Monday, August 1, 2005

Air America Update

Michelle Malkin has links to all the latest news on the Air America scandal.

Question: Have you heard anything, anything at all, about this scandal on the evening news or read anything about it in your local paper? We didn't think so. Do you remember reading about Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction and subsequent legal troubles? Of course. Why is the elite media only interested in scandal when conservatives are the principal players?

Iraqi Factionalism

Strategy Page has an analysis of the current political situation in Iraq. Here's an important excerpt:

The struggle to write a new constitution by the August 15 deadline is focused on issues like the power of conservative Islamic religious organizations (who want control of the courts, and lifestyle) and autonomy of the Kurds (and exactly how large "Kurdistan" will be). All the Islamic conservatives (Shia and Sunni) fear democracy, for they know that most Iraqis do not support the conservative Islamic lifestyle. The majority of Iraqis (the 80 percent who are Arabs) do not support a lot of autonomy for the Kurds either. And by next summer, the Iraqi armed forces will be some 250,000 troops and police, with armored vehicles and warplanes. The Peshmerga will still be about 100,000 men, armed with light weapons. The U.S. will not allow the Peshmerga to get heavier arms. A war with the Kurdish and Shia militias will eventually be hopeless for the militias.

Eventually, the Kurds and Shia religious conservatives will have to work out a compromise with the majority of Iraqis. But first the Sunni Arab terrorists have to be destroyed. That won't take much longer, because the Iraqi security forces get stronger month by month, and more and more Sunni Arab leaders abandon support (active or passive) for the Sunni Arab rebels. But never forget that Sunni Arab terrorists are only the first act in the struggle to create a democratic Iraq. The second act involves dealing with Shia religious conservatives, and independent minded Kurds.

Nobody said it would be easy, but if it happens in Iraq the whole world will change. If it fails, the Islamic world will descend into a chaos which will reverberate across the globe.

60th Anniversary of Hiroshima

As we approach the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Max Hastings offers us an excellent essay upon which to reflect. He argues that there are good arguments both to justify and to condemn the use of the atomic bomb on Japan and anyone interested in the continuing debate on this historical watershed should read his column. He closes it with an important observation:

Those who today find it easy to condemn the architects of Hiroshima sometimes seem to lack humility in recognizing the frailties of the decision-makers, mortal men grappling with dilemmas of a magnitude our own generation has been spared.

In August 1945, amid a world sick of death in the cause of defeating evil, allied lives seemed very precious, while the enemy appeared to value neither his own nor those of the innocent. Truman's Hiroshima judgment may seem wrong in the eyes of posterity, but it is easy to understand why it seemed right to most of his contemporaries.

It's hard to disagree with what Hastings writes. I think we have an obligation to try to understand the circumstances the men who made the decision to drop the bomb found themselves in. Even so, there is something Hastings omits from his column which I think is of overriding importance in judging what happened, not just at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also at Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg and many less noted cities.

In all of these, there was a conscious decision to deliberately target civilians for death. It doesn't much matter, in my opinion, whether the death was administered by conventional or nuclear explosives, the salient point is that the intentional killing of non-combatants, women and children, is prima facie morally unjustifiable. I am not saying that it is absolutely wrong. There may be circumstances which would make such a measure necessary, and perhaps such circumstances obtained in August of 1945, but it's not obvious that they did.

We were outraged on 9/11 when 3000 civilians lost their lives to Islamic terrorists. We were incensed that the hijackers targeted innocent people. We called them cowards (which they certainly weren't). We called them evil (which they certainly were), but in what morally significant ways did their deed differ from the fire-bombing of children in Dresden or Tokyo?

I sympathize with the difficulty of the decision those men had to make during WWII. I don't know what I would have decided myself, especially if I had a son slated to take part in the impending invasion of Japan. But I do think we can spare those men harsh judgment without withholding moral assessment of their deed. If we seek to justify deliberately killing innocents now it will only make it easier for us to yield to the temptation to do it again. Even as I write Rep. Tom Tancredo is defending his call to nuke Mecca if a terrorist uses a nuclear weapon in an American city.

We are fortunate to be in possession of precision weapons today that our fathers did not have and which enable us to target combatants without deliberately harming non-combatants. We have, as best as can be discerned, used these with great care and effectiveness. They have relieved us somewhat of the moral burden previous generations of Americans carried. Even so, there are many times in war when the temptation to kill indiscriminately must seem overwhelming. To the extent we excuse what was done in WWII we make it more likely that it will happen again today in the war against Islamic terrorists.