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The arithmetic of patriotic battle

Mapraputa Is
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We've forgotten the arithmetic of patriotic battle: That it's better for a hundred of them to die than for one of us to die.
It is better for a B-52 to flatten an Iraqi neighborhood than it is for one United States Marine to die. It is better to roll tanks down a foreign street than it is to put an American soldier in his grave.
More troops, more arms, more aggressive tactics and strategies. Let's flood Iraq with American men and munitions and let's steamroll anybody who gets in our way. No more pussyfooting.
It's time to fight like Americans.
That's the best thing for our troops - the best thing to give them a chance to come home and live the lives the rest of us enjoy.
And it's the best thing, ultimately, for Iraq.
Bob Lonsberry is a veteran journalist and talk-radio host.
http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/18538.htm

How popular is this opinion? I am particularly interested in how it relates to the level of patriotism in an opinion holder. Is a patriot required to think like this, is he/she simply inclined to think like this, or are the two orthogonal (independent) factors that accidentally coincided for this particular opinion carrier?


Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Jason Menard
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I wouldn't agree with everything the writer says. I don't think it has anything to do with Patriotism, that's for sure. I think it is a basic truism that it is preferable for 100 enemy soldiers to die than one of your own, but the key word is soldiers. But after that you just get into hypothetical situations. If enemy combatants are using civilians as shields while killing your own people, do you take them out regardless of the civilians if it is the only way to save your people? The answer in almost all cases has to be yes.
Do I believe that more troops, more arms, and more aggressive tactics should be used? My uninformed opinion would be yes, but I would like to think the Generals coordinating things are in a better position to answer this question.
[ April 15, 2004: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Axel Janssen
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:

Do I believe that more troops, more arms, and more aggressive tactics should be used? My uninformed opinion would be yes, but I would like to think the Generals coordinating things are in a better position to answer this question.

Hi,
I must say, that I fundamentally disagree with this logic.
I believe that the history of a country is something so complicated and based on so much factors, that you just can't gather enough information to conclude, if its good for the country to attack it or not.
For me history is like weather, where a simple flap of a butterfly can change everything.
If that country is a thread to other countries or to some minorities inside that country. Ok. You can attack it to defend.
But people of countries have the right to have their own history. If government decides to kill all people with green eyes (or something like that), than its ok to defend minority.
But its very, very, very delicate question. Lot of colonialism started with "defending" certain group.
Axel
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Axel Janssen:
I must say, that I fundamentally disagree with this logic.

Whether or not to attack is moot at this point. I understood the question to be relative to the present. In other words, given the current situation, should we go in with more troops, more arms, and more aggressive tactics.
When I was in Bosnia, the Serbs were tough to deal with. They didn't respect negotiation very much and weren't very receptive to it. Being 'nice' didn't buy us much with them. What did work was force. They learned through years of the Tito regime to respect strength, and it was only through a position of strength that they would respect us and work with us.
I know the situation is not the same in Iraq as it was in Bosnia, but my point is that some people in the world only respect strength. After 30 years of the Hussein regime, I wouldn't be surprised if the Iraqis in general are the same way. Being 'nice' simply will not achieve results with some people.
[ April 15, 2004: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Warren Dew
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    2
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
How popular is this opinion? I am particularly interested in how it relates to the level of patriotism in an opinion holder. Is a patriot required to think like this, is he/she simply inclined to think like this, or are the two orthogonal (independent) factors that accidentally coincided for this particular opinion carrier?

What makes you think this person is a patriot?
Mapraputa Is
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JM: I think it is a basic truism that it is preferable for 100 enemy soldiers to die than one of your own, but the key word is soldiers.
I also remember some similar slogans from WWII era. But that was when our country was attacked. I feel far less comfortable applying the same logic to the country *we* attacked.
I know the situation is not the same in Iraq as it was in Bosnia, but my point is that some people in the world only respect strength.
I bet that's what they think about Americans too. In fact, I read precisely these considerations on AlJazeera site (I think, it was AlJazeera), but I cannot find this quote now But anyway, Americans said they would capture or kill al-Sadr, well, now his militia is going to be simply dissolved and he go to exile...
WD: What makes you think this person is a patriot?
He is talking about "the arithmetic of patriotic battle" -- what do you think the word "patriotic" does here? I know I wouldn't use it in this context, so I wasn't sure how this arithmetic relates to the notion of patriotism.
[ April 15, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Warren Dew
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
He is talking about "the arithmetic of patriotic battle" -- what do you think the word "patriotic" does here?

