Tuesday, May 26, 2015

US Holds Back to Prevent Harming Civilians



http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/world/middleeast/with-isis-in-crosshairs-us-holds-back-to-protect-civilians.html?ref=world

While it appears that the US has successfully identified some buildings that seem to be the headquarters of the Islamic State, the buildings have remained untouched by airstrikes and heavy military assualt. The reson for this is that the US fears civilian casualties, and has elected to wait until the area is clear of innocents before attempting a full on strike. Leaving the buildings intact has its drawbacks, however as it was reported that Islamic State fighters successfully drove out Iraqi soldiers, handing another round of victory to the Islamic State. The possibilty of killing civilians would "hand the Islamic State propaganda" and is cited as one of the main reasons that airstrikes are being withheld. While I'm not totally convinced, I do think this is the proper way to go, even if their cited reason isn't exactly why I'm supporting holding off on the airstrike. However, I can also see the urgency in the situation because wait too long, and the headquarters will be moved and disappear into thin air. What do you guys think? How clear of civilians should an area be before an airstrike is commenced? Do you think it's more dangerous to let the Islamic State soldiers run free?

2 comments:

Cameron Jacobs said...

These are by no means easy questions to answer. Personally, I have some doubt over the credibility of the US government's decision making when it comes to concern towards civilian casualties. The government has commissioned drone strikes for years now, despite knowing full well that a significant number of innocent civilians die in the aftermath of these attacks. The amount of deaths caused by each drone strike are documented by the government in roughly estimated ranges that indicate that the government is often unsure of how many are killed, and more relevantly, who is killed (this is explained in greater detail by John Oliver here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4NRJoCNHIs). It seems like the government is with holding civilian endangering airstrikes this time around because the event would be much more visible to the public. True, airstrikes would also make the event an easy target for Islamic State propaganda, but in my opinion the main concern of the government should be "what course of action will save the most lives?" not "what can we get away with without making us pariahs?". Both are genuine concerns when it comes to improving relations in the middle east, but the lives of innocent civilians should always be the first priority. Nevertheless, the end result is the same, and I agree with Miranda that it is the best course of action for now. If possible, I think that covert operations would be the best possible solution. Infiltrating the headquarters and destroying its leadership could minimize civilian casualties while putting a swift end to the problem. This is definitely easier said then done however.

Ben Maison said...

Non-US civilian lives have always been considered "unfortunate" collateral. The Iraq war claimed at least 100,000 (documented) lives lives as collateral so I'm skeptical as to the reason for why this is news worthy. The cynic in me says it hasn't changed that much while the dreamer says it's a change in tactics to stop this perpetual cycle of revenge. The dreamer is probably delusional as to whether this would actually be an effective strategy (can you win a war careful of collateral damage against an opponent who would try and use it against you?). It's a situation somewhat reminiscent of the Israel-Hamas conflict. It's a bit of a shitshow. You attack and risk completely losing the civilian population's trust to the point where you may have more enemies or you wait as they take advantage of the pause to grow and take action


I don't know how advanced the military is. I don't know all the options. I don't even know the situation that well. With all that in mind here's my new plan to get rid of ISIS.

Strategic plan #251:
The US should build a smart missile which only kills the baddies. That way we can just let the missiles rain until all the baddies have been cleansed from the region.