Bad seeds and total war

Rick, at Brutally Honest, struggles with an agonizing question that always faces moral nations when they embark on a war:  What about the enemy’s civilian population?  Is there ever a justification for targeting women and children, as was done at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  He links to an equally thoughtful Joe Carter post on the subject.

Before I get to the larger issue of whether there is ever a justification for attacking civilians directly, let me touch upon the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.  When I was growing up, it was fashionable to say that the only reason America dropped the bomb was to show to Joe Stalin that America had the bomb.

The first challenge I ever met to this prevailing Leftist academic dogma came from Paul Fussell, in his book Thank God for the Atom Bomb.  In the eponymous first essay, Fussell argued that Truman’s advisers told him that, while the Americans would inevitably win against Japan, continuing traditional warfare would mean invading the Japanese mainland, and facing a citizen army of women and children.  The advisers estimated another 30,000-40,000 American military dead, plus Japanese dead in the hundreds of thousands.  That calculation made a couple of bombs seem like a reasonable alternative.  One would end up with the same number of Japanese deaths either way, but still save American lives.

As my mom was a POW in a Japanese concentration camp, and Truman’s decision did save her life, I’ve always been comfortable with that decision.  Incidentally, recently released records from 1945 show that it was Fussell, not the revisionists, who correctly nailed the 1945 analysis that led to the bomb.  (That is, we now know that (a) the Japanese were prepared to fight to the last infant and (b) that’s precisely what Truman’s advisers told him.)

The above is a pragmatic discussion, a numbers game, if you will.  I have a slightly different point to make, which is the bad seed theory.  It’s a theory that gets a lot of play in my house, because my young son (who hopes to enter the military one day) struggles with the notion of fighting people who embrace a bad idea because they don’t know any better.  He fully understands that your average Taliban fighter (not the Western-educated elites, but the guys on the ground) has never been exposed to ideas other than the virtue of sharia and worldwide Islamic domination.  His world view is a one way street.  My son therefore struggles with moral relativism as it plays out on the field of battle.

The problem for my son, as for all generations of fighters, is that the battle doesn’t always play out on the field.  Or sometimes, as the Civil War showed, the battle cannot be won efficaciously on the field.  It wasn’t until Sherman marched through Georgia, demoralizing the civilians, that the war finally ended.  As with the war against the Japanese, the North would have inevitably won, but at a much greater cost to the North, and a potentially greater cost to the South.  It seems that, in war as in love, sometimes you’ve gotta be cruel to be kind.

What we do know is that wars over values, as opposed to wars over borders, are always the most viciously fought.  One can compromise over a river bed.  One cannot compromise over people’s most deeply held beliefs.  Your beliefs are either right or they’re wrong.  God is on your side or he isn’t.  Once the battle has gone existential, there is no middle ground.

Also, even as we’re struggling with the morality of our own actions, they’re still trying to kill us.  The Underwear Bomber who tried to blow up an airplane full of people is busily arguing that he didn’t commit a criminal act, because, had he been successful, the slaughter would have fallen under the heading of religiously justifiable homicide.  The Koran is his book, and the Koran authorizes infidel killing.  It’s that simple.  Nor is this killing a subject of anguish and morality.  For those who embrace Islamism, it’s a sport — fun and totally reasonable because authorized by Allah.

It’s the young ‘uns that matter.  Yes, they are the future.  But the future they create will be determined by the values they embrace.  Sometimes, one has to demonstrate to that generation, resoundingly, that their God has failed.  Sadly, depending on the rot that’s corrupted the next generation — the bad seeds — the battle for hearts and minds cannot be won as long as they see a smidgen of hope.  The only way to prevail is to show that their God has failed, and then to educate them up again, as we did in the post-WWII era with Japan and Germany.

Having said all that, I’m opposed to targeting civilians as a general principle of war.  One fights the military.  Civilians become potential targets only when it becomes clear that there is no other way to destroy a much greater evil.  And of course, one of the hallmarks of a greater evil is a nation or ideology that deliberately puts its children in the path of war.

UPDATE:  By the way, the Left knows that it’s the young ‘uns that matter.  As I wrote years ago, sex is a powerful factor in Leftist control, something that Zombie points out in telling of the latest Leftist sexual outrages against young children.

