Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Barbour's Dilemma

Is National Self Defense a War Crime? Asks Alan Dershowitz in a op-ed in Canada’s National Post. The answer says Dershowitz is “yes” if you ask Louise Arbour, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and currently the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, for so long as national self defense entails the risk of inflicting collateral damage. Dershowitz rejects her position and goes on to argue that:

Democracies simply cannot protect their citizens against terrorist attacks of the kind launched by Hezbollah without some foreseeable risk to civilians. There cannot be any absolute prohibition against such self-defensive military actions so long as they are proportional to the dangers and reasonable efforts are made to minimize civilian casualties.


Barbour's thinking has set up a wholly secular equivalent of the Problem of Evil. If we remove the term "God" from the standard proposition and replace it with appropriately secular terms we have this restatement:

Barbour's Dilemma is the problem of reconciling the existence of oppressive regimes, genocide and mass slaughter in a world governed by a wholly benevolent, pacifistic, nonviolent and impotent United Nations.

If the United Nations is benevolent then it cannot tolerate the existence of a Rwanda, Congo, North Korea or a Darfur. But if it attempts to stop these atrocities then inevitably it must inflict some collateral damage which will cause some people to die and that, according to Barbour, is a War Crime. There is no way out of the paradox and the system is in logical self-contradiction. Unlike the real problem of evil, a theodicy is not allowed as a solution to Barbour's Dilemma.because in a secular context, no meta-solutions are allowed by invoking a God who can make amends for everything or whose true nature we cannot completely understand. Those transcendant quantities cannot exist in Barbour's secular universe. They might exist in a religious universe, but not in the United Nations'.

We can either solve Barbour's Dilemma and win philosophical immortality or accept there are some things we cannot completely understand; and simply give thanks for our daily bread and try to make our way as best we can to tomorrow. I vote for going on and letting the deadwood bury the deadwood.

22 Comments:

Blogger reoconnot said...

Louise Arbour threatened the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten with prosecution for exercising their right to publish the Mohammed cartoons. She left an esteemed court -the Supreme Court of Canada- to join the infamously political United Nations Human Rights Commission. She has all the wisdom of a college freshman. She is an embarrassment to Canada.

10/17/2006 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger redaktør said...

No Dilemma.

Louise Arbour is an intellectual and ethical Lilliput, and she’s on the pay.

10/17/2006 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

For any vicious and brutal organization, busily embezzling, looting, murdering, extorting, thieving, cheating, stealing and otherwise amassing whacking great wodges of cash, there is never any shortage of mouthpieces willing to prostitute themselves and issue any statement that will further their employer's nefarious perversions.

Hey! Even lawyers from socialist countries where it snows a lot have a right to aspire to something beyond the dole queue.

I don't know Ms. Arbour, but her recent work defines her unambiguously and inevitably to be an intellectual slut, beyond the redemption of any antibiotic regime, or the fevered counseling of even the most determined clinical social worker.

O! Canada!

10/17/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger Cybrludite said...

I wonder how folks (mostly, if not entirely, on the Left) can justify that line of thought. Is it delusion, or merely ignorance? I'm not talking about the Turtle Bay Kleptocrats, but rather those Lenin called "Useful Idiots". Your average singularity is less dense than some of these folks...

10/17/2006 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Louise Arbour is a typical early-cohort Baby Boomer (born 1947, in Montreal) in being an unrepentent leftist. This is only reinforce by being a Quebecoise -- even at the height of WWII Quebec was overwhelmingly opposed to the war and was more interested in fighting the Canadian military than the Nazis.

She rose rapidly in the Canadian legal profession at the time when two X chromosomes was the primary criterion for advancement in any field.

Two of her legal decisions will be sufficient to provide a sense of the woman. She was primarily responsible for giving prisoners the right to vote in Canada.

And after her appointment to the Supreme Court (by PM Jean Chretien in 1999) she opined that parents to not have the right to use any physical disciplin on their children.

A snippet: Corrective force by parents and teachers should be permitted only when minimal and insignificant. This is not what the Code currently provides but it is what the Constitution requires.

Section 43 is rooted in an era where "reasonable" violence was accepted to maintain hierarchies in the family and society. Children remain the only group deprived of the protection of the criminal law in relation to use of force.


She is best known for her time in the Hague as an ineffective prosecutor of 'war crimes' in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

In short she is a classic trans-nationalist who believes not that rights and powers are granted to government by the people, but are instead offered first to national governments from the UN, thence to local and regional governments by their national power, and finally any leftovers not co-opted along the way may actually reside with the 'people,' ignorant as they are.

In that respect her comments are entirely predictable, and should be vigorously rejected by any free people.

10/18/2006 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

Louise Arbour threatened the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten with prosecution for exercising their right to publish the Mohammed cartoons.

Meanwhile nobody saw the cartoons in America (outside of blogs), despite a constitutionally protected freedom of the press, because poking fun at Mo' isn't in the script.

10/18/2006 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

This is a special case of a disease the Federal Government is afflicted with: The Search for an Optimum Solution.

When trying to solve a problem in D.C. there are inevitably a wide variety of inputs - including from those who really don't want it solved anyway.

