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« on: August 10, 2006, 12:43:20 PM »

Is the West too civil in war?
Cathy Young The Boston Globe
THURSDAY, AUGUST 10, 2006

BOSTON As war continues to rage in Iraq and Lebanon, appalling pictures of human suffering and death fill our front pages and television screens.

Some people who have previously supported the Bush administration's foreign policy and who are generally pro-Israel are concluding that the human costs of the war on terror as currently conducted - both in terms of direct casualties and human rights abuses - are unacceptably high. Meanwhile, others are making the startling argument that we Americans may have become too soft for our own good when it comes to the human costs of war.

A recent column by John Podhoretz in the New York Post opens with this inquiry:

"What if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests?"

Podhoretz goes on to ask if Britain and the United States could have won World War II if they "did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki," inflicting massive civilian casualties, and he ends with this reflection: "Can it be that the moral greatness of our civilization - its astonishing focus on the value of the individual above all - is endangering the future of our civilization as well?"

In all honesty, the question has occurred to me, too. What if Americans during World War II had been confronted daily both with reports of American casualties and with images of dead and wounded German civilians, including children and old people? What if public opinion had been as troubled by both American and German casualties as we are by American and Iraqi (or Lebanese) casualties today? Would there still be a free world to speak of?

Yet it is all too easy to move from pondering a tragic paradox to considering acts from which even the most hawkish among us would recoil in horror. Thus, Podhoretz inquires: "What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them ... ? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?"

Of course, the targeted slaughter of a population group - known as genocide - would go far beyond anything done by the Allies in World War II. Indeed, in a blogpost on the Web site of National Review magazine, Podhoretz reaches for comparison to the tactics of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Hafez al-Assad in Syria, who quelled uprisings by wiping out thousands. He also stresses that he is not advocating such measures: "I am not upset - far from it - that they are closed off to us." He simply thinks that we should understand that our "more civilized approach might represent a form of self-shackling" against a ruthless enemy.

But such a discussion is a slippery slope. Where one person sees a need to acknowledge our dilemma, others will argue for cutting the Gordian knot by abandoning some of our scruples. This has already happened, to some extent, in the discussion of torture. And some of Podhoretz's colleagues at National Review have been quite outspoken about thinking the unthinkable. In June, one of the magazine's columnists, John Derbyshire, wrote that he had been wrong to support the war in Iraq because the Bush administration was too wimpy to wage it properly.

"One reason I supported the initial attack, and the destruction of the Saddam regime, was that I hoped it would serve as an example," wrote Derbyshire. "It would have done, if we'd just rubbled the place then left." Then, he noted, "we would have been seen as a nation that knows how to punish our enemies ... a nation to be feared and respected."

Most of us, I hope, wouldn't want to be part of a nation seen as capable of such acts. In fact, it troubles me that we are now part of a nation where such commentary is not beyond the pale of civilized discourse.

In fact, even concerning World War II, there are legitimate questions about whether some Allied actions were truly justified.

Moreover, as the blogger and international affairs specialist Gregory Djerejian notes in a critique of Podhoretz, the danger we face from terrorism today is hardly comparable to being at war with Hitler's empire.

If fear makes us squander our moral progress, it will be a tragic paradox indeed.

(Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. Her column appears regularly in The Boston Globe.)

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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2006, 12:54:19 PM »

While this is Am-Pol and will inevitably get moved, I will have to agree - maybe many of our populace are too civilized for war.  And it will mean the destruction of the US.
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2006, 01:02:41 PM »

While this is Am-Pol and will inevitably get moved...

I posted it because it really is not political, it is more of a western cultural issue.
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2006, 03:05:16 PM »

While this is Am-Pol and will inevitably get moved, I will have to agree - maybe many of our populace are too civilized for war.ÂÂ  And it will mean the destruction of the US.

