Thursday, May 27, 2004

Sad experience

Every twenty- and thirtysomething who is single and has a Jewish mother is familiar with the following routine: You call your mother from time to time, for me it is usually on Friday afternoons (usually because you get made to feel a bit guilty if you don't).

During this phone call you know you are going to hear something like "You know, I have this friend Mrs. Goldenbloom who goes to the bungalow colony with Mrs. Schecter, and your father knows Mr. Goldenbloom from a deal they worked on together last year, and the year before, and I think they know each other from a shiur (lecture) they go to together. And I was talking to Mrs. Schecter and she wants to set you up with Mrs. Goldenbloom's daughter, Ruthie. She is really perfect. She is y'know, offbeat. . . like you. . . Should I try to set it up? She is really your type." (None of these are the real names.)

I get this often. My mother means well and unfortunately, has too many friends with single daughters. Every time it is a different name. Sometimes the names repeat once or twice.

I never really take it seriously, and I rarely let it actually get past the phone call. I assume my mother has no idea what I want in a woman.

Now, there was recently an event which Mr. Goldenbloom knew my father would atttend, because they had spoken earlier that day. Mr. Goldenbloom brought a book for my father to have. The book was a memorial book for his daughter, Ruthie, who was killed on September 11, in the World Trade Center.

I was looking through this book while I was staying at my parents' house for two days over the holiday. While reading it, I saw why people would have wanted to set us up. She really was a unique girl, and an interesting person. We certainly would not have been on the same wavelength about many things, and she was a bit older than me, but reading this I did feel like I missed out by not taking my mother seriously here.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

A list for philosophers

There is a meme going around (for example Plain Layne) about some College Board's list of 101 books that people should read before college. I can't imagine anyone I know, including a few PhDs in English who have read half of them. The memers took the list and hilighted the books they read in bold. In the same vein, I am writing some lists: first is my Philosophy 101 list, which all people who have been through a philosophy major should have read, at least in part.

Here is my philosophy list. This list is idiosyncratic, and feel free to tell me that I am obviously illiterate and did not deserve my BA in Philosophy.

The philosophy list is not necessarily a complete historical account, or a complete anything account, but rather is lists those books which I feel would prepare anyone to have a good understanding of philosophy today. It is partially historical, and partially the background for the contemporary discussion in various fields. I have included stuff that would allow people to both see the background for today's analytic and continental philosophy.

The books I read are in bold. I know that we all tend to read selections. So here are my rules. (My meme, my rules, but don't feel obligated to follow them.) With the Philosophy texts, you can highlight if you have read most of the book.

I do not include esssays that are important, only books, though some of these are collections of an author's papers. The order here is fairly meaningless except that older ones tend to be on top and younger ones on bottom. Perhaps if I gave this more though the list could become better.

On second thought, consider this a draft. If I get any feedback I'll put up a revised list later on.

The Republic - Plato
Five works on the Trial and Death of Socrates - Plato
Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle
On The Soul - Aristotle
The Analects - Confucious
Tao te-ching - Lao Tzu
The Manual - Epictetus
Confessions - Augusitne
City of God - Augustine
Against the Academics - Augustine

Prosologion - Anselm
Summa Theologia - Aquinas
Guide to the Perplexed - Maimonides
The Consolation of Philosophy - Boethius
New organon - Francis Bacon
Rules for the Direction of the Mind - Descartes
Meditations on First Philosophy - Descartes
Theological-Political Treatise - Spinoza
Ethics - Spinoza
Monodalogy - Leibniz

Discourse on Metaphysics - Leibniz
Correspondence between Leibniz and Clarke
Critique of Pure Reason - Kant
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals - Kant
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding - Hume
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion - Hume
Second Treatise of Government - Locke
Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Locke
Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man - Reid
Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous- Berkeley

Leviathan - Hobbes
The Prince - Machiavelli
Dialogues Concerning Two Chief World Systems - Galileo
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy - Newton
Voltaire - Candide
Utilitarianism - Mill
On Liberty - Mill
The Birth of Tragedy - Nietzsche
Geneology of Morals - Nietzsche
Emile - Rousseau

On The Social Contract - Rousseau
Phenomenology of Spirit - Hegel
The Communist Manifesto - Marx
Being and Nothingness - Sartre
The Myth of Sisyphys - Camus
Being and Time - Heiddegger
Fear and Trembling - Kierkergaard
Penses - Pascal
The World as Will and Idea - Shopenhauer
Pragmatism - James

The Laws of Thought - Boole
The Foundations of Arithmetic - Frege
The Problems of Philosophy - Russell
Philosophy of Logical Atomism - Russell
The Principles of Mathematics - Russell
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus - Wittgenstein
Philosophical Investigations - Wittgenstein
On Certainty - Wittgenstein
Language, Truth and Logic - Ayer
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions - Kuhn

Word and Object - Quine
From a Logical Point of View - Quine
Ontological Relativity - Quine
The Structure of Science - Nagel
Naming and Necessity - Kripke
Language of Thought - Fodor
Cartesian Linguistics - Chomsky
Minds, Brains and Science - Searle
Consciousness Explained - Dennett
Elbow Room - Dennett

Introduction to Mathematical Logic - Mendelson
Philosophy of Natural Science - Hempel
A Theory of Justice - Rawls
Anarchy, State, and Utopia - Nozick
Philosophical Explanations - Nozick
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast - Nelson Goodman
The Scientific Image - Bas Van Fraassen
The Logic of Scientific Discovery - Popper
Conventions - Lewis
On the Plurality of Worlds - Lewis

Natural Theology - Paley
Representation and Reality - Putnam
Reason, Truth, and History - Putnam
The Varieties of Reference - Evans
How to Do Things with Words - Austin
Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind - Sellars
Essays on Actions and Events - Davidson
Essays on Truth and Interpretation - Davidson
Just and Unjust Wars - Walzer
Reasons and Persons - Parfit

Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action - Habermas
Writing and Difference - Derrida
Truth and Method - Gadamer
The View from Nowhere - Nagel
Cartesian Meditations - Husserl
The Phenomenology of Perception - Merleau-Ponty
How the Laws of Physics Lie - Cartwright
The Logical Syntax of Language - Carnap
Neurophilosophy - Churchland
The Transfiguration of the Commonplace - Danto

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature - Rorty

Incident in Union Square

Today I was sitting and reading in Union Square, and there was this guy acting all loud and annoying, and this woman, who was apparently his wife was apparently being harassed by him. At some point I think he hit her, or perhaps she hit him, I did not really see, and this kid, he must have been in high school started screaming at him. Then all this kid's friends (there were like 5 off them, and I think they were his friends) got involved, and almost beat the guy up. Eventually the cops came and arrested the annoying guy. It was nice of these kids to step in to help the woman. She needed help.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Review of P.J. O'Rourke's All the Trouble in the World

Sometimes I like to think that if I ever were to be able to find my own political writing voice, it would sound something like P.J. O’Rourke’s. Reading through his All the Trouble in the World is a similar experience to his other books. That is not to say that by the time you get to this book you are bored. The places he writes about are all new, as are the angles he takes toward them. Here he talks about some standard economic issues such as the alleged population explosion, the alleged various economic crises, issues of plague, muticulturalism and ethnic conflict.

The places he looks at are Yugoslavia, Vietnam, the Amazon rain forest, Somalia, Bangladesh, Haiti, and his college alma matter. His insights and observations on all of these are as usual acute and on the money – literally. O’Rourke’s main goal is to illustrate via real world observations, the benefits of minimal government interference on the world. In the book he correctly claims that “We don’t know what causes wealth. . . All we can really do in the study of poverty and wealth is watch carefully when one is turning in to the other.” This he does well.

Most of all, O’Rourke’s style is very entertaining. He is funny sarcastic, and little escapes his fine sense of satire. As much as I talk about what the book is trying to convince you of, don’t be fooled by its content. You read the book because it is funny. Nothing else. Don’t let the high-minded talk about supply and demand get in the way of the laughter.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Voluntary taxes

I had lunch this afternoon in a rather typical kosher restaurant in Brooklyn. After paying for my meal I got my change, and there were some dollar bills and some change. Almost instinctively, after a cursory glance to make sure I was not supporting anything truly distasteful, I took the change and placed it in to the charity box nearest the cash register. Almost every Jewish or kosher retail store has a bunch of these boxes near the cash register. I assume that every so often the owner of the store empties the box and sends the contents to the charity, or every so often a representative of the charity comes and empties the boxes himself. I do not know how much each charity makes, but I am sure that the more popular charities (like Hatzolah or Tomchei Shabbos) do get a chunk of revenue from these boxes.

