Why are armies able to get away unpunished with civilian kills, but if a civilian killed someone by accident, he would be punished?


There were many US drone strikes, airstrikes, etc. in the Middle East and most often, civilians were killed. Why were the perpetrators not punished for this?

In: Other

“Oh yeah? You and who’s army?”

Because the killings were authorized, whether intentional or accidental. It’s backed by the government, so the person is acting on the government’s behalf.

That’s not to say anyone can just kill indiscriminately because it is war. Charges can be filed when soldiers are acting outside orders. But it can be very hard to prove.

I guess you can put a US vs anti-US spin on any issue if you want to ignore inconvenient facts.

A cynical but perhaps realistic view is that for the most part of humanity’s history, “Might makes right”. If you have the biggest force, the will to use it and the wealth to maintain it; you set the rules. This is still evident when you consider the number of military supported governments and authoritarian states, Russia annexing parts of Ukraine, stuff happening all over the world. If you are willing to use force and no one with sufficient force is willing to oppose you, you get your way.

Although we may declare matters of universal human rights and sanctity of life, these are just words unless they are backed with sufficient force. The reality is that when ideals meet reality, reality usually wins. If you want to enforce a moral viewpoint, it is very likely you’ll have to violate that moral viewpoint in order to have it adopted broadly. Irony.

There are laws that govern warfare that the US, all NATO and couple other countries follow. As long as the acts of war fall within those realms, collateral damage is expected to a degree. Unfortunately it is war, not a soccer game. Innocent people are killed. However, when non-combatants and combatants alike, are killed outside those rules then soldiers go to trial for those alleged crimes. Many members of the armed forces have been brought up on these types of charges and convicted. Another problem in the current conflict is that the enemy is not bound by these rules so they engage US and allied forces in ways that make the loss of life for non-combatants extremely difficult to prevent. If you search Laws of War you can read the governing documents for warfare.

International Humanitarian Law allows combatants to engage in these acts w/ other combatants.
The rules also state that anyone who is not a combatant or no longer a combatant should not be attacked during war.
Unfortunately however, in times of war, it is difficult to distinguish combatants from non combatants which often lives to civilians being injured.
Sometimes, people just break the rules because they don’t like following them or don’t care about others as long as they get what they want.
It’s like a soccer match where one team completely disregards the referee and gets away with it.