Monday, March 19, 2018

15 years of war, and a staggering death toll

Today, 19 March, marks 15 years since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.   Most Americans think that the number of Iraqi deaths that resulted from that invasion are fewer than 100,000.  Few Americans know that the most reliable estimates exceed 1 million, and most of those innocent civilians.  

Most Americans think that the war in Iraq is over, or has certainly wound down in the past couple of years.  Most don't realize that, since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the US has led the heaviest bombing campaign since Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and guided missiles, reducing cities like Mosul to rubble, killing thousands of civilians, knowingly and quite deliberately.

What can one say about the use of air strikes and especially robotic drones, both piloted from safe locations, targeting residential neighbourhoods, knowing that civilian lives will be lost, but discounting those lives as the "unfortunate collateral damage" of war?

As for terrorism being a coward's way of fighting ... it isn't any more moral to kill civilians with machines.  That's the same evil.  

There is no moral difference between a terrorist who deliberately targets civilians and the use of robotic drones against villages, knowing that civilian lives will be lost, but discounting those lives as the "unfortunate collateral damage" of war.  Both claim that their "end justifies the means", a morally-empty defense.  One attacker, though, is perhaps more honest about his intentions than the other.

The scale of America's killing is staggering.  Why aren't Americans able to understand this:  consider ... Iraq is a nation of fewer than 40 million people. If death and homelessness of a commensurate scale to that Iraq has suffered was visited on the US (of 330 million inhabitants), we would be looking at somewhere between 60 million and 100 million people whose lives were disrupted by a military invasion and occupation by a foreign army. As many as 21 million people dead in American streets. Slaughter and mayhem on a scale Americans can't conceive.  

Imagine that a foreign army invades the US and kills 21 million people.  How would Americans react?  How should they react?

What would you do if that happened to your country, and you were courageous and loved your country?   Would you defend your family against the invaders?

Would you support a violent insurgency against your country's occupier and its puppet government? Would you support the use of any means necessary to defeat that occupier in your own country?

Why should anyone else act any differently in their own homeland?

Don't believe the lie (as I did until fairly recently) that the people of Iraq are so badly divided against one another (along religious sectarian or tribal lines) that peace and stability is impossible without US intervention. While it is true that sectarian (tribal) loyalties override nationalism in Iraq, it is also true that the people of Iraq overwhelmingly support a nationalist government, unlike the current series of US-puppet governments. Iraqis want a government which protects their lives, their interests, and their resources from foreign murderers and thieves. That was where Saddam Hussein drew his support, from the people who believed the nation was threatened by external interests and forces.  Like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Hussein kept power by convincing the people that their futures were threatened by the United States, and its allies. And, you know what? Events have proved Hussein 100% right about that.  At least in the eyes of the Iraqi people.

Iraq's current government wants to "privatize" Iraq's vast oil resources and cede substantial control of the oil sector to "regional" authorities. The people see this as taking what is rightfully theirs, and dividing it among foreign companies (just like Sykes-Picot in 1916).

The violence in Iraq is caused by, and is prolonged by, the US occupation.  The people of Iraq want it ended. And they're paying the ultimate price for their freedom. That freedom be all the more valuable to them when they attain it.  But, you know what?  They will never again ... never again ... trust the Americans. That's the victory that was handed to radical extremist Islamists by the incompetence of US leadership, born of an utter ignorance of history.  That decided the outcome of this war.  

I believe the world will eventually unite to halt US aggressions.  I know that's an idealistic hope, probably unrealistic.  Nevertheless, I fervently desire it.
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Charles Aulds
19 March, 2018