Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Whether to bomb Iran

As to the bombing of Iran, the prospect of an aggressive Ahmadinejad and a bunch of fanatic mullahs (all following the teachings of Khomeini) is undesirable to an extreme degree. Taking out their nuclear sites is preferable to their having atomic weapons and doing all the things they are likely to do with them, e.g., giving them to Hezbollah, bombing Israel, holding Middle East Oil for ransom. Unless they give up their nuclear ambitions, someone ought to go after their nuclear facilities.

If we do go after Iran’s nuclear facilities, we shall probably do it primarily from the air with bombs. The prospect of our bombing someone always brings pacifists out of the woodwork to hold up our past sins, e.g., Strategic bombing. It is wrong to insist that strategic bombing was immoral in WWII. It wasn't. Allowing the Japanese or the Germans to win was as unthinkable as allowing Iran to have atomic weapons. In the case of WWII, we forced ourselves into overreacting because after WWI we listened to isolationist leaders and got rid of much of our strategic weaponry. We were unable to project the weaponry of a Major Military power thereafter. We were weak and had to do things we wouldn’t have had to do if the political climate prior to WWII had allowed us to maintain a major military force.

It is not immoral to defeat an enemy that has attacked you. We did a lot of things through desperation in WWII, but strategic bombing wasn’t one of them. All the leaders in WWII on both sides thought Strategic bombing was the way to go and that idea continued on long after WWII, e.g., the opinions of General Westmorland.

The morality of whether we should defend ourselves and how is a squirrely proposition. Both World Wars and both Iraqi Wars (if you count it as two wars) occurred to some extent because America was considered unprepared either physically or morally. Hitler considered us a joke. Osama prior to Afghanistan thought we were morally bankrupt and unable to resist him. Saddam Hussein underestimated our resolve and ability – twice. We have given our enemies too much evidence that we are weak, inept, and unwilling or unable to wage war. Ahmadinejad has evidence next door to Iran that we are able to wage war, but he believes we are now too overextended in Iraq to present any sort of threat to Iran. And there remains a climate of opinion in the US that we ought to err on the side of pacifism, err on the side of avoiding enemy casualties, err on the side of not attacking someone lots of people think is planning something aggressive, and so we err on those things and then have to recover in such a way that we kill far far more than if we had nipped those threats in the bud early on. Pacifism has caused more deaths than prudent and timely military action.

Lawrence Helm

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