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Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's
war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars"
defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make
the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an
application of science be successful? Is a militarized space
inevitable, necessary or impossible?
Read Debates, a
new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every
(936 previous messages)
- 05:02am Mar 29, 2002 EST (#937
What is a “just war”? http://abc.net.au/compass/thisweek/default.htm
What is a “just war”? Should we risk killing and maiming
civilians in order to fight terrorism? Is it even possible to ‘fight
fair’ against perpetrators of terrorism?
On Good Friday, a traditional day of reflection about human
deficiencies and personal responsibility, Compass looks at an issue
that embroils us all since September 11.
London-based professor of moral philosophy, Jonathan Glover, has
spent several decades trying to understand how the atrocities
committed throughout the 20th Century in two world wars and Nazi or
Stalinist genocide came about. By analysing the ethics of those who
perpetrated these acts, Glover has recently published his book
“Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century” to warn us of how
easily we can slide into inhumanity.
Glover concludes by saying that 20th Century wars, massacre and
genocide came from combining the psychology of human beings who
have "a strong propensity both for getting trapped into conflict
and also for cruelty and mass killing" with modern technology. His
last words are: "It is to the psychology that we should now
turn." I hope he will do so more completely in another book.
As director of the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King¹s
College London and the author of books on the philosophy and
biology, he would be well placed to do so. ] Discussing this
topic with Geraldine Doogue are; Professor Jonathan Glover, Centre
of Medical Law & Ethics, King’s College, London; Hugh White, the
Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; Professor
Hilary Charlesworth, Director of the Centre of International &
Public Law at ANU; Professor Tony Coady, Director of the Centre of
Applied Philosophy & Public Ethics at the University of
Melbourne; and Mike Smith, a recently retired General from the
Australian Defence Force.
Seen any feature articles covering the ethics and morals of a
One point made was that with modern technology the military
technical operater doesn't see the victims - their suffering ... the
feedback is blunted.
A war artist working amongst US pilots working over Afghanistan
noted their concern re contents of their lunch box was higher than
the moral concern of having just killed a few hundred people.
Can a Nuclear war ever be regarded as a 'just war' .. ?!?
Glover says it is necessary to turn to psychology - is war (and
nuclear war) more about the working of the MIND than the technology
- 11:58am Mar 29, 2002 EST (#938
lchic - you've got several good points there.
'A Just War' is entirely a mental process.
A) It is the mental recognition/identification of an affront,
B) The willful decision to employ violence to punish the affront.
It ignores discussion, debate, negotiation, the possibility of
misidentification, and as soon as the concept of 'just' seeps in,
limiting the scale of violence can become increasingly difficult.
Consider for example:
a) How on Earth could the Japanese commit those atrocities to
other human beings during the Second World War? I mean truly vile
inhumane acts. (Watch 'Japanese Devils' if you get the chance, BTW)
Relatively easily actually: the soldier got it into their heads that
all non-Japanese were animals, lower than sub-humans; and that
'everyone was doing it' and the reprisal for disobeying orders and
the group ethos would be too painful.
Japanese are not unique to this experience or to the possibility
of repeating such atrocities. Any group of combatants that have had
their sense of personal ethical limits removed can end up on that
This is what makes the military particularly dangerous. It
actively seeks to remove many of those ethical limits to help people
commit the universal evil of killing other humans. It generally does
this by absorbing as much of the personal ethos and responsibility
into the leadership structure. "Don't think, obey - 'cause your
leaders know best. You think, you die, we die. Don't let us down."
This produces a massive opportunity for abuse.
-I would add that the US and its soldiers have already
perpetuated similiar atrocities for equally flimsy reasoning in the
Philippines and Vietnam.
b) The heavy investment in technology by the US military has
further removed the combatant from a sense of personal
responsibility for the act. The sense of acting 'justly' further
diminishes that sense of acting evilly.
-->This is why I find discussion about the development and
deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons ('bunker busters' and the
like), and that idea that this acceptable particularly worrying. Is
it one more step on the primrose path of desensitising people from
the acts of violence they commit for ideology?
- 03:13pm Mar 29, 2002 EST (#939
1. The privilage to claim so is always left to the victor to say.
There is no independent impartial perfect JUDGE. Even the US seem to
appropriate the title.
2. Can any war be just? No. Because the people who kill and die
have nothing to do with the cause and gains of the result.
3. Can it be even worst in a 22nd Century? Looking to the end of
the last one and the beginning of the new one - CAN and very likely
WILL. Unless the US shadow "rulling class" is thrown to the place it
belongs to. Unless the America's mass culture of arrogance,
ignorance, self-rightness and messionic zealot, coupled with feeling
of invencibility and allmightness come to the end. A highly unlikely
scenario, except a case of massive suffering and really terrible
consequences to the much of the American public.
Its pretty hard to even chose the least of the evils.
- 04:12pm Mar 29, 2002 EST (#940
JustWARlinks : http://www.mamma.com/Mamma?query=just+war&qtype=0&x=63&y=11
A Succinct, Incomplete, Presumptuous, and Wholly Inadequate
Overview of the Elements of Just War by Nile Stanton http://faculty.ed.umuc.edu/~nstanton/JWTheory.htm
A libertarian just war is virtually unimaginable. http://www.dimensional.com/~boardman/nap/justwar.html
A Just War? / Stephen R. Shalom (nyt/Kosovo) http://www.zmag.org/CrisesCurEvts/a_just_war.htm
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