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.”

Suffer the little children

The press is all over Israel’s missile strike that killed children. Fortunately, LGF is all over the fact that Israel, unlike any aggressor in the history of the world, warned civilians days in advance that the strike was coming and begged them to leave. The reason Israel was striking that area was not to kill civilians, but because it was a Hezbollah stronghold. Hezbollah, true to its belief-system, was using those civilians for the twofold purpose of preventing an Israeli strike in the first place or, failing that, using the strike as a public relations event — something our credulous, ill-informed media is only too will to help with. (Note: I’m being nice when I assign stupidity to the media for its reporting here, rather than the malice that I think motivates so much of the reporting from European outlets, from AP and from Reuters.)

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A harbinger of what will happen if the Dems take the White House again

I know that many of you are like me in that you’re disgusted with the Republican’s profligacy, as well as with other careless, pandering form’s of government in which Republicans engage. Be assured, though, that “punishing” them at election time, both in 2006 and 2008, will be worse. Why? Because the Dems will control the Supreme Court again. And when they control the Supreme Court, you end up with rulings such as this one authored by Stevens (of Kelo fame), that open the door to giving foreign combatants the right to expensive civil trials, complete with all the Constitutional rights guaranteed to Americans:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The ruling, a strong rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions.

The case focused on Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who worked as a bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden. Hamdan, 36, has spent four years in the U.S. prison in Cuba. He faces a single count of conspiring against U.S. citizens from 1996 to November 2001.

The ruling raises major questions about the legal status of about 450 men still being held at Guantanamo and exactly how, when and where the administration might pursue the charges against them.

It also seems likely to further fuel international criticism of the administration, including by many U.S. allies, for its handling of the terror war detainees at Guantanamo in Cuba, Abu Ghraib in Iraq and elsewhere.

Two years ago, the court rejected Bush’s claim that he had authority to seize and detain terrorism suspects and indefinitely deny them access to courts or lawyers. In this follow-up case, the justices focused solely on the issue of trials for some of the men.

The vote was split 5-3, with moderate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court’s liberal members in most of the ruling against the Bush administration. Chief Justice John Roberts, named to the lead the court last September by Bush, was sidelined in the case because as an appeals court judge he had backed the government over Hamdan.

Thursday’s ruling overturned that decision.

***

“Trial by military commission raises separation-of-powers concerns of the highest order,” Kennedy wrote in his separate opinion. “Concentration of power (in the executive branch) puts personal liberty in peril of arbitrary action by officials, an incursion the Constitution’s three-part system is designed to avoid.”

***

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a strongly worded dissent and took the unusual step of reading part of it from the bench _ something he had never done before in his 15 years. He said the court’s decision would “sorely hamper the president’s ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy.”

The court’s willingness, Thomas wrote in the dissent, “to second-guess the determination of the political branches that these conspirators must be brought to justice is both unprecedented and dangerous.”

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito also filed dissents.  [Emphasis mine.]

Today’s journalistic standards yesterday

If we were to repeat the past, I bet you’d find this story in the New York Times, circa July 1944

A secret code breaking group that both Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt authorized has broken a German code and has been using that information to gather intelligence about planned German military assaults, the Times learned from government and military sources. These same sources have revealed that, despite having had access to the Code for more than two years, the British and American forces have not acted to block Nazi military initiatives, thereby resulting in the loss of thousands of American and British military personnel….

I am, of course, talking about the Enigma project at Bletchley Park. You’ve heard about it: Enigma was an early computer that was used to create codes. In theory, the only way to read a letter coded by the Enigma machine was to have another enigma machine and the specific code that would enable you to calibrate the receiving machine the same way as the sending machine. Through a series of planned and accidental events, the British ended up with a German Enigma machine (which had been modified) and a code book. Brilliant scientists and logicians then worked to break the code.

