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War, torture, and violence in general


JustinW
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I wanted to bring this up in another thread, but out of possible rebuke for not being on topic, I thought I had better just start a new one. There are some who think the current war on terror and the recent war in Iraq were wrong. Along with that, there are those who think enhanced interrogation to be wrong. But why? Is it not in a human's nature to be violent? Was it not the norm throughout history for humans to be cruel? What is so different between then and now that makes these types of acts so undesirable? I ran into this: http://www.livescience.com/2231-humans-crave-violence-sex.html while browsing around a bit.

 

I've also seen how justice was done to those that have been accussed of one thing or another throughout recent history. Like here in America, our type of justice has been fairly cruel throughout our short history. Reminding me of a photo I saw of a man and boy (around the age of 10 or 12) looking upon the scene of a man that was left hanging by the neck in the middle of the street. The man hanging wasn't what really got my attention, but rather the look on the man and boy's faces. It was a look of total indifference. It made me reflect on my own indifference towards acts, that I was surprised to learn, that others were appalled by. I wondered why some thought this way while others didn't, and still wonder what has changed to include humane treatment of one's enemies? Especially where a security threat is conscerned that could be deterred by such acts as enhanced interrogation?

 

Is this a moral dilemma, or an ethical dilemma that seems to be driving some to push for non-violence, when in fact it is a thing that goes against our very nature? It seems as time goes by our level of cruelty involved in the justice that we administer diminishes. Is this something that will continue to happen until nobody is punished for anything? Or will things maintain a balance of a certain "acceptable" amount of cruelty?

I think I started to notice these differences in some discussions I was having on human rights, humane treatment of an enemy, and enhanced interrogation right/wrong. It was my indifference towards the outcome of these acts that people found appalling and I couldn't understand why they were so emotionally charged about it. Do some fight their nature while other embrace it? And why?

 

Sorry for this thing being so scattered. Just jump in on anything here. I'm sure it will iron itself out and become a more stable topic.

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I think our society is evolving toward a more "humane" goal due to pressures that select for individuals who do cooperate, who are social and can live in larger groups with less violence. At one time i think that selective pressures were less supportive of a large community and favored small family groups. But as humans grew into large populations the selective pressure for violence, stealing from individuals and from other groups resulted in large disruptions to society as these more selfish societies clashed.

 

If you look back you can see how societies have changed from revolving around one or a few individuals who who just happened to be aggressive enough to make everyone do as they said. For a while these types of societies flourished but they were still violent to individuals, surrounding societies, and differing social systems, the idea of live and let live wasn't really a part of what was going on around us.

 

It's been a long hard struggle but today societies do tend to favor the rights of individuals instead of the rights of a sovereign or some other selfish type organization. Free societies that respect the rights of individuals do seem to be gaining ground despite the efforts of those who think that all power should be concentrated in a handful people or a King or a god...

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First, the war in Iraq, which became the War on Terror. I think it was all designed to provide economic and political opportunity for a few in power, and I feel we were duped into it by playing on the natural vengeance we felt after 9/11. There are too many reasons to list why this War is unjustified, too many reasons why so many resources fail to defeat such a backward, limited, disorganized foe. We are presented with a carefully crafted ethical challenge that ignores what is smart in favor of what our leaders tell us is right. I can't shake the feeling that everything that's being done to "win" is akin to putting out the fire with gasoline.

 

Second, torture has been proven many times to be unreliable. Why use something so ineffective that comes with such a high ethical price tag? Why choose "an eye for an eye" when "as ye judge, so shall ye be judged" is just as applicable? Why should both sides be barbaric when one side wants to be the moral victor?

 

Third, just because in the past it's been our nature to be violent, does that mean it's always going to be that way? As we progress as a societal species, is it not incumbent upon us to recognize when and where violence isn't a strength? Aren't our greatest advancements achieved when cooperation enables us to use our brains instead of our brawn?

