The Grey Area:
Let Us Not Choose the Lesser of Two Evils

reply to "Read This" by Steve
current responses by Cary Hopkins Eyles

I apologize for the delay in responding. I wanted to start fresh but there are so many parts of Steve’s last essay that I must respond to. Hope everyone can follow along and that it isn’t too messy!

Steve: It’s not your ideals I take exception to. It’s your lack of reality of the real world and how it works. Most people regardless of origin wish for a peaceful environment to live in. That’s nice. BUT the world is a cruel place where some have and some have not. This makes for conflict. Unavoidable conflict. Example: If I can feed my family on a regular basis and someone else cannot, am I supposed to try to feed the other family and if I don’t what are they going to feel about it? How can anyone expect to get around the little and sometimes huge differences that make up all the societies of the world and “do the right thing”? It’s an unreal expectation. It’s based on a fantasy world that cannot exist if we really examine the differences between people. Socialistic societies don’t succeed because people do want to own their own stuff and to make their own way. Cary: This is exactly why I said we need to be much more aware of cultural differences and need experts in the field to be involved. In the example you presented, I would ask the family if they wanted to share our food. Then they would have the choice. Steve: Any of those things we’ve “done” are generally regarded as the better of several bad choices.

Cary: I do not agree with the lesser of two evils theory. There are always more choices.

Steve: Again I refer to the basic theory of a block or a parry being only a temporary situation. When several bad scenarios are the only choices available, it is never going to work out to ones benefit. I’m quite sure that anyone involved would have known that and done the best with what they had to work with. There are way too many times that judgments of situations are made without all the information. And certainly here they are made all the time based on hind site! We are either going to do something or we’re not. If you don’t want your government involved in other countries affairs, tell them that. But if we then become isolationists, don’t complain about it.

Cary: Judgments should not be made without the most information possible. Of course we will never know everything but you have to ask the right questions. Are our leaders asking “how will our actions effect indigenous peoples in such and such a country?” or “what are the secondary effects across the middle east for this action?” etc. What questions do you think are being asked? Where’s the oil? How can we secure our interests?
Our choices don’t have to be black or white, war or isolationism. We can be involved with other countries in a more thoughtful and premeditated way with the hopes of causing no harm.

Steve: Rebel forces in any country aren’t the good guys, you know! Most are criminals or tribal leaders or some such thing. They kill innocent people, their own and foreign visitors all the time. They usually have their own nasty little agenda’s and aren’t usually the kind of people who give a crap for human rights and things of that ilk. I have seen nothing written that implies there is a good side to any of the conflicts that anyone has mentioned here. So I find it impossible to make a truly good or informed decision on any of the choices made by the US government other than by opinion (not based on fact) or feelings. Unless one of you has some kind of in with the CIA or something I can’t see how any of you could make a decent decision on what’s going on either!

Cary: Wouldn’t you have to look at the case of rebel forces on a case-by-case basis? Was Che Guervera a good guy? Who decides who is a good guy? The media? The description you’re giving seems very theatrical and like one presented in movies and by the media.
I agree that we cannot make an intelligent decision without all the information and that our choices have to be based on actual information. But we have to be weary of the sources where we get these “facts”.

Steve: We don’t try to impose any system on anyone. That’s ridiculous.

Cary: I will leave your statement to stand on its own as, with all due respect, it is indeed ridiculous.

Steve: We have tried to force some human rights issues. Having choices isn’t forcing anything. If you take off the blinders and look at the reality of any of these situations you would see that allowing free elections isn’t necessarily a capitalistic or democratic thing. It’s just a good way to determine what the people of a country want. How many free elections are totally disrupted by the very people (rebels) who are fighting to attain power but when it comes down to the peoples choice they are afraid of it.

Cary: How many are disrupted by us when the person we want to win is losing?

