Sunday, October 31, 2010

Self-defense, Aggression, and Third Parties

Most people understand the difference between aggression and self-defense, but at times they need to be reminded with regard to a particular situation.

If you are in your house and someone enters it without an invitation and begins to steal or engage in violent acts, you have a right to defend yourself using force, up to and including killing the aggressor (in theory you aren't supposed to kill a thief unless they are also threatening, but most people won't second guess your feeling threatened).

If you are trespassing in someone else's house and they shoot at you and miss, you don't suddenly gain the right to self-defense. You have the right to run for your life or beg for mercy.

On the other hand, if a thief has surrendered and is no longer a threat, you have to wait for the police to arrive. You can't kill them legally, even though you could have just a few seconds before the surrendered.

Most people see the analogy to prisoners of war. The moment a soldier has surrendered, even if they were trying there best to kill you just a few moments earlier, they are protected under law. Killing them becomes a war crime. In the heat of battle this rule can be hard to remember, but it is a basic standard of civilization.

Other attempts to extend the basic concepts of self-defense to larger bodies, including nations, have not gone well to date. Nationalist perspectives tend to warp any interpretation of factual events. Nations that have long histories of going to war with each other often use past wars as justification for why present aggressions are "self-defense." We want to allow nations to defend themselves against aggression, but of this has freuqently resulted in aggression being characterized as defense.

Two issues that complicate international matters are divided houses and third parties; they often go together. Imagine a family where two spouses are quarrelling and heading towards divorce. One spouse calls on outside friends to come over and throw out the other spouse. The other spouse grabs a gun and starts shooting. From the shooter's view the situation is self-defense, but the families of the people who are shot will feel there relatives got a legitimate invitation, and so will see it as murder.

Now imagine a much bigger house with a whole bunch of quarrelling families or ethnic groups or classes. That would be a nation. If one group feels it is losing a power struggle, or a civil war, it may call in outside help. Is the third party nation that helps a losing faction aiding in their self-defense, or are they an aggressor invading someone else's house? People usually judge this based on which faction they like. I believe any interference by an outside nation has to be counted as aggression, and therefore as a war crime. Otherwise there is always a pretext for aggressive war. A nation wishing to attack or absorb another nation can always find some discontented people in the victim nation to issue the invitation.

The Vietnam War is a good example of why nations should never interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, at least not by force of arms. To summarize a much more complicated situation in the context of this discussion of third parties and self-defense, before World War II Vietnam was a colony of France. There was a Vietnamese independence movement. After Marshal Petain set up a French Catholic fascist regime to cooperate with Hitler, Vietnam was turned over the the Japanese, mainly because they were going to take it anyway, but some French troops remained.

After World War II the English, Americans, French and Dutch mainly reneged on their rhetoric about national self-determination and ending colonialism. Vietnamese nationalists were not just upset when the French returned with their Parisian arrogance. They kicked their butts in war, even though the U.S. aided the French. But the imperialists had made some Vietnamese allies, who were mainly Catholics. After the French lost they declared they were really nationalists too. The Catholic friends of America and France set themselves up as the government of South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese regime, twice betrayed by the United States, leaned to the communist nations of China and the Soviet Union.

When the U.S. started fighting against Vietnam (with soldiers in the South and bombings of both the South and the North), it was by invitation to President John F. Kennedy. The Northern branch of the family was winning the family argument even in South Vietnam. The invitation came from Ngô Đình Diệm (Ngo Dinh Diem), the first self-appointed ruler of South Vietnam.

The U.S. soldiers were in the Vietnamese house, but were they aggressors? They had been invited, but by a minority-based government with no popular support beyond its Roman Catholic cadres (the majority of people in South Vietnam were Buddhist).

In retrospect, the U.S. should have refused the invitation. The U.S. lost the war and in the process ruined its own economy and lost a vast amount of international prestige.

Winning, of course, would not have made things right. A successful thief and murderer is still a thief and murderer.

What about when bad things are happening in a nation, like genocide? That certainly adds another variable to the argument. The analogy might be a woman calling the police to help deal with a murderous spouse. The problem is that this argument puts you on a slippery slope. Hitler argued, when taking over an assortment of territories before World War II got into full swing, that he was protecting the ethnic Germans living in those territories. The argument opens the door to all sorts of other arguments for invading other nations. Including invasions based on religion or political ideology.

