“what if the truth is that many people died for the wrong reason or no reason at all?”

Interesting consideration of Pete’s post yesterday from Misanthropy Abroad which questions the application of notions of truth to what is an agglomeration of often competing narratives. To bring something to the party, I’d note Simon Blackburn’s TLS article which noted the indispensability of semantic notions of truth to any coherent philosophical position. Other than that, read on…

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  • The Penguin

    “what if the truth is that many people died for the wrong reason or no reason at all?”

    That is a major, major – and, for many, extremely uncomfortable – truth of the Troubles.

  • If one wants to see an ideal example of this, see this link about EU ministers demanding that the British governmnet reinvestigate the killing of Gervaise McKerr – what Downing Street has immediately restricted to the Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan only inquiring into RUC actions, it continuing to deny that it had any ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, the DUP attributing the reinvestigation to the ombudsman’s fixation with past cases, a former Chairman of the Police Federation claiming that no police officer will cooperate with the new inquiry, etc.

    The simple truth of the matter is that volunteer McKerr and the five others were killed, while unarmed, and doing Provo service, by reinforced RUC HQMSUs, apparently including Guardsman Captain Simon Hayward, in retribution for the killings in London the previous July 20th – what is requiring all the spin that Downing Street can muster, as we shall see.

  • The ironic thing is that I got up this morning and changed the ending without popping onto Slugger first.

  • The Penguin

    Trowbridge H. Ford

    Strangest thing, that’s just the example I was thinking of.

    Funny how bitter, twisted minds think alike, isn’t it.

  • Any adequate account of our practices of truth will have to attend not only to the situated, socially conditioned character of concrete truth claims…but to their situation-transcending import as well. While we have no idea of standards of truth wholly independent of languages and practices, “truth” nevertheless functions as an “idea of reason” with respect to which we can criticise not only particular claims within our language but the very standards of truth that we have inherited…We can and typically do make contextually conditioned and fallible claims to unconditional truth (as I have just done). It is this moment of unconditionality that opens us up to criticism from other points of view. Without that idealizing moment there would be no foothold in our accepted beliefs and practices for the critical shocks to consensus that force us to expand our horizons and learn to see things in different ways. It is precisely this context-transcendent…surplus of meaning in our notion of truth that keeps us from being locked into what we happen to agree on at any particular time and place, that opens us up to the alternative possibilities lodged in otherness and difference that have been so effectively invoked by postmodernist thinkers.

    ——————-

    Thomas McCarthy, Ideals and Illusions. 1993: 33-34

  • The Penguin

    Eamonn

    What a long-winded way for someone to go about saying that being subjected to other people’s points of view is a good and healthy thing that can, hopefully, broaden our view.

  • Aquifer

    “what if the truth is that many people died for the wrong reason or no reason at all?”

    Thanks Penguin. Heresies like that are worth repeating, lest more lives are put to the meat grinder.

    We have no history of a peaceful thirty years to compare with the bloodily authorised version, so keep asking.

    There are facts, chronologies, records of people and places that can tell us a lot about how this society became so beset by woe. In actual fact, there is plenty of good stuff published already, if anyone really cares to read it.

    I guess those with most to hide must profess an enthusiasm for truth. Up to the moment when the whole sordid tale is set out, when they must spin like tops.

    Where is that Bloody Sunday report by the way?

  • heck

    “what if the truth is that many people died for the wrong reason or no reason at all?”

    can anyone think of a war where that was not the case?

  • Actually I changed that line this morning and then changed it back when I saw this post. I feel it went against the point I was trying to make. I don’t argue that there is no way to know the truth but as soon as we describe something be it written or verbal we tend to add some sort of value judgement (as we should).

    One of the things that made me write the post was that too often people think that the events that took place can be easily fit into categories or compartmentalized. I remember an argument (here)about how the Civil rights movement paved the way for the insurgence. Some people noted that the Civil Rights movement won many of their objectives so how could that be used an excuse for PIRA?

