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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?
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(1036 previous messages)
- 05:42pm Apr 3, 2002 EST (#1037
Mazza, it is easy to say "there can be no justification
whatsoever . . . " and it may sound good, and feel good, to say
so. One can easily enough set out "logical" moral systems that
justify exactly that position.
To what purpose do you take that position, in the situation that
is actually there? That's both a moral and a practical question.
One need not deny that killing is ugly, and that killing
civilians is ugly. If, in the face of ugliness, one says "the people
who do the ugly thing are not people -- we don't have to deal with
them" - that is a fine mechanism for dehumizing almost every nation
that has ever been at war, including the US.
US sanctions on Iraq have plainly killed more than half a million
people, mostly children, and the killling has been intentional (and
of course, one can say it was for "sufficient reasons" but from
someone's perspective, it is almost always possible to say that.) In
Korea, the US bombed cities and dikes and killed more than two
million civilians. In Vietnam, the number of civilians killed was
approached or exceeded a million - and the US knew very well that it
was making decisions that inflicted those civilian deaths (I heard
people close to the policy say so at the time.)
In 1994, there was an excellent radio program "DOES THE UNITED
STATES NEED NUCLEAR WEAPONS?" http://www.cdi.org/adm/Transcripts/721/
that includes quotes from Colin Powell, acknowledging how bad
nuclear weapons are, and there is this quote from Adm. EUGENE
CARROLL, Jr. (USN, Ret.) , as well:
Admiral CARROLL: "The problems of nuclear weapons
are unending and there are no benefits. Up until 1955, I was like
Joe Citizen. I thought that nuclear weapons were good. They kept
the peace. They made the United States powerful. But in 1955, I
trained as a weapons delivery pilot for the US Navy and, by 1956,
I was standing watch on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean,
ready to go behind the "iron curtain" with a nuclear weapon and
destroy a target. But to destroy one marginal military target,
a supply center, the one weapon would have also killed 600,000
people. . . . . ."
As I recall, Mazza, you're a great fan of nuclear weapons, and
feel the US should keep them forever. Perhaps, to you, this is a
moral stance - but can't you imagine that others feel differently?
There have now been something fewer than 500 Israelis killed by
suicide bombers. One need not deny the ugliness and the tragedy
involved - - and it makes total human sense to be angry. These were
human beings who were killed. Not just numbers - - a point McNamara
and Blight made very well in MD1033 rshow55
4/3/02 3:36pm . . . The suicide bomber was a human being, too --
and faced death, for what he regarded as defense of his country,
with a callousness that seems, to me, no different from the
callousness that you, Mazza, often show.
But how different, and how much worse, than other things that
happen, and are thought just fine by Americans, in war. How many
innocent civilians have been killed by Americans in Afghanistan?
Probably more than 500. Were there "extenuating circumstances" --
"suffient reasons" -- it is easy to say so.
Palestinians, who are sacrificing their lives, feel that they
have extenuating circumstances, too.
- 05:45pm Apr 3, 2002 EST (#1038
Here is an article, and a quote, that I find sad, but
understandable in an intellectual sense:
Relatives and Neighbors Proud of Suicide Bomber by JOEL
"At his family's home in a prosperous part of
town, the suicide bomber's father, brother, uncle and other
relatives sat at a wake, receiving congratulations from friends
and neighbors — even now, four days after the death of the bomber,
Abdel-Basset Odeh. "Everyone's proud of him," said his older
brother, Issam Odeh, 35. "This is a war. . . . . "
. . . .
"On a street near the center of town, Feras
Kassam, an unemployed electrician, said: "If you don't choose your
type of death yourself, Sharon will do it for you. All of Tulkarm
is proud." Mr. Khreisheh, the legislator, said: "None of us
wants to kill civilians, but we are obliged to defend ourselves.
We have nothing else with which to fight this huge machine of
Israel's. They have everything; they have all the power. We have
nothing but our bodies."
Is Khreisheh taking a terrible stance? He is. But it is dangerous
to be too quick to condemn it -- if the condemnation cuts off
contact. Suicide bombing is a kind of warfare. If we ever want peace
in the Middle East, we may have to deal with people who, terrible as
it is, use the weapons that they have. Like other people. The
objective, after all, is not an endless cycle of violence.
Over the years, many, many millions of people have sacrificed
their lives for their countries -- often facing essentially suicidal
odds. It wasn't difficult for the Japanese to recruit Kamikazes, and
it doesn't seem difficult for Palestinians to recruit "martyrs."
We may think the suicide bombing tactic very ugly.
I think suicide bombing is very ugly.
But it doesn't help to dehumanize or cut off contact with those
involved, unless, as a practical military matter, it actually does
help. We shouldn't forget how brutal war has often been, and
remains, in many other circumstances.
And we should look for ways where we can move to a peaceful
solution --- not continuously set up circumstances where only
continued fighting is possible.
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