Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I personally found the president’s inaugural speech not just insipid, but disgusting. . . 

Noor Syed, 8-year-old girl, one of Obama's first drone victims, killed in Pakistan drone attack on Feb. 14, 2009.
Noor Syed, 8-year-old Pakistani girl and one of Obama's first drone victims, murdered in a US drone attack in South Waziristan, Pakistan on Feb. 14, 2009.
 
As he spoke these uplifting phrases, US factories were cranking out, under the terms of billion-dollar Pentagon contracts, fleets of drone aircraft that daily are raining explosives down on innocent men, women and children in countries that the US is not even at war with. 

Most of those drone attacks are personally approved by our Nobel Peace Laureate president, who has claimed the right -- unchallenged by either Congress or the Judiciary -- to order the liquidation of anyone he deems to be a terrorist (including American citizens), as well as those, even children, who happen to be in the vicinity of such a person. 

Of the 362 drone strikes in Pakistan to date, 310 were launched during the period Obama has been commander in chief. 

The result of this policy of state terrorism has been a wretched, criminal slaughter of children -- a slaughter that has been hidden from view, and denied wholesale by the Pentagon and the president. 

Over 3000 people have been killed, the vast majority of them non-combatant "collateral damage" deaths. Over 172 of these have reportedly been children. . .

To borrow from the president’s own style-book, "We the People" have been complicit in ignoring this wretched slaughter. 

"We the People," who cringe in horror at the slaying of 20 innocent first graders in Newtown, Connecticut, don’t spare a thought or a tear for the thousands of innocent children killed in our name by our “heroic” forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere, by our Presidentially-targeted drone aircraft in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and by our weapons in the hands of allies and rebel fighters in places like Syria, Gaza, the West Bank of Palestine, Somalia, and elsewhere. 

Just to try and make this monstrous crime by this president clear, here is a partial list, compiled by the organization DronesWatch, of children, some as young as 1 and 2 years old, who have been documented as killed by US drones (they are listed by name, age and sex in that order):
 
 
PAKISTAN



Noor Aziz | 8 | male

Abdul Wasit | 17 | male

Noor Syed | 8 | female

Wajid Noor | 9 | male

Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male

Ayeesha | 3 | female

Qari Alamzeb | 14| male

Shoaib | 8 | male

Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male

Tariq Aziz | 16 | male

Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male

Maezol Khan | 8 | female

Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male

Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male

Azizul Wahab | 15 | male

Fazal Wahab | 16 | male

Ziauddin | 16 | male

Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male

Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male

Sohail | 7 | male

Asadullah | 9 | male

khalilullah | 9 | male

Noor Mohammad | 8 | male

Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male

Mashooq Jan | 15 | male

Nawab | 17 | male

Sultanat Khan | 16 | male

Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male

Noor Mohammad | 15 | male

Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male

Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male

Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male

Abdullah | 18 | male

Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male

Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male

Shahbuddin | 15 | male

Yahya Khan | 16 |male

Rahatullah |17 | male

Mohammad Salim | 11 | male

Shahjehan | 15 | male

Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male

Bakht Muneer | 14 | male

Numair | 14 | male

Mashooq Khan | 16 | male

Ihsanullah | 16 | male

Luqman | 12 | male

Jannatullah | 13 | male

Ismail | 12 | male

Taseel Khan | 18 | male

Zaheeruddin | 16 | male

Qari Ishaq | 19 | male

Jamshed Khan | 14 | male

Alam Nabi | 11 | male

Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male

Rahmatullah | 14 | male

Abdus Samad | 17 | male

Siraj | 16 | male

Saeedullah | 17 | male

Abdul Waris | 16 | male

Darvesh | 13 | male

Ameer Said | 15 | male

Shaukat | 14 | male

Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male

Salman | 12 | male

Fazal Wahab | 18 | male

Baacha Rahman | 13 | male

Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male

Iftikhar | 17 | male

Inayatullah | 15 | male

Mashooq Khan | 16 | male

Ihsanullah | 16 | male

Luqman | 12 | male

Jannatullah | 13 | male

Ismail | 12 | male

Abdul Waris | 16 | male

Darvesh | 13 | male

Ameer Said | 15 | male

Shaukat | 14 | male

Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male

Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male

Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male

Kitab Gul | 12 | male

Wilayat Khan | 11 | male

Zabihullah | 16 | male

Shehzad Gul | 11 | male

Shabir | 15 | male

Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male

Shafiullah | 16 | male

Nimatullah | 14 | male

Shakirullah | 16 | male

Talha | 8 | male
 
YEMEN


Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female

Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female

Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female

Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female

Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male

Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male

Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female

Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female

Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female

Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female

Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male

Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female

Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female

Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female

Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female

Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male

Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female

Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female

Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male

Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male

Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female

AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male

Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male

Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male

Nasser Salim | 19|male


This article was originally posted at This Can't Be Happening


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In his inauguration speech, President Obama said  
"a decade of war is now ending". . . a cynical and monstrous lie which should not go unchallenged!
(Unless, of course, he just meant to say that one decade of war is ending and another is starting!)


Obama's Overlooked Wars and Lethal Presidency

By Jason Kottke

As Obama said that "a decade of war is now ending" in his inauguration speech, illegal drone strikes continue to kill innocent civilians as "collateral damage" in various countries.

"President Obama's second inaugural was supposed to sound something like Lincoln's: the speech of a man tired of war, and eager to move the nation beyond its bloody reach. In truth, it was the speech of a man who has perfected a form of war that can be written off as a kind of peace...

... If George W. Bush were doing this sort of thing, we'd be marching in the streets about it. Why does Obama get a free pass? (And on Bradley Manning? And on Guantanamo?) Anyone in the press want to ask the President about the legality & moral stickiness of drone strikes at his next press conference?"
 

 *

The New Law is Lawlessness
Is This Endless War on Terror The New Normal?


By TheYoungTurks


"That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism." Continue


 *
 Cornel West Exposes Obama Hypocrisy

Must Watch Video

“All of the blood, sweat and tears that went into producing a Martin Luther King, Jr. generated a brother of such high decency and dignity that you don’t use his prophetic fire for a moment of presidential pageantry."



 *

Bomber in Chief: 20,000 Airstrikes in the President's First Term
Cause Death and Destruction From Iraq to Somalia


By Nicolas J.S. Davies

Day after day, U.S. air strikes have conclusively answered the familiar question of 9/11: "Why do they hate us?" Continue


 *


"Beyond Vietnam"
A Time to Break Silence


By Rev. Martin Luther King


By 1967, King had become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. 

In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 -- a year to the day before he was murdered -- King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."   






 Ask yourself this question: If alive today, what would Martin Luther King say about the war crimes continuing under Obama?!

 *

MLK's Vehement Condemnations Of US Militarism Are More Relevant Than Ever

By Glenn Greenwald

". . .One of the best decisions the US ever made was to commemorate King's birthday as a national holiday. He's as close to a prophet as American history offers. But the distance between the veneration expressed for him and the principles he espoused seems to grow every year. When it comes to King's views on US militarism, nothing more potently illustrates that distance than the use of King's holiday to re-inaugurate the 44th president."    



 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why war in Mali. . . really?

“Why Mali?

Mali has abundant mineral wealth.  

Gold has become Mali’s second-largest export after cotton and has emerged as a leading export for the African country since 1999. Mali is West Africa’s second largest gold producer with an estimated 2009 output of 1.6 million ounces, or 49 tonnes, and total gold wealth is estimated at 350 tonnes.(5)

Several companies in Mali are currently carrying out uranium exploration in the Falea and Gao regions, where the uranium potential is estimated to be 5,200 tonnes. Furthermore, Mali has the potential to develop diamond explorations. In the Kayes administrative region, also known as “Mining region 1”, 30 kimberlitic pipes have been discovered of which eight show traces of diamonds. Diamonds have also been picked up in the Sikasso administrative region, in southern Mali.(6)

More than 1.3 million tonnes of potential iron ore reserves has been detected in the areas of Djidian-Kenieba, Diamou, and Bale. Bauxite reserves are estimated to be 1.2 million tonnes and the potential for other mineral resources in Mali includes 42.2 million tonnes of calcareous rock deposits; nearly 46 million tonnes of copper reserves; 1.7 million tonnes of lead and zinc with traces in western and northern Mali; an estimated potential of 4 million lithium reserves; 53 million tonnes of rock salt; 65 million tonnes of diatomite potential; and an estimated 870 million of bitumen schist.(7)

That's why.”
  
