Trying to understand 9/11 versus Hiroshima

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Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 12:36 am
I have been trying to understand the difference ethically, if there is any, between 9/11 and the United States dropping a bomb on Hiroshima. After 9/11 happened, America got geared up and ready to go fight back against those that had attacked them. My problem with the whole thing is the logic behind it. At the end of WWII America dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an attempt to "scare" Japan into dropping out of the war. The definition of terrorism is :

"the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes."

Did America not use terrorism ourselves to force Japan out of the war? America is all geared up against terrorists saying how horrible they are and how they depreciate the value of human society. I agree with this, yet I also find interest in the fact that people so easily forget that we're not much better than they are. When I bring this up in debate the most natural response I get is:

"Well, it's different to us because the attack against America was unprovoked."

I disagree with this statement because 9/11 followed a tumultuous time of America campaigning through the Middle East for our own political reasons. We shook up that region with our own desires and the natural response of the region was to strike back at us. Since most of the countries we influenced (for better or for worse) do not have the military might to stand up against us, they tried to catch our attention by an act of terrorism. When looking at the evidence, we did provoke 9/11 by trying to force our diplomacy on an unstable region without their permission. Now I do not advocate 9/11 in any way shape or form, I strongly disagree with Al-Qaeda's tactics, however, I also think America unethically went into the Middle East to fight the "war on terrorism" when we ourselves have been terrorists in the past. Am I wrong on this point of view?
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 12:42 am
@Karpowich,
Karpowich;148450 wrote:
I have been trying to understand the difference ethically, if there is any, between 0/11 and the United States dropping a bomb on Hiroshima.
I think a better example would be the USA's bombing of Hanoi. As there was no state of war, this was certainly terrorism.
 
Karpowich
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 12:51 am
@Karpowich,
That too, it just furthers my point that America fights against things we have done ourselves in the past without thinking twice about it. Another example of America being prejudiced against something they did in their past is the border control with Mexico. When America was still moving westward, many people started settling in Mexico in areas around Texas. So many Americans started settling in Mexican land that Mexico started raising funds to build a wall to keep us out, sound familiar? It seems that America forgets their own past far too often and becomes unethically prejudiced against many countries and cultures.
 
wayne
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 01:11 am
@Karpowich,
I think the use of atomic weapons in japan was really based on the desire to save american lives in a war we knew would become protracted if we invaded the japanese mainland. A better question might be the fire bombing of japanese cities prior to the use of atomic weapons. This seems a bit terroristic to me, although it may have been an act of desperation.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 01:11 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;148451 wrote:
I think a better example would be the USA's bombing of Hanoi. As there was no state of war, this was certainly terrorism.


You seem to be assuming that unless there is a state of war (whatever that means) a warlike action is terrorism. Could you say why you assume that? For example, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, American anti-aircraft batteries opened up on Japanese aircraft. There was, at that time, no declaration of war on Japan. So, was that terrorism America's part?
 
Karpowich
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 01:32 am
@Karpowich,
No, because at the time it was a direct self defense reasoning. It all goes back to the definition of terrorism which is "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes." If someone comes up and mugs you in an alleyway you have every ethical right to defend yourself, but it is unethical to just go up and beat the crap out of a random person on the street because you think they might mug you. The reasoning behind the Christmas bombing of Hanoi was that North Korea was contemplating backing out of the peace treaty being signed with America. America didn't like this so they bombed Hanoi which was a non military city in an attempt to scare North Korea into sticking with their original intent to sign the treaty. Case and point, terrorism, we scared a country's government into doing something we wanted by using violence against them.
 
Karpowich
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 04:30 am
@wayne,
wayne;148458 wrote:
I think the use of atomic weapons in japan was really based on the desire to save american lives in a war we knew would become protracted if we invaded the japanese mainland. A better question might be the fire bombing of japanese cities prior to the use of atomic weapons. This seems a bit terroristic to me, although it may have been an act of desperation.


To me, it doesn't matter whether it's an act of desperation or not. I'm sure that the 9/11 attacks were, in the mind of Al Qaeda, an act of desperation as well. I do not believe that terrorism can be justified for any reason. There are always other ways to settle disputes, but any time America, or any other major nation for that matter, does something that can easily be viewed as an act of terrorism it's swept under the carpet, or is "an act of desperation" or any other excuse that is enacted in an attempt to set that nation apart from that which is undesirable.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 09:31 am
@Karpowich,
It may be that the problem is with this definition of "terrorism" which seems excessively broad; that it includes so many different actions with different motives seems to indicate that, while useful in a very general way, it is not precise enough to sustain any kind of argument.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 09:50 am
@jgweed,
America acted against Japan by dropping an A bomb in the hope of ending hostilities. The terrorist attack on America was intended to encourage hostilities.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 09:57 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;148548 wrote:
It may be that the problem is with this definition of "terrorism" which seems excessively broad; that it includes so many different actions with different motives seems to indicate that, while useful in a very general way, it is not precise enough to sustain any kind of argument.


But what definition of "terrorism"? Terrorism is usually understood as an intentional attack on the innocent and defenseless for political goals.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 10:00 am
@jgweed,
Well let's see... I see the parallel, and its likely undeniable; that they both involved the indiscriminate killing of noncombatants; making both clearly immoral. But substantively, that's about where the similarities end. Here are some of the larger differences:[INDENT]
  • Two different peoples with different cultures and populations
  • One was perpetrated used the bodies of their own people as projectiles, the other through combatants whose purpose didn't include "we're one of your planes!"
  • Two different times and vastly different circumstances
  • ... and perhaps most importantly, one stopped a war, the other one started (or grossly-expanded) one

[/INDENT]No, I don't condone either kind of wholesale slaughter. But please bear in mind that the differences far outnumber the similarities. Any time we try to draw correlates between events, there'll be more differences than not.

Still, your assumed point (that they're both ethically wrong), I think, is valid.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 10:05 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;148554 wrote:
Well let's see... I see the parallel, and its likely undeniable; that they both involved the indiscriminate killing of noncombatants; making both clearly immoral. But substantively, that's about where the similarities end. Here are some of the larger differences:[INDENT]
  • Two different peoples with different cultures and populations
  • One was perpetrated used the bodies of their own people as projectiles, the other through combatants whose purpose didn't include "we're one of your planes!"
  • Two different times and vastly different circumstances
  • ... and perhaps most importantly, one stopped a war, the other one started (or grossly-expanded) one

[/INDENT]No, I don't condone either kind of wholesale slaughter. But please bear in mind that the differences far outnumber the similarities. Any time we try to draw correlates between events, there'll be more differences than not.

Still, your assumed point (that they're both ethically wrong), I think, is valid.


I see the differences. But how are those differences relevant to the issue of terrorism? If that is the issue.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 10:20 am
@kennethamy,
Quote:
America is all geared up against terrorists saying how horrible they are and how they depreciate the value of human society. I agree with this, yet I also find interest in the fact that people so easily forget that we're not much better than they are.


Why do you say that? Don't you mean "we weren't much better than they are currently"?
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 10:21 am
@Karpowich,
Karpowich;148450 wrote:
Now I do not advocate 9/11 in any way shape or form, I strongly disagree with Al-Qaeda's tactics, however, I also think America unethically went into the Middle East to fight the "war on terrorism" when we ourselves have been terrorists in the past. Am I wrong on this point of view?
You're condemning both sides. Both parties think they're righteous and justified.

So is it ok to act on provocation or not? Is any kind of violence unjustified?

The main message that comes across from your post is that you expect moral behavior from America and you feel disappointed. There's a danger of spinning your wheels by condemning... and then removing your own basis for condemnation by condemning the other side for the same crime.

A way out might be to assess what in the situation you really have any control over. Then use that to make a plan for helping the world become what you want it to be.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 10:27 am
@Arjuna,
The bombing of Hiroshima was an act of state terrorism. It was an intentional attack on innocent and defenseless citizens for a political goal.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 10:51 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;148562 wrote:
The bombing of Hiroshima was an act of state terrorism. It was an intentional attack on innocent and defenseless citizens for a political goal.


Yes it seems that way, though I'm not a historian.

But simply saying that doesn't lead to understanding of 9/11 versus Hiroshima does it?

As I said in my last post, it's nearsighted to try and bring a "we aren't any better than they are" message out of it. We don't call modern Germany hypocritical if they condemn genocide.