 

I think we are being manipulated by some of those in power who have used practically unlimited resources to figure out the dynamics of our interactions as a society. When so much of the world is willing to be non-violent, how does the US find so many people to wage war on?

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I think we are being manipulated by some of those in power who have used practically unlimited resources to figure out the dynamics of our interactions as a society. When so much of the world is willing to be non-violent, how does the US find so many people to wage war on?

 

 

That we are being manipulated by people in power who have access to a outrageously large data base and the means to use that to manipulate people on large scale is the fly in the ointment. While war is less labor intensive than it used to be that fact is used by those in power to justify war. It's difficult to decide what to do when attacked, especially when so many in power make so much money off the aggressive pursuit of anyone who resists our culture. Can we continue to progress with such manipulation going on from the top? I think so, but it will be a struggle and so many people seem to want to be told what to do from day to day it's very scary.

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That we are being manipulated by people in power who have access to a outrageously large data base and the means to use that to manipulate people on large scale is the fly in the ointment.

This is one part that bothers me a great deal, that I feel is a great moral injustice. Our own sense of ethics is being used to manipulate us into actions that our ethics would normally reject.

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I wanted to bring this up in another thread, but out of possible rebuke for not being on topic, I thought I had better just start a new one. There are some who think the current war on terror and the recent war in Iraq were wrong. Along with that, there are those who think enhanced interrogation to be wrong. But why? Is it not in a human's nature to be violent? Was it not the norm throughout history for humans to be cruel? What is so different between then and now that makes these types of acts so undesirable? I ran into this: http://www.livescien...olence-sex.html while browsing around a bit.

Much better to open a new thread! Firstly I think we are on very thin ice when we claim to know, understand, or be able to describe 'human nature'; I am not sure that any characteristic will survive examination across sexes, nationalities, races, historical periods, religions, or cultures. And even if you were to insist on that claim for human nature - I would not call it a norm; for me a norm has qualities that constrain actions and implies a standard to which people will be forced to conform. And finally, I rejoice in my ability to ignore my instincts and base drives and act in a humane and civilized manner; it is what makes us the zoon politikon - the political animal who can deal with problems via reason and negotiation rather than always resort to violence.

 

I've also seen how justice was done to those that have been accussed of one thing or another throughout recent history. Like here in America, our type of justice has been fairly cruel throughout our short history. Reminding me of a photo I saw of a man and boy (around the age of 10 or 12) looking upon the scene of a man that was left hanging by the neck in the middle of the street. The man hanging wasn't what really got my attention, but rather the look on the man and boy's faces. It was a look of total indifference. It made me reflect on my own indifference towards acts, that I was surprised to learn, that others were appalled by. I wondered why some thought this way while others didn't, and still wonder what has changed to include humane treatment of one's enemies? Especially where a security threat is conscerned that could be deterred by such acts as enhanced interrogation?
Firstly - your vignette of the hanged man; this does not sound like justice - it appears to be murder. The problem with this argument is that many who have studied this area as academics, administrators or politicians agree that brtual tactics of interogation, policing, prevention by peremptive retaliation is completely counter-productive. It hardens the hearts of the already committed and persuades the uncertain of the need to fight.

 

Is this a moral dilemma, or an ethical dilemma that seems to be driving some to push for non-violence, when in fact it is a thing that goes against our very nature? It seems as time goes by our level of cruelty involved in the justice that we administer diminishes. Is this something that will continue to happen until nobody is punished for anything? Or will things maintain a balance of a certain "acceptable" amount of cruelty?
Look at the figures of people killed by the 'allies' versus those killed by terrorist - even on the most cold-hearted calculus would you be willing to accept those figures in reverse, no, then why should they? This is not a punishment for a crime - it is the taking of revenge , and it is also not even directed at the right people.

