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[P]
A Test of Courage

By Kasreyn in Op-Ed
Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 04:23:53 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

First off, I know that nothing I can say, indeed nothing the world leaders at the G8 summit could say, could hope to compare with the aftermath of the bombings in London yesterday. One of the saddest aspects of the timing of this disaster, to me, is how it will overshadow the discussion of debt relief for impoverished African nations. I know that no newly-minted London widow or widower can be expected to care much about African poverty tonight as they grieve. However, I feel obligated to point out that Britain is now faced with an important choice.


Nearly four years ago, the United States went from rose-tinted slumber to blind hysteria in a few short hours. The reaction around the world was one of widespread solidarity and empathy for the thousands of lives lost, just as tonight all is sympathy for the devastation in London. No matter what has happened since then, I am still touched, being an American, when I think about that display of support. Yet the true danger to my country was not from Saudi militants who turned passenger jets into guided missiles.

The true danger is that violent acts of terrorism serve as a test of courage for democracies. The easy answer to the test, the wimp's way out, is to lash out in violent retaliation at someone, anyone. To sacrifice anything to still the public outcry for safety and present an appearance of good leadership. To allow the terrorists to win by sacrificing the freedom that terrorists loathe. That is the course of action my country, I am ashamed to say, took. That is why we now have meaningless color-coded Terror Levels, reduced guarantees of personal liberty, and bizarre new layers of bureaucracy like the creepily-named Department of Homeland Security.

The tough answer to the test of violence is to stay one's wrath until the real perpetrators are located. The lack of the ability to delay gratification of an urge is widely recognized as a hallmark trait of mental immaturity. Self-control is a laudable trait in nations just as well as in individuals. But even if Britain finds the self-control to avoid the sort of vigilante unilateralism America engaged in after the September 11th attacks, there is one test more to pass. People naturally are frightened by senseless violence in their midst, but often they fail to count the price.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." I believe that when Thomas Jefferson wrote those words, he understood that they held true in a passive sense as well. Not only must patriots be willing to give their lives in open battle to defend their freedom, but they must be willing to shoulder the burden of increased risk of harm in order to maintain them. It's a matter of statistics. Is your freedom worth a one percent increased chance of being killed by an explosion that would have been prevented, were your society less free and open? The wimp answer is, no, my freedom isn't worth it.

Freedom is not free. It is purchased with personal risk; no other coin can buy it. I'm not talking about revolutionaries like Jefferson who risked death to gain freedom they lacked. I mean people who assume the risks of living in a free society because the alternative appalls them to the core. I mean people who know that ceding responsibility for protecting their lives to another person also cedes a proportionate amount of authority over their lives, and know how far to draw the line. Resources being equal, the more secure a society is made, the less free it becomes, and the reverse.

The great failure of America's courage after the September 11th tragedy was mirrored by the failure of vision in its leaders. Not one American leader had the courage to stand up and say, "No. Our freedom, our privacy, and our dignity is worth at least as much, if not more, than our physical safety." Not one American public figure was brave enough to point out that signing away individual liberties, bit by bit, was exactly the danger warned against by Benjamin Franklin. And months later, when many did begin to say those things, America's course had already been set.

In debates with Britons over the past four years, I have found that the British reaction to the American overreaction to September 11th, varies from bafflement and amusement to pity and scorn. I have been forced, reluctantly, to acknowledge the validity of all these views. Now that it's the people of Britain's turn to take the test of courage, I can only say that I wish them well. May they perform better than we did.

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A Test of Courage | 166 comments (102 topical, 64 editorial, 0 hidden)
The creepily-named Department of Homeland Security (2.28 / 7) (#2)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 01:02:43 AM EST

What's up with that name, either. By rights, it should be "state security" or maybe "internal security". I admit those sound cold and callous, but they're still better than this loonball name. Jethro Bodine would have came up with a better name.

It's like one half of a word away from Vaterland. It's only one eighth of a concept away from it, too...

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

Exactly. (none / 1) (#3)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 01:07:04 AM EST

Has such a... Germanic feel to it, conceptually, dontcha think?


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Prussian even n/t (2.50 / 2) (#36)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 06:39:10 AM EST


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

i think it's more roman (2.50 / 2) (#39)
by idol worshipper on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 06:45:09 AM EST

or turkic.

[ Parent ]
Better yet... (none / 0) (#79)
by beergut on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 05:42:52 PM EST

The newly-minted-or-soon-to-be reorganization of the FBI.

Included will be a new department, the National Security Service, or NSS.

I just love saying that one. NSS. NSS. SS .. err .. NSS.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Serious deja-vu on this whole topic... (none / 1) (#156)
by Arvedui on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 03:10:45 AM EST

Luckily, I was able to track down the particular thread that was causing it, but for people who don't want to read it, I'll just throw mine on the scale with:

You may be aware that the initials KGB stand for "Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti". "Committee [Department] for State [with overtones of Homeland] Security". Heh.

[ Parent ]

Jefferson knew what the hell he was saying though (2.28 / 7) (#4)
by Armada on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 01:48:14 AM EST

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants" - Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson Was Right On! (none / 0) (#92)
by integrateit on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 07:02:39 PM EST

This quote seems vaguely familiar - after seeing it here - I think it really sums up the essence of what freedom costs.

[ Parent ]
Lemme guess... (none / 0) (#94)
by lordDogma on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 07:09:37 PM EST

George W. Bush -> Tyrant Osama Bin Laden -> Patriot

[ Parent ]
Not the first terrorist act, or worst, or last (2.76 / 17) (#10)
by jonathan_ingram on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 04:13:56 AM EST

There are several reasons why the UK won't react to this in the same way as the US did to the much worse events of 11/9.

First, we are much more used to terrorist attacks in this country -- mainly due to the bombing campaign of the IRA, who detonated large bombs in London and Manchester less than 10 years ago. Thankfully, due to the ceasefire, and the drop in US funding, the IRA are less of a problem now, and will hopefully eventually fade away into a very bad memory (although given the history, it's always possible that Irish terrorism will re-emerge).

Second, this isn't an event on a same scale as 11/9. Same same physically: You can tell this by the fact that London is basically back to operating as normal today, in contrast to New York the day after the towers collapsed. Same scale emotionally: while blowing up infrastructure is a good way to disrupt a city, it doesn't have the sheer telegenic impact of a massive building collapsing.

Third, we've never had the same isolationist world-view as the USA, which tends to believe that it can do what it likes in other countries, and nothing will ever happen on its own soil. This type of event was expected by many people, and in some sense the shock is that it hasn't happened until now -- for which we must thank our police and intelligence services.

-- Jon

good points all. (none / 1) (#12)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 04:27:12 AM EST

I'm wondering if that means my article is so much ignorant B.S., if Britain is as unlikely to go into a hysterical fit as you say. Should I pull it?


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
not necesassarily (none / 1) (#16)
by livus on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 04:44:50 AM EST

I've seen several Britons elsewhere online remark that the way Blair reacted was weird, scary, and US-esque; compared with the reaction to the last big IRA bomb.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
my god, what happened to the spelling? (none / 1) (#18)
by livus on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 04:48:04 AM EST

anyone'd think I had been smacking myself on the forehead, like Circletimesquare here.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
He was scared shitless (none / 0) (#75)
by rpjs on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 03:44:29 PM EST

I'm not quite sure why, seeing as he wasn't in any physical danger himself, but you could hear the fear in his voice when he made his first statement at lunchtime. Compared to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone's almost Churchillian statement from Singapore airport, Blair sounded quite pathetic.

Ken 4 PM!

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I thought so too (none / 0) (#99)
by livus on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 08:18:55 PM EST

He seemed weak and fearful, and he looked alarmingly like a cornered rat. My guess is that he was scared of the political fallout, not of terrorists.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
No, the article is interesting. (2.66 / 3) (#24)
by jonathan_ingram on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 05:31:43 AM EST

It's good to get different perspectives on events like this, and it'll be particularly interesting to compare and contrast American reactions with British reactions. From a British perspective, though, your article is a touch over the top :). One additional reason, and quite an important one, is that Britain really doesn't have the capacity for unilateral action which America has -- we're just not as dangerous any more. Part of the reason many of us in the world were so glued to the TV screen in 2001 was that we really had no idea just how extreme the US's reaction was going to be... Brtain's options are much more limited, even if we *wanted* to go blow something/someone away.
-- Jon
[ Parent ]
It is just like the British... (none / 0) (#81)
by beergut on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 05:56:29 PM EST

... to not go into an hysterical fit.

Really, what should be done is for them to set the football hooligans loose on the mosques and Muslim ghettos. Rout them all out and drive them into the sea.

Unless, that is, you want to eventually become "Dentistan."

