ENLIGHTENMENT AND WORLD PEACE
Step by step guide to enlightenment and then world peace
First read this:
And you can see how a Russian managed to forge a deep friendship and alliance with an Australian. If that's the sort of world you want to live in, then read on. There's a parallel world sitting right in front of you. One that doesn't require conspiracy theories at every juncture. Even if you reject it in the end, at least see it once. Note that being able to see the parallel world requires some painful soul-searching and pride-swallowing and dropping misplaced loyalty. You need to be proud of what you've personally achieved, or not proud at all, rather than being proud of what some other members of some arbitrary group you happen to belong to (e.g. “men” or “women”) have achieved. The non-painful alternative of doing nothing is so tempting. Everything can be explained by adding yet another conspiracy theory to the pile. No need to search deep and hard for an alternative explanation. This may sound like “new age” crap. But this is actually real.
Note that this document has been tailored using a white Russian Christian as an example, but all you need to do is substitute in your own race/religion/nationality, e.g. “Arab Muslim”, and you'll have an identical flow of logic, just the examples change (since every race/religion/nationality has had bad elements in its history – usually less advanced populations will gloss over those inconvenient truths).
Are you a nationalist? Were you taught that Russians are special? Just because by chance you were born in a particular geographical area, you, and those around you, are inherently superior to those born in other geographical areas. This is, after all, what your government and culture taught you. But is it true? What are the odds that you just so happened to be born in a special country full of special people that are inherently superior to the rest of the world? Do you think people in other countries believe that about Russia too, or do you think their government has a completely different argument as to why their country is actually the best?
Have you ever been bullied by one of your countrymen? Do you think that your countryman is just like you? Do you want to be associated with your oppressor? Every year there are Russian conscripts who suicide because they are victims of bullying in the barracks. There are plenty of people outside of Russia who would never have bullied you. Do you think that you may have more in common with those people? Are you willing to die for your country? Are you willing to die for other countries? Which ones and why? Are you willing to die for a subset of other countries? Perhaps just the women?
What are your hobbies? Bee-keeping? There are bee-keepers around the globe. There are very few Russians who have an interest in bee-keeping though. Do you think that you might have more of an affinity with fellow bee-keepers than fellow Russians?
What about the recent (ie in living memory) history of Russia? Did you know that Russia started World War 2, along with their fellow partners in crime the Nazis? Both countries invaded Poland, it wasn't just the Germans. The Russians also attacked Finland. And after World War 2, the Russians enslaved Eastern Europe for decades. If you were wondering why the Eastern Europeans were desperate to join NATO, it was most definitely not because anyone was forcing them to do so. It was because they never want to live in slavery again.
Were you indoctrinated into the Christian religion as a child? What are the odds that your parents happened to be in the one true religion in the world? Did you parents come to the decision to be Christians after carefully examining all the religions in the world and finding this one to be the best? Are you aware of Christianity's bloody past? IRA terrorists claim to be Christian even as they kill other Christians. Ever been bullied by a Christian? Do you really want to be associated with that bully?
Due to your geographical region, you're more likely to have been bullied by a white person than a black person. Do you want to be associated with that bully rather than a friendly black or Arab? Whites have a very bloody history indeed. See World War 2 as one example.
Your initial reaction to attacks on these deeply-held tribal affiliations will be defensive. Your brain has established neural pathways to cover your existing paradigms making it physically easier for you to continue thinking that way. There is also the issue of pride. You are currently able to take pride in being Russian (and thus special), and no-one likes to lose their special status. You could try being proud about being an anti-nationalist, or a humanist, or enlightened, but it may not be sufficient. If it is at all possible, a separate document will be written which uses a different technique to get the point across, according to best psychological techniques. This document is only meant to outline the logical path.
Now that these things have been brutally stated, they will lurk in the back of your mind. Come back to this document in a year or two – whatever it takes for you to drop your existing tribal affiliations.
Back already? Congratulations. You've just completed the most difficult part which is unwinding decades of insidious indoctrination. That's the biggest step to enlightenment, but you're not there yet. We still need tribal affiliations, just different ones, based on ideology. When complete, you will no longer talk about your “own country” but your “own ideology”. During the Cold War, Americans would talk in such terms with the expectation that USA itself would be wiped out in nuclear war, but the ideology of capitalism/democracy would live on elsewhere in the world (and that's what “winning” was).
When you are bullied by a white Russian Christian, you should not hold it against all white Russian Christians, because not all white Russian Christians are the same. Some are bullies and some aren't. Your survival instincts demand a characterization of the threat you face. Here's who bullied you – a non-humanist. A humanist is someone who follows the Golden Rule - do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Note that this Golden Rule comes from philosophy and was independently derived in Greece, China and presumably elsewhere. It is not the property of one particular religion. So you're probably a humanist. You have internalized the Golden Rule. Perhaps this was indoctrinated into you as a child, or perhaps you were born with it, or perhaps you got it from somewhere else. It doesn't matter. You're a humanist. The person bullying you is a non-humanist. They are breaking the Golden Rule. They don't want to be bullied themselves, yet they are bullying you.
What do you do now? There is basically a war happening. The war is non-humanist vs humanist. The non-humanist is probably winning that war. He probably wouldn't have bullied you if he thought you were stronger than him. So you need to form an alliance (with the school teacher or the police) to fight back against the non-humanist. This military alliance is a grouping of anti-non-humanists. It is anti-non-humanists who make the world safe for humanists.
So this is two more steps on the way to enlightenment – first see yourself as a humanist, and then as an anti-non-humanist. Pacifism does not work. You need to call the security forces – be that your teacher, the headmaster, the police, the army, or NATO. Escalate force until the non-humanist threat to you or any other humanist is eliminated. Then you will be able to view the 2003 Iraq war as another such escalation by one of Saddam's victims. Or at least you would be able to if you weren't being hit by another barrier to enlightenment – dogma.
The communists had a very clear dogma – it was a book written by Karl Marx which couldn't be questioned. When such a book exists, it causes people to define good and bad with reference to that book instead of with reference to the Golden Rule. People who question that book are bad by definition. This sows the seeds of permanent war until everyone has been converted to internalize allegiance to that book, or until nobody is left that treats the book as a dogma (ie beyond question). We see this Cold War being played out in our democracies where everything can and is subject to questioning.
Once again we have a situation where a communist may be trying to ram Marx's book down the throat of non-Marxist. The non-Marxist can just refuse to switch, saying that he is a rationalist who believes in the scientific method. Or he can take an extra step towards enlightenment which is to actively oppose the dogma. So similar to being anti-non-humanist he is also anti-dogma, making an effort to question the veracity of supposedly flawless documents.
The 2003 Iraq war was a significant event in human history as via opinion polls it showed the tribal affinities of people in democracies. The rationalist was able to question individuals to find out why they were taking the ideological positions they were. With a rationalist, humanist ideology in place, and in light of horrendous atrocities being done by Saddam, such as the chopping out of people's tongues, you should now be in a position of reacting to those atrocities the same way you would if it were a member of your own race/religion/nationality. That means immediate use of force to end the atrocity. But the tribal barriers prevented this from happening.
First have a read of the three main reasons for the Iraq war, documented here:
By far the most common reason cited for being against the Iraq war was the belief that this was a war for oil, and that wars for oil were inherently bad – end of story. The paradigm of an anti-non-humanist Iraqi using force escalation to a global scale was not something they were capable of understanding. The selfish desire for oil was something that they could understand, although they completely failed to be rational about it by seeking out actual evidence. Let's go through that.
First of all, it doesn't even matter why Iraq was invaded. Even if it was invaded because it had the best sunflower seeds, it doesn't matter. What matters is whether the action was good or bad (even if only 1 person in the world expresses that good idea), as determined by debate in the free marketplace of ideas. From an anti-non-humanist force escalation paradigm, it was a good thing. The number of people who express an idea just shows how clever/stupid/good/bad a percentage of the population is.
Secondly, it is impossible to tell for sure why Bush invaded Iraq. We do not have the technology to scan his brain to see what the “real reasons” were. He may have had multiple good reasons, or multiple bad reasons, or a combination of the two, or he could swap from bad to good and good to bad 10 times a second. It makes no difference. All that matters is the end product – whether he orders an action or not, and whether that action was more good than bad according to the good and bad ideas expressed by everyone in the whole world. We do have what he said in public, but of course it is possible that he was lying. We don't have any evidence of a memo written to Cheney saying “let's do it for the oil”. However, even in the absolute worst case – that Bush really was doing it for some sort of selfish reason, it still doesn't matter. What matters is that millions of Americans got their policy implemented, and whether or not the arguments they presented on the free marketplace of ideas won the clash of ideas (with ALL pros and cons of the action listed - even if only one person (even if it is a 14 year old Fijian girl) in the world holds a particular pro or con). And it is much easier to question those millions of Americans for their “real reasons”. Of course, they could all be lying too, but it's the best we can do. And the reasons given by those Americans were not revolving around oil. Not even 1% (nevermind the 51% required) of the pro-war cited oil as a motive. From this we can see that the American people are noble. Another thing is that in the free marketplace of ideas, we need to decide on the course of action based on what we PREDICT will happen. Not all the facts will be known and we can't predict the future with perfect accuracy. We just need to take what the free marketplace of ideas says is the best course of action. There's no right to go back with 20/20 hindsight and say that a course of action was immoral because there were unexpected bad outcomes. What's immoral is going against the results of the free marketplace of ideas.
Let's look at that a bit closer. Normally a government will consult experts. The general public also has access to some sort of expertise via media commentary. The end result is that there will be a list of pros and cons for a particular action. Different people may have different lists, and the whole thing is subjected to the free marketplace of ideas. Then people make decisions according to what makes sense to them. You may have 20% of the population supporting an action for Reason A, and 30% of the population supporting an action for Reason B. People in both A and B camps will be hoping that the country's leader and his inner circle that get the final say in the decision-making process will fall into EITHER A or B camp so that THEIR policy gets implemented regardless of what anyone else's reason may have been. Because people vote for governments in order to get THEIR policies implemented. They would have voted for someone different if they didn't think this person would implement any of their policies.
