The question is, did, for example, bombing Dresden to defeat Hitler or, in the Pacific War, dropping two nuclear bombs to force Japan to stop fighting, make the Allies into barbarians?Yet West has phrased her question in a way that misrepresents historical fact. Her reference to "bombing Dresden to defeat Hitler" presumes that the 94 tons of bombs dropped on the German city in February 1945 were truly instrumental to achieve victory over the Third Reich. But there is a strong consensus among historians that the bombing did not hasten Hitler's defeat.
I think most people would still say, "of course not," and argue that such destructive measures were necessary to save civilization itself -- and certainly thousands of mainly American and Allied soldier's lives.
The city was of minimal strategic importance, and it was filled at the time of the bombing with thousands of wartime refugees, prisoners-of-war and unarmed civilians -- and allied leaders were aware of this. An historical summary prepared for the BBC notes that there was no "clear military rationale for the Dresden bombing."
Winston Churchill himself wrote that "the destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing."
But West has no such regrets about a bombing that killed as many as 100,000 people -- many of whom were burned alive. Pointing to the Dresden bombing as an example of military tactics from previous wars, West laments the fact that "this is not at all how we think any more." She wishes that the attitude that propelled the bombing of Dresden in '45 were guiding our military's decisions.
West endorses carpet-bombing -- a tactic that maximizes civilian casulaties and, of course, would help the insurgents' recruitment efforts:
If we still valued our own men more than the enemy's and the "civilians" he hides among -- and now I'm talking about the war in Iraq -- our tactics would be totally different, and, not incidentally, infinitely more successful.Notice that West places quotation marks around the word civilians -- as if to suggest there's no difference between combatants and non-combatants.
We would drop bombs on city blocks, for example, not waste men in dangerous house-to-house searches. We would destroy enemy sanctuaries in Syria and Iran, not disarm "insurgents" at perilous checkpoints in hostile Iraqi strongholds.
... Morally superior people -- Western elites -- never "humiliate" prisoners, never kill civilians, never torture or incarcerate jihadis. Indeed, they would like to kill, I mean, prosecute, or at least tie the hands of anyone who does.
This is a pretty despicable message, even for the Townhall.com crowd.