Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hi everyone. And welcome to the 92nd episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Abby Behringer, student program manager here at the Atlas society, the leading nonprofit organization, introducing young people to the ideas of iron Rand in creative ways, including through our Atlas university seminars, graphic novels, and our creative social media content. Today, we will be discussing two current event topics, the Canadian trucker protests and the possibility of a war between Russia and the Ukraine. We have two of our amazing senior scholars, Atlas society, founder, Dr. David Kelly and Atlas society, senior scholar and economist Dr. Richard Salzman. We will be doing Q and a at the end of each topic. So make sure to post your questions in the chat on zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. And with that, thank you for joining us. And I'm handing things over to Dr. Salzman to begin with a Canadian chucker protests.
Speaker 1 00:00:58 Thank you, Abby. Great to see you, David, and thanks all to the Atlas society. Folks who put this together again, always great to, to see David and talk to about current events from a philosophic angle. Um, so we picked these two David and I were talking about these a few days ago. We picked these two because we think they have some philosophic significance. The I'll start with comments on truckers and, uh, and I'd love to hear David's comments cause I know some of them and they're really good. I think this is an encouraging thing. Uh, mostly because I've been against the more authoritarian approach to COVID, uh, not just in Canada, but in the U S and elsewhere. Uh, Sweden has been one of the rare cases that has not had with an authoritarian approach. You would have expected that certainly not Bernie Sanders who loves Sweden so much, but, uh, a couple of questions, why Canada, uh, most people do not think of Canadians as rebels.
Speaker 1 00:01:52 Uh, Canada was founded by, uh, mostly the loyalists who were not rebels in the American revolutionary cause, but, uh, we love Canada, Americans love Canada. It's a very interesting thing. So these truckers, you probably know the story. I won't repeat the story, but a huge convoy from west to east ending up in Ottawa where they're basically shutting the city down, demanding that the mask mandates be lifted. Now that truckers, you know, this has been going on for two years or so. And so it's not like they have not faced restrictions, uh, up to now. They have. So what is the, what is the issue now? You know, the feeling that with these minor, with these more moderate versions of COVID, uh, like Delta and then on Macron, uh, the feeling even in America, I think is what is the point now? Uh, it all, it was already authoritarian.
Speaker 1 00:02:41 I thought. And then the thinking now is why is the authoritarian? Why are the authoritarian measures remaining? So it's a very interesting, it is an organized, it's not a spontaneous thing up. There is definitely organized. We have a few people, if you look at the story, um, they're very peaceful. So this is not BLM Antifa ripping up American cities, uh, in summer of 2020. So you can credit them for that. You could say it's a kind of shrugging, uh, which is also interesting obviously to this audience that truckers are shrugging, uh, quitting in a way. Now they could have quit by just not driving their rigs at all. Uh, just stay home that might've been less dramatic. Nobody would've noticed it's much more dramatic to drive your truck and jam up Ottawa. What are the, what are their demands, simply lift the authoritarian measures. I mean, these are not crazy demands.
Speaker 1 00:03:32 Um, these are not defund the police. Uh, these are not lit everyone out of prison. The demands we saw in 2020. So from that, uh, from that perspective, the motive, the technique being used, uh, the message being sent, I have nothing but good things to say about this. And frankly, I'm kind of wondering where's the equivalent movement in the United States? Why isn't there an equivalent kind of rebellious movement in the U S I don't know, maybe people are scared about the whole January 6th treatment of those political prisoners. Uh, you know, they dare not go to Washington because they'll end up in jails for a year without, uh, any charges leveled against them. So that, uh, I think is a good thing. Now notice the reaction though, uh, the Trudeau government is basically the last time I checked is, is bringing out kind of martial law type tactics.
Speaker 1 00:04:28 So first of all, they just blocked access to he, uh, uh, food, other things that the truckers might need. And now invoking certain local ordinances saying, we get to basically, uh, clear you out by force. Now this would be quite a visual because there are videos all over the place in Ottawa of what's going on. And it's clear that the truckers are peaceful. If we have a, like a Tiananmen square type thing, I'm not saying Canadian tanks. And I'm just saying, if there's a show of force in Canada, I have a hard time believing this might happen. Uh, but Trudeau is a real authoritarian. Um, that would, I think, uh, benefit the, the message of the truckers. Uh, and, and it is sparking some copycat moves in Europe and elsewhere. So that's interesting as well, I will say, however, David and I have talked about this.
Speaker 1 00:05:21 I am a little reluctant because I'm a law and order guy. I I'm a, I'm a, I'm a law and order guy who, even for our side, so to speak, I'm very tentative about civil disobedience that might infringe other's rights. Now are people in auto his rights being infringed by the truckers jamming up the city? Yes. To some extent, does it look, does it verge on anarchy? Yeah, a little bit, except they're not in our guests in the sense of destructive people, they just want their freedom back. So I throw that out there only because if there's a contingent in our listening group saying, wait a minute, wait a minute. If we were against Antifa and BLM in the streets, we should be against these truckers in the street. Again, I don't think they're the same kind of group, but I want to explore more the principle of how should a government handle civil disobedience in the streets when they're not technically privately owned.
Speaker 1 00:06:18 I suppose you could argue that because they're not privately owned because they're publicly owned any so-called part of the public can occupy the streets and complain about things. And what does the government got to say about it? You government, you're the ones who made the streets and the thoroughfares public, including the public squares. And remember, uh, what was it? Occupy wall street. How'd that happen? How'd that work? All the lefties gathering down on wall street that was considered, okay. That was considered moral last, uh, idea. I'll throw out. There is a little more philosophical Lamar abstract. What is the nature of populous uprisings now? What do I mean by that? I'm not trying to denigrate what the truckers are doing, but this would fall in the category of say the tea party movement in the U S 10 years ago. So meaning an encouraging movement, but largely populist, meaning the broader populace is complaining.
