Monday, August 21, 2006

Basil Herring's mistake

I found this story to be more than a little troubling. Basil Herring, executive VP of the RCA urged the IDF to re-examine its rules of war, given the fact that Hezbollah uses human shields to protect armed personnel.

Herring implies that the IDF should just go in, if a few more civilians are killed, well, that's the price that is paid. "Our traditional sensibilities tell us that it is not right to risk the lives of our soldiers to minimize civilian deaths on the other side," says Herring.

Why am I bothered? First, its not clear that anyone over the border in Lebanon is our enemy. And we do risk our lives to minimize deaths on the other side all the time. Surely Herring isn't saying we should just carpet bomb Lebanon or Gaza, killing tens of thousands to save the life of one soldier. Or maybe he is. But of course, when dealing with sound bytes, you always get an extreme statement, nuance is impossible. I don't hold his quoted statement against him.

But that's irrelevant. What Herring doesn't get, the point he's missing, the fact be hammering home along with all those in public positions is simple. Human shields are not civilians. Willing combatants? Also no. Legitimate targets? You bet.