The best way to deal with evil is to pulverise it, says law professor
A professor who believes that evil exists! Australian moralist, Professor Mirko Bagaric, comments below on the demise of bin Laden. Bagaric is responding in part to the carping legalism that we hear from the likes of prominent Leftist lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, also an Australian but best known in Britain
FROM Canberra to Washington and even some parts of the Middle East, the champagne corks are popping after the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Killing bin Laden at any cost has an important subtext - one which has the capacity to teach us lessons about the moral fog within, which we live and the rationality-free zone that occupies much of mainstream moral discourse.
The most illuminating aspect of the targeting of bin Laden is that it has near-universal support, despite it being an egregious breach of international law and dozens of human rights instruments. What about his right to life?
The presumption of innocence, and right to a fair trial, is also enshrined in international law and most domestic legal systems. Yet, even civil libertarian groups can't bring themselves to shed any concern for Bin Laden.
Civil libertarians are invariably quick to denounce any interferences with rights, especially those that imperil fundamental interests, such as the right to life and liberty.
The "end doesn't justify the means" is the catch-cry they trumpet most loudly in opposition to incursions of fundamental freedoms that are carried out for the common good. Truth is it does.
Failure to realise this is symptomatic of an unremitting deluded self-righteousness that freezes one's moral compass into an inward position, foreclosing consideration of the thing that matters most - the common good.
The reason civil libertarians are cheering with the rest of us, regarding the killing of bin Laden, has zero to do with the application of universal moral principles and everything to do with emotion - particularly their emotions. That their emotional response coincides with the morally correct stance is purely accidental.
The human misery caused by bin Laden has withered the compassion gland of civil libertarians towards him, to a point where they've fallen off their self-erected moral high horse. Hopefully that's where they will stay and join the rest of us in coming to understand that the end does justify the means. Always has. Always will.
No action is intrinsically bad or good. No principle is absolute. Matters are always context-sensitive. The best way to deal with evil is to pulverise it.
The moral and political debate in relation to important societal issues must move on from whether the end justifies the means to what end we, as a species, should be attempting to secure.
In this regard, there can only be one answer. The ultimate end is to maximise net flourishing, where each agent's interests counts equally - even those who do not excite our emotions.
The insurmountable conundrum that civil libertarians need to address is if the end does not justify the means, then what does?
Hopefully the reminder of the misery inflicted by bin Laden will encourage misguided libertarian groups to get out of their delusional comfort zone, and take a few steps up the moral mountain beyond the rights fog in which they are enveloped.
The world would be a better place, if we all applied our energies towards securing the right end instead of obsessing about their self-serving middle-class concerns.
Also read Bagaric on torture
Finally, Justice is Done
Good people rejoice when evil monsters are cut down, and by the tens of thousands good Americans from one end of the country to the other came pouring into the streets last night to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden. From the White House to Ground Zero, from the Boston Common to Miami's Little Havana, the scenes of jubilation were spontaneous, heartfelt, and overflowing with American pride.
"We love death," bin Laden once told an interviewer. "The US loves life. That is the big difference between us."
He was right. But some deaths even an American can love, and the death of the al-Qaeda mastermind who murdered so many innocent victims is one of them. For the bloodbath of 9/11, for the hundreds slaughtered in the Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings, for those who died in the unprovoked attack on the USS Cole -- for all the violent and malignant savageries he committed against men, women, and children who had done nothing to deserve them, bin Laden's day of reckoning was long overdue. But it came at last. Now the archterrorist is in hell, and Americans are rightly overjoyed. "The son of a bitch is dead. Ding dong," exults the New York Post in an editorial. Not the most refined formulation, perhaps, but it certainly captures the nation's satisfaction.
Political life in this country so often plays out as a struggle between those who champion freedom and those who fight for equality. But at moments like this we are reminded that a virtue greater than either of them is justice. In his remarks to the nation last night, President Obama emphasized that the killing of bin Laden meant that the "pursuit of justice" had been rewarded -- that "justice has been done." Knowingly or not, he was echoing the words his predecessor addressed to a joint session of Congress just nine days after the 9/11 attacks. "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies," George W. Bush said on that occasion, "justice will be done." Ten years later, it finally was.
The political significance of bin Laden's death will give pundits, pollsters, and politicos something to chew over for months to come. The successful US operation in Abbottabad -- the Pakistani garrison town where bin Laden was apparently hiding in plain sight -- is a tremendous feather in the president's cap, and already some partisans have rushed to suggest that his re-election next year is now a foregone conclusion.
Much the same was said about George H. W. Bush after the swift American victory in the 1991 Gulf War. Bush's popularity zoomed into the 90-percent stratosphere, and the Democratic Party's strongest potential challengers -- Mario Cuomo, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt -- all decided that the 1992 nomination wasn't worth fighting for. But in the end Bush went down to a crushing defeat, and a little-known Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton became president of the United States. Obama's prospects are brighter today than they were yesterday, but between now and November 2012, anything can happen.
One of the great ironies of Barack Obama's presidency is the extent to which he has embraced and benefited from national security policies and priorities he sharply rejected as a candidate. The killing of bin Laden only deepens that irony. He was hunted down, we now know, with the help of intelligence acquired at Guantanamo -- the military prison Obama swore to shutter. He met his demise in a military operation undertaken by the United States on its own and in secret, with no multilateral consultation and no waiting for UN resolutions -- just the sort of "cowboy" unilateralism the Obama campaign opposed. What candidates say when they are seeking office is rarely a guarantee of what they will do after they have won it.
