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In praise of civilian casualties, Part II

Earlier, I alluded to a call to a liberal talk show last night. (For those who just have to know, it was Jay Diamond on WRKO.) Diamond's theme for the evening was "killing innocents," tying together the Terri Schiavo case (which I have studiously avoided thus far, and intend to continue to do so) and the deaths of civilians in Iraq.

After I slapped around his citation of the bogus "100,000 Iraqis killed" alleged "study," he said he could not conceive of a single circumstance where it would be acceptable for a single innocent to be killed.

Diamond cut me off before I could go too far (in fairness, he did let me talk for a bit), but that sheer naivete boggled me. Because as horrendous as it may seem, there are indeed many circumstances where it is not only acceptable, but necessary to kill innocents. (I touched upon this last November, right after the election.)

For one example, during the first Gulf War (and very nearly the second), Saddam was quite fond of "human shields." To those of you who might not recall them, they were hostages and well-meaning but utterly wrong-headed idiots who were to "deflect" Allied attacks by putting their own bodies between the bombs and the targets. The volunteers wanted to protect schools, hospitals, and the like, but Saddam was a bit more tactically-minded than they were and promptly stuck them at military bases, power plants, and communications centers. When he realized it wasn't going to work, though, he let them go.

For another example, good old Rachel Corrie of the U.S.A. joined up with the International Solidarity Movement and traveled to Israel to interfere with the IDF's efforts to fight terrorism. She put herself between a bulldozer and a terrorist's home, figuring her being a white American woman would give her all the protection she needed. Unfortunately, purity of spirit and purpose meant nothing to a heavily-armored bulldozer (whose driver couldn't see her) and a crumbling mound, and she got herself squashed.

(A brief aside: if the ISM is so intent on "protecting innocents," why don't we ever see them riding Israeli buses around the country? After all, their fine, upstanding, moral allies among the Palestinians would, naturally, see their presence and forsake blowing up the bus, lest they harm the white Americans, wouldn't they?)

For yet another example, the 9/11 hijackings. (I had previously said I'd believed that the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania very well might have been shot down by U.S. fighters, but the recent Popular Mechanics investigation cured me of that one.) Suppose, for an instant, that one of the planes bound for the World Trade Center could have been shot down safely, over water for example, before it struck one of the towers. Would it be acceptable to kill everyone on the plane to save the lives of the thousands in that tower? According to Mr. Diamond, no.

That's one of the things that aggravates me most about so many of the liberals today. Their obsession with their own purity, their own nobility, is so great that they can't bring themselves to do things that might be necessary, if unpleasant.

When presented between a choice of two evils, the realist carefully analyzes which is likely to cause the least harm and acts to mitigate things. But the liberals like Mr. Diamond convulse into a fit of hand-wringing and simply refuse to make any choices at all, and hope that those people who suffer from their inaction can at least appreciate that he won't be troubled by the burden of having saved them.

It's a common meme among the Left that the Right sees things in black and white, unable to appreciate the "nuances" of situations. But the realists know that it's not a black and white world, and sometimes you have to find the lightest gray and make your stand.


(Update: Jay Diamond himself took the time to respond in the comments below. A brief explanation of the Karl Rove reference: at one point, Mr. Diamond informed the listeners that Karl Rove was paying me $50.00 to make the call. I responded with "It's actually $75, and you better not blow it for me -- I need the money." That seemed to throw him off his stride for a moment, allowing me to get a few more digs in. I mentioned it both to lighten the tone a little and to establish my "bona fides" as the actual caller. My thanks to Mr. Diamond to respond here -- twice!.)

(And Mr. Diamond: while I have new respect for you, I still think your opinions are seriously whacko.)


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Comments (24)

The plane that crashed in P... (Below threshold)
Just Don:

The plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was "shot down" for the greater good, Jay. From the inside, at the sacrifice of their own lives.

Fortunately, Mr. Diamond wasn't the one to make that decision. Who knows where that plane was going and how many lives were saved!

Those who espouse "peace at... (Below threshold)

Those who espouse "peace at any costs" seldom have the intellectual capacity to grasp what those costs are. Not believing anything is worth the loss of life is why he is a host of a 3rd rate talk show instead of leading the way to the freedom of 50 million people.

