March 12, 2005

Targeting Children (tip to lgf)

Some damned fool at a university has written a thesis arguing that children are legitimate targets for terrorism. Let's be more specific: not child-soldiers, and not incidental (accidental) casualties but actual direct targets of terrorism.

He also includes taxpayers and farmers as valid targets of terrorism - even though tax evasion is often a serious felony and a jailable offense. Of course, I'll be damned if the terrorists go on a bus and ask to see your 1040 before blowing you up. The reason is obvious: tax payer funds go to the army, and farmers' foodstuffs go to keeping soldiers in fighting condition. Of course, with globalization does that mean farmers producing food in other countries can be included the chain of food production - even if their food doesn't go directly overseas, maybe the food they produced made it possible for other foodstuffs to be shipped to Israel or the US.

The intent is clear. While tribalistic, primitive, barbaric notions of the enemy abound in the minds of violent racists the world over academics like to come up with more complex justifications to get to the same end. While a brute racist will kill your for being a member of a group - Jews, Christians, white people, black people, etc. - some academics seem to want a not-explicity-racist way to get to the same kill-anybody-you-want result.

The academic in this case, named Jason Gatliff, includes so many people in the combatant category as to make it a perfectly useless term. That's intentional because it removes the ability to shame, judge or cast doubt on terrorists. The debate becomes entirely about motives and ends, not about intent. The essentially-Machivellian connection is apparent: as long as the means are bad, the ends are effectually (if not automatically) irrelevant.

It allows them to ignore the moral culpability of Hamas or Islamic Jihad and instead turn the debate on Israel. It allows them to ignore the moral culpability of Al Qaeda and instead turn the debate on US trade policy and globalization.

Let's agree on a simple premise: you can only justly kill 1) combatants, defined as those with an announced, credible or likely intent to kill you or someone else or who have already tried or succeeded in doing so, or 2) criminals, defined as those who have committed some violent act such as rape or murder or when their commission of the same is imminent. Combatants and criminals - not children. Seems simple enough.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Luke Lindley said...

First, thanks for the trackback. I appreciate your thoughts.

"The academic in this case, named Jason Gatliff, includes so many people in the combatant category as to make it a perfectly useless term. That's intentional because it removes the ability to shame, judge or cast doubt on terrorists. The debate becomes entirely about motives and ends, not about intent. The essentially-Machivellian connection is apparent: as long as the means are bad, the ends are effectually (if not automatically) irrelevant.

It allows them to ignore the moral culpability of Hamas or Islamic Jihad and instead turn the debate on Israel. It allows them to ignore the moral culpability of Al Qaeda and instead turn the debate on US trade policy and globalization."


I wholeheartedly agree. His entire speech was a deliberate exercise in moral obfuscation, designed to conflate right and wrong to such a degree that they were utterly indistinguishible. As a result, acts like 9/11 become not merely intelligible but justifiable, for they were merely rational martial responses to similar American aggression. As you wrote, the debate then shifts to the act, and not the perpetrator; and since the United States is the organization which acts most frequently, it is obviously the one which bears the most responsibility. Hence his argument is merely a club to bludgeon the United States, Israel, or any other "oppressive" nation into acceptance of a nonexistent moral culpability.

March 12, 2005 4:27 PM  

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