Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 15, 2009

Genocide? No. Except . . .

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, May 1/15, 2009

Genocide is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. An innocent nation is at stake. The bad people could cease to exist to save it. They refuse to do so. In such a case, the choice is easy. Even John McCain, the most admirable and estimable genocide opponent, says openly that in such circumstances, "You do what you have to do." And then take the responsibility.

Some people, however, believe you never commit genocide. Ever. They are akin to conscientious objectors who will never fight in any war under any circumstances, and for whom we correctly show respect by exempting them from war duty. But we would never make one of them supreme commander. Private principles are fine, but you don't entrust such a person with the military decisions upon which hinges the safety of the nation. It is similarly imprudent to have a person who would abjure genocide in all circumstances making national security decisions upon which depends the protection of millions of people.

Of course, the morality of genocide hinges on whether at the time the problem was important enough, the danger great enough and the blindness about the enemy's plans severe enough to justify an exception to the moral injunction against genocide.

Jurisprudence has the "reasonable man" standard. A jury is asked to consider what a reasonable person would do under certain urgent circumstances.

On the morality of genocide, senior and expert members of the Reichstag represented their colleagues, and indeed the entire people, in rendering the reasonable person verdict. What did they do? They gave tacit approval. In fact, according to Himmler, they offered encouragement. Given the circumstances, they clearly deemed the gas chambers warranted.

Moreover, the circle of approval was wider than that. Academics and the media widely approved.

So what happened? The reason the Reichstag raised no objection to genocide at the time, the reason the people (who by 1942 knew what was going on) strongly supported the man who ordered these killings, is not because the representatives and the rest of the people suffered a years-long moral psychosis from which they had just awoken. It is because at that time they were aware of the existing conditions -- their blindness to the enemies plans, the urgency of the threat, the magnitude of the suffering that might be caused by another Reichstags fire, the likelihood that the genocide would succeed -- and concluded that on balance it was a reasonable response to a terrible threat.

And they were right.

Source (to some extent): 1, 2

Posted by b on May 15, 2009 at 6:40 UTC | Permalink


A brilliant exercise in taking this contemptible discourse to its logical conclusion.

Posted by: Colin | May 15 2009 7:06 utc | 1

Um, who's confused

Posted by: moi | May 15 2009 7:30 utc | 2

Yes the logical conclusion does indeed lead to a rationalization for genocide. This is even explicit in Krauthammer's second link when he entertains the 1994 Waxman case as an anecdotal example of how torture can produce actionable intelligence. I wonder if he even realized that the same logic (prisoner rescue) was used to justify the war on Lebanon - a war with genocidal overtones promoted by the same leap of faith.

Posted by: anna missed | May 15 2009 7:47 utc | 3

One doesn't want to be a reasonable man in a world peopled by the likes of Krauthammer. This writer endorses torture and can sleep like a baby. He is one with the neocons and their loyal servants. It's possible to imagine Pelosi as morally conflicted, albeit suffering some deficit of integrity. But a hypocrite? Not compared to the republicans who were crowing about the CIA allegation against her.

The republicans are the emblems of hypocritical creatures. There is no more vile expression in American politics beyond their self-righteous smugness and disapproval of Pelosi. They who gladly endorsed and expansively embraced anything proposed by Bush are clucking their tongues. Those servile lickers of boots. Those pompous authoritarians. Those pious torturers' apprentices. They would sign off on anything under the banner of their party; and they pretty much did that, over the last eight years.

It's difficult to watch the pretentious theater. The pot is calling the kettle black. The wicked little boys who pulled the wings off flies are snickering. It is truly disgusting.

Posted by: Copeland | May 15 2009 8:24 utc | 4

Pelosi voted for war, voted for the torture, voted to screw the people... Copeland, are you being facetious? 'Cause from where I sit, I don't see the differences you seem to see in the two parties... about the only way they differ is in name...

Is Krauthammer aware that the Reichstag fire was a false flag op? Does this still make genocide ok?

Maybe, if he were suggesting a genocide of wealthy greedhead politicians, I could possibly understand 'cause these seem to be the types that cause the rest of us so many problems.

Posted by: DavidS | May 15 2009 8:46 utc | 5

pelosi? this is the grand strategy of the gop. what a joke.

Posted by: annie | May 15 2009 12:33 utc | 6

"An innocent nation is at stake. The bad people could cease to exist to save it. They refuse to do so. In such a case, the choice is easy." Hmmm-what if that innocent nation were Palestine or Lebanon?

Krauthammer proves just how contemptibly stupid a man he is--conveniently rationalizing abhorrent behavior just to promote an Israeli agenda without considering the consequences of a broader application of such a doctrine.

