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Tirman writes: "Today there is virtually no support for helping rebuild Iraq or Afghanistan - no campaigns by large charities, no open doors for Iraqi refugees. Even Iraqis who worked with the American military are having trouble getting political asylum in the United States and face a risk of retribution at home. The US response to so many dead, 5 million displaced and a devastated country is woefully dismissive."

A young girl is treated for wounds sustained during US airstrikes in Fallujah, 09/17/04. (photo: Bilal Hussein/AP}
A young girl is treated for wounds sustained during US airstrikes in Fallujah, 09/17/04. (photo: Bilal Hussein/AP}



Why Do We Ignore the Civilians Killed in American Wars?

By John Tirman, The Washington Post

10 January 12

 

s the United States officially ended the war in Iraq last month, President Obama spoke eloquently at Fort Bragg, N.C., lauding troops for "your patriotism, your commitment to fulfill your mission, your abiding commitment to one another," and offering words of grief for the nearly 4,500 members of the U.S. armed forces who died in Iraq. He did not, however, mention the sacrifices of the Iraqi people.

This inattention to civilian deaths in America's wars isn't unique to Iraq. There's little evidence that the American public gives much thought to the people who live in the nations where our military interventions take place. Think about the memorials on the Mall honoring American sacrifices in Korea and Vietnam. These are powerful, sacred spots, but neither mentions the people of those countries who perished in the conflicts.

The major wars the United States has fought since the surrender of Japan in 1945 - in Korea, Indochina, Iraq and Afghanistan - have produced colossal carnage. For most of them, we do not have an accurate sense of how many people died, but a conservative estimate is at least 6 millioncivilians and soldiers.

Our lack of acknowledgment is less oversight than habit, a self-reflective reaction to the horrors of war and an American tradition that goes back decades. We consider ourselves a generous and compassionate nation, and often we are. From the Asian tsunami in 2004 to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Americans have been quick to open their pocketbooks and their hearts.

However, when it comes to our wars overseas, concern for the victims is limited to U.S. troops. When concern for the native populations is expressed, it tends to be more strategic than empathetic, as with Gen. David H. Petraeus's acknowledgment in late 2006 that harsh U.S. tactics were alienating Iraqi civilians and undermining Operation Iraqi Freedom. The switch to counterinsurgency, which involves more restraint by the military, was billed as a change that would save the U.S. mission, not primarily as a strategy to reduce civilian deaths.

The wars in Korea and Indochina were extremely deadly. While estimates of Korean War deaths are mainly guesswork, the three-year conflict is widely believed to have taken 3 million lives, about half of them civilians. The sizable civilian toll was partly due to the fact that the country's population is among the world's densest and the war's front lines were often moving.

The war in Vietnam and the spillover conflicts in Laos and Cambodia were even more lethal. These numbers are also hard to pin down, although by several scholarly estimates, Vietnamese military and civilian deaths ranged from 1.5 million to 3.8 million, with the U.S.-led campaign in Cambodia resulting in 600,000 to 800,000 deaths, and Laotian war mortality estimated at about 1 million.

Despite the fact that contemporary weapons are vastly more precise, Iraq war casualties, which are also hard to quantify, have reached several hundred thousand. In mid-2006, two household surveys - the most scientific means of calculating - found 400,000 to 650,000 deaths, and there has been a lot of killing since then. (The oft-cited Iraq Body Count Web site mainly uses news accounts, which miss much of the violence.)

The war in Afghanistan has been far less violent than the others, with civilian and military deaths estimated at about 100,000.

The numbers can be confusing because some estimates include only those people killed by direct violence; others include deaths from "structural" violence - such as those resulting from a destroyed health-care system. That we do not have an official way of accounting for the dead is one sign of the uncaring attitudes that have accompanied our wars.

It is difficult to obtain accurate mortality figures during wartime, but the best way might be to commission a consortium of public health schools - the most qualified institutions that study violence - to conduct household surveys every year.

