Laconia incident

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Isolder74
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Isolder74 »

The big problem with your view on the Laconia incident on a moral standpoint is one thing. This was in no ways motivated at by any kind of humanitarian motives but entirely political ones. You seem to constantly ignore that little detail.

Also you condemn the attacking of a submarine picking up Italian Prisoners of War as immoral but continue to ignore the fact that this was done by a nation that not only set the precedence that any warship doing so was a legitimate target and now it was this nation that was trying to insist that the precedence be ignored. That is what was immoral in this situation. The outright hypocrisy of the Nazis in this situation is very telling. To ignore that is ignoring the entire moral implication of the previous incidents in order to try and twist this one into a immoral action. That is a very non sequitur point to try and make.

Mentioning Dresden is a literal strawman as part of this entire discussion and as such is entirely irrelevant to the situation being discussed.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Bakustra »

Stuart wrote:
Bakustra wrote: Thank you. Every time I send a little jibe your way, you live down to it. How low can you go, sir? How low? Maybe you could address the rest of my post, instead of confirming that yes, you do fail to simulate a human being.
You're welcome. I see you are nothing but a dumb-ass kid. Try to grow up a little, it may make you woth bothering with. At the moment you seem incapable of coming up with anything approaching a reasoned argument. FYI stanping your little feet is not a reasoned argument.
I see that I'm angering you, and that you might've found the profile button so you could get my actual age. Or maybe you didn't, and you're just pulling this out to try and piss me off too. Well, I'm currently suppressing a few snickers from where I'm at, so I don't think it's working. Maybe you could, like, actually address me. That'd be pretty radical. Or maybe you define adult as "people letting you splooge all over their face and call it water" in which case I don't quite know how to respond.

Now, it occurred to me that there might be people out there confused about my actual argument, or that have just tuned in or whatever. So I'll go over it again. I am saying that I feel that the bombing of the submarines rescuing individuals from the wreck of the Laconia was an immoral action because the bomber targeted the submarines that were pulling people aboard at the time, and so would have killed the survivors ("hostages" :lol: ) if they had sunk the submarines. Thusly, while it was a legitimate target and attack, the fact that the Americans were willing to kill all the survivors to get to the submarines makes it an immoral one in my book. Now, other people have presented alternate moral arguments, but they rely on suspending morality if you're fighting the right kind of people. I will leave the problems with applying that to WWII to the audience.
Isolder74 wrote:The big problem with your view on the Laconia incident on a moral standpoint is one thing. This was in no ways motivated at by any kind of humanitarian motives but entirely political ones. You seem to constantly ignore that little detail.

Also you condemn the attacking of a submarine picking up Italian Prisoners of War as immoral but continue to ignore the fact that this was done by a nation that not only set the precedence that any warship doing so was a legitimate target and now it was this nation that was trying to insist that the precedence be ignored. That is what was immoral in this situation. The outright hypocrisy of the Nazis in this situation is very telling. To ignore that is ignoring the entire moral implication of the previous incidents in order to try and twist this one into a immoral action. That is a very non sequitur point to try and make.

Mentioning Dresden is a literal strawman as part of this entire discussion and as such is entirely irrelevant to the situation being discussed.
The political argument is a non-starter. The US gives out humanitarian aid for political reasons, but attacking one of our ships carrying medical supplies to say, Haiti would be wrong, would it not? If selfish motives disqualify the idea of humanitarian aid, then there are few nations indeed which are legitimately humanitarian. Feel free to name some. I mean, if I pissed all over the Haiti thread by denouncing the imperialism of the US in sending aid, then you and many others would no doubt be on me, and quite justifiably.

The captain did not say that precedent was to be ignored. All he did was broadcast his intentions, state that he would not fire except in self-defense, invite other ships to help, and lay out the flag of the Red Cross. Either this was to further show his intentions or it was an attempt to keep people from attacking him, but either way, he didn't claim that he should be immune to attack, but merely proposed an informal truce while he pulled people out of the water. He also was doing this in accordance with the Naval Protocol of 1936 which Germany signed and violations of which Doenitz was tried for at Nuremberg. Now, the German government's response can be said to be hypocritical, but that has nothing to do with whether it was moral to bomb the submarines or not.

I brought up Dresden as an example of a legitimate action that is nevertheless seen as an atrocity by many. Slade decided to make a big point out of it, and so I responded, as did Vehrec.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Stuart »

Bakustra wrote: I see that I'm angering you, and that you might've found the profile button so you could get my actual age. Or maybe you didn't, and you're just pulling this out to try and piss me off too. Well, I'm currently suppressing a few snickers from where I'm at, so I don't think it's working. Maybe you could, like, actually address me. That'd be pretty radical. Or maybe you define adult as "people letting you splooge all over their face and call it water" in which case I don't quite know how to respond.
That's really rich coming from you sonce you've refused throughout to address the issues involved. But that's all one can expect from an ignorant and very foolish child.
Now, it occurred to me that there might be people out there confused about my actual argument, or that have just tuned in or whatever. So I'll go over it again. I am saying that I feel that the bombing of the submarines rescuing individuals from the wreck of the Laconia was an immoral action because the bomber targeted the submarines that were pulling people aboard at the time, and so would have killed the survivors ("hostages" :lol: ) if they had sunk the submarines. Thusly, while it was a legitimate target and attack, the fact that the Americans were willing to kill all the survivors to get to the submarines makes it an immoral one in my book. Now, other people have presented alternate moral arguments, but they rely on suspending morality if you're fighting the right kind of people. I will leave the problems with applying that to WWII to the audience.
You've failed to justify your suggestion that the attack was 'immoral' except by making the fiat statement that it was so. FYI your assertions are not fact. You are required to demonstrate why it should be considered 'immoral'; your opinion that it is so does not count.

So, support your statement or concede.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Vehrec »

Stuart wrote:Why was Dresden an atrocity? There were very good reasons why the city was a target. As to leaving the crew of teh Bismarck to swim, what do you suggest? Pull a cruiser with a thousand men on board to a dead halt so she can carry out rescue operations, accepting that the enemy submarine force has a long history of torpedoing ships doing just that? Are you going to risk the men on your ship to try and save men from another whose comrades are very likely to kill you while you do it? The sort of comments you are making are very easy to make in a nice warm office, sitting in a comfortable chair and typing words into a computer. They are much harder to make on the open bridge of a ship in a North Atlantic storm with enemy submarines hunting you.
There were very good reasons not to target the city-namely that the war was nearly over. Dresden was attacked less than four months before V-E day. Most of what was produced there were components, and therefore would need several months to reach the front lines as usable war material. Furthermore, the majority of these factories were not targets of the attacks, it was instead an attack on the city's housing first and foremost. It did have some validity as a transport target, but not in proportion to the destruction visited upon the city. Lastly, any justification of the horrible destruction and the loss of 25,000 lives would have to be centered upon demonstrations that the destruction of Dresden somehow forestalled greater loss of life and property. I have never seen serious attempts to make such demonstrations. Aurthur Harris may not have considered the lives of those lost to have any worth compared to even the slightest disadvantage, but I think differently.

