It’s always OK if we do it! Civilian casualties, why those horrible Israelis, those despicable terrorists. And let us not forget the dastardly Ukrainian (really Russians thinking they are Ukrainians) rebels-you know those guys that blew up a Malaysian airline killing innocent civilians, for which we screamed about from the rooftops, but have absolutely no proof the plane was not, in fact shot down by the Ukrainian air-force in cahoots with the American government. All done in order to create a “remember MH17” war cry allowing grounds to squeeze Putin economically, which we did anyway. No, the death of innocent civilians, women and children is only bad when someone else does it!!
Get it. For Christ’s sake, we are America!
Back in July, Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes suggested to CNN’s Candy Crowley that Israel wasn’t doing enough to avert civilian casualties in Gaza. “I think you can always to more. The U.S. military does that in Afghanistan.”
On August 3rd, ten people, including an undetermined number of civilians, died when an Israeli shell landed on a street near an UNRWA school, leaving the school and its grounds completely undamaged. Before the incident could be properly investigated the U.S. State Department issued a harsh condemnation: “The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah… We once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama announced in May 2013 that no lethal strike against a terrorist would be authorized without “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”
But amid unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties, the White House said this week that U.S. bombing in Iraq and Syria is not being held to the near-certainty standard. And the Pentagon, hamstrung by limitations in intelligence gathering, has been unable to determine in many cases whether the casualty reports are true.
“We do take extreme caution and care in the conduct of these missions,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said. “But there’s risk in any military operation. There’s a special kind of risk when you do air operations.”
When Obama outlined his strategy to fight the Islamic State group earlier this month, he cited as parallels the limited U.S. counterterrorism campaigns in Yemen and Somalia, where American drone missile strikes have targeted al-Qaida-linked militants. Aides said he was also thinking of Pakistan but didn’t mention those strikes because drone killings there are entirely the work of an officially unacknowledged CIA operation.
But when it comes to civilian casualties, it has become clear that the targeted killing model that Obama has expanded and honed throughout his presidency does not apply to the more intensive military operation against the Islamic State and the Khorasan Group in Iraq and Syria.
According to the White House, the reason the near-certainty standard is not applicable turns on a fine point of international law — the theory that the U.S. is not involved in “active hostilities” in Yemen and Somalia, but is in Syria and Iraq. Such distinctions are controversial, given the frequency with which American bombs and bullets have flown in both countries.
A more practical reason is that the self-imposed rules on drone strikes against al-Qaida are simply too restrictive for a conventional military air campaign against the Islamic State group, which the U.S. says is both a terrorist group and an occupying army, and has ordered the Pentagon to destroy.
I trust the Israelis will not lecture the administration that “there is always more to do” to avoid civilian casualties, nor will the Israeli government proclaim itself “appalled” and civilian deaths “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible” when it comes to fighting the Islamic State. The United States spoke in such terms to Israel during the Gaza War, but now has encountered the realities of war. And it turns out there is not always more to do.
President Obama speaks Sept. 18 after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The White House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq. A White House statement to Yahoo News confirming the looser policy came in response to questions about reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children, were killed when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria’s Idlib province on the morning of Sept. 23.
paign against the Islamic State group, which the U.S. says is both a terrorist group and an occupying army, and has ordered the Pentagon to destroy.