Thousands of children have died in Iraq. No one denies this. Of course, there is a war going on over there. Everyone knows people die in a war, sometimes even civilians. Some of these deaths were accidents, where our military acted rashly and just plain made a mistake. Some of these deaths were just kids in the wrong place at the wrong time, who got caught up in the crossfire. But some of them were “enemy combatants”.
Now I know that we were warned when we went into Iraq that our soldiers might be fighting “twelve and fourteen year old boys”, because those crazy Iraqis were evil enough to send their children in to fight for them. Those boys never materialized, but I wasn’t talking about them, anyway.
I’m talking about the Kevlar Kids. The ones the enemy uses as shields.
Now I am against this war in general, but I can talk rationally about it. I can debate the rationale for war, I can respect the men and women out there fighting it for our side. I can discuss strategy, and even give credit to those with whom I do not agree, but who truly believe that this war was the right choice for this country. Until someone brings up the Kevlar Kids.
It usually goes something like this:
Me: Did you hear about the latest military fiasco in [somewhere in Iraq] where we took down a house that had six kids in it, killing everyone?
Noble Opponent: Yeah, gosh, it’s terrible that we have to do those things.
Me: It really is. And those poor kids, and their parents…you know, this doesn’t help us earn their repect.
Noble Opponent: Those kids were shields used by the enemy. We can’t back away from an attack just because the enemy hides behind children.
This is where I loose my even-handed approach to debate.
Think about those words, and their import. We are perfectly justified in killing children because the enemy is hiding behind them.
What have we become? If The Enemy is evil and barbaric for using children as shields, are we less so when we blast them to pieces? And what exactly do we mean by “using them as shields”, anyway? I know we like to think of Arabs as ignorant, but I’m pretty sure they know their kids are not bulletproof. If an “enemy combatant” or “suspected terrorist” goes home in the evening to get some dinner, and we attack him there…was he hiding behind his children?
From a more pragmatic perspective, in killing innocent children, are we stopping terrorism? If you saw your little sister’s head rolling across the floor when you were eight, would you support the people who did it? Ever?
No, you will grow up to hate them. You will grow up to view them in the same two-dimensional light in which they viewed your family. They aren’t people, they are murderers, and you become not a person, but a terrorist. You want to see those poor, oppressed Muslim women come out of their shell? Keep killing their children. They’ll come out with a bomb strapped to their chests. And while you’re at it, do you want to watch a good, noble man become a crazed maniac? Tell him to go kill a child. It strips him of his humanity, and he knows it. After that, he has lost his faith in himself. He can retreat into a hard shell of “following orders from those who know more than he does” or he can go mad.
This is the United States. We are innovative, powerful, and pervasive. We can afford to wait a little while. We can afford to have a conscience. We can afford to make choices that are morally superior to our “enemies”. In saying we had no choice but to kill the children, we become terrorists ourselves.