So I'll stick with the general rule that no nation ever has the right to invade another nation. Nations have the right to defend their own borders; that is all. That is my analysis of the ethics of these general situations.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sarah Palin: Sell California, Not Alaska

Speaking to a Tea Party rally at Barack Obama's pretend birthplace of Honolulu, Hawaii, Sarah Palin screeched, "Selling Alaska to pay off the national debt would be socialism! Barack Obama's plan to sell Alaska is un-American!"

Warming to her topic like arctic sea ice, Palin suggested that if the Democrats want to sell a state to pay off the national debt, it should be California. "We could pay off the entire national debt of $14 trillion dollars if we sold California to the Chinese. Plus socialist baby-murdering nature-lovers like Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger would become ineligible to run for President. Let them see how they like Peking style socialism with its rapid economic growth, jobs, and lack of Christianity."

Questioned by a reporter from Foxy News Network, Palin denied she opposed selling Alaska because it would make her ineligible to become President. "This constant campaigning is not about me," she said. "America is becoming a second rate power because of socialist government programs like the interstate highway system, socialized senior services, and a government owned military system. I am campaigning to save America from Socialism."

The growing controversy about the Federal Reserve's now not-so-secret contingency plan to sell Alaska (known as "geographic easing") to the highest bidder is coming too late to be a major factor in the November election . The Obama Administration is apparently not entirely united behind the Alaska Plan. President Obama feels that selling Alaska would be a mark against him in the history books, but he has to weigh that against the possibility that he would also be blamed if America goes bankrupt.

People are saying that, anyway.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Japanese Americans, Hawaii, and Democracy

The formerly independent nation of Hawaii is somewhat peripheral to my project of writing The U.S. War Against Asia. Geographically Hawaii is neither Asian nor American. Most Americans would not connect it to our wars against Asian nations if it were not for the Battle of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Hawaii also illustrates many of the issues in the War, and U.S. behavior in Hawaii prior to its annexation was closely watched by Asian nations. As I wrote in Theodore Roosevelt, Hawaii and Japan, by 1900, the ethnic Japanese population of Hawaii was 40%. Ethnic Europeans (mainly Americans) constituted only about 20% of the population. Hawaii was seized by United States citizens in 1893, but was not officially annexed by the United States until 1898, during the Spanish-American war.

I have been meaning to read some detailed history of Hawaii to clarify this issue, but in the meantime I picked up a general history of the northern Pacific Ocean, Walter A. McDougall's Let the Sea Make a Noise, which covers quite a bit of Hawaiian history. Having said that in 1882 Hawaiian plantation owners petitioned Japan to allow emigration to Hawaii because the Japanese were the best workers, on page 391 McDougall begins covering the events leading directly to annexation. Annexation was all about preventing democracy, not creating it.

American planters (mostly sons of missionaries) had already established that only white people and people who had a minimum amount of property (mostly the few native Hawaiians who had not sold out to whites) could vote in their banana Republic. In the United States at that time the Democratic Party was both openly racist and, for the most part, against imperialist adventures. In addition the party represented sugar plantation owners in Louisiana and Florida who did not want Hawaiian sugar to be inside U.S. tariff walls. So while Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, was President, the annexation of Hawaii was delayed. William McKinley, a Republican president elected in 1896, was willing to annex, but Japan stood in the way.

In 1897 the Japanese government sought to protect the independence of Hawaii after the (still independent, but wanting to be annexed white elitist) ruling junta barred Japanese immigration. Japanese Consul Shimamura protested, so Secretary of the Navy John Davis Long sent a cruiser, the Philadelphia, to Hawaii. Again in April Hawaii's President Sanford Dole (yes, like the pineapple company) formally requested annexation by the U.S. The Japanese countered by sending their own cruiser, Naniwa. How about a little democracy fellas? "If the Republic of Hawaii were forced to grant Japanese residents the vote, the Japanese would take over! McKinley now overcame his doubts and ordered the State Department to draft an annexation treaty." [page 392]

"In December 1897 the Meiji cabinet blinked, declared itself satisfied with a small indemnity, and ordered the Naniwa home."

I'll also note that the annexation of Hawaii broke previously signed treaties with the sovereign nation of Hawaii guaranteeing its eternal independence.