If People A are unable to convince someone to support their policy for Reason A, they should try presenting Reason B to see if that is more persuasive to the brain of the person in question. Because when competing in the free marketplace of ideas, the goal is to get as much support for an action as possible, including hopefully the government and even hopefully the opposition. Even if only 20% of the country supports an action for a reason you approve of (and note that often people will support an action for multiple reasons, not just one), you should be thankful to those people instead of second-guessing what reason politicians may have had. It is after all the people (taxpayers) who are paying for the action, and the soldiers (from the people) who are risking their lives – not politicians. But even the politicians have the right to the presumption of good faith. It is very unlikely that politicians magically have (and keep secret) a completely alien list of reasons for an action that have zero support amongst the population. But as mentioned – even if they did, it still wouldn't matter. Also, in a democracy, the people effectively ARE the government. They participate in the decision-making process at some level, even though it isn't a direct correlation. So attacking a politician is effectively attacking the millions of people who support that politician (or the politician supports them – it can be viewed either way when two people happen to be going in the same direction).
People spend an enormous amount of time guessing/fabricating what is in someone else's brain when it is totally immaterial. They should instead spend their time trying to defeat the actual arguments presented, and e.g. explaining why it is perfectly fine for Uday to continue raping innocent Iraqi women while ever he feels horny.
Next, the oil argument doesn't even make sense. Oil is sold at world prices. Saddam was selling at world prices, and the new Iraqi government does the same. There's no choice. Oil is a fungible commodity. The millions of war supporters did not get either cheaper oil or free oil. So if that was their aim, they failed in their war aims.
Then there's the question of all the war supporters in countries that weren't even part of the Iraq war. Where were they coming from? And as to the question of whether the war supporters are brainwashed or not – brainwashed by who? There wasn't a consistent message coming from any “indoctrination camp” or wherever the brainwashing was supposed to have taken place. Even individual families were split on the issue. Why is it that people who stood alongside fellows such as Osama Bin Laden in opposing the Iraq war are considered non-brainwashed, but those who have a paradigm that believes no human should be subjugated are considered brainwashed? Also note that when you make the same policy decision that the world's most wanted terrorist also makes, you should check and recheck your logic to make sure you really want to be on Osama's side instead of on the side of pro-war democratically-elected leaders across the globe. Also you should accept that a huge portion of your population thought it was important to take down the enemy dictator Saddam. Even if you don't think it is necessary, for whatever reason, is there a reason you don't adopt an attitude of “if it's important to you, then, although I wouldn't do it myself, I will let you do it and just stay neutral myself instead of adamantly opposing you”.
Another barrier people find to war is the fact that war kills innocents (usually accidentally), and that it therefore is not an option. Yet these same people do not call for private car travel to be banned to minimize the number of deaths due to car crashes. A trade-off is made in both cases. Accidental deaths for freedom for millions (in the case of war), or convenience for millions (in the case of cars). If you genuinely care about an arbitrary death of x number of random people, you can restore the death toll to normal by banning private car travel for z years. It is much better to temporarily ban cars than permanently ban wars of liberation. There's also often an attempt to make the accidental death of children in war as infinitely more important than the deliberate death of an adult at the hands of the dictator. This allows the dictator to butcher as many people as he wants, so long as he avoids one class of people. It makes as much sense as talking about how war might cause deaths to blind dwarfs, while Saddam never killed any blind dwarfs. The collateral damage that does occur kills either good people (war supporters) or bad people (anti-war). We should mourn for the deaths of our allies, but they know it was all necessary, and wouldn't want it any other way. We should not mourn for the death of the bad people. In addition, all human activity involves the risk of accidental death. Should we not send aid to Africa in case an aid ship accidentally rams and kills someone on a fishing boat?
Another barrier is that people incorrectly refer to Gandhi having a peaceful “uprising” and saying that war is not necessary. Gandhi was trying to get premature independence from a liberal democracy (UK), which is far removed from overthrowing a tyrant. Americans also believe their own folklore about a glorious revolution and expect others to do the same. When an attempt is made to change a dictatorship, you get things like the June 4th massacre in 1989. For more information about warfare see this: http://www.mutazilah.org/warfare.htm
Another problem is that people see the civilian death toll in Iraq and blame the liberators for that, instead of blaming the terrorists. If religiously-bigotted Sunnis weren't fighting to restore minority Sunni rule, we would not be seeing this death toll. And there should be no talk of giving in to this terrorist minority. Freedom is way too precious to switch to terrorist rule. The situation can be likened to that of the SWAT. The terrorists are basically holding the population as hostages, and the coalition sent in the SWAT to resolve the crisis. Innocent deaths are inevitable, and the SWAT will never surrender to terrorist demands. And SWAT should never be blamed for a single death. It is the terrorists/hostage-takers who are responsible for every single death. And they should also be blamed for keeping their weapons in civilian areas instead of avoiding fighting in civilian areas. Also, when you see Uday raping innocent women, you have an obligation to ring SWAT (ie email your government) and if you don't see an immediate deployment of SWAT to arrest Uday (or else a REALLY good excuse as to why Uday should be able to rape for as long as he likes), then you have an obligation to find a different phone number for SWAT (ie email other governments in the world). Note that you should NOT be waiting for Bush to suggest liberating Iraq, and then demand that he should beg for your approval. It is YOU that should be lobbying HIM, and begging him to implement YOUR policy! And not just Bush. You should have been lobbying the presidents who were in power BEFORE Bush. And not just the US President either. You should have been lobbying any nation that has the forces required to carry out a liberation, e.g. Britain and France. Or asking lesser nations to form a coalition that would have the required technical expertise.
