The U.S. targeted innocents

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I’m flabbergasted that such stupidity is ever said, let alone how often I’ve heard it repeated. Even the ex-CNN director Eason Jordon made some moronic allegations that inferred as much.[1] Here’s the fact: no country in the history of the world (and wars) has ever spent as much effort, or as much money, to avoid collateral damage and harming innocents as the United States.

War is business and economics; so here’s some. A normal bomb costs a few thousand dollars each for 2,000 pounders, and not much more for larger ones. Our smart bombs cost twenty or fifty times that, and are often smaller; 500 pounders.

Economics of Warfare

We could drop 10 conventional bombs on a target, miss with 8 of them, and come out ahead both financially and in kill rates. We could just drop larger conventional bombs for cheaper with the same effect. We could carpet bomb with B52’s from bases that are closer, instead of sending B2’s (Steal Bombers) all the way from the U.S., but we did the latter because they had smarter and more accurate weapons. We do all this because we don’t want to hurt innocents and to minimize collateral damage.

When we sent troops in, they did heroic gestures and risked their own lives, and tried to be sensitive to the needs of the people, and avoided shooting when they probably should have; just to avoid collateral damage. When they spied something suspicious, they risked their own lives going in personally, instead of just blowing buildings up, because they wanted to make sure they didn’t accidentally kill civilians. Our troops risked and lost their own lives giving treatment to wounded civilians and even the enemy in hot zones, because they value human life.

The entire cost of the war could have been avoided, hundreds of billions of dollars. We could put one ICBM or a few cruise missiles with nuclear warheads on Baghdad for a few million dollars in hardware, and guaranteed regime change -- without ever have to leave an air-conditioned control center. But we chose to avoid doing that be- cause of the massive amounts of collateral damage.

We even avoided going into Mosque’s and places of historical significance out of respect, even when people were shooting at us from inside, because we had more re- spect for the property of the Iraqi’s than some of the Iraqi military and all of the in- surgents. This risked and cost American lives, but we paid the price out of respect of the Iraqi people, their traditions and nation, and because we wanted to avoid collateral damage.

Then some idiots say that we were intentionally targeting innocents, civilians or reporters on purpose? Anyone doing so would have been put up on war-crimes and court-martialed or tried for murder if it was intentional. All the orders were obviously the opposite; procedures to risk American lives in order to save innocents. So the message was clear and unambiguous. There was not intentional targeting, and it is out of character of the most professional fighting force in the world to do so.

Incompetence is not intent

Of course:

  • we missed with a missile or bomb or two.
  • there were the usual mis-targeted bombs (or bad calls on whether to go/no-go)
  • occasionally accidents, friendly fire incidents or trigger happy soldiers.
  • There may have even been a few soldiers that lost it or made bad calls; many of which would be removed for such a serious mistake.

But heck, it is war, stuff happens.

The sane only need to compare what we did to what every other army has done in history, in order to see that it is not even close.

Saddam and his troops were intentionally trying to get more civilians killed and assaulting the public. They blew a few bombs in populated areas just to try to make it look like we did it, and the Europeans and Al Jezeera reported it; but the crater signatures were all wrong for our weapons (and they chose not to air that). They put weapons systems in public places, and set off IED’s (improvised explosive devices) that took out 20 civilians just to get to one of our soldiers. We risked lives trying to stop it. And some people have the gall to accuse the U.S. of targeting civilians intentionally? They can claim that, but only at the cost of their own credibility.

Written: 2005.08.04