Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2018: Remember The Titanic And The Bay Of Pigs Edition”

I’m always up for a little United Nations bashing, as a good argument can be mounted that an organization that pretends to further the aims of world peace and international cooperation and does so incompetently, fecklessly and corruptly is worse than no such organizations at all. I’m also always up for pointing out that this much maligned President is so much more competent at international politics and foreign affairs than Barack Obama that his domestic foes can only deal with it by double standards and transparent dishonesty.

This is as good a time as any to mention that Ethics Alarms passed the 9000 post landmark this week, and those posts (over less than nine years) have sparked 222, 231 comments so far, at a steadily increasing rate. Say what you will about the blog: it doesn’t lack for content. Or diverse topics: at last count, there were 24, 393 tags. That’s a lot even if you allow for the misspelled ones.

Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Syria bombing-inspired Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2018: Remember The Titanic And The Bay Of Pigs Edition:

The UN has been worthless by design from the get-go. Any institution that gives certain members an absolute veto over any action by that institution isn’t going to get anything done, especially when one of those members, the USSR and now Russia, is going to abuse that privilege. The institution as a whole is completely without a moral compass, and shows zero judgment or even consideration what nations it allows to sit on what committees. It’s a bad joke when Syria is about to sit on a committee concerning chemical weapons and Iran and North Korea can sit on committees regarding human rights. Other than Korea (because the USSR walked out), name one situation where the UN stepped in and took decisive action.

As for criticism of the President for finally taking action [in Syria], I think he actually did a pretty good job of fooling the media and probably others by making it look like he was backing off the immediacy of the attack to do some more coalition building with the allies and to let the USS Truman and its battle group get into position, which they should do in the next couple of days. Of course that led to a lot of talk about how this would just peter out, that Trump wasn’t going to enforce anything just like Obama didn’t and so forth. It turns out the coalition was already ready to go, and the forces in the area were plenty up to the task already. Maybe a dozen aircraft and five ships did the actual firing of weapons, including 30 missiles fired by the cruiser USS Monterey (a big reason to keep the Ticonderoga-class cruisers sailing).

I can understand some of the reactions. It’s just politics as usual, necessary action when your party’s President does something, but reckless or wrong or whatever when the other side’s President does it. There are a few principled peaceful people, who can be ignored, saying any use of force is wrong under any circumstances  and a few folks justifiably gun-shy because of the mess that Iraq became.

Others, however, are just more attacks because it’s Trump, and Trump does everything with a bullseye painted on his back. He may have once been the coolest or the richest or whatever guy in the class, but now he’s a pariah. He’s the guy who can’t walk home from school without classmates poking fun at his bag, his clothing, his gait, his speed, or whatever they can think of, just because it’s him and they just hate him that much. It isn’t “good-natured ribbing.” It isn’t “toughening him up.” It isn’t “building character.” It’s just plain irrational hatred that can’t really be explained. It used to be that kids grew out of this kind of behavior. Sometimes the target struck back. Sometimes eventually even the bullies’ peers would tell them “come off it, we’re getting too old for this.” If that didn’t do it, hopefully some reasonably intelligent authority figure would finally say “Enough. No more harassment, no more name-calling, no more any of this crap. Take up fishing, take up painting, take up whatever, but you find yourself another damn hobby than this pathetic obsession with making your classmate’s life miserable.”

I’m not saying Trump is above criticism. I’m not saying any President is above criticism. I’m not saying military action is above criticism, although I think there should be a presumption in support of the American armed forces when they go into battle. I am saying that policy-oriented criticism is one thing. Action-oriented criticism is one thing. Results-oriented criticism is one thing. However, treating the elected President of this nation like he is that kid who you used to mercilessly give crap to in class by mocking his voice or repeating everything he said, in activities or sports whenever something went wrong (because he could NEVER do anything right) and on the way to and from school just because he was him and you hated him is ridiculous, wrong, and frankly toxic. That’s why someone like a Charles Blow, who openly said he’s going to fight the President to the end, needs one of those authority figure speeches, and maybe the whole media sector needs to be told something along those lines.


