Curiosity about the use of force?


Zzarchov
#1
I notice alot of people are under the view that using force (ie war) to force on a country is wrong, even if the country is quite horrid by our standards.

But I also notice alot of opposition to authoritarian and oppressive policies being introduced in our country, which are also practiced (much worse) in those other countries.

So, the question is. If our own country started going absolutely raving mad (becoming a racist, theocratic dictatorship with scant rule of law), what would you do? You already oppose the use of force to oust a government of that style?

Peaceful protest? etc? When do you draw the line between right to intervene with force and wrong? Is it lines in the sand? Police actions? (small scale such as cops arrested a rapist or large scale like invading sudan to stop darfur),

What is your stance?
 
the caracal kid
#2
interesting question.

we are very good at creating justifications for seeing things that are not all that different as being glaringly different.

As a pacifist my choice would be peaceful resistance/rejection, either here or there. To me, "here" and "there" are not so different. Only people's biases lead them to think otherwise.
 
Toro
#3
I'm curious about Curiosity.

Where'd she go?
 
Zzarchov
#4
I guess people don't like to answer tough questions.
 
Pangloss
#5
Maybe people either need to think before they answer, or maybe they just aren't interested. . .

Myself - civil disobedience, with more dramatic actions fitting the more dramatic injustice. Perhaps it means my own destruction (something I really fear), but betraying myself and the values I hold dear? Naah, that'd be too hard to live with.

Years and years and years ago, I had a dinner party where the subject was Afghanistan. I argued for military intervention, and force a free vote in the country as to what government the people wanted - if they voted the Taliban back in, fine. If they voted for a liberal democracy, then we should stay and help them.

I was roundly attacked as a cultural imperialist and a hawk.

Does that address your question?

Pangloss
 
SVMc
#6
Quote:

I notice alot of people are under the view that using force (ie war) to force on a country is wrong, even if the country is quite horrid by our standards.

But I also notice alot of opposition to authoritarian and oppressive policies being introduced in our country, which are also practiced (much worse) in those other countries.

So, the question is. If our own country started going absolutely raving mad (becoming a racist, theocratic dictatorship with scant rule of law), what would you do? You already oppose the use of force to oust a government of that style?

I think this question pre-supposes that physical force or peaceful resistance are the only options.

There is a basic fallacy here, that if I am opposed to the encroachment on civil liberties in my own country and I am also opposed to the more sever limitations and outright denial of civil liberties in other countries then if I would support armed struggle in my own country to combat an authoritative regime (which I am not conceding) then I would also be hypocritical to not support military tactics used in the name of "freedom" in another country. The logic does not necessarily flow this way.

First lets look at why we do or do not support the use of force in another country in the current situation. Going back to Westphalia, it was recognized that when states were not treated as soverign entities with the ability to rule in their own territory that war was widespread. So the choice for one state to negate the ability of another state to rule in it's own territory is a matter we need to take very seriously.

The compunction for using state force against another state in the current context has been phrased in the dialogue of freedom for the people, we endorse outside state action on two principals: first that we can agree that the state who is being acted against is not ruling in the best interest of it's people, and second, that there is a clear desire by a significant portion of the population for outside intervention.

This is where the UN is particularly helpful (for whatever flaws it has of being slow). It is increasingly important that if we are to respect our own rights not to be invaded by another state who does not agree with out governance model then we must also seek agreement from a community of states that there is a international communal desire to and recognized need to infringe upon a states governance.

If it can be agreed that there is a state who is not acting in the best interest of the people and that there is reasonable international concensus that action must be taken then the second reason to oppose force would be the question of if force is the most effective way to benefit the people who are being harmed by the state.

We know that war is going to kill people, innocent people, it will devistate an economy, and cripple the infrastructure, in this context war / violence / overt force should only be a last resort. This tends to be the point of common differentiation in belief systems where people who don't support a particular (or any) war believe that all other options were not examined or sometimes even referenced before the move to all out war was made.

If we now move to the opposition to the removal of our own civil liberties, then I would say that it is useless to argue in a hypothetical situation of a corrupt and repressive state that is not currently in existance, and it is the obligation of citizens to act in all means possible short of violence, but including non-violent civil disobedience to make a government accountable to the population before it can degenerate into such a state.
 
Zzarchov
#7
I am not at all suggesting that violence is the only solution.
But civil disobediance does not impact anyone unless their is threat of force in retalition. If there had been no October Revolt , The Czar would have made bloody sunday a routine event.
They chose peaceful civil disobedience, he countered by shooting and bayonetting them all to death. The only thing that stopped him, was physical force.
The rules do not cease to apply when the scale is increased. Just as police cannot arrest people without the use or threat of force, no can you force anyone to comply with your wishes or views without the same threat.

