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The New Transparency of War and Lethality of Hatred 591

Posted by Soulskill
from the apparently-we-do-bad-things-during-wars dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Robert Wright says that if you had asked him a few days ago — before news broke that American soldiers had urinated on Taliban corpses — if such a thing were possible, he would have said 'probably.' After all if you send 'young people into combat, people whose job is to kill the enemy and who watch as their friends are killed and maimed by the enemy, ... the chances are that signs of disrespect for the enemy will surface — and that every once in a while those signs will assume grotesque form.' War, presumably, has always been like this, but something has changed that amounts to a powerful new argument against starting wars in the first place. First, there's the new transparency of war as battlefield details get recorded, and everyone has the tools to broadcast these details, so 'it's just a matter of time before some outrageous image goes viral — pictures from Abu Ghraib, video from Afghanistan,' that will make you and your soldiers more hated by the enemy than ever. The second big change is that hatred is now a more dangerous thing. 'New information technologies make it easier for people who share a hatred to organize around it,' writes Wright. 'And once hateful groups are organized, they stand a better chance than a few decades ago of getting their hands on massively lethal technologies.' It used to be that national security consisted of making sure all foreign governments either liked you or feared you; now it requires that as few people as possible hate you. 'I think we should reflect on that before we start another war.'"
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The New Transparency of War and Lethality of Hatred

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  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:38PM (#38698608)

    Please be sarcasm...

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacDork (560499) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:39PM (#38698626) Journal

    No, the problem is our enemies do not fear us.

    So we're supposed to terrorize our enemies... Who are we? Al Qaeda?

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by goofy183 (451746) <eric@dalquist.gmail@com> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:40PM (#38698634) Homepage

    Your premise is equally as bogus. You're assuming that all our enemies could be made to fear us. If your living conditions suck enough it becomes hard to fear anything. What do you have to be afraid of? You likely have nothing of material value and little to no family to be held over you. Death / torture is the only thing they could be afraid of and so what? They are likely in a position where death is always a possibility anyways. How do you make someone with little or nothing to lose fear you?

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:41PM (#38698640) Homepage

    Fear and hatred are not mutually exclusive. I'm sure that the Taliban rank and file have jolts of pure fear when they see an American patrol (and vice versa). They can well hate us for various reasons, including instilling the fear in the first place.

    War is a horrible mix of the best and worst in human kind. Be nice if we could figure out how to get around it, but I rather doubt that's going to happen short of some uber powerful alien race coming down and telling us to grow up.

    But the big flap over urinating over the Taliban corpses is just that - a flap. I think it just reflects on the total inanity of the general media these days. You don't want to talk about big, complex issues so you make little stupid things go nuclear.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

  • Honor and War (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:43PM (#38698664)
    There is no honor in being a mercenary for corporations and a corrupt government.


    I fully believe if soldiers were fighting against a foreign invasion they would not have the same mindset as Xi/Blackwater.
  • by RLU486983 (1792220) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:44PM (#38698682)
    People today seem to think that this is something new. The only "new" in all of this is the instantaneous aspect of transmitting information. These types of acts have been perpetrated in other wars since man picked up his first sticks and stones. To be amazed that this actual happened is nothing more than the true disconnect that people; in general, have with reality as a whole.
  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by backwardMechanic (959818) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:47PM (#38698710) Homepage
    The problem is surely that you're making enemies. Not of governments, but of people. Why is it that US soldiers are so unpopular in Afghanistan? They weren't too popular in Iraq either. Why have they not been welcomed as liberators?
  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:48PM (#38698728)

    Oh I dunno. History is full of examples. Rome comes to mind. For that matter, consider more recent history. How much terrorism did the old Soviet Union suffer? Close enough to zero as to be zero. Because everyone KNEW what sort of reaction would result. (The fact they financed the majority of terror organizations probably didn't hurt either, of course that fact is still in the memory hole....) After the breakup they get a lot of it. There was a time when few would have tried such things against the US. Now they do not fear us.

    When your enemies neither respect or fear you is when you get the foolishness we currently endure. We wouldn't have to crucify ten thousand of em anytime they disrespect us or anything, just create the sure knowledge that any attack against us would ensure such a totally disproportionate response that it would be a losing game.

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:48PM (#38698734)

    Dehumanization of the enemy explains a lot of the behavior. Normally it would have just happened and few people would know about it. They would know it happens, but not the details of every case. Technology changed that of course.

