Mechanics of a Slaughter

Posted: June 24, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

David Hambling at Wired’s Danger Room blog ventures a guess as to why so many people died in the newest drone-strike embarrasment. According to eye-witnesses, the drones dropped bombs instead of firing missiles, fueling Hambling’s hunch:

…the Predator has now been joined by the much larger MQ-9 Reaper, which can carry a heavier payload, around three thousand pounds, including a large number of Hellfires and GBU-12 Paveway II and GBD-38 JDAM bombs. These are different types of 500-pound bomb, one with laser guidance and the other satellite guided. Both are based on the 1950’s-vintage Mk 82 bomb ; less than half the weight of the bomb bomb is explosive, and the rest is the steel casing. The reason for having such a thick casing is shrapnel: when the bomb detonates, the casing blows up like a balloon before bursting and spraying high-velocity steel fragments in all directions. It is these fragments, rather than blast, that do most of the damage.

Marc Herold, in looking at casualties in Afghanistan, quotes an ‘effective casualty radius’ for the Mk82 of 200 feet: this is radius inside which 50% of those exposed will die. Quite often the target is taking cover or lying down and the effect is reduced, but if you can catch people standing up or running then the full effective casualty radius will apply.

Someone please explain to me why we’re dropping quarter-ton, shrapnel-based bombs with a 200-foot effective kill radius on gatherings of people likely to include civilians in countries with which we are not officially at war.

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Comments
  1. […] Mechanics of a Slaughter posted on July 10th, 2009 at Return Good for Evil […]

  2. Dave says:

    Those blast radii are exaggerated, we’ve dropped these bombs within 50 meters of our own troops. Also we’re doing this because whether or not a state of war exists, we’re protecting our national interests, so quit being so fem.

    • dcrowe says:

      Hi Dave:

      I’m only going to say this once: sexism is not tolerated on this blog. You’ll be banned next time.

      Second: please offer alternative blast radii and sources for them, or stop wasting our time. I’ll be happy to post a link in the main body of the story should you do so. Maybe we shouldn’t be dropping them so close to our troops.

      Third: “National interest” is not a morally valid justification in any Christian sense, and I’m fairly sure it’s at best morally neutral in a secular sense. Try again.

      • J_Phred says:

        theI suppose that if we had a chance to take out Hitler or Tojo during the Second World War, you would have been opposed if their families or relatives (or even ordinary citizens for that matter) had been present?

        War is hell… get used to it.

      • dcrowe says:

        J_Phred:

        Better question for you: would Christ have opposed it?

        The answer is yes, I think. And it’s my answer too.

        The only thing I plan on getting used to is the idea that there are a million things worth dying for and none worth killing for.

        Another question for you: have you ever killed a person?

    • Sporkmaster says:

      I have to question you on the 50 meters. That just does not sound right at all. I mean I can relate to 50 meters because that is the closest target in BRM. But that is very close when you see a visual cues rather then just on paper.

  3. […] And if you think that the U.S. would never use a drone to drop that kind of weapon on a mass of noncombatants that might also contain Taliban heavies, you’d be wrong. […]

  4. […] And if you think that the U.S. would never use a drone to drop that kind of weapon on a mass of noncombatants that might also contain Taliban heavies, you’d be wrong. […]

  5. […] And if you think that the U.S. would never use a drone to drop that kind of weapon on a mass of noncombatants that might also contain Taliban heavies, you’d be wrong. […]

  6. redc1c4 says:

    “Someone please explain to me why we’re dropping quarter-ton, shrapnel-based bombs with a 200-foot effective kill radius on gatherings of people likely to include civilians in countries with which we are not officially at war.”

    we’re using them because we want to make sure the bad people are dead. these are the same bad people that routinely kill truly innocent people you are worried about, assuming, of course, that the “innocents” you are so worried about aren’t actually aiding and abetting their acts, which would make the valid targets also.

    given that the residents in the Tribal Areas of the Af/Pak border areas are nobody’s fools, and past masters of survival, it follows that anyone hanging around with a HVT, or even a low one knows by know that there standing next to a Hellfire magnet. this is called natural selection.

    this is a war, and all wars are ugly. however war is not the ugliest of things, as John Stuart Mill pointed out years ago.

    the big issue with a Mk-82, Snake-eye or otherwise (and all gravity or other unguided munitions, such as FFAR’s), is the CEP of where they land.

    that is what the big problem is with “danger close” since there are somewhat “to whom it may concern” in where they land. since we’re using JDAM on the drones, which would seem likely, than we’re mostly back to blast pattern as a “danger close” criteria, and then, at least for friendly or neutral concerns, it’s a matter of distance, terrain, cover, etc, as to how close is too close.

    the right cover, etc, and i’d be comfortable bringing in a JDAM Mk-82 within 50 meters of me…. the concussion would be something you’d likely remember all your born days, but hey, what a story for the Legion Hall. %-)

    besides, there’s every reason to believe they are, or can use the SDB, including the low frag FLM version discussed here: http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/missiles/sdb/docs/SDB_FLM_overview.pdf

    regardless of which munitions they are using, assuming that appropriate ROE are being utilized prior to weapon release, i fail to see what the problem is. better our enemies die than we do.

    • dcrowe says:

      Hi redc1c4:

      regardless of which munitions they are using, assuming that appropriate ROE are being utilized prior to weapon release, i fail to see what the problem is. better our enemies die than we do.

      Man, you picked the wrong blog on which to be making that argument. Return Good for Evil‘s perspective is one of Christian nonviolence, so you’ve obligated me to quote some Jesus at you:

      38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

      43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,* what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

      The bad assumption you make in your argument is that I accept your premise that there is a valid distinction between a friend and an enemy who wants to kill me that makes it okay for me to kill him. I don’t.

      • It’s nice to have a source of folk wisdom in which to quote instead of bringing it forth on your own account. That would be self righteousness. But many of those who condemn self righteousness are perfectly suited to have a drone controlling joy stick in their hand. Whether it’s left up to a Warlord in the center of the Universe, or some warlord commander in chief as the imagined head of a nation, what happens is; people die by remote responsibility. What difference does it make whether God defines the enemy or whether Obama’s handlers define it? The enemy is being defined for you.

        Christianity, the bane of civilization, is a devious route of distraction, distracting away from the morality that belongs to humankind if they will claim it; and not some monarch in the sky. It doesn’t take an official saint to know that killing civilians in the name of what-the-fuck is wrong; or that war is terrorism at it’s finest. Collateral damage is what the perpetrators of 911 figured into their plan. Only the most protracted mind rape could account for all the holes with heads buried in them; heads that can’t see from that viewpoint what was plainly a controlled demolition. Hello?

        Turn the other cheek? I don’t think so. But I’m going to make good and sure that I’ve got the person who’s slappin me and not someone who is alleged to be doing so.

        As many Christians are fond of repeating; hate the sin but love the sinner; I say hate the Christianity but love the Christian. Reason and honest science had this deception on the run and judiciously backed away. Now there are few places to turn where the God of Terror isn’t being preached. I think the average arachnid has more compassion than the God you are helping to raise up. They have dressed him up with all those unarguable virtues like: do to others as you would have them do to you. It’s a disguise. But it is also wisdom ever so generic and free. Every Afghan parent and child ripped apart by “coalition” bombs is an indictment against the humanity of those who fail to be counted amongst the dissenters. Is this how all you phony patriots and order sucking soldiers want to be done to. Why not be a true warrior in the name of true liberty; refuse the war in service to the corporate-military-industrial-congressional-mercenary-mass media-religious-complex. Not in my name people. The image that is held up as the model of manhood is beyond redemption. Too many are finding that out the hard way.

        If you want to bring conviction to these sad poor hawks of war, you need to reconsider the “education” that was forced upon them before they matured enough to reject it. This is were tolerance for contradiction is learned; where the words of liberty are spoken in an environment that is none of it. If the products of all this unresolved conflict isn’t coming from forced education, it’s freely delivered by the corporate mass media and the pulpit of Terror. The concept of collateral damage is an abomination. Bagram, Guantanamo, secret detention and torture facilities are all abomination. This is not an wake up call, but rather one to fight back by refusing to fight. The corporations running this atrocity can not conduct it without you. This patriotic act of refusal is the key to your redemption.

  7. […] A Six-Month Old Blog Post is Burning Up My Comment Feed 2009 December 16 tags: air strikes, airstrikes, civilian casualties, civilian deaths, drones by dcrowe You might as well join in. […]

  8. Scott says:

    “Someone please explain to me why we’re dropping quarter-ton, shrapnel-based bombs with a 200-foot effective kill radius on gatherings of people likely to include civilians in countries with which we are not officially at war.”

    Because a group of people that have no country (terrorists) declared war on us. They will *not* stop until we are gone from their Earth. And they have social functions like everybody else.

    So from time to time, when they get together for a wedding or a public stoning or other activity in God’s Paradise on Earth, they may get a 2000 lb reminder that *they* started this war.

    All they have to do is stop supporting al Queda and we’ll stop bombing them.

