Patriotism and the national honor

Jonah Goldberg has a great idea: Accept Osama bin Laden’s truce offer and then murder him at the truce talks. Strange what passes for patriotism these days, isn’t it?

There was a time, not so long ago, when conservatives believed that the national honor of the United States was, and should remain, inviolate.

The suggestion that an American President might be capable of so fundamentally despicable an act as committing murder under a false flag of truce would have been regarded as an instance of “moral equivalence.” Surely, conservatives would have said, our Communist enemies were capable of such treachery. But only someone ignorant of the fundamental goodness of the American people would suggest that such things might be carried out by forces carrying the Stars and Stripes.

How things have changed! The Bush-supporting “conservative” version of patriotism now seems devoid of any belief that some actions, such as treachery or torture, are beneath the dignity of the Republic founded in 1787. Such concerns are instead attributed to spineless liberalism: the sort of thing only critics of our Beloved Leader might worry about.

No, I don’t suppose that Jonah Goldberg speaks for all conservatives. But it’s striking that he could publish, on the widely-read National Review Online, this item (quoted in full)

OSAMA’S TRUCE [Jonah Goldberg]

What if Bush offered/accepted one and then, under the flag of truce, had Osama killed and his minions rounded up?

It’s amusing to imagine what some of Bush’s biggest critics might say.

and get no critical reply from any of his Corner colleagues or any other right-of-center blogger. A Google Blog search yields only one comment from the right on Goldberg’s proposal, and that one is supportive. (I’m happy to update as new material comes in.)

It’s a damned strange brand of patriotism that doesn’t mind dragging the flag through the mud.

Update Mark Twain has more.

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: