Creative Destruction

September 28, 2006

Women and the Draft

Filed under: Debate,Feminist Issues,War — Daran @ 2:49 am

My promised followup to my previous post will have to wait. Here I respond further to Jeff, over at Feminist Allies

Jeff:

My point was that, if he’s really concerned about men getting shafted regarding the draft, part of what he could be doing is making sure that women have equal rights to work (in, say, the military)…the results of such efforts would be twofold: One, there would be less of a need for a draft, becasue women would be allowed to be in combat (officially, that is; they already are incombat in Iraq right now) and therefore allowed to do more jobs for the military,

The unstated assumption here is that the Selective Service exists to remedy a potential shortfall in the number of troops needed for America’s defence. I disagree. America’s technological millitary hegemony is so great that there is no forseeable threat that could not be met, many times over, from male volunteers alone. (I’m not saying that it should be so met, only that it could be.) The real purpose of draft registration is to remedy a potential shortfall in the number of troops needed for America’s imperialist millitaristic adventures. Giving women greater access to combat roles within the military will not sate your lunatic leadership’s appetite for war. It will merely give it a greater ability to wage it.

You do not oppose the draft by encouraging or supporting women in the millitary. You oppose the draft by opposing the draft.

and two, there would be a whole segment of the population (i.e. women) who would have a more direct interest in fighting the fight against the draft with Jim.

Now I’m confused. I understand the “right” in this context to refer to voluntary service. How will giving women more opportunity to serve voluntarily give them a more direct interest in fighting against the draft?

Unless you’re suggesting that we extend the draft to women in order to encourage them to oppose it…

I was trying to get Jim to see the connections between his right (in my opinion) to not get drafted and the rights of women to work where they’d like.

Why, in the name of the Goddess, do feminists – feminists of all people – advocate for the right of American women to get themselves killed oppressing third-world women in the service of Haliburton’s bank-balance?

Are you insane?

On the other hand, it’s unclear (to me) from Jim’s statments that he opposes the draft itself–sounds to me like he opposes it be for only men; if that’s the case, he ought to be ought there trying to get women more rights in the workplace, right?

It’s not even clear that he opposes a single-sex draft, only that he regards it as oppressive and unfair. (Some people argue that oppressive and unfair things are nevertheless necessary.) In the absence of any clue from Jim on about what he thinks on this subject, let’s stick to what you think, and what I think.

On your latter point, Advocating for women’s rights in the workplace generally is laudible for many reasons, but I don’t see the connection between those rights and the draft (and as explained above, I don’t accept your postulated connection between the draft and women’s opurtunity to serve in the millitary.)

Which brings me to:

Irrelevent. No woman wants to be forced to sign up to serve in the military, which is what we’re talking about with Selective Service.

Says you. There are two issues that you’re conflating here–whether the selective service is a moral wrong in and of itself, and whether the way the selective service is run now (i.e. only men have to register) is wrong. There may be many women who think that the selective service as it is run now is wrong, but who would think that mandatory service for all genders is a moral good.

No, you’re the one who has engaged in conflation – of women’s right to serve voluntarily with men’s right to be free from SS. Now, you’ve drawn a connection between the two, which I don’t accept, but which nevertheless is relevant to our current off-topic discussion. It was irrelevent to Jim’s original on-topic point which you misunderstood.

I’m aware that some women favour mandatory service (NOW, for example, see below). However arguing that all women should be forced to serve is not the same as wanting to be forced to serve. Either they’re personally willing to serve, in which case no force is necessary, or they’re not, in which case being forced is a price they’re willing to pay for that alleged moral good.

NOW’s position used to be (I don’t know if it still is) opposed to the draft, but if that was not possible, then NOW favoured a universal, rather than a men-only draft.

…NOW’s primary focus on this issue is on opposition to registration and draft. However, if we cannot stop the return to registration and draft, we … oppose any registration or draft that excludes women as an unconstitutional denial of rights to both young men and women.

Consider the implications of that. NOW’s official position was that not only should women have the right voluntarily to get themselves killed oppressing third-world women in the service of Haliburton’s bank-balance, but that, in preference to the current status quo, women should be forced to get themselves killed oppressing third-world women in the service of Haliburton’s bank-balance.

And they argued this in the name of women’s rights. It’s sheer barking-at-the-moon lunacy!

70 Comments »

  1. And they argued this in the name of women’s rights. It’s sheer barking-at-the-moon lunacy!

    Actually, they argued it in the name of the rights of “both young men and women.”

    And if they argued instead that excluding women but not men from the draft is a good thing, you’d be first in line to attack them for it.

    Comment by Ampersand — September 28, 2006 @ 3:06 am | Reply

  2. Ampersand:

    Actually, they argued it in the name of the rights of “both young men and women.”

    Yep, they also argue it in the name of men’s rights, which I don’t agree with, but which isn’t quite as insane as arguing it in the name of women’s rights.

    Similarly, NOW would, in preference to the status quo, have women forced to get themselves killed oppressing third world men, in rather greater numbers than they would third-world women. Now, you know that I value men’s lives as much as women’s, and I reject the common practice – in both feminist and non-feminist discussion – of concealing, denying, and ignoring the extent of male victimisation. So it’s not lightly that I adopt the “oppressing women” trope. However my goal here is not say how evil these feminists are for advocating the oppression of men, but how absurd they are for advocating the oppression of women.

    And if they argued instead that excluding women but not men from the draft is a good thing, you’d be first in line to attack them for it.

    Damn right I would.

    However if they had argued that it was a bad thing, but not as bad as a draft of both sexes, then I would have agreed with them.

    You ought to know by now, Barry, that you can’t just take any standard cookie-cutter MRA position and assume that I would support it. You might also have noticed that I’m generally unimpressed with equality arguments which lead to injustice, in this case, the extension of an injustice to a whole class of people – women – not currently afflicted. So what I’m saying now is quite consistent with what I’ve said before.

    But supposing you were right, and I was inconsistent in my arguments from one day to the next. So what? The argument I make above stands on its merits, not mine. Your criticism, even if it were true, is an ad hom.

    Comment by Daran — September 28, 2006 @ 4:06 am | Reply

  3. Here’s the first post I ever made addressing this issue (edit: in response to feminists. I’m sure I’d argued against the same point made by antifems, but I haven’t been able to find an example), long before I ever learned that it was NOW policy.

    Apart from my total astonishment at encountering the idea for the first time from feminists, (I’d heard it from antifeminists before) what I said then is almost identical to what I’m saying now.

    deborked and detypoed

    Comment by Daran — September 28, 2006 @ 4:40 am | Reply

  4. Fair enough about the ad hom thing.

    Returning to the issue, NOW’s position is perfectly sane.

    1) The ideal situation is that the injustice of selective service and the draft be eliminated entirely.

    2) Lacking that ideal situation, however, the injustice of SS and the draft should not be distributed by sex.

