I was sitting at my desk, cup of coffee in hand, when I heard the news and watched it on CNN. Some of my memories include the crisp late summer weather punctuated by a deep blue sky, the messages of concern from colleagues around the world that arrived in my inbox, the temporary heightened interest in the Middle East and Islam, some short-lived self-reflection among thoughtful US Americans, the spike in racism, xenophobia, and nationalism, the poems., and Aaron Copland’s 1939 Quiet City.
In time, there was also the stark realization that the chickens had come home to roost.
The official US response? Disproportionate in spades.
Since President George W. Bush announced a “global war on terror” following Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the U.S. military has engaged in combat around the world. As in past conflicts, the United States’ post-9/11 wars have resulted in mass population displacements. This report is the first to measure comprehensively how many people these wars have displaced. Using the best available international data, this report conservatively estimates that at least 37 million people have fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001. The report details a methodology for calculating wartime displacement, provides an overview of displacement in each war-affected country, and points to displacement’s individual and societal impacts. Wartime displacement (alongside war deaths and injuries) must be central to any analysis of the post-9/11 wars and their short- and long-term consequences. Displacement also must be central to any possible consideration of the future use of military force by the United States or others. Ultimately, displacing 37 million—and perhaps as many as 59 million—raises the question of who bears responsibility for repairing the damage inflicted on those displaced.
Source: Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars (PDF download) by David Vine, Cala Coffman, Katalina Khoury, Madison Lovasz, Helen Bush, Rachel Leduc, and Jennifer Walkup (8 September 2020), Costs of War, Watson Institute, Brown University
Deaths and injuries number in the millions, as the report points out. The Costs of War project states that “At least 800,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. The number of people who have been wounded or have fallen ill as a result of the conflicts is far higher, as is the number of civilians who have died indirectly as a result of the destruction of hospitals and infrastructure and environmental contamination, among other war-related problems.”
The financial cost? Again, according to Costs of War, “Through Fiscal Year 2020, the United States federal government has spent or obligated $6.4 trillion dollars on the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. This figure includes: direct Congressional war appropriations; war-related increases to the Pentagon base budget; veterans care and disability; increases in the homeland security budget; interest payments on direct war borrowing; foreign assistance spending; and estimated future obligations for veterans’ care.” Just imagine how $6.4 TRILLION could have spent on more worthwhile endeavors in the US, where there is no shortage of pressing needs and worthy causes, including meeting the basic needs of its people.
Here’s the Costs of War summary:
- Over 801,000 people have died due to direct war violence, and several times as many indirectly
- Over 335,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting
- 37 million — the number of war refugees and displaced persons
- The US federal price tag for the post-9/11 wars is over $6.4 trillion dollars
- The US government is conducting counterterror activities in 80 countries
- The wars have been accompanied by violations of human rights and civil liberties, in the US and abroad
As of January 2020, the United States had lost a total of 7,013 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than twice the number of people who died on 9-11. The number of wounded in action (WIA) are in the tens of thousands.
Fast forward to 11.9.20. As of 12.9.20, 198,128 US Americans have died because of COVID-19; most of those deaths were preventable. That’s over 66 times as many people who perished on 9-11. The blame for this national tragedy and disgrace rests with the pathological liar- and malignant narcissist-in-chief whose empathy and compassion couldn’t fill a thimble – then and now.
Shalom (שלום), MAA