Scholastic Debating: On (One of) the Bush Doctrine(s)
Mr Boonton (?) has offered that the Bush Doctrine would be an interesting topic for debate (This was originally written for my blog. If Dan Trabue, a frequent commenter here, who thought this style of debate has merit, wants to take this up here and on his blog … I’m game). I’ve suggested that a better method of debate might be for each side to express the other’s point of view. This might be viewed as a “scholastic” debate in that the medieval scholastics such as St. Thomas Aquinas used something like this dialectical method in their writings (they expressed their point, raised all the objections which and countered them in turn at which point the issue was proven). So, I suggest that my interlocutor and I enter into a short experiment in this sort of debate. I will restate the Doctrine as I understand it and then proceed. My suggestion would be that in the comments of this essay, I be corrected by my interlocotur and any number of other commenters until the expression of their objections (they are the “con” side) are represented. Then, I will restart their case (as amended) and offer a short rebuttal. It will then be my interlocutor’s opportunity to offer (on his blog) the case for “pro” side. I will correct, he will restate and rebut.
There is an understanding between nations that sovereign states cannot be attacked, and that any such attack is morally wrong earning at the least the condemnation of other nations and at the worst causes that state itself to lose the protection sovereign nations enjoy from such attacks. There are actions within a state that a state may take which cause that state to lose that protection, such as engaging in genocide within its borders. The Bush Doctrine holds that harboring and supporting terrorist organizations within a states borders is such an action which causes it to lose that protection.
The left and progressives hold the “con” position. That is, the support and harboring of terrorists within one’s state is does not cause that state to lose the protection from attack granted to sovereign states. I will now (below the fold) enumerate the reasons why. Commenters should either add reasons which I miss or correct my wording and correctly state the reasons I give.
- Today between states there exists an unprecedented asymmetry of power between states. Contrast the abilities to project power and influence beyond their borders between for example the US and Syria, the Russian Federation and Georgia to take some modern examples. Terror is a last resort response that the “little nations” or peoples resort to when the power asymmetry is such that no direct confronation is tenable. Therefore defining association with terror with the surrender the protection of sovereignty is an unfair position of the strong.
- The protection of sovereignty is not a thing which a state may by its actions give up. It is an ontological character of the nation state. This is the position of many pacifists, there there is no justified aggressive war.
- Most, if not all, nations have at one time supported terror of one kind or another, such as the US regarding El Salvador. Does the fact that we did that at one time, mean that today, China could attack us ethically because the US has abrogated the protection of sovereignty? Many nations are very old, how far back can we go in history in or search for atrocity to justify current aggression. Since this progression means no state is innocent, since it is absurd to thing no state should be afforded such protections, therefore all states should be so protected.
Ok, that’s all I could come up with. Help me out here. Add more and correct what I’ve got.
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