Bundokji wrote: ↑
Wed May 02, 2018 8:20 pm
You might be misusing the term risk here? Risk does not mean that harm is inevitable, but that it is more likely under certain conditions. Accordingly, there is a necessary connection between confrontation and risk because when you confront, you are reducing the options available to your opponent to either fight or flight. And even if they comply to your demands, they don't do it out of conviction, but out of fear (for the wrong reasons) and the likelihood that they will seek retaliation when the conditions change is higher.
No, that's how I've consistently used it on this thread. There is no necessary connection between increasing confrontation and increasing risk. We can of course think of reasons why it might be that way, but we can also think of reasons why it might not. For example, if a person or country is becoming increasingly belligerent and increasing their capacity for harm, failing to confront can increase the likelihood of a bad outcome. Of course, retaliation might be sought; but then again, it might not. There are countries whose violent trajectory was forcibly arrested, and thereafter became peaceful with no attempt at retaliation. It's a comforting theory, but not supported by the evidence.
For instance, imagine that you are overly confrontational with your partner, and you manage to get her to do whatever you want. Is this a recipe for a healthy relationship?
"Imagine that you are overly compliant with your partner, and she manages to get you to do whatever she wants. Is this, etc..."
Again, one cannot generalise from a single example. Picking an obvious case does not a maxim make.
You seem to insist on reducing the options to what you describe as "decisive action" (which seems to mean escalation and confrontation) and inaction! For instance, why not supporting development projects in these countries (which costs much less than military interventions) is not a better option? Or why not ensuring better services for the millions of refugees who suffered partly due to his governments misadventures in the Middle East?
Not at all. Some situations require that we back down completely, and some that we intervene aggressively. Most are somewhere in the middle. Development projects seems like a great idea, as does helping refugees.
They indeed do make things better by putting down the sword. The Buddha said:
He, who by good deeds covers the evil he has done, illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds.
Yes, it's a favourite quote of mine, too, but context is everything. To "illuminate" means to reveal moral truth. The policeman who decides not to taser the criminal about to knife me might provide a great deal of illumination for somebody, but he doesn't do me or my family any favours.
Not knowing what the outcome would be does not mean we suspend judgement. There are norms and laws governing human relationships, and breaking these laws undermines the whole system binding humans. Trump's latest strike on Syria (with the help of UK and France) was not supported by a UN resolution and they used force even before the inspection team had the chance to visit the sites in Douma undermining the legitimacy of the international law in the process. The potential withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran when the neutral independent body (the nuclear agency) produced many reports claiming that Iran is sticking to its part of the deal is illegal.
Again, whether Trump's actions were legal, popular, or approved of is different from whether they were morally reckless. It could be the case that refraining from action would have led to worse consequences, and therefore would have been morally worse. And in terms of intention, he could have been full of love for those he believed his actions were saving. My point is not that I know that he is in the right, but that we cannot know that he is any more in the wrong than other leaders with different courses of action would be.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but it is not only the consequences of his actions that matter, but how he does them. For instance, when someone asks you politely to perform a task, would it have the same consequence as if he was rude?
It depends on the context. Rudeness is often useful in getting the attention of someone who ignores you. That's why police have weapons. It's very
rude to shoot or club someone, but if they are resistant to your ad hoc
counselling to put down the knife, then the rudeness might be justified. Trump was very rude about Kim Jong-un, and that hasn't, apparently, stopped him from being hailed as the saviour of the region and being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. See my point above about the mental state of those who take action. We just don't know it, so we make do with inferred fantasies. What if the person who authorises force is kind but resolutely determined that peace and justice ultimately prevail, whereas the person who refrains from force is full of fear and simply does not care about the consequences? Again, erecting a maxim of action on either of these scenarios is not realistic.
Usually, being a bully and moral recklessness go hand by hand.
Maybe. I've seen no studies on it; can't derive one of the concepts analytically from the other; can think of umpteen counter-examples; and it doesn't really apply to the rather modest point I am making. But maybe!