Think before you speak

Natalie Solent presents the following passage by Richard Overy, from the chapter headed Why the Allies Won in his book of the same name:
“The will to win, to continue through periods of intense crisis, stalemate or defeat, to keep the prospect of victory in sight and to mobilise the psychological and moral energies of a people under threat, proved to be inseparable from the ability to fight better. There is no doubt that at times in the war moral confidence was badly dented; in each Allied state enthusiasm for war had to be actively maintained.”
Solent adds this thought:
“John Ashcroft was right. One should think before one speaks. Note to my fellow libertarians: this is not a call for censorship. We of all people ought to be able to tell the difference between moral suasion and compulsion. Nor do I want crimes by our side such as at Abu Ghraib to be supressed – reporting of crimes by each side in proportion to the frequency with which they occur would be just fine, thank you. Note to left-wingers: before you assume that any appeal to watch what you say is absurd, remember you have already accepted that similar appeals have moral force in the case of racism, sexism and homophobia.”
The notion that one should consider the consequences of one’s speech before speaking shouldn’t be controversial. If, in doing so, one concludes that a particular war is sufficiently misguided that it must be opposed even if opposition may be an impediment to victory (or if one is indifferent towards the war’s outcome or wants the other side to win) then one should oppose the war. What puzzles me, though, is the speech of Democrats who voted in favor of going to war. Since they presumably don’t think the war is misguided, or that the outcome is a matter of indifference, shouldn’t they be less ready to engage in sniping that likely tends to offer hope to the enemy?


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