I think it helps him attempt to use what the MD Fallacies page calls the "prejudicial fallacy" - by claiming that his opinion is the opinion of "all patriotic people".
In this way, he sidesteps rational argument pointing out his logical fallacies - for example pointing out that 'flattening Iraqi neighborhoods with B-52s' as he proposes would, far from saving marines, cause far more marines to die, because it would turn popular opinion against us, swelling the ranks of those Iraqis - currently very few - who are fighting against us, and making their job much easier.
Contrast this with Jason's view, which is what I consider patriotic. Unlike the columnist, Jason differentiates between 'enemy soldiers' and 'local civilians', and allows that the generals and people in charge, who are actually there, might actually be doing the right thing.
Michael Ernest
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The article is a nice way to dress up similar frustrations that surrounded Vietnam, to wit: why aren't we just bombing the crap out of these people? Which, we found out, didn't work. It satisfied, I gather, some need to express overwhelming might to the enemy. We took out a lot of trees. My own take on that show of force, good for show but not so good for actually knocking down material assets of the Viet Cong, is that the symbolic gesture of that approach ultimately led to some of our more brutal actions there.
Hearts-and-minds is where the victory lies. If your enemy will not surrender and will not change his mind, then your enemy offers you his own extinction as his defense, and it's a potent defense.
I can't think of too many American patriots who believe that steam-rolling through other countries is how we get things done.
[ April 15, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]

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Alan Labout
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
Whether or not to attack is moot at this point. I understood the question to be relative to the present. In other words, given the current situation, should we go in with more troops, more arms, and more aggressive tactics.

By "given the current situation" I assume you mean "now that we've already attacked." In other words, it's too late to debate the justness of this war because we're already fighting it? Interesting logic:

Step 1: Attack
Step 2: Argue that it's irrelevant to debate the merits of attacking because you can't undo the fact that you've already attacked.
Step 3: Proceed to Step 1
I mean, you're right of course. But maybe it's just that the rest of us are tired of being put in these situations where common sense becomes moot in the first place?
Rufus BugleWeed
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How popular is this opinion?

IMO, this author's frustration with the situation in Iraq is prevalent. Probably few would agree with him publicly.
A common phrase is, no good deed goes unpunished. I think most in the US would think that some portion of GWB's motivation is to improve the quality of life for Joe Iraqi. Now he has a fish out of the water on his hands.
Paul Stevens
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Originally posted by Alan Labout:

By "given the current situation" I assume you mean "now that we've already attacked." In other words, it's too late to debate the justness of this war because we're already fighting it? Interesting logic:

Step 1: Attack
Step 2: Argue that it's irrelevant to debate the merits of attacking because you can't undo the fact that you've already attacked.
Step 3: Proceed to Step 1
I mean, you're right of course. But maybe it's just that the rest of us are tired of being put in these situations where common sense becomes moot in the first place?

That has been discussed here and elsewhere. Just because you don't like the reasons does not mean it wasn't discussed.
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Alan Labout:
I mean, you're right of course. But maybe it's just that the rest of us are tired of being put in these situations where common sense becomes moot in the first place?

While I suspect I would disagree with your definition of what is and isn't "common sense", you are right in that there is no reason to discuss what you refer to as the justness of the actions. It's already been discussed, and I don't think I'm going to be able to change your mind, and I know you are not going to be able to change my mind, so we'd really just end up wasting bandwidth.
Maybe there's some middle ground that can be reached, but that seems rare when people's ideologies are at issue. In other words, I doubt we'd be having this conversation if the President right now was Bill Clinton or Al Gore. I know I'd be supporting the action still, and I suspect the idealogues who oppose things now would as well.
Jeroen Wenting
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Originally posted by Michael Ernest:
The article is a nice way to dress up similar frustrations that surrounded Vietnam, to wit: why aren't we just bombing the crap out of these people? Which, we found out, didn't work.
[ April 15, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]

You never bombed the crap out of Vietnam. Had the USAF been allowed to bomb whatever targets needed to be hit for military reasons at their discretion (and the other branches to similarly operate as required for military reasons) the outcome of that conflict would have been quite different.
As it is most militarilly important targets in Vietnam were barred from attack by US forces because there might be Chinese or Soviet "advisors" there and you don't want to "broaden the war" by having those hurt.
As a result the communists could operate with impunity, shooting at US forces who were not allowed to shoot back by their own commander in chief.
US forces were not allowed to interdict supply ships and trains.
How popular is this opinion? I am particularly interested in how it relates to the level of patriotism in an opinion holder. Is a patriot required to think like this, is he/she simply inclined to think like this, or are the two orthogonal (independent) factors that accidentally coincided for this particular opinion carrier?
I don't know if you see this as it should be seen, but the NYT has been staunchly anti-government about the entire Iraq issue since the beginning.
The entire text is highly sarcastic, the author means just the reverse from what he says and everyone knows it.


