[LINK] OT: Howards anti-terrorist mailout

Chirgwin, Richard Richard.Chirgwin@informa.com.au
Tue, 11 Feb 2003 09:36:35 +1000


> A government should do all it can to protect it's citizens without
> destroying too many of their rights. You can keep a populace 
> perfectly safe
> by keeping them in a cell without any contact with the 
> outside world-but
> this is not a desirable outcome. Safety must be balanced with 
> other factors.
> Personally, I find myself inclined to desire freedom over 
> safety more than
> my fellow citizens (I think it's a great loss to Australia 
> that fireworks
> are mostly banned), but a broad spectrum of opinions is 
> needed for a healthy
> society.
> 
> A government can attract danger to its citizens to prevent a 
> greater danger
> to its citizens in the future, or to prevent a great travesty from
> happening. These situations are, of course, highly subjective.

James, I'm still not sure that the case of "actions which may attract a
terrorist threat" falls into the same "protect citizens/citizens' rights"
discussion.

The difficulty in my mind is the syllogism we're presented with:
- we must deal with Iraq;
- making war deals with Iraq; therefore 
- we must go to war.

Can the UN act against the Iraqi regime? Yes. It has in the past. Have its
previous efforts succeeded? Not completely; but this doesn't make a war the
only option. There's even an argument that the previous arms-control efforts
worked adequately well; after all, it prevented, so far, the use of weapons
of mass destruction.

The risk that people identify to Australians may or may not be genuine. If
the risk is genuine, then it's reasonable to ask "could our government have
acted differently, in a way that satisfied both morality and reasonable
safety?" - For example, would unequivocal support for renewed & stronger UN
actions have attracted the same danger as support for America's proposals?

Richard Chirgwin

> -----Original Message-----
> From: James Pearce [mailto:james.pearce@zdnet.com.au]
> Sent: Monday, 10 February 2003 17:51
> To: link@anu.edu.au
> Subject: Re: [LINK] OT: Howards anti-terrorist mailout
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> > > We should not support unilateral action against Iraq by
> > > America and allies
> > > because-despite the fact that Saddam should not be running a
> > > country-America
> > > has never overthrown a government and replaced it with a
> > > better one.
> >
> > Well ... agree generally, but I guess Nazi Germany and 
> prewar Japan may
> > count against this statement!
> 
> Hmm... possibly. I'm not sure how much America had to do with 
> this compared
> to the rest of the world. I'm quite happy for the UN to 
> attempt to install a
> government.
> 
> > Now, about the "make yourself a target" thing. The hard 
> question is "how
> far
> > can individual morality be applied to governmental responsibility?"
> >
> > Saying "bugger you Jack" is a great wrong at an individual 
> level; but a
> > government must think differently. The question, IM-(very 
> arrogant!)-O is
> > this: "under what circumstances can a government attract 
> danger to its
> > citizens?"
> 
> A government should do all it can to protect it's citizens without
> destroying too many of their rights. You can keep a populace 
> perfectly safe
> by keeping them in a cell without any contact with the 
> outside world-but
> this is not a desirable outcome. Safety must be balanced with 
> other factors.
> Personally, I find myself inclined to desire freedom over 
> safety more than
> my fellow citizens (I think it's a great loss to Australia 
> that fireworks
> are mostly banned), but a broad spectrum of opinions is 
> needed for a healthy
> society.
> 
> A government can attract danger to its citizens to prevent a 
> greater danger
> to its citizens in the future, or to prevent a great travesty from
> happening. These situations are, of course, highly subjective.
> 
> James
> 
> 
> 
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