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Debate Discussion - Morality and War

wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 11:28:49 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
This thread is set up as a discussion thread for an ensuing debate titled "All Else Being the Same, a Moral Position in War is Untenable".
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 11:38:31 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The debate is here:

http://www.debate.org...
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
cmshelton98
Posts: 2
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2/9/2015 11:58:05 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
A moral person, untenable? Would you not call people like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill moral? Or God, if you choose to believe in religion? War is started, most of the time, by the immoral. I truly believe that the moral and immoral are always fighting, all the time trying to get the upper hand. But the people like Stalin, Putin, Hitler, Castro... People like that are moral in their own way. They might not be in your eyes, sir, but they are in their eyes and the eyes of the people that they represent. To Great Britain, they might believe that people like Samuel Adams or Thomas Jefferson are immoral, but to the Americans, are they? They fought against the British, but the won us our independence. That's not immoral, is it, sir? The importance of morality in war is so that there ARE people to rise up against the immorality of the other side, to stand up for the popular belief of the people. True, no one is fully moral, because then they'd be perfect. But sir, there are moral people in war.
In deep sadness there is no place for sentimentality.

William S. Burroughs
wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 12:08:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 11:58:05 AM, cmshelton98 wrote:
A moral person, untenable? Would you not call people like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill moral? Or God, if you choose to believe in religion? War is started, most of the time, by the immoral. I truly believe that the moral and immoral are always fighting, all the time trying to get the upper hand. But the people like Stalin, Putin, Hitler, Castro... People like that are moral in their own way. They might not be in your eyes, sir, but they are in their eyes and the eyes of the people that they represent. To Great Britain, they might believe that people like Samuel Adams or Thomas Jefferson are immoral, but to the Americans, are they? They fought against the British, but the won us our independence. That's not immoral, is it, sir? The importance of morality in war is so that there ARE people to rise up against the immorality of the other side, to stand up for the popular belief of the people. True, no one is fully moral, because then they'd be perfect. But sir, there are moral people in war.

This isn't about "moral people in war" but whether or not one side in a conflict can adhere to a moral standard. So, an individual's sense of morality would only be relevant if that morality was held by the rest of the people of that country, which is why I defined NationA's moral code in the debate.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
cmshelton98
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2/9/2015 12:14:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
The country too can be moral, but every nation will have ulterior motives in the end. That does not mean that the body of people will be immoral in itself, but the country will seek it's benefits because they believe they deserve it, which is not wrong.
In deep sadness there is no place for sentimentality.

William S. Burroughs
wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 12:52:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 12:14:19 PM, cmshelton98 wrote:
The country too can be moral, but every nation will have ulterior motives in the end. That does not mean that the body of people will be immoral in itself, but the country will seek it's benefits because they believe they deserve it, which is not wrong.

This is fairly close to what I believe as well.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Jingle_Bombs
Posts: 27
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2/9/2015 1:15:57 PM
Posted: 1 year ago

This isn't about "moral people in war" but whether or not one side in a conflict can adhere to a moral standard. So, an individual's sense of morality would only be relevant if that morality was held by the rest of the people of that country, which is why I defined NationA's moral code in the debate.

I read through your debate premise, and unfortunately it's pretty flawed.

1) A nation may arguably maintain the "moral high ground" if you will by simply not attacking first. Your rules have stated that a war already exists between NationA and NationB, but until you actually attack my NationA, I will always maintain the moral advantage by simply refusing to initiate armed hostilities. When all is said and done, the history books will remember that I was fighting a defensive war.

2)NationA cannot allow civilians to be killed or kill civilians. So as President of NationA, what's to stop me from lobbying my government from passing legislation that drafts the entire population into national service? What's to stop me also from petitioning Geneva, or whoever the world's representative fourm is in this scenario, and lobbying them to change the defintion of non-combatants to any person who is living in or a member of a hostile country (a nation that attacked first)? I could also pass a similar national decree domestically, and simply declare to my own country that there are no civilians living in NationB. Point being, "civilians" and "non-combatants" are legal definitions and not moral ones. I will argue to my people -for the point of this scenario- that anyone (armed or not) who actively supports the opposing government (in this case the nation who initiates hostilities and does not respect the sovereignty of independant states) can be logically argued for as a target of military necessity - and should legally be classified as a combatant under our country's laws.