    Scott H

    • dcrowe says:

      Hi Scott:

      I find your use of “they” to be kind of ridiculous. Your flip treatment of the massacre of wedding parties and other civilian gatherings seems particularly vile–almost al-Qaida-esque. Everyone in Afghanistan / Pakistan who gets together in a group is fair game, eh?

      • Scott says:

        IF “they” are not helping us with this enemy, who lives in thier ranks, then yes, “they” are on notice. “They” that you defend so readily are the ones financing al Queda, “they” are the ones cheering in the streets when the towers fell.

        If “they” want to associate with terrorists, then “they” are taking thier lives in thier own hands.

        “Oh, Uncle Adbul is a member of al Queda!”
        “So? He’s still Uncle Abdul! We *have* to go to his wedding!”

        Too damn bad.

      • dcrowe says:

        Riiiight. Like a bunch of people who are Afghan at a wedding party are all fair game. You have a pretty astounding way of rewriting history…the wedding party incidents didn’t include people we thought were AQ–if I recall correctly, we made huge murderous errors that killed knots of the wrong people. How would you know if they were “helping” or not when you were wrong about who they were?

        I find your argument to be ridiculous. You rewrite the history of every screw up where people die into “whoops, well, they were not helping us with Al-Qaida.” Man up and own the mistake–don’t insult the rest of our intelligences by trying to make it their fault when a bomb falls on the heads of the wrong people.

        Grow up.

    • Dalin Hale says:

      I just searched for myself under the handle Pastor Tekmoses. I started using this moniker because of suspected censorship on the web. I here publicly announce this rather dated article at my site titled Killing Kontext that I think is still very much relevant if you can overlook the pop references that surely ruins the timeless theme that I chose. The only way that I know of to find my site is to type it directly into the browser. Once you get there, try taking any keywords that seem relevant to the article, including the title, the authors name, anything that I’ve written, and see if any search engine will give a return. It is not something any search spider has accepted except for when I changed my name on the site.
      Killing Kontext: home.earthlink.net/~zedjason (don’t forget the tilde) Please, get back to me if you discover something that I missed with respect to this suspicion. Dalin Hale: zedjason@earthlink.net
      I’ve been quite shy about promoting my website, perhaps because of the widespread overweening hatred for spam. It isn’t spam.

  9. Scott says:

    Dude, I’m older than you are. Grow up? Just as soon as the middle east starts taking care of itself instead of making us do it for them.

    EVERY person in the Middle East is in the position of either supporting terrorism or fighting it. I regret accidental bombings, but that happens in war. IN WW II we bombed entire city quarters trying to get single factories. I’d say hitting a wedding when aiming for something else is a VAST improvement.

    And if the people of the Middle East don’t like it, then perhaps they should help us by saying “HEY! They’re in THAT building over there!” and telling the truth when they say it.

    Otherwise, they *know* we are after the terrorists and are doing nothing to help. That makes them, in the eyes of our legal systems, accessories.

    Too Damned bad. It’s a big bad world out there and actions ahve consequences. And before you say “well, our actions may have consequences for us” – just take note that since we started bombing places to smithereens, no more airliners have been hijacked, no more landmarks have been destroyed while full of people.

    • dcrowe says:

      No, every person in the Middle East is not in the position of either supporting terrorism or fighting it. Kids? Women kept sequestered in their homes? People who live in the valleys of Afghanistan who are almost totally cut off? Your view is a nice, cartoonish worldview. Hence, the encouragement to grow up. Your age is irrelevant.

      Please don’t think that poining to WWII is going to fly. Hamburg, Dresden, etc., are not any sort of examples for moral behavior. All you mean by “it’s war” is that you’ve given people excuses to act like animals.

      And no, they are not “accessories in the eyes of our legal system.” That is just patently not true. Do you prosecute whole neighborhoods for their gang problems? No, you don’t.

      Everyone is responsible for their own actions, and I make no excuse for any act of violence. However, I’d note that your last paragraph is ridiculous on its face. Were we not bombing places to smithereens before 9/11? I’m not arguing causation–I’m just pointing out how blowing things up in the past did not prevent 9/11. And far more people have died in the conflict–in fact, far more civilians died in the conflict–than died on 9/11. If your response to that is, “yeah but they were Afghan people,” you better check your moral compass. It’s broke.

      • Scott says:

        A couple points and I’ll let you win. (It’s impolite to debate with the witless…)

        First, I have three sisters, descendants of Jews that survived the Holocaust, that would disagree that the daylight bombing of Europe was somehow immoral. Given how many the NAZIs killed, suggesting otherwise is hideous.

        To defeat the NAZIs it was militarily necessary to bomb Germany and some of the occupied countries. Period. While the effectiveness of the bombing, on the intended targets, was less than expected, the net effect was a necessary part of victory.

        As far as your gang reference, when the Crips & the Bloods destroy a skyscraper, you let me know. Al Queda is no different than the Barbary Pirates of the early 19th century – they are criminals acting on the world stage. When you are a criminal and your target is no longer an individual or a household, but an entire city, the rules are different – it is war, in all it’s blood and fury.

        *That* is how nation states conduct business. When you have read up some on how nations do business and can tell the difference between politics and international relations, let me know. Until then, kid, you’re just soembody with a keyboard and an opinion. My father was fond of saying that opinions are like assholes – everybody has one and most of them stink. The blogosphere has proven him right.

        Finally, regarding age – *YOU* are the one that raised that issue. At least be consistent and act like a grown up, okay? You’ll get more respect that way.

      • dcrowe says:

        Scott:

        Don’t try to baptize the indiscriminate bombing of civilians by appealing to saving Jews from the Holocaust. Scapegoating a civilian population for the setbacks of a military endeavor, by the way, is a good chunk of what led to the Holocaust. But you get the reductio ad Hitlerum prize for this conversation. Grats. It makes your argument look ridiculous to anyone who knows their history. It’s a well-worn response, but worth repeating: we didn’t enter the war to save any Jews (with our president and first lady at the time being pretty overtly disdainful of social interaction with Jews, I might add). Once we found out about the Holocaust, we refused to bomb the railways that were used to transport Jews to the death camps because we wanted them in place for other strategic reasons. We acted in naked, perceived national self-interest. Your excuse-making for the barbarity of intentional targeting of civilian populations is truly breathtaking. This justification is just as morally transparent and repugnant as a hypothetical doctor intentionally murdering a patient and then justifying it by saying the body provided a kidney for a needed transplant.

        Re: the gang violence reference, I note you’ve neatly avoided dealing with my analogy’s challenge to your argument about the culpability of people living in the same geographic region as the criminals we target.

        I didn’t raise the issue of age: I raised the issue of maturity, and I’ll point out once more that behind the pseudo-seriousness of phrases like “blood and fury,” you’re positing a view of good and evil and moral responsibility that works in a comic book, but is morally repugnant in real life.

  10. Scott says:

    Mr. Crowe,
    Seeing your response, I feel the need to educate you. Making a valid reference to a war that actually occurred is not “ridiculous”. The discussion is about bombing in one form and a adding to that discussion historical references and their impact on history – that is, hastening the end of WW II – is legitimate scholarship. Your “reductio ad Hitlerum” succeeds only in marginalizing your opinion.

    The Second World War was sped to a conclusion by the destruction of the Luftwaffe. This powerful force was destroyed in just a year by the daylight bombing of Western Europe by the US 8th Air Force and RAF Bomber Command. This was accomplished by bombing the heartland of Germany and forcing the withdrawal of the Luftwaffe from over the battlefields of Europe to combat the threat of the bombers. While the bombing of Europe failed to hammer German industry as it was expected, it did force the Luftwaffe into a battle of attrition it could only lose.

    The upside? The Luftwaffe was NOT over the battlefields where the armies were fighting, giving the Allies air supremacy. This permitted a far swifter conclusion to the war and saved many innocent lives.

    Your grasp (rather, the lack of it) of military history and military matters is, sadly, staggering.

    You state that the US refused to bomb railways that the death trains used. It would have wasted lives of airmen for a useless mission. A study in 1943, shortly after we began bombing Germany, showed that the damage inflicted by targeting railways was easily repaired by the Germans, often in less than 12 hours. This was at great risk to our aircrews. The policy was, therefore, to concentrate on targets that would suffer damage that took longer to repair.

    The “Transportation Plan” was put into effect at the beginning of the invasion of France. This plan included the bombing of railways – to the point that factories and cities weren’t being hit at all – in order to achieve a period of maximum disruption of the railway network as our forces landed and assembled strength. Because of the months’-long abstinence from railway attacks, it was a brilliant success and succeeded in disrupting the movement of German forces to the invastion area, forcing some to travel by road, allowing them to be attacked again and again by partisans and fighter bombers, bleeding them white. Some German units were so exhausted by the march to the front, they needed a two week period to absorb replacements and new equipment.

    As to the gang reference, I avoided nothing. An analogy has to actually have a link to the topic. Yours did not. I therefore disregarded your lousy logic and substituted a better analogy, alas, one you could not grasp.

