A Philosopher's Blog

Augmented Soldier Ethics III: Pharmaceuticals

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Technology by Michael LaBossiere on February 13, 2015
Steve Rogers' physical transformation, from a ...

Steve Rogers’ physical transformation, from a reprint of Captain America Comics #1 (May 1941). Art by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Humans have many limitations that make them less than ideal as weapons of war. For example, we get tired and need sleep. As such, it is no surprise that militaries have sought various ways to augment humans to counter these weaknesses. For example, militaries routinely make use of caffeine and amphetamines to keep their soldiers awake and alert. There have also been experiments

In science fiction, militaries go far beyond these sorts of drugs and develop far more potent pharmaceuticals. These chemicals tend to split into two broad categories. The first consists of short-term enhancements (what gamers refer to as “buffs”) that address a human weakness or provide augmented abilities. In the real world, the above-mentioned caffeine and amphetamines are short-term drugs. In fiction, the classic sci-fi role-playing game Traveller featured the aptly (though generically) named combat drug. This drug would boost the user’s strength and endurance for about ten minutes. Other fictional drugs have far more dramatic effects, such as the Venom drug used by the super villain Bane. Given that militaries already use short-term enhancers, it is certainly reasonable to think they are and will be interested in more advanced enhancers of the sort considered in science fiction.

The second category is that of the long-term enhancers. These are chemicals that enable or provide long-lasting effects. An obvious real-world example is steroids: these allow the user to develop greater muscle mass and increased strength. In fiction, the most famous example is probably the super-soldier serum that was used to transform Steve Rogers into Captain America.

Since the advantages of improved soldiers are obvious, it seems reasonable to think that militaries would be rather interested in the development of effective (and safe) long-term enhancers. It does, of course, seem unlikely that there will be a super-soldier serum in the near future, but chemicals aimed at improving attention span, alertness, memory, intelligence, endurance, pain tolerance and such would be of great interest to militaries.

As might be suspected, these chemical enhancers do raise moral concerns that are certainly worth considering. While some might see discussing enhancers that do not yet (as far as we know) exist as a waste of time, there does seem to be a real advantage in considering ethical issues in advance—this is analogous to planning for a problem before it happens rather than waiting for it to occur and then dealing with it.

One obvious point of concern, especially given the record of unethical experimentation, is that enhancers will be used on soldiers without their informed consent. Since this is a general issue, I addressed it in its own essay and reached the obvious conclusion: in general, informed consent is morally required. As such, the following discussion assumes that the soldiers using the enhancers have been honestly informed of the nature of the enhancers and have given their consent.

When discussing the ethics of enhancers, it might be useful to consider real world cases in which enhancers are used. One obvious example is that of professional sports. While Major League Baseball has seen many cases of athletes using such enhancers, they are used worldwide and in many sports, from running to gymnastics. In the case of sports, one of the main reasons certain enhancers, such as steroids, are considered unethical is that they provide the athlete with an unfair advantage.

While this is a legitimate concern in sports, it does not apply to war. After all, there is no moral requirement for a fair competition in battle. Rather, one important goal is to gain every advantage over the enemy in order to win. As such, the fact that enhancers would provide an “unfair” advantage in war does not make them immoral. One can, of course, discuss the relative morality of the sides involved in the war, but this is another matter.

A second reason why the use of enhancers is regarded as wrong in sports is that they typically have rather harmful side effects. Steroids, for example, do rather awful things to the human body and brain. Given that even aspirin has potentially harmful side effects, it seems rather likely that military-grade enhancers will have various harmful side effects. These might include addiction, psychological issues, organ damage, death, and perhaps even new side effects yet to be observed in medicine. Given the potential for harm, a rather obvious way to approach the ethics of this matter is utilitarianism. That is, the benefits of the enhancers would need to be weighed against the harm caused by their use.

This assessment could be done with a narrow limit: the harms of the enhancer could be weighed against the benefits provided to the soldier. For example, an enhancer that boosted a combat pilot’s alertness and significantly increased her reaction speed while having the potential to cause short-term insomnia and diarrhea would seem to be morally (and pragmatically) fine given the relatively low harms for significant gains. As another example, a drug that greatly boosted a soldier’s long-term endurance while creating a significant risk of a stroke or heart attack would seem to be morally and pragmatically problematic.

