This week, 25 people were slaughtered in yet another mass killing, and half of those deaths were women and children.
But you won’t see these murders broadcast relentlessly on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, nor discussed at length in social media threads. That’s because the U.S. military committed them in their crusade against the Islamic State’s “last enclave on the Euphrates in Syria,” Reuters reported Monday.
It is for this reason that many Americans will dismiss comparisons between this type of mass killing and school shootings and other domestic mass atrocities. Their grossly overfunded (yet somehow financially irresponsible) military is fighting the good fight. If some innocent people have to die in the process Americans can feel safe in their homes and shopping malls, so be it.
“Collateral damage” is just part of the price the world must pay for the United States to police it and keep it safe, even as the American military has racked up millions of civilian deaths during its reign as the global arbiter of morality and justice.
Though the figures from this week’s deaths in Syria were reported by the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights — which, though cited often by mainstream media has questionable credibility — the evidence of similar killings from other sources is rampant.
Aside from the callous apathy many Americans display in their dismissals and rationalizations for the loss of innocent life funded by their tax dollars, the popular notion that the military must murder civilians to win the greater moral battle is faulty, anyway.
The U.S. killed as many as three million civilians in the Korean War to halt communism, yet to this day, North Korea remains oppressed under a dictatorial communist regime (while we’re on the subject, no, the U.S. military was not defending its own troops there; they had already been removed prior to the North’s attack on the South).
In Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the United States haphazardly killed civilians for years before retreating from the nations in defeat. Despite the thousands of people who died, the U.S. failed to achieve its objectives.
It was not necessary for the British military and its American counterparts to ravage Dresden, Germany, during World War II, even in its revered crusade against the Nazis. It is widely accepted that this city was not strategically important, but England and U.S. razed it, anyway, killing tens of thousands of civilians.
In the case of the indefinite war on terror, these types of tactics and intervention in general only further create hostility that necessitates further violent meddling. In interviews the Nation conducted with imprisoned ISIS fighters, many knew little of the religious dogma, instead discussing their desperation and anger at the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“The Americans came,” one said. “They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.”
When the U.S. disbanded Hussein’s security forces, many ended up top leaders of the Islamic State.
Terror attacks from the caliphate and others are often inspired directly by U.S. wars. While the perpetrators who kill innocents are obviously deranged, attackers from Omar Mateen to the Boston Bombers to the Charlie Hebdo killers cited opposition to U.S. intervention as motivation for their murders.
This long history of intervention not only helped spawn ISIS but also al-Qaeda following the CIA’s efforts to empower the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the U.S.’ geopolitical battle against the Soviet Union. Al-Qaeda grew out of the mujahideen and then went on to attack the United States. Findings from the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism suggest suicide attacks are a direct result of foreign military occupations. As researcher Robert A. Pape explained in Foreign Policy in 2010:
“As the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, which have a combined population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically — from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009. Further, over 90 percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American”
Despite this cycle of perpetual violence, Americans still can’t be bothered to care. They will offer thoughts and prayers over mass shootings – many committed by crazed ex-soldiers and aspiring troops in an apparent show of the ramifications of blind militarism — but these same Americans will reject compassion for those overseas, and in their case, condone violence if not outright glorify it.
And as long as they do, innocent people will continue to die both at home and abroad.