Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It tolls for thee

Eight Canadians died in Lebanon as a result of Israel air-strikes. What were they doing there?

The eight dead Canadians were a Lebanese-Canadian couple, their four children, his mother and an uncle, said relatives in Montreal.

The Montreal pharmacist and his family had arrived in Lebanon 10 days earlier for a vacation in his parents' home village and to introduce his children to relatives, they said.
The official response to this, from the US Ambassador to the UN?

"I think it would be a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts," he added, while defending as "self-defense" Israel's military action, which has had "the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths".

"It's simply not the same thing to say that it's the same act to deliberately target innocent civilians, to desire their deaths, to fire rockets and use explosive devices or kidnapping versus the sad and highly unfortunate consequences of self-defense," Bolton noted.
One man's violence is another man's self-defense, apparently; and "collateral damage" is an unfortunate by-product of the latter. The justification here seems to be...well, I don't know what it is. Apparently real human beings have no reality for Ambassador Bolton.

At least Ze'ev Schiff, defense editor of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, was honest enough to argue that inhabitants of southern Lebanon brought this on themselves by allowing Hezbollah to be in their neighborhoods. Even if that sounds like an excuse to go military in the "war on drugs" and bomb neighborhoods with crack houses because the neighbors "allowed" the crack house to operate, or to attack Mexico because drug lords smuggle drugs across the Rio Grande with impunity, and engage in all manner of violence while doing so. One justification for "self-defense" is surely as good as another. The next time a Mexican drug cartel kidnaps a DEA agent (it's happened before), maybe we should consider bombing Mexico City.

But I digress. Bolton's attitude is obviously: too damned bad. When civilians die as "collateral damage," it is unfortunate. When someone dies in car bomb explosion, it's "terrorism." The distinction seems to be whether or not we can attribute intent to the deaths. Terrorists intend to kill people. People who fire missiles intend to kill people. But when terrorists do it, they don't care who they kill. When missiles are fired, they are targeted. Of course, no one can guarantee the target will be there. And no one denies other people will be killed. But since the military is actually aiming at someone, the lack of discimination of the weapon is excusable.

The moral distinction is clear. Isn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment