Is there a difference between bombing a city at high altitude and destroying a single building by an air strike? No. Both are acts of collectives, but they are ordered and then carried out by conscious individuals—which fuzzes up the moral picture slightly. And any righteous feelings should be curbed. The necessary labor and material is paid for by all of us, hence we are all, like it or not, cells of the collective monster.
I happened to see General John Allen make his apology to a turbaned village elder on TV this past Saturday for just a destruction of a single-house; there were women and children inside, of course, a loss of eighteen people in the wrong place. Among the words I heard General Allen say were: “We will do the right thing by the families. We will do the right thing for the community.”
We pioneered this method—the compensation of families for the death of members—back in 2011 under an act of Congress. The average payment to a family was $2,083,000. Interestingly, the compensation was scaled to the income level of the person killed. The bottom here was $250,000 for a person earning up to $20,000 a year. Will the Afghanistani families who lost members in that airstrike get millions, hundreds of thousands, or less? Well, per capita income in Afghanistan last year was $585 a year. Can Big Man Capital even see such minute income? No. And that’s the problem with peripheral damage. Can’t see anything when you are acting in total darkness.