U.S. has spent $6 trillion on wars that killed 500,000 people since 9/11

By Tom O’Connor On 11/14/18 at 2:13 PM EST 5-6 minutes


newsweek.com

The United States has spent nearly $6 trillion on wars that directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000 peoplesince the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs published its annual “Costs of War” report Wednesday, taking into consideration the Pentagon’s spending andits Overseas Contingency Operations account, as well as “war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.”

The final count revealed, “The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans.”

“In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable,” the report concluded. “The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.”

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U.S. Marines with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command fire 120-millimeter mortars in support of coalition efforts to defeat the Islamic State militant group at an undisclosed location in Syria, on September 10. Corporal Gabino Perez/U.S. Marine Corps/Defense Department

The U.S. embarked on a global war on terror following the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 and were orchestrated by Islamist militant group Al-Qaeda. Weeks later, the U.S. led an invasion of Afghanistan, which at the time was controlled by Al-Qaeda ally the Taliban. In March 2003, Washington overthrew Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, accusing him of developing weapons of mass destruction and harboring U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.

Despite initial quick victories there, the U.S. military has been plagued by ongoing insurgencies these two countries and expanded counterterrorism operations across the region, including Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. In 2014, the U.S. gathered an international coalition to face the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), which arose out of a post-invasion Sunni Muslim insurgency in Iraq and spread to neighboring Syria and beyond.

Wednesday’s report found that the “US military is conducting counterterror activities in 76 countries, or about 39 percent of the world’s nations, vastly expanding [its mission] across the globe.” In addition, these operations “have been accompanied by violations of human rights and civil liberties, in the US and abroad.”

Overall, researchers estimated that “between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.” This toll “does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011” when a West-backed rebel and jihadi uprising challenged the government, an ally of Russia and Iran. That same year, the U.S.-led NATO Western military alliance intervened in Libya and helped insurgents overthrow longtime leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, leaving the nation in an ongoing state of civil war.

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A chart details the financial and human cost of the “War on Terror” since the deadly events of September 11, 2001. The toll of deaths may be much higher and is also compounded by hundreds of thousands killed by the side effects of such conflicts. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs/Brown University/Statista/Newsweek

The combined human cost for the U.S. throughout its actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan was 6,951 troops, 21 civilians and 7,820 contractors.

“While we often know how many US soldiers die, most other numbers are to a degree uncertain. Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars. For example, tens of thousands of civilians may have died in retaking Mosul and other cities from ISIS but their bodies have likely not been recovered,” the report noted.

“In addition, this tally does not include ‘indirect deaths.’ Indirect harm occurs when wars’ destruction leads to long term, ‘indirect,’ consequences for people’s health in war zones, for example because of loss of access to food, water, health facilities, electricity or other infrastructure,” it added.

In February, President Donald Trump estimated that “we have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East,” saying “what a mistake” it was. Weeks later, he reportedly told his military advisers to prepare a plan to withdraw from Syria as the war against ISIS entered its final phases, though senior Washington officials have since expanded the U.S. mission— considered illegal by the Syrian government and its allies—to include countering Iran and its allies.

This article has been updated to include a Statista chart detailing the findings of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs’ study.

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2020 Elections: Militarism and the Military Budget

The Trump military budget is more than a third higher than five years ago, while cutting non-defense programs by 9 percent– but the corporate media ignore the issue and Democratic candidates are silent.

U.S. ships are involved in provocative “freedom of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea and other ships gather ominously in the Mediterranean Sea while National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo along with convicted war criminal Elliot Abrams conspire to save the people of Venezuela with another illegal “regime change” intervention. But people are drawn to the latest adventures of Love and Hip-Hop, the Mueller report, and Game of Thrones.

Read the full article by Ajamu Baraka.

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VFP Members Arrested Protesting U.S. Wars

Friday, March 22nd

Veterans For Peace members were in Ireland working with VFP Ireland on their ongoing campaign to stop allowing the U.S. to fly weapons and soldiers through Shannon on their way to illegal wars in the Middle East.