The assessment could also be done more broadly by taking into account ever-wider considerations. For example, the harms of an enhancer could be weighed against the importance of a specific mission and the contribution the enhancer would make to the success of the mission. So, if a powerful drug with terrible side-effects was critical to an important mission, its use could be morally justified in the same way that taking any risk for such an objective can be justified. As another example, the harms of an enhancer could be weighed against the contribution its general use would make to the war. So, a drug that increased the effectiveness of soldiers, yet cut their life expectancy, could be justified by its ability to shorten a war. As a final example, there is also the broader moral concern about the ethics of the conflict itself. So, the use of a dangerous enhancer by soldiers fighting for a morally good cause could be justified by that cause (using the notion that the consequences justify the means).

There are, of course, those who reject using utilitarian calculations as the basis for moral assessment. For example, there are those who believe (often on religious grounds) that the use of pharmaceuticals is always wrong (be they used for enhancement, recreation or treatment). Obviously enough, if the use of pharmaceuticals is wrong in general, then their specific application in the military context would also be wrong. The challenge is, of course, to show that the use of pharmaceuticals is simply wrong, regardless of the consequences.

In general, it would seem that the military use of enhancers should be assessed morally on utilitarian grounds, weighing the benefits of the enhancers against the harm done to the soldiers.


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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on February 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    If you ever study the history of medicine and chemistry you will discover they have their roots in witchcraft, sorcery, and alchemy. Magic (and magicians are) concerned with using material things in order to gain material things. Mysticism (and mystics are) concerned with loving God for the sake of God himself. The progress of medicine and chemistry from witchcraft, magic, sorcery, and alchemy to modern day science is a continuum. Both ancient and modern are concerned with using material substances to gain material benefits in the here-and-now. Power for power’s sake. When we consider that Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world” we see, here, an ancient choice: Do we serve God, and gain eternal life? or do we serve Satan, and gain material benefit in the here-and-now?

    “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

    sorcerers = φαρμάκοις (=pharmakois)

    Word Origin: from pharmakon (a drug)
    Definition: a poisoner, sorcerer, magician

    phármakos – properly, a sorcerer; used of people using drugs and “religious incantations” to drug people into living by their illusions.

    φάρμακος, φαρμακη, φάρμακον (φαρμάσσω (to use aφάρμακον)) (from Aristophanes down);

    Definition 1. pertaining to magical arts.

    • WTP said, on February 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      I’m curious from your comment…Do you believe that magicians use satanic powers to perform their feats?

      • ajmacdonaldjr said, on February 15, 2015 at 4:25 pm

        No I don’t. I think they are deceived and used by Satan and demonic beings.

  2. nailheadtom said, on February 14, 2015 at 11:37 am

    ” After all, there is no moral requirement for a fair competition in battle.”

    So then what’s the beef with using poison gas, land mines and infectious diseases in warfare? Why not poison the enemy’s drinking water? It probably is OK, the US did similar things in Viet Nam.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 15, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      The lack of a moral requirement for fair competition isn’t the same thing as a lack of all moral limits.

      • nailheadtom said, on February 16, 2015 at 8:18 am

        What are the “moral limits” in a modern armed conflict that pits one nation/state’s military against the civilian population of another? Are nuclear weapons on the correct side of the moral line and nerve gas agents on the evil side? Who decides this?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

          Well, using military forces intentionally and directly against a truly civilian (noncombatant) population would almost always be immoral.

          I’ve given some thought to the concept of weapons that are inherently immoral, but the ethics of most weapons would seem to be a matter of the context. For example, using nuclear weapons on two cities in order to end a war that would go on to destroy millions of lives could be justified on utilitarian grounds. Naturally, it could be argued that it would have been morally better to just end the war conventionally–an invasion of Japan. We can speculate on the counterfactuals, but will never know for sure what the cost of not using the weapons would have been. It could also be argued that Japan was just about to surrender anyway, but the leaders just needed time to think things through.

