July 30, 2006
Using innocents as tools of warBy James Lewis
Embedded in Islamist ideology is the idea of using innocents as tools of war. It is their most effective weapon.
The idea that killing innocents — children, non—combatants —— is moral and desired by God is embedded in the Quran. Islam has elaborate legalistic discussions about killing, but it grew out of� a culture of desert warfare, where raiding, raping, and killing innocents was celebrated and glorified. Mohammad was a desert raider who committed genocide more than once. That easy acceptance of what the civilized world calls murder still pervades Muslim cultures today.
If Hezbollah survives the current IDF assault, which tries and tries to avoid civilian deaths, it will have shown that Western militaries are still baffled and stumped by heavily armed combatants who hide behind children. An Israeli cartoon (the lower one shown in the link to Michelle Malkin) shows the difference at a glance.
European warfare came out of a tradition of chivalry. The military uniform marks combatants from bystanders. The British Redcoats were brilliantly visible, as were Napoleon's armies. The idea of disguising oneself in the face of musket and even cannot fire was treated with contempt. Far more, the idea of drawing enemy fire while hiding among women and children was simply criminal. The British Navy would have hung its own sailors for such crimes.� European soldiers were ready to die rather than be contemptible.
The Geneva Conventions came out of this tradition. Wars were terrible, and became much worse as they become industrialized. But they still reflected some of the values of chivalry.
As the 20th century wore on, the deepest violations of those traditions occurred in World War Two, when civilians became targets of mass warfare. The Hitler Holocaust against the Jews, and in its own way, the massive bombing of civilian populations on both sides, marked a continuing decline of chivalric conduct on the battle field.
For the Nazis, savagery and murder became a matter of ideology� and policy. SS men sent to murder Jews and other civilians were told to reject any feelings of compassion. The Nazis explicitly rejected Christian values, a point that is constantly lost to the Left. On the hard—hearted Left, during the Lenin—Stalin period, explicit orders were constantly given to kill peasants who resisted Moscow's orders to give up their land and huddle in communal farms.
Thus the Roman and later Christian doctrine of Just War was steadily diluted as the 20th century wore on. Israel has a similar doctrine of "purity of arms," and has recently revised its ethics code for the protection of civilians in guerilla warfare ——— war in which civilians are used to shield the warriors, and innocent deaths are desired for their propaganda value. The media, consisting of nostalgic Lefties and old Mao—worshippers, fall for the double standards every day.
The UN's difficulty in even defining terrorism is symptomatic. It is a lie that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." In the Western tradition, freedom fighters did not target innocents. Terrorism is nothing but murder — the killing of innocents for political gain. The fact that the United Nations has been unable to understand that elementary point for twenty years is a measure of its moral corruption.
Today, Hezbollah warriors have not changed from those of Mohammed's time. If anything they are more willing to sacrifice innocents, and the art of media manipulation has been perfected. The Western moral distinctions are treated with contempt.
And yet, the West somehow must survive our current clash of civilizations. That is the dilemma. It is what defeated the United States in the Vietnam War, when the Leftist media learned to use televised horrors as a tool of totalitarian propaganda, to destroy us on the home front. As a result, Vietnam became a massive Stalinist concentration camp in which hundreds of thousands were imprisoned and died out of the view of television cameras. China and North Korea, like the old Soviet Union, simply did their mass killings hidden from the Western media.
Hidden killings good, public killings bad. Nothing has changed in that respect.
We have lost elementary moral distinctions over the last century. As a culture, we pretend we cannot tell the difference between accidental shootings by police in pursuit of killers, and deliberate killing by those intent on destroying innocents. This is not, as the Left likes to boast, a reflection of our higher morality. It is a loss of elementary moral discrimination. We are much less moral than our ancestors of a hundred or two hundred years ago.
One role of the New Media must be to restore that common sense morality which says that hiding behind women and children in war is murder, plain and simple. The onus for murder is on the terrorist, not the cop.
There is a solution: It is for the media and the United Nations to rediscover the elementary moral distinctions of the original Geneva Conventions. Killing innocents is murder. Drawing enemy fire on children is evil. It's not hard.
James Lewis�is a frequent contributor.