 

I think I started to notice these differences in some discussions I was having on human rights, humane treatment of an enemy, and enhanced interrogation right/wrong. It was my indifference towards the outcome of these acts that people found appalling and I couldn't understand why they were so emotionally charged about it. Do some fight their nature while other embrace it? And why?
Could easily slip into Godwin territory. I value the fact that in the second world war the allies - for whom my father and 3 uncles were all servicemen - behaved as they did. Even after the war the inevitable victors justice was non-arbitrary, judicial, and scrupulously fair - to a large extent this was due to the USA. That the USA lost this sense of justice in war due in no small part to the wars in Asia is a tragedy.

 

Sorry for this thing being so scattered. Just jump in on anything here. I'm sure it will iron itself out and become a more stable topic.
I am sure it will - although I think an agreement will be a long time in the making
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This is one part that bothers me a great deal, that I feel is a great moral injustice. Our own sense of ethics is being used to manipulate us into actions that our ethics would normally reject.

 

 

Another part of it is that so many people are blissfully unaware of just how much they are manipulated, From pop culture and entertainers to religion and politicians. So few people are aware of the huge amount of power the ones who have the data have.

Edited by Moontanman
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Is this a moral dilemma, or an ethical dilemma that seems to be driving some to push for non-violence, when in fact it is a thing that goes against our very nature?

Besides assuming that non-violence is against our very nature, the other aspect of this statement that bothers me is that the rational act of looking for smarter, more effective, more sophisticated methods for dealing with our problems is even considered an ethical "dilemma". Where along the line did being smart get such a bad reputation?

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"Enhanced interrogation" - now there's some doublespeak!

 

I think there is a great deal of simplicity that we must make effort to avoid here. There are far too many popular ideas of what "human nature" is, most of them bogus - that we're intrinsically polygamous, objectifying, sex-driven, violent, irrational primates. It's great that we're moving away from the speciesism of the past and recognising that we belong on the evolutionary tree, but this kind of equivocation is misleading and takes no account whatsoever of culture.

 

Thus, even if we were to accept a natural violent streak (I think "competitive" would be a more appropriate word), that does not mean that we have a predisposition towards fully institutionalised cruelty wherever possible. Besides, you could look at it the other way, and say that we are naturally social creatures with empathy and conscious awareness, therefore it's in our interests to maintain the least cruel society possible. It all depends how you frame it, and that indicates that there's something wrong with looking at the question in those terms in the first place.

 

I also don't think it makes much sense to extrapolate that we will become a society where nobody is punished for anything (and remember that competition ≠ violence ≠ punishment). Instead, I think we will make a happy transition from a retributive judicial system to one that is fully rehabilitative, rather than just superficially so.

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Phi,

 

First, the war in Iraq, which became the War on Terror.
I know this kinda sounds barbaric, but being the warring nation that we are, what does the justification matter? It seems to me that it would have happened sooner or later anyway, no matter what the justification. And the justification that is being used is just to satisfy those that need it. To me it seems that the big dog will always get what it wants, and this matter of "ethics" has only been an issue over the past few centuries.

 

Second, torture has been proven many times to be unreliable. Why use something so ineffective that comes with such a high ethical price tag?
2 things on this. First, where has it been proven unreliable and by who? Second, why is it unethical and to what type of person is it unethical? It seems that ethics is a fluid subject, only a fad such as political correctness. So why base such choices on ethics rather than results.

 

Aren't our greatest advancements achieved when cooperation enables us to use our brains instead of our brawn?
I'm not too sure about that. Some of our greatest advancements have been through showing off our brawn. We got to space when we did by showing off our strength. We ended the 2nd world war by exacting our strength. Is there something your meaning here that I'm missing.

 

I think we are being manipulated by some of those in power who have used practically unlimited resources to figure out the dynamics of our interactions as a society. When so much of the world is willing to be non-violent, how does the US find so many people to wage war on?

I don't see this as an accurate statement. There is violence all over the world right now. I would have to say there is more at time now than there used to be.

