Monday, January 31, 2005

Bad Day

Among other things, the Internet(and mail server and ADSL) is down - and as usual, I'm the one that looks stupid. I've had to use dialup just to enter this whinge, and it's the second time I've had to type it in! I don't even have anyone to blame - the system here lets people (try to) send really huge files, and when it gets rejected, it sends a copy of the file to the administrator (that's me) and unfortunately in this case it is the same address the original file was sent to, spawning ever more unwieldly large files as they repeatedly get rejected and resent. By the time the server packed it in there was a dozen of these files in the queue

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I've started a Stop Head Lice blog as a starting pitch for the war against headlice.
Checking back on the comments: Lexifab comes to the same conclusion as I do with completely different political assumptions - ie. Palestine seems destined to remain an unresolved meta-state for possibly a generation. Now to discuss Aceh : As far as history is concerned the Acehnese rebellion beat back the Dutch before the start of WWII. This, I guess is their basis for being a separate country, as the remnants of the Dutch colonial borders was the main basis for Indonesia's when they became independent. Naturally, disputed areas continued to be disputed after independence. As far as religion is concerned, Aceh is predominantly (fairly radical) muslim with perhaps a christian enclave. I believe that the Tsunami would certainly have made Aceh remaining part of Indonesia (with reasonable autonomy) the best option for everybody. The spectacle of unarmed troops actually healing people has an immense psychological effect in making people believe in humanity and that perhaps an army should be there to serve its people rather than fight the supposed enemy. Why have I never heard of a single story of an Israeli soldier helping a Palestinian in need or saving their injured? Because even if it has happened, it hasn't been a source of pride for anyone involved.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dr. Clam said...

Unionists are the wrong metaphor; you can't just shut out all the Unionists and employ Sandor Kovatses cloned from skin scrapings, while Israel can just shut out all the Palestinians and employ Filipinos.

I was casting about for the right example of disengagement, and it was staring me in the face all the time: Korea. Sure, there is a long-term penalty incurred by the lack of labour mobility, but that is made up for by the fact that South Korea can get on with life without being shot at. North Korea is not a significant threat to day to day life in South Korea, even though it is ruled by a lunatic and has no economy, becuase there is a big fence down the middle with thousands of soldiers guarding it. South Korea can make up its shortages of unskilled labour from Southeast Asia, just like Israel, and wait for generational change to solve a problem that would only be inflamed if the borders were porous.

One point at a time: First of all, I can shut out unionists and employ Fijians as easily as can Israel (In fact, that is the path our competitors have gone down - albeit by sending stuff to Fiji) as part of the fight against them. My point is that although this looks like a single-edged sword, it isn't. Plus, using the Korean analogy kind of makes my point for me anyway. Even a 100% complete barrier between Israel and Palestine as in Korea would just store up the problems for future generations to resolve. I would argue that the threats to South Korea now are much more dangerous, they have a lot more to lose, and North Korea even seems to have the means to make it happen, while South Korea no longer has the means to stop it happening.
Another point is that Israel would be more like East and west Germany, with Jerusalem having a huge impenetrable wall like Berlin did. I suspect this part is at least a few elections (and talks) away if it is feasible at all. The path of least resistance seems to be a two state solution with a land for peace deal being part of it. I would guess that a wall or fence would cement some of the borders as facts on the ground. It doesn't particularly go against this "path", but various facts, such as terrorism always attacking the weakest security points, palestinians being free to travel to neighbouring arab countries (where North Koreans were not free to travel through China), places such as Phillipines having terrorists as well - all mean that these security "victories" have very dubious connections with reality.
Yet another point is that by implication, you could also say that complete import restrictions against one country only would not hurt Australia if we are freely trading with a host of other countries. Clearly, any country allied to the country we have restricted would feel empowered to do the same to us. Also, completely separate countries might start to think that it is a good Idea and would follow our example with countries they hate. A single action against the movement of goods or labour has this kind of repercussion.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Dr. Clam said...

I've given quite a lot of thought to the 'Walt Disney's Holy Kingdom' proposal. I hope you won't reject it out of hand.

