By Peter Certo
In a desolated patch of Mosul, Iraq, people are still digging through the rubble. Rescuers wear masks to cover the stench, while anxious family members grow desperate about missing loved ones.
The full story of what happened in the al-Jidideh neighborhood isn’t yet clear, but the toll is unmistakable. A New York Times journalist reported stumbling across charred human limbs, still covered in clothing, while a man stood nearby holding a sign with 27 names — extended family members either missing or dead.
All told, 200 or more civilians may be dead there following a U.S. airstrike on the densely populated neighborhood. The military has acknowledged the strike, but says it’s still investigating the deaths. If the allegations are true, this was by far our deadliest attack on innocents in decades.
The carnage comes amid a push by the U.S. and its Iraqi allies to reclaim Mosul, Iraq’s second most populous city, from the Islamic State (or ISIS).
That’s making life terrifying for the city’s residents, who’ve endured years of depredations from ISIS only to fall under U.S. bombs — and to face possible human rights abuses from Iraqi soldiers they don’t trust. “Now it feels like the coalition is killing more people than ISIS,” one resident told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper.
Unfortunately, that may not be so far from the truth. AirWars, which tracks civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, counted over 1,300 reports of civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in March alone. That’s about triple the count from February.
In fact, AirWars estimates, more U.S. coalition strikes are now causing civilian casualties than strikes by Russia, which was loudly (and appropriately) accused of war crimes for its bombing of Aleppo, Syria last year.
Is this the simple result of the fight heating up in Mosul? Not quite.
In the same month, at least 30 civilians were reported killed by a U.S. airstrike outside Raqqa, Syria — where the real battle with ISIS hasn’t even begun yet — and up to 50 more may have died when the U.S. bombed a mosque in Aleppo.
Instead, some observers suspect the Trump administration is relaxing Obama-era rules designed to limit civilian casualties in war zones. They deny this, but the Times reports that field commanders appear to be exercising more latitude to launch strikes in civilian-heavy areas than before.
During the campaign, Trump himself famously promised to “bomb the s—” out of ISIS. That sounds extreme, and it is.
But it’s only a few steps beyond the Obama administration’s approach of gradually expanding our air wars outside the public eye. Trump’s just taking it to another level by putting virtually all key foreign policy decisions in military hands, while gutting resources for diplomacy and humanitarian aid.
The human costs of this will be enormous. The political costs will be, too.
The U.S. has been “bombing the s—” out of Iraq for decades now, which has consistently created more terrorists than it’s killed. Extremists are flourishing in Iraq. The same can’t be said for the civilians now burying their dead in Mosul.
Of course, ISIS is guilty of its own innumerable atrocities. But the war-torn sectarian politics that gave rise to the group are a direct result of this military-first foreign policy. There’s simply no reason to believe that reducing Iraq’s cities to rubble will give way to less extremism in their ashes.
Iraqis will still have to wrest their country back from ISIS. But if it’s ever going to get back on its feet, what the country truly needs is a political solution. That’s going to require a surge of aid, diplomacy, and honest brokering — all of which are in short supply now.
Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of OtherWords.org.
Richard Smith says
Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. That’s what we did in World War II with Japan and they surrendered a few days later. That won’t happen with ISIS though. They will never surrender. They would rather die at the hands of their adversaries than surrender. Did any of the terrorists give a rats ass about the thousands of our civilians that have died at their hands either with planes, bombs, AK47’s, or very sharp machetes, etc? Nope! How many Vietnam civilians died for no reason along side the 58220 US military personnel? Over 1 million has been estimated. And what did that war prove?
I say nuke the entire country until the sand turns to glass.
The idiot in the White House could care less about innocent civilians dying.The bombing in Syria was nothing more than The trumpster having a “wag the dog ” moment. If you think this jerk has a heart than I have a bridge I want sell you.
while I agree there is no perfect way to handle this situation , doing nothing is not the answer . middle eastern terrorists have proved to be sub-humans and to do nothing means those same civilians will continue to live constantly in fear of beheading, stoning, rapes and even the luckiest of them have someone waiting for them to break sharia law so they can impose a severe punishment . Watch the reports on the internet, the leader have every intention of infiltrating THIS country and how would a liberal deal with it if they did . My knowledge of politics is average at best, but after 9/11 I am for anything proactive toward the removal of terrorists and I can’t understand how anyone could think there’s a polite way to accomplish it.
Richard Smith says
There are millions upon millions of US citizens assembling in line to either build or buy bridges. You should be a very wealthy person one day!
Lets not forget our fav President Mr Obama. His commands killed civilians to. But, !
Obama embraced the US drone programme, overseeing more strikes in his first year than Bush carried out during his entire presidency. A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries
For those foolish enough to still be supporting trump. . . have a look at how he’s spending YOUR campaign contributions. . . this from MSNBC:
Donald Trump’s re-election fundraising is already going gangbusters, and so is the income his own businesses are reaping from the contributions. The president’s 2020 campaign has already spent close to $500,000 on Trump’s businesses, from golf resorts to Trump Tower rent, according to new campaign finance filings.
The spending is similar to the pattern in Trump’s first presidential campaign when a significant chunk of contributions went to his own companies. In the single month of May last year, Trump’s campaign spent more than $1 million on catering, rents and utilities at more than a half-dozen Trump-owned companies and properties. The campaign spent $350,000 alone to Trump’s TAG Air for the use of private jets and helicopters.
According to the latest reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, Trump has spent $6.3 million in re-election funds the first quarter of the year. Among the nearly half-a-million dollars spent on Trump operations, $274,000 was paid in rent to Trump Tower in Manhattan where the re-election operation is headquartered, according to a tally of the reported figures totted up by the Wall Street Journal. An additional $59,000 was spent on stays at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, and $14,000 went for food and rent to the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
The campaign raised $13.2 million through three committees the first quarter, and has a staff of 20. As of the end of March the campaign had $16 million in the bank, Politico reports
The filings also reveal the salaries of Trump’s reelection workers, including 27-year-old John Pence, nephew of Vice President Mike Pence, who was paid $40,000 for the first three months of the year.
One of the biggest payments went to the San Antonio digital media firmrun by the campaign’s digital director Brad Parscale, which raked in a cool $1.6 million.
Trump’s re-election fundraising is already the target of a complaint by Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center. The complaint, filed with the Federal Election Commission, accused the campaign of improperly encouraging donors to contribute the maximum allowed by law twice, once for retiring old campaign debt (which doesn’t exist, according to the watchdog organizations), then again for the 2020 race.
There have been way to many nuts in the white house in the last 25 years not to mention those crazy life time achievers in Congress. The only way to fix this is with Congressional term limits. 12 years and your out.