Re: Clinton, US citizen responsibility vs Milosevic and Serbians

Freeman Craig Presson (
Thu, 1 Jul 1999 23:54:23 -0500

On 30 Jun 99, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> Elizabeth Childs wrote:
> > Imagine an apartment building in Beijing. "Civilians" live there.
> >
> > Who deserves to die? If it is morally acceptable to bomb civilian
> > targets on the premise that those civilians were supporting an enemy
> > regime, then it would be moral to blow that building up whether it would
> > be useful to a military campaign or not. Clearly, that premise is
> > false.
> Not at all. One quote to show why: "For evil to prosper, it only requires
> that good men do nothing." Doing nothing about an evil regieme in your
> government is as bad as supporting that regieme, while those that actively
> oppose such a regieme should be willing to die for their cause.

It seems to me that the choice of causes for which one is willing to die is one of those ultimately personal choices. If one makes the choice rationally (as not everyone does), one takes the chances of success into account as well. If open opposition has a 99% chance of landing one in a prison camp or shallow grave, it seems intelligent to take some other path, such as escape if & when the opportunity presents itself.

I hired a Czech robot scientist (George S----) when I was a section head in realtime systems at DG. He had driven his family into Austria on "vacation" in 1987 (from Poland), by trying different border checkpoints until he found one where the guards didn't give a flying rat's ass about the rather improbable amount of stuff in the car for a simple camping trip, or the exact state of their papers (the third try, I think it was). In fact, that particular guard was sitting with his feet propped up waving cars through. Anyway, George immediately contacted a refugee network in Vienna, who put the family up and helped them work on their U.S. visa. When he was situated in the States in a good job, he turned around and pumped time and money into the same network, and (I think) into covert aid to the resistance movement. The strategy worked well enough that in 1990 or so he was back in Bratislava hoisting tall beers with his old colleagues (OK, actually he was Slovakian, but "Czech robot scientist" sounds better, _pace_ Capek :-).

The time had to be right, and a doctorate in hard science had a lot to do with his success with the INS, of course.

One of my systems support guys came by and said, incredulously, "you hired a WHAT?" right after the offer went out. When George had been here three weeks, he made a special trip back to my office to tell me what I already knew, that George was one hell of an ass-kicking software engineer, former academic and furriner or not. One of his colleagues later described him as "an engineering machine." I am quick at picking up new stuff, but George took the prize. He came in and read manuals for a couple of days and then started slam-dunking all our hard problems.