What happened next was . . . very little. The British and Americans suddenly had the ability to decode myriad German communications, including battle and attack plans. The allies could have instantly intercepted even the smallest of these planned attacks, but chose not to — even at the cost of allied soldiers killed in battle. What they realized is that this information would enable the allies to position themselves to win ultimate victories against the Nazis, not just scattered battles. However, if they went after the scattered battles, the Nazis would quickly realize their Code was compromised, and change the code. This, of course, would leave the allies with nothing at all.

So, the allied command structure made the difficult decision to turn a blind eye to useful short term information so as to obtain a maximum long term benefit. Would you have made the same decision? I’d like to think I would. I also know that, if the New York Times in those days was as hostile to the Roosevelt administration as it is now to the Bush administration, the Times would have outed this information at the earliest possible opportunity, and would have done so in a way most likely to injure the administration — war effort be damned.

Representative government

Better thinkers and writers than I have tackled Bill Keller’s letter to the public justifying his blithe release of security secrets. One thing he wrote, though, stuck in my mind, and I haven’t read anyone yet who has commented on this point:

It’s not our job to pass judgment on whether this program is legal or effective, but the story cites strong arguments from proponents that this is the case. While some experts familiar with the program have doubts about its legality, which has never been tested in the courts, and while some bank officials worry that a temporary program has taken on an air of permanence, we cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far. A reasonable person, informed about this program, might well decide to applaud it. That said, we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don’t know about it. [Emphasis mine.]

Is it possible that Bill Keller is unaware that we’re a representative Democracy, not a direct Democracy? That is, under our system of government as envisioned by the Founders, we do not function as a Townhall where every single one of us gets to weigh in on each government initiative. The fact that our representatives — Congress — got to hear about and pass on this program is sufficient. There is no reason to tell us about a top secret, legal, program to “follow the money” and, given the security concerns, every reason not to tell us about it.

Loose lips sink ships

By the way, I'm very aware of the New York Times' and the LA Times' most recent articles exposing intelligence information being used to track down terrorists. I don't have any great insights to add: In my mind, it's not news to report intelligence information during a time of war, it's treason. (This is my personal conclusion, not a legal opinion.) I like Michelle Malkin's coverage, which includes wonderful WWII posters and a sampling of outraged "letters to the editor" that Malkin rightly assumes will never see the light of day on the printed page.

UPDATE:  I also like Andrew McCarthy's take on the newspapers' decision to go public with a completely legally appropriate and incredibly effective intelligence program:

It was in view of the TFTP’s palpable value in protecting American lives, its obvious legal propriety, and the plain fact that it was being responsibly conducted that the administration pleaded with the newspapers not to reveal it after government officials despicably leaked it. Exposing the program would tell the public nothing about official misconduct. It would accomplish only the educating of al Qaeda — the nation’s enemy in an ongoing war; an enemy well-known to be feverishly plotting new, massive attacks — about how better to evade our defenses. About how better to kill us.

Appealing to the patriotism of these newspapers proved about as promising as appealing to the humanity of the terrorists they so insouciantly edify — the same monsters who, as we saw again only a few days ago with the torture murder of two American soldiers, continue to define depravity down.

The newspapers, of course, said no. Why? What could outweigh the need to protect a valid effort to shield Americans from additional, barbarous attacks? Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, smugly decreed that the Bush administration’s “access to this vast repository of international financial data” was, in his singularly impeccable judgment, “a matter of public interest.”

And you probably thought George Bush was the imperious one. And that the public’s principal interest was in remaining alive. Wrong again.

The blunt reality here is that there is a war against the war. It is the jihad of privacy fetishists whose self-absorption knows no bounds. Pleas rooted in the well-being of our community hold no sway.

The anti-warriors know only the language of self-interest. It is the language that tells them the revelation of the nation’s secrets will result, forthwith, in the demand for the revelation of their secrets — which is to say, their sources in the intelligence community — with incarceration the price of resistance. It is the language admonishing that even journalists themselves may be prosecuted when their publication of national secrets violates the law.

Bluntly, officials who leak the classified information with which they have been entrusted can be prosecuted for theft of government property. If the information is especially sensitive, they can be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act. In either event, the press has no legal right to protect such lawlessness.

Geneva wrongs

For those on the Left atwitter about the fact that George Bush doesn't feel obligated to extend to Islamofascist terrorists (a) any rights under our Constitution; (b) any rights according to our own military men/women under a court martial; or (c) even the full panoply of rights accorded signatories to the Geneva convention, Andrew McCarthy has drawn up a useful score card:

Geneva’s Golden Rule is earned reciprocity. Article 2 of the Convention makes it very clear: a non-party may earn the privileges and immunities of the treaty if it “accepts and applies the provisions thereof.”

So exactly how are Islamic terrorists faring on Geneva’s “Do unto others” scorecard?

Well, the treaty’s provisions call for protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure. Al Qaeda targets civilians for mass murder and intentionally destroys civilian infrastructure.

The provisions call for membership in a regular military force which carries its arms openly. Al Qaeda’s idea of a weapon in open view is a hijacked jumbo jet in the seconds before it crashes into a building. Otherwise, it favors roadside bombs or high explosives concealed in vans burrowed in underground garages beneath bustling civilian skyscrapers.

The provisions call for wearing uniforms in order to distinguish members as authentic soldiers. Al Qaeda’s jihadists dress and conduct themselves ostensibly as civilians — the better to hide from real armies and lull actual civilians to their deaths.

The provisions call for treating captured enemy soldiers with the dignity and respect accorded to honorable prisoners of war: accounting for them, keeping them safe, allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross access to ensure their proper treatment.

Al Qaeda tortures and slaughters them.

When it comes to the prisoners they capture, al Qaeda doesn’t much care about the Geneva Conventions, the approbation of the ICRC, or Kofi Annan’s latest grandiloquence on the post-sovereign alchemy of international law.

All it cares about is “the verdict of the Islamic court.” It was that verdict, and no other, that the Mujahedeen Shura Council — Iraq’s thugs-in-chief — announced had been “carried out” against our fallen heroes by their new Zarqawi, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. Needless to say, the deed was done “with God Almighty’s blessing.”

Which is to say, al Qaeda tortured and slaughtered them.

I have a few thoughts about the US's obligations towards the Jihadists. First, it is ludicrous for those on the Left to say that, if we abandon any aspects of the Geneva convention, we're inviting a "cycle of violence." The cycle is already here, and the Jihadists are riding it. In other words, any change we make in our conduct will not change their conduct — because they're already ahead of us on that curve.

Having said that, though, I certainly don't advise that we abase ourselves by engaging in their standards. If we stoop to routine torture, beheading and other acts of savagery, the enemy has won, because we have lost who we are. This is the idea that has kept Israel self-restrained for 60 years — she doesn't want to become like her enemies, because then it's all over but the shouting. Israel will have ceased to be a country that walks with God and will simply become another in the roster of primitive Mid-Eastern cultures.

Of course, self-restraint doesn't mean suicidal idiocy. If we don't impose our will against Al Qaeda, they will not just enjoy their local victory and back off. Instead, their blood lust will get worse and worse. Al Qaeda is a killing monster that needs more and more victims to satisfy its cravings. Passivity on our part means, first, that no American service person will be safe and, second, that no one in the world will be safe — a fact already amply demonstrated when we look at Muslim atrocities, large and small, in such places as the Sudan, Thailand, Bali, London, New York, Spain, Paris, Stockholm, Sydney, etc.

I think we're doing the right thing in attacking the problem from the top down — it's excellent that we're taking out one leader after another. We need to be inexorable. No matter what they throw at us, we need to keep mowing them down according to strict rules of warfare. Military targets, killed militarily. And in that context, we shouldn't show any mercy.

