Truck Stop: Random Rants.

Civilian Casualties.

Friday March 22 2002

There is a worrying trend in modern warfare, which is of our objection in The West to the creation of so called "Civilian Casualties" (or, if you watch too many trendy spy movies "Collateral Damage").

As far as I can tell, public opinion in these enlightened times says that it is fine to go to war with any amount of people as long as they are from countries with fascist dictators at the helm, with very bad human rights records and, importantly, as long as we only kill people in uniforms and we avoid accidentally blowing civilians into tiny fragments.

Now this is all very well and I have to say I am not really into the idea of dropping bombs on maternity hospitals myself but there is a rather large flaw in this way of thinking. In countries with poor human rights records and unsavoury dictators there is usually a large amount of conscription. The men (and it is usually men, we are not at war with Israel yet...) who are fighting are usually poorly educated random citizens who just happen to have been put into a uniform and given a gun. In the vast majority of cases, they don't want to be there and in effect, they are merely civilians who have been forced into military service.

So now, our high Western morality starts to fall down a tad. When we are objecting to Civilian Casualties, we are actually objecting to the killing of women and children but not of the killing of men. Does this mean that we value the life of women and children more than those of men? Does this mean that the lives of the men who have been forced to fight for a cause that they don't understand are less valuable in their thousands than the lives of a few farmers who are in the wrong place at the wrong time?

It is nice to think that we can have warfare without killing people who don't want to be involved but until such time as we only start fighting countries without conscription I somehow don't think that is going to happen. I do however look forward to watching the next war between Scotland and England as a spectator in the firm knowledge that I won't be hurt at all.

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