Speaker 1 00:07:15 And, and you could say rightly so the question is whether that is what leads to real change. I'm skeptical of that. I think of this as more, an encouraging spirit of life, attitude and reaction, but in terms of actually accomplishing things, I think the broad sweep of history says that intelligent almost. I hate to say it elitist change. Uh, you know, the founding fathers were not populous. They were elites and they're the ones who overthrew king George. And when the populist approach was tried in France, it was a disaster, you know, it led to the terror and stuff. So, so a revolution or rebelliousness, which is guided by reason and guided by call it the accomplished, you know, beyond just I'm complaining, I'm fed up, I've had enough, uh, I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore. Remember that line David from network, I think 1976.
Speaker 1 00:08:13 Um, so, um, that's, that's my qualification to all this, the tea party movement was a big pro constitutional actually in some cases of pro-line Rand type movement, if you remember 10 years ago, but when you look back and say, okay, what did it accomplish? We are full force toward authoritarianism and fascism here 10 years later. So it's not the fault of the tea party, but it just a reminder that popular uprisings while something that moves our hearts, if you're pro Liberty, don't seem to have the kind of lasting influence that we, we hope they would. I hope that's enough to just throw out some, some ideas to think about. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:08:54 Richard, thank you. I, I would just add a couple of things. One is, uh, that, uh, part of the, um, responsibility DRO administration, and I think probably is a factor in, in raging the truckers, um, was his statement. Uh, these are people with unacceptable ideas. Yeah, yeah. Far right. Idiots that are, you know, um, and the, uh, which is not true. I mean, they had, you know, ending mandates, uh, and which is already in a kind of emergency power on the, on the government's part longstanding over two years now is, um, there are posts that all, only one is freedom. I mean, by contrast with, you know, in France, every once in a while the farmers take their tractors into Paris.
Speaker 1 00:09:49 Right.
Speaker 2 00:09:51 Cause they're not getting enough subsidies.
Speaker 1 00:09:54 Right, right. That's terrible injustice, David. We
Speaker 2 00:09:57 Know it's awful. Yeah. Um, but it's interesting, you know, I agree with you completely by the tea party. I, I, uh, there, some of the big demonstrations were here in Washington and I went and attended some talk to some of the people caring. Um, who's John Dalton's
Speaker 1 00:10:17 And sales of Atlas shrugged skyrocketed during that
Speaker 2 00:10:20 Period. They did. Yes. Yeah. So, um, you know, I'm kind of a law and order guy too, but the state, this is a reaction to a state that is, um, itself gone past the list. Certainly a proper role of, of, of the state. Definitely. And, um, yeah, so I'm kind of, I'm, I'm, I'm certainly sympathetic, but you, without, without a philosophical understanding, um, I listened to one of the leaders or spokesman for the group on a video this afternoon, um, who was saying, well, this is all about love for Canada and, uh, you know, unity and so forth. And, you know, I can't think, okay, he's a Canadian. He probably is okay with socialized medicine and
Speaker 1 00:11:11 Yeah. Right. What about that freedom, the freedom of other doctors. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:11:16 So anyway, um, but yeah, it's really interesting. And if it resonates it, you know, it, it, I don't think it will do much on its own over time, but you know, sometimes you just need a spark. Yeah. And then people more thoughtful people lake area forward will have,
Speaker 1 00:11:38 And, and the tea party case, it was a, who was, it was Rick sin, telly on CNBC ranting one morning saying, Hey, is anyone out there happy with the homeowners being bailed out or big banks being bailed out or Obamacare over your mat? And it was, yes. It spread like a Prairie fire. It did lead to something, but, uh, you know, what, it led to the ones who took it up and said, let's be more intellectual about this. And let's, uh, I remember they were particularly interested in the constitution and preserving and extending the constitution. So the constitutionalism of the tea party approach or limited government approach was really favorable, was really good. And the constitutionalism, as you know, David is not necessarily populace. The populace usually is know pitchforks and where the mob and we're bigger than you. And we get to dictate terms to you. I don't see the truckers doing that, but, um, anything that looks like shrugging and in a peaceful way, which is what the civil disobedience, it just withdraw your sanction. You know, I think works. It works really well. Uh, but they look like they're on the verge of, Hey, they're messing up the city. So it's going to be maybe easy for Trudeau to turn them into perfect data perpetrators rather than victims. Do you have a forecast, David? What do you think will happen up there?
Speaker 2 00:13:02 I dunno, they've already hold the trucks off the, uh, uh, U S Canadian bridge ambassador bridge. I think it was after the
Speaker 1 00:13:08 Bridge to the travel is
Speaker 2 00:13:09 Slowing car production and, um, contributing a little bit more to the, uh, uh, bottleneck supply bottlenecks that we're facing from COVID. And, um, and in that respect, you know, they, they are having impacts on people. They, they are causing harm to people, uh, by the standard of, you know, what they're paying taxes for, what they can expect reasonably of city, streets and bridges. Um,
Speaker 1 00:13:39 If you had the Trudeau approach, Trudeau would say, Francisco is a terrorist because he's coming into the city and convincing people to go to the Gulf. And the more people he convinced David, the more New York fell apart, you know? So, so it wasn't, it wasn't, uh, the objectivist, you know, driving their trucks down into wall street. But, um, you know, you could make that case for anyone who shrugs. Yeah. They don't occupy the city, but they just leave in a way, are they? No, they're leaving the city to the destroyers. So are they really the perps now? They're not the perpetrators they're withdrawing their sanction and full. The full brutality of the Barbra is of, is left exposed by the way. David, do you remember when we talk about these popular uprisings, when the students, uh, went to wall street and during the Vietnam war to protest, as they should have, I didn't support the Vietnam war either.
