OK, so I try hard not to insult JB this time ... RE: [SPORK] Something I REALLY want John Hall to Try To Understand

johnhall johnhall@isomedia.com
Sat, 22 Mar 2003 12:10:09 -0800


> From: fork-admin@xent.com [mailto:fork-admin@xent.com] On Behalf Of
Jeff
> Bone

Taking gratuitous shots of invective undermines your claim to return to
respectful argument, but I'm game.

> Try to understand this:  MANY of us who are disgusted by what's going
> on right now are disgusted at the means, not the end.  The question
for
> some of us is not whether this is a just war, but whether it was
> justified.  Fine but important point of distinction.  I believe
> deposing SH is the "right" thing to do.  But --- and here's the point,
> pay attention:
> 
> Doing the "RIGHT" thing the "WRONG" way is still "WRONG."  The end
does
> not justify the means --- something most of us learned in elementary
> school but which, apparently, many of us have forgotten.


The distinction between just and justified raises the critical question
of standards of evidence.  A very convenient method of avoiding doing
the just thing is to ignore all the evidence and continually chant that
you don't have 'enough'.

Now, that argument would seem to be unavailable to you if you want to
acknowledge that getting rid of SH is a good thing.

Furthermore you are not _actually_ arguing that the means (war) are
inappropriate.  You thus don't have an opportunity to apply the concept
of the ends not justifying the means.  Here the ends (removing SH) and
the means (war to do this) are both justified.

The closer argument is the one where you claim that doing the right
thing the wrong way is wrong.  I disagree but the point is very subtle
so you try paying attention:

Doing the right thing (killing a rape/murder perp, say) the wrong way
(vigilante action) is something you would call wrong.

As an operational matter for human beings you are correct, but correct
for reasons that don't appear in the statement.  That judgment is
correct only because we have no real way of _knowing_ they are getting
the right perp.  If we really could know they were getting the right
person then what they are doing would in fact be right.

It is a problem of knowledge and certainty.  Morally it is an
epistemological problem.

In this case, though, we do know we are doing the right thing and we
know we are doing it with the only means available.

> The "WRONG" way in this respect is the process that led to this ---
the
> inept diplomacy, the shifting justifications, the lies and forged
> evidence, the bluster and bullying, the inability to have a real
> "conversation" about this on the international scale, the fact that
war
> was always a foregone conclusion, etc.  

The diplomacy was not inept, those who wanted to protect their venial
interests or just wanted to be contrary were intransigent.


> ... simply
> consider the precedent we're setting and the consequences that are
> likely.  We've just rolled the whole globe back to the Law of the
> Jungle on an international level.  

It was _always_ a Law of the Jungle on an international level.  Wishful
thinking didn't make it otherwise.

The precedent is a good one, but that is because it isn't quite the one
you or some others fear.

> Couple that with the fact that we're
> creating unprecedented global ill-will towards us, and it's easy to
see
> that the new environment we've created is likely to have undesirable
> consequences for all of us, for a long time.

A lot of illusions have just been shattered.  I think that is a good
thing.

> Do you understand that this is the belief
> structure a lot of the protest is coming from, and that it's a
> reasonable and respectable belief structure, not something to be
> castigated and mocked --- even (or especially) when your PoV has
> "triumphed?"

I do not believe that is the belief structure that the protest is coming
from.

"Any serious criticism of the war must rely on one or both of two
claims: First, that it is not in the security interests of the United
States forcibly to remove Saddam from power; or, second, that a war to
rid the Iraqi people of a psychopathic dictator is worse for that
people, in humanitarian terms, than letting them continue to suffer
under him. "

"Rather than make these claims, Harvard's high-minded intellectuals
recite their usual litany of complaints about capitalism, about
globalization, and above all, about George W. Bush. Yesterday's protest
was an exercise in many things: vanity, condescension, evasion,
arrogance, and smug self-righteousness. But it failed miserably as an
effort at persuasion. This should come as no surprise to those of us who
recognize that war is tragic, but who also know that life under tyranny,
or life overshadowed by the danger of apocalyptic slaughter, is more
tragic still.

- Jason Steorts is a senior at Harvard University."

And it is those viewpoints which are castigated and mocked.  It is the
viewpoints of people who openly fear that the US will win and that the
Iraqis will be happy about it.