Thursday, May 17, 2007


[posted by Callimachus]

If you want something good to chew on, try this post by Tigerhawk.

He riffs on a post by Richard Fernandez of Belmont Club:

While people may not want to return to the methods of World War 2, it is dishonest to pretend, as it is now fashionable to do, that Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill conducted war according to some high moral standard that the Bush administration has somehow betrayed.

Yep. I've been trying to remind people of that, too. here and here and here and here and here, just to cite a few.

He goes on to a call to loose the hounds of war by New York Post columnist Ralph Peters:

Above all, we have to maintain a strength of will equal to that of our opponents. War demands consistency, and we're the most fickle great power in history. We must focus on defeating our enemies, brushing aside all other considerations.

At present, we let those other considerations rule our behavior: We overreact to media sensationalism (which our enemies exploit brilliantly); we torment ourselves over the least mistakes our troops make; we delude ourselves that mass murderers have rights; we take prisoners knowing they'll be freed to kill more Americans - and the politicians and Green Zone generals alike pretend that "it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."

That's the biggest lie ever told by a human being who wasn't a member of Congress.

Winning is everything. Fighting ruthlessly may not please the safe-at-home moralists, but it's losing that's immoral.

I agree with Peters' diagnosis, but I can't swallow his prescription for a cure. Yet his last line is essentially correct: War is a waste of lives in any case; wasting them when you don't intend to accomplish the stated goal of a war -- defeat of some enemy in the name of a better future or a safer present -- is the most immoral war of all.

Finally, Tigerhawk himself poses the central question:

We have gone from limiting the basis for war to constraining the conduct of war to the point where no law-abiding nation can be brutal within the terms of international law. If law-abiding nations cannot be brutal, will only unlawful nations succeed in breaking the enemy's will to fight?