 

Besides assuming that non-violence is against our very nature, the other aspect of this statement that bothers me is that the rational act of looking for smarter, more effective, more sophisticated methods for dealing with our problems is even considered an ethical "dilemma". Where along the line did being smart get such a bad reputation?
I think you're trying to connect two things that alot of times have nothing to do with one another. Alot of times violence IS the smarter action to take. The only people that say otherwise are those that reject it on ethical grounds which are as fluid and varying as emotional response.

 

Moontanman,

 

Can we continue to progress with such manipulation going on from the top?
This seems to imply that we aren't keeping up with the rest of the world. Or that we're falling behind in some way. What is different about our manipulation from the top that is so different from the rest? And why does it matter?

 

I think so, but it will be a struggle and so many people seem to want to be told what to do from day to day it's very scary.

I've said this before, but I guess it only depends on what your talking about before it becomes scary to anyone else. I find it hard to believe when people talk about this type of manipulation. Like they are the ones that are magically seeing through the manipulation that is supposed to encompass everyone unknowingly. Maybe they are being manipulated into objecting a certain type of manipulation.Like this:
Another part of it is that so many people are blissfully unaware of just how much they are manipulated, From pop culture and entertainers to religion and politicians. So few people are aware of the huge amount of power the ones who have the data have.
Are you sure you weren't manipulated into think this way by a group that you admire or agree with more than another? ;)

 

Imatfaal,

 

I am not sure that any characteristic will survive examination across sexes, nationalities, races, historical periods, religions, or cultures.
Maybe not definitively or by specific situation, but I think you can easily generalize people's characteristics across sexes, nationalities, races, historical periods, religions, and especially cultures.

 

Firstly - your vignette of the hanged man; this does not sound like justice - it appears to be murder.
I think this is where we will more than likely disagree. The first thing that I wouldn't think upon seeing someone hanged is "that's murder". The first thing I would think is "what did he do to deserve it". I think this difference in opinion, or reaction, or whatever you want to call it, is what prompted me to ask these questions.

 

It hardens the hearts of the already committed and persuades the uncertain of the need to fight.

Did the human brain flip-flop in the last few decades or something? That wasn't what anyone used to think about that sort of thing. And I believe that a person being scared for their lives or in tremendous pain isn't thinking about loyalty. Especially under tremendous pain. Everyone cracks eventually. The hardened heart argument doesn't work for me, especially coming from academia or a politition.

 

Look at the figures of people killed by the 'allies' versus those killed by terrorist - even on the most cold-hearted calculus would you be willing to accept those figures in reverse, no, then why should they? This is not a punishment for a crime - it is the taking of revenge , and it is also not even directed at the right people.
Which allies? When, where?

 

 

Polednice,

Thus, even if we were to accept a natural violent streak (I think "competitive" would be a more appropriate word), that does not mean that we have a predisposition towards fully institutionalised cruelty wherever possible.
I didn't say we do, and can agree that we shouldn't be cruel wherever possible.

 

Besides, you could look at it the other way, and say that we are naturally social creatures with empathy and conscious awareness, therefore it's in our interests to maintain the least cruel society possible. It all depends how you frame it, and that indicates that there's something wrong with looking at the question in those terms in the first place.

I don't believe I framed the question as being so one sided. I just implied that cruelty has been a way of life for humanity, and wondered why there was such a big push away from violence for the sake of something like a mood that could change abruptly in the future depending upon circumstances.

 

I also don't think it makes much sense to extrapolate that we will become a society where nobody is punished for anything (and remember that competition ≠ violence ≠ punishment). Instead, I think we will make a happy transition from a retributive judicial system to one that is fully rehabilitative, rather than just superficially so.
I don't think I want to live in a world that rehabilitates child molestors. Call me old fasion, but I think a little more cruelty is in order. There are some things that I believe cruelty is called for. This seems to be my biggest point in writing this topic. With the varying differences in ethical opinions, who's to say how much cruelty is deserved? And why isn't a certain amount of indifference not more prevailant in these situations?
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There is an age old philosophy to your reasoning which probably began back when we first lived in caves. The one that sticks out most to me is:

Is this a moral dilemma, or an ethical dilemma that seems to be driving some to push for non-violence, when in fact it is a thing that goes against our very nature? It seems as time goes by our level of cruelty involved in the justice that we administer diminishes. Is this something that will continue to happen until nobody is punished for anything? Or will things maintain a balance of a certain "acceptable" amount of cruelty?