- Above is a comment on the following article:


The US Was Operating In Mali Months Prior To French Incursion:
Meet The "Intelligence and Security Command"


By Tyler Durden

The US was on the ground and engaged in secret missions, it needed an alibi to avoid "destabilizing" the local situation once its presence became conventional wisdom. It got just that, thank to one Francois Hollande just over a week ago.
Continue

*

By Design: French Mali Invasion Spills into Algeria

By Tony Cartalucci

These very same terrorist forces continue to receive funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition in Syria, by NATO, and specifically the US and France. Continue

*

Preplanned Mali invasion reveals France's neo-colonialistic agenda

By Finian Cunningham

The precise nature of this “Islamist threat” from Mali is never spelled out or evidenced. . We are expected to accept the word of Paris, London and Washington - the rogue states that have and are conducting illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Continue



Friday, January 18, 2013

A personal note from Chuck Searcy about Project RENEW - "Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the Effects of the War" in Viet Nam:



As we close out 2012 and welcome in a new year, please accept this personal note from me although conveyed in a convenient but somewhat non-personal way.  As the Vietnamese say (such a useful expression):  "thông cảm" - or "sympathize", please!

 
Over the past decade, American veterans, colleagues, and many other friends have followed the progress of Project RENEW since the initiative was launched in August, 2001. 

Our mission was to develop a comprehensive and more effective way to reduce injuries and deaths from bombs and mines left over from the war, which have caused more than 100,000 casualties in Vietnam since the war ended in 1975. 

Quang Tri Province, the area along the former DMZ which was one of the most heavily bombed areas in history, needed help most urgently.

In the past 11 years, Project RENEW has successfully:

– removed or destroyed thousands of cluster munitions, landmines, and other ordnance that formerly were hidden threats to the lives and limbs of local people.

– helped reduce accidents by teaching people to be safe, and how to protect their neighbors by reporting the ordnance they do discover;

– helped thousands of victims to recover from accidents, to be able to walk again or adjust to other lifetime disabilities through rehabilitation and income generation.

These results are a credit to a young, trained, and dedicated staff of more than 90 Vietnamese professionals, all residents of Quang Tri Province.  They are supported by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who are key partners with RENEW, and through governments, foundations, and individual donors whose generosity has funded the budgets necessary to get the work done. 

A broad array of services is delivered at the village and community level through RENEW's links with existing institutions such as the Women's Union, the Youth Union, Farmers' Union, Health Services, and the Provincial Military.

Details are shared at Project RENEW’s website (www.landmines.org.vn) and through updates such as this year-end newsletter. 

I have to say that I’m very proud of the work done by the staff of Project RENEW.  They are committed to the mission, they are keenly aware of the life-saving importance of their work, and despite their youth – most of them are too young to remember the devastation of the war – they fully understand the losses and the sacrifices that their parents and the older generation suffered. 

They are committed to continue cleaning up the debris of the war, and to create a brighter, and safer future, for the children and future generations of Quang Tri Province.

Thanks to everyone who has supported this effort in past years.  Your generosity and goodwill have enabled the results that Project RENEW has managed to achieve.  And together with our Vietnamese colleagues and friends, we will continue. 

We are determined to achieve the ultimate goal that we all share – of making Vietnam safe from the threat of bombs and mines.

Happy New Year, best wishes to you and yours for peace, happiness, and fulfillment in 2013.

CHUCK SEARCY
International Advisor, Project RENEW

==================================
CHUCK SEARCY
Project RENEW International Advisor
Humpty Dumpty Institute
Veterans for Peace
25 Truong Han Sieu, #302, Hanoi, Vietnam
Mobile:    +84 (0) 903 420 769
Email:       chucksearcy@yahoo.com
Skype:      chucksearcy
Web:         landmines.org.vn
Web:         thehdi.or
g
Web:         http://vfp-vn.ning.com/
==================================






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Quarterly Newsletter
2012 Year-End Edition 
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Dear Friends,

As we say goodbye to 2012, we'd like to thank you for the continued support you've shown to Project RENEW. In an effort to update you on the accomplishments we've achieved during the year, we're pleased to share with you our the special year-end edition of our quarterly newsletter. 
Wishing you a safe and happy 2013.

Nguyen Hieu Trung
Coordination Manager
P.S. We'd love to hear from you this holiday season and throughout the new year. If you aren't already following us on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr, please stay in touch!
Timely response to ERW discoveries is the surest way to prevent deaths or injuries from explosive ordnance

It was about 10 a.m on 14 Dec 2012, Le Van Du, a fisherman in Ha Loc Village of Trieu Phuoc Commune, Trieu Phong District, was terrified when local workers unearthed a large calibre projectile while digging to build a septic tank. The dud round was just one meter from his kitchen. The workers were all were too scared to continue the job.

