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Who Can Cross the Partisan Divide? Can the Left Abandon Appeasement?

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Is The West Too Soft To Be Ruthless?

by Christopher Chantrill
July 25, 2006 at 11:39 am

CONSERVATIVES are taking a look today at the meaning of “proportionality.” Asks John Podhoretz:

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?

Or you could wonder, with the more pungent Mark Steyn, what to do in your state when

the bumper stickers proclaim confidently, War Is Not the Answer.

It’s true, Steyn writes, war is not the answer. War is the question: “[I]s what you are worth defending?”

“You may not be interested in war,” said Trotsky, “but war is interested in you.”

The logic of appeasement is that it is the logical course of action for a people that does not yet realize how interested war is in them. Only when they catch up with reality do they switch from appeasement to resistance.

Podhoretz asks the question:

Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if the two countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The answer is that in the 1930s they did not have it in them to firebomb innocent civilians. It took the crucible of war and the London Blitz to rile them up enough to find ruthless warriors like “Bomber” Harris and Curtis LeMay that had it in them to carpet bomb German and Japanese cities.

After the war, of course, those with delicate sensibilities could start second guessing, and build distinguished academic careers building the nuanced case that the strategic bombers, the ruthless men of action, were monsters.

The point is that in today’s war we are not “there” yet. We are not to the point where we are willing to go ruthless in the War on Terror.

For the Israelis, of course, that point has already been reached. If they do not take out Hezbollah then they are saying that it is OK to rain missiles on the Israeli heartland. For them the years of proportionate response are over.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

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