Dad, why don’t you beat that kid? — International Interference and Dirty Hands

November 27, 2011

Political action, Political Theory


Why don’t you beat that child?

During my childhood years when the physical advantages of boys are not so distinct, games involving violence, or more precisely fights, were my major activities. Once, we had a melee over the right of a broom and a boy was badly hurt, –or at least his howls are so grieved that our teacher believed he was badly hurt. As a result, parents from those four families were called to school.  Almost without any suspension, I was fiercely beaten by my dad after we returned home.

I remember during this cruel suppression I cried toward my dad, “Why? Why don’t you beat the kid next door? He hurt me! I am your daughter but you are here beating me!”

Well, later I grew to know that it would be both morally and legally inappropriate for my dad to beat another kid –he apparently do not have that right (though I will never believe it was right for him to educate me with violence.).

If a family is taken as a mini state, it seems that the story becomes a problem of dirty hands, where “immoral means” are used for the better off of children. I can hardly justify the use of violence in educating children, however, I indeed obtained a deep impression and the frequency of my participating in fight sharply decreased after this incident. In fact, the major issue invokes my interest is subject of an immoral manoeuvre.

To further develop our discussion, any tactic toward another country is unjust. Just like I stated before, parents do not have right to educate children in other families. Their power over their own children derives from the fact that they are responsible for a better future of their children. Similar is the power of a nation. According to politicians like Locke and Hobbes, people submit to a government in seek of peace, enjoyment and safety. Therefore, the employment of government power can take place only for and on its citizens.

This triggers another consideration: what about international justice? Would it be appropriate for a nation to take immoral actions for the benefit of another country?Well, from the assumption of “family and state”, if a government only have power over its citizens, its actions toward any other country will be intrinsically unjust. In other words, the power of an authority decides its responsibility. For example, will you be happy if your neighbors rebuke your child even if he/she is wrong? No. Probably most of us will think “Hey, that is my child. It’s none of your business!”

Therefore, let us take further consideration. Would you think the war is appropriate if nuclear facilities were found in Iraq?  Would the trauma of Iraq people be offset by the harm of dangerous weapons, the harm of which is still far away?

In fact, the problem of dirty hands is alway controversial. However, for me, hardly can a war be justified with a excuse of justice. This is different from situations where Good Samaritan Law is applied. Definitely we should be protected when we try to protect others. However, it is not an excuse for intended injury, which is claimed as the prevention of a potential harm.

What if I am beaten?

Though I gradually gave up fighting with others, there were occasions where I was hurt as innocent victim. It was really hard for me at first not to fight back as I always did. I have no ideas what other kid in America would do if they were bullied. However, I gradually found it is a better solution to turn to my teachers for help. The revenge is not as harsh as if I fight back. I would not be criticized for their being beaten anymore.

Similarly, there are situations where a nation, rather than a provoker of conflicts, is involved into a war.  Should the government employ immoral manoeuvre in emergency alike? Will immoral method become reasonable?

Let’s, again, put the issue of international conflict into a mini model.  Imagine if your arm is broken by a guy you know exactly him name and address. In my belief, few of us will choose to give him a lesson ourselves rather than calling the police. A private revenge becomes a crime but a legal sentence is justified by laws and the will of people.

Therefore, it seems like the proper way to resolve international conflict would be putting those cases into a international court. However, will this really work for global conflicts?

Well, we do have the United Nations. Nevertheless, UN apparently lack the power to enact its verdict. It is more like an association for temporal meeting while no actual power is granted to the United Nations. According to Hobbes, without the power to keep all its followers in awe, rules become meaningless.

Moreover, it usually takes so long for UN to make a decision that this might be unsafe and inefficient to put every international issue under its control. In fact, UN is controlled by those major powers like America and China in the world. Rights of weak countries are not actually secured. Just like the problem of nuclear. Admittedly, the nuclear power is so dangerous that it should never be employed again. However, it is undeniable that we are in a situation of nuclear monopoly. Countries like Russia and America are in a subtle balance and keep others in awe due to their knowledge of nuclear power.

Therefore, after so much discussion, what do you think? Do you think we should never “beat the kid next door”?  Will UN be the ideal court for us to solve those problems? Or, it is useless due to reasons I state above? And most importantly, what do you think is the best way the international conflicts?

