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A question that has been cropping up lately as Veteran's Day passes is if this idea of treating our veterans with honor regardless of their individual decisions is appropriate. This view of things has become even more pronounced with those of younger ages slowly beginning to learn real American military history, and the fact that it has been quite some time since America has been engaged in a defensive war. This is further compounded by the highly controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I was speaking with an Anarcho-Capitalist the other day, and he suggested that no veterans deserve his respect or thanks and then posted this: http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance216.html

Several of his comments:

"people do not earn my respect simply for being a vet. in fact it really hurts my respect for them. they are coercively funded and they're whole job is coercion."

"Firstly, our forieng policy in the middle east for the past century has been "kill everybody who disagrees with us and/or refuses to sell us cheap oil." yeah thats going to piss a few people off.

Secondly, lets get rid of this notion that they were coming after "us". If they wanted body count, infecting the water supply would have been more effective and easier than the 9/11 attacks. They had three specific targets. 1 - white house (political elite) 2 - pentagon (military elite) 3 - twin towers (economic elite) They were going after the people that have raping and pilaging their families and homes for a century. They were going after our government, not us."

"Im not going to thank somebody who stole my money at gun point, and then used it to buy more guns and go kill inocent people half way around the world. I can't believe this position honestly upsets you."

Naturally I disagreed with this position but I am curious what a more elegant refutation of these ideas in general via Objectivism would be. Is this a result of concrete-bound thinking?

asked Nov 12 '10 at 15:57

capitalistswine's gravatar image

capitalistswine ♦

edited Nov 12 '10 at 16:14

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Lewrockwell.com is an anti-American, racist-sympathizing, and religion-sympathizing site containing the absolute worst of the libertarians. I wouldn't give them attention by linking to them in this question.

(Nov 12 '10 at 16:17) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

I care not what perceptions are of the website. Can you argue against the content in the link posted? What matters is the content of the referenced postings. I really don't care what the general theme is, there are usually exceptions on such sites (LewRockwell does, sometimes, have good posts). This is also why I don't go to just certain sites, but a wide variety because sometimes certain websites can have gems worth noting. The basis for his argument is derived from the historical representation of our military history within that post so therefore it is very relevant to the question.

(Nov 12 '10 at 17:19) capitalistswine ♦ capitalistswine's gravatar image

It absolutely matters, if you are giving sanction to a website that is full of nihilists.

(Nov 12 '10 at 17:30) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

I am not giving the website sanction. I am asking for a proper response to this individuals overall argument. His argument is largely based on historical information within that specific posting, not political information, and the claims are well documented by quite a large number of people that have no connection to libertarianism or LewRockwell.com. If you do not wish to serve the purpose of this post in giving a proper answer to the question then please move to another question where you are willing to do so. Refusing to answer the question is not an answer in this instance.

(Nov 12 '10 at 17:38) capitalistswine ♦ capitalistswine's gravatar image

I also do not think you understand what the end-game of political nihilism is. Lewrockwell.com is far from it. I know because when I was younger I was stupid enough to believe in a version of it for a short time. Political nihilists generally are no fans of Libertarians. Political nihilism at its finest is presented at counterorder.com and corrupt.org (that website seems to have had an ownership change).

(Nov 12 '10 at 17:39) capitalistswine ♦ capitalistswine's gravatar image

Let's put it this way: I don't see a pressing need to go around the web and answer arguments from Christian Reconstructionists, the KKK, Stormfront, Maoists, or any other people who nakedly stand for unreason and brute force. And if I thought that, by sheer chance, one of their arguments had a glimmer of merit in some context -- then I sure as hell wouldn't advertise one of their sites as the source. Such publicity helps them to maintain the illusion that they are open to reason.

And yes, lewrockwell.com is that bad.

(Nov 12 '10 at 17:47) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

So in other words you aren't going to answer the question.

