Delicate war

I think it’s important to remember that for the marines and soldiers in the video posted at collateralmurder.com, the acts shown in the video are part of a job they’re asked to do daily. They identify combatants and take the shot. For better or worse, you don’t wage a good war if you’re not good at killing people. I know that sounds reprehensible, but it’s a fact. At the office, a mistake costs you money. At war, it costs lives.

Make no mistake, we are better at waging war than we ever have been. This only makes matters worse. Our image of war is not streets filled with bodies. Today, war is a form of infotainment. Entire television mini-series are dedicated to the marvel of modern war machines. Video from the tip of a falling bomb is broadcast on cable television to a fat man sitting on the couch enjoying his potato chips.

The number of civilian deaths in one day of carpet bombing during WWII would dwarf the entire number of casualties incurred by military combatants, insurgents, and civilians in Gull War I and II. By the numbers, we’ve become exponentially more efficient.

We’re convinced that with enough technology, we can wage war on a sub-set of a nation, but even today, war is not a scalpel; it’s a hatchet. When you go to war, you do it absolutely, and for as short a time as possible.

I don’t hold these marines and soldiers responsible. We’re asking the impossible. “Wage a war, but make no mistakes.” No one can be held to this standard.

The bluntest of instruments

War is an imprecise tool. We are lying to ourselves when we entertain any idea to the contrary. The result of our avoidance of this fact is nothing short of Collateral Murder.