Being Nowhere
Circus Tradition
Class Politics
Enormous Loss
Haditha Tragedy
Homeless Being
Illegal Camping Ordinance
Journalism Priviledge
Keep Us Safe
Leadership and the People

Lesser Evils
Lynching Iraq
News for Working People
Nice Cops
Palestinian Democracy
Poison Fish
Political Communication
Selective Memory
Vestigial Entrances

Lynching Iraq

In a column published in the 4/29 H-T, Thomas Friedman asserted: “Whether you were for or against this war ... [ or held any number of intermediate positions], you have to feel good that right has triumphed over wrong. America did the right thing here.”

Anyone interested in moral logic will find the venerable, and important, problem of ends and means in this. In intra-national social life we are familiar with lynching, and the fact that with some unknown frequency the person hanged needed killing. Nevertheless, we renounce the practice whether or not such a person’s demise makes us feel good.

Saddam Hussein was lynched; he certainly needed killing; and American foreign policy should without delay renounce the practice that removed him. It was not a war of self defense; it was not a war of humanitarian intervention, however weak that ground might be in contemporary law and practice; there was far too much disagreement around the world in the justification for it to go forward with confidence; and the American record for producing good outcomes by changing regimes for other countries is too mixed to inspire confidence in our judgment [consider Iran, Guatemala, Chile and Nicaragua].


Above all, this is not about our feelings. Pundits became too accustomed to speak of how we felt bad -- about ourselves, about our military capability -- after Viet Nam. They should not begin now to focus on the stroking. We should be cautioned in this respect by photographs surviving from the old days which show how many people felt so very good before, during and after a lynching.













©Al Katz • Prof. of law SUNY, Buffalo, 1969-1989 (ret.)