Instapundit on Civilian Casualties

Glenn a rather odd thing this morning about the downside of minimizing civilian casualties:
I wonder, though. After reading a piece in The New Yorker (not on line) about German civilian casualties in World War Two, and then this post by Jim Henley on not going far enough in the Afghan war, it occurs to me that trying so hard to prevent civilian casualties might be a mistake. I’m all for minimizing civilian casualties to the extent possible, consistent with winning the war. But if people are beaten so bloodlessly that they don’t feel beaten, and have no real reason to dread a confrontation with the United States, is this really a good thing?
Yes, yes, and yes again — at least with regards to Iraq.
The Iraqi people have been beaten — by Saddam, for many decades. The conflict we face is not a “War with Iraq”, but a “War with Saddam”, as Christopher Hitchens continues to point out in his pedantic fashion wherever possible.
We don’t need to scare the Iraqi people; we need to free them and, by shepherding them through the inevitable rough years to come, ensure that they emerge with a stable democracy of their own. That will go quite far enough to ensuring that the Iraqi people never threaten us.
On the other hand, I would not go so far as to say that fear is a tool we should never use. In the fight against Al Qaeda itself, I do indeed want any potential recruits to that organization to fear that should they choose Osama’s path, nothing but a nasty, pointless end at American hands awaits them.
But one must be terribly cautious talking about fear-as-a-weapon, particularly when the source of the fear is civilian casualties. Because at its heart, that starts to resemble the very thing we’re fighting against —- terrorism.
The fear must match the crime — essentially, if the fear can be reduced to the phrase “we will make them fear justice at our hands,” I believe it is legitimate and moral. But the idea of civilian casualties being the source of fear leaves me queasy — as by definition, a “civilian” is one who did not commit any action against us and therefore has no “justice” waiting to be brought to them.
The strategy should be clear: minimal civilian casualties is always the right course. But maximal damage to those who truly stand with our enemies.