Fortunately Du’s neighbor, Vo Dung, knows about RENEW and used his mobile phone to call RENEW’s hotline to ask for immediate assistance. Just 30 minutes later, RENEW’s EOD Quick Response Team No. 2 arrived at the man’s house and investigated the situation. The item was identified as a five-inch naval projectile with a damaged fuse, so Team Leader Mai Van Viet decided to remove it to RENEW’s Central Demolition Site for later destruction.
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Facts and figures of 2012 

The following figures provide a quick thumbnail sketch of what has been accomplished by Project RENEW during 2012.
3,432,200 is the number of square meters covered by technical surveys conducted by RENEW’s Cluster Munitions Survey team.
147,335 is the number of square meters of land cleared of ERW by RENEW’s Battle Area Clearance team and released to the local people for development purposes.

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A glance at RENEW's donor contributions in 2012

2012 was another year of generous funding commitments from RENEW's donors to support our mine action mission in Quang Tri Province, totaling up to 1.5 million USD. The following chart provides a quick breakdown of the funding in our mine action programs.
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Who are Project RENEW's staff?

In this issue of our newsletter, we would like to introduce our readers and supporters to our staff – so you can get to know the names and faces, the interests, the backgrounds and the contributions of the people who make up the RENEW team. 

When RENEW was launched in August 2001, it was agreed by the government of Quang Tri and international NGOs that the effort would be directed, managed and staffed only by Vietnamese - with external assistance and expertise from foreign experts as needed.  That principle is still in place today. It perhaps accounts for the success achieved by Project RENEW and the level of esteem the staff has earned in the eyes of Vietnamese and foreigners alike.
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We thank our donors and partners
       





Click to view this email in a browser

Project RENEW
103 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street
Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province
Vietnam



Friday, January 11, 2013

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Just in case anyone is still deluded into believing the propaganda that "we" are "the good guys", read this powerful article by Nick Turse. . . and the comments below!:

“So Many People Died”
The American System of Suffering, 1965-2014


By Nick Turse

. . .Nobody will ever know just how many civilians were killed in the years after that.  “The number is uncountable,” he said. . .


Pham To looked great for 78 years old.  (At least, that’s about how old he thought he was.)  His hair was thin, gray, and receding at the temples, but his eyes were lively and his physique robust -- all the more remarkable given what he had lived through.  

I listened intently, as I had so many times before to so many similar stories, but it was still beyond my ability to comprehend.  It’s probably beyond yours, too.
 
Pham To told me that the planes began their bombing runs in 1965 and that periodic artillery shelling started about the same time.  Nobody will ever know just how many civilians were killed in the years after that.
  
“The number is uncountable,” he said one spring day a few years ago in a village in the mountains of rural central Vietnam.  “So many people died.”

And it only got worse.  

Chemical defoliants came next, ravaging the land.  Helicopter machine gunners began firing on locals.  By 1969, bombing and shelling were day-and-night occurrences.  Many villagers fled.  Some headed further into the mountains, trading the terror of imminent death for a daily struggle of hardscrabble privation; others were forced into squalid refugee resettlement areas.  

Those who remained in the village suffered more when the troops came through.  Homes were burned as a matter of course.  People were kicked and beaten.  Men were shot when they ran in fear.  Women were raped.  One morning, a massacre by American soldiers wiped out 21 fellow villagers.  This was the Vietnam War for Pham To, as for so many rural Vietnamese. 

One, Two… Many Vietnams?


At the beginning of the Iraq War, and for years after, reporters, pundits, veterans, politicians, and ordinary Americans asked whether the American debacle in Southeast Asia was being repeated.  Would it be “another Vietnam”?  Would it become a “quagmire”? 

The same held true for Afghanistan.  Years after 9/11, as that war, too, foundered, questions about whether it was “Obama’s Vietnam” appeared ever more frequently.  In fact, by October 2009, a majority of Americans had come to believe it was “turning into another Vietnam.”
In those years, “Vietnam” even proved a surprisingly two-sided analogy -- after, at least, generals began reading and citing revisionist texts about that war.  These claimed, despite all appearances, that the U.S. military had actually won in Vietnam (before the politicians, media, and antiwar movement gave the gains away).  The same winning formula, they insisted, could be used to triumph again.  And so, a failed solution from that failed war, counterinsurgency, or COIN, was trotted out as the military panacea for impending disaster. 