It is an old game. The easiest way to win at democracy is to allow only your own side to vote. The U.S. still plays that game, more recently for instance in unoccupied Palestine and in Algeria. When political parties the U.S. does not like, for instance Hamas, win elections, the U.S. simply installs someone else and teaches them how to run crooked elections. Just like in California now, where the publicized debates between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown have shown they are just two faces of the same incompetent regime. Third party candidates like Laura Wells are simply not allowed to join in public debates.

Democracy, even when truly democratic, is no guarantee of good governance. But the minimal ingredients for democracy are: allowing everyone to vote, and allowing all candidates fair access to the voters.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Save America, Sell Alaska

The United States of America is more deeply in debt than any nation in the world. The national debt, which is really just government debt, is about $13.6 trillion.

For practical purposes Americans became the world's aristocrats after World War II, when the factories of every other nation had been bombed to smithereens. We had it all. Some of us had more of all of it than others of us, but I'll leave that issue aside today.

Like aristocrats we began to feel the lifestyle we had once earned by military conquest was our right, even if we did not work very hard or invest very wisely. In the 1960s we started running up debts, and then we just kept running them up.

2010 now: Surprise! Everyone has factories, even nations that had none before World War II. Only Iraq and Afghanistan have been bombed back to the stone age. Americans have no special economic advantage in the world. But we still want to spend like we used to back in the good old days. So we spent the first few years of the new century borrowing money and spending it.

Some people say we should get back to thrift and hard work, we should earn our place in the world again. But we are Number 1! We are the world's aristocracy! We have other options. Like the old landed aristocracy, we can start selling off what we bought and developed when we were kings.

That already happened a little bit in the late 1980's, when we sold off some real estate at very, very good prices to the Japanese, who lived to regret most of their American purchases. Now, however, it is not just a matter of myriad personal debts. Our government owes $13.6 trillion dollars, and much more if you count future obligations. Selling a golf course or two won't solve this problem.

We have to think big, and much as I would like it, I don't think we'd be able to sell Texas or even California.

But we could sell Alaska. Not very many people live in it, less than a million, or about 1 per square mile, so few that if all of them want to emigrate to the 49 real states it would not be a problem. We would be selling a lot of acres, 663,268 square miles worth of them. At 640 acres per square mile, that is ... um ... where's that calculator? What does 4.245 with a raised 8 mean? Oh, 424,500,000 acres. Nowhere near trillion acres, well south of half a billion.

I think China, Russia, and Japan would all be willing buyers, maybe even Canada. We could get a bidding war going.

Alaska was known as Seward's Folly when we bought it from the Russians for just $7.2 million in 1867. What a great investment. I think we could easily sell it for $500 billion to a trillion dollars.

That money could be used to pay down the national debt, but people will want to use it for other stuff, I suppose. Rich Americans will want ever lower tax rates. The Pentagon will want to fight Iran or Venezuela. Welfare bums will want more bum. Whiny working class kids who want a college degree so they can become middle class will want more state-subsidized tuition. Socialists will want the money to be used by the government to buy up the healthcare system.

But if we could resist such spendthrift impulses, and we did get a cool trillion dollars from the Chinese (let's guess they would be the high bidder), we could pay down the national debt to only $12.6 trillion.

Wouldn't that be great? Then again, maybe we should hold out for $1000 per acre. That would get us $4.2 trillion. For that price maybe we could throw in Puerto Rico, which isn't even a state.

Be sure to forward this essay to your friends, or a great idea for saving America will be lost among all the stupid ideas for saving America written by other bloggers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Problem with Atheism

From my point of view the problem with atheism is partly simply a matter of vocabulary (or semantics, for those of you who like Greek roots), which in turn masks deeper problems.

As we were reminded of recently by Pope Benedict XVI's statement that non-Catholics worship false gods, a variety of religious groups treat all outsiders as atheists or unbelievers. I believe the terms God and god have many definitions (sometime multiple ones even within a single religion); they are ambiguous. A lot of religious argumentation (and mass murder) hides behind the ambiguities. [For more detail see: God, A Confusing Concept] Since atheism is defined as not believing in God, that begs the question of exactly what you don't believe in, and what you do believe in.

Define God in this way: that which encompasses all that is real. In effect this equates god with Nature (in the sense of all of the natural universe), and suddenly you might say I am not an atheist, but a theist of the 18th century enlightenment sort. But define God in the way any major religion defines it today, and I am back in the atheist category. For shallow people that may be all they need to know about me, but in fact atheists vary greatly (which I suppose makes us susceptible to natural selection, and evolution).