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

i hope that was sarcasm (none / 0) (#101)
by Translucent Blue on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 09:17:03 PM EST


Really, what should be done is for them to set the football hooligans loose on the mosques and Muslim ghettos. Rout them all out and drive them into the sea. -beergut
[ Parent ]
Nope. [nt] (none / 0) (#144)
by beergut on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 04:27:57 PM EST


i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Resection to Fiction (1.21 / 14) (#21)
by NaCh0 on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 05:26:49 AM EST

These bombings did not happen. Muslems are practitioners of the Religion of Peace(TM) and would never do such a thing. Islam teaches kindness and tolerance, not vitriol and dynamite.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
Hey fucknut, (2.25 / 4) (#60)
by it certainly is on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 10:12:57 AM EST

we have no idea who committed the bombings. Stop insinuating it was Jihadists (who, btw, fail to live to the basic teachings of Islam).

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

We also have no idea who... (3.00 / 4) (#93)
by lordDogma on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 07:04:20 PM EST

is occupying Iraq right now. Even though they wear American uniforms and look and act like American soldiers, they don't live up to the basic tenents of American ideals such as "freedom, justice, equality, and liberty for everyone". Therefore, they aren't really American soldiers, and anybody who suggests that it is the USA who invaded and occupied Iraq is just an anti-American bigot.

We have no idea what country invaded and occupied Iraq. So I wish people would stop insinuating it was the Americans as if it was so damned obvious.

[ Parent ]

Good point (none / 1) (#100)
by bhirsch on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 08:42:54 PM EST

It must've been the Buddhist extremists. Or, maybe it was the Hindus. Either way, it is absurd to think it was Muslims. It's not like a Muslim group claimed responsibility right after the attacks.

[ Parent ]
Difference between UK / US (2.43 / 16) (#30)
by A Bore on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 05:47:19 AM EST

You wanted revenge, we want justice.

Bravo! (none / 1) (#47)
by ljazbec on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 07:19:30 AM EST

Finally someone who managed to sum it all up in one sentence!

[ Parent ]
Sometimes justice and revenge go hand in hand (nt) (none / 0) (#86)
by lordDogma on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 06:11:18 PM EST



[ Parent ]
whoa. (none / 0) (#91)
by lordDogma on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 06:54:34 PM EST

I just realized that A Bore got way more 3s than he deserved. Not that its a bad statement, but it has an aire of intellectual pompousness, as if this guy is trying to get his name into some famous book of quotes or something.

I think its a mediocre statement at best. As I said before, sometimes justice and revenge go hand in hand. Not to mention, in a country of 300 million people you're gonna get some outspoken people who want one, both, or neither of those things.

[ Parent ]

religion (1.28 / 7) (#34)
by Nyarlathotep on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 06:20:32 AM EST

Most of the worlds serious problems are tied to religion.  So

1)  Deal with your own religious fundamentalists at home (in the U.S.), who cause us all much more trouble then scum sucking Islamist.

2)  Help us create a world where the most important technology is *inherently* out of reach of the scum sucking Islamist (and christians).  (No, bombs are not important).

Stemcell based medical treatments, genetic engineering of people, brain implants would all help, as they would tend to remain out of reach of the religious.  But any major technological achievement which requires years of study to understand helps eliminate those who spend their lives studying religious books.

An easy example, help Linux defeat Windows as Linux brings the user closer to the machine, and grants them much more power with more knowedge.

Many of the most important contributions come from people like Kinsey and (the intelligent side of) the women's movement.  There are massive social benefits to respecting the lifestyles of gays, lesbians, polys, etc. as such people come disproportionately from the intellectually productive class.

For example, in the same way that exceptional students receive fellowships, society could grant the top 20% of academic & professional women the right to free 24-7 child care, allowing them to go to both have kids and follow their career.  The social impact of such a program could be enormous.

Anyway, the trick is to make religion irrelevant.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!

Not religion (none / 0) (#132)
by gidds on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 10:17:35 AM EST

I disagree strongly with that. IMO, while many of the world's problems get blamed on religion, that's usually only an excuse or a convenient label. I think the real problems are usually tribal/political in origin; one group of people feels it's been mistreated by another group; frictions develop; the groups bind together against the common enemy; prejudice and hatred turn into injustice and violence. You can see it happening wherever groups (tribes) form, whether it involves religious groups (in Israel, Ireland), nations (between Islamic and Western nations), or even football teams (hooligans and thugs).

How many of the Islamic terrorists were doing things that their professed religion explicitly forbids? Ditto members of the IRA or loyalist paramilitaries? And so on.

It may be convenient to use religion as a label, but that's all it is. The real problems start when someone identifies with one group and against another, and then lets that distort their thinking. And that can happen for any number of reasons.

Andy/
[ Parent ]

same thing (none / 0) (#159)
by Nyarlathotep on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 07:49:05 AM EST

Religion, tradition, politics are all words for the same thing: not using the scientific method, i.e. cheating the meiosis of the memes.  The winner will be the society which forces most of its memes into a scientific framework.  We should treat everyone else as memetic extinction fodder.  No room for god or tradition here.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
religion *is* tribal. nt. (none / 0) (#161)
by blue tiger on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 01:36:35 PM EST

nt.

[ Parent ]
+1 FP (2.40 / 5) (#48)
by monad on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 07:38:38 AM EST

Excellent article Kasreyn. I wholly agree with you, but the problem here in Britain is our uncanny knack of pretty much giving away our civil liberties for free. Americans have had theirs bought from them by fear. The US government acts like a protection racket: "Give us your civil rights, and no more 'accidents' will happen." In Britain it's more like, "Give us your civil rights. Why? Because we say so." And we do. Two prime examples are national identity cards and a new form of car taxation which involves a GPS transceiver being placed in every car in the UK. These policies are moving steadily through Parliament. Sure, there is resistance from the intelligentia, but I think the proletariat don't really care, or may they don't know what's at stake. Orwell's 1984 should be read by everyone.

Our problem is (none / 0) (#76)
by rpjs on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 03:59:44 PM EST

We trust our government. I know this probably sounds strange to people in the US, but people here are generally glad to give up any freedom the government desires because they trust them not to abuse it. And to be fair, the British government hasn't really abused the ordinary man in the street's rights for a good couple of centuries, not since Peterloo.

Of course, they've abused freedoms left, right and centre in our former colonies for all that time, which is a reason why Americans tend not to trust government in general, and minority groups like Irishmen carrying chair legs have been fair game all along, but Mr Jones of 22 Acacia Avenue, Middle England knows that he and his 2.4 children aren't going to be banged up in Belmarsh on suss, so he doesn't care.

[ Parent ]
The irony of course, (none / 0) (#120)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 03:24:52 AM EST

is that both the national ID card and the electronic taxation thingie were first perfected in former colonies such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

And for exactly the same reason: the people there generally trust their governments.

---
The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]

They might wanna read... (none / 1) (#82)
by lordDogma on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 05:59:33 PM EST

Politics and the English Language, also by Orwell. Its pretty good.

[ Parent ]
Links (none / 1) (#130)
by gidds on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 09:45:44 AM EST

Yes; it's short, pithy, and well worth reading. It's on the web in many places, for example here, here, and here.


Andy/
[ Parent ]

9-11 had very little to do (1.90 / 10) (#58)
by minerboy on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 09:39:16 AM EST

With the loss of Freedoms in America. Here's a list in a rough timeline. (Probably have some out of order).

  • Enacting of a Wage tax.
  • Govt. regulation of wilderness areas
  • Govt. Interference in labor movements, Unions become national political organizations (AFL).
  • Prohibition - leads to the rise of organized Crime
  • government Regulation of substances (prior, MJ, morphine, cocaine, codiene and heroin could be purchased in various rememdies sold over the counter.)
  • Organized crime takes advantage of the right to bear arms, buys machine guns. Government decides this is bad, so it regulates machine guns, and now the criminals aren't allowed to have automatic weapons - result is that criminals become much better armed than the average citizen.
  • Government requires participation in socialized retirement plan - Social security.
  • Four freedoms speech extends governments role to make citizens free of fear or want ? Government is now our nanny, and we become our neighbors keeper, as well as our brother's keeper
  • Cold war - FBI begins to spy on US citizens as a matter of national security
  • McCarthy, and unamerican activities committees create the red scare - Soviet Union helps by oppressing Eastern Europe, and building missles in Cuba
  • Hippies decide they want freedom to Fuck as much as they want and get high. Government decides their right, as far as fucking goes, and decides that a women's right to cure the effects of casual sex trumps the right of a fetus to live. Disagree's about getting high though.
  • Government decides that the freedom of association is neither fair or nice - creates affirmative action programs
  • Government decides that drugs are bad, decides to just say no, and to spray fields with paraquat
  • Drugs persist - government creates war on drugs, admits that more money gives someone an advantage in court, decides to cease property of suspected drug dealers.
  • Roadblocks to check for drunk drivers become commonplace in most states. eventually roadblocks will be maintained for seatbelt use ? - bye bye freedom from unreasonable search and siezure
  • The internet allows tracking and databasing of our transactions, government is allowed to monitor these. bye bye right to privacy
  • 9-11 results in access to library and bookstore records, multiple security checkpoints, cameras, sniffers, lots of police. now any pretense of freedom is gone (except in my car, where I feel safest of all)
  • National ID considered, show me ze papers
  • Future preditions
  • Improved emergency medical service requires implated chips containing medical information.
  • Genomic based medicines require implanted chips to store DNA information
  • National ID information added to medical information on embedded chip, to improve access to public transportation.
  • Dylan's law requires that sex criminals add that information to their embedded chip national ID.
  • Embedded chips must include gps and cellular connections, to allow real time updating of medical and criminal records
  • For convenience, some people include financial, educational, and personal data on their embedded chip.
  • Some dramatic criminal event results in a law that allows govt to use the cellular connection in the embedded ID chip to access all the personal data stored there
  • Government defines Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness for its citizens, erases any data that does not fit with its template
  • Hitler smiles as he looks up from hell


