Sunday, June 11, 2006

Belmont Club, blogging at it's finest

In a post titled "Pedacaris alive or Raisuli dead" Wretchard
at the Belmont club lays out reality for those who would complain
about the US 'assassinating' Zarqawi, or that perhaps torture was
used to obtain the information. (go read it all, but here is a money shot)

The interesting thing about the Zarqawi case is that it allows one to examine the effect of necessity over law in an actual case. There's no need for a hypothetical like "what if you could save Europe by targeting Hitler?" or "what if you could save the lives of hundreds of children by torturing a terrorist?" In this case the hypothetical is actual. This has the effect of inverting the roles of the principles on trial. Would it be justified not to resort to unlimited measures in order to hunt down a person responsible for killing thousands of individuals? Can one ever allow a person like Zarqawi to live a single day more knowing that hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocents will die for our scruples? How many lives is a punctilious observance of the Geneva Convention worth? One, one hundred, one thousand, one million? And if a million is the price, what are our principles except for sale. The only question being the price.


In the last analysis, the preservation of a civilization's values is never free. It is possible to play by whatever rules we feel that our deepest civilizational values compel us to observe. But we must pay the price. We can, like the early Christians choose to face the lions rather than renounce our beliefs. But no one should have any illusions about the lions; and those Christians were virtuous precisely because they had no illusions about the lions. Our willingness to fight by the strictest legal standards must be matched by a corresponding willingness to sacrifice in order to uphold those standards. It may be necessary to bleed and to bleed at home to uphold our beliefs. Or change them. Talk Left merely poses the dilemma. But the choice is ours. The tragedy of the West is that it is simultaneously impatient for safety; intolerant of hardship and unable to bear guilt. The demand for no body bags; no protracted war; no inconvenience; no painstaking effort also means, in it's own way, a secret demand for no law.

I had to google for the reference in the title, it's an incident where
an American named Pedicaris was kiddnapped in North Africa by
El Raisuli, and Teddy Roosevelt sent a telegram to the Sheik in Morocco
demanding that the Sheik obtain the hostage's release, or kill the
kidnapper. TR emphasized the point by sending a big chunk of the
navy, but he certainly didn't say "don't hurt anyone or torture anyone
to obey my instructions, just git her done".


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