Take Joseph Stalin, a major 20th century atheist. Uncle Joe is a big embarrassment to most modern atheists, but in the 1930's most of the world's atheists were also Marxists-Leninists and loved Stalin. Then we all found out how he killed lots of people, mostly people who belonged to his own Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. He may even have killed more atheists than that most Catholic of dictators, Adolf Hitler did; it depends on who you let do the counting.

So some atheists have tried to exclude Stalin from our fold by saying that Marxism-Leninism with its philosophy of Dialectical Materialism is actually a religion. I can't buy that argument. There is nothing about atheism in itself that makes a person good. Religions are systems of false beliefs, but simply rejecting certain false beliefs does not make you a good person. Stalin was paranoid and cruel, two human traits that are a bad combination no matter what your theological or philosophical beliefs. For factual confirmation, note that there are plenty of other cold blooded mass murders who were atheists. The common denominator of mass murder is usually political or military power, not religion or philosophy.

Many atheists have worked on the issue of an ethical basis for atheism. I think a wise human is ethical, and can develop or subscribe to an ethical system, but I think any such system should work for any human being. To some extent major religions have caught on precisely because they promote ethical behavior. Societies with a high percentage of people trying to behave ethically tend to do better than societies lacking a culture of ethics. That is why if you convene a committee of atheists, Christians, Buddhists, and Moslems (or any other religions) and stick to ethical questions, it is not that hard to come to agreements.

The same is true of atheism. To the extent that atheists are known to be strong on ethics, our reputation will rise. To the extent atheism becomes an excuse for unethical behavior, it will be condemned.

Ethics is part of my Natural Liberation Philosophy project. That is one reason I comment a great deal upon politics and governance. Ethical questions get trickier when you start trying to apply them to real world situations involving large numbers of diverse people. Systems of law may encode ethics, but they more often encode power relationships. Studying them, discussing them, a student can learn much about ethics in the real world.

If you were raised religious and are in the process of realizing you are an atheist and there are a lot of us alive in the world today, congratulations. Clarify the ethical views you were taught by your religion. Don't throw them out, build them better.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nazi Pope Blasts Islam, False Gods

The man called Benedict XVI, legal A.K.A. Joseph Alois Ratzinger, continues to prove he is the third in a line of fascist, and more specifically Nazi, Popes. According to accounts in the the Associated Press dated October 11, 2010, Pope Benedict recently "denounced terrorist ideologies that spur violence in God's name," adding that "these ideologies are based on false gods." [See Pope Denounces Terrorist Ideas]

Wow. Of course, Roman Catholics have been self-selecting and inbreeding for gullibility for 17 centuries now. The Catholic Church so cultivates ignorance of history and religion that it discourages its communicants from reading the Bible. Sadly, because of the nature of politics, even many Protestant Americans don't know we had to fight the Catholics in World War II because of the first two fascist popes, Pius XI and Pius XII. They used their servants Benito Mussolini, Philippe Petain, General Francisco Franco and, most useful servant of all, Adolf Hitler, to try to eliminate all rival religions from the earth. In the process they murdered roughly 20 million atheists, 6 million Jews, and about 1 million Protestant Christians between 1936 and their defeat in 1945.

Joseph Alois Ratzinger was just a child then, but he became a member of Hitler Youth. Later, trying to clean up his resume a bit, he claimed he was forced into Nazi Youth and actually opposed Hitler. But we know what happened to even middle class Catholic Germans who opposed Hitler, or failed to attend Hitler Youth meetings. They were put in concentration camps. So the opposing Hitler bit is just a bald lie.

The Catholic Church's idea that its God is the true god and all other Gods are false goes back to pre-Catholic Christianity. Christians essentially invented the idea of there being only one God, and that has brought the world untold grief. Recounting how many non-Catholics have been murdered over the centuries by Catholics in their God's name would take an encyclopedia. Even Google would pale at the thought of the cost of building a datacenter to hold all the data of the victims of the Catholic Church.

Islam is the original Protestant sect. There were lots of non-Catholic sects before Islam, but the Catholics wiped them out. Mohammed and his Moslem followers were the first to put forward a different theology and live to tell about it. In fact, they beat the Catholics at their own game of "conversion or death" for about a millenia. The Catholic Church looked ready for total defeat around 1500 A.D., but the discovery of America, and the working of Mexican and Peruvian natives to death in gold and silver mines, allowed the Catholics, led by Spain, to turn the tide. Catholic mercenary armies inspired not so much be faith as by payment in silver stopped and then turned back the advance of the Turkish, Islamic empire in Europe.

