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Immoral Relativity

Two incidents in the last week, utterly unrelated, but with a common theme.

First up, the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The United States, looking to end the war with Japan without a very costly, very bloody invasion of the mainland, dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, killing tens of thousands and devastating the city.

Next, a group of medical volunteers in Afghanistan are stopped and massacred by the Taliban.

Other than vague geographic relation (both in Asia) and the deaths of innocents, what do they have in common?

First up, a comment from "Dave" at the Belmont Club, in response to Richard Fernandez' discussion of the Hiroshima bombing:

Those killed at Hiroshima, and later Nagasaki, were killed in spite of their being non-combatants.

Most of those killed in Manila and the vast majority of the slain in Nanjing were killed because they were non-combatants. Wherever the Japanese went, the slaughter started after resistance ceased.

When the Americans carried the day, the killing stopped as soon as the victory was won.

We.ve(sic) nothing to apologize for.

Second, a long-standing observation of mine: in the West, a "martyr" is one who dies for his beliefs. In the Islamic world, a "martyr" is one who kills himself or herself to kill their enemies.

There are those who like to conflate the concepts behind these distinctions. One of the most common tactics is to look at the total number of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and lay the blame at the feet of the US. To do so, one has to presume that all reported "civilians" killed are actually civilians (and not combatants who wear civilian clothes and blend in among civilians) and to ignore that our side tries to minimize civilian casualties, while our foes make a point of targeting and killing civilians.

It must be a point of glee for them that the more they kill, the more they know that the left will excuse their slaughters and lay the blame for them at the feet of their enemies.

I realize it's a bit unpopular right now, but I genuinely believe in American exceptionalism. I believe that it is amazing that, for all our power, when we wage war, we do, as Colin Powell once said:

So our record of living our values and letting our values be an inspiration to others I think is clear. And I don't think I have anything to be ashamed of or apologize for with respect to what America has done for the world.

We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace.

And even that sentiment is obsolete. For the last half century or so, we've not even asked for a graveyard, instead preferring to bring our fallen home for honored burial.

We are different from those we fight. We are better. And those that would deny that basic, fundamental truth are themselves doing a great wrong.


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Comments (17)

I agree that the US has oft... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I agree that the US has often gone forth unselfishly to help in the struggle for liberty. World Wars One and Two, the Korean War, and the first Gulf War are examples of that.

But there are also examples of military action in the last century or so for less unselfish reasons. And less than savory actions some of them were, I must add. The atrocities committed in the subjugation of the Phillipines, 1898-1903, the numerous interventions on behalf of puppet dictators (in support of corporate interests) in Latin America, the assassination of Lumumba in 1960, the War in Vietnam, Grenada, the dick-measuring invasion of Panama in 1989, and our questionable (to say the least) invasion of Iraq in 2003 are examples of those.

In other words, you're half right, Mr Tea. The US has a better record than any other country, so in that sense we are indeed exceptional. We also have some blots on our record, and an honest man faces up to them, acknowledges them, and tries to do even better going forward.

Excellent post.The... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Excellent post.

The difference is that we see the essential humanity of others. Our enemies often do not. The Nazis and Japanese in WWII saw other races and ethnicities as inferior and even subhuman. Therefore they had no reason not to subject them to slave labor and medical experimentation, to treat their women as prostitutes and commit atrocities on their children.

Similarly the islamic fundamentalist sees non-muslims as inferior. They believe themselves obligated to kill us all.

The left conveniently forgets the context of WWII and the total war that was engaged in then. They forget the social and religious/philosophical demands placed upon both the allies and the axis. Japanese soldiers considered themselves property of the Emperor. They considered it the highest honor to give their life in service to him. They considered surrender to be the greatest possible dishonor. Even Japanese civilians committed suicide rather than surrender. (but we are to expect that the left is correct that if we merely demonstrated the bomb for them they would have instantly capitulated)

The left forgets the truth because it is harmful to their agenda. They don't believe in truth because it prevents them from telling the story to suit their own ends. They don't believe in honor because honor also believes in truth and believes in loyalty where they see only loyalty to themselves.

"We are different from thos... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"We are different from those we fight. We are better. "

And yet some of our current 'leaders' don't believe in that basic fact. At least, they don't espouse in it when they were out of political power; some still don't believe it even now.

America will not remain America with leadership like that.

Bruce,The problem ... (Below threshold)
jim m:


The problem is that the left trips all over themselves to constantly point out the blemishes and to tarnish the memory of the good. There is a time and place for such things but the left believes that to be always and especially when we commemorate those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

The left is so bent about context maybe they should take a look at the context they choose to address their issues in.

Ever heard "the perfect is ... (Below threshold)

Ever heard "the perfect is the enemy of the good," Bruce? I didn't say we were perfect. I didn't even say we were the best. I just said that we were a damned sight better than most, and definitely better than those we're fighting.

Nor did I say we're "good enough," and we should stop trying.

Besides, I knew I could count on you and others to bring up the other half. Also, it tends to be the half that normally gets all the attention.


Bruce Henry == nattering na... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Bruce Henry == nattering nabob(s) of negativism

You (and sooo many of your kind on the left) just can't let any post that says something positive about America go by without having something bad to say about America.

Those of us who ACTUALLY love this country (warts and all), understand that America (and Americans) is EXCEPTIONAL. Exceptional =/= perfect, but it is far better most. We don't have to dwell on the flaws the way the mentally defective left does. And I say defective on purpose, because there is something wrong with people who ALWAYS have to dwell on or point out the negative any time something positive is said about America.

Greatest Country ever with ... (Below threshold)

Greatest Country ever with the worst president evah.

Go figure.

Hey Bruce! You're slipping... (Below threshold)

Hey Bruce! You're slipping! You forgot the subjugation of the 'native Americans'.

