Dueling Twins

Force

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The 'Dueling Twins'

Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o' thousands thou has slain!
- Robert Burns

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Counterpoint:

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Force and Law

James Hall from the Left

One cannot help but be impressed by the moral purity of Sartre's argument, taken from estimable thinkers like Tolstoy and Kierkegaard and ultimately from the core teachings of Jesus himself. Returning good for evil is a novel argument in the modern world, and should give us all pause to think about it, in particular those who would indiscriminately do evil to an entire people for the evil acts that a few have done to us. That kind of vengeance is an evil which must be avoided. But there is another solution, and that is to limit force to those whom a justly administered law provides it, in order to punish those who have committed crimes and to limit further violence.

While I admire the ethical fortitude of Sartre's argument, and in particular the wisdom behind it in not perpetuating the cycle of violence by harming innocents, I have to disagree with the scope of his argument. Sartre and other American isolationists would have us stay here in North America and obey George Washington's advice to "avoid foreign entanglements." That means eschewing any chance to hunt down and punish Osama bin Laden and his organization who hide abroad in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Washington's advice was sound in the 18th century world with its wide oceans and shifting empires and allegiances, and complemented the attitude that most of the new immigrants to America had, which was to leave the Old World behind. Today, however, a terrorist can travel from Katmandu to New York in less than half a day. The global village is no longer a metaphor, and unless we're going to impose a total embargo on trade and traffic, there's no way to keep terrorists out of this country.

The only alternative that makes sense is to go after them where they live. Give them no peace or time to plot well-crafted mischief. Give them no space to organize and train their cadres. Give them no opportunity to raise funds. We must engage with the rest of the world and eliminate terrorism where it grows. Likening terrorists to mosquitos, as the Bush administration has done, we cannot wait to swat them when they land on us to draw blood, but must drain the swamps that nurture them.

What does it mean "to drain the swamps?" For the most part, it means forming alliances and working together with other nations who have the same fear of terrorism that we do to track, capture, and imprison terrorists. To share information on terrorist networks and whereabouts. To find and confiscate terrorist funds hidden in offshore accounts. To work with nations and transnational organizations like the EU and the United Nations to punish nations like Iraq and Libya who have in the past supported terrorism or who harbor terrorism within their borders.

In a few of the most obstinate cases, like Afghanistan, it may even mean sending in armed forces, after diplomacy, sanctions, and other kinds of persuasion have been tried, to take out the terrorists themselves, and any other forces that get in the way of the mission. We should not trample on any nation's sovereignty, but at the same time, the community of nations must make it clear that national sovereignty doesn't protect terrorists from justice. Each nation must deal with terrorism in its own way or expect the world the take matters into its own hands.

Afghanistan is unique because it shares bin Laden's philosophy and serves as the training ground for many terrorist groups that operate in lands like Chechnya, the Philippines, Tajikistan, and Kashmir. As such, it is a rogue nation acting against the national sovereignty of other nations and deserving, therefore, of no consideration of its own sovereignty. International law gives these nations and the US the right to act against Afghanistan in self-defense under these circumstances.

I would be happy to return good for evil, as Sartre, Tolstoy, and Kierkegaard suggest, if I thought that such conduct would ameliorate the war of terror that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have planned for us. In the long run we must open our arms to the Islamic world if we are to stop the cycle of violence. But at the same time we must recognize that bin Laden and al-Qaeda have said that they will not stop until they have destroyed America and American influence on the world. They have in mind the promotion of their extremist brand of Islam throughout the world.

We cannot sit idly by and wait for them to come to us. We cannot persuade them to stop their campaign of terror, which for them is based on religious and ideological grounds fundamentally different from our own. We can only deal with terrorism by engaging the world in this war against terrorism, drying up the international swamps that breed them by legal and lawful means whenever possible, by armed force whenever necessary. Let us act lawfully when we can, and use force only when we must.

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Final Word:

Those who envision a world in which the US goes its own way--and gets away with it--are those who mistake the quest of Osama bin Laden as anything less than the destruction of Western Civilization and its outstanding example, the United States. Assuming an evenhanded approach to Palestinian/Israeli relations doesn't even begin to meet bin Laden's demands, which are for nothing less than the demise of the West itself, and the rise of Islam in its place.

Therefore it pays us nothing to put our heads in the sand, hoping the predator will go away. When the Roman legions withdrew from Gaul and Britannia and central Europe, that did not stop the barbarians from following them to Rome and sacking Italy. Neither will withdrawing from the Middle East or Central Asia stop al-Qaeda's attacks on the United States. Only our conversion to an Islamic state governed along the harsh lines of Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia will satisfy the terrorist's desire for our blood.

Far better it is, then, to go after them in their staging places, make them fear our arrival, tear down their support networks. But there are good and bad ways of going about this. Occupying Afghanistan ourselves would be foolish, especially when Afghans traditionally unite to drive off foreigners. Better to support the numerous opponents of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, cut them off from aid and comfort and eventually drive them from Afghanistan itself.

Such a strategy demands patience, which is hard when the need for vengeance is sharp and immediate. But we can afford to wait, meanwhile taking actions to reveal and roll-up terrorist networks wherever we find them--in Europe, Asia, even in the United States itself. Victory in this most unusual of campaigns comes piecemeal and slow, making it unlike any war yet declared. But September 11 was unlike any day ever experienced. To avoid repeating it, we must take this action.

