Unintended Consequences of Killing Civilians   [open pdf - 550KB]

"Mistreatment of civilians not party to a large-scale, violent conflict is not new. The perceived lack of empathy for civilians (historically and presently) points to ambiguities about who the enemy is, rules of engagement, as well as the ongoing debate about the nature of military intervention in internal conflicts. In addition, examples of violence against civilians during the current war in the Middle East emphasize changes that have occurred within the media, politics, and military operations since World War II. This comparison is useful because it provides for reflection on the international laws written explicitly to protect civilians during war because of the devastation to the European continent during World War II. When American soldiers intentionally kill civilians of the population that needs protection, or otherwise violate the tenets of the Geneva Conventions, the media invites domestic and international responses, publicizing the debate. Political leaders of America have always declared their commitment to protecting human rights in the many nations where the U.S. military deploys its troops, yet incidences of Americans killing members of the protected population continue to occur. American soldiers should refrain from harming civilians during combat operations because it is counterproductive to mission accomplishment and results in a decline in support for military intervention forces. Elaborated throughout this work are the consequences of killing innocents: instant and ubiquitous media coverage and interpretation, political discourse involving questions about the efficacy of the American military in a counterinsurgency environment, and service members who developed a lack of restraint resulting from the complexity of military operations."

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Fort Leavenworth Ethics Symposium: http://www.leavenworthethicssymposium.org/
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2012 Ft. Leavenworth Ethics Symposium. Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. December 3-6, 2012
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