Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Murtha's latest brings a question: Are the insurgents evil?

The administration's capitol hill nightmare come to life, Rep. John Murtha, today disclosed that the internal investigation by the Marines into the events of Nov. 19th in the Iraqi town of Haditha, shows that U.S. forces engaged in the wholesale massacre of innocent civilians. The claim by Rep. Murtha has been independently corroborated to MSNBC by military sources who said of the incident, "this one is ugly".

When I read this story my memory flashed back to last Friday's Larry King Live program (hosted by John Roberts) which featured a round table with radio talk show hosts Randy Rhodes and Ed Schultz representing the left, while Kevin Miller and Dennis Prager reprehensabled the right. Here is Prager trying to nail liberals on the nature of the Iraq insurgency:
Would you say that by and large the people that we are fighting in Iraq are evil?

RHODES: No. They're Iraqis, and we occupy their country.

PRAGER: OK. OK. There you go, folks.

RHODES: There's a civil war going on.

PRAGER: That is what the left believes. We are not fighting evil.
What do the koolaid drinkers have to say about the good and evil side of things when it comes out that Marines slaughtered innocent Iraqis with full malice of forethought? Is it so black and white now, Mr. Prager? Rhodes is absolutely spot on about what we are facing with this insurgency. And I'll wager that we created more than a few insurgents and militant sympathizers with what we did in Haditha.

Are those insurgents evil, Mr. Prager? Or just mad as hell that we killed their family members? Or maybe Prager doesn't believe that any insurgents were created at all by this incident... and that a bag of gold will someday fall out of the sky and land on his porch making him independently wealthy by the will of God.

How many insurgents and their supporters do you suppose we created in 2003 when we tortured the prisoners of Abu Ghraib? Do you believe those people just left that prison eventually and decided to support our efforts there? What about their family members? Please do not tell me you believe that the prisoner abuse was a wise course of action to take to stamp out the insurgency.

Here is an example of this straight from the horses mouth as it were:
Abu Ayoub, a 35-year-old living in Baghdad, is a member of the Islamic Army. He spoke to IPS in the Adhamiya neighbourhood.

"When the occupation forces entered Baghdad, they killed my brother in front of my eyes. He was wounded and bleeding but the occupation forces didn't allow me to save him. When I tried to save him they began shooting at me and after a few minutes my brother died. After that I swore to fight them to the death."
The very nature of what we are doing feeds the insurgency. We are occupying their nation. By definition, when we act militarily in their land we create a resistance. We create further resistance when we kill innocent citizens, which can not be helped. If they all agreed with us this would be a no brainer! We would not be needed there if they saw things the way we do. By necessity then, being occupiers in order to enforce our will, we feed an insurgency.

In no way do I intend to say that we are the side of evil here. In fact I honestly support the military members who have been put in this horrible situation and wish them nothing but good luck in getting back home. The men who started this are intensely ignorant, unable to accept truth, and capable of any action to get their way, but I honestly believe in their puny little minds they thought they were doing the right thing. They truly believed democracy would flower and all that rot... The nearest I can get to calling them evil is to say that they should be tossed from office for ignoring the constitution and severely punished for okaying the torture of detainees in our control.

I honestly believe that there is a small percentage of the foreign fighters in Iraq who are truly without conscience in regards to what they believe as to the rules of war. I can assure you of this however. These same unconscionable jihadists, on moral grounds alone, would pluck their own eyes out of their bleeding skulls rather than watch one night of television programming that Prager or any random neighbor of his might enjoy. Evil? From the perspective of the beholder evil may be the extermination of every living thing in an old testament city, a carbomb in a crowded marketplace, a company of Marines out of control in a nearby village, or a woman in the shower for a soap commercial.

But I do not believe evil is the citizen of the country who has seen a family member or loved one die at the hand of an occupier, and then picks up a rifle...

Prager might feel better about his position with the drawing of the line, the black and white perspective, all or nothing etc... But he is only fooling himself and those who believe him when he spouts off. We need an honest assessment of the way things are in order to go forward productively. Honesty can be uncomfortable at times, but lets not engage in a discussion about the evil them v.s. us, the side of holiness and pretend that leads us anywhere but further down the pit we are in right now.

"Wholesale massacre" is your own overdramatic phrase, probably to conjure up images of Vietnam, as I couldn't find it anywhere in the article you referenced. Some Marine or Marines ran amok and killed 15 people after one of their buddies got killed. I'm confident they will be severely punished as criminals. And yes, that is evil. Just like the insurgents are evil.

