Friday, November 19, 2004

Athena and Aries #2

Arguments are searches for truth. They need a starting point. I hope I can present a challenge that will let the "clash of ideas" begin.

The opponents of the War inIraq are seeking to summon the specters of Vietnam, demons we must exorcize with truth. In order to defend the Justice of the present war against global Islamic Terror, of which Iraq is a part, it is necessary to confront our nation's failure in Vietnam. Consider Milton's description of the War in Heaven. As Michael faces Satan each morning, the Devil grows in power and determination but the Archangel fights on. It may not always be possible to destroy evil but it must always be opposed.

Proposition: The Vietnam War was just.

In understanding the War in Vietnam consider these facts:

1. World wide domination was and is the stated goal of Communism.

2. Communism is evil. It must be forced on the defenceless like rape.

a) Communism is a lie, Marx a liar from the beginning; his claim that individuality and self motivation can be replaced by a "state of equal everyone" contradicts natural law. Man must work out his own salvation, it cannot be the "gift" of the devil. As Cicero explains, "one cannot force physical or mental equality on people and economic equality is not desirable. Equality can only mean equality before the law." Economic equality is not desirable because it destroys excellence.

b) Millions were killed in Russia, China, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and elsewhere as totalitarian power was placed in the hands of Communists.

c) Millions more were killed and continue to be killed by Communists. That terror and mass murder are the only means to maintain Communism is empirical proof of both its failure and falseness.

d) Those people dominated by Communism did and do all they could and can to escape. Every Communist state, by necessity, becomes a prison. (Note the troop of Cuban Circus performers who claimed political asylum in Los Vegas this very week.) If so many pepole are willing to risk so much to escape Communism, is there any price to high to pay to prevent its spread or our domination by it?

e) In order to maintian power Communists must abrogate all human rights. For the preservation of their "people's states" the rights of life, liberty, and property are unjustly destroyed. Comunist sates have always been and always are totalitarian tyrannies. In a diablical twist of logic, civil and individual liberties and rights are called evil by the Communists. There is no free agency in the unjust grip of Communism; no free speech, no free assembly, no freedom of press or religion, no freedom of movement, no proetecton of the individual by law.

f) Communism cannot provided the economic equality and success it uses as justification for atrocities unequaled in the long and bloody history of evil. It is a lie from the begining!

g) Communism is a "perverse religion" used to secure power for the few who manipulated its lies; a false doctrine that empowers those who preach to deceive. Lenin, Stalin, Tito, Mao, Ho, Castro, Pow Pot, and Kim knew and know the falseness they preach. They did and do it for power. They would have used any tool that would have brought them glory!

3. To stop the spread of the demonic threat of Communism, free peoples had to fight and die. Kennan recognized the inherent flaws of Marx's lies and called for Containment. Truman realized that action needed to be taken and put forward the Truman Doctrine. To stop the spread of Communism, America rebuilt Europe after WWII through the Marshal Plan, we rebuilt Japan under MacArthur, America sent aid to Greece and Turkey, and American blood was spilt inKorea and Vietnam. To save the West, Ronald Reagan led America in a costly arms race and in the violent military struggles, covert and open, that turned back the spread of Communism in Latin America and elsewhere, unleashed by Jimmy Carter's folly. In these and countless other ways, America sacrificed in wars hot and cold; in battles lost and won. When the Berlin Wall came down, when the Iron Curtain collapsed, this blood and treasure was redeemed. Vietnam was one front in these terrible and regrettably ongoing sturggles. Vietnam was a lost battle - BUT ALWAYS A JUST ONE!!!

Please consider these arguements. I would like to continue a discussion on Athena and Aires by considering why we lost the battle of Vietnam. We must know why we left those people to suffer for decades under the monster of Communism. Understanding that failure may help us prevent its repetition in the terrible war we now must fight to survive. If we identify the forces within and without that precipitated defeat, we migh be able to recognize these demons when they are conjured to defeat us again.


Dan Simpson said...

Vietnam is an interesting and frustrating topic to think about and discuss. It was the first war with major news coverage (and by that I mean news that could reach the public almost as it happened.)

This lead to several changes that have affected war ever since, some good, some bad. I don't really want to go into that, but it is an important point to the bigger question of Vietnam.

While in College I read a book written by Nixon called "No More Vietnams." I found this book incredibly interesting for several reasons. First, I was first introduced to just how intelligent Nixon was. Second, I learned for the first time that we won that war, then lost the peace that followed.

A big problem with the Vietnam war were the "protestors." Personally, I think that this label is slightly incorrect. While I do believe that some actually disagreed with the war and desired to have their problems addressed, most, in my opinion, were opportunists that joined the ride for the sex, drugs, and ability to thumb their nose at anyone in a position of authority.

Vietnam is used as an example by those against the war in Iraq, and I would have to say it is a great comparison. Both of these wars are just. This is not to say that everyone involved, either in leadership or being a soldier are people with completely pure motives. Are there companies hoping to gain financially from the war in Iraq? Probably. Was there underhanded politically motivated crap going on in Vietnam? Absolutely. But again, in both cases, the ultimate cause is just.

The reason why I believe Vietnam to be a perfect example for Iraq is that if we as a country take the problems with Iraq and translate that into a lack of support for the cause, we will lose just like Vietnam.

If instead we remember that the cause is just. That the goal is acheiveable and incredibly desireable. If we require of those in charge that they fix the problems we see and support the cause to its proper conclusion, we will have truly learned from the debacle that was Vietnam.

Anonymous said...

Amen. And yet sometimes I wonder if the difficulty in Iraq is the "forcing of equality" (under the law)upon a people entirely unready for it.

Aeneas said...

In the world of criminal law, one may be found guilty of a crime, yet receive little if any punishment due to mitigating and extenuating factors. Victor Hugo addressed this concept in his book, “Les Miserables.” Jean Valjean was placed in prison for years for stealing a loaf of bread. The punishment was unjust because stealing a loaf of bread is a petty theft (mitigation) and Jean Valjean was motivated by hunger (extenuation), not greed.

John Kerry admitted to shooting a fleeing and unarmed teenager in the back during the Vietnam War. The Swift Boat Vets for Truth, condemned Kerry for many things, but would not condemn him for this action, indicating that they understood the circumstances surrounding this event. (I.e., there were mitigating and extenuating factors that prevented condemnation).

At first glance it is easy to compare these two situations and apply the same principle of guilt v. mitigation and extenuation. That is, we have a tendency to rush to a conclusion that it was wrong for both men, Jean Valjean and Kerry to do what they did, but there were circumstances surrounding the events which remove the two men from condemnation. I believe, though I do not know, that there are circumstances that would have justified Jean Valjean’s taking and/or prison term and Kerry’s shooting.
I would like to pose a few questions to the forum: was the United States justified in dropping a nuclear bomb on Japan during WWII? If so, does that act square with the concept that killing unarmed individuals is wrong? Were their mitigating and extenuating circumstances in WWII that made the act justifiable that are different from those in Fallujah? Were there thousands of unarmed and innocent people in Japan who lost their lives in the attack by the U.S. who might have otherwise been saved if the U.S. had been a little more willing to sacrifice its own lives to save them?

Dan Simpson said...

The dropping of the bomb is a topic that I have argued vehemently about, on both sides. I have heard all the arguments that it was justified, I have made them myself in arguments. I do have to say, however, that I no longer believe that it was justified.

I would suggest to anyone who is interested in the topic, actually the topic of terrorism/punitive war on a larger scale, to read the book "Lessons on Terror". I don't remember the author. I read this during my class at law school "legal responses to terrorism".

I have to agree with the author of the books definition of terrorism. Whenever civilians are targeted (note targeted, not counting collateral damage) in order to crush their resolve, or to change their support for a political position, it is terrorism. Fire bombings of Dresden, and the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not justifiable.

Before I get bombarded with disagreements let me point out. The ONLY reason that these two things did not destroy the United States as a people who held the moral authority was the unprecedented outpouring of aid and rebuilding that flooded those two countries. Because of the Marshall plan, and the incredible aid that flooded into Japan after the war, the U.S. not only did not lose their moral authority, they cemented the fact that as a country we would stand on high ground.

But the bomb itself, not justifiable.

Hythloday said...

The past semester I have been ingaged in a study of the modernization and rise of nationalism in Asia, specifically in China. While I am in complete agreeance that Communism is a wrong and horrifically unjust I would like to reflect on some of the reason why communism has such a hold world wide.