Why on earth would Obama get credit for an accomplishment of America's professional military? He was essentially just a bystander to processes set in motion by George Bush. Obama was in fact an obstruction to the strike. He took months to give it the go-ahead
Obama's ungracious and egotistical speech
Obama played subtle and wholly undignified games. He underlined that Osama had "avoided capture" under Bush and "continued to operate" during his tenure. But "I directed" CIA director Leon Panetta to make getting Osama the "top priority" (as opposed to?), and "I" gave the go-ahead to the final mission.
Obama also avoided Bush in a Medal of Honor ceremony on Monday afternoon. Even in a Monday night "bipartisan" event at the White House, Obama honored the "military and counterterrorism professionals" and "the members of Congress from both parties" who offered support to the mission ... but no credit for Bush.
What about our media? No one in the media wondered if Obama was being rude. No one seemed in any hurry to give Bush credit, either. In the media's mind's eye, Bush just doesn't deserve it. They didn't like him then; they don't like him now.
Obama's dislike of America shows in his prevention of American oil independence
Here’s a snippet of Obama’s April 20 remarks:
“I will not reduce our deficit by sacrificing the things that have always made America great. The things that have made Americans prosper. I won’t sacrifice our investments in education. I will not sacrifice those. I won’t sacrifice our investments in science and basic research. I won’t sacrifice the safety of our highways or our airports.”
Read: Republicans want cars and planes to crash, scientists to hang up their lab coats and kids to get dumber.
In one of the most appalling displays of sheer gall, Obama actually decried America’s dependence on foreign oil. This is the president whose executive agencies have strangled new ventures to tap America’s enormous fossil fuel resources.
“I won’t sacrifice our investment in clean energy at a time when our dependence on foreign oil is causing Americans so much pain at the pump,” he told the DNC crowd.
And more pain is on the way. Obama’s EPA has denied a permit to Shell Oil Company to drill off Alaska’s coast. The company spent five years and nearly $4 billion preparing to give America a 27-billion-barrel shot in the arm of our domestic oil supply, which is down to 7 million barrels a day, 13 million short of what America uses.
Too bad, Shell. The extremist green lobby that dominates this administration is intent on destroying fossil fuel industries to prepare us for a mythical wind, solar and rickshaw-powered immediate future. You can’t say Obama did not warn us. He said explicitly in January 2008, for example, that his proposed cap and trade system would “bankrupt” anyone who wanted to build a new coal-fired plant.
On Tuesday, Obama was at it again, urging Congress to punish oil companies by ending “unwarranted” tax breaks. The man who has done more than anyone to jack up the price of gas said that high pump prices “provide more than enough profit motive to invest in domestic exploration and production.” Yes, if you will stop flirting with Brazil and get your foot off the neck of U.S. energy companies.
Gasoline and Onions
The speculators are ripping us off!
"The skyrocketing price of gas and oil has nothing to do with the fundamentals of supply and demand, and has everything to do with Wall Street firms that are artificially jacking up the price of oil in the energy futures markets. ... (T)he same Wall Street speculators that caused the worst financial crisis since the 1930s through their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior are ripping off the American people again by gambling that the price of oil and gas will continue to go up."
Here we go again. That quote was Sen. Bernie Sanders doing what some always do when the price of oil spikes: complain about speculators. Now, President Obama says he'll investigate them: "We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain." I assume that his new Financial Fraud Enforcement Working Group, like its predecessors, will uncover nothing untoward.
In America, we don't have a free market -- we have a government-saturated economy in which oil companies and other corporations have a cozy relationship with politicians and bureaucrats. That's wrong, but even that can't explain the recent run-up in prices. Oil companies today are no more greedy or clever than they have been all along.
We have to look for a better explanation -- and it isn't hard to find. Demand for oil rises with the growth of China, India and other developing countries. When poor people get a little richer, they buy cars, computers and refrigerators. They burn more fuel to make them and to run them. Rising demand, other things being equal, increases prices.
And other things have not been equal. Japan's nuclear plants are out of commission, and Libya, which accounts for about 2 percent of world oil production, is wracked by civil war. This is small compared to previous disruptions in the region, but it still affects the price.
The evil oil-speculator theory also runs up against the fact that the Federal Reserve's inflationary policies (QE2) and other factors have continued the dollar's slide against foreign currencies -- to a three-year low. As the dollar loses value, oil sellers demand more for their product. "Commodities, along with most traded goods globally, are priced in dollars," former Federal Reserve official Gerald P. O'Driscoll of the Cato Institute writes. "It is the old story of too much money chasing too few goods."
If Sanders and other economic illiterates get their way, we'll have new laws banning "speculation." That will raise prices further. Don't believe me? Think back to a previous time when a Senate committee said that "speculative activity causes severe and unwarranted fluctuations in the price. ..." That was in 1958, when people got upset about the price of onions. Fools in Congress addressed that problem by banning speculation on onion prices.
The result? A Financial Times analysis found that the ban made prices less stable. This year, the retail price of onions rose more than the price of gasoline -- 36 versus 24 percent. Most years, the price of onions fluctuates more than other goods. No mystery there. Speculators help keep prices stable. When they foresee a future oil shortage -- that is, when prices are lower than anticipated in the future -- speculators buy lots of it, store it and then sell it when the shortage hits. They know they can charge more when there's relatively little oil on the market. But their selling during the shortage brings prices down from what they would have been had speculators not acted.
Speculators are like the ants in Aesop's "Ants and the Grasshopper" fable: They save resources for lean times. Everyone benefits because everyone has a chance to buy from them in those lean times. Speculators don't "artificially jack up the price of oil" -- they take risks. Those who guess wrong lose a lot of money.
Historically, speculators have been convenient scapegoats, and they have suffered greatly for it. So have the rest of us.
While government should never create political opportunities for speculation, it should also stop interfering with its legitimate economic function. We all are harmed when central planners take charge.
My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)