Speaker 1 00:14:34 Uh, do you remember the, it was the longshoreman who went into wall street and started beating up the students, the longshoreman and the Teamsters. And I remember Iran got a kick out of that. She said, th this really shows something that college educated students are the ones who are anti-American and anti-capitalist and look who came in and them, uh, the truckers and the, and the, uh, the Teamsters and the longshoreman. And if I recall other another interesting thing, the Teamsters, again, this is the truckers, a union supported Reagan in 19, uh, in the 1980 campaign. So, so, uh, just a little trucker history there for more than anything.
Speaker 2 00:15:11 That's interesting. The, uh, the guys hauling those heavy, heavy rigs, um, maybe have their feet on the ground, so to speak.
Speaker 1 00:15:21 Yeah. That you mentioned judo, by the way. Yeah. Not only the nasty comments mirroring them. He actually went out of his way to say, you know, I'm not against a protest in the street. For example, I supported a BLM and auntie, so, I mean, he's on record. This is not a principle Trudeau's saying clear the public ways. No, no. He said, no, uh, you can occupy if, uh, if they're, uh, left-wing terrorists, like the kind, I like terrible, terrible,
Speaker 2 00:15:54 It's terrible. There's, you know, there's an old saying that was, uh, common in the, uh, uh, anticommunist commentators in the fifties after world war II, um, referring to the communist people they ex, uh, you know, who were still communist, um, only APOD dawned on me. I'll go, there is no enemy to the left.
Speaker 1 00:16:19 Ah, oh, I never heard that. Oh, wow.
Speaker 2 00:16:22 So the asymmetry here is still going on still strong.
Speaker 1 00:16:29 Yeah. I think also from the standpoint of America, the Trumpsters really like this. I mean, they're thinking this is more evidence that the, the change we're seeing in recent years is more populous and we all know good. The danger of populism is it can be anti-capitalist right. This particular, it can be, you know, anti-Wall street, anti elite, anti-capitalist all that kind of thing. Historically. It has been, but here the popular uprising is against authoritarianism clearly against authoritarianism. And it's the quote unquote elite establishment. And we're saying, no, we get to tell you what to do. Shut up, shut up and obey.
Speaker 2 00:17:11 But I, I should add, I I'm noticing a comment from here. Um,
Speaker 1 00:17:16 Uh, in the chat
Speaker 2 00:17:17 Room, the convoy by CW McCall. I don't know that song, but, um, uh, protest against the 55 mile an hour speed limit. I remember in the seventies, there was, uh, a freeway going into, I think it was Detroit environmentalist, uh, drove, abreast across all the lanes that were, and, and at 55. So everyone coming into the, into their offices where it was backed up for miles, cause no one would base at 50. No, no, no. And I, I wasn't part of that, but I was so angry. I just wanted to ring the neck of every environmentalist I came across because you know, someone who stops me from driving at the speed I want to drive is get, I have a special thing about that.
Speaker 1 00:18:04 I dunno. I dunno, Kelly, you are so intolerant at it. Where's the, where's the benevolence. No, I agree. I agree. They were trying to prove a point though. They were trying to say that you should be driving 55 and no
Speaker 2 00:18:16 Oil.
Speaker 1 00:18:18 That would totally jam up everything. I drive around here in North Carolina and people are driving 75 miles an hour and there are no cops around. No one stops them. Remarkable. It's amazing. They don't have it as a priority, but you gotta to wear your mask, But you can drive fast wearing your mask. You want to, you want to turn to Ukraine, David?
Speaker 2 00:18:41 I'm sure. Amy, do you want to go to the next topic or take questions?
Speaker 0 00:18:45 I was actually going to suggest we take a few questions first and then we'll jump over to the Ukraine. So we'll get some on-topic questions here. First question comes from Miranda, sieve loss on Instagram. What do you think of this being the first time that Canada has used their emergency app? Their emergencies act
Speaker 1 00:19:03 Well, it's true. I looked that up today and they haven't used it in a long time. It's so weird, right? Because COVID emergency dictate dictates were masking and distancing and lockdowns and stuff. This one is, is the one invoked for basically martial law. So, uh, you know, what do I make of that? Uh, this is true. DOE call, what do they call it in Vegas? Doubling down. I'm authoritarian on mask and COVID, you guys are protesting it. Now. I'm going to go all martial law on you. This is really, uh, uh, remarkable and disturbing at the same time. So my, my only reaction is, uh, that is unjust. It's improper coming, but coming from a law and order guy. Yeah, there should be law and order, but what's happening here is the government is engaged in lawlessness regarding COVID restrictions. So the popular uprising is we were sick and tired of this lawless government. So what is it doing? It's imposing martial law or, or it's threatening to, um, it's going in the wrong direction. I would say,
Speaker 0 00:20:13 Do you have any reaction David or Next question comes from Sean Woodson on Facebook. Doesn't it seem like the banks are being weaponized to do what the Canadian government cannot by freezing people's bank accounts?
Speaker 1 00:20:30 Uh, yes. Uh, I'm sorry to interject, David, do you want to comment about this? That they they're telling the banks to shut off the trucker's cashflows?
Speaker 2 00:20:39 Oh, I didn't know that. So I'll leave that to you. Wow.
