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article imageBen Carson: Killing thousands of innocent people is 'merciful'

By Brett Wilkins     Dec 16, 2015 in Politics
Las Vegas - The topic of Tuesday's Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas was national security and in a display of hawkish one-upmanship, several of the leading GOP candidates justified the killing of innocent civilians in the war against Islamist terrorism.
Donald Trump, who recently said he would "bomb the shit out of" Islamic State, was the first to speak about the possibility of intentionally killing entire families to bring terrorists to their knees. Responding to a question from a student who asked, “How would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS," Trump replied that America must "be much tougher and much stronger than we’ve been" thus far.
Thus far, the United States has invaded, attacked and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, while bombing those countries plus Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya, over the past 14 years in response to the Islamist terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Estimates of the number of people killed over this period range from the low hundreds of thousands to more than 1.3 million. The high civilian death toll is widely believed to increase, not destroy, terrorism, although some of the current crop of Republican presidential candidates don't think America's war on terror is being fought with sufficient intensity.
“I would be very, very firm with families,” said Trump, a thinly-veiled threat to kill innocent civilians. “Frankly, that will make people think, because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.”
Ben Carson compared killing innocent people to performing brain surgery. When moderator and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked whether the retired pediatric neurosurgeon would be "ruthless" enough to “order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands," Carson drew his analogy.
“Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor,” Carson said. “They’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me.”
“And by the same token,” Carson continued, “you have to be able to look at the big picture, and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather death by a thousand pricks.”
“So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilians?” Hewitt asked and was loudly booed by the debate audience.
"You got it," Carson affirmed. The audience cheered robustly.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who earlier this month raised eyebrows when he implied a willingness to use nuclear weapons to make "sand glow in the dark" and who said he would "carpet bomb" Islamic State "into oblivion," appeared almost dovish in comparison to Trump and Carson on Tuesday. Cruz clarified his carpet bombing remarks, stressing such tactics would not be employed in densely populated areas.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush was less hawkish, saying he would increase the military and use it when necessary but called Trump's plan to target terrorists' families "crazy." Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) added that deliberately killing civilians is a war crime under domestic and international law.
“If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize there is something called the Geneva Convention that we would have to pull out of,” said Paul. “It would defy every norm.”
Indeed, purposefully slaughtering civilians during wartime is considered a crime against humanity and is explicitly banned under the Hague and Geneva Conventions, to which the United States is signatory.
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