Zygmunt Bauman, Collateral Damage

Bauman Danni Collaterali

On February 13, 1991, during the first Gulf War, U.S. planes bombed a shelter in the Amiriyah neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, killing 408 civilians. The Pentagon held Saddam Hussein’s regime responsible for “deliberately hosting civilians in military installations to serve as human shields”. In such case, as every time the weapons deployed factor out any conceivable technical error, we have grown accustomed to parley about collateral damage. A memorandum issued by the U.S. Air Force (USAF Intelligence Targeting Guide — AIR FORCE PAMPHLET 14- 210 Intelligence) broadly defines collateral damage as “unintentional damage or incidental damage affecting facilities, equipment or personnel occurring as a result of military actions directed against targeted enemy forces or facilities”. In other words, whilst achieving a high death toll among civilians is arguably not top priority in military actions, such casualties are easily dismissed as not important enough to justify the costs of their prevention, especially in the face of the massive vested interests which are usually at stake in war.

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