mardi 9 novembre 2010

Why I didn't shed a tear


Tony Blair vient de publier ses mémoires. Piégé par ses mensonges et son engagement illimité derrière G.W Bush pour mener la guerre en Irak, il s'en tient à une posture de déni du réel en insistant que si cela était à refaire eh bien il le referait.

Ce qui me rappelle les attentats du 7 juillet 2005 dans le métro londonien (56 victimes) ainsi que dans le métro de Madrid le 11 mars 2004 (191 victimes)

Je ne tombe nullement dans le sentimentalisme en ce qui concerne ces attentats. Bien au contraire, j'ai toujours pensé que tant l'Espagne que la Grande-Bretagne ne les avaient pas volés!

Comme de coutume les médias donnèrent dans l’unanimisme sur la barbarie, l’horreur, l’inhumanité des terroristes etc. Je n’ai pas souvenir de telles réactions indignées quand il s’agissait - entre autres- de l’opération “shock and awe” où les US - avec la complicité de la Grande Bretagne et de l'Espagne  précisément- faisaient pleuvoir sur Bagdad des bombes et des missiles lancés de plusieurs centaines de km de distance et qui - très certainement - n’ont jamais causé la moindre égratignure à qui que ce soit qui se trouvait aux points d’impact… 

Souvenez-vous comme c’était tellement télégénique sur les écrans de CNN ou de la Fox avec force effets graphiques et musique de kinopanorama. What a show that was all those nightly explosions over Bagdad! How beautiful is a far away waged-war when watched sitting pretty in your sofa in front of your tv set! Now that's what I call real entertainment!!!

Quant aux prétendus innocents de Londres et de Madrid la majorité n’était pas si innocente qu’on nous le martelait. Parmi les cinquante six morts à Londres, combien avaient approuvé la guerre en Irak? Et quand il s’est agi des élections de mai 2005, combien ont voté travailliste ou conservateur c’est-à-dire pour les deux partis qui soutenaient cette folie criminelle? La réélection de Blair a bien été le fait d’électeurs qui savaient qu’on les avait roulés dans la farine avec les armes de destruction massive, qui ont eu 2 ans pour comprendre la responsabilité de leurs politiciens dans le désastre et le carnage qui s’en sont suivis en Irak et qui néanmoins ont reconduit Blair en faisant l’impasse sur la guerre et en se focalisant sur leur petite situation économique. 

Même situation à Madrid ou pourtant, comme à Londres, la majorité de la population était contre  la guerre en Irak. Mais ainsi va la démocratie: Seuls Blair et Aznar avaient pris cette décision dont ils n'ont jamais eu à rendre compte. Et de même que Blair a été réélu, Aznar l'aurait été s'il n'avait pas commis l'erreur politique d'attribuer dans un premier temps l'attentat de Madrid à l'ETA. Les Espagnols, nonobstant cette guerre contre laquelle ils étaient majoritairement opposés ne s'en apprêtaient pas moins à reconduire Aznar dans ses fonctions.

Bien sûrs que la plupart des victimes étaient innocentes dans les deux villes, comme l'étaient les quelque 125.000 morts en Irak. Et cependant, tant les Espagnols que les Britanniques ont mis la guerre d'Irak de côté le jour où ils eurent la possibilité de dire non. Les uns comme les autres étaient-ils donc vraiment totalement innocents?

C'est sympa une guerre loin de ses frontières de telle sorte qu’on se croit bien à l’abri d’éventuelles représailles… Mais la guerre, c’est donner … et recevoir. Si infime que soit la responsabilité de la plupart des morts de Londres et Madrid elle n’en est pas moins réelle par le consentement peu ou prou tacite qu’ils ont accordé à cette criminelle politique.

Les 125.000 morts Irakiens, eux, n’ont certainement pas consenti à quoi que ce soit et certainement pas à recevoir le nec plus ultra de l’armement occidental sur la g…

125.000 civils irakiens tués contre 147 civils parmi les pays agresseurs. Fair and balanced isn't it?

Blair et Aznar avaient évidemment tout intérêt à noyer leur responsabilité immédiate dans ces carnages en éludant la question irakienne - directement à l’origine de ces représailles - et en invoquant une menace mondiale qu’eux seuls étaient susceptibles de contrer grâce à leur résolution, leur fermeté et leur clairvoyance.  

“Continuons à faire peur aux peuples pour qu’ils nous suivent et que nous soyons hors d’atteinte de leur ressentiment”. Be scared, be very scared... on connaît la chanson.

Voilà 2 irresponsables criminels qui après avoir mis le feu aux poudres ne savent plus quoi faire d’autre pour sauver leur peau que la fuite en avant, les conséquences de leur folie originelle leur servant de justification après coup par un renversement de la chaîne de causalité. Blair alla jusqu'à  nous resservir que 9/11 était antérieur à la guerre d’Irak, c’est-à-dire à réchauffer le mensonge éhonté qui avait servi à légitimer l’attaque sur l’Irak en justifiant l’agression par une hypothétique complicité de Saddam Hussein avec les terroristes du WTC. Et les médias à leur service travaillèrent à ce que tout le monde gobe ça…

In the meantime American drones kill dozens of civilians or supposed insurgents on a monthly basis in Pakistan or in Afghanistan but these actions have no relation whatsoever with State terrorism of course. It is called nation building. Yeah, sure...

