Moral relativism rears its ugly and uninformed head in condemnation of US soldiers
Posted By McQ • [August 13, 2012]
So I’m over at Zero Hedge, which is a great blog to read concerning economics, when I run across a “guest post” by some guy named James Miller of the Ludwig von Mises Institute Canada.
Now let me say upfront, I’m an admirer of the Austrian school of economics of which von Mises was a founder. But we end up not dealing with economics in this guest post, but instead morality. And the morality in question, or at least the morality in question at the beginning of the post deals with killings by remote control. I.e. UAVs. Or, “how can you condemn Al Qaeda for killing innocent women and children at funerals when we do the same thing to funeral goers with our UAVs, etc.”.
I actually have some sympathy for that line of interrogation.
But then Mr. Miller loses me completely. He makes a completely ill-informed logical leap that, well, just doesn’t stand up to rational scrutiny:
There is little denouncement of the civilian casualties that are a product of the U.S.’s foreign policy. The narrative presented by Washington lawmakers and the press is that of a struggle between the forces of good and evil. The terrorists of the Middle East are ruthless barbarians while the troops and Pentagon officials are goodhearted protagonists trying to liberate an oppressed people. The blood of innocent women and children on the hands of Al Qaeda is damming evidence of their depravity. That same blood on the hands of the U.S. defense establishment is a sign of triumph. It is moral relativism on a national scale; slaying of the innocent is terrible on one hand while honorable on the other. As LRC columnist Laurence Vance notes in regard to how atrocities committed by private individuals are perceived differently than those committed by the military:
“I don’t know if there are theaters in Afghanistan, but if U.S. soldiers enter a building in Afghanistan and kill twelve and wound fifty-eight – like James Holmes allegedly did in Colorado – they are lauded as heroes.”
Military officials frequently go on television and tell not just Americans but the rest of the world that they are making a sacrifice for maintaining safety and freedom around the globe. They invoke patriotism to justify their actions.
Yeah, just like US soldiers were lauded as “heroes” at My Lai, right Mr. Miller? Just like Sgt. Paul E. Cortez was lauded as a hero for raping and killing a 14 year old Iraqi girl.
This is nonsense on a stick. While there is some validity to Miller’s questioning of killings done via UAV on wedding or funeral parties, there’s absolutely no justification to the claim that if a US soldier entered a building in Afghanistan and killed 10 and wounded 58 innocent people he’d be “lauded” as a hero. If that were true, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who allegedly massacred 16 Afghanistan civilians, would be a triumphal tour of the US and likely up for a medal instead of sitting in prison on murder charges … wouldn’t he?
It’s pure moral relativism and unmitigated ignorance to link US soldiers in such a way to the murders committed in Aurora, CO. And, it is a claim without foundation or factual support. But more importantly, it destroys the essence of what Miller was trying to get across. Instead of sticking with a valid but limited moral point, he tried to use this bit of moral relativism to stretch his moral condemnation to a broader one of the US military effort in Afghanistan and thereby the US as a whole. You suddenly figure out what the real reason for his “guest post” was. Pure, fictionally based anti-American bilge.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.