hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009
KPS Gill is not a saint, he may have committed human rights abuses for all that I know of. Nevertheless, I think he makes an important point here, in this internat chat:


Buddy (Wed Jun 11 1997 21:12 IST)

K P S Gill (Wed Jun 11 1997 21:18 IST)
Buddy: What you have heard is a calumny. When we found that quite a number of terrorists were continuing to engage us in gun fights, we took a conscious policy by telling them: Come and surrender before and we shall take a lenient view of what has happened. Thousands surrendered. These were active terrorists, not their friends. Although there are certain text books on terrorism which advise this course of action, fortunately I did not learn my work on the anti-terrorist front from any text book. The death of terrorists caused me as much anguish as the death of my policemen and officers.

swami (Wed Jun 11 1997 21:19 IST)
What is wrong with killing a terrorist before he kills more innocent people? Is killing in self defense considered extra judicial killing?

K P S Gill (Wed Jun 11 1997 21:22 IST)
Swamy: Our law on self defence envisages a situation in which there is an eminent danger to the life of the person exercising the right of self defence, and he has no means of escape. If he has a means of escape, he has no right of self defence. So the thesis that you kill a terrorist because if you don't kill him before his kills many others is not tenable under the Indian law.

I've been thinking, In the wake of the Israeli killing in Gaza, that the idea that the difference between good and bad is that bad intentionally kills civilians, while good does not, has been shown to be a rotten, corrupting idea. The difference between good & bad, has to be that good dislikes killing, will search for alternatives, and will do it only as a last resort, and with reluctance. Fascism is nothing more and nothing less than killing without mercy, remorse or empathy.

We frequently see the phrase "religious fanaticism", and it is a scary, horrifying phenomenon. What we are now seeing is cold-blooded, coldly rational fanaticism. And it just might be the scariest phenomenon of all.

Less hysterically, we see some people saying that Israel inflicting a 1000-1 casualty ratio on Gaza, while perhaps a tad excessive, nevertheless will eventually accomplish the goal of making Palestinians think twice before firing primitive rockets and disturbing the quiet and serenity of their Israeli neighbors. What they are overlooking is that Palestinians, and Palestinian-sympathizers, are not always going to have merely primitive rockets. There will come a day when they achieve military parity, or near-parity, or near-enough parity, with their potential adversaries. What then?

What Israel is doing right now is analogous to threatening nuclear war in order to get your way on a small issue. Yes, you might get your way on the small issue, but only by greatly increasing the chance of a huge catastrophe in the future. And the moral and intellectual corruption caused by playing ever more extravagant games of chicken tends to degrade your society in other ways as well. The people who are apologizing for the sickening and unjustifiable events in Gaza are not friends of Israel, whatever they might believe.