Em...yes, I like it, but there's no votes in it - which gets to my point. Looking ahead a few moves in the war, I see it being no closer to an endgame. The only possible positive influence might be a democratic Iraq. After thinking a bit, I am even more convinced that Aceh has a much better chance of sorting itself out with Indonesia. I believe this even knowing that the bloodshed there has been autrocious - especially if comparing it to Israel. I guess I want to know more about Aceh's history - but my belief in a positive outcome there is independent of important detail like that :-).

Monday, January 24, 2005

No reply. What do I say now?
Having been unable to get a smartarse comment from lexifab, nor knowing whether I've left Dr. Clam speechless or that he just hasn't had the time to reply with school starting today - where do I go from here? I guess I'll have to make a guess at what he's thinking of replying and keep going :). I suspect he thinks that the average Israeli voter is very happy with the decision to suspend talks when terror strikes - also the decision to close the various checkpoints to arab workers indefinitely; and that therefore they are the correct decisions. I would like to make a point that terrorists only attack democratic countries (interests) for the reasons that non-democratic country's leaders can afford to look at the long term war strategy, and don't have a need to get re-elected. Therefore, to counter terrorist strategies, democratic countries must "suspend" democratic reasoning quite some way to get closer to achieving a win. Israel does have the time between elections to do this, and emergency powers at its disposal as well. Israel's leaders may well be afraid of assassination attempts by its own people, however. I get the feeling that Israel's "defenders" such as Adriana Fallaci, change assumptions within a single argument, expecting capabilities and discipline of Palestine that can only be possible with an entity with the status of a country; then argues that this is evidence that palestine doesn't deserve to have the status of a country.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Dr Clam asked:

"Do you think that exposure to a culture and people you have been raised to hate is more likely to dispose you favourably to them, or make you hate them more? Think of how many of the notable Islamofascists of recent times spent considerable time in Europe or the United States. I know I would have discounted much of the stories about the evils of the West as propaganda if I did not live here..."

Unionists are brought up to believe the employer is a greedy capitalist pig. Yes, the experience of employment normally entrenches what they believe about them. But it is a foolish employer that discounts the risks disgruntled employees pose to their business even after they're sacked. When a "war" breaks out and employers see it right to sack all union members regardless of their individual attitudes on the matter, the risks increase greatly. Even Chris Corrigan after winning his "war", acceptingly negotiated in good faith with the unions and reinstated a large number. "Giving in" to some of the the unions demands was good strategy and made his company safer with less unionists with an axe to grind.

I am arguing that not only was Israel's permanent prevention of Arab labour mobility self-defeating, it was a strategic blunder. Labour mobility should never be underestimated, and some even rate it as the number one reason for USA's stability and success:-). Another of their strategic blunders is planning talks with their democratically elected counterparts, then refusing to talk if there is a terrorist strike. It is Patently Obvious that the terrorists are striking then and there for the only purpose of scuttling the talks. Refusing to talk then is actually giving in to the terrorists demands.
The terrorists are (unofficially of course) demanding a stop to negotiations - the democratically elected leader of the PLO is at a disadvantage in the talks if there has just been a deadly terrorist strike. I have come to the conclusion that the Israeli prime minister is more interested in short term internal political gain than in long term solutions.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dr Clam said

Do you notice that you have implicitly assumed my definition of what an Israeli win would constitute, since striking against suspected terrorists anyplace, anytime, is certainly acting towards the "denying the Palestinians what they want" war aim? :)