Another way to look at things is like this. During WW2, the Japanese were on their way to Australia, bringing with them the concept of “comfort women”. I expect that Australia would be willing to sacrifice 90% of its population before handing over a single woman. Note that the 90% figure is not even radical. Many people would insist that we fight to the last man, ie 100% sacrifice (which is in fact exactly what was done at the Alamo). And even if the Japanese had successfully invaded Australia, I would still sacrifice 90% of the population to get rid of their unjust rule. And since I'm not racist, the same thing applies if the unjust ruler was a local Australian. I would not accept a government that raped its own population. This is the situation the Iraqis found themselves in. A local Iraqi had taken over the government, the people didn't even have the right to not be raped, and good Iraqis would be willing to sacrifice a large portion of their population in order to obtain freedom. Thanks to the US backing these good Iraqis in their honorary revolution, the Iraqis didn't even have to sacrifice 1% of their population, nevermind 90%. Also note that if it is acceptable for the Iraqi people to hold a revolution, without even doing (because it is impossible) an opinion poll, and without necessarily even having majority support (the US Revolution only had about 1/3 support), then there is no reason why allies of the Iraqi revolutionaries shouldn't be allowed to assist (in the same way that the US Revolution received massive external help from other governments).
Another point to note is that if Australia had a cruel dictatorship like Saddam, and the Americans liberated us, I would expect close to 100% of Australians to support the invasion. We saw this (virtually zero opposition) after Japan, Germany, Panama and Grenada were invaded too. Even in Afghanistan we saw about 85% support for the invasion. The fact that we got an extremely different figure - about 50% - in Iraq is a very interesting and important data point. As part of the response to 9/11 we need to understand why Iraqis (and presumably other countries) are not being as sensible as Panama (or even Afghanistan). We also need to understand why groups like ISIS are able to arise. No-one predicted the terrorism nor the rise of ISIS post-Saddam and used that as part of their arguments for or against the war. Also no-one predicted that ISIS would be able to defeat the Iraqi government forces in Mosul. We need to understand how this happened when the OOB was in favour of the government forces. Similar to how the Nazis managed to defeat the French despite the French OOB. Another thing we need to understand is why we only had minimum defections from the Iraqi military in March 2003. Most deserted rather than defecting. In Afghanistan in 2001 there was much more defection, and I would hope that if Australia was being liberated we would see a defection rate of 90%. We also needed to understand what Iraqis had internalized. ie what moral rules would the Iraqis follow if no-one had them under their thumb? Do Muslims have superior morals than Christians? Sadr saying that any captured American female soldiers could be treated as sex slaves was extremely interesting and helps outline the scope of the War on Terror.
It was also interesting to note how feminist groups failed to echo Bush's concern that Saddam was ordering the rape of Iraqi women. This basically outed the true colors of the feminist groups as likely communist fronts. It is a failure of NGOs as a whole in fact. We have NGOs concerned about the rights of American dogs, but not Iraqi humans. We have NGOs concerned about water in Africa that requires an endless supply of Western money to fix, but think it is wrong to pay a once-off price to end the man-made problem in Iraq. And for some unstated reason white-rule South Africa was considered to be far worse than black dictators in Africa, let alone a cruel dictator like Saddam. More communist fronts outed.
If you're wondering why on earth Americans or anyone else would be willing to spend their national blood and treasure on helping others (not just in Iraq, but also places like Kosovo), it is due to the fact that they aren't nationalists – they are humanists – actually anti-non-humanists. They have a natural alliance with humanists around the world and can see fellow humanists calling out for assistance, and realise they have the capability to provide that assistance. The American humanists generally have a tough time getting approval for these actions because the military is nominally only meant to be used for things in the “national interest”, and they have a tough time trying to spin these wars of liberation as being in some narrow national interest, so that the American nationalists will accept it. This is why you see a lot of focus on the “Iraq is a security threat” argument.