And should the same thing happen in France my reasoning would be the same: We would have had it coming.

 Another criminal easily got away with his filthy past: The President of the European commission here with his accomplices.

Ain't democracy great? 


39 commentaires:

Ned Ludd a dit…

That's why I didn't shed a tear about the towers at 911. In any event, the 3 thousand who died is less than the number of people who die on American roads and highways every month.

BTW, the number of Iraqi deaths has been estimated at 10 times your number.

Anijo a dit…

I shed a tear for all of the innocent people who died on 9/11, for all of the people who die in auto accidents, for all of the innocent people who died in Iraq and for all of the other atrocities in life. It's sad.

Flocon a dit…

"the number of Iraqi deaths has been estimated at 10 times your number."

As a matter of fact I picked that number because that's the one the US army seems to have acknowledged according to Wikileaks.

There will never be a real and precise number of course but the 125.000 one can probably be multiplied by 5.

I didn't want to seem to exagerate with no other references than "estimations".

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: I have been disappointed in the lack of interest in this post. It deserves a thoughtful reply.

But, since I know how much you enjoy the role of agent provocateur, I am unsure about where to begin. How much of this post expresses what you really think about the issue?

So indulge me with the answer to a preliminary question. In your view, is there no ethical distinction at all between the airman who aims at a military target, but who, through accident or even ineptitude, and against his will, kills and wounds non-combatants, and the person who places a bomb on metro car, with the express intent and hope of killing as many non-combatants as possible?

Sincerely,
SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

Semperfidelis,

Forgive me forI arriving late at your comment which you apparently posted at 5 am (Paris) but which once again landed in my spambox. I've just noticed and retrieved it.


"I have been disappointed in the lack of interest in this post"

It didn't surprise me since my blog hasn't get the attention of the entire world up to now...

"I know how much you enjoy the role of agent provocateur"

The Flocon you've known no longer exists. I've turned into an old wise man...

"How much of this post expresses what you really think about the issue"

This post I wrote 5 years ago and gave it a second life because Blair and Bush have both have their memoirs published at about the same time.

As to how how much I really think about the issue, I'll say between 95% and 100%.

I don't know whether you read the post by yourself or through an Internet translator but I'll take for granted that you read French.


"the airman who aims at a military target"

Were the different buidings in Bagdad military targets that Shock and Awe hit?

"the airman who aims at a military target, but who, through accident or even ineptitude, and against his will, kills and wounds non-combatants"

How many dozens if not hundreds of Afghani civilians have been killed because American drones "thought" they were insurgents wereas they were peaceful families celebrating weddings? Or simply there were mistaken with "insurgents"?

About Insurgents, as far as I know they're in their country which is being occupied by foreigners. They fight for the freedom of their country.

What these people have done to the West I don't know but we sure do harm them.

What is the goal of the Nato occupation of Afghanistan? To kill the "insurgents" till the very last one which means killing about half the country men and women included?


"the person who places a bomb on metro car, with the express intent and hope of killing as many non-combatants as possible?

These persons don't have jets or drones or missiles or absolutely no modern weapon at their disposal.

The opposing forces are in a balance of 1 million whatever measure to one. Not exactly fair and balanced in my opinion.

What do you expect? That Irakis or Afghanis see their country invaded and the invadors/occupiers welcome them with music and flowers a greetings?

I don't know when that ever happened in history.

Flocon a dit…

I understand you make ethics a pivotal point which would make one of the combatants moraly free from any condamnation whereas the other one would be charged with all the opprobrium that goes with monsters.

Les supposée terroristes n'ont pas le millionième des armes de destruction massive (the real ones) que possèdent les Occidentaux. Que peuvent-ils faire? Rien alors et remercier leurs oppresseurs.

Par ailleurs l'éthique en situation de guerre... Was the killing of about 2 million Vietnamese ethical?

Et pour ne pas sembler être unilatéral dans mon opinion, le massacre de Sétif par les Français en 1945 n'était pas vraiment éthique non plus. Pareil pendant la guerre d'Algérie.

Don't get me wrong: I didn't rejoice when the London and Madrid attacks occured I just say they had it coming (ça leur pendait au bout du nez).

If I were to lose a dear one in similar circumstances ,I'd probably direct my wrath toward our governement rather than toward the people who would have committed such an attack.

You probably didn't like Chirac when he refused to go along the US and its puppies (in order not to write lapdogs) in Irak yet he beforehand agreed to help you in Afghanistan.

When was he right, when was he wrong?

Also, the Afghani war was launched (according to the official version) to get holf of one single man (well, two counting mollah Omar).

A war launched to get hold of two men!!! As of today about 1.400 American casualties for 2 men who are still on the run. Now, that's an achievement!

I can't remember if you read that post where two former Marines agreed with my analysis (stuff happen).

Speaking of ethics, I've read no later than today in the New York Times that the US gave shelter to Nazis (Mengele, Demjanjuk etc).

How ethical was that?


I had to split up my answer in two parts, Blogger doesn't accept comments with more than 4.096 signs.

I have a feeling we won't read the same book, anyway thanks for your participation.