This weakness of the Catholic Church around 1500 also enabled the survival of what we now no as Protestant Christian churches. There were christian protestants before Martin Luther. Martin Luther was the just the first to call out the Popes on their bull and live to tell about. This allowed,over time, ever larger numbers of people to engage in rational thought, religous choice, and ethical behavior, a process that I hope will continue to grow.

The internal stuggles of the Catholic Church during the past 2 decades look like war preparations to me. Tolerant, pro-democracy persons within the Church have been systematically deprived of power. The Church's assaults on women's rights have become stident, including the recent announcement that it is heresy punishable by excommunication to even think about making women priests. The Church has become a right-wing dictatorship, just as it did before it engineered the rise of the fascist dictators to power during the 1930s.

Affirming its intent to restore fascist governments wherever possible, and ultimately make a bid for global domination again, is Benedict XVI's ongoing efforts to make saints of thousands of General Franco's supporters [See fascist saints]. General Franco was the Catholic dictator of Spain, highly praised and blessed by Pope Pius XII, who murdered millions of non-Catholics in Spain during his reign of terror, which lasted until his death in 1975.

False Gods indeed. The idea of One True God would seem to me to imply that the worst mistake a person could make is getting a poor signal from God. Like God is AT&T, and has never quite figured out how to make cell phones work right.

I denounce the use of violence to spread religion or philosophy of any kind. I admit to being anti-religion, preferring my Natural Liberation Philosophy. But the way to convert people is by example and argument, not force. Both Catholicism and Islam have also used, at time, economic policy to encourage conversions. Right now the Catholic Church is bankrupt. It's main weapon against Islam is the United States government, which it influences through Catholic voter blocks and lobbying. Americans should not allow the Pope to use our tax dollars to further his agenda of ignorance, superstition, and centralised dictorial governance.

Further reading:
Hitler's Pope: Pius XII by John Cornwell

The Vatican in World Politics by Avro Manhattan

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Humboldt County, Localization and Imperialism

Yesterday my dear friend Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, matriarch of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, posted this on Facebook: "At SBDC's Technology Bootcamp for biz owners and one of the 1st recommendations we're getting is to outsource and hire "virtual assistants" in India for $4/hr or Georgia for $8/hr. And bonus, they can be paid as contractors - so no benefits! Hmmmm."

I have complained about outsorcing in the past, and have actually had work I did, and got paid well for, outsourced to India. But since Kaitlin already expressed that outrage, I took it to the next level, commenting: "An Internet downside for U.S. workers for sure. After 65 years of being privileged workers inside an imperialist economy, we Americans are being tossed back into the international proletariat. Who woulda thought." Lots of other people left interesting comments too.

Of course, a person could offer their services in the $4 to $8 an hour range in Humboldt County. You can't be someone's employee at that scale, it violates the minimum wage laws, but you can freelance for as little as you want. And as long as you don't get sick or have a family to support, and know how to live very frugally, you can live on that scale even in the U.S. I know, I have done it, but I hope to never do that again.

American workers' share in the enjoyment and production of American wealth has had a complicated history. Indentured servants and African slaves obviously produced much but consumed little. The vastness of virgin lands "liberated" from Indian tribes meant family farms could do pretty well until about 1870. Then we had the period of robber capitalism until the Great Depression. A lot of people think the Democrats and New Deal paved the way for the Great Prosperity of 1940 to 1970, but a lot of variables were involved.

Americans forget, or do not know, that two of the world's most historically evil people, Adolf Hitler of Germany and Joseph Stalin of the U.S.S.R. (Russia), nevertheless deserve a lot of credit for ending the Great Depression. Because the U.S.S.R. was communist, its economy continued to grow through the 1930s. Germany had a very bad economic meltdown, which is one reason Hitler came to power, and he basically ordered everyone back to work, so Germany recovered from the Depression years ahead of the United States.

Then World War II came along. Germany destroyed Russia's factories. Their bombers tore up Great Britain pretty well too. German and American bombers destroyed Germany's factories. China was pretty well destroyed, and Japan's factories were bombed, in some cases vaporized, by the U.S.

Come 1946, almost all of the factory capacity of the world was in the United States, and a great deal of what was abroad was owned by American capitalists. Making wage concessions to union, or even non-union, workers in the U.S. was no big deal. Buy peace at home, extract wealth from abroad.