James Hall, From the Left

Point:

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Force and Morality

In the aftermath of recent events, it almost seems futile to examine the legitimacy for using force to impose policy in world affairs. Those who were thought to be intelligent and rational friends, have marched in lockstep to the calls for retribution. Conservatives and neoconservatives alike are questioning those of us on the Right that dare raise the issue of restraint and common sense. And few are in the mood to search their convictions and beliefs and question their unanimity of support for the military retaliation.

Leo Tolstoy wrote an undiscovered book called, "The Kingdom of God is Within You". Christians are proud to hang their faith on the teachings of Jesus. Much of the traditional values community cite continuously, passages from the holy bible that teach us how we should live. Those of us who were raised within cultures of religious heritage are familiar with Matthew 5: 38-39; 43-45;

"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. . . . "

Most of us dismiss the literal meaning and implication of what these words say.

It isn't often that an essay raises our consciousness when the force of events seems to be posed to alter the future of the world.

'Words We Do Not Want To Hear' by Jeff Snyder

But Mr Snyder presents Tolstoy's case with clarity and purpose. Consider reading this article as essential, I cannot improve on it; so I will need to quote from it, within this essay.

In our modern world, few apply principles that they express are central to their beliefs, in their behavior, conduct and policies. A culture that now accepts practical attempts for solutions, while ignoring the revealed divine teachings; risks the dire consequences of an endless cycle of man's inhumanity to man.

The criticisms of non-resistance is presented from Tolstoy:

" . . . ruling means using force, and using force means doing to him to whom force is used, what he does not like and what he who uses the force would certainly not like done to himself. Consequently ruling means doing to others what we would not they should do unto us, that is, doing wrong."

So you say this dilemma will result, as Tolstoy puts it, in:

"The wicked will always dominate the good, and will always oppress them."

His answer concludes:

"A change in this state of affairs will come about only after most men have learned, through generations of bitter and futile experience, the inability of violence to put an end to evil, and to accept the truth of Christ's counsel."

Now you will say that resolution is not workable in today's world! So consider the comments of the Soren Kierkegaard, who best reflects the Existential Philosophy of your humble author:

"True worship of God consists quite simply in doing God's will."

Kierkegaard characterized man's unbelieving or unwilling response to an unconditional demand of the Divine as man's "sensibleness"; isn't this the operative basis, upon which our society functions? Isn't this the standard that you hear on every news program, in print and from you fellow neighbors?

Kierkegaard's rejection of sensibleness concludes with:

"Who will deny that the world has changed! For the better? Well, that remains a question. . . . But it is eternally certain that nothing so offends sensibleness as the unconditioned, and . . . the immediately obvious mark of this is that sensibleness will never unconditionally acknowledge any requirement but continually claims itself to be the one that declares what kind of requirement is to be made."

Read, consider and ponder Mr. Snyder, on his next passage, because it sums up the human condition towards accepting the use of force, as well as any, made in the hysteria for revenge and the imposition of the will of the world community to consolidate their New World Order.

If you are like me, it is sensibleness you will feel welling up within you when you read Christ's words to "resist not evil." It is sensibleness that will question whether they really mean what they seem to say, that will hasten to assure you that there are, there must be, just causes for which violence and resistance are righteous, that will not be willing to accept that we cannot avenge our murdered citizens, or bring the men responsible to justice, believing that somewhere, somehow, there must be maneuvering room in Christ's command to love one's enemies sufficient to kill them.

Can anyone still refuse to accept that our shared human nature is fallen, and that our insistence upon the use of force to compel compliance is the manifestation of man's evil choosing? I don't know about you, but this essay has exposed MY miserable failings as a Christian. Is it possible that it could awaken yours also? We all stumble, that's to be expected. But we have within our own conscience, the ability to accept or reject the insane means to hasten the final end of mankind, AS WE HAVE KNOWN IT TO BE.

For me, there is no fear for that end to come; because on our own, mankind has chosen to become a miserable failure. A condition that most of you willingly accept and promote in your distorted vision of defending America and her Empire.

James Hall aka SARTRE

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Rebuttal:

Is it so difficult to conclude that absurdity rules the world? The argument that is always presented in rejecting the moral course is reducible to the practical, the pragmatic and the expedient. It won't work! Confusing the central question with an ersatz criticism of Isolationism, begs the issue. What is the best moral means to accomplish the objective that we agree upon; namely, accountability for the criminals and the removal of the causes and reasons for their actions.

The need for most people to reduce the issue to the pragmatic, is due to the urgency to find a solution. But in the rush for justice, the practical becomes distorted because it is popularly defined as ignoring the ideas that allow for the final results to be achieved. My practicality does not reject most of the suggestion to drain that 'swamp'. But if one seeks just to remove the stagnate slough, the muck that will be left behind, may well create another and possibly greater problem. The method of draining is important. And that is the crucial lesson to learn if you want to understand the real meaning of Washington's admonition.

A nation can be proactive in their quest for defusing and preventing threats from foreign enemies. That is not in question. Avoiding the misguided activism and involvments, when our true interests are not served, is the insight that is lacking in the policies of the 'so called' practical. The failure to accept that past pragmatic expedience has lead to, and has contributed to, the causes for the current round of insecurity; is the seed for the next cycle of retribution. Yes we need to be pragmatic; which includes being reasonable, rational and judicious.

The hubris of man that built the unsinkable ship, mans the pumps that drains the swamps. This moral appeal in not diametrically opposed with being practical, but is actually central to achieving the same results we all want, for now and in the FUTURE. We have tried to swim on our own and we are drowning. The lifeboat offers survival if all row together and chart a course to be rescued. There is always the time to build a new and better boat, but we have to be SAVED, to get that chance . . . .

James Hall - 'The Right'


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All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. 
H.L. Mencken

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