[ExI] moral ambiguity, was: What is Grace?

spike spike66 at att.net
Tue Mar 10 05:59:07 UTC 2009


> -----Original Message-----
> From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org 
> [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of 
> Damien Broderick
> Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 10:03 PM
> To: ExI chat list
> Subject: Re: [ExI] What is Grace?
> At 09:21 PM 3/9/2009 -0700, Spike wrote:
> >Being on the side of the angels is a wonderfully ambiguous 
> moral position.
> No, as any good born-again Darwinist knows, being "on the 
> side of the angels" means being *unambiguously dead 
> wrong*--because it's a phrase used by Benjamin Disraeli in 
> 1864 to berate evolutionists: "The question is this: Is man 
> an ape or an angel? Now I am on the side of the angels." 
> Wrong, Benji. No positive reinforcement for you, sir.
> Damien Broderick

Oy, my highly literate friend has taught me much, and I do thank you sir for
this generous and patient education.

I have way overposted today, for which I apologize, but I had one additional
thought I wish to slip in here in order to avoid adding yet another post to
my already over-six day.

Earlier I posted a commentary about the invasion of Iraq, essentially buying
former CIA chief George Tenet's explanation: Saddam lied, people died.  But
I should point out that Tenet's book Center of the Storm has been called
into question, and several of his claims are just plain wrong.  One of the
big fallacies can be found right in the introduction, the first page of
text, where Tenet describes September 12th, going to the white house, and
meeting Richard Perle coming out.  Tenet:

"As the doors closed behind him, we made eye contact and nodded.  I had just
reached the door myself when Perle turned to me and said, 'Iraq has to pay a
price for what happened yesterday.  They bear responsibility.' "

Perle categorically denies ever having said any such thing to Tenet, while
coming out of the White House or anywhere else.  Perle was verifiably in
France on September 11, and was unable to get a flight back to the states
for several days, eventually returning on a military transport on 15
September.  Having so glaring an error (or intentional lie) on the first
page seriously undermines the credibility of the book.  Doug Feith and Condi
Rice have taken issue with Tenet as well.  Tenet has never offered, as far
as I know, a retraction or an explanation for his speaking to Perle on the
steps of the white house, when Perle was in France.  

On the other hand, the FBI special agent George Piro, who also questioned
Saddam in the final weeks before he was handed over to the Iraqis, agrees
with Tenet, and even offers more commentary that Tenet did not include in
his Center of the Storm.  One may speculate that Tenet has possible reasons
to lie: he was the one who handled the intelligence and advised Bush, he is
an ideological adversary of Perle, and of course he has a book to sell (and
no job).  Piro has none of that and has offered no books, but his story is
consistent with the facts.

In the curious moral ambiguity of war, we see the recent conflict between
Israel and Gaza as a demonstration of how technologically advanced and how
stunningly accurate is the Israeli weaponry.  Israel could have flattened
Gaza, but instead they chose instead to show the precision of their aim.
Thousands died; at the same time the demonstration may sufficient warning to
Iran to back down and stop threatening to wipe Israel off the map.

Hard to say how history will view this decade fifty years from now, when we
know how the approaching showdown between Israel and Iran plays out.  The US
invasion stopped a war between Iran and Iraq, killing thousands while saving
millions of lives, but as an unintended consequence, may have enabled a
bigger subsequent war between stronger opponents, Iran and Israel, which may
kill tens of millions, and could even go nukular, evolution forbid.



More information about the extropy-chat mailing list