I believe that workers should share the wealth that they produce and that democratic government should be used to control the excesses of capitalism. In fact, I would prefer an anarcho-syndicalist social system, in which people work cooperatively and don't need much in the way of governance.

Localism posits that a healthy economy and society can be built up apart from the global economy and society. Certainly historically some areas have prospered and some areas have failed and most have been somewhere in the middle. So it is a gamble. Make yourself an island and maybe you can pay your workers $20 an hour for work that has a global scale of $4 per hour. On the other hand, you might be setting up a downward spiral towards being one of those places where people would be happy to get $1 an hour and not starve, rather than not working at all.

In 1700, China and India were the wealthiest nations in the world. Their highly paid artisans were reduced to poverty in the next two centuries as manufactured goods from Great Britain replaced local crafts. Today Chindia is rapidly become the world's most important economic region. Contrary to U.S. propaganda, that growth is not particularly fueled by exports. It is mainly fueled by infrastructure development and a growth in internal consumption.

Unionism in the U.S. failed for a variety of reasons, but the main one was that unions never took power from capitalists. Instead, using the profits from imperialism, the U.S. capitalist class bought off sectors of the U.S. workers with middle-class levels of pay. And in the case of AFL-CIO bureaucrats, upper-management levels of pay.

The times they are a changin. Worker pay relative to management and capitalist pay has been declining in the U.S., which should upgrade revolutionary potential. But culture usually lags, rather than leads, economics. Worker culture in the U.S. is mostly looking to a return of the glory days of 1940 to 1970, when you could get a good paycheck without becoming a radical or even joining a union. Unless the U.S. blows up everyone else's factories again, those days are not going to return. The workers' movement has to be based upon the new economic realities. A key question is: can it be a national struggle, a local struggle, or must it be an international struggle?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kidnapping, Slavery, and Islamic Terror: To the Shores of Tripoli

Earlier today I had a discussion with a military guy, in this case a defense contractor highly-paid consultant type, I think.

Soon I was saying, "The U.S. military has always been used for aggression. It has never been used for self defense. First it was used to steal native American tribal land. No, first it was used to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion and establish the Federal Government's authority to collect taxes under the new Constitution. Then we did our first attacks on the Islamic nations, under President Thomas Jefferson. You know, the raids on the Barbary 'Pirate' states."

That was in 1801, I now know because I looked it up in my Bailey's The American Pageant, A History of the Republic. Tripoli is a city in present-day Libya.

"That was self-defense," my new friend said. "They were capturing American ships and citizens and holding them for ransom!"

"So," I said, having a thought I never had before, "if you kidnap people, that is a pretext for a just war?"

"Of course it is," he said. "All U.S. wars have been just wars."

"Let's stick to the war against the Pasha of Tripoli for a moment. At that time, was slavery legal in the United States of America."

"Slavery is a different issue. I am not for slavery, and I am not a racist."

"Fine, but slavery was legal, right?"


"And importing slaves was legal, right?"

"But at some point we made importing new slaves illegal."

"But not at that point. I could be wrong, but I think that was later. [it was 1808] So where did these slaves come from?"


"And Tripoli was in?"


"So the United States of America was kidnapping Africans, by proxy anyway, and keeping them as permanent slaves. Whereas the Islamic states just were taxing the passing of ships in their waters, and when Jefferson decided he would not pay the tax, they confiscated our ships, and in effect kidnapped some of our citizens."

"We weren't taking slaves from Tripoli," he countered. "The slaves we were taking had a right to fight back, and probably a lot of them did. And we had a right to send in the Marines at Tripoli."

"Nice parting of the waters, there," I admitted. "But that just leaves Jefferson and the U.S. military as hypocrites. We could have used military force to shut down the slave trade in Africa, and we could have gone ahead and had a civil war in the U.S. to end slavery here. Instead we attacked an Islamic state because we did not want our merchants to have to pay taxes to sale ships through their waters."

"And we kicked their butts. Right or wrong, we always kick their butts."

And we are always the defenders of all that is good and just. A few white people landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts and Jamestown, Virginia in the early 1600's, and using only-self defense and hard work ended up with an empire that includes not just 50 states and a bunch of territories, but military bases and political puppets all around the world. Semper Fidelis.

[quotes are to the best of my memory. The other guy probably remembers how he won the argument.]