Moral Equivalence 101

Hesiod asks the following questions: (link may not work due to Blogger archive bug…)

QUESTION FOR CHICKENBLOGGERS: If you knew the following things:

* The leader of a particular country is in posession of weapons of mass destruction.

* The country had used weapons of mass destruction in the past against it’s enemies.

* The leader contantly flouts international law.

* The leader has belligerently declared his intent to pre-emptively invade another country.

* The leader is being criticized both domestically and internationally for curtailing basic human rights and stealing an election.

Would you support a “regime change” in that country?

It’s clear that Hesiod is trying to say that the US and Iraq are morally equal. In other words he gives a series of false analogies to try to show that really the US and Iraq are no different.

Mere common sense can shoot this one down. First of all, the United States does possess weapons of mass destruction. However, we’re a stable nation, we’re not going to give those weapons for terrorist groups, and we’re not going to use nuclear weapons as first strike option. None of those things are true for Iraq. Even if Iraq doesn’t use a hypothetical nuclear weapon, the mere presence of such a device irrevocably changes the regional balance of power in the area. It means that Saddam Hussein can bully the region however he likes then hold the specter of a nuclear detonation over our heads. That is simply unacceptable.

The second false analogy is the use of such weapons. The United States has used WMDs once to prevent an invasion that would have killed millions. Iraq used chemical weapons on its Kurdish population to keep them repressed and prevent them from uprising and distracting Iraqi troops fighting Iran. Again, a huge moral difference.

With the third, again a false analogy. There’s a big difference between refusing to sign a document which is clearly against the basic principles of the Constitution and refusing to abide by a binding cease-fire agreement at the end of a war. There simply is no logical comparison between our actions towards the ICC and the Iraqi’s refusal to comply with the cease-fire agreement. One is a rational choice made by a member in good standing in the world community, and the other is an attempt by an aggressive and dangerous regime to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The fourth is – you guessed it – another false analogy. The United States has presented a case for attacking Iraq based on the best interets of regional stability and peace. We’re not out on a power grab. Imperialism is ultimately self-defeating. If we really wanted to make Iraq some kind of American colony, the revenues from oil would barely make up for costs of keeping order. It is in the best interests of the United States and the world to have a democratic state in Iraq, however. As with Germany and Japan, we’re not out to colonize but to pacify and rebuild. (And of course we’ll benefit from it in the long run, but that benefit is not our prime motivation for action.)

Again, this is another attempt at Leftist moral equivalence. If Hesiod really believes that the human rights situations in Iraq and the US are equal, then he’d better take The Shropshire Challenge and view the situation himself. I’m also instituting a new law for debating with liberals. If a liberal mentions Bush "stealing" the election or any other such claptrap, they instantly forfeit the argument. It’s a tired, pointless, and utterly unconvincing argument, and it needs to be dropped.

So what we have are five false analogies that fail to accomodate any real analysis of the situation in Iraq. There are cases to be made against an Iraqi invasion based on real evidence. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see any of them be made.

3 thoughts on “Moral Equivalence 101

  1. It’s not at all “clear” that I am trying to say that the “US and Iraq are morally equal.”

    It’s more intersting, quite frankly, that you assumed I was talking about the United States, when I did not refer to which leader, or which country I was describing anywhere in my post.

    Freudian guilt perhaps?

  2. Well, I agree with everything except the part about an argument being immediately forfeited if someone refers to Bush stealing the election. I recognize George W. Bush as the legitimate president of this nation, I do not think that he stole the election- HOWEVER, I do think that we’ve been dodging the problems inherent in our national voting system for too long. It’s time for a national switch-over to a digital, internet-based voting system using heavy encryption and secure terminals rather than primitive ballots and punchcards which can be easily misread. But I doubt this will make the liberals happy.

  3. Hesiod: Your choice of criteria only match a very few countries in the world – and most people are going to assume that you were referring to the United States. The whole point to the piece was to try and show that the US and Iraq share those same set of qualities, and therefore we’ve no moral foundation from which to criticize Iraq. If your intent was otherwise, why not go out and state it?

    Nicq: The day we get rid of hole-punch voting machines will be a great day. I’m not sure we’re ready for digital quite yet, but that would be a great solution if they money and the security could be assured.

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