blog machine debates

I’m taking this post to link the new blog of my old friend delobius. We met back in the day at the UofMN, where we slacked off together in my first (and only) C programming course.

This morning I wrote this huge response to his post asking about whether lies are black and white or shades of grey, and debated posting my response here instead of in his comments. So now that I’ve written another huge response to his latest post on political discourse, I decided to post it here instead. Anyway, he’s a great guy, political disagreements aside.

I agreed with almost everything in the post initially. Name calling in politics is pretty much pointless, and about as likely to convince someone of your point as it is to enrage them beyond the point of rational discussion… But I do NOT agree with the premise that Bush is obviously not a terrorist. defines terrorism as:

The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Bush is clearly using force and violence to coerce foreign governments for ideological or political reasons. (Does destroying them completely count?) He’s changed his tune a couple of times about why we invaded Iraq, but whether it’s ideological or political, I think we’ve got it covered there. (Of course, giving him complete credit for these actions is probably unwise, but lets take that in stride for the sake of this argument.) That leaves only one question…

Did he break any laws to do it?

If he hasn’t broken any laws… he’s not a terrorist by dictionary definition, he’s just an asshole with too much power.

I’m not up on my global treaty knowledge. (But a quick google search reveals at least one page on laws that were perhaps broken by invading Afghanistan.) As far as I know our “war on Iraq” has circumnavigated (if not overtly broken) international peace treaties and/or accords. If these treaties can be considered “law” then we’ve got ourselves terrorist actions performed by our government…

If not, well, we’ve still got the term “asshole” to fall back on.

7 Replies to “blog machine debates”

  1. There you go, name calling again. ;)

    Depending on how I read that definition of “terrorism,” I come up with two statements:

    1) if I read it straight up, then it basically includes every war, conflict, and throwdown between nations, groups, and people. I mean, using “force to coerce foreign governments” has been a feature of human relations since basically the rock-throwing era. Also, I think it sets up a dangerous moral equivalency – American revolutionaries, Palestinian suicide bombers, Nazi death camp masters, and British soldiers in Iraq, all terrorists? That paints things with an unnecessarily large brush, IMO.

    2) A more nuanced reading says that it defines only violence against “people or property,” as distinct from threating violence against states/nations/governments. Did Bush say, “Hussein, get outta Iraq or I’m gonna kill every man woman and child in Basra/Baghdad/Mosul/Tikrit”?

    As for the laws that were broken…that’s a whole other can of worms, but it speaks to the question of whether “international law” can trump national sovereignty.

    That’s for another day, and another post. This comment box is way too small. :)

  2. hmmm. is it possible war==terrorism?!?

    Wait… that would imply that it is in some way wrong! Killing people, bad? Couldn’t be! ;)

  3. Hey now, now we’re back into “shades of gray” vs. “black & white” territory…

    War is never good but is it always wrong? Just war vs. unjust war?

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things!”

    –John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873

    (only a partial quote btw…)

  4. Well, you’ve got me there. I do agree that war is not always wrong. But it should be reserved for only the most extreme situations. In the case of Iraq… I see no possible justification for the lives that were lost.

    What I find amazing is the fact that the U.S.A. is supposedly this economic superpower. We wield some gargantuan percentage of all the $$ in the world… yet when it comes to placating this tiny country halfway across the world, we have to resort to outright WAR to make ourselves heard!?! I think not. War was and is an excuse for Bush (and his cronies) to wield more power–political, economic, and military. And that is what I find disturbing and wrong.

    Here’s a reminder to myself to write a blog entry about my wishy-washy pacifism sometime.

  5. Heh, first time I visit this site in some time, and it is something I wanna comment about.

    “It’s good war is so terrible, for we should become fond of it” -Gen.Lee

    Our current president is using national security to play politics. The rational for the current US-initiated war seems to be more Bush’s ‘kiss the baby and smile’ politicing rather than for any real reason.
    What really concerns me, is the back seating of Bush’s original reasoning for this war in the first place. These WMDs, the so called experts are now saying that they probably never existed in the first place. Still, bush and co. are happily pushing through the latest patriot act revisions. Pushing them through congress while the apathetic public sleeps.

    As to war as a concept, it may not be the best tool for driving change, but sometimes, it is the only tool available.
    I don’t believe our latest US initiated war sets a good precedent, or give a good picutre of us, as a “peace loving country”.

    Enough random thoughts for now.

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