Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Nobody's Expendable

The Fallacious Human Shield and Collateral Damage Arguments

by ROBERT J. GOULD

Lady Justice, Justitia, depicted as a blindfolded statue since the 15th century, illustrates John Rawl’s conception of justice as requiring a veil of ignorance (A Theory of Justice, 1971).  Such a veil of ignorance means that, in order to be just, we must ignore the differences between people, such as their identity, power or weakness.

To be just, in the following cases, we must not victimize the innocent, whether that person is a cherished child in one’s family or an unknown girl in Iraq, Gaza, or Israel.  To do otherwise, in cases of violent conflict, would not only be unjust, it would be terrorism.  If one accepts this principle, then the justifications of bombing “militants,” regardless of their use of human shields, or the inevitable civilian deaths as “collateral damage” are fallacious arguments, as explained below.

The human shield argument, in the news today from Israel and the war with Gaza and in the ongoing debates about drones, is similar to the collateral damage argument.  Let’s take the collateral damage argument first.  (Of course, this argument is given from the perspective of those asserting the argument, not the victims of the argument.)

The collateral damage argument goes like this: First, the enemy intentionally places itself close to civilian populations, so that any attack on the enemy will necessitate civilian deaths.  Second, since it is the enemy’s intent to put those civilians at risk, civilian deaths are the enemy’s responsibility, not ours.  Therefore, the argument’s proponents are, however regrettably, free to kill civilians because the enemy put them in harm’s way, and cynically uses these deaths for propaganda advantage.

Following along the lines of this collateral damage argument, the human shield argument goes like this: First, the enemy hides amongst civilians, notably in hospitals and schools, so that any attack on the enemy will necessitate civilian deaths, especially children and the sick.  Second, since it is the enemy’s intent to put those civilians at risk, the deaths of these children and infirm are the enemy’s responsibility, not ours.  Therefore (again with sorrow) we are free to kill children, nurses, doctors and patients because the enemy put them in harm’s way, and cynically uses these deaths for propaganda advantage.

Now, let’s look at these arguments from the perspective of the “enemy,” the potential victims of this argument.  Their reply is, “How else would you like us to situate our soldiers, leadership, and munitions manufacturing?  Would you like us to place these people and buildings in areas free of civilians, so that they could be more easily targeted and destroyed?”  Furthermore, it is important to remember that the world exists in an era of asymmetrical warfare, where exceedingly powerful countries are perceived as occupying and forcefully governing lands of disputed rule or ownership (e.g., Palestine, Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan), and are waging war against an overmatched enemy that resorts to guerrilla warfare.

Using an analogy (and being mindful that no analogy is perfect), consider two bank robbery scenarios.  In one case, the bank robber takes a child hostage and holds the child in front of himself as a human shield.  In this case, a police officer would not shoot through the child to kill the bank robber.  There are other ways of catching the bank robber that would not entail the child’s death.  In the other case, we would not drop a bomb on plotting bank robbers having a meeting at an apartment complex with innocent people around.  There would be another way of stopping bank robbery conspirators.

Indeed, if terrorists were in an apartment in Manhattan or Seattle, we would not bomb the apartment–no matter how “smart” the bomb. Innocent civilian life is too highly valued to do that.  There would be another way of apprehending those terrorists.

If we apply our ethics, as Justitia, we would protect our civilians, children, and infirm, in Phoenix, Arizona, just as we should do everything we can to protect the civilians in rural Afghanistan, Iraq,  or in Gaza or Israel. At the very least, we should contribute nothing to hurting those children.  All civilians deserve the freedom from being treated like expendables by any military anywhere.  Anything short of respecting that freedom makes us all terrorists.

Robert J. Gould, Ph.D., is an ethicist, writes for PeaceVoice, and directs the Conflict Resolution Graduate and Undergraduate Programs at Portland State University.