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Pre-emptive War: e.g. Should we nuke Tehran?

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In a war situation it goes beyond a single life (or a few) on either side but again there must be no other option (and I don't mean just in a situation when they are nuking us - that has never been disputed here) and yes it may mean killing masses.

I realize this is contextual, but I am curious where your line is. No other options to me means no other options. If that is what you mean, then no number of our soldiers lives and no amount of our money spent is too much of a sacrifice to protect the innocent in the country that we are at war with.

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Are you asking for an exhaustive list, or a general characterization? I assume you know what "threat" means; then threatening the US is making a threat against the US (in part or in whole). For exampl

I'm aware of most of those imaginary claims you consider "knowledge of the situation". I just happen to know they're not real, so I don't consider them when passing judgement on Iran.

If this was true it would be an easy matter to overthrow oppressive states. This won't work because you have reversed cause and effect. Philosophy is what drives history. It is the funda

I realize this is contextual, but I am curious where your line is. No other options to me means no other options. If that is what you mean, then no number of our soldiers lives and no amount of our money spent is too much of a sacrifice to protect the innocent in the country that we are at war with.

No other options means, in this case, no moral options available. I think you are drawing a false dichotomy when you say that it means calling for a sacrifice to protect the innocent on the other side. A lot of destruction can be achieved from air - without soldiers on the ground and you are not protecting - you just not violating.

I know you want a more specific answer so ... to me (I am still thinking about it), in context of a war, it means you are not justified to use maximum force if the same necessary millitary goal can be accomplished with the use of less force. It does not mean that it must be proportional to what is comming from the other side - just you are not justified to use force beyond the level which you objectively need to use. You don't always need to use maximum force to win.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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In the mean time I believe that western civilization is in very serious danger.

Maybe. But evil by itself - is impotent. It is sad to say but, in this case, it is the West that is allowing it to have any power.

Then refuse to trade with the country for 20 years. Cut them out of the world market.

Exactly, there is a non-violent/economic solution and yet the West continues on this path - which can bring us to the point in which killing masses will be necessary.

After that generation dies out.

They would not die out. They would have surrendered.

(same as Cuba - the only reason Cuba is still the way it is - is because it is allowed).

Edited by ~Sophia~
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If everyone here agrees that it is not America's duty to protect the rights of innocent people in another country, then we should all at least agree that it is wrong for America to punish or jail any soldier who kills an innocent person in another country during time of war. Government jails people because government has the duty of protecting rights, so if government is not protecting rights of people in a foreign land, it should not jail or punish someone who "violates" those rights.

Is this agreeable?

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If everyone here agrees that it is not America's duty to protect the rights of innocent people in another country, then we should all at least agree that it is wrong for America to punish or jail any soldier who kills an innocent person in another country during time of war. Government jails people because government has the duty of protecting rights, so if government is not protecting rights of people in a foreign land, it should not jail or punish someone who "violates" those rights.

It would seem to depend on the context which the killing was done. If two US soldiers are sitting around with sniper rifles picking off innocent civilians for sport over a couple of beers, then I think it is necessary for our government to discipline them, if only on principle.

On the other hand if in the middle of a fire fight in a justifiable war, a soldier chucked a grenade that happened to annihilate a family of five, so be it.

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It would seem to depend on the context which the killing was done. If two US soldiers are sitting around with sniper rifles picking off innocent civilians for sport over a couple of beers, then I think it is necessary for our government to discipline them, if only on principle.

On the other hand if in the middle of a fire fight in a justifiable war, a soldier chucked a grenade that happened to annihilate a family of five, so be it.

Well, that is correct, but the reality is, how many incidents of sniping civilians have we seen in a conflict such as Iraq?

A soldier must follow military orders or policy. If he does not, ie he acts on his own accord, then he can commit war crimes. However, the policy of a rational defending government (i.e. one that is acting in its self defensen and in a subsequently rational manner) cannot by definition be immoral. That is, if it is a rational military strategy to kill women and children, then a soldier doing so, per orders, in moral.

