newprotest.org: A FINE LINE

A FINE LINE

July 07, 2006
by: jovial_cynic
I've gotten into several great conversations regarding some political issues, so I figured I'd bring the topics here and expound a little on the dialogues and perhaps get a better opportunity to explain my position on the topics. I'll have to write these posts in chunks, since there's too much to cover in a single post.

WAR
War sucks. The casualties on all sides of war is justification enough for me to disagree with war in nearly all circumstances, and moreso when the war isn't even fought on the land in which I live. I'm concerned first for the innocent civilians who's deaths are viewed as a mere byproduct of war, as though their deaths are to be expected and ignored. And I'm concerned for soldiers (general definition; I'm concerned for marines and seaman and etc., etc., too) who are put in a situation where they have to kill or be killed. I think war is the final breakdown of humanity - all reasonable options have been exhausted or forgotten, and humans beings are forced to stab, club, shoot, bomb, and otherwise kill one another. It's quite terrible.

But that's not to say that war is always wrong.

The US military, as best as I can figure, is made up of a lot of men and women who have made it their duty to defend the American people as well as the interests of the US government. I think that's valiant and respectable. While there are a lot of rotten people who give the US military a bad name, I think that most of the military is comprised of upstanding people.

I think that it's valiant for an individual to be willing to lay down their life to protect something they love (freedom, family, honor, etc.), but I don't feel that doing so is the same as being willing to lay down your life to fight whatever battle the government thinks is necessary. And that's where things get interesting.

IRAQ
The United States, as an entity, is interested in protecting itself and maintaining global primacy. Every superpower is, because every superpower views other superpowers as competitors (albeit competitors with missiles), and in order to stay in position economically or militarily, sometimes it's a good idea to prevent other countries from having access to resources.

It doesn't make sense for the US to want to topple dictators and introduce democracy when the US has nothing to gain from it. It does, however, make sense for the US to want to secure Iraq and prevent China and Russia from benefiting from Iraqi oil once the sanctions on Iraq were lifted. Strategically speaking, I think it's a good move. I have a hard time saying that I wouldn't do the same thing. And while I'm sure that there are some in the White house who really believed that Saddam was some sort of threat, I think military strategists saw this as the perfect opportunity to position the US in the middle east to help ease dependency on Saudi oil, as well as slow down the advance of potential threats from the other superpowers.

As an individual, I am sickened by the idea of it, because the civilian cost of advancing this military strategy is unacceptable to me. I don't ascribe to utilitarianism, and I don't think that any individual who's on the short end of the philosophy (Iraqi civilians) would. But maybe injecting democracy into Iraq does make the world safer, because the US government is generally involved in helping countries around the world, and advancing the US agenda isn't necessarily bad. But I can't get my mind off the innocent people who "have to die" as a result of war. And it seems that the only people that can casually accept utilitarianism in this context are the folks making the plans from behind expensive desks and comfortable chairs... and I have a problem with that.

... and yet I understand that the US has to do this. It's just difficult to see past the vultures (US oil corporations) circling the carcasses.

NEXT POST: CORPORATE AMERICA

COMING SOON: A FINE LINE, PART 2: CORPORATE AMERICA
np category: politics
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COMMENTS for A FINE LINE


Mark Glesne said:
"The casualties on all sides of war is justification enough for me to disagree with war in nearly all circumstances... But that's not to say that war is always wrong."

I'd be interested to see your breakdown of the US military conflicts you disagree with, and the conflicts with which you agree.

In other words, which wars that the US has been involved were "good"? Which were "bad"?

July 07, 2006


jovial_cynic said:
I will always disagree with war. My opinion has little to do with "right or wrong" because I'm not qualified to make that call; I think my range of vision is too small to see the big picture. But I think that everybody's range of vision is too small.

Generally, I think a *civilian* should always disagree with war, because the civilian is always the victim on both sides, whether as casualties or through the loss of liberties. That Iraqi civilians have to die, or that men in the US named Muhammad have to endure racial hatred, or that the average citizen can't be openly critical of the president without being scrutinized (remember McCarthyism?) by the feds... all as a byproduct of war... sucks. Maybe I can understand a piece of the big picture, and maybe I can understand a tiny bit of America's end goal... but the situation still sucks.