52 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2018: Remember The Titanic And The Bay Of Pigs Edition”

  1. Nice job, as always, Steve. You remind me of a lawyer in Phoenix who was known as “Dial-A-Memo.” You can whip off an eloquent and entertaining essay on most anything at the drop of a hat.

    This from the NYT: “How to Prepare for a post Trump Renaissance in Diplomacy.” It’s not available since I’m past my free articles for April. But I’m sure it’s someone calling for the brilliant diplomacy of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and all the feckless fellows in the State Department. Back to the good old days.

  2. I agree with Steve here. I have often likened the behavior I am witnessing as that of cruel children on the playground. I used to agree that Trump should never punch down but no more. I was brought up with the Ann Althouse philisophy that I should ignore ignorant and vicious comments I know now that ignoring them allows the viciousness to become a malignant cancer that metasticizes into anti-democratic policies.

  3. I won’t speak to the Syria thing, as I have no idea whether Trump is doing the right thing there or not.

    I don’t think the Trump as bullies kid analogy works at all, though. Trump *is* a bully. He has lived his whole life as a bully. He bullied everyone, including those on stage with him at every primary debate, during the campaign, and continues to bully people during his presidency. Hitting him back isn’t bullying.

    • I think constant articles on major news sites knocking his skin color (the spray tan) , hairstyle, waistline, and diet, and close-ups of his combover blowing up in the wind are nasty and childish. Taking photos of someone and posting the worst ones you can find to laugh at is bullying. Circulating rumors is bullying. Picking on someone’s child is bullying. This is group bullying, public bullying, justified because they hate him.

      If this were directed at anyone else, it would be vulgar and rude. But it’s Trump! Guilt-free! Yum! Pass the straws so everyone can suck up some of that self-righteous enjoyment for themselves!

      I really worry about the people who are enjoying it so much. It’s quite like pulling back the curtain,exposing the Wizard. The very people supposedly against ‘lookism’, fat shaming, and ‘otherizing’ are gorging themselves in an orgy of just that. This is what has floored me more than anything else. Supposed ‘woke’ liberal friends who’ve been staunch champions and activists for so many of these causes, indulging in the rock-throwing, despite their principles seeming sincerely believed for all the years I’ve known them. My Facebook feed is most days a frenzy of Trump ridicule. Feeding on this day after day is making people meaner…it does affect the bullies as well as the bullied. ‘You are what you eat’ applies to the media you consume as well. It all affects the heart and mind. What you show/give/post to others is a product of what you’re engaging in.

      • Nicely stated. I don’t like him either, and some of his problems are self instigated, like Tweeting. But this all-out hatred is just wasting effort. Bitter ending the election at this point is stupid, and that effort would do a lot more good on other problems (I’d pick the opioid epidemic if you want a challenge, putting all that money to fix a few bridges would also help their fellow Americans)

        It does tell me what sites to avoid, my time is too precious to waste. I suggest they find better candidates, ones who make sense to moderates without making a cult group,

      • The fat-shaming is wrong because it harms innocent fat people.

        The hair and the spray tan are valid targets. He has unlimited resources and chooses to look that way. Jack has written that professionals and leaders who choose to present themselves in a ridiculous manner are unethical, and deserve ridicule. That absolutely applies to Trump.

        • I don’t know…..I think picking on people for their appearance is unintelligent and childish. You’re free to disagree.

          • I disagree when their appearance is a) freely chosen, b) ridiculous, and c) inappropriate to the position they are in. Leaders should look professional, and Trump does not.

  4. ”Ethics Alarms passed the 9000 post landmark this week”

    Kudos, Jack! In an odd twist of fate, I wrote out check # 9000 earlier today for, and this may come as no surprise, beer.

    The U.N.? They surrendered their commitment to furthering the Human Condition, at which they sucked from the beginning, during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit ~26 years ago.

    This, to address a matter of FAR greater concern: the Global Warming that’s here and worse than the models predicted,

    ROI? They made the right choice.

      • Could be my ROI (return on investment) may have appeared as a fat-fingered RIO.

        As far as the latter being more fun? Perhaps back in 1992.

        Have you seen it lately? Not to put too fine a point on it, but it no longer boasts that “Girl From Ipanema” cachet.

        Google “rio is a shithole?”

          • ”Just thinking there could be other, off-screen reasons for wanting to go to a conference than a strong belief in global warming.”

            Not outside the realm of possibility.

            Leaving aside the conflict-of-interest besieged back-scratching/double-dealing/influence-peddling/etc., they’re known in diplomatic circles as great parties with attendees treated to all manner of vulgar excess.

            Rest assured, Climate Indulgences (perhaps from Al Gore’s GIM?) purchase Climate Absolution for the impact of any…um…externalities.

            And externalities abound! From a March 20th EA exchange:

            The 2007 “Last Chance” Bali conference is a prime example. Private jet after private jet delivered their pampered charges off on the small island with a small airport.

            How small? Well, lemme tell you how small.

            So small that after landing, these private jets had to take off, fly to another island(s), land, taxi, park, then taxi again, take off again, fly back again, land again, collect their surely fatter (after gorging on the best noshments to be had) passengers, then taxi again, take off again, and fly them back home.

            Sound like an ecologically sound approach with an eye toward a healthy Mother Gaia to you?

  5. Easy to knock the UN, but do you have any serious suggestion as to how it should be changed? Or do you want to abandon it? The aims in the charter are noble and should be supported. Frustrating as the UN may be, there is currently no alternative. Criticism should be focused on the irresponsibility of members rather than on the organisation.

    • The mission statements of the USSR and Enron were also admirable, Andrew. An organization is its leadership and members—you can’t separate them like that. Organizations are like Soylent Green–“It’s PEOPLE!” And the people here are corrupt. The organization pushes for world government, not democracy. Did you know that once, in the 50’s and 60’s, UN sessions were regularly broadcast on US TV? We don’t even pretend to think it is anything but a facade any more.

      Like so many things, the excuse for it is that we would benefit from what the UN is supposed to be, even though we know isn’t close to that. You tear it down and start all over, like we did with League of Nations. Accepting a sham because “It’s not the worst thing” is just magical thinking.

      • The US never joined the League of Nations. It seems crazily irresponsible to think that if you ‘tore down the UN’ you could necessarily replace it with something better. What do you want in its place? Another US fan club wouldn’t be of much use. We at least have in the Security Council a forum where the key world powers US, China and Russia, can face off; a body (the General Assembly) where practically every country gets a say; and some institutions like UNICEF and UNESCO addressing real and important issues; and being based in New York (rather than Beijing), you can keep an eye on it. Yes, of course, there is widespread corruption and inefficiency. It all urgently needs reform. You should support it.

        • I’m a bit older than you, AW, and I’ve been hearing the calls for reform since before I was shaving. The UN has gotten worse, more arrogant, and corrupt to the core. What do you want in its place? Gee, I don’t know: maybe an organization with integrity that actually takes its own mission seriously. How about that?

          • The UN needs to be disbanded, the buildings torn down, and the ground salted, as a object lesson for future generations that corruption in ‘noble causes’ is worse than no action for the cause at all.

            Why replace it?

    • Mr. Wakeling are you at all aware of how and who started the UN? Any clue as to how many members of its founding were members of the CFR or communist agents or national security risks? Check out Owen Lattimore, Alger Hiss, John Carter Vincent, Harry Dexter White, etc.

