Why Do States Kill Civilians?

In recent days, there’s been much talk of how the Syrian government is killing civilians in Syria. Most people have been inclined to view this as manifest evidence that the Syrian government is run by malevolent and/or insane individuals. I think this response is too quick and too dismissive. Throughout history, states have often killed civilians. The individuals who give the orders that civilians be killed are not all uniformly evil or crazy. There is some purpose that states seek to achieve by targeting civilians, and today I wish to shed some light on what that purpose is.

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