On March 17th, Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, members of VFP entered the Shannon Airport on March 17th carrying a large banner that said:

U.S. Veterans say
Respect Irish Neutrality
U.S. War Machine out of Shannon Airport
Veterans For Peace

They were both arrested and are currently being denied bail in Ireland, with their next hearing scheduled for March 28th.

Updates and ways you can take action

 

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US IMPERIALISM IN LATIN AMERICA CONTINUES: IT IS TIME FOR THE PEACE MOVEMENT TO SAY “NO”

by Harry Targ

“The Maduro government in Venezuela has been waging a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election that many observers said was fraudulent. Further, the economy is a disaster and millions are migrating.

“The United States should support the rule of law, fair elections and self-determination for the Venezuelan people. We must condemn the use of violence against unarmed protesters and the suppression of dissent. However, we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups – as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries; we must not go down that road again.”  (Statement issued by Senator Bernie Sanders, January 24, 2019).

Progressives Need to Move Beyond Stances Based on Critiques of Both Sides to Address US Imperialism

The world again enters an economic, political, and military crisis in the Western Hemisphere. It remains important to historicize and contextualize this week’s call by the United States and 10 hemisphere countries for President Nicholas Maduro to step down as President of Venezuela. The sub-text of statements from the United States, the Organization of American States, and numerous right-leaning governments in Latin America is “or else” or “all options are on the table;” meaning that there might be a military intervention to overthrow the government of Venezuela. For many who are learning about US imperialism for the first time, it is important to revisit the history of the Western Hemisphere and to contextualize a regional crisis which is misrepresented throughout the mainstream media. And after revisiting this history it becomes clear that a progressive position, such as that of Senator Bernie Sanders, is inadequate. The peace movement needs to infuse political discourse with a twenty-first century anti-imperialist agenda.

A Brief History  As Greg Grandin argues in “Empire’s Workshop,” the rise of the United States as a global empire begins in the Western Hemisphere. For example, the Spanish/Cuban/American war provided the occasion for the United States to develop a two-ocean navy, fulfilling Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt’s dreams. After interfering in the Cuban Revolution in 1898 defeating Spain, the United States attacked the Spanish outpost in the Philippines, thus becoming a global power. Latin American interventionism throughout the Western Hemisphere, sending troops into Central American and Caribbean countries thirty times between the 1890s and 1933, (including a Marine occupation of Haiti from 1915 until 1934), “tested” what would become after World War II a pattern of covert interventions and wars in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

The Western Hemisphere was colonized by Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, and France from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. The main source of accumulated wealth that funded the rise of capitalism as a world system came from raw material and slave labor in the Western Hemisphere: gold, silver, sugar, coffee, tea, cocoa, and later oil. What Marx called the stage of “primitive accumulation,” was a period in world history governed by land grabs, mass slaughter of indigenous peoples, expropriation of natural resources, and the capture, transport, and enslavement of millions of African people. Conquest, land occupation, and dispossession was coupled with the institutionalization of a Church that would convince the survivors of this stage of capitalism’s development that all was “God’s plan.”

Imperial expansion generated resistance throughout this history.  In the nineteenth century countries and peoples achieved their formal independence from colonial rule. Simon Bolivar, the nineteenth century leader of resistance, spoke for national sovereignty in Latin America.But from 1898 until the present, the Western Hemisphere has been shaped by US efforts to replace the traditional colonial powers with neo-colonial regimes. Economic institutions, class systems, militaries, and religious institutions were influenced by United States domination of the region.In the period of the Cold War, 1945-1991, the United States played the leading role in overthrowing the reformist government of Jacob Arbenz in Guatemala (1954), Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), and gave support to brutal military dictatorships in the 1970s in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Also, the United States supported dictatorship in Haiti from 1957 until 1986. The Reagan administration engaged in a decade-long war on Central America in the 1980s.  In 1965 the United States sent thousands of marines to the Dominican Republic to forestall nationalist Juan Bosch from returning to power and in 1989 to overthrow the government of Manuel Noriega in Panama. (This was a prelude to Gulf War I against Iraq).