In order to avoid having to come up with a whole lot of conspiracy theories, it is necessary to view the actions of the US et al through the paradigm of spreading liberal democracy. The US wishes to entirely extinguish external threats. The most convenient way of achieving that (because it takes no resources to maintain, and is moral as well) is to set up liberal democracies. The US has a policy of “the best way to defeat an enemy is to convert it into a friend”. The US has paid a high price, but was ultimately successful in achieving that in Iraq. Similar to Occam's Razor, the paradigm that is most likely to be true is the one that involves the least number of conspiracy theories, recognizing that it would be difficult to maintain a conspiracy in an open government like the US with a spread of power, leaks, a free press and foreign spies.
A large barrier to supporting the Iraq war is another dogma – the “just world hypothesis”. People do not like the fact that they are living in an unjust world with innocent victims, such as Iraqi men having their tongues cut out by Saddam. It is human nature to reject the evidence that disproves this. They are even prepared to blame people for presumed crimes in a prior life (karma) rather than drop this dogma.
Another barrier is related to history. Many people think in historical terms – ie they did xyz to us 250 years ago so they must be bad people still. You will never have world peace if you think like that. You will have an unpleasant world. The enlightened form is to forget about history, and judge people/countries according to their current behavior. Some say “if you ignore history, you are doomed to repeat it”. Well, history is that if you bear historical grudges, you will have perpetual conflict, and that is the history that keeps being repeated.
Another barrier to understanding the modern world is the fact that you were probably indoctrinated to believe that “whites are colonialists” and that “colonialism was evil” and that it is logical that “whites are evil”. Well, as a Russian the line was probably “British and Americans” rather than “whites”. This argument has a number of flaws. First of all it is an argument about the past. Very few people today believe that their country should be engaged in colonialism. Attempting to judge people today for things that happened before they were even born is a recipe for conflict/war, as many/most people believe that babies are born innocent. Secondly, if you objectively compare the pre- and post- colonial governments, where often a sadistic dictatorship took over, colonialism wasn't necessarily bad or wrong. When African colonialism started, the stated objective was to bring modern civilization to Africa, something Africans seem to want today. It wasn't to enslave people. A couple of facts that never seem to be brought up were that it was the British Navy that ended the slave trade, and in America a lot of whites killed a lot of other whites so that blacks could be free. It is wrong and unjust to think negatively of these modern countries, even if you can't bring yourself to objectively judge the past in context.
Enlightenment is as the Russian found it – by understanding both paradigms and adopting the paradigm that allows protection of humanists worldwide. The protection of humanists in turn frees them from subjugation, so that they can freely oppose dogma. And that's the end of history. Well, it will be the end of history after the final battles are fought. The final battles are largely intellectual since the strongest militaries are under civilian control and it is tough to get those civilians to agree to release the military. Here is the general principle of war which you can apply to the modern ideological wars. It's just a matter of identifying the ideologies:
If a group, B, is oppressing another group, E, then group A (which is ideologically allied to group E) has a right, or possibly even an obligation, to exterminate B. Group A may choose to create a temporary alliance with some other ideology C, who are also being oppressed, in order to get the extermination done. Group A may also create a permanent alliance with a similar ideology, D, even though D is not being oppressed.
Some worked examples:
World War 2 was:
A = Rationalism (UK)
B = Nazism
C = Communism
D = Rationalism (US)
E = Rationalism (Poland)
Iraq War was:
A = Humanist (US)
B = Non-humanist (secular but cruel Saddam and his religiously-bigotted Sunni supporters)
C = Non-humanist (Religiously-bigotted Shia)
D = Humanist (not religiously-bigotted Sunni)
E = Humanist (not religiously-bigotted Shia)
A = Humanist (France)
B = Non-humanist (Gaddafi and his dogmatic or paid supporters)
C = Non-humanist (alleged Al Qaeda participation)
D = Humanist (other NATO members)
E = Humanist (majority of Libyan people)
Note that typically war will be fought on several ideological fronts simultaneously. E.g. the Soviet Union wasn't just dogmatic (communism) but also non-humanist. The typical ideological divides you will find are:
good vs evil
anti-non-humanist vs non-humanist
anti-nationalist vs nationalist
anti-racist vs racist
anti-sexist vs sexist
anti-religious-bigot vs religious bigot
anti-subjugator vs subjugator
The process of getting people to be on the “good” side of that equation can be aided by getting people, especially children, to donate their own money to people of a different race/religion/nationality to themselves.
So when you see insurgents in Iraq throwing their lives away to try to kill Americans, do not think of this as Arabs vs whites, or Muslims vs Christians. The insurgents think that way, but the typical American will be thinking along ideological lines (even if he doesn't know how to verbalize it). Anti-racist vs racist instead of white vs Arab. It's not Arabs who are the enemy (they are on both sides of the war). It is anti-racists (correctly classified) who are on only one side of the war.
