The time is now. Now is the time. November 28, 2010 10:51 AM   Subscribe

"Post about it when it's out. When it is out is the time to post about it. Etc." The whole point of this post was that large portions of the leak are already out on Twitter [1, 2]

The premature Twitter leak is what made it more interesting than just another Wikileaks post. So the deletion seems a little overeager to me, and the deletion reason mystifying.

Incidentally, it's now out at the New York Times as well.
posted by enn to Etiquette/Policy at 10:51 AM (90 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Lots of coverage at the Guardian too.
posted by Acey at 11:01 AM on November 28, 2010


The newer post on the topic looks pretty good.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:08 AM on November 28, 2010


The posting for this has been over-eager, is the main issue. There's been an actual, scheduled date and time for the release with really reasonable expectations of major media coverage arriving in tandem with that, and yet we have had three separate gun-jumping posts saying "this thing is going to happen" (and another just reupping the Insurance thing from July) without bothering to wait the really small stretch of time required to make the basically inevitable and far more reasonable post about what has actually happened, with the actual coverage for it, when it has happened.

And, gosh, here's that post now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Twitter? TWITTER?
posted by Ardiril at 11:27 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that the early leak may have prompted the earlier-than-scheduled coverage at the major media outlets. Is there any word on why they chose to post 2 hours early?
posted by maryr at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2010


Yeah, geez. Heaven forbid we wait a few hours, enn. Did you really think this wouldn't get a post?
posted by koeselitz at 11:35 AM on November 28, 2010


Even looking at the "twitter leak" covered in articles, they always said "wait until 4:30PM EST when this stuff gets released" which leads me to believe someone should post about it after everything is online.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:39 AM on November 28, 2010


Errrr....isn't it more interesting to know something is about to happen, and watch (or "watch") it, than to wait until after the fact?

MeteorFilter: Leonids last month!
First comment: Uhh...thanks?
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on November 28, 2010


Meteor showers and massive document dumps aren't really in the same category.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I usually shower after I have a massive dump. I need to.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:16 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


isn't it more interesting to know something is about to happen, and watch (or "watch") it, than to wait until after the fact?

No. It just insures that any discussion of actual contents of leak get buried under hundred comments worth of chit-chat and name-calling. This isn't a meteor shower; the news isn't going to appear and disappear unless you're out in time to catch it. It's better to wait until there's content to link to and talk about.
posted by nangar at 12:21 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The standard is "the best of the web". Whether the event has happened or not will be a factor in determining the quality of a post (though probably not conclusive). In this case, however, the post exists to make us aware of: a. the content of the leaks; and b. the reactions of world governments, neither of which were available at the time of the deleted post.
posted by doublehappy at 12:24 PM on November 28, 2010


-probably not conclusive
+maybe not conclusive
posted by doublehappy at 12:25 PM on November 28, 2010


All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.
posted by nomadicink at 12:33 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Errrr....isn't it more interesting to know something is about to happen, and watch (or "watch") it, than to wait until after the fact?

It depends an awful lot on the thing. Beyond which, what makes a good Metafilter post is a pretty domain-specific question that may not have the same answers as "what is a good thing" as an abstract question about the world or experiential phenomena.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:38 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anyone spotted the unflattering things US diplomats are supposed to have said about Cameron? May raise my estimation of your diplomatic service.
posted by Abiezer at 12:45 PM on November 28, 2010


Meteor showers and massive document dumps aren't really in the same category.

But they are in the same ballpark.
-vincent vega
posted by hal_c_on at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2010


however, the post exists to make us aware of: a. the content of the leaks; and b. the reactions of world governments, neither of which were available at the time of the deleted post.

A subset of the content of the leaks was available at the time of the deleted post. (And only a subset remains available now.) That is my point. I'm not saying that posts should be allowed speculating about things that haven't happened yet. In this case, the event had happened, but we deleted that post, and now we have a much tamer one that makes no mention of the WikiLeaks DOS or the early release of the documents.

As to the reactions of world governments, are you seriously proposing some kind of right of reply in MetaFilter posts?
posted by enn at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2010


the news isn't going to appear and disappear unless you're out in time to catch it.

In the case of wikileaks it sure might.
posted by DU at 12:50 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


and now we have a much tamer one

This may be a core point. I'm not sure what about the current post, that actually effectively rounds up initial sources on the actual release, is "tame" in a way that speaks meaningfully to the mefi posting guidelines. The post we have is the post done right considering what was known ahead of time.

You are welcome to discuss the DOS and early release stuff in the thread we have. There is no proscription on that.

are you seriously proposing some kind of right of reply in MetaFilter posts?

I cannot speak for doublehappy but the obvious reading of his comment is not anything to do with right of reply, but rather that those replies likely to follow or coincide with the release actually happening are part of the interesting content likely to be available at that point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:55 PM on November 28, 2010


Everyone knows that cortex is a shill for the CIA, and that was why he deleted all the earlier posts and waited for a sufficiently tame one that he could let stand.
posted by empath at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Double dealing bastard! We've been cutting him a cheque from Chinese State Security Bureau funds for years now on the explicit understanding that he would sell his country down the river at any available opportunity. We even met that odd rider for large rings of fried dough he insisted on including.
posted by Abiezer at 1:34 PM on November 28, 2010


The whole point of this post was that large portions of the leak are already out on Twitter [1, 2]

I'm not sure why that wasn't part of the post, then. I do understand that some people really enjoy the "hey there's a big event going on, let's talk about it in the thread as it unfolds" but usually we see that sort of thing in giant sporting events or breaking news type things. The open thread about topic X sort of thing isn't really standard here and two bloggy links about a sort of Big Deal topic seems like more of a placeholder post so that people can talk about a topic much more than a good post about the topic.

