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Posts Tagged ‘collateral damage’

Will we finally accept that ‘precision airstrikes’ don’t exist? – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on December 23, 2021

A Times exposé revealing a ‘system of impunity’ at the Pentagon regarding civilian casualties should be a catalyst for change.

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/12/22/will-we-finally-accept-that-precision-airstrikes-dont-exist/

Written by
Kate Kizer

“Strive.” “Lawfulness.” “An honest mistake.” “Unintended consequences.” “Access to classified intelligence.”

These are words that come up repeatedly in U.S. justifications of “regrettable” civilian casualties caused by U.S. or U.S. supported military operations. The U.S. military responded similarly to this week’s bombshell investigative reporting by Azmat Khan in the New York Times revealing that Pentagon documents regarding alleged civilian harm in 1,311 airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan — the “Civilian Casualty Files” or CCF — highlight “a system of impunity” rather than a system of accountability in the U.S. post-9/11 wars. 

Just as the Air Force Inspector General found in an investigation into the now infamous August 29 drone strike of Zemari Ahmadi and his family in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Pentagon didn’t find any “wrongdoing” in the CCF. It instead focused on ways to “improve process” in order to avoid such situations in the future. The military’s hindsight reveals flaws but nothing nefarious; there was no wrongdoing in these strikes because it was not the drone operator’s, or the military’s intent to kill civilians or misidentify them, rather it was a miscalculation of the estimated costs to civilians.

Debating the legality of individual strikes or admitting the need to improve the strike process misses the forest for the trees: this investigation shows, once again, the very idea of a precise air warfare is flawed and attempts to make it more humane only reinforce the entrenchment of the status quo. The U.S. military’s intent behind these strikes does not matter to the hundreds, possibly thousands of unacknowledged civilian victims of U.S. “precision” airwars over the last two decades. It does not matter to survivors of drone strikes that killing a handful was worth killing hundreds.

The egregious human costs of the U.S. drone and air strike campaigns are a failure, but also a symptom of larger strategic dissonance in U.S. counterterrorism doctrine. The Times report shows, time and again, that the intelligence prompting target tracking and, in part, strike authorization, is flawed. The misidentification of the target, often due to confirmation bias, and the presumption of guilt, keep the institutional incentives behind continued airstrikes. Moreover, the myth of surgical strikes doesn’t hold up when thousand pound payloads are dropped in urban or residential areas, no matter how precise the weaponry.

Meanwhile, the underlying factors driving support of armed nonstate groups — government corruption and/or non-presence, lack of economic opportunity, insecurity and state violence — remain unaddressed. Civilian-harming U.S. drone strikes (often in alliance with the local ruling authority) then provide fresh fodder to inflame these grievances for mobilization. Never mind the fact that the very threats these strikes are supposed to address were very much born from previous U.S. military misadventures in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Instead, we continue to implement policies that terrorize children in response to our own perceptions of insecurity.

For all its boasts of reviewing “lessons learned,” the decision to keep the systematic harm to civilians produced by U.S. drone wars hidden from public view sure seems like evidence of an attempt to paper over those lessons, and the larger ineffectiveness of the endless war enterprise they expose. As the United States expanded its endless post-9/11 ground wars into drone wars across the Levant, Central Asia, and Africa, the question of whether and under what auspices these wars were happening became less and less transparent. Revealing the true costs of remote warfare presents an inconvenient truth for the U.S. military as the Biden administration seeks to pivot to a new era of counterterrorism and gReAt PoWeR competition.

According to administration officials, this approach will be guided by investing in the capacity of partners to fight these wars for us, combined with “over-the-horizon” operations, cybersecurity, and law enforcement efforts. That’s less a pivot to the future than a re-emphasis of certain tools already in the toolkit, belying a fundamental misunderstanding of the challenge at hand. It isn’t a critical evaluation of the last 20 years, or the very strategy that has guided the expansion of these wars. And it doesn’t address the flaws identified in the CCF or the broader post-9/11 wars following multiple nation-building failures.

The “Civilian Casualties Files,” just like the “Afghanistan Papers” before it, are yet more evidence that the U.S. government — at the very least the U.S. military — knew the costs and failures of these wars, decided the collateral damage was acceptable, and continued on with bombing as usual. Will these files help create momentum for accountability? If it’s left up to the military and the president, the apparent answer is a resounding “no.” The question remains, what will Congress’s response be, and if any change will finally come.

Written by
Kate Kizer

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Pfizer Bullies Nations To Put Up Collateral for Lawsuits – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 9, 2021

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2021/03/08/pfizer-covid-vaccine.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Mercola.com

Story at-a-glance

  • Pfizer is demanding countries put up sovereign assets, including bank reserves, military bases and embassy buildings, as collateral for expected vaccine injury lawsuits resulting from its COVID-19 inoculation
  • Argentina and Brazil have rejected Pfizer’s demands. According to legal experts, Pfizer is abusing its power
  • In the U.S., vaccine makers already enjoy full indemnity against injuries occurring from the COVID-19 vaccine under the PREP Act. If you’re injured, you’d have to file a compensation claim with the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), which is funded by U.S. taxpayers
  • A significant problem with the CICP is that it’s administered within the Department of Health and Human Services, which is also sponsoring the COVID-19 vaccination program. This conflict of interest makes the CICP less likely to admit fault with the vaccine
  • The maximum CICP payout you can receive — even in cases of permanent disability or death — is $250,000 per person, and you first have to exhaust your private insurance policy before the CICP kicks in

As reported by New Delhi-based World Is One News (WION),1 Pfizer is demanding countries put up sovereign assets as collateral for expected vaccine injury lawsuits resulting from its COVID-19 inoculation. In other words, it wants governments to guarantee the company will be compensated for any expenses resulting from injury lawsuits against it.

WION reports that Argentina and Brazil have rejected Pfizer’s demands. Initially, the company demanded indemnification legislation to be enacted, such as that which it enjoys in the U.S. Argentina proposed legislation that would restrict Pfizer’s financial responsibility for injuries to those resulting from negligence or malice.

Pfizer rejected the proposal. It also rejected a rewritten proposal that included a clearer definition of negligence. Pfizer then demanded the Argentinian government put up sovereign assets — including its bank reserves, military bases and embassy buildings — as collateral. Argentina refused. A similar situation occurred in Brazil. Pfizer demanded Brazil:

  1. “Waive sovereignty of its assets abroad in favor of Pfizer”
  2. Not apply its domestic laws to the company
  3. Not penalize Pfizer for vaccine delivery delays
  4. Exempt Pfizer from all civil liability for side effects

Brazil rejected Pfizer’s demands, calling them “abusive.” As noted by WION, Pfizer developed its vaccine with the help of government funding, and now it — a private company — is demanding governments hand over sovereign assets to ensure the company won’t lose a dime if its product injures people, even if those injuries are the result of negligent company practices, fraud or malice.

Some liability protection is warranted, but certainly not for fraud, gross negligence, mismanagement, failure to follow good manufacturing practices. Companies have no right to ask for indemnity for these things. ~ Lawrence Gostlin, Law Professor

Aside from Argentina and Brazil, nine other South American countries have reportedly negotiated deals with Pfizer. It’s unclear whether they actually ended up giving up national assets in return.2

Vaccine Maker Accused of Abusing Its Power

According to STAT News,3 “Legal experts have raised concerns that Pfizer’s demands amount to an abuse of power.” Lawrence Gostin, law professor at Georgetown University and director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law told STAT:4

“Pharmaceutical companies shouldn’t be using their power to limit lifesaving vaccines in low- and middle-income countries. [This] seems to be exactly what they’re doing … Some liability protection is warranted, but certainly not for fraud, gross negligence, mismanagement, failure to follow good manufacturing practices. Companies have no right to ask for indemnity for these things.”

Mark Eccleston-Turner, a lecturer in global health law at Keele University in England, added:5

“[Pfizer] is trying to eke out as much profit and minimize its risk at every juncture with this vaccine development then this vaccine rollout. Now, the vaccine development has been heavily subsidized already. So there’s very minimal risk for the manufacturer involved there.”

