Report To Nuke or Not to Nuke in Debates Posted February 22, 2008 · Edited February 22, 2008 by Galileo Blogs Gary, Your arguments have an air of sophistry. Repeatedly, as Kendall observed, you present a false alternative, and then you deny that you are doing so. Kendall nailed it when he said (post #14): The fact is you continue to present false alternatives that either require such a subject to passively submit to his dictator or actively repel the liberator. For every such dilemma there is a middle ground, and that is to passively survive, doing as little to interfere with your liberator, and at the earliest possible moment to surrender and aid your liberator. That is what you won't allow for. That is the only rational course. The argument for passively submitting to the dictator is constantly couched in terms of dire extremes that do not permit the middle course Kendall describes. Here are some examples from Brenner's posts: Post #16: I simply want to point out that it is not automatic that captives of dictators benefit from conquest by an invader and the attendant destruction. Some may be liberated. Some may be quite dead. If, for example, I were a resident of Moscow in 1960, I would certainly not welcome a nuclear first strike by the United States. Nuclear first strike by the United States? On those particular cities? Is that the argument why a Soviet citizen would not have welcomed liberation from his oppressors? This is a falsely drastic scenario given that no citizen of the Soviet Union could know whether liberation would involve a military attack by the United States, and if it did, whether he would die in that attack. If the Soviet citizen was worried about risks in the particular city he lived in, he had years, even his entire life to try to move to a different city if not escape the Soviet Union itself. This example is an unrealistically drastic choice to force a choice among the false alternative. Kendall's realistic "middle way" is excluded. Another example from the same post: But there may be victims of dictators whose lives, while far from perfect, are nonetheless preferable to death. Again, the false alternative of certain death or passive acceptance of the dictatorship. Post #17: But how much freedom did the residents of Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden have to move in Nazi Germany? The answer is: plenty! Anytime from 1933 onward when Hitler assumed power, these residents could have moved within Germany or, like many thousands of Germans before the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, flee Germany. But Gary presents the situation as if a resident of Dresden was trapped there and had certain foreknowledge that his city would be firebombed. That is an absurd scenario, again designed to force the false alternative of acquiescence to the dictatorship versus certain death. Post #9: But the unhappy subject of Country B may not wish to pay for the liberation with his own life. If he is unable to overthrow his dictator, it would certainly be in his self-interest to prevent or deflect a lethal assault aimed in his direction. Again, the unrealistic scenario that the unhappy subject must pay for liberation with his own life. Realistically, as has been said by several posters, including myself, a citizen of a dictatorship (in nearly all conceivable circumstances) faces only the possibility of death if the dictatorship he lives in is overthrown by war or revolution. Realistically, the greater odds in nearly every conceivable situation is that he will survive such a liberation, as the vast majority of French did when the Allies liberated them from the Nazis and, in fact, the vast majority of Germans did (whether they wanted to be liberated or not) when their country was defeated by the Allies. Most Germans and Japanese survived World War II, one of the most horrific wars in history, even when their cities were repeatedly firebombed and even nuked. Wanting liberation doesn't mean walking in front of an Allied tank to be run over, or trying to stand in front of an oncoming missile. Far from it. It means trying to survive, laying low if possible, until the liberators arrive and then surrendering immediately, just as Kendall described it. The broader question becomes, why would someone want to face risks in order to live in freedom? Is such freedom valuable? Is it worth fighting for or taking risks that could result in death? The answer of the millions of Americans who volunteered to fight in World War II (yes, many were also drafted) is that such freedom was worth taking risks. The answer of the thousands who fled East Germany at the cost of the lives of many of them was that freedom was worth taking risks. The answer of the Cuban boat people and the North Koreans who escape to hostile China, are all that such freedom is worth taking risks. None of these people faced certain death. However, all were willing to face a significant risk of death. The answer is the same (although less courageous) for all those residents of dictatorships who simply bided their time and tried not to get in trouble, and awaited the end of their dictatorship. I can't help but wondering at the real object of Brenner's argument. Is it to say that freedom is not worth taking risks for? Or, is it an argument to justify those who lacked the courage to defy their dictatorships? On the last point, such people have my sympathy, but not my admiration. If that is the point Brenner is trying to make, I will agree with him. It is understandable why many people don't stand up, either by taking active measures of resistance or simply by trying to flee as so many millions have done over the years. The reasons why a particular person doesn't stand up might be complex. It could be that his particular situation is so risky (say, he is a scientist in a weapons lab and his family is held hostage) or it could also be that he simply doesn't value his life enough to risk it to live as a free man. One's life as a free man is incredibly valuable. That is why people risk it everyday to defy their dictatorships. Fortunately, such defiance does not typically mean certain death, as Brenner suggests with his examples.