42
Alan Labout
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
Maybe there's some middle ground that can be reached, but that seems rare when people's ideologies are at issue. In other words, I doubt we'd be having this conversation if the President right now was Bill Clinton or Al Gore. I know I'd be supporting the action still, and I suspect the idealogues who oppose things now would as well.


So, basically your ideology is "I support the war, no matter who leads it" while mine is "I support Bill Clinton and Al Gore regardless of what their policies are"? Kinda a simplistic way of looking at it, don't you think?

Alan
Mapraputa Is
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JW: I don't know if you see this as it should be seen, but the NYT has been staunchly anti-government about the entire Iraq issue since the beginning.
So what? This opinion was published in New York Post.
The entire text is highly sarcastic, the author means just the reverse from what he says and everyone knows it.
Now are *you* serious or you mean just the reverse from what you say?
That made me very sad 20 years ago in Fort Knox, and my feelings became more somber over the years as my own son grew to that age and he and his friends, lads I had known since they were in diapers, were the age and the stature of my former comrades.
We send boys to fight our wars.

Definitely the text is full of sarcasm. Jeroen, this is the last time I am responding to your posts, unless you decide to start making sense.
[ April 16, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Marcus Green
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"You never bombed the crap out of Vietnam."
According to
http://www.landscaper.net/timelin.htm
"Bomb tonnage dropped during the Vietnam War amounted to
1,000 lbs. for every man, woman and child in Vietnam."
I believe that 1,000 lbs can cause quite an explosion but it's not my area of knowledge.


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Jeroen Wenting
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yes, and most of that was dropped on empty forests and over the sea because the real targets were off limits...
Paul Stevens
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

Definitely the text is full of sarcasm. Jeroen, this is the last time I am responding to your posts, unless you decide to start making sense.
[ April 16, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

What was so hard to understand about his post?
Mapraputa Is
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Nothing. When somebody says that 2+2=198 is it hard to understand?
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Alan Labout:
Step 1: Attack
Step 2: Argue that it's irrelevant to debate the merits of attacking because you can't undo the fact that you've already attacked.
Step 3: Proceed to Step 1

[faded smiley]


"Thanks to Indian media who has over the period of time swiped out intellectual taste from mass Indian population." - Chetan Parekh
Axel Janssen
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:

As it is most militarilly important targets in Vietnam were barred from attack by US forces because there might be Chinese or Soviet "advisors" there and you don't want to "broaden the war" by having those hurt.
As a result the communists could operate with impunity, shooting at US forces who were not allowed to shoot back by their own commander in chief.
US forces were not allowed to interdict supply ships and trains.

Every war takes place inside a political context. Political context is like quality/quantity of weapons, skill/motivation of soldiers.
Vietcong won the war. If this were good for Vietnam is different question.
Paul Stevens
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Nothing. When somebody says that 2+2=198 is it hard to understand?

That doesn't say anything. What exactly did you not understand perhaps he can then have a chance at clarifying his point. You just dismissed him and all his posts without pointing out why.
Your posts don't lead to understanding what his point was. You just belittled him and his ideas.
[b]MAP: Definitely the text is full of sarcasm. Jeroen, this is the last time I am responding to your posts, unless you decide to start making sense.[b]
You could have asked for clarification, instead ... His post making sense and you understanding the point of his post are 2 different things.
Mapraputa Is
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Paul, he said that communists killed 100 millions of Soviet people. When I shown that this is a demographic absurd, he simply didn't reply. He simply continued to post nonsense in other threads. If I will post 123 times that Americans killed 100 millions of Blacks and 230,565 Indians and never bother to provide any kind of evidence, perhaps after 124th post you'll start to ignore me?
[ April 17, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Paul Stevens
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Paul, he said that communists killed 100 millions of Soviet people. When I shown that this is a demographic absurd, he simply didn't reply. He simply continued to post nonsense in other threads. If I will post 123 times that Americans killed 100 millions of Blacks and 230,565 Indians and never bother to provide any kind of evidence, perhaps after 124th post you'll start to ignore me?
[ April 17, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

I did not see the other posts and am only going on the context of what was written in this thread.
Jason Menard
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Hey Jeroen, I just wanted to mention that i find your arguments generally pretty cogent and quite appreciate them.
Mapraputa Is
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Well, Ok then.
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Nothing. When somebody says that 2+2=198 is it hard to understand?

