Stimson in the News

Stimson drones report cited in The Hill on government’s civilian protection

in Program

At least 100 civilians have died during the United States-led bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria,according to a recent report. This news is bitterly ironic given that the mission was initially launched to protect civilians. Yet the White House insists it cannot confirm a single civilian death – despite admitting at the beginning of the conflict that the high level of protection it normally uses in lethal strikes would not be applied in this fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. This shameful development confirms what has become increasingly clear: when it comes to the Obama administration’s protection of civilians, the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality. 

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Fourth, even under the administration’s definition of its goal, these strikes are ineffective.  President Obama argues that airstrikes are necessary to “degrade” and “destroy” the Islamic State, which will increase security. However, the Islamic State has continued to make advancements despite ongoing airstrikes. In fact, the airstrikes appear to be strengthening them, as recruitment for the Islamic State has since skyrocketed. This should not come as a surprise, as years of global drone strikes have yielded the exact same results. A report by the Stimson Center earlier this year confirmed that after 14 years of U.S. strikes, violent extremism has only increased. In turn, with increased violent extremism, there are an increased number of potential targets for U.S. strikes, which drives endless cycles of violence and war. 

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