by John Hawkins | September 19, 2002 7:59 pm
Iraqi Forces Move to Civilian Areas: How many times have you heard someone criticize the US for collateral damage? Probably more times that you can count right? But how many times have you heard those same people criticize this type of behavior…
“Iraq has moved small numbers of military forces into civilian areas in what some Pentagon officials interpret as a precaution against a possible surprise U.S. aerial attack, officials said Thursday.
…Iraq has moved small numbers of military forces into civilian areas in what some Pentagon officials interpret as a precaution against a possible surprise U.S. aerial attack, officials said Thursday. “They’re just masters at manipulating the press and putting out disinformation,” Rumsfeld told PBS’ “News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” “They’re already moving military units and elements next to mosques and next to hospitals and next to schools so they can claim that the coalition has done all these terrible things. It’s an old pattern.”
So here we have the Iraqis doing everything possible to put their own civilians in harm’s way and suddenly the critics fall deaf. Do you hear any human rights groups or European diplomats demanding that Saddam move his troops out of civilian areas? Did any of these people criticise the Taliban for not wearing uniforms, storing weapons in civilian areas, and dispersing their men in villages?
Most estimates put the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan in the 500-1500 range. But had the Taliban not worked so hard to make their own civilians into targets, the number of innocents who died would have probably been less than a hundred.
Collateral damage is an unavoidable consequence of war. But if our enemies tried to minimize civilian casualties instead of maximizing them, the number of innocent people killed would drop precipitously. Could lives have been saved if the Taliban had been criticized for these practices? Is it possible that Saddam is so desperate to get good press in the West that he would stop using his civilian population as ‘human shields’ if he thought it would help his image? It is doubtful, but possible. But since the anti-war left is much more interested in criticizing America than taking potshots at Saddam for deliberately risking his people’s lives, it’s likely that we’ll never know.
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