And wouldn't it be nice if we could get some pro-American, conservative writers on the staff at AP, Al-Reuters, the NY Times, AFP, etc? That would make the biggest difference of all. The Fifth Column is always the hardest to fight.

UPDATE: Scott, at Scott's Conservative News & Commentary, has also been looking at the Geneva Convention and the Constitution as they relate to terrorists. His post is terrific, especially since he has a really strong understanding of the relationship between military law and other laws. This paragraph, especially, struck me:

Even more disturbing than the [ACLU's] request [to give terrorists access to American courts] is the basis on which these Islamic terrorists have supposedly "earned" these rights. According to some, these terrorists, guilty of murdering countless Americans, both military and civilian, are somehow entitled to all the legal rights and entitlements of an American citizen strictly by virtue of having murdered some Americans. This line of reasoning is not just disturbing, it’s completely absurd.

UPDATE:  I fixed the erroneous link to Scott's blog. 

It’s time to show that someone cares

Well, it's official and it's dreadful:

The bodies of two U.S. soldiers reported captured last week have been recovered, and an Iraqi defense ministry official said Tuesday the men were "killed in a barbaric way." The U.S. military said the remains were believed to be those of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.

The celebrations among the barbarians have begun:

"We give the good news … to the Islamic nation that we have carried God's verdict by slaughtering the two captured crusaders," said the claim, which appeared on an Islamic militant Web site where insurgent groups regularly post statements and videos.

"With God Almighty's blessing, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer carried out the verdict of the Islamic court" calling for the soldiers' slaying, the statement said.

The statement said the soldiers were "slaughtered," suggesting that al-Muhajer beheaded them. The Arabic word used in the statement, "nahr," is used for the slaughtering of sheep by cutting the throat and has been used in past statements to refer to beheadings.

Laer predicts — and I'm sure he's right — that the Western press will be remarkably passive about this. I can just imagine the talking heads on the nightly news putting on their solemn faces for a minute and announcing:

Well, the sad news tonight is that Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore. were killed. Although it's too soon to speculate, early reports indicate that they were decapitated. Residents of the village near which they were found claim that violence is rising against everyone in the area. Abu El-Babu reported that he was threatened by several men in a truck. 'This is all the American's fault,' he said through a translator. 'Before the Americans came, we had jobs and were never threatened by men in trucks.' A few children in the community could be seen hiding in doorways. And now, let's move to something lighter….

And that's the last we'll hear. There won't be endless cover stories about these soldiers' suffering or about the cultural barbarism that gave rise to their deaths. In other words, the media orgy that attended Abu Ghraib and Gitmo will be absent.

I've noted before that the Liberals' and the MSM's pathological inability to come to grips with the chronic violence directed against Americans, and their obsession with the scattered acts of hazing-type wrongdoing Americans visit on the Islamists (I'm ignoring Haditha here, because it's not proven yet), are actually quite a compliment to the American soldier. Much as they'd hate to admit it, Liberals and the MSM think so highly of the American military that they recognize anomalous behavior when they see it. Their sin is that, instead of treating the behavior with disdain and moving on as they should, they revel in these rare instances of ungentlemanlike behavior, much like a dog writhing in the occasional dead fish it finds on a beach.

The flip side of this is that, by cavalierly passing on Islamofacist violence, Liberals and the MSM show their arrogance and condescension: unlike you and me, they believe that Arabs/Muslims are less than human, and should be excused for behavior that even animals would disdain.

In any event, let's not, you and I, ignore these men. These are pictures of Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore, and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, two young men who, in the act of defending their country, died a terrible death. Please take a minute to think of these young men and, if you have the time, include them in your blog. They shouldn't be forgotten and we in the blogosphere can do a little bit, just a little bit, to acknowledge and give thanks for their sacrifice.

