There is a pretty infamous interview Dr. Leonard Peikoff had with Bill O'Reilly. I've cited it above for convenience, in case a person wants to access the interview that gives rise to this question/concern.
Many people seem to feel that Dr. Peikoff comes off as raving and crazy. The more salient point, is that it looks like Dr. Peikoff has contradicted the ethical principles of Objectivism, and that he has engaged in hypocrisy.
This is because in the interview, he says and I quote: "I'm absolutely not concerned with innocent people in the enemy territory. If they get killed that is the responsibility of their government for initiating aggression against us".
Besides being barbaric and cruel, his statement contradicts the ethical tenets of Objectivism, since Objectivism espouses individual rights and freedom. To kill innocent people over the actions of their government that they had nothing to do with(hence why they are innocent), contradicts the Objectivist position on the right to life, contradicts the nonaggression principle, and contradicts the Objectivist virtue of Justice.
What Dr. Peikoff advocates in the interview is as wrong, barbaric and unjust as a man beating another man's wife, and then runs to his house filled with 9 other people. And the husband decides to beat up the man who beat his wife, and everybody else in the house simply because they are in the house with him, despite them having nothing to do with that man's assault on his wife.
Do you agree that Dr. Peikoff has contradicted Objectivist ethical principles and that his statement and sentiments are morally wrong and hypocritical, or do you have an explanation for what he said, that explains all this away, and his behavior and statements can be explained such that it is consistent with the ethical tenets of Objectivism?
Those who are interested in this topic can find additional perspective in the book, Ayn Rand Answers. Look in the index under "war." In that material, Ayn Rand specifically addresses a question about "innocents in war," along with several other closely related questions.
Another illuminating point of reference historically is the war-initiating actions of Germany, Italy and Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, and the decisive action that the U.S. finally took against Japan to bring Japan's warmaking capacity and determination to an abrupt end. It was an intentional targeting of civilian cities in an enemy nation upon whom the U.S. had declared war, in retaliation for Japan's war on Western nations and its 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. In my understanding, Dr. Peikoff maintains that Iran today is essentially in the same position with respect to war on the West as the Axis nations were in World War II, including a long history of aggressions by Iran against the West, although Iran doesn't yet have as big an army as the World War II Axis powers had.
Dr. Peikoff's interview was in June 2008, regarding what to do about terrorism. Dr. Peikoff emphasized, as he has done often in the past, that we should be focusing on Iran as the most important target for retaliatory physical force at present. The first time I remember hearing Dr. Peikoff's views on Iran was within the next day or two after the 9/11/2001 attacks. Many people today may be shocked at the idea of comparing Iran to the World War II Axis powers, and no one in Washington seems to be seriously considering declaring war on Iran; yet the facts are:
It is not Dr. Peikoff who is "wrong, barbaric and unjust"; it is the militant Islamic terrorists, sponsored and incited by Iran (and financially supported by Saudi Arabia). If Dr. Peikoff's remarks can at least stimulate some serious public discussion of what to do about Iran, his efforts will have been worthwhile.
Many observers today may favor some kind of limited, "surgical" intervention, but my understanding is that Dr. Peikoff considers the situation far too late for that any longer, particularly given the West's completely inadequate response so far to the 9/11/2001 attacks. Meanwhile, we merely "hunker down" defensively, with intrusive TSA inspections at airports and other public transportation systems, and other, similar measures (albeit with an ultimately successful strike against the top terrorist leader). I was particularly stunned to see the extent of such inspections for the simple ferry boat ride from Manhattan to Ellis Island when I encountered it on a visit to New York City. We also have massive, pervasive electronic spying on Americans by the NSA, purportedly on authority of the PATRIOT Act enacted by Congress. Experts on terrorism have pointed out that the next major terrorist attack on the U.S. isn't a question of if, but of when. What should a nation of freedom and individual rights (insofar as it still exists today) be prepared to do about nations that sponsor such terrorism?
Update: Initiation vs. Retaliation
A comment states:
One might claim the intentional targeting of innocent civilians is an initiation of force, which is evil.
The Objectivist view (as I understand it) is that the targeting of civilians, either accidentally or strategically, is an often inseparable aspect of retaliation against outlaw nations for their prior initiations of physical force against other countries and their citizens. Ayn Rand mentions this point in Ayn Rand Answers, in response to the following questions:
On the topic of outlaw nations, refer to The Ayn Rand Lexicon, topics of "National Rights," "Self-Determination of Nations," "War," and "Foreign Policy."
Update: Civilians in Outlaw Nations
The comments have been inquiring further about "innocents in war," and Greg's comments lucidly explain the principle involved as regards "human shields." But I don't think the two civilian cities in Japan bombed by the U.S. in World War II were being used as "human shields." They were targeted for nuclear bombing by the U.S. to impress upon the government of Japan that the U.S. has the overwhelming technological capability to destroy Japan completely, and to demand Japan's immediate and unconditional surrender. The result was about as swift a surrender, with as little loss of additional lives on either side, as could have been achieved any other way. When an outlaw nation has initiated war against other nations and their peoples, the citizens of the outlaw nation, as an integral part of that nation, are subject to whatever counter-force it takes decisively to end their nation's aggression and its will to fight. Strategically, the goal isn't to target civilians per se, but to end the outlaw nation's aggression and its underlying causes. It is seldom possible to do this entirely by trying to hit military targets "surgically" and exclusively, and the role of civilian populations in making wars between nations possible cannot be underestimated. Governments depend on their civilian populations for support.
This doesn't mean that Objectivism endorses all wars in which the U.S. is or has been involved. Far from it. Ayn Rand strongly criticized and opposed the war in Vietnam, for example, from the perspective of a rational view of foreign policy and war. Dr. Peikoff tried to express opposition to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the same grounds (lack of American national self-interests), before he was interrupted by the interviewer in the video cited in the question. For additional overview of Objectivism's perspective on foreign policy and war, refer to those topics in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.