Too civilized for war? You bet. Shucks- most young people are "too civilized" to pick up a hammer themselves to put up a painting. Call the plaster guy. but first, call information for the phone number. Yes. Above getting the old hands dirty.
Frankly if I was not a mother I would be half tempted to start a jihad myself. And try to get as many of those bloody wack job terrorists as I could.
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2006, 04:21:43 PM »

VX gas is a wonderful thing.  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2006, 05:24:43 PM »

I remember this one Mediterranean carpenter, he said something along the lines of resist no evil and turn the other cheek. Remember that guy?
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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2006, 05:40:18 PM »

I remember that heretic and apostate Leo Tolstoy preached similar things - the theory of Non-Resistance.
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2006, 05:42:31 PM »

BTW - Tolstoy had his estate surrounded by armed guards......just in case his peace message did get through?  Peaceniks are Laodicians of the worst kind. Undecided
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2006, 06:15:40 PM »

I remember that heretic and apostate Leo Tolstoy preached similar things - the theory of Non-Resistance.

 Roll Eyes
Tolstoy was excommunicated for "Ressurection", not for advocating Peace. Yes, the "heretic and apostate" Tolstoy did preach, "similar things" to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and if you, TomS and Dismus had your way, Our Lord Himself would be excommunicated.
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2006, 06:32:48 PM »

Hey Matt, we also have Saints who were decorated soldiers, and defense efforts blessed by the Theotokos.  Battles of St. Constantine blessed by visions of the Cross, protection of Constantinople through the help of Icons, and more.  I'm not a big advocate of individual fighting and vindictiveness - the kind of situations that "turn the other cheek" are directed towards.  Don't forget the whole "give to Caesar what is Caesar's" - if the state goes for war under certain circumstances and situations, it may actually be okay (distasteful, but okay).  I'm not even a war hawk, man.  Keep your glib lines for yourself.
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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2006, 06:55:08 PM »

The late Metropolitan Philaret of New York praised the sacrifice of soldiers. Our Lord himself remarked on the faith of an officer of the occupying Roman army. And his actions towards the money lenders in the Temple hardly fits in with the peacenik image either.

So-called peaceniks and warmongers are two extremes on the same spectrum surely?

The West has been killing either directly or through proxies as many again in the years since World War 11 as were killed in that bloody conflict. But the bloodletting moved away from Europe.

Indeed I believe in we are dishonest. I have in minds terms such as 'collateral damage' and 'blue on blue'. (If I ask the bank for a loan, they may ask for some collateral, therefore collateral damage sounds a bit like the house fell down or the business flopped, not the school and the kids in it were killed). The story of Bosnia, a sop to Moslems to try and off-set criticism over intervention in Iraq. Which resulted in equipping a whole load of guys supposedly intent on establishing a multi-cultural state but whose aim was something different. A Moslem state in Europe.
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2006, 07:07:30 PM »

Now, The CCC says there is such a thing as a just war. Not that my example is, but is there such a sin in trying to save lives by killing off sub humans?
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2006, 07:13:20 PM »

Sorry, I am old but recall the concept of 'untermenschen' or subhumans was one of planks of German national socialist ideology. Surely you are not going down that path?

It also has some resonance in Islamic law, as every Moslem is superior to every non-Moslem.
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2006, 07:19:25 PM »

I was referring to Tolstoy's apostasy not his excommunication and his hypocritcal preaching about peace.  This seems to the way with peaceniks.  I notice that many live comfortable, protected lives, while real people are prepared to die for their country physically and/or sacrifice themselves for the faith spiritualy.  St John  the Baptist told the soldiers to be content with their wages, NOT to lay down their arms and go on a peace march, singing kum ba ya.
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2006, 07:19:25 PM »

Sorry, I am old but recall the concept of 'untermenschen' or subhumans was one of planks of German national socialist ideology. Surely you are not going down that path?

It also has some resonance in Islamic law, as every Moslem is superior to every non-Moslem.

Darn. So who is going to do it then?
They are not going away anytime soon.
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« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2006, 07:23:13 PM »

<It also has some resonance in Islamic law, as every Moslem is superior to every non-Moslem.>

Every Jew is superior to every non-Jew (Talmudic Law)

Every true-believing Orthodox Christian is potentially superior to non t.b.o.c.
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« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2006, 12:55:24 PM »

Islamic law, in a religion which does not seperate the religious from the civil power, does not allow a non-Moslem to give evidence under oath against a Moslem, nor to defend oneself even against an unjustifiable attack, etc., etc. Many of our disaffected youngsters living in our midst want just this type of legal system brought in across the whole world. Their ideology allows for a Moslem to undertake any act, no matter how barbaric against non-Moslems.

