Israel blows up a building to kill a Hamas leader, and also kills a bunch of civilians, including babies, who just happened to be in the way. Their excuse? If you want to make an omelette... He was an important terrorist, so it's okay, right? And those babies were probably terrorist sympathisers, so it's okay.
I break into a house because I want to steal the television. The residents wake up, and I shoot them all, kill them, including kids. My excuse? I wanted that television/omelette... These people had enough money for a TV, so they're probably criminals anyway.
Is there a difference between these situations?
Well, since my name is not others I guess I am not invited. The only question I am wondering is lets say if Israel is quilty, what can we do about it? It is not like Israel is more guilty than the Palestinians.
I think situation #2 should be replaced by:
I am a leader a mass murder terrorist group. I have master minded the killing of a bunch of innocent Israeli civilians. I am now hiding amoung a bunch of "human shields". Now I got blown up by F16 and took a bunch of lifes with me. Is it my fault or Israel's fault?
It is all matter of perspective.
07-26-02, 12:55 PM
Adam, maybe you need different exampes.
1:Isrealis are killed. They send tanks into refugee camps because the terrorist cells might have been there. They kill innocent people and refuse to allow the press in as they clean up. Their excuse: Some of them might have been terrorists.
2:My sister is killed. I think I know who did it, so I go to his house with a gun, kill him, and shoot my way out of the home, destroying anything and everything in my path. I burn down the house to cover up how many people exactly were killed and disappear into the night. When i'm arrested, my excuse: I think he killed my sister.
(I have not actually killed anyone, nor has my sister been killed)
Anyway, I'm sure people would call me a gun-toting madman.
Your second scenario is disgustingly far from the first. The leader of Hamas is the mastermind of tons of innocent civilian deaths. The family is what, a family? How do they compare?
Not a good question at all.
The Israeli government has admitted to making a mistake and have formally apologized for the action. What I don't understand is Hamas leaders asking for them to go to court. Are they the reason the word hypocrite came into existence???
I think your second example is somewhat off but I think your clarification is ok.
If my personal survival is at stake then I will kill anyone who is in my way so that I can protect myself. In a direct confrontation where the danger is real and apparent then my choice would be clear.
As an example: If a gunman was hiding behind a hostage and was pointing a gun at me and was about to shoot and my only possible defense is to shoot him first and possibly kill the hostage as well then I would shoot. The only difference would be if the hostage were someone important to me. In which case I would shoot to injure rather than kill and take the risk that my survival might not be so certain.
The other choice would be to make a proactive decision to prevent the situation where I would be in direct danger. And here I would react in the same way as the Israelis on the basis that when an opportunity presents itself that might not easily occur again then I would take it. My past experiences show that ideal opportunities rarely occur twice.
In the case of the gunman and the hostage, if I knew this was going to happen and I had an opportunity to take out the gunman before he could target me then I would do so even if the hostage would be harmed.
The Israelis had clear evidence that the Hamas target had been the cause of the deaths of many Israelis and there was every reason he was going to kill many more. They took the proactive decision to prevent further Israeli deaths by killing him. So called innocents also died. This is the nature of war and has been an issue since humans have been warring. The USA killed some 200,000 Japanese at Hiroshima who were primarily ‘innocent’. This was again a proactive decision taken to prevent the deaths of almost certainly many more Americans and allies.
My comparison between individuals, e.g. me and the gunman, largely translates into warring disputes between large groups or countries. I feel I have the right to protect myself in the most effective manner possible and that often means being proactive. Large groups and whole countries should have the right to do the same thing.
All the time we arrange ourselves into groups then a group has to be seen as a single entity. To destroy a part of that group that represents a danger to another group presents us with real moral issues. The cowardice of terrorism where terrorists hide behind their own people will continue to thrive all the time we are too squeamish about properly taking proactive action to protect our own group.
I hope that made sense.
Is there a difference between these situations?Generally speaking, no.
But, in terms of the specifics, it's really quite simple: What has the direct owner of the television set done to "deserve" (used loosely) your wrath?
A long-controversial statement from former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meier says that Israelis can forgive the Palestinians for killing Israeli children, but cannot forgive the Palestinians for forcing the Israelis to kill Palestinian children.
One of the nice things about pacifism is that it's easier to not take sides. Meier's statement bears a weight of practical truth, given the situation, but does not reflect the potential of the situation. Values have changed over time; when this started, it was more "accceptable" to the human community in general to simply destroy whatever was bugging you.
Do the sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stand at an irresolvable conundrum? Is it really an issue of governance and self-determination for communities or is it territorial?
For instance, if both the Israelis and Palestinians demand the whole of the current borders of Israel, it might be that unless the world steps in and says, "Enough" that children will continue to die unnecessarily because, frankly, that's what war is worth.