    I would say that, generally, your grasp of history and intellectual, academic discussion and debate are, well, adolescent. War is a brutal thing, terrible in all regards. A child of your tender years (What – 20, 24?) cannot know such things living, as you do, in a society that so well protects you from the big bad world. My use of blood and fury aren’t attempts at drama, they are merely used for emphasis. Having served this country (the US) in the military, I never take combat or battle in a less than completely serious manner. People die in war, nobody can change that.

    Well, the Middle East could have, preemptively, had they simply found a better way to get along. They set this stage we all strut upon, now, over the period of my lifetime, the last 50 years. They could have set a different stage and called a different tune. Instead, they chose the path of the drumbeat. Their bad.

    Scott H

    • dcrowe says:

      Scott:

      Your grasp (rather, the lack of it) of military history and military matters is, sadly, staggering.

      Please. When one is attempting to whitewash a decision to incinerate civilians in intentionally caused firestorms by implying we did it so “save the Jews,” one should offer no lectures on history. The rebuttal that you’ve offered in no way challenges the argument that we did not enter WWII to save the Jews nor base our strategic decisions on liberating the camps in any way. Well done. One could buy your entire rebuttal and still have no indication that we fought WWII to liberate camps. When one attempts to shore up your implications and bad assertions with ad hominem arguments (I’m 29, by the way, but that’s neither here nor there), you’re not doing yourself any favors.

      As to the gang reference, I avoided nothing. An analogy has to actually have a link to the topic. Yours did not. I therefore disregarded your lousy logic and substituted a better analogy, alas, one you could not grasp.

      I grasped your reasoning just fine, and found it faulty. Are you going to continue to hurl these kinds of barbs instead of addressing the point made? Let me repeat: you stated that

      Otherwise, they *know* we are after the terrorists and are doing nothing to help. That makes them, in the eyes of our legal systems, accessories.

      I rebutted that this false. Please cite the relevant law and legal precedent. You’re grasping at straws to defend an indefensible (both legally and morally) attribution of culpability on people who are the victims of airstrikes that kill them. Try again.

      Having served this country (the US) in the military, I never take combat or battle in a less than completely serious manner.

      Nobody said you treated combat or battle in an unserious way. The accusation that was made was that you have an overly simplistic, comic book view of good, evil, and moral culpability when it comes to the deaths of civilians. Throwing around phrases like “blood and fury” and making appeals to authority don’t disprove the point.

      Well, the Middle East could have, preemptively, had they simply found a better way to get along. They set this stage we all strut upon, now, over the period of my lifetime, the last 50 years. They could have set a different stage and called a different tune. Instead, they chose the path of the drumbeat. Their bad.

      Again, there you go, lumping millions of people into a category that makes it okay for you to kill them or disregard their deaths with a shrug. Further, it discounts our role in the Middle East over the last 50 years. Your bad.

      • Scott says:

        dcrowe

        Scott:

        >> Your grasp (rather, the lack of it) of military history and military matters is, >> sadly, staggering.

        >Please. When one is attempting to whitewash a decision to incinerate civilians in >intentionally caused firestorms by implying we did it so “save the Jews,” one >should offer no lectures on history.

        I make no such assertion. It was war. The massed bombing of Europe did little to save the Jews, Romany, and other persecuted groups *except* to speed the end of the war. It had no direct result on thier fate, only an indirect one. Learn to read.

        > The rebuttal that you’ve offered in no way challenges the argument that we
        > did not enter WWII to save the Jews nor base our strategic decisions on
        > liberating the camps in any way.

        That would be because we did not enter the war with that aim. It became a secondary aim, but it was impossible for FDR to sell the war on that basis, alone. And since your grasp of history is so poor, the United States did not, in fact, declare war on Germany. Germany declared war on the United States. We entered the war because the Germans foisted it on us.

        > Well done. One could buy your entire rebuttal and still have no indication that
        > we fought WWII to liberate camps.

        Odd. I thought we fought the Germans because they declared war on us and started sinking our ships. The US was unprepared, in 1941, to go to war over the groups the Germans were persecuting and killing wholesale. It is a sad fact. But once we *were* at war, it became a secondary war aim to stop the killing by defeating Germany.

        > When one attempts to shore up your implications and bad assertions with ad
        > hominem arguments (I’m 29, by the way, but that’s neither here nor there),
        > you’re not doing yourself any favors.

        Any ad hominems I throw out are for fun. My facts stand on thier own merit.

        >> As to the gang reference, I avoided nothing. An analogy has to actually have
        >> a link to the topic. Yours did not. I therefore disregarded your lousy logic and
        >> substituted a better analogy, alas, one you could not grasp.

        > I grasped your reasoning just fine, and found it faulty. Are you going to
        > continue to hurl these kinds of barbs instead of addressing the point made?
        > Let me repeat: you stated that

        >> Otherwise, they *know* we are after the terrorists and are doing nothing to
        >> help. That makes them, in the eyes of our legal systems, accessories.

        > I rebutted that this false. Please cite the relevant law and legal precedent.
        > You’re grasping at straws to defend an indefensible (both legally and morally)
        > attribution of culpability on people who are the victims of airstrikes that kill
        > them. Try again.

        Now you’ve done it.

        Go to the Avalon Project, read the Geneva and Hague Conventions. *LEARN* Something on the topic you wish to discuss. Obviously, I cannot reach you, I haven’t the skills.

        >> Having served this country (the US) in the military, I never take combat or
        >> battle in a less than completely serious manner.

        > Nobody said you treated combat or battle in an unserious way.

        Yes, you did. You can either mealy-mouth your way around it or man up, but that is what you meant. You didn’t like what I said, the tone I used, and you got your dander up.

        > The accusation that was made was that you have an overly simplistic, comic
        > book view of good, evil, and moral culpability when it comes to the deaths of
        > civilians.

        Whose civilians? The 2976 in New York, Arlington, and Lancaster Co, PA?

        > Throwing around phrases like “blood and fury” and making appeals to
        > authority don’t disprove the point.

        If you disprove of “blood and fury”, a decent description of what happens on the battlefield, you should keep to your coloring books.

        >> Well, the Middle East could have, preemptively, had they simply found a
        >> better way to get along. They set this stage we all strut upon, now, over the
        >> period of my lifetime, the last 50 years. They could have set a different stage
        >> and called a different tune. Instead, they chose the path of the drumbeat.
        >> Their bad.

        > Again, there you go, lumping millions of people into a category that makes it
        > okay for you to kill them or disregard their deaths with a shrug. Further, it
        > discounts our role in the Middle East over the last 50 years. Your bad.

        The millions you speak of support terrorists or at the least refuse to identify them to the authorities. Our role in the last 50 years in the Middle East includes making many of their rulers filthy rich – but I assert it is not our fault that they have corrupt rulers – they could have gotten rid of them long ago had they choose to. We also brought to the Middle East medicine, electricity in many nations, and other benefits, such as diplomatic recognition and fair trade.

        I love how folks like you can only see the bad. Do you have *any* idea where the Middle East would be if there was no Western world? Pretty much waht it is right now, the asshole of the world, but even worse.

      • dcrowe says:

        Okay Scott:

        Compare this later quote:

        The massed bombing of Europe did little to save the Jews, Romany, and other persecuted groups *except* to speed the end of the war. It had no direct result on thier fate, only an indirect one. Learn to read.

        To this other quote:

        First, I have three sisters, descendants of Jews that survived the Holocaust, that would disagree that the daylight bombing of Europe was somehow immoral. Given how many the NAZIs killed, suggesting otherwise is hideous.

        I’ll correct an accusation I levelled your way: I said you were making a connection for why we went to war an the fate of the Jews in Europe. I will retract it. However, it’s absolutely clear that you’re using “the rescue of the Jews” generally to justify the mass killing of civilians (and you admit that the decision to undertake that slaughter had nothing to do with the saving of the Jews), so I’m not sure how that retraction will add any moral weight to your argument. But there you go.

        It became a secondary aim, but it was impossible for FDR to sell the war on that basis, alone. And since your grasp of history is so poor, the United States did not, in fact, declare war on Germany. Germany declared war on the United States. We entered the war because the Germans foisted it on us.

        Now it’s your turn to learn to read, Scott. Do you see the words “declare war on Germany” anywhere in my post? I know you know the distinction between entering a war and declaring war. I also grasp that distinction.

        Go to the Avalon Project, read the Geneva and Hague Conventions. *LEARN* Something on the topic you wish to discuss. Obviously, I cannot reach you, I haven’t the skills.

        If you think for one second that the Geneva and Hague conventions can be used to prosecute “the people of the Middle East” generally under your description of corporate culpability, or more specifically, any of the noncombatants killed in, say, Bala Baluk, then you are absolutely right–you do lack the skills to teach me. Fail.

        Yes, you did. You can either mealy-mouth your way around it or man up, but that is what you meant. You didn’t like what I said, the tone I used, and you got your dander up.

        The first two sentences in the above quote are false. The latter is true. See prior response. I will be the arbiter of what I meant, thank you very much.

        The millions you speak of support terrorists or at the least refuse to identify them to the authorities.