Oh, sorry, I meant to "Explicitly" assume your definition of what an Israeli win would be (That's why I asked the question) for argument's sake, and that they are in a state of war (I'm not sure about that one but we'll assume it anyway). Perhaps, we can assume that a win for Palestine would be to grow up and obtain "status" as a country, but a stalemate with the current intifada continuing indefinitely would be the next best thing. Now, an assumption the Israelis make is that the elected leader of the PLO "ought" to be able to control its "army" the way Israel controls its. Now I find it hard to swallow, because, correct me if I'm wrong, the various terrorist organisations are essentially private multinational units that profit from the war continuing (Adam Smith's invisible hand working again)and even though they "battle" (ie. kill innocent Israelis) nominally on behalf of the Palestinians, they don't care whether the palestinians are closer to their goal of statehood. A bigger problem is that these terror units are better armed than any security the democratically elected PLO leader has access to. So in a sense, Israel "ought" to arm the PLO leader if they are going to make that assumption. Adam Smith's invisible hand will also work on the Israeli side, because the army will continue to get more money while the battle continues. The net political and economic motivations are for the battle to keep raging - this is the cycle, not "morally equivalent" tit for tat retributions that happen in certain other conflicts.
(Hear no evil see no evil speak no) Evil Dr Clam said

To bend your analogy a little, you will recall that in my original spiel I laid the blame for the Palestinian situation firmly on the parents- the neighbouring Arab states, which have continued to encourage the delinquent's bad behaviour. By getting out of Gaza (and in the fulness of time, the other Palestinian population centres) the Israelis are trying to get the delinquent out from under their roof and sending him back to live with his parents. After the Israeli withdrawal, Gaza will be Egypt's problem.

We're getting somewhere here : To continue stretching this analogy, this delinquent is also getting paid to do some cleaning up around the building (they may as well do something) but as punishment for their bad behaviour, the job is given to someone else and the delinquent is now a poor delinquent, with nothing to do except plot the next violent outburst - I hardly think the delinquent is the only loser in this exchange! Closing borders and limiting arab workers movements is one of the things taking Israel the furthest away from their goals the quickest, at least until alternative employment is available. It's like making massive job cuts and importing alternative employees and then saying tutt tutt - striking is illegal, so sorry. No Large company in their right mind would ever consider it (Well, I know Chris Corrigan did it anyway, but unemployment was low, plenty of alternative industries to work for and generous unemployment benefits all softened the Union's counterattack). The Israeli situation is made worse by the effect of deterring good behaviour (working for money - liasing with jews somewhat cordially), and encouraging the ethnic hatred intrinsic to such barriers to movement.

Thinking that the Israelis don't lose out when considering labour mobility is like only looking one move ahead in chess. If you don't take into account how the other side will react to your move and whether that is good or bad for you, you're a very cynical player.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A "Domestic" Analogy

I would like to make an analogy of Israel/Palestine as a relationship between a god fearing adult and a delinquent "tweenager" (not an adult/not a child)foster child with no status in relation to the adult except as an unofficial guardian.This as opposed to say Kosovo which would be a ward of the state (UN) with set boundaries and some sort of status (still looking for future status as independent)

Now, obviously there is history in the relationship, and a lot of violence. The delinquent has been sneakier, violent, and has a lawbreaking kind of attitude and is clearly morally bankrupt. The adult sees no choice but to punish, lock them up in their room, confiscate anything sharp etc. The state (or UN) obviously sees a duty to protect the one with the least power in the x/y relationship. The police (US) obviously thinks that the delinquent should be punished and deterred when they commit such serious crimes as chopping fingers off etc. The adult can't morally justify anything more than beating them up, locking them in their room temporarily, putting more walls in and more lockable doors (a disappearance would be mighty suspicious). The neighbourhood is also quite criminal and dangerous (Iraq, Syria etc.) In life, delinquents turn into criminals almost regardless of circumstances. The few cases which don't, there's been someone who's taken a stand loved the child unconditionally, taken the violent knocks time after time (giving rewards in advance of the expectation that behaviour will improve) You might say that Palestine has graduated into a criminal and deserves permanent incarceration. But they are still just a pawn in the game of the local criminal gang, and still living under Israel's roof.
Dr Clam said:

You're still trapped in that "moral equivalence" "cycle of terror" mindset. It does not map well to reality. There is a basic asymmetry between what the average Israeli wants and what the average Palestinian wants, as I said before. Only when you accept that as a fact can you hope to make progress, whether you are the Secretary General of the UN or a harmless blogger...

