I’m watching a documentary about Chomsky during 2016 winter break. Around 29:00 he talks about how to deal with Kurds: chemical warfare was the most advanced thing they had and they felt it righteous to use it against enemy. It makes me wonder what we use today on civilians. Genetic mutations? (To become dependent on other races?) Micro-nannites that does bad stuff to the body ? Subliminal messaging to cause most embarrassing and economically destructive errors. What are our most advanced weapons? It has to be money right? Capital weaponry that destroy other countries. One wonders what most advanced weaponry we have today? Perhaps this evil, necessary or not, will help us think about this whole AI thing. Oh and there is another one, the halting thought is one important mental agent that can be used against people!
The framework under which we can discuss the terrorism Chomsky describes is the TAS framework(Transitive Action Spaces framework). He points out that a set of actions under nation state TAS against other nation state (bombing, assassination, spying, many means of civilian killing) are all terrorism, or war crimes, no matter who fills the valences of an action in the terrorism set. We, those endowed with standard human intelligence, tend not to think in TAS, and even if we do, we assign bias for our own nation state or cause.
I can imagine myself believing that some actions in TAS whose admission into an ethic has additional restrictions on properties of its valances. For example:
abduct_president(country A, country B)
Is pretty terrorizing, right? We can add some kind of property restriction such as
Number_of_soldiers_in_current_conflict(A) < Number_of_soldiers_in_current_conflict(B)
Then the action abduct_president is admitted as ethical. Interestingly, Chomsky points out that the rules used to evaluate ethicality of actions at the Nuremberg trials was this:
Actions_taken(winners) \in Ethical_actions
Actions_taken(losers) – Actions_taken(winners) \in Unethical_actions
Anything losers did winners didn’t do is considered illegal at the world court. This imposition, maximizes winners freedoms during the war and minimizes losers freedom to act. (Here freedom means available ethical actions) When the eventual winner acts according to the silver rule he will conquer moral high ground(or alternatively he gets to punish loser on all actions he does not desire). The eventual loser maximizes his freedom when he does everything that the eventual winner does(an eye for an eye tit-for-tat) Because it becomes ethical and he is not punished. (Assuming winner and loser has the same desires)
Of course it is unfair. But at least it’s not winner takes all. Another completely amazing fact Chomsky points out is that “_in_the_current_conflict” was a necessary suffix to all propositions as the rules changed in the next conflict in a different theatre, the US took some actions against Vietnamese that Germans who took these actions were convicted for wars against humanities-AFTER their conviction at the world court.
So, it would seem that TAS is a rather easy system to use to discuss matters of ethics after all. The accepted ethic seem episodic, one per major conflict. The ethic encompasses a TAS but can be parameter used by properties of parameters of TAS(such as population) and it can depend on what has happened in the current conflict. What is ethical may depend on what other people do, not just what you and other people want.
And I should reiterate that Chomsky feel this an ethic should be universal. That may mean that when you are the winner and I am not that the same unfair rule applies to me. This seems tautological as the loser has no choice, but it needs to be stated for completeness. I think a more restrictive universality would stipulate that winning and losing should not affect whether or not the subject of the action is winner or winning.
Reasoning sounds sound, why is he controversial? What is he being challenged on? “Terrorism is bad no matter who does it, and US like all other dominating world power does it” his statement seems right to me!? If those who do it feel justified, it needn’t be hidden, it can stand under the light of reason, right? Would be curious to know what the fuss is about.