, and if they truly believed it, then everyone should question both Secretary Geithner’s and President Obama’s judgment when it comes to making important decisions regarding the economy.

As such, this downgrade should not be labeled the “Tea Party Downgrade”, since the Tea Partiers seem to be the only people in Washington who took the S&P and other credit bureaus at their word, but the blame (if it should be pointed at anyone) should rest squarely on the shoulders of those who should have known better. Therefore, it should be known as the “Geihtner-Obama Downgrade”, since it was their reassurance to members of the media and the members of their own party that led to the arrogance demonstrated by those in the DNC and the left who did not accept what needed to be done to prevent the downgrade.

Over a week has passed since an alert gun shop owner tipped authorities to suspicious behavior of PFC Nasar Abdo, who then was discovered to have been planning an attack on Fort Hood the very same week Army MAJ. Nidal Hasan was to begin his trial for his involvement in a horrific attack on Fort Hood just two years prior. This disturbing pattern, combined with the remembrance of the 2003 attacks on U.S. soldiers in Kuwait by U.S. Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar, during the build up for Operation Iraqi Freedom, brings to the forefront the very honest question, should Muslims be allowed to serve in the United States Armed Services?

It should be very easy to answer this question in the affirmative; however, given the recent history of Muslim soldiers, and the motivation by which they claim to support their actions, the American people have a justified reason to question a Muslim’s fitness for service.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Army, there are 3,572 actively serving Muslims in the U.S. military, as opposed to over 1.2 million Christians that are currently serving. Yet, out of the 3,572 Muslims, three have been heavily influenced by radical Islamists, and been led to attempt attacks on their fellow soldiers. Both PFC Abdo and MAJ. Hasan have proclaimed that American born cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, leader of Al Qaeda Arabic Peninsula, greatly influenced their decision to perpetrate their attacks. With this information coming to light, one must begin to question whether these soldiers held these radical beliefs prior to becoming soldiers, or if their time within the Army moved them further to the edge.

Abdo, Hasan and Akbar expressed, after capture, that they were opposed to the attacks on their fellow Muslims. Using the Koran as the basis for their dissatisfaction, the would-be terrorists were troubled by what they saw as their “being forced to attack” their fellow brothers and sisters of faith. This so greatly troubled them that they felt their only recourse was to lash out against those they believed responsible. Yet, according to reports, the only soldier that seemed to show that they were against such attacks prior to enlistment was Abdo, who filed for “conscientious observer “ status upon entering the military, and was granted such status approximately one month prior to his failed attempt to carry out attacks at Fort Hood. Being a conscientious observer means that your are against the taking of human lives, and that your service in the military would have to be at a capacity in which you would not be put in a position to do so. This seems oddly contradictory for PFC Abdo, considering that just a month after receiving his objector status, he plotted a terrorist attack that would take human lives.

Both Hasan and Akbar seem to have been swayed while serving. MAJ. Hasan even attributes his “conversion” to his encounters with Anwar Al-Awlaki which occurred on several occasions as Hasan was stationed in Washington, D.C. It is not clear how Akbar came to believe as he did, but what is clear is that during his service he came to believe that it is morally wrong for him to attack another Muslim. This belief is now under scrutiny since it has led to the unfortunate deaths of 15 officers and enlisted personnel, and the narrowly missed slaughter of untold others.

Are Muslims forbidden to go to war with other Muslims? The answer according to the Koran and Sharia law is no. Yet, the Koran says that it is only sanctioned in self-defense, in defense of religion or in defense of those who have been forcibly removed from their lands. The Koran puts limits on fighting, and does not allow the deliberate attacking of women and children, the willful burning of crops, trees or livestock. (Islamicity.com) So, if this is true, how are these soldiers being led to believe that they are justified in their actions? The answer lies not in the Koran or Sharia, but within the teachings of the radical clerics who have waged jihad on the United States.

Clerics like Anwar Al-Awlaki, who have mastered the Internet and are extremely media savvy, have created a network of online publications and YouTube videos where they teach their interpretation of Islam. Al-Awlaki teaches that the United States is a perverse nation who murders women and children in order to subjugate the Muslim world. He advocates violence against the U.S. because of the United States’ willful targeting of women and children. Al-Awlaki advocates that it is impossible for a Muslim to be a “good” Muslim if they serve in the United States military, and help to hurt and oppress their fellow Muslims. Al-Awlaki is not alone in these teachings, and one needs only do a simple search on the Internet to find these numerous teachings. A solider questioning his/her own resolve, and wondering if the war they are fighting is a just war, could be very easily influenced by such teachings. This is easily demonstrated by the radical Islamic literature found on PFC Abdo when authorities took Abdo into custody, and the numerous encounters and communications discovered between MAJ. Hasan and Al-Awlaki. Yet, if contact, no matter how remote, with such teachings has led to such travesty, then what can be done to prevent even more converts to “the Way”?