As for the Bismark, I will readily admit to the existence of a U-boat threat...but that doesn't prevent dropping rafts or sending destroyers in to pick up survivors-those ships were supposed to expose themselves to attack in any event. The British had no way of knowing how many U-boats were in the area, their capabilities and disposition were unknown, yes. But they also had to be able to see that the sea-state was fairly high which prevented the U-74 from making it's attack historically. Take the appropriate precautions but by all means, make the attempt.
The alternative to using precedent is to make things up as we go along. Do you really want to live under a system where you can walk into a courtroom charged with driving at 35mph in a 25mph limit and not know whether you will be fined $10.00 or executed?
Nice false dilemma. The resonable alternative to mindless precedent is to think things through. It might be somewhat more cumbersome to think things through as opposed to simply using quick and fast rules of thumb, but that disadvantage does not mean that the outcome of legal decisions would be totally random and unpredictable.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Bakustra »

The reason that I find it immoral is because it recklessly endangers the survivors which does not, to my mind, equal the benefit gained by sinking the submarines. Further than that, you are demanding universal morality, but I am sorry to say that the universe does not agree with you as to whether that really exists. Again, welcome to 100-level philosophy.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Kane Starkiller »

A single U-boat could sink many Allied ships during its lifetime and easily cause thousands of deaths and billions of dollars losses in the war material carried to the battlefields in Europe at the time when people were dying by the thousands every day. How exactly does bombing U-boats even over survivors doesn't equal the benefit?
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Stuart »

Vehrec wrote: There were very good reasons not to target the city-namely that the war was nearly over. Dresden was attacked less than four months before V-E day. Most of what was produced there were components, and therefore would need several months to reach the front lines as usable war material. Furthermore, the majority of these factories were not targets of the attacks, it was instead an attack on the city's housing first and foremost. It did have some validity as a transport target, but not in proportion to the destruction visited upon the city. Lastly, any justification of the horrible destruction and the loss of 25,000 lives would have to be centered upon demonstrations that the destruction of Dresden somehow forestalled greater loss of life and property. I have never seen serious attempts to make such demonstrations. Arthur Harris may not have considered the lives of those lost to have any worth compared to even the slightest disadvantage, but I think differently.
The counter-arguments there are that the decision to take Dresden out was made when the Battle of the Bulge was in full swing and the early defeat of Germany was by no means assured (or so it seemed; we know different now of course). It was a major transport center and the only remaining north-south junction so its elimination was of major aid to the Russian armed forces. Also, we have a problem that we are discussing the technology that existed in 1945. This was damned good by the standards of 1941 but faintly ridiculous by the standards of 2011. Today, we are used to the fact that we can take pinpoint targets out with ease but back then a pinpoint target was a whole city. There were many attempts to get more precise than that but they all failed. In 1941, the RAF sometimes bombed the wrong country, let alone the wrong factory within a city (I always partner that by pointing out that the USAF once hit the wrong continent so that the British won't feel too bad). Even in 1945, taking out individual targets within a city was not practical. As to a loss/benefit analysis, this is a complex subject that is hard to calculate even now (and many attempts have been made). For example, the Germans deployed 20,000 anti-aircraft guns to defend their cities against bombing. What would those 20,000 guns have achieved if they had been deployed on (say) the Russian front? What damage would the production lost to allied bombing have caused? (To give a datapoint there, its believed that just dispersing factories away from bombing reduced production by over 20 percent).

Above all, we have to remember to calculate such exchange rates using the data available at the time, not what we know now. Now, we know that the bombing was much less effective than was believed then but that information wasn't available. To give you a little idea of how important Dresden was considered, until October 1944, it was assumed that the atomic bomb would be used against Germany first. Would you like to guess what city was at the top of the target list?

Today, bombing Dresden would indeed be an atrocity; back then it was the best of a bad job.
As for the Bismark, I will readily admit to the existence of a U-boat threat...but that doesn't prevent dropping rafts or sending destroyers in to pick up survivors-those ships were supposed to expose themselves to attack in any event. The British had no way of knowing how many U-boats were in the area, their capabilities and disposition were unknown, yes. But they also had to be able to see that the sea-state was fairly high which prevented the U-74 from making it's attack historically. Take the appropriate precautions but by all means, make the attempt.
Except that the quantities of life-saving equipment carried on board ships were barely sufficient for the own-crew. They didn't carry spares. Also, ships would have to stop to deploy such equipment - boat handling is a skilled art. The Brits did know how many U-boats were in the area and they did know that they had orders to aid Bismarck by attacking allied warships so the threat was very real. In those days, the only way major ships could protect themselves against submarine attack was to hold reasonably high speeds. Sending in destroyers still means risking the lives of 400 men plus per destroyer and the British were desperately short of destroyers. Finally, there were U-boat sightings so the threat was very real - and U-boats had a demonstrated history of firing on ships picking up survivors. So, no rescue for teh Bismarck survivors. As I've said all along, its situations like that which make it better not to go to war in the first place.

Actually, thinking about it, Bismarck could have saved her survivors by striking her colors once she was damaged beyond hope of recovery. That would have allowed British ships to take the survivors off the decks and saved hundreds of lives. Instead, the Germans refused to do so and scuttled the ship so they could make the propaganda claim that 'she hadn't been sunk' (for heaven's sake let's not get into THAT argument :D ). Viewed from that perspective, the Germans must carry a heavy dollop of responsibility for the loss of life.

War's a very bad thing because bad things happen in it; I've got good reason to know that more than most. That's why its better not to start wars and if stuck with one, its best to finish them quickly. They get worse as time goes on and bitterness builds.

One has to wonder what would have happened if there had been a convention (say established in 1908) by which ships picking up survivors could (say) fly a green cross that gave them temporary immunity from attack for a fixed period - there would have to be controls on that of course. Then, when Weddingen was about to launch his attack, his XO shot him dead because the ships were flying "The Green Cross". It would be a lot nicer world, wouldn't it? But, it never happened that way and the situations around Laconia, Bismarck and hundreds of other ships sunk in two world wars are the result.
Nice false dilemma. The resonable alternative to mindless precedent is to think things through. It might be somewhat more cumbersome to think things through as opposed to simply using quick and fast rules of thumb, but that disadvantage does not mean that the outcome of legal decisions would be totally random and unpredictable.
It's not really a false dilemma, if we eliminate precedent we take the handcuffs off the court system and somebody, somewhere will go mad with power as a result. They always do. We do actually have a system for thinking it through, the placing of appeals and precedent can be ignored or re-written if inapplicable. The problem here was that there was no need to re-write. The case was quite clear-cut. precedent applied.
Last edited by Stuart on 2011-01-27 01:28pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by PeZook »

Bakustra wrote:
PeZook wrote:If we declare the bombing immoral because it killed survivors, then we must also declare immoral every single hostage rescue action ever taken in which some of the hostages died or were injured.

