U.S. and Coalition forces have seriously undercounted the number of civilians killed in air attacks against ISIS. That is the key finding of an 18-month-long investigation led by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal and published this week in the New York Times Magazine. Khan/Gopal surveyed 103 sites of air strikes in northern Iraq, extrapolating from these attacks into other regions in which the Coalition launched air attacks against ISIS since 2014. They conclude that between 8000 and 10,000 civilians have been killed in these attacks, far higher than the US government’s estimate of roughly 500 civilians killed (or the 3000 civilian deaths estimated by Airwars.org over this same period).
Does it matter to Americans if the true count of civilian deaths is closer to 10,000 than 500? To most Americans, sadly, I’m not sure it matters. Not if these air strikes are described and defended as saving American and Coalition lives as well as killing terrorists.
Perhaps only ancient Sparta claimed to support its military more than the United States. From the “soldiers in uniform board first” rituals that happen only in American airports, to politics where a decision not to serve is forever held against a candidate, there are reminders that America’s troops are a presence in our society like few others.
The desire to claim a piece of that leads to elaborate lies, known as “stolen valor.” People buy regulation uniforms and walk through society showing off medals, telling fake war stories, and accepting unearned thanks, all without ever having served a day. They want the juice without having endured the squeeze. They are out there this Veteran’s Day, and they are to be loathed.
According to a new study by Brown University’s Watson Institute, the real cost of the US wars since 9/11 is three times the Pentagon’s estimate. Some $5.6 trillion have been spent on the endless global war. The total costs of 16 years of war are even higher, and they extend beyond just finance. Today on the Ron Paul Liberty Report:
In a recent interview with host Wilmer Leon at the Inside the Issues show, former presidential candidate and United States House of Representatives Member Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) discussed how what Kucinich terms the “permanent government” has worked to ensure the United States continues pursuing destructive foreign interventions and to keep America “at the precipice of a much wider war” irrespective of who is president.
“There’s an unbroken line going back over the last 30 years where American presidents have continued to proceed with an interventionism that has been counterproductive,” states Kucinich. This “continued commitment to a failed foreign policy of interventionism, of unilateralism, of first strike,” Kucinich continues, “imperils America,” “does not make us safer,” “separates us from the world community,” “has people looking to extract vengeance on Americans,” and “has made the world a more dangerous place.”
Our government likes to talk about global security, which in their minds is basically synonymous with homeland security. They argue that the best defense is a good offense, that “leaning forward in the foxhole,” or always being ready to attack, is the best way to keep Americans safe. Hence the 800 U.S. military bases in foreign countries, the deployment of special operations units to 130+ countries, and the never-ending “war on terror.”
Consider this snippet from today’s FP: Foreign Policy report:
If Congress votes through the massive tax cuts currently on the House floor, it would likely mean future cuts to Pentagon budgets “for training, maintenance, force structure, flight missions, procurement and other key programs.”
That’s according to former defense secretaries Leon E. Panetta, Chuck Hagel and Ash Carter, who sent a letter to congressional leadership Wednesday opposing the plan. “The result is the growing danger of a ‘hollowed out’ military force that lacks the ability to sustain the intensive deployment requirements of our global defense mission,” the secretaries wrote.
“Our global defense mission”: this vision that the US, in order to be secure, must dominate the world ensures profligate “defense” spending, to the tune of nearly $700 billion for 2018. Indeed, the Congress and the President are currently competing to see which branch of government can throw more money at the Pentagon, all in the name of “security,” naturally.
Several times over my 29 years in Congress I have wondered whether there are any fiscal conservatives at the Pentagon.
It seems that the Defense Department is just like every other gigantic bureaucracy. When it comes to money, the refrain is always "more, more, more."
On November 14, the House passed what one Capitol Hill paper described as a "$700 billion compromise defense bill." It was $80 billion over the budget caps and many billions more than even President Trump had requested.
I opposed almost all the major initiatives of the Obama administration. But it was false to say that the Defense Department was "depleted" or "eviscerated" during those years, or that now we must "rebuild the military."
In fact, public relations experts in future years should conduct studies about how the Defense Department has been able to convince the public it has been cut when it is getting more money than ever.