Friday, August 21, 2009

August 21, 2009

        News reports say the CIA hired a private firm that specializes in dark doings to assassinate members of Al Qaeda.  Good news, you might think, for those who think the government is mostly incompetent and ought to turn things over to the private sector.      But no.  Turns out that the CIA didn't kill any bad guys, but neither did Blackwater, the private firm.  So what's a government to do?      It's hard to talk about these things, but the fact is, governments probably have to kill people sometimes.  I mean, if you know what Fred is going to set off an atom bomb in the middle of a city, you have to either seize the bomb or shoot Fred.  If shooting Fred is easier, most of us would probably say, so be it.  That's why governments fight wars in theory, though some wars--World War I, our invasion of Iraq--seem to defy reason in that it's hard to see any good they did or why they had to be fought.      I remember Bill Mauldin, the World War II cartoonist who drew the GIs Willie and Joe, saying once he didn't think the war had made the world a better place, or anything like that, "but you had to kill Hitler."  If you remember that war, you probably agree.       So governments do have to kill people sometimes--in wars, or in the case of the terrorist with the bomb.  But I think it's kind of reassuring that ours doesn't seem to very good at assasination. That's right for a democracy, somehow.   
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