Who’s to blame when a group of savages take innocent people hostage, commit atrocities, and spur the forces of civilization to strike back, sparking a conflict that, regrettably, claims the lives of more innocent people? If you’ve followed the way the international community—that mythical body of self-appointment bureaucrats who see themselves as everyone’s moral betters—has dealt with Israel, you know the answer by now. To organizations like Amnesty International, the real culprits are never the Palestinian terrorists who use human shields or launch missiles at school children, always the Israeli army doing its best to defend its citizens without causing unnecessary loss of life on the other side. The term of art for this reprehensible approach is moral equivalence. And you won’t be surprised to hear that, having mastered the skill of both-sides-are-to-blame with Hamas, Amnesty is now extending the same courtesy to ISIS.
In a new report, released earlier this week and entitled “At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq,” the organization paid lip service to the idea that the Islamic State—purveyors of sexual slavery, beheadings, and other brutalities—inflicted some suffering on Mosul’s population before getting to the real culprit, the US-led coalition.
“Iraqi government and US-led coalition forces failed to adequately adapt their tactics to these challenges—as required by international humanitarian law—with disastrous consequences for civilians,” thunders the report. Then, lest you have any doubt what ought to be done next, the report ends with a call to action. “Don’t Let These Crimes Be Buried,” reads a bold headline, before making a list of demands, including a public acknowledgment of “the scale and gravity of the loss of civilian lives during the Mosul battle” and reparations for the victims and their families.
As armies around the world continue to struggle with benighted forces seizing cities and using civilians as human shields, there’s certainly room for discussion about optimal tactics to minimize collateral damage. But for a group purporting to fly the banner of human rights to present both the barbarians who seized Mosul and the imperfect soldiers who risked their lives to liberate it is a farce. If Amnesty truly wants to be faithful to its mission statement of protecting people “wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied,” it may start by taking the small but crucial step of not defending ISIS.