From Paul Antonopoulos he is an independent geopolitical analyst
Since the early 2000s, the use of drones in warfare has moved more and more into the focus of military planning and US engagement. Several successive US presidents, particularly Barack Obama, promised that the use of all-seeing drones and precision bombs would reduce civilian casualties. However, documents published by the New York Times show that the intelligence information is flawed, that the targets were wrongly chosen, that there have been civilian deaths for years, and that there are few responsibilities.
The New York Times shockingly describes several cases in which civilians in the Middle East, including children, have been killed by US drone strikes without it being a war crime. The cases described come from a secret Pentagon archive about American air strikes in the Middle East since 2014, i.e. since the start 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 American air strikes. The article’s author, Azmat Khan, said the revealed documents “reveal how the aerial warfare was marked by deeply inaccurate intelligence, hasty and often inaccurate targeting, and the deaths of thousands of civilians, including many children, in sharp contrast to the picture American government faces a war waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs ”.
She added that “despite the Pentagon’s highly codified system for investigating civilian victims, promises of transparency and accountability have given way to opacity and impunity.” Khan also said that despite 1,300 reports of civilian casualties, “only a handful of cases.” the assessments have been published “and” none of the reports submitted contain a finding of misconduct or disciplinary action. “
Although ruthless American air strikes have harmed thousands of people, including survivors left with dire disabilities and expensive medical bills, fewer than a dozen condolences have been made to the victims. This finding is not surprising when you consider that efforts to pinpoint the causes or learn from the failings of the intelligence services are rare.
Obama described the attacks against ISIS as “the most precise aerial campaign in history” and praised it as better protection for troops and civilians alike. This view, however, was contradicted by Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for US Central Command. In response to questions from the Times, he said that “Even with the best technology in the world, mistakes happen, whether due to incomplete information or misinterpretation of the information available.”
Although he claimed that the US is trying to “learn from these mistakes,” “[…] Working diligently to avoid such harm ”and“ investigating every credible case ”the evidence proves otherwise, as the hidden documents regularly show civilians as collateral victims.
The Times, Khan says, “did what military officials admit they didn’t: they analyzed the assessments of victims in their entirety to identify patterns of failed education, decision-making, and execution.” The investigation found that while it is impossible to determine the full civilian death toll from the US attacks, it is certainly far higher than the 1,417 casualties the Pentagon has admitted.
The London-based newspaper found that many civilian casualties were summarily disregarded, on-the-spot reports containing a selection of credible cases were dismissed and few lessons were learned.
Unsurprisingly, when chat transcripts that accompany some reviews show that American soldiers are treating drone strikes like video games, no lessons have been learned. In one recorded case, American soldiers expressed their joy at being allowed to fire in 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 also desensitize soldiers to the social and family effects that their criminal activities have on ordinary civilians.
Captain Urban tries to downplay this desensitization by saying that drone operators often “do not have the luxury of the time” and that “the fog of war can lead to decisions that tragically lead to damage to the civilian population.”
However, in another documented case in Mosul in 2016, three civilians were killed in a US-approved attack for choosing to save more precise weapons for other impending attacks. Indeed, the Times analysis found that civilians were often killed in air strikes that were planned well in advance. This speaks to the claims of Captain Urban that there is “collateral damage”, a mockery. Worryingly, it was found that some of these “collateral scans” were only 11 seconds long.
This neglect of information gathering has resulted in targeted attacks against schools, bakeries and hospitals in Syria and Iraq, especially after being removed from the “no-strike” list. For all the benevolence the US advocates, especially its “humanitarian interventions” (as they tout their occupations in Syria and Iraq), their use of drones is really something incredible – the operators are treating the attacks like video games, thousands of innocent Civilians (including children) are being wiped out and there is no recourse or responsibility.
There are virtually no courts, no judges, and no prosecution for some of the worst war crimes in modern history.