UnfairI think we can count on the fact that, since no one could reach the Apache attack helicopters shooting from far overhard, someone will try to find a more vulnerable target. And Americans will find this terribly unfair, while to the rest of the world it will seem like the essence of fairness.
Here's my prediction for the final outcome of the Wikileaks video: the U.S. military will continue to claim some of the people killed were armed insurgents. This will satisfy all U.S. conservatives and most U.S. "liberals." Meanwhile, everyone else on this planet will continue to gape at us in slack-jawed horror.
Why the sharp difference between us and the rest of humanity?
1. I have no idea whether any of the people shot were armed, or insurgents, or armed insurgents. There will inevitably be long dreary arguments about this between U.S. liberals and conservatives, complete with 5,000-word blog posts analyzing the video frame by frame.
But here's the thing: even if everyone but the journalist and children were armed insurgents, no one else on earth cares. That's because, when another country invades yours, you're allowed to fight back. And if you invade another country and start slaughtering people, you don't somehow make yourself the good guy by proving that they were trying to fight back.
2. The technological mismatch between the U.S. and everyone else is so gigantic that it violates normal humans' sense of justice. This is something almost no Americans give a second thought to, but it's widely appreciated in those countries (ie, all of them) that don't have noiseless death-machine drones flown by joystick from 10,000 miles away.
In other words, even if everyone shot in the video had been fighting the U.S., and even if it had somehow been on some neutral third ground, the rest of the world would still be horrified at the unfairness. For instance, here's Colin Powell writing in his autobiography about the shelling of Beirut in 1983, and how that led to the suicide bombing of the Marine barracks there:McFarlane, now in Beirut, persuaded the President to have the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey start hurling 16-inch shells into the mountains above Beirut, in World War II style, as if we were softening up the beaches on some Pacific atoll prior to an invasion. What we tend to overlook in such situations is that other people will react much as we would... And since they could not reach the battleship, they found a more vulnerable target, the exposed Marines at the airport.
Posted at April 8, 2010 11:32 PM