    When one side fights with morals and the other doesn't, that's the problem. Urinating on someone who is dead and won't care is a big outrage, but only due to respect for the dead, even if it's your enemy. Beheading and dragging corpses through the street behind cars seems to be the way things work on the other side.

    Technology allows us to share both sides with equality. Having a higher standard puts that side at a big disadvantage. If the US said it would drag corpses thrugh the street in victory and do all kinds of legal but humiliating things to you if you are caught or killed, the enemy would individually fear, not collectively. And individual fear is a lot harder to overcome. I don't want my body desecrated, I'm not joining your war unless I have to, and even then I'll do a half-hearted job.

    Either play nice, or play dirty, but don't expect your enemy to do the same. And when you make a promise like 'no torture', either stick by it or throw it out the window. The worst propaganda you can have is a country that says one thing and does another (collectively). At least the jihadis are consistent. They have completely dehumanized the enemy, and do not seem concerned with the same things.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:51PM (#38698758)

    In the Vietnam war our press corps actually showed the atrocities of war, including burned children, dying soldiers and the execution of civilians. The squeaky-clean "live from the White House" war coverage began to happen after that. If only our major news sources engaged in transparency these days - instead we either get social-oriented pro-government cheerleaders (e.g., MSNBC) or military-oriented pro-government cheerleaders (e.g., FOX), but really nothing that provides insight into the plight of folks outside the power structure.

    there's the new transparency of war as battlefield details get recorded, and everyone has the tools to broadcast these details

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:1, Insightful)

    by zill (1690130) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:51PM (#38698760)
    Al Qaeda didn't attack us because we brought middle eastern oil. Al Qaeda didn't attack us because they hated our freedom and democracy.

    They attacked us because we stationed troops in their holy land. They attacked us because we supported despotic regimes in the middle east. They attacked us because we are Israel's biggest ally.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:53PM (#38698772)

    And exactly who are "they" in your ignorant comment? The vast majority of these combatants are simple people with wives and children who they love very much and are defending their family and way of life from an invasion force of Americans.

    So you're down with pissing on patriots, fathers, and husbands?

    You've bought into the propaganda just as hard as those poor men whose corpses were desecrated.

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:55PM (#38698792)
    Total bullshit. Pick up a history book some day.
  • by orphiuchus (1146483) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:01PM (#38698862)

    That's so much worse than living in an area where explosive amputations aren't a strange occurrence, or where having the front of your head blown through the back of your head is a potential outcome of both supporting the local warlord and not supporting him.

    Come the fuck on people. Its war. This is just like that Abu Ghraib bullshit. People die horribly all the time in these areas, and yet for some reason the thing that always outrages the moral cowards at home is when someone is humiliated. Its like the civilized mind cannot comprehend the atrocities of war, so they focus in on the level of wrong that they can identify with.

    R Kelly never used a orphan as a human bomb, blew the legs off of another rapper, then had to watch him drag his intestines behind him while he bled out. But that fucker did pee on someone. Peeing on someone we can be outraged about. Peeing on someone we can understand.

    You know what those guys who got peed on would really be upset about? Getting killed.

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:02PM (#38698870)

    Sometimes people fight for what is right. And speaking as a US citizen, if we even thought about embarking on what you propose, you would find that some of us would fight for what is right.

    We are the US. It's tough, but we are better than that. No one ever said that doing the right thing was easier or cheaper.

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:02PM (#38698878)

    No, the problem is our enemies do not fear us.

    No, they hate what you stand for. Isn't it quite obvious? Whom would volunteer for a suicide mission if they were not desperate?

    The problem is people like you and your thinking about "enemies". All people want to live in their own way. If any group is trying to curtail that freedom, then that makes people unhappy.

    Who supports Middle East tyrants with their military? Just look at Saudi Arabia. Or the apartheid in Israel and occupied territories.

    Let's put this in another way, maybe in words you can understand,

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Los_Angeles_riots [wikipedia.org]

    Why did the riots happen?? Because "the blacks" didn't fear the rest of the society enough?? Did it happen because 1 person was beaten up?? Surely, the answer is NO to both questions! They occurred due to PREEXISTING GRIEVANCES AND INJUSTICES. The same thing applies to the original statements. And if your solution is to terrorize people into submission, like Israel tries to do in Gaza and West Bank, all you are doing is passing the buck down the road when few years from now they will have to deal with a much worse mess than there already is.

