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This House Believes There Can Be A Just War

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#1
Vesper

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Not even going to pretend I thought this one up. I just thought it was time for a new debate.

Context:

War is always evil, but some thinkers have maintained that under limited circumstances it may be the lesser evil. From Cicero to St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas to Hugo Grotius, philosophers and theologians have proposed numerous criteria for determining if a war is just. According to contemporary Just War Theory, a war is just only if it meets the six conditions presented in the following debate. The theory is underwritten by the dual assumptions that the moral reality of war is not fixed by the actual activities of soldiers but by the opinions of mankind and that the truth is we want, even in war, to act or to seem to act morally. It has been formulated to prevent war, not justify it; a nation must satisfy all six conditions or the war is not just. The theory is designed to show states the rigorous criteria they must meet to justify the use of violence and prompt them to find other ways of resolving conflicts.

Points For (counterpoints are marked in red):

1) Just Cause - Wars are just if the cause is just. Nations should be allowed to defend themselves from aggression, just as individuals are permitted to defend themselves against violence. In the UN Charter, signed in the wake of World War II, article 2, paragraph 4 altogether prohibits the use or threat of force with only self-defence, as stated in article 51, permitted as a justification to the resort to arms.
Just cause is an elastic concept. Who determines what is “aggression”? Could violating a disputed border region (e.g. Ethopia-Eritrea, Pakistan-India) or imposing economic sanctions (e.g on North Korea) be aggression? And if a state is unable to defend itself, can another state intervene militarily on its behalf? These borderline cases make invoking this criterion very problematic.

2) Right Intention - The intentions behind the war must be good. States have the right to use war to restore a just peace, to help the innocent, or to right a wrong. For example, the US and NATO were justified in using force in Bosnia and Kosovo. Waging war was far more ethical than standing by and permitting genocide and “ethnic cleansing”.
Reality is a lot murkier than theory. How are we to determine a state’s intent? Sometimes good intentions are bound up with bad; public justifications for war may not always represent the real reasons. And who is determine if a peace is just or a wrong has been committed? The nation initiating the war will use its own values to justify its intentions, and these values may be at odds with those of the other party to the conflict. Furthermore, it is altogether possible to fight a war for selfish motives and nevertheless protect civilians and reduce suffering in so doing.

3) Legitimate Authority - The war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority. This prevents inappropriate, terrorist-style chaos, and ensures that other rules of war will be observed. For example, when states declare war, they generally follow specific legislative procedures; a guaranteed respect for such procedures is likely to ensure that the nation will respect international humanitarian law, formally codified in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and updated in the Additional Protocols of 1977.
Many nations wage war without official declaration (e.g. the USA’s involvement in Vietnam) and act unilaterally instead. Such unilateralism does not necessarily lead to an inevitable circumvention of the Geneva Conventions, it merely avoids the bureaucracy necessary to draw authoritative approval. Moreover, who is to decide which entities can and cannot issue calls to arms? Legitimate authorities have sanctioned some of the most horrific wars in history.


4) Last Resort - War must be a last resort. The state is justified in using armed force only after it has tried all non-violent alternatives. Sometimes peaceful measures – diplomacy, economic sanctions, international pressure, or condemnation from other nations – simply do not work, but they must at least be tried in order to give every chance for a peaceful resolution to a crisis.
Sometimes going to war before all alternatives are exhausted is the most moral action. For example, a nation might decide to go to war if it determines that waiting would enable to the enemy to increase its strength and to do much more damage than an early war would have inflicted. This, after all, is the bitter lesson of the failure of appeasement in the 1930s. Waiting might allow an invading state to entrench itself so that far greater force would be necessary to remove it at a later date.

5) Proportionality - The goal of the war should be proportional to the offense, and the benefits proportional to the costs. For example, when an attacker violates a nation’s border, a proportionate response might extend to restoring the border, not sacking the attackers’ capital. A war must prevent more suffering than it causes.
The Coalition that formed under the aegis of the United Nations to repel the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait fought a proportional conflict to the extent that they did not march on Baghdad after they had pushed the Iraqi Army out of the occupied territory.
We have seen that a proportional response frequently doesn’t work. Suicide bombers continue to blow up victims in the Middle East despite the response. Why should a nation tolerate continued aggression for the sake of proportionality? And if a nation knows it is likely to be attacked, why should it wait to disarm the aggressor? Is not pre-emptive action justified to prevent the loss of innocent life? Finally, what of deterrence: a vigorous response to an aggressive act may not be strictly proportionate, but by making all potential aggressors think twice about future actions, it can be justified as saving more suffering in the long run.