The few, the good, the Christian

A new movie is out, documenting the horrific Rape of Nanking, when Japanese troops slaughtered about 200,000 Chinese people in a matter of weeks (and probably raped at least 20,000 women). The New York Times review discusses those few Westerners who stayed to help out, and saved thousands of people, but I wonder if the reviewer really understood the thread connecting all but one of those Westerners:

Many of the dozen witnesses are heroic men and women from Europe and the United States who remained in the city and saved thousands of lives by setting up a two-square-mile safety zone for the many thousands of civilians unable to evacuate.

Woody Harrelson reads the words of Bob Wilson, who was born in China, the son of an American missionary. He was the only surgeon to remain in Nanjing after the Japanese began bombing the city.

Mariel Hemingway speaks for Minnie Vautrin, a Christian missionary and chairwoman of the education department at Ginling College, who saved countless women from rape by hiding them from the marauding soldiers.

Jürgen Prochnow is John Rabe, an imperious German businessman and Nazi Party member, who used his status to try to halt the violence; when Mr. Rabe, who harbored 650 Chinese civilians on his estate, eventually returned to Germany, he was ordered never to speak of what he had seen.

Hugo Armstrong is John Magee, an Episcopal minister and amateur filmmaker who set up a hospital for wounded solders. “Nanking” includes excerpts from grainy 16-millimeter film he shot of the grotesquely disfigured patients. His film was smuggled out of the country at considerable peril and only discovered in Germany in the 1980s.

One is also left wondering whether Rabe, the odd man out in this community of brave Christians, was a hard core Nazi, or if he was an opportunist who joined the party for its economic benefits, in the same way that Oskar Schindler did.

Ann at her best

Ann Coulter can be too mean sometimes, and I think she undermines her points when she is. Sometimes, though, she’s right on the money, as she is in this article, some of which I quote here:

The “bipartisan” Iraq panel has recommended that Iran and Syria can help stabilize Iraq. You know, the way Germany and Russia helped stabilize Poland in ’39.

***

In a broadcast on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, NBC’s Matt Lauer tried to nail down the Manhattan portion of his audience by aggressively questioning President Bush about the possible use of “waterboarding” against terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Lauer said ominously, “It’s been reported that with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he was what they call ‘waterboarded.’”

***

There are few better examples of how out of touch leftists are. They go right to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and expect Americans to be outraged that he may have been waterboarded.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks and is believed to have played a role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Bali nightclub bombings, the filmed beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, a thwarted 2002 attack on a bank tower in Los Angeles, and Operation Bojinka, a plot to blow up 11 commercial airliners simultaneously. Oh, and he took home the coveted “world’s craziest terrorist” prize at al-Qaeda’s end-of-season office party last year.

Sadly, the Democrats’ misplaced compassion (and I think it is seriously misplaced) didn’t prevent the Republicans from getting kicked out of office. It’s sad that Americans believe that Republicans are so inept and have failed so much to live up to conservative standards, that they (average Americans, that is) are willing to take just about anything in the Republicans place. Please, please, please, Republicans, get your priorities in order and your backbone in place before 2008.

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Why the fratricide may still have been unexpected

Patrick O’Hannigan, my friend the Paragraph Farmer, used as the jumping off point for a wonderful article in The American Spectator a post of mine that had, in turn, commented favorably on a Dennis Prager article. Dennis Prager’s point, which was one I applauded, was that no one could have foreseen that the war in Iraq, which started as a military victory, would be derailed by a new tactic — Iraqis slaughtering their own citizens as part of their resistance. Prager pointed out that no Western war has ever seen that type of thing before. Patrick’s point is that Prager and I are both looking at this issue through that same Western perspective and that, if he, I, President Bush or the War’s architects had taken into account the nature of our enemy — fanatic Islamists — we wouldn’t have been so surprised.

As is always the case when Patrick is the one writing, I think he has a very good point — I’m just not sure that I agree with it. I agree that fanatic Islamists have no problems with fratricide. The Sudan is a good example, where the northern light-skinned Muslims practicing genocide against the Southern dark-skinned Muslims. Patrick is also correct that the war between Iran and Iraq — a Muslim on Muslim conflict, although not an Arab on Arab conflict — was exceptionally ferocious. Muslims don’t have a problem killing Muslims. Of course, as the wars that waged through the West have shown, whites don’t have a problem killing whites (an example is the Germans versus everyone else in two world wars) and Christians haven’t historically had a problem killing Christians (the Thirty Years War is a good example of that fact). Indeed, Americans haven’t even baulked at killing Americans, as we can see from both our Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

What’s different here, and where I’m willing to stick to my guns despite Patrick’s lucid and intelligent argument, is that this is a war where the losing side has determined that the slaughter of its own citizens is a legitimate and potentially successful tactic in the war against the enemy (the enemy being America). Thus, the “insurgents” (I prefer to think of them as “murderous terrorists”) have decided that they can best win the War as its being played out in the Western media, by slaughter their own citizens en masse. In other words, unlike ordinary wars where the slaughter of ones own kind (Christian v. Christian, American v. American, Iranian Muslim v. Iraqi Muslim) occurred because the two sides, while sharing common denominators, had significant geographic, religious or economic differences, the slaughter here is for headlines.

