Hebraice, “טוהר הנשק”, a much-loved though now rather threadbare commonplace of Israeli propaganda. The idea is that war can and should be waged in a deeply moral way. There are people you can kill and other people you can’t; there are ways you may kill them and other ways you mustn’t. One imagines the Marquis of Queensberry refereeing the gory slaughterpit we call the ‘modern world’.
This notion, silly as it is, just won’t go away, and lately I’m hearing a lot of it from my Lefty pals who have lined up with AIPAC to cheer on the Syrian insurgency. The most recent great debate is, who’s using chemical weapons, the insurgents or the ‘regime’, aka the government?
Hmm. Well, suppose they both were? What would become of Queensberry’s Moral Razor in that case? Would all these beautiful-souled Trots just walk away in disgust? Or would they go out to the next decimal place, and consider who was supporting whom, and why?
But that scenario is no fun. The scenario I like is the one where the right side does all the wrong stuff — the chemical weapons, the ‘terrorism’, etc. — and the wrong side does all the right stuff — drones, boots on the ground, bunker-busters, and so on.
This has always been the way of it with the Palestinians and the Israelis, for example. The highly moral smug Israelis have their tanks and bulldozers. The poor Palestinians have none of that, so they’re reduced to hijacking airliners and suicide-bombing discos.
But even so I favor the immoral Palestinians over the moral Israelis. Not that they truly are that moral, of course; it’s sheer hypocrisy, really; but even if all their moral claims were true, I would still be on the side of the sinners. Because, at bottom, the sinners’ cause is just, and the cause of the Zionist bulldozers is not.
Now I really have no idea what’s going on in Syria, and I daresay very few other people who don’t have platinum security clearances have any idea either.
Certainly my moralizing comrades, with their nattering tut-tuttery about chemical weapons, have no more idea than I do. But for them, Purity Of Arms takes the place of actual information.
If ‘the regime’ is using chemical weapons, then the regime stands condemned. Presumably if the insurgents were using chemical weapons, they too would stand condemned; and therefore, since the insurgents are clearly the right side, it follows that the insurgents can’t possibly be using chemical weapons.
Tidy world these people live in.
But there is no morality in war. War is wickedness from start to finish. This is not to say that wars should never be fought. If you’re attacked, you have the right to fight back. But your attackers will observe no morality in attacking you, and you will observe none in defending yourself.