By Matt Agorist
Jalalabad, Afghanistan — Imagine for a moment that you had just finished a long day’s work with two hundred other farmers. You were settling down to relax for the night, when out of nowhere, Hellfire missiles rain down from drones in the sky and blow up dozens of your coworkers, maiming and tearing limbs from dozens more. Imagine if this happened inside the United States. Imagine the reaction from politicians and the US war machine looking to right this wrong.
Would you, as an American citizen sit idly back and accept the excuse given by the country who carried out that attack? Would you accept the wholesale slaughter of your fellow citizens by the dozen if the country who led the attack said it was a mistake and we did it to “help” you? What if it was one of your children killed in the attack? Or your brother, sister, father, mother, or grand parent? Would you simply accept that this slaughter was a mistake and the “help” you are receiving from this country is worth it?
Well, that is exactly what the United States is asking Afghanistan to do right now after a drone strike Wednesday night slaughtered 30 innocent civilian farmers as they rested from a long day’s work picking pine nuts. The attack also left 40 others maimed and mangled.
“The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them,” tribal elder Malik Rahat Gul told Reuters by telephone from Wazir Tangi.
According to Reuters, a survivor of the drone strike said about 200 laborers were sleeping in five tents pitched near the farm when the attack happened.
“Some of us managed to escape, some were injured but many were killed,” said Juma Gul, a resident of northeastern Kunar province who had traveled along with laborers to harvest and shell pine nuts this week.
Naturally, the US is responding to the situation with a canned response and refusing to accept responsibility.
“U.S. forces conducted a drone strike against Da’esh (IS) terrorists in Nangarhar,” said Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts.”
Residents of the Nangarhar province spoke publicly Thursday and demanded the U.S. take responsibility for this murder.
“Such mistakes cannot be justified. American forces must realize (they) will never win the war by killing innocent civilians,” said Javed Mansur, a resident of Jalalabad city.
This slaughter comes on the heels of a rather disturbing report released by the United Nations in April detailing how in the first part of 2019, US forces and their allies killed more civilians than the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
According to the most recent UN data, Afghan civilians were killed in greater numbers by NATO and pro-government security forces in the first three months of 2019 than by armed militants. Half of those slaughtered by allied troops were women and children.
In spite of countless drone bombs raining down from the skies, Hellfire and Tomahawk missiles flattening buildings, and mass graves filled with collateral damage, the US has absolutely nothing to show for it except physically and psychologically damaged veterans and a massive trillion dollar debt.
The Congressional Research Service, for example, concluded in 2015 that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost U.S. taxpayers $1.6 trillion. However, according to a report from TIME magazine last year, that number is a gross underestimate.
As TFTP previously reported, according to an analysis from the “Costs of War Project” from Brown University’s Watson Institute, by the end of 2018, the U.S. War on Terror cost America taxpayers more than $5.6 trillion, which is an average of $23,386 per taxpayer.
As of late September 2017, the United States wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and the additional spending on Homeland Security, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs since the 9/11 attacks totaled more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars through FY2017. Adding likely costs for FY2018 and estimated future spending on veterans, the costs of war total more than $5.6 trillion.
As The Nation noted, that estimate does not include several factors such as “the psychic costs to the Americans mangled in one way or another in those never-ending conflicts. They don’t include the costs to this country’s infrastructure, which has been crumbling while taxpayer dollars flow copiously and in a remarkably—in these years, almost uniquely—bipartisan fashion into what’s still laughably called ‘national security.’”
After 18 years, there is no sign that the War on Terror is ending anytime soon, but surely the United States is finally close to defeating Al Qaeda—right?
Unfortunately, the opposite is true. A report from the Los Angeles Times noted that in 2018, “Al Qaeda may be stronger than ever,” and instead of destroying the group, “U.S. policies in the Mideast appear to have encouraged its spread.”
The group has amassed the largest fighting force in its existence. Estimates say it may have more than 20,000 militants in Syria and Yemen alone. It boasts affiliates across North Africa, the Levant and parts of Asia, and it remains strong around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
While Al Qaeda may have started out as a small terrorist group, it has now grown into a massive network that is flourishing in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Libya—all countries where the U.S. has actively carried out bombing campaigns in recent years. Coincidence? Not at all.
Ask yourself this question, how many future terrorists did the United States create yesterday? Do you think that the children of those slain by a decade of bombing and constant threats of drone strikes will simply forget about the atrocities inflicted upon them? Do you think that the parents who watched their babies blown apart by predator drones, or the hospital workers who watched as US bombs rained down from the sky — will just turn the other cheek?
In reality, the US War on Terror has had the opposite effect on “fighting terrorists.” It is creating them. For the last 18 years, the US has actually been planting a garden in which a million anti-American millitants grow.
The truth is that since 9/11, the US and their NATO allies have fostered a breeding ground for peaceful citizens to be shocked and horrified, and turned into extremist and fundamentalist groups. As Americans have sat back and said nothing over the last two decades, the military industrial complex was sowing the seeds for perpetual war, which left unchecked will inevitably lead to the demise of the American empire.