Well, the United Nations is on the verge of declaring the United States’ use of Predator drones to kill terrorists a “war crime” because it doesn’t give the bad guys a chance to surrender. And in the meantime, Israel is being lambasted by reports that it killed too many “civilians” during its recent incursion into the Gaza Strip.
On the other hand, our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan are deliberately targeting civilians at every opportunity. And Israel’s enemies — Hezbollah, Hamas, and Fatah — also specialize in attacks on civilians.
Consequently, we are told we ought to be negotiating with the terrorists. And around Israel, Fatah and Hamas are considered legitimate governments, and Hezbollah a part of one (but one that dominates the government).
The logic is inescapable: if we want international approval, we need to stop accidentally killing civilians — and start doing it on purpose.
Oddly enough, that cynical observation is a position that is defensible under international law.
By the Geneva Conventions, combatants are required to separate themselves from civilians. And if they don’t, then any civilians killed are not the responsibility of the aggressor, but the party that inserted itself in and among the civilians.
In our conflicts, our enemies disguise themselves as civilians. In and around Israel, it’s even worse — the civilians are used cheerfully as human shields. Indeed, in some cases, the civilians are proud to be used as such. And nearly anyone killed by Israel is magically transformed into a “civilian” anyway.
There’s an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. There’s so much truth to this cartoon: