Name Every Victim


I’ve never met Bill Scheurer, but I think his Peace Majority Report is a wonderful contribution to the debate on the U.S. role in the world. He takes a broad view of peace advocacy and is refreshingly willing to challenge the peace movement on its strategic choices and effectiveness. I rarely read commentary from the organized peace movement, but I would read more if it were like Scheurer’s.
His latest column on the occasion of World Refugee Day notes the tragedy of the refugee crisis, the “living victims of war,” and then moves on to discuss the plight of those who are killed – the civilian casualties.
Scheurer proposes a “Name Every Victim” law, which would require the U.S. to undertake a good faith effort to identify all civilians killed in every military action we undertake. It’s one of the more revolutionary ideas put forward by peace advocates, and one that should be adopted without delay.
Well-intentioned people can, no, must debate the conditions under which the U.S. should use military force. My own view is that decision-makers in Washington vastly underestimate the costs of military operations in lives, dollars, effectiveness, and international credibility. Doing our best to identify civilian victims and restore dignity, identity, and humanity to all sides of our military engagements will surely bring some of those costs to light.
— Scott Paul


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