It seems to me that it might be a good idea for the city to do the same thing. Recently somone floated the idea of a tax on coffee in coffee shops. That is a dumb idea. Coffee already cost about $9.25 for a whatever at Starbucks. What the city ought to do is put little voluntary tax boxes in places like that. The city could ask for a $0.25 “tax” on each coffee you purchase. The tax will not be mandatory, and people will feel like they are giving to their city, as opposed to having the city take from them.

Perhaps they can have a few small boxes, each earmarked for different city projects. Perhaps they can have projects exclusively funded by the “voluntary coffee tax”. There are many popular projects that could get funded this way and free up funds for other-needed projects without having to raise taxes. I see a NYC 9/11 monument being a popular cause that people would want to contribute to that New York would have to pay for anyway. Perhaps money that goes directly to New York’s museums would drive people to shell out quarters. There are plenty of public works projects that could use more support, and this is just the right kind of way to get it.

At the very least, this concept is worth experimenting with. Libertarians like myself would welcome this sort of voluntary earmarked tax as just the kind of thing that needs to be in place for all government projects, and this would look like a good start. Do-gooder Democrats and communist-types would have to concede that any way to get more money from private people to the government has to be good, and all their girlfriends would look at them funny for not contributing at the coffee stand. Finally, Republican types, well, I am not sure what they would do. They tend to be charitable, and they will likely support causes that are endorsed by other Republicans. So we would just need to get them on board.

This is an idea whose time is here. We need to phase out some taxes and replace them with voluntary giving to the government. Hey, it works for Brooklyn.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The public, the prisoners, and their rights

Somehow people think that they have rights to see the new photographs that Congress has. I have no idea why people think that. Perhaps they do not understand the meaning of right. But, people do not have this right. Freedom of the press does not mean that the press has a right to every piece of information. MY freedom of the press does not grant me the freedom to have any information and publish it. I cannot for example demand that your boyfriend turn over his naked pictures of YOU. I cannot demand those pictures even if those pictures exist somewhere. They are not my pictures, and I cannot print them. I do not have the rights to them. I also cannot demand the prisoner pictures just because they happen to exist in some room in Congress.

Freedom of press is not a right to get anything you want to put in your press. It is a right to publish those things you did manage to legally obtain.

The prisoners who we are holding, on the other hand, do have rights. These rights are granted to them by the Geneva Convention. Just because those appear to have been violated already, does not mean that we are permitted to keep violating them. The prisoners have the right not to have humiliating pictures of them on every website on the internet, in every newspaper on the planet, etc. Their children, wives, and loved ones do not deserve that, just so some left-wing racist Bush-hater could have a picture to go with their raving about American imperialism or something.

Suddenly no one really cares about the rights of the prisoners. Actually no one ever cared about the rights of the prisoners. What hypocrites.

The whole issue is really a way to knock Nick Berg off our minds, and refocus them on new pictures. Justice is once again a casualty of war.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Review of Bernard Lewis' The Crisis of Islam

Bernard Lewis, as usual, put out a fine book. The Crisis of Islam goes on to explain in brief what Islam is, and how Muslims, especially those we call "fundamentalists" view the west and why it seems like the west seems to face no end of problems from Islam.

The book starts with an explanation of Islam. What is the Islamic worldview? Muslims do not perceive peoplehood, statehood, or nationalism the way Westerners do. Our basic unit of the world is geographic, while theirs is religious. Muslim countries are more Muslim than any Christian country is Christian. Lewis summarizes this nicely. Then the book goes on to look at how Muslims have viewed the west, and others throughout their history, from the time that Muslims were independent under Islamic rule, through colonialization and to the present. The nature of Islamic states' alliances with athiest communism is hard to make sense of, as is early Palestinian support for Nazism and not the British. Lewis takes us through the problems and seeming paradoxes of the region.

Lewis points out something rather interesting. the west traditionally has interacted with the Arab world under the assumption that they are incapable of having a democracy. We have put up with events such as the Hama masacre without too many repercussions for the state. We tolerate, and even make nice to Saudia Arabia, despite the fact that it is a horribly opressive regime. The Arabs, especially the fundamentalist Muslims, have alwasy held that against us. It remains to be seen whether this assumption is wrong.

The failures of modernity and the rise of retrogressive Wahhabism were also key points in the evolution of Islam. This too is noted and described. Then the rise of modern terrorism, especially its departure from classical Islamic political assasination is addressed. This leads us to Lewis' recommendations for the present and he alludes to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This book was good easy read. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to reading more of Lewis' work in the future.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

My Lengthy Thoughts About the Iraq Prisoner Pictures

I have avoided writing anything about the whole Iraqi prisoner thing till I gave it a bit of thought, and I think I gave it as much as I could, which is not much. Here is what I have to say for myself, I wish I could be more insightful. This weekend I was on drill, so I met with my reserve unit and we had some time to talk about the matter. I'll give the details at the end.

First, it is clear that the pictures are shocking. Prima facie, it is not something I would want to be associated with. The thought actually crossed my mind while on the train today on my way home in uniform, and I wondered if people near me were thinking that I was the same kind of person who would do what the people in the pictures did. It was slightly uncomfortable.

Second, after all the discussion of the pictures, I have no idea what the prisoners were charged with, why they were prisoners, and what happened to them since. I would like to hope that despite the fact that they were very much mistreated, we did not let very dangerous people back on to the street.

Third, people need a psychology lesson. Anyone who ever took even one psychology class in college, will have heard of two experiments, both about 30-something years old. First, is the Milgram obedience to Authority Experiment, and the second is the Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment. These are the two most famous experiments in psychology after Pavlov's dog. (I will state the lessons of the experiments. For the actual experiment, proof, and interpretation, follow the links to the actual experiment.)

The Milgram experiment suggests, on the standard interpretation, that in a case where there are people in authority taking responsibility for some action, even though the action is obviously quite immoral, people will usually do it. If the burden of moral responsibility is removed, people in authority can easily coerce regular unprepared people to do horrible things. (There are other interpretations that deny that the subjects seriously believed this.)

The Stanford experiment is a bit more complicated, but the results are more shocking, and less open to interpretation. The Stanford experiment (which everyone is talking about after this Iraq thing) basically shows that in a situation where you have random prisoners and random guards, without any training or discussion, will devolve into the guards acting barbarically to the prisoners. Human nature is such that in situations like this, you will get humans acting very inhumane. Humans will cease to treat their prisoners as human, and will treat them as anything else you would treat in a cage, as something for their own amusement. They will not treat the prisoners as people. There are no special personality traits associated with this. This happens to regular normal people.

What can these two experiments tell us about human psychology? They tell us that humans often act differently than we would expect when there is authority, and when they are in authority. When under pressure of authority and abdication of responsibility, humans seem to become conflicted. They want to obey authority, and they want to do what is right. When they can't, they will usually obey authority. They will assume that the right thing to do is what they are told. When they are relieved of responsibility, it is even easier to do what they are told. Second, when people are in a role of power with respect to someone who they believe is a) not deserving of rights, and b) is not being treated like they have too many of them, people will begin to take on the same role. Guards will see themselves as part of this role. They will take their power, and unsurprisingly, abuse it.

Fourth, The military tries really hard to make sure that the part of the job that involves obeying authority takes priority. Following orders is a big part of military life. There is obviously a strict hierarchy. Some units are stricter than others, and others are fairly lax, but one is always cognizant of the fact that they are speaking to a superior or a subordinate. There is A LOT of re-enforcement of this behavior.

The Milgram experiment should show that in situations of obedience to authority, and a fortiori in situations where obedience to authority is taken very seriously, you can expect people to allow the obeying of orders to override most everything else, especially some moral qualms.

So who is responsible? Well, it seems like if these experiments are indicative of human behavior, then humans are simply programmed to act certain ways under certain conditions. So how can we punish them for it?

I like to think that despite this, humans have free will. If they did not, then our whole legal system is built on a fiction. So despite the fact that it would be difficult, the soldiers should be held accountable for their actions. In particular they ought to be held responsible for the degree for which they did what they did. The fact that they seemed to enjoy it and take pictures, is also fairly disturbing and worthy of some scorn.

The fact that they were probably following orders helps to exonerate them to some degree as well. Their sergeants ought to be held somewhat responsible too.

