Re: MD Understanding Quality And Power

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Thu Dec 16 2004 - 16:08:28 GMT

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    On 16 Dec 2004 at 12:30, Sam Norton wrote:

    * * * * * * * BEGIN PREVIOUS * * * * * * * * *
    MSH said:
    My claim is that the USG-UKG values the lives of innocents less than
    the lives of it's combatants, at least when the innocents are
    strangers unfortunate enough to be living in a foreign country the
    USG-UKG wants to invade.

    Sam now says:
    We need to distinguish three issues here, which have got blurred - 1.
    the killing of civilians as a result of pursuing a legitimate
    military target; 2. the killing of civilians as a result of pursuing
    illegitimate military targets (to terrorise the population); and 3.
    the lower valuation of civilians as compared to the valuation of
    'home' soldiers.

    I think that 1. is inevitable (to be regretted and minimised
    wherever possible, but unavoidable); 2. is evil; and 3. is
    profoundly problematic. So when I said 'I'm not persuaded of that
    point', what I am not persuaded of is that US/UK actions in Iraq fall
    under 2. rather than 1. Which I'm sure we'll pursue further.

    msh says:
    Ok. But please recognize that 3 comes into play in actions that are
    1 or 2. That is, it doesn't matter whether or not the military goal
    is "legitimate." If the goal is achieved through actions that are
    taken only if the innocents killed are foreign strangers, rather than
    the attacker's family or loved ones, then the action is morally
    * * * * * * * END PREVIOUS * * * * * * *

    sam says:
    This I'm finding very interesting. Is an alternative way of putting
    your point to say this: as a result of 3, targets that are claimed to
    be in 1 are in fact under 2? So the issue is the criteria of what
    counts as a legitimate military target.

    msh says:
    Yes. And a very real factor in determining legitimacy is the
    question of necessity: Is this particular action (say the missile
    attack on Baghdad) necessary to achieve a larger (presumably
    justified) military goal (say the removal of Saddam Hussein)? I'm
    saying the question of necessity is answered negatively if other less-
    lethal actions can be visualized; and great way to quickly visualize
    alternative actions is to hypothetically substitute OUR innocents for
    THEIR innocents.

    sam says:
    My suspicion is that if we accept your criteria then all military
    action is ruled out, as I can't think of a realistic scenario in
    which I would actively harm my own family. But that doesn't make your
    position wrong.

    msh says:
    Well, far be it from me to take the fun out of life for people who
    get a kick outta war. The question is whether or not there are
    legitimate military goals. In a world governed by law, not ruled by
    force, it's up to the aggressor-nation to prove that it's proposed
    action is legitimate. If we are truly concerned with International
    Law, the only way to prove the legitimacy of aggression is to go
    through the UN, not pretend to be following UN protocol while you
    move your forces into position, only to blow off the UN at the last
    minute because the foreseen results are not to our liking. This is
    no different that lynching a man acquitted of murder because you
    disagree with the verdict.

    * * * * BP
    sam on preference for own family/biological conditioning etc:
    I think there is a very big issue here, which would benefit from
    some patient exploration, as I think it 'goes all the way down' and
    probaly accounts for a huge part of our different approaches. What do
    you think?

    msh says:
    See immediately above. I agree that this appears to be an important
    difference in our moral temperments. I'm just surprised that it
    does. But, yes, let's explore this difference in any way you like.
    * * * * EP

    I think this is one of the most important, yet also most
    unacknowledged differences between "conservative" and "progressive"
    approaches. If we get to a position of clarity on the killing of
    innocents point, I'd very much like to explore this more.

    msh says:
    Great. I agree that this is a huge rift between progressive and
    conservative thinkers. Progressives tend to recognize and work to
    expand the family of man concept; in my experience, conservatives
    tend to pay it lip-service, but deny it completely if it gets in the
    way of personal or immediate group (family, religion, race, culture,
    nation) benefit.

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
    InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
    Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
    Web Site:

    "The shadows that a swinging lamp will throw,
     We come from nowhere and to nothing go."

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)

    InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
    Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
    Web Site:
    "The shadows that a swinging lamp will throw,
    	We come from nowhere and to nothing go."
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