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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NY Times, Having Your Cake... (Wretchard: Childhood's End)

The Belmont Club has an adult discussion of what it takes to fight a war; in this case, a war unlike the ones we are used to fighting. A war where the enemy does not wear uniforms, uses children as shields, cuts off heads and in which killed 3000 of us by people with box cutters and airline tickets.

Which gets us to the actions of the MSM and especially the NY Times:

Wretchard explains:

There would be no problem with the NYT's leaks, or acceding to demands that every enemy combatant be provided with the full panoply of procedural protections, requiring that captured terrorists only be asked their name, rank and serial number -- if they have any of those -- and insisting that gentlemen don't read other people's mail for so long as one was willing to pay the price. The problem is that many of the very same persons who want to restrict society's ability to make war also want casualty free wars, no collateral damage to enemy targets and a guarantee of safety not only to the population of the US and Allied Countries, but even to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not principled behavior. It is infantile behavior.

Really principled behavior requires a willingness to sacrifice and suffer in exchange for restricting certain methods of warfare in order to preserve certain principles. Do we think wiretapping the enemy without warrants is dangerous? Then let's restrict it, fully understanding that it will make the war longer, allow threats to form undetected, even cost "innocent lives". Either that or embark upon some tradeoff with which society feels comfortable. But never, never is it possible to demand the free lunch. To say: bring the boys home but don't abandon Iraq; we support the troops, but don't allow them to shoot unless actually shot at; prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction but leave it to the United Nations. Each of these demands spoken simultaneously contains the seed of a contradiction. The intelligent thing is to recognize this and make intelligent choices about what we are prepared to give up and at what price. The alternative is to do what has been done up until now. Make impossible demands and insist that they all be fulfilled.

The sermon of last Sunday described the travails of one parish priest in the diocese, originally from Vietnam (though the homily was delivered by someone else), who managed to organize an escape for his entire family in 1981, minus his parents, who were too old to make the attempt. They were betrayed at the last minute, and as they were wading out the boat, the government troops arrived and opened fire on them. The future priest was struck glancingly in the head and temporarily lost his sight and struck out swimming for the boat which by fortune or providence he found. Once out of the sight of land, another menace appeared: pirates, men who habitually preyed on desperate families escaping the worker's paradise. And the story went that the entire boatload went down on their knees and prayed; and again, whether by fortune or providence a squall swept in and hid them from the brigands. And as I was listening to the account it struck me, that just as the Vietnamese priest's freedom was not free; neither were the "principles" of the antiwar movement who condemned him to that fate which he had such difficulty escaping. One can always march for Ho Chi Minh again; and march in the name in principle. But it should never be possible to march in ignorance. "Principle" has a price though you may never know who pays.

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