UPDATE: Flopping Aces and Little Green Footballs both offer us examples of the way some on the Left are going to play this. Basically, it's all Bush's fault. I'm sure that, in WWII, every death — and there were many — would have been all Roosevelt's fault. Wait, no, I'm wrong. Roosevelt was a Democrat. Where would they have placed the blame? These people just don't understand the concept of national defense, nor do they understand that there are some who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that the greatest number of us can live in health and happiness. I get it — my Daddy was a soldier — and I am so grateful for these men and women.

UPDATE II: James S. Robbins takes on the media's self-loathing obsession with bad American stories, and its remarkably cavalier take on bad Iraqi stories. He thinks that, among reporters, it may be My Lai syndrome — and I'm sure he's right that such thinker figures large in the thinking of many MSM hacks.

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All suffering is not created equal

Many, many years ago, I read a wry, sarcastic book called I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional : The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help. As the book's title indicates, Wendy Kaminer, the author, was tackling the competitive dysfunctionality that the whole therapeutic culture promoted. The chapter in her book that struck me as most significant was when she talked about the self-help movement's emphasis on the fact that all suffering is created equal. Kaminer was too smart to denigrate the fact that we feel what we feel. Thus, she would acknowledge that, when I broke up with a boyfriend years ago, I was sad. However, she would point out — and I would agree — that my pain, no matter how I suffered, was not equal to that of an Ethiopian child starving to death at the same moment in time. Kaminer pointed out that the therapeutic movement erased this difference, holding that there is no value difference between suffering, regardless of the cause of that psychic or physical pain. Thus, under the therapeutic world view, someone with a hangnail deserves the same sympathetic response as someone who escaped the Killing Fields. Kaminer was appropriately disdainful.

As always, there's a point to my wandering along on an apparently random matter. Here's the point: the New York Times, my favorite paper to attack, has a review of a show at Ellis Island about the Soviet Gulag. The review notes that the show has images, essays and artificates illustrating the intense suffering wrought by this appalling penal system. The review, however, as does the show, then turns to larger philosophical issues about state initiated imprisonment and torture. On this topic, the writer, Edward Rothstein, notes that the last part of the exhibit is introduced with this sign:

"Brutal systems have played a prominent role in many countries, including the United States. Although slavery ended after the American Civil War, its consequences persist. The repercussions of the Holocaust in Europe and apartheid in South Africa reverberate even today. Similarly, Russians face the legacy of the gulag. How can citizens in these countries face up to the horrors of the past?"

It is at this moment in my reading that I brace myself for the obligatory New York Times Gitmo reference. After all, how can that august newspaper pass on the chance to compare the suffering of almost 20 million political prisoners to the discomforts experienced by several hundred prisoners of war, reading their specially wrapped Korans and dining on specially prepared food. But to my surprise, it doesn't come. Instead, Rothstein criticizes the current trend of equalizing the most mundane and the most heinous acts of human cruelty:

No doubt noble sentiments are at work in this roster, but as a result, all specificity and judgment disappears; conscience consumes everything and contains nothing. To make a grand rhetorical gesture, encompassing all human injustice when one particular example seems inconveniently egregious, has become a museum ritual, a political tic.

When I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam several years ago, the somber concreteness of the Annex and the dread fate of its inhabitants were nearly erased by a final multimedia display in which the Holocaust was calculatedly eclipsed by invocations of every contemporary example of racial and social injustice the museum could formulate. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, in Cincinnati, did the same thing with American slavery, ending its account with a potpourri of international injustices, as if recruiting activists for a litany of causes.

In the gulag show, on a smaller scale, the approach is the same. The particulars of the past, so carefully presented, are suddenly tossed aside, and all differences in nature and scale are eliminated. Stalin really does get off easy. The coalition claims a higher moral vision. Actually, it cheapens injustice, leaving everyone equally guilty and equally innocent. Are 19th-century English workhouses and New York tenements comparable in any way to the gulag? Is the plight of women before receiving the vote similar to the starving of Kolyma prisoners, who scrambled in the ice to eat prehistoric amphibians?

