Rebirth of Reason


Machan's Musings - A Dissident Dissents
by Tibor R. Machan

I am a proud dissident about the Iraqi war. My view has been that America’s military has no business being there since America wasn’t attacked or even seriously threatened by Iraq’s government.

Nonetheless I am very annoyed by how so many opponents of this war keep harping on how the American and the new Iraqi police conduct themselves. As if Saddam’s bunch had been a flock of angels and as if the insurgents were fighting for a noble cause.

On Saturday morning, February 5, The New York Times reported on how the new Iraqi police has turned the tables on terrorists by showing videos of some of them squirming with obvious cowardice when caught, along with other videos showing the terrorists brazenly brutalizing kidnapped victims, ready to behead them.

No sooner does the Times’s reporter Chirstine Hauser, conclude with the essentials of her report, she inserts the following passage:

"The broadcast of such videos raises questions about whether they violate legal or treaty obligations about the way opposing fighters are interrogated and how their confessions are made public."

But she gives not a shred of evidence that such questions are being raised by any sane person or that they have any legal basis at all. She just sticks in this passage on her own, groundlessly.

One is perhaps not going far out on a limb to suspect that this passage is a way for an opinionated journalist to once again indict not the bastards who are beheading kidnapped victims—without a trial, without a scintilla of due process—but the new Iraqi (American-supported-and-trained) police. Oh, give me a break.

And then there is this righteous outcry about Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis’s comment that "It’s fun to shoot some people," made about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the broadcast of complaints from various leaders of special ethnic interest groups belly aching about it.

Well, actually, it is "fun" to shoot some people—and all of us who have ever waited through an hour and a half movie, or read some 300 pages of a thriller, to the point when the bad guys finally get their comeuppance know this perfectly well. Some people, the ones who ruthlessly sacrifice the lives of completely innocent children and civilians so as to express their anger about something—terrorists and other brutalizers—need to get creamed and it probably is fun, meaning, satisfying, to do the shooting of such folks.

How often have we witnessed at least the eventual fictional delivery of just desserts from good guys aimed at vicious slave-holders, murderers, Nazis, and sundry villains? Why did we breath sighs of relief once they got theirs good and hard? Why was it a pleasure to walk away from a movie or close the covers of a book once this has happened to such people?

Because it is a matter of justice—of a form of moral relief—to have such things happen, that is why. The people who do that to those who haven’t deserved any such brutality, mostly venting their wild anger recklessly at innocent folks, need to be blasted away now and then, when they keep coming and coming and that is the only way to fend them off. And then those who get to accomplish such a worthwhile feat may well feel some joy in their hearts because it can indeed be "fun" to contribute to the ridding of the world of such scum.

The outrage at Lt. Gen. Mattis’s comment is outright paradoxical, as well. On the one hand it suggests that there are no morally bad people at all and thus no joy may be experienced when one has helped rid the world of some of the worst such people, especially in the face of their relentless violent onslaught. On the other hand the outrage suggests that the likes of Lt. Gen. Mattis are evil people, deserving of scolding and rebuff.

Well, you cannot have it both ways. Either there are evil folks and some so evil as to deserve killing under certain circumstances, or there are none, in which case those who have fun killing others simply need to be cured—they too aren’t doing anything morally wrong.

Indeed, this lopsided moralizing betrays the practically obsessive anti-Americanism of too many people. Only Americans ever do things wrong—the rest need to be defended at all cost no matter how vicious they are. Balderdash.
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