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Anthony Loeppert
06-21-2012, 09:42 PM
Continuing on a thread: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21384

Is obeying murder orders ok... or did I misunderstand?

Chris Parkerson
06-21-2012, 10:36 PM
Anthony,

You said, "Certainly, as soon as you start your own thread. In the mean time should I prepare receipts?"

So, can you tell me?

Chris

Anthony Loeppert
06-21-2012, 10:40 PM
Anthony,

You said, "Certainly, as soon as you start your own thread. In the mean time should I prepare receipts?"

So, can you tell me?

Chris

It seems this thread is for something else... and I started it.

BTW: I don't fear your questions, simply ask them in the proper forum. Actually I invited you to start just such a thread earlier.

Chris Parkerson
06-21-2012, 10:42 PM
Then I am bowing out.

Be well.

Chris

Anthony Loeppert
06-21-2012, 10:51 PM
Then I am bowing out.

Be well.

Chris

Really? Did the sand start to shift?

Come on man. You're a body guard! Did I "bow out" on your request to start a new thread?

These threads are not the same.

Start your own thread and you might catch me in some hypocrisy.

Anthony Loeppert
06-21-2012, 11:24 PM
Really? Did the sand start to shift?

Come on man. You're a body guard! Did I "bow out" on your request to start a new thread?

These threads are not the same.

Start your own thread and you might catch me in some hypocrisy.

It was a long night yesterday and I'm going to sleep early. I'll catch your reply tomorrow.

lbb
06-22-2012, 08:23 AM
This appears to me to be a private conversation.

Anthony Loeppert
06-22-2012, 09:50 AM
This appears to me to be a private conversation.

But now you're here it's a party! Anyway, it sort of started this way, but it was a serious topic open to all. The issue I raised was being the (possible) ethic dilemma of taking a life on orders of another.

I used an example of someone taking another's life which I felt justified, which was not ordered?
http://healthland.time.com/2012/06/20/why-a-texas-dad-who-killed-his-daughters-alleged-rapist-wont-face-charges/

Contrast that, for example, with a random soldier dropped in a foreign country "just doing his job". It gets a little shakier ethically does it not?

genin
06-22-2012, 03:08 PM
It's only ethical if it is justified under the rules of combat/engagement as outlined by the Military force that individual is a part of.

Anthony Loeppert
06-27-2012, 08:40 PM
It's only ethical if it is justified under the rules of combat/engagement as outlined by the Military force that individual is a part of.

Phew. I thought it might be more complicated than that.

Regards,
Anthony

mathewjgano
06-28-2012, 12:33 PM
I'll take a stab at it, but being that this is going to pertain to the hypothetical, it's going to be hard to avoid the usual pitfalls. Add to it the somewhat sacred ground that is the military and the right to live and it can very quickly turn into an emotional conversation.
....I consider the military to be sacred. I would never presume that just because someone is a soldier that they are noble, never mind heroic, but the role of the warrior is a sacred one. As such, I think they deserve the highest degrees of scrutiny, but with the highest levels of respect attached. Regardless of their personal motivations, they are put into tough situations and essentially give up large parts of their autonomy for the sake of that noble role.
I don't think "simply doing my job" is ever a justification for doing bad things intentionally, but it's easy to point to bad intentions and condemn. It's this bad intent which constitutes murder in my mind and those events, where the intent is proven, are easy to point to as bad. Mai Lai is an example of ordered murder. Perhaps not everyone involved murdered people, but those who did deserve the death penalty or something appraoching that severity. Again, easy to say, but much harder to pinpoint who all specifically deserves what. Fights are chaotic enough; wars are chaotic to the extreme. In general, where bad intent is ruled out, I tend to blame our politicians for the devastations of our more recent wars more than I do the soldiers themselves.
Some folks have argued to me in the past that a soldier shouldn't have the stress of worrying about whether or not to engage an unknown; that in a warzone they need to worry first about survival of themselves and the members of their team. I don't think it's so clear-cut as that, although I do agree with it to an extent. Then again, in our society soldiers opt for the task. However, this is muddied a bit by the fact that many of our soldiers accept the noble task from incentives which are not "noble warrior"-related. They want the GI Bill or the health care or the promise of a nice resume, for example. So I recognize that while many people choose the life of a soldier, not everyone is embracing it equally. It's a complicated thing; our civilian population doesn't appreciate this enough; they don't generally understand it sufficiently for the strength of the opinions they usually seem to have, regardless of being a "hawk" or a "dove." In a sense, it's business as usual...in general, Americans apparently hold a higher opinion of themselves than is warranted (thinking of a study I heard of in which the only thing Americans were number one in was in confidence), but this is an unusual circumstance so our ignorance is a recipe for disaster. In other words, I remember the case being put forward for going to war in Iraq and seeing the emotion-inducing props used. I was relatively unimpressed by them, while others I know saw the props and were instantly in awe and ready to act regardless of the logic behind them. So I also blame our out-of-touch civilian population, in addition to the powers that be, for the terrible fact of collateral damage. We hardly take part in our government processes, but we're very quick to bitch about them.
I'll finish with an event I had related to me by a soldier who I know to be a good person who was trying to do the right thing by being a soldier.
He described a vehicle approaching his column and who ignored all signs to stop. The vehicle was decimated. It was never made clear if any dangerous elements were discovered after the fact, but it wasn't his job to inspect, either, so he might not have had access to that information. I often think of this because I can easily imagine a frantic person not paying attention to signals designed to save his life. It affects me on a deep level to think an innocent person fleeing Sadam's regime might've be killed by his would-be saviors. That said, I'm inclined to think the action was justifiable considering the circumstances described. Soldiers must defend their position and a vehicle can be strapped with some enormous explosives very easily. Anyone approaching a column of soldiers should be cautious, particularly during wartime. Assuming fo the moment that the people were innocent folks, it would be a true tragedy; there would be no honorable way to spin it otherwise. People should consider these kinds of realities before making their choices, whether it is to be apathetic to the mechanisms of our government, or to throw support in some definite direction.
There are rarely any easy answers outside the world of ideas; reality is vastly more complex and deserves our highest respect and demands our highest levels of critical thinking.
For what it's worth.
Sincerely,
Matt
p.s. please excuse any apparent short-comings to this post. It's not intended to be a factual statement so much as one person's imperfect attempt at addressing a poignant and, I believe, important issue. Also please, anyone choosing to respond, let's do our best to demonstrate the civility and tact we would have others employ...especially in the face of any perceived disrespect.

Anthony Loeppert
07-01-2012, 11:26 AM
they are put into tough situations and essentially give up large parts of their autonomy for the sake of that noble role.


Exactly so. I simply doubt whether there can be such a noble cause which would persuade me to give up my autonomy in such a manner. Outsourcing decision making on that level disturbs me greatly.


In general, where bad intent is ruled out, I tend to blame our politicians for the devastations of our more recent wars more than I do the soldiers themselves.


100% agreed, which is why my mind keeps drifting to my previous point above. Situations that 'need' violence as a solution may exist but isn't that what a militia is for? People of their own accord deciding something needs to be done about xyz... might go a long way to avoiding the awkward situation of having to make split second choices as your friend made - and hundreds of thousands like him or her.


There are rarely any easy answers outside the world of ideas; reality is vastly more complex and deserves our highest respect and demands our highest levels of critical thinking.


Yep.
Take care,
Anthony

Kevin Leavitt
07-02-2012, 09:44 AM
For me it has not been hard to justify when you see the suffering and harm the folks I have dealt with cause in the world. I guess you have never seen a grown man beat the crap out of a little kid or women while other grown men stand by and watch. Also kinda changes your mind when you see a women walking around with no nose or ears too.

Never said that the my profession is noble, but unfortunately, it is necessary and I sleep well at night with no remorse with the thought that maybe I have helped the less fortunate have some hope for a better future. Actually now that I think about it, maybe it is noble.

As you earn your living on a computer some of which the parts are made from rare metals in some of these same countries think about the fact that in some way we are all hypocrites and not one of us has the abitliy or the right to take the morale high ground as our very lives are based on the suffering of others in some way.

Also, for those that pratice a "martial art" and profess the morale high ground...how do you get around the hypocracy of the fact that you are at the base level particpating in what is essentially refined and organized violence.

genin
07-02-2012, 12:13 PM
A murder, by definition, is an unlawful killing. Any soldier following those orders could be held accountable for murder. But given the circumstances, the punishment may fall back onto his superior officers. For instance, in the heat of battle, a soldier may not have the time or mental wherewithall to decipher the consequences of the order. So he simply pulls the trigger and obeys his superior. That would be an extenuating circumstance, such as being under duress in the heat of battle.

Also, that incident with people charging into checkpoints and road blocks is not the soldier's fault, not even close. Imagine being invaded by a foreign military. You see them all over the city, bombing and shooting, stopping cars and checking them. Then all of a sudden you feel like it's okay to drive your car at them full speed and have no idea on earth why all these men with guns are waving, yelling, and signaling to you to stop. To be fair, I think that some situations trigger the fight or flight response. And the same way that some people run from cops (only to be caught), some people think they can just gun it past an armed checkpoint.

Kevin Leavitt
07-02-2012, 04:44 PM
It has never been an issue for me to debate or to question when to pull the trigger or not. It has always been crystal clear with no gray area either way. It really is not as ambiquous or questionable as you think...at least for me.

Benjamin Green
07-02-2012, 07:05 PM
If it's a lawful order, then I'll shoot them; if it's them or me, then I'll shoot them; if it's them or my mate, then I'll shoot them; if I think they're going to become a threat, then I'll shoot them; if they're in the way, and they're not civilians, then I'll shoot them.

If it's an unlawful order, then you can shoot them yourself if you want them dead so bad.

You might debate over the morality of joining the military - but, by the time you're actually out there, you'd better have made up your mind that you're going to be fine with killing anyone who you think's a threat, or stands a reasonable chance of becoming one. Wars aren't a great place for soul searching and moral revelations

Never let it become personal. If you find yourself in some god-forsaken place, and the killing starts, just do your job and never feel sorry for it. They were going to do it to you too.

Personally, I've never drawn much of a distinction between the economic / political system and its military consequences. It makes no difference to me whether people are ending up dead because of something I do with a credit card or a gun. Whether it's poverty or war that does them in, they're just as dead. Even in just impoverishing a man, or refusing to help him, there's the same underlying reckless intent: My interests before yours.

People can't comfortably live any other way.

That's how I've thought about it for as long as I can remember. Growing up, having reasoned along those lines, a generalised and extreme reluctance to kill has always seemed a matter of taste, rather than anything of moral consequence. How greedy are you? How selfish? Those are the underlying questions and they're not confined to warfare. Just because someone has no taste for killing face to face doesn't make it any more than a taste for a different style of selfishness.

George S. Ledyard
07-02-2012, 07:17 PM
As you earn your living on a computer some of which the parts are made from rare metals in some of these same countries think about the fact that in some way we are all hypocrites and not one of us has the abitliy or the right to take the morale high ground as our very lives are based on the suffering of others in some way.

Also, for those that pratice a "martial art" and profess the morale high ground...how do you get around the hypocracy of the fact that you are at the base level particpating in what is essentially refined and organized violence.

War is a Racket By General Smedley D. Butler (http://www.wanttoknow.info/warisaracket)

Kevin Leavitt
07-03-2012, 03:07 AM
George assuming you posted MG Smedley's position on war as a demonstration of hypocracy. Based on that perspective, I agree there is hypocracy everywhere, which is exactly my point.

However, on another note, I don't necessarily agree with his over simplification of the definition of a "just war"...things tend to be a little bit more complex than that.

Where it gets tricky is in "definition of defense of the home or home land". Economic interest are certainly a part of the spectrum and consideration of all wars....has been and will continue to be. I also think that today that our national stability and security is even more complex and policies of isolationism simply do not work. A world of have and have nots creates a dangerous situation.

Also, at what point to you stop ignoring attrocities and genocide?

I am certainly not naive to think that western socieites are altruistic and act solely out of compassion....if that were the case we'd been doing much more in Africa alot sooner.

I agree though that economic concerns and fear tend to be the motivating factors for us to take action.

That said, that while economics and fear are motivators...it does not mean the war is unjust...it might simply be the motivator that forces us to take action.

overall though, I agree hypocracy abounds.

I think the original discussion dealt with the base concerns and ethics of the warrior.

Chris and my postion (not to put words in his mouth) was "how much thought/concern does the warrior put into the decision to protect or fight?"

At the base level, the warrior simply concerns himself with the immediacy of the mission he has been given. At the base level he is only concerned with the ethics of the immediate situation and not the bigger picture.

A key part of budo for me is living your life in such a way that your karma or associations put you in situations that are more positive. However, once you get there, you can't really concern yourself with "second thoughts" or get philosophical. A warrior as chosen a path and made a commitment and must stick to that.

genin
07-03-2012, 11:14 AM
I still think the premise/direction of this thread is incomplete and not fully defined. Outwardly its a yes or no question: Is a soldier obeying murder orders ok? Yes or No?

But to answer that in the form of yes or no is pointless, and lends nothing to a further discussion or exploration into this issue. Then you have us speculating as to what mindset some generic warrior/soldier possesses when it comes to receiving orders to kill. As though we (non-soldiers) can accurately speak for soldiers the world over.

Perhaps more meaningful questions would be: What would make a soldier choose to commit murder, and what are the implications of that choice? Justifications and consequences?

Kevin Leavitt
07-03-2012, 01:38 PM
Answer is no...it is well defined in the military. Geneva convention, law of armed conflict, rules of engagement etc.

Kevin Leavitt
07-03-2012, 01:40 PM
Btw...not all killing is murder by definition.

Anthony Loeppert
07-03-2012, 05:09 PM
For me it has not been hard to justify when you see the suffering and harm the folks I have dealt with cause in the world. I guess you have never seen a grown man beat the crap out of a little kid or women while other grown men stand by and watch. Also kinda changes your mind when you see a women walking around with no nose or ears too.

Never said that the my profession is noble, but unfortunately, it is necessary and I sleep well at night with no remorse with the thought that maybe I have helped the less fortunate have some hope for a better future. Actually now that I think about it, maybe it is noble.

As you earn your living on a computer some of which the parts are made from rare metals in some of these same countries think about the fact that in some way we are all hypocrites and not one of us has the abitliy or the right to take the morale high ground as our very lives are based on the suffering of others in some way.

Also, for those that pratice a "martial art" and profess the morale high ground...how do you get around the hypocracy of the fact that you are at the base level particpating in what is essentially refined and organized violence.

It seems like we have shifted towards the specific situation of Afghanistan, unless I read something not intended into your comments.

I have never seen the horrors you describe. I do not know how I would react. I have no solution how to drag those that wish to live in the stone age into the present and 10 years later I see our dear leaders don't either.

To training and hypocrisy:
On my less idealistic days, I see Aikido as learning to converse in another language - physical confrontation being one form of (non-verbal) communication. It is uncomfortable to ignore reality and not be at least conversant.

On my more idealistic days, I see Aikido as a path to moving through space from stable configuration to configuration.

But I don't see it as a way to do violence to someone (at least that is not what I'm in for), though definitely that application exists. I never saw an aikido technique that couldn't be defeated by uke simply letting go or walking (not running) in another direction.

I wish you well, safety, and good judgement Kevin.

EDIT: I realized just now I missed a point that integrated circuits contain rare earth metals and these can come from stressed areas of the world. I have no issue labeling these items just like diamonds. It gets confusing though, once the raw materials are processed.

Anthony Loeppert
07-03-2012, 05:55 PM
I still think the premise/direction of this thread is incomplete and not fully defined. Outwardly its a yes or no question: Is a soldier obeying murder orders ok? Yes or No?

But to answer that in the form of yes or no is pointless, and lends nothing to a further discussion or exploration into this issue.

I guess the answer would be 'yes'.


Then you have us speculating as to what mindset some generic warrior/soldier possesses when it comes to receiving orders to kill. As though we (non-soldiers) can accurately speak for soldiers the world over.

Perhaps more meaningful questions would be: What would make a soldier choose to commit murder, and what are the implications of that choice? Justifications and consequences?

That really wasn't how I intended to frame the question - as a hypothetical soldier to look down on and condemn - but rather how would I/you react being that soldier, then how might I/you feel later, etc. I was asking everyone to imagine (assuming the luxury of imagining - rather than remembering) how such a moment might happen. I can say unequivocally, I would revert to a rather instinctual vengeful creature if I saw what was happening to my daughter as the case I originally linked to. There is no decision tree needed, only observation.

As Kevin said, and I agree, all killing is not murder. Again, I am not a pacifist. It is the organisation of killing... the planning... the industry of... I'm against.

What happens when those doing start adding things up? It might be:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/story/2012-06-13/military-suicides/55585182/1
"Since 2010, suicide has outpaced traffic accidents, heart disease, cancer, homicide and all other forms of death in the military besides combat, the report says. One in four non-combat deaths last year were servicemembers killing themselves."

Again, I don't know - maybe only crazy people commit suicide and a higher proportion of the military is crazy. Or maybe some have done things they can't justify so easily. The actions haunt.

"Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress on Wednesday that he has directed all military branches "to immediately look at that situation and determine what's behind it, what's causing it and what can we do to make sure it doesn't happen."

What is the cause?

Anthony Loeppert
07-03-2012, 06:46 PM
It has never been an issue for me to debate or to question when to pull the trigger or not. It has always been crystal clear with no gray area either way. It really is not as ambiquous or questionable as you think...at least for me.

Regardless of your lack of ambiguity, the robots being planned to replace you will have a steadfast resolve programmed into them far greater than you can express here in this forum or in the field.

I DO NOT say this glibly or flippantly. The research is being done.

Anthony Loeppert
07-03-2012, 07:36 PM
If it's a lawful order, then I'll shoot them; if it's them or me, then I'll shoot them; if it's them or my mate, then I'll shoot them; if I think they're going to become a threat, then I'll shoot them; if they're in the way, and they're not civilians, then I'll shoot them.


This reminds me of a joke (if I could find a direct link, I would provide it) by Nick DiPaolo many years ago, something along the lines of:

"I heard on the news a guy got shot at a gas station..." "...and they said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where do you go when your tank is on 'E', Chuck-E-Cheese?" It could be that the ones getting shot aren't in the "wrong place and wrong time" but rather the trigger puller is.


How greedy are you? How selfish? Those are the underlying questions and they're not confined to warfare.

These are specifics not germane to the question...


Just because someone has no taste for killing face to face doesn't make it any more than a taste for a different style of selfishness.

Yes! But. The lack of a "taste for killing face to face" yet the desire to kill is exactly the issue at hand. If I have a task and I can't hire anyone to do that for me.... well, my plan doesn't execute.

Regards,
Anthony

hughrbeyer
07-03-2012, 09:35 PM
I'd like to point out that, for those living in a democratic society, this is not a moot question, even if you aren't in the military yourself. If you're of the "it's all murder" persuasion, it's your responsibility to be voting for those who, even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, wouldn't have gone after the perpetrators. Because we knew where they were, and we knew we couldn't get them without civilian casualties.

One of the things that happens when your join the military is that you give over a degree of personal control to those in charge in your society--which for us in the US means our elected officials. There's a reason why the Commander-in-Chief is an elected position.

Yeah, in theory every soldier is required to disobey an illegal order... but you know that's a career-ending decision, even when it's the right thing to do. And in practice, 99% of the time, that's not the issue--the issue is should we be there at all, trying to do the things we're asking the military to do.

Remember the blowup about the helicopter gunship that took out a reporter by accident? The main takeaway from that screwup was that the helicopter crew played it by the book. They reported what they were seeing, got the go-ahead from their base (which was presumably not hopped up on adrenaline) and acted on their orders. The responsibility for the screwup doesn't lie on them but on those who put them there--and that's you and me and everyone else who votes in this democracy.

So I'd say, cut some slack to those who agree to be our instrument in the world. Yeah, they agreed to it--but when someone gets cut, do you blame the knife, or the wielder?

Benjamin Green
07-03-2012, 09:44 PM
This reminds me of a joke (if I could find a direct link, I would provide it) by Nick DiPaolo many years ago, something along the lines of:

"I heard on the news a guy got shot at a gas station..." "...and they said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where do you go when your tank is on 'E', Chuck-E-Cheese?" It could be that the ones getting shot aren't in the "wrong place and wrong time" but rather the trigger puller is.

Well that's using right and wrong in two different senses there. The first guy's using it in a descriptive sense and making the assumption that the guy filling up didn't want to be shot. The idea that the shooter's in the wrong place is just using the assumption that shooting them was automatically the wrong answer by some moral criteria.

The theme of the platitude is that it can happen to anyone. That in a world of limited evidence, out of which we've not evolved to draw anywhere near the optimum amount of information, you can make all the right choices and end up with the wrong cards.

These are specifics not germane to the question...

Since I view the majority of killing as arising more out of apathy and selfishness than malice, to my way of thinking it's highly germane.

Yes! But. The lack of a "taste for killing face to face" yet the desire to kill is exactly the issue at hand. If I have a task and I can't hire anyone to do that for me.... well, my plan doesn't execute.

It doesn't bother me. If people didn't enable the plan makers, buying the loot and then pretending not to know how it gets there, then it wouldn't matter that way around either. If you remove either part of a system, it falls apart. There is no special sin in being the one to pull the trigger.

If it's a sin at all. It's not like many of the people we kill aren't nasty people who were incharge of nasty areas of the planet anyway.

Anthony Loeppert
07-03-2012, 11:11 PM
I'd like to point out that, for those living in a democratic society, this is not a moot question, even if you aren't in the military yourself. If you're of the "it's all murder" persuasion, it's your responsibility to be voting for those who, even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, wouldn't have gone after the perpetrators. Because we knew where they were, and we knew we couldn't get them without civilian casualties.


Who is we and them?

I was 24 years old on sept. 11th. I remember that day in a very strange way, because I had proposed to my wife on Sept. 10th.

I remember being upset. I remember wanting blood. Then I remember hearing George W. Bush explain the reason "why they hate us" is because of our freedom and we should keep shopping. "Wait, what?" That was like someone scrapping the needle across the phonograph for me. So I started trying to make sense of the situation as best I could. I had always assumed those in power were there because they were experts. I wasn't interested in geopolitics but there were experts I could trust to handle things on my behalf.

Well, come to find out... not so much.

Before we (speaking to other united states citizens here) went into Iraq. I knew it would be a boondoggle. I am on published record at the student newspaper at UT Arlington in Oct 2002 if memory serves.

I stood on a street corner, handmade sign, in downtown fort worth texas COUNTLESS times.

I've campaigned for Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader. None of it came to anything.

Nothing will come of this internet thread either. But I won't be quiet. The funny thing is, in these here United States of America, besides absurdly large bill each year which cuts into domestic services, it really doesn't matter what goes on beyond our borders to the non-military citizen.

And you know what, it doesn't matter to me that much either if only by choice. I'm not affected by ongoing war in my daily life. Most days I don't even think about it.


So I'd say, cut some slack to those who agree to be our instrument in the world. Yeah, they agreed to it--but when someone gets cut, do you blame the knife, or the wielder?

OK how about I meet you half way? When soldiers are lobotomized upon service entry and/or can be reasonably compared to inanimate objects such as knives - I will certainly consider your viewpoint valid.

Anthony

Anthony Loeppert
07-03-2012, 11:41 PM
Well that's using right and wrong in two different senses there. The first guy's using it in a descriptive sense and making the assumption that the guy filling up didn't want to be shot. The idea that the shooter's in the wrong place is just using the assumption that shooting them was automatically the wrong answer by some moral criteria.


It was funnier they way Nick said it.

Michael Hackett
07-04-2012, 12:46 AM
After reading both threads again, it seems that Anthony is against killing at the direction of another. I don't have any problem with that for him and others who believe as he does. Where it seems to get cross-threaded in this conversation is Anthony's choice of the word murder as a synonym for killing. Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being by another. Some killings are lawful such as self-defense or the defense of others.

If the question is really intended to be "Should a soldier commit a murder because he was ordered to?" the answer is clearly no. That has been addressed time and again in places like Nuremberg and The Hague. Our own military has tried and punished American servicemen for the crime of murder in a combat situation.

If the question is "Should a soldier take a life because he was ordered to?" Assuming we are talking about the implied order of killing an enemy soldier on the field of battle, my answer is yes. If I felt as Anthony does, I would choose not to serve, or be willing to accept the consequences of my refusal.

Thankfully we have honorable men and women like Kevin who are willing to put themselves in harm's way on our behalf. I only wish that the purpose for asking them to do so would always be as honorable.

Kevin Leavitt
07-04-2012, 04:54 AM
Agree Michael...good summary

Kevin Leavitt
07-04-2012, 05:14 AM
It seems like we have shifted towards the specific situation of Afghanistan, unless I read something not intended into your comments.

I have never seen the horrors you describe. I do not know how I would react. I have no solution how to drag those that wish to live in the stone age into the present and 10 years later I see our dear leaders don't either.

To training and hypocrisy:
On my less idealistic days, I see Aikido as learning to converse in another language - physical confrontation being one form of (non-verbal) communication. It is uncomfortable to ignore reality and not be at least conversant.

On my more idealistic days, I see Aikido as a path to moving through space from stable configuration to configuration.

But I don't see it as a way to do violence to someone (at least that is not what I'm in for), though definitely that application exists. I never saw an aikido technique that couldn't be defeated by uke simply letting go or walking (not running) in another direction.

I wish you well, safety, and good judgement Kevin.

EDIT: I realized just now I missed a point that integrated circuits contain rare earth metals and these can come from stressed areas of the world. I have no issue labeling these items just like diamonds. It gets confusing though, once the raw materials are processed.

Comments are not intended to apply to any specific situation. Although my experiences have some bearing on my own personal morality and ethics to justify killing. For me it is not something I seek out, but if necessary I don't avoid it or ignore it either. At the base level I am a pacifist and work hard to find peaceful ways to resolve things if at all possible. However, it is not always possible.

I won't comment on the politics of dragging people out of the stone age, it is not my place to do so, but I do have my own thoughts on that issue of course and you'd probably find we have similar views in many respects.

On hypocrisy, it is just something to be aware of and realise that it pretty much exisit in all circumstances and we need to be aware and maintain a certain degree of humbleness about it. I am a vegetarian, for example, but don't see myself as better than a non vegetarian as while I am a vegetarian I am also a hypocrite somewhere on the scale of things.

On Aikido as a method of violence. Same here. I don't see it as a tool for violence as much as I do for peace. However I am always concerned when it gets reframed to the point of lack of understanding of the nature and capacity to do violence. We need to keep this awesome responsibility in mind and practice to do violence for good IMO.

As a philosophical pacifist I struggled for a while over the seemingly contradiction in my beliefs and chosen career. In summary I decided that I had a responsibility and my karma had placed me in my situation. My responsibility was to be a leader and attempt to train others as best I could to be as highly skilled as possible so they might have room to minimize the amount of harm and to try and find peaceful ways to resolve conflict as possible.

Fortunately, I have never committed an act that I have remorse for or regret. Some of it was not pleasant and did not take joy in the actions, but they were necessary and the only option. I was and am glad to have been well trained and have/had a clear mind to make decent decisions. Budo has played a big role in that process.

By all means if uke surrenders or quits...we are obligated to protect and show compassion.

Keith Larman
07-04-2012, 09:46 AM
As a fella who spent a awful lot of my parent's money getting a degree in philosophy from an expensive school, let's just say it's a really complicated issue addressable from a variety of angles. And there are a lot of assumptions running underneath most of the replies here that could devolve in to huge threads of their own. And I would suspect many don't even realize the assumptions or problems these sorts of question raise when you drill deeper.

There is a fantastic entry level course covering many of these issues called "Justice". They are a series of lectures by Michael Sandel of Harvard and they are really quite good. The first few involve killing and he dives in to the assumptions we made and the discomfort we feel over some of these issues. Strongly recommended. There are 12 lectures, all very good, by the end you're getting deeply in to Kant, Locke, Aristotle, Rawls, et al. All free and one great thing about the lectures is that he regularly engages the students in the audience to get their thoughts and feedback. Which helps drive the discussion in a rather Socratic fashion.

Free on-line and well worth the time if you're in to digging deeper.

http://www.justiceharvard.org/

Have a lovely Fourth of July all you US folk in the discussion. And to fellas like Kevin, as always, thank you again for what you do for all of us.

Kevin Leavitt
07-04-2012, 10:55 AM
Thanks Keith. I minored in Philosophy for undergrad and love it. I'll check it out.

Keith Larman
07-04-2012, 11:25 AM
Thanks Keith. I minored in Philosophy for undergrad and love it. I'll check it out.

You won't regret it. The course is one of the most popular courses at Harvard for good reason. He is an excellent lecturer and he manages to keep his own views out of the discussion early on to allow the audience to struggle with the ideas. I've suggested it to other friends who've enjoyed it immensely. What I found is that often people find themselves changing their minds on issues repeatedly during the course of the lectures. He leads you to the logical implications of your views, challenges their assumptions, and soon you find yourself with that wonderful unease that is the sign of questioning deeply held assumptions. Often assumptions you never realized you had. Good stuff.

Frankly lots of the folk spouting off about "liberty" and "freedom" today in the political sphere would do well to listen to these lectures rather than using the terms as Pavlovian Response Generating soundbites. That pool is awfully large nowadays and barely ankle deep...

genin
07-05-2012, 10:38 AM
When I framed this as a yes or no question, the next two posters responded no and yes respectively. That just goes to show there is no clear answer to this issue because it is not black and white. The realities of violence and killing are immensely difficult and complex and it is impossible to draw a simple and uniform line between the permissible and impermissible taking of life. The morality of that decision is specific to the sitiuation in question (if there is one), which makes it futile to speak about it in generic non-descript terms.

The movie 'A Few Good Men' also addresses many aspects of this issue.

Kevin Leavitt
07-05-2012, 01:47 PM
It may not be clear for you, but it is clear for me. A Few Good Men was a movie and the drama in reality is not as nearly ambiqious, dramatic, or philosophical as is potrayed. There is a clear process, albeit involved that determines how all this works, by the time it gets to my level, it is really not hard to figure out.

genin
07-05-2012, 02:36 PM
What is clear for you Kevin? (And I'm not being sarcastic or derisive)

It's clear how to interpret the morality of an undefined situation?

I agree that it's possible to make that determination once you know who the players are and the driving force behind their actions. But what I was getting at is that those things weren't really defined at the beginning of this thread, leaving us with a bunch of hypotheticals.

Also, how can drama be ambiguous? lol

Kevin Leavitt
07-05-2012, 02:59 PM
who said the situation was undefined? Dealing with Rules of Engagement and warfare...it is very well defined. Just as it is well defined for Soldiers as it is for Police Officers.

Maybe the thread wasn't well defined? is that is what you are talking about?

genin
07-05-2012, 03:29 PM
who said the situation was undefined? Dealing with Rules of Engagement and warfare...it is very well defined. Just as it is well defined for Soldiers as it is for Police Officers.

Maybe the thread wasn't well defined? is that is what you are talking about?
Yea, the thread and what the OP said initially. Kind of left things wide open to thread drifiting. Hence the digression into discussions of soldier suicide and philosophy courses. Not that those are bad things, or completely unrelated, but they don't really address the core issue that the OP started the thread about.

George S. Ledyard
07-12-2012, 03:18 AM
I agree though that economic concerns and fear tend to be the motivating factors for us to take action.

That said, that while economics and fear are motivators...it does not mean the war is unjust...it might simply be the motivator that forces us to take action.

I think the original discussion dealt with the base concerns and ethics of the warrior.

What is interesting to me is how the factors that govern the use of deadly force on the part of individuals is so different from what we do when it is used on a national and international level, For instance, if another person had a business whose success threatened your own business, it would be considered murder and immoral if you went next door and killed him. Yet, on the international level, this happens all of the time.

An individual cannot attack another individual just because he thinks he "might" be a threat. Yet we use that as justification on a national level. Pre-emptive war is ok for nations but is completely illegal on the individual level.

If I decided that it would be in my personal interest to have your house and yard added to my own, it would be illegal and immoral if I went to your home and killed you and took you property. Yet this has been done over and over by the nation and is treated completely differently by most people.

We do things all the time as nations that we would consider highly illegal and immoral if done by an individual and we tell ourselves that our soldiers, the folks who actually do the bidding of the folks that make these decisions are acting legally and morally when doing the very things that we would put an individual in jail for.

Governments would have a hell of a time if they allowed everyone to decide for themselves about the morality of its actions. So we have all sorts of concepts that are used to remove the idea of personal responsibility for ones actions if they are done on the orders of the state. Duty, obedience to authority, etc is crucial in getting people to suspend their individual sense of what is right and wrong.

Look at how much propaganda is needed to get the populace to buy into our wars. That's how we convince ourselves that what we are doing is ok. When the soldiers doing the killing start to lose that sense of rightness you have a situation like we had in Viet Nam where grunts fragged officers who were too gung ho and whole units would find ways to not do what was being ordered.

I actually think that Smedley Butler had it pretty spot on. The public pretty much knows when it is really threatened or not. I think that you could say that the real moral justification for a war is inversely proportional to the amount of propaganda it takes to convince the public to support it. Iraq being a good case in point...

Kevin Leavitt
07-12-2012, 07:40 AM
I agree with your observations and insights based on how you framed it for the most part.

GEN McChrystal recently proposed bring back the draft. I have been discussing this concept for a few years now and support it for the same reasons he does.


http://www.stripes.com/news/army/mcchrystal-says-it-s-time-to-bring-back-the-draft-1.182321

I think if we would have had a draft, we might have avoided Iraq...at least politically.

When the public is not invested in the process and is detached from it...it is a dangerous situaiton to be in. The draft is a means of investment for the public.

I think a big part of the issue deals with the perspective of threat from both sides. It has to be balanced. Threat that if you support it, you also may have to go, or you might have to send your child or neighbor.

Looking back, I think there are some very interesting reasons why we abandoned the draft. One of the big ones is it gave a great deal of control over to the government on the use of the military.

Thanks for your comments George.

dps
07-12-2012, 07:52 AM
If the father had hired a body guard to protect the daughter and it was the body guard that had killed the child's attacker, would the hired, trained bodyguard had been morally correct?

dps

dps
07-12-2012, 07:59 AM
When the soldiers doing the killing start to lose that sense of rightness you have a situation like we had in Viet Nam where grunts fragged officers who were too gung ho and whole units would find ways to not do what was being ordered.

Do you have direct experience of this happening or can you back these allegations up with documented proof?

dps

genin
07-12-2012, 08:47 AM
Kevin, I don't want to divert the topic onto the draft, but I want to make one comment for what it's worth. As it is now, the US military is comprised of volunteers, meaning they chose that line of work and whatever consequences come with it. Their fate, particularly if it is undesireable, is something they chose. Therefore the blame, anger, and sadness that results, whether it be their own or that of their loved ones, can not be put back onto the government, military, or anyone else besides themselves.

With the draft, like we saw in Vietnam, ALL the blame can then be put back onto the government and military whenever a soldier dies. Then political figureheads, like Nixon and Westmoreland, can be demonized as the personification of war mongers. Thus reinforcing the divisive "us agasinst them" mentality--which weakens the country from within and makes us less effective at waging war. I just think that is a worse scenario than what we have now. But that's admittedly only one angle of it.

Kevin Leavitt
07-12-2012, 08:53 AM
If the father had hired a body guard to protect the daughter and it was the body guard that had killed the child's attacker, would the hired, trained bodyguard had been morally correct?

dps

Well, body guards, by definition of "body guard" well...guard bodies. If they acted within the scope of protecting a person from harm, then I'd say it is morally correct regardless of the fathers ethics or personal situation...ie...he worked for the mob etc.

Now, you can debate all day long about the morality of who the body guard has chosen to work for....but the actual act of protection...welll that is morally correct I would think.

Kevin Leavitt
07-12-2012, 09:02 AM
Kevin, I don't want to divert the topic onto the draft, but I want to make one comment for what it's worth. As it is now, the US military is comprised of volunteers, meaning they chose that line of work and whatever consequences come with it. Their fate, particularly if it is undesireable, is something they chose. Therefore the blame, anger, and sadness that results, whether it be their own or that of their loved ones, can not be put back onto the government, military, or anyone else besides themselves.

With the draft, like we saw in Vietnam, ALL the blame can then be put back onto the government and military whenever a soldier dies. Then political figureheads, like Nixon and Westmoreland, can be demonized as the personification of war mongers. Thus reinforcing the divisive "us agasinst them" mentality--which weakens the country from within and makes us less effective at waging war. I just think that is a worse scenario than what we have now. But that's admittedly only one angle of it.

Disagree. I took an oath to support and defend the constituion. I did not sign up for a particular fate. The military works for both the president and congress...elected respresentatives of the people. It is the people of the united states that are and should be accountable for the actions of our country.

Your very logic is exactly my point. "You get what you deserve cause you volunteered for it". You don't share in the investment of trigger pulling. As a citizen of the US, you share in the actions of our government and the military.

Also your logic about Vietnam is incorrect. The will of the people was not behind the war. I'd submit that the fact that we had a draft was the major reason for us pulling out. I'd bet it'd have gone on longer if we did not have a draft.

I would agree that not having a draft makes it easier to wage war. That is my point exactly. It is why our military leaders don't want a draft. Fundamentally though, while it may slow down our abiltiy to take action, I think that it is a good point to consider that we do not have the investment in our country that is necesary to keep our government accountable.

Basically as long as gas is cheap and we can drive our SUVs with big cup holder with a cell phone and starbucks in hand...then we really don't think too much about stuff that makes us feel sad.

genin
07-12-2012, 09:38 AM
Disagree. I took an oath to support and defend the constituion. I did not sign up for a particular fate. The military works for both the president and congress...elected respresentatives of the people. It is the people of the united states that are and should be accountable for the actions of our country.

Your very logic is exactly my point. "You get what you deserve cause you volunteered for it". You don't share in the investment of trigger pulling. As a citizen of the US, you share in the actions of our government and the military.

Also your logic about Vietnam is incorrect. The will of the people was not behind the war. I'd submit that the fact that we had a draft was the major reason for us pulling out. I'd bet it'd have gone on longer if we did not have a draft.

I would agree that not having a draft makes it easier to wage war. That is my point exactly. It is why our military leaders don't want a draft. Fundamentally though, while it may slow down our abiltiy to take action, I think that it is a good point to consider that we do not have the investment in our country that is necesary to keep our government accountable.

Basically as long as gas is cheap and we can drive our SUVs with big cup holder with a cell phone and starbucks in hand...then we really don't think too much about stuff that makes us feel sad.
Jingoism is not something I ascribe to, which is where the first part of your post was headed. But you got to the nuts and bolts of it in the middle there, only to end it on a less than positive note by lumping all Americans into the cliche image of consumption-crazed sociopaths. I see that as sandwich with two extremes being the bread, and the truth being the meat.

You're saying that the draft would actually prevent war and death, which seems contradictory, but I do agree with that to an extent. Many other factors though, and lots of different directions to take this. So I'll leave off there.

Keith Larman
07-12-2012, 09:44 AM
Kevin, I don't want to divert the topic onto the draft, but I want to make one comment for what it's worth. As it is now, the US military is comprised of volunteers, meaning they chose that line of work and whatever consequences come with it. Their fate, particularly if it is undesireable, is something they chose. Therefore the blame, anger, and sadness that results, whether it be their own or that of their loved ones, can not be put back onto the government, military, or anyone else besides themselves.


When you consider that the vast majority of "volunteers" in our army come from the lower socio-economic ranks of our country, do you really believe it is a totally "volunteer" army? Why aren't there more sons and daughters of the upper middle class and higher groups volunteering? I'm sure they believe in noble causes, patriotism, etc. as much as anyone else...

It just isn't so black and white...

genin
07-12-2012, 10:19 AM
When you consider that the vast majority of "volunteers" in our army come from the lower socio-economic ranks of our country, do you really believe it is a totally "volunteer" army? Why aren't there more sons and daughters of the upper middle class and higher groups volunteering? I'm sure they believe in noble causes, patriotism, etc. as much as anyone else...

It just isn't so black and white...
You mean people like Pat Tillman?--someone who gave up wealth and prestige in order to serve his country and sacrifice his life defending that which he believed in. And are you suggesting that any US citizen is FORCED into the military. Maybe a few are given a court ordered ultimatum to join (if they got in legal trouble), but thats about it. The reason for the disparity in socio-economics ranks within the military is simply because those on the lower rungs have fewer options for career paths, whereas those higher have things like college, trust funds, and high-earning civilian jobs available at their fingertips.

It'd be like wondering why you don't see any doctor's or lawyer's kids working at Burger King. Quite simply, they feel like they can do better or be more productive doing something else.

George S. Ledyard
07-12-2012, 01:08 PM
I agree with your observations and insights based on how you framed it for the most part.

GEN McChrystal recently proposed bring back the draft. I have been discussing this concept for a few years now and support it for the same reasons he does.

http://www.stripes.com/news/army/mcchrystal-says-it-s-time-to-bring-back-the-draft-1.182321

I think if we would have had a draft, we might have avoided Iraq...at least politically.

When the public is not invested in the process and is detached from it...it is a dangerous situaiton to be in. The draft is a means of investment for the public.

I think a big part of the issue deals with the perspective of threat from both sides. It has to be balanced. Threat that if you support it, you also may have to go, or you might have to send your child or neighbor.

Looking back, I think there are some very interesting reasons why we abandoned the draft. One of the big ones is it gave a great deal of control over to the government on the use of the military.

Thanks for your comments George.

I date from the old Viet Nam days. I was the last class ('74) to get a student deferment. The anti war movement was small and ineffective until we started seeing our nice white middle class kids coming home in body bags. Then the educated voting public started asking whether the sacrifice was worth it and it became increasingly apparent that most folks couldn't really see why we were there and couldn't square what we were doing with any moral imperative. The media access was by comparison with today, almost unrestricted.

So, after that experience, we went to a professional army and learned the techniques of public relations to control how the public perceives what we are doing. The result has been an almost non-existent anti-war movement coupled with a military that volunteered to serve so that there is comparatively little resistance to the war from within the ranks.

I think that the only truly democratic war in our history was WWII. EVERYONE served. Rich families had their sons in combat, it wasn't just the poor who supplied the combat forces. JFK and George Bush senior being good examples. This was due to the fact that the reasons we were in the war were readily apparent to all. The level of support for the war on the part of the public and the soldiers themselves was unprecedented in our history. This allowed a solid sense on the part of the soldiers that what they were doing was "moral". They genuinely believed they were fighting "evil" and I do not think they were wrong.

The vast majority of our other wars had to do with economic factors and trying to enhance and maintain our economic position in the world. This being the case, most of our military actions were kept fairly short and sweet so that they came and went almost too fast for the public to really notice what was happening. The longer we stayed in, the more the public doubted the stated rationales for being there as in the Philippines incursions after the Spanish American War.

Anyway, the actual guys doing the fighting are usually the last ones to doubt the mission. There is a need to feel as if the sacrifice is morally justified and worth it. When they lose that, it's a disaster for the military. As long as the powers that be understand this, they will use the military reluctantly and when they do, they will make sure the engagements are as short as possible, as George Bush Sr. and General Colin Powell did with the First Gulf War. Whether one felt we should or should not have gone in, we did it quickly, efficiently, and with enough force to end it without our own folks losing many people. Decisive victory tends to make moral questioning by the participants a moot point.

Once you have the predominant factors behind the use of military force being ideology and economic greed, it's harder to maintain the sense of "rightness" and moral questioning sets in. So, the real question is whether, once a soldier loses the sense that the combat in which he is engaged is morally justified, is he then immoral for participating simply because he swore an oath and it is his job? If you decide that the people to whom you swore the oath are themselves immoral, then how does one justify continuing to obey orders? The age old way that soldiers have always handled this, consciously or not, was to collapse the world down to the unit. It's about the guy next to you and not letting your mates down. As soon as combat starts, it really isn't about patriotism or about the larger "mission" but it's about protecting the guys who are next to you and who have your back. Even soldiers who do did not have the willingness to kill the enemy will stay on the front line in order to support their buddies.

This is why I simply do not hold the soldiers in combat accountable on a moral level for their actions, (unless they get out of control like a My Lai). In my own thinking, as a democracy, we put them there. Our leaders should be accountable for their decisions but the soldiers themselves can shrink their view of what is happening to the point which the terrible job they have to do is justified and moral because it ends up being about protecting their buddies.

As far as I am concerned guys like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc are immoral and criminal and should be in jail. But once we commit troops anywhere, we need to support them totally, treat them respectfully, and not make them accountable for their actions since they were ordered to be there. We did not do this during Viet Nam and now we seem to understand this better. Doing this while strongly opposing what the power elite has asked our soldiers to do is difficult but needs to be done in a democratic society. I think that depriving our soldiers of the moral correctness of their actions is inappropriate and wrong. At the same time, I'd like to see the guys who misused this precious resource suffer the consequences rather than simply get richer and more powerful which is what normally happens.

Takuan Zenji's letters to Yagyu Munenori have an extensive discussion of how a samurai should separate his "duty" from the moral consequences of what he is ordered to do. His solution, very Buddhist, was to not be "attached" to the actions. It's a sort of "just a job" approach. But I don't think it's terribly different from what every soldier has done in history. Soldiers can get to the point at which they can simultaneously maintain a strong sense of duty and obligation to the guys in their unit and at the same time, lose any sense of the purpose or rationality of what they are being asked to do... SNAFU being the predominant viewpoint point. So, I think that this adjustment of the soldier's moral compass keeps their actions "moral" even when the decision to commit them was immoral. That's my take on it anyway...

Of course, this is dangerous for the establishment if it goes too far since the guy who fragged an officer who wanted to take the unit into danger was, in his own mind, protecting his buddies and one could argue, at that level it was just as moral as continuing to kill an enemy when any sense of moral correctness had been lost.

Actually, the guys I have always found interesting are the Chaplains in he military. Clearly, their religious faith calls for not killing people yet they have historically been a part of keeping the troops in line and functioning. I find it fascinating that they can justify this and square it with their faith. Thou shalt not kill being fairly clear, I think.

mathewjgano
07-12-2012, 01:20 PM
What he said, only less eloquently so. :)
God-bless-it that was beautifully put! Thank you so much for sharing your view here, Ledyard Sensei!

I'd like to add I agree with the idea that comfortable distractions keep us from addressing uncomfortable realities. Too many Americans are oblivious to the harsher realities in life.

dps
07-12-2012, 01:22 PM
It'd be like wondering why you don't see any doctor's or lawyer's kids working at Burger King. Quite simply, they feel like they can do better or be more productive doing something else.

Like driving their SUVs with a big cup holder and a cell phone through Burger King and getting a
Whooper, fries and shake and a cup of Joe. All bought with their parent's money.

dps

genin
07-12-2012, 01:41 PM
Actually, the guys I have always found interesting are the Chaplains in he military. Clearly, their religious faith calls for not killing people yet they have historically been a part of keeping the troops in line and functioning. I find it fascinating that they can justify this and square it with their faith. Thou shalt not kill being fairly clear, I think.

That's the thing with rationalizations, justifications, and excuses. The sole purpose is to prevent you from being accountable for what you are ACTUALLY doing. My grandpa stabbed some German boys in the throat with a bayonet in WWII, presumably in the name of defending freedom. Nobody gave him a hard time about it, but it was something he personally couldn't forgive himself for. The samaurai kills as an act of loyalty to his Lord, presumably in the name of duty and honor; or in the case of ronin, simply as a means to earn a stipend. To them, they are perfectly content with the atrocities they committed, even when their victims and onlookers view them as cold-blooded murderers. Is this moral relativity? Yes, it certainly is.

The moment you allow the possibility for someone to excuse or justify an act of killing, words and actions will be twisted and bent to serve individual needs. You are right George. Peace (i.e. nonviolence) is a crystal clear principle.

dps
07-12-2012, 01:55 PM
I date from the old Viet Nam days. I was the last class ('74) to get a student deferment..

I would like to hear the thoughts and opinions of someone on Aikiweb who did serve in the military in Vietnam.
One of my coworkers was one of the first Marines to go to Vietnam for combat duty. He does not agree with your sentiment George. I hold his thoughts and opinions in a higher regard.
dps

mathewjgano
07-12-2012, 03:53 PM
I would like to hear the thoughts and opinions of someone on Aikiweb who did serve in the military in Vietnam.
One of my coworkers was one of the first Marines to go to Vietnam for combat duty. He does not agree with your sentiment George. I hold his thoughts and opinions in a higher regard.
dps

Which bit?

Kevin Leavitt
07-13-2012, 12:22 AM
George Ledyard wrote:

I think that the only truly democratic war in our history was WWII. EVERYONE served. Rich families had their sons in combat,

Agree, all wars compared it was more equal than others.

That said, I had an interesting observation two years ago. I had the National Guard Historian pull a WWII yearbook from my home town. The same regiment I am affiliated with is the same one my realitives have been affiliated with for about 200 years. Anyway, pulled it...and looked at the pictures. the 116th INF Regiment out of Virginia is very famous for being part of the main effort on D-Day. Infact the D-Day memorial is near my home town and Beford lost more men/boys per captia than any other city during the war.

Well looking at the pictures I noticed something that has never been discussed. 1. All white. 2. There was ANOTHER unit in town...Coastal Artillery that went down to coast of Virginia to "defend" our borders.

The interesting thing about it was I recognized all the prominent people in town...Doctors, Lawyers etc were in the Coastal Artillery. Some of these guys I know I thought they were in the 116th. Interesting. Flipping to the 116th...I didn't know as many. There was a huge social segregation on which unit guys belonged to.

Your experience in the 116th was much different than being in the Coastal Artillery unit.

So, sure, lots of our famous politiicians, entertainers, and others DID serve and deserve the respect they have earned. However, I would not say that even WWII was immune from "social engineering" of the military. No society I can think of has EVER left this out of their militaries.

However, sorry for the digression from the topic....but I do think it is somewhat related to the overall impacts of the MACRO and MICRO effects of morality and ethics on the issue of just wars, and just actions of killing. A stretch...but still somewwhat related.

Benjamin Green
07-13-2012, 12:28 AM
The moment you allow the possibility for someone to excuse or justify an act of killing, words and actions will be twisted and bent to serve individual needs. You are right George. Peace (i.e. nonviolence) is a crystal clear principle.

Unless you hold that people can be non-peaceful without being physically violent - that there are violent words as well as violent actions; fighting talk, insults, intimidating body language, etc. In that case peace can, given that some people don't recognise how what they're saying or doing can be seen as insulting or demeaning or what have you, become incredibly complicated.

I daresay a lot of people just like the idea of being able to say whatever they like without someone rocking up and slamming a fist in their face. Though, at least in terms of principle, I'm inclined to think it works out more like someone said in a TV show once with respect to force - "You hurt me, I hurt you. I'm just more efficient at it." :p

Kevin Leavitt
07-13-2012, 12:37 AM
George Ledyard wrote:

Actually, the guys I have always found interesting are the Chaplains in he military. Clearly, their religious faith calls for not killing people yet they have historically been a part of keeping the troops in line and functioning. I find it fascinating that they can justify this and square it with their faith. Thou shalt not kill being fairly clear, I think.

It is interesting. There are also chaplains that serve prisoners on death row. I think is is not such a conflict as long as they focus on the healing and ministry of their mission which is to provide support, faith, and compassion to those they serve, to reduce pain and suffering.

However, if their actions become a jusitification for action or killing...well I think that is an entirely different subject.

I had a similar moral issue as I do not support killing, abhor war and violence. I thought about quitting and finding a different line of work.

However, my actions would not change anything by avoiding it. I justified my position as profession because it was my duty to affect change and help people make the best possible decisions from within the system. If I do my job right and set a good example and train warriors to be the best they can be....by having both mentally, spiritually, and physcially strong and prepared warriors...then they can make the best decisions when it counts.

It also goes back to what you said earlier about the actions of our civilian leadership, voters, and all that. The real issue of morality and justification lay there and not necessarily on the head of the soldier.

That all was good and worked for me until I got "down range", I understand your position and thoughts on the economic justification for war. However, if you see the acts of evil at the individual level that occur. The warped thoughts and actions of evil people. It does not make it too hard to realize that someone has to be willing to stop this stuff.

As I said, I sleep well at night with the decisions I have made. I hope that my kids can live in a world that is a little less violent. However, I also try and educate them to not be a hypocrite and have the courage to stand up to those that want to harm them and others.

I do, however, agree with much of your assessment on the economic decisions at the high levels of our government/corporate government. We do need to understand this as citizens and hold our government accountable for the actions it takes.

Good discussion. I think it demonstrates clearly the complexity of the situations and morality, ethics, and how we all play a part in it and need to recognize the "karma" of our thoughts and actions.

Kevin Leavitt
07-13-2012, 01:02 AM
That's the thing with rationalizations, justifications, and excuses. The sole purpose is to prevent you from being accountable for what you are ACTUALLY doing. My grandpa stabbed some German boys in the throat with a bayonet in WWII, presumably in the name of defending freedom. Nobody gave him a hard time about it, but it was something he personally couldn't forgive himself for. The samaurai kills as an act of loyalty to his Lord, presumably in the name of duty and honor; or in the case of ronin, simply as a means to earn a stipend. To them, they are perfectly content with the atrocities they committed, even when their victims and onlookers view them as cold-blooded murderers. Is this moral relativity? Yes, it certainly is.

The moment you allow the possibility for someone to excuse or justify an act of killing, words and actions will be twisted and bent to serve individual needs. You are right George. Peace (i.e. nonviolence) is a crystal clear principle.

At the root level killing and justification and morality lay with the individual. In your Grandfather's case he had to deal with his own situation, define his own feelings, perspectives, and morality around it. I am sorry that he could not accept or forgive himself for it. That is a terrible thing to have to face your whole life.

I hope that as a leader I have equipped my Soldiers to make the right decisions on a personal level for themselves so they do not have to struggle with this same pain.

I personally don't need revisionism or excuses to justify any actions I have taken in the past. For me, and I am thankful, my situations have always been clear. I observed conditions and situations in which the only way to resolve it was through the use of force. It was to prevent a greater harm from occcuring. I was not proud or happy with my actions, nor did I take joy or rejoice in them. It simply was necessary and yes, there is and was pain and suffering involved. Always is any time you deal wth conflict. there is no twisting nor did or does it serve an need. maybe it does serve a need actually. A need to have peace and security in the world. So yeah I guess you are right there.

Nonviolence. A wonderful ideal. I try and practice it as much as possible. However, I go back to my original statement of hypocracy. It is a hypocrite that preaches the virtues and ideals of non-violence while condemming the acts of those that provide him the space and ability to be non-violent while keeping the very violence that the non-violent idealist speaks of at bay.

As the Dali Lama says. A great ideal, but unfortunately we have violence in our world and we must seek hard to find ways to deal with that violence. He even recognizes that it is not possible to avoid violence. As he says...we must pray for those that have to face it to do so with the most compassionate and thoughtful and skillful ways as possible.

Nonviolence is not so crystal clear. yes, in theory it is clear. Violence is wrong. That is crystal clear. However, we have violence in the world and we must deal with it.

Roger, I'd be curious to what actions you take or have taking to face real violence. Are you a guy like Ghandi or the guy in Tianamin Square? A guy that is or has willing to take a truely and noble stand against violence in a non-violent manner. A guy willing and capable to put it on the line, to risk all to say STOP. Those are the real heros in the world.

Unfortunately, those indivduals are rare and even rarer are the politics and poplulation that recognizes their efforts that prevents it from being a waste of time or a waste of life. That's the irony of this whole thing. If it works you are a hero . If it doesn't then you are simply a stupid idealist.

And, there is always the risk that your actions cause more violence. Many non-violent acts have actually caused revolutions and created more violence!

so, in practice....non-violence is not so crystal clear or.....non-violent.

Kevin Leavitt
07-13-2012, 03:15 AM
I was doing some research on another topic and stumbled across this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_elite

an interesting concept in light of the converstation George and I have been having as a sidebar the main topic.

genin
07-13-2012, 08:13 AM
Roger, I'd be curious to what actions you take or have taking to face real violence. Are you a guy like Ghandi or the guy in Tianamin Square? A guy that is or has willing to take a truely and noble stand against violence in a non-violent manner. A guy willing and capable to put it on the line, to risk all to say STOP. Those are the real heros in the world.

Unfortunately, those indivduals are rare and even rarer are the politics and poplulation that recognizes their efforts that prevents it from being a waste of time or a waste of life. That's the irony of this whole thing. If it works you are a hero . If it doesn't then you are simply a stupid idealist.

I'm not a violent person, but I possess the capacity for violence (like many of us do). However, I seek a life of peace, for myself and others. I'm no hero, but heroism is a selfish pursuit in any event. Saving the world and protecting others is not. Of course, there's hypocrisy in all of this, especially if one tries to approach it in a sanctimonious manner.

What's more important is coming to a common understanding as it relates to peace and non-violence without having to pin it on a person, place, or event. We can paint anyone with that brush and make them a hypocrit, then point out the exceptions to the rule, seemingly proving them wrong. But who learns anything from that? And does that get us anywhere closer to living in a peaceful world? (Those are framed as rhetorical questions but they can be answered if you like.)

Keith Larman
07-13-2012, 09:43 AM
You mean people like Pat Tillman?--someone who gave up wealth and prestige in order to serve his country and sacrifice his life defending that which he believed in.

There are reasons not to have discussions with you.

Let me summarize the logic here.

Me: Most american males are under 6'4" tall.

You: You mean like Kareem Abdul Jabbar?

Me: What in the hell does that have to do with the truth value of the statement?

And are you suggesting that any US citizen is FORCED into the military. Maybe a few are given a court ordered ultimatum to join (if they got in legal trouble), but thats about it. The reason for the disparity in socio-economics ranks within the military is simply because those on the lower rungs have fewer options for career paths, whereas those higher have things like college, trust funds, and high-earning civilian jobs available at their fingertips.

No one is forced in the sense of at gunpoint. Of course not, don't be a brick. But most who join likely join for a wide variety of reasons, many of which have to do socio-economic issues. These are not black and white issues but you seem to deal only in absolutes. Good luck with that.

It'd be like wondering why you don't see any doctor's or lawyer's kids working at Burger King. Quite simply, they feel like they can do better or be more productive doing something else.

Well, I'll use your logical mode now. I came from well-off parents and I worked at McDonald's when I was in high school. What are you, some elitist snob that you don't think people working in McDonald's are productive? And that pampered, spoiled well-off youth won't lower themselves to such menial, insignificant things?

Christ I should know better than to wade in to these sorts of discussions.

Again, that very same video series of lectures on ethics also contains a short segment on the ethics of conscription. You might find the history and the *subtlety* of the issue interesting.

genin
07-13-2012, 10:22 AM
Keith wrote: There are reasons not to have discussions with you.

Let me summarize the logic here.

Me: Most american males are under 6'4" tall.

You: You mean like Kareem Abdul Jabbar?

Me: What in the hell does that have to do with the truth value of the statement?
I don't understand that first sentence at all, but no matter. And the example you are giving is the "exception to the rule, thus you are wrong" analogy, which I also don't agree with. I can see how one might mistake my comment about Pat Tillman as such, but it was mainly meant to show that not all rich people are too snobby to get their hands dirty. My point kinda got strawmanned on that one I feel, because I was NOT saying that the exception to the rule proves you wrong. There's actually more than just a handful of Pat Tillman's out there too...
No one is forced in the sense of at gunpoint. Of course not, don't be a brick. But most who join likely join for a wide variety of reasons, many of which have to do socio-economic issues. These are not black and white issues but you seem to deal only in absolutes. Good luck with that.

Again, that's not at all where I was going with it. The wording I responded to literally suggested that masses of poor folks are conscripted into the military with little or no say in the matter, which is simply false. I was dirt poor at 18 and I remember the army recruiter hounding me, and it ended up being an embarassing waste of time for him. I'm no different than anyone else. Yes, there's shades of gray in anything. But thats kind of like saying "everything's so confusing and complex...oh well" and then throwing your hands up in the air. That's not a very valuable discussion in real life or on the internet.
Well, I'll use your logical mode now. I came from well-off parents and I worked at McDonald's when I was in high school. What are you, some elitist snob that you don't think people working in McDonald's are productive? And that pampered, spoiled well-off youth won't lower themselves to such menial, insignificant things?
I'm not an elitist snob, but a lot of rich people are. And even beyond that, let's say they were perfectly well adjusted nice people. I still doubt that they'd want their kids flipping burgers and making $7/hour if there was a more enriching or financially rewarding employment opportunity available to them. My buddy and I were fired by a doctor who felt that we were either "too good for it" or "deserved better" than to clean his office every other weekend.

I honestly think your assumptions of me and those posts are way off base.Maybe you got caught up in the semantics of it or simply misinterpreted it, I don't know. I hope you weren't intentionally framing it in the context that you did to strawman me, but I think I've thoroughly clarified my position irregardless.

Michael Hackett
07-13-2012, 03:22 PM
@David Skaggs: I landed in Chu Lai, RVN with the 7th Marines Regimental Landing Team in 1965 where we established a beach enclave and built an airstrip. I served with an artillery battery and did most of the things that you'd expect of Marines in a combat zone. What is it you want to know?

I only slightly disagree with Ledyard Sensei about why combat troops start to focus on each other and not higher principles. All the "God, Country, Corps, the Girl Next Door, and Mom's Apple Pie" leave your mind quickly, regardless of how noble your political leadership may be. You are in usually miserable conditions that you share with your mates and grow to depend on them in every respect. The last thing you want to do is let them down. He's right that troops usually begin to think of their buddies primarily, but I think he misses the mark on the reasons. We do reflect on what the reasons truly were for our deployment after the fact, often many years later and question the why of it. In the late sixties, military folks did start to question the nature of the Vietnam War, largely in my opinion, because of the anti-war movement and the debate that engendered.

I honestly believed in the domino theory at the time, and as a young Marine simply went where I was told. Only many years later did I start to question why our government allowed the French to resume their southeast Asian empire in Vietnam after the Japanese were defeated. I have the luxury now of questioning our national purpose in 1960, (or in 1945-46 for that matter) but have no regrets for having served with some outstanding men. We shared food, water, misery and even laughter and they were some of the best people I've ever known. I remain proud to be associated with them.

Anthony Loeppert
07-13-2012, 08:05 PM
George Ledyard wrote:
However, sorry for the digression from the topic....but I do think it is somewhat related to the overall impacts of the MACRO and MICRO effects of morality and ethics on the issue of just wars, and just actions of killing. A stretch...but still somewwhat related.

As the original poster of this admittedly open ended thread, no one should apologize for thread drift on this one.

Kevin Leavitt
07-14-2012, 01:34 AM
Thanks. It has been an interesting discussion on the ethics of killing and "just-ness". Thanks.

dps
07-14-2012, 08:31 AM
@David Skaggs: I landed in Chu Lai, RVN with the 7th Marines Regimental Landing Team in 1965 where we established a beach enclave and built an airstrip. I served with an artillery battery and did most of the things that you'd expect of Marines in a combat zone. What is it you want to know?

I only slightly disagree with Ledyard Sensei about why combat troops start to focus on each other and not higher principles. All the "God, Country, Corps, the Girl Next Door, and Mom's Apple Pie" leave your mind quickly, regardless of how noble your political leadership may be. You are in usually miserable conditions that you share with your mates and grow to depend on them in every respect. The last thing you want to do is let them down. He's right that troops usually begin to think of their buddies primarily, but I think he misses the mark on the reasons. We do reflect on what the reasons truly were for our deployment after the fact, often many years later and question the why of it. In the late sixties, military folks did start to question the nature of the Vietnam War, largely in my opinion, because of the anti-war movement and the debate that engendered.

I honestly believed in the domino theory at the time, and as a young Marine simply went where I was told. Only many years later did I start to question why our government allowed the French to resume their southeast Asian empire in Vietnam after the Japanese were defeated. I have the luxury now of questioning our national purpose in 1960, (or in 1945-46 for that matter) but have no regrets for having served with some outstanding men. We shared food, water, misery and even laughter and they were some of the best people I've ever known. I remain proud to be associated with them.

Thank you for responding Michael.
The thoughts and opinions of those who were serving are a lot more credible compared to those who did not, like myself and George.

dps

dps
07-14-2012, 09:08 AM
If you accept as fact that the opposition and protests against the war forced the U.S. government to withdraw American troops from Viet Nam and stop funding South Viet Nam's government then would not those who opposed and protested be responsible for the millions of Cambodians and South Vietnamese civilians who were killed after the war by the Khmer Rouge and North Vietnamese due to the withdrawal of protection we provided for those civilians?

dps

Michael Hackett
07-14-2012, 12:47 PM
The historical blame game can be specious. You could lay the blame for all those horrendous events in Washington DC and American anti-war protesters. You could also lay the blame at the feet of the Chinese 900 years before who "pacified" the region and then were forced out. No, I think the blame for the atrocities you cite belongs to power-hungry individuals and political movements who wanted to stiffle any possibility of overthrow and wanted to eliminate those they considered traitors. I hope there is an 8th or 9th Ring of Hell for Pol Pot and his historical brethern.

Benjamin Green
07-15-2012, 03:36 AM
If you accept as fact that the opposition and protests against the war forced the U.S. government to withdraw American troops from Viet Nam and stop funding South Viet Nam's government then would not those who opposed and protested be responsible for the millions of Cambodians and South Vietnamese civilians who were killed after the war by the Khmer Rouge and North Vietnamese due to the withdrawal of protection we provided for those civilians?

dps

If you start summing the consequences of peoples actions, almost everyone's responsible for almost everything, to some degree or another. The question of culpability, of the blameworthiness of that fault, on the other hand is vastly more complex - and generally results in a much more limited set. :)

genin
07-16-2012, 07:19 AM
If you start summing the consequences of peoples actions, almost everyone's responsible for almost everything, to some degree or another.

Right. I mean, even though the Holocaust occured 40 years before I was born, was on a different continent, and had nothing to do with me, I basically might as well have been the one giving the direct order to kill the Jews. It's all interconnected into the greater tapestry of life, right? (Complete sarcasm, btw)

I think most of us share in some form of hypocrisy, albeit to varying degrees. Perhaps that is what we need to take away from this. But you can't rightfully lump everyone into the category of a Stalin or Pol Pot.

Even in Vietnam, you had some soliders who didn't give a f*%k and killed babies or whatever. Then there were others who were maintained their morality and dedication and did their job and followed the rules. Then those guys would come back home, get spit on and called "baby killers" or whatever. It was one of those deals where good people got lumped in with bad and labled with an unfair classification. There are admittidly other complexities to issues like that, but I think it's otherwise pretty straightforward.

Benjamin Green
07-16-2012, 07:54 AM
By reasonable context, yes. We were talking about whether the protesters were responsible.
I don't consider historical examples applied to people who are alive today and weren't when the thing took place to be within reasonable context. It's obviously not what I, or anyone, was talking about.

You pay your taxes, those taxes fund wars, wars kill people. You buy from companies that exploit harmful power dynamics.... And then there are all the things we don't do that we could. If you walk past someone dangling off the edge of a cliff, screaming for help, and just walk on past with a 'screw it' then you're at least partially responsible when they splatter.

'To some degree or another.'

There's, sadly, a theme in moral thought of late to assume that all responsibility operates in the extremes of culpable action; you're either not responsible, pure and innocent, or completely and irrevocably damned.

It is of course important, if you intend to have any reasonable discussion, to distinguish between relative degrees of responsibility - and between responsibility and blameworthiness.

hughrbeyer
07-16-2012, 11:11 PM
If you accept as fact that the opposition and protests against the war forced the U.S. government to withdraw American troops from Viet Nam and stop funding South Viet Nam's government then would not those who opposed and protested be responsible for the millions of Cambodians and South Vietnamese civilians who were killed after the war by the Khmer Rouge and North Vietnamese due to the withdrawal of protection we provided for those civilians?

Of course.

Just as, by standing by and allowing the massacres to happen, we bear some responsibility for the atrocities in Rwanda. We, as a powerful democratic country, had the ability to act and refrained from doing so.

Lots of mitigating factors of course. Allowing evil to happen is not the same as doing evil yourself. The responsible use of power requires the knowledge of power's limitations: you can't impose peace.

In this imperfect world, we are often called on to choose the least of several evils. Usually the best way to deal with such a situation is to behave in such a way that the situation never arises in the first place. But that requires both luck and better judgement than most of us have, individually or collectively.

mathewjgano
07-17-2012, 01:26 AM
The historical blame game can be specious. You could lay the blame for all those horrendous events in Washington DC and American anti-war protesters. You could also lay the blame at the feet of the Chinese 900 years before who "pacified" the region and then were forced out. No, I think the blame for the atrocities you cite belongs to power-hungry individuals and political movements who wanted to stiffle any possibility of overthrow and wanted to eliminate those they considered traitors. I hope there is an 8th or 9th Ring of Hell for Pol Pot and his historical brethern.

What he said.
I hope this isn't inappropriate, but it left an impression on me: please consider a donation to Akira. (http://www.cambodialandminemuseum.org/)
A perfect example of some of the effects of both the "good guys" and the "bad guys;" good intentions and bad intentions.

genin
07-17-2012, 07:50 AM
Of course.

Just as, by standing by and allowing the massacres to happen, we bear some responsibility for the atrocities in Rwanda. We, as a powerful democratic country, had the ability to act and refrained from doing so.


I used to share that belief, until I realized the logistical and political problems that would've inevitably arisen. The US invasion and occupation of Iraq helped me see that. What precedent would that establish, and how would the rest of the world view us?

It would've taken an invasion of Rwanda and subsequent occupation as a military police state in order to put an end to the violence and atrocities that occurred there, if indeed we could've acted in time. Because all that happened in what, a month? We would've had to have worked fast, with no time to second guess ourselves or weigh the geo-political implications. It would've been the embodiment of the SouthPark creator's "Team America: World Police". That's not a good look.

Then you take something like WWII as an example, which was mainly about defending America and protecting our allies, with saving the Jews coming in at a distant third on the priority list. By the time we mopped up the remaining German resistance and began clearing the concentration camps, many of the Jews had already been extirpated. We didn't exactly "save the day" as the song lyrics say.

Michael Hackett
07-17-2012, 10:37 AM
Roger, the precedent was set many years ago. The United States has involved itself in many internal struggles around the world for decades. Central America, Haiti, Lebanon, Grenada, Somalia, the list is seemingly endless. We have the capability of putting forces on the ground in very quick order and the ability to provide for them logistically as well. That doesn't speak to whether we should or not.

If we eliminate the issue of our national interest from the discussion entirely, do we have a moral imperative as an individual nation to step in? From my personal perspective, when we are dealing with the issue of genocide, I think we do when the United Nations won't step up to the plate in an effective manner. If not us, then who?

The precedent has been set. We have the ability and strength. In some cases I believe we have the moral obligation. I don't think that makes us look like "Team America: World Police" at all. If we have the ability to prevent the wholesale slaughter of a people, then I think we should.

Of course we also have the great ability to bungle things and shoot ourselves in the foot too.

genin
07-17-2012, 11:52 AM
Roger, the precedent was set many years ago. The United States has involved itself in many internal struggles around the world for decades. Central America, Haiti, Lebanon, Grenada, Somalia, the list is seemingly endless. We have the capability of putting forces on the ground in very quick order and the ability to provide for them logistically as well. That doesn't speak to whether we should or not.

If we eliminate the issue of our national interest from the discussion entirely, do we have a moral imperative as an individual nation to step in? From my personal perspective, when we are dealing with the issue of genocide, I think we do when the United Nations won't step up to the plate in an effective manner. If not us, then who?

The precedent has been set. We have the ability and strength. In some cases I believe we have the moral obligation. I don't think that makes us look like "Team America: World Police" at all. If we have the ability to prevent the wholesale slaughter of a people, then I think we should.

Of course we also have the great ability to bungle things and shoot ourselves in the foot too.
Yea, I guess you're right. The US has been sticking its nose in other countries business for a long time now. Maybe I was addressing the issue of whether we should or not, as you alluded to.

Our "peace keeping" involvment in Kosovo in the 90s is an example of the US policing a troubled country in an attempt to prevent widespread genocide. Clearly, it's something we are willing to do. I think that the Rwanda conflict happened too fast for us to do anything about it, which was probably the primary factor for our non-involvement.

I do think there is an obligation for EVERYONE to step up in the face of genocide. I think its unfair that the US, of all the 1st world countries, gets the obligation placed squarely on our shoulders. We might as well ask why Great Britain didn't do anything either, ya know?

"If not us, then who?" Yes, that is the question. Nobody else would bother. That speaks very poorly for them. Yet ironically, when we actually do step up and take action based off of a righteous moral imperative, we get demonized and labeled as invaders or parodied as Team America World Police. That's some serious bullshit that we shouldn't have to deal with, especially when at the end of the day we are trying to do the right thing for humanity. Yea, if it's all over oil that's one thing, but even in Iraq, we've spared many civilian lives and provided at least a promise of hope for their future. And to be fair, our allies have helped us in a lot of our benevolent endeavors as well.

Michael Hackett
07-17-2012, 07:02 PM
You know Roger, I found a little humor in your last paragraph. As I read it, I reflected on my career in law enforcement and can't remember a single time anyone called 9-1-1 and reported they were having a birthday party and invited us to stop by for cake and coffee........just a smaller scale.

genin
07-18-2012, 07:49 AM
You know Roger, I found a little humor in your last paragraph. As I read it, I reflected on my career in law enforcement and can't remember a single time anyone called 9-1-1 and reported they were having a birthday party and invited us to stop by for cake and coffee........just a smaller scale.

I'm pretty sure if anyone did call 9-1-1 to invite cops to their birthday party, cops would definitely show up at their house. And something tells me the cops would not be interested in cake or coffee at that point.

But I can read between the lines. I get your what you're saying..

Michael Hackett
07-18-2012, 02:32 PM
As patrol officers we used to say "One Aw Shit will wipe out one thousand attaboys", and I think you did get the meaning of my previous post.

hughrbeyer
07-18-2012, 04:08 PM
I used to share that belief, until I realized the logistical and political problems that would've inevitably arisen. The US invasion and occupation of Iraq helped me see that. What precedent would that establish, and how would the rest of the world view us?

Exactly. The point isn't that we should always intervene, it's that we bear the moral responsibility for our actions and for our refusal to act. The standard confession in the Episcopal church asks forgiveness "for what we have done and what we have left undone."

Rwanda was a hard case. There was no local support for our intervention; we had no insight into the culture or history of the locals; there were no economic, historic, or cultural ties that would give us an entree; there was no stable internal group or power center that would align with our intervention. Yet, on the other side, the atrocities were appalling.

Truth is, I think we couldn't have intervened effectively and did right to stay out. But it's a lesser-of-two-evils "right."

Kevin Leavitt
07-19-2012, 03:43 AM
The problem with Rwanda is really hindsight is 20/20. There were alot of reasons US didn't intervene, mainly UN mission, political climate at the time, failure to recognize trigger points etc. However, in my current assignment in US Africa Command, I can tell you that the USG has put in many more control measures designed to monitor trigger points and to make decisions faster and more effectively concerning Genocide. the good news, is we recognized the problems of this and we have taken steps in order to allow us to effectively engage on Genocide way before it gets that far.

Can't comment on particular issues, or how it might work in reality, only that there are mechanisms, programs, and infrstructue in place. Not commenting because of secrecy or anything...it is just that I couldn't tell you how it would work until after the fact and we are able to assess the situation.

genin
07-19-2012, 08:30 AM
Let's say that the US swiftly intervened in Rwanda, neutralized the offending skinnies and saved the day for the Tutsis. There would've been no genocide to look back upon for people to say: "How horrible, somebody should've done something." Instead, there would be protests and pictures plastered all over the web of menacing looking marines invading some foreign country that no one can spell or pronounce.

Is it right to step in and save the people? Yes. Would we look bad while doing it? Yes. I'm sure the people whose lives were saved would sleep better at night, but the US military and government would never hear the end of it from our detractors worldwide. Not to mention many of our own citizens. That's a tough spot to be in.

hughrbeyer
07-19-2012, 10:57 PM
I purposely didn't address the issue of incomplete knowledge in my earlier post because I don't think it's relevant. Even with 20/20 hindsight I'm not sure intervention was the right thing, given all the elements working against us that I outlined above.

Compare with the Vietnam situation. Total disaster, agreed? We ended up supporting a corrupt, ineffective government, hated by both sides, driven to commit atrocities at every level, from My Lai to carpet-bombing Cambodia.

And yet, when we left, the situation grew so much worse that the Vietnamese were jumping into boats to escape the country.

So while we were there, we created a bad situation to prevent a horrible situation. We actively stained our hands with blood, then left and stained our hands with blood through inaction. Were we right before, or were we right after?

Myself, I think most of the time we have to let people work out their own shit. Exceptions are when the chances of success are in our favor or the situation is so horrendous that we're willing to take the hit. Iran or Syria? Sorry, no cultural understanding, no neighbors willing to support us and supply it, no ties of culture or history. They're on their own. Kosovo? European, supportive neighbors, long cultural ties. Go for it. North Korea? If China would let us, I'd be in there in a New York minute. Let them rejoin South Korea and within a decade it would be like East and West Germany--what differences remained would be a totally internal matter.

Africa's hard because most of the governments are too corrupt and ineffective to take action, yet they'd unite to condemn action from the outside. A nice counter-example is the ouster of Idi Amin by Tanzania, which shows local action can work when there's the will for it.

sorokod
07-20-2012, 12:30 PM
and until the robots arrive, you have Blackwater and such:

"President Bush's 2001 executive order severed this line by transferring to the CIA his unique authority to approve assassinations. By removing himself from the decision-making cycle, the president shielded himself -- and all elected authority -- from responsibility should a mission go wrong or be found illegal. When the CIA transferred the assassination unit to Blackwater, it continued the trend. CIA officers would no longer participate in the agency's most violent operations, or witness them. If it practiced any oversight at all, the CIA would rely on Blackwater's self-reporting about missions it conducted. Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible."

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/07/the-terrifying-background-of-the-man-who-ran-a-cia-assassination-unit/259856/

genin
07-20-2012, 02:15 PM
and until the robots arrive, you have Blackwater and such:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/07/the-terrifying-background-of-the-man-who-ran-a-cia-assassination-unit/259856/Which is just a slight permutation of what Reagan did with the Iran–Contra affair."I didn't know, but I should've known, I admit it was wrong, but I'm not responsible. Blah blah blah...." Then somebody else's head rolls and everyone forgets about it once the next scandal or hot topic usurps it in the news headlines. Meanwhile, there's a pile of brown skinned bodies lying in the wake somewhere far away from American soil.

And yet, even with all that, I still view the United States as the "good guy", at least compared to the alternatives. That doesn't say much, but says a lot.

sorokod
07-20-2012, 04:02 PM
And yet, even with all that, I still view the United States as the "good guy", at least compared to the alternatives. That doesn't say much, but says a lot.

I think it is safe to say that this view is not universally shared.

Garth
08-05-2012, 11:31 AM
Roger Flatley wrote:
And yet, even with all that, I still view the United States as the "good guy", at least compared to the alternatives. That doesn't say much, but says a lot.

I think it is safe to say that this view is not universally shared.

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-- david

Well I really do fear, that if and when another Ron Paul type person gets elected and we effectively go isolationalist in most if not all of our policies, what will be safe to say then?

See Woodrow Wilson,
see the levying of the first taxes to build a navy,
see the Killing Fields of Pol Pot

Personally, I see the colonialism of the British Empire had a better effect on a lot of countries today
then those that were not colonized and are still living in the stone age, or reversing any vestiges of rule given them by the British and have descended back again into chaos. A sovereign nation governed by laws(even those of a dictator, if the laws are just) trumps tribalism every single time as far as the greater good of society is concerned.

genin
08-06-2012, 07:53 AM
. A sovereign nation governed by laws(even those of a dictator, if the laws are just) trumps tribalism every single time as far as the greater good of society is concerned.
I emphatically disagree. Tribalism worked well for humans for a hundread thousand years. Dictatorships have only been around for a couple thousand years, and they have only produced war, famine, and unhappiness for the masses.

Garth
08-06-2012, 10:42 AM
I emphatically disagree. Tribalism worked well for humans for a hundread thousand years. Dictatorships have only been around for a couple thousand years, and they have only produced war, famine, and unhappiness for the masses.

Really? So I guess we are a country of 300 million are doing worse than the couple of hundred thousand American Indians in tribes before. I would like some examples of the tribes that saw no periods of famine or war or unhappiness. Dances with Wolves before the calvary arrived , it was not...if that is what you espouse, except for the part where the neighboring tribe is splitting skulls with the Sioux, for whatever reason.
Is is not possible to have unhappy or happy "masses" with a tribe. Tribalism worked well until the neighboring tribe decided it liked your hunting ground better than their own. Then the war and famine came to your doorstep. And please dont seperate the issues, I said dictatorships of just rule and there have been a few, but basically a sovereign nation under just rule ,whether it is a democracy , republic or they have a king. Obviously Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein can be ruled out as unjust, evil rulers.

Kevin Leavitt
08-06-2012, 10:44 AM
I emphatically disagree. Tribalism worked well for humans for a hundread thousand years. Dictatorships have only been around for a couple thousand years, and they have only produced war, famine, and unhappiness for the masses.

Tribalism works well for those that are in tribes. It is the rest of the world imposing their values and paradigms on them that cause it not to work well. I could probably also make a good case for benevolent dictatorships as well as being a good solution to the right problem If I had time and the inclination.

genin
08-06-2012, 12:18 PM
Really? So I guess we are a country of 300 million are doing worse than the couple of hundred thousand American Indians in tribes before. I would like some examples of the tribes that saw no periods of famine or war or unhappiness. Dances with Wolves before the calvary arrived , it was not...if that is what you espouse, except for the part where the neighboring tribe is splitting skulls with the Sioux, for whatever reason.
Is is not possible to have unhappy or happy "masses" with a tribe. Tribalism worked well until the neighboring tribe decided it liked your hunting ground better than their own. Then the war and famine came to your doorstep. And please dont seperate the issues, I said dictatorships of just rule and there have been a few, but basically a sovereign nation under just rule ,whether it is a democracy , republic or they have a king. Obviously Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein can be ruled out as unjust, evil rulers.
Do you think any of those indian tribes had one of their own tribesmen walk into a teepee at midnight and start shooting all of the occupants with arrows, including children? I also don't know what would constitute a dictator of "just rule", as that seems like an oxymoron. If you consider it to be democracies like the U.S, or imperialist empires like Great Britain, then it becomes a much broader definition, and is admittidly not a dictatorship at that point. But like Kevin said, tirbes work well for tribes, not for us civilized folks. And it would take a lot more time, effort, and inclination to explain that further.

Garth
08-06-2012, 12:39 PM
I think had they had more people around, and guns,they would have been more mass killings in a populations.
I think that something you describe in a population of 300 million is less than .00000001 percent of all the unhappiness and killing going on. (something akin to the mass shootings we have just had)
And yes it was a broad definition, but are we asking to go back (tribe)to that or move forward with the current society the way it is set up. And I yes if I was so inclined give example after example of societies brought into the 21 century by those broad definitions of consolidation under leadership as opposed to warring states or tribes, which overall has allowed the human race to prosper.
Qin Dynasty
Shogunate rule
Civil War

Not everything that happened in those instances were good by a long shot, but it did not as you say bring the pestilence, famine, etc. And there was murder , lots of it. But all those societies prospered afterwards. Non assimilation and balkanization of this society may be its downfall. Anti heroism, everyman for himself, everyone his own agenda, etc, is what is being espoused by academia and popular culture nowadays and it is not good for the society whatsoever....
agree to disagree:blush:

sorokod
08-07-2012, 07:10 AM
As far as I can make out, you believe that an occasional bloodletting in the form of a war is a positive (overall) thing for humanity. You support this by saying that societies that survived wars - well, survived wars (or "brought into the 21 century" in your words) and so participate in the move "forward".

Where do you imagine this move "forward" will bring us?

genin
08-07-2012, 07:24 AM
Where do you imagine this move "forward" will bring us?

It will bring us forward into an era of extreme overpopulation and the continued petroleum-based destruction of our environment in which corruption and suffering reaches a highpoint. Then there will be a dramatic and catastrophic collapse in the human population, and the survivors will revert back to a tribal existence.

Garth
08-07-2012, 07:54 AM
As far as I can make out, you believe that an occasional bloodletting in the form of a war is a positive (overall) thing for humanity. You support this by saying that societies that survived wars - well, survived wars (or "brought into the 21 century" in your words) and so participate in the move "forward".

Where do you imagine this move "forward" will bring us?

No idea, but it is obvious, from certain posts that some have a idealized notion of teepee living(tribal).
That somehow they didnt commit war, or murder on each other. Like some kind of enviromental view that people are whats bad about this planet or dont deserve it or are ruining it. Sheer numbers alone,
of people and people living in relative comfort dictates that consolidated nations and societies do better than tribes. Too which, many have said well the tribes were happy until we bothered them.
That maybe the case. I am not advocating war and bloodletting as a means "to move forward", I am saying it happened, historical fact. Call it ordered murder or whatever you want. Maybe you guys flying the Union Jack should take a look at how much thought went into savinglives in the decision making process of dropping the A bomb on Japan, to save lives on both sides. As a matter of fact , this country is as far as I know, has gone out of its way to avoid collateral damage on a large scale in its warmaking capacity, sacrificing many of our own along the way.Compare that to the Nazis or the Rape of Nanking where the few who would have protested were in fear of their lives and did not, our system promotes such descent and fair mindedness,our biggest problem is we are probably slow to act because of it. Had the Nazis or Japan developed the bomb first there would have been no warning.
Tribe is basically a nation on a much smaller scale, except the information exchange takes place on a much smaller scale, lack of uniformity of language, etc.
What we have now, in this country, is a bunch of special interest groups who want to take the country off in many different directions and the questioning of motives of the governing body is tre chic.
Among them,
The country is a bad country
The governing body has greedy, wrongheaded motives
The country has not tryed to adjudicate its foreing affairs with good intentions and spilled its own blood, for various no good reasons.
There various conspiracies to keep the masses dumbed down, not find cures for cancer, not explore space, not find better ways to feed the billions of people now living here, yet all those things are getting done.
I prefer living now , in the moment , rather than rewriting history, and going back to a tribal society.

You know making lemonade from lemons, and the cat is out of the bag already.

Garth
08-07-2012, 08:13 AM
It will bring us forward into an era of extreme overpopulation and the continued petroleum-based destruction of our environment in which corruption and suffering reaches a highpoint. Then there will be a dramatic and catastrophic collapse in the human population, and the survivors will revert back to a tribal existence.

Exactly, the pessimistic the view I was speaking of.
A popular sentiment among environmentalists is that we take 20 percent of the worlds resources and we are only 2 percent of the worlds population.
The only part that is left out is how much we are supporting the rest of the world with food and money.
100 million in Africa alone, the technology given in agriculture alone to China probably outweighs the debt we currently owe them.
It is decidely living not in the moment , but in the future of a bad Mad Max type movie.

sorokod
08-07-2012, 09:21 AM
As far as I can make out, you believe that an occasional bloodletting in the form of a war is a positive (overall) thing for humanity. You support this by saying that societies that survived wars - well, survived wars (or "brought into the 21 century" in your words) and so participate in the move "forward".

Where do you imagine this move "forward" will bring us?

No idea, but it is obvious, from certain posts that some have a idealized notion of teepee living(tribal).
That somehow they didnt commit war, or murder on each other. Like some kind of enviromental view that people are whats bad about this planet or dont deserve it or are ruining it. Sheer numbers alone,
of people and people living in relative comfort dictates that consolidated nations and societies do better than tribes. Too which, many have said well the tribes were happy until we bothered them.
That maybe the case. I am not advocating war and bloodletting as a means "to move forward", I am saying it happened, historical fact. Call it ordered murder or whatever you want. Maybe you guys flying the Union Jack should take a look at how much thought went into savinglives in the decision making process of dropping the A bomb on Japan, to save lives on both sides. As a matter of fact , this country is as far as I know, has gone out of its way to avoid collateral damage on a large scale in its warmaking capacity, sacrificing many of our own along the way.Compare that to the Nazis or the Rape of Nanking where the few who would have protested were in fear of their lives and did not, our system promotes such descent and fair mindedness,our biggest problem is we are probably slow to act because of it. Had the Nazis or Japan developed the bomb first there would have been no warning.
Tribe is basically a nation on a much smaller scale, except the information exchange takes place on a much smaller scale, lack of uniformity of language, etc.
What we have now, in this country, is a bunch of special interest groups who want to take the country off in many different directions and the questioning of motives of the governing body is tre chic.
Among them,
The country is a bad country
The governing body has greedy, wrongheaded motives
The country has not tryed to adjudicate its foreing affairs with good intentions and spilled its own blood, for various no good reasons.
There various conspiracies to keep the masses dumbed down, not find cures for cancer, not explore space, not find better ways to feed the billions of people now living here, yet all those things are getting done.
I prefer living now , in the moment , rather than rewriting history, and going back to a tribal society.

You know making lemonade from lemons, and the cat is out of the bag already.

I am not advocating war and bloodletting as a means "to move forward", I am saying it happened, historical fact.
Only to the extent that those who survived (or their descendants) are affected by time and move "forward" with it.

...how much thought went into savinglives in the decision making process of dropping the A bomb on Japan, to save lives on both sides. As a matter of fact,
This is not the way to demonstrate facts and some do disagree with the "both sides" part. Here is a quote from Truman:
"Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans."

this country is as far as I know, has gone out of its way to avoid collateral damage on a large scale in its warmaking capacity, sacrificing many of our own along the way.
an excellent opportunity for some examples, presumably nuking Japan is not one of them.

It seems that your values are relative, as long as your interests are served and as long as you're methods are no worse then those of the others, anything goes.

Garth
08-07-2012, 09:57 AM
David.

Just a little tired of the sanctmonius tone of many flying the union jack and my own flag.
Being self righteous doesnt make you right.
This conversation is bound to degrade into another self serving agenda Blog
Suddenly this has become personal ( liberal tactic) talking about my values.
In saying what has happened in bigger societies happened and the greater good benefited, regardless of motive. Star Trek , the needs of the many Or the needs of the few?
Which is greater?
I am choosing to work with the needs of the many and all there different thoughts
Tribalism is concerned with the needs of the few in the tribe as long as it suits their "relative" needs.
You can cherry pick my posts and history if u like.
I don't think it suits your needs though. The examples in this countries history are rife . And I like others I don't have an inclination to show them. You see what u want, just don't play around with my perception
Just wondering when u would Want to hold hands and sing kumbaya and what effect that will have on some of the problems we face .

akiy
08-07-2012, 10:29 AM
Watch your tone, folks. Keep your posts directed toward the subject rather than toward the person.

-- Jun

Garth
08-07-2012, 10:57 AM
I'm done anyways

sorokod
02-05-2013, 09:48 AM
I have listened to Dan Carlin's "Logical Insanity" podcast (from the Hardcore History series) and learned a lot about the history of strategic/morale/terror bombing and its relevance to atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

http://traffic.libsyn.com/dancarlinhh/dchha42__BLITZ_Logical_Insanity.mp3

sorokod
02-05-2013, 10:10 AM
Direct link to the podcast file

http://traffic.libsyn.com/dancarlinhh/dchha42__BLITZ_Logical_Insanity.mp3