Its easy to understand, if you dont know arithmetics.
Problem lies in you Map, you know arithmetics and you question the wrong answer.
Marcus Green
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"yes, and most of that was dropped on empty forests and over the sea"
Jeroem, how do you mean by most?. It's not a version of the bombing of Vietnam I am familiar with, where can I find out more?. I had been under the impression that quite a significant amount of those 7 million tonnes of bombs caused some injury (and even quite a few deaths).
[ April 18, 2004: Message edited by: Marcus Green ]
Mapraputa Is
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Between 1965 and 1968, the United States steadily expanded its war effort in Vietnam, relying on its wealth, its formidable military weaponry, and its modern technology to defeat a seemingly primitive enemy. In a bombing program called Rolling Thunder, the United States expanded the tonnage of bombs dropped on North Vietnam from 63,000 in 1965 to 226,000 in 1967, inflicting an estimated $600 million damage on an already underdeveloped economy. Eventually, the United States would drop more bombs on the small country than were dropped by all nations in all theaters in World War II! Seeking to deny the enemy food and cover, the United States sprayed more than 100 million pounds of chemicals such as Agent Orange over millions of acres of forests, destroying an estimated one-half of South Vietnam’s timberlands and exacting horrendous human and ecological costs.
http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=156&eid=230§ion=essay&page=3

[ April 18, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
John Smith
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Map: Seeking to deny the enemy food and cover, the United States sprayed more than 100 million pounds of chemicals such as Agent Orange over millions of acres of forests, destroying an estimated one-half of South Vietnam´┐Żs timberlands and exacting horrendous human and ecological costs.
This is pretty disturbing. I am lazy to do my own research, so I am relying on Jason to explain it, -- there sure must be a way out of the corner.
Joe Pluta
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Just trying to figure out what this thread is about. There was initially a comment about Iraq, but it's devolved into a rehashing of Vietnam. This usually means that there wasn't enough anti-America rhetoric for someone. Whenever people want to slam America, they either dredge up slavery or Vietnam.
Is there any sort of new point to be made here? Or is it just another session of America bashing? I don't really care; my life is a lot easier since I realized that for some people MD isn't a discussion forum, but more like a wall to scrawl insulting graffiti on, and that I wasn't going to change that. If you'll notice, even though I've hardly been participating, the tension level is as high as always, so it wasn't me .
But I am interested to know what purpose bringing up the Vietnam War serves. Unless someone is trying to say that Vietnam and Iraq are the same, there's nothing here but vitriol. Keep along this road and we'll get to Japanese internment camps or Palestine or Hitler soon, and you can forget about any semblance of discussion. And even if there are some similarities, I can't for the life of me figure out what Agent Orange has to do with today's issues (other than veteran's rights, which is clearly not the point of this thread).
Really, I'm baffled. 70-year-old war plans, 35-year-old wars... this is like hearing an old married couple argue about something one of them did when they were in high school.
Joe
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Whenever people want to slam America, they either dredge up slavery or Vietnam.
But you don't mind when people post that communists killed (in 1930-s!!!) 100 million of Soviet citizens (out of 120 that were available)?
And even if there are some similarities, I can't for the life of me figure out what Agent Orange has to do with today's issues (other than veteran's rights, which is clearly not the point of this thread).
I thought that Vietnamese are human beings also?
[ April 18, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Jim Yingst
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But you don't mind when people post that communists killed (in 1930-s!!!) 100 million of Soviet citizens (out of 120 that were available)?
Sigh... Joe's comment about the old married couple certainly seems apropos.
I thought that Vietnamese are human beings also?
Ummmm... yes. I don't see how that answers Joe's question. Unless you're saying that any post about human beings is on-topic.
For what it's worth, in the original article you link to, it does seems to me that the author probably meant his comments to be taken ironically, rather than seriously. at least towards the end. But it's not entirely clear to me what they really meant to say. I'm not familiar with the author to be able to guess what they really think. This may be another example where failure to speak plainly just leads to confusion.