Yours

Flocon a dit…

Correction :

"What do you expect? That Irakis or Afghanis see their country invaded and the invadors/occupiers be welcomed with music and flowers and greetings?"

And everyone gently and gracefully surrenders?


Pour ce qui est de l'éthique, on peut répondre que c'est un principe indivisible et ne pas choisir dans une liste d'actions ce qui relève de l'éthique et ce qui n'en relève pas.

Si quelqu'un se réclame d'une éthique il doit être cohérent et ne pas sélectionner selon ses besoins pratiques ou argumentatifs.

On ne peut prendre l'exemple des attentats "terroristes" comme révélateurs d'un manque d'éthique ou d'une violation de l'éthique et exclure ce qui c'est passé à Abu Graïb par exemple.

L'invasion illégale au regard du droit international d'un pays qui n'a rien fait ni ne préparait rien contre les US était-elle éthique?

Qu'est-ce que l'éthique? Est-ce un concept universel qui serait constitué d'un corps de valeurs elles-mêmes universelles ou ces valeurs sont-elles différentes selon les cultures, les époques, les civilisations?

L'Éthique est certes un concept probablement universel (ce qui renvoie à la question du bien et du mal comme à leur origine) mais les valeurs défendues par les uns et les autres sont fort différentes.

Il en est question dans le billet sur Les Chinois.

How ethical were human sacrifices by the Aztecs?

Les valeurs de l'Occident sont contraires aux valeurs des asiatiques (Confucéens, Taoïstes etc.), des Musulmans et de toutes les civilisations qui nous ont précédés.

De même certaines de nos propres valeurs sont très récentes au sein même de notre culture judéo-chrétienne.

Ce qui vous paraît être une horreur peut paraître un acte de bravoure pour des Musulmans.

It would be better not to try to impose (by force) western values upon people who've been around centuries before us.

How ethical were the bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki etc?

Ethics command that there would be no war.

Since there are wars, there is no ethics whe can refer to in times of war.

Anijo a dit…

Flocon,

I have to admit that I don't always follow your line of reasoning. There's that American in me who understands what SemperFi is feeling.

You and Ned think so very much alike, and as the the two of you both live in Paris, it should be grand should the two of you decide to meet up and have a wonderful conversation I would think!

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: I read French indifferently well, and lack the expertise to use translators most of the time.

As I read your response, I began to think that you were going to avoid a direct answer to my question, which was out of character for you.

But you provided a most complete reply in your last two sentences.

// Ethics command that there would be no war.

Since there are wars, there is no ethics whe can refer to in times of war.//

If we discount ethics as a restraint of behaviour in war, is there any other source of restraint to which you would subscribe? Are the only alternatives war without limits, or no war at all?

I want to avoid past misunderstandings during this discussion. This post and all my other notes contain no intentional irony. I am not trying to be provocative.

I am most interested in this subject. It has been a matter of regular reflection for me for years, as I come to terms with my own experiences. Some men I know have become truly hardened, and no longer have the ability to empathise with others. For some, it happens easily, perhaps because they are not contemplative personalities. For others, it requires an effort of the will. I (and I am certainly not alone in this) reject this state. I want to think about all of my life.

So I value what you have to say.
All the best,
SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

"There's that American in me who understands what SemperFi is feeling."

You wrote the key word: Feeling. That's why it's very difficuly to adress this topic when on the one hand someone is in the realm of sentiments and on the other hand the other one is more prone to exercise reason.

it is written in the post:

"Je ne tombe nullement dans le sentimentalisme en ce qui concerne ces attentats".

Indeed my post isn't emotional but it provides (or at least tries to) a reasoning with arguments.

If the arguments aren't adressed and possibly debunked, I'm afraid it is impossible to near any form of mutual understanding.

Of course I know how sensitive the 9/11 issue is for Americans who, for the majority of them, couldn't understand why these attacks occured.

And yet there's a historical context which finally made these attacks bound to happen.

It's one thing to understand why it happened, it is another thing to mentally integrate it of course


re Ned, it happens that we often share the same Weltanschaung yet, on this post, she adresses the 9/11 issue which I didn't. And also since, she was short of time, she only could make a comparison with the tolls car crashes make as to the number of dead in the TT.

The historical importance of the 9/11 attacks are definitivey not the resultant number of casualties but the political symbol of America striken in her heart.

Flocon a dit…

Semperfidelis,


"If we discount ethics as a restraint of behaviour in war, is there any other source of restraint to which you would subscribe?"

Thanks for this question which permits me to understand how too assertive and lacking of nuance my answer was.

There is indeed an ethical frame even in times of war since ethics is part of our being, whatever the values are, for better or for worse.

But ethics differ from one culture to another, nothing here that you don't already know of course.

Yes there is an ethical frame in any circumstances of life but it most often is not a dependable one but on the contrary, an expandable multi dimensional one.

During WWII Germans soldiers knew that the American army sustained an ethics that wasn't to be expected from the Russians.

Yet, American ethics didn't prevent Truman to order that two A. bombs be dropped on Japanese civilians.

American ethics didn't prevent Johnson and Nixon to wage war in Vietnam until 2 million Vietnamese were killed.

Is waterboarding sync with American ethics?

Of course you understand it's not a matter of US vs. France, I gave Sétif as an example. I could have chosen hundreds of other historical references where ethics were disposed of at will according to the day-to-day on the ground situation.

The Spaniards, as Christian as you get, did behave the way you know they did in South America in the name of their Chritians values.
How ethical was that?

Yes there theoretically exists an ethical frame which aim it is to restraint the use of violence and abject conducts in times of harshness.

But if we admit that ethics is a principle that should suffer no exception, how worthy is a principle which may and actually is so easily put aside when those who are responsible for the maintenace of said principle free themselves of the very tenets of what they pretend to be the wardens of?

I appreciate this exchange and thank you for the opportunity to discuss these matters.

Yours

Ned Ludd a dit…

Semper Fi, Wikileaks became famous with its video of an American helicopter shooting repeatedly on a group of Iraqis, including two employees of Reuters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nDMv_M6WWY&feature=related

Ned Ludd a dit…

A video comment on the news coverage of this attack.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ2J8PX3Sdg&feature=fvw

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

"You and Ned think so very much alike, and as the the two of you both live in Paris, it should be grand should the two of you decide to meet up and have a wonderful conversation I would think!"

Ned has just let me know that she doesn't want to be bothered with conceited people going around with inflated egos... (super lol!!!)

Flocon a dit…

Speaking of ethics, even the underworld has its "ethics". So in the end you wonder if the word isn't a shell with whatever mussel you want inside...

So to suggest my ethics is better than that of the other is at least questionable.

Anonyme a dit…

//So to suggest my ethics is better than that of the other is at least questionable.//

I assert that a valid ethical statement is universally true. If discrimination between ethical statements cannot be made, then they are simply statements of preference. In that case, the man who says "one ought not to kill the non-combatants in the train" and the man who says "one is permitted to kill the non-combatants in the train" are differing only in their desires. One desires that the passengers be spared, the other desires that they be killed. Their statements have no different meaning than the statement of one man who says "I like vanilla" and a second who says "I like chocolate." An "ethics" so empty of content can offer no guidance for future conduct.

I am comfortable in insisting that the Western ethic demanding that all reasonable efforts be taken to spare non-combatants, and that military actions be subject to the rule of proportionality, is superior to the jihadist ethic that permits them to kill anyone, anywhere, at any time so long as it advances their cause.

Flocon asks if the American use of the atom bomb against Japan was consistent with this Western ethic. It has always been justified as consistent with proportionality. Defenders of the attack argue that it shortened the war significantly, and thus resulted in a net saving of lives. In the language of the lawyers, the military benefit (ending the war without further bloodshed) outweighed the risk of injury to non-combatants. This argument has come under increasing criticism in the post-war years. It is fair to say that the consensus of scholarly opinion today is that the atomic bomb attacks were illegal.

Ned raises a contemporary incident widely (but not universally, by any means) argued to be a war crime. But the airmen in that case had to get permission to fire. They argued that their targets were combatants. Even if they were too careless in distinguishing their targets from combatants (or even if they knew they were killing non-combatants) they expressly conceded the principle that reasonable care should be taken to avoid killing non-combatants.

But the important point is that past acts of illegality on the part of Western soldiers do not excuse present crimes by the jihadists. The soldier who shoots an unarmed man with knowledge and intent is a murderer. The jihadist who blows up a train killing commuters is a mass murderer. The soldier operating a drone, who must get permission from a targeting team (including a lawyer) who can see everything he can see, and who fires at the car believing the passengers are armed combatants, may be mistaken. Perhaps inept. But he is not a murderer if, in fact, the passengers are non-combatants on their way to a wedding.

I think it is error to argue that, because the West has not always been perfect in adhering to a principle, that it follows that the principle is invalid. This error leads to the conclusion that the we are no better than the jihadists. And that we are not justified in defending ourselves.

But perhaps I have misunderstood your original post. When you proposed that "...we would have had it coming..." perhaps you meant it in the sense that the jihadist attacks in the West were to be EXPECTED. People might say, for example, that a man who engages in high-risk rock climbing "had it coming" when they learn that he has been killed in a fall. They mean that his death was to be expected, not that it was deserved, or just.
Comments invited,
SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

"Comments invited"

Juste give me some time to write it down. Your latest input is much interesting hence requires an articulate answer.

Anijo a dit…

Ah, an interesing exchange here. I look forward to future developments in this train of thought.

Flocon a dit…

Now, that's an immensely huge topic you're addressing here SemperFidelis, that of moral philosophy.

"I assert that a valid ethical statement is universally true".

From the beginning we're in a predicament here because you posit that there may exist a valid ethical statement and that it is universally true.

One question: What is a valid ethical statement? According to which values? Who decides it is valid? Is there even a possibility that there may exist valid ethical statements?

Second observation: what is universally true means that it is true through the ages and all over the world among all civilisations that ever came into being.

Example of a universally valid statement: (a+b)² = a² +2ab+ b².

You'll tell me it has nothing to do with morality and you're right because rien de ce qui relève de l'éthique ou de la morale ne peut être universel.

Kant formulated what you'd call a valid ethical statement with his categorical imperative which he thought should be universally respected and obeyed. His attempt miserably failed when the example of the lie came under scrutiny.