    Put another way, it’s a “lesser of two evils” argument. The evil of the draft is bad, but the evil of the draft plus the evil of sex discrimination is a bit worse. Given that total elimination of SS & the draft is not on the table, it makes sense to favor the least evil alternative.

    This is a perfectly logical and coherent position, and one that you haven’t attacked in the slightest. Instead, you’ve tried to hand-wave it away by throwing in the oppression of third-world people and Haliburton and so forth. But an argument against US foreign policy, which is what all that adds up to, doesn’t address the substance of NOW’s position in any way.

    (For one thing, it’s not like NOW’s position is limited to the US; the general principle espoused by NOW would apply to any country with a military draft).

    You ought to know by now, Barry, that you can’t just take any standard cookie-cutter MRA position and assume that I would support it.

    The cookie-cutter MRA position on the draft is that feminists are horrible because (according to the MRAs) we don’t say the draft should apply equally to both sexes. You instead argue that feminists are horrible because we say the draft (if it exists) should apply equally to both sexes. Your position differs from the cookie-cutter MRA position in details, not substance.

    Comment by Ampersand — September 28, 2006 @ 5:42 am | Reply

  5. I don’t see a problem in NOW:s position on draft. Rather than going to details about military strategy (whether draft can be necessary) or on current US foreign policy, it presents a coherent position on selective service by opposing it.

    I. for one, am happy that they can focus on the draft as draft instead on drawing it into the memetic entanglement on anti-war and anti-imperialism, whatever those concepts may mean. Obviously quite many feminists oppose the war on Iraq and aren’t hawkish, but that’s really a seperate issue, not hypocrisy.

    This is about focusing on one’s core competence, really.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 28, 2006 @ 7:37 am | Reply

  6. Also, as Amp pointed out, obviously the position is universal and can be applied with ease to countries that do need draft/conscription, altough US as a military hyperpower does not.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 28, 2006 @ 7:40 am | Reply

  7. Why, in the name of the Goddess, do feminists – feminists of all people – advocate for the right of American women to get themselves killed oppressing third-world women in the service of Haliburton’s bank-balance?

    Are you insane?

    No, no I’m not. I’m assuming this wasn’t rhetorical, because I know you’re always on the lookout for the ad hominem fallacy, so you wouldn’t go attacking somebody’s sanity instead of their arguemnt.😉

    Parson Jim’s original comment that started all of this used Selective Service as an example of women being privileged and men being oppressed (or some such). I was pointing out the relationships between the general oppression of women (i.e. they’re not allowed to participate in some jobs, don’t make as much money as men do, etc.) to the fact that they aren’t required to register with SS. You can deny a connection, but there is one–if women were thought of as equals of men, you can be pretty sure that the SS would require them to register as well. Instead, they are generaly thought of as not able to handle combat situations (which, of course, they are handling in Iraq and Afghanistan as we speak), or being as valuable for some jobs, etc. If this weren’t the case, they would likely be required to register with the SS. Thus the connection.

    Now, whether the SS is the wrong way to go about ‘defending your country’ or some such–that is a different, but probably related, problem. I agree with you that the way our military works regarding the SS (and in many other ways) is wrong…but that doesn’t mean that women in general being treated as substandard workers in whatever capacity isn’t also an additional wrong. I’m not advocating the women be forced to serve Halliburton’s interests (I think saying that this is what I’m advocating is to intentionally misread my point, by the way)–I’m arguing that they ought to have the same general rights and privileges as men do–and if they did, they’d probably be registering for the SS as well. And if being equal means they have to register for the SS, then all the more reason to fight against the idea that anybody has to.

    Comment by jeff — September 28, 2006 @ 11:49 am | Reply

  8. Oh, and Daran: I tried to email you using the email you provide when you have commented on FA, and I got a mailer daemon. Any chance you could email me? I had something I wanted to say off-blog. I’m assuming that you can get my email from your comment-moderation application.

    Comment by jeff — September 28, 2006 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  9. No, no I’m not. I’m assuming this wasn’t rhetorical, because I know you’re always on the lookout for the ad hominem fallacy, so you wouldn’t go attacking somebody’s sanity instead of their arguemnt.

    Ha! I was expecting this. I have my rebuttal already prepared.

    An ad hom fallacy would have been committed if my argument could be stated in the following form:

    Jeff makes claim X.
    Jeff is insane.
    Therefore claim X is absurd.

    in fact, my argument was:

    Jeff makes claim X.
    Claim X is absurd.
    Therefore, Jeff is insane. 🙂

    Comment by Daran — September 28, 2006 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  10. I don’t think women are excluded from SS because they are thought to be less competent. There are doubtless people who think that, but it isn’t the important reason.

    Women are excluded from SS because we have a cultural value that says women of reproductive age are to be protected against hostile force, not used to combat hostile force. That cultural value in turn derives from a very practical Stone Age consideration – wombs = babies. A tribe that loses all its men except for one can continue. A tribe that loses all its women except for one is doomed.

    Obviously we’re not worried anymore about the survival of the tribe, directly – but the cultural resonance is still there. It would be there even if women were thought to be twice as strong as men and had a reputation for murderous ferocity; they’d still represent the reproductive constraint on future generations, and would accordingly still be reproductively valued too high to risk in combat.

    Comment by Robert — September 28, 2006 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

  11. I agree entirely with Robert’s analysis. I would add, though, that the observation that it was based on “wombs = babies” is in no way a justification.

    Tuomas:

    I. for one, am happy that they can focus on the draft as draft instead on drawing it into the memetic entanglement on anti-war and anti-imperialism,

    I’m pitching at a feminist and left-wing wicket here. My argument is that what for brevity I’ll call the NOW position – that a universal draft is preferable to a male-only draft – is incoherent with other feminist and left-wing views and values. If you do not accept those views and values, then my argument will have no force with you.

    Comment by Daran — September 28, 2006 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  12. I’m pitching at a feminist and left-wing wicket here. My argument is that what for brevity I’ll call the NOW position – that a universal draft is preferable to a male-only draft – is incoherent with other feminist and left-wing views and values. If you do not accept those views and values, then my argument will have no force with you.

    Good luck with that pitching attempt.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 28, 2006 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  13. Daran,

    I have to disagree here.

    There are a few values involved:
    1) the value of equality. This is feminist and left-wing. Under this value, you’ve got to have balance. Either BOTH sexes get drafted, or NOBODY gets drafted. The NOW position is fully consistent with this value.

    2) The value of moral hazard. You have probably heard the saying “if Senator’s children all went to the front lines, we’d fight fewer wars.” Again, this assumption means that if woemn were also subject to involntary service, they would also be less likely to promote war. The NOW position is also fully consistent with this value.

    3) The value of avoiding conscription. This is merely a “drafting is bad” position. You seem to be focusing your arguments on this, but you’re making a crucial error: You are ignoring the moral hazard issue. Stated fully, it is this:
    *Drafting people is bad
    *Our country is biased against drafting women
    *If the draft were universal, any draft would include women
    *Therefore, including women as potential conscriptees would reduce the chances of any draft at all.