    I don’t have the answer for that one but am struck how both sides often have a hard time seeing how the same events can have a differnent and completely different impact on communities and individuals (though I have seen it here to be honest). Because I think that there are not only communal narratives but also individual narratives and tipping points for individuals can have great consequences for the big picture.

    Take Francis Hughes, his tipping point was a beating at the hands of the B-Specials, something that for many within the Unionist and even conservative Catholic would be lamentable but hardly a reason to start killing people. But for Hughes and many like him it was not a deviation from the authoritative narrative but simply a continuation of it.

    I mean even calling what happened a “war” can be a point of conflict. Republicans say that it was while the British government has been very strident in its point that this was a criminal affair (at best). Though they fudge when it comes to the deployment of the SAS, shoot kill, Finucane etc. I mean the fact that it was largely the GFA that wound things down countradicts the official government narrative that it was largely a matter of public disorder or that the difference between terrorist and insurgent was one largely of semantics (see Operation Banner report).

    I know that the by-line for this post seems like stating the obvious (and heck is right in their post). My point is that while the truth can exist outside of us, to a degree we as a collective or individual give it meaning. So in one sense many could have died for no/the wrong reason, but it could also be that the deaths themselves gave a pertinant meaning to each conflicting narrative.

    The trouble we have is whether society can reach a point of recognizing the validity of each narrative not through objective analysis but through subjective empathy/sympathy and allow it its own space to exist in while striving to attain a new third way forward.

  • Oh, I forgot to add the link I was referring to, so if anyone wants to talk about the most obvious events during The Troubles where Provo volunteers were killed for no reason in a most irrational process rather than the usual high-planing by the woolly-headed and covert operator apologists, see this link:

    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2007/jul21_OLoan_interview_Stalker.php

  • The Penguin

    heck

    Yes, that thought struck me right away with this thread. The common currency of conflict are the innocent. But, and I know that you’ll agree with this, that is hardly of comfort to relatives.

    yourcousin
    Excellent post.

    heck
    Good post as well.

    Trowbridge H. Ford
    [text removed – play the ball!! – moderator]

  • The Dubliner

    These asinine quasi-epistemological/semantic attempts to obfuscate/undermine the definition of truth are not introduced into the ‘Truth & Reconciliation’ debate in-order to add an irrelevant philosophical/lexicographical dimension to it; they introduced as a political gambit to obfuscate/undermine popular support for a T&RC by creating the bogus impression that its objective is fundamentally flawed and its purpose meaningless.

    I’d love to see Bertie Ahern use this gambit to defeat calls for an inquiry to discover the truth about his financial affairs: “Truth, you say? What is truth? Can we ever have an agreed narrative upon it? Why waste time and effort in pursuit of the unobtainable? Philosophers cannot agree what truth is, so why must we humble folk bother our noggins with such obscure notions? Indeed, let us follow our own logic and abandon our courts, schools, and libraries to the dust moths. We shall be as feral children; our minds unpolluted by troublesome thought.”

    Let’s not worry about how people interpret facts. Let’s get all of the facts out into the open so that people may be allowed to interpret them as they wish.

  • chris

    What if the actual truth of the last 30 years that everyone has failed to see is that of the Bible, salvation through Christ, and true Christian belief, be it Catholic or Protestant. I believe that is the truth we have missed, and embracingly that truth is the only way to peace and reconciliation.

  • Rory

    “many people died for the wrong reason”

    The late Ian Drury famously sang of “Reasons to be cheerful (one, two, three…)” but he had, insofar as I am aware, nothing to add on the matter of dying.

    I have long believed that there is only one reason for dying and that is a failure of ability to breathe but I can’t really decide if this is a right or a wrong reason. Merely the only one there is.

    But, putting all such sombre thought aside, I find myself largely in accord with “Your Cousin” on this matter.

  • Cruimh

    “can anyone think of a war where that was not the case? ”

    Heck – Augustine’s doctrine of just war is a good starting point.

