Bombing Kills Lots of Innocents: Who Knew?

W.J. Astore

Extensive U.S. bombing overseas kills lots of innocent people: who knew?

So this blinding statement of the obvious popped up in my email today from the New York Times:

A five-year Times investigation found that the U.S. air wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan led to thousands of civilian deaths.
Hidden Pentagon records show a pattern of failures in U.S. airstrikes — a sharp contrast to the American government’s image of war waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs.
The military’s own confidential assessments of over 1,300 reports of civilian casualties since 2014, obtained by The Times, lays bare how the air war has been marked by deeply flawed intelligence, rushed and often imprecise targeting and the deaths of thousands of civilians, many of them children. None of these failures resulted in a finding of wrongdoing. We are making these Pentagon records public.
This is the first of a two-part investigation. Here are the key takeaways.

Finally, at the end of 2021, the Times is willing to speak up against America’s murderous regimen of bombing overseas. I wrote about this myself at this site in 2016 and 2017, and I’m hardly the only person to have pointed this out. At TomDispatch.com, Tom Engelhardt has been reporting for years and years on wedding parties being wiped out by U.S. bombing missions based on “faulty intelligence.” The mainstream media have largely played down these atrocities until now, when the war in Afghanistan is finally (mostly) over, at least for the U.S.

As I wrote in 2013 for TomDispatch.com, airpower is neither cheap nor surgical nor decisive. Indeed, because it provides an illusion of effectiveness, and because America dominates the “high ground” of the air, all of this “precision” bombing serves to keep America in wars for far longer than is tenable on tactical grounds. Imagine how long the Iraq and Afghan wars would have lasted if America didn’t dominate the air, if the U.S. military had to rely exclusively on ground troops, and thus had suffered much higher casualties in ground combat. My guess is that these wars would have ended earlier, but “progress” could always be faked with all those statistics of bombs dropped and alleged “high value targets” eliminated.

I suppose it’s good to see the “liberal” New York Times cover this issue of murderous bombing after 20 years of the global war on terror. The question remains: why did it take them two decades to cover this issue in depth?

Presidents become “presidential” when they bomb other countries. Meanwhile, Julian Assange rots in prison. Maybe he needs to bomb a few countries?

Update (12/21/21)

More notes on U.S. bombing and the Times report, courtesy of ReThink Round Up:

“Not a single file [from the military about the bombings] includes a finding of wrongdoing. An effort within the military to find lessons learned to prevent future civilian harm was suppressed. An analyst who captures strike imagery even told the Times that superior officers would often “tell the cameras to look somewhere else” because “they knew if they’d just hit a bad target.”

Responding to the report, a Pentagon spokesperson acknowledged that preventing civilian deaths is not just a “moral imperative” but a strategic issue because civilian casualties can fuel recruiting for extremist groups. [New York Times/ Azmat Khan]”

*****

Again, to state the obvious here:

1. There’s no accountability in the system. Murderous mistakes are covered up and no one is held responsible (“tell the cameras to look somewhere else”).

2. The bombing attacks were counterproductive. Guess what? Killing innocents creates more “terrorists.” Who knew?

Murderous inaccuracy, making matters worse, with no accountability: WTF? So much for America’s “awesome” military, as Andrew Bacevich writes about today at TomDispatch.com.

How Awesome Is “Awesome”?

34 thoughts on “Bombing Kills Lots of Innocents: Who Knew?

    1. It’s interesting this report is being released now, as the Biden administration shifts tactics to de-emphasize drone warfare. This can’t be a coincidence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Denise: The Biden administration has greatly reduced drone attacks. So now it’s “safe” and perhaps even desirable to reveal that these attacks were ghastly and ineffective. Meanwhile, it’s time to pivot to the big game against Russia and China, and maybe Iran and portions of Africa. That’s where the really big money is to be made, building new nukes, ships, bombers, and so on.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Got it. How chillingly devious. And, of course, greedy, on the part of the MIC. First, provide the drones and weapons that create the carnage, and then, when the carnage is revealed, move on to other “opportunities.”

          Like

          1. Well, that’s what I think is happening. The real money is in the “new Cold War” and all the scaremongering about China.

            Like

          2. It would seem so. The question is, will they succeed in convincing the citizenry to get behind a new cold war? But….I guess it doesn’t matter if they don’t, ’cause no matter what we the people want, the Pentagon will call the shots (literally) regardless.

            Like

  1. Happy Wedding Day or until death do us part!

    Unfortunately the wedding party was a favorite target for a Predator / Reaper strike. These were set up by locals settling a score with a neighbor. The scenario is this: The Ahmed clan has had a long standing feud with the Momand clan. A son of the Mohmand clan is getting married on such and such a day. The Ahmeds hear about it and go to the local American Army compound and say they know of a top level meeting of Taliban. They give the date and location and then sit back and watch the action. The drone pilot sees a lot of cars and men milling about and launches the Hell fire missiles; wedding party is wiped out. The pilot will say that he saw what appeared to be a group of men that fit the description of Taliban. He will say that no women or children were seen.

    Having attended a Muslin wedding, I know that the men are separated from the women and children. The men are outside and the women and children inside the house.

    This is another example of cultural ignorance on the part of the people authorizing drone strikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The utter failure to understand the culture of “the enemy” is astounding. It amazes me that Urban, the PR flack quoted in the article, would come right out and say that the other side doesn’t conduct warfare the way the U.S. military does, so that’s why there are so many civilian casualties from U.S. attacks. The arrogance and audacity are simply mind boggling.

      Like

  2. I appreciate your mentioning Julian Assange. It boggles my mind that the NYT and ,as far as I can tell, also the Wa. Post has said nothing about Assanage, which, of course, means that other daily papers across the country say nothing either. The MSM on TV also says nothing. Absolutely nothing!! It’s like he doesn’t exist. Our “free press” no longer exists and the general public either doesn’t care, or doesn’t know. I suspect it’s the former. Please write something about what Biden /Blinken are doing to journalism. Biden could stop this in a moment, but he is in thrall to the military.

    Like

    1. The United States of America has proven itself to be the most arrogant terrorist nation on earth. Since World War II, during a supposed golden age of peace, its military and the CIA has killed or helped kill some 20-million people, overthrown at least 36-governments, interfered in at least 85-foreign elections, attempted to assassinate over 50-foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries. The United States is responsible for the deaths of 5-million people in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and over 1-million just since 2003 in Iraq.

      Since 2001, the United States has been systematically destroying a region of the globe, bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria. The United States has “special forces” operating in two-thirds of the world’s countries and non-special forces in three-quarters of them.

      Millions of honorable peace-loving Americans vote in every election cycle for political candidates who seemingly would condone a more peaceful foreign policy. But year after year the warmongers prevail. Posting comments in ant-war blogs like this one is futile.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If we only post comments, and we expect those comments, in and of themselves, to drive change, then I agree about the futility of the exercise.

        But if we can come together — educate ourselves — talk to others — work to effect change — then it may not be so futile.

        We can draw inspiration from each other, and know that we are not alone. That is perhaps a little thing, but it is something in this depressing world of ours.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Agree WJA. If this site is just to blow off steam to feel better than it is a waste of time.

          Personally, this site for me is my community of like minded people who give great ideas to act. Just knowing there are others out there that have sanity and decency is a comfort to me. As I said in a previous post, during a time of trouble, one way to cope is to form communities of like minded people.
          I did write to my federal representative and senator about decreasing the military budget, mainly because it is a real action not just blowing off steam.
          Keep up the good work, it does matter.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. More info from the Times report (that shouldn’t surprise anyone):

    “An undercounting of civilian deaths. In some cases, the toll was nearly double that acknowledged by the military. Military documents claim that 27 percent of airstrikes with civilian casualties include children among the toll; The Times’s reporting suggests it is 62 percent.”

    “Ultimately, Azmat argues that the U.S. approach to airstrikes is so flawed that it may undermine American security — at mortal cost to others — rather than protect it. She writes:

    What I saw after studying them was not a series of tragic errors but a pattern of impunity: of a failure to detect civilians, to investigate on the ground, to identify causes and lessons learned, to discipline anyone or find wrongdoing that would prevent these recurring problems from happening again. It was a system that seemed to function almost by design to not only mask the true toll of American airstrikes but also legitimize their expanded use.”

    Surprise, surprise!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every line of that NYT report was damning and tragic. A documentation of death and heartbreak from beginning to end.

      I read many of the comments on the article, and one overarching theme was, “None of this is surprising. It’s nothing we didn’t already know, even if not the exact figures.” People all over the country have been aware, have written their representatives, but no one has found a way to stop the attacks.

      Like

  4. From “Waiting for the Barbarians,” by C. P. Cavafy:

    “. . .
    Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
    (How serious people’s faces have become.)
    Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
    everyone going home lost in thought?

          Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
          And some of our men just in from the border say
          there are no barbarians any longer.

    Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
    Those people were a kind of solution.”

    The “Barbarians” have decided to go the other way because “the West” simply doesn’t matter enough to them that they should expend much effort dealing with delusional psychopaths busy “defeating” virtual aliens on their tv’s and in comic books for the delight of their increasingly desperate working-class. See: Andrei Martyanov: The Timing of Russia’s Ultimatum to NATO

    The U.S. corporate subsidiary of the Global Oligarchical Collective has enormously enriched (at least in stock-market symbols) a tiny class of transnational billionaires while thoroughly bungling things for the average American and European over the decades since 1945 — and ever increasingly over the past twenty years — because the grievously indebted American renters-of-just-about-everything have shown no capacity for solving their own very real problems. Now someone else will have to solve things, hopefully in a spirit of mutual cooperation and kindness that we Americans do not in any way deserve. But if not, then a few well-chosen fly-swattings may prove necessary. As I have said for some time, the U.S. should just surrender now while the Russians and Chinese feel generous. Later on, after the meat has started leaving the bone, so to speak, we might not get such favorable terms. A little discretion (by us) at this point in time would, as always, prove the greater part of valor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Before the bombing begins in earnest (with the U.S. and its vassals on the receiving end of it), a few additional observations from a Russian perspective well worth consideration and reflection:

      (1) “Washington’s Crime and Punishment” by Dmitry Orlov posted by permission of the author, Vineyard of the Saker (December 18, 2021)

      (2) “A Surprise Russian Ultimatum: New Draft Treaties To Roll Back NATO” by Gilbert Doctorow, antiwar.com (December 20, 2021)

      (3) “Russia’s ultimatum to the West” by The Saker, Vineyard of the Saker (December 19, 2021)

      Internet blogs can sometimes provide a venue for the exchange of useful information, as I trust the above links will demonstrate.

      Like

  5. With current technology, it should be easily possible to take the drone strike a step further. Small quadracopter drones that could fire only bullets could be dispatched from a large overhead drone to assassinate one person without harming those nearby instead of using missiles that incinerate pretty much everything within 100 feet of the target. That this is not done is testimony to the low value placed on bystanders, that is, on innocent human life. In addition, there’s money in cranking out missiles, the perfect product since by using one it is destroyed and needs replacement.

    I had not heard of Biden scaling back drone killings, a step in the right direction though short of stopping them altogether.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rambo and Popeye teaching “Russkies” a lesson

    At 7 times 100 miles from the fighting
    in Donbas, some troops fierce and hard
    stand ready to high-tail it safely to westward:
    the Florida National Guard.

    Then, too, there’s a Coast Guard ship cruising the Black Sea
    Its GPS systems gone dark.
    Where once crew and captain imagined a joyride,
    things now look like Jurassic Park

    Those Russkies by now will have sure learned their lesson:
    Don’t mess with the part-time reserve
    scraped up from the Pentagram’s vast barrel bottom.
    Someone will get what they deserve.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2021

    Like

    1. No sooner do I finish lampooning the Pentagram for sending 100 troops from the Florida National Guard to intimidate Russia from the far-western borders of “Country 404” — as the Russians like to call the coup-installed neo-Nazi Kiev “authorities” — but The Jimmy Dore Show (December 21, 2021) runs an episode that focuses on another topic entirely but does, in passing, note the following:

      [0:56] Jimmy Dore: [shows screenshot]

      DeSantis proposes a new civilian military force in Florida that he would control.

      Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to reestablish a World War II-era civilian military force that he, not the Pentagon, would control. DeSantis pitched the idea Thursday as a way to further support the Florida National Guard during emergencies, like hurricanes. The Florida National Guard has also played a vital role during the pandemic in administering Covid-19 tests and distributing vaccines.

      “In a nod to the growing tension between Republican states and the Biden administration over the National Guard, DeSantis also said this unit, called the Florida State Guard, would be “not encumbered by the federal government.” He said this force would give him “the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible.”

      If Florida moves ahead with DeSantis’ plan to reestablish the civilian force, it would become the 23rd active state guard in the country, DeSantis’ office said in a press release, joining California, Texas and New York. These guards are little-known auxiliary forces with origins dating back to the advent of state militias in the 18th century [emphasis added].