How many more Iraqis would ... (Below threshold)

How many more Iraqis would be in mass graves by now paying "any cost" for peace had we not ousted Saddam? I've seen figures from 500,000 to 1,000,000 that Saddam had murdered while everyone settled for peace. I wonder if they thought it was worth the cost?

"peace at any costs" </i... (Below threshold)

"peace at any costs"

Scary, when you think if that philosophy had continued in WW2, hardly a jew, gypsy, Pole, Russian, homosexual, disabled person would be alive today.

The accurate substance of m... (Below threshold)
jay diamond:

The accurate substance of my remarks is that while I would defer to the parents of Terry Schiavo and leave the feeding tubbe intact, I don't take seriously the people who are outside medical facility citing their supposed reverence for "Life" as the specific reason for their advocacy.

What I said last night on my program and what I say now, is that I do not recall any of these same people, who at present are citing their devotion to Life as their principle in the case of Terry Schiavo, even troubling to raise one Syllable of recognition for the many innocent people who have succumbed as a result of American activity in Iraq.

The Pope would support the maintenance of the feeding tube, but he was equally aware of the impact of our attack on Iraq and he still is.

The Pope is not a hypcrite.

Some other people are.

And as I routinely give my email address on my program, I am disappointed that I had to learn of this blog and the material inaccuracies as to my opinions written here by its host through a third party.

Mr. Diamond, perhaps I shou... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Mr. Diamond, perhaps I should have notified you about these two postings before I published them, but quite frankly I didn't think you would care in the least. I am astonished this made the slightest "blip" on your radar. Thank you for coming here and speaking up.

That being said, I in no way intended to convey your opinions about the Terri Schiavo piece, and don't think I did. (As I said, I'm doing whatever I can to avoid that topic.) You were linking the two issues, however, as I mentioned. Further, you also did say that "a single innocent death" was too many, and condemned the war in Iraq on that basis. It is that opinion of yours I reported, and I believe i did so accurately.

If you disagree with my summation, I invite you to say so. I will even publish that opinion as a separate posting, if you wish.

By the way, Karl Rove called me after we ended our conversation. You did end up costing me that $75. I am considering sending WRKO a bill for lost wages.


I completely agree with you... (Below threshold)

I completely agree with you Jay. The sanctimony of the discourse emanating from the left is grating at it's most pleasant. We are bombarded virtually every day by the pompous orations of some left-leaning talk puppet as to where US policy in some way falls miserably short of even the most modest expectations. For the left, recognizing and talking about the problem has become an end point. The media gives them a free pass on any obligation to offer workable solutions to the problems they are "uniquely" aware of (in contrast to a right-leaning cretin such as myself whom they believe is limited in insight due to a "blind" loyalty to the President).

False analogy there, jay di... (Below threshold)

False analogy there, jay diamond. Keeping Terri's feeding tube in place does not mean that a hundred other Terris are condemned to die. Recoiling from Iraq in the fear that our bombs may cause a single civilian casualty would have condemned orders of magnitude more to death, just as it had done every year we held back from ousting Saddam. Sorry, you cannot acurately call Schiavo's advocates hypocrites under your arguement, as the circumstances and the realities are worlds apart.

I do not recall any of ... (Below threshold)

I do not recall any of these same people, who at present are citing their devotion to Life as their principle in the case of Terry Schiavo, even troubling to raise one Syllable of recognition for the many innocent people who have succumbed as a result of American activity in Iraq.

This sort of statement irritates me no end. I hear it from all sides of all kinds of arguments and honestly it makes me want to scream. In this case, how on Earth does Mr. Diamond know what else "these people" may have spoken out about in the past? Is he a modern Santa, keeping a list and checking it twice?

One way I might know is tha... (Below threshold)
jay diamond:

One way I might know is that I might have seen 'em all on Fox etc., parading and praying for them the way they correctly do for Terry.

But I never saw even one such individual who, you will recall, purport to value Life so highly.

If you are going to make "Life" the specific reason why you want to keep the tube in Terry, then you cannot logically be so offhand about many innocent civilian deaths in Iraq.

Remember, pro-life Catholics (the Pope prominently) are anti-death penalty too.

They are not Hypocirites. They have real Principles.

"The Pope is not a hypcrite... (Below threshold)

"The Pope is not a hypcrite."