          It is easy to think of weapons that are needlessly awful-that is, the horror they inflict exceeds their military justification. Using such weapons would certainly seem to be wrong-assuming that needlessly inflicting suffering is wrong.

          • nailheadtom said, on February 17, 2015 at 12:15 am

            On the night of 9–10 March (“Operation Meetinghouse”),[9] 334 B-29s took off to raid with 279 of them dropping 1,665 tons of bombs on Tokyo. The bombs were mostly the 500-pound (230 kg) E-46 cluster bomb which released 38 napalm-carrying M-69 incendiary bomblets at an altitude of 2,000–2,500 ft (610–760 m). The M-69s punched through thin roofing material or landed on the ground; in either case they ignited 3–5 seconds later, throwing out a jet of flaming napalm globs. A lesser number of M-47 incendiaries was also dropped: the M-47 was a 100-pound (45 kg) jelled-gasoline and white phosphorus bomb which ignited upon impact. In the first two hours of the raid, 226 of the attacking aircraft unloaded their bombs to overwhelm the city’s fire defenses.[10] The first B-29s to arrive dropped bombs in a large X pattern centered in Tokyo’s densely populated working class district near the docks in both Koto and Chuo city wards on the water; later aircraft simply aimed near this flaming X. Fourteen B-29s were lost.[11] The individual fires caused by the bombs joined to create a general conflagration, which would have been classified as a firestorm but for prevailing winds gusting at 17 to 28 mph (27 to 45 km/h).[12] Approximately 15.8 square miles (4,090 ha) of the city was destroyed and some 100,000 people are estimated to have died.[13][14] The US Strategic Bombing Survey later estimated that nearly 88,000 people died in this one raid, 41,000 were injured, and over a million residents lost their homes. The Tokyo Fire Department estimated a higher toll: 97,000 killed and 125,000 wounded. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department established a figure of 124,711 casualties including both killed and wounded and 286,358 buildings and homes destroyed. Richard Rhodes, historian, put deaths at over 100,000, injuries at a million and homeless residents at a million.[15] These casualty and damage figures could be low;

            The Operation Meetinghouse firebombing of Tokyo on the night of 9/10 March 1945 was the single deadliest air raid of World War II;[2] greater than Dresden,[19] Hiroshima, or Nagasaki as single events.

            • WTP said, on February 17, 2015 at 10:22 am

              Dec. 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

              Bataan Death March (just a taste):
              POWs received little food or water, and some died along the way from heat or exhaustion.[5][10] Some POWs drank water from filthy water buffalo wallows on the side of the road. Some Japanese troops, products of a culture that prized order above all, lost control during the chaos that defined the March and beat or bayoneted prisoners who began to fall behind, or were unable to walk. Some POWs, however, were allowed water and several hundred rode to Camp O’Donnell in trucks.[11][12] Once the surviving prisoners arrived in Balanga, the overcrowded conditions and poor hygiene caused dysentery and other diseases to rapidly spread. The Japanese failed to provide the prisoners with medical care, leaving U.S. medical personnel to tend to the sick and wounded (with few or no supplies).[5]
              U.S. Congressional Representative Dana Rohrabacher described and tried to explain the horrors and brutality the prisoners experienced on the march:
              They were beaten, and they were starved as they marched. Those who fell were bayoneted. Some of those who fell were beheaded by Japanese officers who were practicing with their samurai swords from horseback. The Japanese culture at that time reflected the view that any warrior who surrendered had no honor; thus was not to be treated like a human being. Thus they were not committing crimes against human beings.[…] The Japanese soldiers at that time […] felt they were dealing with subhumans and animals.[13]

              Prisoners on the march from Bataan to the prison camp, May 1942. (National Archives)
              Trucks drove over some of those who fell or succumbed to fatigue,[14][15][16] and “cleanup crews” put to death those too weak to continue, though some trucks picked up some of those too fatigued to continue. Some marchers were harassed with random bayonet stabs and beatings.[17][18]