The tougher situation is one that involves a little of both of your examples Moebius, and those are the ones that are interesting litmus tests. Hadittha for instance was no where near a war crime, but it seems any time civilians are killed there is an outcry for tribunals. I disagree also that war crimes should be prosecuted in international courts. Military justice serves just fine for such crimes.

Unlike Sophia, I think the rationality of killing women and children is one determined by the military science. That is, morality can define the proper objectives of a defending army, and military science decides if a particular tactic is effective in acheiving them. If ineffective, then the killing of so-called innocents is gratuitous and imoral. Sophia says, "if no other choice". I disagree. There maybe many options, one of which involves the targeting of civilians. If it is an effective option, then I don't think our military leaders should be saddled with having to determine and defend the analysis of if it is "the only" option. It is so highly charged with context.

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Greetings all,

I wrote a post on this issue a while back that I have archived on my Blog. It is pasted below:

Rights and War

Rights are moral principles that define man's needs in a social context. A government's function is to protect the rights of its own citizens, not the citizens of other countries, and certainly not the citizens of violent dictatorships. We form a government to fulfill our needs (for freedom), and our nation's policies ought to function in accordance with those needs.

In a domestic capacity, these needs are best served by applying the initiation of force principle through the police and court systems. The government acts to punish or remove from society those individuals who initiate force. Since protecting the freedom of our nation's citizens is paramount, great care is taken to ensure that innocent civilians aren't significantly affected by crime. The court system helps protect the innocent from accidental prosecution. Police make efforts not to hurt bystanders when making arrests. The military doesn't bomb a city into rubble to kill a single criminal. Again, all this is done because, in a rational society based on a recognition of individual rights, protecting the freedom of our nation's citizens is paramount.

One can apply the same principle to the context of a war. Every effort ought to be taken to protect the rights of the civilians in the home country. This means that the government ought to do whatever is necessary to defend the freedom of its citizens for the long term, making every effort to ensure that innocent civilians (of the home country) are not significantly affected by (international) crime. But in this context, it is not necessary to make individual arrests, place individuals on trial, and make pinpoint attacks on specific targets. This is the absolute worst way to fight a war, if a nation is primarily concerned with the needs of its own citizens.

Regarding how the principle of rights applies to international policy and the ethics of war, that's as far as one needs to go. Rights theory dictates that we need our government to defend our freedom in every way possible. When determining the morality of a particular action in war, one must only ask the question: Will this action best preserve the long term freedom of the defending nation's citizens? If the answer is "yes," then the action is morally obligatory. Everything else is a question of military tactics.

Those of you who oppose the targeting of civilians in war must ask yourselves this question: If targeting civilians were the best way to end a war quickly and cheaply, and if doing so were the best way to preserve the long term freedom of our country's citizens, then would you support it?

If your answer is "yes," and your argument is only that targeting civilians is not an effective military tactic, then I refer you to Dr. Lewis's "Sherman" article, or to the defeat of the Japanese in WWII, or a myriad of other military examples throughout history. Based on my limited understanding of military tactics, targeting civilian populations can be very effective in certain contexts.

If your answer is "no," then we have a fundamental disagreement. If the principle of individual rights requires that a nation frustrate the needs of its own citizens in order to protect those outside its borders, then I don't know what you're talking about when you say "rights." You've gone into another realm, the World of the Forms maybe, but you're certainly no longer talking about a philosophy for living on earth.

A few ancillary issues:

I would like to briefly address the question of whether or not non-combatants are morally responsible for the actions of their government. I say briefly, because my position is simple: it doesn't matter. Whether or not the civilians we target are morally guilty has no bearing on our right to target them. The question is not: "are they morally innocent?" but: "would targeting them be an effective tactic in protecting our morally innocent population?" If the answer to the latter question is "yes," then we have every right to target them.