However, insofar as territorial reservation to the communities goes, there should be a workable solution. It isn't just land, though, it's also economy and trade. What does it matter if the Israelis, for instance, give the Palestinians a homeland if the Israelis squeeze the new state economically by cutting off access to the territory? What would happen, for instance, to the American Indian reservations if suddenly we decided that the residents of those reservations could not cross the border to go to their jobs within the US sovereignty?
Nor, however, should reservations be held up as a good idea in the American sense. Reservations, seen by Americans as "gifts" were, in fact, relocations; we want this land, so you are going to move to that land or else you are going to be gunned down. It is worth noting that compared to the lands taken, the lands "given" were of less use economically.
At this point, we can look back to the television set.
Has the owner of the television set stolen from you? Is the relationship between the target and acquisition arbitrary insorfar as you could have jacked any suitable television set and this was the first you came across?
And now a practical consideration: People seem to accept warfare, and thus I will leave warfare as acceptable in the following:
•*You can merely walk up to the neighbor's house, break in, and do your damage. To walk up to the Hamas leader's house, you might actually have to deliberately shoot your way into the community. Would a single bomb strike have done any more damage than sending a column of tanks into a frothing, armed, oppositional neighborhood?
In the end result, there is no real difference to me. Killing is killing is killing, and it's all really really stupid.
But, if I look at the rest of society, and judge according to what I perceive as values common to other people who are not me (based upon public expressions, private conversations, letters, newspaper articles--the whole communicative output that I have received, in other words) there is a tremendous difference in the process and object of the acts.
So to me there is little, if any difference at the level I declare most important: the end product within the living experience. The end product is the intentional killing of other human beings, and if that's the best a person or a nation can do, they ought to step aside and let someone else handle it.
As a side note, I happened to catch Tariq Aziz on Ashleigh Banfield's program last week. Let me say that I'm almost glad that Saddam Hussein is in power. Were Mr. Aziz the head of state in Iraq, I cannot by any means declare that we would be in the same position we are. But, if we might be allowed such a presumption for a moment's worth of musing, I can say that Mr. Aziz would carry much more credibility in the international community, and thus hamper the US' efforts to resolve not only the Iraqi situation, but also the Palestinian situation. Mr. Aziz did not excoriate the US, did not brand us as Satan, and generally kept his head; he stuck very close to his primary line throughout the interview: the Israeli occupation of Palestine is illegal, wars have been fought, and this is the result. We may not like the way the Palestinians operate, but it is worth remembering that 3,000,000 Palestinians were displaced so that the world could make a feel-good donation to a (Jewish) people unnecessarily battered by warfare. It's not just a matter of labels, but a matter of history--even awarding credibility to Hitler's complaints against the Jews, we see in history conditions leading toward what Hitler complained about. Take a common Jewish stereotype: money. Why money? Because they're Jews? No, because, as Jews, they were not allowed to own property in much of Europe throughout the centuries. Everywhere the Jews go, they get stomped not necessarily for being oppositional, but for failing to sell their deepest consciences to the nations and kings. In the end, the Jewish holocaust happened in part because it was one of the few results that could come about. Millennia of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism came to the forefront, and, being a Western creation drawing from nations thick with Judeo-Christian heritage, one last act of arrogance (the displacement of the Palestinians) seemed well enough an apology to the Jews for the hell the world had put them through. But it doesn't change the fact that the Palestinians, despite all else, were forcefully displaced. It bugs me when we, the alleged "good guys" leave a hole in our justifications so broad that we could sail the whole of the US Navy through it.
But that last is just an aside ;)
Basically I'm after opnions on when/how is it acceptable to knock off innocent civilians standing between you and your target.Technically, it's not.
I could say that in relation to a terrorist threat of a nuclear bomb, it's well and fine to off civilians to get to the bomb, but I'm hard-pressed to figure out how that would come about.
Because what terrorist is going to blow up his own neighborhood? Well, as applies to, say, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? But if someone's standing in downtown New York with a nuclear weapon, one can easily justify killing thousands in order to preserve the millions in immediate danger and the billions who will be exposed to it. I suppose that when we put the whole of the living endeavor into danger, then we've got an issue. But what was that horrible Segal film ... Executive Decision (http://us.imdb.com/Title?0116253)? There was the question in that film of whether to take out an airliner full of people in order to save the entire city. The question also arises in terms of 9/11--among conspiracy theories, one of the more legitimate and intriguing questions is the response time of the US military. That issue aside, with four airliners hijacked, the US seemed utterly unprepared for the possibility that it might have to blow jet liners out of the sky.
