Sunday, June 11, 2006

What is He Saying?

Instapundit recently posted the following letter:

Our press and the anti-American left both in this country and outside of it has been reporting "Hadithas" over and over again over the last three years...

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say "we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep". At that point the left can celebrate that they have made our military and those who support it the people they claim we are. Once that happens however any compunction about respecting them will be gone, and remember one side is armed and one is not.

That is a fate that I don't wish on any of us.


Clark Stooksbury, Matt Barganier, and Jonathan Schwarz have all commented on it.

My thoughts:

The basic claim Reynolds' reader, one Peter Ingemi, seems to want to make is that if people keep calling the soldiers monsters, they will become monsters and massacre Iraqis just as they are purported to have done.

However, notice that he does not refer to the soldiers but to "we who support the war." And look at the last sentence:

Once that happens however any compunction about respecting them will be gone, and remember one side is armed and one is not.

Clearly is not referring to Iraqis but to the antiwar left (the Iraqis are clearly armed, so he cannot be referring to them). Actually, he may be talking about the antiwarriors in general, but I doubt that the antiwar right, consisting largely of people of a libertarianish bent, is "not armed."

Reynolds tries to get around this by saying:

Some people, judging from my email, are misjudging -- or deliberately misconstruing -- Ingemi's point. Ingemi's point, as I took it, is that crying wolf leads end the end to moral callousness, as people assume that there's no point in behaving morally when they're going to be called monsters anyway. This seems rather uncontroversially obvious to me.

Maybe if he phrased things differently (revisions in bold):

The real danger is that those running the war will reach the point that we say "we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep" and have the military policy toward Iraqis adjkusted accordingly. At that point the left can celebrate that they have made our military and those who support it the people they claim we are. Once that happens however any compunction about respecting their concerns will be gone, and remember one side is relevant to determinig our military policy and one is not.

But the way he phrased things it was obvious that he was thinking that a pro-war side that was merciless to the Iraqis would have no compunctions about attacking the anti-warriors.

Reynolds also states:

I keep getting emails like this: "So you endorse using violence against your political enemies?" I don't see where anyone gets that from the above. I certainly didn't say that, and I don't think that Peter Ingemi meant it. And I don't really see how anyone could get that from the above.

Well, that is not precisely what Ingemi said, but he did in essence threaten the antiwar side t hat they would be targeted for violence if they did not shut up.

More:

I didn't think that Peter Ingemi was proposing civil war (One tipoff -- where he said "This is a fate I don't wish on any of us."). He sends this followup:

If someone told Reynolds: "If people keep supporting this war, the antiwar side will eventually realize that the only way to stop it is violent revolution, which will include hanging people who wrote in support of the war, which is a fate that I don't wish on anyone," do you think he would find that last clause comforting?

In any case, even assuming that Mr. Ingemi was just saying the overplaying things like Haditha would lead to callous troops killing more Iraqis, what he would be saying would still be pretty horrible.

What he seems to be saying is that we shouldn't make up atrocities as that would reduce the incentive not to commit thme (as soldiers would be accused of them anyway). But notice that there isn't any acknowledgment that any of the acused atrocities might be real. In essence, he seems to be suggesting that we need to work to cover up or minimize any atrocities that might be committed if we don't want worse ones committed.

And, of course, there is the nagging implication that those who criticize the war are the ones responsible for any things that our soldiers do wrong in the war. Rather than, you know, the people who put the soldiers in the position of fighting a guerilla war in the first place, without actually being honest enough to admit that that is what would happen (and no, the administration was not simply mistaken. Anyone with an ounce of common sense could see that this would happen, and I am certain that the administration had an ounce of common sense. The failure to predict the guerilla war was dishonesty, not incompetence).

That is all.

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