Monday, April 12, 2010

Wikileaks and War Crimes

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To begin my thoughts on the Wikileaks video depicting US pilots "indiscriminately killing" 12 civilians, please read this article by Robert Grenier, the CIA's former chief of station in Islamabad. In it he tries to explain not how murdering civilians is acceptable, but rather how the murder of civilians could happen as an acceptable risk, at the time, in this particularly difficult type of warfare. Grenier does not (explicitly) excuse the actions of the firing soldiers, but he does urge readers to remember that the type of war being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan - almost anti-technological guerrilla tactics used effectively against a highly modernized, technology-dependent military - contains more shades of gray than before considered possible. And if the war itself is so shady, than actions that are or could be considered "war crimes" are that much more difficult to qualify. Despite how humanitarian we, the world's people, have become (whether in actuality or fantasy) there is still an accepted, and acceptable, risk of civilians deaths by those who choose to undertake war. The problem is how to decide the difference between accident, murder and atrocity.

More to come . . .

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