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Winners need not explain. Losers don't live to explain.

By William A. Levinson
7/20/2014, 7:07 PM

The fact that Adolf Hitler was one of the most evil men who ever lived discourages many people from heeding his very accurate observations on how the world works. Israel, for example, could learn quite a bit from what he wrote about propaganda in Mein Kampf, because this explains how Islamists have turned the Middle East's ONLY free country (as defined by Freedom House) into an international pariah. It is encouraging that the IDF is finally beginning to fight back. This also is good.

Niccolò Machiavelli similarly acquired a reputation for being "evil" because of the ruthless contents of The Prince, but the truth is that Machiavelli was simply pointing out how the world works. If Hitler's advice about how the world really works saves Jewish and other innocent lives, that would be a good form of posthumous justice for the Holocaust. I reworded his original quote slightly to make it even more accurate.

If you win, you need not explain. If you lose, you are not around to explain.

Hitler had to follow his own advice on April 30, 1945 because he lost the war, and good riddance. His equally genocidal counterpart Josef Stalin never had to explain what happened to four million Ukrainians, and millions of his own people, because he was on the winning side. Thucydides made it quite clear in his Melian Dialogue (431 BCE) that winners need not explain, and losers are not around to explain.

…you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

What were the consequences of Athens' genocide (the survivors were enslaved) of the Melians? Everybody knows today that Athens was the cradle of democracy, but almost nobody knows who the Melians were. Or, to paraphrase Hitler's remarks about the the Turkish (that's Erdogan's people) genocide of the Armenians, "Who remembers the Melians?" The key takeaway from this is, of course, that if the Islamists win, Israel will be a distant memory in a couple of decades.

History is replete with winners who never had to explain, and losers who are not around to explain.

Carthage http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carthage_villas-romaines_1950.jpg

  • Alexander the Great killed a friend in a drunken brawl, and left a trail of corpses while he founded an empire that did not outlive him. Alexander is an immensely popular name today, several cities (e.g. Alexandria) are named for him, Iron Maiden wrote a song about him, his name figures prominently in The British Grenadiers, and Richard Burton and Colin Farrell portrayed him in movies. Winners not only need not explain, they become legendary heroes.
  • When the Romans won the Third Punic War, they massacred Carthage's male population, and enslaved the women and children. Rome's "punishment" was that Southern Europe, France, Romania (named for Rome, of course) and, to a lesser degree, the world's English-speaking nations, speak languages that are based on Latin rather than Phoenician. The eagle, originally the bird of the Roman deity Jupiter, figured prominently on the flags of countless European nations (Russia, Austria-Hungary, Prussia, Serbia), and is the United States' national bird.
  • Attila the Hun was well known for rampaging, plundering, and pillaging. The consequences? Here is his statue in Budapest (the Web page calls him the founder of Hungary), and Attila is a very popular name in Hungary. It's good to be the scourge of God!
  • "Genghis Khan the GREEN: Invader killed so many people that carbon levels plummeted" reports how Genghis Khan's extermination of 40 million people, that's more than Hitler and Stalin put together, "was able to scrub more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than any other despot." Here is Genghis Khan's picture on Mongolian currency; one of the higher denominations. As General Patton said, everybody loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser.
  •  Frederick the Great said of the Partitions of Poland, "The Empress Catherine and I are simple robbers. I just would like to know how the empress [Maria Theresa] calmed down her father confessor? She cried when she took; the more she cried, the more she took!" The world community at the time said little, and did less, just as it did when Hitler began to exterminate Jews and other "undesirables."Germany now remembers Frederick II as Frederick the Great, and Russia remembers Catherine II as Catherine the Great.
  • Andrew Jackson killed a man in a duel (then socially acceptable), and engaged in ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. His portrait is on our twenty dollar bill.
  • Mao Tse Tung killed up to 45 million Chinese (more people than Hitler and Stalin put together) during the Cultural Revolution. His picture is still all over China.

If this is not enough to underscore the fact that winners need not explain, and losers are not around to explain, here is what the famous German test pilot Hanna Reitsch said after the Second World War.

I am not ashamed to say I believed in National Socialism. I still wear the Iron Cross with diamonds Hitler gave me. But today in all Germany you can’t find a single person who voted Adolf Hitler into power.

Many Germans feel guilty about the war. But they don’t explain the real guilt we share—that we lost.

