By Nicolas J S Davies
This is the state of war in the United States in July 2017.
The US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria is now the heaviest since the bombing of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960s-70s, withÂ 84,000 bombs and missilesÂ droppedÂ betweenÂ 2014 and the end of May 2017 Â That is nearly triple theÂ 29,200 bombs and missilesÂ dropped on Iraq in the â€œShock and Aweâ€ campaign of 2003.
The Obama administration escalatedÂ the bombing campaign last October, as the U.S.-Iraqi assault on Mosul began, dropping 12,290 bombs and missiles between October and the end of January when President Obama left office.Â The Trump administration has further escalated the campaign, dropping another 14,965 bombs and missiles sinceÂ February 1st.Â May saw the heaviest bombing yet, with 4,374 bombs and missiles dropped.
The U.K.-basedÂ Airwars.orgÂ monitoring group has compiled reports ofÂ between 12,000 and 18,000 civiliansÂ killed by nearly three years of U.S.-led bombing in Iraq and Syria.Â These reportsÂ canÂ onlyÂ beÂ the tip of the iceberg, and the true number of civilians killed could well be more than 100,000, based onÂ typical ratiosÂ between reported deaths and actual deaths in previous war-zones.
As the U.S. and its allies closed in on Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria,Â and as U.S. forces now occupyÂ eight military basesÂ in Syria,Â Islamic State and its alliesÂ haveÂ struck back in Manchester and London;Â occupied Marawi, a city of 200,000 in the Philippines; and explodedÂ a huge truck bombÂ inside the fortifications of the â€œGreen Zoneâ€ in Kabul, Afghanistan.
What beganÂ in 2001Â asÂ aÂ misdirected use of military forceÂ to punish a group of formerly U.S.-backed jihadis in Afghanistan for the crimes ofÂ September 11thÂ has escalated into a global asymmetric war.Â Every country destroyed or destabilized by U.S. military action is now a breeding ground for terrorism.Â It would be foolish to believe that this cannot get much, much worse, as long as both sides continue to justify their own escalations of violence as responses to the violence of their enemies, instead of trying to deescalate theÂ now global violence and chaos.
There are once againÂ 10,000 US troopsÂ in Afghanistan, up from 8,500 in April, with reports thatÂ four thousand moreÂ may be deployed soon.Â Â Hundreds of thousandsÂ of Afghans have been killedÂ in 15 yearsÂ of war, but the Taliban now controlÂ more of the countryÂ than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2001.
The US is giving vital support to the Saudi-ledÂ war in Yemen,Â supporting a blockadeÂ of Yemeni ports and providing intelligence and in-air refueling to the Saudi and allied warplanes that have been bombing Yemen since 2015.Â UN reports ofÂ 10,000 civilians killedÂ are surely only a fraction of the true numbers killed, and thousands more have died from disease and hunger.
Now Yemen is facingÂ a humanitarian crisisÂ and aÂ raging cholera epidemicÂ due to lack of clean water or medicine caused by the bombing and the blockade. The UN is warning that millions of Yemenis could die of famine and disease.Â Â A Senate billÂ to restrict some U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia was defeated by 53 votes (48 Republicans and 5 Democrats) to 47 in June.
Closer to home, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) recentlyÂ hosted a conferenceÂ with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in Miami.Â This signaled a further militarization of the U.S. war on drugs in Central America and efforts to limit immigration from those countries, even as a report byÂ State and Justice Department inspector generalsÂ held State Department and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents responsible for the killing of four innocent civilians (one man, two women and a 14-year-old boy) by machine-gun fire from a State Department helicopter near Ahuas in Honduras in 2012.
The inspector generalsâ€™ reportÂ found that DEA officials repeatedly lied to Congress about thisÂ incident, pretending the Hondurans were killed in a shoot-out with drug traffickers, raising serious doubts about accountability for escalating U.S. paramilitary operations in Central America.
Right wing opposition protests in Venezuela have turned more violent, withÂ 99Â people killedÂ since April, as the protests have failed to mobilize enough popular support to topple the leftist government of Nicolas Maduro.Â TheÂ U.S. supports the oppositionÂ and has led diplomatic efforts to forceÂ the government to resign, so there is a danger that this could escalate into a US-backed civil war.
Meanwhile in Colombia,Â right wing death squadsÂ are once again operating in areas where the FARCÂ has disarmed, killing and threatening people to drive them off land coveted by wealthy landowners.
Looming over our increasingly war-torn world are renewed U.S. threats of military action against North Korea and Iran, both of which have more robust defenses than any that U.S. forces have encountered since the American War in Vietnam. Â Rising tensions with RussiaÂ and China risk even greater, even existential dangers, as symbolized by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, whose hands now stand atÂ 2-1/2 minutes toÂ midnight.
Although our post-9/11 wars have probably killedÂ at least 2 millionÂ peopleÂ in the countries we have attacked, occupied or destabilized, U.S. forces have suffered historically low numbers of casualties in these operations.Â There is a real danger that this has given U.S. political and military leaders, and to some extent the American public, a false sense of the scale of U.S. casualties and other serious consequences we shouldÂ look forward to as our leaders escalate our current wars, issue newÂ threats against Iran and North Korea, and stoke rising tensions with Russia and China.
This is the state of war in the United States in July 2017.Î¦
Nicolas J S Davies, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author ofÂ Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. This article is adapted from remarks delivered at a â€œClose Guantanamoâ€ march from the Trump National Doral Miami resort to U.S. Southern Command Headquarters on June 25th 2017 to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.