Another big problem is correct classification. Someone is a racist if they have an unjustified negative view of a non-ideological group, or if they have a justified negative view and apply it to an individual (instead of judging each individual on his/her own merits). Traditionally American whites are called racist, but it's very rare to find a truly racist white American (by that definition). Most people accusing American whites of being racist are forced to use examples from decades or centuries ago, which just goes to highlight the fact that today's American whites are not racist, and the person who claims that they are are not justified in doing so, and are thus racist themselves. You can test this scientifically by asking random white Americans what they think of blacks, and whether they would “allow” their daughter to marry a black. The classification problem also applies to religious bigots, sexists etc. Another problem is that in the west, children are taught (lied to) how bad whites are for colonization, and how good non-whites are. This helps with introspection and humility, but there is a problem that the non-whites are being taught the exact same thing (instead of adjusting it to the race of the audience), and turning into anti-white racists, instead of learning bad things about their own race so that they don't become racists in favor of their own race.
Another barrier to world peace is the problem of capitalism. The fact is that not everyone has a good life under capitalism, and many people find this extremely irksome to the point that they are willing to back any sadistic dictator who has an anti-capitalist system. Capitalism is the natural state of an economy. All attempts to produce an artificial alternative (like communism) have only made things worse. While there may well be a conceivable alternative out there, all such social experiments should be done very carefully in a controlled scientific manner on a single small country at a time. We don't need a repeat of the Soviet Union's massive forced experiment.
This applies in particular to socialism, which is the main rival to capitalism. Socialists tend to be averse to action that would see the free world stand up another secular capitalist liberal democracy rather than having an opportunity to try out their pet theory of socialism - AGAIN. In a way we are lucky that some countries “volunteered” to actually try implementing socialism. Any sensible person would have first tried this absurd social experiment on a hippy farm, noting that it failed spectacularly, and not allowed their country to be trashed by this failed economic model. But instead, some major countries tried experimenting with this on their entire country. It is very unfortunate that they then proceeded to lie about the results, encouraging other people to try the same doomed experiment. In the case of Venezuela they even did this experiment democratically. Despite this exact same experiment having failed so many times before. They thought that since it was now the 21st century the concept of “21st century socialism” existed. Regardless, every time socialism fails, the western socialists living comfortable lives under capitalism insist that socialism will work if anyone actually implements it “properly”, and their hopes are raised every time someone voluntarily or involuntarily tries the exact same experiment again. The fundamental problem at play here is that socialists unfairly judge socialism by its textbook theory and claim it is so wonderful, instead of judging it by what happens when it is tried in real life. While for capitalism they do something very different. They have textbooks that say how evil capitalism is, and they believe it, and then they confirm this by looking at the real-world capitalist countries and showing that there are flaws in it. Of course there are necessarily going to be flaws in the real world. No-one is claiming that capitalism provides overnight and permanent Utopia. It's just a hell of a lot better than anything else that has ever been tried. Please people. Whenever you have a great new social experiment you wish to try, test it out on a hippy farm first, and if that works, then try it out on a very small country so that we can bail you out when it inevitably falls flat on its face. This applies not just to socialism but also things like “anarcho-capitalism”. And please don't accompany your doomed social experiment with lies and human rights abuses.
Another thing is the actual attraction to socialism. People like the idea of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”. But it turns out that socialists are very very good at the “to each according to their needs”, and it turns out that they “need” an awful lot, but they're not so enthusiastic when it comes to contributing according to their ability. And the thing is, if you genuinely wish to contribute according to your ability, you are free to do that on top of a capitalist framework. There is nothing preventing you from taking direct action against Microsoft and IBM's monopolies by contributing to PDOS at http://pdos.sourceforge.net – you can fix the world of computers, not just the world of humans.
Another barrier to creating a free world via war is that not everyone wants to be a soldier, and people think that they shouldn't send others to do a job that they don't want to do themselves. But reality is that our modern militaries are all voluntary. Good, brave men have volunteered to do whatever the civilians would like them to do. So if you see injustice in the world and want it to go away, an amazing team of professionals stands ready to deliver that. You can see their typical attitude here: http://iraqnow.blogspot.com.au/2004/06/why-we-fight.html . It is up to you to choose a just or unjust world. There is nothing hypocritical about wanting a war of liberation even if you are not a soldier yourself. Someone needs to pay for these soldiers. If 50% of America supports a war, you can't have 150 million Americans in combat, paid for the other 150 million Americans who oppose the war. And if you still really think that only soldiers should be able to choose between war and non-combat, then that is good because most soldiers are pro-liberation. But do you really wish for a world where the military makes these decisions instead of civilians? There's also nothing hypocritical about expecting teachers to educate your children, even if you're not a teacher yourself. Everyone has their role to play in the world. Soldiers have their role too. And if you really can't bear to see your soldiers killed (but you can bear to see civilians killed on the road), then you can do what the French do – have a foreign legion. Or what the British do – recruit Gurkhas. Either way it is imperative that you have “usable” troops available. It is immoral to baulk at an opportunity to fix the world because you don't have usable troops to deploy. Note that the American troops are likely to be unhappy if you send Gurkhas in instead of them. Also note that you have the option of fighting differently. You can instead get locals to do all the ground fighting as was done in Libya. It takes longer, and increases the death toll of the locals. But if that's all you're willing to do (ie providing air support) then that is exactly what you should do.
