Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The rule of law, justice, and revenge

The war issues facing America deal with some hard economic realities in both the short and long term.

The Afghanistan question is often framed as "do we stay or do we go." This is linear and inefficient thinking. Since the last person to conquer Afghanistan was Alexander the Great, maybe we need to look at the current options being weighed as well as some other possible alternatives:

1. Bring the troops home
2. Stay and fight a conventional war and try to nation build
3. Finish the job by obliterating the tribal regions into dust and then bring the troops home
4. Bring the troops home, and then use them to close all of our boarders, seek out all illegal aliens and send them home, convict those in Guantanino and throw away the key, spend the war dollars on homeland security- including airline, container and port security, and tell the world we will no longer protect them
5. Combination of #3 and #4

Maybe we just need to "even the score."

With this in mind, the following are excerpts from-Evening the Score in Afghanistan: Revenge is a just motive for finishing a war they started, By Thane Rosenbaum in The Wall Street Journal

Perhaps this is a good time to recall why we bombed and invaded Afghanistan in the first place. With all the rhetoric about what should happen next, the most obvious reason we can't leave before we finish what we started has been ignored: revenge.

Yes, revenge. It is a concept that makes many uncomfortable, and so it is often condemned. Yet it is instinctively necessary and fundamentally ingrained in the moral development of human beings. Neuroscientists and evolutionary psychologists have determined that revenge is hard wired in the brain. We all root for the revenge-seeker in novels and movies not because we are depraved, but because the avenger is right. . .

This is the language and imperative of revenge, which should not be distinguished from justice itself. When properly identified and undertaken, revenge and justice are the same: There is no justice unless wrongdoers are punished and victims are avenged. Revenge puts the just deserts in justice. It is both legally and morally just for debts to be redeemed and lost honor reclaimed. Justice that does not result in the moral and emotional closure that accompanies revenge is no justice at all.

This is the ancient law of lex talionis—an eye for an eye— which is so often misunderstood as primitive bloodthirstiness. In fact, it is about reclaiming what is deservedly owed, measure for measure. No more can be taken in retaliation for loss, but equally important, no less. The redemption of the debt is inviolable, whether carried out by nations, tribal societies, or legal systems.

Clearly, the mass murder of nearly 3,000 lives on 9/11 is a substantial debt. After eight years in Afghanistan, with the ranks of al Qaeda depleted but metastasizing elsewhere, the Taliban resurgent, and bin Laden still at large, does anyone believe this debt has been repaid?

There are actually two ground zeros: one in lower Manhattan, and the other symbolically located in Afghanistan, where the demonic aspirations of al Qaeda were bred and where bin Laden may still be. Whether in Afghanistan, Pakistan or some other dark and murderous corner of the world, America simply cannot abandon the obligation of evening this score. Justice demands no less.

1 comment:

  1. This Thane Rosenbaum is supposedly a distinguished professor of law. Doesn't sound like it. He's ignoring that we killed over 1 MILLION people in Iraq already. But this is clearly not enough because 'they' still live in Afghnistan. Who, exactly are 'they'? Bin Laden? He's pretty much dead by all standards, and isn't wanted by the FBI for 9/11. The other 19, if they indeed were the perps, are all dead. So why have we killed or maimed SCORES of thousands of Americans for a goal that can't be defined?

    The recent peer-reviewed paper by Harrit and others finding explosives in many samples of WTC dust invalidates the official theory of a ragtag band of Arabs sent by a guy in a cave. The tons of 'nano-thermite' needed to prepare and/or knock the buildings down couldn't have been placed by BL or the alleged hijackers. How did it get there? Who put it there? Why? New investigation needed urgently.

    If over 1,000,000 Iraqis aren't enough to pay for 3,000 of us, it appears that someone considers 'them' inhuman while 'we' are the master race... where have we seen this before? It doesn't sound very professorial, actually. Do I need a PhD to espouse mindless, savage revenge against an unidentified foe in an oil-rich area that offers a far better rationale for the whole mess?