Steve: I agree with you about choosing the right people. And who would you say should make those choices? Tell us how you would personally have handled the tragedy of 9-11. I hear that our friendly al-quida warriors are regrouping as we speak, ready for some more fun and games. And tell us while you’re at it where does the whole concept of ethnic cleansing come from? We have a few wackos in this country who would like to see it but certainly not enough to get a war going, so don’t even think about including them. In our society they are truly considered nuts. As far as Afghanistan goes you’re once again correct. There is nothing ambiguous about it at all. We have very clear goals and I can’t see us forcing any kind of government on them unless you consider freedom of choice being forced on them as a bad thing.

Cary: I would call for serious discussion, therapy, etc. As for internationally I would want peace keeping missions and trips in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Why I raised the issue of ethnic cleansing? From the multitudes of countries we are involved with who ethnic cleansing while we turn a blind eye.
In Afghanistan: Whatever occurs should be chosen by the people. We can help if asked.

Steve: Even the most well meaning act can have unforeseen results. It would be foolish to always stop and try to figure out the future of every decision when people are dying of starvation or being tortured and murdered in their own homes or some nasty little virus is stalking them. Imagine us trying to determine the backlash of trying to stop the spread of AIDS in all the African countries where it’s running rampant. Can’t be done. You have to try to do the best you can and hope for the best. There is no way to foresee the future ramifications of those kinds of deeds. And can you actually believe that all decisions regarding this kind of thing are made strictly on a “what do we get out of it” basis. That would mean our leaders are totally inhuman and worse than some of the dictators we’ve helped overthrow.

Cary: Well, let’s define who we’re talking about. I don’t think the people in the U.S. are getting something out of it (except the so-called satisfaction, revenge, offense) but we don’t make it the decisions. No one asked me if I wanted to go to war. I am sure the leaders did consider whether it was in their best interest.

Steve: Parry/ block. If you’re going to stop the insane little men you have to do it on terms they understand. It may not be permanent but what on earth is. Move the insane little men beyond primate status and maybe you’ll make some progress. If there were no warring societies, no leaders with missions of grandeur or aggressive nutcases then we could certainly and very comfortably let our guard down. Make the rest of the world that way and I am certain we’d be the first to get on that train.

Cary: Reflect on this statement please. You’re saying if the rest of the world is peaceful, we’ll be peaceful first. Forgiving the “first” part (as a possible grammatical error?) we cannot say – you guys work this out, we will keep our nuclear weapons and massive military and then when you are all peace-loving dudes, we will get rid of all our war machines. No. If anything we would need to be a leader in this mission. We would need to show that such a powerful country believes in the goal of true pacifism.

Steve: You are so very right in all of this. But those people in the world (generally individuals) who would cause us harm are not invited to the party and should be watched very closely. Sometimes we should intervene when their actions go too far and cause us harm. How about if we found out Iraq was going to drop an atomic weapon on Chicago? Should we stop it or try to talk him out of it or maybe let it go and hope it doesn’t happen? This isn’t a cultural difference at all. This is the insane little men making good human being do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. I understand that the al-quida warriors think we are the big satan of the world. That’s what they have been taught and they will believe it until they are taught something else. Living together in peace means that everyone has to have the same basic value system.

Cary: Or that we can tolerate each other’s value systems and work things out.

Steve: I agree. But on a global scale that require a mutual value system that I believe would be very hard to implant.

Cary: It certainly couldn’t be implanted. But we could work to find common ground.

Steve: I believe we do that, generally as a people.

Cary: Can you illuminate how? I would like to believe that but I don’t see it often.

Steve: I appreciate their feelings and certainly I am not looking to kill anymore people.

Cary: Except in Afghanistan. In your essay “Back To You” you said:
"To believe that our citizens can be murdered and for us to talk about it is to say that there is no safety in the world for anyone. If your mother be murdered should we run out and “talk’ to the murderer and ask him to please not do that anymore? Is that in anyway acceptable to anyone in this country? What’s the difference? Bringing justice to the murdered souls of 9-11 and their families isn’t wrong. Taking the fight to wherever it goes is what Americans do.” and “We are not solving anything. We are obtaining the justice our dead citizens deserve.“
And you say that you appreciate the feeling of those people whose family and friends were killed. But you are not speaking for so many of them who say “not in my name” and do not support this war. So keep that in mind.