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Just_war_Doctrine_1.asp

  • Turgon

    I can see where this thread is comming from but at one level all the people who died did so for the wrong reason. I still feel that there was no cause here that justified the taking of life.

    At another level I think most people died for the “right” reason.
    Those murdered by the loyalist paramilitaries were largely murdered for being Roman Catholics or Prods who had crossed them the “right” reason for their killers, just an unacceptable reason for the rest of us.

    Those murdered by the IRA were largely murdered for being Prods, soldiers, Brits, possible informers etc. Again the “right” reason to the terrorists but again unacceptable to the rest of us.

    Even those terrorists killed by their own bombs were killed for the “right” reason yet to me it was the wrong reason. I for one gain no pleasure at all form their deaths nor those of the hunger strikers. The same goes for those terrorists killed by the police and army. I will not condemn the army or police but I really wish they had arrested them not killed them.

    As an aside I understand what people mean by “shoot to kill” but I do not really accept that one can “shoot to not kill” with high velocity firearms.

    I accept that this is a lot of hand wringing but it just seems to me that a lot of lives were needlessly wasted and I find that very sad.

  • kensei

    “Let’s not worry about how people interpret facts. Let’s get all of the facts out into the open so that people may be allowed to interpret them as they wish.”

    The problem is that people aren’t asking for the facts. They are asking for The Truth (TM).

  • The Dubliner

    Kensei, you miss the point: they must have the facts before they can have the truth. It is the facts of the past that are hidden – and with them, the truth.

    Discussions about common narratives belong in writer’s workshops, just as discussions about the nature of truth belong in NIO propaganda meetings. The fact that there is no common narrative simply means that there are different perspectives and interpretations of events – some held genuinely and others proffered as ‘official’ explanations to serve vested interests. That is perfectly normal: it is not a reason for intellectual stagnation. Nor does the fact that philosophers have failed to agree on a definition of truth mean that truth does not exist.

    Let’s get back to reality here: a Truth Commission, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or a Truth and Justice Commission are not exercises about finding an interpretation of events that pleases everybody. The purpose is other:

    “Generally, truth commissions are bodies established to research and report on human rights abuses over a certain period of time in a particular country or in relation to a particular conflict. Truth commissions allow victims, their relatives and perpetrators to give evidence of human rights abuses, providing an official forum for their accounts. In most instances, truth commissions are also required by their mandate to provide recommendations on steps to prevent a recurrence of such abuses. They are created, vested with authority, sponsored, and/or funded by governments, international organizations, or both.

    Truth commissions exist for a designated period of time, have a specific mandate, exhibit a variety of organizational arrangements, and adopt a range of processes and procedures, with the goal of producing and disseminating a final report, including conclusions and recommendations. Ultimately, the goals of such commissions are to contribute to end and account for past abuses of authority, to promote national reconciliation and/or bolster a new political order or legitimize new policies.”

    http://www.usip.org/library/truth.html

    Or:

    “A society emerging from a regime marked by grave and serious violations of human rights faces the complex challenge of how best to deal with the past. The establishment of a Truth Commission has helped several countries through this process. In the course of establishing such Commissions, leaders and decision makers are faced with a variety of political and structural choices. This website, a collaboration of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Search for Common Ground, and the European Centre for Common Ground, is part of a process designed to help build a Truth Commission that fits their unique needs. We have organized the leading research on past Truth Commissions in a manner that is oriented towards decision making, to enable designers of future Commissions to identify the critical factors and potential solutions relevant to their societies.”

    http://www.truthcommission.org/

  • Dubliner,
    While not quite a writer’s workshop I feel that Slugger is the place for this kind of debate and I can’t really see how having it creates “intellectual stagnation”. I have written nothing that could be used as an argument against a T&R commission/body of some sort.

    Although I would think that this would be more difficult in NI due to the unresolved nature of the conflict and the fact that the GFA sold everybody something a little different than what their neighbor got. What I was also getting at was that you can look at the facts and come up with multiple truths. And no, I don’t buy into the idea that we can never ever know what is “true” but in a situation as convaluted as NI and the Troubles it’s a little more complicated, that’s all. Indeed I think my point about Spain is that there is some need for closure of some sort or you are going to end up with something like what they have. Re-erecting the barricades of June in the obits is a fairly sorry and sorid way to deal with the past.

  • kensei

    “Kensei, you miss the point: they must have the facts before they can have the truth. It is the facts of the past that are hidden – and with them, the truth.”

    Yeah, what yourcousin said. Knowing the facts will not reveal The Truth (TM). People would merely use them to construct their own truth, and even if they did manage to produce an agreed narrative it would hide a lot and produce lies of its own.

    We need more than facts; we need some compassion and understanding of each other too.

  • The Dubliner

    yourcousin, the “intellectual stagnation” is when understanding is deliberately halted at ‘thus far and no further.’ I think most partisans are comfortable with the status quo of obfuscation of the past – for that is what we have. PIRA/PSF don’t want their own role exposed if that reveals the extent to which they were manipulated and controlled by British Intelligence; if it reveals them to be a quasi-fascist nationalist movement who used the banner of republicanism to disguise the actual nature and purpose of their violence; if it shows that they orchestrated and controlled the violence and were the primary instigators of it; if it shows that PIRA/PSF leadership amassed tens of millions of pounds in wealth from criminal activity which again used the banner of republicanism to disguise the actual nature of it, etc – just watch how PIRA/PSF bark and yelp whenever a member of the self-styled Army Council (Thomas Murphy) is shown to be a leading figure in organised crime (coming in at No1 under “UK’s Richest Smugglers” on the BBC’s underworld rich list). Likewise, how many times has the UK government hidden the facts about the extent of its agents’ involvement in serious crime? It has blocked inquiry after inquiry. Was its infiltration of the private murder gangs used to target people that the state wanted killed, used to inflame the violence, or used to keep the violence to an ‘acceptable’ level as many believe? Was a policy of state murder operated by successive British governments? Why didn’t they introduce controls to prevent state murder when they knew that their existing controls were deficient? Those and a hundred other questions need to be asked and answered. And, frankly, I don’t give a flying fuck about the vested interests.

    And by the way, truth isn’t that hard to establish. Courts pull that trick off successfully every day of the week. It’s really a very simple process: facts are presented and a jury deliberates upon them. It then returns a simple binary verdict and that verdict establishes the truth. Likewise, if an anvil drops on your head, we may deduce from the fact of your squashed head and its placement beneath the anvil that there is truth in the statement “An anvil fell on his head and killed him.” See, there was no need to consult Wittgenstein, was there? Nor is there any need for a shared interpretation of facts.

  • willowfield

    I mean even calling what happened a “war” can be a point of conflict. Republicans say that it was while the British government has been very strident in its point that this was a criminal affair (at best). Though they fudge when it comes to the deployment of the SAS, shoot kill, Finucane etc. I mean the fact that it was largely the GFA that wound things down countradicts the official government narrative that it was largely a matter of public disorder or that the difference between terrorist and insurgent was one largely of semantics (see Operation Banner report).

    There are legal definitions of war accepted internationally – just apply them to NI. (Wouldn’t qualify, by the way.)

  • Dubliner,
    Look no offense Dubliner but you’ve got an axe to grind and nothing I can type will change that. I will however attempt to address the issues relevant to what I wrote.

    You seem to think that vested interests are held solely by the likes of Gerry Adams and Whitehall, but the truth is more complicated than that. The families of volunteers/soldiers/policemen hold truths far more personal than those of the securocrats/nutting brigade/death squads. The Republican heartland does not dispute that their sons/daughters/fathers/husbands etc went out and shot and bombed their way through NI, England and Europe over the last thirty years. The dispute arises when we come to the why. This is often where the waters get muddied. Ie the battle over truth and narrative is not only waged by institutions, media, and vested interests (the the traditional sense of that word) but in the hearts of everyday people.

    You should reread my post and go over the dates I posted. I gave facts from which you can draw your own truth. And from there see whether you’re satisfied and ready to move on.

    As for the courts, they don’t nessecarily establish the truth. They establish a narrative that for the most part we live by. I hope that most of the time that their decisions are truthful but you’re too smart a person to think that the verdicts handed out are always true.

    I would like to see many of the questions you raised answered. I don’t have a deep personal committement to the status-quo. I simply think that they won’t be answered. Please differentiate between the those two positions before you pull out some ACME school of logic example to try to throw in my face.

  • Willowfield,
    I’m not stating that there was a “war” going on but rather how difficult it is to even establish common language in regards to what did happen. I do find it interesting that many people seem to equate value judgements in their choice of words (ie it’s okay to kill in a war, just not in a terrorist campaign). Though the main proponement of the language war fudged those rules themselves throught the deployment of the SAS etc. and acknowledged that the difference between a terrorist and insurgent was not based validity of cause but of semantics, that’s all.

    PS
    I’ve got to run to marriage prep classes and anymore responses will have to wait until tomorrow.

  • parcifal

    yourcousin
    the very fact that Mr.Dubliner has managed to post without using words like “scum” or “excrement” is indeed grounds for optimism.
    Maybe he’s realised that’s a failed binary 😉

    I think the anvil missed the target.. but we can still hope.

  • willowfield

    I’m not stating that there was a “war” going on but rather how difficult it is to even establish common language in regards to what did happen.

    I didn’t say that you were saying there was a “war” going on.

    The reason it is difficult to establish common language is because one side deliberately chooses language (“war”) for the purposes of legitimising its criminal deeds.

    My point is that we do not opt for the language of one side or the other: we apply concepts, and use language, that are agreed internationally and are therefore objective. In the case of “wars” there are legal definitions.

    I do find it interesting that many people seem to equate value judgements in their choice of words (ie it’s okay to kill in a war, just not in a terrorist campaign). Though the main proponement of the language war fudged those rules themselves throught the deployment of the SAS etc. and acknowledged that the difference between a terrorist and insurgent was not based validity of cause but of semantics, that’s all.

    In legal terms, it is OK to kill in a war providing the killing is within the laws of war. Terrorist campaigns, by definition, involve unlawful killings.

    We also have a long body of just war theory to enable us to determine whether a war, or terrorist campaign, is morally acceptable in the first place.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turgon: “As an aside I understand what people mean by “shoot to kill” but I do not really accept that one can “shoot to not kill” with high velocity firearms. ”

    Sure you can, sort of… but it violates most of the combat training that police and military personnel receive — aim for the largest target, i.e. the torso, the theory being that once you decide that it’s time to shoot, you actually mean it and, if not dead, you at least want the target down hard.

    An aside from the aside, a couple of points…

    First, there is the matter of weapon, which impacts such matters as rate of fire, velocity of round, magazine capacity, etc. The FN-FAL style rifles carried by the BA and UDR, for example, are a poor choice for an urban setting — to “hot” a round, too much range for the setting.

    Second, a bullet kills in one of three ways — critical hit (i.e. something mandatory for continuing respiration is struck, such as the heart or medula oblongata), hydrostatic “shock” (celluar damage accrues with the transfer of energy from the bullet to the body, bursting individual cells like water balloons) and causing the target to bleed out. A lower velocity round minimizes the “schock” factor. The presence of medical personnel might address the third, but not a whole lot is going to fix the first — there are too many “must have” organs in the torso.

    Lastly, there are logistical considerations — wounded personnel are a drain on the opposition, at least in some conflicts, so it is desirable to wound. In an urban / political conflict, it might be seen more “politic” to kill, for a variety of non-military considerations.

