Quick Note on Intentions and Collateral Damage

A big part of the conversation surrounding the recent violence in Israel/Gaza/Palestine was the set of claims–spread initially by the Israeli Defense Forces–that Israel takes extensive measures to prevent the death of civilians, whereas Hamas makes it a goal to kill civilians intentionally.

Bracket off the truth or untruth of those claims for a moment and remember that nation-states in general go to great lengths to distinguish “Collateral Damage” from “Terrorism.”

From a consequentialist perspective, I’m not sure that there’s a meaningful difference between intentionally targeting civilians and waging war in such a way that the death of civilians is inevitable.

And does anyone really think that the family members of someone who’s killed as “Collateral Damage” find any sort of consolation in the fact that the people who killed their kin go, “Woops” afterwards?


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