Several solutions could be discussed, but for the sake of brevity three will be explored. The first solution that may seem the easiest would be to deny the service of Muslim soldiers during the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, when these wars end and we began to allow Muslims to serve again, what happens if we have to go to war with another Muslim country? Also, lets not forget that in the United States you have the right to worship as you see fit, and that extends to the military as well. The second option would be to allow Muslims to serve, but to not allow them to serve in Muslim countries in which we are engaged in conflict. This policy was pursued during World War II concerning the Japanese. The Japanese-Americans who sought to serve their country were denied the ability to serve in the South Pacific. Instead, they were sent to the European Theatre. This may seem like a reasonable idea; however, it handicaps our efforts in the current conflict in that many of our Muslim soldiers understand the cultural norms of the people we are trying to liberate, and have proven invaluable in the field in dealing with indigenous personnel. Thus, we are left with the third solution, which is to actively profile and monitor all suspicious military personnel no matter what creed, sex, nationality or religion. Several complaints were made about MAJ. Nadal Hasan, and yet, the Army sought to turn a blind eye when it came up that it might seem like they were targeting Hasan because he was Muslim. PFC. Abdo was wanted by the military for child pornography. Under the Universal Code of Military Justice, military personnel do not have a right to privacy; therefore, the military can easily monitor those they suspect might be a danger. Yes, those who do not have the best intentions could abuse such powers; however, the military is a different world, and the people who live in it are held to higher standard.

The American Muslim community is a valued part of our country. They proudly serve in every aspect of our lives. Many of the Muslims serving in our military do so with distinction and valor. They understand the value of America, and they appreciate the opportunity to live in a country where they can be free to serve their god how they choose, and to be free to live their life how they choose. To punish those in that community, because of the actions of a disturbed few, by not letting them serve their country to their fullest potential would be a great disservice to them, and it would be a great disservice to America as well.

Now that the dust is settling in Oslo, and we are beginning to discover more information about the tragedy that took place two days ago it is important that we try to understand what really took place.

The facts are that Anders Behring Breivik, 32, detonated a bomb, which targeted the Norwegian government, and then posed as a police officer to begin his shooting spree, that targeted youth who were attending a camp, hosted by the country’s Labor Party (Norway’s liberal party). Breivik has been quoted from his social media postings that he was concerned with the spread of Islam across Norway, and that he believed that the “multiculturalism” was hurting his country. Also, according to the New York Times, Breivik published a 1500 page manifesto in which he wished to create another “crusade”, and establish a culturally conservative agenda with Norway. Based on the manifesto left behind by Breivik, authorities and news outlets have felt safe declaring that Breivik was a “right-wing, Christian fundamentalist”. Unfortunately for the Norwegian government, and the New York Times, this claim may be premature.

Terrorism, when implemented, usually only comes from two places: 1.) A complete hopelessness that one is able to change their situation through peaceful means, and that the current situation is simply intolerable. The person who lives in this situation does not believe that there is any other option; however, they tend to live in completely oppressive governments where civil liberties are non-existent. 2.) The person who commits the terrorist act is mentally unstable, and views his world through a prism that is completely skewed by his psychosis. There is reason to believe that both of these themes apply to the Oslo terrorist.

Norway’s policies to create an “open” society have more than likely provided a hostile environment towards those more nationalistic in their ideologies. In their attempt to be more “open”, Norway has enacted hate speech legislation, which regulates what the government deems as hate speech. According to the Norwegian law, it forbids “harassment on the grounds of ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, skin color, language, religion, or beliefs,” and defines harassment as “actions, omissions or utterances that have the effect or are intended to have the effect of being insulting, intimidating, hostile, degrading or humiliating.” What is more alarming is that according to the law:

“Defendants may be accused not only by the individuls whom they’ve supposedly offended, but also by semiofficial organs, such as the Anti-Racist Center, and the Center Against Ethnic Discrimination, or by the government’s Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud.”

