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Is it acceptable to target (i.e. kill) civilians in war?

Civilian casualties are inevitable in war, but is it an acceptable strategy to explicitly target civilians?

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Experts and Influencers

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Experts In Philosophy

Jeffrey Teal    Christian Philosophy Professor
...if the enemy deliberately places his forces in a manner to increase the losses to noncombatants because he knows we’ll not shoot at those forces... we are justified in worrying less about noncombatant casualties as a result of this or that attack, because if we don’t worry less here and now, the number of noncombatant casualties overall will increase significantly.
01 Apr 2003    Source

Jeff McMahan    Philosophy Professor
Mostly Agree
Doubtless most readers retain a strong sense that opening the door to intentional attacks on noncombatants is profoundly dangerous. ...combatants should always experience deep inhibitions against attacking noncombatants. ...it is very seldom permissible, even according to the responsibility criterion, to attack noncombatants. Yet the temptation to attack them is very strong, both among those with political grievances who lack military power and among those who control powerful military forces.
04 Aug 2006    Source

Experts In War

Harry Truman    United States President,1945-1953
The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. But that attack is only a warning of things to come. If Japan does not surrender, bombs will have to be dropped on her war industries and, unfortunately, thousands of civilian lives will be lost. I urge Japanese civilians to leave industrial cities immediately, and save themselves from destruction.
09 Aug 1945    Source

Osama Bin Laden    Former Leader of Al Qaeda
And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor [i.e. the United States] in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.
01 Nov 2004    Source

Experts In Politics

Khaled Mashal    Leader of Hamas 2003-
So the Palestinian finds himself going directly to fight for the resistance. This is his duty. As the French fought the Nazis, and in the American revolution, as the Vietnamese people fought, as did the South African. ... The suicide bombings began after Israel killed people at the Hebron mosque in 1994. Israel killed during prayers in the Mosque and as an ordinary reaction the Palestinian people started defending themselves.
31 Mar 2008    Source

Experts In War

Winston Churchill    Former Prime Minister of U.K.
Mostly Disagree
It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror though under other pretexts should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land. The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of allied bombing. I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives rather than the mere acts of terror and mass destruction, however impressive.
28 Mar 1945    Source

Experts In Politics

Mahatma Gandhi    Indian Political and Spiritual Leader
There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.
01 Jan 1927    Source


Add Your TakeOnIt (click to expand, no login required)
0 Points      Capricious      25 Mar 2015      Stance on Question: Disagree
No effing way.

0 Points      Cam      26 Jan 2012      Stance on Question: Disagree
No you cannot kill unarmed people. You cannot kill children. Violence is only legitimate as an EQUAL response to an act of aggression, or a strong threat of aggression. Otherwise it is reactionary barbarism. If a person is trying to shoot you, you can shoot them. But a government is not a country. If a government's military attacks you, you cannot attack civilians, you can only attack the military, however unpractical that is.