Slate has a round-table entitled Liberal Hawks Reconsider the War with Jacob Weisberg, Paul Berman, Thomas Friedman, Christopher Hitchens, Fred Kaplan, George Packer, Kenneth M. Pollack, and Fareed Zakaria. It is definitely worth a look, though some of them are clearly smarter or more honest than others. Some of the reasons they advance for war are also better than others (with the human rights argument the strongest of all—whether conclusive or not). Thomas Friedman’s reasons, though, are indefensible, indeed criminal:
The real reason for this war—which was never stated—was to burst what I would call the “terrorism bubble,” which had built up during the 1990s. This bubble was a dangerous fantasy, believed by way too many people in the Middle East. This bubble said that it was OK to plow airplanes into the World Trade Center, commit suicide in Israeli pizza parlors, praise people who do these things as “martyrs,” and donate money to them through religious charities. This bubble had to be burst, and the only way to do it was to go right into the heart of the Arab world and smash something—to let everyone know that we, too, are ready to fight and die to preserve our open society. Yes, I know, it’s not very diplomatic—it’s not in the rule book—but everyone in the neighborhood got the message: Henceforth, you will be held accountable. Why Iraq, not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan? Because we could—period. Sorry to be so blunt, but, as I also wrote before the war: Some things are true even if George Bush believes them.
If I read that paragraph correctly, Friedman is advocating that a state kill people (including innocent people) for demonstrative purposes. He thereby shows complete disregard for the humanity and individuality of those who have died. It is a peculiar way to demonstrate the impermissibility of the very acts he deplores.