So, I see where people are coming from, but if you're someone who has been living under a rock for a while (as apparently I have) this is a post talking about a thing that hasn't happened yet with some ZOMGish blog links and no links to the actual content, Twitter or otherwise. My feeling was that we could do better.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:35 PM on November 28, 2010


I'm not sure why that wasn't part of the post, then.

Wasn't it? Are we looking at the same post? The first words were "Wikileaks' Newest Leak Leaked on Twitter." I don't want to speak for adamvasco, but I would imagine that he didn't link the tweets directly because they were in German. The Gawker item he linked to did contain English translations of several of them.
posted by enn at 1:41 PM on November 28, 2010


Sorry, I shouldn't belabor the point like that. Obviously there is now a new Wikileaks post and this is kind of a dead letter, so please don't feel obligated to keep this thread open on my account.
posted by enn at 1:48 PM on November 28, 2010


No, I'm seeing what you're seeing and maybe this is just me being a little snooty about whether MeFi is about links to interesting things or links to other Big Media Companies speculating about upcoming interesting things. So I looked at the Gawker article [I looked at all of this after it was deleted] and was like "okay there's been a Wikileaks leak on Twitter by someone who read an embargoed copy of Der Spiegel" but it seemed to me that this was still mostly secondhand reporting [with some 140 character excerpts tossed in] and the bulk of the content still wasn't going to be available until 4:30 which was framed by everyone as the Big Event. So I guess there's some back and forth about whether having a post ready for the Big Event is a good idea or even useful. If you're Gawker you're trying to scoop other people, eyeballs to advertisers, bla bla. That's not really what motivates us so we're generally happier with a less-ZOMG-y post with more to discuss.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:49 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I usually shower after I have a massive dump. I need to.

May I suggest one of these? It ain't a Toto, but it does the job.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:02 PM on November 28, 2010


and now we have a much tamer one that makes no mention of the WikiLeaks DOS or the early release of the documents

I was aiming for 'straightforward'. I missed all of the deleted posts, so I wasn't purposely ignoring anything. It just seemed like the real point was the actual cables as released by several major news organizations, which is why that's all I put in my post.
posted by lullaby at 2:08 PM on November 28, 2010


Fair enough. Straightforwardness is good. I'm sorry — I didn't mean to trash your post.
posted by enn at 2:17 PM on November 28, 2010


It's now 150 comments, the ddos and early release have both been mentioned. Folks are busily hammering each other there, checking out.
posted by fixedgear at 2:24 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nah, no need to apologize, I just wanted to explain what I was thinking.
posted by lullaby at 2:32 PM on November 28, 2010


So Vladimir and Silvio are an item?
posted by effluvia at 3:04 PM on November 28, 2010


The hammering is actually really unpleasant. I was idly contemplating if I should speak up about it via flagging or contacting the mods, but since I'm responding to the comments I'm considering flagging it doesn't seem right to flag. Maybe I should try another approach, like not getting involved in these threads.

Anyway, the unpleasant part of the hammering is the repeated implications that people who are not fully on board with the disclosure are insensitive/unaware to the plight of civilians deaths. I'm fine with those implications if someone says straight out, 'fuck the civilians, few of them need to die for the Freedom Agenda' or whatever.

Perhaps I need to grow a thicker skin/stay out of these threads, but that saddens me because the discourse becomes dominated by a particular perspective.
posted by angrycat at 5:48 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


I thought this was going to be about the Beatles being on Apple.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:48 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm on the road over the next two days. Please alert me when something actually happens. Thanks.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:33 PM on November 28, 2010


No worries, I've got my passenger pigeons at the ready!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:27 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps I need to grow a thicker skin/stay out of these threads, but that saddens me because the discourse becomes dominated by a particular perspective.

What has bothered me about political threads in recent months has been the prevalence of posts begging the question (or similar kinds of circular argument), breezy counterfactual declarations, and extremely aggressive ad hominem rebuttals. I've been reading MeFi a lot longer than I've been a member, and this approach feels relatively recent (last 12-18 months). I have to admit I find myself responding in kind from time to time, which is no good either.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:25 AM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yawn...Let it go.
Just for the record I thought that it was interesting that
A. WikiLeaks had been leaked
B. WikiLeaks was under a DoS attack which presumably wasn't a coincidence and so possibly the scheduled release might have been affected.
C. I posted a page in English because I don't speak / read German
posted by adamvasco at 1:58 AM on November 29, 2010


I have let it go, to the extent that I removed it from my recent activity, because I just couldn't stand it anymore.
posted by angrycat at 6:20 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


the unpleasant part of the hammering is the repeated implications that people who are not fully on board with the disclosure are insensitive/unaware to the plight of civilians deaths

You wrote:

One reason why I am not (yet) condemning Assange for this latest series of leaks or (yet) celebrating it is the issue of civilian death.

On the one side, we have a man who has not been proved of having harmed a single human being. On the other side, we have a nation that has, by its own ludicrous under-estimate, killed tens of thousands of civilians - and is continuing to kill more on an almost daily basis.

In this context, to focus on the hypothetical harm that the man's actions may lead to - despite previous hysterical accusations having come to nothing - can not help but seem "insensitive" to the not-in-the-least-hypothetical civilian deaths that the nation is causing right now.

And since you brought up Rwanda as a "good intervention" we should have made...

Madeleine Albright thought the deaths of 500,000 children was worth realizing her vision for Iraq. You appear to think - please correct me if I'm wrong - that the deaths of some unspecified but presumably smaller number of children would have been worth realizing your vision for Rwanda.

