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an intruder with a gun in your home out of self defense. Clearly, in these two situations Common

Law allows for murder out of self defense when it is clear that your life in danger. It is not clear

that killing ten thousand Iraqi civilians would stop Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass

destruction, nor whether the Iraqi government intends to use such weapons. Thus, it could be a

clear mistake to chance the death of ten thousand individuals.

These moral issues lead to the question of whether or not I am responsible for what my

government does. This too, like Black Elk on the missile scenario, is ambiguous. We can come up

with many possible arguments of which we may never be able to tell which is right unless we have

a retrospective view as Black would need. Dostoyevsky believes we are free to make our own

choices and as such we are responsible for our actions. Similarly, Black Elk gives full

responsibility to the individual for his actions, such as failure to interpret dreams. However, I am

not inclined to believe that either philosopher would think the individual is fully responsible for the

actions of his government so long as they do not participate in the government's decision-making

process. There are those that could argue, if we say thatall individuals (regardless of country) are

responsible for their government's actions, that the ten thousand Iraqi's that would be killed by a

missile strike warrant it, as they stepped outside the moral circle by allowing Saddam to remain in

power--that is they left the kingdom of ends by breaking their promise to treat others humanly by

allowing an inhumane leader to remain in power, and hence are responsible for the actions of

government. Inversely, we can say that the actions of Saddam in Iraq are decided solely by

Saddam Hussein and that Iraqi civilians have no responsibility for his actions as Saddam keeps,

through coercion, opposition to his power silenced and makes revolt impossible.

Similarly, in the United States, while I may vote for a particular set of government

officials, I can not know their hidden agendas and human response to events in the future.

Furthermore, if I am a pacifist and vote for only pacifist government officials, but the rest of the

nation votes into power government officials who opt for missile strikes when diplomacy fails, I

can not be held responsible. One might argue that it is my duty to convince others that their beliefs

were misguided. But to do that supposes that people are rational and will listen to a rational

argument instead of to their own personal beliefs and to politicians who sound good and this is

ludicrous. Story is more powerful than argument. The fact is that I can not convince the majority of

Americans to follow my lead, as man is not rational and I do not have the economic or political

clout to make my ideals publicly known except in the small circle of family and friends.