It is not moral to let a hostage taker get what he wants and let him go to avoid death or injury to hostages, because...then he will go on to take more hostages, or train people to take hostages, causing more misery and harm in the future.
So the people they were pulling out of the water were hostages? You're smarter than this. There was no need to take hostages, since he could have left on his merry way. He stopped and other ships were brought in- to pull people from the water. He was only abiding by the Naval Protocol of 1936, so I guess that any sub that did that was hostage-taking- oh, this is because he was a Kraut jerry German Nazi, right? And apparently Nazis are Untermenschen. I forgot.
Oh fuck off you sanctimonious prick. Oh my God, the analogy is not perfect!

I was illustrating the situation. Hostages are innocent victims ; Whether they are held deliberately to prevent attack or accidentally is irrelevant. I can easily ask you a question about whether, say, bombing a tank standing next to a civilian building is immoral (or shooting a suicide bomber in a crowd)?

A submarine could easily go on to kill hundreds, possibly thousands of people,directly and indirectly (by destroying equipment and supplies). Therefore, from an actual utilitarian standpoint, you should definitely attack a warship if given the opportunity, especially if it's a sub and it will probably get away if it submerges to wreak havoc later.

You are of course also constantly ignoring the fact the whole thing was political, not humanitarian anyway.
Bakustra wrote: But, going with the insanity for a moment and assuming that they were hostages, then if you conducted a "hostage rescue" by blowing up the building, or machine-gunning the area, then you would not be able to get off scot-free in a reasonable society. At least you would be culpable for reckless endangerment and negligent homicide.
Ah, you see, unlike mine, your analogy is actually terrible, because sinking a submarine obviously requires more firepower than shooting a terrorist through a window. Your analogy would be like blowing up a city to sink one warship. I assumed a proportionary response.
Bakustra wrote: Man, it's... it's almost as though you can take humanitarian actions at one time and kill people at another time! Damn, I guess that there may be some complexity or something to human behaviors! Oh no, we can't pigeonhole this guy into the "kill kill kill" or "let him live" categories! Society is collapsing!!
It's nice that you completely ignored my actual justification for preserving the sanctity of the red cross symbol.
Bakustra wrote: He put out the flags to indicate what he was doing, along with making his broadcast and refusing to fire unless in self-defense. If you feel that the ideal in wartime is for warships to let people die because of legal niceties, just say that you're a callous individual who cares little for sailor fuckheads so.
And I will restate again: if that was to become standard practice, genuine Red Cross vehicles would start being attacked as a matter of course, since it sets a precedent that you can just get yourself temporary immunity by draping your armed combat vehicle in a Red Cross flag. Hence why all conventions require red cross vehicles to be unarmed and clearly marked.
Bakustra wrote: Your morality amazes me. Anything goes, as long as it kills Nazis. Hey, could I rape a Nazi, as long as I kill him or her afterwards? Could I do so if I produced a study showing that doing so had a non-zero impact on Nazi war capacity? Could I cast a genocide spell to wipe out all Germans from the Earth, seeing as that would end the war almost immediately? Could this be used to justify any action in any war, as long as you have sufficient propaganda to convince your populace of the evil of the opposition? Does this lead to monstrous ends if applied? Will you back off from your disgusting proposal or pretend that you implied some sort of limit to it? I hope that these questions and more will be answered soon!
These questions are completely asinine and nothing remotely like that retarded no limits fallacy was stated or even implied by me.
Bakustra wrote:He also was doing this in accordance with the Naval Protocol of 1936 which Germany signed and violations of which Doenitz was tried for at Nuremberg. Now, the German government's response can be said to be hypocritical, but that has nothing to do with whether it was moral to bomb the submarines or not.
Oh, who's the legalistic prick now? Hartenstein violated the procols the moment he torpedoed Laconia without identifying the ship and inspecting it. Had he followed the protocols, he'd have to let the ship go, as Stuart pointed out earlier in the thread.
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Re: Laconia incident

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Bakustra wrote:The reason that I find it immoral is because it recklessly endangers the survivors which does not, to my mind, equal the benefit gained by sinking the submarines. Further than that, you are demanding universal morality, but I am sorry to say that the universe does not agree with you as to whether that really exists. Again, welcome to 100-level philosophy.
You've got to be trolling; there's no other explanation for such a childish argument.

The reason there are survivors is because the U-Boat torpedoed the ship they were on... hardly a moral act to begin with. And now you're criticizing the B-24 crew for daring to attack that same submarine? Absolutely childish... :roll:
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Stuart »

Bakustra wrote:The reason that I find it immoral is because it recklessly endangers the survivors which does not, to my mind, equal the benefit gained by sinking the submarines. Further than that, you are demanding universal morality, but I am sorry to say that the universe does not agree with you as to whether that really exists. Again, welcome to 100-level philosophy.
Once again, you're quoting your opinion as support for your opinion. Try again. I am meerely pointing out that you are quoting your opinion as an absolute when it is not.

PS I hadn't looked up your profile; it is painfully obvious that you are very naive and inexperienced.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant »

I know this is going back a very long way, but at Salamis, the Greeks put a landing force ashore to leeward of the battle precisely in order to kill any shipwrecked Persians trying to make it to safety. Codes of ethics do vary over time.

I don't know why it is so dificult to grasp Stuart's explanations here, it is the perfectly recognisable and characteristic logic of total war- to quote Sherman, "War is hell, and you cannot refine it." Cannot, and also should not- the more brutal and decisive it is (always supposing, of course, that brutality leads to decisiveness, which I'm not convinced of, more later)- the more likely it is to be over soon, and the world to have been changed by the outcome of the war in such a way as makes it less likely to reoccur. This also crosses into the logic of deterrence- the more terrible it is likely to be, the less likely it is to be a viable option for the state contemplating it, and the less likely it is to happen at all.
So the humanitarian end is effectively served by the practise of unlimited terror. it sounds intuitively insane, but that's military logic for you. I suspect, however, that there are at least two invalidating devils in the details.

