by Gary North
It is conducive to spiritual satisfaction and self-respect to view past or present enemies as the only transgressors against the laws of God and man. To admit that the capacity for evil is inherent in all mankind would destroy our sense of superiority. So we have gone far toward the adoption of the Nazi theory of "racial" differences, and have ourselves assumed the position of a superior or master race.
~ Freda Utley (1949)
My article on the cannibals of war drew more letters than anything I have ever published on this Website. The letters revealed an enormous divergence of opinion. The cannibal brigade checked in vehemently, which was appropriate. The opponents of kid-frying did, too, though less vehemently.
There seem to be a lot of masochists who visit this site frequently. They must be masochists. How else could they tolerate this site's constant criticism of American wars? They may like free market economics, but economics is a side issue compared to the slaughter of the innocent. Getting to keep more money after taxes hardly compares as a moral cause with trying to save the lives of the innocent — the Republican Party to the contrary.
What amazed me is that so many critics missed my main points: (1) war produces tit-for-tat responses; (2) the slaughter of the innocents is morally wrong; (3) the concept of the just war — restrained warfare — is Christian; (4) unlimited warfare is the illegitimate child of the policy of unconditional surrender.
In the minds of libertarian cannibals, patriotism means killing the enemy — the more, the better — and the enemy is defined as anyone under the jurisdiction of the enemy's warfare state. Libertarian cannibals therefore define society as the state — the classic error of the statist. Then they legitimize the destruction of the enemy's society as war against the state.
This view of war became incarnate during World War II. It was adopted by both sides. Bomber Harris and Bomber LeMay were in complete agreement tactically with Bomber Goering.
The cannibals have obviously adopted the worldview that undergirds the defensive policy known as mutual assured destruction (MAD): each state's rulers hold captive the other state's citizens. Each state's rulers threaten to annihilate the other nation's entire society. This is considered moral warfare. This monstrous deviation from the history of Christianity is cheered by far too many Christians. It is also cheered by some libertarians.
PATRIOTISM: FRY THEIR KIDS
Here is a letter from a 23-year-old. He refused categorically to let me name him. I will respect his wishes. (Note to would-be intellectuals: never send a written argument to anyone unless you have sufficient courage to see your argument criticized publicly by your intended target.)
I start off with a premise that is probably foreign to you, and because you don't start off with that premise, you're unpatriotic. The premise is this: American lives are more valuable than foreign lives. One American life is worth more than 1 million foreign lives. That should be the rationale of every patriotic American. The world is a dangerous place, and a nation that doesn't protect it's own primarily is not a sovereign nation, nor deserves to be one for long.
The president's primary responsibility is to keep Americans safe. Not the Japanese, not the Serbians, not the Iraqis, Not the Somalians, but Americans. That is precisely what president Truman did when he decided to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese, and thus forcing them to surrender. He saved American lives. Surely it was a sad thing for Japanese children and innocents to perish in the flames, but often times, in this cannibalistic world, one needs to protect their own first.
I think you make a great point in the article. The world is Cannibalistic. It very much is dog eat dog. So we can do two things: 1) get all emotional about it like you do, and complain about how horrible Truman was for saving the lives of Americans, or 2) realize that we cannot dismiss truths we dislike. Realize that the world is a dangerous place, and that we often have to do things that are not pretty, and we'd rather not do, if it means saving the lives of Americans.
This youngster does not know that I co-authored a book on civil defense, Fighting Chance, in 1986. My co-author, the greatest direct-mail specialist in the world of science, Dr. Arthur Robinson, sent out about 300,000 copies. He personally got a pro-civil defense statement inserted into the 1988 Republican national platform.
The first step in the defense of Americans is to pull back the American empire. The Swiss have not been successfully invaded in 500 years. (Napoleon invaded in 1798, "won," and retreated in 1802.) They have also not attacked. The Swiss understand patriotism: defend yourself, and leave others alone. They have done very well.
Next, protecting civilians from nuclear bombs begins with civil defense against nuclear attack. The Russians have a civil defense system, the Chinese have one, and the Swiss have it. But protecting civilians is not the goal of American military doctrine, except by way of mutual assured destruction.
The military will not even protect its own troops with civil defense shelters. Why not? Because soldiers will want their families protected, and if some families are protected, the rest of us will want this protection.
The government provides elaborate bunkers for its highest civilian officials, of course. When it comes to protecting civilians, senior civilians are all for it — to a limited degree.
The military goal should never be this: "Protect Americans by threatening annihilation of any other nation's civilian population." But so ingrained is MAD in the thinking of even libertarians that they cannot think "patriotism" without thinking MAD. The MADmen have won the institutional battle.
Third, my point was that this is incorrect:
That is precisely what president Truman did when he decided to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese, and thus forcing them to surrender. He saved American lives. Surely it was a sad thing for Japanese children and innocents to perish in the flames, but often times, in this cannibalistic world, one needs to protect their own first.
The whole concept of a just war, meaning warriors battling warriors, is a denial of this premise. The West's just war concept always rested on the idea that obeying God is the basis of protection.
We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions. Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:5—7).
The West's anti-Christian tax-funded schools have produced generations that do not understand this principle. They trust, not in chariots, but in weapons of mass destruction. They trust in MAD. "There is no god but Uranium 235, and Harry Truman was its prophet."
THE END OF THE JUST WAR CONCEPT
Another critic goes into detail about Germany's use of drafted children in 1944. (I have corrected his spelling.)
There is one problem with the children, a product of modern ways. In Normandy, 1944, there was a German tank division, the Hitler Youth, composed of thirteen and fourteen year old children, so educated as to prove cannibals in their own right, killing Allied prisoners out of hand. Our troops, upon meeting them, would return the favor whenever possible. Add to this the children who defended Berlin, along with the old men, in 1945, against the Russians, or the children of other German units who committed suicide by trying to destroy Allied tanks with anti-tank rockets. Or the children who flew the suicide air attacks against our fleet at Okinawa (no, many of the Japanese pilots were only kids). And in Korea, Vietnam, etc, the grenade throwing child, the woman terrorist, et. In Afghanistan, against the Soviets, again, children firing weapons.
This is sheer sophistry. These youths were in uniform. They should not have been, but they were. They were not noncombatants. My article was directed against the policy of targeting civilians. When someone uses a verbal smoke screen, I assume that he has no arguments capable of intellectual defense. He then proved it.
These are all products of modern ways of doing things, with women manufacturing tanks and airplanes, with children on the farms, allowing more men to take up arms.
In a less savage age, there were nice distinctions. Only men could fight. Of course, the wars, for some of those past times, were not total wars. But then again, Rome and the Greeks conducted total wars when it was necessary, wiping out the enemy cities, killing all of the males, and selling the women and children into slavery. And it didn't matter if these enemy cities had surrendered or not. In fact.
"In a less savage age, there were nice distinctions." Less savage? The ancient world was brutal. Greece and Rome were ruthless on the battlefield. Anyone who wants to know just how ruthless should read the book by one of the leading neoconservatives, Victor D. Hanson, Carnage and Culture. It was against this brutality that the Christian concept of the just war was developed.
Then he cites Napoleon, a French Revolutionary, humanistic empire-builder who was opposed militarily by the concert of Europe. The after-effect of his defeat was a century of peace, 1815—1914.
Napoleon, without resorting to this form of cannibalism, of killing women and children, waged total wars, of unconditional surrender. The final Allied assaults against Bonaparte in 1814 and 1815 were about unconditional surrender, of Napoleon's unconditional surrender, to include an occupation of parts of France.
Unconditional surrender of an opposing commander was not the unconditional surrender of a nation. Both sides knew that there would be no long-term occupation if Napoleon was defeated. The occupation of France was quite brief. The allies restored the Bourbon monarchy. The French people knew that this would probably be the result of an allied victory. There was no terrorism.
And the same is true of the Spanish wars of supremacy — the Armada sailed to replace Elizabeth, to institute the Inquisition in England — unconditional surrender was the principle — become Catholic or die.
No such announcement was made by the Spaniards to civilians. The number of people who died in the Spanish inquisition was under a thousand, and the main targets were Jewish Catholic converts who were suspected of being secret Jews. (The definitive book on this is Benzion Netanyahu's The Origin of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain. He is Benjamin's father.) There was no attempt by Catholics or Protestants to execute masses of civilians, with the exception I mentioned in my original essay: the Thirty Years' War. Europe reacted in horror to that event.
And, in several cases in history, there was no cannibalism, as you describe, simply because the technologies of war had not become so much so as to enable such mass destruction.
Modern warfare, as I said in my essay, is conducted with modern technology. This technology makes a huge difference in the ability to inflict damage on civilians. Coupled with a decline in moral standards — my other point — we get the war of the cannibals. I wrote:
It is a commonplace to say that modern man has advanced technologically far beyond what he has advanced ethically. It is also true. In fact, modern man has retrogressed ethically with every advance in technology. There is no wonder-working tool that someone cannot put to evil purposes.
Note: if you are planning to rip apart a man's arguments, don't repeat his arguments to him as your own and then call him ill-informed.
"In a word, your analysis would be better served by bouncing your theory off of some person who can spell John Wayne's name and who doesn't resort to the usual name calling." Fine; I am therefore bouncing my criticism against a critic who misspelled so many words that I did him the favor of correcting them.
TRUMAN DID THE RIGHT THING
Here is a letter from a libertarian. His ethical position in principle is this: "Ethics is situational. Ethics depends on circumstances." He refused to allow me to mention his name. (There is a pattern here.) He writes:
You would be correct if the world is an honorable place. However in the real world the bombing of Hiroshima was quite necessary to save the lives of the US soldiers that would have had to invade Japan. We did not attack Japan, they attacked the USA. The Japanese non-combatants are no more innocent than the American soldier that was drafted to go fight the war.
It is worth noting that Japanese pilots attacked military targets at Pearl Harbor. They did not deliberately target civilians. They maintained the warrior's code in that attack, and it cost them the Battle of Midway six months later. Instead of targeting the oil depot, which would have put the Navy out of commission in the Pacific for a year or more, they attacked battleships, which were obsolete strategically.
"The Japanese non-combatants are no more innocent than the American soldier that was drafted to go fight the war." A draftee in uniform is the same as a civilian. Therefore, fry the kids. If this is libertarianism, include me out.
My critic implies that there is no distinction between warriors and civilians because the world is not an honorable place. I guess, way back when, the world was an honorable place. I wonder why. (For the record, "way back when" did not extend to Greece or Rome.)
You ask that we show restraint in the face of the known war crimes committed by the Japanese in Manchuria. I will assume that you are aware of what the Japanese army did in Nanking. If you are not, then I suggest that you spend a few hours reading about crimes equal to anything committed by the despots you name in the article.
My original article discussed the rape of Nanking as the opening shot in the terrible descent into total war on civilians.
Note: when you write to a stranger with a Ph.D. in history to tell him that he is woefully ill-informed about history, be sure you check his article that he links to. This might well save you a lot of embarrassment.
If I were in the same situation the Truman was in I am certain that I would have acted as he did.
I am sure he would have.
The libertarian movement is split over the issue of war and peace. This is a far greater problem than being split over tariffs vs. a flat tax vs. voluntary donations to the state. On the fundamental principle of the just war — no tactical aggression against civilians — some libertarians are neocons in drag.
God help us if they ever get their hands on the Bomb. Flat-tax nukers will not make a better world.
August 12, 2004
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