Debated comparisons between the two ongoing wars and the one that somehow never went away, came to litter newspapers, journals, magazines, and the Internet -- until David Petraeus, a top COINdinista general who had written his doctoral dissertation on the “lessons” of the Vietnam War, was called in to settle the matter by putting those lessons to work winning the other two.  

In the end, of course, U.S. troops were booted out of Iraq, while the war in Afghanistan continues to this day as a dismally devolving stalemate, now wracked by “green-on-blue” or “insider” attacks on U.S. forces, while the general himself returned to Washington as CIA director to run covert wars in Pakistan and Yemen before retiring in disgrace following a sex scandal. 

Still, for all the ink about the “Vietnam analogy,” virtually none of the reporters, pundits, historians, generals, politicians, or other members of the chattering classes ever so much as mentioned the Vietnam War as Pham To knew it.  

In that way, they managed to miss the one unfailing parallel between America’s wars in all three places: civilian suffering. 

For all the dissimilarities, botched analogies, and tortured comparisons, there has been one connecting thread in Washington’s foreign wars of the last half century that, in recent years at least, Americans have seldom found of the slightest interest: misery for local nationals.

Civilian suffering is, in fact, the defining characteristic of modern war in general, even if only rarely discussed in the halls of power or the mainstream media.

An Unimaginable Toll


Pham To was lucky.  He and Pham Thang, another victim and a neighbor, told me that, of the 2,000 people living in their village before the war, only 300 survived it.  Bombing, shelling, a massacre, disease, and starvation had come close to wiping out their entire settlement.
  
“So many people were hungry,” Pham Thang said.  “With no food, many died.  Others were sick and with medications unavailable, they died, too.  Then there was the bombing and shelling, which took still more lives.  They all died because of the war.”

Leaving aside those who perished from disease, hunger, or lack of medical care, at least 3.8 million Vietnamese died violent war deaths according to researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Washington. The best estimate we have is that 2 million of them were civilians.  

Using a very conservative extrapolation, this suggests that 5.3 million civilians were wounded during the war, for a total of 7.3 million Vietnamese civilian casualties overall.  

To such figures might be added an estimated 11.7 million Vietnamese forced from their homes and turned into refugees, up to 4.8 million sprayed with toxic herbicides like Agent Orange, an estimated 800,000 to 1.3 million war orphans, and 1 million war widows.

The numbers are staggering, the suffering incalculable, the misery almost incomprehensible to most Americans but not, perhaps, to an Iraqi. 

No one will ever know just how many Iraqis died in the wake of the U.S. invasion of 2003.  

In a country with an estimated population of about 25 million at the time, a much-debated survey -- the results of which were published in the British medical journal The Lancet -- suggested more than 601,000 violent “excess deaths” had occurred by 2006.  

Another survey indicated that more than 1.2 million Iraqi civilians had died because of the war (and the various internal conflicts that flowed from it) as of 2007.  The Associated Press tallied up records of 110,600 deaths by early 2009.  An Iraqi family health survey fixed the number at 151,000 violent deaths by June 2006.  

Official documents made public by Wikileaks counted 109,000 deaths, including 66,081 civilian deaths, between 2004 and 2009.  Iraq Body Count has tallied as many as 121,220 documented cases of violent civilian deaths alone. 

Then there are those 3.2 million Iraqis who were internally displaced or fled the violence to other lands, only to find uncertainty and deprivation in places like Jordan, Iran, and now war-torn Syria.  

By 2011, 9% or more of Iraq’s women, as many as 1 million, were widows (a number that skyrocketed in the years after the U.S. invasion).  

A recent survey found that 800,000 to 1 million Iraqi children had lost one or both parents, a figure that only grows with the continuing violence that the U.S. unleashed but never stamped out. 
Today, the country, which experienced an enormous brain drain of professionals, has a total of 200 social workers and psychiatrists to aid all those, armed and unarmed, who suffered every sort of horror and trauma.  (In just the last seven years, by comparison, the U.S. Veterans Administration has hired 7,000 new mental health professionals to deal with Americans who have been psychologically scarred by war.)

