From the U.S. Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin:
“Protecting civilians from harm in connection with military operations is not only a moral imperative, it is also critical to achieving long-term success on the battlefield.”
This, on Friday, as Austin announced the new DoD plan to “mitigate civilian harm and achieve strategic success across the full spectrum of conflict.”
Was this from a sudden recognition that European colonizers began systematically slaughtering native inhabitants across the “new world” about 400 years ago? Or that the hundreds of military interventions by the U.S. resulted in uncounted millions of deaths? Or an acknowledgement of specific global atrocities such as the carpet bombing of Dresden? The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki? Napalm and Agent Orange on the people of southeast Asia? The massacre at Nisour Square in Baghdad or the carnage of the battle of Fallujah?
No, these war crimes continue to be ignored and actually endorsed. Apparently a trigger to the imperialist discovery of morality in the last year were two U.S. actions in the war on terror: the 2019 U.S. airstrike in Baghuz, Syria that killed 70 people, mostly women and children, and the drone strike in Kabul exactly a year ago today which killed 10 members of the Ahmadi family. These incidents were heavily reported by The New York Times. The international outcry forced the U.S. government to admit “mistakes” in the Kabul strike and to promise some reparations, which apparently have not been paid.
Ahmadi family members killed in September 2021 U.S. drone strike in Kabul
Is this newly awakened concern over the morality of killing civilians, characterized by the U.S. government as not planning to protect civilians 1) lip service, 2) disingenuous or 3) centuries late? All of that, yes, but most essentially: the failure to protect non-combatants during war is a war crime. If the U.S. were to join the International Criminal Court, its docket could never address the range of criminality caused by the world’s largest military, in service of an imperialist empire.
Austin’s announced plan is being sold on “achieving success on the battlefield.” That might work if the imperialist military had a just cause. But there is a systemic history of U.S. war planning based on terrorizing local populations, handing out billions in payoffs, and reliance on local reactionaries to suppress resistance. And in whose interest is U.S. success on a nuclear battlefield with ever-heightened risks of war among the super powers?
The plan says they are hiring 30 people to “train” the military to consider civilians in war planning. But even if there were people who want to change how individual military members view civilians, the military is permeated with white supremacists and has a core of officers who believe their mission is Christian supremacy. An announcement from the top to suddenly consider civilians rights can be believed only by those with no sense of history and morality.