Of course, by the time the shoe is on the other foot, he'll have repeatedly and publicly denied that he ever advocated such a contemptible doctrine at all! Neocons live in such a wonderful, accountability-free world.

Posted by: JohnH | May 15 2009 12:46 utc | 7

Why do we take fighting lesson from a Droopy impersonator with scoliosis? If anyone should be culled from the heard it would clearly be the physically and mentally crippled. Krauthammer is both, physically and mentally broken.

Krauthammer appears to be a sociopath. I wish I could meet these people in the ring who believe might makes right. Funny argument from the puny, corpulent right. Kagan and Kristol are such great warriors--300+lbs in the case of the former, under 5'6" for the latter.

It should come as no surprise that such utter pussies would find force such a compelling tool. These wimps likely were terrorized in school, only their wealthy, jealously protective parents likely kept the school administration looking out for their pathetic children.

Today, that entitlement has run amok. I say we engage our leaders in fisticuffs. When you see a pol. punch him in the jaw.

I can't believe Krauthammer would pen a defense of genocide. I say we start with warmonger Jews. What's that Charlie? You want us to annihilate Arabs, oh, ok. I say we start with the smallest Semitic group, and bellicose Jews in the media should be first in line for the slaughter.

Posted by: scott | May 15 2009 12:48 utc | 8

you are aware, that the text is not really from Krauthammer, but that there are lots of replacements from the original?

Posted by: Jemand | May 15 2009 13:02 utc | 9


Posted by: DavidS | May 15 2009 13:53 utc | 10

don't you guys follow the links?

b, i think you mean "Source (to some extent):"

Posted by: annie | May 15 2009 14:07 utc | 11

Pelosi voted for war, voted for the torture,

david, when the dems took control of congress pelosi introduced legislation to outlaw the torture, it was passed and bush vetoed it. they sent it back to congress for a 2/3 to override the veto and couldn't get the rethugs to sign on.

Posted by: annie | May 15 2009 14:11 utc | 12

Mr. Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize and Guardian of Zion award winner has said, "Zionism (was) a movement based on self-reliance, self-realization, and a refusal to depend on others. Zionism accepted the world precisely as it is and because of that Jews saw that they had no future in the Diaspora and that they must go and build a state for themselves in Zion."

Posted by: Bluegenebop | May 15 2009 14:33 utc | 13

You guys caught me off guard. I thought he had actually written "genocide". Please next time make it a bit more explicit that you are altering the man's article!

Posted by: D. Mathews | May 15 2009 14:37 utc | 14


Is this what you're talking about? (from the WSJ ):

Over the past few years, the Democrats have moved to ban waterboarding only when it was clear that such a bill would not pass -- or would be vetoed by George W. Bush. In September 2006, Sen. Edward Kennedy introduced an amendment to the Military Commissions Act that would have effectively defined waterboarding as a war crime, and it was defeated largely along partisan lines. In February 2008, when Democrats were in control of Congress, they made a big fuss about sending a bill that would have limited interrogation to techniques found in the Army field manual. They did so knowing President Bush would veto it, and that he had the votes to sustain that veto.

Today the Democrats have an even larger majority -- plus a president who would sign such legislation. So why the call for a truth commission instead? The answer is a nasty one: If Congress made waterboarding illegal now, they would be making clear that it was not illegal before.

Andrew McCarthy is the former assistant U.S. attorney who put Omar Abdel-Rahman (the blind sheik) behind bars for the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Mr. McCarthy explained it this way to me: "When Senate Democrats didn't have the votes, they voted to make waterboarding illegal. Now they have the votes, but there's no effort to ban waterboarding. And the reason is that they are more interested in setting off a partisan witch hunt than passing a principled ban on something they say is torture."

There is irony in this piece, written by William McGurn who is a Vice President at News Corporation who writes speeches for CEO Rupert Murdoch. Previously he served as Chief Speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Now this is the pot calling the kettle black.

Anyone who supported ANY of America's silly exercises in building a global empire are lower than low... They are the flecks of feces clinging under the rim of government's toilet bowl! I care little for the names they call their actions, whether "peace keeping" or "nation building" it equals a lot of poor folks, dead.

The majority of the Democrats in Congress are as guilty as the Republicans... we should lock up the entire cast of assholes since Clinton's presidency and make each of them prove they're not guilty... imagine the songs these jerks would be singing about their co-conspirators.

And I'll end this rant with a tale about Mouseland for you that might need educating in the ways of rulers.

Posted by: DavidS | May 15 2009 14:57 utc | 15

thx annie, corrected

I find it somewhat frightening that some people really believed that this was a original Krauthammer piece in which he was justifying the holocaust.

