The Taliban"s usage of child suicide bombers in this video cannot be excused by any moral relativism
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As the fighting intensifies between Al-Qaeda and American insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, so too do the desires to end it at any cost. Fueled by their zealous beliefs, Al-Qaeda has enticed the youth of Afghanistan into joining their terrorist activities, specifically their suicide bombings. They either outright lie to their younger proteges, leading them to believe they would survive a bomb detonating beneath their vest (as seen at 13:05 in the video), or they convince the teenagers that to kill oneself in this manner is acceptable and would still enable them to enter Paradise.
However, can we, as Americans, truly understand our opponent's final goal? As a secular nation, even with our Christian undertones, we do not know how it feels to have one's entire life revolve around one's religion. We chose to keep the church and the state separate, so how could we ever understand a nation who has based not only their lifestyle but their entire government on Sharia Law? How would we feel if an entire nation invaded our home and tried to upset a culture and government that had been standing for hundreds of years? Wouldn't we feel obligated to protect ourselves by any means necessary? Wouldn't we feel threatened?
For the sake of this debate, I am willing to say that the Taliban's usage of child bomber's can be excused by moral relativism.
They are not the first to employ these underhanded means of warfare. Throughout history, we have had child soldiers conscripted into our armies. Those child soldiers were the sons of farmers and other working classes, drafted into the service to protect their homeland. Even today, through more subtle means such as advertising campaigns, immature young men are lured into joining the military. As quoted from an article by In These Times:
"While the age of legal and cultural adulthood can vary, science is now able to determine the physiological markers of maturity. A recent study headed by Jay Giedd of the National Institutes of Health using MRI scans shows that the brain of an 18-year-old is not fully developed, with the limbic cortex-brain structures, the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex still undergoing substantial changes. ... A mature prefrontal cortex, 'the area of sober second thought,' is vital not only to deciding whether to enlist, but also to choices made under the stress of deployment and the terrors of combat. But the prefrontal cortex, 'important for controlling impulses, is among the last brain regions to mature," according to Giedd, and doesn"t reach "adult dimensions until the early 20s.' Teenagers" brains simply lack the impulse control that can prevent a lifetime of regret, psychological and physical disability, and preventable deaths"their own, their fellow soldiers" and those of civilians. ... In 2002, almost half of Marine recruits were 17 or 18. A Pentagon survey found that "for both males and females, propensity [to enlist] is highest among 16- and 17-year-olds." That 'propensity' quickly declines with age.
A 2004 Pentagon database listed the number of 16- and 17-year-olds who applied for active service enlistment at 69,000 and 18-year-olds at 73,000. By 19, the count had dropped to 49,000 and by age 24 had plummeted to 9,700." ( http://inthesetimes.com... )
They aim even lower than the teenage years with the JROTC; dazzling children with uniforms, medals, and real guns.
We may not be strapping bombs to our soldiers, but we certainly are setting them on a path of self-destruction if we push them to commit to a lifelong vocation that they may not entirely understand.
I object to your use of the term 'mentally sick.' According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, "[a] mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life." These mens' lives are not compromised by an inability to relate to others, nor are they unable to function within their daily lives. In fact, they are extremely capable in persuading others into joining their efforts. They know exactly what they are doing, and that's simply the way the world works for them. Is it different in comparison to what America would do if we were in their shoes in this day and age? Absolutely. But that doesn't enable us to pass judgement on them.
>The mindset of a child is to try and fit in, if everyone is doing suicide bombings, shouldn't you be doing it too?
But who's to say the child himself does it simply to fulfill either his peers' or his elders' desires? Who makes that call? It's easy to assume the child might be pressured into this, but it's entirely glossing over what the child desires himself. There might be a kid over there who honestly wants to protect his country, and that mindset is cultivated further when his teachers encourage that idea. They claim to be able to provide him the means to serve his God, and he believes it. To that child, the teachers weren't lying.
>It is immoral to harm someone else for your own good.
However this happens everyday in America. Crime and gun violence are on the rise within the country, not to mention the white-collar crime that is far less publicized but by no means less damaging. We commit immoral acts upon each other everyday, but we're very quick to judge a society and tear them down rather than take a critical look at ourselves.
>People were writing their god's name on toilet paper
And that's honestly upsetting to their culture. They highly cherish Mohammed and Allah, and to write their names either on a dirty bathroom stall or on tissue paper that people use to wipe their excrement is understandably taboo to them. That's the equivalent of taking a beloved relative's or celebrity's photo and using it in the same fashion as toilet paper.
