Columnist David P. Goldman (a.k.a. Spengler) had an article in Asia Times this month (”To be kind is to be cruel, to be cruel is to be kind,” Apr. 14), citing a recent migrant incident in Europe, first reported by UK Daily Mail:

The 240ft Monica had been spotted in international waters during the night. When Italian coastguard boats drew alongside, the crews were shocked to see men and women on board begin dangling the infants over the side. The refugees – mostly Kurds and many said to be heading for Britain – calmed down only when they were assured they would not be turned away from Italy.

Goldman remarked:

What kind of people threaten to murder their own babies? The normal response would be to arrest them and put them in prison for endangering children. Instead, the British newspaper reported, “The Archbishop of Catania, Luigi Bommarito, was at the dockside to greet the Monica in what he called ‘a gesture of solidarity’. He said: ‘I’m here to appeal to people not to close their hearts and doors to people trying to survive. We mustn’t forget that in the last century many immigrants also left Italy.’”

The Monica incident is multiplied ten thousand-fold at the diplomatic level. Turkey’s President and de facto dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan last October threatened European officials with 10,000 to 15,000 drowned migrants….Erdogan demanded 6 billion Euros up front and 3 billion Euros a year to stop the refugee flow….The leader of a prominent Muslim country who claims to speak for the Muslim world threatened the Europeans with 10,000 or 15,000 Muslim deaths. When in world history has one side in negotiations threaten[ed] to kill its own people in order to gain leverage?

Here I started getting antsy, yelling at the computer screen, “When in world history? When? Try the ’90s!” That is, when Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic followed through on Bill Clinton’s suggestion that he needed to cough up at least 5,000 dead bodies if he wanted a NATO intervention on his side of a turf war against Serbs.

But Goldman didn’t disappoint, and made clear that words like ‘when’ and ‘first time’ refer to the current era, inclusive of several decades. First, he appropriately enough brought up the Gaza example:

The same grisly farce has played out for years in Gaza, where Hamas fires rockets at Israeli population centers from civilian locations, including schools and hospitals, and then complains of human rights violations when the Israelis respond and on occasion kill civilians. Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan…observes that the Gaza civilians are not human shields, for their purpose is not to shield anything. Rather, they are human sacrifices, intentionally set to die.

This is the first time in the entire history of warfare that a combatant intentionally set out to maximize civilian casualties on its own side, the better to gain diplomatic leverage…In an Oct. 15, 2015 essay, Times of Israel analyst Haviv Rettig Gur…quoted the Palestinian journalist Mohammed Daraghmeh: “Palestine is an international issue. [The issue] won’t be decided in a flurry of knives or acts of martyrdom, or in protests or demonstrations. It will end only when the world understands it has a duty to intervene and to draw borders and lines, as it did in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Kosovo…

So once again I must point out that there are no illusions about Bosnia/Kosovo among the Arab world. The jihadists who fought in the Balkans know what it was, and Palestinians — seemingly in that separate conflict packaged as “Israel-Palestine” — know what it was. And they know it was a ground-breaking model. Only the West — whose leaders made the very deal — is in denial.

Goldman concludes:

The West has not imposed a “solution” on Israel only because Americans respond to weaponized horror differently than the UN bureauracy, the Vatican, or the government of Sweden. Fully half of Americans support a ban on all Muslim immigration to the US…Perversely, the United States created a monster when the Clinton administration went to war with Serbia in 1998 in order to rescue the Kosovo Liberation Army — a dodgy band of Albanian hoodlums engaged in drug and human trafficking — from the harsh response of the Serbs to their provocations. Muslims like Mohammed Daraghmeh learned that at least some in the West would take their side in order to stop humanitarian disasters, even if the Muslims themselves set those disasters in motion. The Pope, the U.N. Secretary General and Sen. Sanders encourage the creation of such disasters by responding according to script.

Ergo, Goldman’s title “To be kind is to be cruel, to be cruel is to be kind.” He’s actually quoting an ancient midrash, one that I’ve on occasion extended to mean that being kind to the cruel is being cruel to his victim. Adding a whole new layer of evil to the “humanitarian interventions” of the Balkans. And of course illuminating how our well-insulated public officials play with our lives:


The utilization of the rabbinic idiom cited in this contemporary context is that he (the government) who acts compassionately, in others words, benevolently, towards cruel people…ultimately will become cruel to [”the compassionate,”] the general public, which is forced to pay the price of additional casualties for the government’s irresolute behavior.