Monday, April 5, 2010

Functional Equivalents

Suicide bombing has a deeply irrational element: it targets the innocent. It is intended to harm a collective and, doing so, to influence collective behavior. But the only behavior this sort of thing arouses is rage against the people who sent the bomber—and against the collective of which those people are a part. Carpet bombing in World War II was a functional equivalent—but, being destructive on a greater scale, it was more effective if equally immoral. The drone is a closer equivalent—precisely in lacking effectiveness. It is a hybrid. Its operator can never have the information necessary to distinguish between combatants and others. It, too, is a distance-weapon and will therefore kill the innocent. It produces the illusion of being more precise but lacks the overwhelm of a downpour of bombs. Those who use this method—as those who send the suicide bomber—have yielded what little remains of moral high ground in warfare industrial style. Indeed all this really makes me wonder if “just war” doctrines still retain any relevance at all.


  1. This July 22 will mark the sixty-fourth anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel by Jewish terrorists. I believe it was last year that Netanyahou placed a plaque on the site, celebrating the event, and prompting Her Majesty's Government to protest such a memorial for the death of a number of Brits.(It wasn't a suicide bombing, but it killed the unhappy bystanders just as well.)

    64 years is a long time.
    It was 1946, just after WW II. Yet how recent it all seems to us, who live in the embrace of this never ending story of War - Cold War - Terrorists - and More War.

    Moral high ground disappeared just before carpet bombing...more than 60 years ago. Just War doctrines similarly disappeared, not recently, but a long time since.

    We have been fighting Muslim insurgents in the southern Philipines for 100 years now.

    How easy it is to pretend that everything is recent, thereby seemingly lessening the depth of our abasement.

  2. The cunningly artful term "Just War" suggests very cleverly justice, even virtue. But I have not heard of a war whose outcome could be characterised by these.. Even victorious wars involve "unhappy bystanders" and so-called "collateral damage" among their outcomes. Eventually histories, even written by the prevailing ations, often give the shocking accounting of these.
    In reality war always was, is and will continue to be a scourge!