You also should re-read about Westphalia, assuming all countries were to concede to the western concept of sovereignty (note that most of the world never agreed to this concept) AND you got rid of the part where you are awarded sovereignty by the pope in exchange for the more modern "populist sovereignty" (will of the people).

Then you must use the sovereignty system, where there is no over-riding rules, if you wish to invade your fellow neighbour tommorow, go for it. The reprecussion was always a careful web of alliances where you would get embroiled in a massive war.
WWI showed the downside of that system.
Even in such a case, if the government does not rule with the peoples consent, it is not sovereign.

And, there is still no way for civil disobediance to impact a government who does not value human life, without the threat of force.
 
L Gilbert
No Party Affiliation
#8
Right. The degree of reply as well as the reply itself to a circumstance is highly variable. Difficult to say what the reply should be with limited definitions of the variables.
 
earth_as_one
#9
There are lots of non-violent ways to brig a country to its knees. Imagine if everyone just stayed home for one day.

Leaders only have power if people follow them.

Ghandi and King are examples of what can be achieved by non-violence. But non-violent resistance won't work against a Polar Bear. Sometimes you have to fight.
 
Zzarchov
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by earth_as_one View Post

There are lots of non-violent ways to brig a country to its knees. Imagine if everyone just stayed home for one day.

Leaders only have power if people follow them.

Ghandi and King are examples of what can be achieved by non-violence. But non-violent resistance won't work against a Polar Bear. Sometimes you have to fight.

But Ghandi did operate with the spectre of violence looming. King also operated in such an environment, while they were not part of that seperate movement..the existence of the violent movement meant that simply killing them brazenly would lead to violence.You also need to think about what a leader truly cares about.
Alot of leaders don't care what various minorities or dissidents do. It only the looming shadow of backlash that keeps them from simply killing everyone opposed to them.
If everyone just sat at home, that would do nothing to deter a nation which did not care for their wellbeing. If you had something they wanted they would shoot you and take it. If you don't work so long you starve to death, again..they don't care.
It may sound exterme, but many nations have, and continue, to operate in this manner.
 
earth_as_one
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by Zzarchov View Post

But Ghandi did operate with the spectre of violence looming. King also operated in such an environment, while they were not part of that seperate movement..the existence of the violent movement meant that simply killing them brazenly would lead to violence.You also need to think about what a leader truly cares about.
Alot of leaders don't care what various minorities or dissidents do. It only the looming shadow of backlash that keeps them from simply killing everyone opposed to them.
If everyone just sat at home, that would do nothing to deter a nation which did not care for their wellbeing. If you had something they wanted they would shoot you and take it. If you don't work so long you starve to death, again..they don't care.
It may sound exterme, but many nations have, and continue, to operate in this manner.

At no time did Ghandi ever advocate violence. Neither did Martin Luther King. Non-violence is a strategy which depends on your adversary having a conscience. If your adversary doesn't have a conscience then it won't work.

But all human beings at a fundamental level have a conscience. Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong. Its far easier to kill someone who intends to harm you than killing or beating someone who intends you no harm.

Ghandi's salt march makes this point:
http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Dandi.html

Ghandi and others who disobeyed the law to make salt were beaten harshly. Many people died. But the British soldiers who were tasked with upholding the law could only beat and kill so many non-violent people. Eventually they grew sick of their actions and their consciences prevented them beating/killing more people who intended them no harm. How long can anyone club unarmed people who tell you they forgive you as you club them.

When the soldiers tired of beating unarmed people who forgave them for beating them, Ghandi won and Indians gained the right to make salt.

Its easy to fight in self defense or fight people who fight back. But try beating on someone who offers no resistance. Sooner or later, everyone has to look in the mirror. If you've been beating non-violent people senseless, eventually it wears you down until finally you can't stand to look at yourself in the mirror and you refuse to participate.

Non-violence can defeat any human adversary.
 
able
#12
von Clausewitz put it this way, the military is the ultimate extension of diplomacy. Who are we to decide what other countries do to their own people? Then it shifts to civil rights, so where is this supposed to be going? During the 30s, the Spanish civil war was raging, and unlike today, the young men had the courage of their convictions, started their own battallions and fought in the war. More and more, I notice that todays young men are content to have strong opinions and then allow others to fight the battles. If you care enough to have an opinion, then you should care enough to bear arms. Having been in the military, and knowing how short the half life of the public's appreciation, I feel sorry for the young men who are dying for causes that won't even be remembered in five years. If someone believes that we should interfere in other countries affairs, then by God you better get involved, wars don't need cheerleaders they need battle hardened veterans. Now, on to civil rights, if there is injustice to some, then it is only a matter of time before it will be injustice for all. Don't discuss it, get off your butt and do something. High minded principles sound great but if you don't do something, then nothing happens.
 
