And hear this, please. In Western Afghanistan, where NATO forces are involved in some of the deadliest fighting since January, among the 136 dead this morning, suspect Taliban. But there are others — 51 villagers, mostly women and children. Might not the news media put a stop to such "pulled-punches wars" as this, if we would just desist from categorizing "civilians"? It was "civilians," for goodness' sake, who decapitated New York City. Since the invention of the aerial bomb five wars ago, there have been no "civilians."
~ Paul Harvey, News and Comment, 2 May 2007 (listen here)
It appears to me that Mr. Harvey is engaging in a loose categorization of the parties in war in order to justify his unwillingness to discriminate between legitimate and illegitimate targets in war.
While it was, in fact, "civilians" who "decapitated New York City" on 9/11, they weren't merely civilians, but members of a criminal subset of civilians known as "murderers." And the American civilians who died in the 9/11 attacks were another subset of civilians — "victims."
But if we accept Paul Harvey's specious reasoning in order to assuage our consciences re. Afghan and Iraqi non-combatants killed in the Global War on Terror, then we have no choice but to conclude that the victims of the 9/11 attacks weren't civilians, either.
You can't have it both ways, Mr. Harvey.