Is this even remotely amusing, especially given the circumstances of events here in Britain yesterday resulting in a 'Red' terrorist one side of the pond, and a 'Critical' one this side?

This is NOT a matter of obscure debate for historians, academics and scholars but relevant to bloody and potentially bloody events today!
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« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2006, 01:14:14 PM »

Observer,

I don't know if I agree with your final statement.  Whether or not "every true believing orthodox christian" is superior to the non-tboc,  all TBOC are called to make themselves inferior (in whatever way it is possible for them).  Extreme humility, no?
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« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2006, 01:51:20 PM »

Observer,

I don't know if I agree with your final statement.ÂÂ  Whether or not "every true believing orthodox christian" is superior to the non-tboc,ÂÂ  all TBOC are called to make themselves inferior (in whatever way it is possible for them).ÂÂ  Extreme humility, no?

Indeed! As we examine our own history, it is when we Orthodox Christians acted out of pride that we committed great damage to others. This concept that 'we are above others' has not served us well, since of course it is not Truth.
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« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2006, 02:00:54 PM »

Right on!  Thank you Padre.
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« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2006, 05:06:51 PM »

Can some one answer this question for me. I never heard of TBOC. what is TBOC
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« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2006, 05:27:45 PM »

It's just an acronym for the qualification that observer made in his post - True Believing Orthodox Christian.  It's not an official acronym - he just made it up.
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« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2006, 06:36:15 PM »

Self-defense and third party defense cannot be a sin. People's right to bear arms also is not a sin. We can find St. George, St. Dimitrios, etc. among the greatest Saints of the Church. We cannot afford to become overly "civilizied" and to give everything up. The only clarification what I would add, casualties among innocent should be avoided as much as possible. Current level of technological capabilities enhanced this ability.
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« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2006, 09:03:39 PM »

Self-defense and third party defense cannot be a sin. People's right to bear arms also is not a sin. We can find St. George, St. Dimitri's, etc. among the greatest Saints of the Church. We cannot afford to become overly "civilized" and to give everything up. The only clarification what I would add, casualties among innocent should be avoided as much as possible. Current level of technological capabilities enhanced this ability.

There should be no innocent civilian casualties for a war to be "morally acceptable". And the "right to bear arms", although morally neutral in itself, depends on what one does with those arms. St. George, St. Demetris and all the other warrior Saints all had something which seems to be lacking in modern warriors: Chivalry.
St. Demetris blessing St. Nestor as to fight and kill the gladiator Leo is a far cry from dropping bombs on civilians from a safe distance, or firing on people and buildings from a tank while listening to heavy metal music for "inspiration" like "Let the Bodies Fall" or "Burn Mother F****r Burn". Please don't compare such "warfare" to that of the Warrior Saints of the Church. If modern warfare is noble, then by the same standard, suicide bombing and terrorist attacks are "altruistic" and noble also.
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« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2006, 11:16:19 PM »

There should be no innocent civilian casualties for a war to be "morally acceptable". And the "right to bear arms", although morally neutral in itself, depends on what one does with those arms. St. George, St. Demetris and all the other warrior Saints all had something which seems to be lacking in modern warriors: Chivalry.
St. Demetris blessing St. Nestor as to fight and kill the gladiator Leo is a far cry from dropping bombs on civilians from a safe distance, or firing on people and buildings from a tank while listening to heavy metal music for "inspiration" like "Let the Bodies Fall" or "Burn Mother F****r Burn". Please don't compare such "warfare" to that of the Warrior Saints of the Church. If modern warfare is noble, then by the same standard, suicide bombing and terrorist attacks are "altruistic" and noble also.

Okay-

so humans have to be perfect to suit your moral code then.
What if a mistake happens?
Technology is a tad different than in the saints days!
Are you making the conclusion that all attacks are not worthy since error is a factor?
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« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2006, 12:03:54 AM »

Are you making the conclusion that all attacks are not worthy since error is a factor?

