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Old March 16 2011, 02:40 AM   #432
Sci
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
Which is fine, but there comes a point where you're asking so many questions about the book that you really ought to just read it first.

Picard did not report the existence of Section 31, nor the story of Corwin being hoodwinked. He was going to, but he was persuaded not to. If you want to know why, you'll need to read the book.
The problem, though, is that such facts are frankly important to this argument.
Then follow the old maxim: It is better not to speak of things you do not understand.

If you don't know what happened in the book, read it before you start drawing upon it to make your arguments.

Namely: Picards reasons for allowing himself to be persuaded not to. Was it for the same reasons Vaughn gave Bashir? Was he convinced that perhaps, for now, the UFP needed people like those in 31?
Read the damn book.

That is utterly irrelevant. The point of "try not to behave like an asshole" was to acknowledge that the Federation can be susceptible to political corruption and that such corruption can lead the Federation to engage in actions its neighbors might find provokative, not to make a statement about levels of political corruption or provocation. It's wonderful that this time, they were able to avert a war, but that doesn't mean that such an aversion would be possible the next time we see a Min Zife in the Presidential Office (if there is a next time). Thus, the Federation has to try not to be an asshole.
That term is, to be frank, entirely subjective, Sci. One person's "a--hole" is another person's "man of blunt honesty and unyealding integrety, willing to speak the truth to power". As I have repeatedly stated, Tezrene certainly has no qualms about being, as far as the UFP is concerned, an a--hole. In Federation Space, I refer you to the Tellarites and the Zaldans. Among the Federation's allies, quite a few Kilingons are that way.

No matter how accomodating you are, Sci--if you are uncompromising about some part of what you hold to be the truth--someone, for valid reasons or not, is going to take that and use it as "proof" that you're an a--hole.
Yes, and now we're going in circles. That was my point. You asked what the Federation could do to stop the Typhon Pact powers from resenting it, and I said that the problem is unsolvable. All the Federation can do is manage it, is mitigate the possibility of hostility by trying not to be assholes.

In other words, there are no guarantees. All you can do is do your best. That's been my point this entire time, before you diverged from the point with a useless digression into the question of whether or not the Federation is susceptible to the sort of political corruption that can increase hostility from foreign states (which it can be) by arguing about the use of the word "try."

Not perhaps. You do. And that's what I and others object to -- not talking about possibilities, but using the language of inevitability to talk about worst-case scenarios. When you do that, you're just creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When the issue at hand is the fate of billions of lives...I'm not going to take chances, in order to give others the benefit of the doubt.
The problem with that logic is that there are no guarantees. You're always taking chances, no matter what choices you make. The relevant issue is not "certainty," the relevant issue is which policy choice is least likely to cause a war.

How on Earth can you reasonably argue that the decision to assassinate a President does not make them hopelessly corrupt? How can an organization that engages in presidential assassinations not be hopelessly corrupt? In what strange land do you live that murdering a president is not a sign of hopeless corruption?
A world where there are no easy answers--there may be simple answers--but not easy answers.
The real world often has neither easy nor simple answers.

In The West Wing, you may recall President Bartlett ordered the assasination of a foreign leader. It was not hopelessly corrupt--it was necessary, and he understood that. He hated it, but he understood it.
Which is an entirely different issue, because that relates to the conduct of foreign relations, not an assassination of your own president.

Coup d'etats--and assasinations thereof--have happened in real life throughout history--many times because the leaders currently in power were hopelessly corrupt. It was the idealists who engaged in such assasinations.

Taking an extreme example...were the Valkerie conspirators who attempted to assasinate Hitler "hopelessly corrupt"?
I'm sorry, but that's an absurd comparison, because the government of the Third Reich had no democratic legitimacy. Such an assassination would have been an act of revolution, not an act of treason or insurrection.

He was legitimately elected chancellor of Germany. The power he had gained was given to him--he had decieved Germany, yes, but he did not simply take absolute power by force. It was given to him.
You are severely mis-stating the facts of the Nazi consolidation of power.

