With all the uproar about Blackwater and the September 16 deaths at the Nisoor traffic circle, one would think that civilians are seldom casualties of American gunfire in Iraq.
The sad thing, of course, is that this is not the case at all. One of the reasons we try to avoid wars is because innocent civilians always pay with their lives. When our leaders determine that we must go in and fight, we go to extremes to protect innocent life with our precision weapons, our special operations forces, and our military's general approach to warfare.
Now we have news that Iraqi families, including small children, were the victims of a US helicopter attack on Iranian-backed Shi'ite extremists in a Baghdad slum. Initial reports say that helicopter fire wounded and killed people who were sleeping on their roofs at night to say cool because of the continued lack of electrical services. Others reportedly died when projectiles pierced their houses.
But where the Maliki government was quick to denounce Blackwater as committing "deliberate murder" in the September 16 incident, is shows great understanding, bordering on dismissiveness, that the Sadr City deaths were an unfortunate byproduct of war.
AP, reporting on the images of dead toddlers and wounded family members, reports: "An Iraqi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, said the government would ask the Americans for an explanation of today's raid and stressed the need to avoid civilian deaths.
"The government has issued mixed reactions to the raids and airstrikes, particularly those that have targeted Sunni extremists.
"US troops backed by attack aircraft killed 19 suspected insurgents and 15 civilians, including nine children, in an operation Oct. 11 targeting al Qaeda in Iraq leaders northwest of Baghdad.
"Al-Maliki's government said those killings were a 'sorrowful matter,' but emphasized that civilian deaths are unavoidable in the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq."