Je Vous Dis, Merde! 20: On the Completely Messed-Up Immorality of Trump’s Syrian Missile Strike and Afghanistan MOAB Drop

A video still of a burned and damaged hangar at Al Shayrat air base on Friday, the day after a United States missile strike.

Last Thursday this happened, as reported by the New York Times on 6 April:

Dozens of U.S. Missiles Hit Air Base in Syria

By MICHAEL R. GORDON, HELENE COOPER and MICHAEL D. SHEAR

APRIL 6, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Thursday night that the United States had carried out a missile strike in Syria in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack this week, which killed more than 80 civilians.

“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Mr. Trump said in remarks at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

Mr. Trump — who was accompanied by senior advisers, including Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist; Reince Priebus, his chief of staff; his daughter Ivanka Trump; and others — said his decision had been prompted in part by what he called the failures by the world community to respond effectively to the Syrian civil war.

“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically,” the president said, referring to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. “As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen, and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.”

The Pentagon announced that 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles had been fired at Al Shayrat airfield in Syria. The missiles were aimed at Syrian fighter jets, hardened aircraft shelters, radar equipment, ammunition bunkers, sites for storing fuel and air defense systems.

During the week since President Trump’s Syrian missile strike, some have “lauded” it, some, like the Russians, have called it “a disgraceful act,” and a great many other people are simply confused about it.

Now that the initial impressions have been recorded, however, let’s think more carefully about it.

The question I want to ask is: was Trump’s Syrian missile strike morally permissible?

And the answer I’m going to give is this:

“No, Trump’s Syrian missile strike was not only morally impermissible and completely morally messed-up, but also downright Machiavellian.”

My argument has three steps.

First, we need to formulate a pair of guiding moral principles about uses of force.

All human persons, aka people, are

  • absolutely intrinsically, uncountably infinitely valuable, beyond all possible economics, which means they have dignity, and (ii) autonomous rational animals, which means they can act freely for good reasons, and above all they are (iii) morally obligated to respect each other and to be actively concerned for each other’s well-being and happiness, as well as their own well-being and happiness.

Therefore, it is rationally unjustified and immoral to undermine or violate people’s human dignity, under any circumstances.

That’s the first moral principle we need.

Next, by coercion I mean:

  • either (i) using violence (e.g. injuring, torturing, or killing) or the threat of violence, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (primary coercion), or (ii) inflicting appreciable, salient harm (e.g. imprisonment, termination of employment, large monetary penalties) or deploying the threat of appreciable, salient harm, even if these are not in themselves violent, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (secondary coercion).

So all coercion is manipulation.

Now arbitrarily coercing other people is rationally unjustified and immoral because it undermines and violates their human dignity.

That means manipulating, threatening, or killing other people

  • either (i) for no good reason or
  • (ii) for no reason at all, much less a good reason.

But “for no good reason” does not imply that there could be a good reason for coercion: all manipulation is inherently bad.

People who act coercively either have bad motivating reasons for so acting (e.g., selfishness), or simply coerce without a reason, in a spontaneously bad way.

Therefore, whether it is primary or secondary, non-arbitrary or arbitrary, all coercion is immoral, and should be carefully distinguished from what I will call minimal sufficiently effective, last resort, defensive, protective, and preventive moral force:

  • as a last resort, only either using the smallest sufficiently effective level of violence or threat of violence, or deploying the smallest sufficiently effective threat of appreciable, salient harm, in order to defend against, protect against, or prevent, oneself or someone else being primarily or secondarily coerced, or having their human dignity directly violated.

In other words, minimal sufficiently effective, last resort, defensive, protective moral force is morally permissible, precisely because its fundamental aim is to support and sustain human dignity.

That’s the second moral principle we need.

Second, we can now ask the even more carefully focused question: “Was Trump’s Syrian missile strike an example of minimal sufficiently effective, last resort, defensive, protective moral force?”

No, it wasn’t.

Although Trump claimed, by way of justification, that “[i]t is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons” (boldface added), this appeal to prevention would have been a relevant reason only prior to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

Therefore, Trump’s real purpose was deterrence and retaliation.

But deterrence is non-arbitrary coercion, and retaliation is arbitrary coercion.

And all coercion, whether primary or secondary, non-arbitrary or arbitrary, is immoral.

Therefore, Trump’s Syrian missile strike was immoral.

And not only that: this is a man who thinks it’s right to send missiles into Syria, when all it will do is kill even more Syrians and blow things up, but wrong to let refugees from Mexico, or refugee Muslims, whether for economic or political reasons, into the USA.