Well, that's where you're wrong. I don't think there is *any* moral equivalence between the two "sides" of this war. I think Israel not only has a right to make military strikes against suspected terrorists as it does, but has an inherent duty to its citizens to do it. What I am saying is that it actually takes Israel further away from what its citizens would consider a win. Conversely, the palestinians only get mileage from a terrorist strike if there is severe enough retribution returned (or if it scuttles any peaceful initiative in advance of the possibility). Even you would agree that the military value of killing dozens of citizens is very small in a traditional military war.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

When I read dr. Clam's original spiel on Israel, it reminded me a great deal about this snippet of an article I had read in the Economist in May 2003. I only just checked it now for accuracy.

So how did the neo-cons go from being one group among several to the positions of influence they now occupy? By articulating views that came to seem more important after September 11th 2001—but which many conservatives agreed with even before that.

Neo-cons start with the notion that America faces the challenge of managing a “unipolar world” (a phrase coined by a neo-conservative commentator, Charles Krauthammer, in 1991). They see the world in terms of good and evil. They think America should be willing to use military power to defeat the forces of chaos. Admittedly, they go on to advocate democratic transformation in the Middle East, a view that is not shared throughout the administration. (This is an extremely radical policy, so not only are neo-cons not ‘neo', they are not, in the normal sense of the term, conservative either.) But that apart, their views are not so different from others in the administration.

Neo-cons are also energetic in style, preferring moral clarity to diplomatic finesse, and confrontation to the pursuit of incremental advantage. They are sceptical of multilateral institutions that limit American power and effectiveness; they prefer to focus on new threats and opportunities, rather than old alliances.

Again, these views are not unique to neo-cons. The trends have been visible in American policy since the end of the cold war. Indeed, as Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations points out, opinion in the Republican Party has been shifting for longer than that. The movement away from Euro-centric east-coasters towards Sunbelt conservatives more concerned about Asia, Latin America and the Middle East began with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan in the 1970s.

These common intellectual roots made it possible for neo-cons to maintain close ties with traditional conservative politicians such as Messrs Rumsfeld and Cheney. Though neither really counts as a neo-con, Mr Rumsfeld signed a letter to President Bill Clinton in 1998 urging him to make removing Saddam Hussein and his regime “the aim of American foreign policy”, and the founding document of neo-con policy was the Defence Planning Guidance drafted for Mr Cheney in 1992 during his stint as defence secretary. Written by Mr Wolfowitz and Mr Libby, it raised the notion of pre-emptive attacks and called on America to increase military spending to the point where it could not be challenged. Ten years later, both ideas have been enshrined as official policy in the 2002 National Security Strategy.

The event that turned general like-mindedness into specific influence was the terrorist assault of September 11th 2001. “Night fell on a different world,” Mr Bush said. Neo-cons had long been obsessed with the Middle East and with “undeterrable” threats, such as nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. Traditional Republican internationalists, who had less to say on either count, offered little intellectual alternative. As the old rule of politics says, “You can't fight something with nothing.” Mr Bush therefore embraced large parts of the neo-con agenda.

Dr Clam answered my question on winning thus.

(1) I think there is a broad consensus in Israel that a win for Israel would be to exist as a normal state behind secure and defensible borders, with nobody shooting at them.

(2) I think there is no broad consensus in Palestine what a win for Palestine would be. I would suggest that the most probable definition of a win among Palestinians is still "All the Jews go back to where they came from." That is the crux of the problem.

But I get the feeling that at some level, Israelis believe that winning is the palestinians not getting what they want ie. formal statehood and Israeli settlements disbanded, because obviously it would be easier to be behind secure borders if there wasn't so many enclaves to have to defend (or attack for that matter). Also, I hardly see there being possibilities for "labour mobility" if everybody goes back behind their secure borders. Clearly there could be win-win situations, but both sides are more intent on making the other side losers. I guess when the military elements on both sides aren't really interested in winning at all but making sure the enemy doesn't get a leg up, where does it end? The civilian elements are more keen for win-win by compromise, but they are utterly hostage to the military elements. As soon as there's a sniff of negotiation an attack will be certain to scuttle it.