No sense letting the list r... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

No sense letting the list run on and on, Mr Fan. You guys obviously got my point.

Except Mr Tea, who forgot that he quoted Powell saying how great our record was "over the last hundred years." The truth is, our record is mixed.

And I have to laugh at comments like "those of us who ACTUALLY love America (warts and all)." Because you guys NEVER acknowledge the warts, and are infuriated by those who do. Witness the Texas textbook controversy, among others, for evidence of that.

And an aside to Mr Jim M, who is constantly telling us in the Wizbang comments section what "the left believes" and what's in "Obama's mind," etc., etc., etc.: Why don't you stick to telling us what YOU believe instead of your cheap armchair psychoanalysis of people you know little or nothing about?

Just a suggestion, of course. Feel free to continue making a fool of yourself if you'd rather.

22,000 Japanese civilians c... (Below threshold)
Don L:

22,000 Japanese civilians committed suicide on Saipan rather than suffer dishonor (the bushido warrior mindset)The day the surrender occurred on the Big Mo over 2000 japanese cut out their intestines (Hara Kiri) in front of the Emperor's palace because of the irrational code of (dis)honor. Millions of children on the mainland had been trained to use sharpened bamboo as bayonets and die rather than be captured. These are people that murdered thei own POWS in Bataan because they dishhonered Japan by being captured without committing suicide.

It is reasonable to argue that the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki actually saved more Japanese civilian lives than they took.
Remember that even after both cities were wiped out -they still refused to surrender were ready to fight to the last person(child?)

"Because you guys NEVER ... (Below threshold)

"Because you guys NEVER acknowledge the warts, and are infuriated by those who do."

We acknowledge the warts - but we don't obsess over them and constantly bring them up, instead we have mostly learned from them.

It's the left who seems obsessed by them, constantly bringing them up and acting like something which happened a century or more ago is going on RIGHT NOW DAMMIT AND WE'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING TO STOP IT!

Or so it seems. Hell, I had a girlfriend who was totally and passionately offended by the actions of the US Army after the Civil War in the West. To her, it seemed, Wounded Knee happened yesterday, and the folks who perpetrated it should be in jail going through court martials right now.

And she couldn't (or wouldn't) understand why I wasn't as offended and angry about it as she was. (Needless to say, it didn't last. And man, am I ever thankful about THAT relationship going down the tubes.)

Let it go, Bruce. The past is past. We either learn from it, or not - but pulling it up constantly doesn't do anything but irritate people who are trying to pay attention to and deal with the problems of today, and don't believe what happened in the past is worth getting upset about. Worth learning from? Certainly. Getting angry about? What's the point? Nothing we could do would change anything.

My father=in=law was with t... (Below threshold)

My father=in=law was with the 3rd Marine Division in '45 so if the bomb wasn't dropped none of my children would be here.
The left has selective historical memory about those events. They remember Hiroshima, which was an attempt to end the war, but not Nanking and Pearl Harbor, which started it. They remeber Nagasaki, but not Stalin's gulit in causing it. The Japanese contacted the Soviets about Hiroshima but the Russians invaded Manchuria instead of passing along the message. The Obama supporters who hang Che posters on their walls and robbed banks for their activisim like Stalin, have never publicly denounced communism for it's contribution to evil in the world. If Truman was responsible for Hiroshima, then Stalin was responsible for Nagasaki. Truman dropped the bomb to end the war, Stalin allowed Nagasaki to be nuked so he could grab Manchuria. To pretend that "we" are just as bad as "them" is to be ignorant of history.

What was the end result of... (Below threshold)

What was the end result of Spanish/American Philippines war.
A Free country called the Philippines. A country that until the mid 90's was able to have Filipinos server in the US Military and retain their Citizenship. A country that celebrated there Independence day on the 4th of july. A country where its citizens risk life and limb to save American on the Bataan death march and when American escaped from POW camps would have celebrate.

Yes not always lived up to out ideals but Dam if men and women who serve do not do inspire others. One of our closets friend has been the Philippines and until BHO was in office we had very good will. However when the PI was hit with horrific flooding this year the US Government did not react. However they should not feel bad i don't think the one even notice that Nashville had some rain also.

.... We Americans are diffe... (Below threshold)

.... We Americans are different from those we fight. We are better -- and those who would deny that ... Truth are wrong ....

Well said - Hear! Hear!

JLawson,That's it!... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


That's it!!!

Today's left in America is just like a psycho ex-girlfriend.


Bruce Henry,"Becau... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Bruce Henry,

"Because you guys NEVER acknowledge the warts, and are infuriated by those who do."

You just demonstrated the reading comprehension of a kindergartener. Try reading the entire comment. We acknowledge the warts, but we don't need to DWELL on them. That's what you are for, apparently. You are like a henpecking wife. "Remember that time 10 years ago when you didn't take out the trash when I asked you to!! It was so smelly it made me nauseous! You are such an awful husband!" And of course you never forget that time, because the wife brings it up at every opportunity. And if you remind her that it's the only time in 20 years that it happened, she'll bring up something else you did wrong.

Are you (and the rest of the left) completely unable to accept the past, learn from it, and move on? It certainly appears so.

"Feel free to continue making a fool of yourself if you'd rather." Pot...kettle...

SYB -"Today's l... (Below threshold)


"Today's left in America is just like a psycho ex-girlfriend."

Yeah, and she had about the same sense of fiscal control. 'What's yours is mine, and don't you DARE think about anything different!' Trying to break it off brought threats of suicide. It was an expensive lesson that took a long time to recover from.

And we're ending up with the same sort of personalities running the country. Only I don't think we'll get out of it near as easy, or with as little pain.






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