    Bomb their cities, kill their leaders and convert them to christianity.

    I think some of the extremists on BOTH sides are hoping this this scenario. Some don't learn anything from history, and hence will end up writing it once more.

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:05PM (#38698896)
    C'mon, you're not writing for Al Jazeera.

    They attacked us because they're poor, poorly educated people that have been steeped in hateful rhetoric and finger-pointing for generations. That shit just festers.

    If they'd stopped sending mortars into Israel and focused on things like schools, sanitation and some kind of meaningful commerce, their current generations wouldn't be looking for someone to blame (and murder).
  • by ISoldat53 (977164) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:06PM (#38698906)
    Transparency can also lead to the good. The Arab Spring started because of the same transparency. Information technology helped overthrow tyrants. What you do with the information makes all the difference. If you are predisposed to hate, hate will be your response.
  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swalve (1980968) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:10PM (#38698956)
    To put it another way, they attacked us because it is easy for a person to grab and hold power if they create or leverage an enemy that their potential followers can be made to hate. For example, suppose the Saudi government wants to keep all the money for itself and keep a tight grip on power in their country. So, they quash anyone who points that out to the public. And at the same time, they do not stomp down on anyone who suggests that the reason the conditions are bad for "the people" are because the US is meddling. Keep doing that for a generation or two, and you have a significant population who believes that the US is the reason the regular folks in Saudi Arabia are downtrodden.

    Or, you insinuate yourself into a fledgling cable news operation and start spinning all the news to hint that all the problems are caused by a certain political party. You do it subtly, so that each story, taken on its own, can be judged as mostly fair, and then you maybe balance that out by having some news stories that call out members of your favored political party. But you don't criticize them based on their stupid ideas or behavior, but on their lack of allegiance to your values. That subtle bias is hard enough to pierce through, but then you let that stew for a couple-10 years, when your end-game really starts to happen. You've trained significant portions of the population to view "the other" as "the enemy", and even better, from them comes a class of new sources, experts and analysts who share your view without ever being told anything.

    The slower you work the plan, the less likely it is to backfire.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:17PM (#38699032) Homepage Journal

    In WWII, we carpet bombed cities - entire cities and nations got to feel - first hand - how horrible war was. The result? The citizens would take life and politics seriously. You don't want to elect the wrong leader because YOU could be killed.

    no such thing happened. fucking idiot. europe has come to become civil because of what was done to the minorities by nazis, and the results of the imperialism that was practiced by great britain, germany, france et al, leading up to hostilities and war. thats why you dont have warmongering pieces of shit like you in europe anymore.

    also, next time, if you dont know enough about something, just shut the fuck up. carpet bombing did NOTHING in ww ii. tank, aircraft production went unabashed, and all those bombed people went to work in those underground factories to produce more of them despite 200,000 of them died in one night in dresden. all that carpet bombing done was to show the utter stupidity of allied air command, the morondom of harris and similar.

    next time you are going to talk about something, learn about it first.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:18PM (#38699040)

    A better explanation is that our taxes and representatives sent people abroad, on our behalf, to do things for us that re far far more heinous than urinating on a corpse. So heinous, in fact, that the psyche of our soldiers becomes a casualty, and their perspective and humanity dying with every horrid moment. Killing other human beings, and in the ways we do, has serious detrimental effects that can be directly blamed for pissing on bodies. Essentially, and as you stated prior, this is war. If we're going to pay close attention, expect far worse.

  • by swalve (1980968) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:20PM (#38699060)
    A, there is always plenty of outrage. B, America is supposed to be better than that. You are why we aren't.
  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:20PM (#38699068)

    We are the US. It's tough, but we are better than that. No one ever said that doing the right thing was easier or cheaper.

    get your head out of your ass. The US is the biggest terrorist in the world you don't kill hundred of thousands of Japanese even after they tried to surrender and call your self the army of rightness. Everything you go to war for ends up being a lie but because you have bought into to all the propaganda your still cheering "america fuck yeah". Take an objective point of view, forget everything about the enemy being evil baby eaters, and look at all the actions of the worlds governments, forget all the excuses as to why the events happened and weigh up all the blood on every bodies hands and you'll see you are no where near what is 'right'.

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m minus language> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:27PM (#38699142) Homepage Journal

    Al Qaeda attacked us because we stood in the way of resurrecting the caliphate.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliphate#Views_of_al-Qaeda [wikipedia.org]

    The error is with people who see something like Al Qaeda and only see a reflection of what the West does. This is an incredibly blind and egocentric way to think about the world and what motivates people outside the West. Hate does not need a valid premise to exist. Hate is its own creation, and not anyone else's fault except the person filled with hate.

    If all of the USA and Europe disappeared into the ocean tomorrow, Al Qaeda would not celebrate and become pastoral goat herders, content their work was done. Because their work has just started. They would go right on with their murderous rampage, killing innocents, as they already have. Until they get their caliphate back.

    Incidentally, the greatest number of victims of Al Qaeda are Muslims, not Westerners, by orders if magnitude. We in the West only see glimmers of a much greater struggle going on in the Middle East. And yet, in the blind egocentrism of so many in the West, such as you see in some comments here, and in the story summary, you think the struggle is all about the West! Why this colossal egocentric blindness?

    This obnoxious ignorant egocentrism that can only understand and think about Al Qaeda in terms of motivations and interests that only center upon what the West does is a failure of analysis. As if Al Qaeda were born of Western actions and only exists as a reflection of Western actions. If you believe that, if you cannot think about Al Qaeda as its own entity, devoid of anything having to do with the West, you lack the cognitive abilities to comment intelligently on the subject.

    You cannot stop the creation and continued existence of something like Al Qaeda by modifying your own actions or correcting past mistakes. Because its not about you. Because something like Al Qaeda will always exist, hate requires any premise, real or imagined, to justify what it does in transgression of simple human decency. And so you must fight something like Al Qaeda, not placate it. That is a fool's errand that does understand how hate works psychologically.

    Al Qaeda is its own creation, inspired by its own beliefs, that would still exist no matter what the USA or the West ever did. If you don't understand that, stop talking about Al Qaeda, you don't understand it.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:31PM (#38699172)

    So if an American soldier does something bad, gets recorded, the thing goes viral and cause an outrage it's transparency's fault for "sharing hatred" ? Holding soldiers to a standard is a bad thing?

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:34PM (#38699212)

    The US doesn't fight very often for morality. Usually, it's for oil, control over nearby or foreign resources, or rattle sabres in the back yards of its enemies.

    We once ascribed to "ethical" war, via various conventions we signed, but we don't do that anymore. That's because we found a trump card, called the War on Terrorism, which justifies about anything, including draconian domestic surveilence, travel restrictions, no-fly lists, and a wealth of boot heels on civil liberties. Morality only happens once in a while, almost by accident-- as in gosh, look at all of those Muslim Serbs in those mass graves!

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:38PM (#38699248) Homepage

    "It used to be that national security consisted of making sure all foreign governments either liked you or feared you; now it requires that as few people as possible hate you."

    A lot of people, like presumable the non-sarcastic GP, don't get that.

    I write about this in my essay here:
    http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
    "There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all."

    Within twenty years (if not sooner), I'd expect any disgruntled alienated teenager will be able to download plagues off the internet, tinker with them, and produce them at home. We need to build a society that works a lot better for everyone before then. One only needs to think about teens making computer viruses (which have had real costs to so many people) over the last twenty years and imagine the same happening in the biological realm. Why should it not?

    Consider this slashdot article from earlier today as just one example of dropping biotech costs:
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/01/13/2353220/a-dna-sequencer-cheap-enough-for-some-doctors-offices [slashdot.org]

    Nanotech, robotics, computer software, and other advanced technologies pose similar problems in their own way.

    A "basic income" (Social Security and Medicare for all from birth) is part of building a world of advanced technology more likely to flourish in the 21st century, as would be improving the gift economy, as is better planning, and making improved subsistence technologies widely accessible (a double-edged sword, true).

    Our technologies have become too powerful to allow a global society to have so much inequality, suffering, disease, poverty, ignorance, hatred, and cruelty. We need to move to a new socioeconomic paradigm ASAP. We will still have problems, but they will be more manageable.

    There is a lot more on my website about this.

    It is ridiculous, for example, to worry about Iran developing a nuclear bomb when they could easily develop plagues. The USA was very lucky that blowback from invading Iraq did not include tens of millions of US Americans dying from ethnically-targeted plagues (whatever the costs to the country being invaded). The USA may not be so lucky next time. And the same goes for attacking smaller and smaller organizations as time goes by. We need to completely rethink our security posture to emphasize intrinsic security and mutual security.