From 1959 until today the United States has sought through attempted military intervention, economic blockade, cultural intrusion, and international pressures to undermine, weaken, and destroy the Cuban Revolution.

Often during this dark history US policymakers have sought to mask interventionism in the warm glow of economic development. President Kennedy called for an economic development program in Latin America, called the Alliance for Progress and Operation Bootstrap for Puerto Rico. Even the harsh “shock therapy” of neoliberalism imposed on Bolivia in the 1980s was based upon the promise of rapid economic development in that country.

The Bolivarian Revolution  The 21st century has witnessed a variety of forms of resistance to the drive for global hegemony and the perpetuation of neoliberal globalization. First, the two largest economies in the world, China and India, have experienced economic growth rates well in excess of the industrial capitalist countries. China has developed a global export and investment program in Latin America and Africa that exceeds that of the United States and Europe.
On the Latin American continent, under the leadership and inspiration of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela launched the latest round of state resistance to the colossus of the north, with his Bolivarian Revolution. He planted the seeds of socialism at home and encouraged Latin Americans to participate in the construction of financial institutions and economic assistance programs to challenge the traditional hegemony of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.

The Bolivarian Revolution stimulated political change based on varying degrees of grassroots democratization, the construction of workers’ cooperatives, and a shift from neoliberal economic policies to economic populism. A Bolivarian Revolution was being constructed with a growing web of participants: Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and, of course, Cuba.  It was hoped that after the premature death of Chavez in 2013, the Bolivarian Revolution would continue in Venezuela and throughout the region. But the economic ties and political solidarity of progressive regimes, hemisphere regional institutions, and grassroots movements have been challenged by declining oil prices and economic errors by Maduro; increasing covert intervention in Venezuelan affairs by the United States; a US-encouraged shift to the right by “soft coups” in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador; and a more aggressive United States foreign policy toward Latin America. Governments supportive of Latin American solidarity with Venezuela have been undermined and/or defeated in elections in Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and now attacks have escalated against what National Security Advisor John Bolton calls “the troika of tyranny;” Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.  As Vijay Prashad puts it: “Far right leaders in the hemisphere (Bolsonaro, Márquez, and Trump) salivate at the prospect of regime change in each of these countries. They want to eviscerate the “pink tide” from the region” (Vijay Prashad, thetricontinental.org, January 20, 2019).

Special Dilemmas Latin Americans Face  Historically all Western Hemisphere countries have been shaped and distorted in their economies, polities, and cultures by colonialism and neo-colonialism. They have also been shaped by their long histories of resistance to outside forces seeking to develop imperial hegemony. Latin American history is both a history of oppression, exploitation, and violence, and confrontation with mass movements of various kinds. The Bolivarian Revolution of the twenty-first century is the most recent exemplar of grassroots resistance against neo-colonial domination. Armed with this historical understanding several historical realities bear on the current threats to the Venezuelan government.

First, every country, with the exception of Cuba, experiences deep class divisions. Workers, peasants, the new precariat, people of color, youth, and women face off against very wealthy financiers, entrepreneurs, and industrialists, often with family ties, as well as corporate ties, with the United States. Whether one is trying to understand the soft coup in Brazil, the instability in Nicaragua, or the deep divisions in Venezuela, class struggle is a central feature of whatever conflicts are occurring.

Second, United States policy in the administrations of both political parties is fundamentally driven by opposition to the full independence of Latin America. US policy throughout the new century has been inalterably opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution. Consequently, a centerpiece of United States policy is to support by whatever means the wealthy classes in each country.

