Just War and Gaza
Michael Buerk presents combative, provocative and engaging debate. How do you fight a just war when civilians are in the firing line?
The gruesome and heart rending pictures this week of the broken and shattered bodies of innocent people caught in the cross fire has demonstrated just how rotten the euphemism "collateral damage" really is. As the body count rises and we try to make a judgement between right and wrong and competing narratives of victimhood we're confronted by the terrible calculation "how many innocent victims are acceptable? When does a military operation go from being a legitimate act of war or self-defence to being disproportionate, illegal and immoral? It's a fact that many more Palestinians have died than have Israelis in the current bombardment and that's been the case in previous conflicts too. Would it be more morally acceptable is more Israeli's were killed? How should we factor intent in to the equation? Israel says it's targeting military Hamas rockets and does it's best to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians in Israel and using civilians as human shields in Gaza; a moot point if you're in the firing line or your child has just been killed by a missile. Do more powerful states have a higher moral duty, even if those they're fighting for have no moral qualms when it comes to the fight? As the conflict in Gaza and the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner have demonstrated, civilians are now increasingly in the front line and the line
between combatant and civilian is often not clear, how does that change the rules of just warfare? Moral Maze - Presented by Michael Buerk. Panellists: Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser and Jill Kirby. Witnesses: Colonel Richard Kemp, Mehdi Hasan, Dr Hugo Slim and Ted Honderich.