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Journal Article

Citation

Bonds E. Social Currents 2019; 6(4): 361-376.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2019, Southern Sociological Society, Publisher SAGE Publishing)

DOI

10.1177/2329496519842055

PMID

unavailable

Abstract

Randall Collins coined the term callous cruelty to refer to the bureaucratic development and application of violence, which frequently results in widespread civilian impacts even when unintended. The U.S. military itself identified such outcomes as a major obstacle to success in counterinsurgency warfare during its occupation of Iraq, and consequently sought to more carefully target insurgents in ways that avoid or minimize civilian harm by further rationalizing its violence. When violence resulted in harm regardless, U.S. officials in Iraq sought to ameliorate it by providing monetary payments to war victims. This article presents an analysis of U.S. Army documents from this compensation program. The files studied here depict the routine nature of civilian harm in Iraq even under the counterinsurgency approach. The files further reveal the most common ways by which U.S. military action killed civilians. Finally, the documents show that the compensation program was administered in a way that frequently re-inscribed, rather than diminished, the callous cruelty of counterinsurgency war.


Language: en

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