Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Why the Pentagon can’t put an end to civilian deaths

By Joel Mathis The Week

Following the botched U.S. drone strike that killed 10 members of an Afghan family last year, the Pentagon has announced a new plan to reduce civilian deaths in America’s wars abroad. The Defense Department will set up a “civilian protection center of excellence” to develop policies and rules, institute new reporting requirements, and make the issue a priority in battle planning.

Preventing the deaths of innocents “is a strategic and moral imperative,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memorandum to senior defense officials.

This is commendable. I’m just not sure if the new rules will work.

The New York Times has recently produced a series of investigative reports focusing on the U.S. war against ISIS in Syria, documenting a number of incidents in which civilians were killed or threatened. There was a 2017 strike on a dam that risked the lives of tens of thousands of people living downstream, and a 2019 bombardment that killed dozens of Syrian civilians. Both events were part of a broader pattern of U.S. forces unleashing deadly force with only the barest discrimination between terrorist fighters and the civilians who deserved protection.


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