The Islamists have figured out that, if America is to lose this war, it will be lost, not on the battlefields, but in the headlines. They’ve also figured out that Americans have no stomach for a war with high fatalities, whether those fatalities occur amongst coalition troops or the enemy. This concept goes far beyond using ones own soldiers as cannon fodder (something Stalin did to good effect in World War II when he had to fight off the better equipped and trained Germany Army). What we’re seeing here is an enemy that, unable to kill Americans troops in significant numbers, has ratcheted up the War’s mortality figures by turning on their own — and that, I think is an unprecedented tactical maneuver that no war has ever seen before.

UPDATE: Comments here haved educated me to the fact that the Vietnamese did try the tactic of internal slaughter, although although not on the heroic scale we’re seeing in Vietnam. I also thought that the Tet offensive really was a last ditch effort to win, with Walter Cronkite being the unexpected bonus when there was no battlelfield victory. I freely admit my ignorance here. The military, however, should not have been ignorant. Knowing that these tactics were out there, I’d tend now to sidle back over to Patrick’s viewpoint, which is that the military should have been anticipated this outcome and should have (maybe it did?) advised the President accordingly.

I still question, though, whether this tactic should have been anticipated simply because the combatants are Muslims. Regular readers of this blog know that I believe jihadists, who have been sucked dry of the milk of human kindness and infused with a black bile of hatred, are our most dangerous enemies, and that the media and “progressive” thinking aid and abet them by trying to blind us to the threat and tie our hands when it comes to defending ourselves. Nevertheless, I think it’s distinctly possible that the tactic’s appearance in this War has little to do with Islam, and everything to do with asymmetrical war in a media age.

More on the virtues of a little perspective

Mr. Bookworm still finds troubling my political transformation, which is actually something I understand.  After all, when we stood under the chuppah so many years ago, he knew what he was getting — a stalwart Democratic life partner.  It was bad enough when his siblings, after 9/11, betrayed him by going conservative, but his wife!  I ask you!?  He’s fighting a rearguard action by bringing DVDs into the house that he presents to me without comment, in the hopes that I will rethink my new ideas and return to the fold.  I’m stubborn as an old pig, though, so I don’t think he’d better hold his breath.

In any event, as part of his effort, we watched two DVDs this weekend.  The first had no effect on me at all; the second, I think, was a disappointment to him, as tending to prove my case more than his.

The first DVD was Outfoxed : Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, a movie made right before the 2004 election.  The movie’s basic premise was that Fox News, despite it’s “Fair and Balanced” logo actually has a conservative slant.  Were you ever more shocked?  I think the guys and gals who made the movie really think that members of the American public watch people like Bill O’Reilly, Neil Cavuto, and the other regulars, and are hornswoggled into thinking that these commentators aren’t biased.  In fact, O’Reilly, Cavuto, et al are a blessed breath of fresh air in the media in that they’re so absolutely up front about their biases.  The Fox News audience, unless it’s really as dumb as the liberal establishment thinks it is, knows precisely what it’s getting and, judging by the numbers, that’s precisely what it wants:  commentary that doesn’t pretend to be balanced, all the while hiding a profound agenda.

In any event, the main “horror” and “scandal” shaming Fox (that it supports the President) could just as easily be applied in mirror image to the other 90% of the broadcast media (they all hate the President).  The shame, though, is greater for the latter, because they don’t have the decency to admit that bias.  I’d read the NY Times with much more interest and pleasure if it would stop hiding in the closet about its biases.

The second DVD, which also dates from 2004, was much more impressive than the above piece of hysterical polemic.  Mr. Bookworm and I just finished watching Voices of Iraq, a movie by and about the Iraqi people.  The gimmick is that the producers shipped 150 digital video cameras into Iraq in 2004, and let the Iraqi people film themselves.  The movie is about 95% footage by and about Iraqis, but it does include, at rare intervals, (i) American newspaper headlines that seem to be at odds which or exaggerations of the story on the ground; and (ii) videos of staged riots and Hussein era torture.

What was fascinating was how different the story the Iraqis tell about themselves is from the American media talking head version.   Once the handheld videocams found their way out of Fallujah, where they were hostile to Americans, and Baghdad, where they were understandably resentful of the great hardships imposed on their previously urban lives, you heard from people who were grateful to have Hussein gone, regardless of the hardships.

These grateful ones were the people who had survived Hussein era torture, and who laughed at the idea that being stripped naked and having your genitals fondled could be considered torture.* They were the Kurds who have living memories of Hussein’s slaughter of almost 200,000 Kurds, as well as his poison gas attacks on their villages.  They were the Marsh People, who live at the heart of the ancient Fertile Crescent (Ur), who were displaced and almost destroyed when Saddam deliberately drained their swamps.  The list of people grateful for Saddam’s downfall, and willing to put up with almost any hardship as long as he was gone, was phenomenal.

It was also amazing to see the liberality of thought so many Iraqis displayed — a fact daily obscured by the evening news.  Somehow it seems timely to point out in this regard that one of the biggest attacks the Outfoxed movie makers had against Fox News was that it had the temerity to show good news coming out of Iraq.  Lies, lies, lies, the movie makers implied.

I’m not so naive that I think things are wonderful in Iraq.  God knows that, if my home were reduced to intermittent moments of electricity and water, I’d be disconsolate.  I’d be even more unhappy if IEDs plagued my City.  But, on balance, I might still be happy to see the last of a man who led my country in an eight year war that saw 400,000 of my fellow citizens dead;** a man who committed genocide against hundreds of thousands of Kurds (including using chemical weapons against them); a man (and his sons) who routinely used unimaginable torture against those who merely disagreed with him; and a man who thought it was good public policy to behead people on street corners.  The film says that the low estimates for the Iraqi deaths under Saddam’s watch are one million people, with the highs coming in at about six million.  Freedom with limited electricity has to be preferable to life in that kind of nationwide torture chamber.

In the same way, I’d be deathly afraid of the Islamic death squads trying to impose their reign of terror throughout Iraq.  I’d recognize that, until matters stabilize somewhat, America is the only bulwark against Iraq falling to the Iraqi equivalent of the Taliban.  And I’d be damned resentful of American politicians and citizens who now want to cut and run — even if I wished that the Americans hadn’t come in the first place.

One last thought, which I’ll throw in here because I don’t have another place to put it — while most of use remember only a Germany resurgent in the late 1950s and onwards, thanks to the fact that the Americans got rid of the Nazis and instituted the Marshall plan, few of us like to dwell on the appalling period immediately after WWII ended.  Much of Germany was in ruins; the continent was crawling with war refugees, who were augmented with those escaping the Iron Curtain; and the Americans were unpopular with unregenerate Nazis (just as they are now unpopular with the Baathists).  It never occurred to the Americans, though, to walk away.  Instead, they stuck it out until Germany was back on her feet.  I’m pleased to say that, in another war sixty years later, with Bush at the helm, Americans are following the same pattern and staying the course.

__________________________

*You don’t need to be reminded, do you, of the despair that current Abu Ghraib residents felt when the Americans turn the prison back over to the Iraqis?  Our polls and papers may still feel a squirmy masturbatory excitement when they think about America’s humiliation over the Abu Ghraib scandal, but those Arabs at the receiving end of real torture, as opposed to degradation (which I don’t countenance or support) know the difference.
**No one needs to remind me that the U.S. at this time sided with Iraq, on the principle that the enemy of my enemy was my friend.  The war started in 1980, while Iran still held the hostages, so I really don’t think you can blame the U.S. too much for sending words of encouragement when Saddam’s itchy megalomania had him facing off with the Iranians.

Mark Steyn puts Gitmo and Leahy’s rants in perspective

Mark Steyn just got back from a Gitmo visit.  In his most recent column, he describes what he saw there (better living than my “neighbors” in San Quentin, that’s for sure), and contrasts it with Leahy’s unhinged rant over trials for military terrorists:

[I]t surely requires a perverse genius to have made the first terrorist detention camp to offer homemade Ramadan pastries a byword for horror and brutality. If I had to summon up Gitmo in a single image, it would be the brand-new Qurans in each unoccupied cell. To reassure incoming inmates that the filthy infidels haven’t touched the sacred book with their unclean hands, the Qurans are hung from the walls in pristine surgical masks. It’s one thing for Muslims to regard infidels as unclean, but it’s hard to see why it’s in the interests of the United States government to string along with it and thereby validate their bigotry.