        Yeah okay you are being ridiculous at this point on this point. Either come up with a better way of attributing culpability for terrorism than tarring millions of people for living in or near countries where it takes place or please stop commenting. Since we brought up the Holocaust, this is only a fair question: There are likely a great many people in your country plotting anti-Semitic acts right now against citizens of the state of Israel. Under your standard for culpability, you (even though you probably don’t know where any of these people are or who they are) are fair game for a military attack by the state of Israel. You’d be culpable under your own standard. You’re coming very close to being a bigot with this argument.

        Our role in the last 50 years in the Middle East includes making many of their rulers filthy rich – but I assert it is not our fault that they have corrupt rulers – they could have gotten rid of them long ago had they choose to. We also brought to the Middle East medicine, electricity in many nations, and other benefits, such as diplomatic recognition and fair trade.

        I love how folks like you can only see the bad. Do you have *any* idea where the Middle East would be if there was no Western world? Pretty much waht it is right now, the asshole of the world, but even worse.

        Sigh. I did not make the blanket claim on this point–you did. I said your statement failed to recognize our role; I made no further assertion. And for someone who does math in Arabic numbers, some humility should be called for re: the worth of Middle East culture.

  11. Colin says:

    We are doing this because we are actually foolish enough to think that people like you and your family are worth protecting.

  12. Colin says:

    BTW – I have to ask you why you think that it is somehow moral for an enemy to surround himself with civilians in an attempt to be shielded from attack or in an attempt to ensure than an attack kills innocents?

    Shouldn’t you be criticising him for deliberately placing civilians in harms way?

    Or do you need to have your own ‘moral compass’ recalibrated.

    Clue for the clueless: Under International Law it si the responsibility of the defender to ensure that civilians are kept away from military targets. What you are so busy ranting about is in fact – just another Taliban war crime.

    • dcrowe says:

      I don’t think it is moral. Never said that. I do blame people for putting civilians in harm’s way. But please don’t try to assert that we have no culpability for incidents like those in Bala Baluk, Kunduz, etc. That’s just ridiculous on its face.

      I have no influence or constituent/representative relationship with Taliban or other insurgents. I have that with my government, so if my goal is to change policy rather than just rant in general, I have to spend my time on things I have an opportunity to influence. I assume people know that AQ and the Mullah-Omar-type Taliban commit crimes and various deplorable acts. You knew that already, for example.

      • Colin says:

        So you are admitting that you have no better ideas? All you are doing here is criticising other people who know more about the subject that you can ever hope to?

        And for example: are you willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of allowing these people to continue to operate? Or are you going to sit back and criticise us for failing to prevent a terrorist attack on civilians because we did what you wanted us to do?

        The fact of the matter is that all you have is an opinion that is based on ignorance. You come here and act morally superior to us putzes who have had to in the real world try to figure out the risk to civilians form our next operation.

        And yes, I have been there. During my tour in Iraq I served as part of a team whose job was to attempt to predict the expected level of risk to civilians from a planned operation. I had to look at maps and consider the charistics of our ammunition then try to use claculation, expierence andintuition to figure out the best place to site a heavy weapon to get the necessary military effect with the lowest risk to civilians. And guess what happened if I guessed wrong or there was a factor that I was not aware of?

        And unless you have had to tell ‘the boss’ if it was safe to fire a tank main gun at a speficic target in a village without killing civilians a few houses away – based off of nothing but an overhead picture – in 15 seconds. You have no room to be spouting your drivel.

        It seems to have come as a surprise to you that war sucks. Well guess what – we have to make ethical and moral decisions that you would not be capible of doing. Do you think that the risk to civilians is not factored into those attacks?

        Do you really think that we would conduct that attack if we did not feel that not doing so would kill even more people in the long run?

        Personally, I don believe you are thinking. You are simply somebody who sits safe on his couch and criticizes those people who have to make some of the hardest and worst decisions imaginable.

        And you act so superior because you are free from this responsibility.

        Finally sir. People like yourself are the reason I decided that the American people are not worth protecting.

      • dcrowe says:

        Colin:

        So you are admitting that you have no better ideas? All you are doing here is criticising other people who know more about the subject that you can ever hope to?

        Huh? I don’t understand where you think you see such an admission.

        And for example: are you willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of allowing these people to continue to operate?

        I reject the premise that current U.S. policy is preventing terrorism.

        Or are you going to sit back and criticise us for failing to prevent a terrorist attack on civilians because we did what you wanted us to do?

        I’m curious as to what you think it is I want you to do.

        The fact of the matter is that all you have is an opinion that is based on ignorance. You come here and act morally superior to us putzes who have had to in the real world try to figure out the risk to civilians form our next operation.

        Correction, you came here. This is a blog based on a perspective of Christian nonviolence. Let’s not act like I walked into the legion hall and started a sit in. On the other hand, if you’re working hard to protect civilians, I’m not sure how you feel criticized from the above conversation. Are you a drone operator?

        And unless you have had to tell ‘the boss’ if it was safe to fire a tank main gun at a speficic target in a village without killing civilians a few houses away – based off of nothing but an overhead picture – in 15 seconds. You have no room to be spouting your drivel.

        Please. This is like saying I have no right to comment about whether it’s immoral to steal or kill unless I’ve stolen or killed before. If you want to say that you have unique experiences that shape your judgment, fine. But let’s make a deal: I’ll be happy to debate with you on this topic as long as you like from any angle you like, but let’s actually have a conversation rather than trying to disqualify each other from being able to make moral judgments.

        It seems to have come as a surprise to you that war sucks.

        It would certainly surprise me that anyone could think anyone would be surprised that war sucks. That’s like saying “you seem surprised that the plague sucks.”

        we have to make ethical and moral decisions that you would not be capible of doing.

        Being willing to chose options that someone else finds morally repugnant does not mean you are able to make decisions of which the other person is not capable.

        Do you really think that we would conduct that attack if we did not feel that not doing so would kill even more people in the long run?

        Again, are you a drone operator? What we’re discussing is the use of drones in Pakistan and the way they’re used. I think we’re trying to kill our enemies, and I think we are conducting the attacks because we are afraid that if we don’t more Americans will die, which is a different decision than whether we thing more total people will die.

        Personally, I don believe you are thinking. You are simply somebody who sits safe on his couch and criticizes those people who have to make some of the hardest and worst decisions imaginable. And you act so superior because you are free from this responsibility.

        If you think I’m coming off as “superior,” then I apologize. It’s almost impossible to have a heated debate about morality without each side seeming holier-than-thou. For example, your above comment seems quite condescending. So I’ll watch my tone if you’ll do the same.

        But to your point, you are correct, I sit in a place of relative safety, and I do criticize the decisions of people who make choices I find in violation of my own morality. To say that, though, is not enough to prove the criticisms invalid. If you want to talk about what makes you tick and what shapes your decision-making, feel free. You’ll find that we’ll have a very civil conversation, even if it gets heated. Here’s where I get the standards to which I try to adhere when it comes to the question of violence.

        Finally sir. People like yourself are the reason I decided that the American people are not worth protecting.

        I don’t think you’d be so shallow as to make that kind of decision about a person based on a single post on a single blog. Maybe you should describe a little more what kind of person you think I am.

  13. Scott says:

    >>> The rebuttal that you’ve offered in no way challenges the argument that we
    >>> did not enter WWII to save the Jews nor base our strategic decisions on
    >>> liberating the camps in any way.

    >> That would be because we did not enter the war with that aim. It became a
    >> secondary aim, but it was impossible for FDR to sell the war on that basis,
    >> alone. And since your grasp of history is so poor, the United States did not, in
    >> fact, declare war on Germany. Germany declared war on the United States.
    >> We entered the war because the Germans foisted it on us.

    > Now it’s your turn to learn to read, Scott. Do you see the words “declare war
    > on Germany” anywhere in my post? I know you know the distinction between
    > entering a war and declaring war. I also grasp that distinction.

    It didn’t seem like it to me. Perhaps you should either be more specific or accept that composition isn’t your thing. Looking over the entire segment, all three references, it seems to me that how we entered the war was, in your mind, a decision on our part. I was merely making it clear, since so many of your generation aren’t aware of it, that we did not decalre war on Germany.

    • dcrowe says:

      Scott:

      When you quote, can you add blockquote tags around the section you’re quoting? It will make it much easier to read.

      It didn’t seem like it to me. Perhaps you should either be more specific or accept that composition isn’t your thing. Looking over the entire segment, all three references, it seems to me that how we entered the war was, in your mind, a decision on our part. I was merely making it clear, since so many of your generation aren’t aware of it, that we did not decalre war on Germany.

      I can see how you would think that, but no, I was under the same impression that you were. You want to know what’s funny? We were both wrong. Turns out, in fact, that we did declare war on Germany following their declaration vs. us.

      Alright look–you and I have been arguing all day long. Let’s do our readers a favor and lower the temperature. I’ll commit to not responding in kind re: the latest barb and to keeping my tone in check for the duration of the discussion if you’ll do the same.

  14. Scott says:

    Colin:
    So you are admitting that you have no better ideas? All you are doing here is criticising other people who know more about the subject that you can ever hope to?

    Crowe:
    Huh? I don’t understand where you think you see such an admission.