Many Afghans, too, would surely be able to relate to what Pham To and millions of Vietnamese war victims endured.  For more than 30 years, Afghanistan has, with the rarest of exceptions, been at war.  

It all started with the 1979 Soviet invasion [Actually, that is untrue - see comment below] and Washington’s support for some of the most extreme of the Islamic militants who opposed the Russian occupation of the country. 

The latest iteration of war there began with an invasion by U.S. and allied forces in 2001, and has since claimed the lives of many thousands of civilians in roadside and aerial bombings, suicide attacks and helicopter attacks, night raids and outright massacres.  

Untold numbers of Afghans have also died of everything from lack of access to medical care (there are just 2 doctors for every 10,000 Afghans) to exposure, including shocking reports of children freezing to death in refugee camps last winter and again this year.  They were among the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been internally displaced during the war.  Millions more live as refugees outside the country, mostly in Iran and Pakistan.  

Of the women who remain in the country, up to 2 million are widows.  In addition, there are now an estimated 2 million Afghan orphans.  No wonder polling by Gallup this past summer found 96% of Afghans claiming they were either “suffering” or “struggling,” and just 4%  “thriving.”

American Refugees in Mexico?


For most Americans, this type of unrelenting, war-related misery is unfathomable.  Few have ever personally experienced anything like what their tax dollars have wrought in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia in the last half-century.  

And while surprising numbers of Americans do suffer from poverty and deprivation, few know anything about what it’s like to live through a year of war -- let alone 10, as Pham To did -- under the constant threat of air strikes, artillery fire, and violence perpetrated by foreign ground troops. 


Still, as a simple thought experiment, let’s consider for a moment what it might be like in American terms.  

Imagine that the United States had experienced an occupation by a foreign military force.  

Imagine millions or even tens of millions of American civilians dead or wounded as a result of an invasion and resulting civil strife.  

Imagine a country in which your door might be kicked down in the dead of night by heavily-armed, foreign young men, in strange uniforms, helmets and imposing body armor, yelling things in a language you don’t understand.  

Imagine them rifling through your drawers, upending your furniture, holding you at gunpoint, roughing up your husband or son or brother, and marching him off in the middle of the night.  

Imagine, as well, a country in which those foreigners kill American “insurgents” and then routinely strip them naked; in which those occupying troops sometimes urinate on American bodies (and shoot videos of it); or take trophy photos of their “kills”; or mutilate them; or pose with the body parts of dead Americans; or from time to time -- for reasons again beyond your comprehension -- rape or murder your friends and neighbors. 

Imagine, for a moment, violence so extreme that you and literally millions like you have to flee your hometowns for squalid refugee camps or expanding slums ringing the nearest cities.  

Imagine trading your home for a new one without heat or electricity, possibly made of refuse with a corrugated metal roof that roars when it rains. Then imagine living there for months, if not years. 
Imagine things getting so bad that you decide to trek across the Mexican border to live an uncertain life, forever wondering if your new violence- and poverty-wracked host nation will turn you out or if you’ll ever be able to return to your home in the U.S.  

Imagine living with these realities day after day for up to decade.      
After natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy or Katrina, small numbers of Americans briefly experience something like what millions of war victims -- Vietnamese, Iraqis, Afghans, and others -- have often had to endure for significant parts of their lives.  But for those in America’s war zones, there will be no telethons, benefit concerts, or texting fund drives


Pham To and Pham Thang had to bury the bodies of their family members, friends, and neighbors after they were massacred by American troops passing through their village on patrol.  They had to rebuild their homes and their lives after the war with remarkably little help.  

One thing was as certain for them as it has been for war-traumatized Iraqis and Afghans of our moment: no Hollywood luminaries lined up to help raise funds for them or their village.  And they never will.

“We lost so many people and so much else.  And this land was affected by Agent Orange, too.  You’ve come to write about the war, but you could never know the whole story,” Pham Thang told me.  Then he became circumspect.  

“Now, our two governments, our two countries, live in peace and harmony.  And we just want to restore life to what it once was here.  We suffered great losses.  The U.S. government should offer assistance to help increase the local standard of living, provide better healthcare, and build infrastructure like better roads.” 

No doubt -- despite the last decade of U.S. nation-building debacles in its war zones -- many Iraqis and Afghans would express similar sentiments.  Perhaps they will even be saying the same sort of thing to an American reporter decades from now. 

