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Talk Nation Radio: Do Ethics Professors Behave Ethically? Someone Checked.

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talknationradio-20150728

Eric Schwitzgebel is Professor of Philosophy at University of California at Riverside.  His most recent book is Perplexities of Consciousness. We discuss his article "Cheeseburger Ethics" on his research into whether ethics professors are any better behaved than anyone else. See http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Help Prevent a War on Iran! Public Forum in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 5, 2015

PUBLIC FORUM ON IRAN DEAL

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Print and distribute flyer.

To be held exactly 70 years after nuclear age opened in Hiroshima (including time zone difference).

7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 5, 2015

At The Haven, 112 W. Market Street Charlottesville, VA 22902

Sponsored by World Beyond War, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, RootsAction.org, and Amnesty International Charlottesville, (more welcome to join).

Video of event to be widely distributed.

Speaker: Gareth Porter, independent investigative journalist and historian who specialises in U.S. national security policy. He is the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, and the winner of the Gellhorn Prize for journalism in 2012 for exposing lies and propaganda about the Afghanistan War. Porter spent two weeks in Vienna covering the final round of negotiations and is now writing the definitive account of the how U.S. and Iran finally reached agreement.

Also invited, not confirmed (so please invite them!): Rep. Robert Hurt, Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Mark Warner.

Israel Sees Nazism in Mirror it Mistakes for Window

Israel is trying to expel the population of a village for the crime of not being Jewish, the same crime for which Israel bombs the people of Gaza for a month or so every few years and blockades them in between these bursts of violence.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee declares that making peace with Iran amounts to marching Israelis "to the door of the oven."

Guess which of the two stories will get more coverage!

A crime of over 70 years ago, part of a war that in my unscientific estimate forms the single most common theme of U.S. historical fiction -- whether print or film -- is more important news in the view of U.S. editors than is a crime of right now.

And that was true 60 years after World War II and 50 years after and 40 and 20 and even 3 years after World War II.

Eve Spangler has just published a wonderfully well documented book that should be the text for universal history classes, called Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict. Spangler, the U.S. child of two holocaust survivors, was a college professor before she had the slightest idea what had happened in Palestine during the twentieth century. When she found out, she went all-in and found out as much as could be known.

Spangler takes students to Israel/Palestine every year. When visiting the Arab market in Hebron, she learned that the heavy metal mesh screen overhead was hung there to protect shoppers from bricks and chairs thrown down from balconies by Israeli settlers. However, Spangler was struck with the contents of one of the objects settlers had learned could penetrate the screen: a plastic bag of human excrement. Israeli settlers behave like prisoners gone mad from confinement even as they steal the land and homes of non-Jewish people with impunity.

How can this be? What went wrong?

Well, at least a part of what went wrong went wrong from the start, from even before the 1948 Nakba in which Israelis-to-be ethnically cleansed the land without a people for the people without a land. The land without a people was more densely populated than the United States, but was seen as populated by subhuman non-people, not even Untermenschen.

"Clearly, the aspiration to creating a 'new man,'" Spangler writes, "defined by a hyper-masculine ethos of physical and military strength and by 'clean and pure blood' (and a 'new woman' defined by fecundity) had echoes of fascist ideology and profoundly racist implications. Consider, for example, the iconic photo of an Israeli soldier gazing reverently at the Western Wall on the day that the Israeli army conquered East Jerusalem in 1967. He is startlingly Aryan in appearance. Nor did the preference for blondes end in 1967. Recently social workers told an Israeli friend of mine who is waiting to adopt a baby, that her family could have a 'defective' baby immediately, but would have to wait about a year for a 'normal' baby or up to five years if they insisted on having a blond, blue-eyed child. 'Defective' children, this family discovered, were dark-skinned."

Two years after the liberation of the concentration camps in Europe, Jewish militias besieging the town of Beisan (Bet She'an), Spangler notes, "required some Arabs to don yellow armbands, and marked Arab stores with yellow decals, targeting them for looting." Spangler, whose book covers many subtopics other than the one I'm focusing on, is infinitely careful to stress the obvious, namely that similarities are not exact equivalencies. Her point in noting the similarities is, I think, clearly and legitimately enough to expose the imperfect yet startling mimicry and the motivation of misdirected revenge in the basic policies of the Israeli government from that day to this toward the people who lived in the "uninhabited" land.

