Discussion in 'Community' started by Lowbacca_1977, May 18, 2010.
War implies that you don't value the lives of the enemy.
According to which value system? The Spartans and Klingons both viewed war as the ultimate expression of honor.
Ok, obviously that's a tongue in cheek response, but I'm not sure that the ideas of war and value are as closely opposed as your statement suggests. If one were waging war to stop genocide or ethnic cleansing, for examples, maybe the action is carried out because both sides are valued so highly? Changing the paradigm, even forcibly, could be the only way to give both sides a positive future. The F16 pilot who has to shoot down a hijacked plane which holds both hijackers and passengers does so because he values life, not because he devalues those aboard the plane. Even individual soldiers on the ground can value the lives of their enemy even as they act to achieve a goal against them. In fact, I'd say that the idea of valuing the lives of an enemy could be strongest within the individual soldier, because the reverse applies as well. Obviously, it's a complicated idea.
Warfare is a lot more complicated than that. The book On Killing documents a lot of historic evidence showing that people directly involved in the actual killing of other humans have very frequently done everything in their power, even when at risk of being killed themselves, to not kill the enemy. A few examples of this includes the multiple reloadings found in a lot of extant Civil War weapons; people were basically pretending to have fired and instead were stuffing multiple musket balls down their barrels, and official War Department/DoD studies after WW1 and WW2 on deliberate missing, which also happened on a very regular basis. You can also see it in the laws of warfare-at the battlefield level, things are restricted to minimize lethality, such as full metal jacket bullets for literally all armies today, and the banning of chemical weapons after WW1. It eases as you go higher, to nuclear-strategic, because you're not killing individuals anymore; a lot of airmen have described bombings as 'destroying vehicles' or 'destroying buildings'. Killing other humans can exact a severe mental strain & toll, and humans have always done what they can to avoid that.
I doubt the Romans were deliberately missing people with their swords.
Scoff when you have a point.
Actually, the Romans did much the same thing-they used volleys of javelins, of which all Roman soldiers carried a minimum of three, to create physical distance in killing. That's a key method of dealing with the psychological stresses of killing; if there is space between you and who you're killing, it's easier for your brain to convince itself that it's not you who is doing it. The Western emphasis in fighting at longer and longer ranges, or at least, having equipment capable of doing so (despite masses of evidence showing that the overwhelming majority of combat actually occurs within one hundred meters) all the way up until today is basically a means of reducing the psychological stress that comes with killing people.
Boba's right. I've been working my way through On Killing for a while now.
There was a recent piece on NPR about Predator drone operators experiencing PTSD symptoms.
Yeah, I'm not really surprised. Those guys are under stress already-they know that a simple mistake on their part=embarrassment for their country; then there's the part that Predator missions can potentially last for several days if need be, and there's the knowledge that it's you personally killing these people. Fighter and bomber pilots have the luxury of typically bombing things; Predator pilots, on the other hand, are targeting particular people-Predator strikes used to be directed against larger groups of foreign fighters and so on, but nowadays they're typically looking for individuals. It makes all the difference in the world.
While I don't dispute that killing people from a distance is easier, I think the main point about long-range weapons is that you can use them to kill more enemies without putting yourself at risk.
You would be wrong in that assessment, as well. Killing enemies at long range is actually harder, at least for individual soldiers. Most soldiers, with the exception of snipers, rarely practice shooting at anything over 300 meters or so away, and most combat deaths occur at under one hundred meters, where the physical aspects of killing with rifles and other small arms are at their easiest. Indirect fire, which is what you're thinking of and includes artillery, is of course easier, but the artillery/spotter team is as divorced from the killing as is possible; neither is really directly killing anyone. All the spotter is doing can be rationalized as making a radio call; all the artillerymen are doing can be rationalized as launching rounds at a point on the map. Killing at long range is easier solely because you can't really see them; you can't make out facial features much past fifty meters, and you might as well be shooting at animals when the range is over three hundred.
I meant it was easier psychologically.
