Is Either Term Anything More Than Convenient Rhetoric?
Considering the number of "friendly fire" incidents we've heard about, the term "precision strikes" and their avoidance of civilian targets seems laughable.
I was reading a report prepared in 1996 by the United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development for the Promotion And Protection Of The Rights Of Children. It points out that in 1977 itself; the Geneva Conventions were supplemented by two additional Protocols to protect vulnerable groups and to regulate the conduct of hostilities.
Non-international armed conflicts, that is to say, conflicts within States, are covered by Protocol II while "Protocol I requires that the fighting parties distinguish at all times between combatants and civilians and that the only legal targets of attack should be military in nature. Protocol I covers all civilians, but two articles also offer specific protection to children. Article 77 stipulates that children shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected against any form of indecent assault and that the Parties to the conflict shall provide them with the care and aid they require, whether because of their age or for any other reason".
"While the Fourth Geneva Convention has been almost universally ratified, the Protocols have been ratified by far fewer States. To date, 144 States have ratified Protocol I, and those absent include a number of significant military powers; of Gulf War I combatants, for example, the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, France and Iraq have yet to ratify Protocol I," according to the report.
While few of us would be surprised that Iraq had not ratified the protocol, one would have expected countries like the USA and UK to do so, especially since it deals with protecting the vulnerable.
Anyway, considering what a hullabaloo is being made of attacking only military / official targets and not civilian ones in the war on Iraq… I'm beginning to wonder if the rhetoric is just breathtaking hypocrisy?
These supposedly precise demonstrations of "kinetic warfare" (not called always bombing, by the way) that the US and the UK would have us believe in, killed a quarter of the Americans who died in the Gulf War of 1991 (i.e. 35 of 146 personnel) in addition to more British troops than the Iraqis themselves managed to kill.
In this, the 2nd Gulf War, missiles have somehow found their way into Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria and also bombed Russian diplomats and various journalists. Surgical strikes have also killed both British and Kurdish soldiers — U.S. allies — and some Americans.
If this is the effect of precision bombing on the US and it's allies, one can't help but wonder whether the US armed forces are capable of protecting civilians whether or not they would like to do so.
© 2003 Copyright By Nandita Saikia
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Nandita Saikia has had two books published: one on Business Communication and the other on Human Rights. She has has contributed to a number of publications on a wide range of subjects although her primary interests are domestic violence and choice inhibition.
intelligent critique mayuresh kothari
| Aug 9th, 2003
your in-depth knowledge about hte geneva convention protocols is commendable and i would certainly like to know your views on the battle of magadishu made famous by "black hawk down".
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