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2 Comments on “Dad, why don’t you beat that kid? — International Interference and Dirty Hands”

  1. ianbaker2041 Says:

    I do believe that nations should have the right to meddle in the affairs of other countries when doing so is to the advantage of the interfering nation’s citizens. Let’s take an example we all know: World War II. We watched the video in class a few days ago about MacNamara; he claims that he and others in the chain of command were acting as war criminals, and I agree with him when he says that he would have been tried and convicted as a war criminal had the US lost. The US holds the record for killing the most people in a single day: the firebombing of Tokyo. No battle or attack since then or before then killed more people in a single day. The video starts to discuss it, but LeMay took the machine guns’ ammunition out of the B-29s and flew them low so as to put more bombs on each plane. LeMay literally wanted to destroy Tokyo, and he very nearly did. Some people think this is bad, but I don’t because in destroying Tokyo, the US made Emperor Hirohito and his command take one step closer to surrendering to the US without an allied invasion. Some estimates have it that millions of Americans would have become casualties had the US hit the beaches of Honshu-an even larger Battle of Tarawa. We certainly meddled in the affairs in the country; after all, we destroyed virtually all major Japanese cities. But we did so in the interests of our own people, and that’s what governments should do. Governments should watch out for their own people first, and in destroying Japan, the US military did that. There’s nothing wrong with that. People saying that we should not ever interfere in the affairs of other countries are saying that we should not fight wars such as the Second World War, a notion that I cannot seriously entertain. In this way, spying is also fine because it is in the best interests of US citizens for their government to have information about suspected enemies of the United States.

    Given this, I think we should now turn to Iraq. I don’t think that nuclear weapons would make a difference to whether or not the US had a right to invade because even if Iraq had had nuclear weapons, they would not have posed a threat to the United States. Saddam Hussein was an evil man, and there is indisputable proof that Hussein produced and used weapons of mass destruction in the late 80s and early 90s. Even if he still did have weapons of mass destruction of any kind, nuclear or otherwise, they would not have been a threat to the US. Hussein had no way to deliver a warhead even to Europe, far less across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. Because the citizens of the US have gained nothing from the invasion of Iraq, I don’t think it was worth it. This does not, however, mean that the US doesn’t have a right to invade if it so chooses. The US has a right to interfere there if it sees fit so long as it does so in the best interests of US citizens. I don’t think that Bush 43 had the people in mind when he launched Operation Iraqi Freedom; in fact, I think that the Bush family had some personal reasons for wanting to go into Iraq. 9/11 just happened to come along and present a nice cover story for it, and as released communications between Bush and his closest advisers show, the Bush Administration was already thinking about Iraq even before the attacks of 9/11. When the nuclear weapons allegations came up, many in Bush’s circle wanted to use it as a guise to invade; Bush took the bait, hook, line, and sinker, and in went the US military. Nuclear weapons are serious business, but they and Hussein’s governemtn were never a direct threat to the United States, so going in wasn’t worth it even if it is justified. Had there actually been a national security reason to enter Iraq, I would say it’s justified.

  2. jgurwitch Says:

    A lot of countries work together in order to succeed and stay afloat in the world. With that being said, I believe that it is perfectly okay for nations to intervene in affairs with other countries, especially if it is for their personal safety. Countries sometimes have a state of nature mindset that allow them to do what they need to succeed. They form alliances and work together to remain a power in the world and sometimes it is not completely justified, but it is also sometimes necessary. In a situation such as Iraq, it was not necessarily completely justified because there was no true threat being posed against the United States. This type of attack in effect just brought a lot of controversy and chaos in the countries because it started a war that has ceased to stop. Bush has consistently been under fire for the decision he made since it was a decision that was not highly defended but at this point we are now facing the repercussions of many men dying and a war that we should not be in.
    Furthermore, Ianbaker’s claim about Japan is exactly what would make an attack like this justified. When the United States attacked Japan they were watching out for what was going to be the best for the citizens. We had to protect ourselves and we had to destroy them in order to continue our dominance and survival. We were getting bombed and we had to retaliate stronger to end the risk of the United States getting worse off. There are many situations like this, and there are also times where a country must attack another just because they are defending an ally. Certain countries work together to ensure that they can all be prosperous and powerful and if there is an agreement amongst countries then I believe attacking to defend them is okay.
    Attacking another country tends to be a tricky situation because sometimes they believe it is justified while the outliers do not. Most countries would probably side with the idea that attacking Iraq was not wise because there was no immediate issues or threat that would have made the United States necessarily need to worry about anything.

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