There is a particular argument Objectivists like to use to justify preemptive war. I'll give you the gist (I'm sure you'll recognize it immediately):
If a bully were on a playground, and you see him about to hit you (or approaching aggressively in a manner that would suggest he was going to hit you) you are justified in striking first.
Extrapolating this into preemptive war justifications, it would mean that if the US had evidence to suggest that Iran was going to attack it, then the US would be justified in attacking first.
Is this legitimate grounds for a preemptive strike/war? I have my reservations on comparing an act involving individuals vs that involving governments. What is the libertarian view on this sort of reasoning? Do they accept it, and if not, why?
It is context sensitive. Without context, the result is total war.
Can you expand on that please?
Preemtive strike is fine, but the example given sucks.
Yeah, it's a bad example for sure. But I still don't see how a preemptive strike could be justified given that the justification would be made from "intelligence" gathered from the state itself. And–as the US has learned in Iraq–intelligence is often fabricated to drag a country into war for reasons beyond a strictly preemptive, "defensive" strike.
Nothing about the state is justified.
States are not individuals. If you have determined that the leader of a nation is planning on attacking you, you have a right to defend yourself against this individual. You do not have the right to attack the people of that nation. they did not do anything agaisnt you. Defense of war always boils down to treating states like individuals.
For me, it would depend on what the "evidence" was that Iran was actually going to attack.
But I still don't see how a preemptive strike could be justified given that the justification would be made from "intelligence" gathered from the state itself. And–as the US has learned in Iraq–intelligence is often fabricated to drag a country into war for reasons beyond a strictly preemptive, "defensive" strike.
This is a healthy way of thinking because for sure 90% of people who feel they have a stake in justifying preemtive war are only looking for an excuse to launch aggressive wars.
Regardless, the principle itself is fine under strictly limited circumstances. Eg if Iraq on 15th March 2003 launched sabotage attacks that left US planes parked in Kuwait disabled, etc.
I don't think it is striking first if the bully's fist is already on its way.
The only two options would be ducking out of the way or you both punching each other simultaneously. (or third option: some type of judo or leg sweep). There is no way that example ends in only you punching.
I think preemptive on the playground is if you either beat up some person you don't like, or you beat them up based on rumors you're getting from other school chums. Your own schoolyard example is not a good analogy to striking Iran, or anyone else, based on intelligence gathering.
The proper analogy would be if we saw through the radar that a missile was coming from Iran. I don't think it is preemptive strike if the Iran sent a missile and we sent one in the air at them simultaneously. Or if we sent one to destroy the missile. Which, like the schoolyard, would be the only immediate reaction to that. (I'm not sure if there is a judo manuever for nuclear war). There is no way that ends in us striking and not them.
As far as I know, the Objectivists don't care about an actual attack. They just want total annihiliation of the Middle East. Because they find that part of the world backward and barbaric. And possibly dangerous, which they think is bad enough. They don't think we should wait for intelligence or any type of attack first. There is possibility that A-rabs or Persians will do something to us. So they want them dead. Some of them think is bad enough they don't like Israel, regardless of what they think of us. And that we should kill them for that. Maybe they like us but don't like Israel, but it is still the US's duty to kill them anyway.
But that's just my understanding from what I've read.
I think what he was trying to state is that if let's say for example, an nation (Country A) that's considered to be an enemy to another nation (country B) was making a nuclear weapon site (nukes to destroy Country B). Objectivists would argue that that Country B should pre-emptively attack Country A before the nuclear weapon hits Country B. In fact, they would argue that it would be mandatory in the moral sense for Country B to take out the nuke before it kills millions of Country B. But the libertarian stance would be to wait until the nuke is dropped and thousands of people of Country B is killed is when to take action (reactionary) because libertarians foreign policy is based on the notion of non-intervening or I don't hit you;you don't hit me.
What is the argument against Objectiivists on this case?
First you need to read Block, Murphy, Rothbard, Von Mises, and similar Austrian economists.
And ditch "Objectivism", it is too big government.
I hold Objectivism to be a scam. Just watch "Mozart was a Red" and you'll see how Rothbard knew it too.
Is it aggression to use violence to preempt aggression? No, in my opinion, provided that the person employing said preemptive violence reasonably believes that this use of violence is necessary to avoid becoming the victim of aggression. What counts as a "reasonable belief" in this context cannot, I think, be determined a priori, but only on a case by case basis.
If you're going to accept the existence of the State at all, I think this doctrine of self-defense is a reasonable basis for its foreign policy, provided you take "reasonable belief" in an extremely conservative sense: e.g. foreign warplanes enroute to the East Coast, as opposed to some tin-pot dictator on the other side of the globe talking about maybe kind of someday making a nuclear weapon.