I'm a great admirer of Howard Zinn. And I want to bring you several passages from an article he wrote entitled Why War Fails:
I remember John Hersey's novel The War Lover, in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people, and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. George Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier, and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be an embodiment of the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine equally impotent....More important than the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time always results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms....If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the ground that a "suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word "suspected" as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), it is argued that the resulting deaths of women and children is not intended, therefore "accidental." The deaths of innocent people in bombing may not be intentional. Neither are they accidental. The proper description is "inevitable."
So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a "deliberate" attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of people dying inevitably in "accidental" events has been far greater than all the deaths of innocent people deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reconsider the morality of war, any war in our time.
...More than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by U.S. bombs, presumably by "accident." Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the twentieth century and they do not equal that awful toll.If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism.
And please, people, don't bring up the "Well, what about Hitler?" argument. Hitler notwithstanding, we need to decide as a species whether or not we want to survive. And, if we don't learn to settle our differences some other way besides war, we won't. Suppose, however, that we put the energy and will behind fighting global warming that we currently put behind fighting wars. Then, and only then, we just might have a chance.