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January 26, 2005

Nice Soldier

I am satisfied that the implications of affirming Mr. Gonzales as our next Attorney General will nowhere as dire as many assert. Ashcroft was worse, and in the end, he didn't get away with murder. At least he didn't sue any 12 year old girls. I find the American interest in the ethics of combat at once comforting and disturbing.

I think that anyone will agree that one of the things that annoys most people who have decided to gripe with America is that our great fault lies with our pretenses of superiority. So much of the war of words over Iraq has been of a moral tone that I have worried that Americans have forgotten or ignored the basic principles of warfare. Destroy the enemy. Make the cost of war so great that they relent. Force them to sue for peace. Instead, much of America supports the troops because it is morally appropriate to do so, not because they are interested in destroying the enemy.

All this highmindedness is dangerous because it creates a kind of self-justifying moral superiority. If there were weapons of mass destruction, or if abuses at Abu Ghraib had not occurred, what could have possibly stopped the American onslaught? While I am certain that people principly against the war would have found any number of reasons to find fault with its morality, I'm not certain that their doing so changes the fundamentally American character as percieved by non-Americans.

What exactly are we asserting by raising concerns about our adherance to the Geneva Conventions? We are admitting shame because our soldiers are not the best behaved soldiers in the world. We are suggesting that American misbehavior presages the descent of the world into chaos. If we don't uphold the highest standards, then God help us; we lose credibility and moral authority. We become like them.

Perish the thought!

Posted by mbowen at January 26, 2005 11:19 AM

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There needs to be some balance about who America is and that can be jusged by what America does. The Tsumani allows that balance to the shown. The same Americans who support or don't support Bush are the same Americans raising funds for the victims. Good and evil always exists simultaneously. On a large acale and on a small one. Witness getting a ticket while performing a good deed.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 10, 2005 10:36 AM