The lack of concern about those who die in U.S. wars is also shown by these civilians' absence, in large part, from our films, novels and documentaries. The entertainment industry portrays these wars rarely and almost always with a focus on Americans.

A few nonprofit organizations have sprung up to deal with the wars' victims - notably the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, a Washington-based group founded by Marla Ruzicka, an aid worker who was killed in Iraq in 2005. Such efforts rarely register with the American public, however.

Pollsters, meanwhile, have asked virtually no questions of the public about foreign casualties. But on the rare occasions when they do, the results have been striking. A 1968 Harris poll found 4 percent favored an end to the Vietnam war because of harm to civilians. A University of Michigan pollster concluded: "More and more Americans now think our intervention was a military mistake, and want to forget the whole thing."

On Iraq, when an Associated Press survey asked Americans in early 2007 how many Iraqis had died in the war, the average of all answers was 9,890, when the actual number was probably well into the hundreds of thousands. In several polls in 2007 and 2008, Americans were asked whether we should withdraw troops even if it put Iraqis at risk of more civil unrest; a clear majority said yes.

Today there is virtually no support for helping rebuild Iraq or Afghanistan - no campaigns by large charities, no open doors for Iraqi refugees. Even Iraqis who worked with the American military are having trouble getting political asylum in the United States and face a risk of retribution at home. The U.S. response to so many dead, 5 million displaced and a devastated country is woefully dismissive.

Even civilian atrocities tend to fade quickly from view, or else become rallying points for the accused troops. My Lai, where about 400 Vietnamese were murdered by a U.S. Army unit in 1968, at first shocked the nation, but Americans quickly came to support Lt. William L. Calley Jr. - who was later found guilty of killing 22villagers - and the others involved. More recently, eight Marines were charged in the 2005 Haditha massacre in Iraq, and none has been convicted. (The last defendant's trial started this past week.) Indeed, each atrocity that fails to alter public opinion piles on to further prove American indifference.

Why the American silence on our wars' main victims? Our self-image, based on what cultural historian Richard Slotkin calls "the frontier myth" - in which righteous violence is used to subdue or annihilate the savages of whatever land we're trying to conquer - plays a large role. For hundreds of years, the frontier myth has been one of America's sturdiest national narratives.

When the challenges from communism in Korea and Vietnam appeared, we called on these cultural tropes to understand the U.S. mission overseas. The same was true for Iraq and Afghanistan, with the news media and politicians frequently portraying Islamic terrorists as frontier savages. By framing each of these wars as a battle to civilize a lawless culture, we essentially typecast the local populations as theIndians of our North American conquest. As the foreign policy maven Robert D. Kaplan wrote on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page in 2004, "The red Indian metaphor is one with which a liberal policy nomenklatura may be uncomfortable, but Army and Marine field officers have embraced it because it captures perfectly the combat challenge of the early 21st century."

Politicians tend to speak in broader terms, such as defending Western values, or simply refer to resistance fighters as terrorists, the 21st-century word for savages. Remember the military's code name for the raid of Osama bin Laden's compound? It was Geronimo.

The frontier myth is also steeped in racism, which is deeply embedded in American culture's derogatory depictions of the enemy. Such belittling makes it all the easier to put these foreigners at risk of violence. President George W. Bush, to his credit, disavowed these wars as being against Islam, as has President Obama.

Perhaps the most compelling explanation for indifference, though, taps into our beliefs about right and wrong. More than 30 years ago, social psychologists developed the "just world" theory, which argues that humans naturally assume that the world should be orderly and rational. When that "just world" is disrupted, we tend to explain away the event as an aberration. For example, when encountering a beggar on the street, a common reaction is indifference or even anger, in the belief that no one should go hungry in America.

This explains much of our response to the violence in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. When the wars went badly and violence escalated, Americans tended to ignore or even blame the victims. The public dismissed the civilians because their high mortality rates, displacement and demolished cities were discordant with our understandings of the missions and the U.S. role in the world.

