Royal Family 1: Politicians 0

My first reaction to the news that the Prince of Wales will be going to the D-Day celebrations after discreet negotiations and a “change of heart” on the part of Presidents Sarkozy and Obama was that he should not have given in but treated that bunch of self-publicists with the scorn they deserve.

I was wrong and the Prince was right. The three narcissists have already shown themselves to be puny and contemptible and the day is not about them but the veterans who will be glad to have the Prince there to represent the Royal Family. It is good to be generous and to place emphasis where it belongs.

Once again, Royal Family 1: Politicians 0. And that is how it should be. Let’s just hope the Prince will not go with President Obama to Dresden where the latter will almost certainly apologize for America (and Britain) doing their share in defeating Nazism.

Cross-posted from Your Freedom and Ours

35 thoughts on “Royal Family 1: Politicians 0”

  1. It is almost a certainty that Obama says in some way that he is sorry for Dresden and that it was wrong/immoral for what happened there. I am not sorry, and it was not immoral. It was war and if the Germans could have reached us (the USA) they would have done the same thing, more likely worse to us, just like they did to the Poles, Russians, etc. etc.

  2. Obama is welcome to drool over London, Coventry, Birmingham, Plymouth, Bristol and many other cities:

    Actually, there are serious military historians who argue that the obsessive bombing of German cities was the wrong decision. Don’t know enough military history to take sides on that one but Obama, I suspect, knows even less.

  3. In general, for the tonnage dropped on the German countryside, I believe that the bombings could be labeled “ineffective” for the money. But the tonnage was deserved.

    Rarely looked at are the boatloads of intelligence that were gathered from photos and the fact that the Germans had to waste lots of resources and time making anti aircraft weapons, ammo, etc. Also, it was invaluable to blow up or disable even one bearing factory, or optics factory, given Germany’s limited resources (compared to the Alles). When the Luftwaffe was essentially grounded in the later part of the war the US and British fighters blew up many, many trucks and trains, etc. on the ground. One of the younger Guderian’s diaries constantly bitches about losing supplies, ammo, fuel and all the rest to the relentless Allied air assault on the ground vehicles.

  4. The overall leftist goal is to make the Allies and the Nazis moral equivalents. That program is well advanced. Delegitimizing the Allies is a way to delegitimize the United States and its military. If World War II, the “good war” was a holocaust and an atrocity, there is nothing of value in the American past, and the American regime is real, existing Third Reich, today, that has to be reformed out of existence to atone for its crimes. That’s the goal. Also, by making the poor Germans and Japanese victims of a holocaust, the Jews are rendered just one more victim group, and the legitimacy of Israel is undermined. That’s a goal, too.

  5. This is the cynicism of little men who want to look down instead of looking up, to assume a role outside history rather than in its muddy, wonderful center.

  6. “The overall leftist goal is to make the Allies and the Nazis moral equivalents.”

    What is meant here by “moral equivalents?”

    Consider some examples:

    Are Christians morally superior to Muslims? Is the theft of an apple by a Christian morally different from the theft of an apple by a Muslim?

    If a Sunday school teacher who always paid her taxes on time, flossed nightly and “saved herself” for marriage goes and guns down six kids at the grammar school, isn’t she the moral equivalent of the scar-faced deadbeat alcoholic pervert who hated God and also shoots six children dead?

    Please explain if and why you think a German officer who, of his own volition, orders the execution of captured French civilians is not morally equivalent to a French officer who does the same to captured German civilians.

    Perhaps you intend to sidestep questions of individual responsibilities and attribute morality to entire nations and/or movements. But to what end?

    If Canada is morally superior to the U.S., does it mean they can torture the occasional former Bush administration official and not lose any sleep over it? Does it mean they can demand preferential treatment in bilateral trade negotiations? Overlook their own atrocities while complaining about the U.S.?

    I’m afraid the idea of national morality is too abstract for practical application, other than as low-brow propaganda.

    I often run across the term “moral relativism” being used in roughly the same way Lex uses “moral equivalents.” Weird, isn’t it? Are we supposed to be judging all acts on a single moral scale, or should we have to have separate slide-rules for each nationality, movement, race, gender and what have you?

    Seems a little dodgy, doesn’t it?

    Isn’t it important to confine moral judgments to individuals? Moral calculus can get complicated and we need to start with precise individual circumstances. In wartime, only a handful of the people involved have any meaningful choices about what they will and will not do.

    Totalitarianism requires the obviation of individual moral responsibility. That’s why national moral superiority is such a jealously guarded theme of would-be totalitarians.

  7. Levy, let me see if I can respond to some of your questions.

    If Nazis are killing millions of Jews, man, woman, and child; and Allies kill a bunch of Nazis to make them stop; are the killings morally equivalent?

    How about if the Allies aren’t fully aware of what the Nazis are doing until they get in there and find the concentration camps – they are horrified but not particularly surprised, b/c they knew the Nazis were bad guys – does that make them morally equivalent?

    If the Germans bomb the crap out of England, and the US bombs Germany to make it impossible for them to continue to do that, are the bombings morally equivalent?

  8. Levy – let me boil it down for you, trying to stay on the original topic of WW2. If the Allies didn’t bomb and shoot the hell out of the Germans and Japanese they would have done it to us. Pretty simple.

  9. Dan: I’m afraid your hypothetical argues in favor of moral equivalence, not against it. You say Allied behavior matches Axis intentions and the salient difference is that we succeeded. Are you a “leftist?”

    Laura asks: “If Nazis are killing millions of Jews, man, woman, and child; and Allies kill a bunch of Nazis to make them stop; are the killings morally equivalent?”

    Of course not. But in real life, it is never that simple. Firstly, the Allies did not fight WWII to prevent the Nazis from carrying out the Holocaust. So your hypothetical is historically inaccurate. If you want to have a serious discussion about morals and WWII, you shouldn’t need to resort to hypotheticals anyway, as there is plenty of documented history to go by.

    The primary question I raise is not whether some acts of war are less moral than others. Clearly the Nazi aggression was less moral than the Allied response.

    What I question is the relevance of comparing America to Nazis.

    If an armed robber breaks into may house, pistol drawn and demanding cash and I draw faster and gun him down, clearly, I am in a morally defensible, possibly even heroic, position.

    But that morality is only relative to the robber. It says nothing about me, a junkie/child prostitution ringleader who hates Muslims, black people and Jews, beats his girlfriend, never pays his taxes and throws his cigarette butts on the ground.

    The “shut up, we’re so much better than the Nazis” argument is profoundly, if unwittingly, disdainful of American values and history. Anyone who truly values American principles would insist on comparing the country’s record to the best, not the worst.

  10. Levy, I started with that hypothetical question b/c it appeared to me that you were saying that there is NEVER a case where there is not moral equivalency. I see that you have backed off of that just a bit.

  11. And the best would be? I’m intersted in the great examples because we can learn from them. The heroic and altruistic, the protectors of the weak – what nation were you thinking of?

    I don’t think anyone on here thinks Americans have some dispensation – some may not believe in natural depravity but certainly assume that Americans, too, are tempted. Abu Ghraib demonstrates both that we are tempted and that a system – long before the “journalists” produced an outcry – was set in place to punish. That is us at our worst – but at our best as well.

  12. Levy Athon,

    You’re committing the cardinal sin of reductionism. Reductionism is the belief that the smallest reducible part of a system dictates it’s function. For example, the human body is composed of chemicals and a knowledge of chemistry is important to understanding how the body works but your knowledge of chemistry won’t help you predict the decisions that a human will make. The vast majority of chemical reactions in dogs and humans are the same but the combined outcome of those reactions is much different.

    Yes, ultimately all moral judgements require judging the actions of individuals but your ignoring the reality that organizations to which individuals belong, families, cultures, ideologies, or polities strongly influence the choices that individuals make. When you evaluate a group you evaluate the summation of individual decisions that the people in the group make.

    Nor is this a mere academic exercise. It matters a lot to individuals whether they live a liberal-democracy or a totalitarian state ruled by a dictator.

    For example, you say:

    Please explain if and why you think a German officer who, of his own volition, orders the execution of captured French civilians is not morally equivalent to a French officer who does the same to captured German civilians.

    The actions of the individuals are morally equivalent but you’re ignoring the reality that during WWII the Nazi regime as an organization would order and coerce individual German officers to murder civilians but that the liberal-democracy that France started the war with would not. The pre-war French government would not have shipped its Jewish population to eastern Europe to be murdered by the Vichy government did so eagerly.

    You are also forgetting that individuals cannot physically carry out the greatest crimes that humans commit. A single German or Russian might morally choose to kill vast numbers of Jews or Kulacks but the individual lacks the physical ability to kill millions of people. He has to cooperate with large numbers of other like minded individuals in order to carry affect his moral choices. Again, we see that evaluating the actions of the group is important.

    How we choose to organize ourselves is one of the most important questions that humans face. We do most of the great good and great evil we accomplish in our lives by cooperating with others. Our choice of which groups to belong to or which forms of organization we employ is one of the most important moral choices we make as individuals. Therefore, ignoring collective moral behavior is itself an immoral act.

  13. When U.S. forces liberated the Dachau concentration camp, soldiers were so horrified by what they saw that some of them reacted by shooting a number of the guards.

    Had today’s media and professoriate been around in those days, they would have doubtless asserted that the action of the US troops in shooting the SS guards was as bad as what the SS guards had been doing to the prisoners.

    That’s moral equivalence.

  14. David:
    No, what you are describing is actually moral relativism, not moral equivalence. You are distinctly attempting to represent the morality of a small atrocity relative to a much bigger one. It’s a small atrocity for U.S. troops to shoot prisoners, but you want to measure their act relative to the Nazi’s greater crime.

    Consider Stalin. His troops liberated death camps too. Indeed, the Russians guard their WWII moral superiority even more jealously than do right-wing Americans. But saying Stalin is “better than the Holocaust” doesn’t tell us much about his morality, does it? Let alone the collective morality of the Soviet Union.

    Shannon asserts:
    “When you evaluate a group you evaluate the summation of individual decisions that the people in the group make.”

    Not really. God is, in theory, the only moral arbiter that matters. Do you really think he cares whether you’re a Canadian or an American?

  15. Levy Athon,

    Consider Stalin. His troops liberated death camps too.

    They also ran them and killed more people than Hitler.

    Do you really think he cares whether you’re a Canadian or an American?

    No but people who are afraid of being murdered do. For the last century, people have run to Americans when they feared for their lives. Go read the stories about the Hutu in Rwanda mobbing individual Americans and begging to be saved.

    Humans don’t get to choose perfect morality. We get to chose between better and worse and that’s it. And yes, the difference between better and worse matters a great deal.

    Honestly, how old are you? You’ve got to be 19 or 20 based on you apparent belief that wildly abstract moral equivalence actually has any relevance to the real world. You might make the girls swoon in the dorm room debates but nobody here is really interested in your childishness.

  16. “We get to chose between better and worse and that’s it.”

    Especially in wartime.

    When you have only bad options, you pick the least bad option.

    That is the moral choice: The one that leads to fewer people dying, not some imaginary, magically pure moral choice that does not exist in reality.

    Destroying Dresden, was a better option than not destroying Dresden. The war was not over. There were military advantages to destroying Dresden. The Germans were still killing thousands of people a day, even though they were obviously beaten. Anything that materially shortened the war was better than doing nothing because it meant fewer Allied soldiers died, and fewer German captives, and ultimately fewer Germans. The means were at hand and not using them would have meant a worse, not a better outcome for the Allies.

