It’s a strange fact of our moment that Trump has claimed to have “plans” (or “a method”) for annihilating millions of innocent people, possibly most of the population of Afghanistan.
By Nick Turse and cross-posted from Asia Times.
In February 4, 2002, a Predator drone circled over Afghanistan’s Paktia province, near the city of Khost. Below was al-Qaeda’s founder Osama bin Laden – or at least someone in the US Central Intelligence Agency thought so – and he was marked for death. As US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld put it later, both awkwardly and passively: “A decision was made to fire the Hellfire missile. It was fired.” That air-to-ground, laser-guided missile – designed to obliterate tanks, bunkers, helicopters, and people – did exactly what it was meant to do.
As it happened, though (and not for the first time in its history either), the CIA got it wrong. It wasn’t Osama bin Laden on the receiving end of that strike, or a member of al-Qaeda, or even of the Taliban. The dead, local witnesses reported, were civilians out collecting scrap metal, ordinary people going about their daily work just as thousands of Americans had been doing at the World Trade Center only months earlier when terror struck from the skies.
In the years since, those Afghan scrap collectors have been joined by more than 157,000 war dead in that embattled land. That’s a heavy toll, but represents just a fraction of the body count from America’s wars since September 11, 2001. According to a study by the Costs of War Project of Brown University’s Watson Institute, as many as 801,000 people, combatants and noncombatants alike, have been killed in those conflicts.
That’s a staggering number, the equivalent of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. But if President Donald Trump is to be believed, the United States has “plans” that could bury that grim count in staggering numbers of dead. The “method of war” he suggested employing could produce more than 20 times that number in a single country – an estimated 20 million or more Afghans, almost all of them civilians…