For the sake of argument, let’s assume that we had pretty good intelligence telling us that a bunch of al-Qaeda leaders were in the house we bombed. And let’s also assume that we did indeed kill al-Masri and several other major al-Qaeda leaders. Finally, let’s assume that the 18 civilians killed in the attack were genuinely innocent bystanders with no connection to terrorists.
Question: Under those assumptions, was the attack justified? I think the answer is pretty plainly yes, but I’d sure like to see the liberal blogosphere discuss it. And for those who answer no, I’m curious: under what circumstances would such an attack be justified.
The attack was not justified, under any circumstances. I don’t understand how anyone can answer “pretty plainly yes.”
OK, actually, maybe I can. If the objective of the war is to mete out harsh justice to a select, well defined group of individuals, then yes, go for it. It’ll bring the war closer to an end. It seems a rather primitive view of war as an agent of almost Biblical retribution, though, and I don’t think civilized states should engage in it. I’m surprised that that is how Kevin Drum sees the conduct of the war.
Alternatively, if the objective of the war is to pacify a region in strife and bring its population into the ranks of the community of nations, treating its innocent population as targets is counterproductive. On purely utilitarian grounds, it seems idiotic to me. People will not forget that America rode roughshod over their relatives, friends, and neighbors to simply exterminate their enemies.
Tristero berates me for taking hokum seriously.