Hitler was elected Imperial Chancellor, yes -- but when the Imperial President died, he illegally and unconstitutionally assumed the position of head of state (declaring himself "Fuhrer and Reichschancellor"). To say nothing of the Enabling Act and the Reichstag Fire Act, which were patently violations of the Weimar Republic's Constitution.

He used the power of the chancellorship to then seize further power by force.

Rush Limborg wrote:
Furthermore, I'd hardly think dealing with corruption "permanently" makes one hopelessly corrupt.
Nice to hear it, Michael Corleone. Meanwhile, the real world disagrees with you.
Oh, I sincerely doubt that.
And you're wrong to doubt it. Murdering someone for corruption is just as corrupt as whatever the crime you're murdering for was.

People are not simple. People are complex. Decency and corruption can live side-by-side in the same heart. The issue is not whether or not they can live side-by-side; the issue is which side outweighs the other.
Some things can be reconciled, some things cannot. In the case of Madoff, if he was truly giving out of altruistic motives--assuming, of course, his motives for stealing were not somehow altruistic, I'd suspect he was schizophrenic.
You're assuming that a person's psyche is logically consistent and rational. It's not. Everybody has motivations that are logically in conflict with one-another and are mutually exclusive, and anyone who tells you they don't is either lying to you or lying to himself.

There's no need to invoke schizophrenia when basic humanity will suffice for an explanation. Darkness and light both dwell within our hearts, and neither one destroys the other.

You mean like what happened when the Church Committee exposed the CIA's various crimes?

If the United States today is morally advanced enough to expose its dirty secrets, I don't for a second think the Federation has regressed to the point where it will cover up its corrupt elements' crimes as a matter of routine.
I'm not entirely convinced that such actions of exposure are "morally advanced". What of all the claims that news of what occured at Abu Grahib and Guantanamo Bay would encourage recruitment of Terrorism, and damage relations with the Muslim world?
What of it?

That's a bit like saying that confessing your crimes is not morally more advanced than keeping your crimes a secret because it might lead to you being convicted of violating the law.

When agents of the state commit crimes, other agents of the state have a moral and legal obligation to expose their crimes and to impose due process of the law upon the criminal agents, in order to preserve basic morality and the rule of law and in order to help try to prevent future crimes from being committed.

Exposing the abuses of Abu Graib or Guantanemo was not what damaged relations with the Muslim world or encouraged terrorism. The abuses themselves were what damaged relations and encouraged terrorism, and the only way to stop and prevent such abuses is to expose them.

If it has a chain of command how does it follow that the consequences of such a chain--such as punisment of subordinates for innapropriate behavior--do not exist?
By their not being formally organized, obviously. They have a hierarchy where they'll take orders, but there's no evidence they have a process by which they apprehend their members and try them for crimes. The Mafia has a hierarchy, but that doesn't mean it has a real system for internal accountability (beyond "we'll take you out to the woods and shoot you if you rat us out," anyway).

Rush Limborg wrote:
This all begs for the question, Sci: Why do even good societies have such dark sides?
For the same reason they have prisons: Because human beings are morally flawed creatures who lust for power, and some put that lust for power above decency.
Prisons are there to combat and compensate for corruption in society.
Which is besides the point. Kindly stop trying to create irrelevant tangents.

The point is that the existence of a prison, like the existence of a society's dark side, is a consequence of the fact that human beings are morally flawed creatures who lust for power, and that some put that lust for power above decency.

There is also his advice for rulers to not infringe upon their subjects' right to keep and bear arms, to not confiscate their property, etc. In short, to let them keep their freedom, and to concentrate on the actual duties of government.
No, his point there is to give them just enough freedom that they won't rebel, not to give them real freedom. It's the equivalent of advising someone to give a prisoner just enough food that he won't starve, not of giving someone enough food that they're healthy.
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