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“Terrorists should be considered criminals, and their acts as ordinary crimes. Physically dealing with terrorists is properly ordinary police work. There is no war involved.”
Charley Reese should be king of the world. And he’s a conservative, so don’t nobody be accusing me of political bias!
Now, several times over the past few years a few smug war supporters have emailed me to argue that there is a fundamental difference between terrorists blowing up Western cities and US/UK troops blowing up Iraqi and Afghan cities: the terrorists targeted civilians, while “we” of the West deliberately avoided hurting civilians.
This is true. However, allow me to distill the art & science of ethics into a single sentence: Each of us is ultimately responsible for the foreseeable consequences of our actions. A terrorist detonates a bomb on a crowded subway and is responsible for the resulting deaths because those deaths were an obvious foreseeable consequence of his act.
Similarly, if one drops hundreds of kilotons of explosives over a crowded city, even when efforts have been made to make sure much of it is targeted at military sites, it is clearly, evidently and unmistakably going to result in many civilian deaths, despite one’s intentions to the contrary. Claims that such civilian deaths were unexpected are, in the least, disingenuous. Thus the US/UK leadership is guilty of murder, just as the terrorists who killed people in New York and London are guilty of murder.
Oh, the apologists will argue, there is no murder in war-time, only casualties and collateral damage. How about when the war is “illegal”? And if indeed there is a true war going on, and not just uniltareral aggression by one side and a smattering of criminal activity elsewhere, then terrorist activities aren’t murder at all, but simply covert military actions resulting in casualities and population thinning.
See where I’m going with this? You can’t have it both ways. If this is indeed a war, then the “other side” is entitled to their attacks, at least to the extent that we should characterize them as such. But if their actions are to be dismissed simply as those of evil terrorists, then the actions of the US/UK military are also criminal and murderous.