War: A Necessary Evil

Cal Thomas | Syndicated columnist | Wednesday, December 11, 2002

War: A Necessary Evil

In accepting the Nobel peace prize yesterday in Oslo, former President Jimmy Carter acknowledged that war is sometimes a "necessary evil," but he said it is still an evil and should be avoided, if possible.

Very astute observation indeed, and one with which no one would argue. But at the same time I was thinking of Jimmy Carter, I also thought of Margaret Thatcher, who accepted the Clare Booth Luce award at a Heritage Foundation dinner in Washington.

Lady Thatcher said the collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan demonstrates that terrorism can be defeated. She also criticized European powers that "grumble on the sidelines" in the war against terror.

"The west must win" this war, she said.

I recall a speech she made to the United Nations disarmament conference in 1980. Then Prime Minister, Thatcher said, "We in the west make a mistake when we transpose our morality on those who do not share it."

We in the west hate war. Our enemies would use war and our sensibilities against it, against us. So while war is evil, Carter is right that it is sometimes necessary.

And Thatcher is even more right about knowing when to engage in it.

I’m Cal Thomas in Washington.