6) Chance of Success - The war must have a reasonable chance of success. War always involves a loss of life, but expending life with no possibility of achieving a goal is unacceptable. Thus, if a fighting force cannot achieve its goal, however just, it should not proceed. Charging an enemy’s cannons on horseback or throwing troops at a pointless occupation are clearly not just actions.
Sometimes it is morally imperative to fight against overwhelming odds, as resistance fighters did in World War II. Also this condition may give large nations free rein to bully small ones because they could not win a war. It also may cause a country to surrender in a war it might actually win. Weak countries have won wars against powerful ones – look at the American Revolution. Finally, the point at which a war became unwinnable, and therefore unjust by this definition, is often only identifiable with hindsight – consider the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, or the American involvement in Vietnam.



Points Against:

1) War Is Always Unjust - The formulation of the just war doctrine, a moral framework for the institution of war, inadvertently serves to legitimise its activities and inherent barbarity. It undermines the intuitive norm against warfare by emphasizing the ‘just’ and undercutting the ‘war’, leading to a framing of public discourse whereby anti-war campaigners can be presented and ostracized as traitors and soldiers, even of aggressor nations, heroes.
In many religions war can never be legitimised for example in Buddhism “War happens. Buddhism does not deny such facts. It tries to understand how war happens. But Buddhism never accepts or legitimizes war as necessary or “just.” One naturally defends oneself when attacked. One may prevent someone from doing harm to others. Neither, however, justify harming the alleged or imagined perpetrator/aggressor.

War is a necessary element in international affairs when there is no scope for diplomacy and conditions dictate that force is necessary to prevent or stop suffering. Few would argue that the United States was acting unjustly in entering the 2nd World War, or that more generally the defeat of the Nazis was an unjust act on the behalf of the Allies.
Furthermore, just war theory has little to say on the overall existence of war, but merely seeks to regulate war as a permanent feature of international society. War, as an institution and a human activity, has existed for as long as there have been political communities. The resort to force is therefore not one made due merely to a belief in its legitimacy but a belief in its utility. Just war theory acts therefore as a series of moral criteria to regulate the resort to warfare in order to prevent, rather than exacerbate, war for war’s sake. It recognizes the ‘war is hell’ mentality and is, if anything, born from it, encouraging a resort to force only in cases where diplomacy is unable to function and war is strictly necessary. Even then, jus in bello principles apply to regulate the conflict itself, ensuring that a just war does not descend into the use of illegitimate means and methods of warfare. It does not purport to comment on the matter of the existence of warfare, merely recognises its occurrence and seeks to regulate both its regularity and bloodshed.

2) The Just War Doctrine Encourages Resort To War - The just war doctrine establishes a framework for leaders to justify the resort to force in any given situation whereby they can find ostensible evidence for all the necessary criteria. It, in other words, leaves war on the table constantly as an option; diplomatic negotiations and bargaining must succeed with the constant shadow of war looming as not only a realistic eventuality, but an eventuality that could potentially be deemed ‘just’ by either side. Any such doctrine therefore renders the resort to war as far too permissive, and encourages the false presumptions of aggressive states that their motives are not only self-serving but legitimate.
War has always been an option in international affairs; few rulers before just war theory was developed felt constrained by the absence of such a moral framework. What the just war criterion provide for is a regulatory framework whereby war cannot break out before at least one side satisfies the criterion. As such, this ensures a temporal space for diplomatic negotiations to play out and if necessary, for either top-down pressure from more powerful states or bottom-up pressure from the public to alleviate any desire for war.