What then is the difference between her position and yours? The number of corpses you can respectively tolerate? Or her having failed to recognize that Iraq was one of those "bad interventions" we sometimes lapse into?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:23 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake, Joe Beese. Someone mentions that the discussion in the other thread was unpleasant because viewpoints that deviated slightly were getting "hammered on," and your solution is to hammer on her in this thread, too? What the fuck is your problem when it comes to political shit? Can you you just not help yourself?
posted by dersins at 11:04 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


the unpleasant part of the hammering is the repeated implications that people who are not fully on board with the disclosure are insensitive/unaware to the plight of civilians deaths

I did think it was crap that delmoi told me that I didn't give a crap about that stuff. I really didn't like being told what I care and do not care about.

But otherwise, hammer away. I'm a big boy, I can handle myself just fine. Really its been people on the other side of the debate that have been complaining in past threads. Listen, this community is about people saying what they think. I think that's 100% right. If you make argumentative statements, you have to expect to get people who disagree with you.

Just be decent. That is all.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:24 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Someone mentions that the discussion in the other thread was unpleasant because viewpoints that deviated slightly were getting "hammered on," and your solution is to hammer on her in this thread, too?

1. angrycat in the blue: People are being mean to me. I'm leaving this discussion.

2. angrycat in the grey: Did you notice how I had to leave the discussion in the blue because of how mean people were being to me?

3. me in the grey: This is why your statements elicited that response.

4. you in the grey: Can't you stop being mean to her?

Tell you what. angrycat can actually, you know, stop bringing up their participation in the thread and then there will be nothing left for any of us to say about it.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:36 AM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


me in the grey: This is why your statements elicited that response.

This is an innacurate and deeply disingenuous characterization of your comment, which was in fact an unnecessary and unprovoked attack in which you accused angrycat of condoning the murder of children. Seriously, Joe, you make some great contributions here in non-political threads, but when it comes to the political stuff your behavior often becomes aggressive and jerkish, especially when you pursue people through multiple threads in order to attack them, as you have done here.

angrycat can actually, you know, stop bringing up their participation in the thread and then there will be nothing left for any of us to say about it.

So you're saying that all she has to do to avoid being attacked is to shut up? That's... umm... classy, Joe.
posted by dersins at 11:48 AM on November 29, 2010


angrycat can actually, you know, stop bringing up their participation in the thread and then there will be nothing left for any of us to say about it.

This is not the place to continue that argument. People should be able to talk about a MeFi thread in a general sense without it being an opening to get hammered on about a discussion they have been clear they no longer want to have from that thread. This is the MeTa aspect of MetaTalk. Sometimes threads are specifically created to be a place to have long pedantic arguments, but this is not one of those times.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:51 AM on November 29, 2010


Also, when they get personal, it becomes obvious that they aren't winning to everyone.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:18 PM on November 29, 2010


Here, everyone. Have some of this delicious popcorn I made back at the beginning of the thread yesterday. It has garlic salt!
posted by Jacqueline at 12:24 PM on November 29, 2010


I didn't intend to complain that people were "mean." I meant to complain about the tenor of the discussion, in which characterizations of members' supposed intent (e.g. you don't care about dead children) were thrown about in a way that, in the end, I found the discussion to be not worthwhile. In that arguments weren't honestly addressed.

And yes, I left the thread to get away from the "you don't care about murdered children" thing; and while I suppose its predictable it followed me here, Joe, it seems like you have the grace to realize that your statements along those lines are alienating and stop doing that.
posted by angrycat at 12:39 PM on November 29, 2010


As far as the leaks themselves go, I'm ambivalent. Assange may be lighting matches in the middle of an oil spill*, but then again he may be providing the administration with a useful non-official back channel, a media function which is hardly unprecedented - never on such in such volume, it is true, but the internet is a uniquely good tool for overcoming problems of scale, as long as it's not exploited too often.

* MetaphorFilter: this metaphor is meant for private use in a single paragraph only. Attempts to extend it beyond safe operating parameters or erect intellectual edifices on it are carried out at the sole risk of the disputant and may result in (metaphorical) insults to the person, enhanced by gravity.

Regarding the quality of debate in general...
Madeleine Albright thought the deaths of 500,000 children was worth realizing her vision for Iraq. You appear to think - please correct me if I'm wrong - that the deaths of some unspecified but presumably smaller number of children would have been worth realizing your vision for Rwanda.

Hmm...here we have an offensive but unarguably true example of establishment realpolitik, juxtaposed with another MeFite's rhetorical question about whether the US should have intervened militarily in Rwanda, and the not-too-implicit (clarification) view that military intervention might be justified for the purpose of averting genocide.

No arguments of the form 'it would be worth X# of children's deaths to bring about Result Y,' were proffered in favor of such intervention. Now, it's true that any military action whatsoever has a high potential of causing at least some civilian deaths; and it's true that since children make up anywhere from a quarter to half of the civilian population, there's a corresponding likelihood that a similar proportion of predictable deaths resulting from military action will befall children. So, it's true to say that the implication of a person's belief in the occasional appropriateness of military intervention are that a number of children will almost certainly die as a result.

But it's a very long way from that to the suggestion, as made above, that the person is fixated upon some hypothetical foreign policy outcome to the point of considering it worth mass child death; the sole qualifier being that perhaps the interventionist's moral bankruptcy would result in a smaller but equally blameworthy number of dead children. It's a neat rhetorical trick, but a totally dishonest one.