But that’s just like thinking it’s right to shoot anyone whatsoever, or blow up anything whatsoever, just for pissing you off , but wrong to help starving or politically persecuted people who knock at your door.

So Trump’s Syrian missile strike was not only immoral, but also completely morally messed-up.

OK. That’s my basic conclusion.

Third, here’s another closely related line of moral-political thinking.

It is entirely obvious that the Russian response to Trump’s Syrian missile strike was both sheer hypocrisy and also classic Cold War-style, KGB-style mind-control, aka MINDFUCK, since it is well-known that, under the neofascist, neoliberal, former KGB officer Putin’s regime, the Russians have already been ruthless, evil, coercive aggressors on many occasions, and especially by proxy, via their ruthless, evil, coercive al-Assad client regime in Syria.

And let us suppose further, as I claimed in early January, that Trump is The Siberian Candidate.

In any case, it is certainly true that Trump, various members of his Presidential campaign team, and various members of his administration, are currently under serious investigation for (as it seems, now supported by CIA evidence) colluding with the Russians during the 2016 US Presidential election campaign.

That all being so, it seems self-evident that Trump’s Syrian missile strike was

(i) not only immoral, and

(ii) not only a case of opportunistic political grandstanding in order to look like a big, tough Presidential strongman and shore up his abysmal Presidential approval ratings, but also

(iii) a downright Machiavellian scheme, in collusion with the Russians, in order to give the appearance of not colluding with the Russians.

That, in turn, would neatly explain this, as reported in the New York Times on 12 April:

U.S. Takes Sharper Tone on Russia’s Role in Syria

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and DAVID E. SANGER

APRIL 12, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson sought on Wednesday to isolate President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for backing the Syrian government in the wake of its lethal chemical weapons attack on civilians, and worked to build international pressure on Moscow to change course.

In Washington, Moscow and New York, the Trump administration publicly chastised Mr. Putin but privately worked to hash out increasingly bitter differences with him. At the same time, Mr. Trump embraced NATO — a military alliance he had previously derided as obsolete — as an effective and vital force for peace and security in a region where Russia has been an aggressive actor.

During his presidential campaign, and in his early days in office, Mr. Trump’s approach to foreign policy included speaking warmly of Mr. Putin and the prospects of a United States alliance with Russia. He had also questioned the usefulness of NATO, and the concept of an alliance for common defense to counterbalance Moscow’s belligerence.

In an interview that aired on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Putin was partly to blame for the conflict in Syria and denounced him for backing President Bashar al-Assad, whom he called an “animal.” Later at the White House, Mr. Trump said that Russia had likely known in advance of the Syrian government’s plan to unleash a nerve agent against its own people, and asserted that the United States’ relations with Moscow were at an “all-time low.”

Yes folks, an “all-time low.”

And speaking of all-time lows, this appeared on CNN this morning:

First on CNN: US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan

By Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne, CNN

Washington (CNN)The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, nicknamed MOAB, was dropped at 7 p.m. local time Thursday, the sources said.

The MOAB is also known as the “mother of all bombs.” A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, according to the military sources.

They said the target was an ISIS tunnel and cave complex as well as personnel in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

The military is currently assessing the damage. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, signed off on the use of the bomb, according to the sources. Authority had to be sought from Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command.

This is the first time a MOAB has been used in the battlefield, according to the US officials. This munition was developed during the Iraq War.

Or in other words, Trump is saying: “Only a REALLY big, tough Presidential strongman, who’s NOT colluding with the Russians, could EVER drop a bomb that looks like THIS — ”

Exercise for the Reader: Generalize the above argument about Trump’s Syrian missile strike, to Trump’s Afghanistan MOAB drop.

So all in all, to Trump’s Syrian missile strike, and now also to Trump’s Afghanistan MOAB drop,

Je vous dis, merde!

***

“Je vous dis, merde!” (literally, “I say to you: shit!” or more loosely, “You’re so full of shit!”) is a morally and politically defiant slogan invented and first published by an early 20th-century Catalan anarchist who used the nom de guerre “Miguel Almereyda.” Almereyda, who was murdered in a French prison in 1917, was also the father of the famous French film director Jean Vigo, who immortalized the same slogan in his breakthrough 1933 film, Zéro de conduite, aka Zero for Conduct.

Here is the seven-part platform of The Wake The Fuck Up! Party , aka The WTFU Party —

1. Universal Respect for Human Dignity (URHD):

· Human dignity is the absolute non-denumerable moral value of every member of humanity, and everyone ought to try wholeheartedly to treat everyone else in a way that is sufficient to meet the demands of respect for human dignity, especially including (i) alleviating or ending human oppression, and (ii) actively engaging in mutual aid and mutual kindness.

