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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Blackfive: On the Virtues of Killing Children

This is one of the best pieces I have seen on the moral dilemnas of killing children during the course of war.

Hat Tip: jhn1
"If that is the reason," I answer, "then you are wrong. It is best that we bomb without fear."

Her eyes grow wide. "You are mad," she says.

"Not so," I answer. "Consider: when the enemy seeks to kill our child to motivate us to surrender to his will, is it not because he believes that the danger to the children will move our hearts?"

"It is," she must agree.

"And when he hides among children," I add, "why? Children do little to deflect artillery. Must it not be because he knows that we -- we ourselves -- fear for the children, even his children?"

She nods, silently.

"Then it is proven," I say. "It is our love of these innocents that endangers them. If we did not care if children died, they would be in little danger."

"That cannot be," she replies in anger.

"But it is so," I contest. "If we did not care if our children died, they would not be targets. There would be no reason to target them, because we would not be moved by their deaths.

"If we did not care if their children died," I add, "there would be no reason to clutter military emplacements with their presence. If it were not that we are horrified by the deaths of children, the enemy's children would be clear of all places of battle -- because they are, except for the fact that we love them, a hindrance."

She bites her lip.

"Of course, we cannot cut out our hearts," I tell her. "Nor should we -- as we wish to remain men, and good men, rather than monsters. Yet it is our love that is the chief danger to the innocent now -- to our own innocents, and theirs also."

"What do you suggest?" she demands of me. "If you will not hate children, if you assert that it is right to love them -- but you say we cannot love them, without wrongfully endangering them -- what can we do? Where is the right?"

"It must be," I tell her sadly, "Here: That we pursue war without thought of the children. That we do not turn aside from the death of the innocent, but push on to the conclusion, through all fearful fire. If we do that, the children will lose their value as hostages, and as targets: if we love them, we must harden our hearts against their loss. Ours and theirs."

"How can that be right?" she wonders.

"It cannot be," I must say. "Love should always rise, above war and fear and death. Love should always be first, and not last, in our hearts. It should never be that love brings wrong, and disdain brings right.

"And yet," I say, "It is. I have shown you that it is. That means we have moved into a time beyond human wisdom. We can no longer know the right. It is beyond us.

"We can only do," I must warn her, and you. "We can only do, and pray, that when we are done we may be forgiven."
Read the whole thing.


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