Who, apart from yourself,  said anything about "error"?
The word I used was "chivalry". You seem to have conveniently ignored everything I wrote....<sigh>
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« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2006, 12:44:47 AM »

George,

I think your use of the term chivalry did two major things for me;

1. It completely cleared up in my head your position on war in general (which for some reason I had some questions about, from previous threads where this has come up);

2. Best term I have heard to describe what is essentially the critical element to war in the Orthodox understanding, IMO.
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« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2006, 08:59:34 AM »

Who, apart from yourself,ÂÂ  said anything about "error"?
The word I used was "chivalry". You seem to have conveniently ignored everything I wrote....<sigh>

Sorry- "innocent civilian casualties" don't always happen due to accuacy but error and that is what I meant.
There is no perfection in war is what I meant, so you will always have your innocent civillian casualties.
 Sorry again.
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« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2006, 09:13:45 AM »

There is no perfection in war is what I meant, so you will always have your innocent civillian casualties.
This is true only of modern "warfare". Battles were once fought between combatants on battlefields (eg, The Battle of Waterloo, The Battle of Avignon, etc). Storming, besieging and occupying a city full of non-combatant civillians was once called "raping and pillaging" and was something only the Barbarian Vikings, Mongols, Tartars and Huns did. Today it's called "warfare". If the only way to protect our interests is to become uncivilized barbarians and lose our humanity, then our "interests" are the same "interests" as Satan.
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« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2006, 09:23:27 AM »

Disimus,

You may be right that in modern warfare has many instances where innocents do die "unavoidably," but George is lamenting the loss of the day when the combatants wouldn't target the civilians; fortunately or unfortunately depending on your  position (latter for me) "modern warfare" holds that there are no "civilians."  This is essentially an extention of the Japanese home island defense plan from WWII - every warm body is a soldier.

George is positing, OTOH, that the historical "just war" (as if we have a formalized concept of this) was only able to be justified because 1) there was a respect for the lives of non-combatants, 2) there was respect amongst opponents (chivalry), 3) there was respect between nations.  He is stating that nowadays you don't have #3 (why the US bombs Serbia on Pascha?), there is no #2 (torture?), and there is definitely no #1.

I really don't know if we can return to the days when civilians aren't targeted; every time someone straps a bomb to their back they set us back.
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« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2006, 01:17:02 PM »

Disimus,

You may be right that in modern warfare has many instances where innocents do die "unavoidably," but George is lamenting the loss of the day when the combatants wouldn't target the civilians; fortunately or unfortunately depending on yourÂÂ  position (latter for me) "modern warfare" holds that there are no "civilians."ÂÂ  This is essentially an extention of the Japanese home island defense plan from WWII - every warm body is a soldier.

George is positing, OTOH, that the historical "just war" (as if we have a formalized concept of this) was only able to be justified because 1) there was a respect for the lives of non-combatants, 2) there was respect amongst opponents (chivalry), 3) there was respect between nations.ÂÂ  He is stating that nowadays you don't have #3 (why the US bombs Serbia on Pascha?), there is no #2 (torture?), and there is definitely no #1.

I really don't know if we can return to the days when civilians aren't targeted; every time someone straps a bomb to their back they set us back.


Okay, I see Gorge's position and understand it.
I do have a question for anyone here- I am not too good at history so can someone give an example of the "good ole day" wars were civilians were not killed?
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« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2006, 02:18:02 PM »

Even as late as the civil war the soldiers' didn't much target civilian "targets" and whatnot; it's one of the big reasons why Sherman's march was considered not only unconventional but uncivilized (mild understatement).  WWI was largely fought outside of the cities as well.  WWII was the first example of massive targeting of civilian sites, at least on a major scale.

Oh - let's not open this up to discussion of Gen. Sherman or his march, eh?  Open another thread to talk about it ('cause I know there are plenty sons of the South who would love to).
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« Reply #32 on: August 14, 2006, 01:07:56 AM »

Oh - let's not open this up to discussion of Gen. Sherman or his march, eh?ÂÂ  Open another thread to talk about it ('cause I know there are plenty sons of the South who would love to).

I'm not a son of the South, but an in-law of the South.  My brother-in-law is a decendant of General Nathan Bedford Forrest.  http://www.civilwarhome.com/natbio.htm  ÃƒÆ’‚ BTW, I have my Cofederate battle flag in my office.  ÃƒÆ’‚ And the South WILL rise again!  ÃƒÆ’‚  Cheesy
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« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2006, 12:18:01 PM »

the South WILL rise again!  ÃƒÆ’‚  Cheesy

AMEN!
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