    Scott:
    Your nobless-oblige attitude, for starters.

    Colin:
    And for example: are you willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of allowing these people to continue to operate?

    Crowe:
    I reject the premise that current U.S. policy is preventing terrorism.

    Scott:
    Then please show me how many skyscrapers, bridges, and other people-filled landmarks have been destroyed since 9-12-01. Oh, that’s right, you can’t, because our troops overseas were such an easier target, al Queda is fighting them there.

    Colin:
    Or are you going to sit back and criticise us for failing to prevent a terrorist attack on civilians because we did what you wanted us to do?

    Crowe:
    I’m curious as to what you think it is I want you to do.

    Scott:
    Well, it would seem you want us to pull all our troops out of Afgahnistan and Iraq, regardless of the cost.

    Of course, this ignores the lessons of history and it smacks of hypocrisy. You cannot castigate the US for being there and use “our role in the middle east” as your foundation and then say we should rush to disengage. It shows a remarkable lack of forethought about the consequences.
    You see, Mr. Crowe, if we pulled out, suddenly, then we’d create the very kind of problems you already lay at our doorstep.
    The Administration can’t win with you and that isn’t honest debate. It’s exactly what Colin says –

    “The fact of the matter is that all you have is an opinion that is based on ignorance. You come here and act morally superior to us putzes who have had to in the real world try to figure out the risk to civilians form our next operation.”

    Crowe:
    Correction, you came here. This is a blog based on a perspective of Christian nonviolence.

    Scott:
    Christians – there’s one for the record book. Christianity has accounted for more death and privation than any other religion.

    Crowe:
    Let’s not act like I walked into the legion hall and started a sit in.

    Scott:
    Regardless, you put it out there and allow commentary by the public. You got what you wanted, even if you didn’t want what you got.

    Crowe:
    On the other hand, if you’re working hard to protect civilians, I’m not sure how you feel criticized from the above conversation. Are you a drone operator?

    Scott:
    Irrelevant. If Colin was there, then he was part of the team. The drone operators can’t release without intelligence on the targets, the intel guys can’t pass it on if such a release would cross the line on endangering civilians. You can either damn all of the military and civilian chain of command, or you can’t damn any of them.

    Colin:
    And unless you have had to tell ‘the boss’ if it was safe to fire a tank main gun at a speficic target in a village without killing civilians a few houses away – based off of nothing but an overhead picture – in 15 seconds. You have no room to be spouting your drivel.

    Crowe:
    Please. This is like saying I have no right to comment about whether it’s immoral to steal or kill unless I’ve stolen or killed before.

    Scott:
    No, it is saying that until you have taken responsibility, *real* responsibility, in your life, you have no *moral* standing to judge others actions.

    And while we are at it, you are passing judgment without all the relevant information. Doesn’t Christ say something to the effect “Judge not, lest ye be judged?” I could be wrong, here, but I’m pretty sure what you are doing, saying this is wrong and that is immoral is passing judgment.

    Crowe:
    If you want to say that you have unique experiences that shape your judgment, fine. But let’s make a deal: I’ll be happy to debate with you on this topic as long as you like from any angle you like, but let’s actually have a conversation rather than trying to disqualify each other from being able to make moral judgments.

    Scott:
    Now you admit you are doing that which only God should do.

    Colin:
    It seems to have come as a surprise to you that war sucks.

    Crowe:
    It would certainly surprise me that anyone could think anyone would be surprised that war sucks. That’s like saying “you seem surprised that the plague sucks.”

    Scott:
    To rephrase: You seem surprised that, in war, bad things happen, totally by chance and accident, to good people.

    More specifically, you judge the actions of others out of context and with less than all the facts. Why do you do this? Does it assuage some guilt you may feel?

    Colin:
    we have to make ethical and moral decisions that you would not be capible of doing.

    Crowe:
    Being willing to chose options that someone else finds morally repugnant does not mean you are able to make decisions of which the other person is not capable.

    Scott:
    I truly believe that, since you self-identify as a Non-Violent Christian, would mean to me that you *are* incapable of making life or death decisions involving violence to others.

    Colin:
    Do you really think that we would conduct that attack if we did not feel that not doing so would kill even more people in the long run?

    Crowe:
    Again, are you a drone operator? What we’re discussing is the use of drones in Pakistan and the way they’re used. I think we’re trying to kill our enemies, and I think we are conducting the attacks because we are afraid that if we don’t more Americans will die, which is a different decision than whether we thing more total people will die.

    Scott:
    So as long as we send out soldiers in to die, it’s okay? Your statement seems to indicate this is your belief.
    The problem is, to most people, killing the enemy with little or no loss of your own soldier’s lives, that’s a GOOD thing.
    And just to be clear – just because we might send men in to fight doesn’t mean that will end casualties among civilians. As a matter of fact, those casualties would sharply increase.

    Crowe:
    But to your point, you are correct, I sit in a place of relative safety, and I do criticize the decisions of people who make choices I find in violation of my own morality.

    Scott:
    That wasn’t his point. His point was that you sit safe and comfy criticizing people that have to live with the decisions they have made that can and do get people, sometimes innocent civilians, killed.
    You really don’t understand military service and it’s demands. You are clearly of the crowd that think that anyone that volunteers for military service must be a sociopath. If you don’t, then consider the ramifications.
    If you find what’s going on morally repugnant, and do not think those that volunteer for service to be sociopaths, then it stands to reason that those that serve must carry out orders they find morally wrong.
    Had it occurred to you, for an *instant* what kind of burden this must be? Had it occurred to you that your words could *hurt* those living with the decisions they have made, the orders they have carried out?

    Like it or not, since 9-12-01, there have been no successful attacks on the US, by al Queda, on our soil. The fighting overseas has functioned like a magnet – placing our men and women geographically close to the enemy has made it easy for the enemy to seek us out and engage us – far from US shores. If we must fight them, we must fight them at home or far from it. I submit that far from it is better for *us* and like it or not, a nation must, first, look to it’s own interests when dealing with people that will blow themselves up just to kill a handful of their enemies.

    Crowe:
    Here’s where I get the standards to which I try to adhere when it comes to the question of violence.

    Scott:
    And what is your suggestion for dealing with a group that does NOT want to negotiate anything but our mass suicide?

    Colin:
    Finally sir. People like yourself are the reason I decided that the American people are not worth protecting.

    Crowe:
    I don’t think you’d be so shallow as to make that kind of decision about a person based on a single post on a single blog. Maybe you should describe a little more what kind of person you think I am.

    Scott:
    Far more common that *I’d* like. Unwilling to defend that with provides for your defense.

    I wonder, do you *really* think people join the military so they can get a chance to kill someone and not go to prison for it? Do you really think that military personnel *like* violence?

    • dcrowe says:

      Scott:

      I’m assuming you missed my last comment while preparing this. So, I’ll do my best to respond to this in the spirit of my prior comment.

      Your nobless-oblige attitude, for starters.

      Yeah you’re going to have to explain the use of noblesse oblige in this context. In what way am I offering help as a condescension?

      Then please show me how many skyscrapers, bridges, and other people-filled landmarks have been destroyed since 9-12-01. Oh, that’s right, you can’t, because our troops overseas were such an easier target, al Queda is fighting them there.

      You’re right I can’t, because such an argument would be an argument from silence or post hoc ergo propter hoc, which are both logical fallacies. Islamic terrorism worldwide, excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, increased dramatically this year, by the way, during a period of increased application of military force in Af/Pak and before the drawdown begins in Iraq.

      Well, it would seem you want us to pull all our troops out of Afgahnistan and Iraq, regardless of the cost..You cannot castigate the US for being there and use “our role in the middle east” as your foundation and then say we should rush to disengage.

      You’re making assumptions about what I mean when i say “our role in the Middle East.” I do want the U.S. to remove all troops from those countries, however. But you’re inventing hypocrisy through bad assumptions.

      Christians – there’s one for the record book. Christianity has accounted for more death and privation than any other religion.

      Yes, it has, mostly because people in power manipulated it to baptize their power plays. Hence this blog’s frequent attacks on the messages of Christians who want to use Jesus as a cultural unifier for violent enterprises like war while ignoring his teachings of love and nonviolence.

      Regardless, you put it out there and allow commentary by the public. You got what you wanted, even if you didn’t want what you got.

      My comment referred not to the fact that you and him are here debating with me, but with the “you come in here..etc.” comment. The default for this blog is Christian nonviolence. You come in here.

      You can either damn all of the military and civilian chain of command, or you can’t damn any of them.

      What patent crap. Drones operating in Pakistan are likely under the purview of the CIA, which is a subdivision of the Department of the Treasury, which is not in the military chain of command. Reports indicate they pay local informers to place chips at target sites.

      No, it is saying that until you have taken responsibility, *real* responsibility, in your life, you have no *moral* standing to judge others actions.

      Define “real responsibility,” then. Because right now, it seems like you conveniently define *real* responsibility down to a sphere that just includes people in the military. Please define.

      Doesn’t Christ say something to the effect “Judge not, lest ye be judged?” I could be wrong, here, but I’m pretty sure what you are doing, saying this is wrong and that is immoral is passing judgment.

