Let us agree that a rabid bunch of vermin are now stampeding across Iraq, laying waste to people with religions and beliefs different from theirs - including lopping off heads of those captured, and kidnapping then making slaves of the women. They have already created a major humanitarian crisis forcing tens of thousands to flee to mountainsides without adequate resources to survive.
Let us further agree that 'boots on the ground' is not an option because 1) our troops are already over-extended and spent and 2) we don't have the money or public support to allow this.
Let us also agree that trying to bomb this filth into oblivion to halt them or stop them will not work - even in the long term - because you can only kill so many at once. (Kudos to Mr. Obama for trying it though!)
That leaves only solutions that will eliminate the vermin but not kill innocents or devastate the infrastructure - such as the dam that is now being threatened.
Leaving out neutron bombs, which in fact can destroy infrastructure, buildings with blast effects, that leaves only Sarin nerve gas.
"Oh, please! This is a POE post! You can't be serious! That's what Saddam used on the Kurds and Assad on his own people!"
But I am serious! Think of the alternatives! How many more innocent people stand to perish (including in the U.S. from perhaps another 9/11 attack) if we can't rub this filth out, and also prevent them gaining control of the whole country? Think of how many tens of thousands may die, including children from starvation or disease. Think of all that then cogitate some more on a fictitious high and mighty sounding moral value which ostensibly prevents the use of a weapon that can be effective! (This assumes, obviously, the ISIS fighters can be isolated sufficiently that innocents won't also be gassed. Thus, dump the sarin when ISIS alone is in the vicinity of a dam they gain control of - or when they're racing across the desert in their land rovers, jeeps, trucks etc.)
And when you do all this thinking, also consider that we had no qualms - none- about incinerating the flesh and bones of 140,000 innocent civilians 69 years ago this month in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So how is burning people to a crisp any different from gassing - especially if the latter is used on the real bad guys? (The deformed position, of course, is that our "American values" preclude such action because then "we'd be like Saddam". So what? If it's effective in eliminating the scum ISIS rabble we DO it! And as I will show, there are no special "American values" unless they can be translated into positive actions to save the innocent!)
I don't see it, nor should anyone else. But if one has a value perception problem on this, let's explore further!
One of the most disturbing principles that cosmologists like Stephen Hawking have invoked, as well as cosmic-level philosophers and theorists is 'the Principle of Mediocrity'. According to this principle:
"There is nothing significant about humans in the cosmic scheme of things."
Or to use Hawking's no-nonsense generalization (cf. David Deutsch, 'The Beginning of Infinity', p. 44):
"Humans are just a chemical scum on the surface of a typical planet that's in orbit around a typical star that's in orbit in a typical galaxy."
Ouch! A chemical scum? Lordy! I don't wanna be just a chemical scum! I wanna be GREAT, UNIQUE, GOD-chosen and LOVED!"
Sorry! But here's some consolation from the pen of Deutsch himself (ibid.):
"The proviso 'in the cosmic scheme of things' is necessary because the chemical scum evidently has a special significance according to values it applies to itself such as moral values. But the Principle says that all such values are anthropocentric: they only explain the behavior of the scum which is still insignificant"
Deutsch's take above is compatible with that expressed by philosopher Robert J. McShea in his book, 'Morality and Human Nature'. McShea's point is that there don't exist any general or even generic moral values, there can only be individual moral values. I have a set of values which I perceive are correct, and so do you. But in neither case do mine exclude yours objectively or vice versa. as McShea puts it (p. 26):
"The minimum basis for a positive value judgment is a single valuing person."
As he elaborates this point (ibid.):
"Something can be said to be better or worse, good or bad, to the extent which I believe it to be so, although not necessarily for anyone else. Such value solipsism is like value skepticism in that it does not allow for intersubjective value discussion."
By "value skepticism" he means the belief or the philosophy that all value distinctions are false or meaningless. This value skepticism was perhaps most forcefully expressed by Sir A.J. Ayer in his monograph, 'Language, Truth and Logic' where he argued that value judgments are essentially expressions of individual feeling.
However, this must not be confused with value relativism which McShea supports - provided 4 "positive categories or criteria" are integrated into them. In value relativism, no single moral value system is correct to the exclusion of all others because there is no objective or empirical basis on which to decide so. (I did, however, make a case for moral values concordant with scientific Materialism, i.e. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2010/07/scientific-materialism-and-moral-values.html
Now, of course, there will be those (religious) who assert there is a single value system and it's the one "God" ordains. But there are problems with that too, as McShea explains (p. 50):
"The principal problem is that of communication. There are no reliable procedures, no criteria, for determining what it is that God wishes us to do. Even on the assumption that God wishes us to do well there seems to be no method for determining what God's notion of 'well' is, except by arguing God's ideas agree with ours. The argument not only is blasphemous but renders God's existence superfluous for value theory."
But the much more major problem is that no two religious systems or theistic belief systems agree on all moral values. For example, the Catholics invoke "natural law" to denounce artificial birth control as well as masturbation as morally deranged while most Jews and Protestants do not. Other religions are okay with abortion (even the Catholics were at one time, before 1869) and others aren't. Even if we found large areas of moral values commonality, McShea observes this "would not show us what God wants us to do, it would more likely show human societies have similar values because they consist of similar humans in similar human conditions."
In other words, similar "chemical scum".
But let's agree that even in the more general scheme of value relativism there can be consensus among civilized societies for actions that can be supported, including the preservation of innocent human life, the life of the vulnerable. Right now in Iraq that is playing out as the innocent and vulnerable (e.g. Yazidi) are being predated on by a savage and merciless group (ISIS) which truly are scum. In this moral scenario of chemical scum there is a segment that can truly be valued over another which savagely seeks to exterminate it.
Our job then must to exterminate that indiscriminately slaughtering scum. The best way to do it is probably using sarin nerve gas on them. As even McShea points out, no proclaimed values, even humanitarian, carry any substance unless one acts upon them. Just blabbing them without useful and efficacious action is sterile and pointless. The same goes for ostensible "American values" which are meaningless unless they can be translated into effective action, in this case averting a major humanitarian catastrophe.
Let's nerve gas the fuckers and let "God" sort them out!