What We Owe the Innocent Victims of America’s Wars

Patrick Leahy in the New York Times:

Merlin_129588092_7a766fb6-1359-4760-8eca-891f90585cff-master768In “The Uncounted,” their article in The New York Times Magazine last week, Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal laid bare a tragic reality of American military operations against the Islamic State: the untold harm inflicted on civilians.

That the Islamic State is guilty of horrific atrocities is common knowledge. But most Americans seem unaware of the human toll of our own actions, the consequences this has for our national security and our reputation, and that too often the civilian casualties we cause are the result of avoidable mistakes. This must change.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the number of violent extremist groups has grown across multiple continents. From Syria to Somalia to Pakistan, the United States is combating many of these groups — usually with bombs and missiles. Large numbers of innocent people are invariably caught in the middle.

There are practical ways that we can improve how we protect civilians as we fight violent extremists. These changes will improve our military operations and make our country safer in the long run.

More here.