Mr. Rothstein is absolutely right. Humans have never been kind to each other, but there are times when a culture has elevated that unkindness to scales beyond the norm. The last century alone brought us the Holocaust, the Gulags (and other Russian on Russian slaughters), the Killing Fields, and the Rape of Nanking. In this century, crazed dictators and complicit governments seem set on emulating and even surpassing these grim milestones. But Gitmo isn't at that level. Even Abu Ghraib and Haditha, the product of rogue soldiers, not of a concerted government effort, don't rise to this level.

In this vein, it's worthwhile considering the closing paragraph of Mr. Rothstein's surprisingly thoughtful review:

Harvard University's National Resource Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies is developing curriculum packets for this exhibition. (After July 4, it will go to Boston University, and then to Independence, Calif.; Atlanta; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; and Washington.) The educational material I was sent is careful and informed, but here and there are whiffs of this homogenized conscience:

"Are there lessons to be learned from a study of the gulag that might apply to prison systems in countries like the United States?" the curriculum proposes asking students. "For example, should prisoners in this country be forced to work jobs such as picking up trash on the highway?"

Congratulations to Mr. Rothstein on his sense of decency and perspective. Perhaps he can slip a copy of this article under the editorial doors at the New York Times, where the insanity wrought by BDS still reigns supreme. Pinch might benefit from reading this.

Wondering about the whole story

I've been rather conspicuously silent about the whole Haditha thing. Until facts come out, rather than rumor, I don't really have anything to say. During times of war, even in the best regulated military, soldiers have been known to do some pretty awful things. You can't take young men, arm them, and drop them into territory where everyone is trying desperately to kill them, and then assume that nothing bad will ever happen.

The correct approach, in my mind, is what's happening here: the Marines are conducting a full investigation and, if the Marines involved committed atrocities (which I devoutly hope they didn't), they'll be punished to the full extent of military law. End of story, unless you're an anti-War activist and want to flog this to death for the benefit of those who repeatedly voice and act upon their wish to kill us all . . . but that's another story.

I did read one thing today, though, that reminded me, right off the bat, that there could be another way to understand the story of dead women and children:

The father of a U.S. Marine killed by a roadside bomb in western Iraq in November believes his son's comrades did nothing wrong despite a criminal investigation into events that left more than 20 Iraqi civilians dead, including women and children.

"It's very hard for me, I don't even listen to the news," Martin Terrazas said of reports of the mass killings in Haditha, in Iraq's Anbar province. "The insurgents were hiding in there with the kids." [Emphasis mine.]

As has been repeatedly demonstrated in Gaza, the Arab/Jihadist/Muslim/Insurgent (whatever you what to call 'em) fighters like to integrate with the civil population. One can readily imagine a scenario in which Marines, going on the attack following an IED bombing, ended up engaged with Jihadists who had surrounded themselves, for tactical reasons, with a defenseless civilian population of women and children. If this scenario were true, the blame for the deaths of these innocents rests with the Jihadists, and not with the Marines.

I'm not, of course, saying the above scenario is true. As I noted at the beginning, we have no facts. I'm just noting before everyone rushes to convict the Marines involved, that there are more ways than one (certainly more ways than Murtha's) to imagine this story.

UPDATE:  Michelle Malkin also addresses the possibility that the children may have been combatants, which is a terrible thought, or at least used as tools by the fighters, an equally terrible thought.

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“Never appease evil”

The Satan's Femily [sic] -- artist unidentifiedLittle Green Footballs has made available the audio of a beautiful speech Ayaan Hirsi made to the American Jewish Committee when accepting their award for moral courage. Like the lady herself, it was brave and graceful, and I urge you to listen to it. I was especially struck by her point at the end: "Never appease evil." It struck me because of the response to my American Thinker article expressing optimism about certain popular movies and literature. In it, I stated my belief that the Harry Potter books and movies, the Lord of the Ring trilogy, and the Narnia books teach our children precisely the lesson Ms. Hirsi stated: there is evil out there, and the only option is to fight it.