"If discrimination…future conduct".

Mutatis mutandis that is the position of Spinoza. I won't expose Spinoza's "system" of morality but in a nutshell he says that there are no God given rules of morality (that would be transcendental) but what is bad or what is good is decided by me according to their wishes and desires. Nothing is good or bad per se but uniquely because we decide of what is good and what is bad.

Spinoza's point of view may be debatable of course, all the more through such an hyper digest of his stand upon morality.

Yet he poses that morality cannot be universal because it depends on men hence cultures and civilisations.

Flocon a dit…

Se pose à présent la question de l'origine des valeurs qui fondent un système moral, une hiérarchie des valeurs.

Nietzsche then is an absolute must read. As is Schopenhauer regarding the very origin of morality. But that would lead us to unfathomable lengths.

Is it possible to believe that any ethical statement could have been considered as such by the people living in Sumer, in ancient Egypt, in Africa, in pre-Colombian civilisations as well as in China 3.000 years ago or in contemporary north-America?

I'm afraid not.

What we, in the West now consider as the ultimate moral commandment is to not kill one's next. That is our position now but it wasn't the case some centuries ago and it still is not respected (death penalty, wars).

What we call "human rights" was next to meaningless three centuries ago in Europe and absolutely and utterly incomprehensible to people living in more distant times.

If we consider slavery, how respectful was that practise re human rights? I don't chose that example in order to pick on you because of your nationality (slavery has been practised all over the world for thousands of years) but because this is a specific historical and cultural context that you know far more than I do.

Yes slavery was practised by white Christians, not 2.000 years ago but till 150 years ago in the US. 100 years of slavery that were followed by about one hundred more years of full citizenship denial.

A certain segment of the American population was recognized full citizenship not even 50 years ago.

This goes to show that the values which are considerded as the basis of any system of morality are in constant evolution, versatile as well as volatile. Even in the same cultural group such as the US or Europe or any other one you can think of.

If any ethical statement was to be universal it could never be altered by the course of history and the development of humanity's potentialities which is not and has never been the case of course.

Flocon a dit…

If one believes that our current Western set of values is the ultimate achievement of morality on earth, he/she implicitely affirms there will be no other evolution or changes and that our successors through the ages will stick to said values until the end of times.

Methinks he/she would be seriously misled in so thinking.

.

This is an unsustainable point of view Semper.

It's like any individual proclaiming that the value of his group is superior to the values of another group.

A Christian will hold that his values are superior to those of a Muslim who himself will insist that his values and ideals are superior to those of the Jews who think of themselves as superior to all other groups because they are the chosen people.

Peace isn't around the corner then...

Here is a short post I recently wrote about this mindset of superiority not knowing of course that you would participate to an exchange here.

As pertains to your "I'm confortable" etc. you write as someone from the military to expose your views about ethics whereas we're talking here Sub specie aeternitatis.

On ne peut restreindre une réflexion sur la moralité à un champ particulier de nos actes tout en appelant à une universalité d'un concept moral. Il y a contradiction dans la démarche.

Allow me not to respond in full to the A.bombs issue, millions of books have been written before.

Just one point yet: I once heard a Japanese asking if Americans would have used the A bomb against Germany had they had the weapon ready before August 1945?

That was an implicit suggestion that Americans then considered the Japanese as "inferior" (cf. racism) to the Germans who were on the same level of humanity than the Americans.

I just mention this without entering any moral appreciation re the use of the A bomb.

Flocon a dit…

As concerns your paragraph regarding Jihadist, service men, not murderers and mass murderers etc. you resort to a vocabulary range that reflects Western values which necessarily leads to a moral judgment in accordance with said values.

It may work within the frame of our Western current values but it is as locked a mindset that the mindset of the opposite side.

Of course, as a Westerner myself I'm tempted to think that our values are "superior" but that point of view would be emotional and completely irrational hence worthless.

The Jihadist don't hesitate to blow themselves up for the cause they deem their raison d'être. That is another ethic we can condemn but our condemnation is based on what we consider our "superior" values which by no means are universal. They simply are ours.

Speaking of mass murdering, can't the carpet bombing in Vietnam be considered as a deliberate action of mass murdering? What about our purported superior values then?

Once again, je ne porte pas de jugement, je pose des questions, essaie de répondre aux vôtres, essaie de voir les choses sous un autre éclairage.


"...This error leads to the conclusion that the we are no better than the jihadists. And that we are not justified in defending ourselves."

Arriving to the conclusion that we are no better than the Jihadists because we betrayed our own principles in the past would be a wrong conclusion indeed because bad is not an excuse for bad or even worse.

Everyone is entitled to self defense, the West as well as those among the Muslims who think their countries have been mistreated by the West for far too long.


"When you proposed that "...we would have had it coming..." perhaps you meant it in the sense that the jihadist attacks in the West were to be EXPECTED"

My point, yes. It's just a matter of action/reaction.

An individual cannot commit a crime, be it petty, without expecting (unless he's/she's a fool) any sort of reaction from the one he/she has assaulted or from the community he/she belongs to, in modern societies the laws of the State.

Same for States. Think Germany or Japan, Argentina (Faulklands), North Korea in the 50s etc.

