This month, the Physicians for Social Responsibility released a report on the number of Afghanis, Iraqis, and Pakistanis killed in the ten year US “war on terror.” Titled “Body Count” the report from the Nobel Peace Prize winning organization has found that what was supposed to make the world a safer place has in fact resulted in mass casualties of historic proportions.
In terms of body count, the report has found that:
…the war 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. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. 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.
As many as two million people killed. And three trillion dollars spent. The result of this decade of destruction is a far more dangerous and volatile Middle East and south Asia than before the interventionists started. Not only a failure, but a hugely immoral and ugly failure.
The report points out how difficult it is to get an accurate count of those killed in the US war on terror because, for a start, the US only counted casualties on its own side. Victims of US mis-aimed or otherwise civilian-killing strikes mattered little in the eyes of the Pentagon and the US political leadership.
The US government has little interest in the American public knowing the numbers of dead — especially killed civilians — overseas because there is a danger that might undermine US support for the operations. Quoted in the report, US General Stanley A. McCrystal said in his inaugural speech as ISAF Commander in June 2009, that, “I believe the perception caused by civilian casualties is one of the most dangerous enemies we face.”
So, the US government has done its best to keep that information from American citizens. The media is ever-ready to lend a hand. As the report finds:
…the media, and even parts of academia, be it ideologically motivated or guided by other interests, use starkly sanitized figures (see Chapter 3: “The Numbers War”) And this has been quite successful: In a 2007 poll, Americans estimated the number of killed Iraqis at less than 10,000.
In fact, as noted above, the report finds that the number of Iraqis killed from the 2003 invasion onward is in the neighborhood of one million.
Of course the neocons and interventionists will always make the illogical argument that without US intervention the body counts would have been higher, just as they argued at the time that a third world country half a world away that had never attacked us posed an existential threat to the United States.
Arguing for an effectively perpetual US troop presence in Afghanistan, the Chairman of the US House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), blames the disaster in Iraq on the US military withdrawal instead of the US attack:
Everyone looks forward to the day when Afghans can meet all of their own security needs, but Iraq has shown us the consequences of leaving a fragile ally too early.
This re-writing of history cannot go unchallenged. The penalty of our having to endure more disastrous interventions pales only nest to the penalty of being an innocent civilian in a country “liberated” by US bombs.