              Miscellaneous atrocities
              R. J. Rummel, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, estimates that between 1937 and 1945, the Japanese military murdered from nearly 3 to over 10 million people, most likely 6 million Chinese, Indonesians, Koreans, Filipinos and Indochinese, among others, including Western prisoners of war. According to Rummel, “This democide [i.e., death by government] was due to a morally bankrupt political and military strategy, military expediency and custom, and national culture.”[60] According to Rummel, in China alone, during 1937–45, approximately 3.9 million Chinese were killed, mostly civilians, as a direct result of the Japanese operations and 10.2 million in the course of the war.[61] The most infamous incident during this period was the Nanking Massacre of 1937–38, when, according to the findings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, the Japanese Army massacred as many as 300,000 civilians and prisoners of war, although the accepted figure is somewhere in the hundreds of thousands.[62]

              During the Second Sino-Japanese war the Japanese followed what has been referred to as a “killing policy”, including against minorities like Hui Muslims in China. According to Wan Lei, “In a Hui clustered village in Gaocheng county of Hebei, the Japanese captured twenty Hui men among whom they only set two younger men free through “redemption’, and buried alive the other eighteen Hui men. In Mengcun village of Hebei, the Japanese killed more than 1,300 Hui people within three years of their occupation of that area.” Mosques were also desecrated and destroyed by the Japanese, and Hui cemeteries were also destroyed.[63] Many Hui Chinese Muslims in the Second Sino-Japanese war fought in the war against Japan.
              In Southeast Asia, the Manila massacre of February 1945 resulted in the death of 100,000 civilians in the Philippines. It is estimated that at least one out of every 20 Filipinos died at the hands of the Japanese during the occupation.[64][65] In the Sook Ching massacre of February 1942, Lee Kuan Yew, the ex-Prime Minister of Singapore, said during an interview with National Geographic that there were between 50,000 and 90,000 casualties,[66] while according to Major General Kawamura Saburo, there were 5,000 casualties in total.[67]
              There were other massacres of civilians, e.g. the Kalagong massacre. In wartime Southeast Asia, the Overseas Chinese and European diaspora were special targets of Japanese abuse; in the former case, motivated by an inferiority complex vis-à-vis the historic expanse and influence of Chinese culture that did not exist with the Southeast Asian indigenes, and the latter, motivated by a racist Pan-Asianism and a desire to show former colonial subjects the impotence of their Western masters.[68] The Japanese executed all the Malay Sultans on Kalimantan and wiped out the Malay elite in the Pontianak incidents. In the Jesselton Revolt, the Japanese slaughtered thousands of native civilians during the Japanese occupation of British Borneo and nearly wiped out the entire Suluk Muslim population of the coastal islands. During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, when a Moro Muslim juramentado swordsman launched a suicide attack against the Japanese, the Japanese would massacre the man’s entire family or village.

              Historian Mitsuyoshi Himeta reports that a “Three Alls Policy” (Sankō Sakusen) was implemented in China from 1942 to 1945 and was in itself responsible for the deaths of “more than 2.7 million” Chinese civilians. This scorched earth strategy, sanctioned by Hirohito himself, directed Japanese forces to “Kill All, Burn All, and Loot All.” Additionally, captured Allied servicemen and civilians were massacred in various incidents, including:

              Laha massacre[69]
              Banka Island massacre[70]
              Parit Sulong
              Palawan Massacre
              SS Tjisalak massacre perpetrated by Japanese submarine I-8
              Wake Island massacre – see Battle of Wake Island
              Tinta Massacre
              Bataan Death March
              Shinyo Maru Incident
              Sulug Island massacre
              Pontianak incident
              Mandor Affair