Whether they deserved it is a moral appreciation but they had it coming in terms of responsibility of their acts.

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: Thank-you for writing such a complete response. Your effort requires an equally thorough essay on my part. But, in the end, I agree with you that we start from such different premises that our destination is likely to be a cordial agreement to disagree.

For my part, I would enjoy teasing out the questions raised.

Unfortunately, I lack the time at the moment to do your posts any justice. So, with your permission, I will come back in a few days. The Thanksgiving holiday will give me a break from work.

In the meantime:

//Everyone is entitled to self-defense//

Is this a universal statement? Or does it apply only in a particular societal context, at a given time, in a given place?

On a technical issue, when I checked on the blog, the post showed 23 comments. But when I went to read the comments, only 22 appeared. Did I miss #23, the one wherein you conceded the entire argument and announced that you are taking holy orders?

Yours truly,
SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

"Everyone is entitled to self-defense"

Of course, I see what you're aiming at...

One may indeed consider that specific statement as a universal one but I'm not sure there's much morality attached to it. And I would be hard pressed to consider that proposition as an ethical one.

I'm prone to make a comparison with antibodies. Are they entitled to self defence? Well, that is their job, that is their raison d'être.

I fail to see what morality, let alone ethics, has to do in here.

This drives us again to Spinoza and his conatus.

Entitlement to self defence can be considered as a reflexive action by any entity, be it an individual, a community or more basically any living organism at its very fundamental biological level.

When the biologist tickles the cell, this one tends to react in defence.

Action/reaction, there isn't much ethics here, is there?

To be sure, the frontier between ethics and morality is rather blurry. We may perhaps make the comparison with tactics and strategy. Anyway, at the end of the day, I'm not sure this words issue is very important or even significant.

So your statement (entitled to self-defence may be considered a universal one as long as it pertains to the laws of Nature.

As concerns the disappeared comment,
"the one wherein you conceded the entire argument and announced that you are taking holy orders?"

That was a close shave indeed but in the end I manned up!

Most of it was useless chattering ending with a personal question that I eventually thought of as too personal.

But if you insist: I was wondering whether the Marines corps was one of rank and foot soldiers or a rather more sophisticated one with a level of education that you and two other former Marines who were participants to this blog three years ago have in common.


Sincerely yours

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: The virtues of the U.S. Marine Corps are many. I assure you that we are superb. But, I can even now anticipate your suspicion. SemperFidelis might not be a reliable source!

Although I am, in fact, as objective as a Florida Republican at a vote recount, I can see why you might want a second opinion. I recommend that you ask Anijo for her views of the Marine Corps.

Anijo a dit…

Well then.....there was a time in my life when my view of military folks was not that positive. Having exchanged thoughts with someone so sincere and intelligent as our SemperFi, my thoughts have become more positive.

Also, I recently attended a pow-wow and met some Native American veterans.

What?! A Native American a part of and loyal to the U.S. military? Alas, they are not all akin to Russell Means

Anijo a dit…

Although I am, in fact, as objective as a Florida Republican at a vote recount

Ah, this willingness to mock your own I find so endearing.

Flocon a dit…

"Ah, this willingness to mock your own I find so endearing."

Oh I see... This is the secret tactics one must use in order to seduce la petite Américaine...

You must forget me Anijo, I'm no match to that SemperFidelis guy... :-(

Flocon a dit…

"I assert that a valid ethical statement is universally true."

En fait l'idée même d'une valeur morale d'une portée universelle est très récente (le temps), le siècle des Lumières particulièrement et Kant donc.

(Platon et ses idées était un réaliste puisqu'il maintenait que ces idées (le bien, le beau, le juste etc.) avaient une existence of their own, indépendante de la perception que nous pouvions en avoir. Ces idées étaient donc universelles en effet mais pratiquement parfaitement inutiles puisque elles nous étaient inaccessibles)

Par ailleurs cette idée de moralité universelle est d'origine européenne (l'espace).

Il est donc logiquement impossible de penser une valeur éthique qui serait de portée universelle puisqu'elle ne pourrait être que récente et d'origine spécifiquement européenne.

Ni les Chinois d'il y a 5.000 ans, ni les Égyptiens ni aucune des civilisations les plus anciennes n'ont jamais songé ni avancé une quelconque valeur morale "universelle".

Toutes ces civilisations avaient leurs propres prescriptions morales, celles qui leur convenaient et répondaient à leurs besoins mais qui pouvaient être antithétiques et contradictoires avec celles des autres civilisations parallèles (dans le temps et l'espace).

Pour un croyant seul Dieu est universel puisqu'il était là avant et qu'il sera là après, et ce en tous lieux de l'univers.

L'aseité est un concept théiste qui ne saurait s'appliquer à la morale qui est humaine, tout ce qu'il y a d'humaine.

(Schopenhauer, effectivement parle de l'aséité de la Volonté parce qu'il attribue à celle-ci une moralité. Mais il s'agit là d'une moralité transcendantale qui ne saurait nous concerner, nous petits humains dispersés sur notre petite planète Terre)

Si l'on laisse de côté cette fable pour enfants il ne saurait y avoir aucune valeur morale universelle.