      [27:42] Jimmy Dore: [shows screenshot]

      The proposal from DeSantis comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s directive warning that National Guard members who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus will have their pay withheld and [be] barred from training. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, had requested an exemption for guard members in his state, which Austin denied.


      I thought we already had 50 state militias commanded by each state’s governors, charged with defending the states against encroachments by the national standing military as well as serving their state’s civilian needs in times of natural disasters. Now, almost half the states in the country require TWO of these “guards” because the one they had since 1789 somehow found its way to deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine, etc?

      Way past time for a People’s Constitutional Convention modeled on the “teach-ins” we had during the 1960s. The “national government” we have now has become something entirely unrecognizable, not to mention useless.

      Like

  7. More notes on U.S. bombing and the Times report, courtesy of ReThink Round Up:

    “Not a single file [from the military about the bombings] includes a finding of wrongdoing. An effort within the military to find lessons learned to prevent future civilian harm was suppressed. An analyst who captures strike imagery even told the Times that superior officers would often “tell the cameras to look somewhere else” because “they knew if they’d just hit a bad target.”

    Responding to the report, a Pentagon spokesperson acknowledged that preventing civilian deaths is not just a “moral imperative” but a strategic issue because civilian casualties can fuel recruiting for extremist groups. [New York Times/ Azmat Khan]”

    *****

    Again, to state the obvious here:

    1. There’s no accountability in the system. Murderous mistakes are covered up and no one is held responsible (“tell the cameras to look somewhere else”).

    2. The bombing attacks were counterproductive. Guess what? Killing innocents creates more “terrorists.” Who knew?

    Murderous inaccuracy, making matters worse, with no accountability: WTF? So much for America’s “awesome” military, as Andrew Bacevich writes about today at TomDispatch.com.

    How Awesome Is “Awesome”?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Schlock. noun (informal•North American). Cheap or inferior goods or material; trash.

        Schlock and Awful

        Tons of talk, exploding trash
        dumped upon some hapless foreign land.
        Chefs of Stuff with balls of brash,
        jointly run their merry pirate band.
        Ponzi bubble / Wall-Street crash
        paid for by inflation out of hand.
        Trust-fund children’s birthday bash:
        party hard on Martha’s Vineyard land.
        Fed deranged and printing cash
        shrink-wrapped pallets flown-in on demand,
        then back out to offshore stash.
        Saigon/Kabul: still no reprimand.
        So, what next will these fools smash?
        Not to worry. None of them get canned.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2021

        Like

  8. WJA – Excellent post, links and graphic (ie; esp the comparing bombs dropped by recent POTUS). I’m always staggered by the jaw-dropping double-standard the US populace has when it comes to bombings. We can literally drop TENS of THOUSANDS of bombs in other countries —- that we are NOT legally at-war with, BTW — and the vast majority of the US citizenry is markedly indifferent to it all OR very supportive of it. However, let some individual set-off a bomb in THIS country (like the Boston Marathon bombing a few years ago) and it’s a crime against humanity and reason enough to tar the whole ethnicity as ‘terrorists’.
    And as you and others have mentioned, bombing a community will NOT get any of the people on your side, but can easily make them hate you and even vow revenge if you’ve killed one of their loved ones. Also, if we reverse the scenario and imagine how we’d personally react if Russia, China, or any other country had started bombing Washington DC when one of our many bad presidents or political parties was in power, under the guise that they were ‘helping to restore democracy’ by trying to kill him/them, we would reject that and almost certainly join together in declaring war on that country.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “Alas! Victor, when falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness? I feel as if I were walking on the edge of a precipice, towards which thousands are crowding and endeavoring to plunge me into the abyss. William and Justine were assassinated, and the murderer escapes; he walks about the world free, and perhaps respected. . . .” — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

    Like

  10. Paradise Colonized
    (From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

    Bad puppets pull the strings the other way
    Ensnaring clumsy puppeteers unschooled
    In how dependents make dependence pay

    Or how the erstwhile colonist gets tooled
    By Calibans who know the island well:
    Who cannot by Prospero’s words be fooled

    Who know the reason why the angel fell
    And why his bitter strangled cry ensued
    Announcing him content to reign in Hell

    In preference to Heaven’s servitude
    For slaves do not take kindly to their yoke
    And want a free man’s life, however crude

    So in the Master’s eye their fingers poke
    Who’ve judged his deeds and not the words he spoke