Hartenstein appears to have been thinking according to a completely different set of moral rules born out of centuries of European limited war, or possibly more accurately a period in which power could not be projected well enough to make total war even feasible. The landscape frequently remained more or less the same after the war, and the participants had to exist as members of the same wider european community, the parts of which operated according to more or less the same code of morals and ethics and statecraft as each other.
Yes, fighting men were supposed to try to kill each other, but there was no sense being bloody-minded about it. There would be an afterwards, there was a society with no moral investment in the battlefield to judge the participants, and there was a requirement to be an officer and a gentleman. Theoretically, anyway. Limits to conduct make much more sense in the context of limited war.

There are a surprisingly large number of anecdotes suggesting how readily the peacetime-trained U-boat man reverted from being one of the Grey Wolves to rounding up survivors and pointing them in the direction of safety; what was unique about the Laconia incident was the number of survivors and the risks Hartenstein took.
Oh, according to the rules then in effect- he had heard her at gunnery practise. He knew she was armed and therefore viable as a target.
Weddigen, by contrast, was an early practitioner of total war- and just as a sidelight, the all time ace of aces, Lothar von Arnauld de la Periere, sank a hundred and ninety-six ships totalling four hundred and fifty-five thousand tons almost entirely according to the prize rules, expending a grand total of six torpedoes in his entire career.


Those invalidating devils are, first, I'm more than half convinced that the usefulness of war as a tool of statecraft is diminished by the logic of absolute ruthlessness. It means there is no longer any such thing as a minor war, and limits are only set by budget and manpower, not by objectives and ethics. The scalpels are what, in a previous generation, would be considered terrorism in their own right. This removes a lot of ethical barriers from the battlefield and indirectly weakens those in civil society also.

Second, I very much doubt that a society that places much value on life, or law and precedent even, actually can practise unlimited war any more, for any less than unlimited aims- I think there may well be a cultural ceiling to hit here with how far a society is prepared to go, how much willingness to have force exerted on its' behalf it really has, and that ceiling falls well below what it takes to make the deterrent effect entirely believable. For most nations, anyway.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Isolder74 »

Bakustra wrote:
Isolder74 wrote:The big problem with your view on the Laconia incident on a moral standpoint is one thing. This was in no ways motivated at by any kind of humanitarian motives but entirely political ones. You seem to constantly ignore that little detail.

Also you condemn the attacking of a submarine picking up Italian Prisoners of War as immoral but continue to ignore the fact that this was done by a nation that not only set the precedence that any warship doing so was a legitimate target and now it was this nation that was trying to insist that the precedence be ignored. That is what was immoral in this situation. The outright hypocrisy of the Nazis in this situation is very telling. To ignore that is ignoring the entire moral implication of the previous incidents in order to try and twist this one into a immoral action. That is a very non sequitur point to try and make.

Mentioning Dresden is a literal strawman as part of this entire discussion and as such is entirely irrelevant to the situation being discussed.
The political argument is a non-starter. The US gives out humanitarian aid for political reasons, but attacking one of our ships carrying medical supplies to say, Haiti would be wrong, would it not? If selfish motives disqualify the idea of humanitarian aid, then there are few nations indeed which are legitimately humanitarian. Feel free to name some. I mean, if I pissed all over the Haiti thread by denouncing the imperialism of the US in sending aid, then you and many others would no doubt be on me, and quite justifiably.

The captain did not say that precedent was to be ignored. All he did was broadcast his intentions, state that he would not fire except in self-defense, invite other ships to help, and lay out the flag of the Red Cross. Either this was to further show his intentions or it was an attempt to keep people from attacking him, but either way, he didn't claim that he should be immune to attack, but merely proposed an informal truce while he pulled people out of the water. He also was doing this in accordance with the Naval Protocol of 1936 which Germany signed and violations of which Doenitz was tried for at Nuremberg. Now, the German government's response can be said to be hypocritical, but that has nothing to do with whether it was moral to bomb the submarines or not.

I brought up Dresden as an example of a legitimate action that is nevertheless seen as an atrocity by many. Slade decided to make a big point out of it, and so I responded, as did Vehrec.
Bakustra wrote:The reason that I find it immoral is because it recklessly endangers the survivors which does not, to my mind, equal the benefit gained by sinking the submarines. Further than that, you are demanding universal morality, but I am sorry to say that the universe does not agree with you as to whether that really exists. Again, welcome to 100-level philosophy.
Danger the U-boat put them in as part of an action of war.

First thing to keep in mind is if it wasn't Italian POWS the subs would not have done it. Playing lovey dovey with one of your allies is NOT a Humanitarian motivation, at all. The United States government would not put medical supplies on board a warship to ship them to Haiti as part of any humanitarian action because of this kind of situation. Sinking an unarmed freighter filled with medical supplies not part of a declared war would be a major war crime. Once again you've pulled out another massive strawman. Are you afraid of crows?

All of which he did illegally seeing that he did not disarm his ship and with the previous precedence set by his own navy made a useless measure anyway. To claim otherwise is not a valid argument. Considering that the same sub attacked and sank another ship later in it's tour of duty without even attempting this time to pick up any survivors make your attempt to claim immoral actions on the part of the Allies in this case not only the most moral action to take but completely justified. So when it's Italian POWS they'll stop and pick them up but not when it's just the crew of the sunken ship. The very definition of hypocrisy. Moreover the head of the Sub fleet attempted to convince the allies to allow them to perform the operation. Thus making both culpable to the situation.

This all coming from the same navy that was willing to torpedo warships picking up survivors from a ship they sank. When you declare unrestricted submarine warfare you make all of your submarines legitimate targets whenever they are sighted no ifs, ands, or buts. No matter what they are doing. End of story drive thru.

The only grounds you have for it being immoral was as part of the attack some of those survivors were hurt by the actions of the bomber crew. This harm to them was the result of the U-boat sinking the ship in the first place. Then as part of the rescue action made by the U-boat. Said rescue action the U-boat should not have attempted to have done in the first place. If anyone's action was immoral in this situation is was that of the U-boat captain.

And pertaining to this incident Dresden is a strawman and irrelevant to the entire argument.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Samuel »

So the humanitarian end is effectively served by the practise of unlimited terror. it sounds intuitively insane, but that's military logic for you. I suspect, however, that there are at least two invalidating devils in the details.
That isn't what Stuart is saying. He is saying that you are allowed to be ruthless towards the destruction of military targets, but not innocents- that is why the red cross exists and you aren't allowed to shot medics.

Unlimited terror doesn't work so good against dictators who tend to not have to worry about serving on the front and only care about the victory.
Hartenstein appears to have been thinking according to a completely different set of moral rules born out of centuries of European limited war, or possibly more accurately a period in which power could not be projected well enough to make total war even feasible.
:lol:
He was a u-boat captain. The spent their time sinking merchant ships. I don't see how he could hold an 18th century view when his purpose was to attack civilians.
There are a surprisingly large number of anecdotes suggesting how readily the peacetime-trained U-boat man reverted from being one of the Grey Wolves to rounding up survivors and pointing them in the direction of safety; what was unique about the Laconia incident was the number of survivors and the risks Hartenstein took.
I'm pretty sure that is mandatory for all navys.
Those invalidating devils are, first, I'm more than half convinced that the usefulness of war as a tool of statecraft is diminished by the logic of absolute ruthlessness.
Didn't you just say that making war brutal was the point to prevent people from engaging in war :?
Second, I very much doubt that a society that places much value on life, or law and precedent even, actually can practise unlimited war any more, for any less than unlimited aims- I think there may well be a cultural ceiling to hit here with how far a society is prepared to go, how much willingness to have force exerted on its' behalf it really has, and that ceiling falls well below what it takes to make the deterrent effect entirely believable. For most nations, anyway.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Simon_Jester »

Vehrec wrote:As for the Bismark, I will readily admit to the existence of a U-boat threat...but that doesn't prevent dropping rafts or sending destroyers in to pick up survivors-those ships were supposed to expose themselves to attack in any event. The British had no way of knowing how many U-boats were in the area, their capabilities and disposition were unknown, yes. But they also had to be able to see that the sea-state was fairly high which prevented the U-74 from making it's attack historically. Take the appropriate precautions but by all means, make the attempt.
Speaking for myself, it seems to me that in a war between X and Y, if X is going to pick up survivors from one of Y's ships, Y should cooperate by not shooting X's ships while they do so. If Y refuses to cooperate, it is not unreasonable for X to refuse to risk ships and men making a rescue attempt.

If you believe that the loss of one of my destroyers justifies killing dozens or hundreds of your own men, it seems logical for me to make the reciprocal judgment and decide that the loss of one of my destroyers does not justify saving dozens or hundreds of your own men. After all, you are my enemy, and clearly do not have my best interests in mind when you sink one of my ships. If it's a good deal for you to destroy one of my ships at the price of dooming your own men in the water, it's a bad deal for me to take the risk that this will happen.

Even ignoring that practical concern, there is still an issue of fairness: you do not have a right to presume that I will risk my life to save you when you are actively trying to kill me while I do so.

That includes destroyers, which by this point tipped the scales at one to two thousand tons and had crews of over a hundred.

So no, I'm not going to blame the British for refusing to pick up survivors from Bismarck.

With the Laconia incident, we see a mirror image of this on the German side: in this case, the U-boat did decide to pick up survivors, and nearly got their fool heads blown off for it. It is natural for them to decide, at this point, that it really isn't worth trying to rescue survivors off of sinking ships, naval protocols be damned. I can't blame them for that, any more than I blame the British for not picking up survivors off Bismarck.
Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:I don't know why it is so dificult to grasp Stuart's explanations here, it is the perfectly recognisable and characteristic logic of total war- to quote Sherman, "War is hell, and you cannot refine it." Cannot, and also should not- the more brutal and decisive it is (always supposing, of course, that brutality leads to decisiveness, which I'm not convinced of, more later)- the more likely it is to be over soon, and the world to have been changed by the outcome of the war in such a way as makes it less likely to reoccur. This also crosses into the logic of deterrence- the more terrible it is likely to be, the less likely it is to be a viable option for the state contemplating it, and the less likely it is to happen at all.

So the humanitarian end is effectively served by the practise of unlimited terror. it sounds intuitively insane, but that's military logic for you. I suspect, however, that there are at least two invalidating devils in the details.
Personally I'm inclined to agree; unfortunately, the modern era seems to have made it nearly impossible to impose restraint- too many people circling the battlefield with too much in the way of high explosives and too many itchy trigger fingers.

And, to be frank, too many people sitting a thousand miles behind the lines urging greater brutality for the sake of winning the war quicker, in every nation involved in the conflict. Three hundred years ago, the most vicious ogre of any given war would usually be found on the front lines with sword in hand; today, you're more likely to find him in an office planning a dehousing program or a labor camp.
Yes, fighting men were supposed to try to kill each other, but there was no sense being bloody-minded about it. There would be an afterwards, there was a society with no moral investment in the battlefield to judge the participants, and there was a requirement to be an officer and a gentleman. Theoretically, anyway. Limits to conduct make much more sense in the context of limited war.

There are a surprisingly large number of anecdotes suggesting how readily the peacetime-trained U-boat man reverted from being one of the Grey Wolves to rounding up survivors and pointing them in the direction of safety; what was unique about the Laconia incident was the number of survivors and the risks Hartenstein took.
Oh, according to the rules then in effect- he had heard her at gunnery practise. He knew she was armed and therefore viable as a target.
Hmm. Could you cite this? I don't disagree, I'd just like a citation.
Those invalidating devils are, first, I'm more than half convinced that the usefulness of war as a tool of statecraft is diminished by the logic of absolute ruthlessness. It means there is no longer any such thing as a minor war, and limits are only set by budget and manpower, not by objectives and ethics. The scalpels are what, in a previous generation, would be considered terrorism in their own right. This removes a lot of ethical barriers from the battlefield and indirectly weakens those in civil society also.
Hmm. Let me see if I understand you.

To take an example, control of a province might shift as a result of a war: but if the Germans had known how much it would cost them to fight World War One, even assuming they'd won, they would have been sorely tempted not to fight at all. Carving a few puppet states out of the Russian frontier and making some gains in Belgium simply wouldn't have been worth it.

So in that context, war does become less useful as a tool of statecraft- on the other hand, that's sort of the point of the deterrence argument, no? If you know that a war that started over your desire to annex a province will result in ten million dead on both sides, why bother?
Second, I very much doubt that a society that places much value on life, or law and precedent even, actually can practise unlimited war any more, for any less than unlimited aims- I think there may well be a cultural ceiling to hit here with how far a society is prepared to go, how much willingness to have force exerted on its' behalf it really has, and that ceiling falls well below what it takes to make the deterrent effect entirely believable. For most nations, anyway.
And this tends to undermine the issue I raised above, though one must tread carefully around the assumption that another society won't practice an unlimited war. "You don't have the guts" are among the most famous last words of all time, not so?
Samuel wrote:
Hartenstein appears to have been thinking according to a completely different set of moral rules born out of centuries of European limited war, or possibly more accurately a period in which power could not be projected well enough to make total war even feasible.
:lol:
He was a u-boat captain. The spent their time sinking merchant ships. I don't see how he could hold an 18th century view when his purpose was to attack civilians.
Nonsense. Commerce raiding was a major aspect of Age of Sail warfare, complete with a small mountain of customs on the subject. Ships full of civilian mariners and cargoes were routinely stopped by roving warships, and fired into if they refused to stand down.

With the weapons less deadly and the risk of a merchantman calling for reinforcements reduced, of course, the customs were different. The Laconia incident is an illustration of how much worse the situation had become: larger ships carrying more people, that could nonetheless be sunk instantly by a single weapon, on an ocean where the enemy's aircraft and radios meant that either side could bring reinforcements to bear in a matter of minutes.

The Age of Sail customs become nearly suicidal to follow at that point: how do you go about giving the crew of a troop transport (or an ocean liner) time to abandon ship when you know they can radio for help any time they please, and that help might well come in the form of a B-24 full of bombs within a quarter of an hour?
There are a surprisingly large number of anecdotes suggesting how readily the peacetime-trained U-boat man reverted from being one of the Grey Wolves to rounding up survivors and pointing them in the direction of safety; what was unique about the Laconia incident was the number of survivors and the risks Hartenstein took.
I'm pretty sure that is mandatory for all navys.
And yet there were navies that didn't follow it: neither side did in the Pacific, neither side did so consistently in the Atlantic. I imagine that's not least because you were putting yourself in an unprecedented amount of danger in WWII by stopping to help survivors.

I'd argue the danger was great enough that stopping to help survivors should not be considered mandatory, especially not for ships operating alone in waters patrolled by the enemy.
Second, I very much doubt that a society that places much value on life, or law and precedent even, actually can practise unlimited war any more, for any less than unlimited aims- I think there may well be a cultural ceiling to hit here with how far a society is prepared to go, how much willingness to have force exerted on its' behalf it really has, and that ceiling falls well below what it takes to make the deterrent effect entirely believable. For most nations, anyway.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by PeZook »

Ghetto edit: I have forgotten the Laconia was armed, and thus concede on that point.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Bakustra »

PeZook, your entire proposed moral approach is that if somebody is evil enough, then you can disregard considerations of morality in order to kill them faster. This is exactly how the Nazis thought. They believed that undesirables didn't deserve moral treatment because they were evil in some way. I will fight until the sun burns out against the idea that you have to adopt Nazi ideology in order to fight Nazis. Now, I'm sure that you will backpedal ever-further from your pinheaded statement. You insisted that any morality should be secondary to defeating the forces of Satan Nazis. Either morality should be considered (and so raping and murdering Nazi POWs is wrong, and so would genocide, and so would killing civilians indiscriminately to damage industry, even if all three are different degrees of wrong) or it should be not, and it would be A-OK to push the "genocide Germany" button. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Meanwhile, the problem with using hostages is that it assumes that there was some ulterior purpose besides rescuing survivors, so that you can pretend that the hostages were human shields, rather than being the object of the mission they were performing. The idea that there should not be any temporary truces in war is I suppose defensible (though treating Conrad Hays as evil for his role in the Easter Truce of 1944 is frankly disturbing to me)- but he did not declare that he was immune from attack, nor did he fire at the bomber on its first pass or fire back when it attacked.

A submarine could go on to kill hundreds, or thousands of people, which is why we needed to kill about 800 right now in order to make sure that it's destroyed! Jesus Christ. Please, present the moral calculus which indicates that the immediate deaths of 1600 people (keep in mind that you cannot ensure how many of the survivors you will kill) is outweighed by the lives saved by sinking the U-Boats in question. Bear in mind that if we judge by effectiveness, the attack failed to significantly damage any of the submarines and helped precipitate the deaths of half the survivors. So incorporate the chances of success into your analysis. What do you say? Would you be willing to put your money where your mouth is?

Proportional force? The problem is that proportional force can do nothing but endanger the survivors! This is exactly like trying to rescue hostages when all you have are hand grenades. While the police have more finesse they can bring to bear, that means that the analogy is flawed, since the B-24 couldn't attack the submarines without risking the survivors. Perhaps there was no moral way to bomb the submarine. That's something that my system of morals allows.
SancheztheWhaler wrote:
Bakustra wrote:The reason that I find it immoral is because it recklessly endangers the survivors which does not, to my mind, equal the benefit gained by sinking the submarines. Further than that, you are demanding universal morality, but I am sorry to say that the universe does not agree with you as to whether that really exists. Again, welcome to 100-level philosophy.
You've got to be trolling; there's no other explanation for such a childish argument.

The reason there are survivors is because the U-Boat torpedoed the ship they were on... hardly a moral act to begin with. And now you're criticizing the B-24 crew for daring to attack that same submarine? Absolutely childish... :roll:
Your argument is garbage. It's childish to say that the survivors are legitimately innocents and so therefore killing them is an immoral action, and taking actions which endanger them is an immoral action, no matter what the U-boat did? I mean, if somebody shoots somebody and then administers first aid, it's A-OK for the police to kill the guy he's treating now? The actions of the U-Boat have nothing to do with whether the survivors deserve to die. Sinking the subs may or may not outweigh the survivors killed, but that depends on the weightings you assign, which is personal. Or do you have the underpinnings of a universal moral system? If so, please do share!
PeZook wrote:Ghetto edit: I have forgotten the Laconia was armed, and thus concede on that point.
I don't really think it matters all that much. If you go by the customary rules of war, then both sides violated that anyhow. If you go by the ideals of total war, then it doesn't matter if the Laconia was armed or not.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Big Phil »

Bakustra wrote:
SancheztheWhaler wrote:
Bakustra wrote:The reason that I find it immoral is because it recklessly endangers the survivors which does not, to my mind, equal the benefit gained by sinking the submarines. Further than that, you are demanding universal morality, but I am sorry to say that the universe does not agree with you as to whether that really exists. Again, welcome to 100-level philosophy.
You've got to be trolling; there's no other explanation for such a childish argument.

The reason there are survivors is because the U-Boat torpedoed the ship they were on... hardly a moral act to begin with. And now you're criticizing the B-24 crew for daring to attack that same submarine? Absolutely childish... :roll:
Your argument is garbage. It's childish to say that the survivors are legitimately innocents and so therefore killing them is an immoral action, and taking actions which endanger them is an immoral action, no matter what the U-boat did? I mean, if somebody shoots somebody and then administers first aid, it's A-OK for the police to kill the guy he's treating now? The actions of the U-Boat have nothing to do with whether the survivors deserve to die. Sinking the subs may or may not outweigh the survivors killed, but that depends on the weightings you assign, which is personal. Or do you have the underpinnings of a universal moral system? If so, please do share!
You have this nasty habit of getting into debates where you don't know shit and you end up spewing unrelated garbage over multiple pages... when said garbage amounts to nothing more than your personal opinion. And here you are again, using terrible analogies to try to improve your shitty argument. At the end of the day, you're going to make 30 or so posts, all of which can be boiled down to:
"Nyahh nyahh!!! You're a mean person [and I'm am immature little twat who is morally superior to you] because I say so! Nyahh nyahh!!!"
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Isolder74 »

Bakustra wrote: -Over wordy nonsense sniped-
Your morals are baloney

It has no bearing on the situation if there were 10,000 survivors surrounding the U-boat or only 10.

With your bringing up of Nazi POWS you are once again flooding the field with strawman after strawman. Other then adding pages and pages of text to the discussion you have done nothing to show how attacking the submarine was immoral other then your simply declaring it as such.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by General Trelane (Retired) »

Bakustra wrote:
PeZook wrote:Ghetto edit: I have forgotten the Laconia was armed, and thus concede on that point.
I don't really think it matters all that much. If you go by the customary rules of war, then both sides violated that anyhow. If you go by the ideals of total war, then it doesn't matter if the Laconia was armed or not.
It does matter in light of PeZook's earlier comment, which was:
PeZook wrote:Oh, who's the legalistic prick now? Hartenstein violated the procols the moment he torpedoed Laconia without identifying the ship and inspecting it. Had he followed the protocols, he'd have to let the ship go, as Stuart pointed out earlier in the thread.
Isolder74 wrote:Considering that the same sub attacked and sank another ship later in it's tour of duty without even attempting this time to pick up any survivors make your attempt to claim immoral actions on the part of the Allies in this case not only the most moral action to take but completely justified. So when it's Italian POWS they'll stop and pick them up but not when it's just the crew of the sunken ship. The very definition of hypocrisy.
It should be pointed out that the sinking of Quebec City came after Doenitz expressly forbade U-boat captains from rescuing survivors (i.e. the infamous Laconia orders).

Regarding continued claims by various posters that the rescue attempt was political and not humanitarian, why can it not be both? It seems clear that finding Italian POWs among the survivors was the initial motivation, and yet it also seems that finding women and children among the survivors also had a psychological impact. When Hartenstein 'requested' permission to rescue, other U-boat captains that heard it thought him crazy, but Doenitz allowed it because he thought that forbidding it would have too serious a negative impact on the crew morale (in addition to negative fall-out in Italian/German relations). This does not seem a black-and-white issue to me.

In any case, I have avoided discussing the morality/immorality of the bombing run before now, but I think any attempts to label it as immoral must also consider the consequences of allowing the U-boat to escape. For what it's worth, I think it was abhorrant, but if I was in Richardson's shoes, I would probably have sent the same order, "Sink sub".
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Simon_Jester »

Bakustra wrote:A submarine could go on to kill hundreds, or thousands of people, which is why we needed to kill about 800 right now in order to make sure that it's destroyed! Jesus Christ. Please, present the moral calculus which indicates that the immediate deaths of 1600 people (keep in mind that you cannot ensure how many of the survivors you will kill) is outweighed by the lives saved by sinking the U-Boats in question. Bear in mind that if we judge by effectiveness, the attack failed to significantly damage any of the submarines and helped precipitate the deaths of half the survivors. So incorporate the chances of success into your analysis. What do you say? Would you be willing to put your money where your mouth is?
Suppose that same submarine goes on to, say, blow up ten thousand tons of medical supplies and strategic resources that were bound to support troops on the Eastern Front? How many Russian soldiers die when ten thousand tons of supplies are not forthcoming?

Is that OK?

Please bear in mind that the people most qualified to perform the moral calculus in question are the ones who have the best idea of how lost supplies and shipping equate to lost lives... that is, people who are not you.

I do not laud the bombing of the U-boat in the Laconia incident. I don't feel I can make a strong statement beyond the (I believe to be neutral) observation that it is, in the literal sense, a damned shame when hundreds of stranded survivors in the water die so an aircraft can get a shot at the submarine trying to rescue them.

But I don't think it can be presented as a clear-cut case the way you have done so far. Large numbers of stranded survivors in the water keep it from being a clear-cut case of "duh, sink the U-boat," but the fact that the U-boat is a dangerous piece of military machinery keeps it from being a clear-cut case of "duh, rescue survivors."

This shouldn't be addressed with the kind of moral cluelessness implicit in an argument like "there should have been a better way!" Which is what I've been seeing from you.

I have my issues with some of the other presentations of the matter I've seen in this thread too. But aside from a few cases of gratuitous bloodthirstiness, I don't think there's anything that matches your position for sheer obdurate refusal to admit that the picture might be more complicated than whatever happens to be in front of your nose.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by K. A. Pital »

Bakustra wrote:But I feel, unlike many it seems, that Nazis are not actually subhuman, and so deserve the same treatment regardless of their actions. I mean, this is just like justifying prison rape- welp, they're bad guys, so they deserve to get forcibly sodomized regularly. Just because someone is a Nazi doesn't mean that they forfeit any human rights. But your understanding of morality is more "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth", so have fun with your vision loss!
I believe you failed comprehending what was actually said, Bakustra. The difference between bad guys in prison and the Nazis is easily understood - the former are captured and no longer pose a threat (except to other inmates). Their prison sentence is already enough to secure the world from their harmful influence, or should be so in theory. The Nazis were in no sort of "prison". One could argue this point a bit better if you'd pick, say, Japan in 1945 on the verge of defeat or whatnot, and defend it from that angle. A German submarine at the start of the war? It did help the defeat of Germany. Needless to say, Germany spent shitloads of metals, including rare ones, to build submarines.
Bakustra wrote:Your morality amazes me. Anything goes, as long as it kills Nazis. Hey, could I rape a Nazi, as long as I kill him or her afterwards? Could I do so if I produced a study showing that doing so had a non-zero impact on Nazi war capacity? Could I cast a genocide spell to wipe out all Germans from the Earth, seeing as that would end the war almost immediately? Could this be used to justify any action in any war, as long as you have sufficient propaganda to convince your populace of the evil of the opposition? Does this lead to monstrous ends if applied? Will you back off from your disgusting proposal or pretend that you implied some sort of limit to it? I hope that these questions and more will be answered soon!
I hope you stop being an idiot, Bakustra. So as long as less civilians die than the numbers Nazis killed, their deaths are justified, because they prevent yet greater deaths. If you're too much of a dumbass to understand the "philosophy 101" with some core, old dilemmas like saving ten people by killing one person, I believe you're not really discussing. You're being an idiot.

