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Da Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst

Since the early 2000s, the use of drones in warfare has increasingly moved to the center of US military planning and engagement. Several successive US presidents, most notably Barack Obama, have promised that the use of all-seeing drones and precision bombs would reduce civilian casualties. However, documents released by the New York Times show that intelligence information is incorrect, that the targets were chosen incorrectly, that there have been civilian casualties for years, and that there is little accountability.

The New York Times shockingly describes several cases in which civilians in the Middle East, including children, were killed by US drone strikes without it being a war crime. The cases described come from a Pentagon secret archive on US airstrikes in the Middle East since 2014, which is the beginning of the US campaign against ISIS.

The documents revealed that the US military believed there had been more than 1,300 reports of civilian casualties in US air strikes. The author of the article, Azmat Khan, said the revealed documents “reveal how air warfare was characterized by deeply inaccurate intelligence, rushed and often inaccurate targets, and the deaths of thousands of civilians, including many children, in stark contrast. with the framework of the American government. faces a war waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs ”.

He added that “despite the Pentagon’s highly codified system for investigating civilian casualties, the promises of transparency and accountability have given way to opacity and impunity.” “and” none of the reports submitted contain an assessment of misconduct or disciplinary action. “

Although the merciless US airstrikes have injured thousands of people, including survivors with severe disabilities and costly medical bills, fewer than a dozen condolences were paid to the victims. This finding is not surprising when one considers that efforts to identify causes or learn from intelligence service failures are rare.

Obama described the attacks on ISIS as “the most accurate air campaign in history” and praised it as better protection for both troops and civilians. This view, however, was contradicted by Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the United States Central Command. In response to the Times’ questions, he said that “even with the best technology in the world, errors occur, whether due to incomplete information or a misinterpretation of available information.”

Although he said the US is trying to “learn from these mistakes”, “[…] By working diligently to avoid such damage “and” investigating every credible case “the evidence proves otherwise, as hidden documents regularly show civilians as collateral victims.

The Times, says Khan, “did what military officials admit they did not do: they analyzed victim assessments in their entirety to identify failed education, decision-making and execution patterns.” the civilian death toll from the US attacks is certainly much higher than the 1,417 casualties the Pentagon has admitted.

The London newspaper found that many civilian casualties were summarily ignored, on-the-spot reports containing a selection of credible cases were dismissed and few lessons learned.

Unsurprisingly, when chat transcripts accompanying some reviews show that US soldiers treat drone strikes like video games, no lessons have been learned. In one recorded case, US soldiers expressed their delight at being able to shoot an area allegedly teeming with ISIS fighters, without discovering the children in their midst. By pulling soldiers off the ground and placing them behind a computer monitor, you not only reduce the level of awareness on the ground, but you also desensitize soldiers to the social and family effects their criminal activities have on ordinary civilians.

Captain Urban tries to minimize this desensitization by stating that drone operators often “do not have the luxury of time” and that “the fog of war can lead to decisions that tragically damage the civilian population.”

However, in another documented case in Mosul in 2016, three civilians were killed in an attack approved by the United States for choosing to retain more accurate weapons for other upcoming attacks. Indeed, the Times analysis found that civilians were often killed in airstrikes planned well in advance. This speaks to Captain Urban’s claims that there is “collateral damage”, a mockery. Worryingly, some of these “side scans” were found to last only 11 seconds.

This intelligence-gathering neglect has led to targeted attacks on schools, bakeries and hospitals in Syria and Iraq, especially after they were removed from the non-strike list. For all the benevolence of US supporters, especially their “humanitarian interventions” (while publicizing their occupations in Syria and Iraq), their use of drones is truly something of an amazing: operators are treating the attacks like video games, thousands of innocent civilians (including children) are wiped out and there is no recourse or liability.

There are virtually no courts, judges and prosecutions for some of the worst war crimes in modern history.


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