    The Foresight Institute also has some good thinking on this in the past, in terms of empowering everyone to deal with emerging threats. It's like the playing fields has totally changed, but the USA still is still preparing to win at Major League baseball when everyone else is now playing pickup games of soccer everywhere.

    A big problem is that the USA has so much military equipment (especially nukes and probably other stuff), that if it falls apart politically and economically (which is how it has been heading), it may well take the rest of the world with it. And it is completely ironic, because so much of our energy goes into competition and guarding, that we could

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim4444 (1122173) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:40PM (#38699276)

    just create the sure knowledge that any attack against us would ensure such a totally disproportionate response that it would be a losing game

    Our strategy after 9/11 was a totally disproportionate response and it essentially was a losing game... for us.

    For each of the "enemies" you're thinking of, you should go back to history and take a look at they reasons they have to hate us. I'll give you a hint: they have better reasons than just religious, economic and cultural differences.

    History is full of examples. Rome comes to mind. For that matter, consider more recent history. How much terrorism did the old Soviet Union suffer?

    We should of course point out that the Soviet Union lasted less than a century. Not only did Rome overextend itself militarily and eventually fall, but there's no one left that even speaks their language as a mother tongue. These are not exactly shining examples of thriving cultures and effective governmental policies.

    For my part, war is simply a more violent period of a larger geopolitical conflict - be it struggle for resources, religion, misunderstandings, oppression (the attempt to impose or be free from), or simply bruised egos. Going forward we should be thinking about these underlying conflicts and better ways to address them. I think we will find that violence of all sorts is the decreasingly pragmatic choice much as it is already a poor humanitarian choice.

  • by houghi (78078) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @02:03PM (#38699462)

    I don't see a problem with it

    That is your problem right there.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @02:11PM (#38699522) Homepage

    Except that the only reason that people in Al Qaeda were not considered overly dangerous nutcases and turned in by their neighbors (or otherwise were pressed to reform by their wives and cousins etc.) is that there is a lot of anti-Western sympathy based on the USA having supporting various oppressors in the region.

    You don't get a storm without the heat dynamics behind it... Seeds of evil may exist in the hearts of all people, along with good (see Thich Nhat Hahn's writings), but what emerges has a lot to do with circumstances (as well as culture and individual upbringing). That is part of what is meant by winning "hearts and minds" overseas, a battle the USA has been losing (to the extent it is even trying).

    The USA also has had a lot of anti-whatever hate groups, as has Europe. The difference is that those societies in the past have generally been functional enough in various ways that people don't let them grow that much, and also in decades in the past it was a lot harder to project power internationally (like with the KKK). But sometimes the social forces have been there to let hate groups rise (like the Nazis). It is better to prevent fires than to have to fight them. And when you do fight fire, it is generally best to fight it with water (not more fire).

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @02:21PM (#38699604) Journal
    You consider a big problem in the US to be economic troubles:

    A big problem is that the USA has so much military equipment (especially nukes and probably other stuff), that if it falls apart politically and economically

    and yet your solution is to provide this for everyone on the earth:

    A "basic income" (Social Security and Medicare for all from birth)

    No offense intended, but your analysis isn't based in reality. I like helping people out, especially when they need it, but start by looking here [wikipedia.org]. We could save a lot by getting rid of military spending, but it wouldn't solve the US budget problem.

    You have some interesting ideas, but they would be a lot more powerful if you worked through more hard data.

  • Re:Furthermore (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @02:36PM (#38699724)

    Who's demanding shutting down anything?

    I'm saying we need to make the populations of the western powers realise just how fucking nasty war is, so they resist it as much as possible in future,

    We have been entering into wars far too lightly.

    Also this -

    If it was Taliban folks pissing on American corpses, do you think for a moment that other members of the Taliban would say they're being inhumane and demand shutting down the war? No, they'd cheer.

    Do you think so? Are they cold and dead to the core of their black hearts? Or do you think perhaps you have a cartoon villain picture in that head of yours?

    Without a doubt they are screwed up terribly, and have encouraged and perpetrated atrocities against their own and other people, but I'm not sure I'd jump to the conclusions you're jumping to. Besides which, and I'm getting tired of saying this, aren't we supposed to be better than them?

