On the 29th November 2016, the US admitted carrying out an attack in eastern Syria that killed dozens of Syrian forces fighting so-called Islamic State (IS).
The US-led coalition said the “mistake” on 17 September was intended to target IS positions.
Coalition aircraft from the UK, US, Denmark and Australia were involved in the attack near Deir al-Zour.
The attack, which the Russian army says killed at least 62 Syrian troops, were halted when Russia informed the US it was hitting Syrian forces.
“In this instance, we did not rise to the high standard we hold ourselves to, and we must do better than this,” said US Lieutenant-General Jeff Harrigian.
A spokesman for US Central Command (Centcom), the wing of the American military in charge of all its Middle East forces, said the mistake was “regrettable”, adding that it was not the intent to target Syrian troops.
Even though the Syrian army has committed many atrocities throughout Syria, there is a wider point which needs to be understood by the US usage of terms such as an ‘accident’ or ‘mistake’. Accidents seem to be common with the American force- especially in the Muslim world.
Language such as accidents and collateral damage are liberally used to almost show a sympathy to the perpetrator.
The use of the pervese term ‘collateral damage’ has been often used. The purpose of such terminology is to desensitize people from the actual incident and think about the loss of human life as an accident, an abnormally, not worth considering seriously.
The USAF Intelligence Targeting Guide defines collateral damage as “[the] unintentional damage or incidental damage affecting facilities, equipment, or personnel, occurring as a result of military actions directed against targeted enemy forces or facilities. Such damage can occur to friendly, neutral, and even enemy forces”.
Another US Department of Defence document uses “[u]nintentional or incidental injury or damage to persons or objects that would not be lawful military targets in the circumstances ruling at the time. Such damage is not unlawful so long as it is not excessive in light of the overall military advantage anticipated from the attack.” http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp1_02.pdf
These terms that are used by western forces can be translated as :
*Collateral damage (dead or wounded civilians),
*Kinetic activity (shooting and bombing),
*Extraordinary rendition (kidnapping and torture by states)
The Muslim world is well versed with terms that remove emotion from incidents and mass death
Israeli military commanders described the massacre of 2,100 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians (including 500 children), in Gaza the Summer 2014 as “mowing the lawn”.
Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser Bruce Riedel explained the approach to the drone war which the US initiated in Pakistan. He said that “you’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.” The director of the CIA, John Brennan, claimed that with “surgical precision” his drones “eliminate the cancerous tumour called an al-Qaida terrorist while limiting damage to the tissue around it”.
Those who operate the drones describe their victims as “bug splats.”
During its attack on the Iraqi city of Falluja in November 2004, the US army used white phosphorus to kill or maim people taking shelter in houses or trenches. White phosphorus is fat-soluble. Even small crumbs of it bore through living tissue on contact. It destroys mucous membranes, blinding people and ripping up their lungs. The army has developed a technique it calls ‘Shake ‘n Bake’: flush people out with phosphorus, then kill them with high explosives. Shake ‘n Bake is a product made for coating meat with breadcrumbs before cooking it.
The usage of terms such as bug splats and techniques such as ‘Shake n Bake’ reduce human life to the animal kingdom and cooking products.
Their life is worthless and is there to be consumed. There is no consideration that they have a family, they have goals, and they have ambitions and everything else which human beings strive for.
Therefore what severely disturbs many Muslims, is the practice of the west and America of preaching to the world about the sanctity of human life.
How can they point to the cruelty of others when they have perpetrated immeasurable amount of death and destruction upon others?
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَعِبْرَةً لِّأُولِي الْأَبْصَارِ
“Verily in that is a lesson for those who possess vision.” (24:44)