In essence, the Norwegian government in order to create a more “open” society, decided to eliminate the most basic of civil liberties, and that is the right to free speech. Since the enactment of these laws, the Norwegian government, and those on the left, has used these laws to shut down organizations they have deemed “politically incorrect”. According to an article in Pajamas Media, written by Bruce Bawer, the Norwegian government listed Norway’s Human Rights Service, which has dedicated itself to the awareness of female conditions in the Islamic world, and fighting for women’s rights in the Islamic world, as being guilty of hate speech simply because they have employed Mr. Bawer, who is an author of a book which exposes radical Islam. The Norwegian government has deemed Mr. Bawer guilty of hate speech, because he wrote a book in which the government disagrees.

Living in a country where one cannot speak freely without fear of prosecution, fine and prison is not a society in which one would feel that they could ultimately effect change. According to multiple reports, Mr. Bawer’s case is not an isolated case, and that the “hate speech” laws of Norway have been used by those in power to silence those whom they disagree. This kind of oppression, combined with severe psychosis, and the results cannot be welcomed.

On the issue of Breivik’s mental state we have the reports of his manifesto, in which he outlines his desires to create a crusade against Islam, and that he wishes to kill as he can in order to radically take over his government to end multiculturalism, and implement a radically conservative agenda in Norway. The language used in the manifesto, and in his social media postings demonstrated that Breivik wished to see the world burn, and that his frustration with “political correctness” had reached its peak. He used words like “the time for armed resistance has come”, and then declared that “a million will die before they were done.” Yet, the claim that thee attacks were motivated by his Christianity was more symbolic, and less belief.

The usage of the Crusades seems to be more based on his desire to take on Islam, than on his belief that his actions are God’s will. It appears that his Christianity is more or less the European belief that by being born in Europe is being born in Christendom, and thus he is a Christian. It is less likely that Breivik used the Holy Scripture to validate his cause. Instead he was more influenced by right-wing political philosophers.

In looking at the totality of the facts regarding the terrorist attack in Oslo, it becomes clearer that the attacks were the result of a lot more than just Breivik’s political ideology and religious convictions. Using the study of terrorism we can see that people resort to terrorism when they feel powerless to change their government, because that government has become oppressive and is denying civil liberties. Also, their psychological state plays a very important role as well. Though Norway has begun to chip away at its citizen’s civil liberties in order to create a peaceful society, it is hard to believe that Norway’s actions have warranted such a horrific event. Thus, the psychological aspect of this action must be fully examined. Mr. Breivik’s mind was obviously unstable, and his desire to target those he saw as responsible for the problems in his life were a result of this instability. Therefore, ideology and religion in this case are simply superficial labels applied by a government and a media trying to make sense of the unbelievable.

In a perfect world we would have been able to pass the original GOP budget that cut $6 Trillion in government spending, and at this time we would be focusing on the first Constitutional amendment in 20 years. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and the same way the American people could not stand for the Democrats to run rough shod over their will when the Democrats were in charge of all three houses, we cannot let ideological entrenchment to force this country into an irreversible position.

Granted, both parties have known that the day was coming when the debt ceiling would be reached, and they did nothing to avoid it. Yes, we have had very conservative options come out of the House, and that is good to signal to the American people that our Representatives are serious about steering this ship back on course. Yet, it is now time for the American people to realize that this country must survive so that we can live to fight another day.

It is both unwise and irrational to believe that we can force the single worst ideological leaders that this country has ever had, in Obama and Reid, to vote against their firm beliefs, and vote for a more conservative vision of America. Yes, the American people spoke, but they didn’t speak loud enough in 2010, and the Democrats still control one house of Congress and the White House. Elections have consequences, and when frustrated conservatives refuse to vote for the only viable conservative party, the GOP, or don’t vote at all, they abdicate their country to the other ideological side. Conviction and aspiration have their place, but when you are dealing with national politics there is more at stake than your ideology.

This country can no longer afford for its people to be silent, but it can also no longer afford for its people to be naive. Right now, we are faced with an uncomfortable reality. If the debt ceiling is not raised we will see several negative outcomes result from it. America will lose its good standing in the world, and therefore lose its economic footing. This can lead to greater economic uncertainty or even economic collapse. We can stick to our ideological guns (right as we are) and force this country into possible economic collapse, or we can pull up our big boy pants, and try to compromise (yes, I said it) a deal that causes as much pain to both sides as it gives reward. Then, we can focus on the next election, and create a better atmosphere for moving this country to sustainable model of governance and freedom.