(...) Far too often, way more routinely than Americans are apt to remember, US aircraft have subsequently slaughtered civilians â thereby bolstering Taliban narratives and recruitment, and sowing distrust of the U.S.-backed Kabul regime. Nevertheless, youâd never know it back here in the safety of the homeland. These war crimes hardly crack mainstream media and the macabre photo evidence barely raises an American eyebrow. Thatâs apathy manifested as tragedy.
So consider this modest piece of mine, this brief history lesson and connection to contemporary US empire, a plea of sorts to the teachers of America. Want to be a true patriot, a forceful educator, and decent human being? Well, do your students a favor: post the photos of recent US military airstrikes upon civilians in Afghanistan â the war crimes of the 21st century â on your classroom walls. Du Bois, and Twain, would be proudâ¦and thatâs hardly bad intellectual company to keepâ¦
Terrific kill ratio! Dead civilian to soldier ratio.
Mission accomplished! When it comes to slaughtering civilians, nobody does it quite like the USA. Except, the Nazis would slaughter civilians when resistance forces sabotaged infrastructure or hurt soldiers. Any similarity is pure coincidence.
Besides the Americans do not understand mathematics so they always kill civilians by accident. (I call it LOVE.)
Now President Trump can stand up and say in a low, steady voice: "See, the Taliban should not have disrespected us."
"Wait for it. The Taliban will come crawling on their knees begging for peace now. You'll see."
I want there to be some accountability. I donât want people just to look at the soldiers and Marines as hapless victims that were sent out there, and it was just the big politicians that are responsible. No. I think the soldiers are responsible, the politicians are responsible, but also the American people are complicit. Our tax money funded the war. Itâs not just the soldiers and the politicians. Itâs the everyday citizens. Weâre all responsible because we didnât really give a shit. We didnât notice it. We didnât pay attention.
Worse yet, once upon a time, spending well over 5% of GDP on military expenditures could be justified by the real existential threat posed by the industrially powerful Soviet Union and some communist ideologies.
Since the Soviet Union imploded, what is the purpose of the US military budget? Provide support for the Israeli occupation and settlement of the West Bank? Defend Israel's annexation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights?
To the extent Americans believe in a) using force and violence to procure land and resources and b) discriminating against peoples based on ethnicity, race or some other sectarian differences, then the money is well spent.
As long as most Americans support the Israeli nuclear weapons backed, affirmative action ethnic cleansing terrorist nation-building process then those expenditures can be easily justified even if some of us might find the resulting cost-benefit equation to be absolutely insane.
(...) As co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown Universityâs Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs,
Iâm all too aware of the costs that accompany such a sprawling overseas
presence. Our projectâs research shows that, since 2001, the U.S. war
on terror has resulted in the loss â conservatively estimated â of
almost half a million
lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone. By the end of 2019, we
also estimate that Washingtonâs global war will cost American taxpayers
no less than $5.9 trillion already spent and in commitments to caring for veterans of the war throughout their lifetimes.
In general, the American public has largely ignored these post-9/11
wars and their costs. But the vastness of Washingtonâs counterterror
activities suggests, now more than ever, that itâs time to pay
attention. Recently, the Trump administration has been talking of withdrawing from Syria and negotiating peace
with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yet, unbeknownst to many Americans,
the war on terror reaches far beyond such lands and under Trump is
actually ramping up
in a number of places. That our counterterror missions are so extensive
and their costs so staggeringly high should prompt Americans to demand
answers to a few obvious and urgent questions: Is this global war truly
making Americans safer? Is it reducing violence against civilians in the
U.S. and other places? If, as I believe, the answer to both those
questions is no, then isnât there a more effective way to accomplish
such goals? (...)
About half a million people have died violently in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan due to the US "war on terror" that was launched following the September 11 attacks in 2001, according to a study released Thursday.
The report by Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs put the death toll at between 480,000 and 507,000 people — but said the actual number is likely higher.
The new toll "is a more than 110,000 increase over the last count, issued just two years ago in August 2016," Brown said in a statement.
"Though the war on terror is often overlooked by the American public, press and lawmakers, the increased body count signals that, far from diminishing, this war remains intense."
The Trump administration has chosen to ignore an executive order that requires the White House to issue an annual report on the number of civilians and enemy fighters killed by American counterterrorism strikes.
The mandate for the report, which was due May 1, was established by former president Barack Obama in 2016 as part of a broader effort to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding drone operations in places such as Yemen, Somalia and Libya. The White House has not formally rescinded the Obama-era executive order but has chosen not to comply with some aspects of it.
“The executive order that requires the civilian casualty report is under review” and could be “modified” or “rescinded,” a White House spokesman said. The White House declined to say who is conducting the review, how long it has been ongoing and when it is expected to be completed.
The decision on the civilian casualty report is part of a broader shift in U.S. counterterrorism policy to withhold more information about U.S. drone strikes and the rules governing them, reversing Obama-era policies dating to 2013.
At the time, Obama sought to impose restrictions on drone strikes that allowed the United States to kill enemy fighters almost anywhere in the world without putting U.S. personnel at risk.
“The same human progress that gives us the technology to strike half a world away also demands the discipline to constrain that power or risk abusing it,” Obama said in 2013 when he announced new rules of engagement governing drone operations.
The Obama-era rules required “near certainty” that civilian bystanders would not be harmed in the strikes and mandated that the targeted militants pose a “continuing and imminent threat” to Americans. The tougher standards did not apply to areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria where U.S. troops were involved in regular combat.
Trump is reported to have relaxed the latter requirement last summer, but his administration has not publicly acknowledged the change. “There is no change to the U.S. commitment to protecting civilian life,” said the White House spokesman, who was authorized to speak only on the condition of anonymity.
A separate requirement, imposed as part of last year’s defense budget, requires the Pentagon to submit to Congress by May 1 a list of all U.S. military operations that caused civilian deaths. The Pentagon plans to deliver the report to Congress by June 1, or one month behind schedule, a Pentagon spokesman said late Tuesday after the May 1 deadline had expired.
Former U.S. counterterrorism officials expressed surprise at the Trump administration’s failure to deliver either report on time. “It is pretty remarkable that they would simply ignore an executive order that remains on the books and also a statutory requirement passed by Congress,” said Joshua Geltzer, a visiting law professor at Georgetown University and former senior counterterrorism official in the Obama administration. “That is just bad governance.” (...)
Washington, D.C., April 26, 2018 – The Trump administration’s nominee to be CIA director, Gina Haspel, personally supervised the torture of a CIA detainee in 2002 leading to at least three waterboard sessions, subsequently drafted the cable that ordered destruction of the videotape evidence of torture, and served as a senior CIA official while the Agency was lying to itself, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the Congress, and the public about the effectiveness of torture in eliciting useful intelligence, according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. (...)