How civilians get killed

We frequently get reports of how civilians, including women and children, get killed in air strikes by drones and other military aircraft. But why does this keep happening, when the technology is now supposed to be so advanced that people can be identified at long range? Surely you should be able to at least be able to make out children to alert you that you are not engaging fighters?

This article, based on military documents and transcripts of cockpit and radio conversations obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, describes in detail how one such tragedy came about. It shows the power of confirmation bias, how when you are determinedly looking for something, you interpret events as supporting your beliefs even if they do not.


  1. Jared A says

    I know the “guns don’t kill people” reciters will disagree with me, but here’s a nice line from the Odyssey: “The blade itself incites to deeds of violence.” or sometimes put more succinctly “The blade itself incites to violence.”

    It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your weapons or training are. To create a weapon you create violence. To wield a weapon is to wield it unjustly.

  2. Steve LaBonne says

    Contemporary warfare inevitably kills large numbers of civilians. So I don’t see how any war other than one literally for national survival can possibly be morally justified anymore. Colonial wars of choice, like the three we have going on right now, are flagrantly immoral, even to a far worse degree than they were in the days when military deaths typically far outnumbered civilian.

  3. Peter says

    Towards the end of the article the safety observer and drone camera operator are quoted as saying ‘No way to tell from here’.

    If there’s no way to tell that a group of people don’t represent a threat, then why on earth do the rules of engagement permit an attack?? And if the rules don’t permit an attack, then why aren’t these crimes punished?


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