Terror in a phoney war
Thanks to Karen Middleton for “Flesh and drones” (January 27–February 2), and to Greg Hogan for his letter (“Drones create new dilemmas”, February 3–9). Professor John Blaxland says, “We used to carpet-bomb cities”, as if to make collateral damage today acceptable. Bombing cities was done in full-scale war with enemy countries. I was not aware that we are at war with Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq (now), or Pakistan. In war the citizens of Coventry, Dresden and Nagasaki may be collateral damage. How is an innocent child, or old person in the streets of Baghdad, or Aleppo, the Pakistan–Afghan border area, or Helmand province, an enemy? If the “terrorists” kill someone in the streets of London, Sydney or New York it is murder. How, then, is it not murder to kill innocent people in a country that has not declared war on us? If drones had existed in the 1970s, would it have been acceptable to strike at IRA cells in Dublin or Irish villages? The IRA fundraising and arms-supplying Boston Irish would have gone berserk. It would have been even worse if British forces had struck at Boston, or Irish communities in Australia. If that would have been wrong, how can it be right to do it in other countries?
Or is it simply that it doesn’t matter because those murdered people are largely black, or coloured, or Muslim? The answer is that we lack the courage to put troops on the ground to ensure as far as possible that we just kill people we can truly identify, and them alone. There is no moral or even legal dilemma here. We and our allies just do it because we can. That is what the terrorists do. I had never heard of Eye in the Sky and got the DVD. Would it have been surprising if the little girl’s father had gone straight to terrorist recruitment, or the two soldiers who fired the missile, if they really had a conscience, had resigned immediately? How can we win the “war on terror” by inflicting even more terror?
– Terry Stanton, Tinonee, NSW