View Full Version : Justifications
04-09-2003, 02:11 PM
She explains: "There is obviously that feeling – seeing kids dying – it takes me aback. But then I think, why didn't we see the pictures of the thousands and thousands of Iraqis murdered by Saddam? They were a tragedy too, and this war is bringing all those murders to an end." She continues, her voice filled with emotion. "I am horrified by the devastation we're seeing, but there is a bigger devastation that we haven't seen yet, and it's been going on in Iraq for a long time. We need to remember that...
And so it goes. Some in Iraq say the war was justified, some don't. No matter now, it's done.
Why didn't we see the pictures of Saddam's torture victims, or the descriptions of his practices, before, say, last month?
Why didn't we call, horrified, for the forceful removal of the Taliban, before 9/11/2001?
Why aren't we baying for Mugabe's blood RIGHT NOW?
Surely, the people we should be invading next should be those at the top of Amnesty International (http://www.amnesty.org)'s lists of human rights violators.
How do we square this strange circle? How come human rights violations are only important to us in the west just before we're about to go to war?
04-09-2003, 02:29 PM
No matter what anyone says, the liberation of Iraq was a secondary consequence of the US's need to remove a threat to its security. You can arguy about the validity of the threat, but that was the prime reason. Liberation makes for good PR after the fact. I don't think we have a history in the US of being willing to send out forces to fight in someone else's war w/o there being something in it for our national security. Again, you can argue whether or not that is right or wrong, but I believe it is the way things are.
04-09-2003, 02:31 PM
How come human rights violations are only important to us in the west just before we're about to go to war?
You tell me why they are only important to you then? They are always important to everyone I know.
Surely, the people we should be invading next should be those at the top of Amnesty International's lists of human rights violators.
Since when have we ever invaded under the auspice of human rights violations? Surely we do not, and never have. Nor has any nation i the history of the world. It is for national interests that wars start. And until the US deems it is in the interests of her citizens to invade every nation they disagree with, this strawman has been beat to death.
On the other hand, you as a human, not a government, cannot unjustify freeing a nation and liberating those who are opressed without looking very very bad.
04-09-2003, 02:32 PM
As for why we didn't see pictures of S.H.'s atrocities, there probably aren't many. We did see, over the years, the masacre of the Kurds by chem weapons.
Look at what happened in Rwanda. What were the numbers-- 500,00 killed? I don't even remember. It was in the news a bit, but not much. And the UN certainly didn't do anything about it.
04-09-2003, 02:53 PM
*shrug* The UN is only as good as it's members. That's not a slur on the US, per se, more of a criticism of what I believe is a fundamental flaw with the way the UN is set up. It's a collective, not a seperate entity. It doesn't have any real power.
So, fine, we're invading Iraq because of a threat, real or perceived, to the national interests of the USA. Fantastic.
Oddly, the potential problems that this may cause, say, the national interests of France were decried as being "unjustified" and "cowardly" when they were brought up. You see, I could be wrong, but I thought that the Iraqi people's plight was central to our motivations for going there. After all, it's not as if a pre-emptive attack is, oh, legal. Neuremberg found otherwise, didn't it?
Living in a world where the pre-emptive doctrine is acceptable is bad for the national interests of India and Pakistan, for just a couple of examples. Do those national interests not deserve to be acknowledged as well? What about the national interests of Britain, with a population dragged into this, very unwilling to move any further along the neocon line, and geographically closer to the terrorism backlash?
At the end of the day, "national interests" cut no ice with me. I'm a supporter of Emery Reves and proud of it.
But if you take away the humanitarian arguments, and Bush and Blair made them a hell of a lot in the run up to the war, what do you have? Not much, a bunch of footstamping. How many times was the Kosovo card played? Too many for me to count.
Hey, am I complaining? If we're going to go and destabilise the Middle East and get rid of dictators there, as someone said in another thread, then go for it. But can we admit that we're doing it for humanitarian purposes, and not hide behind this smokescreening of "Chemical weapons" or "national interests." Or, if we're just doing it for "national interests", can we not throw a hissy fit when other nations want their national interests to be taken into consideration?
04-09-2003, 03:34 PM
We do not do things for others national interests, but for our own. We as a colective independant nations. The WMD card makes it "legal". The humantiarian card makes it "moral. Surely, just because the UN frowns on stopping a nation murder a million of its citizens does not make it immoral just because it is "illegal".
04-09-2003, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by McDuff
But can we admit that we're doing it for humanitarian purposes, and not hide behind this smokescreening of "Chemical weapons" or "national interests." Or, if we're just doing it for "national interests", can we not throw a hissy fit when other nations want their national interests to be taken into consideration?The (Really, Really Cynical) Pocket Guide to Realpolitik:
1. Determine what your national interest is.
2. Determine how the humanitarian interests fall in line with that. Make up a logical explanation as an afterthought.
3. Use your humanitarian interests as an appeal to emotion in order to undermine opposing nation's interests.
4. Do your best to ignore and/or discredit the inevitable appeals to emotion and/or reasoned arguments from the other side.
5a. If it looks like you can get away with it, do what you wanted to do in the first place.
5b. If it looks like you can't get away with it, wait for (or manufacture) a new provocation, return to Step 2.
Nope, nothing in there about recognizing one's own hypocrisy. Sorry. :D
04-10-2003, 07:48 AM
Originally posted by Spite
Since when have we ever invaded under the auspice of human rights violations? Surely we do not, and never have.
What, pray tell, were Bosnia and Kosovo about then? Oil? Or ending "ethnic cleansing"?
"The WMD card" would "make it legal" (your words) if it existed and actually constituted one of the highest threats to us. It is not and never has been both of those, or maybe either one, despite Bush's increasingly-desperate attempts to convince us of it.
John Mace is right to point out that we humans tend to see only what is convenient to see. We didn't take Rwanda seriously and did nothing about it (although the French did remember). We didn't take Bosnia and Kosovo seriously until our leadership committed themselves to do something about it. Or Somalia. Zaire and Zimbabwe even today. I'd further suggest that we didn't really care about Iraqi torture campaigns until the troops got there - until then, it was mainly about revenge for 9/11.
It's easy to invoke racism for all of that, or distance, or magnitude of the effort required, but simple complacent selfishness works as an explanation. too.
Originally posted by ElvisL1ves
I'd further suggest that we didn't really care about Iraqi torture campaigns until the troops got there - until then, it was mainly about revenge for 9/11.
Careful there, you need to distinguish between reasons the public justify it to themselves vs. how the policy makers justify it. The neo-conservatives have wanted Saddam gone for a long time with a long list of reasons. The US public at large likely didn't think about those or even know/care about them.
04-10-2003, 09:35 AM
Grey, you're right - I was referring to the public's post-hoc rationalizations of their/our own moral choices. The administration's justifications are a little murkier and I agree they're not the same.
Even Kosovo had its strategic rational too. Did the US and NATO really want a festering war pushing refuges across the Adriatic to Italy, creating mischief in Macedonia above Greece and below the newly free eastern European countries? Nope. Did the fig leaf of ethnic cleansing help justify it? Yep.
A side question for anyone who may know. Why was it that the European powers had such a hard time coming to grips with Kosovo? I never read anything that shed light on that.
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