Friday, April 8, 2011

When You Accidentally Kill People, Say You're Sorry

I was a supporter of NATO airstrikes in Libya before this, and I'll continue to be one (I'm still thinking that lives saved because of intervention >> lives lost because of it). But bombing rebel-controlled tanks is a awful awful mistake, especially since they're a military resource in very short supply for the good guys, and our people should do better. I don't know a whole lot about the underlying situation, and how much NATO knew and could've known, so let me just turn this into a point about apologies, which I know something about. The following is completely wrong:
“I am not apologizing,” [British Rear Adm. Russell Harding] said. “The situation on the ground was and remains extremely fluid, and until yesterday we did not have information that (rebel) forces are using tanks.”
So. When I accidentally step on someone's foot, I apologize. When I'm on a subway car and it unpredictably shakes and I bump against somebody hard, I apologize. If I had false information and I acted on it and people I liked got bombed to death, I damn well would apologize.
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