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The Use of Force
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In our ongoing discussions regarding the possible use of military force against Iraq, the issue of justifiable force has come up.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows pretty much where I stand on this, but it doesn't hurt to re-clarify every once in a while.

Basically, I support the use of force, as the lesser of two evils, when confronted with immoral agents who will not respond to any other response.

I reject the ultrapacifism of teachers like Ghandi, who make the assumption that if you never raise your hand in violence, your hands are never bloody.

But the fallacy of this perspective is in the existence of sins of omission. If you have the power to intervene to stop an act of brutality, then by not doing so your hands are bloody, whether you like it or not. Standing by and watching fellow human beings rape, gas, and butcher the powerless, when you have the power to intervene, is itself immoral.

Believing that everyone is capable of responding to diplomacy and goodwill is simply a naive fallacy. I understand the appeal of such a notion, and I wish it were true, but ultimately it is a simple-minded view of humanity.

History is littered with examples of ruthless warriors and dictators, men fueled by the lust for power, tinged with streaks of sadism, who would never respond to an open hand with anything but vicious brutality. Open your history book and take your pick. But these are not just historical remnants. There are leaders today that are very much the same. Saddam Hussein is one. Osama bin Laden is another.

As a peaceful, thinking human being, I find the use of force repugnant, and I despise such despots all the more for making us stoop to their level by engaging them with violence. But again, I believe that it is the lesser of evils.

I believe that ignoring or placating such brutality is even more repugnant.

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