On the evening of March 5, 2016, 21 members of the extended Zidane family gathered for dinner in the northern Iraqi city of western Mosul. An American airstrike killed them all.
The following month, an attack in eastern Mosul killed four civilians and sent shrapnel to the spine of a boy named Hasan Alevi Muhammad Sultan, leaving him partially paralyzed.
The next year in Mosul, Karima Khalid Suleiman and 33 members of his family gathered in the hope of a safe place during the fighting between the US and ISIS. An airstrike killed everyone in the house but Suleiman, who emerged from the rubble.
Air strikes – from drones or piloted aircraft – have been the central military strategy the United States has used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other recent conflicts. And American officials often trumpet their own advantages. Officials claim the airstrikes have allowed the US to kill terrorists and other enemies with minimal civilian casualties and without endangering US troops.
There is some truth in these arguments. The airstrikes helped the US defeat ISIS in many places, including in the Mosul region. But it has also become clear that US officials have exaggerated the benefits of the airstrikes and largely underestimated their losses, starting with the magnitude of civilian casualties.
This weekend, The Times published an investigation – written by Azmat Khan, a contributing writer for The Times Magazine – about systemic failures with the military’s use of air strikes. The magazine has now published a second article by Azmat, focusing on the human toll of those failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Ali Yunus Muhammad Sultan, describing his daughter, told Azmat, “If it had not been for her clothes, I would not have even known that it was her.” “She was just a piece of meat. I only recognized her because she was wearing the purple dress I bought for her a few days ago. It’s indescribable.”
As his editor Luke Mitchell told me, Azmat’s work is an astonishing feat of reporting. He has traveled through Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan over the past five years to obtain military documents and interview witnesses and visit 60 different bomb sites.
Wars inevitably involve death, including civilian deaths, as advocates of aerial warfare – in the Biden, Trump, Obama and George W. Bush administrations – often point out. These officials argue that the number of civilians from air strikes is still less than the toll done by tanks in the neighborhood or in carpet-bombed cities of airplanes.
Yet Azmat’s reporting highlights serious problems with US air strikes:
rush to confirm goals, ignoring evidence that they may have caused significant civilian casualties – or may not even be military targets.
Before the attack, in which the Zidane family was killed, a US official warned that the children and their families may have lived near the target; He was ignored. As Azmat writes, “confirmation bias was rampant.”
An undercounting of civilian deaths. In some cases, the toll was almost double that accepted by the military. Military documents claim that 27 percent of civilian casualties in air strikes include children; The Times’ reporting suggests it is 62 percent.
Lack of forgiveness or compensation after mistakes. One example: The US has never contacted survivors of an attack that left the boy partially paralyzed in eastern Mosul, and his family is struggling to afford his wheelchair.
Lack of accountability for mistakes. The military often frees its members from wrongdoing. Last week, the Pentagon said no soldiers would be punished for August’s drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, which killed 10 civilians, including seven children.
Ultimately, Azmat argues that the US approach to air strikes is so flawed that it may undermine US security – at mortal cost to others – rather than protect it. She writes:
What I saw after studying them was not a series of tragic errors, but a pattern of impunity: a failure to locate civilians, to investigate on the ground, to identify causes and lessons learned. , to discipline someone or do the wrong thing that could prevent these recurring problems from happening again. It was a system that seemed to function almost by design not only to hide the true toll of US air strikes, but to legitimize their extended use.
Here are highlights from the first part of The Times’ investigation, and here Azamat’s magazine story focused on the human cost of airstrikes.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said he cannot support his party’s climate and social spending bill, a cornerstone of President Biden’s agenda.
Manchin reiterated long-standing concerns, including the bill’s climate provisions and the risk of inflation.
Experts said that without the bill’s climate provisions, global warming would get worse.
The White House reacted strongly, calling Munchkin’s stance a “violation of his commitments”. But some Democrats expect a bill to be passed next year in line with Munchkin’s demands.
other big stories
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who said she was sexually assaulted by a former Communist Party leader, now denies those claims.
Georgia Republican Johnny Isaacson, who resigned from the US Senate due to health reasons in 2019, has died at the age of 76.
Bret Stephens And Gail Collins Look ahead to 2022.
Schools desperately need students and parents to return to normalcy, says Michelle Goldberg,
read in the morning
Omicron Hit Sports
In March 2020, a canceled NBA game – the so-called Rudy Gobert game – marked the moment that the pandemic became a reality for many Americans. Twenty-one months later, the sports world is again facing an outbreak, this time as Omicron spreads.
NBA officials postponed five games after dozens of players either tested positive or had close contact with someone. To help fill their dwindling roster, the Brooklyn Nets reinstated Kyrie Irving, who missed the entire season because he was not vaccinated. He went into covid protocol before playing a game.
Omicron is influencing other games as well. The NFL this weekend rescheduled three games because of the outbreak. The Premier League in England this weekend canceled most of its games. And the NHL is postponing 21 games between today and December 23.
for more information: In The Times, Kurt Streeter argued that pro sports should take a break until at least February.