Kashmir Hill, a colleague and journalist in Hong Kong, commemorates her friend:
I was concerned when I got that e-mail, with the continuing instability and violence in Afghanistan. But I thought she would manage to steer clear of the violence. She was an aid worker. Why would anyone target her? I don’t know why, but they did: “Three aid workers killed in Afghan attack.”
Such is the tragedy of terrorism, by which I don’t mean the typical “we’re in a new world with new threats” cliche. I mean that an overlooked component of terrorism is that it can occur in places other than crowded subways and populated malls. It can occur in war zones.
The temptation is great in a post-modern, post-warrior society to assume that all war zones are places of terror. But there are rules of engagement that serve the purpose of allowing a civilian population relief from the war that surrounds them. We’ve been taught that “peace” is the hallmark of a civilized society. It’s an unfortunate mistruth, because “peace” (where conflict doesn’t exist) can really only happen when one power submits to another. But if you can accept war as an inevitable part of human existence, then you see that the rules of engagement may be a better measure of civilized society. Kidnapping and beheading innocents on purpose is a less humane act than mistakenly targeting the wrong building. At least soldiers obey cease-fires.
Nicole Dial, the brave aid worker who was killed, was acting with compassion. What we fail to see is that even “compassion” is seen by our enemies as a weapon, one that can only be countered by cruelty. If ever it should occur to you that we might possibly be on the wrong side in pursuing terrorists, I should think our choice of arms should provide comfort. Nicole Dial chose compassion.
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