Monday, January 17, 2005

What kind of War is it?

Let us call what is happening in Israel a war for argument's sake. What would be considered a "win" in that war for Israel? For that matter what would be considered a win for the palestinians? This is crucial because if people are going to engage in a war they should be in it to win it.
My First Experiment in Sociology

When I was about nine or ten, I had a problem at home because I was being bullied by my brother. Now because both our parents worked at that time there was plenty of time and scope for after-school threats, punishments and general vexatious behaviour. It got to the stage where I wouldn't go home anymore and would hang out at my friend's place (even when he wasn't there!). It didn't help to tell my parents, because he would always have an alternate explanation, and they couldn't really take sides. One day I decided to try something really wacky. Regardless of what he did, I would only do nice things for him, and say good things about him. Bit by bit, all the bad behaviour stopped and within a year, he was not only being nice to me and helping me. He also stood up for me against bullies at school and got revenge on them on my behalf. The results taught me that you should never underestimate the power of being completely saintly when being especially and unfairly sinned against. However, my "status" as a member of the family was never in question - and this experiment would be a complete failure in a situation of being fostered, etc. if I was being used as a pawn in a messy divorce or other situation outside my control:- In that case it wouldn't matter much how saintly I behaved. To make an analogy with Israel/Palestine - since the status of palestine and the people who live there is undefined, It matters little how they behave if they are being used as a pawn (or political football) in the Arab/Israeli conflict.
Battlelines over Israel

I feel there is a case to blog a debate over the Future of Israel/Palestine to rival that of the one we (three of us anyway) had over Iraq war policy over a year ago. Dr. Clam has made clear his position to side with the Israeli line in what seems to be a parallel of Bush neo-conservative philosophy. Lexifab has clearly in the past been in direct opposition to neo-con views and this wouldn't be any exception. I usually take a minority view and in this issue I am making a stake for the middle ground (although many people would argue that it doesn't exist in this case) with a deliberately moderate view. I admit I brought Aceh up to begin with, but I am not sure how that fits in. I guess I need a statement to debate - something along the lines of "What possible process would peacefully clarify the status of "Palestine" and its inhabitants? - and is long term peace there consistent with the current world order?" I have stated that all processes that I can think of would not result either in long term peace nor a clarification of status. This is with the exception of a huge natural disaster or a "scorched earth" policy by one country or another there.

Now Dr. Clam's knowledge of world-wide history and geography is nothing short of astonishing. Lexifab's use of proof by ridicule of the opposition is legendary. I tend to say things I believe in only if they contrast traditional thinking (or if they're written in the Economist). I would like to think that it is a free for all though, and it would be nice to attract the attention of someone of influence :-)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

I see much more hope for Palestine, which has the most educated population in the Arab world and a thriving economically active diaspora, than I do for Aceh. The TNI has been far more brutal in Aceh than the IDF has been in the Palestinian territories, and the Acehnese are far less educated and have a narrow 'dig it up and sell it' economic base. Your view of the magnitude of the problems in each region is distorted by the degree to which reportage has been possible in each one: i.e., continuous coverage of every tiny wrinkle of the al-Aqsa intifada over the last four years vs. a near complete press blackout in Aceh until a few weeks ago.

Strangely, I agree with all the points individually, but not as a whole. The Arab/Israeli conflict is religiously charged, and the fact that both sides are relatively well off and educated means also that they have more civil means at their disposal. That the degree of reportage is greater, means that any deaths are going to work in favour of the side that they are on. The real battle is for the heart and minds of the world, otherwise we wouldn't bother watching. The Palestine problem will always be the palestinians there being pawns in the proxy battle between arabs and Israelis. While there are undemocratic countries all around, none with any religious freedoms, the proxy battle will never be over. The battle of Kosovo has its roots in conflicts of over 500 years ago. I hope you are right, but in my heart I think the next peace will be temporary. I guess if Iraq becomes a thriving democracy with religious freedoms, it is just one step in the right direction.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I believe the U.N. is 'unrepresentative swill', to quote a minor Australian political figure whose name escapes me. Look at its record as an Israel-bashing club.