3) Just War Doctrine Is An Anachronism - The ‘Global War on Terror’, according to the Bush administration and its legal team, ushered in a new ‘paradigm’ of warfare. Characterised by non-state actors, acting across international borders, often from failed states, just war theory is arguably out of its depth in dealing with it. The United States’ war in Afghanistan was not proportional, had little prospect of success in eradicating the ideology of Al-Qaeda itself and certainly was not a last resort, but nevertheless many felt it was ‘just’ in 2001.
The traditional just war framework may be difficult to apply to the contemporary war on terror, but whilst war remains, we must possess the just war framework as a strategic tool to both prevent and regulate its occurrence. Whilst they may involve the alteration of certain criteria, as has happened throughout its history, it does not suggest it has lost all use. The Bush administration’s attempts to circumvent the jus in bello principles of non-combatant immunity were stalled, albeit belatedly, by widespread public disapproval, proving the basis for just war thinking is not in vain idealism but moral intuition. Therefore the just war doctrine is not only necessary but to an extent, innate.


Further Notes:

Source

Also, Mod Team - Please pin this.


Questions

1) Do you believe there can ever be such a thing as a just war?

2) Can negotiations ever be held with radicalist groups such as Al-Qaeda, or is violence the only move against them?

3) Do you believe warfare has changed for good since the 21st Century started?

4) Do you believe there is still a place for the UN in today's world of warfare?

#2
frunsi

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#3
Black Dynamite

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An excellent example of how the art of gif and image placement is a very fine art that few have mastered.
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#4
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An excellent example of how the art of gif and image placement is a very fine art that few have mastered.


Not funny. I am actually intensely not amused by the guy above this post. This is a debate. Not a spam thread.
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#5
Black Dynamite

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Not funny. I am actually intensely not amused by the guy above this post. This is a debate. Not a spam thread.


That's why I said that, I had a feeling you wouldn't be too pleased with the image posted. :P

I'll post an actual reply when I have the time. :)

#6
charlatans&saints

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according to the catholic church in order for the war to be just all of those requirements must be met. if even one of them is violated then the war is not just.

#7
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according to the catholic church in order for the war to be just all of those requirements must be met. if even one of them is violated then the war is not just.


I don't really see how the catholic church has anything to do with war. Surely even if I believed in God then war and Him are completely incompatible?

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frunsi

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now my actual opinion after reading it all the way through:
i think there is no just war if innocent people or people who have nothing to do with the issue that caused the war get harmed or killed (including the requirements listed above). this excludes most of all the wars i ever heard of. if there is a terrorist organization that wants to enslave everybody and take over the whole world, the force that has to destroy that organization should not kill anyone else than the members of the organization. sure, if someone would die for the terrorists to be killed, he may do that. but in every other case, there is no such thing like "greater good" and "innocent people who must die for a better world".

#9
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now my actual opinion after reading it all the way through:
i think there is no just war if innocent people or people who have nothing to do with the issue that caused the war get harmed or killed (including the requirements listed above). this excludes most of all the wars i ever heard of. if there is a terrorist organization that wants to enslave everybody and take over the whole world, the force that has to destroy that organization should not kill anyone else than the members of the organization. sure, if someone would die for the terrorists to be killed, he may do that. but in every other case, there is no such thing like "greater good" and "innocent people who must die for a better world".


How do you suppose a governing body or a countries armed forces would go about doing that? Sounds like extremely difficult terms to me. What about doing things for the greater good?

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How do you suppose a governing body or a countries armed forces would go about doing that? Sounds like extremely difficult terms to me. What about doing things for the greater good?

it's hypothetic. i could have picked any example.

#11
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it's hypothetic. i could have picked any example.


And I'm being the opposition. In a debate you need to back up your arguments.

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frunsi

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What about doing things for the greater good?

one can do things for the greater good if he wants to, but he should not be forced.

And I'm being the opposition. In a debate you need to back up your arguments.

so i should name a source which says that no innocent people should be killed for a greater good? that's an opinion, not a fact.

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so i should name a source which says that no innocent people should be killed for a greater good? that's an opinion, not a fact.


Generally it's not a debate if people just state their opinion and leave. Bryony was keeping the debate going. If there's no fact saying innocent people shouldn't be killed (and there really doesn't need to be a fact) you could at least explain why you feel that way.

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Generally it's not a debate if people just state their opinion and leave. Bryony was keeping the debate going. If there's no fact saying innocent people shouldn't be killed (and there really doesn't need to be a fact) you could at least explain why you feel that way.

i explained why i feel that way with a hypothesis. bryony disagreed, but not with my argument. she disagreed with the hypothesis that contained the argument. maybe i should have picked a better hypothesis, but when i wrote my opinion down, i couldn't think of a better one.

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Where to begin...hmm, ooh questions.

1. I suppose. It really has to be looked at on a case by case basis. World War 2 was a just war, the Nazis had to be stopped. Of course millions of innocent people died during it but you can be sure that millions more would have died if the Allies hadn't won. Casualties of War are unfortunately a massive side effect, that's never going to change. The war in Iraq imo, was not a just war.

2. Now, i'm not so sure. Maybe back before 9/11 there might have been a slight chance of negotiations but definitely not now. Both sides despise each other, there's probably more of a chance of Korea uniting than there is Al Qaeda entering peace talks with America.

3. Do you mean changed for good as in for the better or just it's totally different now? Definitely hasn't changed for the better, if a war ever broke out between two countries their populations would be decimated in seconds thanks to nuclear warfare. We know what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it would be that times 10.

4. Any government body that actively encourages disarmament still has a place in todays world. Of course there's been a fair few cases where they've failed to act appropriately and swiftly to prevent massacres so y'know, there's room for improvement. Not saying that all out war would break out if there wasn't a UN, but it's safer to have them there just in case.

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i actually don't think throwing atom bombs on hiroshima and nagasaki is something to contribute to a just war.
world war 2 would have been a just war if the allies had managed to get into hitler's house and assassinate him and the other important people in the third reich/nsdap. that wasn't possible.

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3. Do you mean changed for good as in for the better or just it's totally different now? Definitely hasn't changed for the better, if a war ever broke out between two countries their populations would be decimated in seconds thanks to nuclear warfare. We know what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it would be that times 10.

4. Any government body that actively encourages disarmament still has a place in todays world. Of course there's been a fair few cases where they've failed to act appropriately and swiftly to prevent massacres so y'know, there's room for improvement. Not saying that all out war would break out if there wasn't a UN, but it's safer to have them there just in case.


3. Do you believe that would happen? Or do you think M.A.D (mutually assured destruction) would prevent the use of nuclear weapons?

4. But what about the oh-so-successful peace talks in Syria? Isn't the UN in reality, totally defunct?

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3. Do you believe that would happen? Or do you think M.A.D (mutually assured destruction) would prevent the use of nuclear weapons?

4. But what about the oh-so-successful peace talks in Syria? Isn't the UN in reality, totally defunct?


You ask a lot of questions young one! :P

I honestly think that under Kim Jong-un, North Korea would have no problem launching a nuclear missile if the Americans do anything to piss them off. No one knows how mentally stable that guy is, and at the end of the day, it's his choice whether to launch a missile or not. Any other country would use Nuclear missiles as a last resort, I don't think the same can be said for North Korea.

As for the UN, they do seem to cause their fare share of trouble sticking their noses in other countries business but that's what they're there for. They're not purposefully getting people killed, it's a side effect of the peace talks. People were getting killed before they went in, the UN had to do something to try and calm things down over there, soldiers were killing protestors and if the soldiers didn't kill the protestors, they were shot dead themselves. You couldn't let that continue.

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You ask a lot of questions young one! http://www.greendaycommunity.org/public/...

I honestly think that under Kim Jong-un, North Korea would have no problem launching a nuclear missile if the Americans do anything to piss them off. No one knows how mentally stable that guy is, and at the end of the day, it's his choice whether to launch a missile or not. Any other country would use Nuclear missiles as a last resort, I don't think the same can be said for North Korea.

As for the UN, they do seem to cause their fare share of trouble sticking their noses in other countries business but that's what they're there for. They're not purposefully getting people killed, it's a side effect of the peace talks. People were getting killed before they went in, the UN had to do something to try and calm things down over there, soldiers were killing protestors and if the soldiers didn't kill the protestors, they were shot dead themselves. You couldn't let that continue.


And yet it did?


As for Kim Jong-Un he seems to be slightly less insane than his father, but I guess we'll have to see...

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And yet it did?


As for Kim Jong-Un he seems to be slightly less insane than his father, but I guess we'll have to see...


