It's Losing That's Immoral

Another column that shows why I wish retired Army officer Ralph Peters were in charge.

An excerpt:

…The problem in this kind of conflict is that the initiative inherently lies with the terrorists and insurgents. We’re looking for a limited number of targets: our enemies themselves. Their targets can be anything – a clinic, a school, a marketplace, a roadblock, a gas station or even a mosque. Anything they hit counts as a win.

Our best shot is to keep them on the run, to keep them off balance. But crippling their freedom of action requires that our troops seem to be everywhere at unexpected times. That takes raw numbers.

…we have to maintain a strength of will equal to that of our opponents. War demands consistency, and we’re the most fickle great power in history. We must focus on defeating our enemies, brushing aside all other considerations.

At present, we let those other considerations rule our behavior: We overreact to media sensationalism (which our enemies exploit brilliantly); we torment ourselves over the least mistakes our troops make; we delude ourselves that mass murderers have rights; we take prisoners knowing they’ll be freed to kill more Americans – and the politicians and Green Zone generals alike pretend that “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

That’s the biggest lie ever told by a human being who wasn’t a member of Congress.

Winning is everything. Fighting ruthlessly may not please the safe-at-home moralists, but it’s losing that’s immoral.

Consider just one of the many issues about which we’re insistently naive and hypocritical: torture.

Earlier this month, our Army released the results of an internally initiated survey of soldiers and Marines in Iraq. The results showed that almost half of our troops would condone torture in a specific instance if it saved their buddies’ lives.

The media were, of course, appalled. I was shocked, too – surprised that so few of our troops would condone any action that kept their comrades alive.

Torturing prisoners should never be our policy, both because it’s immoral and because it’s usually ineffective. But it’s madness to declare that there can never be exceptions.

Forget the argument about the “ticking bomb” and the terrorist who might have information that could save numerous lives. Let’s make it personal.

Whether you’re left, right or in between, ask yourself this yes-or-no question: If torturing a known terrorist would save the life of the person you love most in the world, would you approve it?

If your answer is “no,” you’re not a moral paragon. You’re an abomination. And please make your position clear to your husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter. Just tell ’em, “Sorry, honey, but I’d rather see you dead than mistreat a terrorist. It’s a moral issue with me.”

There are countless other ways in which we elevate the little immoralities required in war above the supreme immorality of losing. Leftists loved My Lai – they just adored it – but they were never called to account for the communist atrocities after Saigon fell. Pol Pot’s butchery was never laid at the feet of the self-righteous bastards who shrieked, “Give peace a chance.”

And no one on the left will discuss what might happen if we fail in Iraq. The truth is that they don’t care.

We face merciless, implacable enemies who joyously slaughter the innocent with the zeal of religious fanaticism. Yet we want to make sure we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

We’ve tried many things in Iraq. They’ve all failed. It’s a shame we never really tried to fight.

As the great Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman observed, “War is cruelty. There’s no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”

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