Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2018: Remember The Titanic And The Bay Of Pigs Edition.

Good Morning.

This, the annual March-April Ethics Alarms traffic dip, is when writing the blog becomes a job, not a joy. I really have to learn to stop caring about click, follower and share stats. It’s pure ego—well, that and the fact that my wife keeps telling me that I should be spending the time on billable matters, or getting books out to publishers.

1. Ethics Observations on the Syria bombing:

  • I teach in my seminars that often decisions made early in ethical dilemmas cause future ethical decisions to become impossible, because only less-unethical ones remain. U.S. and international   policies regarding Syria  are as good an example of this phenomenon as there is. The United Nations, if it wasn’t worthless, would  have intervened to stop the humanitarian catastrophe early in the Syrian civil war. This isn’t hindsight: plenty of experts were saying so at the time. When it became clear, years ago, that this was a bloodbath tidal wave that was destabilizing the whole region (as well as killing untold numbers of civilians and children), U.S. led pressure should have been brought to bear on Assad. Now there are literally no good choices, nor ethical ones.

The United Nations is worthless, as well as toothless, gutless and principle free. If there was any justification for such an organization, it should be to prevent carnage like we have seen in Syria.

  • The U.S., British and French response to Assad’s use of banned chemical weapons was unavoidable, especially after President Obama had been thoroughly embarrassed and discredited by ignoring his own “red line” statement, and after President Trump had made his own veiled threats that amounted to “red line” pledges of his own.

Democrats were going to mock Trump if he did not have a military response to the latest chemical weapons war crime, and they are now criticizing Trump for following through. In doing so, they only make their own fecklessness, hypocrisy and expediency more obvious, if that were possible.

  • Was Assad emboldened by the President’s comments about how he was preparing to pull the military out of Syria? Who knows? Announcing troop movements in a combat zone before they occur is irresponsible and incompetent.

Obama did it repeatedly. Criticism of Trump’s equivalent conduct is valid.

  • Trolling the news media, the President used the phrase “Mission Accomplished!” after the attacks. Good. There is nothing wrong with the phrase, and the mission was accomplished. The mockery of President Bush for a banner he did not have anything to do with was a dastardly media hit job. Ann Althouse’s theory:

Trump is completely aware of how Bush was punched around for using that phrase in a celebration of a specific mission that in fact was accomplished, and he would like the naysayers to come after him the way they came after Bush, and when they do, he’ll show us all how to handle that kind of anti-military negativity.

  • Conservatives are angry about the bombing, even the ones who mocked Obama for being a weenie when Assad called his “red line” bluff. Alex Jones was actually weeping about the raid on his show . These people really are old-style Fortress America isolationists, and want the United States to abandon its traditional mission of being the world’s champion of the abused and helpless while modelling the ideals of democracy.

The non-interventionists are wrong. The ethical optics of the United States and Great Britain and France punishing a brutal dictator who flouts international law are perfect.

  • From the other side of the aisle, some Democrats are whining about the attack being unconstitutional, so some unscrupulous left-biased journalists are spreading the word. Now, the War Powers Act may be unconstitutional, but as long as it’s in force—and Democrats share responsibility for its continued existence—this is just more double-standard hypocrisy aimed at President Trump. The War Powers Act allows the President to take some military actions based on exigencies, as long as they do not extend into a protracted engagement.

This is why “Mission Accomplished” is an especially appropriate message. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: ABC’s “This Week” Sunday Roundtable

Take note, young medical students: this is the horror of Beltway Blindness.

For the second consecutive Sunday, the politically-diverse group of pundits who make up the “roundtable” on ABC’s “This Week” pooh-poohed the Sestak scandal, noting that this is politics, everybody does it, everybody has always done it, and Republicans are foolish to try to make an issue out of old-fashioned horse trading. This is the cynicism and ethics rot that working in and around politicians will breed.

Consider: Continue reading

Nancy Pelosi and Forced Virtue

I’m sure my friend and colleague Bob Stone will forgive my picking on a casual phrase he used in a comment on the previous post, for it is the inspiration for this one, and it involves the important issue of forced virtue.

Bob alluded to Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally doing “the right thing” when, as reported in the morning media, she told House Ways and Means Committee Chair Charles Rangel that he had to resign his post because of multiple ethics violations. Pelosi, we now know, had avoided this for as long as possible, first ignoring Rangel’s actions, then making the dodge that the Ethics Committee first had to make its ruling (Rangel’s egregious violations have never been in doubt), then suggesting that the violations were not significant (knowing that among them was a failure to pay taxes on $75,000 of income as well as acquiring hundreds of thousands of dollars of unreported—that is, hidden—income, all on the part of the reigning chair of the committee that oversees tax legislation) because the country wasn’t “jeopardized” by them. But now the press is calling for Rangel’s head, the Republicans are making accusations that seem, for once, reasonable, and other Democratic House members have joined the chorus demanding that Charlie must go. And this is all occurring as Pelosi is trying to martial her House majority as she attempts to ram the latest health care reform package past the nation’s gag reflex.

In short, Pelosi isn’t really doing the right thing. She’s doing the only thing. Continue reading