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As innocents die under US bombs—it’s not “intentional,” just predictable and inevitable

US jets with US bombs dropped by Saudi Arabia and its friends have killed thousands of innocent people in Yemen. In one week in April of this year Saudi jets bombed three civilian groups. On April 23 the Saudi-led coalition bombed a wedding party in an isolated village where families had gathered to celebrate.  The bombs killed more than 20 people and wounded dozens of others, including the groom.  Footage from the scene showed scattered body parts and a young boy in a green shirt hugging a man’s lifeless body, screaming and crying. An earlier airstrike hit a house in Hajja, killing an entire family of five.  The day before that, at least 20 civilians were killed when fighter jets bombed a bus carrying commuters in western Yemen.

As bombing becomes the preferred weapon of states making war, air strikes have caused an ever-greater level of civilian death. Yet these deaths are discounted by those who perpetrate them:  Speaking of a US gunship bombing that killed at least 42 people in Kunduz Trauma Center in Afghanistan the US Commander General John Campbell said the attack was “a mistake”, and “We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.” Thus the US maintains its posture of righteousness.

As the late historian Howard Zinn noted in an August 19, 2007 letter to the NY Times, “These words are misleading because they assume an action is either ‘deliberate’ or ‘unintentional.’ There is something in between, for which the word is ‘inevitable’.  If you engage in an action like aerial bombing, in which you cannot possibly distinguish between combatants and civilians (as a former Air Force bombardier I will attest to that) the deaths of civilians are inevitable, even if not ‘intentional.’ Does that difference exonerate you morally? The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent.  To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time.”

(Figures and descriptions of innocent deaths are from The Guardian, Newsweek, and other news reports on line.)


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