RE: TERRORISM: Is genocide the logical solution?

From: Barbara Lamar (
Date: Mon Sep 17 2001 - 13:06:29 MDT

 Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> There are known exceptions to this rule. I talked about one of them when
> I said that I would, in theory, back a ground war in Afghanistan and Iraq
> to remove their governments from power.

I also back an undertaking of this nature but also have the same fears you
have that the war will not be carried out in an efficient manner.

>Earth's survival will be directly
> threatened by the existence of terrorist groups

I can't see that Earth's survival is directly threatened by the terrorist
groups. Rather, Earth's existence is threatened by the reaction of far more
powerful groups of people to the activities of the terrorist groups.

>If the US government were to go the way of Nazi Germany, then I
> would understand the absolute necessity for foreign governments to attack
> the US

If the US goes the way of Nazi Germany, there may not be any foreign
government strong enough to take it on. Given that government power is
greatly increased during periods of war, I see our own government as a
greater threat than all the terrorist groups of the world.

I'm probably going to get as much flak for saying this as Robert caught for
bringing up genocide, but I think it would be wise to look at the situation
objectively and to coldly calculate the odds of suffering harm from various

> even at the cost of civilian lives, even including my own.

This reminds me of the topic of ideas worth dying for. There is no idea for
which I would trade a 100% risk of death; but there are goals for which I
would take risks of death. This is true for all of us, whether we
consciously acknowledge it or not. Every time we sit in a moving car we're
taking on a material risk of death.

With respect to the current situation in the middle east, I would probably
not be willing to risk my life to go into the mountains of Afghanistan to
try to kill members of the Taliban or bin Laden and his helpers. I *would*
probably be willing to go into the area with the goal of helping women fight
Islamic suppression. Possibly it would turn out that the best way to
accomplish the latter would be to participate in the former, but I think
probably not. I could probably accomplish more by spreading ideas to
thousands than by killing a couple of people. (This is not automatically
true. It would depend on whom I killed and what the circumstances were. )


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