Posted by: b | May 15 2009 15:09 utc | 16

DavieS @ 15

well said sir. Pelosi's a worthless enabler like the vast majority of her spineless colleagues.

Posted by: ran | May 15 2009 15:39 utc | 17

This is the internet! Always, if something sounds like it could be satire, check to see if it is. This is a rule the young peeps unconciously internalize early.

And this piece was obvious enough, it didn't need any more 'notice'

Posted by: Cloud | May 15 2009 16:06 utc | 18

Ha! This piece just shows how clueless some of you guys can be. I'm surprised some of you can't be talked into supporting torture.

Posted by: Extinct Species | May 15 2009 16:17 utc | 19

Nice job, b, but honestly, I don't need any morning exposure to the claptrap of Krauthammer, however well satirized. He causes the milk in my coffee to curdle.

Posted by: Obelix | May 15 2009 16:19 utc | 20

b, I have to second Annie's recommendation @ 11 that you make clearer to the reader that this is Swiftian satire. If this is picked up and written about, the comments may not be readily available to clear up confusion.

And, no, many readers do not follow links.

Cloud @ 18--Writers who wish to denigrate MoonofAL and bernhard very likely will cherry pick quotes to make it look as bad as possible.

Yes, I realized it was satire--but have to admit I wasn't sure exactly how much of it was, so had to do some comparisons.

As always, well done, b.

Posted by: jawbone | May 15 2009 16:23 utc | 21

Suppose its gratuitous at this point to make a comment about b's satire, but I will anyway. Generally, I think, you can pick out the American comments because they reflect a kind of national Asperger's symptom -- of heightened literalism. I know because I suffer it myself.

By now I'm on to you b, and needless to say, I like and appreciate your style.

Posted by: oboblomov | May 15 2009 17:25 utc | 22

PS: Excuse me now while I go puke.

Posted by: oboblomov | May 15 2009 17:29 utc | 23

how come people in the US do not seem to mind that it is official now that they are being lied to?

do they expect it anyways?

Posted by: outsider | May 15 2009 17:39 utc | 24

"You guys caught me off guard. I thought he had actually written "genocide". Please next time make it a bit more explicit that you are altering the man's article!"


Posted by: e | May 15 2009 17:56 utc | 25

Sorry, b...the point of this post is completely lost on me.

Posted by: Jeremiah | May 15 2009 18:02 utc | 26

Who's Krauthammer? Seriously, I've heard of the name, but never investigated any further. I don't like to waste my time reading trash.

Is it so difficult to imagine that someday soon justifications for genocide will be published? For those who have posted that they can't believe people were gullible enough to take this satire literally, I can't believe you are gullible enough to believe that this satire will not soon be literal, in every sense of the word. Look at all the genocides sponsored by the U.S. thus far in its illustrious history. You don't think similar published justifications weren't evident in the 1700's and 1800's when fomenting a solution to the Indian problem?

Give me a break. I don't want to hear, any longer, that "it can't happen here." Bullshit! It's been happening here, and sponsored in every corner of the world by our vaunted "leaders" as the majority of us turn a cold, blind eye. Five million Vietnamese lost their lives in the genocide that was the Vietnam War....a substantial proportion of their population. That's nearly as many Jews who perished as a result of the Holocaust. Where's the Hollywood blockbusters vindicating the Vietnamese victims' gruesome and unnecessary demise? The shelves are lined with Holocaust films, but you won't find any films shedding the spotlight on the holocaust the U.S. visited upon the Vietnamese.

Prior to ten years ago, torture was publically denounced yet carried out, just beyond the spineless scrutiny of the mainstream media, by sadistic proxies, in most cases. Now it's increasingly defended in public and carried out directly by "our boys," and increasingly justified by our complicit mainstream media. Torture has gone mainstream. It's in vogue. Hollywood's made it exciting and intriguing....not lamentable, like the Holocaust of the Jews. Framing's everything, isn't it?

Be warned. It can, and will happen here. Publically displayed and rationalized torture first, then genocide. And...within twenty years, it's going to happen en masse on U.S. soil as the media pretends to ponder the legal ambiguity of the acceptable atrocities.

Posted by: Obamageddon | May 15 2009 18:49 utc | 27

If it's ok to (try and) save a soldier through the use of torture - it's ok to save a nation through the use of genocide.

