FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Outraged Over Atrocities (Unless They’re Ours)

by JOHN LaFORGE

In the war fever being ramped up against Syria, there is broad public indignation over the massacre of more than 100 civilians in the town of Houla last weekend.

Would that the U.S. diplomatic corps and the commercial press were equally outraged over our own military’s atrocities.

While details of the Syrian massacre are unclear and still subject to dispute, Canada, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Australia, Germany, Spain and the United States have expelled Syrian diplomats in protest. The State Department called the rampage “despicable” and complained about a regime that could “connive in or organize” such a thing.

The department was silent on the U.S. killing four years ago of just as many Afghan civilians, including 60 children, in Azizabad. A draft UN Security Council press statement said about the Aug. 22, 2008 bombing that member nations “strongly deplore the fact that this is not the first incident of this kind” and that “the killing and maiming of civilians is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.” The crime wasn’t decried as a “massacre” by our foreign office which finds it easier to denounce indiscriminate attacks when the enemy du jour stands accused.

U.S. envoys weren’t thrown out of capital cities when Afghan villagers said between 70 and 100 civilians, including women and children, were killed May 5, 2009 by a U.S. raid against Bala Baluk. Our Foreign Service officers stayed comfy in their posts later that year when U.S. jets killed 99 Afghans when they bombed a pair of hijacked fuel tankers Sept. 4.

U.S. ambassadors weren’t dismissed from Paris or Rome when our jets attacked a wedding party Nov. 4, 2008 in Kandahar Province, killing up to 90 people and wounding 28. In July that year, the U.S had bombed a wedding party in Nangarhar leaving 47 civilian partiers dead, including the bride. On July 4, that year 22 civilians were blown up when U.S. helicopters rocketed two vehicles in Nuristan.

I suppose it’s not too late for civilized governments around the world to suspend relations with the United States to protest the killing of as many as 170 civilians that died under the U.S-led bombing of Helmand Province at the end of June 2007, or the 21 civilians that were killed in the same area on May 9 that year.

In Oct. 2004, Human Rights Watch estimated that 100,000 Iraqis had been killed since the U.S. bombing and invasion started in 2003. The State Department neglected to condemn this mass destruction of civilians, and the Pentagon responded to the report not with a denial but with an announcement that it did not keep a tally of civilian deaths.

The Security Council might have resolved some mild censure when its own investigators confirmed in October 2001 that U.S. warplanes had destroyed a hospital in Western Afghanistan — a blatant violation of the laws of war, since hospital roofs are clearly identified.

Of course U.S. bombardment of legally protected populations and civilian objects is always “accidental,” like when the Pentagon said its missiles had “mistakenly” killed nine civilians south of Baghdad Feb. 4, 2008. The same apologists regularly declare without irony that the U.S. Air Force is the finest and best equipped in the world.

Some will say the Syrian murders are far worse than “unavoidable wartime errors” because the government there is said to have attacked its own people. They will have to forgive the scoffing coming from descendants of enslaved African Americans, Native North American Indians, interned Japanese Americans, and the civilian victims of our human radiation experiments and nuclear bomb testing.

John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch and edits its Quarterly newsletter.

 

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
David Welsh
Bay Area Rallies Against Trump’s Muslim Ban II
March 22, 2017
Paul Street
Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer, the Progressive Caucus and the Cuban Revolution
Gavin Lewis
McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer
Kathy Kelly
Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen
Kim C. Domenico
Ending Our Secret Alliance with Victimhood: Toward an Adult Politics
L. Ali Khan
Profiling Islamophobes
Calvin Priest
May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer to Strike
David Swanson
Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump
Dave Lindorff
There Won’t Be Another Jimmy Breslin
Jonathan Latham
The Meaning of Life
Robert Fisk
Martin McGuinness: From “Super-Terrorist” to Super Statesman
Steve Horn
Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council
Binoy Kampmark
Grief, Loss and Losing a Father
Jim Tull
Will the Poor Always Be With Us?
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s “March Massacre” Budget
Joe Emersberger
Rafael Correa and the Future of Ecuador: a Response to James McEnteer
March 21, 2017
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
On Being the “Right Kind of Brown”
Kenneth Surin
God, Guns, Gays, Gummint: the Career of Rep. Bad Bob Goodlatte
David Rosen
Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape
Ryan LaMothe
The Totalitarian Strain in American Democracy
Eric Sommer
The House Intelligence Committee: Evidence Not Required
Mike Hastie
My Lai Massacre, 49 Years Later
James McEnteer
An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?
Evan Jones
Beyond the Pale
Stansfield Smith
First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump
Dulce Morales
A Movement for ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ Takes Shape
Pepe Escobar
Could Great Wall of Iron become New Silk Roadblock?
Olivia Alperstein
Trump Could Start a Nuclear War, Right Now
David Macaray
Norwegians Are the Happiest People on Earth
March 20, 2017
Michael Schwalbe
Tears of Solidarity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done
Peter Stone Brown
Chuck Berry: the First Poet of Rock and Roll
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail