Friday, November 24, 2006

Reckless Homicide Is a Crime

This has needed to be said for a long time; and it could just as easily apply to U.S. air assaults in Iraq as it's being applied here to Israel's assault on Lebanon:

Asked by the Post if there was a distinction under human rights law between missile attacks aimed at killing civilians and military strikes in which civilians are unintentionally killed, Arbour said the two could not be equated.

"In one case you could have, for instance, a very objectionable intent -- the intent to harm civilians, which is very bad -- but effectively not a lot of harm is actually achieved," she said. "But how can you compare that with a case where you may not have an intent but you have recklessness [in which] civilian casualties are foreseeable? The culpability or the intent may not sound as severe, but the actual harm is catastrophic."

Arbour spoke to the Post in Tel Aviv on the tail end of a five-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. The visit came on the heels of international condemnation and charges of human rights violations following an IDF strike in Beit Hanun in which 19 civilians were accidentally killed.

According to criminal law, "[T]here is very little distinction between recklessness and intent," she said. "It is a small distinction as to whether you desire the result, or you foresee it as virtually certain and you do not care. In terms of culpability there is not a lot of difference between recklessness and intent."

Arbour indicated that this could mean that Israel was guilty of human rights violations for its actions in Lebanon.

"When you kill civilians virtually each time [in a military attack], at some point you have to ask yourself, 'Wasn't that foreseeable that so many would be killed?" she said. "That is where I think you start having to engage in the possibility that it is somewhat culpable."

Charles Johnson prefers to blame the victim(s):

When terrorists deliberately use civilians as cover -- and when the civilians themselves are terrorist supporters -- the deaths of civilians are inevitable. But the ones to blame for these deaths are the murderers who hide among them, the ruthless killers who cynically manipulate idiots like Louise Arbour. Arbour and her fellow guardians of simple-minded "morality" have no answer for the tactics of the killers, except to "urge" them to renounce violence.

The problem with this kind of reasoning (one of the many problems) is that there is no accountability for these assumptions. "When terrorists deliberately use civilians as cover -- and when the civilians themselves are terrorist supporters. ..." Do the men who drop the bombs and the men who order the bombs to be dropped ever go back to the scene of the crime and show the world which dead bodies were "the terrorists"? Or tell us why these particular dead bodies were "terrorists"? Do they provide the evidence to back up their claims that all those dead women and children were "supporting the terrorists"? Even more to the point: Are they ever asked to?

It's way too easy to use "terrorists" and "supporters of terrorists" as convenient catch-all labels to justify killing vast numbers of people when you don't have any idea who those people are or what they have done or whether they have done anything to justify being called "terrorists."

In fact, it's downright simple-minded.

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