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Trump Has Missed Two Deadlines for Reporting Civilian Casualties of US Wars

Trump Has Missed Two Deadlines for Reporting Civilian Casualties of US Wars

Context:

Congress requires the White House to issue an annual report on civilian casualties of US military operations. The current administration has also ignored an executive order that requires the reporting of civilians killed by drone strikes and other counterterrorism activities. Both reports were due on May 1.

In the News:

“‘The failure to report on civilian casualties is a failure of accountability on the use of deadly force by this administration,’ says Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International’s director of security with human rights. ‘The public has the right to know when and how military operations have caused civilian casualties, where these operations took place, what weapons were used, and if lethal force was used lawfully.’ Last November, amid headlines that civilian deaths from US airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan had surged, Congress added a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act requiring the White House to issue an annual report outlining all military operations that may have killed civilians. The Trump administration has also apparently ignored an executive order issued by President Barrack Obama in 2016 that requires the White House to report on the number of civilians and combatants killed by drone strikes and other counterterrorism activities. Both reports were due on May 1.”

“Eviatar says Congress added the reporting requirement to the defense bill because ‘it was clear there was a huge increase in the number of strikes and civilian casualties under the Trump administration, but they were producing very little information about them.’ For each incident, the report must include the date, location, the number of civilians and enemy combatants killed, and whether it occurred in a “declared theater of active armed conflict.”

“Official reports routinely underestimate the number of civilians killed in attacks conducted by the United States and its allies. In June 2017, US Central Command reported a total of 484 civilian deaths as a result of US-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS since August 2014. However, Airwars put the number at 3,800; it has since revised the number to least 6,200.”

Insight from Peace Science:

International Influence on U.S. Public Support for Drone Strikes
  • By highlighting civilian casualties and breaches of international law, international organizations can directly influence U.S. public opinion on drone policy.
  • U.S. public opinion on the drone program is more influenced by international organizations citing legal principles than by their own government claiming drones are legal and effective.
Proven Decline in Public Support for War When the Alternatives Come to Light
  • People assume the use of military force is the last resort.
  • When aware of nonviolent alternatives to war, people believe the price of war is too high.
  • When aware of nonviolent alternatives to war, people are less likely to tolerate casualties and to support war.
  • When political leaders unanimously support war, the public is less sensitive to the number of casualties.

References:

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