KRISTOL ON HADITHA....

KRISTOL ON HADITHA. This article is rather repugnant, but I think it contains a pearl of accidental wisdom: "Liberals may want to win a war on terror without fighting, and are shocked that in a war, crimes and abuses occur. But here's the hard, Trumanesque truth: In war, terrible things happen, including crimes and abuses and cover-ups."

To me, this mostly cuts the other way. The best way to avoid war crimes and related abuses is to fight fewer wars. Which isn't to say you should never fight a war, but part of what needs to be in the mix when you think about these decisions is that, in practice, you're not going to have a perfectly clean war anymore than you're going to have 100 percent compliance with speeding rules. If you're considering initiating a military action -- or, as is more relevant right now in Iraq, prolonging one -- it's worth being realistic about the fact that you don't get to have an idealized one, you're going to get a genuine, flawed one. Thinking about this ought to make one more hesitant about endorsing the application of military force as a means of solving problems.

--Matthew Yglesias

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