Unintended Consequences

Ackerman: Goldstone Standard Could be Trouble for U.S. | The New York Observer

“I would contend that on any given month during the war in Iraq and the war in Afgahnistan and Pakistan, in one month probably more innocent civilians are killed by American troops – unintended consequences – than in the whole Gaza incursion.

“And if the international community thinks that they can condemn Israel and accuse it of war crimes, based on the Goldstone Report, which is intended to delegitimize the very existence of the state of Israel, than it’s not just Israeli soldiers and Israeli officials, but the very president of the United States or any American soldier, if they decide to apply those same standards to us or anybody else, that’s in danger of being arrested, locked up, and put on trial in the Hague, for the same thing Israel is being accused of right now.”

Whether Ackerman’s contention is true I have no idea, and no doubt his own definition of what constitutes an innocent civilian informs this contention. However, many civilians are being killed by NATO and US forces, and it would be an excellent thing indeed if the Goldstone Report were put to the use he foresees, however unlikely.

As for the ‘unintended consequences’: if you launch a missile into a civilian population, it will probably kill civilians as a consequence. To say that civilian death is an unintended consequence in these circumstances is like saying that getting drunk was an unintended consequence of necking a bottle of whiskey in one, because you only wanted to savour the taste and had no plans to get drunk.

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February 2010

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