Help a Hero Day

This is a continuation of a thread that was stopped by the moderators for not being accountancy related. Henry asked us to move it to Time Out, so here it is.

Comments

Here is the original thread    1 thanks

chatman | | Permalink

paulwakefield1 wrote: It's an    1 thanks

chatman | | Permalink

paulwakefield1 wrote:
It's an interesting, if somewhat off topic, debate but an approach of "if you don't specifically address every argument I make then you agree with me" rather debases it.

I disagree. These people have come in with very aggressive and insulting arguments. When these arguments are refuted, they simply ignore them and invent others. Given that they are still trying to advance their original argument, why would they ignore one that purports to refute it? 

To be fair, I suppose there is more than one reason why they might do so:

  1. They could be well able to expose the flaws in my argument but too magnanimous in victory to show me up. Given the tone of these people’s original comments I think this is unlikely.
  2. They could have just the right response to shoot my argument down in flames but have just forgotten to put their masterpiece of logic and reasoning in their response. Again I think this is unlikely.
  3. They could see that the argument exposes the flaw in theirs, but be too stubborn or embarrassed to admit it. I feel this is more likely than the previous two possibilities.
  4. Finally, they could have had an attack of reasonableness and good sense and accepted that their argument has been shown to be fallacious. I accept that this is very unlikely, given the tone of these contributors, and their ability to reason, but I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt.

I think that ignoring those comments to which they have no response, without even conceding the point, debases the argument far more than my assumption that they accept them.

@JC    2 thanks

chatman | | Permalink

JC wrote:
Lost focus - this thread started as a question related to 'Help the hero day' and has move into 'soapbox' mode

No-one forced you to get onto your soapbox. Feel free to dismount.

JC wrote:
nonsense... ridiculous

There you go again JC, getting all emotional and attacking me rather than my arguments. Can’t you do any better?

JC wrote:
The logic of the following statement is flawed as well as being nonsense

'.. In any case, if they have no choice but to go, then surely they are not heroes; a hero would choose to do it of his own free will. ..'

Heroism is an act of an individual at a specific point in time. It has no bearing on past events, ideology, religion, politics etc.; furthermore, anyone is capable of being a hero.

Heroism takes all forms but most acts of heroism are of a selfless nature and are irrespective of the circumstance which placed the person in the situation in the first place

In any event what about those who were conscripted in the past - they would seem to be automatically debarred from heroism under your statement? - clearly ridiculous

So how can you say they are heroes just for being there?  My comments were made in the context of the suggestion that anyone injured in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is a hero just because they were there.  One or more may have committed heroic acts while there but how can you say that all of them are necessarily heroes?  Someone who was conscripted is definitely not a hero just for being there.

JC wrote:
'.. Strictly speaking JC, soldiers are killers ..' - Flawed statement. Don't forget that not all those serving are fighting forces (medics, bomb disposal etc.) - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1347250/Afghanistan-hero-Iain-Martin-defused-record-12-bombs-1-day.html

I love your appeals to Welsh Dragon and the Daily Mail but again, you really need to read the whole thread if you are going to try and participate in it. I clearly addressed, in a previous post, the issue of those who facilitate the war without directly killing anyone. If medics are motivated by philanthropy why don’t they join Medecins sans Fontiers? As far as I know, you can’t join the army specifying exactly what you want to do,  but if I ever heard of anyone joining the army on the explicit agreement that they would only be clearing land mines, and could not be giving any killing or killing-support duties, I would consider them heroes. If you hear of any, please let me know.

Again, you ignore the arguments you find inconvenient. Why do you waste everyone’s time?

JC wrote:
Whatever ones persuasion surely you cannot decry the selfless heroism/bravery of individuals whatever the circumstances and this was the basis of the original question

I would never decry selfless heroism or bravery. How could anyone? And as I said right from the start, the injured troops deserve support from the UK Government. However, we are debating whether all these people are necessarily heroes, and I have not seen anything to persuade me that they are heroes just for having been there.

