On a Deluded America - The Objective Standard

Diana West has written a fiery op-ed that, on its face, seems to provide a well-needed antidote to the moral platitudes that are preventing America from ridding the world of savage brutes ("Deluded America," Washington Times, June 23, 2006). Certainly the defenders of America will be energized to read:

If we still valued our own men more than the enemy and the "civilians" they hide among—and now I'm talking about the war in Iraq—our tactics would be totally different, and, not incidentally, infinitely more successful. We would drop bombs on city blocks, for example, and not waste men in dangerous house-to-house searches. We would destroy enemy sanctuaries in Syria and Iran and not disarm "insurgents" at perilous checkpoints in hostile Iraqi strongholds.

Ms. West sees the central judgment that is needed to win a defensive war: that our people—our soldiers in particular—are worth more than savages and the "civilians" hiding them. The enemy of rational judgment, and a paralyzing moral premise, is egalitarianism—the idea that all people, cultures, and ideas are equal in value. Ms. West rails against this, but then—unfortunately, sadly, tragically—accepts this same premise herself. In World War II, she writes, we were forced to use horrific violence to defeat the Nazis:

For example, bombing cities, even rail transportation hubs, lay beyond civilized conventions, but these were tactics the Allies used to defeat Hitler. However justifiable, civilization crossed a previously unimagined and uncivilized line to save, well, civilization. Then there was Hitler's Holocaust—an act of genocide of previously unthinkable scale and horror. Who in the civilized world before Hitler had ever imagined killing 6 million people? And who in the civilized world retained the same purity of mind afterward? Civilization itself was forever dimmed.

To Churchill's great worry, which she remembers as "that if the civilized society is to prevail over the barbarous one, it will necessarily and tragically be degraded by the experience as a vital cost of victory," she says, emphatically and pessimistically, yes.

Civilization was forever dimmed-by whom? Both by the actions of those who gassed "inferior" races and by those who killed the gassers and set the victims free. What greater statement of moral equivalency between good and evil has ever been made? Civilization is dimmed by Auschwitz and the Third Army, by Hitler as well as Patton. "Civilization itself is forever dimmed—again" she writes of the brutal beheadings of two American soldiers by the jihadists—the "again" referring to Treblinka and Dresden, the Bataan Death March and Hiroshima. Aggressors and defenders—those killing to enslave the world and those killing the killers to set it free—each is degrading, because each breaks "the rules" of civilization. . . .

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