Thursday, 14 June 2007

Ayn Rand on modern wars

Ayn Rand died in 1982, so she never saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, nor the rise of Islamic totalitarianism. Nonetheless, with some judicious cutting and pasting (which my friend Jameson has done), we can extrapolate from her views on the Vietnam war.

Let’s first imagine Ayn’s horror as the buildings of the World Trade Center collapse in her beloved city after an attack by Communist Terrorists (CT). In the proceeding investigation she learns the terrorists were not partisan to any particular state; however, it is widely suspected that they were supported by communist states in and around Indochina.

Furthermore, reports suggest North Vietnam are producing weapons of mass destruction and that Ho Chi Minh has ties to terrorist organisations - including the mastermind behind the CT attack - creating an imminent threat both to the U.S. and to her western allies.

Now let’s ask Ayn what she would do...

“... at the first sign of an attack by [someone who threatens the US], we should fight them...”

And how hard should we fight them?

“... by every means we have, because it is criminal to kill Americans while not using the better weapons we possess.”

But what if it’s an asymmetrical war and nuking them is ineffective?

“... anyone who wants to invade a dictatorship or semi-dictatorship is morally justified in doing so...”

What should we do now that we've invaded, hanged Ho Chi Minh for war crimes, and discovered there wasn’t any firm link between him and the CT? And what do you have to say to those who are pulling punches, trying to fight a limited war?

“... for us to withdraw would be appeasement. But here is what’s worse: The idea that this country cannot defeat Vietnam is ridiculous, and the whole world knows it. But we are not allowed to use our strength. We’re not allowed to take proper measures - that is, pursue the Vietcong across borders and into its own territory... We are fighting with our hands tied. The idea that America must withdraw from Vietnam is worse than appeasement. It is a shameful pretense. Further, since the world knows we are not physically weak, it would be an admission of moral corruption: that we do not possess a primitive dignity that any nation should have - to it’s own dead, if nothing else - that if it is involved in a war, it should finish it. It must win or be defeated.”

Thank you, Ayn. Now let's get on with it.


  1. "Nonetheless, with some judicious cutting and pasting (which my friend Jameson has done), we can extrapolate from her views on the Vietnam war."

    Really? Rand is unavailable for comment. To extrapolate her views in this way oozes vanity and arrogance.

    You need to revisit these 2 articles: and

    Is "Jameson" a skinhead? He is one evil looking mutha. Gives me the creeps.

  2. Come on Peter, you missed the most important point she made
    .. that the Vietnam War was crazy and strategically pointless. Same goes for Iraq, and Rand would have been against both (but for Afghanistan). I can say this with confidence, and I'm sure you know I'm right.
    So post some real critiques as many of us Ayn Rand fans are sick of the pathetic advice on foreign policy coming from Objectivists.

    see for more!

  3. I too think it is unfortunate that some Objectivists shoehorn Rand into taking the position of self-sacrifice in never-ending war in Iraq.

    See and look up Leonard Peikoff's essays - some remarkably prescient from years ago.


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