After the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911, due in part to a series of internal conflicts (the Tieping Rebellion, and currupt governance of the Empress Dowager) and due in part to the continued international pressure, and reluctance of Chinese government to enter the modern international system. The old ways ended, but there was still no modern nation, not yet. The goal of Sun Yat Sen and latter successor Chaing Kiashek was to transform China into a modern-nation state.

This nationalization fell to two parties. The KMT nationalist party, and the Communist party. The KMT under the leadership of Chaing Kiashek was favored by the U.S. But the people of China had not yet made up their minds. While the KMT was working toward a united China they faced pressure from Japan in the Northern State of Manchuko, this marked the beginning of WWII (1937).

Throughout the war Chiang and the KMT hid out in their mountain capital, stock pilling the arms and wealth they recieved through international aid, they were preparing for the battle for China, which they knew would follow WWII, not against the Japanese, but against the Communists.

Mean while the communists under Moa were developing the tactics of guellia warfare and building an image as the defenders of China, as "the Liberation Army". We must understand that at the time the people of China had no idea of the mosterocitis that would follow in the next two decades under Mao's leadership.

When WWII did end there was only one choice for the people of China.

Anonymous said...

Two quick comments.

First - The terror bombing of Dresden and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are two completely different things. Some ends do justify the means. Japan would not have surrendered without the undisputable defeat of their God Emperor. It was Hirohito who ended the war to spare his people. Remember harkiri! The Japanese would never have surrendered without his command.

Second - As for China and Mao. Most Chinese who fought to subject their nation to the Communist monster did not conceive what was coming. Mao always did.

Beef Jerky said...

The Japanese leaders brought the a-bombing on themselves. We don't always know the consequences of our own actions, but we still make the choice. What would have happened to Japan had we not dropped the bomb? I gaurantee you they would not be as prosperous and happy today had things not turned out the way they did. The Iraqi war is the same. Saddam brought it on himself. In fact, the rebels that are fighting against our troops are also choosing their own fates. You may say that we should have used the "correct channels" in order to bring Saddam his consequences, but what are those channels? The U.N., where at least three major countries were being paid off by Saddam through abuse to the Food for Oil program? Sometimes you just need to take a stand, which is exactly what we did in Hiroshima, Korea, Viet Nam, and Iraq. If we don't who will? Do we risk the fact that another Nazi Germany or Soviet Union could form without our intervention? The answer seems obvious to me. A-bombs are deadly and destructive, but it's not like Japan was being a peaceful little bunny rabbit. If no A-bomb, then what instead? Risk more American lives?

Dan Simpson said...

Both of the posters arguing that the bombing of Japan (specifically Hiroshima and Nagasaki) completely miss the point. Of course the Japanese Army and Navy were active participants that could not complain about any of the tactics used against them. If the bomb had been dropped on Iwo Jima, or another MILITARY target, I would not be making this argument.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not military targets. They were civilian targets. ANY time civilians are targeted, it is wrong. How can you, with a straight face, say that our targeting civilians is okay, but when others target civilians it is evil and cowardly.

Our goal with the bomb was to break the people's will to fight the war. That is an unjustifiable act.

For Beef Jerky and whoever posted anonymously (and anyone else who wants to answer this question.)

When is it alright to target a civilian? How many civilians are too many to target? A busload, a skyscraper full, a full restaurant, a full dance club, an olympic wrestling team, a city?

Our goals and purpose in WWII was honorable. We were the country that was fighting for correct principles. None of these points can be disputed. But what part of our countries ideals says, "if it will save enough military lives, it is okay to TARGET women, children, the elderly."

You make the argument that it would save american lives. I would point out that those are soldiers lives. My grandfather was one of them. He was a medic and he spent the war island hopping in the pacific. I think that those lives were definitely worth saving, but why was the target civilian and not military.

Again, how many civilians are okay to kill in the name of a "just cause"? If you could have prevented the death of the 1000+ soldiers who have died so far in Iraq by putting a gun to the head of a little girl and pulling the trigger would you? Would it be just? How far are you willing to go with the idea that the end justifies the means?

Beef Jerky said...

Danny, what do you suggest that we had done with Japan, then? It would be nice if we could zero in on only the people involved and take them out quietly and precisely, but that's not quite possible (especially in 1945). Instead we hit them where it hurt. As for the little girl scenario, I guess I'd have to say I'd pull the trigger. Sorry. What do you think, Lysis?