2. Universal Basic Income (UBI):

· Anyone 21 years of age or over and living permanently in the USA, who has a personal yearly income of $50,000.00 USD or less, and who is capable of requesting their UBI, would receive $25,000.00 USD per year, with no strings attached.

3. A 15-Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs (FHW-for-UNBJs):

· Anyone 18 years of age or older who is living permanently in the USA, who has completed a high school education, and is mentally and physically capable of doing a job, would be offered an eco-job, paying a yearly wage of $25,000.00 USD, for fifteen hours of work (three 5-hour days) per week.

Thus anyone 21 years of age or older with a high-school degree and who is also mentally and physically capable of working, would have a guaranteed yearly income of at least $50,000.00 USD if they chose to do an eco-job.

The rationale behind the three-year gap between (i) being offered an eco-job at 18 and (ii) beginning to receive their UBI at 21, is that every young adult who has finished high school will have the option of pursuing three years of part-time or full-time free higher education without credentialing, i.e., for its own sake, after high school, before making longer-term decisions about what I call job-work and life-work.

***

Here are a few more details about UBI and eco-jobs.

(i) The UBI is to be paid by a monthly stipend check.

(ii) Eco-job income is not taxed.

(iii) For all individual yearly incomes of $50,000.00 USD or under, no tax will be levied; hence for someone receiving their UBI and also doing an eco-job, no income tax will be levied.

(iv) For all individual non-eco-job incomes, for every $1.00 USD earned above the standard UBI of $25,000.00 USD, the monthly UBI stipend is reduced by 50 cents, until the recipient’s UBI is reduced to zero; hence for those individuals with yearly non-eco-job incomes equal to or under $50,000.00 USD, the maximum UBI + non-eco-job income sum is always $50,000.00 USD.

(v) For all individual yearly incomes over $50,000.00 USD, for every $10,000.00 USD earned, that surplus income is taxed at the rate of 1%, with the highest surplus income tax rate being 50%; hence the maximum surplus 50% tax rate starts at individual yearly incomes of $550,000.00 USD, and applies to all higher surplus incomes.

***

4. Universal Free Higher Education Without Credentialing (HEWC):

· Everyone would be offered, beyond their high-school education, a free, three-year minimum, optional (but also open-ended beyond those three years, as a further option), part-time or full-time universal public education program in the so-called “liberal arts,” and also in some of the so-called “STEM” fields, including the humanities, the fine arts, the social sciences, mathematics, and the natural sciences.

· For many or even most people, their HEWC would fall between (i) the end of their high school education at age 18 and the corresponding availability of eco-jobs, and (ii) the beginning of their UBI at age 21.

· But HEWC would be open to anyone with a high school degree, no matter how old they are, provided they are mentally and physically capable of doing the program.

5. Universal Free Healthcare (UFH):

· Every human person living permanently in the USA will receive free lifelong healthcare.

6. 2-Phase Universal Open Borders (2P-UOB):

· Phase 1: Starting in 2021, there will be universal open borders with Canada and Mexico, and everyone who moves across those borders and then claims residence in the USA, will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the USA, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents to depend on the current availability of (i) adequate funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the USA, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

· Phase 2: Also starting in 2021, the USA, Canada, and Mexico will collectively form a Global Refugee Consortium (GRC), with three-way open borders to any political refugee, economic refugee, or asylum seeker from anywhere in the world (aka “global refugees”), who will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA, Canada, or Mexico, and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs/eco-jobs, and UFH in the three GRC countries, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents, and the precise distribution of new residents among the three members of the GRC, to depend on the current availability of (i) funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the three GRC countries, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the GRC and elsewhere in the world.

7. Universal No-Guns (UNG):

· No one in the USA, including police, internal security forces of all kinds, armies, and intelligence forces of all kinds, has the moral right to possess or use guns of any kind, for any purpose whatsoever, because the primary function of guns is coercion, and coercion is immoral.

· UNG would be implemented by repealing the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in 2021 and then universally banning the possession or use of guns thereafter.

I’m also assuming that Universal Public Education (UPE) — universal free access for all human persons of any age to good public education up to the end of high school — already exists in most countries, and needs no further justification.

Where UPE does not already exist, it would automatically become a necessary part of the seven-part WTFU Party package, thereby making it a eight-part package.

Mr Nemo, Nowhere, NA, 13 April 2017

The WTFU Party is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

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