- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

No easy war
"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The Statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations all take their seat at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance."
Winston Churchill, from his 1930 memoir, "My Early Life," cited as "Thought for the Day" Wednesday on www.andrewsullivan.com

Whom to blame?
"It has recently been suggested that Americans ought to feel especially bad about the civilians that are dying in Afghanistan as a result of our military campaign against our enemies. But unless we think carefully about such feelings, we will encourage precisely the conduct in our enemies that endangers these civilians.
"Since we seek to avoid directly killing innocents in ethical warfighting, the direct targeting of the enemy noncombatant population is usually prohibited. But during these legitimate attacks on the enemy, noncombatants nevertheless die, since bombs go astray or secondary explosions spread fire throughout a town or the enemy deliberately puts his tanks in a schoolyard. And so the military ethicist distinguishes these indirect deaths from the kind of directed deliberate attack that we saw on September 11 in New York City, where the enemy's direct goal was to target as many noncombatants as possible. The ethical difference in these deaths is not whether we feel sympathy over the dead, but in how we assign moral culpability for their deaths.
"[T]he Taliban tries very hard to ensure that each civilian death is noticed but that one question is never asked: whose fault is it that these people are dying? A bomb accidentally landing on a hospital is not the moral equivalent of the NYC attack. Unfortunate? Yes. Murder? No.
"If the Taliban deliberately puts its own people at risk then the fault for their indirect deaths is the Taliban's."
Jeffrey Tiel, writing on "Civilian Casualties as Psychological Warfare," an October guest commentary from the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs

Classical turn
"Credit where credit's due: It took guts for Billy Joel to title this recording of his first classical piano compositions 'Fantasies & Delusions.' That's more than a gilt-edged invitation, it's an outright plea to critics to be snotty, to have some malicious fun at his expense.
"In the past, most enterprises of comparable ambition have been resounding failures. This is really quite a respectable piece of work.
"Like Paul McCartney, Billy Joel is a superb melodist. But unlike McCartney, he is also a trained and literate musician. It isn't mere snobbishness to suggest this makes a difference here. Musical literacy is irrelevant when it comes to writing rock songs, but classical composition requires invention on a different level and of a different kind. It can't be just one tune after another, no matter how catchy; it needs to be a sustained argument.
"The most impressive, most assured aspect of these pieces is the way Joel writes for his instrument. Maybe that's to be expected; he does, after all, in other settings style himself "Piano Man." But he isn't giving us camouflaged rock licks. This music doesn't sound like a tamed or domesticated version of his popular work; it's in a different idiom entirely."
Erik Tarloff, writing on "Billy Joel's Classical Crossover," Wednesday in Slate at slate.com


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