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Remote Warfare and Disposable Lives: The Endless War, Where Apologies Are Unnecessary

Remote warfare and expendable people: Forever War means never having to say you’re sorry

In times of war, individuals often perish for arbitrary reasons or, at times, no apparent reason at all. These casualties result from factors such as the circumstances of birth, being born in a geopolitically unfortunate location like Cambodia, Gaza, Afghanistan, or Ukraine, and merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

War victims face gruesome fates – whether shot in the streets, obliterated by artillery, or eviscerated by air strikes. Their deaths are attributed to misfortune, error, or perceived military necessity.

Since September 2001, the United States has been engaged in its “war on terror,” commonly known as the “Forever Wars.” Its involvement in Somalia dates back to 2002, with U.S. Special Operations forces, security assistance, troops, contractors, helicopters, and drones becoming part of the conflict.

Remote warfare and expendable people: Forever War means never having to say you’re sorry

Aerial attacks in Somalia, initiated in 2007, persist across different presidencies, with 282 attacks, including 31 under President Biden. Official U.S. records acknowledge five civilian deaths, while independent monitoring groups, like Airwars, suggest a figure potentially 3,100% higher.

On April 1, 2018, Luul Dahir Mohamed and her 4-year-old daughter, Mariam Shilow Muse, joined the civilian casualties when a U.S. drone strike killed them in El Buur, Somalia.

Their deaths resulted from a combination of misfortune, bad policies, and limited local transport options. The incident exemplifies the U.S. drone warfare’s claim of precision strikes with minimal collateral damage, contradicted by independent evidence.

The American strike cell involved in the attack made critical errors, including misjudging the occupants of the targeted vehicle and launching a second missile after seeing survivors fleeing. Luul and Mariam’s deaths were tragic, marked by mutilation and a lack of accountability for those responsible.

Despite a U.S. military admission of civilian casualties, Luul’s family is still waiting for an apology and compensation. A coalition of 24 human rights organizations has urged Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to address this issue promptly. However, recent developments, such as the Pentagon’s “Instruction on Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response,” highlight a discrepancy between mandated actions and actual implementation.

While Secretary Austin has been active in various global engagements, there has been no apparent effort to contact Luul and Mariam’s family since the humanitarian groups’ letter. The family, shattered by the loss, waits for acknowledgment and an apology, mirroring the experiences of other victims in conflict zones like Yemen.

The U.S. government’s historical pattern of conducting airstrikes resulting in civilian casualties without adequate investigation or compensation perpetuates, with no sign of tangible accountability.

As the Forever Wars persist, unfulfilled promises to end them and the lack of apologies for civilian deaths underscore a disconcerting reality. Luul’s brother, Abubakar, voices a plea for justice and compensation, questioning whether the U.S. will uphold its proclaimed values of promoting democracy, social justice, and the protection of rights worldwide.

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