Just few days after a report assessed that 1,700 or more civilians have likely been killed by U.S.-led air and artillery strikes in Raqqa governorate in Syria since March 2017, 11 civilians were killed in American airstrikes in southeastern Afghanistan, according to Afghani officials. These are numbers in a very long list of innocent civilians who lost their lives as a result of American military actions since 9/11.
It is ironic how the US engaged in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria on grounds of liberating their people, then end up killing more civilians than the actual “bad guys”. The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported that more civilians were killed by US-led coalitions than by Isis or Russian-led forces in March alone.
Why do many Americans ignore the civilians killed in American wars? An article by John Tirman written in January 2012 tried to answer. “When the wars went badly and violence escalated, Americans tended to ignore or even blame the victims. The public dismissed the civilians because their high mortality rates, displacement and demolished cities were discordant with our understandings of the missions and the U.S. role in the world”, Tirman said. He also believed that politicians’ tendency to speak in broader terms and the use of derogatory terms when describing resistance fighters fits the culture that justifies using violence to subdue or annihilate the savages of whatever land Americans are trying to conquer.
Today in 2017 the same question is still valid, but perhaps White supremacy in America might also present an explanation. The belief that those from races or ethnic groups other than white people are considered inferior may explain the indifference to innocent people killed by American army. It is true White supremacy and hate groups are on the rise since Donald Trump took office, but they existed long before. Maybe they did not manifest their beliefs with rallies and open racism before, but they did when they ignored the victims killed by their own military.
Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend described reports of large-scale civilian death in Syria by the US-led coalition as “hyperbole”. All those fallen civilians over the past years, and yet a US general still calls what happened an exaggeration; a statement we would expect from the tyrants US is supposedly fighting. Such obliviousness to non-American causalities from a senior US military official is giving a bad example to an army that is infiltrated by neo-Nazis and white supremacists according to FBI reports.
“The United States, which should be regarded as a principal advocate of human rights, undermines its credibility when it is so dismissive of civilian casualties in its wars” Tirman accurately said. The US government must take quick and conclusive actions that corresponds to its position as a superpower by taking full responsibility of civilians killed by its army, making proper compensations and changing its tactics to prevent the loss of more lives. Perhaps it is also equally important to raise proper awareness of human rights in the United States itself to counter the beliefs of white supremacists.