Third, as a byproduct of the colonial and neo-colonial stages in the region, local ruling classes and their North American allies have supported the creation of sizable militaries. Consequently, in political and economic life, the military remains a key actor in each country in the region. Most often, the military serves the interests of the wealthy class (or is part of it), and works overtly or covertly to resist democracy, majority rule, and the grassroots. Consequently, each progressive government in the region has had to figure out how to relate to the military. In the case of Chile, President Allende assumed the military would stay neutral in growing political disputes among competing class forces. But the Nixon Administration was able to identify and work with generals who ultimately carried out a military coup against the popular elected socialist government of Chile. So far in the Venezuelan case, the military seems to be siding with the government. Chavez himself was a military officer. Fourth, given the rise of grassroots movements, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela began to support “dual power,” particularly at the local level. Along with political institutions that traditionally were controlled by the rich and powerful, new local institutions of popular power were created. The establishment of popular power has been a key feature of many governments ever since the Cuban Revolution. Popular power, to varying degrees, is replicated in economic institutions, in culture, and in community life such that in Venezuela and elsewhere workers and peasants see their own empowerment as tied to the survival of revolutionary governments. In short, defense of the Maduro government, depends on the continuing support of the grassroots and the military.Fifth, the governments of the Bolivarian Revolution face many obstacles. Small but powerful capitalist classes is one. Persistent United States covert operations and military bases throughout the region is another. And, perhaps most importantly, given the hundreds of years of colonial and neo-colonial rule, Latin American economies remain distorted by over-reliance on small numbers of raw materials and, as a result of pressure from international financial institutions, on export of selected products such as agricultural crops. In other words, historically Latin American economies have been distorted by the pressure on them to create one-crop economies to serve the interests of powerful capitalist countries, not diversified economies to serve the people.Finally, and more speculatively, United States policy toward the region from time to time is affected by the exigencies of domestic politics. For example, the Trump Administration verbal threats against Venezuela are being articulated as the president’s domestic fortunes are being challenged by the threat of impeachment and confrontations with the new Congressional leadership. War often masks domestic troubles.

Where do Progressives Stand First, and foremost, progressives should prioritize an understanding of imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and the role of Latin American as the “laboratory” for testing United States interventionist foreign policies. This means that critics of US imperialism can be most effective by avoiding “purity tests” when contemplating political activism around US foreign policy. One cannot forget the connections between current patterns of policy toward Venezuela, with the rhetoric, the threats, the claims, and US policies toward Guatemala, Haiti, the Domincan Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, and in the new century, Bolivia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.

Second, progressives need to show solidarity with grassroots movements in the region, support human rights, oppose military interventions, and demand the closure of the myriad of United States military bases in the region and end training military personnel from the region. (When citizens raise concerns about other countries interfering in the US political system, it is hypocritical for the United States to interfere in the political and economic lives of other countries in Latin America.).

Finally, progressives must oppose all United States foreign policies that are designed to maintain twenty-first century forms of imperialism in the Western Hemisphere. Support for progressive candidates for public office should require that they oppose economic blockades, punishing austerity programs imposed by international financial institutions, the maintenance of US ties with ruling classes in the region; essentially all forms of interference in the economic and political life of the region. And, as progressives correctly proclaim about domestic life, their candidates should be in solidarity with the poor, oppressed, and marginalized people of the Western Hemisphere. Progressives cannot with integrity support the “99 percent” in the United States against the “1 percent” without giving similar support for the vast majority of workers, farmers, women, people of color, and indigenous people throughout the hemisphere. And if it is true that US policy toward Latin America is a laboratory for its policy globally, the same standard should be applied to United States policy globally.

The time has come for the articulation of a comprehensive stand against United States imperialism in the Western Hemisphere, and around the world. (A useful history of United States interventionism can be found in Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq,

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REMEMBERING THE PERMANENT WAR ECONOMY

https://heartlandradical.blogspot.com/2018/11/remembering-permanent-war-economy.html

Written nearly 10 years ago…

In the Beginning

After suffering the greatest economic depression in United States history, this country participated in a war-time coalition with Great Britain and the former Soviet Union to defeat fascism in Europe and Japanese imperialism in Asia. As a result of the economic mobilization for war, the United States economy grew to become the most powerful one by war’s end. By 1945, Americans were responsible for three-fourths of the world’s invested capital and controlled two-thirds of its industrial capacity. Near the end of World War II, General Electric CEO Charles Wilson recommended that the U.S. continue the wartime partnership between the government, the corporate sector, and the military to maintain what he called a “permanent war economy.” He and others feared the possibility of return to depression.  Read the whole article.