I think the other questions would be: what are "civilians" and is terrorism ever justified?

I think a situation where you are choosing between bombing and between invading with an army of draftees (not soldiers by choice) against a civilian populace that will fight back is a lot less clear cut. But this is not necessarily a correct interpretation of the historical situation because it's complicated. The justifications I've heard for hiroshima have always been that it was a preventative, a lesser of two evils. Was the 9/11 attack preventing a greater evil?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 12:19 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;148567 wrote:
Yes it seems that way, though I'm not a historian.

But simply saying that doesn't lead to understanding of 9/11 versus Hiroshima does it?

As I said in my last post, it's nearsighted to try and bring a "we aren't any better than they are" message out of it. We don't call modern Germany hypocritical if they condemn genocide.

I think the other questions would be: what are "civilians" and is terrorism ever justified?

I think a situation where you are choosing between bombing and between invading with an army of draftees (not soldiers by choice) against a civilian populace that will fight back is a lot less clear cut. But this is not necessarily a correct interpretation of the historical situation because it's complicated. The justifications I've heard for hiroshima have always been that it was a preventative, a lesser of two evils. Was the 9/11 attack preventing a greater evil?


The question you ask, whether terrorism is ever justified should, I think, be changed to whether terrorism can ever be excused. I don't think that terrorism is ever the right thing to do, but is may be the best wrong thing to do. That is what you mean when you suggest that it Hiroshima may have been the lesser of two evils. So, the question is whether that is true, Was Hiroshima the only way to avoid the greater evil (if that is what it was) of having to invade Japan? And, of course, the same question has to be asked about 9/11. But, except for that, I agree with you. That is the correct moral question to ask.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 01:06 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;148567 wrote:
Yes it seems that way, though I'm not a historian.

But simply saying that doesn't lead to understanding of 9/11 versus Hiroshima does it?

As I said in my last post, it's nearsighted to try and bring a "we aren't any better than they are" message out of it. We don't call modern Germany hypocritical if they condemn genocide.

I think the other questions would be: what are "civilians" and is terrorism ever justified?

I think a situation where you are choosing between bombing and between invading with an army of draftees (not soldiers by choice) against a civilian populace that will fight back is a lot less clear cut. But this is not necessarily a correct interpretation of the historical situation because it's complicated. The justifications I've heard for hiroshima have always been that it was a preventative, a lesser of two evils. Was the 9/11 attack preventing a greater evil?
My understanding of history is ,was that the A bombs actually saved lives. It made the capitulation of the war lords inevitable ... something that they would have not considered without such a grand show of power. The numbers of prisoners the Japanese held were dying in their thousands every day the war continued. The sacrifice of American soldiers would have continued in their thousands, fighting the homeland islands and the mainland. Japan had always the chance of surrender but refused to accept defeat. Japans terrorism on the citizens of china and other conquered countries is never considered when the atomic question is posed. I deplore the death of anyone but can we really judge others actions in such dire circumstances.

The terror attacks on America are more politically motivated, rather than a reprisal or to make the enemy capitulate. It was a considered action by determined extremists looking to make the enemy overreact and so to then gather more support for their cause, they succeeded. They want the war to continue, its in their best interests.

Trying to call your enemy derogatory terms like terrorist or barbarous is inconsequential, war is war.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 01:23 pm
@xris,
xris;148588 wrote:


Trying to call your enemy derogatory terms like terrorist or barbarous is inconsequential, war is war.


Those terms are derogatory, of course. But they are, nevertheless, descriptive. "Rapist" is derogatory. But "rapist" may still describe correctly anyway. It may be derogatory to call someone a rapist, but he may still be a rapist. And it may be derogatory to call someone a terrorist, but he may still be a terrorist.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 01:41 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;148593 wrote:
Those terms are derogatory, of course. But they are, nevertheless, descriptive. "Rapist" is derogatory. But "rapist" may still describe correctly anyway. It may be derogatory to call someone a rapist, but he may still be a rapist. And it may be derogatory to call someone a terrorist, but he may still be a terrorist.
Its a term adopted to undermine the enemies legality. Would you call the Zionist freedom fighters, terrorists who blew up a hotel killing my countrymen? Whats in word, a term ? nothing more than the intention to politicise the aggressor.
 
 

 
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