When I put this point to Adm. Harris, he replied, “That’s an interesting question,” and said the decision had been made long before he arrived. He explained that they had a good working system whereby whenever it became necessary to handle a Quran — because a weapon or illicit communication had been concealed in it — a Muslim translator would be called to the cell to perform the task. But I wasn’t thinking of it in operational so much as psychological terms: What does that degree of abasement before their prejudices tell them about us? Mulling it over since I got back, I’d go further: It seems to me that one sign this war is over is when Muslims are grown-up enough not to go to full-blown baklava nuts over other folks touching their Qurans.

How to treat our current crop of enemies

I’ve often opined that the Left is stuck in Gandhi mode. This is the believe that the only possible form of resistance is the non-violent type. To that, I always point out that this worked for Gandhi because the other side was England which, in those days, didn’t have the stomach for bloody massacres (something that, presumably, will be different once the Muslims take the helm). Ann Coulter, who often walks a thin line between brilliance and savage vulgarity, gets it:

The belief that we can impress the enemy with our magnanimity is an idea that just won’t die. It’s worse than the idea that paying welfare recipients benefits won’t discourage them from working. (Some tiny minority might still seek work.) It’s worse than the idea that taxes can be raised endlessly without reducing tax receipts. (As the Laffer Curve illustrates, at some point – a point this country will never reach – taxes could theoretically be cut so much that tax revenues would decline.)

But being nice to enemies is an idea that has never worked, no matter how many times liberals make us do it. It didn’t work with the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan, Hitler or the North Vietnamese – enemies notable for being more civilized than the Islamic savages we are at war with today.

By the way, how did the Geneva Conventions work out for McCain at the Hanoi Hilton?

It doesn’t even work with the Democrats, whom Bush kept sucking up to his first year in office. No more movie nights at the White House with Teddy Kennedy these days, I’m guessing.

It was this idea (Be nice!) that fueled leftists’ rage at Reagan when he vanquished the Soviet Union with his macho “cowboy diplomacy” that was going to get us all blown up. As the Times editorial page hysterically described Reagan’s first year in office: “Mr. Reagan looked at the world through gun sights.” Yes, he did! And now the Evil Empire is no more.

It was this idiotic idea of being nice to predators that drove left-wing crime policies in the ’60s and ’70s – leading like night into day to unprecedented crime rates. Now these same leftist ninnies want to extend their tender mercies not just to rapists and murderers, but to Islamic terrorists.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ronald Reagan, and Winston Churchill had a different idea: Instead of rewarding bad behavior, punish bad behavior. How many times does punishment have to work and coddling have to fail before we never have to hear again that if we treat terrorists well, the terrorists will treat our prisoners well?

Fortunately, history always begins this morning for leftists, so they can keep flogging the same idiotic idea that has never, ever worked: Be nice to our enemies and they will reward us with good behavior.

And before someone runs away with the idea that I’m advocating torture of the type that springs to mind when one thinks of Torquemada or the Gestapo, I’m not. I am entirely comfortable, however, with the idea that known enemy combatants — that is, people who have already embraced the idea of physical risk to achieve their goals in the first instance — can be subject to coercive tactics if those tactics might yield information that will prevent attacks against Americans.

Coercive tactics, in my book, do not include savage beatings, electrocutions, burning, racking, pressing, bone breaking, “scientific” experiments, rape, flaying, etc. They do, however, include sleep deprivation, cold, hunger or loneliness at levels, and for lengths of time, that, while not causing permanent damage or bringing a person anywhere near death, nevertheless make someone willing to spill some beans in order to be returned to a more acceptable level of physical comfort.

And just to clarify further, when I mention coercive techniques in the context of the current war, I’m talking about using them against combatants who do not fight under the banner of nations that have signed the Geneva convention. This isn’t just a pure legalism. It’s practical. If a nation has entered the Geneva convention, it is a defined entity that has a physical location (such as, say, France) and that has representatives (say, Chirac). You can find it and you can speak to it. If you’ve got Joe Shmo (or, should I say, Mohammed Al-Shmo) from Turkey, via Britain and Germany, who owes his allegiance to a small branch of terrorists that’s loosely affiliated with Al Qaeda, with whom are you going to negotiate?

UPDATE: Deroy Murdock has another excellent article on the Western fallacy that “being nice” to zealots, fanatics and sadists will change their behavior.

