Imagine for a moment that you had just sat down for dinner with your family when you hear drones flying over head. You and your family were about to take your first bite, when out of nowhere, hell fire missiles rain down from unmanned drones in the sky and blow up dozens of your neighbors, your children, spouse, or other family members, maiming and tearing limbs from dozens more. Imagine if this happened inside the United States. Imagine the reaction from politicians and the US war machine looking to right this wrong.
Would you, as an American citizen sit idly back and accept the excuse given by the country who carried out that attack? Would you accept the wholesale slaughter of your family and fellow citizens by the dozen if the country who led the attack said it was a mistake and we did it to "help" you? What if it was one of your children killed in the attack? Or your brother, sister, father, mother, or grand parent? Would you simply accept that this slaughter was a mistake and the "help" you are receiving from this country is worth it?
Well, that is exactly what the United States has been asking the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq to do on a regular basis — hundreds of thousands of times since 9/11 and 72,000 times in just the last three years.
On New Year's Eve, as Americans waited for the turn of the decade, the US government quietly released figures detailing the number of bombs dropped on Afghanistan and Iraq since 2015. The numbers are staggering.
Since just 2015, the US war machine has dropped over 133,000 bombs on people living in the desert on the other side of the planet. Of those 133,000 bombs, Trump dropped 72,000 in just the last three years.
Dropping bombs on brown people in the desert is non-partisan — Bush dropped tens of thousands of bombs, Obama dropped tens of thousands of bombs and Trump is now dropping tens of thousands of bombs. Tragically, despite arguing over the day's irrelevant and highly divisive talking points, most politicians in D.C. agree that dropping bombs makes America great — including the ostensible "small government Republicans." Well, Republicans, dropping a bomb on the other side of the planet every 21 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is not small government.
The idea that these people claim to be against socialism while literally socializing wars for profit is hypocritical at best and utterly evil at worst. The money spent on war is inconceivably high. As TFTP reported earlier this year, just 3% of what the US spends on war in a year, could end hunger on the entire planet.
If you are one of those people like I used to be, that thinks dropping tens of thousands of bombs on brown people on the other side of the planet somehow makes us "safer," you are unfortunately and sadly mistaken. It does the opposite and it is bankrupting the country — both morally and financially.
In spite of countless drone bombs raining down from the skies, hellfire and tomahawk missiles flattening buildings, and mass graves filled with collateral damage in the form of dismembered children, the US has absolutely nothing to show for it except physically and psychologically damaged veterans and a massive multi-trillion dollar debt.
The Congressional Research Service, for example, concluded in 2015 that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost U.S. taxpayers $1.6 trillion. However, according to a report from TIME magazine last year, that number is a gross underestimate.
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As TFTP previously reported, according to an analysis from the “Costs of War Project” from Brown University’s Watson Institute, by the end of 2018, the U.S. War on Terror cost America taxpayers more than $5.6 trillion, which is an average of $23,386 per taxpayer.
“As of late September 2017, the United States wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and the additional spending on Homeland Security, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs since the 9/11 attacks totaled more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars through FY2017. Adding likely costs for FY2018 and estimated future spending on veterans, the costs of war total more than $5.6 trillion.”
As The Nation noted, that estimate does not include several factors such as “the psychic costs to the Americans mangled in one way or another in those never-ending conflicts. They don’t include the costs to this country’s infrastructure, which has been crumbling while taxpayer dollars flow copiously and in a remarkably—in these years, almost uniquely—bipartisan fashion into what’s still laughably called ‘national security.’”
When we take one step forward, like we did on Saturday in Doha, Qatar, by signing the agreement to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, we take ten steps back. Only a few days after signing the agreement, the United States conducted an airstrike on Wednesday against the Taliban in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province. This preemptive bombing, we were told, was a "defensive strike" to disrupt an alleged "expected attack."
Sadly, after nearly 19 years, there is no sign that the War on Terror is ending anytime soon, but surely the United States is finally close to defeating Al Qaeda—right?
Unfortunately, again, the opposite is true. A report from the Los Angeles Times noted that in 2018, “Al Qaeda may be stronger than ever,” and instead of destroying the group, “U.S. policies in the Mideast appear to have encouraged its spread.”
“The group has amassed the largest fighting force in its existence. Estimates say it may have more than 20,000 militants in Syria and Yemen alone. It boasts affiliates across North Africa, the Levant and parts of Asia, and it remains strong around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.”
While Al Qaeda may have started out as a small terrorist group, it has now grown into a massive network that is flourishing in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Libya—all countries where the U.S. has actively carried out bombing campaigns in recent years. Coincidence? Not at all.
Ask yourself this question, how many future terrorists did the United States create yesterday? Do you think that the children of those slain by a decade of bombing and constant threats of drone strikes will simply forget about the atrocities inflicted upon them? Do you think that the parents who watched their babies blown apart by predator drones, or the hospital workers who watched as US bombs rained down from the sky -- will just turn the other cheek?
In reality, the US War on Terror has had the opposite effect on "fighting terrorists." It is creating them. For the last 18 years, the US has actually been planting a garden in which a million Osama Bin Ladens would grow.
The truth is that since 9/11, the US and their NATO allies have fostered a breeding ground for extremist and fundamentalist groups. As Americans have sat back and said nothing over the last two decades, the military industrial complex was sowing the seeds for perpetual war, which left unchecked will inevitably lead to the demise of the American empire or total human annihilation—whichever comes first.