Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Response to Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens spoke on Progressive Radio (click here to listen to the broadcast)

When discussing the US lead invasion of Iraq, he mentioned that there are 4 conditions under which a country can be deemed to have lost its sovereignty and be open to international intervention to remove its government:

1: if it invades the territory or occupies the territory of neighbouring countries
2: if it violates the genocide convention (it is mandatory to prevent or punish genocide)
3: violates the non proliferation of nuclear weapons
4: gives support, encouragement and shelter to international terrorism

Lets look at the USA:
1: Invasion: The list of countries it has invaded either directly or by proxy over the past century is very long.

2: Genocide: The fire bombing of Tokyo on 25 Feb 1945 alone led to 100,000 civilian deaths. There were significantly more than 100,000 deaths in Cambodia in the spring of 1970 in the US Operation Menu.

3: Nuclear Weapons: The problem of nuclear weapons was born in the USA, they invented them and are the only country in history to ever use nuclear weapons. The sensible alternative to the nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not an invasion of Japan, but rather a negotiated surrender. The Japanese had already indicated their willingness to admit defeat and start talks.
Morally, if the US wants to be in a position to insist that other countries should give up their nuclear weapons programs, then they should lead by example.

4: The US has been the most consistent supporter of international terrorism for the past 60 years.

So using Hitch's criteria, the US has given up its sovereignty and so should be open to international intervention.

The biggest problem is that the US has been unable to get over the idea that if it is good for me then it is for the good. In general people are terrible judges of the morality of their own actions. When people don't have an external over-see-er, the consequence is that nuclear weapons are dropped on civilian centres ( Hiroshima and Nagasaki ) and the perpetrators think it was just.

Later in the discussion Hitchens mentioned that we should have 'blood for oil'. An important question for him is: how many barrels of oil is his youngest daughter's life worth?