      I’d question your definition and use of the quote. To subscribe to any ethical system, one has to be able to make distinctions between moral and immoral behavior. To even subscribe to the Ten Commandments, for example, one must be willing to say “doing this is wrong.”

      Now you admit you are doing that which only God should do.

      See above. You’re just being silly now.

      To rephrase: You seem surprised that, in war, bad things happen, totally by chance and accident, to good people.

      More specifically, you judge the actions of others out of context and with less than all the facts. Why do you do this? Does it assuage some guilt you may feel?

      Oh please, Scott. Do save the psychoanalysis. In case you missed what I was saying with my flip answer to Colin: both his original statement and your rephrase are silly. That’s like saying “gee you seemed surprised that bad things happen during a plague.” Why would I be against war if I didn’t think bad things happened during war?

      I truly believe that, since you self-identify as a Non-Violent Christian, would mean to me that you *are* incapable of making life or death decisions involving violence to others.

      Let’s clarify: my comment above had to do with Colin’s statement which I interpreted as meaning that a nonviolent Christian would avoid making a hard-case decision. What I meant in my reply to him was that I would hope that in that situation, I would make a different choice, one that did not elevate my survival above the other’s. This involves making a life or death decision, but refuses to contemplate killing other people. In short, in such a situation, a nonviolent Christian must be willing to die rather than kill.

      So as long as we send out soldiers in to die, it’s okay? Your statement seems to indicate this is your belief.

      That’s…not even remotely what I meant. I think you’re trying to make everything I say seem combative and outrageous. Having re-read it, I’m still not seeing how you’re getting that from what I wrote.

      And just to be clear – just because we might send men in to fight doesn’t mean that will end casualties among civilians. As a matter of fact, those casualties would sharply increase.

      Why would I be arguing for more men to be going in to fight? Most civilian casualties in Afghanistan caused by our side are caused by airstrikes called in for support of troops in contact.

      That wasn’t his point. His point was that you sit safe and comfy criticizing people that have to live with the decisions they have made that can and do get people, sometimes innocent civilians, killed.

      Let’s let Colin describe what he means.

      You really don’t understand military service and it’s demands. You are clearly of the crowd that think that anyone that volunteers for military service must be a sociopath. If you don’t, then consider the ramifications.

      I don’t think that at all, Scott. Please stop making so many assumptions about me. You don’t know me. I think people join the military for all sorts of reasons. I don’t even think that people who sit comfortably on their couch, or who join the military but never serve in combat, but still feel comfortable cheering on people into situations of actual carnage which they’ve never experienced, are sociopaths (Chris Hitchens comes to mind, for example). What I think is that most people are trying to do what they think is right, and are acting on what they think is the most powerful way to combat evil and injustice in the world. My contention is that their assumption about violence being the most vigorous way to wage that struggle is flawed.

      If you find what’s going on morally repugnant, and do not think those that volunteer for service to be sociopaths, then it stands to reason that those that serve must carry out orders they find morally wrong.

      No. See above. You’re assuming that I think people are sociopaths who don’t agree with all the premises built into my ethical system.

      Had it occurred to you, for an *instant* what kind of burden this must be? Had it occurred to you that your words could *hurt* those living with the decisions they have made, the orders they have carried out?

      Scott, you are making more and more assumptions as we continue here, and it’s tiresome. I realize that you wrote this entire comment all at once, and my responding to it piecemeal as if we’re having a back and forth gives the unfair impression that you continue down a line of thought after I’ve corrected a bad assumption, but the simple fact is that I’m done with answering these kinds of assumptions. Cut it out.

      And what is your suggestion for dealing with a group that does NOT want to negotiate anything but our mass suicide?

      Nonviolent struggle is not negotiation. If you really want a good answer to that question and you’re not just asking a rhetorical question, order this book. It’s hard to find–most copies sell for around 60-100 bucks online, but you can get it direct from the publisher for half that if you call in by phone.

      I wonder, do you *really* think people join the military so they can get a chance to kill someone and not go to prison for it? Do you really think that military personnel *like* violence?

      See above.

      • Colin says:

        Colin:
        So you are admitting that you have no better ideas? All you are doing here is criticising other people who know more about the subject that you can ever hope to?
        Huh? I don’t understand where you think you see such an admission.

        Because you have not offered any real ideas that the people who have to make these decisions can use.

        And for example: are you willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of allowing these people to continue to operate?
        I reject the premise that current U.S. policy is preventing terrorism.

        Then you need to start looking at things with a more open mind. I know for a fact that we have gutted Al Queda’s ability to attack us because I have seen who we have killed. Civilians may focus on Bin Laden and think that capturing or killing him will make some kind of difference – but the people charged with protecting our people from attack know that the important people to kill were the trained operatives and (more importantly) their planning, intelligence, logistics and financial staff. The people are much more dangerous in the long run that some putz wearing a suicide vest.

        Or are you going to sit back and criticise us for failing to prevent a terrorist attack on civilians because we did what you wanted us to do?
        I’m curious as to what you think it is I want you to do.

        Apparently, you want us to avoid attacking otherwise legitimate targets in the vain attempt at fighting a totally anteseptic war.

        The fact of the matter is that all you have is an opinion that is based on ignorance. You come here and act morally superior to us putzes who have had to in the real world try to figure out the risk to civilians form our next operation.
        Correction, you came here. This is a blog based on a perspective of Christian nonviolence. Let’s not act like I walked into the legion hall and started a sit in. On the other hand, if you’re working hard to protect civilians, I’m not sure how you feel criticized from the above conversation. Are you a drone operator?

        I take it you missed my example where I discussed the use of tank weapons. This should have clued you in to the fact that my specialty was ground – not air combat. However that is irrelevant as both air and ground attacks must meet the legal principle of ‘proportionality’ (both international and US military law requires that any attack that can reasonably be expected to endanger civilians must have the risk to civilians weighed against the expected – and measureable – military benefit or advantage gained. The military benefits must obviously and significantly outweigh the reasonably expected risk to civilians or the attack cannot be conducted.)

        And unless you have had to tell ‘the boss’ if it was safe to fire a tank main gun at a speficic target in a village without killing civilians a few houses away – based off of nothing but an overhead picture – in 15 seconds. You have no room to be spouting your drivel.
        Please. This is like saying I have no right to comment about whether it’s immoral to steal or kill unless I’ve stolen or killed before. If you want to say that you have unique experiences that shape your judgment, fine. But let’s make a deal: I’ll be happy to debate with you on this topic as long as you like from any angle you like, but let’s actually have a conversation rather than trying to disqualify each other from being able to make moral judgments.

        Actually, qualifications are very important here. How can you comment on the ‘morality’ of something if you do not understand the details of the situation? How can you decide if any particular action is or is not ‘moral’ if you do not understand the circumstances, facts as known by the participants at the time, and the legal structures within which they operate?

        we have to make ethical and moral decisions that you would not be capible of doing.
        Being willing to chose options that someone else finds morally repugnant does not mean you are able to make decisions of which the other person is not capable.

        Yes it does. If you are not willing to do something then you lack one of the prime elements of being able to do so. Do you think that I enjoyed making the decisions that were both my responsibility and duty? I assure you that one of the greatest reliefs of my life was when my tour of duty ended and I knew that I was not free of that responsibility.
        Do you really think that we would conduct that attack if we did not feel that not doing so would kill even more people in the long run?

        Again, are you a drone operator? What we’re discussing is the use of drones in Pakistan and the way they’re used. I think we’re trying to kill our enemies, and I think we are conducting the attacks because we are afraid that if we don’t more Americans will die, which is a different decision than whether we thing more total people will die.

        No – I am not the drone operator. Just as I was not the tank gunner pulling the trigger in Iraq. The fact of the matter is that these decisions have to be decided by people other than the operator (and in advance). The operation typically does not have the time or the ‘big picture’ capability when flying these missions. They depend on the people doing the operations planning to brief them on what to expect as well as giving them some clear-cut and easily applied ‘shoot/don’t shoot’ criteria. They simply do not have the time to conduct complex assessments as they have to focus on the task at hand.

        And to me – people are people. I may have had a sworn duty to protect Americans – but I also had a moral responsibility to protect any and all innocents. If killing a Taliban kingpin would likely result in one less terror bombing in Pakistan, then I regard it as not only ‘worth it’ but morally required of those of us who accepted the duty of placing the welfare of strangers ahead of our own.

        Personally, I don believe you are thinking. You are simply somebody who sits safe on his couch and criticizes those people who have to make some of the hardest and worst decisions imaginable. And you act so superior because you are free from this responsibility.
        If you think I’m coming off as “superior,” then I apologize. It’s almost impossible to have a heated debate about morality without each side seeming holier-than-thou. For example, your above comment seems quite condescending. So I’ll watch my tone if you’ll do the same.
        But to your point, you are correct, I sit in a place of relative safety, and I do criticize the decisions of people who make choices I find in violation of my own morality. To say that, though, is not enough to prove the criticisms invalid. If you want to talk about what makes you tick and what shapes your decision-making, feel free. You’ll find that we’ll have a very civil conversation, even if it gets heated. Here’s where I get the standards to which I try to adhere when it comes to the question of violence.