There isn't enough room in this blog to list all the instances of the inaccuracy of this stement.

By the way, Jay Tea, under ... (Below threshold)
jay diamond:

By the way, Jay Tea, under no circumstances should anybody take that Baloney about my being "thrown off stride" seriously.

What I did was GUFFAW, that means LAUGH HEARTILY, because I am not a scared Radio Stiff and I am capable of enjoying a gag even if the Laugh is on me.

Laughing in real time is not "Being thrown off stride".

It's called reacting honestly in a Human way.

It's called LAUGHING....not being "Off Stride".

See the difference ?

Jay you need to update your... (Below threshold)

Jay you need to update your update, he responded thrice! lol

Mr. DiamondYou are... (Below threshold)

Mr. Diamond

You are aware, no doubt, that the morality of any one instance is not in the particular "act" but in the context in which it occurs?

The "if one innocent dies ...." meme is typical of the Lefts dogma who first decides who is "innocent" and who is not, then declares their "authentic" innocents as sacrosanct regardless of context and "eff" anyone else.

Thus one never saw massive CodePink/Communist/Chomsky-anarchist parades around the world with the ubiquitous drumming and giant paper mache puppets protesting Saddam's mass graves and human-shredder projects. Those people were "inauthentic" innocents.

Trying to protect innocents... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Trying to protect innocents by morally saying it is always wrong to do something that might harm them, only makes it more likely for the innocents to die.

I will give you that a lot of innocent people died during WWII, some of them at the hands of allied soldiers, but had everyone stayed home, and left Hitler unchecked, we would all be lucky if we were alive to speak German.

As for Iraq, innocent people were dying every day in Iraq before the war, and they would have continued to die, but now those once oppressed people, have the opporunity to seize liberty and freedom, and are no longer under the thumb of an evil man. The innocents who have died so far in Iraq is sad, but you know I haven't seen to many in the "anti war" and "peace at all costs" crowd doing much moaning and groaning over the bodies found in the various mass graves in Iraq.

The persistent falsehood in... (Below threshold)
jay diamond:

The persistent falsehood in the media narrative about Iraq is that only LIBS have been and continue to question the wisdom and ethics of President Bush.

This is a Convenient Lie.

I never cite Liberal writers on my program.

I cite major Conservative thinkers who oppose Bush and what we have done in Iraq.

For Example: Pat Buchanan, Scott McConnell, Paul Craig Roberts, Jude Wanniski, Charley Reese, Brent Scowcroft (Bush 1's National Security Adviser), Admiral William J. Crowe (President Reagan's Chairman of Joint Chifs), General Zinny, General McPeak, and many more too numerous to mention.

The deliberate misinformation prevalent on Fox and Talk Radio that only LIBS oppose Bush on Iraq is par tof the Scam.

Go to Vdare.com, lewrockwell.com, theamericancause.org.

Read Buchanan's magazine; The American Conservative, and the Fox News/Talk Radio Malarkey abot "only LIBS dissent from Bush" is quickly Demolished.

Buchanan is no longer a con... (Below threshold)

Buchanan is no longer a conservative..I thought that point was made clear at some point...

Oh by the way, I myself am ... (Below threshold)

Oh by the way, I myself am a conservative, but I DO question one of Bush's so-called visions. I do applaud Bush's vision for NASA, but I do not applaud the handling of current SUCCESSFUL projects.

If you try to use conservatives for your own political gain, please use CONSERVATIVES, not wackos who claim themselves as such.

What usually strikes me as ... (Below threshold)

What usually strikes me as slightly off-balance about the question of civilian casualties is that no allowance is ever made for the concept of sins of ommission. As long as we don't *commit* any sins are we innocent?

It's a harder thing, really, to advocate for the sovereignty of other nations because it means stepping back and watching what could be prevented. But we have to do that. When people say but what about this genocide or that genocide they miss the point that it's necessary to accept both the guilt for inaction as well as the need for inaction. Our hands aren't clean just because we've been sitting on them, even when sitting on them is the right thing to do.

None of that changes just because something pushes us into action. For whatever reason our decision to act, it isn't at that point that we become moral actors.

"Buchanan is no longer a co... (Below threshold)
jay diamond:

"Buchanan is no longer a conservative..I thought that point was made clear at some point..."