It is impossible to meet all of these requirements and when no solution is found that does so the decision is made to study it some more and come up with better solutions.

So we study, study, study, and the requirements increase in the meantime. Money gets spent on the studies and the illusion of progress is maintained.

But nothing really happens - until someone looks at some of the requirements and says to their owners "Eff' you very much."

10/18/2006 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

First, do no harm.

Second, talk to tyrants and terrorists who oppress or kill their people or who threaten or kill yours and offer them money, inducements, and your good faith.

Third, levy sanctions against their regimes, China and Russia willing, if they won't stop after years of continued threats and mass murder.

Fourth, wring hands when talk and sanctions don't work.

Fifth, realize that sanctions harm innocents and children and hand-wringing induces eventual arthritic pain, so stop both before doing further harm.

Sixth, decide that tyrants and terrorists are not only acting within politico-cultural norms for their regions, they are victims reacting to Yankee-Zionist-Crusader-Capitalist imperialism.

Seventh, castigate selves for having been so hurtful and insensitive, then go to your Maker.

10/18/2006 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

Sixth, decide that tyrants and terrorists are not only acting within politico-cultural norms for their regions, they are victims reacting to Yankee-Zionist-Crusader-Capitalist imperialism.

But Yankee-Zionist-Crusader-Capitalist imperialism is within politico-cultural norms for our region.

10/18/2006 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

What a crock! Justice Arbour's position is exactly contrary to reasoned common sense. If her screed were to become settled "law", this point would give extreme comfort to those who now conduct conflict and violence whilst hiding deep within the folds of a civilian populace, thus placing innocents at risk. An exactly opposite result of what a civilized society should intend.

More posted here.  Cheers.

10/18/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

T, finally an avatar that shows a little muzzle control :)

Yankee-Zionists are supposed to transcend their own sovereign-think and notions of defense and join the post-humanitarian Euros in homicide by passivism- pacifism and suicide by bully bureaucracy (or is it the other way around?)

The global others are lower "authentics" we should tolerate and even celebrate.

10/18/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger cjr said...

I dont see a difficult dilemma. I see a fairly simple utilitarian analysis. If an action result is more good than harm, then it is moral. The weighing of good verses harm may be difficult and there may have to be accounting for long term verse short term results, but the fundimental equation is simple.

10/18/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger grrr1 said...

Arbour is a self-important idiot, but for the: "so long as they are proportional to the dangers and reasonable efforts are made to minimize civilian casualties".
The devil is in the definition of "proportional" and "reasonable". As long as Dershowits and others will continue to invoke such ill-defined and, therefore, easily "highjackable" concepts, the Arbours of the world will continue to twist them. Therefore I do not agree with Dershowits. I would prefer a clear un-apologetic declaration that our way of life must be preserved, and anyone who doesn't like it can go to hell (or paradize). Let them chose where after they are dispatched on the road there.

10/18/2006 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger pauldanish said...

The supposed dilemma here would diminish dramatically if we were to recognize that there are big differences between innocent civilians, exploited civilians, complicit civilians, and civilian combatants.

10/18/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

I just reported on a panel of Canadian moonbats, one of whom, a law professor, voiced arguments the same as Arbour's. Basically, these people are part of an international media-academic economy that trades in figures of victimhood. And if their "solutions" create more victims, they don't ask why, resting assured that they will be there to wring hands and mediate the ongoing victimization of the weak by the strong for generations to come. They are, after all, "the progressives".

The fact that all real victims and all those who are simply represented as such, might well be better off in a world where the figure of victim was not so widely (ab)used, is the question they will never raise, and so we must find ways to do so.

I disagree with Wretchard that these are people who address the probem of evil without recourse to the transcendent. The figures of victimization they proffer are, in their religion, transcendent figures - at least when the likes of Louis Arbour are finished separating figures of victimhood from actual people, those people, now often dead, are remembered through some sense of a transcendent Being that the figure of the victim engenders in our imagination. In short, people like Arbour are prettified traders in human sacrifice.

10/18/2006 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger johnCV said...

There is no way out of the paradox and the system is in logical self-contradiction.

There it is in a nutshell.

The only solution the Left has been able to come with is to blame the Western Culture. The noted thugs and murderers, while seen as 'wrong' by these leftists, are left essentially unchallenged because:
1. We have no right to pass judgement on others (no 'moral absolute' arguments allowed).
2. They have no internal conflict of morality based on thier system of beliefs, so on what basis can we to challenge them.

The West on the otherhand, is loaded with moral equivalencies and conflicts of ideology. To the Left with thier purity of utopian thought, this is unconcionable. The West must be dismantled (and of course rebuilt to the progressive model). The West maintains a social structure that can accomodate a sizable faction that openly advocates for its demise.
An unstable system if those who would seek to destroy it become a sizable percentage of society.
A major saving grace of the west is that it relies on common sense and a natural will to survive as a counterbalance to its desire for 'doing good' and support for those less fortunate. 'Give till it hurts, but not till it kills'.
The Left seems oblivious to the the fact that it has set up a battle between societies ability to tolerate those who would see it destroyed (for whatever reason) and those with common sense and the desire to survive. (Look at how the EU is viewed by much of the citizenry it wishes to subjugate.)
In other words, for the Left the solution is to eradicate the society that supports thier self-destructive ideology, and ultimately themselves.
For the Right (or sane citizen), the solution is the destruction of the Left.

