, 12 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
What is so valuable that it’s worth killing and dying for? (A thread)

In war, we have to measure human costs & compare it to the cost of doing nothing. This is hard work.

Recent work by @Amnesty/@Airwars/@danmahanty/@annieshiel helps to show us why. (1/13)
@Amnesty/@Airwars recently released a report on civilian casualties (#CIVCAS) in the fight for #Raqqa in which they claim that the coalition (@CJTFOIR) killed 1600 civilians (compared to the coalition claim of only 159) from June-Oct 2017. (2/13)

They go so far as to assert: “The Coalition launched strikes likely to cause excessive harm to civilians and failed to distinguish between military targets and civilians. … Disproportionate or indiscriminate attacks are war crimes.”

Is this right? (3/13)
It’s hard to know who to trust on #CIVCAS. The coalition previously said CIVCAS reporting is inflated. I don’t know how to adjudicate. (As far as I know, @CJTFOIR hasn’t responded to the recent report)

But even if the report’s numbers are right… (4/13)

That doesn’t by itself answer the proportionality question. According to #InternationalLaw, an attack is disproportionate if the expected harm is “excessive … in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” (5/13)

Would 1600 CIVAS be excessive? We can’t answer that question until we answer this one: How valuable was it to drive #ISIS out of #Raqqa. How much was liberating Raqqa *worth*? (6/13)

(Children in school in Hazema, N. Raqqa, 21 Aug, 2017, photo credit, Zohra Bensemra / Reuters)
Comparing “#mil advantage” w/ “number of #CIVCAS” is really hard. In philosopher Derek Parfit’s words, these are “imprecise comparables.” As a #USAF friend said: proportionality is like comparing the width of this room to the weight of this chair. (8/13)

What was the value of driving #ISIS out?

I don’t know the answer. I only suggest that this is one of the national discussions we should have had before the #Raqqa fight.

Did we? (9/13)

BUT, we also have to ask about the value of civilian lives. This was easier in #Iraq/#Afghanistan #COIN fights.

During COIN’s hay day in the #NatSec zeitgeist (c. ’07-’13), civilian lives had *strategic* value—“hearts & minds”

Not so in Raqqa... (10/13)

Enter @danmahanty & @annieshiel ’s recent article in @DefenseOne : "Protecting #Civilians Still Matters."

The authors of this excellent piece remind us that #strategic value this is not the only kind of value that matters. (11/13)

The authors explain that we have to value civilian lives for ethical reasons, but also for prudential ones:
-Perceived US legitimacy
-Post-conflict #peace
-To set a standard for int’l partners

Because “#values still matter.” (12/13)

To determine if a war/campaign/battle is proportionate, we have to be serious about the human cost & equally serious about the moral good to be achieved.

@Amnesty, @Airwars, @danmahanty, @annieshiel are working on the former. Are we talking enough about the latter? (13/13)
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