Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

The number of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq exceeded the number of people who died at the World Trade Center a few weeks ago, a milestone which did not receive a lot of public attention. A poignant question which every parent or spouse asks is whether they died for something meaningful or not. The perception that a loved one died for a grand cause gives comfort. The insight that he or she died for no reason--except the vanity or stupidity of the leadership-- inflicts a second staggering loss.

It is harder to say today what we fought for in Vietnam than it was forty years ago, and it was difficult and confusing then. At best, we can say we fought against a confusing misconception called "the domino theory", which held that one country after another was likely to fall to a monolithic and powerful unified world communism. Within a few years, when China and Russia were enemies, and when even Vietnam had its differences with China, we realized there were no dominos. Today, Vietnam is a nominal ally, a nation to which Vietnam vets sometimes travel to meet old adversaries and fondly relive the battles they fought against each other. Unlike Japan, where the same kinds of meetings sometimes took place, Vietnam is not a country we pacified, but one we left in a frenzied rout, people clinging to helicopters. With all respect to the dead, history's verdict is in, that 50,000 Americans died in Vietnam for a misconception. And we're not even talking about the Vietnamese casualties, the hundreds of civilians massacred at My Lai, the children burned with napalm and screaming.

History will render a similar judgment on Iraq. It will look even more baffling to our descendants than it does today that a president with a real, and truly evil adversary to fight--an enemy who, like the Japanese, unlike the Vietnamese, Koreans, Panamanians, Granadians, actually mounted an attack on US soil--invested all his time and energy, and so many American lives, in attacking a dictator irrelevant to that conflict. And in so doing, created a new failed state to serve as a launching pad for terrorism. Losing in Vietnam didn't really degrade American security. Defeat in Iraq surely will. So this is the stupidest war yet.

Under the circumstances, it would seem an act of cynicism to wish you a happy new year. I will restrict myself to something I often tell patients on the ambulance: I hope your night improves from here.

Jonathan Wallace jw@bway.net

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Dear Jon:

Re Winning and Governing:

You're absolutely correct that the Democrats are in a bind now because they now have to make decisions. But they are in a tighter bind than that because a fair number of the Democrats elected are "Blue Dog" Democrats. In effect the leadership is much more left leaning than the Democrats as a whole.

As for the situation in Iraq I believe that the notion of more troops as the answer is missing the point of the problems we have in Iraq and the Middle East in general. In my opinion the rules of engagement need to be changed. Without such a change adding more troops would be of marginal help.

Rules of engagement at present prevent attacking, even peripherally, Syria and Iran which have been supplying the Islamofascists. The rules prevent disarming the various militias and prevent entering Mosques and searching them. In effect we limit ourselves. This lack of assertiveness and, yes, aggressiveness, from the beginning contributed greatly to the current strife.

Would this threaten to broaden the war? Yes, but the lack of such a threat is part of the problem. To stop Syria and Iran and other Islamofascists they must be threaten with credible repercussions. (After the initial takedown of Saddam Libya's leader Qaddafi gave up his nuclear program voluntarily in all likelihood he did not want to be the next focus of American military action. Though I bet now he is thinking twice about his decision in the light of our present lack of resolve.) Otherwise they will continue and expand their horizons to attack the West, the US and Israel. Remember that Iran already in years past expanded their horizon by attacking Jewish sites in Argentina.

If America and the West have any hope to win this battle with Islamofascists from the 7th century we, as a culture, must fight with no holds barred. Some would argue that we would then become just like them. But those who do argue this only look at the surface, at the means, and not why we fight.


Joe Schuster

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Re Who Is David Irving?:

Ethical question. Shouldn't you read and/or research a diatribe against a person, David Irving, before you publish it. Or if you have researched it, then point out the authors rabid pursuit of Irving. If you had bothered to go to Irving's website you would find McCarthy mentioned many times - Irving never ignored him or his booklets unless they got too numerous or stupid to reply to. ( Irving's comment that he was too busy certainly would be true if any of us had to answer McCarthy's endless harangues. Running around the internet for the Holocaust seems to be his career.) I hope you got duped by McCarthy or why the Ethical in the title?

