In praise of civilian casualties, Part II

Earlier, I alluded to a call to a liberal talk show last night. (For those who just have to know, it was Jay Diamond on WRKO.) Diamond’s theme for the evening was “killing innocents,” tying together the Terri Schiavo case (which I have studiously avoided thus far, and intend to continue to do so) and the deaths of civilians in Iraq.

After I slapped around his citation of the bogus “100,000 Iraqis killed” alleged “study,” he said he could not conceive of a single circumstance where it would be acceptable for a single innocent to be killed.

Diamond cut me off before I could go too far (in fairness, he did let me talk for a bit), but that sheer naivete boggled me. Because as horrendous as it may seem, there are indeed many circumstances where it is not only acceptable, but necessary to kill innocents. (I touched upon this last November, right after the election.)

For one example, during the first Gulf War (and very nearly the second), Saddam was quite fond of “human shields.” To those of you who might not recall them, they were hostages and well-meaning but utterly wrong-headed idiots who were to “deflect” Allied attacks by putting their own bodies between the bombs and the targets. The volunteers wanted to protect schools, hospitals, and the like, but Saddam was a bit more tactically-minded than they were and promptly stuck them at military bases, power plants, and communications centers. When he realized it wasn’t going to work, though, he let them go.

For another example, good old Rachel Corrie of the U.S.A. joined up with the International Solidarity Movement and traveled to Israel to interfere with the IDF’s efforts to fight terrorism. She put herself between a bulldozer and a terrorist’s home, figuring her being a white American woman would give her all the protection she needed. Unfortunately, purity of spirit and purpose meant nothing to a heavily-armored bulldozer (whose driver couldn’t see her) and a crumbling mound, and she got herself squashed.

(A brief aside: if the ISM is so intent on “protecting innocents,” why don’t we ever see them riding Israeli buses around the country? After all, their fine, upstanding, moral allies among the Palestinians would, naturally, see their presence and forsake blowing up the bus, lest they harm the white Americans, wouldn’t they?)

For yet another example, the 9/11 hijackings. (I had previously said I’d believed that the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania very well might have been shot down by U.S. fighters, but the recent Popular Mechanics investigation cured me of that one.) Suppose, for an instant, that one of the planes bound for the World Trade Center could have been shot down safely, over water for example, before it struck one of the towers. Would it be acceptable to kill everyone on the plane to save the lives of the thousands in that tower? According to Mr. Diamond, no.

That’s one of the things that aggravates me most about so many of the liberals today. Their obsession with their own purity, their own nobility, is so great that they can’t bring themselves to do things that might be necessary, if unpleasant.

When presented between a choice of two evils, the realist carefully analyzes which is likely to cause the least harm and acts to mitigate things. But the liberals like Mr. Diamond convulse into a fit of hand-wringing and simply refuse to make any choices at all, and hope that those people who suffer from their inaction can at least appreciate that he won’t be troubled by the burden of having saved them.

It’s a common meme among the Left that the Right sees things in black and white, unable to appreciate the “nuances” of situations. But the realists know that it’s not a black and white world, and sometimes you have to find the lightest gray and make your stand.


(Update: Jay Diamond himself took the time to respond in the comments below. A brief explanation of the Karl Rove reference: at one point, Mr. Diamond informed the listeners that Karl Rove was paying me $50.00 to make the call. I responded with “It’s actually $75, and you better not blow it for me — I need the money.” That seemed to throw him off his stride for a moment, allowing me to get a few more digs in. I mentioned it both to lighten the tone a little and to establish my “bona fides” as the actual caller. My thanks to Mr. Diamond to respond here — twice!.)

(And Mr. Diamond: while I have new respect for you, I still think your opinions are seriously whacko.)

The stark calculus of war


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