Another response to Terrorism: "Good" vs. "Evil"—specifically, to a list of US military interventions:
>> So are you suggesting we should not have been involved in any of these conflicts? <<
Since the list was supposedly comprehensive...no, I wouldn't go that far. Some of our wars, incursions, and attacks were undoubtedly justified. And I'm not a scholar of military history, so it's hard to say which ones. I merely point out that we've often gone to war, killed innocent people (e.g., Native Americans), and justified it in the name of God and country. In general, historians have found that most wars are less justified than they appeared to be at the time.
>> That we should have stayed out of World War I and World War II??? <<
I think we should've done about as we did in WW I and WW II, with the exception of nuking and fire-bombing Japan and Germany.
>> Do you also think we should not support the establishment of democracy; protect our interests; ensure fair elections; control domestic unrest; prevent ethnic or racial annihilation; or avert nuclear threats? To steal a phrase from another one of your emails, can you answer YES or NO? <<
Yes, if the people in question want democracy. Depends. Yes. Depends. Yes. Yes. We aren't doing any of these things in Afghanistan except maybe no. 2, so what's your point?
(Note: As of 3/10/02, we've also begun trying to establish democracy and ensure fair elections in Afghanistan. However, Bush did not state these as goals of the war, so my answer was correct at the time.)
>> But to throw a cliche at you (cuz I know you like things packaged simply): Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. <<
Normally, fighting fire with water is the best strategy.
I package things simply for you: the woman who can't or won't debate political questions, who has only a glimmer of constitutional rights, who doesn't know who our attorney general is. When you can top my knowledge of American and world history, go right ahead and do so. You haven't done it yet.
>> You are very naive. <<
You're a very poor debater of the facts and evidence.
Tim Wise answered that silly charge better than I could in his Who's Really Naive? essay. Like most warmongers, you apparently don't have a clue about how widespread Al Qaeda is (hint: invading Afghanistan won't eliminate it) and how commonly war breeds resentment (hint: World War I and II, again).
Another column to dismiss
Bonnie forwarded another of her right-wing columns for me to shred. From the Detroit Free Press:
Sometimes it's right to fight
October 8, 2001
BY CASSANDRA SPRATLING
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Parents teach their children that fighting is wrong and killing is a sin.
If a bully hits you, seek a peaceful solution, children are told.
But on Sunday American and British forces launched air attacks against military targets and Osama bin Laden's training camps inside Afghanistan.
Now that the United States is involved in a military conflict, how do parents explain killing to children? As simply and as honestly as possible, say religious leaders and child psychologists.
"This is one of those questions that stops your heart because it gets at the fundamental principles of ethics and moral decisions and has political implications," says Beth Ann Brooks, a child psychiatrist at Wayne State University.
"But I think parents have to separate terrorism from other acts of violence."
She and others advise telling children that while as a rule you don't condone fighting, sometimes fighting is necessary.
Explain to children under what circumstances you believe fighting back is necessary.
Such conditions might include: when all peaceful solutions have been tried, when the attack on a country is so serious it requires a military response, and when it's necessary to stop evil people before they hurt more people.
"Sometimes it is necessary to risk the lives of some to preserve the lives and liberties of many," says the Rev. Edward Branch, president of the Council of Baptist Pastors in Detroit and Vicinity.
He suggested telling children that some evil is so great, there is no other option but to fight.
"All it takes for that kind of evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing," Branch says.
Rabbi Joseph Klein of Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park says children can be told that there are consequences for evil behavior.
"Someone needs to stand up for justice and righteousness and good people sometimes have to fight evil."
The Rev. John H. West, a theologian with the Archdiocese of Detroit, agrees. "There can be such a thing as legitimate self-defense when someone has threatened our way of life."
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, says to explain to children that government leaders have a right and an obligation to defend and protect the nation. He adds that government leaders should also explain why war is necessary.
"We don't like to do evil things and we don't like to participate in unjust aggressive actions against other nations," the imam says. When there is just reason, it should be explained, he says.
Marguerite Barratt, director of the Institute for Children, Youth and Families at Michigan State University, says parents should make sure they talk with and listen to their children throughout the duration of the fighting.
"This is a teachable moment. You may say, 'In our family it's not OK to hit back, but when the problem gets this big, we all have to band together and hit back.'"
She and others say it's very important for parents to encourage children to voice their concerns and to ask questions, even if the parents don't have all the answers.
The most important thing children really want to know is that they are safe and you will be there for them, she says.
Barratt advised not allowing preschool and early elementary-aged children to watch news reports about the military action. "What's on TV and the radio news may be too upsetting for the very young," she says.
With late elementary and older children, limit how much they watch and monitor, as always, what they get through the Internet, she advises.
But make sure that you discuss whatever they're picking up from the news, the Internet and from school, she says. "Make this international issue a family issue."