Speaker 1 00:20:42 Uh, so the quick thing I'll just say on that is as a general principle, the more the welfare state expands like the cancer that it is the financial system is co-opted by the government. The banks gradually just become an arm of the government of the treasury. And that's why they all accept bailouts. That's why they are all too big to fail enough. And all the privacy laws went away long ago. You can no longer have Swiss bank accounts and things like that. So, so all another disturbing trend, yes, the banks will do whatever the government says it should do. And by the way, we're eventually going to talk about Russia and Ukraine, but you're listening. You're, you're talking about Canada, America and other countries doing these things Australia, if you know, is almost like a police state over COVID. So, um, so the disturbing thing is in the Anglo-American world, there's this authoritarianism not so much in Britain, but definitely Canada, us, uh, Australia, but using the banks, you know, the banks are so tied in with the government. Now the government calls them up and says, don't lend to this person, these companies suspend the, I mean, they suspended GoFund me go fund me as a source crowd. What's it called crowdsourcing, right? Where the truckers raised $10 million from a bunch of small contributions. And, um, that was seized with, with the help of the GoFund me management. Unfortunately. So that, I mean, that's another terrifying thing. You can't even fund your civil disobedience or your speech without, uh, the funds being taken stolen. Crazy, terrible.
Speaker 0 00:22:25 Uh, last question, I think on this topic before we move on, we have Jeremy Klein on Instagram, and this is something I think about a lot. I think this is a great question. He asks, it seems like the left is able to sustain outrage for years while people like the truckers and more conservative groups have short outbursts, outbursts that eventually fizzle out. What are your thoughts,
Speaker 1 00:22:45 David? Do you want to try that one? That's a good, that's a good question.
Speaker 2 00:22:48 Yeah, it is. That's a great question. I've spent a lot of, um, um, moments in my life thinking about that, that, um, you know, behind the fact that, that the U S and other Western governments are moving left incrementally over and have been doing so for decades, um, going back to the great depression and before that, um, whereas people who believe in freedom and, and especially economic freedom are fighting a rear guard action. Um, they are, uh, to get outraged and like the crackers or the tea party at times when the government takes a step that's too far for people to, uh, just accept and they react and rebel, but it doesn't sick because there is no constant, um, movement on, on the right that is comparable to what's on the left. I mean, the people on the left, the groups and the, um, organizations fight like tigers with each other all the time, as people on the right to, uh, in fact, uh, well actually worse.
Speaker 2 00:24:04 The libertarian groups I've worked with, um, actually are cooperate much more peaceful than, um, I mean, it's like, uh, you know, sometimes it seems like, you know, you guys are too nice. We're all too nice, but, um, the, uh, but we didn't have an ideology. We don't have a clear direction. Um, and I think that giant problem here, I believe that ever since I began to, um, uh, think about objectivism is altruism people on the right who wanted to defend freedom are just, you know, stymied by the accusation. This is selfish and they don't know a good answer. Iran answered it. And she inspired millions of people in one way, but it's not trance that is not translated into, um, it's translated into kind of, uh, individualism and people are individualists, but they, they haven't gotten around the idea that part of your life has to be helping others. And that that's the noble thing, making money making businesses is, you know, that just ordinary life. And I think, I think that's the fundamental reason why, um, you know, the, the drift has been pretty steadily to the left for decades.
Speaker 1 00:25:28 I would add David that you could, on the positive side, see this as a confirmation of the importance of having a goal have gold, what do they call it? We call it goal directed action. And, uh, you know, what did she say? Life is a self-sustaining and self-propelling and all this. So, but the goal in headlock has done a lot of great, great stuff on gold, the importance of, uh, naming a goal, and then the steps to get there. Okay. So what is their goal? I mean, I hate to say it, it's not deliberate. The worker, it's not to, you know, save the planet. They are really needless. Their goal is to destroy civilization. I know that sounds a bit over the top of that. That's my theory. And that's what socialism and fascism deliver beautifully, very effective systems for doing that. But you're right.
Speaker 1 00:26:15 Gave it on our side. Who's pro capita, other than us, the problem with the right is they're not pro capitalist to their credit they're anti-socialist or sometimes they're anti liberal. They call it anti liberal capital L and a two on the political level. David, I think you named it right on the ethical level. The problem on the political level, I'm thinking of Clinton in 1996 saying the era of big government is over. Okay. Okay. That was good. But notice how defensive it is like, okay, so we have big government now. We're not going to shrink government back to its a green new deal level. Where's that agenda. And of course he was reacting to the Reaganites and now here's another one. Trump, America will never become a socialist country. He did say that he said that in the state of the union, but again, notice the defensiveness.
Speaker 1 00:27:05 We won't become a socialist country. Yeah. Okay. How about a capitalist country? How about a president who says we must become a capitalist country? What does that mean? That's the goal? What are the steps necessary? You're right. They won't go there. And so the momentum is on the side of those with a goal, even though sadly, the goal has been demonstrated to be a really vicious, really nasty. And it's not as if the conservatives don't know that, they'll say, they'll say, what are you doing? Socialism has been tried and it doesn't work. And, and I always say to conservative, stop complimenting your opponents. And they said, what do you mean complementing? Because when you say it doesn't work, you assume, you assume they want peace and Liberty and prosperity. And, and they're just idiots. And they know now how to get the goal. That's not their goal. If you realize that's not their goal, that needs to be your goal. Peace, Liberty security. Anyway, that's my, that's my rant on that.
Speaker 2 00:28:07 Okay. Well set
Speaker 0 00:28:10 Reminds me, Dr. When I know you've said in other conversations that conservatives have been conserving, what have they been conserving? You've said, you know, in the past it's been, you know, on social security or things like that. It's always moving to the left. What they're conserving. That's always stuck with me since you said that the first time. So yeah.