  • Turgon

    Dread Cthulhu,
    One of the problems is that aiming for a specific part of the body is apparently very difficult due to the fact that firearms are not really that accurate especially in situtations where people do not have vast amounts of time to aim. Hence I suppose aim for the biggest bit.

    The issue of method of death is fair up to a point.
    The hydrostatic “shock” you refer to is usually called cavitation. It does not simply cause bleeding but also disruption in an expanding cone. Hence the exit wound is often extremely large and indeed the bleeding is more severe. Velcoity is relevant indeed but actually most firearms except revolvers and shotguns are high enough velocity to cause cavitation.

    With high velocity firearm injuries the presence of medical personal is not actually that much use.

  • Willowfield,
    Choosing language that seeks to legitimize the purposes of the particular side is hardly something unique to Republicans. I would argue that multiple sides in the Troubles used language to suit their needs.

    I am not going to get into splitting legal hairs here. Sorry it doesn’t interest me, at least not in this forum. I don’t feel that there is one international objective language used and if the the language itself was objective, those using it most certainly would not be. Also I’m not really sure we want to go down the road judicials reviews of what has happened in NI as it has shown the British government (the supposed heir to the moral imperative/narrative) to have less than clean hands.

  • willowfield

    YOURCOUSIN

    I’m advocating the use of objective language.

    I am not going to get into splitting legal hairs here.

    I made the point about ethics as well as the law. Both are relevant: you can’t avoid them.

  • Willowfield,
    My whole post was about the fact that when language is stripped down to totally objective statements that it is rendered meaningless in a larger sense. The dates I wrote about really happened. I am curious that no one has looked them up (or cared if they did).

    I would also follow up on the fact that we do not use internationally recognized objective language in regards to the Troubles.

    You did bring up the law and I addressed it both in my last post and in the one to “The Dubliner”. By the government’s own admission the law was used as a tool. Hardly the basis for objective analysis of “the truth”. International law has been stymied in NI by the British government so once again we are limited in our pursuits of truth and justice through international objective law.

    As for ethics, that is relevant, and the idea of “just war” whether under the heading of “theory” or “doctrine” is something that troubles me deeply. Ecclesiastical law can be of great value when trying to provide a moral compass in some matters but I find them wanting when it comes NI. This for me is a personal finding and I would not try to impose my views on anyone as I think that ones feeling towards them is swayed greatly by the depth of one’s faith in the moral righteousness of the Church.

    I hope you feel I have not dodged the issue of ethics as I have tried to answer as honestly as possible for myself. I would be interested in your ethical take on the situation in NI and what took place there.

  • willowfield

    By the government’s own admission the law was used as a tool.

    Er, I’m talking about international law!

    International law has been stymied in NI by the British government so once again we are limited in our pursuits of truth and justice through international objective law.

    Nonsense. It is a reference point that we can use. We don’t need the Government’s permission to discuss and analyse NI with reference to international law. In any case, the Government would hardly object, given that under international standards of law and ethics the terror campaigns cannot be justified, nor can it be demonstrated that the Provo campaign was a “war”.

    As for ethics, that is relevant, and the idea of “just war” whether under the heading of “theory” or “doctrine” is something that troubles me deeply. Ecclesiastical law can be of great value when trying to provide a moral compass in some matters but I find them wanting when it comes NI.

    Why? Because the Provo campaign was clearly immoral and you don’t want it to be?

    I hope you feel I have not dodged the issue of ethics as I have tried to answer as honestly as possible for myself. I would be interested in your ethical take on the situation in NI and what took place there.

    It’s quite clear, yourcousin, that neither the Provo campaign, nor the “loyalist” campaign were morally justifiable in any way, with reference to just war theory.

  • Willowfield,
    I would not argue that either the Provisional’s campaign or the loyalist killings as justified by international law. Though I would point out that the goverment has many times objected to outside interference from international bodies and has been brought before the European courts.