One last point on the effectiveness of targeting civilians: No matter whether or not civilians in an enemy country sanction the actions of their government, they fuel their country's war machine simply by living and working there. They continue to produce food, cars, fuel, and other things that are used by the enemy. And they continue to provide funds for the enemy government in the form of taxes. An enemy that is bolstered by the unfettered production of its populous is much more difficult to defeat, and has much less incentive to surrender.

--Dan Edge

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First of all, you just used an appeal to authority.

First of all, you only assume that such was the intent of my statement.

Let's back off and do a little investigation as to why I might have brought the fact of Ayn Rand's position to light.

You were insulting me and several others: calling us absurd and equating us with "fundies." I just wanted you to be fully aware of who you were including in your accusation. Now, look what you've done: insulted me further. Are you happy?

The part in bold represents what I think is an underlying error in this theory of war. Namely, that any person's rights can be forfeited by anyone other than himself.

The responsible party for the violation of rights is the dictatorship, which necessitated the use of force in self defense.

I can count on about 2 fingers the number of times I have actually accused fellow posters of being Randians (my perjorative term for people who treat Objectivism as a dogmatic religion).

So presumably that's the two times you've done it in this very thread?

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And what rights do said fishermen have in protecting themselves against a foreign military that is trying to blow them up for tactical reasons?

I agree with Ayn Rand's position, Hunterrose:

But if by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness, they couldn't overthrow their bad government and establish a better one, then they must pay the price for the sins of their government, as we are all paying for the sins of ours. And if people put up with dictatorship—as some do in Soviet Russia, and some did in Nazi Germany—they deserve what their government deserves.

They would have no right to defend themselves against the moral country. They should surrender to it immediately and unconditionally. What they really should have done was fight their dictatorship to the death or escape it. They chose to sit there and do nothing while their government threatened a free nation. If they are being bombed, then we must assume there is some tactical necessity to it: and thus they are helping the dictatorship in some way.

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Unlike Sophia, I think the rationality of killing women and children is one determined by the military science. That is, morality can define the proper objectives of a defending army, and military science decides if a particular tactic is effective in acheiving them.

Yes, I am familiar with this point of view. I have a hard time reconciling it with what I know about the topic of rights. The "one must be forced to choose between saving your own life or acting morally" - it is a defining characteristic of an emergency situation - the only "exception" philosophically. I simply don't understand the claim that military science is the sphere of the amoral. Human action where there is a choice involves lies in the sphere of morality. Can you (or someone) provide your reasoning philosophically (keeping in mind what I said in my last sentence)?

If it is an effective option, then I don't think our military leaders should be saddled with having to determine and defend the analysis of if it is "the only" option. It is so highly charged with context.

That is the thing. Using maximum force will always be effective, fast, and probably cheaper. If you are in fact in the sphere of the amoral - then why would you ever use less force?

Edited by ~Sophia~
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What rights do said fishermen have in protecting themselves against a foreign military that is trying to blow them up for tactical reasons?
I don't think I understand the correct meaning of your question. Would you rephrase it for me?
Sure:
A group of individuals defending their own right to life need not consider possible innocents except as it pertains to the achievement of their own goals.
If a group of rational individuals represented by a government (e.g. the US) has the right to defend themselves, does it equally follow that a group of rational individuals misrepresented by a government (e.g. rational fishermen in a tyrannical land) has the right to defend themselves?

But if by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness, they couldn't overthrow their bad government and establish a better one, then they must pay the price for the sins of their government, as we are all paying for the sins of ours. And if people put up with dictatorship—as some do in Soviet Russia, and some did in Nazi Germany—they deserve what their government deserves.
If "pay the price for the sins of one's government" means simply that those living under irrational governments are potentially in the face of attack by rational governments, I'd agree. If it means that helpless/inefficacious people under a tyranny morally ought to not resist being firebombed or nuked or poisoned by said rational government, I really don't understand why such people ought to choose to pay such a price.
They would have no right to defend themselves against the moral country. They should surrender to it immediately and unconditionally.
If the foreign rational government is offering santuary, OK.