    It is a delusion to think that imaginary, non-existent options that are dreamed up in peace and safety are superior to the decisions made by people who had actual life and death

    This discussion proves my larger point, that two generations of Leftist indoctrination have left people in a state of intellectual damage. The typical American under age 40 or so really cannot discern the difference between a brutal, shameless, overt tyranny rounding up and slaughtering its own civilians and embarking on wars of conquest, using ruthless and lawless means and indiscriminately slaughtering civilians in the process (the Nazis) and the countries that were assailed by these people, who did not seek war, some of whom were democracies, who had to be dragged into it, and who finally responded with increasing levels of force, to try to destroy the tyranny and force it to give up, which it refused to do even when it was clearly beaten.

    This is not complicated at all.

    Reagan in his final message to the American people said that his greatest fear was the loss of historical memory among the American people.

    The enemy has won this battle. For now.

  17. Note to all:

    “Levy Athon” comments here from time to time, under various aliases, always making (at first) outrageously contrary and (eventually) insulting statements in an effort to get a fight going. This isn’t good for reasonable discussion, and I would ask everyone to be thoughtful about responding to commenters who seem to be trying to get under their skin.

  18. I don’t know about this new conclusion at all.

    The Prince of Wales’ mother was insulted.

    I think that family honour has been involved, and absent a very public, and very much repeated apology, I think the Royal Family should go off and host their own event, with or without the permission of Gordon Brown, {who will soon be removed}.

    I think the Queen should show them up, and show them up as the classless jerks they are.

  19. Helen, sorry I’m not commenting on your post’s subject matter; this exchange is what caught my attention:
    Levy Athon,
    “Consider Stalin. His troops liberated death camps too.”
    They also ran them and killed more people than Hitler.

    They were not the same troops! Stop libeling people who died for freedom.

    You might both label me with “totalitarian moral superiority”, but Soviet army did liberated Nazi concentration camps. And millions of soldiers and civilians died in the war while fighting for their land, not “for Stalin”. Some of them did cry “For Socialist Stalin Motherland!” during attacks – but those were more often than not NKVD and comissars, and they were minority – especially at the end of the War, when army had a chance to see how people lived in Europe. The general mood in 1945, as reported by numerous sources (people who actually served) was that with Victory day the political situation in USSR has to change, and that Stalin’s regime got to go. The fear that regime was holding the country in pre-war years was largely gone in 1944-45, because the people realized themselves capable of action. Stalin had other plans, though, thus the new wave of repressions in the 1948-52 – but, still, he couldn’t exercise his power on the scale of 1937 anymore.
    I am shocked at the way Americans, even the ones so interested in history, have no respect to millions of people, their allies in the War, to the people that sustained the biggest losses of life and treasure. I have tried to talk in defense of our dead – not NKVD and not Stalin, I stress it again (it seems, incredibly, that people here see no difference!) here – but I see I made no difference. How disgusting.

  20. Tatyana,

    They were not the same troops!

    They were in the sense that they both took orders from Stalin. Those sympathetic to Germany often point out that the formal military forces of the Third Riech, the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffa and the Kriegsmarine were not directly involved in the Holocaust but most of the rest of us don’t let them off the hook morally. They fought for Hitler, extended his power and made his crimes possible.

    Likewise the regular military forces under Stalin made his crimes possible. The power of the state ultimately flows from the military, not the security forces. Besides, the regular Soviet military worked hand-in-hand with both the Weirmer republic to rearm Germany and as allies of Nazi Germany. They attacked Finland, the baltic countries and Poland as part of the non-Aggression pact.

    You also have the fact that the majority of people of Eastern Europe including the Soviet Union were quite enthusiastic about Hilter’s little get rid of the Jews project.

    I am shocked at the way Americans, even the ones so interested in history, have no respect to millions of people, their allies in the War, to the people that sustained the biggest losses of life and treasure.

    I don’t think that is fair. Every single history I have read that touches upon the Soviet role in the war mentions the incredible bravery and self-sacrifice of the Soviet people as individuals. Every histories mentions the incredible effort that the people spontaneously undertook in every area from front line fighting to industrial production. I’ve read nothing but praise for the people themselves.

