I find war to be an interesting, if not illogical, concept.
In war we have the state - essentially an organization with a monopoly of force over a geographic area - convincing (sometimes coercing) its citizens to kill the citizens of another state, for any number of reasons. Aside from whether these reasons are just, moral, or even correct (that's a topic for another post entirely), it's important to note that war ultimately benefits the state. The monopoly of force is affirmed (and thus expanded), at the expense of human life.
War can also twist our valuation of life. For example, if two of your neighbors have a long-running feud and one of them decides to finally end it by shooting the other; most people would easily define that as murder and unacceptable, wouldn't they? Dress those neighbors up in military uniforms, increase their numbers and the scale of the feud, endorse it by the state and apparently it's not necessarily murder and is far more acceptable. Perhaps the oddest twist to me is how innocent lives caught in a war are callously referred to as “collateral damage”.
This brings me to what inspired this post. I was definitely interested when Sheryl asked me to be a guest blogger on the topic of Israel and Hezbollah, but I did not know what I would write until I came across a photo of a wounded boy along with some simple questions that frame the topic for me:
Is this an Israeli boy wounded by Hezbollah missiles in Haifa?
Or is it a Lebanese boy wounded by Israeli missiles in Beirut?
Does it matter? Do his right to life, and his claim on our compassion, depend on which answer is correct?
If you ask me, neither side is justified in their actions. Hezbollah was obviously wrong to kidnap Israeli soldiers, but Israel's military response is also unjust. Are Israel's “precision guided missiles” careful enough in avoiding civilian deaths? Evidently not, because Lebanese civilian deaths are mounting up. There is not a careful “enough” about it for me, either the civilians are being killed or they aren't.