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秘密文件揭美军空袭行动六大问题:平民死亡人数被低估

What to Know About the Civilian Casualty Files
秘密文件揭美军空袭行动六大问题:平民死亡人数被低估

In the years since American boots on the ground gave way to a war of airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has made a central promise: that precision bombs and drones would kill enemies while minimizing the risks to civilians.

在空袭战取代了美国在伊拉克、叙利亚和阿富汗的地面部队之后的几年里,美国军方做出的一个核心承诺是:高精度的炸弹和无人机将杀死敌人,同时把给平民带来的危险降到最低。

Recent investigations by The New York Times have undercut that promise. In September, The Times reported that a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, which American officials said had destroyed a vehicle laden with bombs, had instead killed 10 members of a family. Last month, The Times reported that dozens of civilians had been killed in a 2019 bombing in Syria that the military had hidden from public view.

《纽约时报》最近的调查降低了这个承诺的可信度。今年9月,时报报道了发生在阿富汗喀布尔的一次无人机袭击,根据美国官员的说法,那次袭击摧毁了一辆装满炸弹的汽车,实际情况却是一个家庭10名成员的死亡。上个月,时报报道了2019年对叙利亚进行的一次轰炸导致数10名平民丧生,军方却一直对公众隐藏这个情况。
 

2017年1月,伊拉克东摩苏尔的一所学校曾经遭遇空袭。孩子们在炸毁的校园里玩耍。

Now, a Times investigation has found that these were not outliers, but rather the regular casualties of a transformed way of war gone wrong.

现在,时报的一项调查发现,这些事件不是例外,而是改变作战方式后经常出现的差错所导致的伤亡。

Drawing on more than 1,300 documents from a hidden Pentagon archive, the investigation reveals that, since 2014, the American air war has been plagued by deeply flawed intelligence, rushed and imprecise targeting and the deaths of thousands of civilians, many of them children.

这项调查涉及五角大楼一个秘密档案的1300多份文件,调查显示,自2014年以来,美国的空战一直受到各种问题的困扰,包括严重错误的情报,仓促制定、不精确的打击目标,以及数以千计平民死亡(其中许多是儿童)的后果。

In addition to reviewing the military’s own assessments of reports of civilian casualties — obtained through Freedom of Information requests and lawsuits against the Defense Department and U.S. Central Command — The Times visited nearly 100 casualty sites in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and interviewed scores of surviving residents and current and former American officials.

除了查阅军方自己对平民伤亡报告的评估外(这些报告是根据《信息自由法》向国防部和美国中央司令部提出要求,并对这两个机构提起诉讼后获得的),时报走访了伊拉克、叙利亚和阿富汗的近100个发生了平民伤亡的地点,采访了大量的幸存居民,以及现任和前任美国官员。

Here are key takeaways from Part 1 of the investigation. Part 2 will be published in the coming days.

以下是这项调查第一部分的主要结果。第二部分将在未来几天发表。

Civilian deaths have been drastically undercounted

平民死亡人数的统计一直严重不足


According to the military’s count, 1,417 civilians have died in airstrikes in the campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria; since 2018 in Afghanistan, U.S. air operations have killed at least 188 civilians. But The Times found that the civilian death toll was significantly higher. Discrepancies arose in case after case — none more stark than a 2016 bombing in the Syrian hamlet of Tokhar.

据军方统计,在伊拉克和叙利亚对伊斯兰国的空袭行动中,共有1417名平民死亡,自2018年以来,美国在阿富汗的空中行动已造成至少188名平民死亡。但时报发现,平民死亡人数其实要高得多。每次空袭的统计都有差异——最严重的一次莫过于2016年发生在叙利亚村庄托克哈尔的轰炸。

American Special Operations forces hit what they believed were three ISIS “staging areas,” confident they were killing scores of ISIS fighters. A military investigation concluded that seven to 24 civilians “intermixed with the fighters” might have died. But, The Times found, the targeted buildings were houses where families had sought refuge. More than 120 civilians were killed.

美国特种作战部队空袭了他们认为是伊斯兰国在当地的三个“集结待命区”,信心十足地认为他们打死了数十名伊斯兰国武装分子。军方调查的结论是,可能有七到24名“与武装分子混在一起”的平民死亡。但是,时报发现,作为空袭目标的建筑物是老百姓寻求庇护的房屋。空袭导致了逾120名平民死亡。

In 1,311 reports, one ‘possible violation’

1311份报告中只指出过一次“可能的违反规则”


The Pentagon has also failed to uphold pledges of transparency and accountability.

五角大楼也完全没有遵守透明和接受问责的承诺。

Until now, only a handful of the assessments have been made public. None included a finding of wrongdoing or disciplinary action. Only one cited a “possible violation” of the rules of engagement — a breach in the procedure for identifying a target. Fewer than a dozen condolence payments were made, even though injured survivors often required costly medical care. The records show little effort by the military to identify patterns of failure or lessons learned.

到目前为止,只有少数评估已经公开。没有一份提到不当行为或纪律处分。只有一份用了“可能违反”交战规则的说法,即违反了确定打击目标的程序。虽然受伤的幸存者通常需要在治疗上花费大量资金,但军方只发放了不到12笔慰问金。记录显示,军方几乎未做任何努力来鉴别选靶失败的模式或吸取教训。

In many instances, the command that had approved a strike was responsible for examining it, often using incorrect or incomplete evidence. In only one case did investigators visit the site of a strike. In only two did they interview survivors or witnesses.

在许多情况下,批准空袭的指挥部也负责调查空袭结果,而且常常使用不正确或不完整的证据。调查人员只走访了一处空袭现场。他们只对两次空袭的幸存者或目击者进行了采访。

Taken together, the 5,400 pages of records point to an institutional acceptance of civilian casualties. In the logic of the military, a strike was justifiable as long as the expected risk to civilians had been properly weighed against the military gain, and it had been approved up the chain of command.

这些长达5400页的记录综合起来表明,对平民伤亡存在制度性的接受。照军方的逻辑,只要对平民面临的预期危险与军事上的获益进行了适当的权衡,而且目标得到了上级指挥系统的批准,空袭就无可非议。

Over 50,000 airstrikes, most not planned in advance

超过5万次的空袭,大多数都没有事先计划


America’s new way of war took shape after the 2009 surge of U.S. forces into Afghanistan. By the end of 2014, President Barack Obama declared America’s ground war essentially done, shifting the military’s mission to mostly air support and advice for Afghan forces battling the Taliban. At roughly the same time, he authorized a campaign of airstrikes against ISIS targets and in support of allied forces in Iraq and Syria.

美国的新作战方式是在2009年向阿富汗增兵后成形的。奥巴马总统在2014年底宣布,美国在阿富汗的地面作战已基本结束,美军任务已大部分转向为与塔利班作战的阿富汗部队提供建议和空中支持。大约在同一时间,奥巴马授权对伊斯兰国的目标发动空袭,支持在伊拉克和叙利亚的盟军。

At an ever-quickening pace over the next five years, and as the administration of Mr. Obama gave way to that of Donald J. Trump, American forces executed more than 50,000 airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

随着空袭的频率在接下来的五年里日益加快,以及奥巴马政府将权力交接给特朗普政府,美军在伊拉克、叙利亚和阿富汗总共进行了逾5万次空袭。

When the wars intensified, the authority to approve strikes was pushed further down the chain of command, even as an overwhelming majority of strikes were carried out in the heat of war, and not planned far in advance.

战争加剧时,批准空袭的权力被进一步下放到指挥系统的下游,虽然绝大多数空袭都是在战争最激烈的时候进行的;而且没有提前很长时间做计划。

Biases and blind spots created danger

偏误和盲点造成危险


The records suggest that civilian deaths were often the result of “confirmation bias,” or the tendency to find and interpret information in a way that confirms pre-existing beliefs. People rushing to a bombing site were assumed to be ISIS fighters, not civilian rescuers. Men on motorcycles, thought to be moving “in formation,” displaying the “signature” of an imminent attack, were just men on motorcycles.

这些记录表明,平民死亡常常是“确认偏误”的结果,“确认偏误”指的是人们倾向于用确认已有认知的方式寻找和解释信息。向空袭地点迅速移动的人被假设为伊斯兰国武装分子,而不是平民救援人员。骑摩托车的男子们被认为是在“编队”行动,展示了即将发动袭击的“特征”,其实他们只不过是骑摩托车的男子。

Cultural blind spots also left innocent civilians vulnerable to attack. The military judged, for example, that there was “no civilian presence” in a house where families were napping during the days of the Ramadan fast or sheltering from the heat or intense fighting.

文化盲点也让无辜平民易受伤害。例如,对于有家人在斋月的白天斋戒时睡觉,或是躲避炎热、躲避激烈战斗的房屋,军方的判断是里面“没有平民在场”。

Breakdowns in technology and surveillance

技术和监控设备故障


For all their promise of pinpoint accuracy, at times the American weapons simply missed. In 2016, the military reported that it had killed Neil Prakash, a notorious Australian ISIS recruiter, in a strike on a house in East Mosul. Four civilians died in the strike, according to the Pentagon. Months later, Mr. Prakash was arrested crossing from Syria into Turkey.

虽然有精确无误的许诺,但美国的武器有时就是打不准。军方曾在2016年报称,他们在对东摩苏尔一所房屋进行的空袭中打死了尼尔·普拉卡什,这个臭名昭著的澳大利亚人为伊斯兰国招募人员。据五角大楼说,有四名平民在那次空袭中死亡。几个月后,普拉卡什在从叙利亚进入土耳其境内时被逮捕。

Poor or insufficient surveillance footage often contributed to deadly targeting failures. Afterward, it also hamstrung efforts to examine strikes. Of the 1,311 reports examined by The Times, the military had deemed 216 allegations “credible.” Reports of civilian casualties were often dismissed because video showed no bodies in the rubble, yet the footage was often too brief to make a reliable determination.

质量差或信息不足的监控录像常常是空袭目标导致平民死亡的原因。这个问题也妨碍了事后核查空袭结果的努力。在时报查阅的1311份报告中,军方认为只有216个有平民死亡的指控“可信”。因为没有在废墟录像中看到尸体,军方对平民死亡的报告常常不予考虑,但这些视频片段往往太短,无法让人做出可靠的判断。

Sometimes, only seconds’ worth of footage was taken before a strike, hardly enough for investigators to assess civilians’ presence. In some other cases, there was no footage at all for review, which became the basis for rejecting the allegation. That was often because of “equipment error,” because no aircraft had “observed or recorded the strike,” or because the unit could not or would not find the footage or had not preserved it as required.

拍摄的空袭前视频有时只有几秒的长度,不足以让调查人员判定是否有平民在场。在一些其他情况下,根本没有可供查看的录像,这反而成了驳回指控的依据,军方引用的理由通常是“设备错误”、没有飞机“观察或记录下这次袭击”,或者是有关部门不能或不会找到视频、或没有按照要求保存视频。

A failure to account for secondary explosions

完全没有考虑次生爆炸


A target like a weapons cache or power station came with the potential for secondary explosions, which often reached far beyond the expected blast radius. These accounted for nearly a third of all civilian casualties acknowledged by the military and half of all civilian deaths and injuries at the sites visited by The Times.

武器库或电站等的目标有引发次生爆炸的可能,次生爆炸的影响半径通常远远超出空袭的预期结果。次生爆炸造成的平民伤亡人数占得到军方承认的总数的近三分之一,占时报走访地点的平民伤亡人数的一半。

A June 2015 strike on a car-bomb factory in Hawija, Iraq, is among the deadliest examples. In plans for the nighttime attack, the nearest “collateral concern” was assessed to be a “shed.” But apartment buildings ringed the site, and dozens of displaced families, unable to afford rent, had also been squatting in abandoned buildings close by. According to the military investigation, as many as 70 civilians were killed that night.

2015年6月对伊拉克哈维贾镇一个汽车炸弹工厂的空袭是最致命的次生爆炸例子之一。在计划那次夜间袭击时,军方将一个“棚子”判定为距离最近的“附带担忧”。但工厂被公寓楼环绕,而且,几十个难民家庭因付不起房租,一直偷住在附近的废弃建筑里。据军方的调查,那天晚上有多达70名平民被炸死。

In response to questions from The Times, Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said that “even with the best technology in the world, mistakes do happen, whether based on incomplete information or misinterpretation of the information available. And we try to learn from those mistakes.” He added: “We work diligently to avoid such harm. We investigate each credible instance. And we regret each loss of innocent life.”

在回答时报提出的问题时,美国中央司令部发言人比尔·厄本上尉说,“即使拥有世界上最好的技术,也会有错误发生,不论是因为信息不完整,还是因为对已有信息的解释有误。我们试图从这些错误中吸取教训。”他还说,“我们为避免这种伤害努力工作。我们对每个可信的情况进行调查。我们对每个无辜生命的丧失感到遗憾。”
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