JC wrote:
Nevertheless I am confused about

'.. conscientious objectors do not tend to change their views from day to day ..'

But from your previous comment

'.. I respect anyone who volunteered to fight against Nazi Germany because it was a good cause ..'

It would seem as though one does reserve the right to pick and choose between good(just) and bad(unjust) wars - double standards?

Why is this “double standards”? One should always decide whether it is right or wrong to fight. Are you seriously suggesting otherwise?

JC wrote:
To be really contentious (semantics) - how does this differentiate them from politicians (Tony Blair etc.) because on the face of it both reserve the right to determine whether conflicts are good/bad. The fact that they may differ in their assessment could be viewed simply as a value judgement!

The only thing that differentiates them from Tony Blair is that some of them can be excused for not knowing any better. Tony Blair cannot. Many people, including me, consider him to be guilty of war crimes (see http://www.petitiononline.com/BWCF/ for example).

JC wrote:
although quite why TB has not been held to account has always baffled me

Have you ever heard of anyone from the winning side getting convicted of war crimes? The only instance that occurs to me is that of one of the US perpetrators of the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam, William Calley, and he only got 3½ years under house arrest for the slaughter of an entire village. Most of the perpetrators got off.  Members of the Establishment will always protect each other. Cameron would never press for  Tony Blair to be prosecuted because he might one day find himself in the same position.

JC wrote:
Of course everyone has a right to be a conscientious objector but the interesting corollary is the age old question of whether having chosen this stance one should be entitled to the freedoms/fruits won by others laying down their life?

Maybe so, but that is completely irrelevant to this thread, as no-one in the UK (apart from TB, his cronies and the arms industry) has gained anything from the invasions and Iraq and Afghanistan appear to have lost overall when you bear in mind that the US-created Taliban appear to be winning the war. However, you could ask whether those who campaigned against the invasions should be made to suffer government cuts when billions has been spent on them.

JC wrote:
I think we probably need to call time on this thread

Such a decision is not yours to make, especially when our exchange was provoked by your calling other people’s comments “a disgrace”, but if you feel you have nothing more to say on the matter, please feel free to desist.

JC wrote:
because it has the potential run forever with each side contesting every sentence 'ad nauseam' and has the potential of turning into a slanging match

It’s a shame, because a properly conducted argument does not have to be like that. It seems that some people become emotionally attached to their originally-stated opinions and feel compelled to defend them beyond the grave. Using derogatory adjectives doesn’t help either.

Actually, in a debate, every sentence is up to be contested; that is what a debate is all about.

thisistibi's picture

Who's on the soapbox?    1 thanks

thisistibi | | Permalink

Did you really re-open this thread just to respond ad nauseum to JC's comments?  Do you feel better now?

Steve Holloway's picture

I have only one thing to say ...    2 thanks

Steve Holloway | | Permalink

I fully support your right to make the arguments you do. I am very pleased that you live in a country, unlike Iraq under Hussein and Afghanistan under the Taliban, where having views contrary to 'government' would have had you arrested, tortured and probably buried in an unmarked pit.

Of course the freedoms we enjoy in the UK have not come cheaply. Much of what we have, in terms of political freedom, has been paid for by the blood of soldiers, conscripted and professional, who have laid down their lives for their country (I think particularly of the second world war obviously). Other freedoms have been bought by our unwillingness, as a nation, to follow slavishly any religion or its zealot leaders. The current peril in the world is surely one where religion (or rather its proponents) would seek to put their beliefs over the rights of other human beings. That can never be and only the foolish would stand-by and say that it is nothing to do with them. The same fools stood by and watched Nazi Germany arm itself in the thirties. To stop Hitler in 1933 would have cost lives, civilian and soldiers, would have been politically unpopular but might ... just might have saved 10 million lives 10 years later.   

