Normally, one would not find a connection between a critically negative UN Report on an Israeli military operation and the Rules of Engagement (ROE) imposed on American and NATO troops operating in another theater, namely Afghanistan. But is there some correlation, some linkage between the two? I think there very well may be one.
Let us look at some particulars. In the Goldstone Report, any casualty found without a weapon was treated for all intents and purposes as a civilian. In Afghanistan, our troops are to refrain from discharging their weapons towards any target, even known terrorists from al-Queda and insurgent Taliban if they are not carrying a firearm or other weapons. The Goldstone Report was excessively critical of Israeli use of artillery or close air support to target snipers, mortars, and rocket positions if they were placed within close proximity to civilian structures or had civilians present in the general area. In Afghanistan, our forces are forbidden to call in or utilize artillery or close air support even when under direct fire if there is any possibility of civilian casualties that may result from the strike. You can continue to go down the restrictions placed on our troops, the virtual handcuffing of the men in combat situations to avoid absolutely any chance of collateral damage and find sections of the Goldstone Report critical of Israeli forces not taking these same steps to eliminate civilian casualties and other collateral damage.
Where our leaders have purported that the ROE is intended to reduce civilian casualties to as close to zero as is humanly possible in order to make winning the hearts and minds of the average Afghans easily possible. I honestly feel that where this may be part of the reasoning, I also think that seeing how Israel is facing a diplomatic nightmare with threats worldwide to bring Israeli political and military leaders and even many troops and their mid-level commanders before tribunals such as the World Court, the International Criminal Court (ICC), or even charges brought in any country where they may travel that these crippling ROE have been implemented to remove any chance of the same being applied to our leaders both political and military. The problem is that despite all our efforts and the extreme additional risk we have placed our troops under, if even one civilian casualty is suspected the same ludicrous standards and charges will be brought against the United States and her allies.
What we have now is an unattainable standard set for the fighting of future limited wars. The Gold Standard, or the Goldstone Standard, will be the new criteria used to cripple all Western military actions against terror entities and rogue regimes. These standards and expectations will be reserved for Israel, the United States, Britain, NATO, and other forces fighting against the forces of terror and against tyrannies that enslave and brutally oppress their own citizens. If allowed to stand, the Goldstone Report will be used as a standard to disable the Western nations from use of military power until a conflagration of unimaginable devastation is the only option for survival, then G-d help us.
Beyond the Cusp