John Podhoretz endorses genocide

John Podhoretz thinks about the unthinkable, in the face of a mostly imaginary threat. Let’s start calling this sort of thing by its true name: cowardice.

John Podhoretz fears that we may be too civilized to win asymmetric conflicts, and proposes (behind the poltroonish veil of the question mark) that we become somewhat less civilized. If his prose means anything, it means that we erred in not slaughtering as many “Sunni males between 15 and 35” as possible after we conquered Iraq.

There is a technical term for that approach to war-fighting. It’s called “genocide,” and it’s punishable by death.

Greg Djerijian is appropriately disgusted.

Aside from his moral mistake, Podhoretz makes a fundamental strategic mistake: he likens the current fight against the movements of violently politicized Islam &#8212 Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda &#8212 and the states that support them &#8212 notably Iran and Syria &#8212 as if it were the same sort of civilization-threating conflict as World War II or the Cold War. In this regard, John Derbyshire’s unapologetically racist contempt for the people he refers to in public as living in “worthless countries” (and no doubt refers to in private as “wogs”) gives him clearer vision, though no greater moral elevation.

Our civilization is not at risk. To think so reflects cowardice. To persuade others that we are at risk is to spread cowardice. Podhoretz’s tough-guy persona hides either a man too terrified to think like a civilized human being or a man who hopes to terrify his fellow-citizens into supporting policies he favors for other reasons. He’d make a good teller of scary stories around a Boy Scout campfire. As a strategic thinker, he’d have to improve a lot to be contemptible.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

10 thoughts on “John Podhoretz endorses genocide”

  1. If I wished something awful happened to Podhoretz in a hypothetical, would that mean that I was not a bad person, even if I were wrong to wish it?
    Good lord. That kind of 9th grade rhetorical debate goofiness (I won't call it a tactic) gives me gas. He's done better in the past, but, well, I suppose even a comedian needs decent source material.

  2. The mention of Gregory Djerejian post is somewhat problematic. He properly abhors Podhoretz's call for genocide while he sides with Sternhell's Haaretz op-ed piece. Sternhell is a wise man, but his piece ignores the major moral issue behind the Israel/ Hezbollah war. Isolation of Hezbollah is fine, as Sternhell suggests, but how do you do it without bridge destruction?
    Opposing genocide is easy. Destroying Hezbollah camps residing on the 12th floor of an apartment house with destroying the house is less easy. We may be civilized but our public discourse is still quite primitive, and at times, uncivilized.

  3. The arguments for genocide – American, British, German – are always the same.
    1. "We" are the culmination of all that is good, true, and beautiful.
    2.The unspeakably low, immoral, and wicked Other must be destroyed before it is "too late"…
    3. The hour is already late….
    4. In the course of defending the good, true and beautiful, we must be merciless, cruel, blah blah
    Here is what Hitler said,
    "If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became supreme judge of the German people"
    – Adolf Hitler (in Shirer's Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich)

  4. I disagree: the contemplation of genocide suggests that our civiliation is indeed at risk.

  5. Of course, if you read JP's father's screed on WW IV, you realize that he does think "our cvilization" is at risk–by equating it to Israel. (Not trying to derail the thread, just provide some context.)

  6. "Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if the two countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki?"
    Not to be picky, but I was under the impression the use of atomic weapons was more of a pre-cold war stunt than necessary for victory over Japan. In fact I was taught that Japan was ready to surrender before the bombs. Also, I thought Dresden was bombed because it was an industrial center, not to prevent it's citizens from rising against incoming allied armies.

  7. gosh, those tactics have woirked so well in the past to promote peace and harmony. I believe that's why the Sunni's and Shia's are in opposition, as a result of centuries of slaughter of each other.

  8. John was the apostle especially loved by Christ. Jonathan was King Saul's son.
    I don't think I ever met a Jew named "John". I assumed you had mistakenly written Pod's first name down wrong. Us Jews name our kids "Jonathan", a very different person.
    No wonder the JPod is so hopelessly confused.
    I've never met a Jew named John,
    I never hope to see one,
    But I can tell you anyhow,
    I'd rather flee than meet one.

  9. It sounds like Podhoretz is in the same camp as the great war criminals Sherman and Grant the Butcher.

Comments are closed.