Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2014
By Glenn Greenwald
Barack Obama, in his post-election press conference, announced that he would seek an Authorization for Use of Military Force from the new Congress, one that would authorize Obama’s bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria—the one he began three months ago. If one were being generous, one could say that seeking congressional authorization for a war that commenced months ago is at least better than fighting a war even after Congress explicitly rejected its authorization, as Obama lawlessly did in the now-collapsed country of Libya.
When Obama began bombing targets inside Syria in September, I noted that it was the seventh predominantly Muslim country that had been bombed during his presidency (that did not count Obama’s bombing of the Muslim minority in the Philippines). I also previously noted that this new bombing campaign meant that Obama had become the fourth consecutive US president to order bombs dropped on Iraq. Standing alone, these are both amazingly revealing facts.
US violence is so ongoing and continuous that we barely notice it. [In november], a US drone launched a missile that killed 10 people in Yemen, and the dead were promptly labeled “suspected militants,” which actually just means they are “military-age males.” Those killings received almost no discussion.
To get a full scope of US violence in the world, it is worth asking a broader question: How many countries in the Islamic world has the US bombed or occupied since 1980? That answer was provided in a recent Washington Post op-ed by the military historian and former US Army Col. Andrew Bacevich:
As US efforts to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants extend into Syria, Iraq War III has seamlessly morphed into Greater Middle East Battlefield XIV. That is, Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that US forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which US soldiers have killed or been killed—and that’s just since 1980.
Let’s tick them off: Iran (1980 & 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989 & 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, & 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991 & 1996), Afghanistan (1998 & 2001), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000 & 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria.
Col. Bacevich’s count excludes the bombing and occupation of still other predominantly Muslim countries by key US allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, carried out with crucial US support. It excludes coups against democratically elected governments, torture, and imprisonment of people with no charges. It also, of course, excludes all the other bombing and invading and occupying that the US has carried out during this time period in other parts of the world, including in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as various proxy wars in Africa.
—Excerpted from investigative journalist Greenwald who wrote this piece for The Intercept, Nov. 7, 2014