(Nov 12 '10 at 17:55) capitalistswine ♦ capitalistswine's gravatar image

My understanding of objectivism is that individuals are to be judged on the evidence provided of their personal philosophy of life and how close it approximates the ideal of selfism.
Veterans are individuals and should be judged based on their conduct and personal philosophy not on their "veteranism." To either praise or condemn them as a group is to behave in a faith based manner and is irrational and immoral. Perhaps it would make it easier if one were top replace the adjective "veteran" with some other adjective such as person of color, female, spanish, or gay.

(Nov 12 '10 at 18:32) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image

As for foreign policy in the Middle East and cheap oil, there is awesome intellectual ammunition in Alex Epstein's 3-part lecture series, The Triumph and Tragedy of the Oil Industry (a free download.)

All 3 parts are great listening, but you could start with part 3, which deals specifically with the oil discovery in Iran, it's seizure by the Shah, and the proper foreign policy response to the totalitarian Islamic menace, that would have saved thousands of American lives, had it been properly identified and dealt with.

I can't recommend this highly enough.

(Nov 13 '10 at 02:23) Earl3d ♦ Earl3d's gravatar image
showing 2 of 9 show all

The comments from the Rockwell site are simply incoherent. People wind up serving in the military for a wide variety of reasons. Some were drafted. Some joined voluntarily in peacetime and wound up serving in a war that started during their term of enlistment. Some joined during a war because they judged that, all things considered, it was the right thing for them to do. Some joined because they couldn't get a job in the private sector and needed to eat. As individualists we should judge veterans as individuals, on the basis of their specific motives and actions -- but your anarchist has a simpler approach: collective guilt. He hates the government, the military supports the government, therefore veterans are all bad. Is there a difference between the President who sets foreign policy, the congressmen who pass the declaration of war, the general who plans the military campaign and the grunts who carry it out? Nah, we can just lump them all together and blame each of them equally for the decisions made by any of them.

I hope the problem with that is obvious.

As Objectivists, the idea of "automatic" moral approval (or disapproval) should raise a red flag. Veterans should be judged on the same basis as any other person: by their actions, statements and conscious convictions. A man who joins the military because he has concluded that doing so defends rational values important enough to him to warrant risking his life in combat deserves a different evaluation than a man who joins because he is a racist and just wants to kill 'ragheads' in the 'Stan.

If specific evidence about an individual is available, it should be the basis of judgment. Someone who joined the military for dishonest or irrational reasons should be condemned for his dishonesty or irrationality. This leaves open the question of how to evaluate veterans in the abstract -- if all you know about a person is that they served in the military, does that speak well or ill of them, or is it neutral? The answer here turns on our evaluation of the government under which the service occurred, and the typical reason why people choose to serve. If we believe that the predominant motivation for joining the United States military is a desire to defend freedom -- even if the belief that doing so turns out to be questionable, as it so tragically is today -- then we should evaluate veterans positively qua veterans. If not, not.

answered Nov 12 '10 at 19:24

Kyle%20Haight's gravatar image

Kyle Haight ♦

Thank you. This is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for. This was, in essence, my own position, and I relayed it to him as such, however I was having some issue putting it eloquently and philosophically.

(Nov 12 '10 at 19:59) capitalistswine ♦ capitalistswine's gravatar image

Obviously, no individual or group literally receives automatic moral approval. Military veterans can be good people or bad people.

On the whole, however, the U.S. military deserves our immense respect and appreciation. We owe them our liberty and our security. (This is true in spite of the fact that in the last several decades, our military has increasingly been used for purposes other than American interests, from humanitarian missions to nation-building. Vets aren't responsible for those wars; our politicians are, especially our disgraceful line of recent presidents.)

Moreover, the military today receives heaps of undeserved scorn—from anarchists such as this acquaintance of yours, and from pacifists on the left.

Thus, on Veteran's Day and every day, a military veteran should by default have our respect (that is, unless you happen to know something negative about a particular individual).

answered Nov 13 '10 at 02:56

jasoncrawford's gravatar image

jasoncrawford ♦

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Asked: Nov 12 '10 at 15:57

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Last updated: Nov 13 '10 at 02:56