Tuesday Highlights

Good morning

  1. Internal trauma and new tech.
  2. Asia arms.
  3. Internet faith/non-faith arguments and some issues seen from one side.
  4. Realpolitikand the President.
  5. Climate and re-distribution for whatever reason.
  6. More ghastly nonsense from the UN.
  7. I’d be guessing your average feminist is allergic to this kind of discussion.
  8. Conversion.
  9. Consistency.
  10. New government intrusions into healthcare.
  11. Well, to be honest … they are both acts of war and assassinations.
  12. Freedom of speech in Europe.
  13. Gosh … I guess that’s the same reason that no profession at all is reliably transmitted by film and TV or that the great majority of the founding/important men/women of any field are ignored, e.g., Emmy Noether. So, the question isn’t why Mr Douglass is ignored, but why should historical figures be an exception?

Gotta run. Have a good one.

11 responses to “Tuesday Highlights

  1. 9.Consistency.

    I think the problem is apples are being compared to oranges in the case of affirmative action at a school or business. It’s not just about how the school or business ‘treats people’ but also about how the people treat the school or business and what gets ignored here is the concept of synergy.

    Synergy, before it became an annoying buzzword, is the very real and objective fact that sometimes the sum is greater than its parts. Consider a middle sized midwest college who gets a new Dean. He has a vision of growing the college into a university. He proposes that 20% of seats be reserved for international students. He explains to the board that over the next few decades, the international students will broaden the alumni base and get the college’s name out around the world. But to make this happen, they have to invest now which means they have to sell the school to parents and students abroad. This means an aggressive recruitment effort, maybe scholarships, maybe waive certain entrance requirements.

    Sounds good but if you think about it a moment, most of the world is non-white. By reserving 20% of its seats for international students, whites are being disproportionately impacted. A modestly good white student who would have gotten in last year is turned down this year for the son of an Egyptian businessman who has a bit less impressive grades. (It might also impact American blacks)

    This may in fact impact whites in some disproportionate way, you can even call it a type of affirmative action. Yet I would not be sympathetic to an Equal Protection claim against it. Would you?

  2. 11.Well, to be honest … they are both acts of war and assassinations.

    Not quite sure what is meant by assassination here. If you simply mean the use of force with the intent to kill a specific individual who you know by name rather than ‘generic persons’ then yes some drone strikes may be assassinations (but probably not all, I can imagine a drone blowing up a group of people planting an IED by a roadside without ever knowing who they are).

    Act of war? Only if the targets were not legitimate targets in a conflict.

  3. Realpolitikand the President.

    so in one breath, the idea is that Obama weakens US foreign policy by yielding to niave Wilsonian notions of International Law and the UN. In another breath:

    11.Well, to be honest … they are both acts of war and assassinations.

    Obama simply cares about advancing US interests by riding over international war, committing acts of war on countries who are too weak or intimidated to really do anything about it.

    The real problem here is less the President than the President’s critics who never fail to drop whatever valid arguments they may mount against Obama’s FP by refusing to see that before you can say anything, you have to at least show some passing respect for coherence. Or to put it another way, until you can achieve a coherency to valid criticism ratio of greater than one, you have no claim to serious attention.

  4. Boonton,

    #11 was not about “Obama” and his actions, but about our discussion. You held that targetted attacks by drones are (a) not acts of war and (b) not assassination. I maintain they are both. This has nothing to do with Obama. The writer John Yoo agrees with you (that these are not assassinations). Well. They are. Deal with it. Interesting bed-fellows, you are arguing on the same side as Mr Yoo. You gonna lose your liberal credents.

    Uhm, Wilson may have been naive … but weak? He got us into WWI. I don’t know enough about the details of Mr Wilson’s notions of foreign intervention to have much of an opinion it as a coherent thing. So perhaps he is Wilsonian, perhaps not. The actual point being made was what Mr Obama isn’t is “Realpolitik” which the author defines. So … agree or not. Is he or isn’t he a practioner of “RealPolitik”?

  5. Boonton,
    Sorry I missed this.

    Act of war? Only if the targets were not legitimate targets in a conflict.

    Can you clarify that question/objection? A drone attack is an act of war. If it is within the context of a war, that is understood to be different than if not. The attack, no matter the location, is an act of war.

