Ter­ror in a phoney war

The Saturday Paper - - Letters & Editorial -

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

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