My point was that squeamishness is learned, not innate.
I'd say such a statement says more about the person uttering it than about people in general.
It says that I believe in the ascendancy, for the most part, of nurture over nature with regard to squeamishness. Nothing more.
Anybody here like Christmas church music?
Eh, I find it's a mixed bag. Some good, some bad. The prevalence of Bach's Komm Susser Todd around this time of year is just... weird.
But you don't feel like divinely inspired art is not for you because you're an atheist?
Do people still make that argument? Music is music. You'd think we could all just sit back and enjoy it.
Not sure if it's an argument as much as it is just an incapability of getting into it.
Anyway, my girlfriend was watching Narnia on TV tonight, and the Christian message bothers me there, while it doesn't in Silent Night. And I don't know why.
Hitchens went hysterical and changed much of his worldview after terrorists killed almost 3000 people; when US and it's little helpers went to Iraq and killed perhaps 300 000 people - or perhaps a million - it had no great effect on Hitchens. To kill 3000 people in New York and Washington D.C. was a great, world changing atrocity to him and to kill 300 000 people in Mesopotamia was something worthwhile and worth defending for him yet Hitchens would never had accepted the killing of 300 000 citizens of US or UK to achieve a goal that he believed in. (I don't think that he would have accepted the deliberate, non-judicial taking of even a single, non-Muslim life in US or UK.)
The lives of people in US were sacred for him, the lives of people in Iraq were not. These things tell enough about him.
I think he was a great hypocrite. If you can't accept let's say St. Louis going the way of let's say Fallulah for a supposed good and greater goal, then you shouldn't be able to accept events in Fallulah either. Hitchens could.
I disagreed with Hitchens re. Iraq as well, but I think you should provide some proof for the kind of hypocrisy you're accusing the poor dead man of.
Again nonsense. To say that the deaths of Iraqi civillians had no effect on Hitchens is a categorical lie, I can't put it any simpler than that. You seem to think that he was some sort of neo-conservative nutcase whose sole motivation was liberation whatever the cost. The reason he supported the Iraq war was to remove Hussein and his government from power and to hunt down any Islamic extremists in the country. That does not mean that he didn't care about the deaths of civillians. He continually expressed his dismay at how the war was carried out and the human cost. However, he saw the removal of Saddam Hussein as a good thing, something which no sane person can disagree with.
Also, Hitchens didn't change much of his worldview following 9/11. His viewpoint became more prominent without doubt, but he'd held those views on Hussein and on Islam since the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie in 1989.
Salman Rushdie... That excuse reminds me of the use that The Times of London's editor Daniel Finkelstein made of Anne Frank when Israel's Offensive Forces were butchering Gaza, that because the "West" had not saved Anne Frank, then the "West" had no right to criticize anything that Israel did to Palestinians but should just support or observe in silence Israel's attack. Salman Rushdie has gone through - still living, famous and wealthy - a similar transformation into a shield that can be raised to protect any words or action against Islam or Muslim states. Just like Anne Frank according to Daniel Finkelstein suffered and died to give eternal immunity from prosecution and criticism for Israel's politicians and generals, Salman Rushdie's own experiences have become a shield to things like Hitchenite bloodlust and warmongering.
It's another thing to think that the removal of Saddam Hussein is a good thing and another to support a war by Saddam Hussein's former backers that killed perhaps 1 in 25 of Iraqis and exiled perhaps 1 in 6. Did Hitchens think that the removal of Hussein would be a good thing when the Baath-led Iraq attacked Iran, a war that cost the lives of another million people? If not, then why should a threat against one man make him think in such manner? Wouldn't it be an example of a very limited individual, who could get angered over the fate of 1 or 3000 persons, but utterly incapable of understanding the suffering of 300 000 or 1 000 000 people.
Why would he think that the US of Bush and Cheney would somehow be a force of good in the world? Wouldn't that, in fact, be a sign of a fraud or if honest, then of a disturbed, perhaps mentally ill person? Hitchens claimed that he hated theocracy, and then suppor