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Sunday, July 22, 2007


The rules of engagement

Another one of those "we said, they said" situations: American attack helicopters bomb a village, and either kill six "fighters" or else two men, two women, and seven children, depending on whether you believe the group with no credibility or the people on the ground.

But the real interesting part of this story is the implicit statement of the rules of engagement in the final paragraph:

"The adversary is ruthless and puts no value on human life and will endanger innocent civilians - women, children - by hiding and cowering in buildings they take over," read a statement from Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, spokesman for U.S. forces north of Baghdad.
In other words, the U.S. military admits to being fully aware of the possibility, if not indeed the likelihood, that an unknown number of non-combatants (a.k.a. "innocent civilians") might be pulverized by the bombing, and not being willing to withhold fire (indeed, almost certainly not giving it a second thought) in the circumstances.

Compounding the situation, by the way, is that this was a nighttime bombing, thereby assuring that A) the chances of civilians being in their homes was increased by an order of magnitude; and B) the possibility of the U.S. military knowing what they were dropping their bombs on was decreased by an order of magnitude. No matter. Not to them, anyway. To the dead Iraqis and their families, and to the Americans who are going to die because of the increased anger of the Iraqis caused by just this one incident, it matters very much indeed.

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