I continue to have suspicions that humans are in fact sophisticated (or praps *not* so sophisticated) artificial intelligences. As a species, we seem to need things to be ones or zeros, and struggle with complexity. “If you’re against bombing ISIS, it means you support ISIS.” No. Firstly, it’s not going to be ‘bombing ISIS’, it’s going to be ‘bombing Syria’. There are plenty of people living there who are not ISIS people, or terrorists of any sort. They are people who would actually rather like all this fighting and dying to stop, so they can rebuild their lives and go back to working in the greengrocers that used to be at the end of the street.
Secondly, this isn’t Star Wars. Most conflicts don’t have clear cut Goodies and Baddies. EVERYONE believes they are the Good Guys. Very few humans are actually evil psychopaths who take pleasure in killing (although there seem to be rather a lot who take an unwholesome pleasure in wielding power). There was a documentary about Syria several years back that illustrated this. Fighters on both sides absolutely believed they were justified in attacking the other. As the conflict wages on, and more people lose those they hold most dear, the passion for retribution accelerates – enabling the politicians to sit back. Whatever it started out as, now it’s also “I will kill you to avenge my father!”
Having said that, anyone that has the firepower to kill people by the millions, and uses that power with aplomb, is unlikely to have your best interests at heart. So I think Assad is Not a Very Nice Chap. Does that therefore mean I ‘side’ with the rebels, or, heaven forfend, ISIS? No. It gives me some understanding as to the motivation of the rebels – desperate people will do desperate things – but I’m not on the ‘side’ of anyone that’s committing atrocities and perpetuating carnage.
I’m on the side of the poor buggers caught in the crossfire. Who have no say in the matter. The people we’re condemning to death, or a life of fear and misery, or the life of the refugee, by sending in our bombers.
To those who believe that ‘collateral damage’ is just a terribly unfortunate side effect of Getting the Bad Guys – would you feel the same if you were told your family had to die, in the name of peace? I’ll wager it’s no consolation to the woman whose son’s head’s been blown off, or to the child whose family all died when their bombed home crushed them, that the people they loved died ‘for the greater good’.
Binary is great for computations. It doesn’t apply to decisions that affect people’s lives.
There will be no winners here. Other than the arms manufacturers and dealers. And the crows.