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Old March 17 2011, 11:25 PM   #439
Sci
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
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.
Unless, of course, as Sisko said, a war is one's best chance for survival.
Yeah, but the way you talk, it comes across like you perceive every damn thing as an existential threat and the "last resort" as being, at best, a third or fourth resort.

And you're wrong to doubt it. Murdering someone for corruption is just as corrupt as whatever the crime you're murdering for was.
Is it?
Yes.

Consider:
Which is an entirely different issue, because that relates to the conduct of foreign relations, not an assassination of your own president.
Was Bartlett not dealing with corruption, in a senst?
No, he was engaging in national self-defense.

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.

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.
Was the Valkerie conspiracy not an attempt to murder someone for corruption?
No, they were attempting to engage in an act of revolution in order to, again, engage in national self-defense.

The key difference, of course, being that in Nazi Germany, there was no functioning court system, no real justice system; there was only the will of the Führer. The Federation, by contrast, had a functioning justice system. Even if one accepts the idea that Zife could not be openly tried for his crimes, the fact remains that the Federation system is built on the idea that if you can't convict someone, you let them go, and that Zife did not pose a threat to the Federation upon his resignation. Hitler's rule, by contrast, was tyrannical and posed an existential threat to Germany, both in terms of state violence against its citizenry and in terms of the war being waged against Germany as a result of Hitler's provocations.

You can't compare a state where there is no social contract to one where there is. You simply can't compare the two situations.

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.
Not when two characteristics are so blatant in their contradictions.
Again, you are clinging to the illusion of internal consistency within a person's character. That illusion is false. People are blatantly contradictory; that's just a fact of life. People's motivations are not consistent.

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.
Convicted--and "punished" by a war?
No wars commenced as a result of the Church Committee Reports. No wars commenced as a result of the exposures of Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay.

And if anything, if the abuses had been ended and the perpetrators and enablers and others allegedly responsible for the abuses in those cases -- which, mind you, included John Yoo, David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney, and U.S. President George W. Bush -- had been impeached, removed from office, indicted for their crimes, given a fair trial, found guilty, and sentenced to terms in federal prison, we would probably have seen a significant reduction in recruiting by al Qaeda, since it would have taken away from them one of their key pieces of propaganda to recruit people.

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.
As opposed to severe and intense punishment of the abusers in question, in and of themselves--and to then engage in reforms without publicizing the events in question?
The former didn't happen -- the low-level abusers were punished, the mid-level abusers got slaps on the wrist, and the high-level abusers got away scott-free.

Of course you shouldn't do the latter. If you don't publicize both the events and your reforms, then people will think, "Abuses happened and they're covering it up." You need openness and transparency, both to prove that things have changed and to send a message to other would-be abusers that they would be in danger if they acted up. It's the same reason you walk the perp in front of the press on the way to the trial: It scares potential criminals.

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).
More along the lines of "we'll take you out to the woods and shoot you if you bring damage to our orginization".
You and I are operating on different definitions of "a system of internal accountability." I don't consider an uncodified system without a regulated form of adversarial argumentation before a neutral arbiter and key protections for the rights of the accused to be a system of internal accountability. If your "system of internal accountability" amounts to, "We'll kill you if you piss us off," that's not a system, that's just more criminal thuggery.

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.
Again, it is apples and oranges, because prisions are meant to combat a "dark side".
That is irrelevant, because the point is that both are consequences of the morally flawed state of human beings.

There is a difference, Sci, between giving "freedom", and not taking it away.
And a dictator -- Machiavelli's Prince -- has inherently taken all freedom away. Machiavelli just advises him to give some of it back for a bit, conditional upon obedience to the Prince.

In the same way, a particularly sadistic man might totally block a victim's airway at first, but then ease his grasp just enough that the victim can gain a little bit of air if the victim agrees to do what the sadist tells him. Yet the sadist's hands still remain around the victim's neck, and we should not think the sadist therefore a generous man for not completely choking his victim, nor imagine he is acting out of respect for the victim's right to breathe.

Perhaps. However, on the other hand: as Dirty Harry, and Batman--and James T. Kirk--would tell you, sometimes bureaucracies and regulations tie a person's hands, and result in people getting killed.
And yet all three actually subordinate themselves to the state in some manner: "Dirty" Harry by virtue of his status as a police officer; Batman by virtue of his alliance with Commissioner Gordon; and James T. Kirk by virtue of his status as a Starfleet officer. None of them truly place themselves above the law the way Section 31 does. And Batman, in particular, subordinates himself to an absolute moral standard that Section 31 disregards -- he never, ever kills anyone, for any reason whatsoever, and will always rescue someone in danger of death, even if they are murderers themselves.

(Batman, in particular, it might be noted, only works as an extralegal vigilante because systemic corruption in the City of Gotham is so pervasive on every level that the social contract in Gotham City simply does not work, and thus the government has no democratic legitimacy. He is, in other words, a citizen exercising his inherent right to protect the rights of himself and of others, which under normal circumstances is delegated to the democratically-elected government.

Were Bruce Wayne born and raised in Metropolis, he would almost certainly have responded to the murder of his parents by becoming a police officer rather than a vigilante.)

I'm not entirely certain. Perhaps she's serving as a martyr while allowing her followers to regroup, or something. Basically, I'm allowing for the possibility that she wanted to be captured.
Asking why Donatra went to Romulus is a bit like asking why a chess player who know he might escape a checkmate if he makes one particular move and the other player makes a mistake, but that if he does not make that move, he will be checkmated in five turns. The player continues to play because there is no other choice; you either attempt, against the odds, to survive now, or you guarantee your loss later.

It's also possible that she had had something planned involving her being in prison, and then someone helping her escape and then, say, assasinate Tal'Aura--but her death (instigated by the Tzenkethi) prevented that.
... did you even read the damn novel? Donatra's reasons for going to Romulus were explained, in detail. It had nothing to do with any daring plan to escape prison.

My point was simply this: considering the prominence of Putin and others, the possibility exists that they would desire to restore Russia to its "glory days". Putin's diplomatic positioning should be viewed as suspicious, in that context.

In the same way, underground plans of restoration are not to be dismissed.
I agree that Putin's goal is to re-assert Russia's status as a major world power on the national stage, and to re-assert Russian control of the territories that both the Tzarist and Soviet regimes regarded as their "sphere of influence," and I agree that Russian diplomacy should be viewed through that lens.

But Putin is nothing if not a Russian nationalist. He was attached to the Soviet Union because it was a tool of Russian domination of the other Soviet republics, not because he had any real ideological attachment to Communism or to the idea of Russian equality with other Soviet nationalities. He's perfectly content to be the new Tzar of Russia (whether he calls himself "President" or "Prime Minister" at any given moment) under a Capitalist rather than Communist system.

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Why would they do that? Seriously. Do you have any evidence suggesting that there's going to be a restoration of the Soviet Union? This is approaching the territory of the Free Republic conspiracists who told a friend of mine that the collapse of the Soviet Union was just a fake, that the Cold War was still to be won (or lost).
No one's trying to restore the Soviet Union. Putin's goal is to unofficially restore the Russian Empire. That's why the Kremlin now appoints mayors and regional governors. That's why Moscow has created a new position to control the Caucasus-region territories of the Russian Federation -- essentially re-creating the old viceroy position the Tzars had. Putin's goal is Russian imperium, not Soviet union.
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