Heads we win, tails you lose.

10/18/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Bart Hall - Good analysis.

Arbour is one of those people that arose on gender politics and affirmative action. Her past lamentable work matters not the least to her fellow Transnationalists who take care of her and others to keep them in positions where being an idiot is not a fireable offense (academia, the Law, UN work, media) and where they have real power but do not answer to the people or stockholders...

Reading Dershowitz's article, not only is she inept in waging war crimes trials (years of delays and halts for this or that dumb reason no other organization would tolerate) - she apparantly has no clue as a cosseted elite lawyer never within 2,000 miles of an actual war - what war involves.

Her beef now is that self-defense is "unacceptable, and a war crime" if foreseeable and significant civilian casualties arise from targeting the enemy and the enemy's infrastructure. Apparantly, as sly, slimey Al points out...because Israel did counterbattery fire against rocket launchers Hezbollah set up and fired in crowded neighborhoods.

Which makes me question why she didn't insist on putting NATO high command on trial for killing "innocent Serbs" acting as human shields on bridges...as well as Slobbo and henchmen. The Ninny has no idea of what Geneva says or no idea of what essential military Ops are...but unfortunately the Transnationalists do have enormous power, still..

*******************
By the way, for those who treat the close association of America with Zionism as a joke, it really isn't. Our kneejerk support of Zionism and confusion by Religious Right & conservatives that pro-Zionism is a prerequisite for being a patriot and a Christian leads most nations to strongly distrust the USA. A distrust that is global, not just confined to a few Arab states.

We would be wise to decouple ourselves from any affiliation with Zionism, stop treating Israel as if it was the 51st state...and return to where America was more trusted in the world as a fair broker - capitalist and progressive and yet willing to work with bad guys - but still recognized as fair.

Our current policy of blind support of Israel and allowing it to make US foreign policy costs us lives and treasure.

10/18/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

C4 probably can't appreciate that people say they hate him "just for what he is"; likewise, he can't understand that if America were full of hatred for Israel, it wouldn't make much difference to any serious Jihadi: America would still be the Christian and free market culture that must be destroyed "just for what it is". Indeed, even if Jew hatred were absolutely pervasive in America and no Jew had any wealth or power, it would still be necessary to construct conspiracies that some secret cabal of "Jews" were pulling the strings of the evil empire, which we hate "just for what it is".

In this respect, c4 is actually a lot like Arbour who sees in every inequitous difference and act of violence the hand of western male patriarchy, or whatever it is she thinks she resents "just for what it is" and which it is her mission to save us from. Both try to rationalize a resentment they don't understand and cannot understand as long as they permit themselves to maintain their sacred objects of resentment as if they exist, pure, unmediated by a complex reality in which, e.g., c4's desire is actually in mimetic interaction with Jewish desire. Basically, he hates "the Jew" for being a lot like him, though he'll convince himself the opposite is true, just as he'll convince himself that Arbour is not his kissing cousin.

People do indeed hate America "just for what it is", but that's to say they don't understand reality very well and it really wouldn't make any difference what America's policy vis a vis Israel was. Since when is hatred rational, free of delusion?

10/18/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

In a nutshell, what this sort of thinker simply cannot wrap his/her head around is the simple notion that:

A government has the right and duty to favor the lives of its own civilians over the lives of an enemy's civilians.

10/19/2006 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Arbour is one of those that this author warned us about last year.

There are other warnings in her plea to us, to not follow S. Africa into the abyss.

Canada should take a lesson from South Africa, as should we all.

Here is an open letter to us from South Africa. We best read it and learn...fast.

Time is not on our side.

We can't say we have not been warned!

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

P.S. Israel doesn't make any of our policys under this President.

10/19/2006 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

Through my death cultivation* filter, the sinister support behind an "elect" such as this is striking. (Coulter, Steyn and VDH have noted it too, Hanson just last Sunday).

Arbour displays most of the attributes I listed in Malevolent Misleadership. Perhaps because she seems so stupid she is truly a tool rather than fully misanthropic those who keep her in place. Preventing self defense is nothing new, but I believe its purpose becomes ever more evident as issues like this come to the surface (and are quickly forgotten as Hegel predicted).

And for those who want a handle on why C-4 keeps on using his filter, this may help.

10/19/2006 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

I only just realized that this behavior, demonstrated by Arbour, was described at paragraph 22 of that second link to my site.

The preferred method is the passive aggression typically exemplified by so many world leaders. For instance, look for the U.N. to claim moral authority to be guardian of the lives of the world's downtrodden, and then watch it adopt a non-interference stance toward almost any murdering agent that may arise. Look for them to consistently equate violence initiators with those reacting in their own defense.

Finding excuses to do nothing while at the same time hindering or outright preventing self-defense seems to be the foremost duty of the global "elect."

10/19/2006 04:15:00 PM  

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