    This is also fully consistent with the NOW position.

    Here, let me put it more directly:
    I think war is bad.
    I think nobody should have to go to war.
    If anybody DOES have to go to war, I think Jenna Bush should be right there with them.
    Overall, this will make us less likely to go to war.

    Comment by Sailorman — September 28, 2006 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

  14. I think nobody should have to go to war.

    As an ideal this is fine. As a rule, it is problematic. Survival occasionally requires expediency.

    But even operating under expediency, it is legitimate for us to exercise a cultural value, which says that women should not be forced to fight, unless it be at some unimaginably bitter end.

    Comment by Robert — September 28, 2006 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  15. But even operating under expediency, it is legitimate for us to exercise a cultural value, which says that women should not be forced to fight, unless it be at some unimaginably bitter end.

    Suppose we were talking about a different cultural value: one that says that blacks are worth less than whites, and can usefully be employed as slaves. Or cannonfodder. Would it be legitimate for us to exercise that cultural value?

    Comment by Daran — September 28, 2006 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  16. Hi all. I’m not going to comment on this issue back at feministallies, since it seems irrelevant.

    Daran–I agree with your statement about equaliities that lead ot injustice, AND with NOW.

    From a moralistic standpoint, I belive that, if I were to put a draft into place, I would draft men AND women.

    However, despite the injustice of inequality, I would NOT actually propose that we make US women eligible for the draf,t because I would rather abolish the draft entirely. Although it is not actually contradictory to belive both that drafts are bad, and that an equal draft is less bad, it is in practice hard to simultaneously advocate both.

    Since I belive that draft can and should be abolised, I would NOT support an initiative to expand it to include women. However, if the draft was absolutely unabolishable, I would then attempt to make it egalitarian.

    Comment by Malachi — September 28, 2006 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

  17. For the sake of linguistic brevity I am going to call a male-only draft a “half-draft” and a draft that applies to both sexes a “full-draft”.

    Ampersand:

    1) The ideal situation is that the injustice of selective service and the draft be eliminated entirely.

    Agreed, and I have constantly acknowledged that by characterising the NOW position as which prefers a full-draft to “the status quo”, i.e. they prefer a full-draft to a half-draft.

    They certainly prefer no draft at all, and I acknowledge that, but as that’s not what I’m criticising them for, there’s little need to discuss it further.

    2) Lacking that ideal situation, however, the injustice of SS and the draft should not be distributed by sex.

    Injustice is not something that can be distributed at all.

    Put another way, it’s a “lesser of two evils” argument. The evil of the draft is bad, but the evil of the draft plus the evil of sex discrimination is a bit worse. Given that total elimination of SS & the draft is not on the table, it makes sense to favor the least evil alternative.

    I understand that it’s a “lesser of two evils argument” and it’s a fallacious one. The fallacy is the assumption that the “evil of the draft” is the same whether it’s a half-draft or a full-draft, so that the “evil of discrimination” is the only difference in evil between the two.

    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the number of men eligible for registration is 50M, and there are a like number of similarly situated women. Let’s further assume for the moment that I’m wrong, and that increasing the potential supply of conscripts will have no effect upon the leadership’s demand for them.

    So, with half-draft registration, we have a little under 50M men inconvenienced by the necessity to register, and the uncertainty entailed thereby and fearful of possible conscription. We also have a small number who evade registration and thereby forgo various citizenship benefits.

    Under full-draft registration nearly 100M million people will be subject to exactly the same degree of inconvenience as 50M under half-draft registration. In what way is inconveniencing 100M people less evil than inconveniencing 50M people?

    By the second of the above stated assumptions, the actual risk of conscription to each registrant is halved under a full-draft registration. But that does not mean that the fear and uncertainty engendered by it is half. People simply do not evaluate risk in that way. It’s much more likely that the registrants will feel just as fearful and uncertain, only there’s now nearly 100M of them. How is that less evil?

    By the same reasoning, I doubt that many of those currently evading registration will think “Hey, my risk has been cut in half. I think I’ll go register.” Instead all a full-draft will achieve is to add to that number a like number of women. How is increasing the number of people who lose citizenship benefits the lesser evil?

    You might argue that the burden of an actual draft would be shared between the sexes. That would be a fallacy. Suppose that your wonderful leaders decide they need an extra 100,000 soldiers so that they can go and invade Iran. The burden of the draft falls no wider under a full-draft than under a half-draft. It falls on exactly 100,000 people in either case. The only way the burden can be distributed more widely is if the second assumption is incorrect and Bush and Co decide that they can get away with conscripting 120,000. How is that the lesser evil?

    Your argument – and I’m in no doubt that it’s precisely the thinking that lead to the NOW policy – amounts to nothing more than saying “It’s eequal. It’s eeequal. It must be better because it’s eeeeeequal”

    And that’s the logic of the blood feud. He kills your son, so you kill his son. Now it’s eeeeequal.

    This is a perfectly logical and coherent position, and one that you haven’t attacked in the slightest. Instead, you’ve tried to hand-wave it away by throwing in the oppression of third-world people and Haliburton and so forth.

    NOW does not operate in a political vacuum. It’s position must be evaluated against the backdrop of US foreign policy.

    But an argument against US foreign policy, which is what all that adds up to, doesn’t address the substance of NOW’s position in any way.

    The NOW position doesn’t have any substance. “It’s eeeeequal”.

    (For one thing, it’s not like NOW’s position is limited to the US; the general principle espoused by NOW would apply to any country with a military draft).

    Indeed it’s a truism that the more generally something can be applied, the less substance it contains.

    The mere fact that a principle can be applied widely does not make it right.

    The cookie-cutter MRA position on the draft is that feminists are horrible because (according to the MRAs) we don’t say the draft should apply equally to both sexes.

    And they’re correct. “You” – the collective “you”, that is – don’t say that. You don’t say anything at all about the draft, unless challenged about it. I’ve searched NOW’s site and as far as I can tell, they haven’t said anything substantive on the subject for the past twenty-six years.

    Have you ever lead on the subject in a blog post, by which I mean it was the primary subject of the blog, except in response to an MRA? Have you ever lead on the subject at all? Can you name any feminist who has?

    You instead argue that feminists are horrible because we say the draft (if it exists) should apply equally to both sexes. Your position differs from the cookie-cutter MRA position in details, not substance.

    What is your point? Are you claiming that I’ve invented this position in order to be nasty to feminists? I thought we’d already dealt with that ad hom. I’ve been saying this for years. I’ve argued it against antifems who advocated for full-draft in preference to a half-draft. I haven’t been able to find a cite for that, but I did find this: In response to some antifeminist eeeequalist nonsense, I said, as long ago as 2002:

    Nothing illustrates the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of antifeminism more than this, that your response to injustice is not to seek to remedy it, but to perpetrate more.

