The moral ambiguity Douthat thinks he finds is applicable to virtually every war crime. It's the extremely rare political leader who ends up engaging in tyrannical acts, or commits war crimes or other atrocities, simply for the fun of it, or for purely frivolous reasons. Every tyrant can point to real and legitimate threats that they feared. . . .All this is blindingly obvious to the rest of the world, of course.
The pressures and allegedly selfless motivations being cited on behalf of Bush officials who ordered torture and other crimes -- even if accurate -- aren't unique to American leaders. They are extremely common. They don't mitigate war crimes. They are what typically motivate war crimes, and they're the reason such crimes are banned by international agreement in the first place -- to deter leaders, through the force of law, from succumbing to those exact temptations. What determines whether a political leader is good or evil isn't their nationality. It's their conduct. And leaders who violate the laws of war and commit war crimes, by definition, aren't good, even if they are American.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
An American political commentator named Douthat describes his anguish as he struggles with the realization that acts of torture have been committed by Bush Administration officials. Greenwald sees in Douthat's public anguish "blinding American narcissism -- masquerading as a difficult moral struggle." Greenwald blogs:
Posted by Jotman on Thursday, December 18, 2008