Mattis declares war on civilians in Syria and Iraq. As for ISIS, we can’t be so sure.
US Secretary of Defense (of war in reality) James “Mad Dog” Mattis gave an interview to John Dickerson on CBS’ Face The Nation last Saturday, discussing the new strategy of the US in fighting ISIS, among other pressing foreign policy issues for the US war state.
CBS promoted it as an “explosive interview” (a common term used to promote programs apparently). There was nothing in Dickerson’s interview, both in terms of substance and style to rile Mattis up, however what Mattis had to say should alarm the people of Syria and Iraq no end. The people of these war ravaged nations stand to suffer immensely under a Trump administration which has reignited the US war state zeal for bombing with abandonment: all under the guise of fighting the barbaric ISIS.
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Mattis told Dickerson the fight against ISIS has “accelerated” and has shifted to “annihilation tactics.”
Dickeron listened with the deference you would expect from the military industrial complex media, then, without breaking stride, nor changing tone asked the question, “what about civilian casualties as a result of this faster tempo?” Mattis replied, “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation. We do everything humanly possible consistent with military necessity, taking many chances to avoid civilian casualties at all costs…. The American people and the American military will never get used to civilian casualties. And we will – we will fight against that every way we can possibly bring our intelligence and our tactics to bear.”
In this interview, Mattis explained how the US trains terrorists to do its bidding, how it doesn’t care about how many civilians it kills and how its actions will never defeat terrorists, it will only create new terrorists. And aside from that, if your family is murdered by the US or its proxies and you decide to fight the US, does that make you a terrorist. The US does not exclusively fight ISIS, indeed it is arguable they fight them at all. Thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have rightly taken up arms against the US or its proxies in defense of their families, homes, communities and nations.
Mattis spelled out American exceptionalism which is a straw man argument erected whenever faced with the uncomfortable truth that the US accepts and is willing to slaughter countless civilians to pursue its goals of imperial conquests. The absolute necessity of controlling land, governments and resources eliminates civilian casualties as a factor for consideration. They are simply as Mattis said, a “fact of life.” Civilian casualties are not even relegated to secondary importance; they are outright taken out of the equation.
If civilian casualties were a concern, it would throw US plans into chaos. It would no longer be able to train, arm and unleash sectarian terrorists for whom civilian slaughter is a badge of honour.
It would no longer be able to relentlessly carpet bomb Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. It would have to tell the giant military contractors, sorry, but we have to scale back on your bombs, meaning your bottom line is being cut. It would no longer be able to launch deadly drone strikes in numerous countries as if it is a sporting competition. The sheer impossibility of being able to carry out surgical strikes, absolutely certain that first the target is a terrorist, and second, that absolutely no civilians will be hit, would result in the axing of the drone strike campaign.
Dickerson’s tone doesn’t change once in the whole interview. You can see it is very measured, as though CBS is wary that a question will be interpreted as “tough” or “accusatory.” Not that they actually would be tough or accusatory, but that it may be interpreted that way.
Therefore the question, “what about civilian casualties as a result of this faster tempo?” is said in the same tone, without emphasis, and without interrupting the tempo of the interview. It is all one smooth level, no bumpy spots for Mattis to navigate, to have to deviate from the set script where he has to think on his feet, keep calm, try to stay rational and actually engage in a debate where his statements are challenged as not necessarily being absolute truth.
It is almost as if both parties are reading from a script. This is exactly how it is designed to be. The US military industrial complex media is a propaganda mouthpiece of the US military state. Emmanuel Macron said RT and Sputnik acted as propaganda outlets in their supposed campaigns against him and in favour of Marine Le Pen during the recently contested French election. I would agree if Macron had said the US media are propaganda outlets.
The interview was an example of self-censorship, of knowing where the boundaries are and staying well within those boundaries. All the talking points are from the US government foreign policy elite playbook. Dickerson gives full reign for those views to be propagated and imprinted in the viewer’s mind; just as previous and future media outlets all do.
They all do it because they all want privileged access to the political establishment. Being spineless sycophants is the price they have to pay for this “access” to power. The media could almost say that’s part of my job, it’s how you have to play the game. Follow the unwritten rules or be ejected from the game.
The statement of Mattis that the US will annihilate ISIS without mercy, is really a declaration of open season on Syrian and Iraqi civilians, who will be entirely expendable in the battle to obliterate ISIS.
