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December 02, 2008


OK, let's parse.

1. Were Hiroshima and Nagasaki acts of terrorism? Was Truman a war criminal? The intent of the bombings was to end the war although there is no question that Truman knew that the bombings would kill thousands of civilians. Also, Japan was not, arguably, a weaker nation.

2. How about the Dresden fire bombings? Was FDR a war criminal? Again, the intent was to end the war, but lots of German civilians died. And again, Germany was not, at least at the beginning of WWII, the weaker nation.

3. If Barack Obama next year has actionable intelligence that Osama Bin Laden is in a particular house in Pakistan and Obama orders a drone to drop a bomb on the house and if it turns out later that a couple of children were killed along with OBL, would Obama be a war criminal?

4. If, during any war, a soldier comes under fire from a house and retaliates by firing a mortar at the house and later finds out that several children, along with the enemy soldier, were killed in the house, did that soldier commit an act of terrorism? Is he a war criminal?

Unless you are prepared to say no war, not ever, under any circumstances, moral questions like these will always arise during wars. And people will have different answers to the questions I posed above.

For the record, my answers are Probably, Probably, No, No. What are yours?

By the way, it's not about numbers; it's about intent. Lt. Calley "only" murdered a few dozen villagers at My Lai, but he intended to; Calley, therefore, was, unquestionably, a war criminal.

I agree on numbers 1 and 2. My answers to 3 and 4 would be yes and yes.

I say that because we shouldn't be fighting a "war" to track down the terrorists responsible for 9/11. In fact we shouldn't be waging any illegal and/or unnecessary wars. Most wars are unnecesary. In that sense I am a true pacifist.

But I'm not much interested in legalisms, who could realistically be tried in a court of law and convicted of war crimes, for example. The killing of civilians, a given in modern warfare, is not a legal issue. It's a moral issue.

Many people consider George W. Bush a war criminal. I consider Nixon and Kissinger war criminals. In fact I think that all those who followed orders in bombing Cambodia and North Vietnam, and dropping napalm on South Vietnam to defoliate the countryside in order to expose the "enemy", thereby killing and maiming countless civilians, complicit in those crimes.

It's a moral issue.

If Russia had "actionable intelligence" that an anti-Russian terrorist was hiding in a house in Portland and therefore ordered a drone to drop a bomb on the house, no one could complain, at least according to Craig's analysis.

This is one of Chomsky's favorite lessons, one that is referred to by Christians, I understand, as the Golden Rule. If you want to know if some military action taken by us is moral, ask yourself if it is moral when taken by others against us. (In fact, we do have terrorists hiding in America with the full knowledge and protection of our government, so the analogy holds.)

When war crimes are committed, those who committed them are guilty, even if those who ordered them should be held to a higher standard. Aggressive war (which is the appropriate label for our crimes in Indo-China and Iraq) is, according to the findings at Nuremberg, "the supreme crime" from which all other war crimes are derived. All soldiers waging aggressive war are therefore guilty of war crimes. (This is a good reason for people not to enlist in a military that has been shown to have committed war crimes many times in the past.)

It's the attitude of "American Exceptionalism", the belief that our crimes are justified because of our obvious moral and political superiority, that others in the world find most reprehensible about us.

If you are willing to buy a car, you would have to receive the loan. Moreover, my brother usually takes a term loan, which occurs to be the most fast.

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