Si d'ailleurs pareille valeur morale était possible, elle nous serait consubstantielle et nous en aurions pris connaissance depuis des dizaines de milliers d'années, c'est à dire quand l'homo sapiens a accédé à la conscience de lui-même.

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: My recollection of the thinkers you cite does not support what I perceive to be your position.
I recall that Spinoza did believe in God as providing transcendental truth. His concept of God was not that of the personal being familiar to Jews, Christians and Muslims. But it did posit truths that were valid everywhere and at all times. Spinoza did deny that we have free will in the sense that a Christian would understand it. He counseled that the best we could do was to gain understanding about reality through reason.
Schopenauer also denied our free will. But, in opposition to Spinoza, he denied that there was any rationality or design in the world. He counseled that the best we can do is to curb our egos and endure.
Nietzche has little to offer the ordinary man seeking guidance about how to make decisions. His aim was to demonstrate that contemporary ethics inhibited the development of superior, creative men. Like himself, for example.

//When the biologist tickles the cell, this one tends to react in defence.//

//Action/reaction, there isn't much ethics here, is there?//

Here you appear to be walking down the path leading to B.F. Skinner's position that we are simply biochemical machines, and that any experience we have of freedom of action is an illusion. Our every thought is biochemically determined. This certainly is a way of disposing of ethical problems!

//So to suggest my ethics is better than that of the other is at least questionable.//

I would expect from this position that you would favor adoption of something like the apatheia of the Stoic. A calm and detached observation of the world, without passion.

But, in the past, you have been passionate about some of your apparently ethical criticisms of the actions of others. For example, you have been heated in your criticisms of Israeli actions in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. By what standard do the Israelis fall short of "good" conduct?
Sincerely,
SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

I reckon you're a true Marine since you're always on the attack and never on the defensive.

I mean, you always ask questions and never answer those which are asked to you.

It may be the right thing to do on the ground but I'm afraid it doesn't work that well in an exchange such as the one we're having here.

I'll answer your latest post but first let me remind you of all the questions I've asked and which remained unanswered. They are numerous indeed...

- "Were the different buidings in Bagdad military targets that Shock and Awe hit?"

- "What is the goal of the Nato occupation of Afghanistan? To kill the "insurgents" till the very last one which means killing about half the country men and women included?"

- "I can't remember if you read that post where two former Marines agreed with my analysis (stuff happen)."

- "Speaking of ethics, I've read no later than today in the New York Times that the US gave shelter to Nazis (Mengele, Demjanjuk etc).
How ethical was that?"


- "L'invasion illégale au regard du droit international d'un pays qui n'a rien fait ni ne préparait rien contre les US était-elle éthique?"

- "Is waterboarding sync with American ethics?"

- "The Spaniards, as Christian as you get, did behave the way you know they did in South America in the name of their Chritians values.
How ethical was that?"


- "One question: What is a valid ethical statement? According to which values? Who decides it is valid? Is there even a possibility that there may exist valid ethical statements?"

- "I once heard a Japanese asking if Americans would have used the A bomb against Germany had they had the weapon ready before August 1945?"

- "Speaking of mass murdering, can't the carpet bombing in Vietnam be considered as a deliberate action of mass murdering? What about our purported superior values then?"

These are just some questions I asked which remained unanswered . There are others but now that would be tedious to list them all.

Globally speaking, I notice you've let aside about 95% of the arguments I have proposed and you've been pick-choosing among the ones you saw fit for your needs.

By constantly asking me questions and not taking into account all that I've written you're acting like some sort of General Attorney interrogating a criminal suspect.

As you may expect, in the end I don't exactly appreciate the exercise. Besides, it won't lead us very far in terms of mutual understanding.

Flocon a dit…

"My recollection of the thinkers you cite does not support what I perceive to be your position."

It may be because you're relying on recollection.

"Spinoza did believe in God as providing transcendental truth"

Definitively not. Deus sive natura meant that there was no transcendal God but precisely that God was Nature itself (pantheism) therefore immanent.

"it did posit truths that were valid everywhere and at all times."

Those truth were the laws of nature which indeed are universal.

I notice that in the first place you were questioning me about universal ethical statements and now you refer to universal truth. Has the need for universal ethical statements disappeared?

As pertains Spinoza the rest is OK AFAIK.

re Schopenhauer. He didn't oppose Spinoza about rationality. They both agreed (like everyone else after Descartes, Spinoza and Leibnitz founded the basis of modern rationality) that rationality was the definitive tool which would permit us to gain a better understanding of reality.

Spinoza didnt think the world was a rational one but that it was only through the fair use of reason that we could understand it and accomplish our own well being on the way to beatitudes.

Schopenhauer didn't contradict that position but insisted the world was without reason or final goal (aim). He was the harbinger of modern continental philosophies of the absurd (among many other issues).

"He counseled that the best we can do is to curb our egos and endure."

He thought that the only way to salvation was to get rid of our individualism and tend to annihilate our given portion of Will.

As to Nietzsche his analysis of the origins of values is commendable but his propositions of a new set of values (slaves vs. masters etc.) is highly questionable nowadays.

"His aim was to demonstrate that contemporary ethics inhibited the development of superior, creative men. Like himself, for example."

