I am constantly amazed by people who suddenly discover that people die in wars. They seem to have the idea that war is played on a chess board. The latest expression of this misconception is the news that the German Minister of Defense has resigned because, would you believe, German soldiers ordered air strikes in Afghanistan that killed Afghanis.
Now I am sure I will get replies that the air strikes killed civilians, not participants, as though the armed bands roaming the land are not out to kill if they get the chance.
Where did this idea ever arise, I mean that wars are fought strictly between designated participants? Did perhaps the most brutal conquerer in history, Tamerlane or Timurlenk, give a care to non-combatants being killed. His favorite trick was to bombard the inhabitants of cities where he laid seige with the skulls of those he had already killed. And if the poor sots surrendered he had them all put to death.
Did General Sherman spare civilians in his famous march through Georgia to the sea? In fact the purpose of this wave of destruction was to demoralize the civilian population. Perhaps he didn’t understand the determination of Scarlett O’Hara.
Of course the most devastating example of “civilians” being destroyed in a war was our atomic bomb that turned thousands of Hiroshama’s population into sub-atomic particles.
If civilians have died in declared wars between sovereign states with well defined armies, just what can one expect in a battle against undefined enemies living chock a block with “non-combatants?”
We have to understand that any action to rid Afghanistan of Benny Laden and his gang or the Taliban or any other “enemy” will cause the death of “non-combatants.” If this is unacceptable then please let us leave now.