We're seeing it with the neocons and administration officials, who suddenly think its inexcusable that Syria has apparently deployed chemical arms against its populace. And it is! The use of such weaponry is barbaric and beyond the bounds of all civilized behavior. The people pulling the trigger are monsters.
But they were monsters before they dropped their unholy chemical concoction in that Damascus neighborhood. With over 100,000 dead in the conflict, there have been no shortage of monsters. No lack of uncivilized behavior. No deficit of barbarism.
So to pretend that a line has been crossed and that this kind of murder is somehow worse than that other kind of murder is bizarre. War is nasty business. That's why we oppose it and should do everything possible to avoid it. A war casualty doesn't care how he or she died. Not sure why the rest of us should.
But it's not just the neocons who obsess over delivery mechanisms. On the Left, there's much anger regarding drone strikes. Are people killed by drone strikes and less dead than those killed by an F-16 bombing sortie? Or an A-10 straffing run? Or a special ops sniper team? Or a Tomahawk cruise missile? Or a platoon of infantrymen or marines? Or a CIA hit squad?
War is nasty business, and combatants will find the most efficient way to kill the enemy while minimizing the damage done to its own troops. Heck, military planners would be committing occupational malpractice if they didn't seek ways to do that—kill the most enemy without suffering casualties of their own.
And that's the problem with war. It has nothing to do with chemical weapons or drones, and everything to do with the simple fact that war is barbaric and it gets people killed. How that death is delivered is irrelevant.