But if the rational government is (for tactical reasons) is not accepting surrenders, and is killing villagers whether they attempt to surrendur or not? Don't the villagers have the right to protect their lives and those of their families?

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If "pay the price for the sins of one's government" means simply that those living under irrational governments are potentially in the face of attack by rational governments, I'd agree. If it means that helpless/inefficacious people under a tyranny morally ought to not resist being firebombed or nuked or poisoned by said rational government, I really don't understand why such people ought to choose to pay such a price.

They ought to have resisted or left the dictatorship or died trying.

But if the rational government is (for tactical reasons) is not accepting surrenders, and is killing villagers whether they attempt to surrendur or not? Don't the villagers have the right to protect their lives and those of their families?

They have the right to rebel against the dictatorship. If they chose not to do that, then it was their choice to be in harm's way and they don't have the right to harm a single one of the citizens of a free country in resisting what they chose to do. Part of the choice of not resisting a dictatorship is that you will be in harm's way.

The problem with your example is that it is starting in media res. You may as well ask if any of the moonbat lefty "human shields" had a right to fire on the US Army in "self-defense" because of where they chose to put themselves.

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Yes, I am familiar with this point of view. I have a hard time reconciling it with what I know about the topic of rights. The "one must be forced to choose between saving your own life or acting morally" - it is a defining characteristic of an emergency situation - the only "exception" philosophically.

And I have a hard time reconciling the usage of the concept of rights in the way you do, given what Rand specifically said about this topic. Which we've discussed in the past.

I simply don't understand the claim that military science is the sphere of the amoral. Human action where there is a choice involves lies in the sphere of morality. Can you (or someone) provide your reasoning philosophically (keeping in mind what I said in my last sentence)?.

I am not saying that the choices here are amoral, but that we must be careful not to confuse the heirarchy upon which morality enters into the picture. That is, morality does apply to some aspect of the decision. The decision technically is a moral decision. But there are all sorts of examples of aspects of decisions which are untouched by the moral considerations.

For example, we have an ongoing thread about constant motivation. Now, motivation being a necessary element of the vitue of productivity could be said to be a very morally relevant issue. However, the science of psychology helps us determine what courses are better than others for building a psyche that experiences high levels of motivation. Those factors are only morally relevent to the extent that they contibute to the main objective of productivity. They are not moral choices in and of themselves outside of that context.

This is the same analogy I use for this example. Morality does play a role, but not at the level you are wanting it to.

That is the thing. Using maximum force will always be effective, fast, and probably cheaper. If you are in fact in the sphere of the amoral - then why would you ever use less force?

First, I disagree that max force is most effective. This is very contextual. And second, I think this is essentially the slippery slope that leads you to Just War theory.

I think the biggest issue I have with the "innocents living in a dictatorship" sort of line of thinking (the one which keeps the individual rights of the person as a primary, such as Sophia is doing) is that it drops the context of what those people were doing in the dictatorship, and what the proper moral response is for those living under it (prior to ever getting into a war). It's as if you are point at them and using the concept of rights purely, as if you just found them in a state of nature, and said, "look these people, by their naure have rights". The fact is, they were not in a state of nature before the war happened, and the context of what they were actively doing to secure both their own rights and the rights of others most definitely applies to them. They are his by nature, but man must secure his own rights. At best, they were atively fighting the violation of rights, but as such, welcome the retaliating country. At middle, they were minding their own business while either their govt was violating other citizens rights, in which case they hold some responsibility of evasion. And at worse they were actively contributing and supporting their governments wrong moves, in which case they are very much responsible.

[Note, you may say that in some cases the government in question wasn't a full dictatorship, but even in those cases to be an initiator of war against another country, it must have had some systemic flaws which needed correcting.]

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They ought to have resisted or left the dictatorship or died trying.

This is a fundamental point. The proper moral response to dictatorship or any other mixed rights violations is: a. fight it (either with ideas or physically) or b. escape.

