Imagine this headline: 'PMO exempts Gaza airstrikes from tight standards on civilian deaths'White House exempts Syria airstrikes from tight standards on civilian deaths' (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The White House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.
A White House statement to Yahoo News confirming the looser policy came in response to questions about reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children, were killed when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria's Idlib province on the morning of Sept. 23.
The village has been described by Syrian rebel commanders as a reported stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front where U.S officials believed members of the so-called Khorasan group were plotting attacks against international aircraft.
But at a briefing for members and staffers of the House Foreign Affairs Committee late last week, Syrian rebel commanders described women and children being hauled from the rubble after an errant cruise missile destroyed a home for displaced civilians. Images of badly injured children also appeared on YouTube, helping to fuel anti-U.S. protests in a number of Syrian villages last week.
Asked about the strike at Kafr Daryan, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said Tuesday that U.S. military “did target a Khorasan group compound near this location. However, we have seen no evidence at this time to corroborate claims of civilian casualties.” But Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told Yahoo News that Pentagon officials “take all credible allegations seriously and will investigate” the reports.
At the same time, however, Hayden said that a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there is a “near certainty” there will be no civilian casualties — "the highest standard we can meet," he said at the time — does not cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
The “near certainty” standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,” Hayden said in an email. “That description — outside areas of active hostilities — simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”That's a hole you could drive a truck - or fly a fighter jet - through. When would it ever be the case that a democracy takes 'direct action' in an area that is 'outside areas of active hostilities.' I would argue that there are always 'active hostilities' in Gaza. Heck, the IDF has caught two infiltrators from there in the last three days trying to carry out terror attacks.
So I think the IDF should announce that it is adopting President Obama's 'near certainty' standard, except when President Obama wouldn't adopt it.
Otherwise, we'd be condoning a double standard.
Aren't you glad that Obama never got around to adopting the Rome Statute and joining the International Criminal Court? Otherwise, the US could find itself in the dock for that statement.
(Fat chance the IDF would adopt Obama's 'near certainty' standard. The IDF really is the most moral army in the world).