Friday, December 10, 2010

Immorality of War in Iraq

I made an argument regarding the war in Iraq a while back and I thought I'd run it by Dutko for fun. Here's the audio.

Truthfully it was hard during the latter half because I was having a lot of trouble hearing him, but still a good call. It's obvious he's unaware of basic facts about the world, going instead with his own intuitions about what is going on in his enemies' minds, disregarding actual evidence.

Note the various responses he offers which have so little contact with what I'm saying. Should Iran regard us as a threat he asks me? I say that we did impose a dictator on them and we did support Saddam's invasion in 1980. His response: "Well, we had to because Iran was regarded as a graver threat." OK, but that has nothing to do with what I'm saying. Would Iranians naturally regard us as a threat in light of Saddam's invasion? The answer is yes.

I sent a follow up email afterwards, which is below.

Sorry about the cross talk. I was having trouble hearing you. I heard you talking but I thought you paused to let me talk because I couldn't hear well.

Regarding Ahmadinejad, what I probably should have said is that it is debatable that he said "Wipe Isreael off the map." I've so often heard people say that he THREATENED to wipe Israel off the map that I took you to be saying that. He is not threatening Israel and to do so would be silly because if he were to try an attack he'd be annihilated rather quickly. His statement has been translated "Wipe Israel off the map" but that's been disputed. His statements on the whole show that yeah, he'd like Israel to disappear, but he doesn't intend to act violently towards them. He may be a wicked person but he doesn't seem to have a death wish.

He does recognize the right of Israel to exist though. He votes for a peaceful settlement and secure Israeli state every year. You can pretend it's a ruse, but it is his voting record.

The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 goes even further and says that they are ready to normalize relations with Israel, which is a step beyond the UN resolution. Iran is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference which supports the initiative.

And I don't think you ever answered my question. You say we are a danger to Iran if they continue to pursue nukes. Fine, we're a danger to them. The principle you advocate doesn't change. If (America/Iran) regards (Iraq/America) as a threat they are entitled to attack. That's your view, right? But you say Iran is doing dangerous things, building nukes, etc. That's very much debatable, but let's suppose it was true. The US does dangerous things as well, right? The US defense budget is about the same as the defense budgets of the rest of the world combined. The US is building all kinds of weapons to a much greater extent than Iran and has a much more aggressive history. So Iran has a moral right to attack the United States on your view, right?

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, right? That's the principle you need to consider.


I have to admit that when talking to Bob I really didn't understand where he was going in his argument and so my response was not exactly what it should have been. Honestly I regard his response as convoluted. I think I'm able to make sense of it after listening to it a second and third time. On the phone I really wasn't following him.

My claim is clear I believe. If the US is entitled to attack a state it regards as a threat then Iran is as well. Bob says no. His argument? Iran is a threat to Israel, a US ally, so the US is entitled to attack Iran. I was truly lost at this point. How does that change what I said? It's almost as if he's affirming the very principle that he just told me he denied. He's repeating the principle I already attributed to him. A state can attack another state if it regards it as a threat.

In the end he sort of admits that yes, Iran is entitled to attack the US in the sense that Hitler was entitled to attack Britain. Hitler was doing bad things and so Britain was moving towards war and I suppose Hitler would then have a right to repel Britain. But I would say this analogy doesn't apply. We're talking about something very different from an imminent attack. We're talking about an attack on a state that is not poised to strike us. That's the crux of the issue. We already know that attacks are permissible in order to repel an imminent attack according to international law. What's at issue is this new doctrine which says you can attack a state if you anticipate that at some point in the future they may be a threat to you. That's not the situation Hitler was in.

And also, by the way, Hitler had invaded and occupied various countries and this is why repelling him violently was justified. Which state is the world's leading invader and occupier? It's not Iran.

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