Is it morally okay for me to value one person's life more then another? Especially in International Affairs?
I was brought to this by thinking about the Israel/Lebanon conflict. Most Israel/Palestine/Lebanon talks I've encountered focus on who is RIGHT. And that leads to a wealth of issues -- ancient rights to the land, territorial aggression, long-term considerations like birth rate & availability of weapons, broader regional concerns, the morality of technological imbalance.
I can't sort it all out. Nor can you. That can lead to one of two conclusions, I think. The first is that you base the RIGHTNESS of a conflict on a heuristic of incomplete information and news reports. There's nothing wrong with this, we do it with everything.
But the other is that you don't care about, in close calls, who has the absolute rightness of the situation. I call this the Football Side. Now, I have family in Israel, soon. My Fiancee has an Israeli father. And I have a lot more in common with Israel's western, modern culture then anything in Palestine or Lebanon. So while it's not quite 'My Country, Right or Wrong,' it's certainly 'Israel until undeniably proven otherwise.'
And even should Israel mess up horribly, chances are I'll still see the issue from Israel's side -- as a failure among the political/military elite, rather then an indictment of the country. Just as I would see something similar in America, viz Guantanamo.
This being the case, is it inevitable that I'm valuing Israeli lives more highly then Lebanese lives? And if so, is that morally respectable?
Even if we don't have enough information -- if we ever could! -- to judge the rightness of a situation, we do have body counts. If I'm not bothering to figure out who is right, I can at least count corpses. Regardless, I am on Israel's side. And, honestly, I feel it more strongly when someone is killed in Tiberias, where I've been, then when distant Lebanese are killed. Is this just a normal part of human experience -- no one would question it if I felt more strongly for a friend then a stranger -- or mere cultural prejudice, a demonstration of bigotry based on nothing more then national borders?