Right or wrong, biased or unbiased, representative or not matters little to my argument, the UN embodies a certain moral authority, and can act on events reasonably independently, so its collective opinion matters, regardless. There are also some conflicts that will only be resolved with such multinational institutions in play. I am arguing that using the military for "criminal" justice is wrong, defining the intifada as a "war" serves both sides equally well, as both sides see that all's fair in war (to varying degrees) while crime needs due process. Nothing is going to stop any peace being another opportunity to arm for the next intifada except good will gestures. These will only happen if there is a big natural disaster which involves the whole area. I see no hope for Israel and its surrounds until a big tidal wave washes over the whole area, basically. Aceh has real hope; Israel's is a false hope that the other side will just capitulate (if you're going to call it a war), just because it is "wrong".

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Spare The Rod PLEASE!!

If you love your children do not be violent against them! Discipline should be thought about making your children into your disciples. Note that anything more than the palm of your hand smacking a child's bottom is illegal. I have heard it so many times "beating my kids when they were naughty didn't do them any harm - and it was the only way to make them behave". Believe me, there is harm done, and there are other ways to control behaviour without expecting perfection. I know I'm not perfect in this regard, but the fact is that every violent situation causes harm both to the relationship, and the mind and body of the child. It also normalises violence in the childs mind, and will mean they will resort to it more, and will believe that it is acceptable in a general sense.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The big problem with moral capital is that there is no real international consensus: the differing reportage and pre-existing prejudices in different countries will lead to the same action being reported differently in different countries

The international consensus most widely cited is the UN. Both the US and Israel can't ignore how things are perceived and acted on there. Both these countries are mainly acting on domestic democratic pressures. There is a balancing act between these pressures and good strategy in general. The leaders of these countries at times seem to be slaves to their voting constituencies, ignoring the consequences in the UN (and various other groupings). Both their roles and positions in the world depend on preserving moral capital somewhat.

Moral capital also devalues with frightening rapidity, thanks to the world's short memory...

I would argue that for example, the holocaust and 9/11, moral capital hasn't devalued - it has been spent. Recalling the memory of the holocaust still gives Israel latent moral capital. 9/11 hasn't been forgotten by the world - the world thinks US has exhausted its moral authority.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Was a diary blog - philosophy for now

One issue that I am emotionally involved with is physical child abuse - now the number of people that I personally know that have been exposed to it is very high. It is, as far as I know, completely illegal. Yet it may as well be compulsory as far as I can tell, for all that it can be enforced. The psychological scars seem to persist for a lifetime, and I am now starting to notice these before it ever comes up in conversation. Some parents take the line "do not spare thy rod" all too literally, and if they can't find a rod, any stick, ruler, belt etc will do just fine. Some even still try to spoil the child to make up for their guilt. This usually fails as the relationship starts to get dysfunctional in a love/hate kind of way.
I feel at a disadvantage being the only one emotionally involved...

While it is true that I don't feel emotionally involved in the argument of abortion per se, I am quite emotionally involved in all the deaths on both sides of the bathtub curve that happen to relatives or trusted friends. I feel guilt about the miscarriages Kylie has had, relatives twins that were stillborn at 20 weeks gestation, another relative with one twin born normally, the other born alive but without a skull nor outer brain (anencephaly), a lethal condition. Other associates who had abortions - I feel guilt because I could have had enough influence to change their minds if I so chose, but did not have the conviction then. Also my grandparents in Italy that have died - Did they give up on life because they felt a burden to their families? I hadn't seen them since I had children. Also Kylies great aunts - they seemed suspiciously like unofficial euthanasia. I feel emotionally involved with all of these, but not the 90,000 or so abortions in Australia, nor the uncountable cases of euthanasia happening all the time. My reflex of self defence for my emotions is - "It's got nothing to do with me", and "I'm not going to judge them lest I be judged by the actions in my life of which I'm not proud"

I would welcome an extended discussion about metaphors :) Or, a discussion about anything that you are emotionally involved with. I feel at a disadvantage being the only one emotionally involved...