Speaker 1 00:28:26 So the agenda setters are moving the country this way and the conservatives are just saying, Hey, don't go so fast. And they're conserving whatever happened in the last 20 years, but they're not setting the agenda. The other side is, I mean, to be fair, the closest I've seen to agenda setters in the right way are Reagan Thatcher. And, uh, but that was only, that was only 10 to 12 years. So it, it, it was, oh, it was okay, David. It was like the enlightenment a hundred years. Not, not bad, but it wasn't dropped 500 years. It wasn't a hundred, but in those hundred years, so much was achieved. And same thing with Reagan Thatcher in those 12 years, so much was achieved, including dissipating the Soviet union. But yeah, it didn't, it didn't stick.
Speaker 0 00:29:14 And, uh, we will, for all of you who are posting questions, we will try and get back to some of these questions at the end, but we want to make time for our second topic. So we shall move on to the possibility of war between Russia and the Ukraine. There's been a lot of talk about this. It's sort of all the buzz. So I think I'm handing it over to you, David, for your introductory remarks.
Speaker 2 00:29:33 Uh, okay. Yes. Um, I'm sure everyone is reading. The news is well aware of the conflict at the border of Ukraine, the, uh, uh, a hundred over a hundred thousand, 130 or so Russian troops that are bridged there with armaments, um, mechanized, weapons, uh, planes, et cetera, um, which, you know, you wouldn't think Russia would be doing unless it intended to invade. Um, it's a funny place to have just repeated exercises, which is what it claims. Um, but actually th th I think one point of contact to keep in mind here is that, uh, this, the war between Russia and Ukraine has been going on since 2014 in that year, the maiden so-called Maidan revolution named napper square in jail, um, got rid of a Soviet puppet as a premier and, uh, or the head of state and replaced him with someone who was Western oriented.
Speaker 2 00:30:31 And from that point on, um, Ukraine's, uh, kind of interest has been more toward the European side, the Western side, actually that started many years before that I declared independence in 1991 immediately after the fall of the Soviet union and began to argue with NATO almost immediately, but in 2014, um, this was a, uh, um, uh, crux point apparently for Putin and to have his puppet removed and someone taking over, um, who was, uh, he couldn't control and, uh, kind of movement toward liberalizing, uh, the economy and state to some degree. So, uh, Russia, you know, in that year and next, uh, uh, Armenia and they invaded the, uh, Eastern provinces Don boss. Uh, and so now, now we're facing this, um, and they've been for all that time since 2014, maybe before they have been inundating Ukraine with, uh, cyber war, uh, uh, packs, um, false messages, all kinds of disinformation techniques that the Russians actually maybe the best in the world that now.
Speaker 2 00:31:53 Um, so anyway, it's come the, now we have this crisis on the border and, um, uh, there's been a lot of activity on the us side and on the side of the allies. And so let me just pose the question. What, what should the us do at this point? Um, I should say I'm not even close to being an expert in foreign policy, um, uh, far from it. Uh, so what I'm wanting to focus on is a couple of core principles, um, in the objective is political philosophy that should apply to foreign policy decisions. And then I'll mention some factors and draw a tentative conclusion about what to do. But, um, this is, this is I'm confident of the principles. I'm not confident that I know enough of the strategic military historical and other information that would have to inform, um, an actual operating decision.
Speaker 2 00:32:57 So let me go back and I'm going to take a deep dive here into political philosophy. Um, the, the point is that nations in the world exist in what the early liberal thinkers of the, uh, John Locke's era called a state of nature. A state of nature was a thought experiment, um, designed to say, oh, but if people will had no government, how could they, uh, uh, form a government that would be legitimate? And, um, the agent of the combination of the people rather than, uh, dominating the people as serfs the medieval and every earlier civilization. And so the idea was like, well, in the state of nature, you may have friendly relationships with a lot of people, but you have no protection against predators, thieves, et cetera. And so you have to arm yourself and each person has to be his own judge about how to resist, um, you know, violations of their rights, how to punish violators and so forth.
Speaker 2 00:34:02 So that's kind of chaotic. And so we form a government and a unified system, uh, under a single law that governs everyone in the country, everyone in society. And, um, they have the exclusive, um, uh, function of deciding such disputes, punishing crime, uh, resting people, and also deciding some civil disputes, um, like property or torque issues. Um, and that that's, I think a very good explanation, not only about what justifies government, but what government does. I don't mean to say to the state of nature. It's a thought experiment. It never really existed, but it's a good thought experiment, but nations, um, don't have any common world government over them. And I don't think that would be a good idea if we tried it, uh, for various reasons. So nations, um, have to deal with each other in ways that are very different from the way each of us as an individual citizen of the United States or whatever country we're in deal with other people, other citizens, uh, knowing that we have the framework of law behind us and, uh, uh, government to execute the law.
Speaker 2 00:35:21 Um, so foreign policy issues of foreign policy, I'm much more driven by questions of strategy, history, um, the subject particular circumstances of every different case. And, um, the principles don't go as deep. Um, uh, they don't dictate as much, uh, at the detailed level as principles of domestic policy. Do you know it, the principle that domestic policy, the government should not violate my rights well. Okay. What about rent controls open and shut question that violates the rights of landlords and tenants for that matter. It shouldn't, that shouldn't happen. That it's an instant application, but informed policy. We don't have that same thing. So I want to mention three principles that I think are, um, uh, should govern, um, the, uh, conduct of foreign policy by free country. And, um, I'm, I'm really, um, um, uh, grateful to, uh, Roger John Wei who's, who was worked at, at the foreign policy research Institute for a number of years before he joined the Atlas society.
Speaker 2 00:36:37 And, um, did a lot of work that he has some great articles. I'm just going to summarize a few of the points. And after the three principles are met, you, one is based on individualism. Uh, the national interest, uh, that a government should pursue is based on and reflects the interests of its citizens. The government has no broader interests that can't be traced back one way or the other to the interests of its citizens. So the whole idea of the Neo neo-con idea of, of nation building, um, to, you know, we have the power, let's do it, or the kind of altruistic sacrificial aid that we offered when disasters occur in places that have no bearing on our real interests, um, are not in our national interests. They're not, they don't justify the use of taxpayer money and taxpayer, um, other resources. So that's, that's principle one national interest has to be understood.
