The Pentagon’s promises to curb civilian deaths ring hollow, again.

By Peter Maass, The Intercept

The Pentagon is not known for staging revivals of classic movies, but it just reenacted a famous scene from “Casablanca.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin — after months of news reports about civilians killed by U.S. bombs, including the deaths of seven children and three adults in a Kabul drone attack — just issued a directive to reduce what the military traditionally describes as collateral damage. “We can and will improve upon efforts to protect civilians,” Austin vowed this week. “The protection of innocent civilians in the conduct of our operations remains vital to the ultimate success of our operations, and as a significant strategic and moral imperative.”

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin:

His two-page directive calls for the creation of a “Civilian Harm and Mitigation Response Plan” in 90 days that will lay out a comprehensive approach to improve the training of military personnel and the collection and sharing of data, so that the wrong people don’t get killed so often. He also ordered the establishment of a hazily defined “civilian protection center of excellence” to institutionalize the knowledge needed to prevent wrongful killings. The underlying idea is that military culture will be changed so that protecting civilians is a core goal.

If you were just tuning into the catastrophe of America’s forever wars, you might be impressed by Austin’s directive, in the same way you might be impressed by Capt. Louis Renault in “Casablanca” when he shuts down Rick’s Café because, shockingly, gambling was happening in the casino. Renault’s horror was feigned, of course. He was a regular visitor to the cafe, and after blowing his whistle on gambling, he was handed his winnings for that night.

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