Why? Because no 'vision for Rwanda' was offered as a justification military intervention. Rather, intervention was considered as something that might have prevented the actuality of a recent historical genocide which resulted in the death of about 1.2 million people...some percentage of whom were children, although exactly how many is unknown. 'Perhaps timely deployment of US armed forces could have stopped the murder of 1.2 million Rwandans?' is re-contextualized, almost as: 'So...you are saying that it's OK for the US armed forces to murder 1,199,999 Rwandans? Disgusting!' The only 'vision for Rwanda' one could reasonably infer from the original rhetorical question was one in which no genocide took place. The faulty syllogism quoted above not only ignores the anti-genocidal motivation behind posing the question, but attributes to the questioner the moral culpability for a US-sponsored genocide which is assumed as the inevitable by-product of military action.

It's as if an endorsement of funding for fire brigades were equated with support for arson and murder, because it's predictable that firefighters will sometimes die in the line of duty. One cannot arrive at such a conclusion by accident or mere weakness of logic: it takes actual work to construct and promulgate such an argument. Why? Because any sensible person appreciates that although firefighting (or military intervention) involves a high risk of tragic and avoidable death, non-intervention involves a much higher probability of human suffering, in much greater degree. Doubtless, a successful US intervention in Rwanda would have resulted in the deaths of many Hutus, some of whom were innocent of genocidal intent; but to equate a desire to prevent genocide with the moral culpability for perpetrating one is absurd on its face.

Of course, such absurdity would be laughed out of the thread if made in context; it's only remotely plausible to offer here because not all readers of this MetaTalk thread will have read the entire MetaFilter thread referenced by these discussion. And I note that in the MeFi thread, no attempt was made to portray support for intervention as the equivalent of mass child murder; rather, the initial question was answered with the idea that the US should not have intervened in Rwanda, because "the US military has never been - and will never be - a humanitarian instrument[.]" - assuming as an axiom that all military activity (by the US at least) is morally compromised to such an incurable degree that the various possible outcomes are irrelevant.

I find it hard to believe that is what is intended, and that all positive results of US military action through history are to be regarded as morally tainted to the same degree as all negative consequences. Where such views are held without a full appreciation of the implications, it seems to me that the extreme deontological positions they articulate are only sensible if one believes in predestination, and is hostile to the entire concept of individual agency in the first place. While a cavalier utilitarian sensibility has often led US policy astray, resulting in much suffering, there are better ways to critique it than by going to the opposite extreme.

Tell you what. angrycat can actually, you know, stop bringing up their participation in the thread and then there will be nothing left for any of us to say about it.

'Now look what you made me do,' has a very poor track record over the long term. Please rethink your approach, Joe Beese.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:09 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Now look what you made me do,' has a very poor track record over the long term. Please rethink your approach, Joe Beese.

I have to agree. Angrycat's contributions to the thread have been in good faith, and she's approach arguments fairly. The ugliness being thrown her way is pretty depressing. Please consider knocking it off.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:31 AM on November 30, 2010


Also, related.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:38 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think Joe Beese's point is that angrycat is a horrible person that wants to drink the blood of children. If you took that from his comment than I think you all need to call the drama police. What he was pointing out is that military intervention will always lead to civilian deaths and that maybe just maybe the U.S. military bombing the shit out of a country for whatever the purpose, unless of course it is in defense of our own national survival, is an immoral action and should be named as such from the get go.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:55 AM on November 30, 2010


"You appear to think - please correct me if I'm wrong - that the deaths of some unspecified but presumably smaller number of children would have been worth realizing your vision for Rwanda" is a shitty, disingenuous thing to say to a person who clearly did not say these things. It's a backhanded smear, and Joe's better than that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:05 AM on November 30, 2010


It's a backhanded smear

I didn't take it as a smear or personal attack against angrycat. As I said I took it as him pointing out that if you are going to support military intervention than you are supporting an immoral action that will lead to the death of innocent civilians a percentage of which are children. So while angrycat obviously doesn't want innocent children to be killed there is some disconnect between that position and her statements about military intervention being a good idea. This disconnect is endemic to the American psyche. Again I took his point as military intervention=bad/immoral not angrycat=bad/immoral. If you want to interpret his comment differently that's you prerogative and I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

I guess my feeling is that if you don't like children being killed you probably shouldn't go around proposing we use our military for any reason other than defense. Not to say that if you do you want to drink the blood of children but most likely you haven't thought your position through or read any history about what happens when the U.S. military intervenes or even farts in your general direction.

"Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, your're not a good soldier. I suppose if I had lost the war I would have been tried as a war criminal. Fortunately, we were on the winning side." - General Curtis LeMay (source)

The same Curtis Lemay who I believe coined the phrase "bomb back to the stone age" in reference to North Vietnam while he was the Air Force Chief of Staff. Point being that one of our most successful generals, at least in the context of aerial bombardment, knew what he was doing was immoral so an informed citizen should be able to come to the same conclusion especially with our fancy interconnected tubes at their disposal. Conclusion being that war=immoral not uninformed citizen=immoral, just uninformed.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:52 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


A fair point, and a damn sight better than saying "you appear to support the deaths of innocent children".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:58 AM on November 30, 2010


As far as wikileaks is concerned they are performing a service; informing the public.

"Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree." - Thomas Jefferson
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:01 AM on November 30, 2010


Love that segue from 'military intervention' to 'bombing the shit out of people' - lovely repetition of an existing theme, and that nimble little skip-and-pivot makes it all seem like one smooth logical progression. Top marks!
posted by anigbrowl at 7:07 AM on November 30, 2010


"To a certain degree" seems to be an important part of that Jefferson quote, even if I don't always see the relevance in quoting the Founding Fathers as it pertains to the world we live in today. As long as we're talking about collateral damages and all, I highly recommend reading the link I posted.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:22 AM on November 30, 2010


Marisa etc; I read your link above and counter with this which I also posted in the big thread. I don't expect diplomacy and its accompanying spycraft to change; I just expect the way it is done and recorded to change.
posted by adamvasco at 8:16 AM on November 30, 2010


Love that segue from 'military intervention' to 'bombing the shit out of people' - lovely repetition of an existing theme, and that nimble little skip-and-pivot makes it all seem like one smooth logical progression. Top marks!