World War II’s legacy

We have had sitting around for months a DVD called The Long Way Home. It’s a documentary about the Jewish survivor’s plight in the three years after World War II. I really didn’t want to watch it, because I knew it would upset me — hence, it’s long sojourn on our coffee table. As it happened, I was right about my reaction, because I, through the whole thing, I just had tears streaming out of my eyes. The footage, most of which I’d never seen before, is just shattering. I’d always seen still shots of the camp’s liberation. This was live footage of the human wreckage left behind by the Nazi insanity. That’s the movie’s beginning point. It then takes us through the absolute chaos that was Europe in the wake of World War II; and the squalor, degradation and despair of the refugee camps (which, until Eisenhower fired him, were managed by Patton, who wrote about Jews in terms that would have done credit to any Nazi). The movie also focuses on two other things that shaped the modern world: the fact that these few survivors found the emotional will to live by focusing on Eretz Israel, the hope of Zionism; and the fact that the British Labor government reneged on every promise it ever made to the Jews.

Watching this movie called to mind a few random thoughts, which I present in no particular order:

1. The movie notes how Jewish settlers worked incredibly hard to smuggle camp survivors into Eretz Israel. After the war, my mother, herself a camp survivor (a Japanese concentration camp), was part of the chain that helped find homes for these refugees once they made it to the Promised Land. One of these refugees was a young man who had been through the camps. His mother had already made it to Tel Aviv, and my mother was assigned the task of reuniting the two. What my mother hadn’t been told was that this young man’s mother had not been forwarned about his arrival, or even his survival. My mother, excited about the forthcoming reunion, slipped through the night with the young man, and knocked on the door. The women opened the door, and my mother proudly announced that she’d brought the woman’s son. The reaction wasn’t what my Mom expected. The women started keening loudly and rocking back and forth. Eventually, unable to control the emotions washing through her, she started pulling at her hair, until she ripped out huge, bloody clumps. My mother left the apartment, with her last view being of the mother and son clutching each other, both coated in the woman’s blood.

2. The British have a lot to answer for in the current world situation. They allowed themselves to be blackmailed by the Arabs and broke promises left and right. Their craven behavior gave the worst Arab extremists a sense of legitimacy, entitlement and power that has lasted to the present day. And it was oil blackmail, not loyalty that drove Britain into the Arab’s arms. In Britain’s darkest hour, while the Arabs were partying with and actively supporting Hitler, those Jews who weren’t dying in the camps were dying on England’s behalf on the battlefields of Europe and North Africa. It was the worst kind of real politik that saw Britain, almost within minutes of WWII’s end, turn her back on her allies and embrace her enemies. It’s beginning to seem like less and less of a coincidence that many consider Britain ground zero for breeding Islamist terrorists in the modern age — a sense that long predated the most recent terrorism scare. That seed was planted long ago.

3. As I noted when describing the movie, the hope that kept so many of these survivors alive was the idea of Eretz Israel. They had been to Hell and back, and this was the Promised Land on earth. Those Jews who had avoided the Holocaust and arrived there before the War understood that they were the living embodiment of a solemn pledge to create a safe haven for Jews. It was this indomitable spirit, this complete belief in the necessity of Israel, and in its moral and spiritual rightness, that allowed every Jew to be a David. When the British broke their last promise after Israel’s creation, and handed over all security points to the Arabs, the Jews fought and survived. When the Arab nations attacked Israel en masse, Israel fought and survived, again and again. Later, Israel had the technology, but in the beginning, all she had was human spirit and ingenuity. My mother, who remembers those days well, believes that Israel did not win this latest war in large part because of the changed population. The current citizens no longer burn with the Zionist spirit. Many, she says, are Russian immigrants who are not even Jewish, but claimed Judaism as a means to escape from the former Soviet Union. To them, Israel is home, and a besieged one at that, but the almost mystical fervor that buoyed up past Israeli fighters is gone. This is not to say that Israeli soldiers aren’t brave and honorable. It’s just to say that the special ingredient that may have given Israel an edge in so many past wars has burned away.

UPDATE: This post has garnered some comments about the Arab response to Israel. The wonderful Paragraph Farmer brought this comment from a Lebanese Christian to my attention:

I was raised in Lebanon, where I was taught that the Jews were evil, Israel was the devil, and the only time we will have peace in the Middle East is when we kill all the Jews and drive them into the sea.

When the Moslems and Palestinians declared Jihad on the Christians in 1975, they started massacring the Christians, city after city. I ended up living in a bomb shelter underground from age 10 to 17, without electricity, eating grass to live, and crawling under sniper bullets to a spring to get water.