Over these last years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of war victims like Pham Thang, and he’s right: I’ll probably never come close to knowing what life was like for those whose worlds were upended by America’s foreign wars.  And I’m far from alone.  

Most Americans never make it to a war zone, and even U.S. military personnel arrive only for finite tours of duty, while for combat correspondents and aid workers an exit door generally remains open.  Civilians like Pham To, however, are in it for the duration.

In the Vietnam years, there was at least an antiwar movement in this country that included many Vietnam veterans who made genuine efforts to highlight the civilian suffering they knew was going on at almost unimaginable levels.  


In contrast, in the decade-plus since 9/11, with the rarest of exceptions, Americans have remained remarkably detached from their distant wars, thoroughly ignoring what can be known about the suffering that has been caused in their name. 

As I was wrapping up my interview, Pham Thang asked me about the purpose of the last hour and a half of questions I’d asked him.  Through my interpreter, I explained that most Americans knew next to nothing about Vietnamese suffering during the war and that most books written in my country on the war years ignored it.  I wanted, I told him, to offer Americans the chance to hear about the experiences of ordinary Vietnamese for the first time.

“If the American people know about these incidents, if they learn about the wartime suffering of people in Vietnam, do you think they will sympathize?” he asked me. 


Soon enough, I should finally know the answer to his question.


 
Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute.  An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author most recently of Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).  Published on January 15th, it offers a new look at the American war machine in Vietnam and the suffering it caused. His website is NickTurse.com.  You can follow him on Tumblr and on Facebook.

This article was originally posted at TomDispatch.com



Comment from Jay Janson re Korea:

As an archival research historian with Korean family and a founding professor of University conservatory in Seoul, who is aware like most Koreans are aware, as Americans are not, that the US had for forty years treated Korea as territory of Imperial Japan by an arrangement among colonial powers before its Army arrived in 1945. 

US occupation began after the Japanese surrender elsewhere and proceeded to put aside the proto government that unions and farm organizations had already set up and criminally divide their land in two and forcing the election of a murderous dictator in the US zone. 

Syngman Rhee was so hated that he had to flee for his life within a few years after the colonial powers invaded Korea under the UN flag to reinstate his overthrown presidency. Today Syngman Rhee's name is never mentioned apart from noting in schoolbooks that he was the first president of the southern half of what any Korean will tell you was and will always be one Korean nation.

I have Korean family and as a founding professor of a now prestigious Seoul conservatory of music, am close with quite a few intellectuals and many students, students, who by Korean Confucian tradition insist on making themselves closer to me than my own sons. 

I've heard so many hair raising stories of family life under American occupation and under the hated American installed President Rhee, who was brought over from Washington. His having massacred some 200,000 of his own people before the North came South is now well documented. 

Before the partition and before the invasion that reunited the peninsula in five short weeks, the northern zone had been looked to as the more industrially and culturally developed part of Korea. I know many in the art world who still today look to the uncommercialized North for cultural purity. Of course, the scary side of today's carefully overseen freedom in South Korea makes them careful to not be overheard.

That Nick dates his American holocaust as beginning AFTER America invaded a united Korea as was for thousands of years before the US divided it, bombed flat every city and town of any size taking the lives of more than two million Koreans and a half million Chinese is hard to take. I believe anyone would understand that, and wonder why Nick did it.  


Comment from "None" about Afghanistan:

Thank you, Jay Janson. I have read and heard similar reports and stories as you wrote about Korea.  Nick Turse's intent is good but he may not be aware of full stories about Korea and Afghanistan. 

Nick also dates his American holocaust in Afghanistan as beginning AFTER 1979 Soviet invasion. He writes, "It all started with the 1979 Soviet invasion". No, it did not start with the 1979 Soviet invasion. It started long before Soviet Union set foot in Afghanistan. 

It started with USA under Jimmy Carter, instigating chaos in Afghanistan to topple the S-o-c-i-a-l-i-s-t Afghan government which was friendly with USSR, just as USA today is instigating chaos in Syria and elsewhere. 

Osama bin Laden and his fighters were some of the fighters working for USA. 

Furthermore, USSR did not "invade" Afghanistan. Afghan government asked for help because they were no match to USA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, funding, arming, training and supporting fighters and sending them to Afghanistan. USSR entered into Afghanistan citing the 1978 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighborliness that had been signed between USSR and Afghanistan.