Greg Hallock


My name is Susanna, and was checking your website the other day. I am from Catalonia and I am really interested in all the history surrounding Auschwitz. I must admit, my main interest at first was just the sheer curiosity all this mass murders generated, all the medical experimentation and the surreality of it all.

Later, though, as I started reading and finding more and more information, I became surprised, really surprised. Not only because of the atrocities commited but because of the people who remained passive. It was hard for me to understand how a man like Hitler, who had been ridiculised by the press and had been considered a fool, could manage to convince more than half a country to obey him, to approve his way of acting.

The thing is that I've been moved by all this information. I know that the Holocaust and all the Jew extermination plan must be remembered as what it really was, and we mustn't try to make it sound easier, because it was and it is not easy to understand, or to accept. I am now trying to write a story, a small novel based on the Auschwitz extermination camp. And as all stories and myths, it will never be able to reflect the real truth in The Death Factory.

Summing up, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to look for all this information, and publishing it on a website, for us to read, and learn that as hard as the truth is, we can't close our minds to it. Hitler and Goebbels and Höss along with all their associates may have been crazy. But all those milions of people who voted the NSDAP couldn't have been all demented.

So, once more, thank you, and good work.

Susanna Lizarraga

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Your article A State of Nature (written almost ten years ago) is utterly unfounded. It lacks any knowledge of high altitude climbing. Your theory about a "contempt the strong have for the weak" is, i think, way off the mark. Do you think its simply a matter of picking up a body and carrying it back to camp? do you understand that EVERY step at 20,000 feet is exhausting? a decision to carry a near dead body can lead to more deaths .

this article is just silly headiness on your part; you might as well be writing about morality in the land of OZ

Mark Alhadeff

I love getting mail like this; Mark is completely unaware just how powerfully his words support the thesis of my article, that many high altitude climbers believe themselves to be exempt from everyday morality.

Mark says that rescuing people at 20,000 feet is inconvenient, difficult, and can even be rather risky. None of which are moral arguments.

To put Mark's letter in an interesting perspective, note that Beck Weathers, one of the "near dead bodies" abandoned on the mountain in the expedition which was the subject of my essay, ended up walking down the mountain himself after being left for dead by his "friends", losing his nose and some fingers to frostbite in the process because no-one could even be bothered to drag him into a tent and warm him up.


Dear Mr. Wallace...

Perhaps your website might serve a great benefit to its readers, and become more widely linked.

Consider that the errors of the humans, are the errors of one's own mind, by design of the mind. We are each the other guy to 6.55 billion people, with less chance that they are all wrong and we are right, because the human mind is of the same design.

Consider your website's mission statement...

# Examining what commonly used words and phrases really mean, as contrasted to what they appear to mean.

# Never forgetting that law is no substitute for morality, that a major part of moral standards cannot be enforced by laws, that all problems are best solved upstream, and that all rivers begin in the human heart.

Your examination failed before you clicked on the upload icon.

Problems are solved in the human mind, not upstream. Rivers do not begin in the human heart, and all rivers do not begin in the human heart.

You train your mind with the words you use, and then it controls you. How shall you train it?

If your mind learns to rationally express useful concepts with words that convey the meanings that are standardized in distributed printed form, and later you arrange words to reference your mind's illusions not conveyed by the meanings of the words you chose, the failure to convey useful knowledge to the other guy is inconsequential to your training your own brain to not understand the other guy's words when they hold their meanings.

The phenomenon is the source of most human conflict, verifiable against your every question and many others. It is common to institutional training, wherein the common meanings of many words are altered, for fear of their otherwise revealing the contradictions of the institutions. The institutions of lawyers and law schools are notable examples.

Consider lawyers as a primary example of the process societies use to stagnate human advancement by contradicting their own communication process.