It was Israel who came to help the Christians in Lebanon. My mother was wounded by a Moslem’s shell, and was taken into an Israeli hospital for treatment. When we entered the emergency room, I was shocked at what I saw. There were hundreds of people wounded, Moslems, Palestinians, Christians, Lebanese, and Israeli soldiers lying on the floor. The doctors treated everyone according to their injury. They treated my mother before they treated the Israeli soldier lying next to her. They didn’t see religion, they didn’t see political affiliation, they saw people in need and they helped.

For the first time in my life I experienced a human quality that I know my culture would not have shown to their enemy. I experienced the values of the Israelis, who were able to love their enemy in their most trying moments. I spent 22 days at that hospital. Those days changed my life and the way I believe information, the way I listen to the radio or to television. I realized I was sold a fabricated lie by my government, about the Jews and Israel, that was so far from reality. I knew for fact that, if I was a Jew standing in an Arab hospital, I would be lynched and thrown over to the grounds, as shouts of joy of Allah Akbar, God is great, would echo through the hospital and the surrounding streets.

***

Once upon a time, there was a special place in the lowest depths of hell for anyone who would intentionally murder a child. Now, the intentional murder of Israeli children is legitimized as Palestinian “armed struggle.”

However, once such behaviour is legitimized against Israel, it is legitimized everywhere in the world, constrained by nothing more than the subjective belief of people who would wrap themselves in dynamite and nails for the purpose of killing children in the name of God.

Because the Palestinians have been encouraged to believe that murdering innocent Israeli civilians is a legitimate tactic for advancing their cause, the whole world now suffers from a plague of terrorism, from Nairobi to New York, from Moscow to Madrid, from Bali to Beslan.

They blame suicide bombing on “desperation of occupation.” Let me tell you the truth. The first major terror bombing committed by Arabs against the Jewish state occurred ten weeks before Israel even became independent.

On Sunday morning, February 22, 1948, in anticipation of Israel’s independence, a triple truck bomb was detonated by Arab terrorists on Ben Yehuda Street, in what was then the Jewish section of Jerusalem. Fifty-four people were killed, and hundreds were wounded. Thus, it is obvious that Arab terrorism is caused not by the “desperation” of “occupation” but by the VERY THOUGHT of a Jewish state.

UPDATE II: Jonah Goldberg has more on the nexus between Arabs and Nazis, then and now.

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Good can stand up to evil

I’ve been depressed lately by the sheer volume of scary and bad news: the Israeli/Hezbollah war and its pathetic outcome, with Israel actually believing that signing on to the defeatist UN ceasefire will improve her standing in world opinion; the planned London airplane bombings, which included mothers intentionally using their babies as bomb shields; Lamont’s victory, which signals the ascendency of lunacy on the Left; etc., etc. In the midst of what I believe are very dark times, there is still room for inspiration, though, and I found it today at the Captain’s Quarters. The Captain reminds us of Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Roman Catholic priest who willingly gave up his life at Auschwitz so that another could live.

Kolbe’s sacrifice, of course, didn’t end the war; it didn’t prevent the Holocaust; it didn’t save the millions of others who died at Nazi hands, in the camps and on the battlefields. It does remind us, however, that just as humans have a startling capacity for evil, so too do they have an amazing capacity for good. That’s an important thought to hang on to in these increasingly dark and trying times.

Hezbollah takes a page from the Nazi script

Before the Nazis killed the Jews, they executed those they deemed unfit because of physical or mental handicaps. My goyish uncle, who was institutionalized because he was “crazy” (we now think he might have been homosexual), was one of the first the Nazis executed in their drive to purify the Aryan nation.

In yet another scary analogy between Hezbollah and the Nazis, reports are emerging from the Lebanese themselves that Hezbollah may have “seeded” the building in Qana with mentally and physically handicapped children, and then deliberately exposed the building to Israeli missile fire. In that way, they got two for the price of one: they got rid of children they deemed unworthy of life and they managed to score a major propaganda coup against Israel.

With regard to the latter point — that Hezbollah set it up so that Israel pulled the trigger — it is worthwhile again remembering Golda Meir’s words: “When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons. But it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.” How much harder will it be for the Israelis, who were themselves victims of a genocide aimed at racial purification, ever to forgive Hezbollah for making Israel the hand that may have carried out Hezbollah’s deranged vision of racial purification.