              Unit 731
              Special Japanese military units conducted experiments on civilians and POWs in China. One of the most infamous was Unit 731 under Shirō Ishii. Unit 731 was established by order of Hirohito himself. Victims were subjected to experiments including but not limited to vivisection and amputations without anesthesia and testing of biological weapons. Anesthesia was not used because it was believed that anesthetics would adversely affect the results of the experiments.[71]
              To determine the treatment of frostbite, prisoners were taken outside in freezing weather and left with exposed arms, periodically drenched with water until frozen solid. The arm was later amputated; the doctor would repeat the process on the victim’s upper arm to the shoulder. After both arms were gone, the doctors moved on to the legs until only a head and torso remained. The victim was then used for plague and pathogens experiments.[72]
              According to one estimate, the experiments carried out by Unit 731 alone caused 3,000 deaths.[73] Furthermore, according to the 2002 International Symposium on the Crimes of Bacteriological Warfare, the number of people killed by the Imperial Japanese Army germ warfare and human experiments is around 580,000.[74] According to other sources, “tens of thousands, and perhaps as many as 400,000, Chinese died of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax and other diseases …”, resulting from the use of biological warfare.[75] Top officers of Unit 731 were not prosecuted for war crimes after the war, in exchange for turning over the results of their research to the Allies. They were also reportedly given responsible positions in Japan’s pharmaceutical industry, medical schools and health ministry.[76][77]
              One case of human experimentation occurred in Japan itself. At least nine out of 11 crew members survived the crash of a U.S. Army Air Forces B-29 bomber on Kyūshū, on May 5, 1945. (This plane was Lt. Marvin Watkins’ crew of the 29th Bomb Group of the 6th Bomb Squadron.[78]) The bomber’s commander was separated from his crew and sent to Tokyo for interrogation, while the other survivors were taken to the anatomy department of Kyushu University, at Fukuoka, where they were subjected to vivisection or killed.[79][80]
              During the final months of World War II, Japan had planned to use plague as a biological weapon against U.S. civilians in San Diego, California, during Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night, hoping that the plague would spread as much terror to the American population and thereby dissuading America from attacking Japan. The plan was set to launch at night on September 22, 1945, but Japan surrendered five weeks earlier.[81][82][83][84]
              On March 11, 1948, 30 people, including several doctors and one female nurse, were brought to trial by the Allied war crimes tribunal. Charges of cannibalism were dropped, but 23 people were found guilty of vivisection or wrongful removal of body parts. Five were sentenced to death, four to life imprisonment, and the rest to shorter terms. In 1950, the military governor of Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, commuted all of the death sentences and significantly reduced most of the prison terms. All of those convicted in relation to the university vivisection were free after 1958.[85] In addition, many participants who were responsible for these vivisections were never charged by the Americans or their allies in exchange for the information on the experiments.[citation needed]
              In 2006, former IJN medical officer Akira Makino stated that he was ordered—as part of his training—to carry out vivisection on about 30 civilian prisoners in the Philippines between December 1944 and February 1945.[86] The surgery included amputations.[87] Most of Makino’s victims were Moro Muslims.[88][89][90][91][92] Ken Yuasa, a former military doctor in China, has also admitted to similar incidents in which he was compelled to participate.[93]

              Many written reports and testimonies collected by the Australian War Crimes Section of the Tokyo tribunal, and investigated by prosecutor William Webb (the future Judge-in-Chief), indicate that Japanese personnel in many parts of Asia and the Pacific committed acts of cannibalism against Allied prisoners of war. In many cases this was inspired by ever-increasing Allied attacks on Japanese supply lines, and the death and illness of Japanese personnel as a result of hunger. According to historian Yuki Tanaka: “cannibalism was often a systematic activity conducted by whole squads and under the command of officers”.[110] This frequently involved murder for the purpose of securing bodies. For example, an Indian POW, Havildar Changdi Ram, testified that: “[on November 12, 1944] the Kempeitai beheaded [an Allied] pilot. I saw this from behind a tree and watched some of the Japanese cut flesh from his arms, legs, hips, buttocks and carry it off to their quarters … They cut it [into] small pieces and fried it.”[111]
              In some cases, flesh was cut from living people: another Indian POW, Lance Naik Hatam Ali (later a citizen of Pakistan), testified in New Guinea and stated:
              “… the Japanese started selecting prisoners and every day one prisoner was taken out and killed and eaten by the soldiers. I personally saw this happen and about 100 prisoners were eaten at this place by the Japanese. The remainder of us were taken to another spot 50 miles [80 km] away where 10 prisoners died of sickness. At this place, the Japanese again started selecting prisoners to eat. Those selected were taken to a hut where their flesh was cut from their bodies while they were alive and they were thrown into a ditch where they later died.”[112]
              Perhaps the most senior officer convicted of cannibalism was Lt Gen. Yoshio Tachibana (立花芳夫,Tachibana Yoshio), who with 11 other Japanese personnel was tried in August 1946 in relation to the execution of U.S. Navy airmen, and the cannibalism of at least one of them, during August 1944, on Chichi Jima, in the Bonin Islands. The airmen were beheaded on Tachibana’s orders. Because military and international law did not specifically deal with cannibalism, they were tried for murder and “prevention of honorable burial”. Tachibana was sentenced to death, and hanged.[113]