You forgot (none / 0) (#62)
by LilDebbie on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 12:25:37 PM EST

the recently added requirement to show ID to a police officer if he asks - no warrant, arrest, or anything.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Yep. (none / 0) (#83)
by beergut on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 06:00:50 PM EST

I was recently arrested in an incident stemming from this. Sucked.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

missed another. (none / 0) (#70)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 01:54:31 PM EST

The first step on the implanted RF chips will of course be ex-convicts, who have zero rights under our society for some bizarre reason. Everything will be tested on them first.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Another one you missed. (none / 0) (#84)
by beergut on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 06:01:32 PM EST

Enacted Federal Reserve Act, debasing our currency and stealing our earnings through inflation.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

How's that work again? (none / 0) (#154)
by Arvedui on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 12:53:32 AM EST

Enacted Federal Reserve Act, debasing our currency and stealing our earnings through inflation.

Not to get off-topic, but can someone sketch out for me how this idea works again? I mean, I've heard it often enough, so it MUST be true, but I don't understand how the Act is responsible for inflation.

Particularly since, if I read my economic history correctly, price stability has been the exception rather than the rule for at least the last 700 or 800 years.

[ Parent ]

Basically, (3.00 / 2) (#162)
by beergut on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 01:49:23 PM EST

The argument goes like this:

I earn $200. For whatever reason, I stuff said $200 into my mattress for safekeeping. Now, the fact that I've done the work, and expended my life-energy, to earn that sum of money is not in dispute. However, in a year's time, that $200, the representation of the value I produced, might now only be worth $180 in real terms. That is to say, I could buy the same basket of goods one year ago with $180 that I must spend $200 for today. That is theft, pure and simple.

This is the result of fiat currency, and the capricious expansion of the money supply by the Fed. Supply and demand work, even when politics does not wish it, you see. More money available in the system means that the money I have is worth less, and can command less goods and services. Contrariwise, a contraction of the money supply makes the money I have worth more. Unfortunately, all this can be manipulated, and price stability goes right out the window. Witness what could happen when China starts to really feel its oats. They own over a trillion dollars in U.S. treasuy notes. Should they decide to tank our economy, they could simply sell these off at fractions of pennies on the dollar. All these dollars would then "come home to roost", and a wheelbarrow full of currency would not buy you a loaf of bread. For a current-day example, see the Iraqi dinar. Once valued at over $3/US, it is now worth about 1/42 of one cent. Yes, Iraq has other problems which have caused this, but if their currency was commodity-based, the value of it would not have dropped off so ruinously, and Iraqies who had a little money saved would not now be destitute. On the other hand, it's probably a good time to engage in a little bit of currency speculation. A $50 investment in Iraqi dinars would yield $2100 if the value of the dinar rose to even one cent.

We actually had a somewhat "deflationary" period in the U.S. in the 19th Century. A $20 gold piece could buy more goods at the end of the century than at the beginning. This was not due to a manipulation by a central bank (we didn't have one, except for a brief period at the beginning of that century, and even then they dared not debase the currency,) but due to improvements in efficiency by manufacturers, farmers, and tradesmen. The same money bought more goods, because the market was allowed to work, and efficiencies in manufacture and competition drove prices down. The $20 gold piece I earned in 1820 would buy more in 1880 than in 1820. The currency did not change, nor did its value, but life was improved, and saving your earnings was a realistic notion.

People argue that we need an increasing monetary supply to "grease the skids", providing enough money to make the economy work, but that is bunk. The economy would work just fine with a stable currency, based upon some commodity (be it gold, iridium, or kilowatts.) If the money was worth the same tomorrow as it is today, financial planning would be greatly eased. Now, we have boom/bust cycles and wild speculation, and entire industries awaiting with bated breath the next pronouncements from "Alan Fucking Greenspan" (nod to trhurler) about interest rates. With a stable currency, interest rates would be more or less stable, as well. Sure, "cheap money" or "easy money" helps to promote investment, but the investment is, more times than not these days, unwise. Resources are allocated willy-nilly to projects which never bear fruit, and the value of these investments is then wasted.

Because supply and demand still work, even in a market distorted beyond reason by a fiat money system, wasted resources are sometimes reallocated to productive ends, but this is most often not the case.

An illustration I like is this one: Your great grandfather, as a youth, earned $40 -- two $20 bills. He bought a $20 gold piece with half of the money, and a fine new suit with the other half. He put the $20 gold piece in the pocket of this suit, and wore the suit all his life. The $20 gold piece remained in the pocket of the suit as it gathered dust in your attic, having been passed down throught he family. In the meantime, the Fed had been created, the currency debased, and inflation had precipitously decreased the value of a $20 note. You clean your house one day, and find the old suit. You rummage through the pockets and find the $20 gold piece. You send the suit off to the prop department of the local theater, just to get it out of your way. You then decide that you need a new suit. So, you go out and exchange the $20 gold piece for its currency equivalent, based upon the weight of the gold, and buy a decent suit worth over $400. The gold piece and the fine suit are rough equivalents in exchange, as your great-grandfather and you found out. The $20 bill, however, would not even buy a pocket on that suit.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

interesting (none / 0) (#164)
by reidbold on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:39:33 PM EST

Perhaps an article on the subject would be a good idea. A good deal of the common folk (guilty as charged) don't really have a very deep knowledge of the economy, be it stock markets, price of gas, interest rates, etc. An overview of how these things function, and fit together to put price tags on all the stuff we buy would be a good read.

[ Parent ]
Yes, interesting... (none / 1) (#165)
by Arvedui on Tue Jul 12, 2005 at 03:05:32 AM EST

...but, you didn't talk about how inflation also existed before the creation of central banks and fiat currency as well. True, most of the 1800's were a period of price stability and even a bit of deflation (known as the Victorian Equilibrium) that seemed at first glance inexplicable given what had gone before, but this is now considered to have resulted (in large part) from the opposing tensions of population and employment growth that made up the industrial revolution.

It's interesting that you raise the spectre of China deliberately tanking the US economy... I don't think they have much interest in doing that, as they must know that destroying their biggest market would be to shoot themselves in the foot and sink their own economy as well. But it's true, it's certainly one more sword dangling over the country's head (no shortage of those these days in any case).

You also don't mention how a gold (or other commodity) standard prevents political or economic tinkering with (some would be so bold as to call it "management of") the money supply, but still leaves price levels vulnerable to changes in the supply of the commodity itself (and by extension, to speculation over such changes--the mere announcement of a giant gold-mine discovery, for example, could have a significant impact on price levels around the world). Nor how moderate levels of inflation tend in fact to benefit the poorest parts of society (by depreciating the value of their debts) while always being a primary concern of the wealthiest (money-lending/debt-owning) parts who see it eating away at their assets (the value of which observation depending very much on which side you're approaching the question from).

And I must admit, I've always been uncomfortable with the implicit (sometimes explicit) notion that banks should be left to fail in the name of pure economic efficiency without any kind of safety net and the people who lose their savings overnight got what was coming to them for not paying intimate attention to all the doings of upper-management--a rather unreasonable demand to make of people who just want somewhere to store their money until they need it, I think (the First Bank of Mattress no longer being quite adequate these days).

But mainly, what I'd like to (have) see(n) you discuss, if you cite the Victorian Equilibrium as evidence in favor, is the "Third Wave" price revolution of the 1700's that preceded it, during which prices rose dramatically despite the fact that fiat money had hardly been imagined at the time, with all kinds of interesting political consequences. A nice book on the topic of price revolutions through history (only one of which, you'll note, is from the era of the dreadful central banks) is The Great Wave by David H. Fischer.

I agree things are going to be really rough when the economy tanks again (whether of its own accord or not). But I'm not at all sure the prescriptions of Dr. Von Mises aren't in many ways worse than the disease they are intended to cure.

[ Parent ]

I've actually heard... (2.66 / 9) (#61)
by gordonjcp on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 10:45:11 AM EST

... well-meaning Americans saying thinks like "This is a wakeup call. This is Britain's 9/11" - it isn't.

We've dealt with far worse before. This is a minor inconvenience, and a damn shame for those injured and the families of those killed. "Burning with fear"? Burning with mild pissed-offness, more like. We might even resort to making satirical remarks about the terrorists, possibly accompanied by a sneer.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


IAWTP (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by daveybaby on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 01:31:30 PM EST

This is not our 9/11. This is not our wakeup call. We were already awake, thanks. We all knew this was coming - it was only a matter of when and how bad.