These attitudes have consequences. Perhaps the most important one - apart from the tensions created with the host governments, which have been quite vocal in protesting civilian casualties - is that indifference provides permission to our military and political leaders to pursue more interventions.

There are costs to our global reputation as well: The United States, which should be regarded as a principal advocate of human rights, undermines its credibility when it is so dismissive of civilian casualties in its wars. Appealing for international action on Sudan, Syria and other countries may sound hypocritical when our own attitudes about civilians are so cold. Korean War historian Bruce Cumings calls this neglect the "hegemony of forgetting, in which almost everything to do with the war is buried history."

Will we ever stop burying memories of war's destruction? More attention to the human costs may jolt the American public into a more compassionate understanding. When we build the memorial for Operation Iraqi Freedom, let's mention that Iraqi civilians were part of the carnage. Count them, and maybe we can start to recognize and remember the larger tolls of the wars we wage.


John Tirman, executive director and principal research scientist at the MIT Center for International Studies, is the author of "The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars."

 

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+18 # Activista 2012-01-10 21:10
"wars the United States has fought since the surrender of Japan in 1945 - in Korea, Indochina, Iraq and Afghanistan - have produced colossal CARNAGE"
start talking about RACISM .. uber Americans civilizing the World ..
There was this nation in Europe - Übermensch ... Nazis - with the same agenda.
 
 
+5 # TGMisanthrope 2012-01-11 04:02
It's not "RACISM", Activista, it's culturalism (not, as far as I can find, a proper word, but it should be). Somehow the American government of the last handful of decades, regardless of party affiliation, seems to think that our (their, really) way is better and--even more depressing--rep resents the will of the people (that is, We The People).
 
 
0 # Activista 2012-01-11 18:36
Agree - racism is not the right word - it is this NEOCON export of "democracy" - that is more like neocolonialism - agenda.
We "love" these brown people - like we love our pets.
 
 
+8 # RMDC 2012-01-11 04:16
There's a good study of this -- Patrick Brogan, The Fighting Never Stopped: Wars Since 1945. It came out in the 80s and lists all the wars since WW II. I've forgotten the count but there must be over 100. It includes very brief coup d'etats. The US is at the root of most of them, though not the revolutions. The US is the counter-revolut ionary force.

We are now in the neo-con era, a time when the leaders of the US believe they have a real chance to militarily dominate the whole world. They see a uni-polar world with the US unmatched militarily. They think the US has only a brief chance, maybe 20 years or so, to knock out all of its potential rivals. These rivals are still Russia and China. The US regime is surrounding them with conquered nations. The US regime is beginning to cut off China's access to oil, just as it did to Japan in the 30s. The US regime is conducting covert operations in Russia to rig the elections there.

The US regime is taking us to WW IV. Obama is building up American military presence in the Pacific in preparation for a war with China.

When the war against Iran breaks out, it is likely the US regime will use nuclear bombs -- after all it will be fighting a nuclear armed state, something that has never happened before. This war will legitimize nuclear bombs which will be necessary against China. This is not fantasy. It is being planned. Look up http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2020_2004_05_25_intro.html
 
 
+11 # cadan 2012-01-10 21:53
Tirman's suggestion (mentioning the Iraqi civilians who lost their lives in our war against their country in any memorial) is excellent.

Could we do something about our other wars?

The war against Viet Nam ended in 1975. Could we please have a monument to our 3,000,000 victims? I think it would be ok to list American soldiers as some of the victims, since they were in fact victims, and the war had nothing to do with them.

It would be so good to have such a monument so that the next time a neocon starts spewing forth poison we could just take them there to cool off.
 
 
+8 # mi1979 2012-01-10 22:10
Maybe if Americans were fed a daily dosage of war's gruesome realities--muti lated corpses, dead women and children--they would be more empathetic to the suffering of people whose countries we invade. But then again,in the eyes of many Americans--I know quite a few--the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have already been dehumanized.
 