None of which invalidates my point as small arms, grenades, rpgs, and tanks kill innocent civilians as well. What exactly is your point? That intervention is somehow justified just because we happen to be American? What would our position be if some other country such as Russian intervened in another countries affairs? Well we have numerous examples of what our position would be/is including a rather recent one which is the subject of some of the leaked material I believe. Either way the point still stands war=immoral regardless of the lofty goals/lies proposed to justify military action for reasons other than self defense. In fact since WWII we haven't engaged in any war in the constitutional sense of the word. So to clarify I guess what i mean in our current situation is non-defensive military action=immoral.

"To a certain degree" seems to be an important part of that Jefferson quote, even if I don't always see the relevance in quoting the Founding Fathers as it pertains to the world we live in today.

I agree to an extent but given Jefferson's views on a standing military in times of peace I think we are well beyond "to a certain degree" insofar as Jefferson envisioned any hypothetical "state of liberty".
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:24 AM on November 30, 2010


Perhaps this is my naivete, but I don't see that all interventions require dead children. Or maybe the proper metric is dead children you'd have w/o intervention v. dead children w/ intervention.

In a hypothetical intervention in Rwanda, I don't see where the necessity for dead children is. Maybe this is blindingly obvious to some, but not to me.

And while the attacks in Afghanistan have resulted in the death of children, there is still the issue of what would happen to children -- e.g. girls who try to go to school. There was that series of throwing battery acid into the faces of girls, which didn't kill them, but I think life-disfigurment of children should have some weight in the equation.

Moreover, the Wikileaks uncovered the concerns of the West re: the security of Paki's nukes. One of those nukes went off, a lot of civilians would die, of course.

But all this is just to articulate my disbelief that people who are all "you don't care about the dead kids" are not arguing in good faith. Because this is really not rocket science. Sometimes military interventions saves lives.

And that's why I'll probably limit my contribution to mefi political threads, until there is a lesser level of volatility and people stop thinking that it is okay to attribute all sorts of derogatory intents to people with whom they disagree
posted by angrycat at 10:06 AM on November 30, 2010


In a hypothetical intervention in Rwanda, I don't see where the necessity for dead children is. Maybe this is blindingly obvious to some, but not to me.

There is no such thing as a clean war. Children and innocents will die in almost every conflict.

That said, there is a calculus, and the kind of simplistic baby-killer rhetoric is juvenile. Sometimes the results of not acting are worse than the results of acting.
posted by empath at 10:41 AM on November 30, 2010


Sometimes military interventions saves lives.

I think you are confused about the geopolitical reasons for military interventions. Saving lives is not one of them. It is telling that we did not intervene in Rwanda but we did in Iraq. The fact that you are under the impression that saving lives is a good reason to engage in warfare demonstrates, to me at least, that you are drunk on good old fashioned red, white, and blue American cool-aid. I am not saying that you get thrills off the killing of innocent civilians I am saying that you are very confused and have been propagandized to the point where you are willing to support war for very dubious reasons. I don't think this makes you a horrible person in fact I think it shows the opposite - that you are a good person who wants to save lives if possible.

My assertion is that war is not a good way to go about saving lives and if someone in a position of political authority is telling you otherwise they are lying about the true reasons for the intervention. It is not the responsibility of the U.S.A. to ensure that the rest of the world is not engaging in atrocities. Our political and military leaders know this which is why we didn't intervene in Rwanda, Angola, Congo, or any other failed African state in which millions of people have been killed. We only intervene when it suits our "national interest" which doesn't include saving the lives of citizens of other counties. This justification for war is only trotted out when all other justifications have failed and the politicians and military need to convince the gullible public that we need to save lives or promote democracy.

In a hypothetical intervention in Rwanda, I don't see where the necessity for dead children is. Maybe this is blindingly obvious to some, but not to me.

This is another problem with your argument. Why do we need to analyze hypothetical interventions when we have so many real interventions as evidence to the contrary. Whether intervening in Rwanda would have resulted in more or less dead children is immaterial because the U.S. was never going to intervene regardless of how much regret Bill Clinton had after the fact. Instead of Rwanda why don't we discuss one of the interventions that saved lives if in fact you can come up with one that has in fact done this. The only recent one that comes close I guess is Haiti but that wasn't really an intervention as much as a genuine humanitarian operation. Of course you would than have to reference all of the other interventions in Haiti. I think you would be hard pressed to make a credible argument that any of the previous interventions have saved any lives.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:03 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fine. Intervention in Bosnia.
See also:
World War I
World War II
posted by angrycat at 11:05 AM on November 30, 2010


I think you are confused about the geopolitical reasons for military interventions

This kind of shit is why I don't bother responding to you.
posted by empath at 11:12 AM on November 30, 2010


drunk on good old fashioned red, white, and blue American cool-aid.
My tea party relatives would so love it if this were true. As it happens, it's not, and I've now written off a bunch of close relatives because of contentious politics (and the remarks they'd put on my facebook posts -- this like "watch out -- you better keep your head down" as if there was a tea party sniper with his sights trained on me or something.

