Elus, on 02 May 2011 - 04:16 PM, said:
rwac, on 02 May 2011 - 02:40 PM, said:
This wasn't just some guy who got angry. This man had a significant hand in creating, funding AQ and organizing many terrorist attacks. Hardly the helpless "product of his environment". I can't believe I have to explain this.
How exactly do you suggest we resolve conflicts with barbarians ?
We are all products of our genes and our environment. Unless you're religious and subscribe to the notion of a soul, then there is nothing else left to determine who you are and what you will become. As I pointed out, in this day and age, we are pigeon-holed into using force to resolve such conflicts.
In another day and age, we may be able to treat people who are murderous and violent through a greater understanding of the brain. We could use this understanding to make a change in their biochemistry which reduces this behavior. Also, people of the future will have greater access to knowledge and that could in turn lead to greater moral understanding which would prevent such mishaps in the first place. It is a given that people like Osama are a danger to civilized society; therefore, they must be dealt with or removed. Given the choice, I believe most would choose to have a minor brain alteration (As will probably be common for recreational purposes), in order to be allowed back into society.
More on point, I don't death is something to be gloried, even if it is Osama who is dying. We cannot stoop to the level of an eye for an eye. Two wrongs do not make a right. To glorify an execution of a criminal is to glorify society-wide retribution for some act that the criminal has committed. If we want to move forward as a species, we have to look beyond the "easy", band aid solutions, and begin looking for something more humane. Given how precious life is on this planet, why must we perpetuate a cycle of violence that destroys even more life? No, I think it is our job not only to mourn these kind of situations where force is required, but to look for new solutions using our science and technology.
All I'm asking is that you not celebrate the death of men such as this. They are sick men, but they are also human. Much like a person who grows up with religious parents and is indoctrinated in that religion before his critical faculties develop, so too were these men raised in spheres polluted by hatred when they were young. They did not question the hatred, and it took over. We cannot redirect the hatred back at them, because that would promote the vicious cycle. In fact, Osama's death will be a rallying point for the resistance against US military occupation, and we've ultimately made life harder for ourselves by executing Osama.
Biochemical intervention is a promising avenue, but it would be pretty difficult to inoculate a population of potential terrorists, especially when you consider the dire situations of the states they emanate from. Additionally, several inmates at Guantanamo Bay have been administered psychotropic drugs, which for the most part, have yielded disappointing results. However, I imagine a more intensive therapy may offer more promising outcomes. But before that happens, there has to be sufficient evidence that behavior modification---be it pharmacological or through psychosurgery---can work for such subjects.
As for your second point, I share your abhorrence for acts of violence, and would prefer that less costly tools of policy be considered first. But you can't be naive enough to think that a pacifistic posture will greatly reduce the incidence of violence and be without substantial costs. Rather, there are immutable qualities in our nature and with the structure of our international system that will make violence a constant feature of daily living. Which with these realities, presents peace loving individuals with the unpleasant dilemma of either watching a city being ransacked, or intervening on the behalf of the besieged. As this relates to Al-Qaeda, principled pacifism carries the risk of exposing populations to tyrannically regressive rule, unremitting violence, compounding the fragility of the international marketplace, creating an environment where deviant state actors and non-state actors are allowed to behave with impunity, and trivializing the international laws and institutions meant to promote peace and stability. So by punishing Al-Qaeda, the system that we've created for deterring conflict is bolstered, because such a response transmits a signal to other actors that acts of violence will not be a cost-free enterprise, which as a consequence, modifies their behavior in an admittedly difficult to quantify way. But is this system working? Judging by the incidence of interstate and intrastate violence, and the number of attributable deaths as a percentage of the population, I think it would be fair to say yes. Because in consideration of just these two criterions, it has been proposed that we're living in the most peaceful period in recorded history. Of course, this relatively more peaceful state is not owing entirely to military intervention and extended deterrence, but I think there is little ground to devalue it to a marginal variable.
Further, I think it would be a mistake to reduce the motivations of terrorist organizations monocausally to the ostensible "imperialism"---or whatever one wants to call it---of the West. To be sure, there almost certainly will be a response to his death, but when an organization is deprived of a galvanizing figure like Bin Laden, its operational capacity will probably be degraded----depending on organizational developments---- to a state far less than it would've been if it was left unmolested. And although its a matter of some debate, I think the evidence supports the use of decapitation strategies as being more palatable, and sometimes more effective than some of the more conventional choices---like overwhelming force.
As an additional note, I'd be careful of your use of the word "occupation," because it suggests that a majority of the host population wants us to depart---which is definitely not supported by the polling data---and that we're operating without the sanction of the ruling government, which is also clearly not true. In fact, the Taliban fares quite poorly in surveys---never managing to gain the support of more than 10%---and when given the choice of a Karzai government or a return to Taliban rule, the overwhelming majority of the population supports the former option. The Brookings Institution reports provide a fairly reliable picture of the country's mood, and more often than not, so do the surveys conducted by the BBC. How are they successful then? They subdue populations through force, and capitalize on the failings of governments.
Just an observation---and not directed at Elus, but I've found self-described pacifists to be quite indifferent to the suffering of populations abroad. Which is more than a bit counterintuitive I suppose, and greatly diminishes their credibility. In my view, those that truly loath warfare are the ones willing to use force sufficient to make the act almost unthinkable.
Edited by Rol82, 08 May 2011 - 11:50 PM.