    It’s just that on the national level, the Soviets were in the position of the person who bravely fights a fire in their own house that they started out their own negligence. The Soviet Union helped rearm Germany with the Treaty of Rapallo. Fascism arose as a counter-reaction to Communism. Stalin directly assisted Hitler in starting WWII. The great loss of life that the Soviet people suffered in the war is directly attributable to Stalin’s incompetence and ruthlessness. Stalin was a more viscous and successful megacide than Hitler.

    You can’t separate a military from its leadership or its guiding ideology. In the end, despite the motivations and sacrifices of millions of individuals, the Soviet military was an instrument of aggression, oppression and mass murder.

  21. No, it was not.
    To follow your logic you have to say all Americans are exterminators of Indians. All Americans are guilty of lynching. All Americans are cowardly bloodsuckers who preferred to pay USSR with Valentines and Spitfires rather than risk the lives of their troops. All three statements was (and now, again, is) the staple of Soviet anti-American propaganda.

    “I’ve read nothing but praise for the people themselves”
    Then read the thread in the post I linked to.

  22. In the end, despite the motivations and sacrifices of millions of individuals, the Soviet military was an instrument of aggression, oppression and mass murder.
    Forgive me, but you don’t understand the reality of life in totalitarian country.

  23. Tatyana,

    To follow your logic you have to say all Americans are exterminators of Indians.

    Well, the indians were never exterminated save accidently by disease but yes all Americans of the day had a collective responsibility for government policies that affected indians. Indeed, Americans have a lot more responsibility than other peoples because historically we have had the most say in our government. We are responsible even when we oppose the actions because of our participation in the political process and our ever present option to leave entirely.

    On the other hand, such events represents failures of our system, times when we deviate from our ideals or simply intractable problems that have no good solutions. (The indians fall into the later catagory.) By comparison, tyranny, oppression and mass murder were just SOP in Stalinist Soviet Union. They weren’t exception they were how things worked on a day-to-day basis.

    Then read the thread in the post I linked to

    Which link? I don’t see one in this thread.

    Forgive me, but you don’t understand the reality of life in totalitarian country.

    I’m not unsympathetic to individuals trapped between Hitler and Stalin. It just that individuals didn’t defeat Hitler and liberate the death camps on their own. They did so by working within an organization. It was the organization, in this case Stalinist Soviet Union, that liberated the death camps not a random collection of individuals who all chose the same goal. Moral people in the Soviet Union didn’t defeat Hitler. The Soviet Union as a whole did and you have to evaluate the morality of the Soviet Union not the individuals who comprise it.

    This is especially true when the subject under discussion is a comparison of the morality of different political systems.

    Stalin as head of the organization liberated death camps when it served his purpose while at the same time running his own death camps. From a moral perspective he was like a serial killer being nice to old ladies to throw off suspicion.

  24. You go round and round. And sound suspiciously like Stalin himself, with his “son is not responsible for the sins of father” -while executing families, twice removed or even divorced from a person he deemed an enemy.
    You can’t sit on two chairs at once. On one hand you smear whole country with Stalin and stalinists’ deeds, on the other you “understand their plight”.The hell you do.

    The was was called Great Patriotic for a reason. No amount of SMERSH and sagradotrjad would make people fight Germans, if they didn’t commit unimaginable atrocities on Ukranian, Belorussian and Russian land. Patriotism, self-sacrifice and yed, morals of Soviet people won that war. With American tracks, yes, but with Soviet blood. Try to evaluate that.

    I don’t know why you don’t see the link: I see it clearly – I looked again.

  25. Actually, Tatyana, they often were the same troops. Not always but often. This is not libel and hysteria gets us nowhere. What you are suggesting is that we should all refuse to look at the reality of what happened in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during and immediately after the war because that would somehow deny the heroism of those who fought and resisted. That’s the Putin line. That is why there is a law in the offing in Russia that will make it a crime to “falsify Russian history”. What do you think that will mean.

    I have a foot in both camps. I know about the heroism of the Soviet people, often through stories from my parents as must be the case with you as you are not old enough to remember it yourself. But I also know that throughout Eastern Europe those memorials to the unknown Soviet soldier were always known as memorials to the unknown Soviet rapist. Sorry if that makes you faint.

