No, the ends don't always justify the means, but the end of defeating Nazism was the kind that truly justified any means, even the incineration of hundreds of thousands of German men, women, and children. Had we incinerated 10 times more than we did, the moral assessment would remain the same because to have run even the slightest risk of losing the war to a creature like Hitler out of moral squeamishness would have been to commit a vastly greater moral offense than perhaps any other in history.This horrifying quotation comes in the course condemning as the "worst book of the year" A. C. Grayling's Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan.
Thus, in the end, it doesn't ultimately matter whether the brutality of the area-bombing campaign can or cannot be retrospectively justified by its military utility. All that should signify is that British leaders believed it was at the time, and they were the ones making those difficult decisions under circumstances forced upon them.
How nauseating, and how typical of the blood-thirsty imperialist neocon, for outrage at the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives to be branded "moral squeamishness." This follows from Gitz's deep-seated faith that if the U.S. government, or one of its allies, commits an atrocity, it must really have been necessary and therefore morally unblemished. No need, in this view, to examine matters too closely. Gitz may fancy himself a historian, but he is surely no historian in the tradition of Lord Acton. Murray Rothbard reminded us,
As Lord Acton, the great libertarian historian, put it, the historian, in the last analysis, must be a moral judge. The muse of the historian, he wrote, is not Clio, but Rhadamanthus, the legendary avenger of innocent blood.Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.