See the rest here

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The Curse of the American Cassandras | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on June 16, 2020

In 1949 Senator Robert Taft, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination three times, voted against creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which he called “an undertaking by the most powerful nation in the world to arm half the world against the other half.”

America’s political system now seems less able than ever to address urgent concerns that grip millions of citizens. Governing institutions that were established in another age have proven unable to withstand assaults from faction and private interests. Our current political crisis is not an aberration or the result of a single election gone wrong. It is the product of forces that have been building in American society for generations.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-curse-of-the-american-cassandras/

By ignoring their warnings, we have brought a foreign policy mentality of conquest and domination back home.

Few ancient curses were more heartrending than the one Apollo is said to have visited on Cassandra. He gave her the power to predict future disasters, but decreed that no one would believe her predictions. American history is full of Cassandras. Time and again, prophets have warned that our social and political fabric was fraying because of injustices we have perpetrated at home and abroad. They urged the United States to change course. Victims of Apollo’s curse, they were dismissed or outvoted.

The most obvious of our unheeded Cassandras are civil rights advocates who have warned that the United States will remain forever hobbled if it does not confront the legacy of its founding covenant with slavery. Others are soothsayers who foresaw that oligarchs would seize hold of our political system—that “malefactors of great wealth” would squeeze the essence out of our democratic institutions and turn them into servants of a “military-industrial complex.” None have proven more prescient, though, than those who warned that pursuing empire abroad would ultimately bring grief at home.

For nearly two centuries, Cassandras in the United States have warned that lording over the weak in faraway lands would serve as a rehearsal for doing the same at home. If we take every distant challenge as a threat, and respond with bristling shows of force, we condition ourselves to react the same way when our own people challenge official power. If we care little about “collateral damage” that results from our operations abroad, it’s logical not to care much about it at home either. American power has often been a knee on the neck of foreign countries.

In 1898 the United States had the chance to take control of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and the Philippines. Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts, who like most Cassandras has since been lost to history, passionately warned Congress against succumbing to the imperial temptation. If the United States began projecting military power overseas, he warned, it would be “transformed from a Republic founded on the Declaration of Independence, guided by the counsels of Washington, the hope of the poor, the refuge of the oppressed, into a vulgar, commonplace empire founded on physical force, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and the other classes must forever obey.”

Another of that era’s now-forgotten Cassandras, the former senator and interior secretary Carl Schurz, warned Americans that if they began seizing foreign lands that they had promised to liberate, they would sacrifice their country’s moral authority. “What could our answer be,” he asked, “if the world would say of the American people that they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, rapacious land-grabbers posing as unselfish champions of freedom and humanity, false pretenders who have proved the truth of all that has been said by their detractors as to their hypocrisy and greed, and whose word can never again be trusted?”

The United States ignored those warnings. It set out on a long century of seeking, often quite violently, to shape the fate of peoples around the world. The result has been much as the Cassandras predicted. Many people in other countries have indeed come to see the United States as a “commonplace empire” and an exemplar of “hypocrisy and greed…whose word cannot be trusted.”

After World War II, Americans were encouraged to believe that an “American century” was dawning, and that other nations would have to yield to our superior power and wisdom. Among the Cassandras who protested was Vice President Henry Wallace. “We ourselves in the United States are no more a master race than the Nazis,” Wallace insisted. “And we cannot perpetuate economic warfare without planting the seeds of military warfare.” As punishment for advocating cooperation with the Soviet Union, Wallace was dumped from the presidential ticket in 1944 and replaced by the more reliable Harry Truman. He was another victim of Apollo’s ancient curse.

Around the same time that the Democratic Party was cleansing itself of dissenters from the Cold War catechism, the Republicans were doing the same. In 1949 Senator Robert Taft, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination three times, voted against creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which he called “an undertaking by the most powerful nation in the world to arm half the world against the other half.” He foresaw that “the building up of a great army around Russia” would divide the world “into two armed camps” and set off “an inevitable arms race.”

More than a century ago, one of the bitterest American Cassandras, Mark Twain, disgusted by our first wars of overseas conquest, wrote what today reads like an advance obituary for the United States. “It was impossible to save the great Republic,” Twain lamented. “She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work. Trampling on the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home.”