We've been dealing with this sort of shit for a long time now. Shocked and horrified, but not surprised - pretty much sums it up.

[ Parent ]

Good. (none / 1) (#71)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 01:57:20 PM EST

well-meaning Americans saying thinks like "This is a wakeup call.

I'm not among them. I don't have some spiteful need to see others trip and fall into the same ditch we did. If Britain shrugs this off and doesn't let it faze them, then bravo. That is exactly what I was hoping for. :)


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Yep -- been there, done that (none / 1) (#129)
by gidds on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 09:36:09 AM EST

Immediately after 9/11, I posted my thoughts, which I think are still relevant. Basically, I said "Welcome to the club."

The rest of the world, and the major European countries in particular, have had to deal with terrorism for decades now. Admittedly, there's been no single event on the scale of 9/11, but if you add up the Lockerbie bombing, Omagh, the Baltic Exchange, the Brighton hotel, and the tens and hundreds of other medium- and small-scale acts of terrorism over the years in the UK and Northern Ireland alone, I expect the figures aren't far off.

So no, we aren't overreacting now, just as we didn't last time, nor the time before, nor the time before that. In fact, the only people I hear overreacting now are Americans...

Yesterday I happened to be walking around Liverpool Street and Aldgate. There were a lot of police about, and many areas were cordoned off, and there was a TV village with umpteen reporters, cameras, and satellite vans, but everywhere else there were tons of people, just going about their business. The market traders were all out in Middlesex Street, all the sandwich bars were full, the vast majority were back at work -- people were just getting on with their lives. We shrug, and move on.

Not that we're unconcerned, of course -- our hearts go out to the injured and the bereaved. But we know the best way to react to this situation is not to react.

I heard another interesting comment today, regarding different countries' reactions. Yesterday, Britain woke up determined to carry on regardless, to investigate carefully and find those responsible, and bring them to justice. Whereas the day after 9/11, America seemed to wake up doing headless chicken impression, determined to wreak their revengeon middle-eastern countries who've still not been shown to have any direct connection. Hmmm...


Andy/
[ Parent ]

A Test of Courage How? (none / 1) (#78)
by pms101 on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 04:25:37 PM EST

YA attempt to treat Islamic fundamentalists as reasonable people! The IRA has a recognizable goal; Middle Easterners seem to define themselves by hatred, and their terrorists, like the Bolsheviks, are after personal power, thinly disguised by a Utopian vision. If we had done nothing for months while we "identified" the 9/11 terrorists, they would have taken it as a sign of weakness and we'd have had another attack. An idealistic "freedom first" stand of letting anyone and everyone on an airliner would seem pretty silly if something like 9/11 happened again.

How much freedom is it worth to not have buildings blown up? "None" was not a viable answer for a public figure, even if they believed it; most people would agree that some type of police force is necessary. The problem is that we need a certain amount of extra security NOW (at least while the war is going on and a few Al-Quaeda operatives remain alive), but there is little likelihood of things ever getting better later on. Not that I'm defending the DHS: I agree w/ the 1984 comparisons and I'm deeply troubled by the cynical way it was imposed on us. I'm enjoying the weather and standard of living in the US for now, while actively working on resistance/escape plans should they become necessary.

The problem in Iraq is that we're not playing the game the right way. If Saddam and most of his top henchmen had suddenly died in a plane crash, there would have been a few months of violence (like we've seen) before a new strongman appeared and suppressed it, and life got back to normal. We're not taking effective control ourselves AND we're preventing anyone else from doing it, so the Iraqi's are stuck in the loop of killing each other and waiting for someone more brutal than they to stop them. The country needs to be rebooted!

So, I'm sorry we had to do things that offend to protect ourselves. Too bad about all the secret European dealings with Iraq that we ruined. It's also a shame that we can't (for PR reasons) do what it would take to solve the problem. That's the real comparison with Vietnam.

Does it ever occur to anyone... (2.50 / 2) (#80)
by lordDogma on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 05:52:36 PM EST

...that the constant paranoid harping about Big Brother and government conspiracies to take your freedom in the name of fighting terror is in itself a fear-mongering tactic? Now, don't get me wrong. I am not eager for a fascist government to come and protect us from the Jihadists, but... you do realize that the Jihadists really do exist, right? Take a look at Michael Moore for example. This guy releases a movie about Bush using fear to steal our freedoms and get elected. But Moore himself is using his own brand of fear to get his party elected. The movie is basically telling us that if people vote for Bush then they will bring about a Farenheit451-like/Orwellian police state in which they are all doomed, and thus they should vote for his candidate who will save the country (and the world) from the next reincarnation of Hitler (e.g. Bush). Doesn't this in fact Parallel the right-wing rhetoric that by voting for their candidate, they will save the country and world from Islamic fanatics and weak, cowardly left-wing appeasers?

Fearing fear (none / 1) (#102)
by ocrow on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 09:37:51 PM EST

Yes, I believe you are correct, Michael Moore does use fear mongering. He wants us to be afraid of Bush. Bush wants us to be afraid of terrorists. Terrorists want us to be afraid of themselves. Libertarians want us to be afraid of the government. Environmentalists want us to be afraid of industrialism. Democrats and Republicans each want us to be afraid of the other. And it's up to us to decide what to be afraid of. Or perhaps we should decide that after all we are not afraid of anything and should conduct our lives in an accordingly constructive manner.

Did you see that movie that Moore made about Columbine? I thought that the main thrust of his argument was that the US is a violent society because we are all afraid.

By the way, which party do you think that Michael Moore considers "his"? You know he was with the Greens in the Bush-Gore election, right?  


[ Parent ]

Yeah I know. (none / 0) (#103)
by lordDogma on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 09:47:59 PM EST

I was almost going put an asterisk and a note saying I thought he was more of a Green than a democrat, but it seemed to detract from my post, so I said nevermind. He was in the VIP box at the DNC convention after all.

[ Parent ]
Yes, you're absolutely right (3.00 / 2) (#121)
by epepke on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 03:47:47 AM EST

Most reasonable people are arguing caution, stating that we don't even really know who did this. Sure, there was a responsibility claim on a website, but it hasn't been confirmed.

Yet scroll a page or so up, and you'll see a response by crunchycookies who apparently has absolute knowledge that this was all based on righteous indignation to the invasion of Iraq.

Everything is so simple when you're a moron like Michael Moore or George W. Bush.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
"May They Perform Better Than We Did" (2.50 / 2) (#95)
by harrystottle on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 07:45:35 PM EST

I'm tempted to say it would difficult to perform worse. But that's not really fair. Thursday's attack was trivial compared to 9-11 as 9-11 was trivial compared to the blitz.

When you can see things with that perspective, it is easy to understand why the Brit reaction to this will be roughly similar to the last tragedy at Kings Cross.

My personal reaction was dramatically different to what I felt on 9-11. 12 hours of watching the twin towers collapsing triggered a mild anxiety attack as I began to understand not just the scale of the attack but the implications for the future of humanity. Yesterday's attacks have no such implications. They have been expected for a long time. If anything I felt mild relief that the deaths were less than 3 figures. We got off lightly - this time.



Mostly harmless
British Humours and Boring Statistics (2.87 / 8) (#97)
by ocrow on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 08:02:44 PM EST


The London bombings have changed my feelings about Sept. 11 in two ways. In 2001, I didn't understand why so many people said, "How could it happen here?". It seemed to me then that an attack in New York was as inevitable as an attack in London seems now. Surely they were both obvious targets - two very large cities, both immensely affluent, both focal points of global power structures, both socially open and accessible and therefore vulnerable.

For me though London is different ... it's very close to home. I don't live there; I live on the other side of the world, but I know London. I know Londoners. I know how they walk, talk, eat, drink, play and work. I know those places so well that they are dull and tedious. I grew up there. I've lived that life. I've hung out in those stations, rode those commuter trains. What is shocking is that a place so mundane and ordinary can be turned dangerous, in an instant. Even after the desensitisation of a thousand Hollywood disaster movies capitalising on the human fear response, this basic fact is still shocking - the realisation that the commonplace is fragile. Even though 9/11 was more terrible by far, because London is for me so commonplace and very ordinary, that realisation is made more shocking.

On the US News last night I heard it said twice that Londoners would handle the crisis because they are of a sanguine temperament. I would say that if those 10 million people have a humour it is not sanguine. London will soldier on not because it's people are a happy bunch, or even a determined bunch, but because they are a pragmatic bunch. The humour of Londoners is phlegmatic. Life will go on, as it always has, and Londoners will not be flapped. Which brings me to my other point.

On Sept. 11, I was very worried about what the U.S. gov't reaction to the attacks would be. A friend of mine then said that it was a time for mourning, not a time to discuss policy. I thought then that she was wrong, that the immediate responses to atrocity by the media and the politicians would be to provoke further tragedies and that it was immoral not to say so.