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2010

    Like

  11. America claimed an absolute right to kill non combatants during WWII, and ever after. Few have ever questioned it besides the occasional hand wringing over the atom bombs on Japan. So the US has probably killed 2 or 3 million non combatants by ariel bombardment. That may sound like a lot but 5.5 million have died of Covid so no biggie really. Hell half of Americans are happy about it since without death close at hand life is rendered meaningless to them. And remember they are Christians. So it goes.

    https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COMM.10.5.03.HTM

    The entire purpose of the Air Force is to kill the defenseless with no risk to itself. Didn’t you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This time we meant to kill you

      “Precision” Strikes, unlike the other kind,
      Hit whom we aim at, not like when we miss
      As happens mostly. Oh, well. Never mind.
      To know is treason. Ignorance is bliss.
      So say the ones in charge, both deaf and blind,
      Whose jobs depend on which bare ass they kiss
      And also those they’ve willingly maligned:
      Who’ve witnessed ugly War. On these we piss.
      And so to vent our Empire’s vengeful ire,
      At foreigners who tell us where to go
      And choose to rule themselves as they desire,
      We drop some bombs upon them, just for show.
      Before we’re ready or we aim, we fire:
      The whole point of the exercise, you know.

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2021

      Like

    2. Sacred Surgical Strikes

      Quietly one cannot go
      About an amputation.
      Neatly neither can blood flow,
      Nor sap and sawdust ever grow
      Where limbs fly off and butchers crow:
      In slaughter, their salvation.

      In abattoir and arbor, they
      Perform the surgeon’s mauling.
      The animals and plants they slay
      Efficiently, both night and day,
      Dismembering what doesn’t pay
      To live — a breed appalling.

      But doctors of divinity
      Have sworn in sacred theses
      That what man wishes, man can do:
      The rape of many by the few;
      The just deserts, the proper due
      Of GAWD’s own chosen species.

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2014

      Like

  12. With news-stories’ human subjects’ race and culture dictating / quantity of media coverage of even the poorest of souls / a renowned newsman formulated a startling equation / justly implicating collective humanity’s news-consuming callousness / —“A hundred Pakistanis going off a mountain in a bus / make less of a story than three Englishmen drowning in the Thames.” // According to this unjust news-media mentality reasonably deduced / five hundred prolongedly-war-weary Middle Eastern Arabs getting blown to bits / in the same day perhaps should take up even less space and airtime. //

    So readily learned is the tiny token short story buried in the / bottom right-hand corner of the newspaper’s last page, the so brief account / involving a long-lasting war about which there’s virtually nothing civil; / therefore caught in the warring web are civilians most unfortunate / most weak, the very most in need of peace and civility. // And it’s naught but business as usual in the damned nations / where such severe suffering almost entirely dominates / the fractured structured daily routine of civilian slaughter (plus that of the odd well-armed henchman) / mostly by means of bomb blasts from incendiary explosive devices / rocket-fire fragments and shell shock readily shared with freshly shredded / shrapnel wounds resulting from smart bombs sometimes launched for / the stupidest of reasons into crowded markets and grade schools … //

    Hence where humane consideration and conduct were unquestionably due post haste /came only few allocated seconds of sound bite—a half minute / if news-media were with extra space or time to spare—and one or two / printed paragraphs on page twenty-three of Section C. // Such news consumed in the stable fully developed, fully ‘civilized’ Western world / by heads slowly shaking at the barbarity of ‘those people’ in that / war-torn strife which has forced tens of thousands of civilians to quickly gather / what’s left of their shattered lives and limbs and flee … // Thus comes the imminent point at which such meager measure / couple-column-inches coverage—if any at all—reflects the ‘civil’ Western readers’ accumulating apathy towards such seemingly dime-a-dozen / disaster zones of the globe, accompanied by a slight yet indicative yawn. // Then the said readers subconsciously perceive even greater human-life devaluation / from the miniscule ‘hundreds-dead-yet-again’ coverage. //

    Consequently continues the self-perpetuation of the token two-column-inch (non)coverage / as the coldly calculated worth of such common mass slaughter / ergo those many-score violently lost human lives are somehow worth / so much less than, say, three Englishmen drowning in the Thames. // Perhaps had they all been cases of the once-persecuted suddenly persecuting / or the once-weak wreaking havoc upon their neighboring indigenous minorities / —perhaps then there’d be far more compassionately just coverage. // The human consciousness is said to be worth much more than the sum / of the human body’s parts, though that psyche may somehow seem to be / of much lesser value if all that’s physically left is but bomb-blast-dismembered body parts and pieces.

    Like

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