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November 12, 2018

Permanent war

Editorial

 
November 12, 2018

The 9/11 attacks, in which nearly 3000 people were killed, was universally condemned as one of the greatest atrocities of our time. What followed has been less remarked on but may be the bigger crime against humanity. A report by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs estimates that at least half a million people have been killed in the wars unleashed by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Of that number, only about 7000 are American troops that have been fighting these wars. The overwhelming majority of the killings have been of those unlucky to find themselves in the path of the rampaging Americans.

If anything, the death toll calculated by the researchers underplays the extent of the casualties since it only includes those directly killed in fighting and does not count the people who have died due to disease and the destruction of infrastructure. The report also does not take into account the death toll in the Syrian civil war in which the Islamic State – a direct creation of the US invasion of Iraq – has played a major role. It also does not include the Nato bombing of Libya or the Saudi-led war in Yemen, for which the US is the major supplier of weapons. All told, millions of people have died because a superpower decided to unleash its fury on essentially the entire Muslim world.

In Pakistan, the report says, over 23,000 people have been killed since 2011. This includes militant attacks, military operations and US drone strikes. Once again, this is a conservative estimate and the true figure is likely much higher. Interestingly, the National Counter Terrorism Authority has come out with its own figures on militant attacks that put the number of civilians killed at over 19,000. It also said that there have been 409 US drone attacks since 2004 in which 2,714 people have been killed. The armed, unmanned drone has become a symbol of the US war on terror. A country that does not have the appetite to send its troops into the battlefield after the debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq has been killing people by remote control. Drone attacks on countries over which the US has not declared war are undoubtedly illegal and have come to sum up the US approach to waging war. It does not concern with the niceties of international law, prefers to do its killing in secret and then lies about the extent of civilian casualties. The world grieved when the US was struck by terrorists on 9/11. The superpower’s response was to unleash its anger on people who had nothing to do with the attack and to declare what has become a state of permanent war.

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