Afghan drone strike report tries to shield US president, military chiefs
Published: Nov 04, 2021 08:35 PM
US Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said Photo: AFP

US Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said Photo: AFP

Not surprisingly, a Pentagon review has concluded that the US drone strike in August that killed 10 innocent Afghan civilians was legal. According to the Associated Press, "The review, done by Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said, found there were breakdowns in communication and in the process of identifying and confirming the target of the bombing," but the drone strike "was not caused by misconduct or negligence." The investigation doesn't recommend any disciplinary action.

"The investigation found no violation of law, including the law of war," Lt. Gen. Said said. He called the drone strike "an honest mistake," but emphasized it's "not criminal conduct, random conduct, negligence."

There was a mistake but no one acted wrongly or should be held accountable. What an easy conclusion. When it comes to criminal liability in connection with war crimes committed by US troops, the US has consistently followed rogue logic. It always tries to fool the outsiders, downplay its misconduct, and shirk responsibility. 

Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that the conclusions of the Pentagon review were far-fetched. "Why were there breakdowns in communication? The target was an Afghan aid worker's car loaded with water. It was impossible to have mixed signals," Qian said.

The investigation was carried out by the Air Force inspector general. The goal of inspector general under the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) is to protect their political class principles, in this case, the four-star Air Force chief of staff and term limited appointed secretary of the Air Force, a US military insider told the Global Times. 

"Since this was a highly visible action - a drone strike in the midst of a panicked retreat - ordered apparently by the US president and secretary of defense and executed by the Air Force, CIGIE and the Air Force inspector general made sure that there would be no findings of wrongdoing. Otherwise, the president, secretary of defense, and Air Force leadership could have been held accountable - a great danger to the political class," the insider said.

The investigation further made the Pentagon a laughingstock after its chaotic Afghan pullout in August. Netizens said the "Pentagon finds nothing wrong with Pentagon" on Twitter. Does the US dare let an objective third party investigate and judge whether it has violated the law of war? After the Hague-based International Criminal Court decided to investigate whether US forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan last year, the US imposed sanctions on senior officials of the ICC, including chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. 

The August drone strike that tragically killed 10 civilians, including seven children, was the last strike carried out by US troops in Afghanistan before their pullout from the country. It's fair to say this incident involving "mistaken killings" of civilians can be regarded as a microcosm of most US military operations in Afghanistan, the Middle East and other war-torn regions. 

The US is attempting to whitewash its war crimes. The country has been portraying itself as an international human rights defender, and if it admits its misconduct and crimes, it will be a huge stain and the US will lose its moral high ground to use human rights as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, Zhang Tengjun, a deputy director of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said. But the truth is the US has no face to save or reputation to sustain. Its so-called image as a human rights defender has collapsed.

After all, the US is a country that used "washing power" as evidence of weapons of mass destruction and launched a war against Iraq, what can the outside world expect from it?