Sometimes in life it is necessary to fight for what is right (ask the people of Benghazi or Misrata if they would rather we had turned our backs when the tanks rolled in to their cities a few months ago). When you have to fight it is more than useful to have those on hand with the courage to do so and yes .. they should be seen as heroes.

I think    1 thanks

Alan Davies | | Permalink

I think chatman that:

1) you've never been in the armed forces,

2) you're not working hard enough if you've got time to deconstruct someone's argument line by line,

3) you're probably right about Tony Blair

 

 

@thisistibi    1 thanks

chatman | | Permalink

thisistibi wrote:

Did you really re-open this thread just to respond ad nauseum to JC's comments?  Do you feel better now?

Your point?

@Alan Davies    1 thanks

chatman | | Permalink

Alan Davies wrote:

I think chatman that:

1) you've never been in the armed forces

Given what I have said about the armed forces, I think anyone would be amazed to hear that I had.

Alan Davies wrote:
you're not working hard enough if you've got time to deconstruct someone's argument line by line

Good point.

@Steve Holloway    1 thanks

chatman | | Permalink

I see nothing to disagree with in any part of your post, and I think it is good you raised the point about religion. I am not sure if the new Libyan government will be any better than Gaddafi (although it would be difficult to be worse). The UNHCR and Amnesty International have reported attacks on black Libyans by the new government and isn't the new government made up of people who served in Gaddafi's government (eg Mustafa Abdul Jalil and Mahmoud Jibril)? I am guessing that our government is simply hoping the new one will be more compliant to our wishes, rather than more humanitarian.

Of course when the fight is right, those who freely participate are heroes, but when it is not? I am sure no-one here would say the the German soldiers in WWII were heroes however brave they were.

Steve Holloway's picture

I disagree about the German soldiers ...    1 thanks

Steve Holloway | | Permalink

in that they have every right to call themselves heroes; that they were on the losing side does not change deeds. Clearly I am not talking about the SS or Gestapo but the average Werhmacht soldier was very much in the same position as the average Tommy.

I take your point about the Libyans. However, the fear that nothing will change can never be an excuse for not doing the right thing to start with. The Libyan people have earned the right to try and forge a new nation, one which works on a fairer basis and they should be held accountable if they lurch back to old ways.

Arguably I think Iraq was offered the same opportunity with the invasion but too many people chose sectarian, religous violence rather than to embrace the opportunity. It is too easy to blame the invasion for the civilian deaths but the vast majority occurred after the Iraqi army had collapsed. I'm not stupid, I do get the argument that if the invasion hadn't happened then the deaths would have been limited to the usual 1000 or so that Hussein murdered each year BUT that does not mean it was as an absolute consequence. The Iraqi people could have said .. well thanks for getting rid of a dictator, we will now unite and you can all p### off home. Do you think anyone would have been happier with that outcome than Blair or Bush!?

.    1 thanks

chatman | | Permalink

Steve Holloway wrote:
I disagree about the German soldiers in that they have every right to call themselves heroes

OK I concede that point; I really did think that, given the responses, people would not call the German soldiers heroes. I think that any of them that volunteered because they thought they were doing what was right for humanity, or were defending themselves against unjustified attack could well be considered a hero. I would not say the same about any that went only because he was conscripted ,although as JC pointed out, any of them could have committed heroic acts, and therefore been heroes, at any time.

Steve Holloway wrote:
I take your point about the Libyans. However, the fear that nothing will change can never be an excuse for not doing the right thing to start with. The Libyan people have earned the right to try and forge a new nation, one which works on a fairer basis and they should be held accountable if they lurch back to old ways.

I was not suggesting that we should not have bombed Gaddafi’s forces; merely expressing scepticism about the new “free” Libya. It was not relevant to my point about heroism. Having said that, one needs to take a view on how good the new government will be when deciding to support a war in which many will die. If the new government turns out to be not better or not much better, many will have died for nothing. You can't just say it's "the right thing" without at least estimating the outcome.

