Has the ‘global war against terror’ changed the world to make it a safer place? During this decade, US and Nato forces had militarily intervened, in a significant manner, in various parts of the world on 12 occasions.
The most blatant, of course, is the war against Iraq and its military occupation. The US’s ongoing military intervention in Afghanistan has already claimed the lives of 2,702 Nato soldiers.
As of August 30, 2011, according to Associated Press, at least 4,474 US military personnel had died in the Iraq war. Put together, these numbers are more than double of those hapless innocents who perished in the attacks on the twin towers.
A worse crime against humanity is reflected in the death of innocent civilians. Over a million are estimated to have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan alone during this decade.
In other words, over 300 times as many people have been killed in these battlefields than those who perished in the 9/11 attacks. The US state department maintained data that was available in the public domain in 2004 shows that more than 130 times as many people have been killed in these two wars than those whose lives were claimed in all terrorist attacks in the world from 1993 to 2004.
Given the sharp rise in these numbers, post- 2004, the state department statistics have remained ‘classified’.
This reality at ground zero resoundingly testifies, once again, that State terrorism unleashed by US and Nato and terrorism perpetrated by individual fundamentalist organisations only feed on each other.
Apart from Iraq and Afghanistan, tens of thousands of civilians have become casualties in this so-called war against terror. US estimates suggest that over 35,000 Pakistanis have been killed between 2004 and 2010 and over 40,000 grievously injured.
We can only share the agony of our brethren across the border, with the unqualified opposition to all forms of terror.
Has this global war against terror led to a ‘peace dividend’? On the contrary, US military spending has exponentially increased since 2001. It spent an astounding $698 billion on its military in 2010 alone, an 81% increase over the last decade, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
Its overall military spending more than doubled during the last decade. According to Brown University’s estimates, in ‘costs of war’, the US could have spent as much as $ 4.4 trillion in these military interventions.
This does not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the combined costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan surpassed $6 trillion.
Far from a ‘peace dividend’, which expected such resources to be spent on people’s welfare, the entire burden of these high military expenditures, financed by borrowings are being borne by these very people through severe reduction in the quality of life.
On top of this, we now have the global recession which is imposing another round of deprivation on people’s livelihood. The manner in which the crisis is sought to be overcome has resulted in staggering amounts being spent to bail out corporates.
The capitalist State, thus, is converting corporate insolvencies into sovereign insolvencies. The net result is that in order to finance such huge borrowings, severe austerity measures are being imposed across the developed world leading to a further erosion on the quality of life of millions.
Notwithstanding such a balance sheet of developments, the US-led Nato forces have now embarked on their latest military intervention in Libya. By the end of this September, it is estimated that the US would have spent at least $844 million in this war on Libya.
Is all these happening because of a criminal inhuman dispensation of the political leadership or is there a pattern that remains masked behind these developments?
As has been with Iraq and Afghanistan, so is this war on Libya dictated by the interests of the US and the West to control the oil and energy resources of the region. About 95 % of Libya’s territory is covered by desert.
Technology made it possible to discover vast fields of excellent quality light oil, currently providing 1.6 million barrels per day (with the potential of producing much more) and abundant natural gas deposits. Further, its harsh desert lies above an enormous lake of fossil water making it a place of unique natural resources. Therefore, the military occupation of Iraq, founded on by now proven utter falsehoods, is directly related to the quest to control the oil resources.
Afghanistan is absolutely crucial for multi-billion dollar profits that can be generated if the US can secure the safety of pipelines from the Caucasus and Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. Control over Afghanistan is, thus, crucial.
So, whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya today, these military interventions are triggered by the need to generate massive profits. This is all the more necessary for the US in the background of the current global recession.
Thus, far from abating, US-led military interventions may well increase in the coming days.
President Obama, notwithstanding his universally acclaimed announcement to shut down Guantanamo Bay, has chosen to maintain it. The extraordinary rendition and military commissions conducted by US and Nato earlier in Libya are now set to continue.
President Obama may have presided over the execution of Osama. But the world, a decade after 9/11, is neither free from terrorism. Nor has it improved the livelihood of the vast millions of our people.
(Sitaram Yechury is CPI(M) Politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP. The views expressed by the author are personal)