You wrote: "By definition, when we act militarily in their land we create a resistance." You are just inventing definitions now. That one isn't in any dictionary.

Take the guy in your example. His brother got killed, probably while shooting at us. So he is mad at us. He has chosen evil. Wrath is one of the 7 deadly sins. We didn't make him choose evil and we don't create terrorists any more than cops create criminals when they fight crime. There will always be revenge seekers. And unfortunately, some seek revenge against a group for the actions of a few criminals. That is evil.

Then you continue with logical fallicies. Your gratuitous name-calling is just "poisoning the well" and is a fallacious argument.

You state what the foreign jihadists would do, "pluck their own eyes out..." and then imply that you know what TV shows Prager and his neighbors enjoy. This is the fallacy called "mind reading" and has no place in a logical argument.

The real question is what Prager first asked about, "by and large the people we are fighting in Iraq are evil?" And Rhodes said "no". Apparently you agree with Rhodes. I don't. By and large those we are fighting are fighting for power and control, not out of idealism or religious fervor. They are just as prone to kill Iraqis as us occupiers. Some might be fighting out of anger, but I doubt that even you would call a murderous rage "righteous indignation." That kind of anger is evil.

You bleeding hearts are ignoring the facts if you can't see the evil.
Jeff, normally I don't reply to people who disagree with my posts, but you do so in such a way as to make it personal. As though I'm being a bonehead because of what I have written. Just answering the charge in your second paragraph shows that the absolute dearth of knowledge on the matter which is before us is on your part and not mine.

You say: You wrote: "By definition, when we act militarily in their land we create a resistance." You are just inventing definitions now. That one isn't in any dictionary.

Actually the definition of resistance, precisely the type I am talking about in this post can be found here in definition #5. That definition reads: 5 often capitalized : an underground organization of a conquered or nearly conquered country engaging in sabotage and secret operations against occupation forces and collaborators.

I'm actually surprised that you would assert that my definition of us creating a resistance via use of military force in their land was just made up. The term resistance in this circumstance is a commonly understood term.

Let me predict your response which I'm certain will be to attack how I say that we created the resistance, by pointing out that our generals were not involved with forming these groups and planning attacks on our own forces. The fact is... if we were not there, this would not be an issue. Our complicity in the situation we face now can not be excused with the notion that we mean well and they ought to simply roll over and accept it.

You attack me for not knowing what t.v. Prager watches. I carefully threw in "any random neighbor" of Pragers in this regard just on the slightly off chance that Prager may not watch television with commercials. But the specific example I give is quite a common scene on any television statsions programming. I'm certain Prager and his neighbors have in fact seen an image of a woman in the shower in a soap commercial. An image that our enemies would consider deeply offensive and evil.

Finally I in no way doubt your perception of the insurgency in Iraq as being mainly populated by evil people. In fact from my perspective the foriegn fighters allied with the insurgency are evil. But our perceptions do not drive world events, or the perceptions of the average Iraqi citizen who is making up their mind as to whether or not to join the Iraqi army or the resistance. Regardless of our perception about our enemies rules of warfare, there can be no doubt as to the absolute religious zeal and ultra conservative personal lifestlye of our enemy.
So when I accuse you of using logical fallacies you reply with more logical fallacies. This sort of proves my point. And as Carrie once told me, if you allow one false statement you can prove anything.

When you say " a commonly understood term" this is the logical fallacy called "Appeal to Common Knowledge."

In so many words you reason that if we were not there, the resistance would not exist. Therefore, we created the resistance. This is the logical fallacy called "False Cause" or "Non-sequitur."

I didn't attack you for not knowing what TV Prager watches or what our enemies think. I pointed out that claiming such knowledge is a logical fallacy.
Jeff... the definition I provide, which is in a dictionary, is in fact contingent upon an occupying force as part of the equation. As I carefully point out in the main post "If they all agreed with us this would be a no brainer! We would not be needed there if they saw things the way we do." When I say that I'm surprised you chose to argue that in particular because the definition of resistance was common knowledge, I wasn't correlating that to my original point. Your argument flies in the face of common knowledge. Without the occupier, there is no resistance by the very terms of the dictionary definition.