Steve: I do however want those living to be safe from more terrorism and having to endure the loss of more people because of some religious nuts belief that killing us makes him a hero. Those suffering for what has happened will eventually heal but we don’t have to be waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Cary: No we won’t. Nor do we have to push every possible button with our violence and poor international policies in the Middle East. Did you hear what’s next? News this week has reported that Bush has been seriously considering more military action against Iraq. Some state that he has decided not to but that he will try to that the CIA have authorization to try to destabilize the Baghdad government. Whose authorization? Are we defending ourselves from Saddam? Here is one of these stories: Bush Considers Options Against Iraq.

Steve: I wasn’t talking about capital punishment. I was making the point that you would want something done about it. Murdering all those in the WTC requires action. Not just talk. And honestly, any country that feels we’ve in some way committed acts of terror against them has the world courts to go too. I don’t seem to recall too many cases against the US. Do you?

Cary: No, you asked what I would do if my Mom was killed. I answered. I would want the person to receive treatment so they would not hurt anyone else and so they could be a whole, healthy person again. That may require incapacitation but not violence.
As for the actions of the U.S., I do not know of the political situation in terms of other countries bringing the U.S. or people here to trial. We have committed extreme acts and it is likely that no one wants to mess with us or things are being kept quiet.

Steve: I think we need some perspective here. In the first place, other than the people we actually went after, there have been relatively few deaths related to the war, on either side. Considering the magnitude of the weaponry and the anger of the participants I believe we have done a great job of being restrained in our approach.
“If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die”
Bruce Cockburn

Cary: I wholeheartedly disagree. Who says that there have been relatively few deaths? Not the accounts I have seen or heard (the alternative media, not FOX). Here are two links that offer a different view:

  • Reports on # of Afghan civilians who have been (directly) killed by the U.S.

  • Updates: At least 3700 Afghani Civilians Killed by US Bombs!

    Also: Would you feel better if one of your children was killed as long as not too many people else died at the time?

    Steve: The people of Afghanistan didn’t have any say! AND they knew where bin ladin was. They offered to present him to another country, remember! AND just because he’s a running scared, chicken shit, coward who would let all the rest of his people die for his cause doesn’t mean we won’t eventually get him.

    Cary: How will the world change because we got him? Is it worth all the destruction, death and poverty we are causing for the Afghanistan people?

    Steve: Let’s see…hmmmm. Vandalism vs. Murder on a grand scale. Where do you come up with these comparisons?

    Cary: Look up the use and purpose of comparisons. They are not expected to be the same as the topic at hand – they are similar issues representing the major issues (in this case, political and cultural differences in punishment and how we have affected to that in the past).

    Steve: No one in this country thought that kid shouldn’t be punished. Just not publicly flogged. It once again points out that there are major cultural and social differences that I believe cannot be over come. We don’t believe in corporal punishment as a rule.

    Cary: It is difficult to believe that based on your essays here.

    Steve: AND I believe that bin ladin would get a fair trial in this country.

    Cary: How on earth can you make such a claim? There is WAY too much emotion involved and everyone knows the situation and already has decided he is guilty guilty guilty – see your next comments.

    Steve: AND personally I’d love to see him go to jail for life (which wouldn’t be too long) and have no contact with the outside world ever again. Mister hero all alone with no one to adore him would suffer far more in that situation than by being put to death. Would we give up a character like bin ladin if he was American? In a shot! Who would want him. I don’t think he’d last to his destination if we caught him. AND I don’t even care what country he transgressed against. No one in the world is safe with someone like that around. We’d dump him in a second. We don’t tolerate those people any more than any other civilized country.

    Cary: I would like to end by posting this link and article. Please read this and discuss this question: Are we really defending ourselves? Pakistan's former foreign minister Niaz Naik has revealed that he was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.


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