Thank you Jason for such a well thought out response and enjoyable read. I have nothing but respect for you. Not only for your Annapolis academic background but your hours spent reading classical sources. You’re not only one of the most well-read persons I know, but a gentleman.
I will attempt to interact with you using the same format you shared in your piece. Thanks again for this opportunity to dialogue on an issue whose harms to our nation are so great and so rarely thoughtfully discussed.
Many statements here with which I agree. Rejection of the initiation of violence, opposition to the Iraq war, your general opposition to the use of our military as the world’s policeman or tool for the spread of democracy. I would also be remiss if I didn’t commend you for rooting your policy ideas in a straightforward way especially with a source like Locke’s Second Treatise.
Which of our freedoms are threatened?
You have responded “life, liberty and property” and have reminded me of the harms and godless behavior of radical Muslims while using a colorful illustration (elk herd threatened by a wolf pack) that asks that we not confuse our relative safety with the inherent danger always present between prey and predator.
You correctly anticipate my reply with “you may respond that we are not personally threatened” and I’ll take the bait. I would state that for a threat to be significant enough to warrant a violent response we would not only want to demonstrate intent but ability to follow through on that intent. Not only do I not find the elk in the middle of the herd to be in danger but I do not find those on the perimeter to be. Indeed I would say that the wolf pack isn’t even present in the same national park. If this is true, and you may disagree, then I am going to question the veracity of the claim that my life, liberty and property are in imminent danger.
Taking the elk herd illustration a step further, what if two males were discovered to be leaving the herd and traveling long distances to encroach on a distant wolf pack making them more angry than is normal and drawing unnecessary attention to our herd?
If we value inalienable rights wouldn’t our focus be better spent on more significant threats to our freedom? I would guess that those legislators who have taken a solemn oath to “uphold and defend” our God given freedoms yet deprive us of 30%-40% (four times the property we tithe to our churches) of our property would be a greater and more significant threat. What is life, the pursuit of happiness and liberty if one is deprived of the property to enjoy it? I would think that a lawmaker who did more than express intent but combined intent with action and signed the “Patriot” Act, Indefinite Detention, the Affordable Care Act and refuse to address state education, the Fed, state’s rights etc. … to be our first concern. Its okay for an American lawmaker to deprive one he represents of their natural rights but not a foreign Muslim to think it? Before discounting my radical comments please recall that is was Goldwater who said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me also remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” “
Just War Theory
We may want to consider Just War Theory. Innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life. Are we completely innocent or have we played a role in the destabilizing the Middle East? What role might our unjust invasion of Iraq played in the success of ISIS? Could ISIS have arisen under the monster Saddam Hussein’s regime? Is ISIS using American military equipment? Was OBL or Hussein ever on an American payroll or trained by our military? You and I would agree that our nation is not one hundred percent at fault. We might also agree that our intervention contributed to more than one percent of the problem. Somewhere between those two figures is a number that calls into question how “innocent” we are. Once this is addressed we would still have the burden to demonstrate that our lives are in imminent danger. I let my prior comment stand here.
What natural law principle justifies our intervention?
I like the reference to Locke. The quote you have chosen is on topic and relevant. So many things to agree with here. Is ISIS a “dangerous and noxious creature”? Absolutely. Do I agree that we have the “right to destroy that which threatens me with destruction”? Yes. I think where we disagree is on their ability to deliver on their intent. You appear to see ISIS as “having the power to take away” our lives. I do not. Far from it. ISIS doesn’t even make my ‘Top Ten’ for most dangerous threats facing our life, liberty and property.
When applying just war theory, we would approach war only after exhausting diplomacy. You may respond – we can’t sit down and practice diplomacy with a “dangerous and noxious creature” and I would agree. What we could do is listen to other Muslim nations and what they are saying. I don’t mean the puppets who receive foreign aid and rely on our military support to remain in power but the people who are oppressed under American puppets who lack rule of law and free markets. People who lacking prosperity have nothing better to do than to take aim at the entity who they consider is keeping their leaders from listening to them. Osama bin Laden was always clear about his intent. Stop aiding their Zionist (a materialist not religious people group) enemy, remove our military from their land and allow them to choose their own representatives. We have in the past and continue in the present to violate natural and divine law. The Muslim in the Middle East has never been able to self-govern. The Muslim world has been oppressed under Ottoman, Russian, British and French imperialism for hundreds of years. Ideas have consequences. Cause and effect. After WWII, Eisenhower was pulled into the Muslim world by two items, a vacuum of power (French & British were too weak after the war to exert the same influence/control over their oil rich Muslim colonies and a desire to contain the Soviets. I think we have skipped a step. We not only lack just cause but our representatives have not practiced what we preach, sincere diplomacy.
“By the laws of nature we needn’t wait for that to occur to strike.”
For reasons I have just shared I see this as justification for a preemptive attack. If you will forgive me here, when I see a case made for preemptive attack I quote Otto Von Bismarck, Prussian statesman.
“Preventive war is like committing suicide out of fear of death.”
What of blowback and progressive humanism?
You correctly write that in my response to Frank I “left the field of natural law veering from principle and into the field of policy and motive.” Please let the record show not before I had shared a principled response. When I veered from principle to policy it was only after such and in direct reply to Frank’s question, “You have yet to provide what your or any viable alternative …”
“I would suggest to Eric that in this case it is he that is playing the role of progressive humanist”.
This was a nice turn and made me smile. If I understand what you have shared I am the progressive for assigning a degree of culpability to our nation? We may disagree on the degree of our culpability but I would not think you would make the Manichean case that we, like angels, can be absolved of any past or present accusation that our behavior has ever fallen short of the glory of God. That would be a pretty untenable position.
A Brief Comment on the Republican Liberty Caucus
Well done. So much misunderstanding about what it means to be a Christian conservative and the just role of force and the role of government on social issues. So many believers are comfortable picking up the sword of the state to accomplish social reform despite any biblical example for doing so. I sincerely understand it is much easier to make a law to reform my neighbor than to love him.
Thank you for the closing comment regarding the RLC, “it is the most effective group within the Republican Party to hold the party true to its limited government principles.” I believe I represent many in the RLC when I say that we too desire social reform but we will not use the state to accomplish such. To do so would be to use law progressively.
As an afterthought, I recently read something I think you would appreciate regarding natural law and divine law. I recently read a theologian who compared the two as the moon and the sun. Each shines light. The moon a dim reflection of the sun. When two believers are interacting on issues of law I think we should consider using Scripture. Why use a dim light when we have a bright one? I often use natural law on Rostra because of whom I think is reading and not wanting to lose an audience of principled unbelievers by referencing a source they don’t value.
Can we now excuse ourselves to our local watering hole where I can continue to enjoy your company and thinking?
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Eric Andersen is a member of the Central Committee of the San Diego County Republican Party and former Caucus Chair for the 71st Assembly District. He is the current Chair and Co-Founder of the Republican Liberty Caucus of San Diego County and Co-Founder of im2moro.com. He is a former Rock Church Citizen of the Year.