My reaction to the London bombings has changed my mind. I now think that my friend was right, and that mourning must come first. This time I understand that nothing can be changed, at least, nothing can be changed quickly. People will be outraged, shocked, upset and afraid. Politicians will use the situation to opportunistically promote policies to erode common rights and promote useless, expensive and even dangerous security measures. The media will encourage this madness, by drawing attention to our fragility and by calling for protection, safety and justice. And some people will listen and others will not. The nervous, excitable people will find all this very compelling, and the calm, unflappable people will not. And in the long run, after the dust has settled, and we've all had a chance to mourn, and calm ourselves, it is the calm, unflappable people who are right.

Here's why. We can never be protected from bombings and killings. It has always been too easy to kill and it always will be. Bombs are easy to build and easy to deliver. Security measures won't make us safe, they will just cost a lot and erode our privacy. Wars for justice and deterrence won't make us safe, they'll just cost a lot and stir up resistance and insurgency. The only things that will make us safe are very tedious, mundane, and boring: inclusion and statistics. When the number of humans who feel that they are included, they've been consulted, that their opinion matters, that their families will not be killed, and that they have a fair and protected place in the world massively outnumbers those who do not, we will all be statistically safe.

Have you ever left the US? (1.00 / 5) (#104)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 09:58:49 PM EST

"In debates with Britons over the past four years, I have found that the British reaction to the American overreaction to September 11th, varies from bafflement and amusement to pity and scorn."

The United Kingdom is a nation that doesn't have public garbage cans and has tens of thousands of police CCTV cameras monitoring the public at all times.

Its also a nation that is fully cooperating with US surveillance efforts. Both British and US intelligence agencies exchange monitoring data on each other's citizenry to circumvent privacy laws.

Your clique of baffled Britons should look around.

what the fuck are you talking about??!! (none / 1) (#133)
by harrystottle on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 12:29:44 PM EST

"The United Kingdom is a nation that doesn't have public garbage cans and has tens of thousands of police CCTV cameras monitoring the public at all times."

Bleedin garbage cans (we call them litter bins) are all over the sodding place. As to CCTV cameras, almost zero are owned or controlled by the police; although it is true that the police can demand access to the footage (as they've now done, in the biggest ever exercise of its kind, for the 6000 cameras recording the comings and goings on the London Underground on Thursday)

Regarding the "threat" raised by the ubiquitous cameras, see my previous comment on the issue.

You are, however, quite right that the UK is
"fully cooperating with US surveillance efforts. Both British and US intelligence agencies exchange monitoring data on each other's citizenry to circumvent privacy laws."

That's a major issue worth pursuing. Pity you alienated potential support for that with the "garbage" in your first inaccurate rant.



Mostly harmless
[ Parent ]
Look for yourself (none / 1) (#134)
by fcw on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 01:51:34 PM EST

The United Kingdom is a nation that doesn't have public garbage cans

Sure, we do. From time to time, some in locations such as stations are removed when bombers are active, but otherwise we have plenty of them. There are many in the town where I live, and I used a couple in central London just last week.

and has tens of thousands of police CCTV cameras monitoring the public at all times.

If, by "the public", you mean "places where the public often goes", then you're right. But I'm not under surveillance right now in my home, and the closest surveillance camera of any kind to my home is a speed camera about two miles away.

When someone drove into my car at speed on a main road a few years ago, the sinister police cameras meant that the police arrived within 90 seconds to help, and also meant that my statement about who was to blame was accepted.

Your clique of baffled Britons should look around.

Well, thanks for your input, but I think it's you that needs to do more looking around in Britain.



[ Parent ]
Justification for cameras (none / 0) (#135)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 02:02:46 PM EST

Very predictable. Not saying you're wrong, just predictable.

However, if GWB suggests video cameras in the US, then of course you'll be the first one shouting, "Big Brother!" I've got you brits figured out.

[ Parent ]

You have video cameras in public spaces (none / 0) (#166)
by stevie on Thu Jul 14, 2005 at 03:35:50 PM EST

Just go to Ybor City in Tampa. Cameras everywhere. I still don't like them and go out of my way to avoid them.

[ Parent ]
It was a criminal act (1.00 / 4) (#105)
by xmedar on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 10:32:00 PM EST

And we know who us responsible, Tony Blair and his government for inciting these people to kill innocent Londoners by invading Iraq, these terrorists in the government must be captured, dead or alive.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind (none / 0) (#128)
by Metasquares on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 09:18:31 AM EST

What action of Bush's or Blair's incited 9/11? What about the Madrid bombings? Or the Cole? Whether or not you agree with the war in Iraq (and I don't), you can't use it as justification for anything that any terrorist organization does to you in the future. By that reasoning, the war itself was justified becuse of 9/11... it's the same reasoning that Bush is using, and, if taken to its logical conclusion, the violence will never end.

[ Parent ]
How about supporting tyranny in Saudi Arabia? (none / 0) (#149)
by xmedar on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 11:08:11 PM EST

Having met one of the Brits tortured into confessing to a bombing they did not commit I know how evil the Saudi regime actually is, personally I'd like to see the people of the Mid East able to make their own choices, then again you'll probably start telling me that it's all about bringing democracy to them, whilst forgetting that Iran as was democracy until 1953 when it was overthrown by CIA and SIS, inslalling the Shah who then terrorised Iranians until his overthrow in 1979, but then again why bother with facts when you have such transparent lies. As for 9/11, that was a counterattack by people opposed to US sponsored oppression of the Mid East, which has been going on for atleast 50 years with the recognition of Israel and the support of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land.

[ Parent ]
I am waiting with juicy anticipation (1.75 / 4) (#106)
by lordDogma on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 10:46:44 PM EST

I am waiting with juicy anticipation to see what Britain and the rest of Europe will look like in another 20 years when the Religion of Peace (TM) really gets going.

I can't wait for the hate and the bombing and the killing to really get started. Now, believe me, I totally want the Europeans to win the coming war. But this is so entertaining - its like an epic action movie.

In time, tens of thousands of people will be killed. And I'll be able to see it in full color on TV. And once its all over, I'll be able to get the DVD.

Which Religion of Peace (TM)? (1.50 / 2) (#109)
by crunchycookies on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 11:59:57 PM EST

Which religion of peace are you talking about? Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Of the three Christianity has the highest body count. Judaism or more correctly, Zionism is a brutal racist ideology with an impressive number of crimes of its own. Islam, as a world political power, was a spent force centuries ago. Today they just want the invaders out of their homelands and are fighting pretty effectively to make than happen.

[ Parent ]
The non-racist one with the lowest body count (none / 0) (#112)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 12:51:46 AM EST

You know, the one that just wants the invaders out of their homelands.

[ Parent ]
Oh, right! Buddhism! (none / 1) (#117)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 02:13:48 AM EST

Never figured you for the Free Tibet type.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Close, but no cigar - you almost got me. (none / 1) (#123)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 04:21:28 AM EST

You have to read the thread. He asked me which of three choices: Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. He says Christianity has the highest body count, while Judaism is brutally racist.

Not to mention you missed my links. As we all know the Religion of Peace (TM) is just trying to get the invaders out of their homeland. No imperialist tendancies whatsoever.Only White Christian Bigots (TM) can be imperialists.

[ Parent ]

The right to resist invaders. (1.50 / 2) (#137)
by crunchycookies on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 02:39:52 PM EST

Don't the Arabs have the right to resist invaders? We seem to feel that the Russians had the right to fight Hitler and Napoleon. We seem to feel that the old colonies had the right to throw off their colonial masters. Why do you object to the same rights for Arabs.

Any oppressed people will use whatever religion or ideology is available to motivate their struggle. That is the way that wars are fought. The Indians struggling for independence were "Hindu extremists" to the British. The Russians used communist ideology in the struggle against the Germans. The Africans used tribal loyalties in the struggle against British colonialism. We have chaplains travel with our troops to assure them that God is on their side. The Arabs are using Islam.

What is your problem with that? Do you feel slighted that they are rejecting your enlightened humanism? Are you upset at having your bigotry exposed? You had better get used to it because we are in for a rough few years.



[ Parent ]

Of guilt and innocence in a democracy. (2.00 / 5) (#108)
by crunchycookies on Fri Jul 08, 2005 at 11:49:44 PM EST

It is heart rendering to hear of all the victims of the bombings in London. They are described as innocent victims of terrorism. Perhaps it is time to examine the usage of the term "innocent" in this context.

A dilemma arises when a government is engaged in a crime, in this case the war in Iraq. In a democracy it can be assumed that the government is acting with the consent of its citizens. No so with a dictatorship. No one would suggest that ordinary Iraqi's are responsible for the crimes of Saddam Hussein. Ordinary Iraqi's did not elect him and cannot dismiss him. Ordinary Iraqi's are truly innocent

It is different in a Democracy. Is it not reasonable to hold the citizens responsible for the actions of their democratically elected leaders? Are the citizens innocent? What does it mean when the government continues the a when the majority of the citizens oppose that war? Are only those citizens that oppose the war innocent? All citizens pay taxes, which enables the war to continue, whether they are supporters or opponents; do they all share the guilt? Surely the British people share the guilt for Tony Blair's crimes as all Americans must share the guilt for George Bush's crimes.