 

First of all, justice should never be confused with the word, cruelty. Cruelty breeds and necessitates justice in any civilization. If you have read:The World At War, the meaning is quite obvious. Edited by rigney
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We got to space when we did by showing off our strength.

 

 

That's a quite silly way of twisting words to support your presuppositions. If getting to space is proof of anything, it's proof of brain-power.

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I know this kinda sounds barbaric, but being the warring nation that we are, what does the justification matter? It seems to me that it would have happened sooner or later anyway, no matter what the justification. And the justification that is being used is just to satisfy those that need it. To me it seems that the big dog will always get what it wants, and this matter of "ethics" has only been an issue over the past few centuries.

This is a huge part of the problem, this blind acceptance that we're a "warring nation", and that's just OK. It baffles me that confessed conservatives such as yourself see nothing wrong with us being the aggressor in so many of our conflicts. The conservative stance used to be strong defense, stop being the world's police, war needs to be agreed upon by the States. Since the beginning of the neo-conservative movement, the exact opposite has occurred. How did you guys let "neo" come to mean "anti"?

 

As far as "it was going to happen sooner or later", what else do you predict as inevitable on the military front? Where do you draw the line between US and THEM?

 

2 things on this. First, where has it been proven unreliable and by who?

The best reference I have, the one that clinched it for me, was from General Petraeus, commander of the multi-national force in Iraq. There's also the FBI, the Army's Judge Advocate General, and the Senate Armed Services Committee. I have other source material from the CIA and FBI, all attesting to the fact that enhanced interrogation techniques have NOT prevented any attacks on the US. As some of the cited sources testify, they can actually hamper intelligence gathering efforts instead of aid them.

 

Second, why is it unethical and to what type of person is it unethical? It seems that ethics is a fluid subject, only a fad such as political correctness. So why base such choices on ethics rather than results.

It should be obvious to any thinking human being that, since torture is an ineffective technique, it's use is purely for savagery and retribution. That, coupled with the fact that these techniques threaten to violate the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture of which the US is a signatory, should firmly place its use as unethical. I have to say that I'm personally disgusted that there are those who consider ethics to be a "fad".

 

I'm not too sure about that. Some of our greatest advancements have been through showing off our brawn. We got to space when we did by showing off our strength. We ended the 2nd world war by exacting our strength. Is there something your meaning here that I'm missing.

You're missing the fact that the space race was won on brains. Did your history teacher tell you that some soldiers threw those rockets past the stratosphere?

 

The fact that our past has had more examples of success through military might doesn't mean that this is the way to continue into the future. I think Soviet Russia was a much greater threat to the US than Nazi Germany was, and we won the Cold War on brains and economics. Do you truly think the world is better off with war than without it?

 

I don't see this as an accurate statement. There is violence all over the world right now. I would have to say there is more at time now than there used to be.

I don't see how your statement invalidates mine. There are hundreds of known examples of the US sponsoring foreign wars to prop up regimes that gained us temporary economic and political gain. Many of those, like Hussein, Qaddafi and the Shah of Iran, later turned out to be some of our costliest mistakes. Who are we fostering now that may turn into our next Iraq? And do you really think that corporations who make increasing profits from war want them to end?

 

I think you're trying to connect two things that alot of times have nothing to do with one another. Alot of times violence IS the smarter action to take. The only people that say otherwise are those that reject it on ethical grounds which are as fluid and varying as emotional response.

I think they are very much connected in many people's minds. I think they're connected in YOUR mind. You think it's against our nature to be non-violent, AND you think unnecessary violence poses an ethical dilemma. See? Connected.