    If I argued this against antifeminists, why should I not apply the same logic to a feminist position? Is feminism to be immune from criticism? If not, then why?

    Comment by Daran — September 30, 2006 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  18. And that’s the logic of the blood feud. He kills your son, so you kill his son. Now it’s eeeeequal.

    No it isn’t. You’ve got to kill each other’s daughters too. Now, that’s much better.

    Comment by Daran — September 30, 2006 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

  19. You don’t say anything at all about the draft, unless challenged about it. I’ve searched NOW’s site and as far as I can tell, they haven’t said anything substantive on the subject for the past twenty-six years.

    I suspect it is because draft (SS or not) hasn’t been even a remote possibility in the US political landscape after Vietnam. Pretty much every Yankee and Brit think it’s bad bad bad, so further argument/discussion within US or GB would be pointless.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 30, 2006 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  20. I suspect it is because draft (SS or not) hasn’t been even a remote possibility in the US political landscape after Vietnam. Pretty much every Yankee and Brit think it’s bad bad bad, so further argument/discussion within US or GB would be pointless.

    The text of the NOW policy implies that registration didn’t apply in 1980. It does now, so at some point it must have been reintroduced, to resounding silence from feminists. I agree that the US government could no more actually implement a draft than it could legalise warrentless wiretaps, or suspend habeas corpus

    Comment by Daran — September 30, 2006 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

  21. And another thing. My challenge to Amp about feminism’s near silence on the subject wasn’t restricted to the US.

    Comment by Daran — September 30, 2006 @ 8:07 pm | Reply

  22. I agree that the US government could no more actually implement a draft than it could legalise warrentless wiretaps, or suspend habeas corpus

    Those measures are fairly popular and seen as necessary, AFAIK. Draft is neither.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 30, 2006 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

  23. And another thing. My challenge to Amp about feminism’s near silence on the subject wasn’t restricted to the US.

    Oh, I agree. Feminists in countries that do have draft usually just gloss over its unfairness to men.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 30, 2006 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  24. The text of the NOW policy implies that registration didn’t apply in 1980. It does now, so at some point it must have been reintroduced, to resounding silence from feminists.

    I didn’t know that. Can you be more specific?

    /completely sincere

    Comment by Tuomas — September 30, 2006 @ 8:14 pm | Reply

  25. What don’t you know about? The text of the policy? It says:

    BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW opposes the reinstatement of registration and draft for both men and women. NOW’s primary focus on this issue is on opposition to registration and draft. However, if we cannot stop the return to registration and draft, we also cannot choose between sisters and brothers. We oppose any registration or draft that excludes women as an unconstitutional denial of rights to both young men and women. And we continue to oppose all sex discrimination by the volunteer armed services.

    (My emphasis.)

    That implies to me that there was neither registration nor draft at that time, but I admit I don’t know for certain.

    If you are asking me about something else, please be more specific about what you want me to be more specific about.

    Comment by Daran — September 30, 2006 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  26. Ooh! Look what I just found.

    WOMEN AND WAR

    1971

    WHEREAS, women are victims of the military in war, through rape and forced prostitution, and
    WHEREAS, military training relies upon sexual slurs against women to inflame soldiers into aggression, and
    WHEREAS, military decisions are exclusively made by male supremacists, and
    WHEREAS, men themselves are subject to loss of life and personhood by being subject to compulsory military service from which women are exempt, and
    WHEREAS, women in the military are restricted on the basis of sex in job training, education, area of service and are confined to low level, non-policy positions,
    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW condemns the degradation of women by sexist practices within the military and the sexist basis for compulsory military service.

    Again, my emphasis. That’s twice in thirty five years, and – credit where credit is due – they do point out how harmful it is to men, and don’t just argue on eeeequality grounds.

    Edit: Yes they do. They don’t argue against conscription, only against the “sexist basis”. “It’s not right that only men should be subject to loss of personhood and life. Women should be subject to loss of personhood and life too”.

    However the unstruck portion of my remark stands. They acknowledge the harm to men, and they deserve credit for that.

    Comment by Daran — September 30, 2006 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

  27. That implies to me that there was neither registration nor draft at that time, but I admit I don’t know for certain.

    I meant, is there registration now (in US/UK)?
    They say IF we cannot stop, what you said was:

    It does now, so at some point it must have been reintroduced, to resounding silence from feminists.

    On men:

    However the unstruck portion of my remark stands. They acknowledge the harm to men, and they deserve credit for that.

    NOW does.

    (edited for clarity)

    Comment by Tuomas — September 30, 2006 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  28. Conscription is morally problematic, IMHO, but it’s awfully easy to take an absolutist position on it from a nice little island or from a continent where one is the unquestioned military leader.

    The goal of conscription isn’t the loss of life.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 30, 2006 @ 9:29 pm | Reply

  29. I’m not absolutist about either the draft or war. In some cases either or both may be necessary

    In most cases conscription and war are unnecessary and evil. In particular, this applies to America’s wars and drafts since the WWII, and the current draft registration. My arguments above could apply to any country, but they are premissed on the draft not being necessary. If a draft is necessary for the defence of the nation then the calculus changes, because then everyone is oppressed a priori by the external threat that the draft is needed to combat.

    Comment by Daran — October 1, 2006 @ 2:25 pm | Reply

  30. There is no registration in the UK.

    In the US, men aged between 18 and 25 must register.

    Comment by Daran — October 1, 2006 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  31. Tuomas:

    Those measures are fairly popular and seen as necessary, AFAIK. Draft is neither.

    A few short years ago those measures would have been regarded as unthinkable. That they are popular is the measure of the effectiveness of the rightwing disinformation machine.

    Government: buy the people, gull the people, fool the people.

    Comment by Daran — October 1, 2006 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  32. Me:

    However the unstruck portion of my remark stands. They acknowledge the harm to men, and they deserve credit for that.

    Tuomas:

    NOW does.

    Yes. NOW deserves credit.

    Comment by Daran — October 1, 2006 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  33. Sailorman:

    1) the value of equality. This is feminist and left-wing. Under this value, you’ve got to have balance. Either BOTH sexes get drafted, or NOBODY gets drafted. The NOW position is fully consistent with this value.

    See my response to Amp. To seek to extend injustice so that it affects everyone is intellectually and morally bankrupt. I agree that this “value” infects leftist and feminist thinking, but it certainly isn’t confined to the left.

    2) The value of moral hazard. You have probably heard the saying “if Senator’s children all went to the front lines, we’d fight fewer wars.” Again, this assumption means that if woemn were also subject to involntary service, they would also be less likely to promote war. The NOW position is also fully consistent with this value.

    I’ve heard the argument about Senators, but never from Senators. While it would be consistent for NOW to say “we need to be subject to conscription, because we don’t have the moral fibre to oppose it otherwise”, I doubt that this is the thinking behind the resolution.

