Double Standards on Civilian Deaths

Whenever U.S. forces inflict massive civilian casualties, it’s a “mistake” or the fault of the targets because they were “hiding” in populated areas. Yet, when civilian deaths occur in the country of a “designated enemy,” all ambiguity is swept aside and no excuses are accepted, a double standard addressed by John LaForge.

By John LaForge

In the war fever being ramped up against Syria, there is broad public indignation over the massacre of more than 100 civilians in the town of Houla last weekend. Would that the U.S. diplomatic corps and the commercial press were equally outraged over our own military’s atrocities.

While details of the Syrian massacre are unclear and still subject to dispute, Canada, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Australia, Germany, Spain and the United States have expelled Syrian diplomats in protest. The State Department called the rampage “despicable” and complained about a regime that could “connive in or organize” such a thing.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

However, the department was silent on the U.S. killing four years ago of just as many Afghan civilians, including 60 children, in Azizabad. A draft UN Security Council press statement said about the Aug. 22, 2008, bombing that member nations “strongly deplore the fact that this is not the first incident of this kind” and that “the killing and maiming of civilians is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.”

The crime wasn’t decried as a “massacre” by the State Department, which finds it easier to denounce indiscriminate attacks when the enemy du jour stands accused.

U.S. envoys weren’t thrown out of capital cities when Afghan villagers said between 70 and 100 civilians, including women and children, were killed May 5, 2009, by a U.S. raid against Bala Baluk. U.S. Foreign Service officers stayed comfy in their posts later that year when U.S. jets killed 99 Afghans when they bombed a pair of hijacked fuel tankers on Sept. 4.

U.S. ambassadors weren’t dismissed from Paris or Rome when U.S. jets attacked a wedding party on Nov. 4, 2008, in Kandahar Province, killing up to 90 people and wounding 28. In July that year, the U.S had bombed a wedding party in Nangarhar leaving 47 civilian partiers dead, including the bride. On July 4, that year 22 civilians were blown up when U.S. helicopters rocketed two vehicles in Nuristan.

I suppose it’s not too late for civilized governments around the world to suspend relations with the United States to protest the killing of as many as 170 civilians that died under the U.S-led bombing of Helmand Province at the end of June 2007, or the 21 civilians that were killed in the same area on May 9 that year.

In October 2004, Human Rights Watch estimated that 100,000 Iraqis had been killed since the U.S. bombing and invasion started in 2003. The State Department neglected to condemn this mass destruction of civilians, and the Pentagon responded to the report not with a denial but with an announcement that it did not keep a tally of civilian deaths.

The UN Security Council might have resolved some mild censure when its own investigators confirmed in October 2001 that U.S. warplanes had destroyed a hospital in Western Afghanistan, a blatant violation of the laws of war since hospital roofs are clearly identified.

Of course, U.S. bombardment of legally protected populations and civilian objects is always “accidental,” like when the Pentagon said its missiles had “mistakenly” killed nine civilians south of Baghdad on Feb. 4, 2008. The same apologists regularly declare without irony that the U.S. Air Force is the finest and best equipped in the world.

Some will say the Syrian murders are far worse than “unavoidable wartime errors” because the government there is said to have attacked its own people. They will have to forgive the scoffing coming from descendants of enslaved African Americans, Native North American Indians, interned Japanese Americans, and the civilian victims of U.S. human radiation experiments and nuclear bomb testing.

John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch and edits its Quarterly newsletter.

5 comments for “Double Standards on Civilian Deaths

  1. May 31, 2012 at 17:24

    The 1991 US/UN sanctions on Iraq thta lated for 10 years cost the lives of more than one million individuals the majority of the children dying of treatable desesases because iraq could not import not even asperins without the permission of the US/UN. Kofi Annan was Secretary General of the UN from 1997 to 2006 finally supported the sanctions and no one made any fuss about children and adults dying from those sanctions.
    At first Kofi Annan opposed the sanctions and the U.S. government threaten to take his son to jail on the food for oil scandal. Kofi gave in and supported the sanctions and the scandal disappeared into thin air.
    Kofi is now working for the U.S./ Israel to bring the Syrian government to its knees. Just like former head of the Soviet Union Mikheal Gorbachev was given a tax free foundation by Uncle Sam for being a good boy, Mr.Kofi Annan was also given a tax freedom foundation by Unlce Sam for being a running dog for imperialism. He is now doing his best to denounced the Syrian government for the death of insurgents who are being financed and armed by the Zionists, France, and the CIA. We get one sided news by the corporate owned media always under the watchful eye of the U.S. military establishment. When Uncle Sam is against a government those reporters go on the side of the rebels to do their reporting. When Uncle Sam is agianst the rebels those reporters are on the side of the government doing thier reporting always one sided that reflects the interests of the Zionists and Uncle Sam.Israel is bend on putting out all the Arabs governments that are on the side of the Palestinians and condemned the Zionists for their atrocities against these people whose lands has been robbed from under them.Saddam adn Kaddafy defended the just cause of the Palestinians and this is one reason, besides the oil, that they were taken out. Assad criticizes Israel for its harsh treatment of the Palestinains and this is why Israel wants him with the help of western powers and religious fandametalist fanatics who dispised having a secular government anywhere in the Arab world. When Afghanistan was socialist and peaceful the ultra-right Reagan administration could not wait to bring it down in order to put in a lackey government even at the risk of having a Middle Ages governnment who believed women were no better than cows and dogs and were treated likewise or even worst becuase cows and dogs don’t have to cover their entire body while the women under Taliban rule had too. Lets not forget that pee brain Ronald Reagan called these stone age insurgents equivelent to the “Founding Fathers.” Whatever Uncle Sam touches it turns inot a pure and simple gross anti social contradiction to the survival of mankind. This has always been its legacy and will be forever until the American people become fed up and decide to bring this imperialist beast that is taking its toll on the people of this Earth to an eventual end through an armed revolution the only langauge a world global tyrant understands.

    • yuri_nahl
      June 7, 2012 at 11:30

      Well said. That’s it in a nutshell.

      • yuri_nahl
        June 7, 2012 at 14:20

        Well said to Ricardo that is.

  2. Hillary
    May 31, 2012 at 11:43

    Americans don’t care, don’t want to know and don’t want to be bothered.

    Even their news is sort of entertainment to bend American interests to fit strategic objectives NOT in America’s best interests.

    Maybe its true we are now living in a Matrix where we have been taken over , conquered as it were and most don’t even know it!

    A clash of Civilizations (Judeo/Christian vs Islam) has happened .

    • yuri_nahl
      June 7, 2012 at 14:39

      Nice blog Hillary. I see most of the quotations are by Jews. So can you explain how quoting Jews has made you a “neonazi”!!? That’s real magic!

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