Re: If we do get Afghanistan, what shall we do with it?

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Wed Nov 21 2001 - 15:33:36 MST

> > When you /are/ right (for other reasons), it's nice to have some
> > might to protect yourself from those who are wrong. And even, as
> > in this case, when you're only slightly less wrong than the other
> > guy. Sure, we've done some wrong things, but nothing even
> > remotely close to unthinkable horrors of Pearl Harbor or WTC.
> See what we did in Nicaragua and Chile. See the hundreds of
> thousands dying and dead in Iraq from our actions during and
> sense Desert Storm. See spreading cluster bombs all over parts
> of Southeast Asia we were officially not at war with and claimed
> we were not involved in. See the bloody thugs we supported for
> decades in Haiti who killed more hundreds of thousands. See
> bombin whoever we feel like whenever we feel threatened
> regardless of international niceties. In terms of lives lost,
> dreams destroyed, unilateral nastiness I don't think we come out
> so obviously good in comparison as we would like to believe. I
> wish I thought otherwise but I honestly do not.

That's a fair position; active support (with money or political
influence) is something of a moral sanction, so to the extent we
have supported regimes that have done evil, some of that blood is
on the hands of the US government. You won't get any argument
from me about that. Evils are hard to compare.

> > Evil exists. Some people, nations, and cultures are evil and wrong
> > and dangerous. Denial of this simple fact won't make it go away.
> > A couple of well-placed nukes 50 years ago did make some of it go
> > away for a long time, and Mike is just pointing that out. That
> > particular method won't work in Afghanistan or against Al-Qaeda, but
> > let's hope we can find a method that does.
> >
> I see. And when branded "evil", rightly or wrongly, by a
> sufficiently powerful group, everything goes and everything is
> justified heh? What a wonderful world.

No, "dangerous" is required before action is justified. It's not
enough that someone belives evil things, he must actually threaten
the lives or liberty of innocent people.

> A short glance back in
> history will show many groups and nations being branded as evil
> and decimated by strong opponents.

Yep. And many times, that branding was wrong. And sometimes it
wasn't. When it wasn't wrong, the action was justified. When it
was wrong, the action itself was evil. That's why the most
important factor in morality is epistemology: how do we know what
the consequences of our actions will be, and how to we know that
others are a real threat rather than an imagined one?

> Just perhaps, branding someone or some nation as utterly evil,
> is not the sanest and best way to proceed.

Evil exists. Therefore calling someone evil /when they are,
in fact, evil/, is the only sane and rational thing to do. Calling
them evil when they are not is indeed irrational. That's why
rational thought is important.

> When the "other" is "evil"
> the temptation is to believe that one's own group must be the
> "good" and that any who point out where that just isn't so are
> themselves "evil". Both sides are dehumanized by this
> process. Truth is the first casualty of war.

Yep, that too is a bad thing. A's being evil does not in any
way imply that B is good, even if B calls A evil, and B disagrees
with everything A says. Anyone who believes this is irrational,
and such bad arguments need to be pointed out.

Epistemology matters.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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