  6. The actual point being made was what Mr Obama isn’t is “Realpolitik” which the author defines. So … agree or not. Is he or isn’t he a practioner of “RealPolitik”?

    His definition is pretty fuzzy and subjective. Did Obama seek UN approval for drone strikes outside of Afghanistan and Iraq? Was UN intervention in Libya not an attempt to shape the international system for US interests? Despite the lack of intervention in Syria, the principle of getting approval does keep Russia or China from overtly propping up the regime…for example.

    Can you clarify that question/objection? A drone attack is an act of war. If it is within the context of a war, that is understood to be different than if not.

    It would be an act of war if it was an attack on a country rather than an attack in a country….an important distinction. Imagine some group sets up shop on a high mountain ‘cross the border in some poor country and starts firing rockets into another country. The poor country is unable to oust the group so the country under attack bombs their camp and rockets thereby ending the attack. Is this an attack on the poor country? I don’t think so.

    Such distinctions are pretty important. US troops, I believe, went into Mexico to stop Pancho Villa from mounting attacks on the US. That wasn’t read as declaring war on Mexico but acting in self defense.

  7. Boonton,
    So … you have a non-fuzzy definition? Where? What? Give it.

    Your seem to labor under the misunderstanding that all acts of war lead to war. Our troops going into Mexico to stop Mr Villa were an act of war, but our explanation was accepted by Mexico and therefore did not lead to a shooting war between Mexico and the US in the early 20th century. Just as China using drones (or any damn other means) to attack US citizens because they support rebels in their borders is an act of war, which in turn might or might not lead to a shooting war.

  8. So … you have a non-fuzzy definition? Where? What? Give it.

    Why? If you claim Obama absolutely is not a lubble, it’s pretty sensible to conclude you have some definition of what a lubble is. If you don’t I don’t have to provide you with one.

    Our troops going into Mexico to stop Mr Villa were an act of war, but our explanation was accepted by Mexico and therefore did …

    Whether or not they accept it is irrelevant. They could declare war in response, but it would not have been an act of war by the US to begin with hence the US would not be in violation of the UN Treaty’s prohibition on wars of aggression.

    I think the credibility metric is more important here. Coherency/valid criticisms > 1 or else you should go back to the drawing board. It’s one thing to argue Obama is breaking International law by attacking countries. It’s one thing to argue Obama isn’t willing to bend Interntional law to the advantage of the US. To make both arguments at once, though, requires much more or else the argument collapses. Sorta like that whole “Keep Gov’t out of my medicare” sign at the Tea Party rallies.

  9. Boonton,

    If you claim Obama absolutely is not a lubble, it’s pretty sensible to conclude you have some definition of what a lubble is.

    Ah, but a definition was given. Your objection is that this was a fuzzy lubble definition, which in turn suggests you had/have a non-fuzzy definition you prefer. If there are no non-fuzzy definitions of lubble then the point that the definition is fuzzy is not problematic.

    They could declare war in response, but it would not have been an act of war by the US to begin with hence the US would not be in violation of the UN Treaty’s prohibition on wars of aggression.

    It was an act of war by the US to begin with. It didn’t lead to war … so there wasn’t a war. And there was no UN at the time of Pancho Villa.

    It’s one thing to argue Obama is breaking International law by attacking countries. It’s one thing to argue Obama isn’t willing to bend Interntional law to the advantage of the US.

    It’s unclear why a person can’t break some law and hew religiously to others in inappropriate ways … or to object to that breaking but not this one.

  10. Ah, but a definition was given. Your objection is that this was a fuzzy lubble definition, which in turn suggests you had/have a non-fuzzy definition you prefer. If there are no non-fuzzy definitions of lubble then the point that the definition is fuzzy is not problematic.

    Not sure it was, but if you want one of RealPolitik I would say it signifies a utilitarian approach to foreign policy as opposed to an idealistic one. This means, for example, you can praise democracy yet side with a dictatorship against a democracy if it suits your national interests. You can abide by International law in some areas but break it in other areas all based on calculating what will ‘work’ best.

