God Bless America! Really!
Thu Jun 18 13:25:17 CDT 1998
I actually think Pete's got a point about criticizing officials being
different from criticizing the government. I know bad organizational dynamics,
bad goals and bad org culture will fuel bad decisionmaking, but I also rather
think it's a mistake not to lay blame at the feet of the responsible
decisionmakers. The earliest notes blasting Nixon got my hearty endorsement.
Pete's also right that sideline complaining is a weak substitute for actual
*public* criticism, actual political involvement to bring accountability to
But I do have to challenge another part.
On Thu, 18 Jun 1998, Pete Krein wrote:
> Second ( this is for Mr. Breshears), proxy wars were committed by both
> sides in the cold war. The simple fact is that almost every government
> has something to hide, some past mistake that exists.
No idea why this is a defense. None.
> One of the examples
> listed is dropping the bomb(s) on Japan. As a fan of deterrance, I feel
> obligated to say that this was necessary to show the world the destructive
> nature of nuclear warfare before it engulfed everyone and everything.
So to demonstrate the destructive nature of the weapon, it was necessary
actually to kill that many people? Dropping it on an island and inviting
people to inspect the fused glass and scoured wasteland left behind
wouldn't've made the point? Was Dresden also justified, since it was a show
not only of how much force we could muster, but how much ruthlessness?
> It is unfortunate that those people died, however we were at war
> and the Japanese did inflict destruction on us and others.
Ah. Then when we trucked into Germany and liberated the concentration camps,
we would've been justified in rounding up all the complicit German citizens
into our own death camps, eh? Inflammatory, yes. Also more or less a perfect
mirror of your argument. What the Japanese did was horrible. If we truly
despise that behavior, if we truly refuse to condone it, we can't really
engage in it. Seems like a straightforward logical move.
> War is hell. I won't even get into what the
> Soviets did, but I think the world would be a much worse place to live had
> the soviets won the cold war.
Hard to say the end justifies the means. I know that in war, and in any
situation when one is under attack, the ordinary norm against using violence
to solve problems is harder to defend. But I think there still have to be
limits on violence. There still has to be a middle ground. We wouldn't be
justified in grabbing all their women and children and carrying out a
Bosnia-like campaign of rape warfare to break their will. And I think a pretty
darn good case can be made that in most of the examples above, we strayed too
far. The "war is hell, we were defending ourselves" defense is absorbed by the
principle that necessary violence in defense against aggression still has to
be as limited as can be managed, and avoid civilian death/torture if possible.
There's a powerful case to be made that Hiroshima breached all hell out of
this principle, and that Nagasaki was just an embarrassment.
Director of Forensics
Arizona State University
"We make of the quarrel with others, rhetoric,
but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry."
-- W.B. Yeats, "Anima Hominis," _Essays_, 1924
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