Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Weekend Open Thread

Stealing an idea from another blog, welcome to the first weekend open thread! Of course it will also be the last if it doesn't work and no one feels the urge to use it - but hey, no pain no gain.

Feel free to use this thread to talk about whatever you like - thoughts about the latest Galloway media frenzy, disagreeements with articles on the main site, the nicest breakfast you ever had - what ever you want to talk about it's your space, nothing is off topic, nothing too profund, profane or innane.

20 comments:

Dave Riley said...

Debate here in Australia about the nature of cirrent events in East Timor and peoples' urgent need apparaently to rush to judgement.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GreenLeft_discussion/messages/

Let's say the situation is being monitored...

dave riley

Jim Jay said...

Thanks for the link Dave, the discussion is very interesing. Whilst I think it is a positive sign that the left in Australia is choosing to think and analyse the situation rather than race to the slogans draw I'm not so sure that it's nescessary to be quite as cautious as all that.

Why has the Australian state decided to send troops - and what real role will they play? ie whose interests will they defend? I think GLW understands this pretty clearly

"Australia has been a major source of East Timor's problems"

"Australia’s ongoing theft of oil from the Timor Sea — combined with its long history of undermining the East Timorese nation — suggests that Australia’s motivation for the current military intervention is more about shoring up a continued flow of oil than helping the East Timorese people."

But GLW has chosen not to explicitly oppose the deployment of troops to ET. But if this is not imperialism then what is it? What aspects are there to this deployment that may be positive?

The East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network described the actions as "undemocratic, paternalistic, and unhelpful. Who governs Timor-Leste is a decision to be made by its people within its constitution."

This seems to be a good clear statement to me. GLW's current article on ET is really useful and most importantly it is thoughtful and undogmatic. I wish we saw more articles of this calibre on the left in general - but I guess my concern is that I would still like to see a clear statement opposing the deployment of troops to ET - something that GLW has decided it doesn't want to do I guess.

AN said...

To change the subject. I am suprised at all the furore about Galloway's saying it would be moraly justified to top Blair.

As the US/UK tried to bomb Saddam in the opening stages of the Iraq war several times and clearly tried to bomb Milosevic and other top Serb leaders in 1999 - the precedent is clearly estabished that the british government accepts that killing political leaders of the enemy in war time is acceptable.

So Galloway is only recognising that there is in fact a war, and Blair is part of it.

Phugebrins said...

Quite right. That said, I have little sympathy for Galloway, as he seems to have "kick me" written in big black letters on his forehead, while grinning and waving a permanent marker.

Jim Jay said...

For the anti-galloway camp they counter the argument over the allies (or whatever they're called) trying to kill Saddam by saying that Blair is elected and Saddam a dictator and they are not for democratically elected leaders getting whacked.

I think the answer to that is what about Milosevic? Didn't they bomb a TV station trying to kill him during the Balkans war? What about all the thousands of others they had whacked?

The bizarre thing about all the fuss though is that almost no one seems to have taken in what was said.

He was asked a question about whether killing Blair would be morally justified (ie he didn't bring it up out of the blue as some seem to imply) and he tried to answer it honestly saying that some would see it as morally justified but that he was opposed to such a course and would hand in anyone he heard of plotting such an attempt to the police.

Only in the hands of the press does the headline become "Galloway says Blair assassination morally justified" which does not represent reality at all.

Where were the headlines "Blair says of murdering kids 'you can't make an omlette without breaking eggs'"?

These people are for armies, bombings and killings - but someone trying to answer a difficult moral question that is put to them in a balanced rational way is abhorant.

AN said...

I like this argument about it being Ok to bump off Saddam cos he wasn't elected. Does that mean they approve of killing the Queen as a stand in for Blair?

badmatthew said...

Jim brought up the context of Galloway's comments, but not very accurately.
It goes:
Question (from Piers Morgan I believe): 'Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber - if there were no other casualties - be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?'

Answer: 'Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it - but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of July 7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq - as Blair did.'

Okay, factor out the spurious, hysterical and hypocritical responses from Galloway's enemies and what we are left with is,
a) bad philosophy. Dave Osler has already pointed out the stupidity of equating this hypothetical assassination with the deaths in Iraq; but hey Galloway is a skilled (despite what phugebrins said - this isn't going to upset his core constituency)but erratic political operator and brilliant orator not a philosopher;
b) there's no support for AN's deplorable view that 'war' made the July 7th bombings legitimate;
c) and that Jim's gloss that he said 'some' (i.e. others) would find it morally justified isn't accurate.

AN said...

Well actually what Dave Osler said: is “If killing Blair would be both 'morally justified' and 'morally equivalent' to the invasion of Iraq, than the invasion of Iraq would thus be morally justified. Galloway is surely trying to make the very opposite point.”

Thus Dave demonstrates the limitations of predicate logic, and is also giving too much weight to Galloway’s specific words.

Arguing using predicate logic allows two negatives to be a positive, so Galloway’s moral acceptance of violence as equivalent provides moral justification for the original invasion. This is an inappropriate philosophical paradigm to deal with the complexities of war,.or politics (It is no coincidence that the accepted philosopher of war by the actually existing military establishments in the West is the Hegelian, Von Clauswitz)

The moral question in war is not equivalency, but rather reciprocity. What is more, when we discuss the morality of war it is essential to discuss the friction and counter-position between the civilian morality of peace time, and the different morality that arises from the conflict itself.

