August 13, 2006

Targeting Civilians is Terrorism

Reading Caleb Carr's oped in the LA Times today reminded me of another oped he did before Bush started the war in Iraq. The LA Times notes that he was the author of The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians where Carr expresses the view that war on civilians is always wrong and that we should strive for war waged under the constraints of the Just War rules.

Carr 's definition of terrorism is "the contemporary name given to...warfare deliberately waged against civilians with the purpose of destroying their will to support either leaders or policies that the agents of such violence find objectionable."

Here's what he wrote about on March 12, 2003. (Original link is no longer operational. This is off our earlier blog.)

Yesterday Caleb Carr had an article in the NY Observer about military ethics that was quite thought-provoking. Carr's writes about the argument that is going on in military circles concerning what is ethical in battle. Strategic bombing (bombing the sh*t out of them) is for some military leaders ethical because it saves soldiers' lives.

General Glosson has more than once spoken out to declare the Defense Department's plans for the coming invasion "criminal": "It is risking more lives than are necessary," he says---meaning, of course, American lives. General Glosson especially dislikes the idea that the American air campaign may last only a few days. He belongs to the school that favors prolonged, intensive, long-range bombing. The idea here is that the more we hammer areas where enemy troops are concentrated, as well as enemy infrastructure--regardless of attendant civilian casualties---the more likely we are to guarantee low, even negligible casualties among our own troops and thus protect our national interests.

However, Carr points out that thoughout history, civilizations are defined and remembered largely by how they fight....

As we have observed in every conflict since (and including) the Second World War, more long-range (or "strategic") bombing inevitably means more civilian casualties; less bombing may mean more American casualties. Against this brutally simple calculation stands a hard truth overlooked by generations of American military planners: Soldiers, especially in a volunteer army, accept risk as part of their job and are specially equipped to meet it; civilians, on the other hand, are offered neither such choice nor such special equipment. They are, for the most part, defenseless, and will generally show deep gratitude to whatever army or nation recognizes that---and equally deep hatred toward those who do not.

He asserts that our safety and well-being will be tied to how this war is conducted. Governing a country with angry citizens is not easy, unless you build a police state and even that is not enough sometimes. And the anger of others in the world will obviously be stoked by massive and indiscriminate deaths and this will come back to haunt Americans.

So what do you think this portends for how the story of our Iraqi adventure will be told?

Posted by Mary at August 13, 2006 09:18 PM | War on Terrorism | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |