Ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Centre, America has been imposing a sentence of war on terror on the world. When that war now crosses 18 years, what the victor and those who joined it have gained, is a continuing point of dispute. But what the war that continues even today gave to the world at large, has been answered by a conscience-chilling report from a research centre in the US itself.
The Watson Inststitute of International and Public Affairs of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, released its report last Wednesday, with accounts of the massacre and consequent deaths in the war on terror under different names for nearly two decades. As per the report, US-led attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen and some other countries have so far taken the lives of 8,01,000 humans.
The report tells that out of the lakhs so killed,nearly 42 per cent, or 3,35,745 people, are innocent civilians who have the least to do with with the cause of war. This is a figure of the direct impact of the war on terror, and does not include the indirect victims who died without food, water and basic amenities and due to war-related afflictions. And those who got so killed will make up four times the direct victims, as vouched for by Prof David Vine member of the board of 'Costs of War Project' specially commissioned for the study. When that too is taken into account, these wars should have taken nearly 3.1 million lives so far.
The US alone has spent $ 6.4 trillion to spread this conflagration of disaster. In one year, the figures show, 476 billion dollars has been spent. Although the US withdrew their forces from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, because the war is still ongoing, not only has the defence spending remained the same, the current state is even worse than that of the last 10 years. The study also warns that the situation of US tax-payer having to pay tax money for such defence expenditure of the country, is set to continue through the 22nd century also. And these is the billions that should have been allocated for the citizens' basic rights through poverty eradicatdion, raising educational standards, efffective control of global warming, infrastructure development in transportation and health care. But because of the belligerence, the billions are being diverted resulting in inflicting the world with disasters.
The US is allocating two thirds of its current US defence budget for militarization in different parts of the world. This includes the amount spent on nuclear armament, fuel for military vehicles and aircraft and benefits for war veterans. On the other hand, the human casualties suffered by the US itself over the last 18 years across 19 countries, is less than ten thousand. But even America and its people are having to pay a heavy price for the physical and mental distress of those who come back after losing the war. The war waged by America and its allies that killed lakhs of people in Afghanistan and Iraq also contributed to mental disorders among 70 per cent of the population of both countries.
And then what about the troops of the guilty US? Suicide rate among US troopers returning from the war, is one and a half times that among ordinary Americans. Press reports in early November also tell us that soldiers who commit suicide after returning from war, far outnumber the actual casualty in war. The stastistics of human losses suffered by America, as pointed out by author Mathew Haw, is stunning. A decision was taken recently to increase the width from 1,000 to 2,000 feet of the memorial war in Washington DC on which the names of 58,000 US warriors who gave their lives in Vietnam. This was done to add one or two more lakh names. This shows that the number of soldiers who committed after returning defeated from Vietnam will number that many. And only after the last of those soldiers dies, can that list be made final.
But do these numbers frighten any one? The experience of the world so far is that the US has learned no lesson at all. According to Dalton Trumbo, who portrayed the detective experinences of the Vietnam war in his novel, statistics have even eaten into the humaneness of Americans. US's continuing war convinces us that this is true. But those who released such alarming numbers have decided to give wide currency to their statistics with an aim to rein in this war hysteria and to hold in check the national leaders who run amock in the frenzy of war.
Their hope is that when the US is in its run-up to another election, this may make some impact. But their grouse is that such issues get overshadowed by the majority of people being dazzled by the charisma of leaders in the heat of campaigns. The way out they see to divert the billions of dollars squandered on war, to the channels of people's welfare, is by exerting pressure on the ruling establishment through creating awareness among the people. May their hope save not only them but America and through it, the world too.