 
+2 # X Dane 2012-01-13 01:21
mi1979, that's it, nothing is shown, no dead or mutilated bodies. I felt for a long time that the Iraqi civilian deathtoll must be around a million, and I have been feeling bad about all the people suffering and dying for a long, long time.

The Iraqis have suffered for so many years under Saddam. Then we came and "liberated" them? What a bunch of lies. In no time, we forgot about the liberation crap and the Iraqis became enimies, not liberated people. It is way past shameful.

I really think, the reason we are not seeing the dead civilians, is that our military leaders think it would make us tell them to stop. We would be horrified.

They "sanitize" war by not showing the dead and by using terms like, smart bombs. Smart bombs kill the same stupid way.

I remember how Al Jazeera was willified when the war started, because THEY showed the dead mutilated bodies. And that was not permitted.

Unfortunately we have an awfull lot of death and destruction on our conscience.
I don't think many of our country men give it much thought, but the rest of the world DOES, and particularly the people in the countries where we fought and had bases.
If we attack Iran we will become the pariahs of the world.
 
 
+8 # jcostello 2012-01-10 22:30
Not only have we not cared about the victims of our past wars, we don't care about the victims of the wars we will fight. The first thing I noticed about the Iraq War, the one which was to liberate the Iraqis from the evil Saddam Hussein, was that we did not keep body counts of the dead Iraqis killed accidentally. Why not?
 
 
+8 # Richard1908 2012-01-10 22:31
Four percent of the world's population is on an endless quest to satisfy its need for 25% of the world's resources to feed its insatiable consumerism. So we have endless war, sponsored by the United States of America. Any apologies for raping the environment and other nations are crocodile tears. Americans believe they have a God-given right to plunder anyone, anything, anywhere on the face of this earth.
 
 
+7 # CarolynScarr 2012-01-10 22:47
Thank you, John Tirman, for excellent analysis.

I want to mention that we who organize the weekly anti-war vigil in Oakland have a monthly Living Graveyard where we read the names of the dead, both Iraqi and U.S., and display tombstones showing the count of the dead.
We use the Just Foreign Policy count of the Iraqi dead which is based on the hypothesis that the ratio of the count Tirman mentions, published in Lancet, and the numbers of the contemporaneous Iraq Body Count has held constant and calculate the likely true count accordingly. See us at www.epicalc.org

Mr Tirman might also like to get in touch with a local man who is working on a health center for Iraqi refugees when they start to arrive in numbers. Presuming they are allowed to come.
 
 
+6 # CCB5er34 2012-01-10 22:57
It is because this country lives in a fantasy of its being a good place, when in fact, it is cruel, racist and disgusting. Just like what George Carlin said in one of his performances, we are good at bombing brown people. Hell, the europeans destroyed whole civilizations when they came here, the Native Americans. I have little use for this place, most of the people are really screwed up and that fact above is horrendous. We make great martyrs, but to hell with anyone else we bomb to smithereens.
 
 
+5 # grouchy 2012-01-11 00:06
The count of civilian casualties should be read as very much higher than these figures. If one considers what we know of previous wars and their effect on civilians, the trauma gets passed down through future generations due to missing family members not being there such as Fathers, and the culture within a family which carries on the tales of grief and loss onto the new generation of children. Just talk to someone who has grown up in a part of the world where a war was fought. One problem here is that we have not had that experience for many years--exceptin g 911.
 
 
+4 # sharag 2012-01-11 00:07
The U.S. should pay reparations. We won't of course. It will come back to haunt us again.
 
 
+1 # abdullahiedward 2012-01-11 00:47
The short answer to your question is that they are usually not white Americans.
 
