Killing the "Evildoers"
Commentary by Jim Walker, 28 Oct. 2001
Wars used to kill only soldiers
In the "good" old days, battles killed mostly soldiers. Sometimes civilians did get involved if they stood as secondary enemies, such as those poor Jews who got in the way of the knights during the Christian Crusades, but for the most part, if you lived your life as a farmer, sheep herder (or whatever occupied your time), you had little to fear for your life during a battle. During the American Civil War for example, civilians could actually witness a live battle just by observing from a few hundred feet away. Even in World War I, mostly soldiers got killed during battles. All that changed in World War II. Bombing from aircraft became a major instrument of war and the concept of killing civilians became part of "justified" warfare. Although bombs present an effective way of killing the enemy, they unfortunately do not discriminate between enemy or civilian. Thus to destroy your enemy, it doesn't really make any military difference how many innocent die, as long as the enemy dies.
The theory that the knowledge of history teaches us to prevent past mistakes appears false. Our present war leaders love to inform us that "collateral damage" serves as an unfortunate but necessary part of war and that you only need to look at World War II to see the necessity of it. Remember that Americans think of World War II as the "good" war. It seems to me that people use history to pick out examples to justify a military action as much as they do to warn us against it.
Wars also used to consist of two sides, each of which consisted of a group of people who lived under a specific power structure (religion or government) and who utilized a military force. The military force which overtook the other would "win the war." No so anymore.
The War Against Terrorism
Today, the concept of war has expanded to mean any number of people who utilize a different approach to killing than your side does. In the new War Against Terrorism, the United States utilizes high-tech weaponry under the control of a governmental command structure with its morality based on past "justified" wars with Bible belief as its moral root (a pseudo-historical justification). The other side uses low-tech weaponry under the control of a network of believers who live throughout the world, with its moral justification based on the Koran (another pseudo-historical justifier). Thus the terrorism of our present enemy does not stand for any particular government or orthodox religion nor does it exist in a specific boundary of earth, but it does maintain itself through a powerful belief system based on Koranic faith (or some other faith based belief). Some of these faithful people go by the name of Taliban, al-Jihad, Hizballah, etc. The first target of the U.S. in the War Against Terrorism aimed at the Taliban which protects another military faith-set called al-Qaida with Osama bin Laden as its spiritual leader.
We used to call the opposition the "enemy" but George "Wanted-dead-or-alive" Bush calls them the "Evildoers," which throws us back into the Dark Ages. Demonizing the enemy used to serve as metaphor but Bush apparently uses it in its religious form as if to indicate that the sides of the war consist of God's people against Satan's people. Evildoer describes a Biblical word that occurs at least a dozen times in the Bible.
Because Bush declared our new policy as a "War against terrorism," that must mean our declaration of death to the Taliban serves as one battle within that war. Perhaps it will earn the name, "The War of Afghanistan" since the Taliban live on that part of the earth. George Bush also promised to fight terrorism wherever it exists in the world. Resorting to black & white Aristotelian logic, Bush defined the enemy by his statement, "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." (Since I don't stand with the terrorists or with Bush's war, I can only guess which side that puts me, according to that kind of two-value thinking.)
Since Iraq appears as the most prominent example of a country that stands against us, we might have to fight another battle, the War of Iraq and perhaps later, the War of Syria, and the War of Somalia. If we start battling multiple countries, perhaps the war should go by the name: World War III. What will the U.S. do to other kinds of terrorists who use Bible-logic, such as Northern Ireland Protestant and Catholic groups? Will the U.S. target these terrorist groups too, or do we fight only Koran based terrorist groups? If this War Against Terrorism does not aim against any religion, then what reasoning holds us against fighting the Battle of Northern Ireland? But lets just stick with the War of Afghanistan for now.
How do we know if the cave we hit holds "evildoers" or civilians?
In spite of our advanced weaponry, there exists limitations on just what kind of target serves our interest or goals. Of course it bears importance as a war strategy to knock out radar and weapons before committing human soldiers into combat, but the Taliban does not seem to have had much of a defensive system in the first place. After two weeks of day-and-night bombing, the little of what they once possessed now sits in piles of rubble. The Pentagon appears to have finally discovered one of the limitations of technological warfare: the limitation of the number of the targets themselves. While the Taliban military apparently has survived the destruction of their material property, they have long learned how to live in the ground or in caves and caverns. Now what? Apparently the Pentagon has decided to invent new targets and to use advanced technology to hit them directly where we will force them to live: in the ground and in caves. According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. military has prepared to find and destroy these caves," (see Battling 'myth' of cave dwellers). Military advisers claim that guided GBU-28 Bunker Buster bombs can penetrate up to 30 meters into the ground before they explode and we can accurately direct AGM-130 missiles to hit tunnel mouths. Our advanced night vision also gives us the capability to detect infrared radiation (heat) from those living in or around the caves. Thus, once you detect a fire or the heat of a human body, you only need to program a missile or bomb to blow it to smithereens (so the theory goes). Our military feels confident that we will drive the Taliban and al-Qaida out of their caves or kill them within them. This sounds fine from a military perspective, but the concept becomes scary when you ask the question: How do you tell the difference between an enemy living in a cave or an Afghan peasant living in a cave? Consider that the U.S. has now bombed several hospitals, mosques, and Red Cross warehouses by "mistake," what do you suppose a poor Afghan farmer or animal herder might do? I don't know about you but if I lived as a poor peasant in Afghanistan, I wouldn't feel safe in any man-made physical structure. Not knowing about AGM missiles, I just might head straight for the hills and into a cave. What other shelter could possibly serve better against the upcoming bitter winter weather and American bombs?
Avoiding the Bombs
- "I'm not going to fire a 2 million dollar missile at a 10 dollar empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive."
- -- George W. Bush
Consider also what the Taliban might do to protect themselves, or to make the United States waste money on missiles. It doesn't take much imagination here. Imagine simply starting a fire at the mouth of an empty cave and walking away. If you want a warm body to serve as a substitute human target, just hitch a goat or two to a post inside a cave. Each Bunker Buster bomb costs around $150,000 (not counting delivery costs) and an AGM-130 missile costs around $450,000 each. The Afghanistan mountains contain thousands of caves, many of them man-made. If we begin hitting thousands of useless caves, the United States could develop a severe and embarrassing economic problem.
If Bush wants decisiveness, how will he justify sending hundreds of missiles to explode into caves where we can't tell the difference between a Taliban corpse or a civilian corpse (or a camel's rectum for that matter)? Of course the peasants may not possess the cleverness of the Taliban, and they just might serve as substitute body counts for the American military controlled press.
I smell desperation coming from our government. Not only have our military leaders used smart weapons, and intend on using more powerful bombs, but I now hear talk about using tactical nuclear weapons and torture for captured terrorist suspects. We have virtually eliminated negotiations and have instead concentrated entirely on violent resolutions. According to Bush, the justification of this apparently seems rooted in his belief of God's continual blessing of America and to kill evildoers wherever they exist in the world. I fail to see how the September 11 terrorist attacks, or our reaction to it, forms a blessing in any context.
I ask the following question in all seriousness: Have the members of our government gone completely insane? Has our American citizens, where the majority apparently agrees with Bush's response, fallen into a massive faith based hysteria?
It seems to me that throwing bombs on Afghanistan to fight terrorism makes about as much sense as fighting the Mafia by bombing Sicily.