    3) The value of avoiding conscription. This is merely a “drafting is bad” position. You seem to be focusing your arguments on this, but you’re making a crucial error: You are ignoring the moral hazard issue. Stated fully, it is this:
    *Drafting people is bad
    *Our country is biased against drafting women
    *If the draft were universal, any draft would include women
    *Therefore, including women as potential conscriptees would reduce the chances of any draft at all.

    That’s a good argument, which I will address some time in a post.

    Here, let me put it more directly:
    I think war is bad.
    I think nobody should have to go to war.
    If anybody DOES have to go to war, I think Jenna Bush should be right there with them.
    Overall, this will make us less likely to go to war.

    I’m sure that our glorious leaders will demonstrate the same ability to insulate their daughters from any obligation to serve as they have their sons.

    Comment by Daran — October 1, 2006 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

  34. A few short years ago those measures would have been regarded as unthinkable.

    Yes, indeed, Daran. Right up until 9/10/2001.

    The world became observably more dangerous for American citizens right around that time.

    It’s unthinkable that skyscrapers filled with thousands of people can be crushed to the ground. We have to weigh the relative unthinkabilities of things.

    Comment by Robert — October 1, 2006 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  35. […] In preparing my response to Jeff’s comment to my recent post on Women and the Draft, I seem to have wodered rather far from the topic. […]

    Pingback by Evidence of Male Dispensibility Part 1 - the News Media « Creative Destruction — October 1, 2006 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  36. Yes, yes, Mr. Parsons. Anything and everything is justified by 9/11, no matter how unrelated or counterproductive. Scale down the hunt for Bin Laden in order to invade countries uninvolved in 9/11? It’s justified by 9/11. Spy on people who aren’t terrorists (because if they were terrorists, he’s be able to get a warrent, wouldn’t he?)? It’s justified by 9/11. Kidnap innocent Canadian citizens on the basis of false information and send them to Syria to be tortured? It’s justified by 9/11. Tear up the bill of rights? It’s justified by 9/11. Authorise torture? It’s justified by 9/11.

    Comment by Daran — October 1, 2006 @ 5:23 pm | Reply

  37. In the US, men aged between 18 and 25 must register.

    Wow, I had no idea.

    Comment by Tuomas — October 1, 2006 @ 7:16 pm | Reply

  38. Neither did I, until a few days ago, which is embarrassing given my political posture on these issues.

    Comment by Daran — October 1, 2006 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  39. Registration used to be a requirement for financial aid from th federal government (for college, etc). It was, at least, when my rother and I went to college.

    I’ve heard the argument about Senators, but never from Senators. While it would be consistent for NOW to say “we need to be subject to conscription, because we don’t have the moral fibre to oppose it otherwise”, I doubt that this is the thinking behind the resolution.

    Now you’re going into thought analysis….?

    The argument is true or not. I could probably find a senator that has said this–one with a child in the military, I imagine–but so what? Just because a senator says it doesn’t affect its ultimate truth. You’re dodging.

    (Edited to fix borked markup – Daran)

    Comment by Sailorman — October 2, 2006 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  40. The argument is true or not. I could probably find a senator that has said this–one with a child in the military, I imagine–but so what? Just because a senator says it doesn’t affect its ultimate truth. You’re dodging.

    I’m not dodging; I explicitly agreed that it was consistent. It’s similar to your point three, which I also agreed was a good argument, but which raises issues I’d prefer to address in a blog post, rather than a comment.

    If you did find a Senator who said that, he would almost certainly be berating other Senators for their chickenhawk stance, not his own lack of moral fibre.

    Comment by Daran — October 2, 2006 @ 4:09 pm | Reply

  41. It’s justified by 9/11.

    The War on Terror is fuelling terrorism. Now we have leaked documents to show that this fact just as obvious to “intelligence operatives, military leaders and political insiders” as it is to everyone else who doesn’t have their heads buried in the sand, or up Bush’s arse. But that’s OK. Fuelling terrorism is justified by 9/11.

    I bet Clinton really wishes 9/11 had happened on his watch. Think of the problems it would have solved for him: “I did have sexual relations with that woman, but it’s justified by 9/11.”

    Comment by Daran — October 2, 2006 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

  42. Well? A lot of things are justified by 9/11.

    Comment by Robert — October 2, 2006 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

  43. Robert — Such as? and how? I’d appreciate an explanation of how 9/11 justifies anything unrelated to afghanistan.

    Daran — great thread.

    Comment by Malachi — October 3, 2006 @ 11:39 am | Reply

  44. Malachi:

    Daran — great thread.

    Yes, but is it persuasive?

    Comment by Daran — October 3, 2006 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  45. Malachi, I’m not sure how to answer your question without insulting you. But I’ll try.

    For one thing, “Afghanistan” didn’t attack our country. Adherents of a particular vicious ideology attacked us. That ideology happened to have achieved great success in Afghanistan – was largely running the place, in fact. And so Afghanistan is one very logical locus of operations against our enemy. But the locus is not the enemy; the battle is not the war. After Pearl Harbor, the United States did not bend its efforts to capturing the Japanese admiral who ordered the attack, or tracking the specific planes and ships that did us harm; instead, we declared war on the larger entity of which one tendril had reached out to strike us.

    Secondly, 9/11 was a conceptual event as much as a discrete physical one. It was a demonstration of the fact that mass destruction has become much cheaper than it used to be, and more accessible to people of modest resources. Building a missile that be launched across oceans and destroy city blocks requires the resources of a significant nation-state – Afghanistan, to pick a name out of a hat, couldn’t do it. But infiltrating an open society and using our own power against us requires only the resources necessary to promulgate an ideology and provide training to its adherents. To again analogize, think about being an anti-gun-violence campaigner in a world where it costs $10,000 to buy a rifle. Now imagine a set of technological and cultural changes take place that reduce the cost of a rifle to 50 cents. Suddenly, people who would very much like to have gone around shooting people but were blocked by the material outlay needed can buy a dozen guns for the cost of lunch. You would have to drastically change your approach, and even your underlying fundamental view of the problem, to be effective in the changed landscape.

    Thirdly, 9/11 demonstrated that the distance and physical barriers that once protected the United States from hostile enemy force no longer were worth very much. In 1950, we can ignore a fascist state in the Middle East; their ability to harm us is limited, even if we are on their agenda. What harm they can do will be localized to the Middle East itself, and to military targets who (not to be callous) exist partially in order to draw that fire. In 2002, that comfortable ability to ignore the harmful potential in other nations no longer exists. Bad states in isolated parts of the world can destroy the world if they so desire; they can start nuclear conflicts between major powers or kill millions. The cost-benefit calculus of stopping a fascist Iraq in 1950 points heavily towards just leaving them alone; the occasional bombing of a ship or land war with another objectionable regime in the area cost us far less than fixing the underlying problem would cost. The calculus is now very different.