Pangloss
#13
Able:

Actually here is Von Clausewitz:

As of 10 Jul 1827, Clausewitz regarded the first six books "merely as a rather formless mass that must be thoroughly reworked once more." The revision would aim to bring out the two kinds of war more clearly: first, war that aimed to "overthrow the enemy;" and second, war that aimed "merely to occupy some of his frontier districts." He also aimed to make clear the point that "war is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means."

That is from Clausewitz.com.

And I agree with you, talk-action=nothing. Old punk rock slogan.

Pangloss
 
Vicious_Paperclip
#14
This question can really not be answered with a general statement. No one can "yes I would take up arms against the etc etc" or "I never would etc etc". Without knowing the complete circumstances of the situation and the events that led to the countries state, no one can give a definitive answer. For example: Someone who lost a loved one due to something the government did or has done would be more likely to accept the use of force against said government. A country like Canada would have to change very drastically to compel me to take up arms against the government.

A thing to consider with this question is: Does the government in question allow for peaceful protest?
In earlier responses Martin Luther King was used as an example so I'll use him as an example again here.

Martin Luther King, and I really don't mean to belittle his accomplishments, lived in a country that had some general human rights already present in it's constitution. Martin Luther King, and the following that he was largely responsible for creating, used peaceful protests to change an already existing policy in a country with some defined human rights. The right to protest against the government was already present in the United States at the time. A simple protest was not an unlawful act, even if the protest was staged by a person of color. They were not breaking the law to prove their point.

If a country has laws against protesting, and the countries security forces are willing to enforce the policy, then a peaceful protest will not be effective. The movements will simply be eradicated before they can ever rise to anything significant. In such a case the only real choice is to use force against the government. To further use the example of colored people in the united states, it toke a civil war to give the oppressed their first rights. It was only after some of these rights had been established that peaceful protest was seen as a viable option.

My point here is, and I am sorry if I am rambling: In order for peaceful protest to be feasible, some basic rights have to be present. I personally would use force to accomplish these basic rights, as I see it there is no real alternative to force to gain the most basic of rights. After these rights are established peaceful protest can take place.

Quote:

So, the question is. If our own country started going absolutely raving mad (becoming a racist, theocratic dictatorship with scant rule of law), what would you do? You already oppose the use of force to oust a government of that style?
Peaceful protest? etc? When do you draw the line between right to intervene with force and wrong? Is it lines in the sand? Police actions? (small scale such as cops arrested a rapist or large scale like invading Sudan to stop Darfur)



Something like the crisis in Darfur does, in my mind anyway, warrant immediate military action. My justification for this being that so many people are suffering at the hands of the governments policies. The government is not interested in diplomacy and sanctions against the government have failed in the past and will continue to fail. The most effective sanctions are those that take commodities from the people of that country, encouraging the people of said country to rise against the government. In the case of Darfur it would be both cruel and useless to take anything from the general population. This does not leave many options for foreign powers. Beyond sanctions there is not many other peaceful forms of influence that can be used against a country like Sudan.
 
earth_as_one
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by able View Post

von Clausewitz put it this way, the military is the ultimate extension of diplomacy. Who are we to decide what other countries do to their own people? Then it shifts to civil rights, so where is this supposed to be going? During the 30s, the Spanish civil war was raging, and unlike today, the young men had the courage of their convictions, started their own battallions and fought in the war. More and more, I notice that todays young men are content to have strong opinions and then allow others to fight the battles. If you care enough to have an opinion, then you should care enough to bear arms. Having been in the military, and knowing how short the half life of the public's appreciation, I feel sorry for the young men who are dying for causes that won't even be remembered in five years. If someone believes that we should interfere in other countries affairs, then by God you better get involved, wars don't need cheerleaders they need battle hardened veterans. Now, on to civil rights, if there is injustice to some, then it is only a matter of time before it will be injustice for all. Don't discuss it, get off your butt and do something. High minded principles sound great but if you don't do something, then nothing happens.

Resorting to military force is a sign of failed diplomacy. It means the adversaries failed to come to a mutually acceptable agreement which avoids war. War is risky and its results are uncertain. One side or both are going to come out of war with less than they had going in. A diplomatic settlement which results in a win-win solution is predictably a winning solution for both sides.

Many people volunteer to fight when they believe in the cause strongly enough. The first post in this string...

http://forums.canadiancontent.net/in...heid-wall.html

...links to amazing footage by a couple of brave Americans who risked their safety to fight non-violently against Israel's violent and ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine of Palestinians.

While indivuals may be intelligent, people as a group are stupid and easily manipulated. The build up to the Iraq war is a good example. There never was any solid evidence supporting the American government's accusations that Iraq possessed WMDs or was working with al Qaeda. Yet it was easy for the people who control the media to convince the mob through fear and patriotism to support lynching Saddam Hussein.

Quote:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials
http://www.snopes.com/quotes/goering.htm

The mob never thought too hard about what they were told about Iraq before the war. The media told us that thinking would have been unpatriotic and dangerous. But as more of American's finest come home in wooden boxes, more people are beginning think. More people are beginning to see that war involves more killing and destruction than they originally thought.

Images were available soon after the war began, but most Americans never saw them:

WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES OF THE US LED INVASION OF IRAQ:
http://www.robert-fisk.com/iraqwarvictims_mar2003.htm

If those images were shown by the media, then more people would have started thinking sooner. But what the media tells us is based more on furthering the agenda of our leaders, rather than actually informing us, provoking intelligent discussion or critical thought.

People should have known that death and destruction are consequences of war. But few people considered that.

That's not to say the Iraq war has been a complete failure. Success depends on how its measured. If you look at how many people have died and will die, then this war appears to have been an unmitigated disaster. But if you look at how much profit this war generates for corporations (which rebuild oil infrastructure, sell arms, offer mercenary services...) then the Iraq war is a resounding success.

Halliburton stock since March 2003:
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=HAL&t=5y

The Iraq war is also another example of how people still do volunteer to fight, when they believe the cause is just. Look at this war from an Iraqi insurgent viewpoint. I doubt many fight for profit. Most are probably volunteers. Many of them have probably suffered personally as a result of the invasion and their motivation is to rid their nation of hostile foreigners intent on stealing their nation's oil wealth.

By the way, I believe the Iraqi people could defeat the hostile foreigners through non-violent means. It would take longer, but would have resulted in far fewer deaths. The Iraqi people could have used Ghandi-like tactics to march on and take over Iraq's oil facilities. Once the profit disappears, so do the foreigners.
Last edited by earth_as_one; Apr 30th, 2007 at 09:02 AM..
 
able
#16
Don't know how to tell you this, but we're out of fresh meat. We have reservists and 19 year olds in Afghanistan now, and we don't seem to be winning in fact, if you really searched, you might even find 17 year olds. The truth of the matter is, Canada doesn't have the men or the weapons to fight an extended campaign against a determined foe who is willing to die for his cause. Thanks Pangloss, my lazy memory failed me and I just put down what seemed to be the easiest.
 
jimmoyer
#17
By the way, I believe the Iraqi people could defeat the hostile foreigners through non-violent means. It would take longer, but would have resulted in far fewer deaths. The Iraqi people could have used Ghandi-like tactics to march on and take over Iraq's oil facilities. Once the profit disappears, so do the foreigners.
--------------------------------------------------earth_as_one------------------------------------------------------

I heard an interesting point made on C-SPAN this weekend from a panel of authors who
wrote various books on terrorism.

The one guy was an Isreali prison guard who developed a relationship with one of the Palestinian
prisoners. This guard aspired to be a writer journalist and was curious enough to know what
the OTHER SIDE thought.

He said he wanted to find someone who was a thinker, who was not entirely lockstep
with his own side. The ideologues, the fanatics are boring, because there is no 2-way conversation,
no chance to learn, no chance to change each other's minds.

But this one prisoner expressed some doubt about his own side, as the guard did about the
Israeli side.

But this Israeli guard having grown up in the USA mentioned the American Civil Rights movement
of Martin Luther King patterned after Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Ghandi's practice of it,
telling this Palestinian how the blacks bravely marched in Selma being sprayed by water cannon.

The Palestinian responded with disgust, not seeing the moral highground of the black's non-
violent civil disobedience, but rather recoiling over how he himself would not submit to having
his own honor impugned and abused like that.

Perhaps we should examine how deep this sense of honor goes and their cultural isolation
from this idea of civil disobedience.

It did not compute for this Palestinian how a peaceful march on an Israeli settlement might
have been more powerful.
 

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