The Meliorist – It takes you…

I will state outright that I am an avowed peacenik.  I have a hard time believing that violent force is justified (or successful) in the vast majority of international incidents.  But, I know that 9/11 has made that a sometimes seemingly indefensible position.  I will say that if we KNEW for certain that the planes were headed for buildings, than perhaps I would support destroying the planes before they destroyed the buildings, but we didn’t have that choice.  And we certainly could not prove the connections between many of the places we bombed and the 9/11 attacks (or possible future attacks).  Self-defense is important and justified, but at what point do we get to claim self-defense without allowing others that same benefit?  So, I have a hard time seeing military action as justifiable in most instances, but I also try to understand where those who do support military action are coming from.  And sometimes they have pretty good (and realistic verses my more idealistic) points to make. 

But, I just read at about the recent Republican debates and the candidates’ responses to the question of preemptive NUCLEAR attack against Iran if they fail to fall in line with our requests in their nuclear weapons development.  Now, even if I ignore the total hypocrisy of saying, “let’s nuke ’em so they don’t get a nuke,” I can not possibly understand someone saying that using nuclear weapons in the Middle East is a good (and justifiable) idea.  But, I guess four of the candidates came straight out and said it.  A related blog post by William M. Arkin at gives direct quotes from those candidates and a post-debate interview of Fred Thompson (of Law and Order fame – why doesn’t Jack run instead?!?!?) had him agreeing.  The remaining six candidates had the chance to speak up on the issue following the direct questioning, but only one, Ron Paul, chose to speak out against the use of preemptive attacks.  The former Libertarian candidate responded to a question from the audience on moral issues faced by our society by saying that he saw the viewpoint of the others as a moral issue.  I’m not Republican and I’m not really Libertarian (although I sometimes find myself leaning that way, especially with our current government), but this is a guy I definitely need to look at further. 

I have long been disappointed in the political debates that happen in our system.  As an instructor of argumentation and communication and a coach of intercollegiate debate, these debates often make me cringe.  So, I have to admit that I don’t tune in to the vast majority of debates, choosing instead to follow up on them through the media and blog coverage.  It is interesting that it was incredibly difficult to locate any comments on these answers in the mainstream media. and the World Socialists were the primary reactions I saw, with the blog from the writer giving some coverage to it.  But, I can’t figure out if this is because the media is trying to cover up the candidates true positions or if they view this as an issue that just is not that controversial.  Could it be that the possibility of using nuclear weapons in retaliation, but especially PRE-EMPTIVELY, is not controversial?!?! 

What do you think?  Is using nuclear weapons, even in a “tactical” and “limited” attack a-okay in today’s international context?  If you think it is controversial, than why not more coverage of these responses in the mainstream media? 


et cetera