 
+8 # RMDC 2012-01-11 04:01
America is an empire. Empires are murderous things. But they believe that they are bringing a superior civilization to undeveloped peoples. That is always a deathly process. At the worst phase of the Iraq war, Condolezza Rice said "Iraq was going through the birth pains of democracy." Empires believe that they must kill millions of savages in order to civilize the territory.

Empires are also inherently criminal and psychopathic. It may be that the Regime in Washington is the last empire on earth. No one on earth has anything good to say about empires and when the American regime falls, the world will give a huge sigh of relief and go back to trying to live normal lives.
 
 
-9 # Robt Eagle 2012-01-11 04:43
Most of the deaths in Iraq were caused by Iraqis and insurgents. Sure there were civilians killed by collateral damage as is always the case in war, but to blame American warriors is not applicable. Blaming America for everything is just foolishness and if you want to display a picture like that in Fallujah, ask the Marines who fought there about the insurgents who most likely caused that carnage on the victim and about the US Navy Corpsman who most likely saved that poor civilian's life.
 
 
+4 # Phlippinout 2012-01-11 08:42
IN Fallujah where the US military used chemical warfare and the people are having very bad effects now, today and next year and generations to come. Sorry Mr Eagle, the military is performing outrageous acts of violence and it stinks. If you think the haunting from it is going to be a cake walk, you are dead wrong. The US was a shining beacon for many for a very long time but our halo is tarnished and broken, the US you are so proud of beats its protesters,thro ws innocent people out of their homes with fake foreclosures, polices the world for more revenue, more money, more oil while crushing everything in its path that is not of value to it. Maybe military thinking is the problem not the solution,
 
 
+2 # RMDC 2012-01-12 00:28
Robt Eagle -- obviously you don't know much about counterinsurgen cy warfare. When Iraqis refused to welcome American soldiers and US occupation, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest invoked the "Salvador Option." The war against El Salvador in the 1980s is considered to be the most successful and therefore the model for counterinsurgen cy warfare. The way it works is to create the perception of factions, then use death squads to kill a huge number of people,torture others, drive others out of the country, and then blame it all on sectarian civil war. The Salvadoran model shows that if about 1/3 of the people in a country can be destroyed (killed, tortured into submission, driven out of the country) the rest will accept occupation. In the case of El Salvador, The Truth Commission in the 1990s when the war was over found that 94% of the deaths were from Salvadoran military and death squads -- both completely under control of the CIA. Only about 2% of deaths could be attributed to "insurgents." When there is a Truth Commission for Iraq, the statistics will be about the same.

Don't believe the counterinsurgen cy specialists like Patraeus. Lying and propaganda are also a very big part of counterinsurgen cy warfare strategy.
 
 
+2 # Glen 2012-01-12 12:20
Robt, when there are airstrikes 24 hours a day, day after day, dropping tons of ordinance on towns and cites, there is no denying the fact of thousands of deaths. When troops are ordered to do a sweep of the streets, civilians are going to die by the hundreds every day. Most everyone now knows what happened in Fallujah. How do you justify bombing hospitals, ambulances, and access roads, when all those civilians were trapped inside.

I suppose you think we would not defend our towns and cities should we be attacked.
 
 
+11 # Glen 2012-01-11 05:30
I frequently wear my t shirt that reads, I am already against the next war. And I'm serious about it. The shame the U.S. government has brought to citizens and the world is beyond words. The millions of deaths is so heinous one cannot hold their head up in the face of folks in countries that have been attacked.
 
 
+10 # Eliza53 2012-01-11 06:17
For years my mother made a sign every morning re the US and civilian casualties in Iraq, based on the best info she could find online. She posted these on three phone poles in the busy Coolidge Corner neighborhood of Brookline MA. I am convinced that people who would never have thought about this found their eyes drawn to the poster every morning, and began thinking about the war differently. We anti-war activists should do this everywhere.
 
 
+5 # RJB 2012-01-11 06:21
The Dalai Lama admonishes us to think, think, think because we so seldom do. Perhaps Earth IS the insane asylum of the Universe.
 