    My issue with the Chruch has nought to do with NI or the Provos.

    I don’t feel that International courts do give us tools to really understand the truth. I mean the world court is hardly one to decide whether or not the hunger strikers, died/were killed/committed suicide. That is a much more personal choice and any of those three options could be argued.

    Again though we come back to the idea that everyone knows in their hearts the same truth and that some just go out and purposely try to hide it. Some may do just that, but I don’t think that’s the case for the majority.

  • willowfield

    YOURCOUSIN

    I would not argue that either the Provisional’s campaign or the loyalist killings as justified by international law. Though I would point out that the goverment has many times objected to outside interference from international bodies and has been brought before the European courts.

    Why would you point that out?

    The reason the UK was able to be brought before the ECHR was precisely because it wasn’t a “war”! If it had been, the ECHR would not have had jurisdiction!

    I don’t feel that International courts do give us tools to really understand the truth. I mean the world court is hardly one to decide whether or not the hunger strikers, died/were killed/committed suicide. That is a much more personal choice and any of those three options could be argued.

    No-one mentioned courts. We can use the concepts of international law ourselves to test whether the dreadful acts of the Troubles were legal; and we can use the concepts of just war to test whether the terror campaign itself was just.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turgon: “The hydrostatic “shock” you refer to is usually called cavitation. It does not simply cause bleeding but also disruption in an expanding cone. Hence the exit wound is often extremely large and indeed the bleeding is more severe. Velcoity is relevant indeed but actually most firearms except revolvers and shotguns are high enough velocity to cause cavitation. ”

    Perhaps I did not phrase myself carefully…

    1. something critical is hit;
    2. hydro-static shock / cavitation;
    3. bleeding out — #1 and #2 don’t get you, but neither does the medic.

    Don’t disagree, in the main. Now, that said, you can deliberately make rounds with a lower velocity, just as you can make different bullets (hollow-point, hard ball, etc.).

    Turgon: “With high velocity firearm injuries the presence of medical personal is not actually that much use. ”

    Again, comme ci, comme ca — at this point, its down to cases — where was the victim hit, how quickly does the medic get to him, etc.

    Then again, they don’t call it “deadly force” for nothing…

  • Willowfield,
    This conversation has strayed far off of course. My concern is not whether international law gives us language and concepts in regards to the legality of the conflict one way or the other. Nor, as I have stated am I overly impressed with the idea that “just war” doctine can somehow lend a moral/ethical counterbalance in terms of spiritual law. If you feel that way then I wish you well, but you have yet to convince me (or even really flush out for me) how these two concepts will provide us with “the truth” about what happened.

    Set aside the courts and explain to me how international law and the “just war” doctrine can give us “the truth”. They can both provide a frame through which to view the conflict but that is all. My comment about “war” was an off the cuff remark. I don’t take it back, but neither am I going to defend it to the death as if it was the whole point of my post. Don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees.

    You state that international law can give us objective language to use. But how can it compensate for the fact that there are many in NI that won’t able to listen objectively? Also you have not answered some of the questions I put before you (the dates I blogged, the hunger strikers, your ethical stance on NI).

    I would appreciate that before you try to find wholes in what I just typed that you answer (or at least give an honest response) to some of those.

  • willowfield

    Set aside the courts and explain to me how international law and the “just war” doctrine can give us “the truth”. They can both provide a frame through which to view the conflict but that is all.

    You wanted a shared, objective language – I suggested how we can use the language of international law and ethics.

    You state that international law can give us objective language to use. But how can it compensate for the fact that there are many in NI that won’t able to listen objectively?

    That is their problem. They need to learn.

    Also you have not answered some of the questions I put before you (the dates I blogged, the hunger strikers, your ethical stance on NI).

    I apologise. Can you ask them again?

  • ciaran

    Trow, just to clarify one point , in the shoot to kill episode Michael tighe and Martin McCauley were innocent civillians. Tighe died and mccauley was wounded.