Speaker 2 00:37:44 The nation should pursue its national interest, but then natural interest has to be understood in fundamentally individualist terms. The second one is that, um, is defense. Uh, the government's role is defending citizens, uh, domestically against criminals, but internationally against aggression from other countries. Uh, now here it is where it starts getting really complicated because nations vary a great deal in size population, wealth, et cetera. Um, Belgium is not going to invade the Soviet union, or I'm sorry, Russia, you see how far back? My sense of the world, Belgium is not going to run bade Russia or protect Ukraine. They don't have manpower that tiny army they're part of the, but what they are is part of the Alliance, uh, NATO. Um, and that makes sense in as a strategy of, for defensive a country, to ally with people, if there's a shared set of principles and goals, um, that we stand for, you know, broadly speaking some freedom, um, you know, the, the goals are never defined as, okay.
Speaker 2 00:39:08 We want, we're all behind an objective as government never happened. Number of won't happen in our lifetime lifetimes, I imagined, but, uh, basically the liberal system of protecting of rights, um, international trade, uh, framework, trade, uh, free speech, et cetera. And, uh, when in an Alliance it makes most sense to ally with the most powerful advocates of that position that you would want to protect yourself or whose principles, um, are clearly, uh, aligned with yours and against the sources of aggression. And so, um, you know, the us is that superpower. Um, and because we can, and because it, I think it advances our, our interest up to a certain point to have, um, uh, uh, the, the help of allies and the engagement of allies in a unified resistance to aggression from countries like Russia, um, is justifiable, but the most important principles, the third one, the first one is in the individualist nature of analysis of national interest.
Speaker 2 00:40:36 The second one is the need for defense. The third one though, and most important is the, is his trade. The promotion of trade trade is a positive goal of foreign policy. And like in other aspects of ethics and political philosophy, this positive goal is more important than the negative goal of defense. Uh, so encouraging and expanding the possibilities to create a region one, um, the passage from Iran, she spoke to this in, uh, this is from her, uh, essay, the roots of war. The essence of capitalism's foreign policy is free crate. The opening of the world's crate rods to free international exchange and competition among the private citizens of all countries dealing directly with one another. That's the ideal to strive for. And, um, the, the thing we should be, um, the number one goal we should focus on and I'm stressing this now, because I don't see this often, um, mentioned in foreign policy discussions, um, either about the local, you know, the current issue of Ukraine or, or other ones.
Speaker 2 00:41:55 Um, I mentioned Roger, Donaway, he in a three-part essay, he wrote in the nineties, he talked about creating the three worlds Alliance, um, which would combine not, it would be kind of an economic version of NATO. We have some, some things sort of like that, um, among the European, uh, Japanese, South Korea and so forth. Um, but it could be made stronger. So, okay. Now let me come back to try to apply these principles to the case of Russia and Ukraine. Uh, I think the first question is, is the Russian threat to Ukraine, a threat to the U S good question, David, because we're not, you know, our foreign policy is, um, we have to respond to not just active aggression, you know, when the, um, the bad guy swarm on Jeanette talk it, but the, uh, the threat of a threat progression series, significant threat progression.
Speaker 2 00:43:05 Um, and I have to say, you know, in this case, no, if Russia invades Ukraine, I don't see any way in which this poses a direct threat to the U S uh, in the sense of, of, I mean, it will, there'll be consequences for you as citizens who are doing business in Ukraine, and that's always an issue. So yes, there's that for sure. Um, however, whether or not, or regardless of what, to the extent there was an, um, and a direct effect. I want to make a point that, um, today we're looking at a world situation of increasing authoritarianism and emboldened authoritarianism, Russia, and China, when the Soviet union collapsed in 1991, um, both of them were poor countries, not, you know, not at all threat now they are, and they've, they've grown. Putin has made Russia not necessarily wealthy, or I don't think he has much, but he's made it much more powerful militarily.
Speaker 2 00:44:13 China has grown tremendously and in wealth and military power. So I think part of this is, um, whether or not this is Putin's intention is they're testing the west by the threat to Ukraine. And, um, in that respect, I think, especially we need, we have a, we have a credibility issue and that credibility is in deficit now after the, um, withdraw from Afghanistan and some other bad episodes, um, in recent us history. Um, and, and, uh, you know, uh, another factor here is Putin has made it very clear that he wants, he wants to reconstitute the Soviet empire, the Russian empire, which goes back before the Soviet union. Um, the long history of Russia is one of empire building by conquest. It was, uh, under the czar as it was extended all the way the Pacific. And, uh, so it's added a bunch of satellite states.
Speaker 2 00:45:25 Um, many of which are now free, relatively free, uh, after the fall of Soviet union. Um, and, you know, it's this kind of dream of conquest, so he's not interested in being part of a free world Alliance. Um, I don't think, and having great commercial relations, um, among his citizens and the citizens of the us and, uh, France and Germany, it's over the once power control, um, whether for himself probably yes, but certainly for Russia, he's got this mother Russia thing going on. So, um, that's my sort of question. One is a Russian is Russian threat to train the threat to us not directly, but indirectly. Yes. And in the circumstances, the second question is, uh, is Ukraine a potentially valuable trading partner for us in the sense of, um, the important question, the important issue of trade being a primary goal. And that's a harder question it's, uh, by, from what I understand, Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe, um, in some freedom indices on economic freedom, so forth, it does not rank all that highly.