Is it not so that the rule of written law cannot exist above the rule of personalities if the common people cannot understand the law as written?

If one must pay tribute to lawyers to be verbally told what the law means in its legalese written words that were intentionally complexified by lawyers and judge/lawyers on staffs writing statutes, codes, case laws, etceteras, is not the rule of personalities effected, giving advantage to the wealthy for protection of the law, and defining the absence of morality in all lawyers, by definition of their accepting the title for the needlessly manifested contradiction of their creation and ongoing profit?

If any lawyer or judge/lawyer states that this nation is under the rule of written law, when it is functionally under the rule of personalities (lawyers/judges) who have seized ownership of the law by making written law not understandable to the common people, is not that lawyer or judge/lawyer further void of morality?

If the US Supreme Court and all literate, thinking people, recognize that an inferior law contradicted by a superior law carries no weight, effect or enforceability as law, while any lawyer or judge/lawyer applies an inferior law contradicted by a superior law, as has become the case for over 90 percent of the applied laws, lucrative to lawyers, judges and government agencies, have not that lawyer or judge/lawyer, and every lawyer aware of the fraud without filing criminal charges against the lawyer, again shown lawyers, by the meanings of the words, to be void of morality, and constituting criminal minds?

If a lawyer, indemnified by his government license as a lawyer or attorney, for referencing the wrong law to a client, therein damaging the client, fails to emphasize to his client that the lawyer is presenting only legal opinion and advice, not the law itself, and that the client is ultimately accountable to the prevailing law as written, or the judge's choice of inferior laws, thus voiding the wisdom of using a lawyer, is that lawyer's void of morality not again revealed?

If it is the known legal duty of every officer of the government and court, therefore any lawyer, to initiate due process of law upon recognition of evidence that a law has been violated, and the evasion of a known legal duty is a crime, then does not a court judge's application of an inferior law to deny a jury trial otherwise available under the superior law, as has become the norm in American courts, without a client's lawyer filing criminal charges against the judge for evasion of a known legal duty, perjury to oath of office, fraud, using power of office and color of law to effect an unlawful damage, and other crimes, identify the client's lawyer as a criminal and again void of morality?

If the common law is predicated on the most accurate reasoning for any human action, sustained against the test of time and numbers of cases with varieties of defendants, and nullifies the lawful application of any inferior case law, and lawyers and judge/lawyers refuse to remove the inferior laws from the case law books, to therefore fool unquestioning people into perceiving that cited inferior case laws are law, are not lawyers and judges again demonstrated to be universally void of morality, and willfully defrauding people who use lawyers?

There are many more such questions, illuminating why lawyers, categorically void of morality, and repugnant to the rule of written law, are the most intensely hated professional subculture where they exist, and increasingly so as they write, retain in law books and apply more inferior laws contradicted by superior laws, to derive more wealth for more lawyers intentionally fabricating otherwise resolved arguments among contradicting laws.

If I foolishly believed, rather than sooner questioned the lies told to me by the American DemocanRepublicrat Regime, and therefore became an Army airborne ranger infantry officer, and assisted with the slaughter of Vietnamese people who wisely refused to kowtow to said American regime ruled by repugnant lawyers rather than written law, with lawyers universally hated more than common dictators, would I not wisely apologize for my damaging ignorance, and because said regime and its lawyers have only become more malicious and greedy, would I not publicly recommend that any moral or honest young person avoid the military or law school at any cost, as I have and do?

Would not any honest person who similarly erred by being a lawyer, do the same?

Consider applying your answers, if you answered the questions. You will not violate your principles. You will define them.

With Americans still being taught that emotion-based decisions are made by the heart, a blood pump, instead of the brain, a reasoning device, it is little wonder that Americans still believe that they are under the rule of written law, and the military can achieve peace, much to the amusement of the observers.

May you learn the most knowledge of the most concepts, most efficiently, to escape these intellectual dark ages.

And have entirely too much fun doing that.

Doug Buchanan