Monday December 11, 2023

Mosul’s ‘collateral’

By our correspondents
May 29, 2017

The list of excuses the US makes to justify its massacre of civilians is almost as long as the number of such attacks themselves. From the bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in 1998 to the attacks on the offices of the Red Cross, Al Jazeera and Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan, the US starts the story by denying that any civilians may have been killed. After that is proved to be a lie, it admits some civilians may have murdered but dismisses them as mere “collateral damage”. Finally, it has no choice but to acknowledge that almost all the deaths were of civilians and announces an immediate enquiry. That enquiry invariably deflects blame away from the US and says the killings were unintentional. This same playbook has been followed after over a hundred civilians were killed in a US airstrike in Mosul in March. Initially, the US said those killed were Isis fighters but now the Pentagon has been forced to admit that at least 105 of the casualties were civilians. But it has absolved itself of any responsibility by claiming that the primary responsibility lies with Isis and that the US made an honest mistake. This report should not be taken at face value. The first rule of a credible investigation is that it not be carried out by the accused. There is no reason to take the US at its word when it has a sordid history of covering up its war crimes, dating all the way back to the My Lai massacre in Vietnam to the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Kosovo and the torture regime it set up as part of its war on terror.

Even if the Pentagon report happened to be an accurate representation of what transpired, that in no way absolves the US of responsibility for its actions. It has been waging unilateral war on Iraq since 2003 and no entity is more responsible for the creation of the monster that is Isis. It was American intervention which empowered militants and created a force which is even more radical than Al-Qaeda. Waging war brings with it responsibility for the deaths caused by your actions and this is a responsibility the US has studiously avoided. Instead of learning its lesson from Afghanistan and Iraq, where the deaths attributed to the US run into the hundreds of thousands, the superpower has since attacked Libya, Syria and Yemen. It has made drone warfare routine even in countries where it has not declared war. By design, drones indiscriminately kill everyone in an area and have been used against mourners at funerals and participants at weddings. The ultimate responsibility for Mosul lies on the US not just because of a single attack but for everything it has done in the country for the last 13 years.