To stay and "mind your own business" while such a govt violates the rights of others, in the long term, is immoral. It makes you partially culpable, either through your own evasion or through active participation. It can only be a moral course of action in the short term, while making preparations to do a. or b.

This is not an issue of preserving your "life". You are not preserving your life (in the Objectivist sense) by "minding your own business" and staying in a dictatorship. Your death sentence has already been signed, you are simply avoiding the morgue at best.

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This is the same analogy I use for this example. Morality does play a role, but not at the level you are wanting it to.

By the way, when I say this, Inspectors example of human shields is a great discussion point, and maybe question to Sophia.

In the case of the use of human shields, I would argue that it is immoral for a proper relatiating military to compromise in any way, any military objective to save a human sheild. The moral responsiblity lies with the combatant who chooses to employ them. Sophia, if I read your argument correctly then, you would potentially debate me on the particular military objective and if such a course was the "only way" to acheive such an objective.

It is an interesting case, because it draws out the distinction. That is, a human shield is a small enough case, where the opposing "objective" is probably only a small part of a larger military objective. That is, if the overall objective is to "take the town", but in my platoon I encounter a human shield situation in the course of "taking this particular block", I can very easily begin to argue to myself that this particular block isn't absolutely necessary to the capture of the town. I could easily go around it to avoid the human shields. This is how the slippery slope starts. This is how we start fighting "just wars".

Here I agree with Dan Edge, as long as fighting as part of a military campaign on properly based moral grounds, that status of such persons is irrelevant. The moral responsibility for the dilemma lies with the enemy, and any time given to such "just war" considerations by our military is an immoral use of our resources.

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And I have a hard time reconciling the usage of the concept of rights in the way you do, given what Rand specifically said about this topic. Which we've discussed in the past.

My usage of the concept of rights is based on Rand's explanations. I am familiar with what she said about this topic (as we have discussed this before) but I have to understand for myself how she went from A->B. This is the explanation for which I am asking.

I am not saying that the choices here are amoral, but that we must be careful not to confuse the heirarchy upon which morality enters into the picture. That is, morality does apply to some aspect of the decision. The decision technically is a moral decision. But there are all sorts of examples of aspects of decisions which are untouched by the moral considerations.

To say that if the cause if moral (which of course it is in this case) then the means of achieving such cause are automatically moral is equal to saying the the ends justify the means, the notion which we know is incorrect because any act is both an end, meaning it is the end of what went into that act and a means to the effect of that act. In essence, the means are not exempt from moral evaluation.

For example, we have an ongoing thread about constant motivation. Now, motivation being a necessary element of the vitue of productivity could be said to be a very morally relevant issue. However, the science of psychology helps us determine what courses are better than others for building a psyche that experiences high levels of motivation.

Those factors are only morally relevent to the extent that they contibute to the main objective of productivity. They are not moral choices in and of themselves outside of that context.

I disagree - for reasons stated above. Motivation is a desired outcome which does not mean that any means of achieving it will automatically be moral - even if effective - as evaluated by psychology. You can not place psychology (or any science) above philosophy.

The effectiveness of a method of achieving your desired moral goal is not the only criteria when the concept of the rights of others is relevant. I can come up with many scenarios in which, I have a moral right to achieve a particular goal and the most effective way of achieving it (fast, cheap) - is not a moral method because it clashes with the rights of others.

First, I disagree that max force is most effective. This is very contextual. And second, I think this is essentially the slippery slope that leads you to Just War theory.

I don't think it is a slippery slope because what I said does not imply that it must be proportional.

I think the biggest issue I have with the "innocents living in a dictatorship" sort of line of thinking (the one which keeps the individual rights of the person as a primary, such as Sophia is doing) is that it drops the context of what those people were doing in the dictatorship, and what the proper moral response is for those living under it (prior to ever getting into a war).

Yes I know that to go arround the problems created by the first issue (highlighted by me above) you have to say "but there are no innocent".

It's as if you are point at them and using the concept of rights purely, as if you just found them in a state of nature, and said, "look these people, by their naure have rights".

Yes, absolutely, they do have rights by the fact that they are human (see my post earlier here which explains where rights come from - if you would like an elaboration - I will gladly do so). Like I mentioned, two people on an island would have rights. They have rights even if their rights are not respected.

It is not true that you only have rights - if you can secure them. If you can not secure them - it just means you can't prevent others from violating them. You still have them though. So when someone takes an action against you - they can't pretend they are not violating them.

For example, when someone restricts your freedom by preventing you from leaving your house - you don't loose your right to freedom because you could not help it. If further another person restricts your freedom by locking you in a dark small room for days - that second act is a further violation of your freedom (if you would lose your right by the first act - the second would not be a rights violation as you would no longer have such right).

Another example against this argument: A human baby can not secure his/her rights yet has them.

At best, they were actively fighting the violation of rights, but as such, welcome the retaliating country.

Yes, true - welcome retaliation against their immoral government but that does not mean welcoming their own death (it does not mean thinking - I deserve to die - or they have a right to kill me). Honest, rational people deserve to live.

At middle, they were minding their own business while either their govt was violating other citizens rights, in which case they hold some responsibility of evasion. And at worse they were actively contributing and supporting their governments wrong moves, in which case they are very much responsible.

Yes, all 3 "groups" are always present.

[Note, you may say that in some cases the government in question wasn't a full dictatorship, but even in those cases to be an initiator of war against another country, it must have had some systemic flaws which needed correcting.]

You mean before the start of the war right? Well how effective are Objectivists in correcting systematic flaws which need correcting when it comes to your government - especially considering the fact that US enjoys free speech (and most dictatorships don't)?

Not easy in practice isn't it?

(BTW - I am adressing you but this is not personal. My questions are to everybody.)

Edited by ~Sophia~
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In the case of the use of human shields, I would argue that it is immoral for a proper relatiating military to compromise in any way, any military objective to save a human sheild. The moral responsiblity lies with the combatant who chooses to employ them. Sophia, if I read your argument correctly then, you would potentially debate me on the particular military objective and if such a course was the "only way" to acheive such an objective.

No, if the enemy used human shields and the target ought to be destroyed - I would not have hesitated. I think this falls nicely into the category "you are forced to chose between saving yourself or acting morally".

What I would not support however would be wiping half the country to destroy this target IF you could do it with less wide spread force. That is what I mean by not automatically jumping to maximum force.

It is an interesting case, because it draws out the distinction. That is, a human shield is a small enough case, where the opposing "objective" is probably only a small part of a larger military objective.

If rationally, objectively THIS needs to be done - it does not matter that it is small in scale. I am not suggesting abandoning needed objectives.

That is, if the overall objective is to "take the town", but in my platoon I encounter a human shield situation in the course of "taking this particular block", I can very easily begin to argue to myself that this particular block isn't absolutely necessary to the capture of the town. I could easily go around it to avoid the human shields.

Yes I would say that - if you can achieve the same goal with less force - you should.

This is how the slippery slope starts. This is how we start fighting "just wars".

Just War is grounded in the notion of proportionality of response. I don't agree.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Sophia,

To say that if the cause if moral (which of course it is in this case) then the means of achieving such cause are automatically moral is equal to saying the the ends justify the means, the notion which we know is incorrect because any act is both an end, meaning it is the end of what went into that act and a means to the effect of that act. In essence, the means are not exempt from moral evaluation.

I agree that the means by which we defend ourselves is not exempt from moral evaluation. The particular military tactics we use should be judged against a moral standard. In the context of war, I believe the moral standard is that which quickly and permanently removes all threats to the lives and property of citizens in the defending nation. I do not believe that respecting and defending the social needs of civilians in the enemy country should factor into this equation at all.

That said, there is certainly value in identifying friendly elements in an enemy civilian population. It can help end the war more quickly and permanently to help those who would support our cause. Again, I think the Kurds in Iraq are a good example. If we wanted to conquer Iraq, there would be no sense in carpet bombing the only section of the country whose majority is not out for American blood.

