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Severe Humanitarian Disasters Caused by US Aggressive Wars against Foreign Countries

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-04-09 14:16
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2. The Disastrous Consequences of Foreign Wars Launched by the United States

Since the end of World War II, almost every US president has waged or intervened in foreign wars during their terms of office. The pretexts they used include: stopping the spread of communism, maintaining justice, stopping aggression, humanitarian intervention, combating terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), protecting the safety of overseas US citizens, etc. Among all these foreign wars, only one was waged as a counterattack in response to a direct terrorist attack on the United States; the others were waged in a situation where the vital interests of the United States were not directly affected. Unfortunately, even this singular "justifiable counterattack" was obviously an excessive display of defense. Under the banner of eliminating the threat of al-Qaeda, the US military wantonly expanded the scope of the attack in the anti-terrorism war in accordance with the principle "better to kill by mistake than to miss out by accident", resulting in a large number of civilian causalities in the war-affected areas, and despite using the relatively accurate drone strikes, the US military still did not succeed in reducing and mitigating the causalities of the innocent local people.

As for the procedures followed by the United States to start aggressive wars against foreign countries, some were "legitimate procedures" that the United States managed to obtain by manipulating the UN into authorizing them through the Security Council; more often, the United States just set the Security Council aside and neglected the opposition of other countries, and even the opposition of its own allies, when willfully and arbitrarily launching an attack on an independent country. Some US foreign wars were initiated without the approval of the US Congress, which has the sole power to declare war for the country.

US foreign wars have triggered various regional and international crises.

First of all, these wars have directly led to humanitarian disasters in the war-affected countries, such as personnel casualties, damage to facilities, production stagnation, and especially unnecessary civilian casualties. In the war-affected areas, people died in their homes, markets, and streets, they were killed by bombs, bullets, improvised explosive devices, and drones, and they lost their lives during airstrikes launched by US forces, raids launched by their government forces, terrorist and extremist massacres, and domestic riots. In November 2018, Brown University released a research study that showed that the number of civilian deaths during the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen were 43,074; 23,924; 184,382 to 207,156; 49,591; and 12,000 respectively, the number of journalists and media personnel who died at their posts during these wars, were 67; 8; 277; 75; and 31 respectively, and the number of humanitarian relief workers who were killed at their posts during these wars were 424; 97; 63; 185; and 38 respectively. Such casualties are often understated by the US government. The Intercept website reported on November 19, 2018, that the actual civilian deaths in Iraq were far higher than the number officially released by the US military.

Second, US foreign wars brought about a series of complex social problems, such as refugee waves, social unrest, ecological crises, psychological traumas, etc. Statistics show that each of the several recent US foreign wars created a larger number of refugees, such as the 11 million Afghan refugees, the 380,000 Pakistani refugees, the 3.25 million Iraqi refugees, and the 12.59 million Syrian refugees; these refugees have been forced to flee from their homes, of which 1.3 million Afghan refugees have fled to Pakistan, 900,000 Afghan refugees arrived in Iran, 3.5 million Iraqi and Syrian refugees fled to Turkey, and one million Iraqi and Syrian refugees fled to Iran. In Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, the deaths and injuries caused by the lack of medical treatment, malnutrition, and environmental pollution have exceeded the casualties directly caused by the wars, with the former number being four times greater than the latter. The uranium content per kilogram of soil in Basra, Iraq, rose sharply from less than 70 becquerels before 1991 to 10,000 becquerels in 2009, and the number was as high as 36,205 becquerels in the areas polluted by war remnants. The website of the British newspaper The Guardian reported on August 22, 2016, that 30 percent of the babies born in Iraq in 2010 were born with some form of congenital anomaly, while this figure is around two to four percent under normal circumstances.

Third, US foreign wars have often produced spillover effects, causing harm to the countries that were not involved in the wars. For example, in the Vietnam War, the US military spread the fighting to neighboring countries such as Cambodia and Laos on the excuse of blocking the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" (a military supply route running from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia to South Vietnam), resulting in more than 500,000 unnecessary civilian casualties and leaving a large number of war remnants in those countries, which are still explosive. When attacking terrorists in the Afghanistan War, the US aircraft and drones often dropped bombs on neighboring Pakistani villages, and even on wedding cars and Pakistani border guard soldiers. In an airstrike on Yugoslavia, the US forces even targeted the Chinese embassy, leading to the deaths of three Chinese journalists and the injuries of a dozen embassy personnel.

Last but not least, even the United States itself has fallen victim to the foreign wars it has started. According to statistics from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, there were 103,284 US soldiers who suffered physical injuries during the Korean War, and the number reached 153,303 for the Vietnam War. Between 2001 and 2005, about one-third of the 103,788 veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were diagnosed with mental or psychological illness, and 56 percent of those diagnosed had more than one disease. A study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which works exclusively for the United States Congress, pointed out that more than 6,000 veterans committed suicide every year from 2008 to 2016. The amount of economic compensation offered by the US military to the Korean War veterans reaches 2.8 billion US dollars per year, and the amount given to the Vietnam War veterans and their families is more than 22 billion US dollars per year.

The cost of medical and disability care for the Afghanistan War veterans has exceeded 170 billion US dollars. Business Insider, a US business and technology news website, reported in December 2019 that the Afghanistan war has led to the deaths of more than 3,800 US contractors, and this number far exceeds the relevant statistical result released by the US government and even the US military deaths in Afghanistan.

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