I’ll mention here, because I can’t resist, that Peter Singer, a leading American ethicist wiuth an endowed chair at Princeton would agree with the Nazis and Hezbollah. He advocates giving parents a 30 day window within which to destroy “defective” infants. Like Hitler, he too is a vegetarian, although I doubt Hitler would have been okay with Singer’s support for bestiality — as long as the cow consents. He’s also a virulent anti-Bush critic, who has argued that Bush is evil. I don’t know if that last fact tells us more about the loonies attracted to Bush Derangement Syndrome, or about how grateful we should be that Bush, and not someone of whom Singer approves, is President.

Hat tip: American Thinker

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Arabs killing Arabs — where’s the outcry?

Hezbollah claimed some more Arab lives, this time killing three Bedouin women from one family:

Residents of Arab al-Aramshe find it difficult to comprehend disaster in which mother, her two daughters were killed as Katyusha rocket hit their house yard. One of daughter recently got engaged. ‘We can’t believe we will not be seeing these three dear and beloved women anymore,’ residents say

Fadia Jamaa, 60, and her two daughters Samira, 33, and Sultana, 31, were sitting in the yard of their house in the Bedouin village of Arab al-Aramshe, near the northern town of Shlomi, when a Katyusha rocket directly hit the yard. The three women were immediately killed.

The yard is located next to a fortified structure, but the village’s proximity to the Lebanon border does not enable the residents to be warned in time before rockets land there.

In one moment, the father of the family lost his wife and two daughters, who have another two sisters and a brother. The village residents said that Sultana got engaged about two months ago, and her engagement was accompanied by great celebrations in the village.

The three women’s funeral was expected to take place on Sunday in accordance with security forces, for fear Hizbullah would continue to fire rockets at Shlomi and the nearby communities in the coming hours.

“Unfortunately, there is barely any warning time before Katyushas or mortar shells land here due to our proximity to the border with Lebanon. When we heard the blast we identified its origin, and when we arrived we saw the great horror. The mother and her two daughters were lying side by side bleeding, and the Magen David Adom crews that arrived at the place had nothing left to do but to determine their death,” the community center manager, Mazaal Muhammad, told Ynet.

***

While the family members were preparing for the funeral and the mourning ceremonies, Hizbullah once again fired a heavy barrage of mortar shells and Katyusha rockets, which landed hundreds of meters away from the family home. The family members, along with friends and reporters, rushed to take shelter in a fortified structure.

“They won’t stop, enough already. You already killed three women, you ruined our family and our life,” one of the family members shouted.

The Katyusha hit also caused a lot of damage to the house, nearby houses and a big and ancient tree located in the center of the yard. The Katyusha barrage fired at the village also hit an electricity wire, which cut off the electricity supply to all houses and nearby areas. Employees of the Israel Electric Corporation, assisted by security forces, were working to deal with the malfunctions and restore the electricity supply.

It seems as if, in Hezbollah’s eyes — Indeed in the eyes of most of the world — the only Arab lives mourned are those who die at Israeli hands. Otherwise, Arabs who kill Arabs don’t seem to suffer from the remorse that plagues Jews, who agonize over every lost live, no matter on which side of the border. I can’t imagine a Hezbollah leader ever speaking Golda Meir’s humane words: “When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons. But it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.”

In this regard, it’s worth keeping in mind the increasing evidence that Qana had little to do with an Israeli attack, and much to do with (a) Hezbollah’s own munitions, which were stored under a residential village; and (b) a staged scene worth of a Leni Riefenstahl movie.

UPDATE: On the subject of Arab dead (not), Little Green Footballs, with help from friends, is demonstrating that at least one photograph purporting to show Israeli damage in Beirut has been doctored — another PR feat that has little to do with Arabs killed in war and much to do with destroying Israel in the press.

UPDATE II: More on the fact that Qana may have been staged to discredit Israel’s conduct in this war. (Hat tip: Power Line.)

UPDATE III:  It wasn’t just my imagination — the world press has almost completely ignored the fact that Hezbollah missiles, aimed to cause maximum civilian casualties, killed those three Bedouin women.  Read this article about world silence, as well as the constant stream of media misinformation about Arab and Israel death (and you can guess in advance in which direction this world press is biased).

Watch footage of some “civilians” whom the Israelis bomb

Here are just a few videos that the Israeli military has released showing Hezbollah terrorists firing missiles at Israel. In each case, the videos show that Hezbollah was using civilian buildings as launching pads. It’s entirely possible that when Israel took out these military targets, civilians unlucky enough to have been trapped there by Hezbollah died too.

If you find these as fascinating as I do, you can find a whole bunch more that the Israeli army released by going to YouTube and doing a search for “Hezbollah Civilian.”