Yet another barrier to understanding the world is the belief that nations only ever act in self-interest (realpolitik). While that may have been true in past centuries, modern day liberal democracies tend to give foreign aid (just as their citizens do as individuals), and categorizing voluntary assistance as “self-interest” simply denies countries any opportunity to show that they have a good heart, which is tragic. The truth is that groups can engage in charity work just as individuals do, and should be respected for doing so. Although there should be vigorous debate as to what form of aid is most effective. Usually the best foreign aid that can be given is a war of liberation which installs a democratic government so that a dictator stops stealing state resources. A once-off cost for unlimited benefit. Normally wars are fought because a government is an enemy, but when those opportunities arise, we should relish the opportunity to install a democracy.
Another complaint heard about wars of liberation are that we are “forcing democracy” on a population. But actually democracy is the only thing NOT forced on a population. Prior to democracy there were forced systems in place (Talibanism/Saddamism). Liberation provided the first unforced system on the population.
Another thing that needs to be understood is that dictatorship in itself is usually a crime against humanity, unless there is a rational, humanist reason as to why there needs to be a temporary dictatorship (e.g. during the de-nazification process in Germany after WW2). This anti-dictatorship philosophy is why many people are looking for ANY excuse to thump a dictator. They don't care what excuse is trotted out (WMD etc), they don't care if the excuse may be incorrect, because they can clearly see a dictator, inherently consider that to be a crime against humanity, and need no further convincing to send the military in against a dictator.
Another stumbling block to supporting war is that many people believe that governments can be overthrown by simple diplomatic or economic pressure/sanctions, ie soft power. But as Gaddafi demonstrated so well, with worldwide pressure on him, including even military pressure, he did not stand down. In fact, he refused to stand down even after Tripoli was liberated. He didn't stand down until he was personally physically caught by opposing forces. Basically dictators have no intention of standing down. They LOVE being rulers and will fight to their last breath for what they love.
Another thing that should be kept in mind is that by opposing war, you are effectively aiding and abetting a rapist (Uday), by supporting a policy that protects a rapist from prosecution. It would be cosmic justice if the anti-war were charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Another problem is that many people think that war is illegal unless it is authorized by the United Nations (UN). What this means is that people believe that a law exists that allows Uday to rape Iraqi women with impunity. In the face of such an unconscionable law, the correct moral action to take is to first of all ignore the law, and protect the Iraqi women regardless, and second is to organize a change to the laws, so that that horror never repeats itself.
Another complaint is that xyz was better under Saddam, e.g. there was more electricity. While true, the comparison is irrelevant. After 9/11, the default response was to completely nuke every anti-American hostile entity like Saddam's Iraq. As such, the amount of electricity or whatever that exists in post-Saddam Iraq should be compared to how much would exist under a nuked Iraq, ie absolutely nothing. And the temporary lack of electricity is merely the same as “rationing” that the UK had in WW2. ie it is a legitimate requirement in order to wage and win a war. Temporary suffering is normal during war, and it lasts as long as the bad guys continue to insist on being bad.
Another complaint heard is that if the Iraqis wanted their freedom they should have risen up themselves. This is a very cruel position and is covered here: http://mutazilah.org/warfare.htm Short answer is that they tried exactly that in 1991 and got slaughtered. 100,000 people died for nothing at all. It is not possible to defeat a modern military that is prepared to fight. Governments buy expensive warplanes for good reason.
Another point to keep in mind is to ask yourself just what cruelty Saddam needed to do in order to get you to take action against him. If you don't take action against him for ordering the rape of Iraqi women, then what atrocity did he need to do? Rape children? In actual fact the anti-war people have a mindset that it is wrong to invade another country, and there is no limit to the amount of cruelty Saddam could perpetuate in order to get them to take action. Taking action is not an option.
Another complaint that is heard is that there was a degree of chaos post-liberation. This was down to what values the Iraqis had internalized as a result of their religious education or any other part of their upbringing. If Islam fails to impart a sufficient degree of social responsibility, then maybe the Iraqis should consider changing religion. It shouldn't be an excuse for eternal state-slavery.
Another relevant thing is a difference in logic usage. A crucial part of the logic we are used to in the West when faced with deciding what course of action to support is to compare only the real alternatives, not ideal/perfect ones that exist only in fantasies. So when someone in the West says “Would you prefer Saddam or a US-led war of liberation?”, someone in Iraq may respond “none of the above”, because they're holding out for the fantasy option of Saddam standing down with no civil war. This leaves them free to complain about all the downsides of the US liberation, because none of that would have happened had the fantasy option been “chosen”.
Another barrier to understanding modern warfare is that in the past our countries used to fight for economic gain or territorial gain. That is long a thing of the past. Modern wars (from the perspective of the Western countries anyway) are ideological conflicts. We are not trying to steal oil or gain territory. Many people remain stuck in the past.
