In the wake of the triple shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas, we have been told over and over again by news anchors that this was “a terrible week”, “a horrifying week”, “a devastating week in America”. Our television screens are awash with headlines recounting the terror of Americans Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and officers killed in Dallas TX killed at the hands of other Americans.
Yet, DURING THE VERY SAME WEEK – WE, Americans, didn’t bat an eyelash when President Obama announced: “Instead of going down to 5,500 troops by the end of this year, the United States will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into next year, through the end of my administration…. …The decision I’m making today ensures that my successor has a solid foundation for continued progress in Afghanistan as well as the flexibility to address the threat of terrorism as it evolves.”
President Obama Announcing Increase In Troop Levels in Afghanistan July 5, 2016
Consequently, there was NO protest, NO marching, NO outcry, NO collective grief, and no handwringing about President Obama’s announcement that we will extend our deadly engagement in Afghanistan.
It is as if we, American citizens, are unable to process the sheer scale and scope of the damage caused by these wars…so we choose not to.
It seems that we suffer from a collective national disassociative disorder that allows us to disconnect from reality or responsibility with regard to the War on Terror.
Consequently, we have decided to oursource these wars emotionally. Far too often, we shrug off any concern about them. These wars are happening somewhere else…being fought by other people’s children…and we just happen to be footing the bill for them.
So, let us consider then implications of the President’s statements more soberly.
According to Physicians for Social Responsibility’s report “Body Count”: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of The War On Terror (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan) is around 1.5 millions people. *
Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Sana’a, Yemen, on March 26. (Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)
Beyond these staggering numbers, we must understand the horrifying reality of how many INNOCENT CIVILIANS have been killed in the War On Terror.
Just last week, Iraq Body Count reported that on Tuesday July 5, 2016—while Americans were beginning to grieve the tragic shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge—17 Iraqi citizens were killed by coalition airstrike in Mosul, Iraq.**During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets…” **
Where, then, is our national grief for the civilian populations killed for no reason except that they live in our war zones?
Additionally, on the heels of President Obama’s announcement, no one has bothered to ask how much yet another extended endeavor in the Middle East will cost us financially, politically or emotionally.
The U.S. military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in “the most expensive wars in U.S. history.” … Bilmes, who is a former CFO of the US Department of Commerce, calculated between $4 and 6 TRILLION dollars!
We must admit that we are a warrior nation that is now cannibalizing itself. We must also take responsibility for the killings that our endless wars perpetuate.
Furthermore, we must also affirm: We as a nation— individually and collectively— are perfectly comfortable engaging in a deadly 14-year military campaign while we barely acknowledge that it is happening.
We as a nation— individually and collectively— have no problem with a drone program that tracks, targets and assassinate individuals around the world without trial or due process on a daily basis.
We as a nation— individually and collectively— i.e. WE aggrieved African Americans, besieged law enforcement, innocent victims of endless mass shootings—- WE ALL ARE WILLING to tolerate YEARS AND YEARS of killing of nameless, faceless brown people abroad and spend TRILLIONS of dollars to do so. We fuss and fight— tooth and nail— in this country about whose lives matter.
Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. All lives matter… but Muslims lives clearly don’t factor into our collective calculus. 2977 killed on 9/11 in New York City, Washington DC and Shanksville Pennsylvania: Haven’t WE killed enough people yet?
Aren’t a million or more Muslim lives enough payment for the “debt” owed the U.S.?
Grieve Baton Rouge WE must, but the killings will continue as long as our international wars do.
Grieve Minneapolis we must, but how dare WE castigate young American men of all races for killing one another (and us) when WE have modeled war and killing for the last 14 years as the answer to conflict resolution for the majority of their lives.
Grieve Dallas WE must, but WE MUST AT LEAST OWN the fact that WE TEACH YOUNG AMERICANS THAT KILLING IS JUSTIFIED EVERY DAY with the wars that we continue to pay for and participate in.
Eddie Glaude, stated that “the way we live in America currently— with rampant inequality, mass incarceration, failed public education, bombing people around the globe—- is unsustainable”.
Until we end our global wars on terror and start teaching OUR SONS that WE can resolve conflicts abroad WITHOUT guns, bullets, bombs and destruction—how dare we expect them to manage our domestic conflicts without deadly results?
*“This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war (on terror) has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. ….The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely. (Pg. 15)”
**Recent reporting from The Intercept on the U.S. drone program reports: “…that a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker, show that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/the-assassination-complex/