Tuesday, May 04, 2004

They did not die in vain

KING HENRY. I dare say you love him not so ill to wish him here alone, howsoever you speak this, to feel other men's minds; methinks I could not die anywhere so contented as in the King's company, his cause being just and his quarrel honourable.


WILLIAMS. That's more than we know.

JOHN BATES. Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough if we know we are the King's subjects. If his cause be wrong, our obedience to the King wipes the crime of it out of us.

MICHAEL WILLIAMS. But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads, chopp'd off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place'- some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of anything when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it; who to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.

King Henry V
Act IV, Scene I

Thanks to Josh Marshall for posting this.

For the last several weeks I've been trying to think of a way of answering those who seem to think that it is necessary that Bush's cause be just in order to "give meaning" to the deaths of the soldiers who die to bring his vision to reality. I saw a segment on Larry King several weeks back in which the father and wife of one of the fallen in Iraq were obvious in their desperation to try and find justification for the war. It was obvious that they needed the cause to be just in order to feel that their loved one "did not die in vain".

What they don't understand, and what a lot of those who continue to support Bush don't understand, is that the fact that a leader may use a soldier's commitment to his country to perform an unjust act does not make that commitment to their country any less honorable. When a soldier surrenders his will to his leader he also surrenders a measure of responsibility for his actions (not completely, of course. The Nuremberg precedent still applies.)


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