 
+1 # do be do be do 2012-01-11 07:10
It baffles me that even the educated still don't know the reason why this behavior not only occurs but should be expected. And it's NOT because of any "just world" theory. It's because we are genetically engineered not only to dismiss those we see as "the other" but to actually fear them. This is a powerful human instinct implanted into our bones to assure our survival. We may think that it's our reason which controls our behaviour (thus the preference for some sort of reason-based explanation like we all want a "just world"). But if we fail to recognize our real motivations, we will never be able to adequately address it. And given the weapons of today, we better do it soon.
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2012-01-12 00:31
Who is this evil engineer who planted these insane characteristics in our bones. These old theories about Dawkins "selfish genes" are just worn out. No one believes in genetic determinism any more. That was the 80s.
 
 
+3 # Activista 2012-01-12 11:01
Genes/behavior of most species are more toward collaboration than competition.
Population ecology - how many species would survive behaving like Homo Destructor?
It is US militaristic money culture - playing Xbox - kill them war game.
Read news about US-Marine crap behavior in Afghanistan. And then go on Yahoo comments - US society is INSANE.
 
 
+4 # colvictoria 2012-01-11 07:38
I would like to ask how would we like it if another country decided they didn't like us and started dropping bombs in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago? How would we like to witness bombs rip our children into shreds? How would we like soldiers storming into our homes and rape our women, girls and little boys? How would we like seeing our temples, museums, national parks obliterated? How would we enjoy seeing babies born without brains and people dying of cancers caused by depleted uranium.
When is this madness going to stop? How many countries will we continue to rape and pillage?
Will the Pentagon stage another 911 attack and blame Iran? Will Americans believe the lies and rally behind Obama for another shock and awe campaign?
 
 
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-01-11 07:57
The easy answer: because they're not considered to be human. Which, of course, effectively dehumanizes those who hold such opinions. Sanity, like truth, is a piteous casualty of War. & still war is held to be a useful policy & thus a Good Thing...
 
 
+1 # shortonfaith 2012-01-11 10:33
75% of the people NEVER wanted to go to War. This is not an American moral issue. America didn't want to invade these countries. We've always been able to extract the few bad people without harm to the rest. Even Rome had its highly skilled mercenaries to solve these problems without sending out the entire army.

The 1% do this & may other things then hide behind the American people for protection. These 1% should be dragged out back & taken care of in the same manner they conduct business. They should be forced to personally take care of all those they have ravaged, & continue to ravage. Dam these people who continue to say they are working for the good of America. We have allowed the insane to lead us for way too long. These very few must be stopped from acting on our behalf in this manner. They are criminally insane & they know better. Heck, they are the inventors of knowing better & the surgical strike.

What do you do when a family member is is a mass murderer? Would you allow your Mother to walk the streets each & every night, killing your neighbors? If so, are you just as guilty as your Mother? When will we stop allowing these murderers to continue exporting bloodshed in the name of the American people? 75% of people never want to go to war, ever. There is always an easier, better & much less expensive way. The nasty incredible bloodshed distracts you from all the money they are stealing from you & your neighbors. This is not a new thought.
 
 
+1 # Glen 2012-01-11 14:26
Thank you shortonfaith, for bringing up an argument offered when the U.S. first attacked Afghanistan. The U.S., in cooperation with Europe, actually did go after individuals as criminals, rather than attacking an entire country.

I was in the Bahamas at the turn of the millennium when two individuals were taken into custody whose intent was to bomb New York on New Year's Eve. The U.S. did not bomb Grand Bahama Island. At the same time, people were arrested coming across the Canadian border with the same plan. Canada was not bombed. And so on and so forth. Terrorism is as old as the human race.

The advent of attacking entire countries in the name of stopping terrorism came in with George W. Of course, we cannot forget other crimes against countries for various and sundry other reasons committed by the U.S. government.
 