>One of the heads of the Taliban said when he was asked about his views on teen suicide bombings, "When I look up there's a tiger sitting, when I look down there is a river flowing." In other words, he wants to keep his feelings a secret. We know deep down that he knows it is wrong, but is trying to save face.
I disagree with you there. Far from keeping his feelings secret, he acknowledges that it's an extremely difficult choice to make but that they are willing to make it all the same. The saying is the equivalent to "Between a rock and a hard place" and "Between the devil and the deep blue sea." What he wants to demonstrate by this is that he and his people are willing to make incredibly difficult choices as long as the Americans are within their country, and if suicide bombings are a result then so be it.
>If they believe so fondly in it, and want to make it to "paradise," why don't they just do the bombings themselves?
The only thing I can think of to respond to that is drawing a parallel between them and any general or leader in the United States. They hold the power to command and lead others, and have the experience and the know-how on which ways to proceed in the war effort. They will always look for those who will be able to carry out their ideas while they stay behind and continue to make plans that will stump the enemy.
Church and state are separated in America so we don't get a full grasp on their goal. But their governing ways don't have to do with their goals. Their goals are about power and money so the religious aspect kind of gets thrown out the window.
>Wouldn't we feel obligated to protect ourselves by any means necessary?
There are plenty of ways to defend than using teenagers as bombers, they are corrupting young minds.
I understand your point that there has been children in warfare in the past, but I don't think anywhere comparable to this. To have them be suicide bombers is much different than fighting in combat. Also, those kids knew what they were doing, the bombers didn't know that they had bombs attached to them, and the ones that did thought they were going to survive.
JROTC is a little different, the acts these bombers are committing are more violent and towards innocent people. JROTC and youth's that want to enlist are doing it for the protection of our nation, not to harm innocent people.
That's the thing though, the way they want to govern the the people and their goals are one and the same. They want to lead the people under a unified Muslim code and to keep foreigners out of their homeland. The money isn't the objective so much as it is a means to an end.
>There are plenty of other ways to defend than using teenagers as bombers...
True, like how we're using drones to unexpectedly and totally annihilate terrorists at the cost of innocent bystanders as well. If it's morally wrong to teach children to kill themselves and others via suicide bombings, then it's equally wrong to teach them that it's okay to take out "the bad guys" at the risk of accidentally killing those who were innocent. Therefore we can't judge their actions by trying to justify our own.
>...there has been child warfare in the past, but I don't think anywhere comparable to this. To have them be suicide bombers is much different than fighting in combat.
How different can it really be though? The result is the same: the children will end up dead. We've knowingly sent children to their deaths before, just as the Taliban are doing now. There's never a guarantee that a child would survive warfare anyways. And even if they did, they'd be severely traumatized.
>JROTC and youths that want to enlist are doing it for the protection of our nation, not to harm innocent people.
This one's a bit of a two-part answer here. It's not necessarily true that the young men and women who enlist do it to protect the nation and not harm the innocent. As we saw in the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal in the early 2000s, men and women of the armed forces absolutely went beyond the limits as to what was humane, let alone legal. Here's a quick reference point: http://en.wikipedia.org... How is the systematic torture of prisoners protecting our country?
For the second part of the answer, it's not necessarily true that American soldiers won't harm the innocent. In the late 1960s, in the Vietnam War, there came an event called the My Lai Massacre. Women, children, and infants were tortured and killed by American soldiers. The women themselves were raped and even brutally mutilated. Only three men of out the entire company tried to stop these heinous crimes, but were called traitors and shunned for it. It was only posthumously were they recognized for trying to do the right thing. Here's the link for reference: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Suicide bombings are much different than combat. In combat soldiers usually fight other soldiers. As a suicide bomber, you have no control of the radius of the bomb. There could be a 3 month old baby in the bomb radius and you will have no control of their death.
>There is no guarantee that a child will survive warfare anyway
Anyone who is battling is guaranteed to survive. But, having a bomb on your chest is a guaranteed death. At least being a youth in combat you have the power to retaliate or defend yourself.
1) As Americans, we cannot pass judgement on the Taliban's decisions to use children as suicide bombers. Their culture is so far different from ours that we cannot hope to place ourselves in their shoes in order to understand, therefore we cannot judge them.
2) Their religious and political ideals are one in the same. You cannot differentiate between the Muslim faith and the government because they are irrevocably connected through hundreds of years of Sharia Law. Their religious and governmental goals, therefore, are the same: to oust the infidels from their homeland at any cost. One of those costs are child suicide bombers. If we were in the same position as them, ie invaded by foreign forces, we would feel just as desperate to get those people out.
