White House Abandons Policy to Protect Innocent Civilians From US Airstrikes in Syria

Carey Wedler
October 1, 2014

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Obama_signs_FDA_Food_Safety_Modernization_Act_cropped(TheAntiMedia) Humanitarian war-monger Barack Obama and his White House have officially abandoned their “near certainty” rule for war in Syria and Iraq. This policy was implemented last year to deal with the astronomical number of civilian deaths caused by Obama’s drone strike program. As Reuters reported last year, it was established that:

“…drone strikes would be barred unless there was ‘near certainty’ that no civilians would be hit…the administration [said] every precaution is taken to avoid killing the innocent.”

This policy, which could have been applied to Syria and Iraq, was thrown off the table when officials were questioned about a recent attack that left civilians dead. While rebel commanders said that a recent US air strike that killed as many as a dozen innocent people targeted an Al-Qaeda (Khorasan) stronghold in Syria, it does not change the fact that the United States wantonly murders innocent civilians in its stated quest to prevent the murders of innocent civilians. Image credit: wikimedia.org

Another incident involved the U.S. military mistaking grain silos for jihadist bases in ISIS-controlled territory that led to two civilian deaths and the burning of food. The U.S. denies knowledge of civilian casualties in either case, but says it is “investigating.”

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the near certainty policy only applied outside of actively hostile areas and that:

“…that description outside areas of active hostilities simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”

A deep hypocrisy of the idea that the United States can disregard its civilian casualties lies in the reason America entered Syria (and Iraq) in the first place. It is allegedly to stop terrorists (that it arguably helped rise to power) from harming innocent civilians, whether in America, Syria or Iraq.

But even as the president spouts high-minded ideals about the need to stop violent extremism (using violent extremism), his declared position of disregarding civilian life to stop the enemy rests in stark contrast to his other stances on foreign policy.

Over the summer, the president chastised Israelits closest ally in the Middle Eastfor indiscriminately killing civilians. Though the United States still pledged unabashed material support for the country, Obama drew a clear line against harming innocents in an area that was by any U.S. standard, “actively hostile” with Hamas. A State department official said of three children murdered in Gaza:

The tragic event makes clear that Israel must take every possible step to meet its standards for protecting civilians from being killed…We will continue to underscore that point to Israel.’’

Obama demonized Assad and called for his ousting over his crimes against civilians and his alleged use of chemical weapons against them (never mind that the rebels very well may have used them on innocents). Even further, Obama categorically condemned the beheadings committed by the Islamic State, using them as an impetus to launch the current air strikes. He ignores consistent beheadings by American “allies” Saudi Arabia and the Free Syria Army.

In all of these cases, Obama has attempted to portray his concern for innocent civilians, crafting a careful image that demonstrates that even if he does wage war, it is humanitarian war,  for the people, whether Americans or those he is bombing. But in carefully selecting his pet humanitarian causes, the hypocrisy present in his choice to ignore allied violations is glaring and reveals the political power plays he implements.

Of course, Barack Obama is not the first president or world leader to behave in such a way. He is not the first leader to disregard civilian casualties while trumping up the benefits of military intervention. But this in and of itself shows the immorality of Obama’s stance. No matter who is committing crimes against civiliansa Democratic president, a right wing Israeli Prime minister, a brutal tyrant in Syria, the vicious rebels who fight against him or the terrorists who seek to harm Americacivilian casualties are civilian casualties. No matter how their heads are destroyedbeheading or bombthey lose their lives for political ambitions.

While Obama’s “near certainty” policy appears to have reduced the number of deaths from American drone strikes over the last year, strikes continue and reportedly disregard this policy. If the president cannot universally apply respect and concern for human life, whether on his own part, that of his allies, or those he seeks to villainize to further the government’s interests, any claims to advocate for humanity are at best careless and poorly executed and at worst, willful execution of innocent life for political aims: the same behavior he demonizes so vitriolically that he justifies killing the civilians he claims to care about.

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