        And the fact that you sit in a place of safety severely limits your insights into the reality that the ‘trigger pullers’ have to deal with. We do not have the luxury of living in a work where there are ‘right and wrong’ answers. We live in a world where harm is caused no matter what decision we make. We live in a world where our mistakes cost people their lives – and know that 90% of the time we are making decisions without all the information we need to prevent mistakes.

        And morally – we have to make decisions based on our best guess at what causes the fewest total number of people to die. And frequently that means that you have to choose to sacrifice innocents because any other decision will result in more people dying.
        I have had to make these decisions. This is one of the reasons why I have nightmares – and will continue to have them for the rest of my life.

        Finally sir. People like yourself are the reason I decided that the American people are not worth protecting.
        I don’t think you’d be so shallow as to make that kind of decision about a person based on a single post on a single blog. Maybe you should describe a little more what kind of person you think I am.

        This is not just you. I made this decision in Iraq when I discovered that the American people would rather believe enemy propaganda than what those of us who observed those events first-hand told them.

      • dcrowe says:

        Hey Colin:

        I will try to respond fully…if i miss a point due to how often we’re all quoting each other, let me know:

        Because you have not offered any real ideas that the people who have to make these decisions can use.

        Well, stick around and poke around. We talk about alternatives to violence all the time. Or see the link above to the book I suggested to Scott. That’s one you’d really be interested if you’re looking for alternatives.

        I know for a fact that we have gutted Al Queda’s ability to attack us because I have seen who we have killed. Civilians may focus on Bin Laden and think that capturing or killing him will make some kind of difference…the important people to kill were the trained operatives and (more importantly) their planning, intelligence, logistics and financial staff. The people are much more dangerous in the long run that some putz wearing a suicide vest.

        Islamic terrorism is up this year. It may be locally based, but its up worldwide. It is perfectly possible to destroy al-Qaida and have terrorism all over the place. But I should add to this point: as a Christian, the risk of death to self is not a legitimate reason to kill others.

        Apparently, you want us to avoid attacking otherwise legitimate targets in the vain attempt at fighting a totally anteseptic war.

        I reject that there are legitimate targets and that we should be fighting any war.

        my specialty was ground – not air combat. However that is irrelevant as both air and ground attacks must meet the legal principle of ‘proportionality’ (both international and US military law requires that any attack that can reasonably be expected to endanger civilians must have the risk to civilians weighed against the expected – and measureable – military benefit or advantage gained. The military benefits must obviously and significantly outweigh the reasonably expected risk to civilians or the attack cannot be conducted.)

        If we’re going to talk just war criteria. than I should also point out that not just the individual attacks, but the entire military response total must be proportional. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan are now in the tens of thousands. Proportional? Nope.

        Actually, qualifications are very important here. How can you comment on the ‘morality’ of something if you do not understand the details of the situation? How can you decide if any particular action is or is not ‘moral’ if you do not understand the circumstances, facts as known by the participants at the time, and the legal structures within which they operate?

        Pop quiz: ever performed an abortion? Do you have an opinion on it? Guess what…

        Ever raped anyone? Got an opinion about it? Guess what…?

        Ever smashed a kids head with a a baseball bat? Got on opinion about it?

        I could go on, but I’d rather not. I reject your argument totally.

        Yes it does. If you are not willing to do something then you lack one of the prime elements of being able to do so.

        You’re mising my distinction between which option you choose and your ability to navigate the decision.

        Do you think that I enjoyed making the decisions that were both my responsibility and duty? I assure you that one of the greatest reliefs of my life was when my tour of duty ended and I knew that I was not free of that responsibility.

        Your enjoyment of it is irrelevant to the morality of it. I am sorry for how harsh this response sounds. I don’t know another way to say it. I also don’t know how to express sympathy for the turmoil you’re expressing without condoning the activity, but please take this as my attempt to do so.

        And to me – people are people. I may have had a sworn duty to protect Americans – but I also had a moral responsibility to protect any and all innocents. If killing a Taliban kingpin would likely result in one less terror bombing in Pakistan, then I regard it as not only ‘worth it’ but morally required of those of us who accepted the duty of placing the welfare of strangers ahead of our own.

        If you stick around here (and I hope you do), you’ll find that I honor folks for putting themselves at risk, and for acting to try to protect others. You’ll also find, however, that I disagree that violence is the way you should go about doing so. But again, every single troop increase in Afghanistan has failed to prevent an attendant rise in civilian casualties during the following year. I understand what you’re trying to do, but it’s not working.

        And the fact that you sit in a place of safety severely limits your insights into the reality that the ‘trigger pullers’ have to deal with.

        [snip]

        I have had to make these decisions. This is one of the reasons why I have nightmares – and will continue to have them for the rest of my life.

        I’m just going to let this portion of your comment go unanswered. I appreciate you offering it. I think readers whether they agree or disagree should think about it.

        This is not just you. I made this decision in Iraq when I discovered that the American people would rather believe enemy propaganda than what those of us who observed those events first-hand told them.

        Stick around. You and sporkmaster can tag team and kick my butt LOL

  15. Sporkmaster says:

    Wow this one got busy.

    Remember the times that I stepped away from the computer? This is why. Because is can get frustrating talking about this subject in a general view against having to deal with specific dangers and challenges. So I can relate to many of his concerns like having to make huge choices in seconds.

    But on the other side I used the time to make sure that I am not so frustrated that I overlook something or read into something that is not really there.

    • dcrowe says:

      I know! This thread sat quiet for like 6 months then suddenly we’re approaching 50 comments. Colin or Scott, would you mind letting me know how you stumbled across this thread? Was it linked somewhere?

      As always, glad to have you here. How is life?

  16. Colin says:

    ” This involves making a life or death decision, but refuses to contemplate killing other people. In short, in such a situation, a nonviolent Christian must be willing to die rather than kill.”

    I suspect that this statememnt show the completetely different worlds we live in. To somebody such as myself to act the way you suggest in the statement above would require that I abandon my moral responsibility to act on behalf of my fellow man – if necessary with violence. In fact being willing to die rather than kill not only does nothing to stop an agressor – it adds your one more name (yours) to the final body count.

    In summary – I do not feel that any person with a sense of moral responsibility towards others can be a pacifist. I reject pacifism because it would require me to reject my responsibility to protect others who are not able to protect themselves.

    A moral man prefers to avoid violence – however it is immoral to use nonviolence as an excuse to avoid the duty to kill if necessary in the defense of others.

    During my career as a soldier I saw my role in society as very simple: I was the man who stood between the innocent and those who would do them harm.

    When somebody was doing something that moral people could not stand idly by and tolerate – we said ‘”stop that – or else.” My job was the be the ‘or else.’

    • Scott says:

      Colin Said:

      “A moral man prefers to avoid violence – however it is immoral to use nonviolence as an excuse to avoid the duty to kill if necessary in the defense of others.”

      ISTR that even Christ resorted to violence to clear out the Temple. He was less than lethal, but his anger and the violence he used were clear.

      “During my career as a soldier I saw my role in society as very simple: I was the man who stood between the innocent and those who would do them harm.”

      “When somebody was doing something that moral people could not stand idly by and tolerate – we said ‘”stop that – or else.” My job was the be the ‘or else.’”

      Now Crowe is going to tell you how “comic book”your view of good and evil are.

      Scott H

      • dcrowe says:

        ISTR that even Christ resorted to violence to clear out the Temple. He was less than lethal, but his anger and the violence he used were clear.

        Nope, wrong again. You’re basing your assertion here on a bad translation. Quoting John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, p. 43, 38f:

        …surveys all the New Testament usages of te kai. in 86 cases a rendering comparable to “…as well as the sheep and the oxen” would be impossible. In five it would be possible but is not so rendered by the translators. Only in John 2:15 is the particle ever so rendered.”

        Quoting from the main text:

        The normal sense of the conjunction te kai is to initiate a list, not to continue a series beginning with “them all.”

        Again, it’s a mistranslation, corrected in many of the more updated translations.

        Now Crowe is going to tell you how “comic book”your view of good and evil are.

        Scott, you should let both Colin and I speak for ourselves. We don’t need your help. I’m sorry for sounding so irritated, but this is a pet peeve: do not speak for others in the conversation, please. Stick to expressing your own view.

      • Colin says:

        Maybe he will feel that my views of good and evil are ‘comic book’ – however I have done something he has not. In fact this is something that I honestly hope that he never has to do.

        I have seen evil.

        I have seen the results of evil.

        I have seen the bodies.

        I have seen what nobody should have to see.

        And I would not wish that understanding I have of what evil is on my worst enemy.

    • Sporkmaster says:

      When where you over there? I was at FOB Warhorse from May 2008 to June 2009.

  17. dcrowe says:

    Colin:

    Maybe he will feel that my views of good and evil are ‘comic book’

    I didn’t say that. Someone else tried to make me say that.

    • Colin says:

      That is why I used the word; ‘maybe.’