America will defends its interests. That's what a government does. America didn't *have* to care about the Korean war, but she had interests there. She didn't *have* to care about Vietnam, but she had interests there as well. And clearly, the interests were great enough to send people to kill and be killed to defend those interests. But it makes me sad to think that those folks died defending... interests. They died because America didn't want to lose ground in a competition for global supremacy. That's terrible. I have a hard time picturing a person joining the military with the the desire to lay their life on the line for a government's desire to maintain power. I think that most go in wanting to defend a loftier ideal - they want to be a hero. And that's tragic.

July 08, 2006


Luke said:
I partly agree and disagree with you JC. I hate war as it appears you do. There are many times when war is created but does not appear to have an immediate equal or opposite threat, like in a civil war. If a war is brought on solely for petty interests then that war is a shame on both sides so we agree. However if we go to war because we are trying to prevent something that appears to be inevitable from happening then it might be justifiable, even though it might appear to be for interests.

The vietnam war was a terrible war where we lost many good men who were fighting a war where we ended up winning every major battle but ultimately failing our objective. Vietnam was left in civil unrest and many died. Now to set the record straight it was a Democrat that got us into that war, and a Republican that got us out.

Now the Iraq war for instance was predicated on a number of things but one of which was WMDs. Oil never came into the equation but it was trumped up as a 'war for oil' by what I refer to as the looney left (which I didn't include you in). George Bush doesn't serve to benefit from a war for oil and beyond that we don't even get an appreciable amount of our oil from Iraq, hardly a smidgen.

And since when do leftists refer to democracy as something which is forced upon people. Now if the Iraqi people hated America and enmasse rose up against our efforts I'd believe you but the exact opposite has happened. They're overjoyed that we've freed them from Saddam. Freedom is something that is a right and obviously even Muslims understand that. They've responded very favorably to having the right to vote. There are still disturbances and uprisings but not against what America did. Only the other countries hate us for it.

Morever the top Iraqi general confirmed that there were WMDs that were smuggled into Syria before "Shock and Awe", and we found WMDs even though they were deteriorated, they were WMDs nonetheless.

Left to the alternative of saying "Stop or we'll say NO again" to Saddam he might have used those WMDs or others to destroy Israel or sold them to terrorists to kill thousands of Americans. Given his history that is certainly not inconceivable. That is protecting our country.

Initially I did not understand the war in Iraq and thought it to be preemptive, I still think it was preemptive but given the amazing developments I see that it was a good thing and saved more lives than will eventually be taken.

And I disagree that citizens are always the victims. They're also the benefactors and in Iraqis case they're experiencing freedom which is a right and a good thing for all people.

July 08, 2006


jovial_cynic said:
I'll address the Republican/Democrat & right/left dilemma in a future post. I don't think we need to engage in polemics on that topic this early in the conversation, so there's little need to blame the right or the left on any particular issue quite yet.

However, I think the WMD's-in-Iraq debate was settled here. If Bush stated in 2004 that comprehensive reports proved that Iraq had no post-1991 WMDs, I'm going to venture to say that the official US stance is that there were never any post-1991 WMDs. At this juncture, Santorum is running on some sort of faith that he'll find them, in spite of his own party's opposition.

Regarding the Iraqi vote, you're using an ends-justify-the-means argument. If 5,000 Iraqi civilians have to die in order for the rest of Iraq to have a democratic election, does that make it good? So far, their democratic election hasn't reduced the sectarian violence between the Sunnis and the Shiites, which was the focus of the elections. I think you have a large number of religious folks in Iraq who do *not* want to concede their side of the fight, which might explain why you have both Sunnis and Shiites fighting against US troops...

July 08, 2006


Mark Glesne said:
Thank God for moral violence

Let us make war on the phrase "violence doesn't solve anything." It is a lie, and anyone who utters it cannot be taken morally seriously.

Take, for example, the American use of violence against the Taliban. Thanks to it, Afghani women may get an education, attend public events without a male escort and otherwise ascend above their prior status as captive animals.

Thanks to American violence in Afghanistan, Islamic terror has started to decline in prestige among many Muslims who had previously romanticized it. Though many Muslims still glorify Muslims who blow themselves up in order to murder Jews and Americans, the glamour of terror is dwindling. In Pakistan, for example, there are almost no Osama T-shirts on sale, and no more demonstrations on his behalf.

Even more significantly, a handful of Muslims and Arabs are beginning to ask what is wrong in their cultures, rather than continuing to blame America, Christianity and Israel for their lack of human rights, political democracy and economic progress.

Once again, violence properly used has led to major moral gains for humanity.

You have to wonder how anyone can utter, let alone believe, something so demonstrably wrong as "violence doesn't solve anything," or "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind," or any other pacifist platitudes. These are the moral and intellectual equivalents of "the Earth is flat." In fact, it is easier to show that violence solves many evils than it is to show that the earth is round.

It was violence that destroyed Adolf Hitler and Nazism. Only violence. Not talk. Not negotiations. Not good will.

It is violence used by police that stops violent criminals from murdering or otherwise hurting innocent people. There are many innocent men and women alive today solely because some policeman used violence to save their lives.

It was violence that ended slavery in America. Had violence not been used against the Confederacy, the United States would have been cut in half, and millions of black men and women would have remained slaves.

The list of moral good achieved by violence is endless.

How, then, can anyone possibly say something as demonstrably false as "violence doesn't solve anything"?

The answer is difficult to arrive at. Given how obviously moral much violence has been, one is tempted to respond by asking how people can believe any absurdity -- whether it is that Elvis Presley is still living, or that race determines a person's behavior, or that 72 women in heaven await mass murderers.

Vast numbers of people believe what they want to believe or what they have been brainwashed to believe, not what is true or good. For vast numbers of people, it is simply dogma that all violence is wrong. It is a position arrived at with little thought but with a plethora of naive passion.

It is also often the position of the morally confused. People who believe in moral relativism, who therefore cannot ever determine which side in a conflict is morally right, understandably feel incapable of determining when violence may be moral.

Those who say violence never solves anything have confused themselves in other ways as well. They have elevated peace above goodness. Therefore, in these people's views, it is better for evil to prevail than to use violence to end that evil -- since the very use of violence renders the user of it evil.

For those people whose moral compasses are intact, the issue is as clear as where North and South are. There is immoral violence, and there is moral violence.

That is why it is so morally wrong and so pedagogically foolish to prohibit young boys from watching any violence or from playing violent games like "Cops and Robbers." Just as with sex and ambition and all other instincts, what must be taught about violence is when it is right to use it.

For if we never engage in moral violence, it is as certain as anything in life can be that immoral violence will rule the world.

By Dennis Prager

July 10, 2006


jovial_cynic said:
That's a very long comment.

One of the things I often say is this: the thing about which I agree with Bush during his presidency was his quick strike against the Taliban. If we want to use the language of Prager, I'll concede that the US conducted moral violence in Afghanistan.

However, the approach I take is that I don't think that violence is the solution to any problem; it is the escalation and final manifestation of the problem. Which is why I can hate it, regardless if it is "right or wrong." I don't think folks should cheer the violent death of a wicked king - I think that's grotesque. Cheer for freedom, cheer for peace, but to cheer for violence as a solution? I don't get it. I have friends that have cheered the death of Zarqawi... and I can't even begin to relate. Yes, I think it's good that he is no longer capable of executing further violence, and I think it is "good" that he has been killed, but I don't think people should cheer his death.

From the Christian mindset, our sin has condemned us all; none of us are worthy of redemption. Why should we, who are not saved by our own merit, cheerfully shout for the death of our enemies, when we ourselves should be condemned, were it not for the grace of God? I believe in justice, and I believe that those who pervert justice and take advantage of the weak should be punished... but the execution of justice should be conducted solemnly. The violent end of a life is always tragic.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with Iraq. I'm not convinced that the US invovlement in Iraq has anything to do with morality.

July 10, 2006


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