You have come up with a string of questions - all of which I have a desire to answer - but I am having trouble, so perhaps I can bring up the issue of US in Iraq again. You are quite correct in stating that I am whinging about it. Notwithstanding the strategic values which are still just as valid, I still want to be able to say - "Hey, this is working against the USA", which is whinging for all that it is, I guess. I want to bring up something that I call "Moral Capital", which is in an international consensus sense, what people think of country X. When a country is subjected to a severe terrorist strike (or other indiscriminate killing), their "moral capital" increases. For instance, after 9/11 the "moral capital" available to the US was very high, and it didn't take much "expenditure" of it to take care of Afghanistan - the main terrorist problem. There was some "moral capital" left over and they used it to take care of Saddam Hussein and the general Iraq problem, and squandered a whole heap on Guantanamo bay. However, since the capture of S.H., the US has been lured into squandering a whole lot more, by well timed suicide bombs against them. The "Moral Capital" gained from being subjected to these strikes has been a lot less than that lost in the various heavy-handed and somewhat self defeating retaliations and "paranoid" shoot first ask questions later behaviour. I have argued that "good cop" is appropriate now, and essentially, what Iraq needs is a good police force and peacekeepers who know arabic. I know that it is impractical to expect that from the USA now, but what about the future? Surely the new generation of US soldiers must realise that the lives of the general population of an occupied country are valuable, and paranoid behaviour will lose the battle for the hearts and minds hands down. The (probably inaccurate) reputation of the US being deadly and unscrupulous is born from these encounters.

Equally, Israel also squanders its "Moral Capital" almost as quickly as it gets it, by retaliating forcefully after every suicide attack. I don't advocate decriminalising terrorism as such, but I think it would be more helpful to treat them as you would any murder - by the book. Fair and open trials on these murderers would infinitely increase Israel's moral capital. Killing innocent civilians for political motives is not an act of war, I believe, but a crime of organised mass murder. The retaliation serves the political interest of the murderers, in a "Moral Capital" sense.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Dr. Clam said...
Just like there was no net moral gain from all the collateral deaths to oust Hitler, I expect. O Tempora! O Mores! It is indisputable that men who kill a thousand babies a year should be hanged, higher than Haman.

I would argue there wasn't any net moral gain - ask any German. Is it biased to think that Dresden shouldn't have been bombed so severely that close to the endgame? If you still think that 100,000 deaths in Iraq is an overestimate, read the article in Thursday's "Australian". The indifference to life of Iraqis by the USA military is sickening. I am starting to think 100,000 is an underestimate. Now that the memories of the Holocaust are starting to fade, is the Israeli populace starting to feel that the only way to beat the terrorists militarily is via genocide? They should know all about genocide. The only other alternative being to "give in" to some extent or fighting indefinitely. Your analogies seem to only be making me think about changing the subject to that of the metaphors. How high is Haman anyway? :-)

But good government is all about increasing the choice of the individual without power in the X/Y relationship

Killing terrorists doesn't increase the choice of victims (it doesn't save the ones that have been killed, and doesn't deter other terrorists), and you are presuming that an unborn baby would choose to live, when they haven't got the brains to weigh up the pros and cons that would a suicidal teenager nor the means to communicate.

Well, so do I! I would much rather everyone did the right thing without having to be forced to, it is better for their souls (assuming they have any) and much more efficient in an econometric sense.

As an interesting side note, in USA, because more of the population is more zealously religious than in Australia, the people tend to follow the law of the land more than Aus even if they disagree with the law, and could get away with breaking it reliably. When under Joh BJ in Qld, abortion laws were tightened, it didn't have much effect on the numbers, until a couple of mock police raids made a farce of the whole thing. I am arguing that the realpolitik in Aus dictates that the approach family first is taking (perhaps with more peaceful activism)is the only path that could get concrete results in law reform or reduced prevalence of abortions.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Anonymous said...
am I corect in my understanding here that you DO infact agree with abortion in a common law sense? IE you agree that it should be legal to have an abortion.

Purposefully Neutral?