Posted by: anna missed | May 15 2009 18:59 utc | 28

jawbone, i wasn't recommending b make it clearer in 11, i was simply alerting him to a spelling issue.

also, anyone following this blog should know b blockquotes when he copies from other news sources. it was completely obvious to me this was satire, aside from the format.

david, no, that crapola piece of 'joiurnalism' is not what i was talking about at all.

the Democrats have moved to ban waterboarding only when it was clear that such a bill would not pass -- or would be vetoed by George W. Bush.

ahh. so this alleges when they pased the bill they only did it because they know bush would veto it?

listen, torture is the issue. but they don't want to talk about torture. they want to talk about dem complicity.

fuck them, fuck the partisan, lets have the investigations and let the truth come out. you want to talk about pelosi and dems go for it. as far as i am concerned we can go after whoever the fuck you want after hanging cheney by the balls, addington, yoo, baybee, etc etc etc . but they want to talk about dems and pelosi? boring. you want to allege the bills that got passed only happened because they knew bush would veto them? i could friggin care less. pelosi has been asking for torture investigations for years. frankly i don't think she is afraid of jack shit.

the gop are who's afraid. parading cheney out to make excuses and lambasting the dem speaker. whatteva, fall for it, i won't.

Posted by: annie | May 15 2009 19:01 utc | 29

Sorry, b...the point of this post is completely lost on me.

earth to Jeremiah, the point is you cannot justify the unjustifiable. the neocons favorite crutch is the holocaust, so b was simply throwing up their constant crutch and putting it in the same light as the atrocities they are trying to justify. ie, their war crime is ok however when those they love were the victims, it is ALWAYS unexcusable. they are hypocrites every damn one of them. they will even justify torturing someone to get them to spill the lies to sell to the american people to justify their war. don't hear them moaning about that. whos responsible for the millions dead in iraq? you don't hear them moaning about that genocide.

anyway, i don't believe you are that thick, i think you just don't like b making a satire that makes you uncomfortable

Posted by: annie | May 15 2009 19:14 utc | 30

@Jeremiah - @26 - Sorry, b...the point of this post is completely lost on me.

The post simply shows what anna missed expresses in the above comment.

The argument for torture is exactly the same argument that can be and is used for genocide. It is morally equivalent. Just make the danger a bit bigger and the allowed atrocity is also allowed to be a bit bigger.

To exhibit that point I took Krauthammer's argument for torture nearly verbatim and exchanged just a few words to make the case for genocide. I did not change his reasoning. I just changed the danger and the necessary atrocity following from it.

@Obamageddon - Who's Krauthammer?

The translation of his German-Jewish last name is "Cabbagebeater"


In 2006, the Financial Times named Krauthammer the most influential commentator in America,[9] saying “Krauthammer has influenced US foreign policy for more than two decades. He coined and developed 'The Reagan Doctrine' in 1985 and he defined the US role as sole superpower in his essay, 'The Unipolar Moment', published shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Krauthammer’s 2004 speech 'Democratic Realism', which was delivered to the American Enterprise Institute when Krauthammer won the Irving Kristol Award, set out a framework for tackling the post 9/11 world, focusing on the promotion of democracy in the Middle East.”
Reading him runs in the "know your enemy" category.

Posted by: b | May 15 2009 19:17 utc | 31

Satire this may be. But it is entirely plausible. (That's what makes good satire.)

It is exactly the kind of reprehensible garbage that Krauthammer and the neo-conmen would produce, in support of whatever scumbag they are promoting at the moment. Theirs is a cold, cynical world, where might makes right, and the only purpose of morality is to create noble sounding arguments.

Posted by: JohnH | May 15 2009 19:23 utc | 32

Just a thought,
Some times I wonder if the now famous Suskind quote "we're an empire now...." might actually be a fiction. Assembled by Suskind from a multiplicity of sources and presented as a perfect personification of the Bush administration. In the end, I'm not sure it really matters whether if the quote was real or not.

Posted by: anna missed | May 15 2009 19:49 utc | 33

Some people think it's impossible he could have said that? I don't. That they print it? Perhaps. They would likely call it something else, since the term "genocide" is radioactive. Don't forget, this is the country that dropped the bomb ... TWICE on civilians.

Posted by: D. Mathews | May 15 2009 20:25 utc | 34

Sorry to say so, but Krauthammer is not worth discussing. Waste of words.

Posted by: rapt | May 15 2009 21:16 utc | 35

When I started reading this, I thought it was a justification for extremely heavy bombardment of Iran -- involving nuclear bombs, almost the obliteration of the population, genocide. I detected the possibility of a satire when I saw the reference to the Nazis, but only knew for sure that it was satire when I read the two links.

However, I was only somewhat relieved. Krauthammer would not use the historical example that b did, but he could certainly argue for genocide.

After all, Madeleine Albright thought that the perceived benefits from the embargo and bombing of Iraq were worth the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

Posted by: Owl | May 16 2009 2:04 utc | 36

Nicely done. Slavery works well as a substitute, too, to make this immoral idiocy clear, but your comparison is even more apt.

Posted by: Batocchio | May 18 2009 17:36 utc | 37

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