Marquette Warrior: Simon Harak: Leftist Marquette Faculty “Peace” Activist Against Military Robots

Friday, April 24, 2009

Simon Harak: Leftist Marquette Faculty “Peace” Activist Against Military Robots

Simon Harak is a hard left “peace activist” ensconced in Marquette’s Center for Peacemaking.

In fact, his notion of “peace” is that America should never fight anybody. He has little bad to say about America’s enemies, and has even defended Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

He is much more a leftist than a peace activist.

At any rate, Harak is recently been vocal in opposing the U.S. military’s use of robots in combat.

Some argue that military robotics will also increase the threat of terrorism. “If people know that they are going to be killed by these robots,” argues Fr. G. Simon Harak, director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, “then why would they not therefore retaliate against civilian centers in the United States? It only makes military sense that they’ll find where we are vulnerable.”

Of course, they have been trying to do this for a couple of decades now, and without much success since the Bush Administration’s clamp down on terrorism in the wake of 9/11.
More than anything else, the prospect of U.S. troops dying on some far-off battlefield limits public support for military force. Therefore, if the number of soldiers coming home in body bags can be significantly reduced, then the public will probably pay even less attention to foreign policy and future wars. This will in turn make it easier for politicians to start wars.

For instance, John Pike, the director of, recently wrote in the Washington Post that robots would allow the United States to intervene militarily in Darfur or other hot spots where politicians are currently reluctant to send flesh-and-blood soldiers.
Another hard-left periodical, Mother Jones also quotes Harak.
The Rev. G. Simon Harak, an ethicist and the director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, says, “Effectively, what these remote control robots are doing is removing people farther and farther from the consequences of their actions.”
Translation: if America goes to war, fewer Americans will be killed. For Harak, this is a bad thing.
Moreover, the similarity that the robots have to the life-like video games that young people grow up playing will blur reality further.

“If guys in the field already have difficulties distinguishing between civilians and combatants,” Harak asks, “what about when they are looking through a video screen?”

It is not only possible but likely that a surge of armed robots would lead to an increase in the number of civilian casualties, not a decrease.

The supposed conversation-ender that armed robots will save U.S. lives isn’t nearly as clear as it is often presented, either. “If you take a narrow view, fewer soldiers would die,” Harak says, “but that would be only on the battlefield.”

As happens in every war, however, those facing new technology will adapt to them.

“If those people being attacked feel helpless to strike at the robots themselves, they will try to strike at their command centers,” Harak says, “which might well be back in the United States or among civilian centers. That would then displace the battlefield to manufacturing plants and research facilities at universities where such things are being invented or assembled… The whole notion that we can be invulnerable is just a delusion.”
Harak somehow believes that terrorists, who have been trying to strike the American homeland, and dearly want to strike the Amercan homeland, would somehow gain the capability of doing so if the U.S. military uses robots.

Of course, under Obama, they may very well gain that capability. But if so, they will use it, robots or no robots.

Harak, it seems, is so anti-American that he actually wants any American intervention to create more American casualties. “Peace” is no part of his agenda. Hating America is.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A renowned libertarian blogger has perceptively observed: people like this aren't at all anti-war; they just want to be sure the other side wins.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Dr. Matthew Wion said...

I have often spoke with Father Harak. I do not think his views are accurately described in this post.

I don't alwasy agree with Father Harak, and I don't completely agree with him on this issue. However, I think his view is more nuanced and thoughtful then it seems here.

Father Harak is assuming what you either deny or are perhaps unconcerned with: American Imeperialism.

He does not hate American, he hates imperialism. He is assuming what we have done to Iraq, Latin American, Afghanstain, Somalia, and Haiti are the actions of the empire. His further claim is that Americans - and your own perspective proves this - are unaware that America is an Empire and has acted in conventional imperial fashions.

I find the whole talk of this robot far-fetched. But Harak's point is that the only reason Americans ever protest our many wrongdoings is the cost of American lives. Take this away, and they will never protest American Imperialism, it will continue in its ways unchecked.

I don't necessarily agree with Harak, but I think his views are not precisely as you present them.

I strongly suspect that you either (a) deny that American is an Empire or (b) affirm it is an empire, but assert that it should be and that this is even good for the world. That is another and longer debate. But Harak opposses empire and imperialism not simply "America."

5:23 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

He does not hate American, he hates imperialism. That's like saying "I don't hate Jews, I just hate greed."

But then the person says that Jews are greedy.

Yes, I deny American imperialism.

People who talk about "American imperialism" hate America. That's Harak.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Dr. Matthew Wion said...

I find a difficulty with your analogy. Harak is not saying "All Americans are imperialists." Rather, he is saying that the policies of the American Government are imperialistic.

This is decidedly not the same as saying "All Jews are greeding." In that example one is committed to the claim that to be a Jew is necessarily to be greedy, or rather that "the subject 'jewish person' has the property Greed." This kind of racism is based on attributing to people of a particular race some essential charesteristic.

But Harak does not claim some group of people posses a certain property, he does not for instance say "to be an American is necessarily to be an imperialist."

Rather Harak is quite aware that many Americans are not. He is not making a claim about groups of people but instistutions. IN this case he is saying that the an institution, the American Government operates as an Empire, he is not making any claim whatsoever about Americans as a group of people.

As to America being an Empire. I suppose one could argue that it is not. Fair enough. I don't really need to enter that debate. But I do think that Harak's claiming it is an Empire says nothing about what he thinks of the American People, or say our founding principles.

For instance - I happen to Admire our Founding Fathers, Particularly Franklin and Jefferson. I think that our representive democracy, system of checks and balances, confederacy of states, and constituional democracy are something truly wonderful. But I oppossed the War in Iraq, oppose our one-sided support of Israel, and many other things.

Does this mean I hate America? Taking that back to Father Harak, does his claim to oppose American Foreign Policy mean that he cannot admire many American People or even - as I do - greatly admire and honor the founding fathers and principles of this country?

10:31 PM  
Blogger James Pawlak said...

Perhaps Fr. Harak should be brought to the attention of the Obama administration for appointment to a high post. His views appear consistent with that of "The One" (Or is it "The Leader"?).

8:17 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Taking that back to Father Harak, does his claim to oppose American Foreign Policy mean that he cannot admire many American People or even - as I do - greatly admire and honor the founding fathers and principles of this country?People who believe that America, as a country, is pretty much always in the wrong are anti-American.

Look . . . leftist intellectuals who are anti-American aren't people with some higher standard of morality.

They are people who lust after power, and very much resent the fact that people they consider their inferiors don't defer to them. America is more socially and politically egalitarian than any other nation. And the leftist intellectuals hate it.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Dad29 said...

He is much more a leftist than a peace activist Comes with the "S.J."

Package deal.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be quite honest, I also have concerns regarding the advance of robotics in the military. While I don't take the stance that "I want America to lose"... the potential loss of life is an important factor in deciding who we go to war with, and for what reasons. It tempers our desire to meddle in the affairs of others. The more these things are automated, and reduces our cost, the more likely we are to interfere.

It artificially lowers the threshold of what we think is important to interfere in. That is the real danger.

11:12 AM  

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