What of the victims of the crime? How do they say; Stop! What if they lack effective weapons to protect themselves against a better armed invader? Is it acceptable to use any weapon at hand, even terrorism? Must the victim be defenseless simply because he is ill-equipped to defend himself?

We seem quite comfortable being outraged when we are attacked by weapons that we consider unacceptable. Yet we seem equally comfortable when our sophisticated weapons go astray. We explain that it was an unfortunate error for which we very sorry. We cannot understand why they are not impressed with our sincerity. The dead on both sides seem oddly the same, bloody bodies!

How do we escape this moral quagmire? We seem long past the point where we can admit our mistake and leave shame faced. I suspect that we will get to a point where we are so outraged at the immorality of those people that we decide that we can no longer help them. Only then will we leave. They will cheer. We will be outraged. The war will be over.



An attempt at an answer. (3.00 / 3) (#116)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 02:11:14 AM EST

In a democracy it can be assumed that the government is acting with the consent of its citizens... ...Is it not reasonable to hold the citizens responsible for the actions of their democratically elected leaders?

Remember that you're talking about "democracies" which don't have any way for grassroots third parties to form and thrive. Citizens are generally forced to conform their views to those of the two prevailing camps, resulting in many voices going unheard. Furthermore, at least in America, it is common practise for political candidates to lie like the Dickens - can an uninformed body politic really be considered to even be exercising any franchise at all, or is it just going through the motions of a farce?

(God help me, I probably just made Peahippo cream his jockeys.)

Furthermore, the two most recent elections in America have serious unsolved allegations of vote-tampering and fraud. The 2000 election was essentially decided by judicial fiat, as the recounts were indeterminate. So perhaps the responsible parties are the shareholders of the Diebold voting machine company, or the nine members of the United States Supreme Court. And what of citizens who voted against Bush, knowing full well what he stands for? *ahem*

Is it acceptable to use any weapon at hand, even terrorism? Must the victim be defenseless simply because he is ill-equipped to defend himself?

This is the only one I can answer thoroughly and with certainty that I am correct. The moral answer is, no. Sinking to the level of your oppressors is not the correct response.

"The strength to kill is not essential for self-defence; one ought to have the strength to die." -Mahatma Gandhi

Physical resistance against thugs and murderers is moral and self-defense. Attacks on uninvolved parties with the purpose of terrorizing and reducing support for oppression, is not. There are very few significant truisms in the field of morality. One of them is, "the ends do not justify the means."

However, I have to agree with your description of how it will end. There are only two possible ways of ending this. One of them is concentration camps and genocide. The other one is walking away. I pray we have the humanity to walk away.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
The correct response is? (none / 1) (#139)
by crunchycookies on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 03:23:59 PM EST

You say;

This is the only one I can answer thoroughly and with certainty that I am correct. The moral answer is, no. Sinking to the level of your oppressors is not the correct response.

What is the correct response? Every revolution has involved some violence. Remember, it is always illegal to fight against the existing government. Our own Declaration of Independence alludes to it. Think about what the words "dissolve the government" means when actually implemented.

"The strength to kill is not essential for self-defence; one ought to have the strength to die." -Mahatma Gandhi

I believe that Gandhi was asked if non-violence would work is all cases. Would it have worked against the Nazi's for example. He said no. Thus, even Gandhi acknowledged the need for violence in certain circumstances.

Consider how many non-violent struggles there have been to overthrow a government. I can think of only two, India and South Africa. It seems that a critical ingredient is that there is a leader like Gandhi or Mandela available. Also understand that even those struggles entailed violence. The violence only ended when the insurgent leader offered a non-violent solution.



[ Parent ]

Madela was violent (none / 0) (#148)
by mozmozmoz on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 11:03:28 PM EST

Two points: both men advocated violence when necessary, and neither actually won. Both times the win occurred using them as symbols rather than as actual leaders. www.tamilnation.org quotes Mandela thus: "...the people's patience is not endless. The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight... we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defence of our people, our future and our freedom."

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

A few points (none / 1) (#122)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 04:01:01 AM EST

[Second Para]

From a moral point of view, the ordinary citizens of a dictatorship are probably more innocent than the ordinary citizens of a democracy. However, neither will ever be treated as totally innocent by the other side for practical reasons.

Lets face it, if Hitler's Germany could not be bombed at all due to fear of harming the innocent, while it was morally permissible to bomb the democracy of Britain, then the outcome would have been a far greater evil than the actual historical outcome.

Of course it gets more complicated. It depends on the circumstances of how the dictatorship came into being, and the enthusiasm with which the people follow the dictator while carrying out crimes in his name.

[Third Para]

In either form of government, people contribute to the crimes of the regime just by producing goods and services that allow that society to function, and to exploit and attack others. If you slaughter beef at a butchery and the meat is eaten by army officers, then are you contributing to the regime's crimes?

[What if they lack effective weapons to protect themselves against a better armed invader? Is it acceptable to use any weapon at hand, even terrorism? Must the victim be defenseless simply because he is ill-equipped to defend himself?]

It may be justifiable to use terrorism (I differ with Kaseryn on this). It depends on the circumstances. In order for terrorism to be justifiable, the aims of the terrorists must be moral and the aims of the enemy must be immoral. But of course, what objective authority rules on whether the aims are moral or not?

One thing to keep in mind is that Jihadist terrorism generally involves (1) deliberate targeting of non-combatants, (2) acknowledgement that targets have no military value, and (3) zero effort to avoid non-combatant casualties. US/Coalition military attacks generally involve (1) deliberate targeting of combatants, (2) targets that DO have military value, and (3) efforts to avoid non-combatant injuries to the extent of actually jeopardizing the mission. Whether you appreciate the difference in means or judge based only on the bloody end result, is up to you.

One more thing I think is important. In the Israeli/Palestinian conflict it is widely known that Isreal has the technological advantage. Therefore people justify suicide bombing against Israeli civilians as an allowable means of "leveling the playing field", even though deliberately attacking civilians would normally be considered a moral outrage. HOWEVER: Who says that technological advantage is the only form of unfair military advantage? The Israelis could rightly argue that they do not have the means to defeat the socio/psychological advantage of a limitless supply of suicide bombers - which can be seen as an unfair military advantage for the Palestinians (After all a strapped human being on the ground is the ultimate smart bomb). Now, since the taboo on attacking civilians has been broken by justification of suicide bombing in light of military disadvantage, the Israelis can then justify a new weapon or tactic at least as barbaric as that. For example, they could execute all family members of terrorists (and I mean ALL family members including children). A lot of suicide bombers would not carry out their attacks if it meant the deaths of their entire families. Taking it further, they could drop chemical weapons on refugee camps. Why not? After all, any morally outrageous behavior is justified by a military disadvantage, right? Then, what new, barbaric tactic would the Palestinians adopt to counter this? Biological weapons? etc. etc. etc. As you can see, once deliberate attacks against civilians are justified (particularly when 90% of the attacks are against civilians), a pandoras box is opened.

[ Parent ]

Good points, but... (1.50 / 2) (#138)
by crunchycookies on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 03:05:54 PM EST

You are quite correct that even truly innocent citizens will suffer when a dictatorship is overthrown. That does not make them less innocent. It is true that those innocent citizens do help the government by simply doing ordinary jobs and living their lives.

You say;

One thing to keep in mind is that Jihadist terrorism generally involves (1) deliberate targeting of non-combatants, (2) acknowledgement that targets have no military value, and (3) zero effort to avoid non-combatant casualties. US/Coalition military attacks generally involve (1) deliberate targeting of combatants, (2) targets that DO have military value, and (3) efforts to avoid non-combatant injuries to the extent of actually jeopardizing the mission. Whether you appreciate the difference in means or judge based only on the bloody end result, is up to you.
You are correct in saying that we target combatants etc whereas the insurgents attack softer targets. The US with its technical sophistication can accurately target its weapons. What is actually at the target is often unknown. We also posses the propaganda machine that can explain away any "mistakes".

The insurgents face a different reality. They cannot precisely target their weapons. They do not have legions of spin doctors explain the results.

More importantly their path to victory is different. They cannot defeat the invaders on the battle field. They can only defeat the enemy by stripping him of his will to fight. That is the true target of terrorism. Is that not a legitimate path to victory? What other path might they follow?

Must an insurgency fail because it has no F16's or helicopter gunships? Must an insurgency fail because it cannot use the one weapon that it has, the will to fight and the will to out last the enemy? Must a people live under oppression just because the struggle against oppression disturbs a sensitive person such as your self? Are you really that sensitive when you are quite comfortable as the oppressor?



[ Parent ]

I thought... (none / 0) (#143)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 04:13:23 PM EST

I answered this with my Israel/Palestine section, but I realize that I may not have been clear.

Must an insurgency fail because it has no F16's or helicopter gunships?

No. I already said that terrorism CAN be justified if the aims of the terrorists are moral and the aims of their enemy are immoral. I personally do not believe that the goals of OBL (and other islamic jihadists) are moral, so I don't support their terrorism.

They can only defeat the enemy by stripping him of his will to fight. That is the true target of terrorism. Is that not a legitimate path to victory?

From a Clauswitzian point of view it is ok to stip an enemy of their will to fight. Clauswitz said that to win you have to attack your enemy's capitals, alliances, and a host of other "centers of power." The population's will to fight is a center of power. I suppose the problem is that in this day and age there is a question of what means are justified in stripping the enemy of his will to fight? If it is legitimate for the jihadists to attack street pedestrians, then is it ok for us to do the same?

Lastly, you are focusing on technology as an "unfair" military advantage. Another "unfair" military advantage is a limitless cadre of willing suicide bombers. Must we lose a war, simply because we don't have the technology to defeat suicide bombers (and other terror tactics)? If the jihadists are justified in not wearing military uniforms, not carrying their arms openly, and attacking civilians in order to outdo our unfair technological advantage, then are we allowed to wantonly carpet bomb civilian population centers in order to outdo their unfair sociological advantage? How far does the justification to attack civilians go? Can we drop H-bombs on their capitals in order to make certain that we take out all of their "unfair" suicide bombers?

Ultimately what matters (e.g. what level of barbarity is justified) depends on the circumstances of the conflict. Again, are their aims moral or immoral, and are our aims moral or immoral?

[ Parent ]

Are you quoting Osama Bin Laden on purpose? (none / 0) (#131)
by jubal3 on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 10:16:29 AM EST

Or are you simply a fool?

dilemma arises when a government is engaged in a crime, in this case the war in Iraq. In a democracy it can be assumed that the government is acting with the consent of its citizens. No so with a dictatorship. No one would suggest that ordinary Iraqi's are responsible for the crimes of Saddam Hussein. Ordinary Iraqi's did not elect him and cannot dismiss him. Ordinary Iraqi's are truly innocent

The deliberate systematic attack on civilian targets to promote terror is what we call terorism today.

There is no excuse, there is no moral "out."

And since you're so fond of this medeivalist argument, you might as well at least have the intellectual honesty to quote the rest of the Jihadi "greivances."

Like the existence of Jews...period. And Christians, and Shia Muslims, and un-draped women, ad writers who are insiufficiently worshipful of the Prophet, etc, etc.

These are not nationalists with a cause, they are not poor, oppressed peoples fighting despots. They are religious fanatics willing to kill civilians on a wholesale basis in order to get their way. An empire of medeival Islam.

There is no compromising with such people, there is no reasoning with them, and appeasement will not work.

There IS no "peaceful coexistence" possible with such people.  The best we can do is hunt them down and kill them. As civilized people are doing all over the world.

Or do you need reminding that the vast majority of these Nihlist thugs' victims have beeen Iraqi civilians?


***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***
[ Parent ]

An excellent illustration of who we are! (2.00 / 3) (#140)
by crunchycookies on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 03:37:03 PM EST

You say;

The best we can do is hunt them down and kill them.

Is it any wonder that they want us to go and leave them alone? Your rhetoric illustrates the problem well.

You seem to love to define who they are and what they want. Listen to what they say and not the propagandists on our side. They have answered those questions for you but you do not seem to like the answer. They want us gone from their countries. We should go.

You seem troubled by the destruction that they have caused in our world but are unconcerned by the havoc that we have caused in their world. Try opening your eyes. Listen to the other side. There are two sides to this story.



[ Parent ]

And you suffer from the opposite problem. (none / 0) (#145)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 05:05:06 PM EST

You suffer from the opposite problem of only listening to the Jihadist propagada about the struggle for "liberation from zionist crusaders" and other crap.

Yes! It is true that 9/11 would not have occured if we left them alone.

Yes! It is true that the Madrid train bombing would not have occured if Spain had not joined in the attack on Iraq.

Yes! It is true that the London attack would not have occured if Britain had not joined in the attack on Iraq.

However:

You are being naive if you think the ONLY goal of these guys is to kick us out of their countries. The interesting part is what happens AFTER they establish their caliphate.

The fact is that they want to take over the world, and they will try to do it once they have a grip on their own back yard. If you don't believe me I can dig up resources, including words straight from the horse's mouth. Here is a video about extremist Salafists in Europe. One guy tells the interviewer straight to his face that they plan to conquer Rome some day. And if you think this is just some nutbag, then let me know and I will be happy to link you articles in mainstream websites such as Islaam.com and islamonline.net where they openly state that they want to conquer Rome.

Will they ever succeed in conquering Rome? Probably not, but they can intimate entire populations and countries into doing what they want simply by threatening and assassinating people.

For example, in the netherlands, Pim Fortuyn was assassinated as he was running for prime minister in 2002. The reason is probably due to his views on immigration and Islam. (The news outlets will tell you he was a right wing extremist, but the truth is that he was openly gay and by one account had a portrait of Lenin in his kitchen. His anti-islam views were caused by him getting fed up with being attacked and threatened by muslim immigrants his whole life simply because he was gay). Such assassinations can change the course of a country's history. Later, Theo Van Gogh was subsequently murdered for making a short film about oppression of women in Islamic societies. Ayan Hirsi Ali (Van Gogh's partner in making the movie, dutch parliament member, and Somali immigrant who literally escaped from an arranged marriage) had to hide out and live in jail cells for several months under police protection. Of course, like the cowards they are, some dutch politicians are now blaming Ali for sparking community tensions between dutch people and immigrants by making the movie. And some are begging her not to make the sequel. As you can see, they've already lost their freedom of speech.

In Italy, a court brought criminal charges against Oriana Fallaci for writing a book "The Rage and the Pride" attacking Islam. Of course she is called a bigot, a racist and a fascist by every manner of idiot who don't know that she actually took up arms against the facists in Italy as a member of the resistance. In Australia, a pair of pastors was convicted of "vilifying Islam" and ordered to apologize by a court. These are thought crimes pure and simple. You can be sure that the Salafists who talk about taking over Rome consider these to be great victories for Allah (some of them call this "peaceful jihad" - the idea of taking over without actually having to kill anybody).

What a wonderful world we live in.

[ Parent ]

Correction: Intimate -> Indimidate. (none / 0) (#146)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 05:33:53 PM EST



[ Parent ]
when both sides are terrorists? (2.00 / 3) (#151)
by mozmozmoz on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 11:14:20 PM EST

The deliberate systematic attack on civilian targets to promote terror is what we call terorism today.

So if one side says they're not trying to kill civilians but that "unfortunately some will be killed", and promptly kill 10000 people, is that terrorism of "just war"? Are the occupied countries justified in fighting back using the same techniques - launching a "shock and awe" campaign in the enemie's home country?

Personally, I think not, but you seem to be arguing that either side should be free to do so...

from here, I can't tell which side you're talking about with your comments, except that you disparage Islam rather than Cristianity. ,p>Pop quiz: who's killed more people this century in foreign wars? El Quaeda or the "coalition of the willing"?

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

For a person whose website... (none / 0) (#155)
by lordDogma on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 01:42:51 AM EST

...links to an article on debate tactics and fallacies, you don't come across as very good at it.

So if one side says they're not trying to kill civilians... blah blah blah

This ground has been covered so many times its tiring to have to keep going over it.

Pop quiz: who's killed more people this century in foreign wars? El Quaeda or the "coalition of the willing"?

Not only debatable but irrelevent as well.

[ Parent ]

today, (1.00 / 4) (#110)
by orestes on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 12:09:58 AM EST

jefferson would be a terrorist.

[ You Sad Bastard ]
Damnit, i hit the wrong reply button (none / 0) (#111)
by orestes on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 12:17:56 AM EST

Mod down accordingly :/

[ You Sad Bastard ]
[ Parent ]
Yep. (none / 0) (#113)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 01:21:16 AM EST

He would also be called a child slave trafficker. However, I don't think he ever carried out any deliberate, wanton massacres against large numbers of civilians with the sole, ultimate purpose of establishing a totalitarian, religious superstate where every person lived their lives in complete subjucation to some mythical god's will; that will being realized in the superstate as an all-encompassing code of barbaric laws, enforced by a fanatical dictator and his brutal death-worshipping cult.

[ Parent ]
The 700 Club is going to take over America? -nt (none / 1) (#114)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 01:58:03 AM EST

nt
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Are you implying that... (none / 0) (#115)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 02:07:46 AM EST

the 700 Club has carried out deliberate, wanton massacres against large numbers of civilians?

[ Parent ]
What do you call Pat's bon motts? (none / 1) (#118)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 02:15:45 AM EST

he slays me!


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Is that the best the terrorists can do ? (none / 1) (#119)
by gibodean on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 02:27:40 AM EST

Looking through the photo archives of the event, I noticed one where a guy was holding a sign that said somthing like "is that the best you can do - my grandmother could do better".

Anyone see that ?

That's what I hope the reaction is.

Foreign terrorists suck.. (none / 0) (#126)
by tonyenkiducx on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 08:18:21 AM EST

Ok, so 9/11 was well organised, but theres some debate as to how they managed that.. The IRA would have blown up half the network, shut London down for a week and not killed a single person(Also boosting there media image). These guys are fucking useless. I put up with bombs nearly all my life in England, have been close too 2 of them, and *very* close to another, and if this is the best these pussies can do, then bring it on!

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Ohh and next time... (none / 0) (#127)
by tonyenkiducx on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 08:21:21 AM EST

..make it a suicide bomber, save us wasting time trying to hunt some low-level peon.

Tony.
I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Please don't give aid to affrica!! (3.00 / 2) (#124)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 06:08:25 AM EST

Please please don't give!!

http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,363663,00.html

You can cancel the debt of well behavied democratic nations, but maybe don't even do that for tyrants.

Also, don't sell the tryants your weapons!  Let the African's sort them out.  You can cancel the debt when the Africans solve some of their own problems.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!

An interesting read. (none / 1) (#147)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 08:14:43 PM EST

I don't know whether to believe it. The dialogue of the interview is so pat, it seems more as if both sides of it were written by the same person.

In any case, aid to Africa isn't just about them. There's a personal interest for the West in preventing Africa from becoming utterly riddled with AIDS. It would be a constant source of reinfection for *our* cultures, unless we were able to quarantine an entire continent.

I can see the logic of denying aid if it's all going to corrupt politicians, but what if some percentage of it is getting through to the people? Doesn't that make it simply a low-efficiency transfer? There's a balancing point to be reached. And there's definitely a patronizing attitude prevalent in the west. "Poor darkies, they need us to save them all the time." And yet how can we say, "we'll just let them starve until they revolt against their oppressors"?

""A semi-starved nation can have neither religion nor art not organization." -Mahatma Gandhi

The question is, how can African people throw off their corrupt tyrants and establish democratic reforms if they're too busy starving to organize?


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
eliminate aid (none / 0) (#158)
by Nyarlathotep on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 06:58:24 AM EST

Its not about "let em' starve until they revolt."  Its about not destroying their economies.  If you permit more starvation, the less corrupt nations will need to buy food from one another.  Ideally, the more corrupt ones may become non-functional enough that they descried to be less corrupt.  External regime change is not the only way, some percentage of corrupt governments will rise to the occasion.  You can also do the unthinkable and buy the food from other African nations, but that would make you VERY unpopular in the west, as youd removing a farm subsidy and threatening western nations by directly helping develop compeditors.

Furthermore, permitting more starvation prevents the corrupt governments from extorting as much money from the aid organizations (stories of $8000 in import tariffs on a <$2000 donated truck).  Showing up with aid, but retracting it when the import tariffs are too high would make a major political mess for even the most corrupt government.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]

The right to resist invaders. (2.40 / 5) (#136)
by crunchycookies on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 02:38:24 PM EST

Don't the Arabs have the right to resist invaders? We seem to feel that the Russians had the right to fight Hitler and Napoleon. We seem to feel that the old colonies had the right to throw off their colonial masters. Why do you object to the same rights for Arabs.

Any oppressed people will use whatever religion or ideology is available to motivate their struggle. That is the way that wars are fought. The Indians struggling for independence were "Hindu extremists" to the British. The Russians used communist ideology in the struggle against the Germans. The Africans used tribal loyalties in the struggle against British colonialism. We have chaplains travel with our troops to assure them that God is on their side. The Arabs are using Islam.

What is your problem with that? Do you feel slighted that they are rejecting your enlightened humanism? Are you upset at having your bigotry exposed? You had better get used to it because we are in for a rough few years.



Questions (none / 0) (#142)
by lordDogma on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 03:48:14 PM EST

I don't think I can answer your questions in a way that will satisfy you. But since you seem to have such a clear and morally principled position, maybe you can answer some questions for me.

(1) Which territories are they morally justified in throwing the invaders out of?

Is it just Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel? What about the Philippines, Thailand, Kashmir, Indonesia, Chechnya, Bosnia, and other hot spots? How about Andalusia (Southern Spain)?

(2) Once the invaders are thrown out of one land, is it ok for that land to serve as a base of operations for "liberating" other lands?

For example, the Russians left Chechnya in 1996 in a peace deal. Afterwards, the Chechan rebels started a campaign of attacks in nearby Dagestan, promping a Russian return to Chechnya in 1999. Should the Russians just surrender Dagestan?

(3) Who is "they"?

If the Jihadists fighting in a particular land are only 3-4% of the population, then do we have a right to support the 96% majority by aiding the government in eradicating them? Why do you give them the most moral credence in deciding who is invited into their homeland, just because they are the ones who are most willing to kill innocent people?

(4) Is throwing out the invaders the only motivation?

Is the motivation strictly to expel oppressive invaders? What if the 3-4% jihadists want to install an oppressive dictatorship themselves, one that is far worse in terms of its barbarity and perversion? Is their [far worse] oppression against the population more justifiable than ours simply because they were born on that chunk of the planet?

(5) What is their goal afterwards?

This kind of goes with (2). What if they use their newfound liberty to support other "liberation" movements around the globe? Even worse, what if they plot to take over the world and host training (terror camps) and indoctrination (extremist madrasses) to support Muslim imperialist groups?

(6) Do we have a right to render military aid to resistance groups of our own choosing? For example, if there are Iranian groups who want to throw out their Islamic rulers and re-establish Persian culture, do we have a right to help them, even if it means bombing innocent pedestrians? There are some 700,000 Kashmiri pandits who are living in exile as refugees after being kicked out of Kashmir by Muslim extremists in the 1990s. Do we have a moral right to help them regain their lands, even if it means bombing Buses and Cafes in Pakistan? Or does your pompous moral pandering only apply to muslims and you think everyone else is just a racist anti-muslim bigot?

[ Parent ]

answers (none / 1) (#152)
by mozmozmoz on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 11:27:23 PM EST

(1) Which territories are they morally justified in throwing the invaders out of?

none. I favour unilateral withdrawal of all military aid, and sanctions on anything other than raw foodstuffs. You wanna have a war, you should be doing your killing the old-fashioned way. This would, of course, utterly f*ck the US arms industries, as well as the French, German, British and Russian ones, but I think that's a good thing.

(3) Who is "they"?

IMO, "they" is anyone not born there. By "there", I mean the actual location where the war is occurring. You should have the right to defend your home, and the right to move if you can find somewhere that no-one objects to you living. I speak of individuals, not larger groups. Countries should have no inherent right to exist, IMO, any more than corporations or flocks do.

(5) What is their goal afterwards?

I can't imagine anyone having only one goal. That's as stupid as claiming the invasion of Iraq was only about ensuring US ownership of the oil. So, the question might be better asked as "given the one side has openly said that their aim to to ensure that their global domination continues unchallenged, is it reasonable to expect opposition to them to abate?" I think the answer is no.

(6) Do we have a right to render military aid to resistance groups of our own choosing?

absolutely not. Military assistance has never worked - from the war between the US and UK in Northern Ireland (or was that between the UK and Boston?) to Russia vs the US and Afganistan, the inhabitants of the area have never benefitted. Only when the war has been locally defensive has there been anything "good" - casting WWII in those terms the US support (mostly) for the defense is positive, while their wars and invasions since are negative.

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

You must be an anarchist or something (none / 1) (#153)
by lordDogma on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 12:33:10 AM EST

because I didn't find your answers to be very intelligent or practical. Mostly just very pretentious and ideological.

[ Parent ]
yopu must be an imperialist or something (none / 0) (#157)
by mozmozmoz on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 03:18:16 AM EST

because I don't understand your objections. You seem to think that goals should be things you can accomplish today, rather than things to work towards.

Or do you think that the military-industrial complex is the only possible way to arrange things?

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

materialism (none / 1) (#150)
by gdanjo on Sat Jul 09, 2005 at 11:08:53 PM EST

"No. Our freedom, our privacy, and our dignity is worth at least as much, if not more, than our physical safety."
Is it so surprising that a culture that is materialistic at its core chooses safety of the material (our bodies) over everything else? Does this not sit conceptually close to our materialistic measure of wealth; our instinct to hold good looking people in high esteem, based mostly on the all-important first impression; our outrageously succesfull scientific method, and its hijacking of philosophical idealism?

We already know the evil of idealism. We have a long way to go to realise the same potential for evil lurking within materialism.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT

Could it be? (3.00 / 2) (#160)
by mikelist on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 12:08:37 PM EST

that Islamic and other terrorists actually believe that the US government acts with the *express approval* of its citizens? After all, that is the line given publicly to the world at large, with the apparent idea that we are accepted as being truthful. We expected the Iraqi citzenry to topple SH after the first Gulf War, and seemed disappointed and somewhat resentful that they didn't seize the time. Why wouldn't we have at least as much input as the Iraqis, given the American PR machine? That is one reason that civilian populations are targetted, so they will presumably rise up against the government or its policies, out of fear or moral outrage. When we fail to understand the real motives behind terrorism, we doom the effort to stop terrorism to failure, because it is the duty of all who live in a democratically selected country to involve themselves in the policies and politics of that country, which require much, much more understanding and thought than most Americans are willing to expend. They don't hate or understand our freedoms, but that's not why they regard us as enemies.

A Test of Courage | 166 comments (102 topical, 64 editorial, 0 hidden)
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