The Rev. Dan Krichbaum, executive director of the National Conference for Community and Justice, formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews, says it's important for children to know that this military action is retaliation — not revenge, which would be wrong, but to assure that there is less terrorism in the future.
He and other religious leaders say it's important to assure children that the United States will do its best not to harm innocent people.
And, if — as is quite likely in war — innocent people are injured and killed, how do parents justify that to their children?
"I don't think we justify that. I think we ask for forgiveness for that," Krichbaum says "But I think when innocent people were killed as they were on Sept. 11, there has to be a response that gets at the terrorism that we have experienced."
>> He suggested telling children that some evil is so great, there is no other option but to fight. <<
That there's no other option is irrational nonsense, like fairy tales from God. Prove it if you can, or give it up.
>> Such conditions might include: when all peaceful solutions have been tried, when the attack on a country is so serious it requires a military response, and when it's necessary to stop evil people before they hurt more people. <<
And what if the wise child responds: "But Bush didn't try anything before dropping bombs and killing people. And what does 'serious' mean exactly? And how will bombing Afghanistan stop all the other terrorists in the world?"
>> "All it takes for that kind of evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing," Branch says. <<
Edmund Burke said that first, of course. It's one of my favorite quotes, which is why I advocate doing something about America's monocultural perspective, which has allowed poverty, inequality, intolerance, violence, and terrorism to flourish.
But peace advocates haven't advocated doing nothing, as I've said many times. Again, see the PEACE PARTY position.
>> "This is a teachable moment. You may say, 'In our family it's not OK to hit back, but when the problem gets this big, we all have to band together and hit back.'" <<
Or you may say, "Our government likes to bomb and kill people when it doesn't get its way. It usually pretends its wars are necessary when they're not. You can read that in your history books. So when government tells you something, ask questions and demand answers."
>> it's important for children to know that this military action is retaliation — not revenge, which would be wrong, but to assure that there is less terrorism in the future. <<
I'm glad this person, at least, didn't repeat Bush's lie that we're seeking justice. Too bad bombing Afghanistan does little or nothing to curb terrorism worldwide.
Bush has made it crystal-clear his goal isn't justice with his plan to hold secret tribunals. Justice doesn't happen in secret. Only revenge does.
>> "But I think when innocent people were killed as they were on Sept. 11, there has to be a response that gets at the terrorism that we have experienced." <<
When we capture or kill our first terrorist, be sure to let me know. Bush may like to pretend the Taliban have changed from people who harbor terrorists to terrorists themselves, but only doofuses miss the distinction.
Ironically, Spratling answers her final question at the beginning of her essay: "If a bully hits you, seek a peaceful solution." Nothing she said changes this wise moral truism.
The debate continues (1/2/02)....
>> When we capture or kill our first terrorist, be sure to let me know.
(Associated Press) "Mohammed Atef, an Egyptian-born Islamic militant who worked at the right hand of Osama bin Laden, is believed to have been killed by a U.S. airstrike in the past two days."
Just letting you know... <<
The US has captured a few Al Qaeda members since then, but no one we know was involved in planning or executing 9/11. And more Taliban soldiers...but they didn't attack us or organize the attacks against us. Oh, well...they're all icky Muslims who must've done something evil. With his wonderful appreciation of American values, Bush can execute them all in his unconstitutional secret tribunals.
>> When you say "we" I assume you are referring to humanity at large. America didn't invent war. Or religion. Or nationality. Or history, either. <<
I was referring to "we" Americans in that sentence. At other times I refer to "we" humans.
>> Dude, I told you from, like, my first email, I don't "do" politics. <<
For someone who claims not to "do" politics, you're sure quick to assert a superior understanding of what's happened since 9/11. And you say I'M arrogant? You haven't read the Constitution and you don't know who Ashcroft is, but you're telling me off on politics and civil rights.
That would be like me lecturing you on hockey—which of course I don't do. I guess that shows which of us is really arrogant and egotistical, eh?
>> Logic is logic regardless of where it's applied, and ditto for senseless pontification. <<
You should know the latter, considering your infatuation with content-free National Post editorials.
>> I refute the illogic of your stance, not your political opinions. <<
You mean you're planning to refute the "illogic" of my stance? When, exactly? How long do I have to wait?
>> You want to believe so bad that America is the big evil empire that you filter everything thru that lens. <<
Belief doesn't enter into it, since I've pointed to you a long list of US military interventions. These are facts, not beliefs—as is the documented history of genocide against Native people. Deal with the historical reality—for instance, the US overthrow of Iran's democracy in 1953 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/binladen.htm).
>> And, like most liberal peaceniks, you apparently don't have a clue about how widespread hunger is <<
And you do? Okay, clue me in...how widespread is it?