Yeh, but that's not exactly their fault is it. I'm not going to pretend I know everything about what's going on in Syria because I don't, but it would seem that the best way to resolve this without the need for another country to step in and turn it into a shitstorm would be for the UN to try and have peace talks with both sides. The government aren't going to step down, I think they've made that clear enough and the protests will continue so some sort of a middle ground needs to be found.

As for Kim Jong-Un, he's a young guy with a lot of power, who know's what he'll do. He's already launched a missile against the advice of the UN and America, although it did break after about a minute or so. Probably pissed him off a bit. :P

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1) A war cannot exist without an unjust party. Some wars may involve a just faction against an unjust faction, and some wars may involve two unjust factions against one another, but I don't believe two just factions can be in a state of war, that seems paradoxical, as both parties would then take steps to end the war, and would have taken steps to have prevented it from beginning.

2) Radical and terrorist factions HAVE been negotiated with and meaningful ceasefires have been achieved historically. The IRA, the Tamil Tigers, the PKK, all examples of a state realizing they have no choice but to make some concessions for the sake of peace. We will likewise have to come to some kind of accord with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Al-Queda, on the other hand, has been thoroughly decimated, and I believe they can be considered defeated by default with acknowledgment that they will likely not negotiate but also have been neutered and no longer have the money and manpower to be a serious threat.

3) Our technological advances in waging war may have more long-term problems that are less apparent now. The easiest way to respond to the concept of things like predator drones is to say "good, we can kill the bad guys without our troops dying". But we must consider the national apathy that results in. Obama was able to lead a NATO coalition, using superior technology, to force a regime change and Libya, with virtually no casualties from the NATO side and no "boots on the ground". Regardless of whether this was right or wrong, fewer people took an interest because we are becoming progressively more and more detached from our own wars. The national attitudes might be shifting from seeing the military as something that we all have a stake in, especially via our family and friends or ourselves being a part of it, to something that is abstract, we just trust the government is there and know what they're doing. I think because of things like predator drones which now do the jobs soldiers used to have to, our populations are ultimately more apathetic and less motivated to question the government that chooses war, which may end up having grave consequences as machines replace man even more.

4) The fact that we have avoided world war, or direct war between any major powers, since the end of World War II, means the international system of checks and balances we've set up has basically done its job. There can be arguments made the UN is ineffective in its current form, in which case we should look into what reforms might again make it a reflective body. I see nothing positive coming from a new wave of isolationism. Internationalism is, with all its aggregate benefits and drawbacks looked at, still a net positive thing. Both the UN and armed forces of the world are still lagging behind the changing times, and should shift their model from the Cold War mentality to being equipped to deal with 21st century problems.

Yeh, but that's not exactly their fault is it. I'm not going to pretend I know everything about what's going on in Syria because I don't, but it would seem that the best way to resolve this without the need for another country to step in and turn it into a shitstorm would be for the UN to try and have peace talks with both sides. The government aren't going to step down, I think they've made that clear enough and the protests will continue so some sort of a middle ground needs to be found.


UN Security Council, Russia has veto power. The UN won't resolve Syria, it's just not going to happen. Best thing for there would be for the army to join the uprising like what happened in Libya.

I honestly think that under Kim Jong-un, North Korea would have no problem launching a nuclear missile if the Americans do anything to piss them off. No one knows how mentally stable that guy is, and at the end of the day, it's his choice whether to launch a missile or not. Any other country would use Nuclear missiles as a last resort, I don't think the same can be said for North Korea.


They realize launching a missile means their annihilation. It's not even a matter of M.A.D., because North Korea doesn't have the means of attacking the United States, and China isn't going to defend them if they provoke us. The wikileaks cable-gate already confirmed what we already knew - China sees North Korea as nothing more than a burden.

#22
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1) Who decides what is just and unjust? In terms of wars or factions, surely both sides must believe they're right, otherwise they wouldn't be fighting in the first place?

2) I would disagree that Al-Qaeda has been neutered. Only last week another bomb threat was discovered on a plane bound for America. They still have their training camps in Yemen. I agree they are divided and desperate, but does that make them all the more dangerous?

3) Do you believe that detachment from war is a good thing?

4) But are we less likely to become involved in Syria (than Libya) because it has less value to us economically?





Is human suffering enough to make powers become involved in conflicts around the world? Or does it seem there has to be some benefit to said powers?