The tension between these two moralities is very politically important. On the one side lie the professional military who Anatol Rapoport has described as seeing “war as an essential, productive and inspiring component of human existence” and with them stand the neo-Clauswitzian politicians who are prepared to use war as a rational instrument of foreign policy. On the other side is a constraint provided by a deeply felt general repugnance for war, and the use of violence, by most people in our peacetime society.

The political aims of the peace movement and the movement against the war in Iraq and elsewhere is aligned with the general moral sentiment against war. However, war itself unleashes an escalating corrosion of that moral constraint against violence.

For pacifists the issue is simple, that the violence of war is always morally wrong. However for those of us (all non-pacifists) who have only a contingent opposition to war, the moral issues are not so easy to grapple with. Matthew has himself said that he approved (and is still celebrating apparently) the assassination of Carerro Blanco.

This is all a pre-ample to my objection to Matthew’s misrepresentation of my position as: “AN's deplorable view that 'war' made the July 7th bombings legitimate”

These are very difficult issues, but all along Matthew has used perjorative adjectives, such as “deplorable” (and ruder!) rather than put forward his own alternative opinion on what the morally acceptable limits of the use of violence are, and more importantly, where do those moral limits come from, and upon whom do they apply.

I would point out that I have never engaged in an argument about the “legitimacy” of the 7/7 bombings. It is a problematic word that conflates legality with justifiability.

Matthew seems to feel my arguments are so self evidently wrong that they do not merit arguing against. Fair enough, but in which case stop being rude about my position as well.

If you do want a debate, then the questions are not easy:

What violence is morally acceptable?
What provides that moral justification, and to whom?
Can these abstract positions be reconciled with the asymmetrical wars against terror, and Islamist reaction?

As Mattehw apparently finds the arguments to these questions self evident, and my attempting to think it through offensive I will be pleased to read his position, as I probably will learn something (not sarcasm- but genuine interest on my part in Matthew’s reasoning)

AN said...

I meant "Ismalist reaction" to mean the reaction by Islamists to the war on terror.
Not to imply that islamists are politically reactionary (which admittedly some are)

badmatthew said...

I don't think I've misrepresented your view as I understand it Andy and I don't think saying 'deplorable' is at all rude and your response here, as before, is a mild indication of what puts me off a deeper engagement with you on this issue.

AN said...

Ok - I understand what you are saying there, but i think Jim and I did manage to have a reasonable discussion of the issue before that generated more light than heat.

And I am genuine in saying I would like to know what you think , and as I said in ealrier post this is not sarcasm on my part but genuine curisity.


And perosanaly i find "deploreabole" rude, but if you didn't intend it as rude, then fair enough.

Jim Jay said...

badmatthew - ok, i wasn't factually accurate - hands up - but i think my point stands despite the lazy lazy way i constructed the argument. he tried to discuss it rationally and it has been misrepresented in the press to appear as if the discussion was of a different character. but i accept in a post about accuracy i should have made more effort to be accurate myself. point taken.

i don't think describing someones views as deplorable is offensive either, although its probably not nice to have your views described as such. an said i was confused about the nature of war a little while ago, it wasn't nice to read it but i think it's best to try to take these things as part of arguing things out and try to stay away from personalising political discussion, i'm also sure he had no intention of being rude (so i didn't take it that way despite my irritation) - let's have more focus on the issues and problems as i think this is a discussion that has become very emotive and can easily slip into less constructive modes of dialogue.

i think andy's questions

"What violence is morally acceptable?
What provides that moral justification, and to whom?
Can these abstract positions be reconciled with the asymmetrical wars against terror, and Islamist reaction?"

are good ones and difficult ones unless we take either the pacifist or total war positions - and ones that should be explored thoroughly. we'll only be able to do that if we keep on speaking terms...

AN said...

There is no hope of getting to the bottom of what is and isn't rude, becasue that is reasonably subjective.

However the criticism I put forward to you Jim that I thought you were wrong about the nature of war was offered in the spirit of identifying the areas where we have disagreement.

But I am none the wiser what is actually "deplorable" about what I have argued.

AN said...

And actually I think Matthew has a point. On reflection I was worng to say that the following statement "misrepresented my position: "AN's deplorable view that 'war' made the July 7th bombings legitimate"

i have a real problem with the word "legitimate" because it rehashes all those sterile discussion sabout legitimate and illegitimate targets for example for the IRA, and also rasies issues of legality; but given that Matthew was attempting to summarise a complex position in only a very few words I admit it is not a "misrepresentation".

But I think this is a complex area and brevity cannot do justice to it.

Jim Jay said...

I'm fine with your criticism of me - although i disagree with it - i was raising it as an example of something that is legitimate, not rude and irritating at the same time.

Red and Green said...

Nuff said about George and the topping of Blair - Where was the oucry when Pat Roberts said that the uS had the means and should therefore top Hugo Chavez. Think perhaps Roberts actually meant it.

Jim Jay said...

Good point red and green - where were the horrified liberals then?

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