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Quoted from an interview with Stephen Fry, here:

Bertrand Russell, the great philosopher and mathematician, got into terrible trouble by writing quite fearsome articles against the first World War when it began. He got all these letters from people who said, “My child is prepared to lay down their life for their country. Don't you think that sacrifice demands some respect?” He wrote this extraordinary essay in which he said, “Don't you understand? The sacrifice we're asking of our young is not that they die for their country, but that they kill for their country.” That's the sacrifice. To ask a child to kill someone else, whom you've never met. That's a moral choice, pulling a trigger. Having a bullet hit you is not a moral choice. You don't decide to be killed. It's a terrible thing that happens to you. But killing something is something you do and that's a desperate sacrifice. And we're seeing that in the Iraq war. That's what this poor Lynndie England did, this tragic soldier who was shot smugly smiling next to naked Arab prisoners. That's the chickens coming home to roost. It's not Americans being asked to die by President Bush. It's Americans being asked to kill and to torture. Not necessarily by name. He doesn't say, “I want you to kill this or that one.” Of course, politics isn't that simple. Essentially that is what society does. It asks its young to kill, and that's what we all have to live with. That's why people who survive wars don't like talking about them. It's not because they're modest or anything. I'm sure many of them are. It's because they live with images of squeezing triggers and seeing young men a hundred yards away being torn to pieces. Those are the awful things.

I'm not sure I agree a hundred percent, because IMO there still is some kind of ethical decision for you to make before you have your smiling pictures taken with people you tortured/humiliated, but I very much agree with the principle of the thing.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 25th, 2004 09:36 am (UTC)
Oh yes.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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