Ayn Rand .. wasn’t always right. Foreign policy is one of the areas where she stumbled, at least on one occasion .. :Anyone who wants to invade a dictatorship or semi-dictatorship is morally justified in doing so, because he is doing no worse than what that country has accepted as its social system.
I recognize no right whatsoever for dictatorships to exist. But I think that Rand erred here in two ways.
First, it is perverse to hold that people suffering under a dictatorship have “accepted” the dictator’s evil acts, such that anything we do to them in the course of a war is no better than what they are in effect doing to themselves.
Note the collective noun, “that country,” and ponder its moral implications. It’s not the sort of thinking I would expect from an individualist like Ayn Rand ..
Rand’s second mistake was to neglect another relevant group of people: the citizens of the liberating country ..
.. in the history of our country, there has not been one single armed conflict of any note in which Americans’ liberties did not contract. War has always brought restrictions on travel, immigration, trade, free expression, habeas corpus, and the judiciary as a whole. It can still mean conscription, the closest thing to slavery that we tolerate under law. Here or abroad, it can mean displacement, dispossession, internment, and torture.
If I could push a button and depose a dictator without any other consequences, then of course I would do it. But that is not and has never been a choice in the real world. There the question is much more complicated, and experience has shown that very often we must decline the offer, not because we are indifferent to liberty, but because we value it so much.