Speaker 2 00:46:48 Um, but it did declare its independence very closely. Uh, and immediately after the fall of the Soviet union, it is defended it over time. Um, in the first decade from the nineties into the arts, um, they liberalized the lot of the economy, um, boosted up property rights protections. And now apparently there is considerable popular support for a line joining NATO if possible, joining the European union and being, uh, just a new Western nation. So to speak, not an ex communist nation, like the, you know, Lithuania Latvia, some of the other captive nations, um, who have over the last 30 years have become really turned around, uh, another encouraging thing. I, from what you see, and again, I'm being tentative about all this, but, you know, unlike Iraq, where there was no cultural basis for creating a market economy, rule of law, um, and so forth, I think Ukraine has much more of that, um, capacity.
Speaker 2 00:48:04 So it's actually not a hopeless quest, um, to do, and it is poor, but I think back to South Korea or Taiwan, when they turned the corner and now they're, dynamos dynamic places and having, you know, another trading partner, another member of the free world, um, with this population and, um, it support, uh, I think we could, um, it would be really to our benefit. So a lot of if, if Sierra, um, but I would tend to really say we should not send military to the Ukraine, um, for just strategic or tactical reasons. It's too close. Um, we can't get soldiers in there, um, to match Russia, um, any easily way, but I think we should support, uh, Ukraine with arms and with ally, um, building up, uh, the, the kinds of policies Biden has been promoting in the last month. Um, and just maybe even more so I would put no limit on military, uh, uh, the value of military equipment.
Speaker 2 00:49:19 And we send them to make partly to make Putin suffer if you does want to invade and make this a, a very bad, um, situation, sort of like the Russian attempt to talk her, uh, and Ron Afghanistan back in the, uh, back in the day. Um, and I think we should support the idea of courage every way we can, uh, free trade between us and particularly individuals and companies, private economic agents in our country and elsewhere, um, to engage with Ukraine and builds up that didn't, that didn't work so much with China. We thought it would having trade with them with liberalize them. Um, we couldn't match the, the authoritarian impulse we may be able to in Ukraine. So I'll, I'll just leave it there, um, and be interested in comments.
Speaker 0 00:50:23 Richard, do you have anything, any response before we
Speaker 1 00:50:26 Do, I want to endorse what David said about, um, the whole idea of the nation state. Uh, it's a very new concept actually, maybe 1860s, 1870s, and that a foreign policy should be based on self-interest. I think one of the things that's interesting, I think Objectivists have a hard, I think they have a problem with the idea of national interest as a concept, but, but, uh, it's okay. It's absolutely okay to say as an individual going against other individuals, as you presume my rational self-interest in this world that David quite rightly describes as it's not a world where there's one world government there isn't. So each nation state acts like an individual, so they should act like a rationally self-interested individual. What does that mean for America? If America at its root is capitalist is constitutionalist. That's what it should be say. We stand, they're not very good at it.
Speaker 1 00:51:25 Right now. We stand for constitutionally limited government that protects individual rights where the capitalists of the world. And in that regard, the Trump message of America. First, that phrase is basically Iran's foreign policy America. First notice, not America, only, not America at the expense of others, but stop sacrificing America, America first, um, the president of the United States, the commander in chief, by the way, should be putting America first. Now, when he went to NATO and said, why are we supporting your national defense? Aren't you, he didn't put it this way. I would put it this way. Are you grownups? If you're a grown-up country, you should have your own military. Why are you outsourcing your military to the Pentagon? Why should America be providing your milk? So I think actually since the cold war, what is it? It's been over now 30 years. It's what a shame.
Speaker 1 00:52:22 The last 30 years should have been spent with the U S saying to Europe, provide your own defense, build up your own defense. If you fear Russia, build up your own defense. Actually what the U S did was the opposite. It told you crane, it told all the ex Soviet satellites, don't worry, don't build up your military, give up your nukes. They actually told you crane to give up their nukes and we will provide the umbrella. So this is terrible. This is not a good idea. Now, let me put myself in Putin's position. This will sound weird coming from an objectivist. You know what boudin is thinking, the cold war is over. We disbanded the Warsaw pact. Well, we had to cause we collapsed. Um, but NATO didn't go away. What the hack NATO was formed to oppose the Soviet union and it satellites. And if you know the history, when you go back to 1991, guess what?
Speaker 1 00:53:22 At the time Gorbachev said to Reagan and others, why don't we're disbanding Warsaw pack? Why don't you disband NATO? And the Reagan I'd say it. They said no. And not only is NATO still the not only does NATO still exists, it's expanded. So if you just Google NATO expansion, I think it's 30 countries. Now, if it's 30 countries now, and at the end of the cold war, it was like 20 or 18 or something like that. Okay. So you know what Putin's thinking? He's thinking, oh my God, NATO still exists. It's expanding. And it's coming eastward to the border of Ukraine, even. So he's thinking if you crane, which is not part of NATO, but they keep threatening that they will be. I think that's what he's worried about. And the foreign policy establishment in the U S is portraying Putin as an imperialist, where is in fact what's happening is Putin is worried that NATO is coming his way.
Speaker 1 00:54:22 That's exactly what happened by the way, James Baker was secretary of state in 1990. You know what he told Gorbachev Gorbachev said since were desolving, are you going to dissolve NATO? And baker said no. And he said, uh, so are you going to freeze it in place? And baker said, yes. And the, the famous line was not one inch east. Now that means we will not expand NATO eastward toward Russia, except in the last 30 years, 18 countries have been added to NATO pushing eastward. So again, I'm no I'm not giving any brief for Putin. I don't think Putin is Stalin. Putin is not stalling. He's just not, he is actually more worried that NATO is expanding toward his border, uh, not the other way round. So I think his whole motive is he doesn't want Ukraine and NATO period. That's it? It's, it's not, he's the beginning of a Hitler, you know, takeover of Europe.