3)The only scenario that I had remotely trouble countering is the nuclear total war scenario where the best defense against attack is MAD. Obviously, NationA is in trouble without first changing the rules of engagement (which I did in point #2) needed to attack NationB's cities. But even so, one may find an effective counter with weapons tech and missile defense systems. Seeing as how both nations are modeled after the US, this technology is in fact available but needs to be procured and mass produced.
wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 1:30:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 1:15:57 PM, Jingle_Bombs wrote:

This isn't about "moral people in war" but whether or not one side in a conflict can adhere to a moral standard. So, an individual's sense of morality would only be relevant if that morality was held by the rest of the people of that country, which is why I defined NationA's moral code in the debate.

I read through your debate premise, and unfortunately it's pretty flawed.

1) A nation may arguably maintain the "moral high ground" if you will by simply not attacking first. Your rules have stated that a war already exists between NationA and NationB, but until you actually attack my NationA, I will always maintain the moral advantage by simply refusing to initiate armed hostilities. When all is said and done, the history books will remember that I was fighting a defensive war.

Well, the point is not whether or not you will maintain the moral advantage, the point is whether or not you will win the war. If you lose the war, your very existence is possibly forfeit, so any moral position you had would not exist once you cease to exist, wouldn't it?

2)NationA cannot allow civilians to be killed or kill civilians. So as President of NationA, what's to stop me from lobbying my government from passing legislation that drafts the entire population into national service?

The scenario was explicit in setting a population cap for drafts. 200 million people are not eligible for the draft.

What's to stop me also from petitioning Geneva, or whoever the world's representative fourm is in this scenario, and lobbying them to change the defintion of non-combatants to any person who is living in or a member of a hostile country (a nation that attacked first)? I could also pass a similar national decree domestically, and simply declare to my own country that there are no civilians living in NationB. Point being, "civilians" and "non-combatants" are legal definitions and not moral ones. I will argue to my people -for the point of this scenario- that anyone (armed or not) who actively supports the opposing government (in this case the nation who initiates hostilities and does not respect the sovereignty of independant states) can be logically argued for as a target of military necessity - and should legally be classified as a combatant under our country's laws.

By your definition, a waitress in a restaurant would be an enemy combatant. Is this the point you're trying to make?

3)The only scenario that I had remotely trouble countering is the nuclear total war scenario where the best defense against attack is MAD. Obviously, NationA is in trouble without first changing the rules of engagement (which I did in point #2) needed to attack NationB's cities. But even so, one may find an effective counter with weapons tech and missile defense systems. Seeing as how both nations are modeled after the US, this technology is in fact available but needs to be procured and mass produced.

Good points, interesting take on it.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Jingle_Bombs
Posts: 27
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2/9/2015 1:50:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Well, the point is not whether or not you will maintain the moral advantage, the point is whether or not you will win the war. If you lose the war, your very existence is possibly forfeit, so any moral position you had would not exist once you cease to exist, wouldn't it?

True, I do give up the importance of seizing the initiative in a time of war; but you should still not consider a "No Attack First (example: Japan)" or a "No First Use (nukes)" policy as a totally bad security strategy. There are many internal and external political advantages to not initiating hostilities if you think this point through.

The scenario was explicit in setting a population cap for drafts. 200 million people are not eligible for the draft.

Sorry, I missed that point. But we are in an agreement then that a draft does change the status of a civilian to a combatant?

By your definition, a waitress in a restaurant would be an enemy combatant. Is this the point you're trying to make?

Guilty by association. If I can make that argument to my people, and petition my country to legally reclassify the definition of a civilian; then I have met your challenge by adhering to my country's moral standard.

Good points, interesting take on it.