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @02:54PM (#38699846) Journal

    The first thing most people have to do to cope with killing as a matter of business, even for a just cause is to stop thinking of the enemy as people. War is just that its business. We are not talking about defending some property, yourself, or someone you have a personal attachment to; its killing in support of some abstract set of principles and because someone from the government told you to it.

    That is simply not the sort of motivation most decent people need to take a life. I do think war is often necessary and all of us back at home need to keep in mind what the military is really for and that is to kill people and break things.

    Its no surprise to me so many of our boys and girls are coming home with major damage to their mental state. We keep telling them to think of the people shooting at them as well 'people', who probably are in many ways like them with families back home, hobbies, hopes and dreams. We think we are being humane doing that but what we are doing is fatal to the humanity of our own troops. You can't kill 'people' like you and feel okay about it at the end of the day. Well I don't know personally but I don't think I could. What I think I could do is kill 'they enemy'.

    I think I could do that in a dispassionate professional way and not feel like I had to get revenge. I could view them like a dangerous animal or a hazardous machine to work around and just get the job done. Once the threat was removed I could be okay with it. Now if you make them 'people', and tell me I am there trying to help them, I expect I'd find it really allot harder not to take their shooting at me personally.

    Really we need to recognize that nation building does not work. We can't just go into a place with a completely different culture and liberate them. We need to choose our missions better. 'Take out Saddam and his government who we think are building weapons of mass destruction that could be used against us or our allies' is (if supported by real evidence) an example of a legitmate mission for America's army. 'Turn IRAQ and Afghanistan into democratic republics' is not.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:12PM (#38699984) Journal

    Its a nice rosy thought but we really don't have the unlimited energy you speak of; or if we do we haven't the ability to transport it where we need it and concentrate it enough for many of the applications our society has come to depend on. There may be Star Trek like utopia in our future but we don't actually have the tech today. So you end up taking from to give to others. Lenin tried it a century ago and it did not work; it won't work now, but I will cautiously grant you it might work in another 100 years or so if there are major technological break through.

      In the mean time I leave you with this quote from Rand's character Kira
    "Can you sacrifice the few? The few who are the best? Deny the best the right to the top-and you have no best left. What are your masses but millions of dull, shriveled, stagnate, souls that have no thoughts of their own, no dreams of their own, who eat and sleep and chew helplessly the words of others put into their brains? And for those you would sacrifice the few who know life, who are life? I loath your ideals because I know no worse injustice than the giving of the undeserved."

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m minus language> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:38PM (#38700252) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't matter what you believe about any religion. What matters is what you are willing to do to achieve a theocratic or ideological goal. And if you are happy to murder innocents, including hundreds of thousands of Muslim innocents, then this is enough to label you as someone filled with hate.

    But you change the subject. You start with this bullshit notion that this is an argument between Christianity and Islam. Facts for you to consider, idiot: Al Qaeda kills vast numbers of Muslims, orders of magnitude more than Westerners, in pursuit of their hate filled goal. And Al Qaeda does not speak for what the vast majority of what Muslims believe. So you simply do not understand the topic you are commenting on.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:39PM (#38700258) Journal

    What hard data is there that justifies spending money on WMDs and military equipment instead of food for starving people?

    OK, this is the kind of mental softness that lets idiot politicians get elected. What you have here is a false dilemma, your entire premise is wrong. The US spends money on both WMDs AND food for starving people.

    Now, your overall point is a good idea, that we should find some way to use the money to help the world instead of hurt the world, but your supporting evidence is so bad that it completely undermines your point. If you want to change the world, you need to find a way to make it happen, not sit around spouting stupidity.

  • by xepel (1573443) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:06PM (#38700486)
    I never quite understood why it is so abhorrent (by comparison) to do things to dead bodies (which cannot feel or be affected by such acts) while the actual act of killing those people (which obviously affects those people quite a bit...) doesn't get much mention. We don't care that these men were killed, we care that they were peed on afterward. Why the differing standards?
  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:10PM (#38700508)

    You have the bogus premise. Perhaps Iran wouldn't be as radical if we hadn't overthrown it's democratically elected, relatively progressive leader in 1953. Perhaps, many muslim radicals wouldn't resent us if we had not trampled over their holy lands. Muslim radicals are invigorated when they see their children, wives, and family blown to bits by drones.

    If you can't acknowledge that we stepped in a snake's nest, and repeatedly upset them, you're willfully ignorant.