The example of logical fallacy in this exchange is to claim as you do in your 1st post: "Take the guy in your example. His brother got killed, probably while shooting at us. So he is mad at us. He has chosen evil." The fact is that you have no clue as to the circumstances in which this mans brother was killed, you assume we are the righteous ones so he probably got shot in self defense, and the resistance fighter has chosen to be evil. The notion that a family member dies and then the rest of the family takes up arms against the occupying force that killed them, for whatever reason, is hardly revolutionary. It is one of the main driving forces behind insurgencies the world over for all history. If they are now evil for doing so then the Patriot who took up arms in our revolution in direct response to the depradations of the Brits while the colonies were still British territory was evil to! Pluck the log from your own eye before pointing to the mote in mine.
Oops... theres one other issue to reply to. The one possible issue you may legitimately have with my post would be called over generalization by assuming that Prager or one of his neighbors watch commercial television. However I stand by the original sentiment in the post with the knowledge that it would be an extremely rarified and exclusive neighborhood where in a television was never tuned to a station which never ran a commercial. And I do think your answer to that, that I was "mind reading" was a bit of an attack, even if you don't believe so. I wonder though, what chance to you honestly believe there is Jeff that neither Prager or any of his neighbors ever watch commercial television? Enough that I couldn't confidently make the charge? Give me a break.
take out the 2nd never in the 2nd sentence above.
"Without the occupier, there is no resistance" so you conclude that "we create a resistance." By the same false logic, without air to breath there would be no resistance, so air created the resistance. That logical fallacy is called "false cause" or "non-sequitur".
Let me help you out on this one. Forget the definition. It doesn't say anything about what creates resistance. Just say "by occupying Iraq we have given terrorists and murderers the title of 'resistance'."

If you think I'm using a fallacy, please use the common name for it. I'm having a hard time finding my fallacy in your accusation.

Your "mind reading" was in predicting what the jihadists would do and what "Prager or any random neighbor of his might enjoy." Apparently I misunderstood you, because what you meant was "someone in Prager's neighborhood but not necessarily Prager." You still are implying mind reading ability regarding the jihadists.
Hmm... What you did is called "Making stuff up for no apparent reason". If you would like a name for that I would call it authoritatively arguing from a position of ignorance. Once again you have NO understanding of why the insurgents brother was killed. You just pull out of thin air that he must have been shooting at our guys. And that presupposition of yours leads you to the belief that the insurgent is evil for resisting us.

You tell me to forget the definition of resistance. You are the one who threw that in my face with your 1st post. The difference between what I posted to begin with and your definition with the whole lack of air silliness in your last response, is that nowhere in the dictionary definition is there word one on the abundance of air or lack there of in the dictionary definition. If there were, you would have a point. This air business in your last response could be called diversionary reasoning. You try to prove your point by pointing to another issue entirely whilst my point remains despite your attempt. The FACT is that the dicitonary definition which you felt compelled to question in the first place precisely defines the term and in that definition you will see that our actions have full well contributed to the fullfillment of the term as defined!

How you managed to get crossed up with my original statement on T.V. programming is beyond me. Now you say that you didn't realize that I meant someone in the neighborhood other than Prager? READ the post, it's right there and not at all complicated. I clearly wrote: "television programming that Prager or any random neighbor of his might enjoy." After I clarify this you understand that I could have meant one of his neighbors? Perhaps you ought to read what I actually am writing before you start popping off with how wrong I am about everything.

Do I honestly have to bring forth the words of the islamists on the absolute depravity of American culture, and how they feel about the exposure of a woman in public? Even if you say that yes I do, I choose not to in this case. I do not happen to agree with them and do not wish to give their websites my traffic. Once again, if you truly have any interest in this type of thing, this is something you should already know!
You need to understand logical fallacies to present a serious debate. Google "logical fallacies" and see what I mean.

Now to correct your mistakes:
1. I didn't say "he must have been shooting" I said "probably while shooting at us". I didn't claim knowledge.
2. I didn't say his resistance made him evil, I said his anger (wrath = a sin) made him evil.
3. I never disagreed with your definition of "resistance." (It was the cause.)
4. My air example was just to illustrate the error of your logic.
5. Your TV statement is far from clear. Saying "any random" implies "all" since any randomly selected neighbor must fit your condition. But saying "might" implies uncertainty and that possibly nobody will enjoy such TV. So you've covered all bases and I was left to guess at what you meant. I admit that I guessed wrongly.
6. Now you say islamists where before you said jihadists. There is a difference. In any case, one does not speak for all, so you are commiting the fallacy known as "hasty generalization" or "insufficient sample." You might be correct by saying "one jihadist" feels that way, if you can find one. To attribute something to a group you need a statistically significant sample.

I understand that you like to rant and logic is not too important in a rant. I prefer rational debate, which requires logic.
I'm a Marine. I have seen evil. I agree with BHFRIK. Jeff, you lost this one. Hoorah!
Sgt D.
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