Also, I've ridden this rodeo with both Aelfwife Evenstar and Joe Beese, and it's really hard for me to understand after this many dances they both seem to think that I'm some paragon of jingoism.
posted by angrycat at 11:30 AM on November 30, 2010


It's a bit nihilistic of me to say, but at some point it's much better if you just accept the absolute worthlessness of debating contentious political issues on Metafilter and let people be what they are without caring a bit about it.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:33 AM on November 30, 2010


angrycat, seriously, just ignore them in political threads, even when they respond to you directly. It makes reading metafilter a hell of a lot easier.
posted by empath at 12:03 PM on November 30, 2010


Well, it's true that I am generally starting to care less and less about what happens in political threads.

But it's too bad because this is why I created my account (as opposed to just lurking); so that I could participate in such threads. But I am 100% losing interest.

My interest level aside, it seems like something that maybe the site might want. When people call somebody a shill for Obama, a troll, or a person who doesn't care about murdering children, I'd be really surprised if you don't have more and more people opting out.

And then the discussion is only those who, if you disagree/question their arguments/assertions, attack your intellectual integrity in some way, as opposed to your arguments.

It's bad for metafilter. But I am not on some crusade. If people don't care, they don't care.
posted by angrycat at 12:14 PM on November 30, 2010


it seems like something that maybe the site might want.

Our way of addressing and dealing with this is trying to politely discourage people from haranguing people who have indicated they no longer want to be having a particular conversation, among other things. If those people come back and decide to continue the conversation, we can't do much about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:39 PM on November 30, 2010


I get it. I don't have any ideas for solutions, either. But it seems like there should ideally be a sense of a line that is crossed when one starts ascribing nefarious aspirations to someone, and that the solution is not for the above to occur until that someone gets sick of it and leaves the thread.
posted by angrycat at 12:45 PM on November 30, 2010


Fine. Intervention in Bosnia.

Bosnia is not as clear cut as you would like.

Advocates(of humanitarian intervention) assume that the very worst atrocities could be eliminated if only the U.S. and others would commit themselves to protecting national minorities. By contrast, Kuperman argues that this might, in fact, lead to more killings. Disgruntled ethnic groups would take these blanket assurances at face value and engage in risky military ventures. However, given the real-life limits of Western power projection capabilities, this political insurance policy would prove too little, too late when finally needed.

In a similar vein, a state facing a secessionist movement would have every incentive to move quickly and finish off the national minority before the U.S. intervened.

Kuperman believes this is what happened in Kosovo. When, after years of passively resisting the central government in Belgrade, ethnic Albanians took up arms in 1998, they had no illusions that they could win independence on their own. There were, after all, facing down Yugoslav tanks with AK-47 assault rifles. Still, they "thought that by starting the war and escalating the war, they thought they could bring in Western states to intervene on their side," he says.

They were right, of course. NATO did intervene. But when it did, the situation on the ground took a turn for the worse. In the first year of the war, less than 2,000 people were killed—a figure that includes both Yugoslav Serbs and Kosovar militants. However, "after NATO intervened, in the next eleven weeks, 10,000 Albanians were killed," Kuperman notes, adding that the number of Kosovar refugees spiraled to 850,000 in just one month as Yugoslavia stepped up its "end game" against the population of that rebel territory.
(source)

World War I
World War II


I don't agree given that they are two of the deadliest conflicts in the history of warfare. To claim that less people died because of these wars is not an accurate statement.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:52 PM on November 30, 2010


I don't have any ideas for solutions, either. But it seems like there should ideally be a sense of a line that is crossed when one starts ascribing nefarious aspirations to someone, and that the solution is not for the above to occur until that someone gets sick of it and leaves the thread.

Have I attributed nefarious aspirations to you, angrycat? I was merely trying to point out where I thought your reasoning seems a little weak. Nothing personal. Sorry if my point about drinking the American cool-aid came off as a little dickish I should have found a more elegant way of phrasing my critique. But I stand by the substance of what I said. I have a hard time believing you would support the "humanitarian" interventions of Russia or China.

You still haven't given me any examples of interventions that saved lives. I am not asking you to try and personally attack you and don't feel like you need to respond but you made an assertion and it would be nice if you could back it up with some evidence.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:28 PM on November 30, 2010


Aelfwine Evenstar, I have offered evidence. I'm not going to bat historical examples back and forth with you all night. For one reason, it serves no purpose. For another, I do not think either you or some others in the original thread are arguing in good faith.

Why would you think that "drinking the American cool-aid" was merely a little dickish and not so elegant? What I mean to say is, why can you not see it as way over the line? First, you do not know to what degree I have or have not drank the 'cool-aid.' Second, it's a cliche derived from a horrible mass suicide that was orchestrated by a psychopath.

If you think that I have drunk some metaphorical cool-aid to the extent I would, say, poison my child before I poison myself if Obama asked me to, I am not sure upon which plane of reality you reside.

If you were flinging about metaphors in an attempt to score a major gotcha or rile me up, I guess you have irritated me, so I suppose point to you. I'm no longer in the thread, so you also win there, if that was your intent.

In other words, if you want to have a conversation, I think there are a lot better ways to go about it.
posted by angrycat at 4:21 PM on November 30, 2010


And I'll remove myself from this conversation too, but feel free to memail me if there is something -- not about history -- but about conversation dynamics you would like to relay to me.
posted by angrycat at 4:34 PM on November 30, 2010


I have offered evidence.

No you haven't. You gave three examples without demonstrating or linking to something that demonstrates how said interventions have saved lives.

why can you not see it as way over the line?