  • by Headw1nd (829599) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:50PM (#38700828)

    and Muslims are supposed to be better than dragging burned mutilated corpses through streets. Just pointing out that your point B is irrelevant since America is as much represented by these soldiers as the Muslim population is represented by that mob in Fallujah.

    Are you seriously suggesting that the US Marine Corps doesn't represent the US? Maybe you think they just happen to be over there on vacation, but I'm pretty sure they were sent, armed, paid by the the US government. They are acting on the authority of the United States of America, and as such everything they do, good or bad, reflects on the integrity and honor of the United States, and the Corps as well. If this was some group of jackoff civilians in Detroit you might have some kind of point, but when it comes to soldiers, you don't.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @04:57PM (#38700886)
    Spoken like a true armchair warrior. That's all you do is act tough on /.
  • hypocritical... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schlachter (862210) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @05:25PM (#38701116)

    It's war. We tell our soldiers they are fighting for the survival of our country, or way of life. Go put a bullet through your enemies, head, the stomach, their back. Empty your clip. If they engage at close range, put a knife through their eye. Disembowel them. Waterboard the if you need information. Throw a grenade between them and blow them to bits. Push their bodies into a ravine so they won't be see along the trail. Piss on them, wait, no, definitely don't do that. This is morally wrong!! Once you kill them, leave them there to rot. This is the right thing to do.

    BULLSHIT.

  • Re:Bogus premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brit74 (831798) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @05:31PM (#38701164)
    The US is the biggest terrorist in the world you don't kill hundred of thousands of Japanese even after they tried to surrender and call your self the army of rightness.

    When did that happen? As I recall, after ther first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the emperor of Japan brought together his cabinet to decide whether to continue fighting or surrender. The result was a 3 to 3 split. And this was AFTER the first atomic bomb. Once the emperor of Japan decided to surrender, several members of his cabinet seriously considered a coup so that they could continue fighting. At least if you're going to attack the US, get your facts straight. It's awfully hard not to be the bad guy when you are operating on fictional versions of history.
  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:27PM (#38702868)
    We are supposed to be better than that. The fight we're in is ultimately a fight of ideas. In the short term it's a fight where Americans armed with M-16s and Predator drones face off against Taliban militants armed with AK-47s and IEDs. But in the long run, it's a war of visions of the future; a war between the idea of Western-style democracy where women drive cars and vote, and al Qaeda's medieval vision of an Islamic caliphate with sharia law.

    In the long run, you can't win that fight with guns. You can kill as many militants as you want, but if they can convert people faster than you can kill them, they will eventually win. What are you going to do if they convert a million people- kill them all? Ten million? A hundred million? There's no way you could prevail. Look at what happened to Rome. They crucified Jesus and fed a lot of Christians to lions, and eventually the Roman emperor ended up converting to Christianity. Look at the Soviet empire. As soon as people had a choice between the West and the Communist system, they chose the West. It was a war the West won without firing a shot. That's the power of ideas.

    The West won a huge battle with the Arab spring, which will ultimately reshape the geopolitical balance far more than the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan ever could. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria could have risen up and chosen the vision of al Qaeda, they could have chosen to follow Osama bin Laden's dream. They didn't. They decided they want what we have- freedom, equality, justice, opportunity- and not the barbaric vision that Osama bin Laden has provided. And you sure as hell won't hear any of those Arab revolutionaries demanding that their government be more like China, or Russia. In the interviews with people struggling in Syria against Assad's dictatorship, they say, "we want what you have". That's the power of ideas. Sure, they despise us for our foreign policy, but they like the idea of how Americans live, even though the vast majority have never seen America except through TV, movies, internet.

    People want to be like the West because we aspire to something better. And every time we let down those values, people question whether we really do have anything better to offer, and whether the values America stands for really means anything. God knows, it's been hard to be an American the past ten years. We've invaded countries without cause, locked people up without trial and tortured them, supported dictators, killed civilians... pissing on a corpse seems pretty minor after all of that, if you ask me. After the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, it's sort of like "is that all?" So what's my point... well, I think that in the long run, America will win the war by offering something better than our enemies. But I think that perhaps more important, we owe it to ourselves to be better than that. I'm a Democrat and I know we're supposed to all hate America, but I really do believe in a lot of the stuff America stands for. And part of what we stand for is that everyone is entitled to dignity and respect. Even the guys we're killing.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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