America’s political system now seems less able than ever to address urgent concerns that grip millions of citizens. Governing institutions that were established in another age have proven unable to withstand assaults from faction and private interests. Our current political crisis is not an aberration or the result of a single election gone wrong. It is the product of forces that have been building in American society for generations. By ignoring our Cassandras, we have allowed our foreign-policy mentality of conquest and domination to shape our approach to our own people. Now the reaction is unfolding not just far away, but ever closer to home.

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Make no mistake: Military robots are not there to preserve human life, they are there to allow even more endless wars — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on January 7, 2020

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/476705-killer-robots-save-lives-war/

Helen Buyniski
Helen Buyniski
When human troops are replaced by robots on the battlefield, it won’t be because the Pentagon’s had some revelation about the value of human life – it’ll be an effort to defuse anti-war protests by minimizing visible casualties.

US military commanders are itching to get their hands on some killer robots after an Army war game saw a human-robot coalition repeatedly rout an all-human company three times its size. The technology used in the computer-simulated clashes doesn’t exist quite yet – the concept was only devised a few months ago – but it’s in the pipeline, and that should concern anyone who prefers peace to war.

 

Captain Philip Belanger gushed to Breaking Defense last week, after commanding the silicon soldiers through close to a dozen battles at Fort Benning Maneuver Battle Lab.  When they tried to fight an army three times their size again without the robotic reinforcements? “Things did not go well for us,” Belanger admitted.

What could go wrong?

So why shouldn’t the US military save its troops by sending in specially-designed robots to do their killing? While protecting American lives is one reason to oppose the US’ ever-metastasizing endless wars, it’s far from the only reason. Civilian casualties are already a huge problem with drone strikes, which by some estimates kill their intended target only 10 percent of the time.  Drones, an early form of killer robot, offer minimal sensory input for the operator, making it difficult to distinguish combatants from non. Soldiers controlling infantry-bots from afar will have even less visibility, being stuck to the ground, and their physical distance from the action means shooting first and asking questions later becomes an act no more significant than pulling the trigger in a first-person-shooter video game.

Any US military lives saved by using robot troops will thus be more than compensated for by a spike in civilian casualties on the other side. This will be ignored by the media, as “collateral damage” often is, but the UN and other international bodies might locate their long-lost spines and call out the wholesale slaughter of innocents by the Pentagon’s death machines…

Meanwhile, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of anti-war groups, scientists, academics, and politicians who’d rather not take a ‘wait and see’ approach to a technology that could destroy the human race, are calling on the United Nations to adopt an international ban on autonomous killing machines. Whose future would you prefer?

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Killer robots and cunning plans

 

 

 

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US Sanctions Killing Innocent Iranians…Just ‘Collateral Damage’?

Posted by M. C. on August 18, 2019

Sanctions are never allowed to hurt politicians nor the military. It is always the people.
The US government claim that US sanctions do not affect medicines and humanitarian assistance to Iran is a bold-faced lie. They make the manufacture of medicines in Iran nearly impossible and they make the cost of medicines beyond the reach of Iranians by disrupting the supply chain of raw materials. US sanctions policy kills innocents under the guise of being “humanitarian.”
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Yet Another Senseless Mass Killing: Women and Children Among 25 Dead

Posted by M. C. on March 4, 2018

http://theantimedia.org/mass-killing-25-dead/

Written by

This week, 25 people were slaughtered in yet another mass killing, and half of those deaths were women and children.

 But you won’t see these murders broadcast relentlessly on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, nor discussed at length in social media threads. That’s because the U.S. military committed them in their crusade against the Islamic State’s “last enclave on the Euphrates in Syria,” Reuters reported Monday.

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US Airstrike Kills Family of Eight Fleeing Syria Fighting — News from Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on April 25, 2017

http://news.antiwar.com/2017/04/24/us-airstrike-kills-family-of-eight-fleeing-syria-fighting/

Unfortunately when you are not sure who the enemy is the response (or order) is to kill everything that moves.

While it may be an unfortunate incident, bad intel or collateral damage the real reason may be more grim.

Or it may be just a bit of fun as in the murder of the Reuters camera man.

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