              Sexual Slavery or as they called it, “Comfort women”
              These were not commercial brothels. Force, explicit and implicit, was used in recruiting these women. What went on in them was serial rape, not prostitution. The Japanese Army’s involvement is documented in the government’s own defense files. A senior Tokyo official more or less apologized for this horrific crime in 1993 … Yesterday, he grudgingly acknowledged the 1993 quasi apology, but only as part of a pre-emptive declaration that his government would reject the call, now pending in the United States Congress, for an official apology. America isn’t the only country interested in seeing Japan belatedly accept full responsibility. Korea, China, and the Philippines are also infuriated by years of Japanese equivocations over the issue.

            • ronster12012 said, on February 18, 2015 at 11:27 am


              What do you think of the claim that Pearl Harbour wasn’t actually a surprise attack?

            • WTP said, on February 18, 2015 at 2:25 pm

              Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack. Dug into that one many years ago. Typical of conspiracy theory BS.

              You disappeared when we were discussing who shot down MH17 and I pointed out that the (pro-)Russian “separatists” were bragging/tweeting about taking out a Ukrainian AN-26.

              Before diving into this one more time, I ask again do you believe evil exists?

            • ronster12012 said, on February 18, 2015 at 3:33 pm


              “You disappeared when we were discussing who shot down MH17 and I pointed out that the (pro-)Russian “separatists” were bragging/tweeting about taking out a Ukrainian AN-26.”

              I didn’t reply then as I thought that you were getting tired of the topic, you mentioned that you had a wife, a life and a job etc. I don’t have your obligations, and I have been known to drag these things on a bit so I remembered my manners for once lol

              As for MH17…we’ll see what is what at some point(or not as the case may be). If there was any real evidence then we would be hearing it non stop, don’t you think? Our idiot Prime Minister reading from a script a couple of days after the incident accused Putin of being responsible…..then it all went quiet. There’s just as much to be learned from what isn’t said as what is said.

              Why did you put ‘separatists’ like that? Surely you accept the right of self determination given US history? If you can King George to GTFO then why can’t anyone else? Then of course there is the case of Texas….

              “Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack. Dug into that one many years ago. Typical of conspiracy theory BS.”

              Perhaps not….You do seem to have a rather touching trust in your govcorp.

              Just google image ‘honolulu newspaper warning of pearl harbour attack'(I tried to copy and paste it here but couldn’t) and it shows that the Honolulu paper warning of a possible Jap attack over the weekend. Perhaps FDR forgot to renew his subscription to the paper and missed the news. How different history would have been if that had not slipped his mind!


              “Before diving into this one more time, I ask again do you believe evil exists?”


              Oh, sure. I just don’t happen to believe it’s all that neat and tidy. You mention above all the nasty things the Japanese did, and I am sure they did that, What they did though was nothing compared to what occurred in the Soviet Union from 1917 onwards, which we, ie. the democratic west, seemed quite OK with. Or what Mao did. So by stopping them on the pretext of saving Chinese lives that allowed much greater numbers to be killed by a bigger butcher…..which supposedly was the reason for backing Stalin against Hitler…..or something like that. It’s all a game and you and I have no idea what is really going on other than it is a game. Just like the British Empire, The Great Game(till it all turns pearshaped lol)



            • WTP said, on February 18, 2015 at 6:13 pm

              If there was any real evidence then we would be hearing it non stop, don’t you think?
              No. The evidence is quite clear. The “separatists” bragged about bagging an AN-26 and went quiet/deleted their tweet when reports of MH17 came out. You either want to believe one side of the story or you believe what the overwhelming evidence that a ration person sees. It’s quite obvious what happened. And I put “separatists” in quotes because those opposing the Kiev government didn’t suddenly develop the weapons they are using overnight. They are obviously being supplied with material and, from the overwhelming reports soldiers as well, from Russia. Russian families are starting to question why so many of their sons are dying.

