Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Are We Terrorists?

Pakistani tribesmen search a house that was destroyed after an airstrike in Damadola, January 14, 2006. REUTERS/Ali ImamA recent Reuters news article says that Pakistan now believes as many as four al Qaeda members were killed in the Predator airstrike last week. I would imagine that the administration and the CIA are breathing a little easier now. An attack that killed 18 presumably innocent villagers without killing a top level terrorist would have been hard to explain. But even so, does killing 4 terrorists justify killing 18 Pakistanis?

Are you bothered that we killed 18 other people to get those four terrorists? I want to kill terrorists as much as anyone else. I have no problem killing those guys. I hope we can get some more.

But what if the 18 civilians were men, women and children from Peoria, IL? Would we make the moral trade-off quite so easily? If an al Qaeda member crept into Peoria some night and blew up 18 people, what would we call that person and what would we like to do to him and people who supported him?

What message do we send to the people of the world when we are willing to kill innocent people to achieve our military and political goals? I know that innocent people are always killed in wars and the President keeps telling us this is a war, but there is something about this attack that bothers me. Are we really willing to kill innocent people around the world on the chance it may save some of us? Are American lives worth more than Pakistani lives?

I suppose you can justify the civilian deaths in Iraq because the fighting there is needed to defend their new freedoms, but how do we justify the deaths of these Pakistanis? They might have been providing support to al Qaeda, but we aren't even sure we killed any terrorists so what would make us believe these people were not just innocent civilians?

This bothers me. I can see why some people might think we are also terrorists.

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