This leads to a very important observation:

Purity of Arms and Proportionality Are Sick Jokes

There is a scene in the movie Street Fighter in which the evil overlord Bison (played by Raul Julia) challenges Colonel Guile (Jean Claude van Damme) to "the purity of unarmed combat." Needless to say, when Bison starts to lose, he resorts to his superhuman abilities. This is funny in an escapist action movie, and the same goes for the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark in which Indiana Jones shoots a bad guy who is waving a sword.* When thirteen IDF soldiers die in ground combat when artillery or bombs might have done the same job (I do not know enough details to know if this was the case), purity of arms is a very sick joke. Sir Arthur Harris said very clearly of ground combat, and especially house to house combat that negates much of the IDF's or U.S. Armed Forces' superior discipline and firepower,

"I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier."

Dresden after the Firebombing Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1994-041-07 / CC-BY-SA

Harris added of this kind of warfare,

The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.

Although historians have questioned the necessity for the firebombing of Dresden, it must be remembered that this was not brutal and unnecessary revenge for what the Nazis had done in the past. The Nazis were firing cruise and ballistic missiles at British cities, and British civilians, the same way Hamas is now firing rockets at Israeli civilians. As for controversy (the linked video suggests the perspective of those who condemn the actions from the comfort of their coffee shops rather than the reality of hellholes like Okinawa) over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, every single Purple Heart that has been awarded to wounded and dead American service members through this very year was manufactured in 1945, in anticipation of a ground invasion of Japan.

My father, a Marine in the Pacific, could have easily become a casualty of "purity of arms" and "proportionality" had the atomic weapons not been used. Israelis need to ask whose parent, spouse, sibling, or child died or was maimed because of similar doctrines when dealing with vicious terrorists.

This is emphatically NOT a suggestion that Israel violate the laws of warfare by aiming deliberately at civilians. I support fully the humanitarian approach that warns enemy civilians to avoid the military assets that terrorists are putting right in the middle of their neighborhoods, in outright violation of the laws of war. Furthermore, modern precision-guided munitions can avoid much of the collateral damage that took place during the Second World War, when a stick of bombs that was aimed at a weapons factory might land on people's houses instead.

The same laws of war, however, make the terrorists, and not Israel, responsible for the resulting civilian casualties. If, for example, the terrorists set up a rocket battery in a schoolyard, Israel is under no obligation whatsoever to provide any advance warning before it flattens that rocket battery, and its terrorist crew, with something like a cluster bomb or a thermobaric munition. Israel, in fact, has an absolute duty to flatten that rocket battery before it can fire. Here is a humanitarian leaflet that the United States used during the Second World War, and Israel might do well to deploy something similar (allowing for cultural and language differences between the Japanese and Arab recipients). It could be reworded for Gaza as follows:

“Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. International law defines any Hamas military asset, such as a rocket launcher, as a legitimate military target that may be attacked without warning, and with overwhelming force. The IDF has an absolute duty to Israel's civilian population, including women, children, and Arab citizens, to destroy Hamas' weapons and terrorist personnel on sight. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with Israel's humanitarian policies, the IDF and IAF, which do not wish to injure innocent people, urges you to leave the area immediately if you see Hamas terrorists and/or weapons. Israel is not fighting the Arab people, but rather the manipulative mufsidun [evildoers] who indoctrinate Arab children from birth with mindless hate that denies them a future in an affluent and peaceful society like the one Israel has built for itself. The peace which Israel will bring will free decent Arab people from the oppression of the mufsidun. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end Hamas' long litany of mindless violence."

Israel's war objectives should not be to "punish" Hamas, or "retaliate against Hamas," because the concept of punishment assumes that those on the receiving end will modify their be‎havior. Hamas has proven with an endless litany of violence and broken truces that it has no intention of modifying its be‎havior, and is therefore no better than a rabid animal; one that spreads its violent and depraved ideology to Arab children who would otherwise grow up to be peaceful and productive inhabitants of the region. Hamas is, in fact, worse than a rabid animal, because no mammal in its right mind would voluntarily contract this mind-destroying and fatal disease.

It is cruel to punish a rabid animal because the disease makes the animal incapable of learning anything from the punishment, and it is also invariably fatal. There is only one thing you can do with a rabid dog, both for your own protection and because it is the most humane thing for the dog. In this case, the obvious course of action will save millions of Arab children from infection as well.

Israel needs to ask itself whether, ten or twenty years from now, historians ask, "Who remembers Hamas?" or "Who remembers Israel?" Israel needs to make sure it is the one that need not explain, while the Hamas terrorists are not around to explain.

* I recall that the sc‎ript actually called for Indiana Jones to fight the bad guy hand to hand, but actor Harrison Ford was too ill at the time to perform the fight scene. The producers were afraid that having him shoot the bad guy instead would be detrimental, but it instead worked out to be one of the best-remembered scenes.