Speaker 1 00:55:31 That's not what's happening. The other point I would name is David. Absolutely. Right. I looked up in the Iran lexicon Iran's view on foreign policy. The first word that came up was free trade. I thought that was interesting. Now here's, what's weird if that's true. I think that's a big part of foreign policy, but it's also identify allies who have your philosophy and defend them. Like, so I think the us should have help Britain, you know, defeat, uh, stall, uh, defeat Hitler, but free trade. Now on those grounds, you would say Trump had a bad foreign policy. He was right to say, NATO pay for your own defense. He was wrong to go protectionist. And, um, you could say that even Obama was wrong to impose a on Russia, sending a Nat gas to Germany. The, um, I forget what it's called, you know, the pipeline, the north to the north to, and notice what Biden did the minute Biden got in.
Speaker 1 00:56:37 He allowed nor to now of course, he's shut down energy production in the U S which was terrible. But David, from our perspective, the idea of no let's have free trade between Russia and Germany, um, that, that, that Putin would have liked that he would say, wow, okay, the us is not blocking anyway, I'll stop there. But, uh, my view is the us does not have a self-interest in helping you crane. I checked the numbers by the way, the economic freedom index of Ukraine and Russia is identical. So those of you who think Ukraine is this, you know, free market capitalist country that we need to protect against this terrible Russian they're, they're identical. They're both corrupt. In some degree, they're both on free to some degree, they're basically the same. So that isn't the ad. That is not the issue. And the other thing I noticed is while I mentioned the NATO expansion that, um, uh, Putin is worried about that the famous Putin quote was the worst day in Russian history and the Soviet union fell apart. Yeah. Wow. And so many people take that to mean everything he's done since then is to rebuild the empire. I don't, I don't think that's true. I think he's a realist enough to realize that ain't going to happen. We are not going to regain these satellites. That Ukraine thing is not the beginning of me taking over 14 countries. Uh, Allah Hitler. I think it's defense. It's totally defensive. I think Putin's just doesn't want Ukraine in NATO. That's it. All right. I'll stop there.
Speaker 2 00:58:15 Okay. Just a couple of points I was reading about that, not one inch of the east thing, and apparently there's a good deal of controversy about who said that and what was meant at the time. And there was meant. So, um, yeah, but, uh, but the main point I want to make is that, um, yeah, if, uh, Ukraine joined NATO, then we'd be data would be surrounding Russia on two sides.
Speaker 1 00:58:46 Yes. That's exactly what we've done. The part of
Speaker 2 00:58:49 The job and the Eastern border they'll iron, but I don't believe anyone thinks even maybe Putin that the Romanians, the Hungarians, the lat Latvians are going to pose a threat to him that they're going to, all of them are adjacent to Russian territory, right? Bella Rusyn and there's been no threat, no indication or any threat that's right. Us has helped them weaponize against Russian threats. And so I, I go back to, um, you know, one of the issues here, uh, is distinguishing your friends from your enemies and motivation has a lot to do that. And I think Putin's motives are authoritarian. Uh, it's corrupt as hell. Um, and when you said about the, um, freedom index, I've looked at a couple and I got different, uh, answers on this. So, uh, um, that, I'm not sure. Uh, and but if, if, if you're right about that, um, if that's, if the index you decided it was good. Yeah. It really undermines any any case. Uh, I mean, it certainly tells against the case I was making so
Speaker 1 01:00:12 Well, David, I looked at Ukraine, Russia, China, and us one quick fun fact, the economic freedom index of Russia versus the U S in other words, how free is Russia versus the U S 2002. It was 62% as free as the U S 2016. It was 67% is free. The latest reading, it is 78% as free. In other words, the two lines are Russia is going up in economic freedom and the U S is going down, oh, and the U S is still freighter, but nobody knows these numbers. They just portray Putin as Stalin. And they just portray the U S as you know, the equivalent of Hong Kong, the U S is becoming less free. The Soviet union and the, well, I just said it. So I'm, I'm with you, David. I have a senior moment, the Soviet union there, they are becoming believe it or not freer, that's hard to believe, but look it up. Cato, Noah's heritage, heritage index of economics.
Speaker 2 01:01:23 I was looking at the Fraser index,
Speaker 1 01:01:26 The conservatives last point, Abby quickly, I'll say the conservatives notice will say, America's biggest enemies are Russia, China, and Iran, perhaps ideologically. But if you look territorially, none of those countries have really invaded anybody since the cold war they just happened. So they're terrible. They're awful regimes. But if we're talking about imperialism and taking over in a Hitler like fashion, it really has not happened. So what's going on here. And meanwhile, the us doesn't care about its border on the south with Mexico. Why would it care more about the Ukrainian border then the Texas border there's the priorities are, are wrong. I think, and it has to be America first in a truly generally philosophic way.
Speaker 0 01:02:27 I think, uh, those are all great points. And obviously these are very intricate topics because we have run out of time, but I want to encourage you guys for those of you, we didn't get to your questions. Um, our scholars are on clubhouse. It's an app you can download, um, from our events page and from our Alside emails. Uh, they do a lot of Q and a longer Q and a periods on our clubhouses. So I want to thank you again. Uh, David and Richard, those are amazing as always. And I want to thank all of you for joining us today on all of our platforms. Again, I'm Abby, Berringer a student program manager. If you enjoyed this content, like I said, check out our other content, uh, Atlas society.org backslash. Now playing is where you can watch more of these webinars or backslash events for all of our upcoming events. Uh, and please consider making a tax deductible [email protected]
, backslash donate, uh, and tune in next week. When co-founder of reason, Bob pool will be our guest on the Atlas society asks, thank you everybody for joining us.
Speaker 1 01:03:25 Thanks everyone. Good to see you, David. Thank you.