I know this discussion’s sort of over, but I thought this was good even if I might dissent here or there. From a reader:
About Strategic bombing:
1. Ramesh should reference Michael Walzer’s arguments about strategic
2. Darb’s conclusion is probably right; people will do what they feel they
need to do, under circumstances and in light of opinion. In WW1, e.g., using
poison gas in combat was good, in WW2, it was bad.
3. Mass bombings of civilians was not considered absolutely immoral in WW2. It has been considered absolutely immoral at least since the Vietnam war (which was the real context for Vonnegut’s Dresden book.)
4. In light of 3, arguments in favor of bombing civilians (Steyn, et al) are just as bootless as abstractions about “right” or “wrong” bombings. Generally, people don’t like it — having seen the effects in WW2 — and if people don’t want it, it won’t happen.
5. As terrible as the WTC “bombing” was, and I was on the NJ Turnpike when
it happened, it was something that many peoples in Europe and Asia
experienced often in the ’30’s and ’40’s and something America had never
experienced. A moment’s thought convinces me that most Americans would be
even more reluctant to engage in the mass killing of civilians now, than before.
6. It’s a waste of time to justify WW2 bombings today. Nobody backs killing
civilians now, so no one wants to hear celebrations about past bombings that
killed many civilians. Find something else to celebrate, like, for example, the break in the weather.