May 6, 2004

The mucky Samaritans...

Andrew Cory (a fine fellow, though we often disagree. He blogs here) put this in a comment to this post I wrote about the prisoner-abuse scandal:

...This isn’t just some PR thing, some sort of media event to spin, these are serious violations of human morality. Why can’t you just see that and say-- without qualifications-- “my country did wrong. I am ashamed”?

Hell, even President Bush said that...

Sorry Andrew, but I reject your argument utterly.

My country did NOT do wrong. Some individuals committed crimes. I'm ashamed of them. They will be punished. Our military would be doing wrong if it didn't seek and punish the guilty. But that still doesn't mean my country did wrong.

Making mistakes is the price of action. War crimes are the inevitable price of war. We've committed them in every one of our wars. That doesn't mean the wars were wrong, or that our country was wrong to fight them. They are the price of using human tools. Just as the price of dropping bombs is sometimes killing the innocent. That doesn't make using bombs wrong.

If you organize a police department to fight crime and make the streets safe for law-abiding people, there will always, no matter how hard you try, be some cops on the take, or some who beat-up suspects. Is it wrong to have police? Should the Mayor apologize for the sins of the city? No way. The city is doing the right thing. It's those critics who sneer and complain but won't ACT, won't get their hands dirty trying to solve problems who have something to apologize for.

Our government is doing its best, but there will inevitably be mistakes and shortcomings and crimes. That's what happens when you ACT, when you take risks and undertake difficult tasks. We are humans, we are flawed. I'll spot you guys one more: There are, I am absolutely sure, nasty war crimes being committed right now by Americans that we will probably never even know about! How's that? And am I going to apologize for them? No way. I deplore them, we should do all we can to minimize them, but the only way to prevent them is to do nothing.

And any course we chose for Iraq would have had painful human-rights consequences. Including the policy of doing nothing. I'd like to see the people who think we should not have acted apologize for certain trifling human-rights glitches that their policy (whether right or wrong) would have entailed. They should be the ones badgered by reporters. "Mr Chomsky, leaving Saddam in power would have meant prisoners still being being eaten alive by dogs, and dropped into acid baths. Don't you think you owe the world an apology?"

But of course those guys never have to apologize. They strut on the sidelines, clothed in spotless moral virtue, and sneer and carp, and undercut those who actually try to fight evil. If you fight evil you will get mucky for sure. The Samaritan who helped the man beaten by thieves got blood on his clothes and spent a lot of money and doubtless had a more awkward messy time of it than the story tells. The pompous prigs who passed on the other side of the road probably thought they were owed an apology for having their mood spoiled. (I bet they were "visualizing world peace.")

I disputed the premise, "Blessed are the peacemakers." On the contrary, it was always those who fought evil whom history remembered as the greatest in their generations.
-- Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
* And by the way, there's something flakey about this sudden fetish for apologies. It's way too goo goo and touchy-feely for my taste. Especially in time of WAR. I don't want leaders who apologize. I want our foes apologizing. Or starting to, in the two-seconds of deep reflection before the oncoming Predator missile hits.

* And if you want to see something that's much better than an apology extorted by hypocrites, go here.

Posted by John Weidner at May 6, 2004 8:13 PM
Weblog by John Weidner