The Awful Truth About Human Shields

Syrian Army officers and their families, backing president Bashar El Assad have been shown locked up in 'human shield' cages by a rebels group called "Army of Islam" in Damascus' suburb Douma, in Syria, on October 31st, 2015. The group claimed the human shields will protect Douma's civilians from airstrikes led by Russian and Syrian air force. Photo Balkis Press/Sipa USA

James Dunnigan wrote a smart little something about our phony air war which serves as a nice followup to this morning’s column from yours truly:

It is unlikely more American air strikes or talk about commando operations will make a difference and that is because the U.S. refuses to do anything about the very restrictive ROE (Rules of Engagement) used so far. ISIL has exploited this ROE by widely using human shields at many of its key bases. This recently led to ISIL putting hundreds of Shia into steel cages and moving them around by truck to where an air strike was anticipated. ISIL put pictures of these caged human shields and in general dared the United States to hit a target protected by caged Shia. In the past the American ROE and ISIL use of human shields meant that the most important ISIL facilities were untouched by the bombing campaign. It also meant that numerous trucks carrying material for ISIL (like oil for export) were untouched lest a civilian driver be killed. American intelligence analysts have been leaking accusations have leaked information about this including being ordered to modify their reports about the impact of the air campaign to hide the fact that a lot of the ISIL targets hit were secondary ones ISIL did not see worth deploying human shields to.


Civilian casualties are bad. Losing a war is worse.

Letting the lawyers determine the ROE all but guarantees the latter, while moving the civilian casualties from Over There to nearer places like Paris and San Bernardino.


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