Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Realism

The Starks are Not the Good Guys: Morality and Game of Thrones

I’m a big Game of Thrones fan (both the books and the show), but there’s something that sets me apart from other fans–I hate the Starks. It’s my view that they are without question the most villainous family in Westeros, far worse than the Lannisters. This is a controversial view, but hear me out. I think I have a pretty strong case.

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Is It Morally Okay for My Little Brother to Work for a Defense Contractor?

As some of you might know, I have a little brother named Adam (he appears on the blog once in a while). Adam is one of my favorite people–he’s a remarkably kind, thoughtful, and gregarious person. If you met him, you’d like him. Just about everyone does.

Adam's on the left; I'm on the right

Adam’s on the left; I’m on the right

My little brother is studying at the University of Southampton in the UK, where he’s studying to become an aerospace engineer. Becoming an aerospace engineer literally is rocket science, and it’s not easy. Not only are Adam’s classes exceptionally grueling, but he needs to spend this coming summer doing an internship to get work experience and ensure that he’s competitive on the job market when he graduates. These internships are hard to get, especially if you want to be paid for your work. Recently, Adam was able to score a paid internship at a major American defense contractor. As a political theorist, this raises some interesting moral issues for me–no matter your position in international relations, it’s more or less inevitable that when you get involved in designing and manufacturing weapons, the weapons you make will be used in some conflicts you don’t agree with to kill people you don’t think deserve it. Is it okay with me that Adam wants to do this?

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ISIS and Iran: Bigger Threats to Each Other than to the West

During the past week, I went on a bit of a roadtrip (it’s the reason for the gap in posting). While I was driving around, I listened to some talk radio, most of which was religious, conservative, or both. I found what I expected to find–there’s a lot of fear-mongering and threat inflation on talk radio. But what really stood out to me was just how inconsistent it all was. Let me explain what I mean.

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No, We Should Not Arm Ukraine

In a recent report titled Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do, the Brookings Institution in conjunction with the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs advise NATO to drastically increase its arms commitment to Ukraine. The report has fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the conflict in Ukraine and has consequently given governments advice that is both irrelevant and terrible. Here’s why.

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Don’t Blame Putin for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17

On July 17, 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine by a Russian-built SA-11 surface to air missile. The tragedy killed 298 people, the majority of whom were Dutch, as well as a handful of AIDS researchers. In the wake of this terribly unfortunate incident, many in the west are blaming Russia for having supplied the pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels with the sophisticated weaponry necessary to carry out the deed.  In so doing, however, they are missing the forest for the trees, choosing the simple, cathartic narrative of Russian villainy over the reality.

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