Collateral damages


Collateral damages as a result of lacking precision or efforts in targeting an objective sometimes demonstrate more than ignorance on the side of the perpetrator or the causal agent in a multi-agent system. Whereas mere ignorance appears as human weakness of not knowing or not realizing existing standards, it is not a problem that can't be solved, rather one that regularly reveals a need for education or practice.

 Efforts that are undertaken to avoid collateral damages may start with rules being laid out for rational agents to interact accordingly. However, such rules even if accompanied with the threat of more or less severe punishments do not always work on it's own. Ignorance doesn't bear the competence of overcoming human weaknesses such as not being aware of regulations or not realizing a rule ad hoc.

 For example traffic rules, e.g. in Australia, defining the minimum distance to a bicycle driver while overtaking as one meter are not always followed. An agent or a participant in the traffic ignoring this rule might cause collateral damage on the cyclist. In such case the threat of punishment did not help to enforce the rule even though damages might be as severe as related punishments.

 And that is exactly the problem. Whereas road kill by some drivers is seen as good side effect in getting rid of vermin it is the complete opposite in case of killed bicycle drivers. The later case tragically constitute ignored traffic rules maybe with life long consequences for the driver. Cyclists are not animals!

 A good and promising way to avoid collateral damages while dealing with humane uncertainties is training. The US-Army does enormous efforts to even avoid collateral damages on the battlefield by training their troops in dealing with civilians accordingly. Training is probably the best method for overcoming ignorance towards rules. In case of battlefields the basic rule enshrined in article 48 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention requires that parties to a conflict distinguish between civilian persons and combatants, and that the later have to direct their operations against military persons only.

 While human ignorance might be best addressed with training, it wouldn't help in case of laws having been willingly quashed. History reveals terrible examples of such devilish will shown by narcissistically oriented leaders as presence does.

 The actual attacking combatants in a so called war on drugs can kill hundreds of civilians without being hold liable. The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, justifies even the killing of children with automatic weapons as self defense of combatants. It is his outspoken will to neglect international laws and to deal with civilians in a most reckless way by declaring police's self defense as main objective in a political motivated war against drugs with around 9000 murdered Pinoys (extra judicially killed Filipinos) as of today. "It could not be negligence because (of self defense of the combatant) you have to save your life. It could not be recklessness (again) because you have to defend your self." 

Why would an overwhelming majority of people in the Philippines support such an act of cruelty? This is a more global question being dramatically squeezed out in the Philippines, most probably the cruelest place on earth right now with more monthly extrajudicial killings than in the Syrian conflict. A recent study by Hemant Kakkar and Niro Sivanathan of the Department of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School, presents answers: "When the appeal of a dominant leader is greater than a prestige leader". The study shows how economic uncertainty affects individual's psychological feelings of lack of personal control resulting in a greater preference for dominant/authoritarian over admired/respected leaders.

But what can we do beside understanding this cruelty and giving a last respect to each of the murdered people? Pulling over to avoid collateral damages for following the rules of humanity (whenever being mistaken for road kill also in self defense!)


gerhard tschoepke