In his recent column, ("Sometimes values don't align with the real world," Dispatch, Sunday) Jonah Goldberg reiterated the core tenet he and his fellow neocons share with their collectivist brethren on the left: government is the moral agent.
Goldberg defends the firebombing of Dresden during the final death throes of Nazi Germany as a moral act, even though the intended target was the civilian population and converging refugees. His argument is simple, yet specious: government deemed it necessary to win the war. To Goldberg, government is the moral agent of final appeal. So, by the government deeming the action necessary, it is necessarily moral. No objections allowed.
This is the very same argument used by all governments: when their actions are necessary, they are moral. However, when that argument was used by the Nazis after the war, it was correctly rejected out of hand.
Though Goldberg claims few would call the attack on Dresden murder, he must know that because it, and similar firebombings, the Allies at the Nuremberg Trials did not hold the Nazis responsible for their air raids against civilians targets. Why? They did not want to provide the Nazis with a means to call similar actions of the Allies into question.
Despite what Goldberg believes: an action is not necessary, nor is it moral, simply because government claims it is. That is true regardless of the government making the claim.