    Comment by Robert — October 3, 2006 @ 4:36 pm | Reply

  46. The cost-benefit calculus of stopping a fascist Iraq in 1950 points heavily towards just leaving them alone; the occasional bombing of a ship or land war with another objectionable regime in the area cost us far less than fixing the underlying problem would cost. The calculus is now very different.

    The United States didn’t “Leave Iraq alone”. It supported Iraq, just as it supported the Taliban. In fact, America has a long and inglorious history of supporting objectionable regimes, and it’s really no surprise that some have turned around and bitten the hand that fed them.

    And you’re not “fixing the underlying problem”. You’re exacerbating it. The underlying problem is America’s continued interference in the Middle East, which is fuelling the terrorism.

    Comment by Daran — October 3, 2006 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

  47. In fact, America has a long and inglorious history of supporting objectionable regimes

    Yes, it does. Do you understand why?

    The underlying problem is America’s continued interference in the Middle East, which is fuelling the terrorism.

    The underlying problem is the cultural inferiority of the Arab world, and the regional inferiority complex that has resulted from this section of the world’s failure to adapt to the realities of the Enlightenment. The “interference” in the Middle East that inflames passions is the existence of MTV, and women who go around having their own independent lives, and a tradition of religious liberty and free evangelism that terrifies people whose faith has generated an indifferent performance when it is forced to compete in a marketplace of religious ideas.

    Comment by Robert — October 3, 2006 @ 9:29 pm | Reply

  48. For one thing, “Afghanistan” didn’t attack our country. Adherents of a particular vicious ideology attacked us. That ideology happened to have achieved great success in Afghanistan – was largely running the place, in fact. And so Afghanistan is one very logical locus of operations against our enemy. But the locus is not the enemy; the battle is not the war.

    What’s the relationship between the ideology that dominated Afghanistan and the ideology that dominated Iraq? Specifically, I’m not seeing how we’re better off having strengthened the hands of the Shiites, and hence the neighboring state of Iran, an ACTUAL fundamentalist state that had ACTUALLY attacked the US and is building ACTUAL nuclear technology. Whatever we may have thought of Saddam, he functioned as a brake on Iran, and he was free to use far more ruthless tactics than the US is.

    After Pearl Harbor, the United States did not bend its efforts to capturing the Japanese admiral who ordered the attack, or tracking the specific planes and ships that did us harm; instead, we declared war on the larger entity of which one tendril had reached out to strike us.

    I thought 1) Japan declared war on the US, 2) the US declared war on Japan, 3) Germany declared war on the US, and 4) the US declared war on Germany.

    Whatever. I also understood Japan and Germany to be in a military alliance; do you have evidence of a military alliance between Afghanistan and Iraq? The stuff I’ve read suggested antagonism between Saddam and Shiite fundamentalists.

    Secondly, 9/11 was a conceptual event as much as a discrete physical one. It was a demonstration of the fact that mass destruction has become much cheaper than it used to be, and more accessible to people of modest resources….

    Thirdly, 9/11 demonstrated that the distance and physical barriers that once protected the United States from hostile enemy force no longer were worth very much.

    I grew up in constant knowledge that on 13 minutes’ notice I and everything I had ever known could be obliterated forever by Soviet nuclear missiles. Yet somehow we went about our lives and retained our constitution and treaties with other nations. Why does the Iraqi threat warrant greater paranoia than the Soviet threat?

    I share Robert’s view that US government should seek to thwart efforts to hurt US citizens, among others. I may share Robert’s support for preemptive strikes, at least under some circumstances. And I share his (and Thomas Friedman’s) view that there’s always going to be tension between the US and other nations and cultures; hegemonds are rarely loved.

    But I sense we part company there. I fear Robert’s arguments prove too much: they would seem to support a US war on pretty much anyone.

    If 9/11 is supposed to have made the US more hard-nosed and realpolitik, we should have embraced Saddam as we embraced Pakistan’s Musharraf. They may be petty dictators who rig elections and oppress their own people, but at least they’re not religious fanatics/communists/boogiemen du jour. Musharraf has proven useful, and Saddam might have as well. Maybe Saddam would have sought to export weapons to people we don’t like, but Pakistan exported nuclear technology; whose the bigger problem?

    Comment by nobody.really — October 4, 2006 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  49. nobody.really

    What’s the relationship between the ideology that dominated Afghanistan and the ideology that dominated Iraq? Specifically, I’m not seeing how we’re better off having strengthened the hands of the Shiites, and hence the neighboring state of Iran, an ACTUAL fundamentalist state that had ACTUALLY attacked the US and is building ACTUAL nuclear technology. Whatever we may have thought of Saddam, he functioned as a brake on Iran, and he was free to use far more ruthless tactics than the US is.

    I do hope you’re only “pitching at a conservative wicket” here, and not expressing your own genuine view. There are many good reasons for opposing the attack on Husein’s regime. Leaving it “free to use … ruthless tactics” against Iran isn’t one of them

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  50. Nobody, the Soviets never used their weapons. Saddam did. That’s what makes Iraq a bigger effective threat – he was known to use them when he wanted to, and able (see point two) to use methods of delivery that were not practical for the Soviets during the Cold War. It isn’t just a question of how big the weapon is; it’s who holds it.

    Put it this way: your neighbor to the north is the Pope, and he has 20,000 ICBMs in his backyard (it’s a big yard). Your neighbor to the south is Ted Bundy, and he has a .45. Which neighbor do you spend more time worrying about? Right.

    Comment by Robert — October 4, 2006 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

  51. Robert:

    In fact, America has a long and inglorious history of supporting objectionable regimes

    Yes, it does. Do you understand why?

    It’s justified by 9/11.

    The underlying problem is America’s continued interference in the Middle East, which is fuelling the terrorism.

    The underlying problem is the cultural inferiority of the Arab world, and the regional inferiority complex that has resulted from this section of the world’s failure to adapt to the realities of the Enlightenment. The “interference” in the Middle East that inflames passions is the existence of MTV, and women who go around having their own independent lives, and a tradition of religious liberty and free evangelism that terrifies people whose faith has generated an indifferent performance when it is forced to compete in a marketplace of religious ideas.

    There’s a certain perverse logic to this. If the Arabs really “hate our freedoms” then abolishing those freedoms one by one ought to be making us progressively less hated. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be working.

    And that’s because it isn’t true. The most extraordinary revelation to come from these newly leaked documents is, there’s no revelation. As long ago as December 2004 The Government puplished a strategic report (Pdf link. HT: Homeland Stupidity) revealing that it was well aware that its actions were fuelling terrorism:

    American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended. American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.

    . Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

    . Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that “freedom is the future of the Middle East” is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World — but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.

    · Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination.

    · Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack — to broad public support.

    . What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.

    . Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic — namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is — for Americans — really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves.

    Notice there’s nothing here about “the existence of MTV, and women who go around having their own independent lives, and a tradition of religious liberty”.

    I do not expect to persuade you with evidence like this. It’s a very evidence-resistant belief system you’re espousing here, but it is not one based on reality.

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  52. In fact, America has a long and inglorious history of supporting objectionable regimes

    Yes, it does. Do you understand why?

    It’s justified by 9/11.

    Repetition ruins a good joke.

    Comment by Tuomas — October 4, 2006 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

  53. Nobody, the Soviets never used their weapons. Saddam did. That’s what makes Iraq a bigger effective threat – he was known to use them when he wanted to, and able (see point two) to use methods of delivery that were not practical for the Soviets during the Cold War. It isn’t just a question of how big the weapon is; it’s who holds it.

    At the time Husein used his weapons, his regime was supported by the US. Post 9/11, he didn’t have any usable WMD.

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  54. Robert:

    Do you understand why [America has a long and inglorious history of supporting objectionable regimes]?

    Me:

    It’s justified by 9/11.

    Tuomas:

    Repetition ruins a good joke.

    The reason why the US supports objectionable regimes is naked, begger-my-neighbor, self-interest.

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 6:17 pm | Reply

  55. Nobody, the Soviets never used their weapons.

    That’ll be big news to Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. (Did I miss anybody?)

    Saddam did. That’s what makes Iraq a bigger effective threat – he was known to use them when he wanted to, and able (see point two) to use methods of delivery that were not practical for the Soviets during the Cold War.

    Not following this. What methods of delivery did Saddam use that were not practical for the Soviets, and why were these methods not practical for the Soviets?

    It isn’t just a question of how big the weapon is; it’s who holds it. Put it this way: your neighbor to the north is the Pope, and he has 20,000 ICBMs in his backyard (it’s a big yard). Your neighbor to the south is Ted Bundy, and he has a .45. Which neighbor do you spend more time worrying about? Right.

    This illustrates the great weakness of the boogieman argument. Somehow during the Soviet’s long reign, I never heard people comparing them to the Pope. They were a force to be feared, a rationale for increased military spending, loyalty oaths and purges. Now they’re gone, and in retrospect we talk about how manageable they were, not like the REAL threats we face today. Have we learned anything about the boogieman argument? No, we just find a new boogieman. It was gays for a while, but that really wasn’t doing the job. Then it was Saddam. Now that he’s gone, it’s “Islamo-facism.”

    Maybe Saddam was a total madman, willing to use weapons of mass destruction on US citizens notwithstanding the certain destruction that would await him as a result. Yet oddly there’s no evidence that he ever did so. As Daran has noted (twice now), the only evidence we have of Saddam using weapons of mass destruction was while he was receiving arms and support from Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the Reagan crew. (Curious that Saddam is now being tried for killing people with bullets; why didn’t the tribunal prosecute him for gassing the Iranians and the Kurds? Would the trial prove embarrassing to some parties, maybe?)

    I don’t mean to minimize the threat of “Islamo-facism,” or Saddam, or the Soviets (or the Pope). But when placed in perspective – that perspective is the key – I really can’t conclude that Saddam was that big a threat. Certainly not a bigger threat (or bigger human rights abuser) than Iran, the nation that has now won the Iran/Iraq war by default and is well on its way to winning the current war.

    Put it this way: How many suicide bombers were inspired by Saddam? How many were inspired by a violent fundamentalism? Right.

    Comment by nobody.really — October 4, 2006 @ 6:28 pm | Reply

  56. The reason why the US supports objectionable regimes is naked, begger-my-neighbor, self-interest.

    Or a moral calculus that attempts to weight several evils and choose the least evil.
    On basis of self-interest, obviously too, but what sane country doesn’t look out for its own interests?
    Lot of what the US did during the cold war is something that I tend to have an understanding towards. At some point, the USSR was truly a terrible threat to freedom and democracy.

    That’ll be big news to Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. (Did I miss anybody?)

    nobody.really:
    You missed Finland! But I think you knew that😉.
    (edit: Good post, btw.)

    Comment by Tuomas — October 4, 2006 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  57. Tuomas:

    You missed Finland! But I think you knew that

    Please, miss. I got that one too.

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

  58. miss?

    Comment by Tuomas — October 4, 2006 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

  59. Tuomas:

    Or a moral calculus that attempts to weight several evils and choose the least evil.

    The terrorists justify their actions using the same moral calculus. How then can we condemn them, if we condone the evil perpetrated and supported by the US which, in sheer body-count terms could fill a thousand World Trade Centers.

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  60. Tuomas:

    miss?

    It’s an idiom. “Please miss” is supposed to evoke the mental picture of a child raising its hand in class to give the answer to the teacher’s question.

    Has anyone got the reference to Mr. Parsons yet?

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  61. WMD, not weapons per se.

    Comment by Robert — October 4, 2006 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  62. It’s an idiom. “Please miss” is supposed to evoke the mental picture of a child raising its hand in class to give the answer to the teacher’s question.

    Oh.

    Comment by Tuomas — October 4, 2006 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

  63. WMD, not weapons per se.

    So if a country has a history of actually using nuclear weapons, and chemical agents, (for example: napalm, white phosphorus, and dioxin), then an attack on that country is justified?

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 7:55 pm | Reply


  64. The reason why the US supports objectionable regimes is naked, begger-my-neighbor, self-interest.

    Or a moral calculus that attempts to weight several evils and choose the least evil.

    The terrorists justify their actions using the same moral calculus. How then can we condemn them, if we condone the evil perpetrated and supported by the US which, in sheer body-count terms could fill a thousand World Trade Centers.

    States have interests but no principles. (Who said this? Lord Palmerston said that nations have no permanent allies, only permanent interests; Shaw said that the nation which lets its duty get on the opposite side to its interest is lost. But who said states have interests but no principles?)

    Sure enough, sometimes opposing forces use similar tactics. The Allies and the Axis troops used similar tactics. That doesn’t lead me to conclude that liberal democracy is the same as fascism. But admittedly Gandhi might have drawn a different conclusion.

    Of course it’s terrible that the US works with regimes that fail to measure up to Western standards. And it’s terrible that the US imposes Western standards on foreign regimes. Oy.

    Even if we want to act solely in the interest of human rights, the best course of action isn’t always clear. Which was worse, the French monarchy or the reign of terror that followed? The Czars, the Soviets, or the current Kleptocrats? The Shaw or the Islamic Revolutionary Council? The Soviet-puppet Afghan regime, the Talliban, or the current chaos? The current pro-Western quasi-despots in Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, or the fundamentalist nightmares that would follow from free and fair elections? Anything we do to harm one regime helps bring in its successor. It’s a bitter choice, but averting your eyes doesn’t make it any sweeter.

    I have a soft spot for US efforts to reduce oppression around the world even if this means using force. But I also recognize that we can’t do that everywhere, and must therefore husband our resources, including military and diplomatic resources. Troops deployed in Iraq bring no rescue to Darfur; we can’t do both. (Indeed, there’s growing evidence that we can’t do both Iraq and Afghanistan.)

