Wednesday, August 10, 2005

After savagery

Excellent post from Matt Yglesias, on the difference between the moral constraints on warfare now and in World War II, and the implications of these for future nation-building endeavors.

2 comments:

Rousseau said...

I think part of the problem is how our patriotic education inculcates us. “We were the good guys, it was inevitable we would win.” Sometimes this is told in terms of a triumph of the American economy, or the madness of Hitler making tactical and diplomatic blunders, or our sheer numerical majority. But regardless, most Americans since the Great Generation believe that once we entered the war our victory was a matter of time, and this is not simply liberal blindness but patriotic myopia. Even the hawks argue about the bombings as if it was a matter of how many American lives would be spent before the victory.

When viewed in terms of inevitable success, the end stage atrocities of WW2 look a lot worse. I honestly don’t know how close it was. If there was reason to believe that without mass-scale civilian terrorization we could have lost, then the bombings can be justified on some level, and the evilness of the enemy is relevant. But I don’t exist in a cultural climate where I can know that.

Julian Elson said...

Matt is 100% right. He puts forward an idea that you feel like you've always known, even though it's new to you. That's the mark of a really good post.