Lillian Rosengarten's forthcoming Survival and Conscience: From the Shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish Boat to Gaza is an account by a Jewish woman who fled Nazi Germany for the United States as a little girl with her parents. "Nationalism revisited," she writes, "is now twisted into a parody of the Nazi credo, 'Deutschland über alles,' extolling Germany over all others with only pure Germans as inhabitants. Get rid of the undesirables who are beneath contempt. I must not make such a comparison, you say. Yet I must, for I fear a Jewish State that belongs only to Jews is a dangerous road. I must question the profound psychological impairment suffered and internalized by generations of Jews that follows the Nazi Holocaust. The cycle of paranoia and abuse is playing out its destructive course: this is how I understand Palestinians as the last victims of the Holocaust."

I would question only how Rosengarten can see into the future and find the last victims of the influence of Nazism. After World War II, the military of the United States -- which, of course, arms the Israeli military free of charge while whining about how it can't afford luxuries like schools, housing, and bridges that don't collapse -- hired sixteen hundred former Nazi scientists and doctors, including some of Adolf Hitler’s closest collaborators, including men responsible for murder, slavery, and human experimentation, including men convicted of war crimes, men acquitted of war crimes, and men who never stood trial. Some of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg had already been working for the U.S. in either Germany or the U.S. prior to the trials. Some were protected from their past by the U.S. government for years, as they lived and worked in Boston Harbor, Long Island, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and elsewhere, or were flown by the U.S. government to Argentina to protect them from prosecution. To observe and note the Nazification of the U.S. military is neither to absolve the U.S. military of its pre-WWII crimes nor to pass blame off to the Nazis instead of blaming U.S. officials of later generations for their own actions. Blame is not a limited quantity.

I don't think we can dismiss Huckabee's comments about ovens as simply a bid to be dumber than Donald Trump and win the pro-stupidity vote in the Republican primaries. Transforming Iran from devil to negotiation partner victimizes Israel precisely by stripping Israel of some of its victim-status. Without the status of eternally current victim of the fantasized reenactment of long-past crimes, Israel has to be viewed through a filter of actual facts. Were Jews victimized by Germany? Of course! Did Palestinians deserve to suffer for it? Of course not! Did Iran have anything to do with it? Of course not! Would I support pulling all the U.S. military bases out of Germany and turning all of their land over to Jewish settlers? Sure!

But only those who want to leave Palestine should leave it. Only those who want to stay in a nonviolent, pluralist, secular, democratic, state with equal rights for all and compensation for Palestinians harmed over the past many decades should remain.

Photo above is from MiddleEastMonitor.

Hey, I Have an Idea Where They Can Stick the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia campaigned on green energy (and I hear some people may have believed him, though I haven't met one) and then immediately backed the proposed construction of a giant fracked-gas pipeline through the mountains and farms of Virginia to carry fossil fuels from West Virginia to North Carolina.

Dominion Virginia Power paid $1.3 million this year in legal bribes to candidates' election campaigns, more than anyone else in Virginia except the two Parties. Every single bill Dominion opposed in the legislature died. Dominion, according to the dictionary, is "the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority; rule; control; domination."

In Virginia it's easy to think of the evictions of the poor farmers 80 years ago to create Shenandoah National Park as something ancient that civilization has outgrown and would never do again. (And the old lyrics of the song Shenandoah, about giving the Native American chief liquor in order to steal his daughter, are not celebrated in this day and age.) But at least the injustice of the 1930s evictions created a park. At least there was some sort of public interest involved.

Now here comes the Virginia government as the bought-and-paid-for servants of their corporate masters at Dominion to claim a 40-yard-wide path of destruction and potential catastrophe right through the middle of numerous private properties and public properties for the sake of escalating the collapse of a livable climate on the planet, not to mention facilitating the destruction in West Virginia where the fracking frackers will do their fracking. What's the public interest to justify it? It's going to ruin parks and not create any.

A good short documentary on the growing resistance, called Won't Pipe Down, shows the owner of Silverback Distillery explaining that he supported the Keystone Pipeline but opposes this one because it impacts his own personal private property and his business. The correct response to that attitude is not "Serves you right," but "Glad you're now with us." Because NIMBYism keeps getting the proposed path of the pipeline moved, and if those who succeed in moving it stick with the struggle to keep it from getting built at all, perhaps it can be prevented entirely.

The pipeline is also proposed to cut right through a communal farm property, where an existing sense of community may aid the movement.

In fact the movement is doing well. Check out FriendsofNelson.com. There are big protests. Driving through Nelson County, or even through Charlottesville, one sees lots of "No Pipeline" signs. Some 69% of Nelson County landowners in the proposed path have refused to allow surveys on their land.

The film, Won't Pipe Down, uses a quote from local hero slave-owner, rapist, coward, sadist, and father of States Rights, Thomas Jefferson, to emphasize the supreme value of "private property." But the pipeline is not going through the private property of most of the people opposing it, or of most of the people who ought to be opposing it and who will have to start opposing it if it is to be stopped.

The U.S. government fights wars for oil and gas, for godsake. It bombs people's homes for this stuff. If we only protest when our own personal property is impacted disproportionately, we're going to see the climate severely impact each and every piece of private property on earth. This pipeline needs to be opposed by everyone in the area and everyone in the world. Help out, won't you? FriendsofNelson.com and AugustaCountyAlliance.org

Oh, and here's my idea for where to stick the thing if it can't be stopped. Governor McAuliffe is living in public housing in Richmond, Va., and I suspect that Thomas F. Farrell II is able with his personal $12 million per year from Virginians' utility bills, to afford some sort of residence in that area. McAuliffe must bow before the $2500 Farrell gave him for his campaign, even knowing that Farrell gave his opponent $5000. Why not build a pipeline from the sewer beneath each of these two gentlemen's houses, connecting them, and let the question of which produces more filth, the public or private realm, finally be answered when we see which house's plumbing backs up first?

"We Don't Want Your Pipeline" By Robin and Linda Williams from Richard Adams on Vimeo.

Protest Song about proposed Dominion Gas Pipeline coming through
West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Robin and Linda Williams (copyright 2014)
www.augustacountyalliance.org

Image above shows the results of building a leaking pipeline in another state, what Virginians can look forward to if the ACP is built.

George Clooney Opposes War Profiteering While African

George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.

Way back yonder before World War II, war profiteering was widely frowned on in the United States. Those of us trying to bring back that attitude, and working for barely-funded peace organizations, ought to be thrilled when a wealthy celebrity like George Clooney decides to take on war profiteering, and the corporate media laps it up.

“Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause,” said Clooney — without encountering anything like the blowback Donald Trump received when he criticized John McCain.

Really, is that all it takes to give peace a chance, a celebrity? Will the media now cover the matter of who funds opponents of the Iran deal, and who funds supporters of the wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.?

Well, no, not really.

It turns out Clooney opposes, not war profiteering in general, but war profiteering while African. In fact, Clooney’s concern is limited, at least thus far, to five African nations: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, though these are not the only nations in Africa or the world with serious wars underway.

Of the top 100 weapons makers in the world, not a single one is based in Africa. Only 1 is in South or Central America. Fifteen are in Western allies and protectorates in Asia (and China is not included in the list). Three are in Israel, one in Ukraine, and 13 in Russia. Sixty-six are in the United States, Western Europe, and Canada. Forty are in the U.S. alone. Seventeen of the top 30 are in the U.S. Six of the top 10 mega-profiteers are in the U.S. The other four in the top 10 are in Western Europe.

Clooney’s new organization, “The Sentry,” is part of The Enough Project, which is part of the Center for American Progress, which is a leading backer of “humanitarian” wars, and various other wars for that matter — and which is funded by the world’s top war profiteer, Lockheed Martin, and by number-two Boeing, among other war profiteers.

According to the Congressional Research Service, in the most recent edition of an annual report that it has now discontinued, 79% of all weapons transfers to poor nations are from the United States. That doesn’t include U.S. weapons in the hands of the U.S. military, which has now moved into nearly every nation in Africa. When drugs flow north the United States focuses on the supply end of the exchange as an excuse for wars. When weapons flow south, George Clooney announces that we’ll stop backward violence at the demand side by exposing African corruption.

The spreading of the U.S. empire through militarism is most often justified by the example of Rwanda as a place where the opportunity for a humanitarian war, to prevent the Rwanda Genocide, was supposedly missed. But the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda in 1990 by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers, and supported their attacks for three-and-a-half years, applying more pressure through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and USAID. U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained war-maker Paul Kagame — now president of Rwanda — is the leading suspect behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the then-presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994. As chaos followed, the U.N. might have sent in peacekeepers (not the same thing, be it noted, as dropping bombs) but Washington was opposed. President Bill Clinton wanted Kagame in power, and Kagame has now taken the war into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with U.S. aid and weapons, where 6 million have been killed. And yet nobody ever says “We must prevent another Congo!”