But the real responsibility must be taken by whoever is in charge of making sure that prisons have guards. Whoever that is, and I suspect that it is some Colonel toward the higher side of the military hierarchy who should really know better. It is his (or, less likely, her) responsibility to understand prison psychology. There is someone who should know how things work, and the potential dangers of using poorly trained or inexperienced soldiers for a job that requires a lot of supervision, self-restraint, and accountability. There seems to have been a failure. The blame is of course not Rumsfeld's, or Bush's. That is preposterous. Most likely people as high as Generals cannot be connected closely enough in the day-to-day affairs to be responsible either.

More frighteningly, this was likely a collective action, and part of a mindset that pervaded the prison for at least a little while. It must have been out of hand. It should have been stopped, and there should have been numerous opportunities for various people to stop them.

What is the Army's official response? What are soldiers supposed to do? I cannot say for certain how the Army will react, but here is most likely what they stand behind, and I have heard versions of this expressed by various generals who have been paraded on CNN over the past few days.

Officially, especially lately, when in training, there are two relevant things to mention.

1) In training, to say that soldiers are trained to obey orders is somewhat imprecise. Sergeants and Drill sergeants do explain that they give orders that they expect to have followed. More precisely, they say very clearly that they are issuing lawful orders. This is not implicit, this is quite explicit. Every soldier has heard the phrase "I issued a lawful order, and I expect it to be followed" countless times. The Army expects its soldiers not to listen to unlawful orders. Soldiers get told this explicitly a few times during their basic training, and probably hear it other times as well. There is an official class on things like racial discrimination and sexual harassment where soldiers are clearly instructed that orders that are racist or sexist, or anything like that are not to be followed. There is also a class on the rudiments of the Geneva Convention. We are told that if there are orders given that go against the Geneva Convention they are not lawful and not to be followed. Alternatives must be found. Many examples are given of actions that are specifically condemned by the Geneva Conventions. There is even a dumb, but hard to forget, film accompanying this class.

2) The Army has seven core values. These values are drummed in to each soldier from day one of basic training. They become very much a part of the lingo and even culture of the Army. Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage are the values that ANY SOLDIER can recite from memory in their sleep. These virtues *very roughly* correspond to what ethicists would call virtues. Aristotle discussed the concept of virtue, and with philosophers like G. E. M. Anscomb and W. D. Ross, and also modern feminists, the idea of a virtue ethic has become standard fare in contemporary philosophy. Virtue ethics attempts to decide right and wrong based on what sort of individual you are, as opposed to what sort of action you do. Soldiers in the US Army are taught to be a certain kind of soldier. They are taught to be a soldier who has honor and integrity, as well as the personal courage to stand up for what is right, as well as face physical danger in various situations that soldiers face. And while the Army offers a very rudimentary conceptual analysis of what these virtues are, they certainly intend for the soldiers to grasp by causistry what the values are on an intuitive level.

How did the Army respond? I cannot know if there was some directive involved from above, or it was just the good common sense of one of the sergeants in charge of my unit, but my unit had an interesting bit of what we call CTT (Common Task Training) this afternoon. I suspect it was the sergeant, and if so he is to be commended and should be a model for other reserve units. A sergeant took us through various scenarios where he would issue an order that was unlawful, and got a number of the younger soldiers to actually agree that they might really assault a female soldier on his order. In these various scenarios he really was coming on strong, and it would have been easy to see how even a rather average soldier would be roped in to going along with even something rather bad, like a "code red" which is out of fashion in the Army, but lives in the memory of everyone who knows that they can't handle the truth. The sergeant then went on to show how things like this could happen, and how to begin to deal with the fact that he or anyone else could give us an order that can violate the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). If that happened there was a way to deal with the chain of command. I would like to see some better system, perhaps in the way of a civilian review board, but it is unlikely that something like that would be possible. The Military has a pretty good system. Again, the sergeant who ran us through this, gave us all a bit of courage, and definitely gave us a lesson in disobedience to authority that most of us will not likely forget in the near future.

That's my take on the matter.

UPDATE 5/22/04 Anyone in the Army who has logged in to their Army email account lately will notice a letter on top of the site from Rumsfeld, and another one from Brownlee (the acting Secretary of the Army). Each letter basically instructs the soldiers to be good and follow the Army values.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

A VERY Brief Primer on the Theory of Just War

The theory of just war is about a thousand years old. All the religious traditions in the West have them, and naturally contemporary philosophers have a lot to say about it. Most philosophers (and I have spoken with and read many) today start with the axiom that Bush is Evil, the US is an Evil Empire out to colonize the world, etc, and so anything Bush or the US ever did was wrong. So I am ignoring all of that. You should too.

