The Education of a Wartime President: Obama Admits Rule on Civilian Casualties Is Unworkable in Fighting ISIS
- Alan M. Dershowitz
Last year the Obama administration issued, with considerable fanfare, a new military policy designed to reduce civilian casualties when U.S. forces are attacking enemy targets. This policy required "near certainty" that there will be no civilian casualties before an air attack is permitted.
When Israel acted in self-defense this summer against Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, the Obama administration criticized the Israeli army for "not doing enough" to reduce civilian casualties. Now the Obama administration has exempted itself from its own "near certainty" standard in its attacks against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Its statement came after a Tomahawk missile last week struck the village Kafr Daryan in Syria, reportedly killing and injuring numerous civilians including children and women.
In every attack on terrorists who operate from civilian areas, there will be civilian casualties. The Obama administration's theoretical "near certainty" policy has proved to be unworkable and unrealistic in actual battle conditions involving human shields and enemy fighters embedded in densely populated areas.
There must be a single universal standard for judging nations that are fighting the kind of terrorism represented by ISIS and Hamas. This standard must be both moral and realistic, capable of being applied equally to all nations committed both to the rule of law and to the obligation to protect citizens from terrorist attacks.
The writer is a Democrat, supporter of President Obama and a law professor emeritus at Harvard University.
(Wall Street Journal)
The Genome of Islamic Terrorism - Moshe Arens
It took the grizzly, televised beheadings of two journalists by an Islamic State executioner to arouse the Western world to the dangers of Islamic terrorism. In short order, President Obama assembled a coalition to fight Islamic State and within days the bombing of IS targets by coalition aircraft began. They evidently did not take the kind of precautions taken by the Israeli Air Force in Gaza - prior warnings, "knocks on the roof," a call for civilians to evacuate the area - in order to minimize casualties among innocent civilians, and there was the inevitable collateral damage.
Israel has been contending with Islamic terrorism for many years, alone - against Hizbullah, funded, armed and directed by Iran, and against Hamas, an ideological affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, also armed by Iran. Although both Hizbullah and Hamas are considered by the U.S. and EU as terrorist organizations, Israel has received little sympathy when battling them, and on occasion has even come in for severe criticism for causing collateral damage. So far no coalition has been organized to fight Hizbullah and Hamas. That job has been left to Israel.
Yet I[slamic] S[tate], Hamas, and Hizbullah are similar versions of Islamic terrorism. They all have a common denominator - they see the West as their enemy and they all carry the gene that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. It is a myopic view to see IS as the only terrorist threat to the world.
The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Bombing for show? Or for effect? -Charles Krauthammer, MD
Obama has committed the United States to war on the Islamic State. To then allow within a month an allied enclave to be overrun — and perhaps annihilated — would be a major blow. Guerrilla war is a test of wills. Obama's actual objectives — rollback in Iraq, containment in Syria — are not unreasonable. But they require commitment and determination. In other words, will. You can't just make one speech declaring war, then disappear and go fundraising.
The indecisiveness and ambivalence so devastatingly described by both of Obama's previous secretaries of defense, Leon Panetta and Bob Gates, are already beginning to characterize the Syria campaign.
The Iraqis can see it. The Kurds can feel it. The jihadists are counting on it.
[Jewish World Review]