Donald Trump has moved to loosen the rules of engagement in US wars abroad, giving battlefield commanders more authority to make decisions on air strikes and raids. An increased risk of civilian casualties is an inevitable outcome of moves to allow commanders to react more quickly and make heat of the moment decisions.
The relaxed rules of engagement came hot on the heels of a deadly US airstrike in Mosul on 17 March which killed over 200 civilians. Such was the horror at the huge amount of casualties that even the mainstream media covered it widely, absent the accusations of deliberately killing civilians reserved for Syria and Russia.
Twelve days later, congressional hearings on Middle East Security Challenges, presented the perfect opportunity for solemn introspection and crucial grilling of US generals on how the US could commit such an atrocity.
US Republican, Martha McSally was having none of that though. She squared off against General Joseph Votel, commander of United States Central Command. Votel may have been feeling hot under the collar before the hearings, but after the adoration lavished on him by McSally he must have left feeling like the cat that got the cream.
McSally said to Votel, “we never target civilians…ISIS knows it can use human shields to avoid being hit….do you agree that some of the higher level of, I think ridiculous standard that we had previously has now created this behaviour by ISIS that they now realise that if they take human shields they are going to avoid being struck and that actually this is adding to the problem?” Votel replied, “Congressman I do believe they understand our sensitivities to civilian casualties and they are exploiting that and I do agree that as we move into these urban environments it is going to become more and more difficult to apply the extraordinarily high standards in the things we are doing, although we will try.”
The loosening of rules of engagement, escalated US airstrikes and the annihilation tactics adopted by the murderous US regime have certainly had deadly consequences.
Most recently, on 25 May, the US led coalition committed a massacre against civilians to the southeast of Deir Ezzor city, leaving 35 people dead, mostly women and children.
Donald Trump jumped on to the blame Assad instantly bandwagon when he launched 59 Tomahawks at Shayrat airbase in April, killing several soldiers and 7 civilians, 4 of them children. This was a quick draw McGraw response to the Khan Shekhoun “chemical weapons” incident less than 3 days earlier, an event that was almost certainly a false flag, as the allegations against the Syrian Army were once again debunked quickly.
Syrian Arab Army Senior Lieutenant Firas Hammoud, was murdered by Trump’s bombs for the crime of defending his country within its borders. He leaves behind a grieving widow, Ghanea Hammoud, who delivered a message to Trump’s daughter Ivanka on the pain and suffering her father caused.
Mrs. Ivanka Trump, you should tell your father to stop murdering us. Stop causing Syrian women to be widows, Syrian students to end studies from bombs on buses, and Syrian kids to be orphans. How can you know nothing about the horrible war the Syrian women, Syrian men, Syrian children have been going through since this ugly, western war was imposed on us, in 2011.
18 May was another day of infamy, with massacres carried out directly by the US and by their terrorist proxies. The day started with a massacre of 52 civilians in Aqareb al Safiyeh in Hama, many of whom were women and children. ISIS terrorists attacked in large numbers, breaking into a number of civilian houses on the southern outskirts of the village, before the SAA and NDF were able to repel them before they reached deeper into the village. Had they done so, the death toll could have been in the hundreds.
To finish the day off, US/UK/Jordanian forces launched air strikes at a convoy which consisted of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), National Defense Forces (NDF), Hezbollah, and Imam Al-‘Ali Battalions. The US announced the convoy had come too close to its positions at Al-Tanf, where yet more proxy terrorists are being trained to destroy Syria and ripen it up for regime change.
On 15 April it was the turn of the US sponsored terrorists again as a terrorist bomb attack on buses in Aleppo transporting civilians from the besieged towns of Foua and Kefraya killed at least 126 people, 68 of them children. The terrorists sickeningly lured hungry children to their death by offering them chips to eat, maximising the number of children who would be cruelly murdered.
In March, at least 33 civilians were killed by a US airstrike as they sought shelter in a school in al Manswra west countryside of Raqqa. The people had fled from Aleppo, Palmyra, and east of Raqqa and must have felt relief at being able to find a school as shelter, seemingly a safe place. But not in the age of making America bomb again where rules of engagement are a redundant hindrance.
The reckless abandon and utter contempt for human life in Syria and Iraq by the US has undoubtedly led to an increase in civilian deaths as can be seen in the figures of Airwars. Perhaps the newly empowered commanders in the field have heeded the advice of Martha McSally on the “ridiculous standards” the US has allegedly been held to in the rules of engagement.
— Paul Mansfield