 

There are absolutely times when military intervention and the violence and destruction that entails are necessary. I don't think Iraq was one of them. In hindsight, I think our whole response after 9/11 was a big mistake. I think we should have accepted the support and sympathy the rest of the world was willing to give us, we should have used that support to put diplomatic pressure on the countries where the (then) handful of terrorists (there were less than a thousand of them back then!) had training bases, and we could have squeezed al Qaeda out of existence in a way that would have downplayed their existence. Then we would have been in a much better position to deal with Hussein in Iraq.

 

Instead, we did everything possible to turn the situation into a circus that now has most of the Islamic world and even some of our formerly staunch allies shaking their heads, wondering why we spend so much of our blood and money to recruit for the terrorists. We're like their marketing department.

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Imatfaal,

 

Maybe not definitively or by specific situation, but I think you can easily generalize people's characteristics across sexes, nationalities, races, historical periods, religions, and especially cultures.

 

I think this is where we will more than likely disagree. The first thing that I wouldn't think upon seeing someone hanged is "that's murder". The first thing I would think is "what did he do to deserve it". I think this difference in opinion, or reaction, or whatever you want to call it, is what prompted me to ask these questions.

 

Did the human brain flip-flop in the last few decades or something? That wasn't what anyone used to think about that sort of thing. And I believe that a person being scared for their lives or in tremendous pain isn't thinking about loyalty. Especially under tremendous pain. Everyone cracks eventually. The hardened heart argument doesn't work for me, especially coming from academia or a politition.

 

Which allies? When, where?

 

Which allies? When, where?

Which allies? When, where?

Which allies? When, where?

 

Coalition deaths in Afghanistan by country

USA: 1,827*

UK: 414

Canada: 158*

France: 83

Germany: 56

Italy: 50

Denmark: 42

Poland: 37

Spain: 34*

Australia: 32

Netherlands: 25

Romania: 20

Georgia: 16

Turkey: 14

Norway: 10

...snipped

TOTAL: 2,854

 

 

 

Which allies? When, where?

Feel Free to click through the and look at the faces of over 400 UK servicemen who have died in Afghanistan that you seem happy to dismiss

 

http://www.telegraph...fghanistan.html

 

I am sure that those from other countries are equally amazed how quick you are to minimize the sacrifice of young men's lives for the War on Terror.

 

Which allies? When, where?

 

When you treat your allies with such disdain and are content to spend their lives so carelessly is it any wonder that you find enemies everywhere.

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Imatfaal

I am sure that those from other countries are equally amazed how quick you are to minimize the sacrifice of young men's lives for the War on Terror.

Which allies? When, where?

When you treat your allies with such disdain and are content to spend their lives so carelessly is it any wonder that you find enemies everywhere.

 

Undoubtebly wars are fought many times for the wrong reasons, and lives are lost. But I don't believe JustinW chose those phrases to disdain or disparage in any sense, our allies. Yes, the US could stay out of many conflicts if they chose to close their eyes and do so. But acting as Big Brother as you suggest, leave us with few options. Many times we may come across as a warring nation to even our closest allies. But if you have ever witnessed the funeral service of a young soldier of any country without feeling a tug at your heart strings, then you just might be classified as a "fanatical war monger". Wars will continue to be fought for just about any reason as long as a difference of opinion exists over some seemingly unsolvable problem.

Picked this up on Utube a few days ago. Guess you might call me a patriot foe even watching such. Believe me though, there is little or no difference in how either you or I feel about our hero's. Simply wear each of them as the banners of honor that they are!

http://www.mullerover.com/2012/05/23/what-honor-looks-like-the-flash-mob-at-gate-38-of-reagan-national-airport/

Edited by rigney
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... But if you have ever witnessed the funeral service of a young soldier of any country without feeling a tug at your heart strings, then you just might be classified as a "fanatical war monger". ..

QFT +1. Not often our sentiments concur Rigney - but that is spot on.

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