    So we strike when the opportunities present themselves to make a difference at low cost. An assassination in Lebanon can provide an opportunity to end Syria’s decades-long occupation without any military force, if you know how to use it. Not bad, huh?

    In the meantime, we work with the players who are on the field. For better or worse, not everybody’s Finland.

    Comment by nobody.really — October 4, 2006 @ 8:16 pm | Reply

  65. nobody.really:

    (Did I miss anybody?)

    Korea, Japan, and parts of Japan-occupied China

    Comment by Daran — October 4, 2006 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  66. nobody.really:

    States have interests but no principles.

    States may have no principles, but governments and politicians do (or don’t, as the case may be.) You cannot otherwise invoke a moral calculus argument.

    Sure enough, sometimes opposing forces use similar tactics. The Allies and the Axis troops used similar tactics. That doesn’t lead me to conclude that liberal democracy is the same as fascism.

    Nor I. But the mere fact that a government is a liberal democracy doesn’t let it off the hook with regard to my judgement of its actions. Rather the contrary, shouldn’t we be holding them to a higher standard?

    But admittedly Gandhi might have drawn a different conclusion.

    Coincidently, the first time I did the Political Compass test, My position was right on top of Gandhi. And he is one of my political heros. However I significantly differ from him in several ways.

    Even if we want to act solely in the interest of human rights, the best course of action isn’t always clear. Which was worse, the French monarchy or the reign of terror that followed? The Czars, the Soviets, or the current Kleptocrats? The Shaw or the Islamic Revolutionary Council? The Soviet-puppet Afghan regime, the Talliban, or the current chaos? The current pro-Western quasi-despots in Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, or the fundamentalist nightmares that would follow from free and fair elections? Anything we do to harm one regime helps bring in its successor. It’s a bitter choice, but averting your eyes doesn’t make it any sweeter.

    I don’t believe “we” are acting in anything other than pure unadulterated self-interest, specifically the self-interest of George Bush and a very small number of his cronies – a “we” that doesn’t include me. I agree that human rights interests often include bitter choices. I see no evidence that such choices factor into our leaders’ thinking in any way. Human rights, to them, are nothing more than a flag to be waved when convenient, and casually discarded when not.

    I have a soft spot for US efforts to reduce oppression around the world even if this means using force. But I also recognize that we can’t do that everywhere, and must therefore husband our resources, including military and diplomatic resources. Troops deployed in Iraq bring no rescue to Darfur; we can’t do both. (Indeed, there’s growing evidence that we can’t do both Iraq and Afghanistan.)

    Which makes it insane that “we’re” contemplating going into Iran.

    I’d trust a US-lead intervention in Darfur much more than I do the one in Iraq, for much the same reasons that the US has intervened in Iraq and not in Darfur.

    So we strike when the opportunities present themselves to make a difference at low cost. An assassination in Lebanon can provide an opportunity to end Syria’s decades-long occupation without any military force, if you know how to use it. Not bad, huh?

    I doubt any assassination would end the occupation. Lebanan’s occupation by Syria (and Hezbollah) is a symptom of the weakness of its fledgling democratic government. Yet we see, rather than strengthening and supporting that government, US policy serves only to marginalise it. And they haven’t got rid of the occupying forces, have they?

    In the meantime, we work with the players who are on the field. For better or worse, not everybody’s Finland.

    The US doesn’t just “work with the players in the field”. It didn’t work with the democratically elected Allende government of Chile, for example. It destabilised that government, and replaced it with a dictatorship. Many of the “players in the field” in the Middle East are only there because the US props them up.

    Comment by Daran — October 5, 2006 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

  67. So we strike when the opportunities present themselves to make a difference at low cost. An assassination in Lebanon can provide an opportunity to end Syria’s decades-long occupation without any military force, if you know how to use it. Not bad, huh?

    I doubt any assassination would end the occupation. Lebanon’s occupation by Syria (and Hezbollah) is a symptom of the weakness of its fledgling democratic government. Yet we see, rather than strengthening and supporting that government, US policy serves only to marginalise it. And they haven’t got rid of the occupying forces, have they?

    Forgive me if I’m not up on the latest. Last I’d heard, 1) Hezbollah was one of Lebanon’s dominant political parties, not an outside occupier, and 2) Syria had removed all of its troops from Lebanon. If they have subsequently returned, it has escaped my attention and the attention of the CIA.

    Comment by nobody.really — October 5, 2006 @ 11:20 pm | Reply

  68. nobody.really>

    Forgive me if I’m not up on the latest. Last I’d heard, 1) Hezbollah was one of Lebanon’s dominant political parties, not an outside occupier,

    3 out of 26 government mininsters is not what I’d call “dominant”. My understanding is that Hezbollah as a military force was not there with the consent of the government.

    The situation is similar to that of Northern Irland, where, prior to it’s suspension in 2002, the Executive included two members from Sinn Féin, A party closely associated with the IRA, despite the latter being a proscribed organisation.

    and 2) Syria had removed all of its troops from Lebanon. If they have subsequently returned, it has escaped my attention and the attention of the CIA.

    The completeness of that withdrawl is disputed.

    Mea Culpa, though, for not researching your comment. I didn’t know that the Cedar Revolution had been precipitated by the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri. However, I think your remarks are based upon 20/20 hindsight. Such acts are more likely to result in the chaos of a civil war than in a benign revolution followed by a troop withdrawl. Nor is it clear that the murder was a “US effort”.

    Comment by Daran — October 6, 2006 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

  69. This is a real simple issue, we as a culture don’t support women going to war because we think women can not match up to the physical strength and endurance of a man. But here is what we should focus on, we don’t fight wars hand to hand any more, all the strength you need is in your finger to pull the trigger, women can do that. And as for endurance we have these things called vehicles, yep women can ride in vehicles as well. As for women being emotionally frail so are lots of men, once again this is no excuse for gender discrimination. The United States should be ashamed of itself for it’s politically incorrect actions and so should anyone who supports gender discrimination.

    Comment by logic — March 17, 2007 @ 3:18 am | Reply

  70. Personally, I oppose draft registration and conscription. But if there needs to be any, it should be gender inclusive.

    The idea that women shouldn’t be drafted because they supposedly make less money than men do has no basis because black and minority men make less money than do white suburban women. And there are a lot of women out there who are far more athletic than men so no one can claim that women are the ‘weaker’ sex.

    If a draft is so necessary, then let it be restricted to those who profit from wars such as wealthy suburban Republicans. I live in a city, never lived in the suburbs, and know of absolutely no one here who is profiting from Bush’s war on Iraq or from stock ownership in the military industrial complex. Not one person here applauds Bush’s war or of conscription.

    Restrict the draft (if any) to privileged Republicans of both genders, impose a 100 % excess profits tax on all war profits, and there will be no more wars.

    Comment by Ricky — June 12, 2007 @ 8:22 am | Reply


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