Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Logic - but not as we know it

Any hopes of a return to sanity on the Guardian's comments pages were dashed by a masterpiece from John Laughland today.

"It is no accident that those who advocate war for humanitarian reasons end up justifying torture"

Hmm … let's try an empirical test. Here is one notable advocate of humanitarian intervention on waterboarding:

"That such a thing can be a matter for discussion is appalling and contemptible. It inspires disgust. It shames those who prevaricate about it. It is a stain upon a great democracy".

Ah. A slight problem with the thesis. Never mind, because "Torture and 'humanitarian war' are similar in many ways". Eh? How? Oh I see. It is because, "Both involve the inflicting of violence in order to force a change of behaviour". Actually I thought torture was the use of violence to extract information or as a disgusting form of punishment, used as intimidation and to create fear. And as for humanitarian war, isn't it supposed to rescue people from, er … torture as well as murder, oppression, and crimes against humanity. I am really having difficulty finding the similarities here.

To be fair he does admit that some advocates of humanitarian intervention do oppose torture, but, in making the case for war, they advance "the same argument as that advocated by the torturer who says he is trying to save lives". Yikes.

Sorry, there is a limit to the amount of non sequitors a humble fat chap can cope with. So let's cut to the conclusion; Laughland's humanitarian pacifism.

"We need instead to renew the deep conviction that seized the collective conscience of mankind in 1945 that the international system, and the ideas that underpin it, should be structured so as to ensure peace at any price".

Any price? The return of Fascism to power? Genocide?

Not for the first time, I am left wondering what on earth the editors were thinking of.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is rather unfair of you to accuse the editors of the Grotesque of 'thinking'.

This is another occurrence of the enthusiam for moral equivalence. "The bombing of Dresden is no different from the bombing of Coventry ..." (Or, one assumes, London, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Plymouth, Southhampton, etc., etc.) Well, not if you live in Toyland, but what if faced with stark choices?

It reminds me of Orwell's remark about Aldus Huxley: Condemning the Second World War from California, safe behind the guns of the Seventh Fleet.