22 Dec The Washington Post Needs to Correct Its Syria Article
Karen De Young and Missy Ryan have a long article today in the Washington Post about internal USG debates over the rules of engagement in Syria. It’s a very interesting and generally excellent article, but it contain one major error:
International law allows for civilian casualties, even intentional ones, providing an action is within the bounds of distinction and proportionality, a somewhat subjective judgment that the military importance of the target is worth it.
No, international law does not allow intentional civilian casualties. Intentionally attacking civilians violates IHL’s principle of distinction and is a quintessential war crime. The sentence should read “international law allows for civilian casualties, even ones known to be certain, providing an action is within the bounds of proportionality…”
I have tweeted the authors of the article. I will update this post if they issue a correction.