Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Would you, could you?

I was just reading through CNN.com and came across a line that said the Mehdi Army that Us Forces are fighting in Najaf is using ten year olds as militiamen. The first thing that came to my mind was, "what would I do if I were a soldier and a ten year old with a gun tried to kill me?" This question is near impossible to answer without being in the situation but let's give it a spin anyway.
Would you kill the child? Is it enough to know that if you don't you might die?

- Rich


At 8/24/2004 04:40:00 PM,

That's a hard question to answer. Seeing a ten-year-old with a gun is enough to give anyone pause -- which is plenty of time to be killed by a bullet or a spray of bullets. Then again, if a person is expecting that sort of thing, they can prepare themselves mentally to shoot the child if that situation arises.

The act of shooting a ten-year-old is enough to traumatize anyone for life.


At 8/25/2004 01:54:00 PM,

Admittedly all of my "war" experience comes from movies like "band of brothers." I think the best way to get over the shock of killing another human being comes through de-humanizing them to the greatest possible extent. That may be done both by demonizing your enemy and his cause, or by exalting your own cause. I think the fact that you're shooting at children may make the de-humanization a lot more difficult, if not impossible. Suffering children, for some reason, exude empathy in a way that suffering adults can't and empathy doesn't mix well with dehumanization. In the end, though, I imagine most people, in a kill or be killed situation, will pull the trigger on a kid.

At 8/26/2004 02:26:00 PM,

I think the reason why almost nobody ever wants to harm a child (in any situation) is that children are generally perceived as
1) innocent
2) helpless.

(A number of Palestinian terrorists have taken advantage of this in recent years by strapping bombs to children, whom the Jews are probably less likely to suspect until it's too late.)

I'm not naive enough to think that children are absolutely innocent and absolutely helpless until age 10 or 15 or 18, but in comparison to adults they generally are quite innocent and helpless, especially in the context of war.

There is a disinct possibility that the children in this militia were coerced into fighting by adults, and even if this is not the case, children do not have sufficient mental capacity to wisely decide whether to personally wage war in any context. They are certainly neither innocent nor helpless if they have taken up arms voluntarily, but because of their juvenile decision-making abilities, they cannot be judged as harshly as adults who fight.

So my conclusion is that they deserve a second chance, and they should be neutralized and spared if possible: possibly via tear-gas or deliberately non-fatal shots. If this tactic proves unworkable, and the children remain a major threat, then killing them does indeed seem to be justifiable.

By the way, hi everyone, I'm new here. :) I was invited by JD Payne a couple of days ago. Nice to be here. This looks like a blog with some serious potential.

At 8/26/2004 06:44:00 PM,

I like the points that have been raised thus far, and want to put a slightly different spin on some of the same ideas.

I think that, beyond killing a 10-year-old in war, there is the larger issue of asking yourself whether you'd be able to kill *aynone* in war. War is usually extremely confusing. The soldiers themselves very rarely have all of the facts on hand that their leaders do. Their leaders tell them what to do; the soldiers comply. This remove, I think, would make it difficult for me to kill anyone solely based on judging their singluar state of mind. They have no reason personally to kill me, as I do not them. Really we're pawns being manipulated by our commanding officers. In a battle, if I come up against a pawn that has been placed in the field of combat by a commanding officer that will kill me and possibly others in my unit if I do not take him out, then it is my duty as a soldier to shoot him, regardless of his age.

Not to say that it will be easy.

At 8/30/2004 01:38:00 PM,

Anyone read the Ender's Game series of books?




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