              As for Pearl Harbor, you’d do better to research “Hilo newspaper”. If you’re going to spew conspiracy nonsense…never mind. Look, it was well known that tensions were high between the US and Japan. Rumors of a Japanese attack could have been floated for months. Where exactly such an attack was going to take place was not specified and in fact there had been rumors the previous week that Japan had already invaded Thailand. This has all been researched, discussed, and dismissed by many historians over and over again.

              As for Mao and Stalin, yes they did terrible things. Arguably more terrible than Hirohito and certainly more terrible than Hitler, but you may have noticed neither of the former bombed Pear Harbor. As far as we know today 😉 Look, you either believe in and have faith in the free and open societies of the West who at least when they have their scandals they eventually fall out in the open, or you believe every two-bit dictator and worse and the propaganda they spew. Conspiracy theories are perpetrated by those who don’t want you to see what is really going on. You apparently fall for this. I’m sorry but I just can’t take you seriously much longer.

            • ronster12012 said, on February 22, 2015 at 4:36 pm


              I was going to post another overly verbose point by point answer to your last one but I looked at it and it seemed futile, it’s just going around in circles.

              Better to actually ask the simple questions such as how do we know what is actually true( and does truth inevitably emerge?), are we subject to propaganda albeit sophisticated(from your remark about crude propaganda from every two bit dictator),how free and open are our ‘free and open’ societies, how brave and independent are the media really( are they more entertainment than anything else?),do our political elites ever lie to us(successfully however defined) and do they have hidden agendas and allegiances and what is the nature of evil(since it has been alleged that so and so is ‘evil’, it may actually pay to understand what we are saying…….unless this really is just an ideological statement).


          • WTP said, on February 17, 2015 at 10:42 am

            Naturally, it could be argued that it would have been morally better to just end the war conventionally–an invasion of Japan.
            Estimates of the cost of a conventional invasion of Japan were in the hundereds of thousands of US casualties along with the deaths of somewhere between 5 and 10 million Japanese (quick check via Wiki). Based on some of the research I have done in the past, I think 5-10 million estimate is rather low. My father fought in the Battled of Okinawa, among other places in the Pacific, including the Philippines. He considered himself lucky to have made it through Okinawa where fighting was extremely intense as this was the first Japanese (or kinda Japanese, Okinawans were of lower status in the Jap hierarchy) land to be invaded in Japan’s history. He was almost certain he wouldn’t have survived an invasion of Japan itself.

            It could also be argued that Japan was just about to surrender anyway, but the leaders just needed time to think things through.
            Even after the emperor committed to surrendering, there was a failed coup attempt by junior officers to stop this from happening. Speculation as to an enemy’s weakness is often folly. And when it is folly, it is exceptionally dangerous folly. You win a war with overwhelming power that forces your enemy to submit. Anything less is a waste of men and money.

            • WTP said, on February 17, 2015 at 3:35 pm

              Also note, many Japanese soldiers did not surrender until many years after the end of the war. It took much convincing to get many of these men to finally surrender. Two lasted well into the 1970’s and there was rumor of an officer still existing in the jungles into the 1980’s. The Bushido moral code ran deep in Japanese society. To surrender was the ultimate humiliation and a stain on one’s honor. Women, old men, and teenagers were trained in killing with what weapons remained and even swords or bamboo spears if necessary.


        • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 16, 2015 at 4:46 pm

          Poison gas tends to fall onto the “needlessly awful” part of the spectrum.

          • WTP said, on February 17, 2015 at 10:51 am

            Poison gas also drifts with the shifting wind and even when used to effect, advancing troops need to wait for the gas to clear or be neutralized. Not effective for modern fast-advancing fronts. It is when it is used in civilian areas that it is most abhorrent. Not that this dismisses its value as an offensive weapon entirely, but it is also more problematic to manufacture, transport, etc. Just not worth the effort unless one is sufficiently evil that one doesn’t care about civilian populations or even one’s own troops. “Outlawing” it simply works to the advantage of most free and open societies.

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