WMD and moral responsibilities

In my response post to WoC, I wrote an update which was, in retrospect, poorly woorded and ill-advised, which I intend to withdraw. It was triggered by this comment by Joe:

the concept of genetic bioweapons is morally monstrous in a way that goes beyond any other kind of weapon I can imagine. Regardless of one's history or lack thereof. Then again, a nova bomb powered by an overloaded warp-drive core and meant to wipe out the entire planet is also monstrous. Neither is a plausible research subject right now for the Israelis.

After some parsing of the argument, the meat of my response was:

Much like Muslims who just can't bring themselves to utter the words, "terrorism against Jews is immoral and wrong", the refusal to denounce the idea of a WMG without qualifying it with statements about how the bomb is impossible, or no less monstrous than a nuke, or other such soft-pedaling statements, is outrageous. If I am to be called on the carpet to recite a statement of principle, I hold others to the same responsibility. No less.

(see the original post for the full text). This triggerred a comment by Jonathan Edelstein (The Head Heeb) :

I couldn't disagree more, though, with your assertion that denying the possibility of a WMG is equivalent to denying the immorality of terrorism. One is a scientific argument, the other is a moral one. If I were to argue that, based on what we know of human genetics, it is scientifically impossible to construct a WMG that would kill Arabs but not Jews, that argument would say nothing about the morality of WMGs. It would be a purely technical argument about whether WMGs can exist in the first place. You may believe that a genetic bomb is "most assuredly" achievable, but your beliefs about genetics are not beyond question, and a _scientific_ argument to the contrary is not a moral position. Only a _moral_ argument in favor of WMGs (or a refusal to denounce them on _moral_ grounds) would be equivalent to a denial of the immorality of terrorism against Jews.

Jonathan is absolutely correct and this is why my update was ill-advised. The actual target of my call for moral condemnation without qualifier was Joe (who if I recall correctly did indeed issue such a qualifier-free condemnation subsequently, though I can't recall exactly where or on what thread. Maybe Joe can provide the link.)

I do not expect any Jew to denounce WMG any more than I expect any muslim to denounce terrorism. However, I do feel that if a condemnation is made, it needs to be unencumbered. It's conventional wisdom now that if a muslim denounces terrorism, but then goes on to say "but America needs to change it foreign policy" or "but Israel needs to end the occupation", this is generally accepted to nullify the condemnation. Better to have said nothing than to make such a condemnation, and qualify it thus. A condemnation of an immoral act needs to stand on its own merits - to suggest otherwise allows the slippery slope of moral relativism to insinuate itself. Against which wqe all must remain eternally vigilant, accepting that we will all sometimes fall short.

I firmly agree that Jews are under no obligation to denounce supposed or even theoretical WMG research programs by the state of Israel. But Joe's statement that "yes, its monstrous. But its just as monstrous as a warp-powered nova bomb" is an encumbrance. By including nova bombs in his denunciation, he's dismissing the entire concept of WMG as remotely achievable. He's entitled to his opinion but not everyone agrees with his postulatory assertion that WMG are impossible in the same way that nova bombs[1] are. Also note that I will have more to say about the general technical feasibility of a WMG later on UNMEDIA. Stay tuned.

Joe's linkage of the WMG issue to a science fiction device was an attempt to discredit the broader topic of dicussion about WMD in the Middle East (especially Israel's ownership). By discouraging debate, Israel escapes being subject to the same questions about capabilities and intent that we rightfully apply to other nations in that region. I am still developing that question in this series, and my current instinct is that Israel's WMD use is unneccessary but also not cause for alarm (though Israel's weapons sales to China are quite disturbing. Will those sales also be dismissed out of hand? Joe has struck out the text on his post where he acknowledged that Israel's WMD are a legitimate topic for disucssion. That's not a good sign.)

But my main goal in this post is to withdraw any suggestion that I hold Joe or anyone else to an expectation that they condemn Israeli WMG (or WMD, for that matter). But having done so, I do think it is reasonable that he do so directly and not skirt the issue by introducing nova bombs.

Also note that this post is not about Joe's condemnation or intended as any kind of attack/critique of Joe - it's solely about my mistake in writing what I did, an explanation of the thought behind that text, and why I have withdrawn it. Joe's motives stem solely from love of his culture and ethnic heritage, not malice, and I won't (and can't) fault him.

[1] Also note that nova bombs are just planet-busting nukes (er, a WPD?). It's just a matter of scale. Logically, would Joe find Israel's current nuclear capability monstrous? I doubt it, I know I don't.

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