At this stage in the common law sense, if I was to respond to a survey, I would still put myself in the "undecided" camp. This means I am still open to intellectual argument from both sides. In an econometric sense, I don't have any doubt that legal abortions as it stands in Australia are "beneficial" as they are. I also think that the pre Rowe vs Wade USA had started to spiral towards moral warfare which would have defeated the point of prohibition in the first place. If anti-abortionists start to think that it is ok to have collateral deaths in their war against abortion, I don't think there would be a net gain for morality. I think the right way to fight abortion is by prayerful & peaceful protest. A reduction in abortions due to people deciding individually against them is a lot more valuable in all ways than with reduced "choice" to the individual with all the power in the mother/child relationship. I think my emotional investment in this issue must be very low, since I can talk impartially about it. My intellectual investment, however, is gradually increasing.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The point I'm Trying to make?

I've given up trying to demonstrate your contradiction because I realise there isn't any. Our philosophies on killing are extremely disparate and all I'm doing now is trying to see if there is any overlap at all. Killing as a sin is defined in many religions and it is quite clear that in general, this extends to the unborn. Killing as a crime is defined in the laws of many countries, and for a variety of econometric and practical reasons most countries define it quite differently. For myself, I see a continuum between murder and natural death, and for God's will to be to punish those who get away with murder. I see the bathtub curve as working against the arguments of a pro-lifer, and I'm surprised that you could use it to demonstrate your point. The fact that the unborn are dying and in a lot of cases they are preventable deaths is how I think about it. The costs of prohibiting abortion seems to be quite high, (in the long term) so it is more cost effective to concentrate on preventing deaths in the low part of the bathtub, than "preventing" fetuses to be aborted. But you think that by killing we devalue life to nothing, and that elevates these "deaths" to be important enough to prevent. The "cost" of society's moral decay in this regard is immeasurably high to you. All is not lost. At least in America I see a faint glimmer of hope that moral values are taking hold. The fact that you think that the separation of church and state (USA style) has nothing to do with it concerns me.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Sorry, But I'm not quite finished

Just a final note on the bathtub curve: Dr. Clam is saying that if 1/3 of fetuses die naturally, that makes 1st trimester abortions 2/3 of a murder. However, since only 1/3000 (in very rough figures) 2 year olds die naturally, one should feel 1/1000 as sad for a miscarriage as for a death of a 2 year old child. Also presumably, health funds should be weighed 1000 times more for young children as for early pregnancies (seems about what is happening). Also, expenditure on policing in a world of illegal abortions would be weighed 1000 to 1 between infanticide and abortion (fairly realistic). My idea on what the general population feel is "fair" is that 1st trimester abortion should be considered 1/1000 of the crime of murder as well. Of course, in reality the health system is actually paying for abortions out of state coffers. It seems the 89% of Australians that are reasonably content with the status quo probably also feel that abortions are a net positive for some reason. Unfortunately, since there is no "market value" for human life (even suggesting the possibility is abhorrent to most people) there is no way to do any meaningful cost/benefit analysis for changing the laws.

Real Life situations

I am not sure if Dr. Clam knows any acquaintances with direct experiences with abortions - but the ones I know of, if there was no choice to terminate, they would not have considered giving for adoption, but would have made a hash of their (and their child/ren's)lives to some extent - and following children they did end up having in much better situations would not exist. Being that there is very little health expenditure on first trimester fetuses, it is hard for me to see that artificial wombs would ever be considered cost effective replacements for the real thing, nor marketable products to research and develop.

If it was just about reducing the incidence of abortions - Dr. Clam is absolutely right, before Rowe vs Wade in the US, official abortion rates were dramatically lower - even if you add in plausible unofficial ones, the rate was very low. However, one would expect that the number of babies up for adoption would be proportionally greater - but they are not. One would also assume that the birth rate would be higher - it only dropped marginally and only for a short time afterwards. The birth rate is higher now - the pregnancy rate must be considerably higher. Obviously, plenty of people are now confident enough to live life on the edge of chaos, knowing they are cheating with a safety rope if they fall off.