May 22, 2024 | The Hill

Blinken’s careless spin is encouraging terrorists to put more civilians in danger

May 22, 2024 | The Hill

Blinken’s careless spin is encouraging terrorists to put more civilians in danger

Excerpt

President Joe Biden was right to condemn as “outrageous” Monday’s decision by the International Criminal Court prosecutor to submit arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defense minister. Unfortunately, an ill-informed report and comments last week by Biden’s own Secretary of State, on Israel’s use of American-made weapons, may have contributed to the prosecutor’s decision.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrongly declared on May 12 that the civilian casualty numbers reported by Hamas make it “reasonable to conclude that there are instances where Israel has acted in ways that are not consistent with international humanitarian law.” As Blinken should know, a particular attack’s legality is not dependent on the number of casualties actually inflicted, let alone on a terrorist group’s fictitious figures.

Like Blinken’s ill-considered comments, the May 10 State Department report on Israel’s use of American-made weapons invented a new, casualty-numbers-based test for determining compliance with international humanitarian law.  Blinken’s new test endangers U.S. security. In particular, it incentivizes terrorists and authoritarian regimes worldwide to imitate Hamas’ tactics of hiding behind human shields to increase actual casualties, of stealing food intended for starving civilians and of inventing additional civilian casualties out of thin air. 

Lt. Col. Geoffrey Corn (ret.), a Texas Tech University law professor and JINSA distinguished fellow, previously served as the U.S. Army’s senior law of war expert. Orde Kittrie, an Arizona State University law professor and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, previously served as a U.S. State Department attorney.

Issues:

International Organizations Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy