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Old 07-12-2012, 12:08 PM   #51
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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/mcc...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.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:20 PM   #52
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Ordered murder

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.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 07-12-2012 at 12:26 PM.

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Old 07-12-2012, 12:22 PM   #53
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Re: Ordered murder

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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

Last edited by dps : 07-12-2012 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:41 PM   #54
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Re: Ordered murder

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:55 PM   #55
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Re: Ordered murder

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
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

Last edited by dps : 07-12-2012 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:53 PM   #56
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Ordered murder

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
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?

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Old 07-12-2012, 11:22 PM   #57
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Ordered murder

George Ledyard wrote:

Quote:
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.

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Old 07-12-2012, 11:28 PM   #58
Benjamin Green
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Re: Ordered murder

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Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
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."
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Old 07-12-2012, 11:37 PM   #59
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Ordered murder

George Ledyard wrote:

Quote:
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.

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Old 07-13-2012, 12:02 AM   #60
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 07-13-2012, 02:15 AM   #61
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Ordered murder

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.

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Old 07-13-2012, 07:13 AM   #62
genin
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Re: Ordered murder

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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.)
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:43 AM   #63
Keith Larman
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Re: Ordered murder

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Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
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?

Quote:
Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
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.

Quote:
Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 07-13-2012, 09:22 AM   #64
genin
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Re: Ordered murder

Keith wrote:
Quote:
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...
Quote:
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.
Quote:
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.

Last edited by genin : 07-13-2012 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:22 PM   #65
Michael Hackett
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Re: Ordered murder

@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.

Michael
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:05 PM   #66
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 07-14-2012, 12:34 AM   #67
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Ordered murder

Thanks. It has been an interesting discussion on the ethics of killing and "just-ness". Thanks.

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Old 07-14-2012, 07:31 AM   #68
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
@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

Last edited by akiy : 07-16-2012 at 11:13 AM. Reason: Fixed quote tag
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:08 AM   #69
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Re: Ordered murder

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
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Old 07-14-2012, 11:47 AM   #70
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Re: Ordered murder

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.

Michael
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Old 07-15-2012, 02:36 AM   #71
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 07-16-2012, 06:19 AM   #72
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Re: Ordered murder

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Benjamin Green wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 07-16-2012, 06:54 AM   #73
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Re: Ordered murder

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.
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:11 PM   #74
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Re: Ordered murder

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
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.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:26 AM   #75
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Re: Ordered murder

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Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
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.
A perfect example of some of the effects of both the "good guys" and the "bad guys;" good intentions and bad intentions.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 07-17-2012 at 12:30 AM.

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