Yes, that's where Ayn Rand took her idea of John Gault.

The paragraph about Skinner calls for other developments but my time is like yours: limited.

"//So to suggest my ethics is better than that of the other is at least questionable.//

I would expect from this position that you would favor adoption of something like the apatheia of the Stoic. A calm and detached observation of the world, without passion."


I fail to see any relation between the two arguments.

"By what standard do the Israelis fall short of "good" conduct?"

Another wormcan here. What about proportionality?

Anyway, the more we drift away from your original question (ethics) the less we're likely to reach any form of mutual understanding (which by no means induces mutual agreement of course).


Back to your first question:
"I assert that a valid ethical statement is universally true".

What is a valid ethical statement? According to which values? Who decides it is valid? Is there even a possibility that there may exist valid ethical statements?

Yours

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: I am sorry for the misunderstanding about your questions regarding US/Western misconduct. I thought we had resolved the issues with this exchange:
//But the important point is that past acts of illegality on the part of Western soldiers do not excuse present crimes by the jihadists.//

I think that you subsequently agreed, but on a quick scan I can't find your exact response.

In any case, I am happy to respond to all your questions.
"Were the different buidings in Bagdad military targets that Shock and Awe hit?" Yes, all were government buildings housing military and security services. And they were usually struck at night, to minimize casualties.

- "What is the goal of the Nato occupation of Afghanistan? To kill the "insurgents" till the very last one which means killing about half the country men and women included?" The goal is to prevent Al Quada from re-establishing their training camps for preparing terrorist strikes against the West.

- "I can't remember if you read that post where two former Marines agreed with my analysis (stuff happen)." I did not.

- "Speaking of ethics, I've read no later than today in the New York Times that the US gave shelter to Nazis (Mengele, Demjanjuk etc).
How ethical was that?" I don't know about Mengele. I think Demjanjuk was deported. The US and other allies did not prosecute every Nazi official after the war. To the extent that we did not prosecute war criminals, it was unethical.

- "L'invasion illégale au regard du droit international d'un pays qui n'a rien fait ni ne préparait rien contre les US était-elle éthique?" This issue is very fact-dependent. In some cases, when the threat is immanent and grave, pre-emptive war is ethical. Many contemporary scholars hold that it is in violation of the UN Charter, but that is a different question.

- "Is waterboarding sync with American ethics?" This is also fact-dependent. Given an immanent and grave threat, it is ethical. But the current administration holds that it is illegal. That is a different question.

- "The Spaniards, as Christian as you get, did behave the way you know they did in South America in the name of their Chritians values.
How ethical was that?" It was neither ethical nor in accord with Christian values.

- "One question: What is a valid ethical statement? According to which values? Who decides it is valid? Is there even a possibility that there may exist valid ethical statements?" Deferred until the end of the post.

- "I once heard a Japanese asking if Americans would have used the A bomb against Germany had they had the weapon ready before August 1945?" Speculative. Who can tell?

- "Speaking of mass murdering, can't the carpet bombing in Vietnam be considered as a deliberate action of mass murdering? What about our purported superior values then?" If by "carpet bombing" you mean area bombing of urban areas to kill industrial workers and drive them from their homes, this did not happen in Vietnam. There was no Dresden in Vietnam. But you can make your point with the WWII Combined Bomber Offensive, which was unethical insofar as the mass area attacks on cities is concerned.

As Christian, I believe that God has established truths that are always valid. Through His special revelation in Scripture, and reason, we can determine right conduct. That doesn't mean it is always easy to do.

This is where we certainly part company.
Warm regards,
SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

Semperfidelis,

Merci d'avoir répondu aux questions (safe one but it doesn't matter).

As concerns the post where two marines commented, here's your second chance...

Regarding your last paragraph I notice that it's no longer a matter of ethics but of truth.

Since philosophy has nothing to do with superstition I agree with you "This is where we certainly part company."

Unless another thread gives an opportunity I hope.

Sincerely yours.

Anijo a dit…

Flocon, you meant to say "save one", not "safe one". "Safe one" means that SemperFi only answered a safe question, one that was not difficult to respond to.

Flocon a dit…

I confess this save/safe distinction bugs me.

Ned made the same remark some time ago and I didn't get it.

It looks like safe and save may mean except in certain cases and the opposite in other cases.

Maybe I'd better stick to except but it reduces my vocabulary range.

- Safe my heart which is bleeding everything's fine or
- Save my heart (not to be mistaken with the verb to save of course) which is bleeding, everything's fine?

Which is which?

Anijo a dit…

Only "save" means "except" in certain cases. "Safe" never means "except". "Safe" means "free from danger or risk", sécurité, protection..

Anijo a dit…

Safe my heart which is bleeding everything's fine or

This makes no sense at all. You might say, "my heart is safe from being harmed".

Flocon a dit…

Ah merci Anijo, je n'oublierai pas, comme America is a she and the US is a "it".

En fait j'ai bien utilisé save pendant des années jusqu'à ce que je remarque sur SF que plusieurs commentateurs écrivaient safe instead of save.

Ça m'a mit la tête tout à l'envers et j'ai basculé de l'autre côté du miroir... ♫ ♪ ♫

Je vais faire les corrections dans tous les billets en anglais ☺