Things that will never happen – until they do

This cartoon by Ted Rall describes the process by which the unthinkable slowly becomes the reality.

Nothing embodies the law of unintended consequences more than weapons systems. When drones were first introduced as possible battlefield tools, contractors said that there was nothing to worry about in terms of them being converted into weapons systems. They would only be used for surveillance. Now we’re using them to kill top government officials.


  1. says

    It’s not a “slippery slope”, it’s a path of least resistance. If something can be misused, it will be misused (e.g. cops using “non-lethal” tasers to torture amd kill people).

  2. says

    Since weaponized drones are being used against non-military targets, their use is already a war crime under international humanitarian law, not the Geneva Conventions. There is no need for anyone to declare it so.

    The US and other nations simply ignore the rules, or create new bogus designations like “non-state combatant” that they argue create a separate category that does not apply. That is, of course, a lie. For example Soleimani was not a military target, he was a civilian politician (unless one wishes to argue that the US president’s “commander in chief” designation makes them a military target) international humanitarian law is clear that you don’t target noncombatants. Period. “Target” is actually the key term. If an attack is targeted it must be combatants and of it’s not targeted it is an “area bombardment” which is a war crime. Doubly so if the area is bombarded and it contains civilians. It is a war crime, in other words, to shoot a thermobaric warhead into a car containing unknown possible civilians and one combatant; you cannot target an individual with a high explosive.

    International humanitarian law does not recognize “enemy combatant” or “non-state combatants” or “terrorists” -- there are just combatants and noncombatants. There is also no recognition of a state of war -- there is either conflict or there is not. The second that missile leaves the rack, there is a “conflict” and anyone in the vicinity who is not part of the conflict is a noncombatant. Oh, also, a former combatant who throws away their gun and is trying to surrender or escape: noncombatant. When the US obliterated fleeing Iraqi troops on the “highway of death” that was noncombatants they were killing.

    The US casually commits crimes against humanity all the time. It just does so comforted by the fact that it has placed itself above the law AND declared that the law does not apply to it anyway. “Your law does not apply to me” was some of the nazi brass’ defense at Nuremberg and it didn’t work so well.

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