I'll give you a hint. From The Healing in Helping the World's Poor:
Half of the world's inhabitants are in poverty — millions without jobs, without adequate food or clean water, without decent homes, without much if any education, without health or dental care, without a political voice and without hope for the future.
Does your answer tally with these facts? Mine does.
>> (hint: aiding the Iraqis won't eliminate it) <<
Few people are talking about aiding the Iraqis. What they're talking about is ending the killing caused by US bombs and sanctions.
>> and how commonly humanitarian aid fails (hint: Asia & Africa). <<
I suspect I know more about that subject, like almost every other political subject, than you do. Since I've never advocated that we merely throw money at problems, spare me the tired conservative rhetoric. I have an MBA, unlike you, and have worked in business about ten years longer than you have. I'm well aware of the problems of governments as well as corporations.
>> but you can certainly disrupt their network and disturb their sense of security by going after one of their main hubs. <<
You can disrupt their hubs and cells without going to war and killing civilians, as we've proved in Europe and elsewhere. And what does disturbing their sense of security have to do with achieving justice? I'd love to see you explain to the parents of a dead US soldier that he died to inconvenience some unknown people somewhere. I'm sure that would make them feel peachy.
Is US government subversive?
>> It usually pretends its wars are necessary when they're not.
Do you really believe our government is that subversive? <<
How many governments does the US have to subvert before you'll admit it's subversive? Five? Ten? Give me a number.
Like I said, US history is well-documented. Start with Vietnam, the best example of an unnecessary war. Continue with Grenada and Panama as well as our undeclared war against Nicaragua.
Even the Persian Gulf and Balkan wars were widely disputed at the time, with no firm consensus about their need. Our leaders chose to pursue these wars, just like they chose to pursue the "war" against terrorism, because they felt the wars contributed to our geopolitical supremacy.
If you think we fight wars to liberate governments or stop human rights violations, I have a few names for you: Iran. Chile. The Phillippines. Rwanda. Sierra Leone. Chechnya. Korea. Cuba. Etc. We've overthrown democracies, supported dictatorships, and ignorned human rights violations because it was in our interests to do so. More often than not, we have NOT gone to war to "do good."
>> Number one, we don't LIKE to bomb and kill people — I can't believe you think that. <<
I never said they did...though many Americans felt rather gleeful about exterminating Indians. But our leaders go to war because of their depraved indifference to human life—because bolstering the US's political and economic power is more important than anything else.
>> Number two, they aren't "pretending" wars are necessary whilst knowing full well they aren't. <<
In Vietnam they were.
>> I concede that in retrospect, it is apparent that many conflicts could have been avoided or handled differently with fewer casualties... <<
There you go. Repeat as often as necessary.
>> but that is with the benefit of hindsight and knowing what happened after. <<
That suggests being more cautious, learning the lessons of history, before plunging ahead and making the same mistakes again. Which is what I've been saying when I said we need to reassess our policies and the culture that spawns them.
>> The people in Washington aren't sitting around today going, Ooooh, who can we kill next? <<
No, they're sitting around thinking how they can give away tax money and secure oil supplies to help their buddies in big business.
>> Oh, and I don't know what history books YOU have, but in mine, they didn't say that the Revolution, Civil War, World Wars and Gulf War were unnecessary. <<
I doubt you have any history books. If you do, I doubt they mention the recent Gulf War. Anyway, I believe I said some wars were necessary. The ones you didn't list are the ones that weren't necessary.
I recently heard someone claim WW I was unnecessary. I don't know enough to say one way or another, but the fact that it started with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand suggests it was a fluke.
Of course, you can add Afghanistan to the list of unnecessary wars. This war was about overthrowing a government, not ending "evil."
>> I know it's not your favorite newsrag, but I just had to send you this, after your "breeding" comment <<
I trashed Steyn's column for you in November. Speaking of which, here's an interesting excerpt from an article:
Quoting approvingly Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's assertion that, "poverty, disease, and illiteracy are breeding grounds for tolerance of terrorism," Nader proposed a profound reorientation of U.S. foreign policy to support democratic forces and to, "side with the millions and millions of workers and peasants rather than with dictators and oligarches."
Apparently Donald Rumsfeld (he's our Secretary of Defense, in case you didn't know) agrees that poverty breeds terrorism. Oops. So much for the simplistic, naive Steyn and you. Everyone except Dumbya understands there's more to this story than "good" vs. "evil."
Either Rumsfeld is an incompetent ignoramus, probably filled with self-loathing, who should be relieved of his duties before he winds up holding hands and singing around a campfire with Osama Bin Laden...or you and Steyn don't know what the hell you're talking about. You tell me which.
Happy New Year,
More debates with Bonnie
National Post: When people say the US "had it coming," they mean "murder is a morally appropriate rejoinder."
"You hate our values, our government, our religion and the majority of our people, near as I can tell."
Winning through nonviolence
What happened: results of the so-called war
. . .
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