[eDebate] Losing the Blame Game
Thu Nov 22 22:16:35 CST 2001
It's been a while, but I'll try to remember what this thread was actually
about. If I forget, I apologize. I've been reading fiction over
Thanksgiving break and it's warping my head.
> if you know something will have a certain effect and then you do it anyway,
> that is an intentional act. so, if you know that a military strike is
> likely to kill "non-combatants" and then you do the strike, then that is
> intentionally killing non-combatants.
Well, that's the point of collateral damage: to avoid that belief. For
example, say military strikes are intentionally planned to avoid as much
civilian death as possible. In most cases, that scenario could be zero.
If we hit a CBW plant that when no one was there, then the US would have
solved its problem without harming civilians. Collateral damage occurs
when either (a) civilians are directly harmed (they are in the CBW plant)
or (b) the action itself indirectly harms civilians (the force of the CBW
plant explosion sends debris into an apartment building, etc.). But in
both cases there is an express intent to avoid harming civilians.
If we assume a harm is inevitable, i.e., that blowing up buildings will
always cause some negative civilian harm, then all of the reasons why it
would be bad for the US to abandon collateral damage are magnified (see
Simultaneously, it could be argued that it is more moral if the US
attempts to avoid civilian harm than if it directly attempts to harm
civilians. For example, if bombing the CBW plant during working hours
would have killed 1,000 people but bombing it at night killed the night
staff (significantly less) and some in a nearby apartment, if this number
totaled less than 1,000 wouldn't this be the better choice?
anyway, what makes you think that the
> WTC couldn't be chalked up to "collateral damage?" The WTC was not only
> economically valuable, but symbolically valuable to the activist's "enemy."
> Its just to easy to envision the rationalization: they didn't kill civilians
> only for the end of killing civilians; they killed civilians to make a
> military security point; the civilians were a necessary component of their
> military security strategy and thus, were collateral damage.
I guess there are two reasons why the WTC can't be chalked up to
(1) The idea of collateral damage has the implicit assumption that the
murder of innocent civilians serves no military security point.
Therefore, the murder of civilians while pursuing military objectives is
to be avoided whenever possible. As you state, that certainly was not the
goal of the WTC attacks because they believed that the murder of civilians
sserved a military objective.
(2) The civilian's deaths weren't collateral. It was intentional. If the
purpose of the attacks was to instill terror, then the act was not for
military purpose. I think your assessment of the terrorists is incorrect;
they knew very well this would make America more united but it would also
instill fear. They knew that America would retaliate but its retaliation
would also test the world's resolve.
BTW, why do you believe that the Geneva Convention is fantasyland?
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