Steve Holloway wrote:
Arguably I think Iraq was offered the same opportunity with the invasion but too many people chose sectarian, religous violence rather than to embrace the opportunity. It is too easy to blame the invasion for the civilian deaths but the vast majority occurred after the Iraqi army had collapsed.

I could just as easily say it is "too easy" to blame sectarian violence for the deaths. But even if most deaths were caused by sectarian violence and not resistance to the occupiers and the collaborators, the consequences were easily foreseen, and not just in hindsight. There was no planning for the post-invasion administration of Iraq; insufficient control over the behaviour of US and UK forces (Abu Ghraib, Baha Musa etc), and it is not as if the US has a good reputation in this area (Somalia, Operation Condor etc); and everyone knew about the religious nuts (and when I say “religious nuts” I don’t mean George Bush and Tony Blair). We must have known whom we were getting into bed with.

Maybe if the US had facilitated fair elections after the invasion then things would have gone differently; who knows?  I refer, for example, to the US attempts to exclude Muqtada al-Sadr from the political process.

Not all of the violence is inter-sect; a huge amount of it is directed against those who collaborate with the occupying forces, and much of it is retaliation from the occupying forces. I do not know what proportion is between religious sects but I would be grateful if anyone could direct me to some authoritative source for this. The journalist Robert Fisk argues that the official narrative of sectarian conflict is not possible, saying "Iraq is not a sectarian society, but a tribal society.[...]The real question I ask myself is: who are these people who are trying to provoke the civil war? Now the Americans will say it's Al Qaeda, it's the Sunni insurgents. It is the death squads. Many of the death squads work for the Ministry of Interior. Who runs the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad? Who pays the Ministry of the Interior? Who pays the militia men who make up the death squads? We do, the occupation authorities [...] We need to look at this story in a different light."

Steve Holloway wrote:
I'm not stupid

I hope I didn’t seem to be suggesting you were.

Steve Holloway wrote:
I do get the argument that if the invasion hadn't happened then the deaths would have been limited to the usual 1000 or so that Hussein murdered each year BUT that does not mean it was as an absolute consequence.

Maybe it didn’t have to be a consequence, but as I said above, it seemed likely, and the lack of planning for such consequences shows that it did not seem to be of much importance to the invaders. In addition, civilians always suffer in a war; they get killed; they lose infrastructure such as clean water and electricity. I appreciate that this is only part of the problem, but it is a factor to take into account when starting a war.

Steve Holloway wrote:
The Iraqi people could have said .. well thanks for getting rid of a dictator, we will now unite and you can all p### off home.

What, and leave all that oil behind? That was never going to happen.

Steve Holloway wrote:
Do you think anyone would have been happier with that outcome than Blair or Bush!?

Yes, the Iraqi people. Whilst Bush and Blair would probably have considered it a bonus, for PR reasons, I really do not think they were that bothered.

If people believe we only start these wars for humanitarian reasons, why do they think we support and arm Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Burma and Israel; why do we trade with China, which kills more of its citizens than any other country or the US that incarcerates more than any other and runs a terrorist training school? And why did we appease Nazi Germany for so long?

By the way, does anyone know of an invasion, since WWII which directly resulted in a democratic government being formed?

david.price's picture

Pacafists

david.price | | Permalink

As we don't have conscription, every soldier in our armed forces is a volunteer, which makes them all brave men.

 

Soldiers do not choose what wars they fight in, they fight whoever the politicians tell them to fight, so complaints about "unjust wars" are for the politicians to answer, not the soldiers.

 

Personally I have a real problem with pacafists. To me they are freeloaders, scroungers, willing to enjoy the peace and security won for them by soldiers, but not willing to fight alongside them to win it.  Now if I was asked to define cowardice, that's rather how I would define it.

@david.price

chatman | | Permalink

@david.price - Feel free to read the previous comments.

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