Why can't you see that it's not over the line? Oh that's right because since you can't provide any concrete examples or give any evidence to back up what you say so you have to play the martyr. Fine whatever have a good night; no sense arguing with someone who comes in makes a bunch of claims then abandons the thread when challenged.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:07 PM on November 30, 2010


On preview - nevermind.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:08 PM on November 30, 2010


Congratulations Aelfy! You won! You get a big prize now!
posted by dersins at 5:34 PM on November 30, 2010


I'm moving to Kandahar.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:40 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


What exactly is your point?

That your argument is fallacious, and possibly disingenuous to boot, because it assumes the truth of its own conclusion. The same is true of your subsequent posts; allow me to demonstrate, briefly. I have added some numbers to your remarks for simplicity.

It is not the responsibility of the U.S.A. to ensure that the rest of the world is not engaging in atrocities. Our political and military leaders know this which is why we didn't intervene in Rwanda, Angola, Congo, or any other failed African state in which millions of people have been killed. We only intervene when it suits our "national interest" which doesn't include saving the lives of citizens of other counties. This justification for war is only trotted out when all other justifications have failed and the politicians and military need to convince the gullible public that we need to save lives or promote democracy.

So the suggestion that saving lives would suit our national interest is false, because it wouldn't. Or put another way:

1. No duty exists
2. No action can occur without a duty
3. No action occurred
4. therefore, 1, because (2, 3).

This a fallacy of commutation: you have assumed that because action requires an interest, the existence of an interest requires action. But we often have interests which we fail to protect properly. For example, we failed to predict or prevent the 9/11 attacks and suffered a serious blow to our interests as a direct result of that failure.

Preventing a genocide where we can easily do so is arguably in the interest of the US, since it will significantly improve our international standing as well as fostering regional stability. Standing and stability increase the possibility of mutually beneficial relationships with our neighbors, and our existing success is founded upon such mutually beneficial relationships. How can we measure the future benefit of present action? We can't, but we can measure the opportunity cost of past inaction to some degree, and use that as a proxy.

We may disagree about whether an interest exists or how important it is, but a record of past disbelief does not constitute evidence either way. To say that it does is to buy into the idea that if man was meant to fly he would have wings; since he does not, artificial flight is a pointless endeavor.

Why do we need to analyze hypothetical interventions when we have so many real interventions as evidence to the contrary. Whether intervening in Rwanda would have resulted in more or less dead children is immaterial because the U.S. was never going to intervene regardless of how much regret Bill Clinton had after the fact.

As I said earlier, this is basically a doctrine of predestination: because certain events are known to have taken place, they must have been inevitable, and it is pointless to speculate on how they might have turned out differently. Let's examine how this might have played out in a familiar fictional context...

"So," said Elrond, "Let me get this straight, Gandalf. You're saying that because you like this hobbit here, there's a good chance he can get the One Ring to Mordor and will then voluntarily throw it into a volcano?"
"That's right," Gandalf replied.
"Even though everyone who's ever had the thing gets super-possessive about it and uses it compulsively, and this particular hobbit has already developed such a compulsion despite the obvious dangers to himself and his companions?"
"Er...yes. Yes, it could work," stammered Gandalf, his face reddening. Frodo squirmed uncomfortably.
"Bollocks," said Elrod, with a pointed glance.
Gandalf gathered himself for an angry reply, but then hesitated. He looked long and sadly at Frodo, then seemed to come to a decision - a decision he took with regret, but which once made could not be untaken.
"He's right, old friend," said Gandalf softly. Then, in one smooth motion, he slit Frodo's throat and declared himself king of Middle Earth. Because it was inevitable, so why fight it?
(continued in Book 2, Showdown with Sauron)

[on preview, from a later message]
I don't agree given that [WW 1 & 2] are two of the deadliest conflicts in the history of warfare. To claim that less people died because of these wars is not an accurate statement.


People don't claim that 'less people died because of these wars.' For one thing people with a basic awareness of history recall that both wars were started by Germany, under the Kaiser and Hitler.

People do claim that fewer people died because the US eventually and somewhat unwillingly took part in those wars than would probably have died if it had not. Hypothetical? Of course. Where WW1 is concerned, the human costs of an ongoing stalemate or German victory are open to debate.

But where WW2 is concerned, we know for a fact that left to themselves the German government had committed itself to a policy of genocide to such an extent that they built large industrial facilities for the specific purpose of poisoning and cremating everyone whose ancestry or heritage they disapproved of. It's reasonable to assume that if the US had not entered the war or had limited itself to fending off Japan, then Germany would eventually have prevailed in Europe; and if that had been the case, it's equally reasonable to assume that they would have carried on in the same murderous style.

If you feel that that this might have been better than the destructive results of the US fighting the war in Europe, I'm sure you could formulate an elegant argument for that case.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:54 PM on November 30, 2010


anigbrowl that's a nice bit of sophistry you engaged in there. Bonus points for working in the Lord of the Rings.

That your argument is fallacious, and possibly disingenuous to boot, because it assumes the truth of its own conclusion.

Which argument would that be? The overarching argument that all war is immoral or just the part about national interest you decided to dissect?

So the suggestion that saving lives would suit our national interest is false, because it wouldn't.

Let me clarify. In my opinion it is not the responsibility of the U.S.A. to ensure the rest of the world isn't engaging in atrocities. We have many examples where there have been large scale atrocities being committed and we did little or nothing and in many cases played the various factions off one another.(Angola, Rwanda, Congo, Sudan, Indonesia, Argentina, Iran, ect.) This tells me that in some cases saving lives is not in our national interest. Or maybe that while it may be one of our national interests it is not the most important one and other more critical national interests supersede humanitarian intervention. Or maybe we, as you posited, just failed to act in our national interest. If you would care to offer an example when we have in the past stopped a genocide or atrocity by using military action I am ready and willing to look at the evidence. WWII in particular is not a good example of what we are talking about as it was not an intervention but a declared war which was fought against an existential threat to our continued way of life. Big difference than what we are talking about here.

Preventing a genocide where we can easily do so is arguably in the interest of the US, since it will significantly improve our international standing as well as fostering regional stability.

I agree but unfortunately military interventions tend to do the opposite. Instead of stopping genocides they usually precipitate them, lower our international standing, and foster regional instability. We have numerous examples of this the most recent being our current adventures in Iraq, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa.

As I said earlier, this is basically a doctrine of predestination: because certain events are known to have taken place, they must have been inevitable, and it is pointless to speculate on how they might have turned out differently. Let's examine how this might have played out in a familiar fictional context...

Interesting that you chose the ring as an example when it is actually a morality play in direct opposition to what you seem to be arguing for here(the use of force). The ring represents absolute power and the corrupting influence it has on everybody it touches. Even though a particular ringbearer has good intentions the evil corrupting influence of the ring always turns those good intentions to evil. Boromir wanted to use the ring to prevent the genocide of his people but in the end it would have lead to a dark lord on the throne of Gondor. Galadriel was tempted to take the ring from Frodo and use it to defeat Sauron and revitalize the lost glory of the Noldor in exile. But she admitted that if she accepted Frodo's offer he would merely be overthrowing the Dark Lord and replacing him with a Dark Queen. She passed the test and was allowed by Manwe to return to Valinor bypassing the doom of Mandos. It is a beautiful metaphor for our discussion here. While we may have good intentions, in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the corrupting influences of war will always lead to evil.

People don't claim that 'less people died because of these wars.' For one thing people with a basic awareness of history recall that both wars were started by Germany, under the Kaiser and Hitler.

angrycat claimed that WWII saved lives and I was responding to that claim. I am not claiming that WWII wasn't necessary just that it is dubious to claim that it saved any lives. Stalin killed at least twice as many people as hitler did and Mao Ze-Dong killed 3 times as many. All of these deaths were at least partly attributable to the political realities created by WWII. All this talk of WWII is really beside the point as it has no bearing on our discussion about military interventions. I think we can both agree that WWII was at best a necessary evil.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:51 PM on November 30, 2010


The lesson here is never use Tolkien metaphors in an argument with a guy named after an elf.
posted by empath at 8:05 PM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree but unfortunately military interventions tend to do the opposite. Instead of stopping genocides they usually precipitate them, lower our international standing, and foster regional instability.

Between 'give up' and 'try harder' I'll take the second option.

I think we can both agree that WWII was at best a necessary evil.

No, we cannot. Participation by the US in WW2, in the sense of full commitment to a particular outcome rather than minimal safe necessity, was a deliberate moral choice which the US had the capacity to accept but also the strategic freedom to reject. Responsibility requires accepting that most decisions require us to balance conflicting imperatives rather than selecting from a range of obvious moral outcomes.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:19 AM on December 1, 2010


The lesson here is never use Tolkien metaphors in an argument with a guy named after an elf.

Actually AElfwine means "elf-friend".

Between 'give up' and 'try harder' I'll take the second option.

Well you know what Einstein said about doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Participation by the US in WW2, in the sense of full commitment to a particular outcome rather than minimal safe necessity, was a deliberate moral choice which the US had the capacity to accept but also the strategic freedom to reject.

No I think we were kinda forced into WWII it was not a choice. Remember Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor over a year after the Tripartite Pact had been signed. It's not like we had the luxury of ignoring Japan and given that they were allies with Germany it is well within reason that the decision to declare war on Germany was a strategic not moral decision. So I will repeat myself: WWII in particular is not a good example of what we are talking about as it was not an intervention but a declared war which was fought against an existential threat to our continued way of life.

Responsibility requires accepting that most decisions require us to balance conflicting imperatives rather than selecting from a range of obvious moral outcomes.

You're being vague. Maybe you can clarify what exactly you mean and how it relates to our discussion of the viability of using military intervention as a humanitarian tool. Are you talking about collective or individual responsibility? If by responsibility you mean collective moral responsibility then the decision making process you describe doesn't happen. At least I don't see it. Maybe you can point me to some evidence to the contrary. Also what do you mean by conflicting imperatives? Are you using moral imperative in the categorical sense or in the hypothetical sense? Do you mean imperative to imply necessary action or obliged action?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:30 AM on December 1, 2010


SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP
posted by dersins at 9:40 AM on December 1, 2010


QUIT READING QUIT READING QUIT READING QUIT READING
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:07 AM on December 1, 2010


At the point at which a thread turns into the spectacle of two men wrestling with each other, we often suggest they take it to email.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:09 AM on December 1, 2010


At the point at which a thread turns into the spectacle of two men wrestling with each other, we often suggest they take it to email.

Are you talking about dersins and I or the conversation I'm having with anigbrowl?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:25 AM on December 1, 2010


Generally I think the conversation you in particular seem to be trying to have with anyone who will have it with you. You can post something on your blog and argue with folks in the comments or something but there's no real reason that this metatalk thread is the place that the specific political/historical argument you feel like having needs to play out at length.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:30 AM on December 1, 2010


Generally I think the conversation you in particular seem to be trying to have with anyone who will have it with you. You can post something on your blog and argue with folks in the comments or something but there's no real reason that this metatalk thread is the place that the specific political/historical argument you feel like having needs to play out at length.

Well I joined a conversation already in progress so I think your characterization isn't really fair. But if my continuing this not what you and jessamyn think should happen than I defer. If you feel like carrying on the conversation anigbrowl feel free to mefimail me.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:39 AM on December 1, 2010


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