2017 Essay Winner

Essence Epperson

Essence Epperson, Graduate
Frederick Douglass High School; attending Tuskegee University in the fall

Essay Question

A U-S military airstrike on a building in Mosul, Iraq killed 105 civilians during an attack in March this year and 36 others are still missing. The attack was intended to take out two Islamic State snipers.  The commander says the deaths were accidental and a 2-month investigation by the Pentagon finds the strike set off an explosion that destroyed the structure.  Investigators conclude that’s because Islamic State fighters had stored explosives in the building.  The report says Iraq and the United States did not know civilians were there despite surveillance.   In January, shortly after President Trump was inaugurated, civilians were killed, including an 8-year old child, during a military raid in Yemen to kill a senior Al-Qaeda collaborator. A Doctors Without Borders hospital was mistakenly hit in Afghanistan, in October 2015, killing 22 people. 

The U-S military says it takes precautions to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties, but they are still happening and likely will continue as long as there is conflict and the rules of engagement include urban areas.  What can be done to eliminate or significantly reduce civilian casualties?  Should there be consequences for those responsible? Why or why not? If yes, what would they be?  How should victims’ families and survivors be compensated?  Should funds be given to rebuild what physical structures are destroyed?

Essence’s Essay
When fighting a “War on Terror” the most effective tactic arguably is to cut off terror
groups resources and funding. Missile strikes, strategic bombing and raids have proved to be
fatal on multiple occasions for civilians. Without income, terror groups will no longer be able to purchase or have access to their tools of destruction and violence. According to investigative journalist, Allan Nairn, civilian deaths are increasing in Syria and Iraq due to the united states bombing raids. Nairn’s work mainly focuses on American foreign-policy. In 1 Syria and in Iraq just over the recent weeks and months, U.S. air attacks have hit mosques, schools, apartment complexes, and killed many many hundreds of civilians. People who monitor this like the Airwars group have estimated that the U.S. has now surpassed Russia in it’s killing of civilians by bombing raids. 2 The Pentagon has acknowledged that it is likely to have killed at least 352 civilians over the course of more than 42,000 engagements since August 2014. (As of May 1, 2017.) Military analysis and human rights activists said those figures vastly understate the civilian casualties caused by U.S. airstrikes.  Bombs and missile strikes should not be used on a normal occasion, if at all. The low usage of bombs and missiles will significantly decrease the amount of civilian casualties in war torn areas. The United States is one of the world’s well known developed countries, however, those in high places who make decisions that are proven faulty should be disciplined. After World War II the United States and Japan signed a treaty known as the “Security Treaty”. The five articles of the treaty prohibited Japan from having full control of its arms, military and its bases. This was a form of punishment. All nations should have consequences to face when inhumane actions are done by their military. Whether the consequence is a treaty that monitors or decreases U.S war weaponry or an international tribunal. If faulty actions are punished, it could possibly decrease the amount of similar mistakes being approved of and made.The families of the victim(s) who are “civilian casualties” should not have to come out of pocket to bury their loved one. The military that approved the use of those fatal missiles, bombs and bullets should own their mistake and handle the repercussions. In an event where the family of the victim is located or living in a hostile environment, they should have the option to relocate at the United States expense. It should be in the best interest of the United States or any other offending country to donate to and rebuild the land, lives in luxuries they took away from the civilians of the distraught land they’ve damaged. Families that are given compensation for the unjust and early deaths of their loved ones never forget. No amount of money or valuable possessions can bring a person back to life. So it is best not to give people tragedies to remember and experience.

1 “Civilian Deaths Are Spiking in Syria and Iraq as US Launches Unrestrained Bombing Raids.” Interview by Amy Goodman. Truthout. Truthout Nonprofit, 12 Apr. 2017. Web. 9 June 2017.
2 Jaffe, Greg. “U.S. Military Investigations Reveal Additional Civilian Deaths in Coalition Strikes.” The Washington Post 1 May 2017, National Security sec.: n. pag. Print.

Annotated Bibliography
Information quoted in essay (footnotes are added in the essay)
● “Civilian Deaths Are Spiking in Syria and Iraq as US Launches Unrestrained Bombing
Raids.” Interview by Amy Goodman. Truthout. Truthout Nonprofit, 12 Apr. 2017. Web. 9
June 2017.
● Jaffe, Greg. “U.S. Military Investigations Reveal Additional Civilian Deaths in Coalition
Strikes.” The Washington Post 1 May 2017, National Security sec.: n. pag. Print.

Source of education (what drove my points in essay)
● My father
○ His 30 year military experience
● “Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.” MOFA: Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of Japan, n.d. Web. 10 June 2017.
< http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/q&a/ref/1.html >.
● Bajekal, Naina. “ISIS: How to Financially Starve the Jihadist Group.” Time . Time, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 June 2017. <http://time.com/3512917/isis-funding-stopping-iraq/>.