A World Without Civilians
Mary Kaldor claimed that before World War II one civilian died for every eight combatants, that figure inversed with eight civilians dying for every soldier afterward. Kaldor’s averages are only slightly different in the post-9/11 era of “humane war” where civilians now comprise 90 per cent of wartime casualties. In an attempt to justify illegal acts of collective punishment and targeted assassinations, states have declared civilians “collateral damage” (acceptable casualties) and “human shields” (permissible targets). Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini have systematically documented how blurring the distinction between combatant and non-combatant has served states that seek to efface protections civilians are afforded under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In Gaza, as conflict zones in Syria and Chechnya, civilians are declared “human shields” even while they attempt to flee areas for safety or live inside “safe zones.” These new norms of genocidal warfare are an ominous portent for a posthuman future in which entire populations are no longer categorized civilian.
Journal of Genocide Research
Gaza, Israel, Palestine, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, war
Semerdjian, Elyse, "A World Without Civilians" (2024). History. 3.