While it is important to punish everyone responsible for the outrages at Abu Ghraib, the only effective way to stop the corrupting influences of war is to achieve victory. Japanese tourists are welcome in Asia everywhere today because the Second World War ended in 1945. And if by contrast Palestinians hand out sweets whenever a Jewish orphanage and Old Folk's home is bombed it may be because the UN refugee camps there celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1998 . If the outrages at Abu Ghraib hasten the end of war it will not have been in vain, but if they lead, as the Left most earnestly desires, to a Vietnam-like stalemate, it will be not the last but the first of many sad mileposts.
The months after Marcos fell, with the help of Paul Wolfowitz , were a time of goodbyes, many between friends whose real names were being revealed for the first time. And in a small late-night restaurant in a back street, a small man in steel rimmed glasses told me, over fifteen cent beer, how he had attended a party given by some academic types the night before. They turned the evening into Commie-fest and gathered round someone he knew slightly as a minor functionary in the Red guerilla army in the expectation of edifying stories from the dark years. He was an ex-seminarian, quiet and softly spoken, who told them about his first mission to eliminate a Marcos informer somewhere in a village in southern Luzon. They forced the informer down from his thatch hut one evening, and to save money and avoid the noise of gunfire, cut his throat at the doorstep of his own home. The seminarian was given the honors and he remembered sawing the knife against the informer's windpipe. What struck him most of all, was the rubbery resistance of the cartilage and cries of the informer's children. 'Papa! Papa!' It took a long time to cut though his throat. Before the story was over all the academic bravos had slunk off, retreating like Daisy Buchanan into the 'vast carelessness' of their fantasy world, leaving the man in steel rimmed glasses to drink with the ex-seminarian, ironically improving the company.
One day Ted Koppel will read, in addition to the names of American soldiers who died in Iraq, the names of friends who will have died in another attack on New York. One day Nicholas de Genovea , the Columbia professor who called for a "million Mogadishus" will understand that it means a billion dead Muslims. And then for the first time, perhaps, they will understand the horror of Abu Ghraib while we all raise our glasses, sardonically like Robert Graves, "with affection, to the men we used to be".