    And you should know about the fact that the Germans were welcomed in many villages and towns because of the hatred for the Soviet system. You should know that Soviet solders were mown down by SMERSH troops when they retreated as armies do all the time. You should know that many volunteered to serve in the German army because they hated the system that had destroyed their countries. None of that destroys the truth about heroism. History is a bitch.

  26. [Multiple comments by “Debating Stud” a/k/a “Levy Athon” deleted by Jonathan.]

  27. Helen – no hysteria here. I’m disgusted – that’s true – and might not express myself clearly.

    Nothing makes me faint. I lived in a place and time and through things you can only read in books. Especially some mumbling of “Soviet rapists”. Carma is a bitch. That was a very small portion what the bastards deserved.

  28. I read Helen’s comment to the end.
    Funny, it’s the same il[l]ligic, as displayed in the RacheLucas thread.

    Stalinist system, or welcoming of the german troops (up until they started showing what they REALLY thought of Slavs…right after they all happily shared their mutual hatred of Jews) have nothing to do with people’s contribution to Victory. What happened after May 9th 1945 also is irrelevant.

    I know all of what you said. I know much more than you said. I know how they lived: on the “homefront” in Ural and blockaded Leningrad, and in burning Belarussian villages, and in my beloved Lwov, where betrayal was coming from every wall and every stone; I know how they died in the trenches – despite stalinist system, not for it. You, despite all the dead weight of your reading, know nothing.

    Soviet rapists?
    Ha, they should be so lucky.

  29. Oh, and about British Royalty.

    Who cares? They are decorative moss on a ruins of history. The toy monarchy was a very funny thing when I spend a week in London, the funniest thing there. Monarchists are ridiculous; I could hardly keep a straight face.
    I’m unpleasantly surprised to see Americans, citizens of a Republic, constantly prostrating themselves in a hypnotic awe to a bunch of ghosts from the medieval past – with no power behind them, just sparkling of crown jewels.
    To worry about symbolism of ceremonies – who’s invited, who’s not; who’s offended by his place in the procession, who’s sat further down the table – at the time the world crumbles…that’s not even amusing anymore.

  30. Lex,

    Do you really believe that the “leftist goal is to make the Allies and the Nazis moral equivalents?” Really? Because I am pretty far left, and I’m certain that I know more leftists than you, and I don’t know anyone who has either a belief or agenda that the Allies and the Nazis are moral equivalents. That doesn’t even make sense. I suspect that you haven’t actually talked to many “leftists” since you were twenty. And how sophisticated were your opinions at that age?

    I would agree there are those on the left who want to remind people that in war no one’s hands are clean and that there is terrible and tragic loss on both sides. I would also say that there are moral, practical, and theological risks to demonizing your enemy and denying your own sins.

    I will honestly say that I don’t know whether incidents like Dresden truly prevented more suffering of innocents than they inflicted. But I can be unsure of that that and still feel sorrow for what happened and empathy for those who died (or survived). I can also assert the legitimacy of revisiting that decision and questioning whether it were necessary or right without fear of having to admit that the Allies might have been wrong in that instance. In fact, I believe that is how most knowledge and progress occurs in any discipline.

    I do not believe that revisiting or highlighting the tragedy of these events will somehow make America the bad guy and Germany the good guy. I am, in fact, confident that we were on the right side so I don’t fear an open discussion. In fact, I would argue that a great deal of America’s moral authority and strength in the world comes neither from always being right nor from never admitting wrong, but from admitting quite often and sometimes quite thoroughly what we did do that was wrong.

    Right now, that seems to be a big difference between the left and the right. But I would like to remind you of this quote from Winston Churchill about Dresden.

    It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land… The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing. I am of the opinion that military objectives must henceforward be more strictly studied in our own interests than that of the enemy.

    The Foreign Secretary has spoken to me on this subject, and I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives such as oil and communications behind the immediate battle-zone, rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction, however impressive

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