Thanks. Good debate topic.
wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 1:54:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 1:50:06 PM, Jingle_Bombs wrote:
Well, the point is not whether or not you will maintain the moral advantage, the point is whether or not you will win the war. If you lose the war, your very existence is possibly forfeit, so any moral position you had would not exist once you cease to exist, wouldn't it?

True, I do give up the importance of seizing the initiative in a time of war; but you should still not consider a "No Attack First (example: Japan)" or a "No First Use (nukes)" policy as a totally bad security strategy. There are many internal and external political advantages to not initiating hostilities if you think this point through.

Yes, very true, and for better or for worse the way I accounted for it was to simplify the scenario by precluding the possibility of subversion. I was wondering how significant a condition that was, because that really does rob the moral position of even practical advantages...the alternative was for the NationA side to proclaim revolution and dissent in NationB whenever NationB took a sh!t, lol...

The scenario was explicit in setting a population cap for drafts. 200 million people are not eligible for the draft.

Sorry, I missed that point. But we are in an agreement then that a draft does change the status of a civilian to a combatant?

Yes.

By your definition, a waitress in a restaurant would be an enemy combatant. Is this the point you're trying to make?

Guilty by association. If I can make that argument to my people, and petition my country to legally reclassify the definition of a civilian; then I have met your challenge by adhering to my country's moral standard.

Interesting workaround. I probably should add in some clarification delineating a civilian from the military.

Good points, interesting take on it.

Thanks. Good debate topic.

=)
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Jingle_Bombs
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2/9/2015 2:13:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
clarification delineating a civilian from the military.
^^ That is the key. A nation's civilian population (especially in a total war setting) is still a logical target of opportunity in a military conflict. A country's population (whether they take up arms or not) does in fact contribute to a nation's war effort; whether its building bombs, tanks, factories, signing up for the military as a potential recruit, or simply supporting the host's countries policies, its difficult not to see the military connection.
DarthVitiosus
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2/9/2015 2:20:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 11:28:49 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
This thread is set up as a discussion thread for an ensuing debate titled "All Else Being the Same, a Moral Position in War is Untenable".

Do you hold the beliefs of a more William Sherman or Curtis LeMay school of thought? In the sense that enemies should be annihilated through total war which would include civs who chose to aid the enemy.
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wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 2:34:08 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 2:13:55 PM, Jingle_Bombs wrote:
clarification delineating a civilian from the military.
^^ That is the key. A nation's civilian population (especially in a total war setting) is still a logical target of opportunity in a military conflict. A country's population (whether they take up arms or not) does in fact contribute to a nation's war effort; whether its building bombs, tanks, factories, signing up for the military as a potential recruit, or simply supporting the host's countries policies, its difficult not to see the military connection.

So many people don't recognize this...that was the main impetus for setting up the resolution. I fully agree with your assertion.

I defined civilian to be non-military personnel that were not drafted, I think you're right that that had to be added.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 2:35:39 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 2:20:58 PM, DarthVitiosus wrote:
At 2/9/2015 11:28:49 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
This thread is set up as a discussion thread for an ensuing debate titled "All Else Being the Same, a Moral Position in War is Untenable".

Do you hold the beliefs of a more William Sherman or Curtis LeMay school of thought? In the sense that enemies should be annihilated through total war which would include civs who chose to aid the enemy.

I'll let the debate stand as it is in regards to exactly how one may choose to prosecute this war. I eliminated the clause about subversion which makes what you say a possibility in this scenario.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Jingle_Bombs
Posts: 27
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2/9/2015 2:46:38 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I defined civilian to be non-military personnel that were not drafted, I think you're right that that had to be added.

^^ Your position is now unassailable. A civilian population is a logical "participant" in military affairs, and in a total war setting, it must be targeted. They are guilty by association, but I cannot make that legal/moral argument now do to the new rules of the debate (fairly or unfairly). My only counter left would either be a military genius on the side of Nation A, or some high-tech weapon system at the Lockheed-Martin skunk works that I don't know about.
wrichcirw
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2/9/2015 2:48:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 2:46:38 PM, Jingle_Bombs wrote:
I defined civilian to be non-military personnel that were not drafted, I think you're right that that had to be added.

