Originally Posted by Bob's World
The US must come to grips with this dichotomy. If a handful of AQ operatives were working across the US Midwest conducting UW, just as they are currently across the Magreb in Africa, would we pursue the same policies and rules of engagement in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska that we are in countries such as Mali, Algeria and Libya?
If a governor in North Dakota, a new oil-rich state, suddenly grabbed vast powers from the other branches of government and the people he is supposed to serve and vested those powers in his self, would we rationalize that the oil from that state is too important to risk a disruption of losing that particular leader and our relationship with him? Would we then act to help him expand the capacity of the state police and national guard so that they could more effectively protect the government from the illegal violent acts coming from that populace? After all, as Bill reminds us, a government as the right to defend itself. Equally the US has a right to pursue its interests.
The dichotomy identified is based on analogies that have far too many relevant dissimilarities to make them a useful tool for drawing conclusions. What a government does/may do legitimately within its own borders is very different from what it does/may do legitimately elsewhere, if for no other reason than the differences in sovereign power in the two arenas.
In an earlier post, Bob's World identified a correlation between rights and duties, noting that the having of a right spawns a correlative duty. One of the things that I think he got wrong was that the correlation does not exist within a single holder. That is, my rights to, e.g., life, liberty, and property (from Locke) do not produce duties for me to protect my life, not to enslave myself, and to seek to acquire property. Instead, my right to life (if I have one) engenders a correspondiong duty in others not to deprive me of my life without good reason.
I add the " without good reason" because I doubt rights are absolute. As Justice Holmes noted in Schnenk v. US (249 U.S. 47, 1919)
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.
I also submit that Bob's World has the primacy of rights over duties just backwards, Rather than saying that my possession of a right spawns a correlative duty in others, I would suggest that a more correct view of the relation between rights and duties looks like the following: because each of us has duties, others may make rights claims against us in light of those duties.
Finally, I am unclear from whence Bill and Bob derive this "right" of self defence for governments. The right of self defence for a nation is derived, in an a argument found in St Augustine's writings, from the right of individual self defense. But that is an argument from analogy, not a deduction, and the analogy may be as suspect as Bob's two analogies quoted above. Additionally, a nation is much more than just its government.