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A Socratic Dialogue


Lachlan Irvine




The scene is the Agora, in Athens. Socrates encounters his friend, George, son of George.



Socrates: Greetings, George, my young friend. Tell me, why are you so agitated?

George: Greetings Socrates, I am angry and troubled about Saddam.

Socrates: Saddam? The man who caused your father so much trouble?

George: The very same.

Socrates: But why are you so troubled about Saddam?

George: He has weapons of mass destruction. I must attack and disarm him.

Socrates: But George, are there not weapons inspectors investigating this very matter?

George: The weapons inspectors are not doing their job. I must attack and disarm Saddam.

Socrates: You say the inspectors are not doing their job? How do you know this?

George: They have not found any weapons of mass destruction.

Socrates: I see.

George: So you can see why I must attack and disarm Saddam.

Socrates: Indeed, indeed. Tell me George, where are these weapons of mass destruction?

George: I do not know where they are, Socrates.

Socrates: You do not know where they are, yet you know they exist.

George: I am in no doubt that they exist. But the inspectors cannot find them.

Socrates: So the weapons are hidden?

George: Yes Socrates, that is what I have been telling you.

Socrates: The weapons are so well hidden that the inspectors cannot find them?

George: That is correct.

Socrates: I see. Tell me George, if the weapons are so well hidden, how is Saddam to use them?

George: Clearly Socrates, Saddam cannot use his weapons while they are hidden.

Socrates: George, my young friend, please tell me, if a man possesses a weapon but is unable to use it, is he armed or unarmed?

George: I am sorry Socrates, I do not understand the question.

Socrates: Well, let me put it this way. Let us say that a man owns many weapons. They are all stored in his home. He comes here to the Agora and becomes involved in a fight. Is he armed or not?

George: Clearly Socrates my friend, when he becomes involved in the fight, he is unarmed.

Socrates: But he owns many weapons.

George: Yes, but he is unable to use them.

Socrates: Let us say then, that a man owns many weapons, but they are all buried in his garden. He is attacked in his home. Is he armed to repel the attack?

George: Clearly Socrates, he is not. His weapons are buried.

Socrates: From what you are saying George, it would seem that a man who owns weapons but is unable to use them is not armed.

George: That is what I have said, yes.

Socrates: And from what you have told me about Saddam, he has weapons which he cannot use. Is that correct?

George: Yes Socrates, that is correct.

Socrates: So, according to what you have told me, that means that Saddam is not armed. Is that correct?

George: According to what I have told you, that is indeed correct, Socrates.

Socrates: Tell me George, how would you define a disarmed man?

George: I would say, Socrates, that a disarmed man is a man who was armed, but is now unarmed.

Socrates: And from the conversation we have had today, would you say that Saddam was armed but is now unarmed?

George: Yes Socrates, I would have to say that.

Socrates: By your own definition then, Saddam has been disarmed?

George: By my own definition, that is true, Socrates.

Socrates: So Saddam has been disarmed because he can no longer use his weapons?

George: That is correct, yes.

Socrates: And he can no longer use his weapons because he has hidden them?

George: Again, Socrates, I agree.

Socrates: And he has hidden his weapons because the inspectors are looking for them?

George: That is correct.

Socrates: But George, when I asked you earlier why you were agitated, you told me that you had to attack and disarm Saddam because the weapons inspectors had not done their job.

George: That is indeed what I told you, Socrates.

Socrates: And now you tell me that Saddam has been disarmed.

George: Yes Socrates, that is true.

Socrates: And you also told me that it is the weapons inspectors who are responsible for disarming Saddam. Is that correct?

George: That is indeed correct, my friend.

Socrates: From what you have told me George, it seems that none of us have anything to fear from Saddam, as long as the inspectors continue to do their job.

George: Indeed, Socrates, that is correct.

Socrates: It also seems, my friend, that you have little need for the agitation you displayed earlier today.

George: That is true Socrates. I can see now that my agitation was not warranted. A worry has been lifted from my mind.

Socrates: And there is no need for you to attack Saddam?

George: No need at all Socrates. Thank you for helping me to understand the situation more clearly.

Socrates: You are most welcome my friend.



The End


To read my thoughts on Australia's involvement in a war in Iraq, click on the following link.

Iraq War

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