Another barrier is the Treaty of Westphalia. For centuries countries have nominally agreed to the concept that nations should not interfere with the internal affairs of other nations. So if the Nazis wish to gas Jews, that's their prerogative. This treaty was put in place to stop the massive religious wars (Christian vs Christian) that didn't recognize any borders. It was successful to some extent, but it didn't solve the root problem. The root problem is dogma and religious bigotry. Dogma raised its ugly head with communism too. Communists claimed that Marx's stupid book was absolutely perfect and unquestionable and tried to spread that. If they were strong enough they would have ignored Westphalia and conquered the whole world. They did in fact ignore Westphalia and enslave the sovereign states in Eastern Europe. We need to fight at this level too instead of allowing our ideological enemies to grow strong until they're in a position to start annexing territory in the Free World.
Another issue is that some people use the specious argument that you can't have an opinion in support of the use of troops unless you're a troop yourself. Taken to its logical conclusion, the only thing acceptable for these people is for half the population (that supports war) should be in the military, all paid for by the half of the population who opposes the war. And also if you see a woman being raped outside your house, you have no right to call the police unless you're a cop yourself. And if you have a leaking tap, you can't call a plumber to fix it unless you are a plumber yourself. As well as being ridiculously infeasible, it is not how our economies operate. Our economies operate best if people do what they are actually good at. If you're a better computer programmer than a soldier, you shouldn't sign up to the military, thus taking the position away from someone else. Note that in the West we have all-volunteer soldiers, and our soldiers are keen to fight after spending so much effort training. They are actually more likely to leave if they are unable to get an “operational role”. If you still can't bear to see your own (because of your nationalism) troops killed, then you should advocate for employing Gurkhas instead, so that you have troops you can actually use whenever you think there is an opportunity to make the world a better place via war. In addition, seeing a country liberated from slavery is (or should be) more exciting than watching the moon landing. And in the same way that you don't need to be an astronaut to be excited about man landing on the moon, nor do you need to be a soldier in order to be excited about a nation being liberated.
The Iraq war is crucial because it speaks to our definition of right and wrong. When there is e.g. an earthquake in Nepal, no-one criticizes other countries who choose to go there to help. But when Iraqi men are having their tongues cut out by Saddam, an actual majority of the world population thinks it is wrong to help them. The path to a better world starts with people agreeing the difference between right and wrong. When communism existed, the communists similarly believed they were doing a good thing by spreading communism and opposing capitalism. This needed to change, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it did indeed change. We are still waiting for a similar change in attitude regarding wars of liberation, including the 2003 Iraq war.
Further essential analysis is available here: http://www.seconddraft.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83&Itemid=99
And here is some excellent analysis from someone called Charles in a comment on Iraqi blog “Road of a Nation”:
OK, let me finally say how I imagine the old world view they have lived in might be influincing Maha and Rana,
Baathist totalitarianism, like all totalitarianisms, did not just say, “nyah, nyah, we leaders will grind you people under our heels forever and you can’t do anything about it!” They said, things are hard now because we are in a struggle, but all your collective sacrifice will someday lead to a wonderful utopia (vague and untested) where Arabs are powerful, respected, and free (i.e., unconstrained as a ‘people,’ dignity uncompromised); while those leering, almost supernaturally evil, zionist and colonialist forces now opposing us will have vanished from the earth. This is the background promise always being pushed off into the future (communism’s ever receding future lead eventually to disillusionment).
Well Saddam claimed that his wars were the first phases in a push to achieve the dream. Rana and Maha saw that death and destruction came from this. They knew that Saddam was excessive in sacrificing lives and people and was cruel. They saw that other nations (the UN) said one could not justify war of aggression. They conceded this simple point, as the Europeans have, “thou shall not kill to rearrange the world.” But that doesn’t mean the supposed dream goal looked bad to them. Or that they had adopted a western world view.
Then we come riding in, seemingly lead by Paul to rearrange the world by force, but for our own dream goals. They say, hey, if you’re going to allow this sort of thing, then why shouldn’t our vision of an ideal future have been allowed to be reached this way. We are not saying that we should be allowed to do that, but better us than you! Saddam is out of their lives, and they aren’t unhappy about that, but their “background mental universe” is not out of their lives.
When we argue back about “why its OK for us” we argue the content of our vision. Good if we can convince them, but a world view shift is a messy and slow thing, our ideas are too linked together, and it seems as if everything might crumble before we build up a new set of links. People don’t want to assume that “everything” they know is false, and it isn’t, but only those who embrace such a feeling can make the jump quickly. Anyway, they don’t necessarily dislike the content of the vague dream which was promised by Baathists, even though they may have disliked the reality of daily life under Baathists.
So, before getting into arguing about the worth of our (less vague and more tested) dream, I’d reply to them in these terms: It is not all about our goals being “better” so therefore we are allowed to use force: we were forced into having to use force. I think Ken said it very well when he said at root this was a continuation of the 1991 war at the end of which the rest of the UN left us “holding the bag.” Think of it this way. When Saddam unleashed his push to achieve dominance, he chose his terms of engagement with the world.