Beef Jerky said...

And another thing, one little girl dead is better than 1,000+ families growing up without their mom/dad. This is the scenario you paint. If only those 1,000+ dead soldiers COULD have been saved through the death of one little girl. This is sounding slightly like the Atonement, now that I think about it. Anyways, we're getting off on a strange tangeant.

Hythloday said...

Beef Jerky, Danny, and Lysis

If this argument, the ends justifies the means, is really valid in the case of Vietnam or in Irag. The question I would raise is, is the means going to bring us to the end.

Can we use war and weapons to force our idea of freesom on nations of people who have their own view of global politics. Which is the point I was trying to make with China, though we spend so little time trying to understand what that world view is.

Did the Vienamese, the Japanese, the Japanese, or the Iragis ever see us as liberators, as giving them freedom.

Their idea of America may be very different from what we assume their idea of us to be, is their oppinion important, or are we going to just assume that they are ignorant and continue to drop bombs on them until they either give up and come to see things are way, or until we have killed all the disenters?

And as Dan's very pertinant question was, where does this fit into our doctrine and the experiment of democracy?

Dan Simpson said...

Beef Jerky. I have to say, WHAT THE CRAP. Think about the decision you said you would make. What is different between the act you say you would be willing to make and an individual that is willing to strap explosives to their body and blow up a bus full of civilians? He believes that his cost is just.

The point is that when you use terrorism, your cause loses its justice. If we, as a country, were willing to kill innocent children in order to achieve our goal, then the validity of our goal doesn't matter.

The Atonement?!??!! Last I read about it Christ sacrificed himself to save mankind, he didn't kill innocents to do it.

And beef where would you draw the line? How many civilians is it okay to kill to acheive your goal?

As far as what the alternative could have been, target the military. Bomb the islands that are populated with Japanese Army, we did know where they were that's why we stormed some islands beaches, we knew they were there.

Personally, I think that Truman will have to answer for that decision.

As far as the other poster, It has nothing to do with us forcing our values on others. Allowing people to choose their goverment is always good. If they choose one different than what we have, that is their perogotive. If you ask anyone who served in Vietnam or Iraq, you will find that their were multitudes of civilians who wanted them there.

Aeneas said...

Is there really a difference between the young man who goes off to war to kill and the mother who sends the young man off to do the killing with a kiss on his forehead, her blessing, and a box of cookies in his backpack? Could Japan's military really have mounted a serious threat to the world if the nation's industry, and yes even mothers, were not supporting its efforts? It seems to me, that the United States lost the Vietnam War exactly because we lost the will to fight it back home. The so called, "war on terror", is being waged on two fronts, in the streets of Fallujah and in the minds of the people. As with most, if not all war, the conflict is one of ideology. I am not convinced that radical Islam can peaceably coexist with the rest of the world. It would appear that this dangerous ideology can be found not only within the head of a masked terrorist, but also in the head of the woman that bore him. Aren't both targets valid? If not, what weapon do I use to target the head of the mother? Would better use of propaganda in Japan have really have convinced the Japanese nation to surrender? Nah!!!

Anonymous said...

Beef Jerky and Aeneas - There is a difference between killing a little girl, or a terrorist that is being held and helpless under our control and collateral damage during battle.

Danny - You need to think about the Japanese at the time of WWII. Check out descriptions of the battles of Okinawa and Iwa Jima. These people were not "civilians", they were a warrior nation and they were not under our control. If we were to accept your position Danny, we would have to chuck the whole idea of nuclear deterrents. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were collateral damage! We were not terrorists; we were at war with an entire nation.

Hythloday - As for forcing freedom - this is not possible. Freedom is an unalienable right of man. It is not an American idea. One can only take freedom unjustly away, it is not possible to force it on others. In this it is like life!!! To think that the people of Iraq are not capable of appreciating or accepting freedom denies their humanity.

Dan Simpson said...

Aeneas, if what you say is true, then what is wrong with the suicide bombers in Israel? What was wrong with the PLO killing the Israeli olympic wrestling team? Every citizen of Israel is required to be part of the military. It is a safe bet that every Israeli in Jerusalem has a relative that is in the active military. So then, by your logic what is wrong with these suicide bombings.