#23
Trotsky

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1) Who decides what is just and unjust? In terms of wars or factions, surely both sides must believe they're right, otherwise they wouldn't be fighting in the first place?

2) I would disagree that Al-Qaeda has been neutered. Only last week another bomb threat was discovered on a plane bound for America. They still have their training camps in Yemen. I agree they are divided and desperate, but does that make them all the more dangerous?

3) Do you believe that detachment from war is a good thing?


- The world has a collective ultimately decides who was right and who was wrong, usually after the fact. Ethics and morality are, by default, a matter of consensus. Whether there is ultimately an objective truth is a philosophical question that is beyond a meaningful answer.

- The fact that terrorists can attempt proves nothing, all that matters is what they can achieve. Increasingly, would be bombers are either "lone wolfs" or supported by increasingly small factions, usually organized over the internet. Their bombs are not sophisticated, their plans are usually doomed to fail, their operatives not experienced. Terrorists require the same thing to be successful as any faction - good leadership, and money. Al-Queda no longer has either.

- No, quite the opposite.

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So do you believe, in terms of modern and historical examples, that the six things a war needs to be considered "just" (by whom?) can ever be achieved?

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San Miguel

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wow this is such a heavy subject so i need to read and consider before replying properly but i can weigh in now with two thoughts;

(i) I've spent a weekend in N Korea whilst on holiday in China. This was in 2010 so before KJI died. Fascinating place and if anyone has any questions i'm happy to answer.

(ii) This isn't really going to help in any debate but I wish the world was simpler, and there was no need for war. We as a species have evolved so quickly compared to other animals and yet we still resort to basic insticts like fighting when our brains should be developed enough to come up with a better solution. Just look at Jerusalem - people have been fighting over it since what? 500 BC (i'm no historian and could be way out here!) and even today it is still in conflict. OK religion plays a huge factor with Jerusalem but I can't be the only person thinking that after over 2,000 years and countless lost lives there must be a better way to settle differences. Living in a dream world i know - bloody hippy!

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Vesper

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wow this is such a heavy subject so i need to read and consider before replying properly but i can weigh in now with two thoughts;

(i) I've spent a weekend in N Korea whilst on holiday in China. This was in 2010 so before KJI died. Fascinating place and if anyone has any questions i'm happy to answer.

(ii) This isn't really going to help in any debate but I wish the world was simpler, and there was no need for war. We as a species have evolved so quickly compared to other animals and yet we still resort to basic insticts like fighting when our brains should be developed enough to come up with a better solution. Just look at Jerusalem - people have been fighting over it since what? 500 BC (i'm no historian and could be way out here!) and even today it is still in conflict. OK religion plays a huge factor with Jerusalem but I can't be the only person thinking that after over 2,000 years and countless lost lives there must be a better way to settle differences. Living in a dream world i know - bloody hippy!


How did you manage to get in?!

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Black Dynamite

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How did you manage to get in?!


North Korea let a certain amount of "foreigners" in every year. You have to book it with a tour group or something, they fly you in from China I think. I've looked into it a bit, i've always wanted to go for some reason.

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North Korea let a certain amount of "foreigners" in every year. You have to book it with a tour group or something, they fly you in from China I think. I've looked into it a bit, i've always wanted to go for some reason.


Oh I didn't know that. I thought it was pretty much closed.

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Trotsky

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How did you manage to get in?!


It's only Americans and South Koreans who are nearly completely barred. Russians go there on holiday all the time, as do a lot of people from other countries. What exactly compels them to choose such a... scenic destination, I don't know.

So do you believe, in terms of modern and historical examples, that the six things a war needs to be considered "just" (by whom?) can ever be achieved?


I don't believe in objective morality. For better or worse, the winners write history. It's hard to know whether all these circumstances have ever truly existed or not.

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San Miguel

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Yeah Black Dynamite (Paul right?) is correct. They let in about 2000 tourists every year. Most are Chinese but when i was there they had tourists from the USA, Germany, Spain, all over.

I was travelling in China anyway and thought - why not? wanted to go somewhere on holiday where no one else could say "oh yeah i've been there before" and N Korea certainly fit that bill. it's a really interesting and odd place - the people i met were really nice and i really felt for them not being able to see the rest of the world etc..



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