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Mapraputa Is
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Sigh... Joe's comment about the old married couple certainly seems apropos.
Agree with you. It's equally maddening when people post nonsense about America, and when they post nonsense about other countries.
For what it's worth, in the original article you link to, it does seems to me that the author probably meant his comments to be taken ironically, rather than seriously. at least towards the end.
The war has been over now for more than twenty-five years, but its legacies endure for both nations. The Vietnamese are still struggling to modernize their economy and to repair the damages of war. For the United States, especially among the so-called Vietnam generation, the divisions wrought by the war—divisions so brilliantly captured in Hearts and Minds—still endure. The Vietnam generation is just now gaining political power, and it is certain that until that generation passes from the scene, the war it fought, opposed, and avoided, will continue to be the defining event.

I learnt that I have some serious problems with my sense of humor. What exactly you think the author wants to be read ironically?
For the Vietnamese, the consequences were more immediate and serious. Millions of Vietnamese died in the war, and there were an estimated 300,000 missing in action. The landscape was devastated from thirty years of fighting, and the economic consequences were huge.

LoL
But what about this:
We've forgotten the arithmetic of patriotic battle: That it's better for a hundred of them to die than for one of us to die.

Do you agree with Jeroen that the text "is highly sarcastic, the author means just the reverse from what he says"? I need to figure how to adjust my sense of humor to "American" level...
[ April 18, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Joe Pluta
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Map: But you don't mind when people post that communists killed (in 1930-s!!!) 100 million of Soviet citizens (out of 120 that were available)?
I guess that's a bad thing. If you want to fight with someone about how many people were killed by communists, I'm the wrong guy. I am perfectly willing to grant that some number less than 100 million were killed by communists. I was just pointing out that Vietnam and Agent Orange have nothing to do with the original post.
Joe
Paul Stevens
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

Agree with you. It's equally maddening when people post nonsense about America, and when they post nonsense about other countries.

Isn't that the truth. Care to do the arithmetic on which country has had more nonsense posted about it?
John Smith
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I was just pointing out that Vietnam and Agent Orange have nothing to do with the original post.
This thread is about the cost of war. As such, I see that it is perfectly apropos to compare the various wars that America (and perhaps other countries) were involved, to come up with some formula that would yield the good/bad ratio. That ratio would probably be low for the Vietnam War, high for the WW2 War, somewhere in the middle for the First Iraq War, and between the middle and the bottom for the Second Iraq War.
Qualitatively, there must be a point on the curve where the risks and damages caused by the war overwhelm the benefits. Some sort of point where the second derivative is equal to zero.
I didn't see any evidence of America's bashing here (unless you consciousnessly look for it). Rather, it's an attempt to understand the wars as a conventional means to resolve the differences, the means that have not evolved much in the last 3,000 years or so, despite our proclaimed victories in science, humanity, technology, and quality of life.
Joe Pluta
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Oh gosh, Eugene. Only you can come up with the "second derivatives" of the "good/bad ratios" of war. To me, the entire comment makes as much sense as a Joyceian novel.
"Pinck 2 poncks that bail for seeks alicence where cumsceptres with scentaurs stay. Bear in mind, son of Hokmah, if so be you have metheg in your midness, this man is mountain and unto changeth doth one ascend."
(Finnegan's Wake)

It's most definitely not worth the time to argue. You may want to rate wars on some personal goodness scale, but I can think of little that is less useful.
Joe
John Smith
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Oh gosh, Eugene. Only you can come up with the "second derivatives" of the "good/bad ratios" of war. To me, the entire comment makes as much sense as a Joyceian novel.
Well, it's nothing new between us, isn't it? There is a well known Russian poem which states that "You can't see a face when you are face to face, the goodness is seen at a distance". I always tried to take you with me to Jupiter to see what's on Earth, but you chose to stay with gravity. In the end, we just have two different perspectives, and who is to say which one is more valid and makes more sense?
With love as always.
Joe Pluta
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In the end, we just have two different perspectives, and who is to say which one is more valid and makes more sense?
Why, I am, of course. Because it's not about some sort of magical fixed point from which validity can be measured, but instead it's how valid the discussion is to me. And for me, that's entirely based on whether there is anything useful to be derived, such as the ability to better determine which candidate to vote for, or which cause to support.
For me, rehashing the pros and cons of Vietnam provides precious little value, unless there is a direct, concrete correlation to something today. And the second derivative of the good/bad ratio just ain't concrete enough, it's more like marshmallow fluff for the mind.
Joe
 
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subject: The arithmetic of patriotic battle