Re: Clinton, US citizen responsibility vs Milosevic and Serbians

Elizabeth Childs (
Tue, 29 Jun 1999 13:53:03 -0700

Brian D Williams wrote:

> In a dictatorship they do not share responsibility, in a
> representational republic, we do.

> >by that standard, the students who died at Tianamen square would
> >be as culpable as the soldiers who killed them.

> ?????

Imagine an apartment building in Beijing. "Civilians" live there. Of those civilians, 15 are former members of the People's Liberation Army. 5 have been in the Lao Gai, the Chinese Gulag, for opposing the government. 25 silently oppose the current regime. 25 vocally support the current regime. 50 have no opinion, and try to get by from day to day without getting into trouble.

Who deserves to die? If it is morally acceptable to bomb civilian targets on the premise that those civilians were supporting an enemy regime, then it would be moral to blow that building up whether it would be useful to a military campaign or not. Clearly, that premise is false.

There may be legitimate military reasons to bomb civilian targets, even if innocent people die as a result. But the US has a sufficiently powerful military to make avoiding blowing up civilians a reasonable goal, and I think that's commendable.