Yes I would say that - if you can achieve the same goal with less force - you should.

I agree that it is pointless to use more force than necessary to achieve the goal of war, as long as we are clear on what those goal is: quickly and permanently ending the enemy threat.

This is a good discussion!

--Dan Edge

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re: choices when living under a dictatorship

The choice to stay alive, even if the conditions of your life are not great, is not an immoral choice. It can be but that would depend on context - and no person can decide that for another.

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Everyone in this thread who is arguing against Sophia and myself has completely neglected a very important distinction. The distinction is "innocents who are actually in the way" versus "civilians who are sitting on the sidelines and having no effect, for either side."

I've said repeatedly, and been mostly ignored, that civilians intermixed with the enemy are fair game. The quickest and safest way to destroy the enemy is to destroy all in the immediate vicinity, including innocents.

The innocents that I am talking about are not these. Rather, the ones who happen to own souvenir shops on the side of some backroad in Gaza City. If Israeli troops, on their way to some Hamas stronghold, take a detour to kill some obscure shop owner, people on this board seem to be actually suggesting that this is not murder. Everyone seems to agree that it is wrong, but some people on here are arguing that the only reason it is wrong is that it is tactically and strategically unwise. No consideration seems to be given (with the except of Sophia) to the fact that the obscure shopowner was not impeding the Israeli military from destroying Hamas, he was not anywhere in the immediate vicinity, and might even be a supporter of Israel (as, believe it or not, some Palestinians are).

Then, of course, we have Robert J. Kolker who actually argues that it is a moral necessity to kill this obscure shopowner.

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Just War is grounded in the notion of proportionality of response. I don't agree.

Sophia, lots to respond to, but wanted to quickly address this before I head home. Be careful here. Just War theory is grounded on both the principles of proportionality AND discrimination. It is not your position on the former that I take issue with.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_war#Cond...jus_in_bello.29

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If Israeli troops, on their way to some Hamas stronghold, take a detour to kill some obscure shop owner, people on this board seem to be actually suggesting that this is not murder.

Who said this? I didn't?

This distinction of people who are not in the way is certainly a possible distinction, but its mostly useless. Find one Objectivist arguing here who suggested that this was ok? (Bob's not an Objectivist).

Just a bit of Rand's Razor, but I think this distinction is useless. The OBJECTIVE defines the ethical imperative. Anyone "in the way" is in the way of something, namely this objective. The minute you define the objective, you define what "in the way" means. Nobody is arguing anything differently (except Bob of course) This concept of discrimination is a package deal. The only reason to have it is to allow someone to take aim at the morality of the objective itself. That is the slippery slope. You think it is an important distinction. I don't see it.

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In short, I do not believe the only way "uninvolved" civilians should be killed is accidentally or unavoidably (collaterally?); they can be killed even deliberately, as a military decision, and it's not immoral at all. [i never thought I could ever become that totally hawkish!].

Exhibit A. I never said anything about Objectivists. I said "people on this board." Unless he completely neglects my meaning of the word "uninvolved," this sort of tactic is morally indefensible.

However, it is important to note that the toddler/puppy slaughter tactic is irrational and immoral because it hinders the war effort of the defending country, not because of any rights violation on the part of the defending nation's soldiers. An enemy aggressor forfeits the rights of its citizens by waging war against a free nation.

Exhibit B. This is an example of saying that it is immoral, only because it is impractical. No consideration is given to the rights of the toddlers and/or puppies who have been needlessly slaughtered.

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Sophia, lots to respond to, but wanted to quickly address this before I head home. Be careful here. Just War theory is grounded on both the principles of proportionality AND discrimination. It is not your position on the former that I take issue with.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_war#Cond...jus_in_bello.29

Thanks for the link. So it looks like it has three principles. I don't completely agree with the first as it is written, I don't agree with the second, and I agree with the third.

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