Anonymous: you are misrepresenting history. Iwo Jima was fought against the Japanese military. And I cannot agree that a country partaking in the idea of total war puts all of its civilians up for grabs. We were using total war. Do you think it would have been right for Japan to drop the bomb on San Francisco if the roles were reversed?

Anonymous said...

Dannyboy - the thing you need to realize is that if the Japanese would have had a bomb they would have used it. We fought the war, and we used our bomb to stop aggression. The difference is why they would have used it and why we did. They used war in every way they could to dominate the world and distroy or enslave others, we used it to defend our lives and freedom!

Dan Simpson said...

Is it really that hard for you to actually address my points? I didn't in any way compare the U.S. to Japan. I was discussing whether or not dropping the bomb was right. Not were we better than the Japanese, that would be an asinine argument.

The only question on the argument table is whether dropping the bomb was right. Please discontinue telling me who the U.S. is better than. It has nothing to do with the argument.

Silver Lining said...

The thing is that Anonymous did address dropping the bomb though perhaps not in a lengthy explanation that would be more desired. He stated very simply why we dropped the bomb, and I am going to assume based on the string of posts that this also is the reason he believes we should have dropped the bomb.

I understand your frustration at the direction of this argument. I would point out to all though that understanding what we are fighting against is crucial if we are going to discuss the justness of this or any war. In fact, I believe that is one of the largest roots of disagreement on the war on terror. There is a significant disagreement as to who the enemy is and to what extent we need to do battle to be successful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Silver Lining

Dannyboy - I think you're the one, the only one, having a hard time with this. I had felt that my saying "what IS right or wrong" needed to be defended by some logic; if you interpret my reasoning as a claim of U.S. superiority you are missing my point. I'll give you the simple answer you want. YES! it was right for the U.S. to drop the A bomb on Japan. If the U.S. had been trying to conquer the world and take away the freedom of the Japanese, it would have been right for Japan to drop an A bomb on us to stop that aggression.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Silver Lining.

Dannyboy - I think you're the one, the only one, having a hard time with this. I had felt that my presenting what I say "IS right or wrong" needed to be defended by some logic; if you interpret my reasoning as a claim of U.S. superiority you are missing my point. I'll give you the simple answer you seem to want. YES! it was right for the U.S. to drop the A Bomb on Japan. If the U.S. had been trying to conquer the world and take away the freedom of the Japanese, it would have been right for Japan to drop an A bomb on us to stop our aggression.

Dan Simpson said...

Anonymous. You are very right about one thing. I am the only one. I understand that I am the only one who thinks dropping the bomb was wrong.

Let me end my argument with this. I believe that the U.S. has never been party to an unjust war. I believe that the U.S. has never been part of a conflict that did not have a just cause at its root. It is because of how high the moral stance that the U.S. has that I feel that we can scrutinize that much closer the actions that we have taken.

I would also like to resuggest the book "Lessons on terror". Because of a recent conversation I have had with another friend who disagreed with me about this topic let me clarify. This book is not based on the proposition that dropping the bomb was wrong. It is not a U.S. bashing book either (hopefully those that know me know how much I love this country and can't stand when people bash it.) It is a very interesting investigation of terrorism and punitive war through history, starting with the Romans. It further discusses what the author thinks the best strategy for fighting terror, based on historical precedent, would be. It does criticize the CIA, so if you can't handle that you may not want to read it.

A_Shadow said...

I know this is likely very late and not prone to a further comment. But justify for me the War of 1812.

MindMechanic said...

An interesting discussion. Wild how a discussion on one topic can so easily splat off into a myriad of others.

I try to examine history as history. Not right, not wrong...just history. There are certainly lessons to be learned to help us today and tomorrow, but its arrogant to "judge" history with 20/20 hindsight and modern enlightenment.

Should we have dropped the bombs on Japan? Should we have carpet bombed Germany? Considering the circumstances of the day, I suppose they thought it was a pretty good idea. We can take from history the lesson of repercussion and consequence. I would suggest we have and that is why nuclear weapons havent been used since. Was it right? Was it wrong? Neither. It simply was. Should we use it today? Tomorrow? Now THERE is a question worth asking!

More on Iraq and Vietnam later.

About Health Blog said...

That the goal is acheiveable and incredibly desireable.