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How America’s War-Financing Strategies Increase Social Inequality in the U.S.

alternet.org

By Stephanie Savell / Tom Dispatch

In the name of the fight against terrorism, the United States is currently waging “credit-card wars” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Never before has this country relied so heavily on deficit spending to pay for its conflicts. The consequences are expected to be ruinous for the long-term fiscal health of the U.S., but they go far beyond the economic. Massive levels of war-related debt will have lasting repercussions of all sorts. One potentially devastating effect, a new study finds, will be more societal inequality.

Read more

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Divest From War Campaign

img.alternet.org

Congress Keeps Funding a War Machine That the Public Should Divest From

By Medea Benjamin, Elliot Swain / AlterNet

Photo Credit: specnaz / Shutterstock.com

In recent budget negotiations, Senate Democrats agreed to a boost in military spending that exceeded the cap for fiscal 2018 by $70 billion, bringing the total request to an enormous $716 billion. Inevitably, this means more Pentagon contracts will be awarded to private corporations that use endless war to line their pockets. Democrats capitulated to this massive increase without so much as a scuffle. But the move hardly comes as a surprise, given how much money flows from weapons makers to the coffers of congressional campaigns for both parties.

While the majority of the weapons money goes to Republicans, Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Bill Nelson appear in the top ten recipients of campaign contributions–in both chambers and parties–from military contractors in 2017 and 2018. Northrop Grumman gave$785,000 to Democratic candidates since 2017.Hillary Clinton took over $1 million from the industry in 2016. Even progressive darlings like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders take money from weapons manufacturers, and Sanders supported Boeing’s disastrous F-35 because his home state had a financial stake in the program.

If neither major political party will stand up to this status quo, what can be done?

One answer might be found in the recent push to divest from fossil fuel companies undertaken by, among others, Norway and New York City. By December of 2016, 688 institutions, representing over $5 trillion in assets, had divested from fossil fuels. In an interview with The Guardian, author Naomi Klein described the fossil fuel divestment effort as “a process of delegitimizing” the sector and of affirming that it yields “odious profits.”

An analogous campaign to delegitimize beneficiaries of war is long overdue. In addition to pressuring our members of Congress to refuse campaign donations from weapons manufacturers and war profiteers, we must mount a divestment effort at the institutional and municipal level. Investment in war must come at the cost of public disgrace.

University students can request holdings information from their schools. Often, investments in military corporations are bundled into more complex financial instruments whose investments are not publicly disclosed. The content of these instruments can be determined by contacting a university board of trustees or endowment manager. Then a divestment campaign can be launched, building campus coalitions, creating petitions, organizing direct actions and passing resolutions through student government bodies. A helpful guide for student activists can be found here.

Activists can launch municipal divestment efforts by determining the holdings of city pension, utility, or insurance funds. In 2017 the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the national association of cities with populations over 30,000, adopted a resolution acknowledging the need to transform funding priorities away from war-making and into local communities. Divestment campaigns can leverage this resolution in order to hold city leaders to their word. More information for activists at the city level is available here.

Divestment offers an alternate means of addressing the blight of war profiteering in an era in which traditional political routes have been closed by our craven representatives. It also brings the message into smaller communities–communities that crumble while defense contractors live in luxury.

A new coalition of about 70 groups across the country has formed to launch a Divest From the War Machine campaign. The coalition is inviting all those who are disgusted by the war profiteers to help galvanize university, city, pension and faith institutions to divest from war. Learn more at: //www.divestfromwarmachine.org/

In a 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress, the very Congress that is so beholden to the war machine, Pope Francis asked why deadly weapons were being sold to those who inflict untold suffering on society. The answer, he said, was money, “money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” Looking at a room full of congresspeople who benefit from what he called “merchants of death,” the Pope called for the elimination of the arms trade. One way to heed the Pope’s call is to eat away at the profits of those who make a killing on killing.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of the peace group CodePink. Her latest book is Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection (OR Books, September 2016).

Elliot Swain is a Baltimore-based activist, public policy graduate student and researcher for CODEPINK.

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