    This idea was developed around the time of the Nixon administration both as a response to the Soviets, who were supposedly great strategic thinkers (you may have heard the complaint “US leaders play checkers while Soviet ones play chess) and as merit for the Nixon/Kissenger foreign policy team. You’ll recall, no doubt, that Nixon reversed his youthful ‘pure’ anti-communism by opening relations with Communist China….with the idea that he would ‘outflank’ the USSR.

    As a criticism of Obama, it’s kind of fuzzy to be complaining on one hand about ‘lawless’ drone strikes and on the other hand about Obama not being ‘RealPolitik’. Let’s again review the credibility criterian

    (Coherency / valid arguments) > 1. If you want to launch two attacks at Obama….that he slavishly follows ‘international law’ AND that he violates law by reckless drone attacks, you have to be twice as coherent to compensate. Want to add another like he fails to advocate best practices amonst new democracies then you have to be 3x as coherent otherwise you collapse into a muddle.

    It was an act of war by the US to begin with. It didn’t lead to war … so there wasn’t a war. And there was no UN at the time of Pancho Villa.

    The UN wouldn’t have been a problem for the US back then either. I suggest you review article 51 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

  11. Boonton,

    As a criticism of Obama, it’s kind of fuzzy to be complaining on one hand about ‘lawless’ drone strikes and on the other hand about Obama not being ‘RealPolitik’. Let’s again review the credibility criterian

    That might be true if the “criticism” of Obama viz a viz Realpolitik came from anyone complaining about drone strikes. As it is not, I fail to see the relevance of this objection. If you recall from the original post, the claim was Obama supporters say Obama practices Realpolitik. The author doesn’t think he is. I think the author would agree with you that using drones illegally would be an argument for his being a RealP devotee.

    The UN wouldn’t have been a problem for the US back then either. I suggest you review article 51 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

    Huh? You brought up the UN. Then you are claiming that the UN isn’t a problem? I never claimed it was. I’m unclear on this UN avenue. Are you insisting I defend notions that drone attacks violate UN Charters? I have not claimed it does. I have claimed that these attacks (which you in *some* situations agree in fact (consider the China assault)) are acts of War but you are not consistent. I’m being consistent. You are “fuzzy” on what an act of war consists. An armed attack with ordnance on an foreign nation without their consent is clearly an act of war. I’m not clear on why you disagree with this.

    RealPolitik I would say it signifies a utilitarian approach to foreign policy as opposed to an idealistic one.

    If by “idealistic” you mean “based on principles” then I agree. Realpolitik seems to me to be an application of a utilitarian/consequentialist meta-ethic applied to foreign policy, a “results” over “principles” methodology. Kinda like saying using torture against war criminals is “realpolitik”, in that results are sought over principles (such as we do not torture as a principle … set aside for the results seeking).

    I think a better argument against Obama being a RealPolitik-er is that Realpolitik seeks a goal be it Communist world domination or National strength. I don’t think Obama has a goal or strategy but approaches each situation in a small tactical sense.

    Do you want to point to me objecting to Obama “slavishly” following international law? Perhaps what you refer to is his (?) and in general liberal notions that US internal jurisprudence should adhere to international norms and include those standards as part of US common law? Is that it? It’s unclear how objecting to that cannot go hand in hand with trying to have a discussion about the methods and morals for applying drone attacks on foreign nations without their consent. Frankly the Obama’s opinions and actions regarding drones is a distraction. The real meat of the discussion is the very ethics of using drones to attack civilians outside of a war zone in the first place. Mr Bush began the practice and Mr Obama has widely expanded it. Mr Bush began torture of war criminals and my guess would be that Mr Obama has continued it. You have (likely) argued against the use of torture. I agree with you that torture is wrong and should not be used. I argue however, against those (realpolitik?) people who argue that the reason we shouldn’t torture is that torture doesn’t work. I think that is wrong.

    The bone I pick with drones is two fold, first off, I don’t think it works … in that I think it is perceived by the people in the region of attack, like virtually every other instance of civilian targeted aerial bombardment that it “hardens” the political will of the area targeted against you. I also feel that assassination is wrong in principle and that (like torture) this principle is the reason we shouldn’t do it (that is the consequential works/doesn’t-work isn’t the reason not to do it. We don’t do it because it’s wrong).

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