      Of course the 1945 Communist Party journal Political Affairs set an excellent precedent for how leftists respond to the UN today:

      “Great popular support and enthusiasm for the United Nations policies should be built up, well organized and fully articulate. But it is also necessary to do more than that. The opposition must be rendered so impotent that it will be unable to gather any significant support in the Senate against the United Nations Charter and the treaties which follow.”

      • I knew some of that and am not surprised by the rest. So does that mean you think signing the charter in October 1945 was a mistake? Or what part of the charter would you have changed and how?

        • I wouldn’t enter into or advocate any contract of importance with Soviet spies, global elitists, and those who seek to undermine our country and helped to deliver millions into the hands of Stalin. Would you?

          What I wonder is why so few are educated in the beginnings of the UN and its key players. Remember “The opposition must be rendered so impotent that it will be unable to gather any significant support…” Such a paradigm surely creates many useful idiots who offer knee jerk responses to the prospect of eliminating US involvement in the UN. I’m not sure what the term is for the “it’s better than nothing” excuse, but I believe based on what I’ve read from you Mr. Wakeling, that you’re smarter than that.

          • Shouldn’t your evident anger be more addressed against Yalta than the UN Charter? It is the Yalta Conference arguably that set in place the agreement to “deliver millions into the hands of Stalin”. To my knowledge the UN was not directly involved in partitioning Europe. And the US veto in the Security Council, and the non binding nature of resolutions in the General Assembly has always been more than sufficient to stymie any dastardly commie plots to enslave us. Yes, it is a fact of life that the UN General Assembly has frequently seemed anti US and anti Israel but that is the result of the positions of the members not any fault of the UN structure.

            • I have no anger w/ you at all & I apologize if my usual bluntness registered as such.

              My understanding is CFR members & Soviets were there at Teheran, Potsdam & Yalta…the same folks well established within the beginnings of UN. Which brings us back to the point about WHO was involved at the UN’s formation and why…which you have not answered. Nor did you answer my question about entering into contracts with Soviet spies, global elitists, and those who seek to undermine our country.

              Instead I got a proverbial pat on the head about “dastardly commie plots” which is a typical response by folks conditioned to discredit those who show opposition to globalism & socialism.

              “The opposition must be rendered so impotent…”

              And again why do you think so many are uneducated about the UN’s formation by globalists & Soviet spies (yes I guess communists are fairly good at stymying themselves. It’s called Fabian Socialism)?

              • Mrs Q. I can’t find any malicious intent in the setting up of the UN. It is primarily a ‘talking shop’ supporting Churchil’s preference for ‘jaw jaw’ over ‘war war’. You seem to think the setting up of the UN involved some devious ruse by ‘globalists and soviet spies’ to do down the US. I can’t see it. Presumably you would support the aims in the charter? There is plenty of room for debate as to whether the UN has achieved anything useful. I’ve lived through times when WW III seemed imminent, as it may still be, so I am gobsmacked and appalled by you and others seeming ready to walk away from the only ongoing forum for ‘jaw jaw’.

                • “I can’t see it.”

                  Did you research the names I gave you or the others who started the UN? I’m guessing no. You can’t see because you willfully chose not to focus on who they were and what their money and connections were to. That’s your choice but if you haven’t fully explored this aspect then you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Nor have you answered my questions…which tells me all I need to know.

                  Be well.

                  • Well MrsQ, you guessed wrong but I don’t hold that against you. Thanks for introducing me to some interesting people I didn’t know (Lattimore, Vincent and White – I already knew something of Alger Hiss) but I didn’t find anything to sway my support for the UN – notwthstanding my considerable frustrations concerning its evident faults. I found a lot on the dismal excesses of McCarthyism and reason to think at least Carter Vincent and Lattimore were quite unfairly treated. As to your underlying questions: (1) No, I don’t care much who was involved in starting the UN or what the Communist Party rag wrote in 1945; I only care what the UN became, could be, and is now. And (2), if you are concerned about avoiding war, you do need to be prepared to have discussions even with ‘Soviet spies and global elitsts etc’.

                    You ‘be well’ too.

                    • Mr. Wakeling I have no idea why “be well” is in quotes by you. This is twice you’ve assumed ill will on my part when my worst “insult” to you is that I think you’re smart. I wish you well even if we disagree. And I wish globalists, communists well too and am happy to kibitz with anyone who can firmly shake my hand and look me in the eye.

                      Not caring about who started the UN is an interesting position. I wonder if we should care who started say, chemical medicine in the US, the philosophy of psychology, German nihilism, NASA, WWII, Common Core, and other goodies. I wonder if those who start things leave legacy’s that later cause harm. That certainly is the complaint of modern leftists about America, that our past founders have tainted today’s various minorities and their outcomes.

                      What the UN now is shit and nothing will stop it from being so. And not caring about communist allies to the UN, again, tells me all I need to know.

                      Some books for you to consider…I’m sure you don’t care, but incase you feel like being “tolerant” & “open-minded” here they are:

                      -Who Killed the Congo by Philippa Schuyler
                      -The Captive Mind by Nobel winner Czeslaw Milosz
                      -New Genesis by Robert Mueller
                      -The True Believer by Eric Hoffer
                      -The Story of Fabian Socialism by Margaret Cole
                      -The Rape of the Mind by Meerloo Joost

                  • In other words, Lady Q, Andrew is a progressive, and the UN furthers his dreams of utopia. Facts do not matter. If those in charge mouth platitudes that sound good, actions and results are not important.

                    The UN is a tool by which the Elite can control the world. Not the only tool, but a large one. It was created to control, and has sought to extend the power of the Elite at every turn.

                    Andrew likes this.

                  • Mrs Q : I seriously wish you well too, in or out of quotes.

                    This interchange reminds how difficult communication is, particularly when we share the same words but use them differently.

                    Working in India as an expat was hard and misunderstandings were common. I referred to a very senior fellow in my profession as ‘smart’, which I intended as a compliment, and he declared himself insulted. In Indian English ‘smart’ apparently has connotations of deviousness.

                    Thankyou for your book recommendations. I won’t ponder on why you would say “I’m sure you don’t care” as this just illuminates another communication difficulty. I’m sure we both care a lot.

    • Yeah. The USA and it’s closest allies should form a new alliance that permits ONLY nations that generally have a western style rule of law, have generally free market economies, and have almost absolutely republican style democracies.

      Barring that, the USA should only engage in strategically beneficial regional alliances (which it already does).

      • Please read the charter. The UN is not, and was never intended to be, an alliance. It is supposed to be a forum for discussion with enemies rather than with friends. It expresses the perhaps naive hope that differences can be settled other than by going to war.

        • Sanctions? Resolutions? Peace-keeping forces? Investigations? Aid?
          You have described a debate society. Debate societies are fine: the US paying $3.3 billion a year to keep one going that can’t even deal with a situation like Syria seems a bit extravagant, no?

        • If it is supposed to be a forum for discussion, why on earth does the UN seem to deploy ‘soldiers’ to parts of the world?

          No, they disburse ‘foreign aid’ and ‘peacekeepers’…it’s clearly meaning to be MORE than a forum. And it isn’t very good at what it means to be.

          • I think there are about 15 current UN peacekeeping deployments. There are some really dangerous frontiers, eg Kargil / Kashmir where belligerant powers (India and Pakistan) face off under uneasy peace agreements brokered in part by the UN. The blue beret UN peacekeepers act as observers rather than policemen or soldiers. By their presence they discourage conflict. And when skirmishes do occur they try to defuse and provide an independent report. Of course the UN can’t ‘solve’ Kashmir’ (or Syria). That can only be done by the parties when they are ready. I simply can’t imagine how anyone even marginally sane could countenance abolishing UN peacekeepers without having anything ready to replace them. At the moment it is the best ‘we’ can do.

            • Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

              The UN in many cases is partisan in these things. I say abolish the peacekeepers and allow real alliances to deal with problems. Countries who want to fight can do so: if the world decides to step in, it has not seemed to have a problem in the past, UN or no.

            • “I simply can’t imagine how anyone even marginally sane could countenance abolishing UN peacekeepers without having anything ready to replace them.”

              Except no one said that. In fact, earlier in this discussion string, I clearly addressed replacement options:

              “Yeah. The USA and it’s closest allies should form a new alliance that permits ONLY nations that generally have a western style rule of law, have generally free market economies, and have almost absolutely republican style democracies.

              Barring that, the USA should only engage in strategically beneficial regional alliances (which it already does).”

              “At the moment it is the best ‘we’ can do.”

              That’s an indictment on humanity.

              Luckily I disagree.

              For all it’s flaws, NATO is a decidedly superior model than the UN.

  6. I agree with Andrew Wakeling, what could replace the UN? I think that its primary purpose is to provide a talking shop and the veto is essential to ensure that the big boys come. I can even see a peverse logic of some of the appointments such as Syria chairing a committee on chemical weapons, which should expose their nominated representative to other views, sort of ‘set a thief to catch a thief.

    In the meantime I think that the UN would benefit from being put on a starvation diet that would force them to defund a lot of their socialist programmes.

    In following the Trump situation, for me it is a usefull reminder of just how nasty and hypocritical many of us are.

  7. As near as I can tell, the UN’s mission is three fold: accomplish the destruction of Israel, entrench and protect corrupt thugs who’ve stolen shithole countries around the world, from Russia to all of Africa, make sure those thugs and all their retainers become fabulously wealthy.

    • Let’s not forget their mission to be the arbiter of the world’s carbon emissions, education, and emerging interfaith global earth religion (if Alice Bailey were alive today she’d be proud).

      • NATO has at least managed to get things done – when the US leads the way. The UN does nothing but get in the way.

          • What an outrageous slander on the very many ‘blue berets’ doing their level best to keep the peace in uncomfortable and exposed positions!! Yes of course ‘rape and sexual exploitation’ are dreadful and the UN needs to do more re discipline.

            • I invite you to google ‘UN Peacekeeper rape statistics’ Andrew. There is NO accountability within the UN when this happens.

              Here is but one example:


              The problem is systemic, and not isolated incidents.

              The is NO accountability for ANYTHING the UN does: the global elite get money (MY MONEY) to do with what they please, and there are no consequences for how the spend it or when things go criminally wrong.

              The UN may have had great vision when it started: it no longer has it now when it allows human rights violators to sit on the very councils who oversee their violations.

              • I agree. Child rape and sexual exploitation by UN workers and peacekeepers is appalling and the UN must take action and accept accountability. The Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said as much and his feet must now be held to the fire. Interesting that you attached Andrew MacLeod’s article from the Conversation. I think I’ve heard him speak in Sydney. His criticism of the UN comes from his experience, but I am pretty sure he would not support your virulently anti UN line “…needs to be disbanded, buildings torn down, the ground salted” etc. From his website :

                “His negotiations successes include time as Chief of Operations of the UN Emergency Coordination Centre in Pakistan, where MacLeod negotiated a complex series of relationships that saw the Pakistan military, international NGOs, UN agencies, US military, UK military and non state militant groups all playing a role in delivering a successful operation without casualties or conflict. The costly intervention kept 3.5 million people alive during a six-month Himalayan winter whilst staying under the $600 million plus budget.”

                He is just the sort of guy who deserved our support when in the UN.

                I was intrigued also by your ‘pull out the peacekeepers and let the belligerants fight if they want to” line; together with “the world can always intervene UN or no”. Of course there was no UN or League of Nations in 1914……. And there weren’t any nuclear weapons either. And yet the Sarajevo SNAFU and its various outwashes still haunt us (or maybe haunts only those of us with European or Middle East backgrounds?)

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