Just war has two components, both of these have stupid Latin names which I won't burden you with.

First, you have wars that are fought for just causes, as opposed wars that are fought for unjust reasons. Intuitively, when the Allies fought the Axis in WWII, that was a war fought for a just cause. Hitler was the clear bad guy. Defeating him was a just and legitimate thing to do. Justice demanded that his war machine be stopped. Conversely, Hitler's war against Europe was unjust. Taking over other people's countries, for the purposes of genocide and world domination is an unjust cause. Then there are many that are somewhat more ambiguous. The US in Korea, for example. Was stopping the communist takeover of south Korea just? Various philosophers then try to come up with principles for deciding. Unfortunately, usually they just make up their minds about a particular war and then gerrymander their principles accordingly. With good philosophy, ideally, you get objective-sounding principles like a) Is there a good reason for fighting the war, ie, will it help people in some significant way? b) Just wars are fought after exhausting all the possible non-violent options. There are many other principles which are considered. All are controversial. For example, is c) a "legitimate authority" the only one who can wage a just war, or can anyone who is sufficiently able to redress the problems that the war will be fought over authorized to wage it? d) Is there a reasonable chance for the success of the war?

This first component answers the question: Should we initiate this war, or is prosecuting this war a bad thing. If the wrong decision is made here, the way to rectify it is to pull out of the war.

The second component in any discussion of a just war is the question of how the war is fought. There is far more agreement on how this ought to go. We have international conventions that adjudicate this. All armies in theory adhere to conventions such as the various Geneva Accords. Basically, you want to have a) a principle to protect the truly innocent, like civilians. You want to have an ethical position on b) what to do with prisoners of war. Basically you want to make sure that in the context of a war, which is by definition going to be rather unpleasant, you have reasonable rules to protect those who are not involved in the war. Intuitively, something like the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam was bad. Innocent civilians were killed for no reason. The Allies bombing of Dresdin was more controversial, and it is difficult to justify the British bombing of that city. Uses of smart bombs, targeted killings, and precision strikes that go along way toward hitting only the targets are a good step in the right direction for how one is to fight a war.

This second component answers the question: How should we fight this war? If the wrong decision is made here, the way to rectify it is to retrain the people who are fighting the war, punish those who made the wrong decisions, and make sure that the orders that come down are more carefully screened for injustice in their content.

It is very important to not confuse the two. As we have seen, it is possible to fight a just war in an unjust way. If the Allies in WWII was a just cause, it does not mean that anything done in that war is just. WWII may have been just, but it does not mean that the bombing of Dresdin was just. The opposite is possible too. You can fight a war in such a way that you only target soldiers and you treat your prisoners well, but still have it be an unjust war. Of course it is also possible to have a just war fought justly, and an unjust war fought unjustly. The first is the ideal, and the latter is twice as bad.

I write this because of the numerous comments I have heard confusing the two. Some seem to think that since innocent civilians have been killed, or that some of the soldiers have misbehaved in various ways, that it shows that the war is unjust. It clearly does not. It shows that there are bad soldiers, and perhaps bad superior officers. The soldiers ought to be punished. To show that the current war in Iraq is unjust requires one to show that the war violates general principles of a just war. (Ranting about oil or the evils of capitalism is nonsense.) One need to prove that a) when all is over Iraqis and Americans will be worse off. b) One needs to prove that there were non-violent ways to achieve the same ends. . . Naturally, the real burden of proof is on the one initiating the war. The initiator must offer reasons that justify their involvement in the war. They must in good faith explain how The US, Iraq, the Middle East, and perhaps the world will benefit from the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime, and replacing it with whatever we replace it with. They must explain how they tried to achieve the same goals without initiating the war against the Iraqi government.

If someone does not understand these two issues clearly then speaking about the justice or injustice involved in a war is just ranting.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Enlargement Day

I have always been wary of European expansion. I think many people are. Today marks Enlargement Day, where the EU admits another 10 countries in to its sphere.

Is it me or does the new and improved EU look frighteningly like the old version of what the Third Reich was supposed to look like.

Is this Europe's joke? They first ethnically cleanse their whole continent, convince everyone to hate all outsiders especially potential rivals, and then unify? This looks like it was Hitler's Plan B. I see strategic alliances forming with these America haters around the world, and then . . .