Wednesday, June 22, 2005

where's your line

I just saw “The Fog of War.” The one judgment/position that amazed me most made by McNamara was the one he made about where he drew his line between authorizing excessive unreasonable amounts of killing and necessary killing. He seemed to think that one in his position would have to authorize 10,000 to even 100,000 people’s deaths. However, to wipe out an entire people/country/nation was absolutely unacceptable. I suppose Hitler even passes the test with respect to the criteria here. He didn’t succeed in wiping out the Jews. I suppose wiping out Luxembourg would be over the top in comparison.
I was also amazed (now I'm beyond my one point) that he accepted the position of Secretary of State without consulting with his wife. Obviously, it wasn’t the first time he had “come home” with a “honey, guess what I did today.” I think I would have died early too, if I were her.


Anonymous said...

The keywords are 'unreasonable', 'excessive', 'unnecessary', etc. as opposed to necessary. Though this is all relatively speaking. What mr. McNamara or G.Bush think as necessary, others may find entirely out of order.

Instead of my line, a pacifist's dilemma.

Image, for a moment, you were midwife for mrs. Hitler (mother of...) with perfect historic foresight. You know that you can either kill one person, thus saving the lifes of millions, but it requires you to kill (active deed).

Or, do nothing, thereby implicitly/passively being an accomplice in the murder of millions. Implicitely, because you of course don't have blood on your hands, whereas in the first case you have.

This is ofcourse very hypothetic, making lots of assumptions, won't ever happen in reality, etc. But still. What would you do IF.

Also: if someone would have killed mr.Hitler in 1945, would he have been a murderer or a hero? How about in 1940? And if he had done it in 1939? 1933? 1891?

Some killing/murder is different from other (to me at least), it appears.

Dilemma? Or not? Not originally thought up by me, BTW.

Just as we were asked by our history teacher: what would you do if you were a young boy in Germany in 193x? Answer honestly, with the knowledge you have at that time (not with hindsight). The answer probably won't make you happy... Wouldn't call myself cynical though, more realistic. Not happy thoughts eh?

BTW, people are still the same as 90 years and 60 years ago. The same things make them happy/unhappy. Whenever somebody says 'something like that can't happen again, because we now have knowledge', I get even more skeptical. It's those that scream the loudest 'I would never do something like that' (in the 193x dilemma) that I'd be most afraid of.

Just some things that spring up in my mind after reading your post.


Peter. said...

I don't like it when people recommend books or movies to me, but will do now myself. If you ever have the chance to see the (German) movie 'Das Boot' (the boat, about a german u-boot) look at it. Despite superficial appearance, it's more pacifist in nature than most people think.

But the real reason: can you feel sympathetic for the people on that boat, on the hardships they suffer?

If one can't, I'd go as far to ask whether they have any human feeling or not (or rather, 'empathy' is the correct word I think, if it translates into english)

Just complicating things a bit more.


On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. (Saint-Exupéry)