May 24, 2007


Poll: Are you OK with bombing civilians? (Preeti Aroon, 5/23/07, FP Passport)

Some people think that bombing and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians are sometimes justified while others think that this kind of violence is never justified. Do you personally feel that such attacks are often justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?

In December of last year, a sample of Americans was asked this question in a poll by the Program on International Public Attitudes, and their responses were:

* often- 5%
* sometimes- 19%
* rarely- 27%
* never- 46%
* The remainder said "don't know" or refused to respond.

Recently, a survey by the Pew Research Center (pdf) asked Muslim Americans:

Some people think that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Other people believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is never justified. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?

The responses were:

* often or sometimes- 8% (15% for those ages 18-29)
* rarely- 5% (11% for those ages 18-29)
* never- 78% (69% for those ages 18-29)
* The remainder said "don't know."

...they're still in the process of assimilating, so shouldn't be expected to be as willing to target civilians as the rest of us are yet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 24, 2007 6:48 AM

The poll is only marginally helpful in that it fails to consider the relevant Law of War tests.
The questions,with their correct answers should have been as follows:

Do you approve of:

Terror bombing of civilians, i.e., to break their will: never.

Incidental bombing of civilians, collateral to destruction of military targets, including strategic targets such as factories, railroads and ports: sometimes, subject to military necessity and proportionality.

Intentional bombing of civilians, qua civilians, where said civilians are themselves a military asset, as in the case of war workers, transportation workers, etc.: sometimes, as above. Be aware of the interplay of this principle with the previous one: those war workers have dependents living with them.

Intentional bombing of civilians, in execution of credible deterrence of enemy bombing of civilians: always.

All of the determinations are affected by the availablilty of discriminate weapons. If your GPS is down, it may become necessary to area bomb.

I have read that U.S. forces have lawyers reviewing calls for fire. This is totally inappropriate. Lawyers are not competent to make determinations of military necessity. We may only advise commanders on the rules of engagement; we are not to act as super S-3/G-3's.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 24, 2007 8:48 AM

We routinely terror bomb civilians because, as democrats, we quite rightly don't recognize the notion of innocent civilians.

Posted by: oj at May 24, 2007 11:37 AM

You sound just like Osama bL, only he throws half-baked sucker punches. BTW, when has the US used indiscriminate bombing tactics without being attacked prior to joining the hostilities? Osama is a democrat? The word 'democrat' no longer holds meaning. Is that you're point?

Posted by: grubdrugger at May 24, 2007 5:51 PM

Indiscriminate? We specifically target civilians. Not just bombings either, but embargoes.

You hit the naiul on the head though when you acknowledge that "being attacked prior to joining the hostilities" justifies the strategy.

Likewise, you demonstrate some profundity in noting that Osama's bombing of civilians is illegitimate because not done to further democratic ends. We have no quarrel with the means.

Posted by: oj at May 24, 2007 8:50 PM