Was World War II ended by cease-fires or by annihilating much of Germany and Japan? Make no mistake about it, innocent civilians died in the process. Indeed, American prisoners of war died when we bombed Germany.

There is a reason why General Sherman said “war is hell” more than a century ago. But he helped end the Civil War with his devastating march through Georgia — not by cease fires or bowing to “world opinion” and there were no corrupt busybodies like the United Nations to demand replacing military force with diplomacy. ~Thomas Sowell

Perhaps Dr. Sowell would also like to make Lebanon howl for the sake of “peace.”  It is quite one thing to say that, in a given situation, a cease-fire would be imprudent for the long-term interests of establishing peace.  That could be debated on the merits.  What Dr. Sowell does instead is effectively declare this to be a total war, a war in which crushing the enemy population under the boot may be necessary and should be tolerated.  He seems to be implying that we should be willing to see Israel inflict any number of war crimes on Lebanon, just like Sherman did, because we, too, have had ugly chapters in our military history in which our forces also committed war crimes, supposedly for the sake of “peace.”  The particularly nasty lie comes in pretending that these were militarily necessary or that, even if necessary, they were somehow justified by necessity, when in each case the war crimes committed in the bombings of German and Japanese cities or in the rapine of Sherman’s forces were both unnecessary to end the war and, even if supposedly “necessary,” would have failed every test of justice. 

It is perverse in extreme to believe that the March to the Sea was necessary to end the war–defeating or outmaneuvering the Confederate armies in the field was what led to the surrender at Appomattox.  There had, of course, been opportunities in 1864 to negotiate peace, which the Yankees spurned, but by this time Lincoln was committed to the vicious logic of “total victory.”  The atrocities of Sherman and Sheridan were simply the gratuitous violence of a barbaric invader, and it should embarrass any serious conservative, if he is not just a cheerleader for government brutality, to speak of these things without profound shame that they were done in the name of the United States.  Whatever you think about the War of Secession, the amoral Machtpolitik of Dr. Sowell and his ideological confreres Podhoretz and Krauthammer should disgust you. 

I am unclear why men who adopt positions such as these go to the trouble of calling themselves conservatives, since they clearly lose all interest in questions of restraint or virtue when it comes time to start dropping bombs or laying waste to entire regions.  They could just call themselves amoral nationalists and save everyone the confusion.