March 09, 2005

No matter how many "democracies" spring up from the ashes of U.S. aggression in the Middle East, it will never justify our decision to have gone to war in the first place. Period. End of story.

Why is this such a difficult concept to understand? One can applaud the emergence of free elections, opposition parties, even a respect for civil liberties, in the Middle East, and encourage the Bush Administration to live up to the President's rhetoric in his Second Inaugural, and still say "never again" to the mendacity that led us into the war in the first place, or the incompetence that followed. Anyone who has studied history knows that remarkable events often follow in the aftermath of a war, events that may not have been contemplated at the time war started, or which may have had nothing to do with the causus belli, but which are still, in the context of the development of mankind and civilization, quite positive.

For example, the following occurred, either directly or indirectly, because of World War II: the decolonization of the Third World; the end of legalized segregation in the U.S.; the emancipation of women in the U.S. and Europe; the ideological discrediting of racialist and anti-Semitic thinking; the "democratization" of higher education, thanks to the GI Bill of Rights; the establishment of the state of Israel; the emergence of the U.S. as the preeminent industrial power in the world (and with it, the end of the Great Depression); the creation of international bodies of government, such as the U.N.; the development of the computer; and the beginnings of space travel. Without the war, each of those developments would have occurred more slowly, or might not have occurred at all, at least in the way they ultimately did. And those are all good things, but it doesn't mean Hitler was justified in invading Poland, or that the bombings of Dresden or Nagasaki were morally validated.

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