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Collateral Damage

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Anthony Gregory

Collateral Damage

Postby Anthony Gregory » Mon, 02 May 2005 8:56 pm

"Collateral damage" is a euphemism for mass murder. It is perfectly moral to protect innocents against aggressors. It is not moral, nor has it ever been necessary, to blow up cities filled with innocent people. When a State drops bombs on another country and predictably kills innocents, it cannot be exempted from ethical culpability simply because it didn’t want to kill innocents. It cannot be compared to a desperate man firing at an attacker holding hostages, for the analogy breaks down when the actual reality of any given war is examined. It cannot be compared to an individual actor breaking some rules to save his life, for States do not have rights or face the consequences of their actions the way individuals do. And it cannot be free of guilt simply due to collectivist notions of nationalism, civilization, or inaccurate bean counting of individual men, women, and children as if they were statistics and not individuals. Just like most euphemisms surrounding war – "sphere of influence," "nation-building," and "liberation" – "collateral damage" is a rhetorical trick to cover up the most serious of political crimes. The phrase should not be in our vocabularies, except as vulgarity to be avoided.

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