Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Retreat from Evil

I've been oh so busy lately and I have a couple of half completed posts that I'd love to complete in the near future. Unfortunately I don't get paid to blog so Freedom's Fidelity has to take a back seat to my day job.... sometimes. So here is some quite thoughtful musings from Wretchard to fill up your mind. If you'll recall, the Phillipino government withdrew its troops from Iraq (and paid a hefty ransom) to effect the release of a Filipino hostage. If you understand that people respond to incentives, then you probably won't be surprised to learn that another Filipino hostage has been taken in Iraq. In that context, Wretchard asks the question:
How far does one have to retreat from evil to be truly safe? A letter writer to Michael Totten brought the inescapability of confronting evil home when he asked if Mr. Totten would rule out torture if the safety of his own child depended on applying it. Mr. Totten allowed it was a hard question; and yet the question was the right one to ask. Any real opposition to torture would be unwavering even if it involved sacrificing our own children. Volunteering those of others doesn't count. Ivan Karamazov famously asked Alyosha whether he would accept the edifice of Paradise if it were built upon the suffering of a single innocent child; Alyosha replied that he would not. Yet there are any number who would maintain a principled opposition to war, torture or hostage payments at the expense of the suffering of innocents. Did Saddam throw people into woodchippers? Regrettable but better that than violate the principle of collective international action. Are Blacks being massacred in Darfur? Sad, but unilateralism is worse. Surely the price of maintaining the no-ransom policy isn't worth the life of a Filipino hostage? Here the devil defeats the prospect of a free moral lunch. Not paying ransom kills, but paying it kills too. Breese Bull of the Washington Post takes it personally whenever ransom (a.k.a. 'go buy an IED') money is paid to 'insurgents'.
As a foreigner here, I feel threatened by the possibility that the Italian government may have rewarded the kidnappers. But Iraq is not about us foreigners. It is about Iraqis. And it is Iraqis who suffer most from kidnappings and from the transportation of the artillery shells and anti-tank mines that become roadside devices and car bombs. Kidnapping Iraqis has become an almost routine business transaction here. ... But since the Sgrena shooting, I've already sensed even greater reluctance to set up these dangerous checkpoints.

A long time ago I personally came to the conclusion that there was no way to live on earth without the stain of guilt, maybe the concept of Original Sin was a rueful recognition of this condition. Yet there is perhaps the chance that one may leave the earth forgiven. But that is another story.
This is getting awfully philosophical, but I am not so sure that one needs to seek forgiveness for an Original Sin he is destined to commit. This is not an easy thing to wrap one's brain around.

Update: Part II of this post is here.


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