by Kevin Drum
July 22, 2006
CIVILIANS....Alan Dershowitz argues today that all those civilians being killed in Lebanon may not really be civilians after all:
We need a new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare. A new phrase should be introduced into the reporting and analysis of current events in the Middle East: Though cumbersome, this concept aptly captures the reality and nuance of warfare today and provides a more fair way to describe those who are killed, wounded and punished.
[Lengthy distinction then drawn between truly innocent civilians vs. civilians who support or sympathize with terrorist groups.]
The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims.
Excepting the lame and the sick, then, anyone who declines to leave their home despite Israeli orders to do so is, ipso facto, complicit with terrorism and presumably fair game once the Israeli invasion gets under way. How they get totted up after the killing is over depends on where they fall on Dershowitz's nebulous "continuum."
This is very clever. Alan Dershowitz, after all, is nothing if not very clever. But I wonder how he'd respond to a similarly clever and nuanced definition of the word "terrorist"?