What does George Clooney’s new organization say about the DRC? A very different story from that told by Friends of the Congo. According to Clooney’s group the killing in the Congo happens “despite years of international attention,” not because of it. Clooney’s organization also promotes this argument for more U.S. warmaking in the DRC from Kathryn Bigelow, best known for producing the CIA propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty.

On Sudan as well, there’s no blame for U.S. interference; instead Clooney’s crew has produced a brief for regime change.

On South Sudan, there’s no acknowledgement of U.S. warmongering in Ethiopia and Kenya, but a plea for more U.S. involvement.

The Central African Republic gets the same diagnosis as the others: local ahistorical spontaneous corruption and backwardness leading to war.

Clooney’s co-founder of the Sentry (dictionary definition of “Sentry” is “A guard, especially a soldier posted at a given spot to prevent the passage of unauthorized persons”) is John Prendergast, former Africa director for the National Security Council. Watch Prendergast find himself awkwardly in a debate with an informed person here.

Clooney’s wife, incidentally, works for U.S.-friendly dictators and brutal killers in places like Bahrain and Libya.

More nations could soon be spotted by The Sentry. The President of Nigeria was at the U.S. Institute of “Peace” this week pleading for weapons. U.S. troops are in Cameroon this week training fighters.

If the peace organization I work for had 0.0001% the financial support of The Sentry, perhaps the debate would change. So, one thing you can do is support the right antiwar efforts.

Another is to let The Sentry know what it’s missing. It asks for anonymous tips when you spot war profiteering. Have you ever turned on C-Span? If you see something, say something. Let The Sentry know about the Pentagon.

Jon Stewart Blew Last Chance to Ask Obama a Question

Jon Stewart interviewed President Obama for the last time and told jokes instead of asking questions.

If Stewart retires, where will we find someone willing to let Obama spew nonsense at such length unchallenged?

I discussed Obama's interview on RT on Wednesday, and someone asked me to post the Youtube, but RT has to do that, not me. So here's the gist of what I think.

Stewart said to Obama: you've tried bombing and overthrowing leaders and arming rebels and ... what's that new thing ... oh yeah, diplomacy.

Everybody laughed.

Obama talked up the Iran deal.

Stewart should have asked Obama a question, such as, "If you prefer diplomacy in this case, why not in many other cases where you seem to prefer war?" He could have followed up by asking about each war.

Stewart jumped in with another joke line to make absolutely sure Obama wouldn't think he'd been asked something. "We still get to bomb people," Stewart said. Obama's response was not the stern reprimand he gave a reporter who suggested that Obama was choosing to leave U.S. prisoners in Iran. Nor was it the warning that some topics aren't funny, which Obama applied recently to the topic of prison rape. In fact, Obama offered no objection at all to joking about bombing, and he's done the same himself warning would-be boyfriends of his daughters that he could murder them with a drone.

Stewart also told a non-question joke about the tangled web of enemies of enemies in current U.S. wars in Western Asia. It's worse than Stewart said, with U.S. weapons on both sides of every war, U.S. funding on both sides in Afghanistan, U.S. allies funding ISIS, the U.S. jumping into the Syrian war in 2014 on the opposite side of what it proposed in 2013, etc. But Stewart didn't ask a question, such as, "The majority of weapons in the most violent region on earth are U.S. weapons; why not stop selling and giving them?" He could have followed up by asking for a justification for arming each brutal government. Instead he cut off the possibility of any serious answer with, "Who are we bombing?"

Obama has no idea who he's bombing even with drone strikes. That's what "signature strike" means. That's why they just killed a leader of the non-existent Khorasan Group for the third time.

Obama held up the Cold War as a greater danger than Iran presents. Well, no kidding. Whatever the latest new food at McDonald's is, is probably a greater danger than Iran presents. But Obama spoke as if the age of the United States and Russia pointing nuclear missiles at each other were over. And Stewart said nothing. During the Cold War, the U.S. military was in Western Europe. Now it's on the Russian border playing war games. Captain Peace Prize is building more nukes, planning more nukes in Europe, and backing a dangerous coup government and a package of war lies in Ukraine more dangerous than a Cold War skirmish.

