Memo to US-led Iraqi coalition: ‘Best way to protect civilians is to stop bombing them’
A US investigation found over a hundred Iraqi civilians died in a Coalition airstrike in Mosul in March, but put all the blame on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The civilians died when an American airstrike set off a large amount of explosives planted in a building by IS fighters in Mosul's al-Jadida neighborhood, according to a Pentagon investigation which was made public on Thursday.
RT: The US says ISIS is to blame because its weapons stash was hit. Do you accept that argument?
David Swanson: Obviously, not. And this is the tip of the iceberg. If you look at the reports of known civilian deaths collected by organizations like Airwars, it is thousands every month. If you look at how known named civilian deaths relate to the total, in places that have been scientifically studied, you’ll find the total deaths of civilians is around 5-20 percent. We are talking about tens of thousands every month, ongoing. The discussion in the US always blames someone else or pretends it didn’t happen or delays it with an investigation like this one that is minimally reported when completed, but shuts down the story when it is a big story months or weeks earlier. The discussion in Washington, DC right now is about should we sell weapons to Saudi Arabia because they kill civilians. The US kills civilians, routinely. This is what happens when you bomb cities. This week the International Committee of the Red Cross and Interaction, a group of US human rights groups, put out a report on how you minimize killing people in cities and never once hinted at the possibility of ceasing to bomb cities and included things like live underground, form militias, absolutely outrageous. There is a total acceptance that you are going to go on bombing cities, but could you please do it with a little bit smaller bombs. It is still going to be murder.
RT: According to the Coalition, it simply didn't know there were civilians inside. How much of an intelligence failure was this?
DS: The suggestion that it was a blatant lie is the obvious conclusion, and if it was not a blatant lie it was negligence in the extreme. These cities are places where people live and to blame someone else for using them as human shields is absolutely not satisfactory. To write off the deaths of anyone who is not a civilian as completely acceptable and not worth any value and not worth counting at all. In most of these places, including Iraq and Syria, the United States and its Coalition allies are killing more than one armed force of non-civilians in these wars. It is absolutely outrageous and passing the blame doesn't cut it.
It is disproportionate to use a huge bomb on two snipers on the roof of a building when there is a chance that there could be civilians inside…If they doing everything they can to avoid the civilian casualties, they should use ground troops and not airstrikes because this is what happens all the time. Huge numbers of civilians have been killed because of airstrikes in order to try and get rid of some snipers. - Jonathan Steele, international affairs commentator
RT: Here is an extract from the Coalition statement: "The Coalition takes every feasible measure to protect civilians from harm. The best way to protect civilians is to defeat Islamic State." Does this mean killing ISIS fighters takes priority over protecting civilian lives?
DS: In the calculation of the Pentagon, yes; in logic and verifiable facts, no. Through the course of this past 16 years of war on terrorism, you have seen the predictable and consistent increase in terrorism, you have seen the creation of ISIS, you have seen the expansion of ISIS. The best way to protect civilians is to stop bombing them, the best way to stop escalating anti-US and Western terrorism is to stop engaging in terrorism at a greater scale. The best way to make people grasp this issue is to tell the names and the stories as you would if it were in Manchester, England, not just the numbers. Treat them as human beings and the killing will stop.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.