3) They are not the first, nor will they be the last, to make use of child soldiers. Throughout history, we ourselves have drafted America's youth into fighting in our wars. If we've done it before, what makes us able to judge the Taliban?
4) Proponents claim that the children are too young to fully accept and understand the situation they've been put in and that it's cruel. I'm not denying the cruelty of it all, though I wish to point out that we do the same to our 16 and 17 year-olds who sign up to join the military. As teenagers, they lack the impulse control that can prevent a lifetime of regret, and the military takes full advantage of this. The JROTC is even worse in this respect in that it glamorizes the military life and conditions a child to think that the military is the place for them. While this is different from strapping a bomb to them directly, the American military sets them on almost the same path.
5) The Taliban are not mentally sick, they know exactly what they are doing and that is simply how things are for them.
6) There's no absolutely way to know whether all the children are lied to about the bombs strapped to their bodies or that they go along with the plan in order to fulfill the expectations of them. It can just as easily be said that the child honestly wants to serve their God in a way they've been taught, along with protecting his country and people from the American forces.
7) It may be immoral to harm someone else for you own good, but that happens everyday in America, whether it's street violence or white-collar crime.
8) They feel absolutely justified in their actions, since they feel their God and their Prophet have been insulted. The only way they know how to respond is through a violent reaction.
9) "When I look up there's a tiger sitting. When I look down there is a river flowing." The Taliban make it clear that they're aware of how heinous their choices may be, but that they are willing to make horrific decisions at any cost, so long as their way of life feels threatened.
10) We ourselves are not exempt from taking innocent lives while trying to take out our enemies. We killed a wedding party's march with a drone a couple months back, thinking we were attacking a terrorist caravan. If it's morally wrong to teach children to kill themselves and others via suicide bombings, then it's equally wrong to teach them that it's okay to take out "the bad guys" at the risk of accidentally killing those who were innocent. We cannot judge their actions by trying to justify our own.
11) There is never a guarantee that a child will survive warfare, so while the process of how they die may be different, the end result will be the same: the child will die. There is absolutely no guarantee that a kid would survive a gunfight in combat, just like they have no guarantee they'll survive a suicide bombing. In a warzone, everyone is a soldier, which means that if a child is out there fighting, they are definitely going to be killed. Being able to defend oneself does not mean that you'll survive the fight.
Those are all the points I could come up with in favor of my argument that the child suicide bombers actually can be excused by moral relativism.
We can judge them because on a moral standard what they are doing is wrong. They are lying to kids about what their exact mission is.
> They are not the first, nor will they be the last, to make use of child soldiers. Throughout history, we ourselves have drafted America's youth into fighting in our wars. If we've done it before, what makes us able to judge the Taliban?
They may not be the first and they are not the last but what they are doing to these children is wrong. They can't defend themselves so it is very different than youth in wars.
> Proponents claim that the children are too young to fully accept and understand the situation they've been put in and that it's cruel. I'm not denying the cruelty of it all, though I wish to point out that we do the same to our 16 and 17 year-olds who sign up to join the military. As teenagers, they lack the impulse control that can prevent a lifetime of regret, and the military takes full advantage of this. The JROTC is even worse in this respect in that it glamorizes the military life and conditions a child to think that the military is the place for them. While this is different from strapping a bomb to them directly, the American military sets them on almost the same path
JROTC trains you to become accustom to the superior, honorable military standard at a young age. At that age you are very impressionable and will take those commands and use them in everyday life. Unlike the Taliban, JROTC teaches young ones the proper ways to battle and to deal with harmful situations. The Taliban teaches you to go to a random building or area and blow yourself up with dozens of innocent people.
> It may be immoral to harm someone else for you own good, but that happens everyday in America, whether it's street violence or white-collar crime.
Just because it happens everyday doesn't make it moral. It can happen once a year or once every 10 minutes, it will still be wrong.
>11) There is never a guarantee that a child will survive warfare, so while the process of how they die may be different, the end result will be the same: the child will die. There is absolutely no guarantee that a kid would survive a gunfight in combat, just like they have no guarantee they'll survive a suicide bombing. In a warzone, everyone is a soldier, which means that if a child is out there fighting, they are definitely going to be killed. Being able to defend oneself does not mean that you'll survive the fight.
If there is absolutely no guarantee that the kid would survive, then why do we put them in that situation in the first place?
In conclusion I think that child suicide bombers are inexcuseable.
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