Memo to D.C.: Refusing to count civilian casualties from American airstrikes doesn’t make them go away

After more than 2,300 airstrikes dropping 8,200 bombs in the war against ISIS, the Pentagon claims it is responsible for exactly zero civilian casualties.

To say this claim is implausible—I mean, we may have the biggest military in the world, but nobody’s that good—is putting it mildly.

Well, it turns out the reason the claim is implausible is because it’s simply not true. What’s actually happening is that the military has literally declined to count civilian deaths, a strategy about as responsible as when a toddler closes his eyes and thinks you can’t see him anymore.

Refusing to keep a tally of civilian casualties won’t make them any less real—but it might communicate a callous disregard for the value of human life to the regular people whose friends and family have fallen victim to American strikes.

It’s also not making us any friends. As a family member of recent victims of an American drone strike in Yemen put it, “We live in injustice and we want the United States to recognize these crimes against my father and my brothers. They were innocent people, we are weak, poor people, and we don’t have anything to do with this.”

For those who have lost children, spouses, grandparents, and friends to American bombs, admitting the victims’ innocence is the least we can do.

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