Of course if you make these complaints to Stewart he'll laugh and claim not to be real news. Of course he isn't. But neither are a lot of the news outlets that report on Stewart's non-news as if it were news material. The fact is that we don't have a lot of good news. Stewart's excuse could be used equally by the New York Times. So how good an excuse is it, really?

Panem et Presidential Elections

I know you like the elephants and the acrobats, but we really do not have time for this.

The U.S. presidential election is very far away. There's a measurable rise in the ocean, the construction of numerous new military bases, a decision on peace or war with Iran, a push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, intense antagonization of Russia, and more than likely another month-long bombing of Gaza between now and then.

We should be engaged in intense, all-out, creative, nonviolent resistance. We should be reforming or revolutionizing the election process, among much else. Even when elections have not been financed and reported on primarily by a wealthy elite with debates run by two parties, they haven't tended to be the means by which important social change has come.

We need radical change, and the election process isn't even advertising it. One of the chief sources of U.S. election funding, Sheldon Adelson, dismisses the idea of democracy because it's not in the Bible. And of course Adelson is up-to-date compared with some of the people he funds. At least 32 Republicans are running, apparently with a collective IQ that hardly reaches three figures. For them I'd be willing to revive the Confederacy, give it lots of flags, and locate it in the portions of the Southeast expected to fall below the rising ocean (as long as Donald Trump is charged extra for beach properties!).

Of course Jill Stein has great positions, but let's face it, the Democrats are not up to the task. Hillary Clinton has replaced FDR's four freedoms with "the four fights." It turns out she's in favor of families, America, democracy, and economics (who knew?), or at least she wants to fight with them. Oh, and she also wants to fight with Iran, ISIS, China, and Russia -- each of which is apparently somehow harming our "values." Then there's Bernie Sanders who pretends that the 54% of federal discretionary spending that goes to militarism just doesn't exist. Military? What military? Martin O'Malley has the same approach. Lincoln Chafee claims very briefly and vaguely to oppose wars. Jim Webb adds a bit more to his claim to oppose wars, but makes clear that he wants to fund militarism while expecting doing so not to produce more wars. Chafee and Webb are the worst on non-war issues, unless you compare Clinton's and O'Malley's actual records to their stated desires. Sanders is the best on non-war issues but might do little to slow the rush toward bigger and more frequent wars.

A decent candidate with a basic grasp of the problem of war addiction would say something like this, and no Democrat or Republican is anywhere close to saying it:

As president I will work to change U.S. relations with the rest of the world to relations of respect, cooperation, and demilitarization. A Gallup poll at the end of 2013 found the United States widely believed to be the top threat to peace in the world. One reason for that could be that the United States spends far more on militarism than any other nation, engages in more military actions abroad than any other nation, and maintains many times as many foreign military bases as all other nations combined -- all at great human, financial, and environmental cost.

Preparing for wars does not need to be the primary thing we do. In the analysis of the National Priorities Project military spending is 54% of U.S. federal discretionary spending. In 2001, U.S. military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015. These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now. We need to return to 2001 levels and reduce from there.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, did not happen because military spending was too low. Thousands of nuclear weapons were of no value against an attack that used box cutters. In fact, the increased spending has been increasing dangers rather than reducing them, as former President Dwight Eisenhower warned it might, and as our experts say it has. Former Directors of National Intelligence Michael Flynn and Dennis Blair have called the drone wars counterproductive, as has an internal CIA report. Michael Boyle, Former Counter-Terrorism Adviser, agrees, as does General James Cartwright, former Vice-Chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. Flynn has said the same of the war on ISIS and the war begun in Iraq in 2003. Former CIA Bin Laden Unit Chief Michael Scheuer says the more the United States fights terrorism, the more it creates terrorism. Statistics seem to bear that out. Numerous other former top officials agree.

The United States is spending at least $100 billion a year on over 800 bases in 70 nations, not counting permanent ongoing trainings and exercises, even though airplanes now allow the U.S. to get troops anywhere in the world without keeping them permanently stationed abroad. We need to close these foreign bases, beginning with the large ones in Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea.

As president I will put a stop to the practice of giving free weaponry to Egypt, Israel, and other nations -- which are not benefitted by increased militarism. And I will put a stop to the sale of weaponry to foreign nations, beginning with those guilty of serious human rights abuses.