 
+2 # tomo 2012-01-11 17:24
Very fine article! I think Tirman is absolutely right in his suggestion that our unjust policy toward American Indians provided the template for later American foreign policy. Another way to say this is that our nostalgia for the "good ole days" of the American past is rooted in an almost inextricable lie. The official "Story of America" is a terrible lie, and by no means an innocent one. Yet to change our ways would require that we change our self-image, and I am not at all sure we are up to it. The reason we don't keep track of the civilian deaths on the receiving side of our foreign policy is that there is no way we can fit them into "the Story of America." Were we to start paying attention to these deaths, we would have to give up the American Story as it has been taught to us. And anyway, it seems it's just so much more fun just to go on killing (as we have done with Indians, Mexicans, Spaniards, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Afghans).
 
 
+1 # Activista 2012-01-11 18:47
"it seems it's just so much more fun just to go on killing"
War game (more kills - more points) Call of Duty®
www.callofduty.com/
Dec 15, 2011 – The all-new behind the scenes multiplayer video for Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3 featuring the new Kill Confirmed and Team Defender ...
number ONE entertainement? US, GB -
new generations/cul ture "values" are forming ...
 
 
+3 # CarolynScarr 2012-01-11 21:15
Glen,
What the U.S. should have done after 9/11 was to ask Afghanistan to extradite Bin Laden and try him in a criminal court.

Afghanistan offered to extradite him in the usual way, which would have required the U.S. to provide sufficient evidence of his guilt to justify his being held to answer.

The United States refused to show any evidence and reved up to attack Afghanistan.

I have this information on the authority of a professor at University of San Francisco who is an expert in this field.

It is certainly true that the U.S. has attacked other countries with no excuse whatsoever. As Iran is moved into the crosshairs, we should remember that the U.S. overthrew Iran's democratically elected government in the 1950s. About the same time as the U.S. overthrow of the elected government in Guatemala. Waited a few decades until the U.S. overthrew the democratic government of Allende in Chile -- also on a Sept 11.

Let us not forget the Gulf of Tonkin lies that generated the attack on Vietnam. Oh, yes, and the incubator lie which headed off a possible negotiated withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait. Read Pierre Salinger's book on the subject and Viorst's article in The New Yorker.
 
 
+1 # Glen 2012-01-13 09:48
Sorry I missed your essay, Carolyn. Yes, the U.S. attacked many countries in many subversive methods, for as many years. I was referring to blatant "preemptive" attacks without the government even bothering to lie about it, not to mention a handful of terrorists to blame it on. Your professor in San Francisco is correct. There were lies, yes, concerning Afghanistan and Iraq, as in times past, but the in your face actions, and the government's indifference to citizen protests was very telling. First time for using terrorists as an excuse to demolish a country. Used to be the agencies of the government went after the terrorists themselves - even if the terrorists had not done what they were accused of.

The U.S. government is totally indifferent to citizen and world opinion now. No longer any need for subversion or lies to excuse attacking a country full force.
 
 
+2 # maggie_zhou 2012-01-12 07:03
very powerful article, except for a few flaw:

1. does not mention one obvious reason why American public is oblivious of civilian casualty in countries we fight wars in, is that the corporate media, the Washington Post included, virtually blocks out all reporting about it - the true magnitude of it.

2. “The United States, which should be regarded as a principal advocate of human rights…”. It seems he still believes the wars were fought for the right cause, only that we should be mindful of civilian casualties.

3. “In several polls in 2007 and 2008, Americans were asked whether we should withdraw troops even if it put Iraqis at risk of more civil unrest; a clear majority said yes.” This is to show how Americans don’t care about Iraqis wellbeing, but it’s a muddled way to look at a loaded poll question. It’s again based on the assumption that the war was fought for good reason, with good intentions from the US policy makers, only it didn’t go well, and now whether to pull out immediately should take into account whether it puts Iraq at risk of more civil unrest.
 

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