Pentagon and White House officials continue to try to present the ongoing ISIS war as being conducted with excessive care, attributing the lack of admitted civilian casualties to this. Of course, rights groups have reported large civilian casualties in several US airstrikes, but the Pentagon has simply refused to admit it.
Either way, there are growing calls, particularly from the military, to ratchet up the strikes in Syria, and ditch the efforts to be precise in the name of escalation, a move that would then justify a further increase of civilian casualties that would be even harder to deny.
The White House is said to be resisting this, saying the war is being carried out “in a way that is consistent with American values.” Whether that simply means denying civilian deaths at all cost or not is unclear, but the administration seems confident that could be maintained going forward.
Whether the debate is even an earnest one is unclear, however, as hawks have been pressing for “carpet bombing” ISIS and this may simply be an effort to present the White House as being involved in an active debate on the matter.
The US had actually ditched a lot of the restrictions meant to avoid civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria years ago, however, and has been targeting civilian infrastructure ever since.