As president I will abolish the presidential kill list, propose a global treaty banning weaponized drones, cease the practice of launching wars not authorized by Congress or the United Nations, maintain peace with Iran, remove the missile defense systems from Europe that were justified by the idea of a threat from Iran, propose a global treaty banning nuclear weapons, remove the United States from NATO, and initiate a process of democratizing the United Nations.

As president I will propose dramatic increases in investment, using funds withdrawn from military spending, including new investment in foreign aid, green energy, infrastructure, education, housing, tax cuts for the lowest incomes, and payment of debts. I will introduce a program of transition to assist communities and workers deprived of military industry jobs.

As president I will reward whistleblowers, end unconstitutional mass surveillance, forbid the transfer of war weaponry to local police departments, and appoint a Secretary of Peace to advise me and my cabinet on alternatives to war in resolving conflicts.

War Acceptance 101

Behind John Rawls' veil of ignorance, an American ethics professor would imagine himself or herself choosing a society of wonderful economic and social justice, unheard of equality and liberty, and the "right" to "defend" itself through the counterproductive and self-destructive instrument of military empire and war. Peace isn't permitted even in utopia, in U.S. academe. Why? Because John Rawls murdered Japanese people "in defense" and occupied their nation as philanthropy.

And why do others support other wars? Principally because of where they happen to have been born and what flavor of fairy tales they have been told as children. Which ancient religious claptrap were you fed? Where were you born? Which political party do you identify with? Answer those questions and nine-and-a-half times out of ten we'll know which wars you support. We'll be wrong mostly in the cases of people who have rejected the acceptability of war.

What if, in the moral "original position," you chose to be born into a society that didn't accept murder, including government sanctioned mass murder? To reject the killing of non-human animals you'd just have to include them in the list of possible beings you might be born as. You wouldn't choose a carnivorous society if you might be the carne. You wouldn't choose an environmentally destructive society if you might be born as someone who cared about their offspring. And you wouldn't choose a warmaking society any more than you would choose an extreme plutocracy, because your chances of being a war profiteer experiencing short-term and superficial benefits would be miniscule compared to your chances of killing or dying or being injured or being traumatized or losing a loved one or being hated when traveling or paying an economic price or losing your civil liberties or experiencing vicious blowback or bitter shame.

You also wouldn't choose a warmaking society because you would have no war propaganda behind your veil of ignorance. Despite being defined as an impossibly isolated individual, you would have no reason to choose massive suffering even if the odds were against your being one of the victims.

And, of course, if you imagined yourself ignorant of whether you were an American or an Iranian, it might jolt you into some reluctance to support dropping bombs on Iran.

Extremists who reject all racism do not exist, because such a position is not deemed extreme at all. The same applies to extreme opponents of rape, child abuse, or polygamy, of cannibalism, human sacrifice, or slavery, of the torture of kittens, or of criticism of John McCain. Opposing these things does not involve extremists, only good liberal participants. But oppose all war and you are simply going too far.

But if you are going to support some wars, how do you pick which wars not to support?

Let's take the proposed U.S. war on Iran. Let's suppose you don't oppose it simply because you obey President Obama or because you were not raised a particular sort of Jewish or Christian. Let's suppose you came to your opposition to a U.S. attack on Iran against all demographic odds and after considerable thought. What thought was that?

I really want to know this. Because a good majority in the United States opposes attacking Iran for the moment. Is this just because Iran elected a new president and the new guy hasn't yet been properly demonized? Or is it just because there have been no reports on videos of Iranian beheadings? Isn't it more likely because no emergency outcry has been raised to defend innocent civilians from imminent slaughter by Iranians, requiring that Americans bomb them first? Isn't it even more likely because the FBI is posing as ISIS members, not Iranians, when it entraps troubled and challenged people in charges of terrorist violence? Or -- dare we hope? -- is it because, after so many years of holding off a war on Iran, the idea that there's something urgent about starting one now just doesn't pass the smell test?

If you could choose what sort of economic and political structure to be born into, wouldn't you choose one that learned from trial and error, and from trial and success? Wouldn't you place yourself in a society that couldn't avoid war through basic diplomacy in one instance and not notice that the same basic tactic could be applied in many other instances? And if you chose a society that rewarded success in the pursuit of the social good, you would be choosing a society that viewed war as on a par with cannibalism. Tragically, if you published such a claim in academia, it would not make you feel any better about your colleagues when they roasted and devoured you.