^^ Your position is now unassailable. A civilian population is a logical "participant" in military affairs, and in a total war setting, it must be targeted. They are guilty by association, but I cannot make that legal/moral argument now do to the new rules of the debate (fairly or unfairly). My only counter left would either be a military genius on the side of Nation A, or some high-tech weapon system at the Lockheed-Martin skunk works that I don't know about.

I also took out the part about precluding subversion, so you'd still be left with a Maoist revolution, lol...=)
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Jingle_Bombs
Posts: 27
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2/9/2015 3:07:51 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I also took out the part about precluding subversion, so you'd still be left with a Maoist revolution, lol...=)

Yes. Most likely. We are getting close to what Clausewitz defined as "absolute war," where when armed conflict is followed to its logical extremes; morality is thrown out the window in place by an animal like battle for survival. Though Clausewitz believed that this type of war was ultimately impossible because he could not conceive of a realistic war that would ever be fought without some kind of political interference.
Chang29
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2/9/2015 6:26:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
If validating initiating a war in moral terms then a war must be a "just war". A just war exists when a people try to repeal forceful domination of another people. By this definition the American Revolution was a "just war", but most of the other American wars might not fit the "just war' definition.
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wrichcirw
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2/10/2015 4:59:19 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 6:26:14 PM, Chang29 wrote:
If validating initiating a war in moral terms then a war must be a "just war". A just war exists when a people try to repeal forceful domination of another people. By this definition the American Revolution was a "just war", but most of the other American wars might not fit the "just war' definition.

The problem with this line of thinking is that all revolutions and rebellions would become definitionally "just wars", as all government hold a monopoly on violence over its citizenry.

So, Tim McVeigh would be a pursuer of justice under such a definition...it becomes absurd at a certain point.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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3/6/2015 5:22:33 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
There is finally one completed debate with this resolution.

While I have some rather simple rebuttals to CON's closing, I'll let it stand until more people participate in the discussion.

http://www.debate.org...
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Daktoria
Posts: 497
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3/14/2015 9:43:19 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The problem with your debate is it assumes a specific moral code, but the topic is about whether or not countries can adhere to morality in general. It ignores how pacifism is not necessarily the morality considered, and it ignores the value of civic responsibility when intervening in other countries around the world for humanitarian causes AKA wars of liberation.

For example, yes, it might be believed in that killing people is wrong. However, it can also be believed in that right and wrong are defined by ACTIONS, NOT REACTIONS. Therefore, killing someone as a punishment or rectification for oppression can still be justified.
Daktoria
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3/14/2015 9:55:37 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Also, a society can believe in civic responsibility such that civilians within an oppressive society are supposed to do what they will to oppose oppressors. Those who oppose oppressors should form a resistance. If they don't, then they can be treated as implicit collaborators. No, their deaths shouldn't be pursued because they're neutral, and if they're part of the oppressed population, then their deaths should be deliberately avoided. If those who don't form part of the resistance are killed though, then it can be treated as collateral damage.
wrichcirw
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4/3/2015 10:48:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
lol, I didn't realize you posted here a week after reading the debate. =)

At 3/14/2015 9:43:19 AM, Daktoria wrote:
The problem with your debate is it assumes a specific moral code, but the topic is about whether or not countries can adhere to morality in general. It ignores how pacifism is not necessarily the morality considered, and it ignores the value of civic responsibility when intervening in other countries around the world for humanitarian causes AKA wars of liberation.

The way the debate was structured, "a moral position" was defined as the pacifistic stance. So, through round #1 stipulations, your concern was addressed.

I understand your point and did my absolute best to make it clear that "a general moral position" was not being debated, but rather a specific moral position. The idea was that once a moral position is stated, it becomes a target of attack and an actual hindrance to war planning. It could be (almost) any moral position, but as long as it is known, it becomes a liability. If it is not known, it cannot be targeted. That was why I used such general language in the resolution while keeping the actual moral position specific.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?