      How about expressing how you see us? We have seen a great deal of your conclusions – but what are the theories behind those conclusions?

      How do you de-conflict the concept of pacifism with the necessity of use of force to ensure justice? (Police officers, involuntary incaration of convicts, etc.)

      • dcrowe says:

        Colin:

        I don’t know you at all, so I can’t really describe how I see you personally, but I can tell you how I see folks who are in the military who disagree with me on the question of violence/non-violence. In my response to Scott above, for example, I wrote:

        think people join the military for all sorts of reasons…I think is that most people are trying to do what they think is right, and are acting on what they think is the most powerful way to combat evil and injustice in the world [and, I would add after re-reading it, to protect the good]. My contention is that their assumption about violence being the most vigorous way to wage that struggle is flawed.

        Basically, I see these folks as people who have take a critically important step by refusing to be passive when faced with evil and injustice. But I also disagree with the assumption that the use of violence is both ethically permissible or the most effective way to wage that conflict. I find quite a bit to both honor and disagree with re: the military. I don’t know if that’s the kind of explanation you were looking for.

        Re: the theory–granted, this is something that has taken a back seat to discussions of Afghanistan lately, but I do write about nonviolent theory and tactics quite a bit here. For example, here’s a post where I took something written as a guidebook for civilians to resist coup attempts by putschists applied it to the situation of attempted Taliban encroachment in villages that want to remain free of their influence. Here’s another where I discussed the role of Pashtuns in the Indian independence movement while using nonviolence.

        How do you de-conflict the concept of pacifism with the necessity of use of force to ensure justice? (Police officers, involuntary incaration of convicts, etc.)

        I may write a post about this soon. Most of my thinking/writing/reading on this issue has to do with violence and nonviolence in acute conflicts like war, national resistance movements, etc. I will admit, I haven’t made up my mind about the various ways that writers on the topic resolve your question. Some, for example, split a hair between the use of police power and the use of military power. I haven’t yet come down on this issue and need to read more and think more about it. What do you think about that split asserted by some re: police and military power?

  18. Colin says:

    BTW, it appears that I owe you some replies:

    “Islamic terrorism is up this year. It may be locally based, but its up worldwide. It is perfectly possible to destroy al-Qaida and have terrorism all over the place.”

    I have heard this every year for the past 8 years. Discounting Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan (countries with ongoing civil wars) the number of terrorist attacks are down. More importantly the geographic reach of the terrorists has been curtailed.

    “If we’re going to talk just war criteria. than I should also point out that not just the individual attacks, but the entire military response total must be proportional. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan are now in the tens of thousands. Proportional? Nope.”

    You are mis-applying the critera here. Our military actions have been proportional. The enemy’s actions have not. We are not the ones running around slaughtering civilians – in fact we are doing our best to prevent those slaughers. You cannot hold us responsible for the actions of the enemy. And in fact – you need to consider the fact that the enemy does read our news and editorials. The absolute worst thing that can happen is for the enemy to think that all they have to do to will is to keep on killing civilians.

    “Pop quiz: ever performed an abortion? Do you have an opinion on it? Guess what…”

    Actually – my opinion is that I am glad that I have never been faced with that decision. I feel that the arguments of both sides of the issue have merit and as a result – I have no real firm opinion.

    As for the rest of the questions – I regard them as nothing more than ‘straw man’ arguements. And as such – unworthy of a response.

    “You’ll also find, however, that I disagree that violence is the way you should go about doing so.”

    When you communicate with others you have to speak to them in a language they understand. We are presently engaged in the language of debate using certian unspoken rules. If we were to try this approach with the Taliban they would simply not comprehend what we are saying because their worldview does not have room for disagreement with their beliefs. The Taliban and Al Queda speak the language of nihilist violence. (If you don’t believe this – go read some jihadist websites and consider the attitudes that underly their words.) Sometimes – violence is the only way to get their attention.

    • dcrowe says:

      You are mis-applying the critera here.

      Nope. Not only the tactics, but the strategy and overall campaign objectives must be proportional to the wrong suffered. I am not misapplying them at all. You’re narrowing them to focus on case-by-case instances, but not using them in the macro sense, which is at least important to the various thinkers behind the theory as the micro sense.

      You cannot hold us responsible for the actions of the enemy.

      Everyone retains primary responsibility for their own actions, yes. But that’s not where culpability stops. I’d be willing to bet you don’t even think this way, especially if you do hold to some version of just war theory (if this is an incorrect assumption, though, let me know). Just war theory makes the just warrior accountable for maintaining just behavior before, during, and after war, but it also attributes culpability for the conflict on the opponent whose actions trigger the just warriors response.

      As for the rest of the questions – I regard them as nothing more than ’straw man’ arguements. And as such – unworthy of a response.

      You don’t get off that easy. I’m not making a straw man argument–it would be a straw man argument if I were misrepresenting/caricaturing your position, and I’d only be misrepresenting your position if you did not, in fact, find rape or gratuitous violence against children morally reprehensible. But I’d be willing to bet that you do find them morally reprehensible, and assuming you’ve never raped or hit a kid in the head with a bat with the intent to cause him harm, you’re doing exactly what you’re attacking in the prior comment. You don’t have to respond, but you don’t get to get away with calling it a straw man when it’s not.

  19. Colin says:

    “Nope. Not only the tactics, but the strategy and overall campaign objectives must be proportional to the wrong suffered. I am not misapplying them at all. You’re narrowing them to focus on case-by-case instances, but not using them in the macro sense, which is at least important to the various thinkers behind the theory as the micro sense.”

    Proportionality is not about ‘an eye for an eye.’ Proportionality is about the desired end result. We did not stop fighting in WWII because we had killed the same number of Japanese as were killed at Pearal Harbor. We stopped fighting when our desired political result was achieved (a situation where we would not have to fight another war with Japan again.)

    The amount of harm we are causing to civilians in Afghanistan is proportional to our goals. If our goals were to punish or retaliate for 9/11 – only then would it break the rule of proportionality. However our goals are much different. We seek to create a stabel, representative govrenment there which will create an increased level of economic prosperity. Thus creating conditions which will ensure that another attack on us cannot be launched from that country.

    Remember that proportionality is measured against the results you can reasonable hope to achieve!

    Another issue is that you are holding us responsible for the actions of the enemy. We are not the ones burning schools and murdering teachers. We are not the ones deliberately targetting civilians (because they can’t shoot back). And in fact – if we were to pull out of Afghanistan there would be a bloodbath as we would be leaving the Afghan people to be ruled by the same people who have no problem with mass murders of the Afghan people.

    “Everyone retains primary responsibility for their own actions, yes. But that’s not where culpability stops.”

    In the military we refer to this as : ‘Be aware of and account for the second and third order effects of your actions.” And yes – we do try to predict the enemy’s potential responses to our actions.

    ” Just war theory makes the just warrior accountable for maintaining just behavior before, during, and after war, but it also attributes culpability for the conflict on the opponent whose actions trigger the just warriors response.”

    Soldiers typically do not waste time worrying about how to fix blame. Soldiers fight to change something. We go an take situation ‘A’ and attempt to turn it into situation ‘B.’ if situation ‘B’ is a nobleand reasonable goal then it is a ‘just war.’ If our actions in working to that goal meet the commonly understood standards for conduct in war then we are in compliance with the principles of ‘justice in war.’

    “You don’t get off that easy. I’m not making a straw man argument–it would be a straw man argument if I were misrepresenting/caricaturing your position, and I’d only be misrepresenting your position if you did not, in fact, find rape or gratuitous violence against children morally reprehensible. But I’d be willing to bet that you do find them morally reprehensible, and assuming you’ve never raped or hit a kid in the head with a bat with the intent to cause him harm, you’re doing exactly what you’re attacking in the prior comment. You don’t have to respond, but you don’t get to get away with calling it a straw man when it’s not.”

    It is a straw man arguement because the circumstances you mentioned are ones where there would be very little dispute that they are immoral. In fact they meet the number one critera for determining if an action is moral or immoral – that they are illegal. (The rule of thumb is that if a proposed action is illegal then you need to very carefully think amout it’s morality.)

    Our disagreement is not about those circumstances you proposed. In fact a much better analogy for our disagreement would be to ask what level of violence is morally justified to prevent those acts.

    In fact – lets take the situation of a child being assualted with a baseball bat. I think that we both can agree that such an attack can be reasonably expected to result in the death or grevious harm to that child. In addition it can be reasonably expected that our attempt to intrevene without enough violence so as to cause the attacker to be instantly rendered hors de combat would not be reasonably expected to prevent or halt the attack. (And in fact – it would create the risk of adding your own name to the body count.)

    Would you feel that I would or would not be morally justified in giving the attacker a warning (assuming that there is enough to to give that warning) then resorting to lethal force to stop the attack? (My goal would be to instantly render him incapible of continuing the attack – and ceasing that violence the moment it became apparent to myself that he was incapicated.)

    • dcrowe says:

      Dangit! Colin, sorry, I wrote a very long reply to this comment and my computer restarted halfway through writing it. Stay tuned, I’ll try to recreate it.

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