Posted by: Henry at March 20, 2005 08:56 PM

Why do ou suppose this might be, Henry ?

And....Is the goal to be a "conservative", or is the goal to live an informed and ethical life.

At one time the two aspirations may have dovetailed.

Perhaps today they don't.

And, if they no longer dovetail, to the extent they ever did, perhaps it is that Pat is being moral in his current choice.

As much as I think it woul... (Below threshold)

As much as I think it would be nice to live in a world where no innocents die and everyone had a happy furry puppy, we live in a world where a large percentage of governments derive their power by the slaughter of the innocent.
We sat out the slaughter in Rwanda. Some 800,000 died. While I'm not really sure we had the logistics to mount an effective intervention, suppose we had intervened effectively? We would, in an effective intervention, caused a lot of death because there is only one way to stop a blood-crazed mob. I would submit that a percentage of those killed in our hypothetical intervention would have been innocents. We have a number of innocent deaths brought about by our inaction, 800,000. Actually since a response would take a certain amount of time, let's, for the sake of argumant, use 600,000, we'll say that 200,000 would have been hacked to death before we could mount that response.
So, 600,000 human beings killed. That is the cost of doing nothing. What, Mr. Diamond, would be a acceptable cost of preventing those deaths?
There is the fallacy. When we only count the cost of action we fail to count the sometimes greater cost of inaction.
It's easy for the Pope to decry the cost of action, it's not like he has armored divisions or a navy.
It's easy for Buchanan to decry the cost of action, he has no responsibility for the cost of inaction nor the ability to take action.
As we speak there is slaughter in Darfur. It is my belief that we should be bombing Khartoum, Omdurman, Port Sudan and the staging areas of these militias. Would innocents die? They're dying now. If we bombed those responsible for the killing at least there would be a price for those deaths.
No, Mr. Diamond, your hands aren't clean. Your hands are bloodier than those who at least try to take action.

Absolutely, Peter.... (Below threshold)

Absolutely, Peter.

And supposing we were not otherwise occupied there are several choices to make concerning Darfur. First, is it bad enough to forcefully require a solution? Or is it not that bad and political pressure and diplomatic pissing around is enough? That's the biggest problem, really. So many people believe that it's right to interfere with a sovereign nation while simutanously beleiving that doing what is necessary to enforce that interference is wrong. Dinging around with half-*ssed sanctions and speeches when what is required to effectively impose international (or even just US) will is something very like what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq. Take over completely and rebuild.

There's a cost to doing nothing, and there's a cost to doing the job *right*. Both of those are less than the cost of half-measures and drawn out sanctions and diplomatic manuvering which allow the righteous to pat themselves on the back for taking action while genocide and the conditions that led to it continue.

I used to be a big fan of J... (Below threshold)

I used to be a big fan of Jay Diamond when he was a host on WABC in NYC. He was a staunch conservative back in those days. I respected his intellect and opinions tremendously. He was fired by WABC and was picked up as a talk show host on the ultra liberal NYC station WEVD.{EVD stands for the intials of Eugene Victor Debbs the famous american Socialist}
On WEVD, his views miraculously changed and he became a staunch liberal who played to his audience.

I was so dissapointed that Jay seemed to sell out depending on the station he was on.

Is he a liberal radio host now or a conservative radio host?

Paul, that is a crock....I'... (Below threshold)

Paul, that is a crock....I've seen this argument before...my airchecks of Jay Diamond on WABC do not bear that out...would a conservative have supported rent control? Jay is not a liberal or a conservative. He is a free thinker. How many doctrinaire liberals would have aligned with those seeking to preserve Terri Schiavo's life, most of them were right wing evalgelicals except for two: Jesse Jackson and Jay Diamond. ON WABC Jay went after Al Sharpton with a vengence...he skewered him because he thought Sharpton was disengenuous....does that make a consrvative or just a person who detests phonies. Would a liberal have as many "conservative" guests on his show? When has Franken or Rhodes had on a Jules Wanniski? Let's stop labeling Jay, AND OURSELVES. When we do that we reduce important political issues to score keeping. Us against Them...it's dividing this country somehting awful. Accept Jay for what he is, a free thinker who examines issues - each on its own merits, without regard to whether they are conservative or liberal issues but rather how they play against his own morality and knowledge.






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