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Jewish World Review July 25, 2002 /15 Menachem-Av, 5762

Benjamin Shapiro

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"Civilian casualty" whiners | I am getting really sick of people who whine about "civilian casualties."

Maybe I'm a hard-hearted guy, but when I see in the newspapers that civilians in Afghanistan or the West Bank were killed by American or Israeli troops, I don't really care. In fact, I would rather that the good guys use the Air Force to kill the bad guys, even if that means some civilians get killed along the way. One American soldier is worth far more than an Afghan civilian.

For the past decade, the United States and Israel have been attempting to prove their moral superiority by attempting to minimize civilian casualties. That's all well and good. Unfortunately, this policy also means that politicians put our soldiers in harm's way in order to save "non-combatants."

The New York Times reported on July 21 that "Flaws in U.S. Air War Left Hundreds of Civilians Dead" in Afghanistan. In its own, unique "objective" style, the Times noted: "the American air campaign in Afghanistan, based on a high-tech, out-of-harm's-way strategy, has produced a pattern of mistakes that have killed hundreds of Afghan civilians."

The New York Times and other news services call both Afghan "non-combatants" and American "non-combatants" civilians. This is disingenuous. American civilians are people who go about their daily lives without providing cover for terrorists or giving them money. Afghan civilians are not.

Take, for example, the "wedding party" in Afghanistan that made front-page news after being strafed by American warplanes. The American pilots claimed that they came under fire from the wedding party. The Afghan interim government claimed that 48 civilians were killed in the attack and that the Americans had never come under fire. Perhaps, they suggested, the pilots were confused by Afghans firing their guns in the air in celebration.

Whom do you believe? The American pilots, who say they were fired upon and respected the rules of engagement? Or the Afghan "civilians," who claim that American pilots were bored and decided to have target practice with women, children and goats?

I believe the Americans. The Afghans tolerated and supported the Taliban for years, no matter what President Bush says. A group doesn't conquer 95 percent of a country unless it has some support among the populace. The Afghans are fundamentalist Muslims. They didn't seem to mind too much that their women were treated like dogs or that the Taliban enforced Shariah (Muslim law). So frankly, it doesn't matter to me if some of their "civilians" get killed for involvement with the enemy.

I'm glad the U.S. military decided to use a massive air campaign rather than going in full force with ground troops. The fewer dead American soldiers, the better. I only wish Israel were as smart in prosecuting its own war on terrorism.

The Israeli government is so afraid of world condemnation that it put its soldiers in the line of fire to gain some eternally-sought-but-never-found international praise. After the Passover Massacre, Ariel Sharon sent ground troops into Jenin to search house to house for Palestinian terrorists in order to bring them to justice. Bad move. Twenty-three Israeli boys, the proportional equivalent of 1,000 Americans, were killed in a vain attempt to prevent Palestinian casualties.

What a joke. In order to save the lives of Palestinians who gladly support the murder of Israeli soldiers and civilians, the Israeli Defense Force put its soldiers in house-to-house urban warfare. If only Israel had acted as decisively as America did in Kabul, it would have gone in with F-16s and leveled Jenin. Civilian casualties? So be it. That might have struck a note of fear into the Palestinians -- putting in ground troops sure doesn't.

Some people might cry out at this "callousness." They might say that Al-Qaeda thinks the same thing about American civilians. This is a twisted argument. There is a difference between casualties from collateral damage and casualties from deliberate slaughter.

The New York Times and others like it undermine the war effort for the sake of the few. In the end, this is a war to save humanity from the barbarity of fundamentalist Islam. It is inevitable for enemy civilians to be killed in war.

There is a Jewish proverb from Pirkei Avos (The Ethics of the Fathers): "He who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind." By that same token, he who would risk American or Israeli lives to save enemy civilians is cruel to the kind.

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07/19/02: Johnny Taliban at UCLA
07/17/02: Bond, as in "bondage"
07/03/02: Our national anthem
06/28/02: Letter from Palestine?
06/24/02: Are the Ivy Leagues contributing to America's insecurity?
06/13/02: Hollyweird is whitewashing Arab terrorism and we reward them

© 2002, Creators Syndicate