If you do a genocide spell on the Reich, you'd kill over a hundred million civilians - which is way more than the Nazis did. On the other side, if you cast a spell which kills all Wehrmacht soldiers and SS-men, guess what - that'd be moral.
Bakustra wrote:Either morality should be considered (and so raping and murdering Nazi POWs is wrong, and so would genocide, and so would killing civilians indiscriminately to damage industry, even if all three are different degrees of wrong) or it should be not, and it would be A-OK to push the "genocide Germany" button. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
Raping and murdering Nazi POWs is not necessary to defeat the Nazis. You're an idiot. Killing Nazi civilians is not necessary, by and large, to defeat Germany. Sometimes they die because it is necessary to destroy a factory or a plant, but the goal is not to kill the civilians. Utilitarian morality appeals to the diminishment of suffering. The longer Nazis are capable of waging war and killing people, the greater is the suffering. The sooner they are defeated (and guess what, all other nations treated Nazi prisoners a lot more decently than the Nazis did with the POWs they captures), the better.
Bakustra wrote:The idea that there should not be any temporary truces in war is I suppose defensible (though treating Conrad Hays as evil for his role in the Easter Truce of 1944 is frankly disturbing to me)
Temporary truces in a war where neither side is engaging in massive destruction of civilians? Sure. Temporary truces in a war with Nazis while they are actively perpetrating mass murder makes you complicit in this mass murder, idiot.
Bakustra wrote:A submarine could go on to kill hundreds, or thousands of people, which is why we needed to kill about 800 right now in order to make sure that it's destroyed! Jesus Christ.
In the circumstances of World War II, a submarine not only COULD do the above, but it necessarily WOULD. The only option where it would not is where it would be destroyed STRAIGHT after the rescue operation before it could score any kills whatsoever.
Bakustra wrote:Perhaps there was no moral way to bomb the submarine. That's something that my system of morals allows.
The ability to destroy it certainly is relevant. If it cannot be destroyed, the whole construct falls apart. If, however, the chance of destroying the submarine is high, the bombing is justified.
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Bakustra
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Bakustra »

Stas, if there was a correlation between atrocities and speeding up defeat of the Nazis, would that make committing the atrocities moral? I mean, the idea that we should abandon treating antagonists as human is- well, that was in one of the posts you ignored, and no doubt you'd be too mad to grasp it, so I'll leave off, and instead point again to the Easter truce of 1944, where US chaplains led a brief bilingual Easter service for both American and German soldiers. Should the Americans have used the willingness of the German troops to join the service as a ruse to butcher them all, assuming that this would aid the Allies in the war overall? I am not comfortable with justifying atrocities as moral because the other side is so much worse. I am not comfortable with the idea that we should trade morality for expediency whenever possible. That is what has been proposed throughout this thread, not just as a sad reality, but as some sort of ideal to be upheld.

The problem is that I am considering the morality of the situation in isolation because, well, to dip into science-talk, just because delta-morality is positive does not mean that either of the two compared situations is positive. Leaving the submarines to leave incurs them sinking more ships. Attacking them means slaughtering innocents. Perhaps there is not an actual moral course of action here, but merely a less immoral one.

Overall, I find your lectures on "philosophy 101" to be frankly nauseating. What if I were not a utilitarian? Would you insist that I adopt utilitarianism and abandon deontological morals or virtueism? Thankfully, I am a utilitarian, so discussion is theoretically possible. But let's go back to killing one to save ten. Neither of those two actions is moral on its own, and I would argue that this does not change, but rather it is the degree of immorality that differs. If you would like to claim that killing the one in said situation is moral rather than less immoral- then I suppose that under said system the actions of the crew would be moral. But please give your reasons why your terminology is superior and why I should be forced to adopt it.

Simon, most of what I wrote goes for you too. Please explain why it is better to classify morality as binary, such that we must divide the two practical choices (leaving the U-Boats alone and bombing them) into a moral and an immoral one.
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K. A. Pital
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by K. A. Pital »

Bakustra wrote:Stas, if there was a correlation between atrocities and speeding up defeat of the Nazis, would that make committing the atrocities moral?
You've never heard of the concept of lesser evil, right? One - this is illogical. Atrocities do not speed up defeat. In fact, they slow it down. Nazis killed almost a third of the population of Belarus; the only thing it did is produce the most massive partisan movement. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to even show a hypothetical situation where atrocities speed up defeat - much more so a real one.
Bakustra wrote:I mean, the idea that we should abandon treating antagonists as human is- well, that was in one of the posts you ignored, and no doubt you'd be too mad to grasp it
I said that the Nazis were treated as humans by the Allies. Or, in any case, MORE like humans than the Nazis themselves treated others. You missed this out? As a general rule, the Allies stuck to more or less proper war conduct. Whatever atrocities they commited did NOT speed up the defeat of the Nazis. So they stand on their own as acts of evil, and they are not excused. However, this particular case concerns an attack on a Nazi war asset with collateral casualties.
Bakustra wrote:I'll leave off, and instead point again to the Easter truce of 1944, where US chaplains led a brief bilingual Easter service for both American and German soldiers. Should the Americans have used the willingness of the German troops to join the service as a ruse to butcher them all, assuming that this would aid the Allies in the war overall?
Perhaps, if the Nazis were unshakable ubermen with unquestionable loyalty to the God Emperor. Whoops, they were not. A bilingual Easter service might have done more - the word would spread the Americans are "not that scary" and some Nazi units might end up giving up without a fight. Hey, that's speeding up Nazi defeat, isn't it? More so than these units fighting to the death because they know they'd be killed by treacherous Yankees. See? Isn't it simple?
Bakustra wrote:That is what has been proposed throughout this thread, not just as a sad reality, but as some sort of ideal to be upheld.
See above. You're an idiot. No one proposed commiting atrocities to speed up defeat. And in your example the atrocity would only SLOW the defeat, because Nazi soldiers would fight to the death, knowing their fate is no mercy. Like the SS did.
Bakustra wrote:What if I were not a utilitarian?
I wouldn't care. Although I do consider other systems to be worse than utilitarianism, because... frankly, they suck. If a system allows thousands to die to save the life of one, that system is hideously wrong.
Bakustra wrote:If you would like to claim that killing the one in said situation is moral rather than less immoral- then I suppose that under said system the actions of the crew would be moral. But please give your reasons why your terminology is superior and why I should be forced to adopt it.
I'm not insisting. You can call it "lesser evil" or "choosing the less immoral act".
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Re: Laconia incident

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Except that the argument I was responding to was that it could not be immoral to attack the submarines, because they were Nazi subs and therefore it was automatically justified to try and destroy them. That's what I take issue with, that's what glorifies dehumanization and excuses atrocities, that's adopting the Nazi worldview while fighting to destroy it. If you don't support that, then we have no disagreement whatsoever.
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Re: Laconia incident

Post by Fingolfin_Noldor »

Bakustra wrote:Except that the argument I was responding to was that it could not be immoral to attack the submarines, because they were Nazi subs and therefore it was automatically justified to try and destroy them. That's what I take issue with, that's what glorifies dehumanization and excuses atrocities, that's adopting the Nazi worldview while fighting to destroy it. If you don't support that, then we have no disagreement whatsoever.
How does that glorify dehumanization? Honestly, you have to do more to back up your words. Nazi submarines were tools for indiscriminate warfare. How is destroying a tool that wantonly shoots just about anything not be a good thing?
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