At my blog, in response to that article, I've had a series of polite, thoughtful and articulate comments arguing, as I understand it, that my view is just too black and white. That there's no such thing as evil. That everything can be talked out. That one can always negotiate. That our enemies are people too. All of this may be true in ordinary wars for resources or land or power or dynastic ambitions. However, I do not think this is ever true when the wars revolve around competing ideological beliefs, if one of those beliefs fundamentally respects all humanity, while the other one seeks to control, abuse and destroy most segments of humanity. In those circumstances, the nation that respects humanity must play against type and become tough and aggressive.  This is so because, when all is said and done, you must never appease evil.

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Know your enemy!

Nine out of twelve jurors were all for giving Moussaoui leniency because he had a bad childhood which, as Mark Steyn points out, is the problem with putting war crimes in the hands of jurors (especially, I might add, jurors who probably spend way too much time watching Oprah). I mention this as a prelude to this link about the appalling murder of Atwar Bahkjat, a kidnapped Iraqi journalist. Who were the kidnappers? The usual Islamosadists who use the name of God to justify killings that would make Nazis glow with delight. No childhoods, no matter how bad, can justify the offenses this religion visits on people.

UPDATE:  It turns out that while the video shows real footage of a typical Islamosadist torture/slaughter session, the victim is not Atwar Bahkjat, but some poor Nepalese man.

Winners never quit; quitters never win

My son is hypercompetitive, to the point where he'll sometimes bow out of an activity, rather than run the risk of failing. In the same vein, if an activity is not going well, he'll often do what all children do: quit. To combat this tendency, I recite a little epigram for him that is good for keeping him on track. Whenever he comes up to me saying that he won't participate in an activity because he's not going to win, I say, "Winners never quit, and quitters never win." Only yesterday, he refused to participate in an activity. I said that was fine but reminded him that, if he didn't participate, there was no way he was going to win. He reconsidered, joined enthusiastically — and won. (A sterling example of refusing to give up is, of course, "The Play.)

I'm actually waffling on about this little bit of homespun philosophy for a reason. In a column today, Clifford D. May notes what most of those on the Right seem already to have realized: that Islam has declared a war on us. If it wasn't clear in 1979, it should have been extremely clear in 2001. Many remain unconvinced, so May marshalls evidence from all over about the continued battles Islam wages in this clearly declared war. The last two paragraphs struck me particularly, because they are a reminder of what my son is slowly learning, namely, that if you fear losing too much to engage in the "game," you will essentially lose by default, and prevent any chance of winning:

Let's not delude ourselves about what is going on: In the Middle East, Europe, America and elsewhere, a campaign of violence and intimidation is being waged. We have not yet begun to fight back. Instead, we've dressed up our fears as sensitivity, attempted to appease those who threaten and kill, while allowing ourselves to be cowed into self-censorship. Surely, we know where this road leads.

In the last century, Nazis and Communists attempted to extinguish freedom. We fought back. Now, there are new bullies on the block. There is no guarantee that if we fight again we will win again. But if we don't fight, defeat is inevitable. [Emphasis mine.]

“America, you lost. I won.”

Here's the story, brought to you of jurors who still don't get it:

A federal jury rejected the death penalty for al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui on Wednesday and decided he must spend life in prison for his role in the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.

After seven days of deliberation, the nine men and three women rebuffed the government's appeal for death for the only person charged in this country in the four suicide jetliner hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Three jurors decided Moussaoui had only limited knowledge of the Sept. 11 plot and three described his role in the attacks as minor, if he had any role at all.

Moussaoui, as he was led out of the courtroom after the 15-minute hearing, said: "America, you lost. I won." He clapped his hands as he was escorted away.  [Emphasis mine.]

So you so, you can be an active participant in a plan that is intended to and does result in the murder of thousands of people, and you get to spend your life in prison converting other people (many of them as angry and violent as you are) to your hate-filled ideology.