And that's a huge difference, too. Are we killing our civilians or theirs? And that raises its own issue: When will it stop being us and them, ours and theirs? When will it become We?
But insofar as there must be an us and a them, "we" have more right to sacrifice our own than we do "theirs". Think of all the accreted duties we prescribe to ourselves. Adam, you've been in the military; is it fair to say that you would die for your country?
There's also the question of the nature of the threat, as illustrated by questions arising from the very Israeli-sponsored airstrike which seems to bring about the topic. There is a law in the US that says all the weaponry we export to other nations can only be used for self-defense. The Israelis are claiming defense. The US claimed the same sense of defense when we attacked Afghanistan. We're stretching the envelope even further with our current war drums beating after Iraq.
Think, for a moment, of the Drug War in the US. We have penalties for drug use that exceed those of felonious crimes against people. I can smoke crack in the privacy of my own home, and if the cops find out, I will spend more time in prison than if I walked up to you on the street and beat you for no reason. There was a time in this country, and it still can happen, where I can get behind the wheel of a car, drunk, and kill you on the road, and serve less time than I will for crack possession or marijuana delivery. The analogy comes when we realize that what we are sentencing drug users for is the potential damage they can do. That is, as a pot smoker, I have the potential to be violent ( :bugeye: ) according to the government. In other words, I'm being persecuted, arrested, or prosecuted based on what I might do. Based on what I have not actually done. When we move from marijuana back to the crack smokers, we start to see some of the basis upon which this idea is built.
Were we immediately under attack when we invaded Afghanistan? No.
Were we in imminent danger when we invaded Afghanistan? Potentially.
Lastly, a piece of the puzzle I would like to make sure is included in the considerations comes from the saga of John Walker Lindh: Why was he not charged with treason?
The answer is because we are not at war.
Look at it this way: 9/11 is pretext for military action, but apparently not for war. In which case, we have to wonder why our legislature gave the president his way on this; Democrats gave Poppy Bush a declaration of war in Iraq '91 because otherwise US law would have made him withdraw the troops after a certain period had expired. This was not an issue this time. But the question remains: was this a crime of the civil arena, or a crime of war? Is this a "crime" or a "war crime"? Think of Zacarias Moussouai--was he a conspirator to a crime or to an act of war?
Such are the questions we have to resolve in this country. Applicable to Israel, though is the idea that they cannot recognize a full state of war because there is no state to be at war with.
But once we go to war, civilian deaths become acceptable but regrettable.
Like I said early on, that's why I think the whole of it is stupid. But such as people are, they tend to think that there can be such a thing as noble warfare. There's good guys, and there's bad guys, and apparently the good guys have all the reason in the world and the bad guys don't have a reason to be complaining. If only it were so clear-cut.
I see little to no difference between the examples you've given as relates to the end product. But that is a specific result of a presupposition: killing human beings is wrong. I'll grant the immediate-defense idea, because even I won't lay down to die when someone pulls a knife on me. But just because the guy got away and went home, and may possibly be planning his next crime against me, should I really go into his home and destroy everything?
And a last note on immediate defense: I carried knives for several years. I found that (A) I was more belligerent while carrying a weapon, (B) that I considered its use too early in the process to use such a weapon according to retrospect (vis-a-vis my current standards), and (C) I was among the mildest of people I knew in this situation. Immediate defense does not necessarily justify the killing of another. Had I actually harmed anyone with those knives during that period, I would have to admit that, based on the situations, I was upping the stake by bringing lethal force to a dispute that had not reached the lethal arena yet. Like a guy I knew who used to pull his gun at the slightest provocation. A guy was breaking into his car? Hey, I didn't need a gun for that. A guy was breaking into someone else's car? Well, that's where he got into trouble. He pulled a gun on a guy breaking into his girlfriend's car at her request.
Point being that immediate defense does not mean blow up everything. Immediate defense requires a rational countermeasure and personal accountability. As it stands right now, if I shoot at a burglar in my home, miss, and the bullet travels across the street and strikes someone, I can be forgiven that act by law because it was "my right".
It is very difficult to justify the killing of another human being. Especially civilians in a warfare context. And in the modern day, as an American, I declare that it is not merely unfortunate that civilians were killed, it is also indicative that the people in charge were either unable or unwilling to work around the "necessity". And that's a bad, bad situation.
Adam, you've been in the military; is it fair to say that you would die for your country?
Maybe when I was 18 and full of beans. Now, I don't even like the idea of countries and borders. I would not want to die for a border. I might for a person, or people, or some principle I found worthwhile, but not for a map.
Now, I don't even like the idea of countries and borders. I would not want to die for a border. I might for a person, or people, or some principle I found worthwhile, but not for a map.Fair enough. You won't find me arguing about that.
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