Council of Foreign Relations resident skeptic Micah Zenko recently tallied up how many bombs the United States has dropped on other countries and the results are as depressing as one would think. Zenko figured that since Jan. 1, 2015, the U.S. has dropped around 23,144 bombs on Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, all countries that are majority Muslim.
The chart, provided by the generally pro-State Department think tank, puts in stark terms how much destruction the U.S. has leveled on other countries. Whether or not one thinks such bombing is justified, it’s a blunt illustration of how much raw damage the United States inflicts on the Muslim world:
It does not appear to be working either. Despite the fact that the U.S. dropped 947 bombs in Afghanistan in 2015, a recent analysis in Foreign Policy magazine found that the Taliban control more territory in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001. The U.S. has entered its 16th year of war in Afghanistan despite several promises by the Obama administration to withdraw. In October of last year, President Obama reversed his position and decided to keep American troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2017.
The last four U.S. presidents have bombed Iraq, and that includes the current one since airstrikes were launched on Aug. 7, 2014. The war against ISIS was originally framed as a « limited, » « humanitarian » intervention. Since then, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has insisted it will be a « 30-year war » and the White House has spoken vaguely of a « long-term effort » in both Iraq and Syria.
Another red flag Zenko noted was the complete lack of civilian deaths being tallied as a result of those 23,144 bombs.
Remarkably, they also claim that alongside the 25,000 fighters killed, only 6 civilians have “likely” been killed in the seventeen-month air campaign. At the same time, officials admit that the size of the group has remained wholly unchanged. In 2014, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated the size of the Islamic State to be between 20,000 and 31,000 fighters, while on Wednesday, Warren again repeated the 30,000 estimate. To summarize the anti-Islamic State bombing calculus: 30,000 – 25,000 = 30,000.
So after more than 20,000 bombs, the U.S. Defense Department only cops to the deaths of six civilians. This is a position largely accepted by the media, which rarely asks who is actually being extinguished by the airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
In October, 30 civilians died after the U.S. bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The incident is still being investigated, but it has already been revealed that many elements of the original story were either false or deliberately misleading.
Adam Johnson is an associate editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter at @adamjohnsonnyc.