U S Wars (rather Interventions), Casualties and Expenses

Although many of its traditional allies currently stand divided over the issue of launching a military offensive against Syria, the United States is itching to enter into a conflict with this Arab republic.

The fact remains that U S Admin installed Saddam Hussain in Iraq supplied chemical bombs to him and encouraged to attack Iran. Later, in 2003 attacked on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussain. U S forces used chemical and depleted Uranium bombs in Iraq. When Israel used chemical bombs in Gaza, U S Admin defended Israel.
And who doesn’t know that the only two atom bombs ever dropped in the history of world, were dropped by USA in 1945 killing 246,000 men, women and children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Japan).

In 1968 a CIA agent called Miles Copeland wrote a book called ‘The Game of Nations’ that revealed what went on in 1947. Between 1947 and 1949 an odd group of idealists and hard realists in the American government set out to intervene in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite – and allow true democracy to flourish. What resulted was a disaster, and the consequences of that disaster then led, through a weird series of bloody twists and turns, to the rise to power of the Assad family and the widescale repression in Syria today. (After going through this post, please do not forget to click on “what went on in 1947” and read the whole story and see the videos)

Syria is a history-rich nation, where agriculture and cattle breeding had appeared for the first time in the world even 10,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The United States military, which is the world’s second largest after that of China, is currently all geared up to take on 400,000 Syrian troops at a time when the ongoing civil war in this country has made its exports plunge from $12 billion in 2010 to only $4 billion in 2012.

As of 2012, Syria’s oil and tourism industries have also lost $5 billion due to the unrest. But despite having seen or read about the 2,717,991 Americans dead or wounded in all military conflicts since 1775 and without being affected by the fact that 38,159 of its soldiers have gone missing in wars during the last 238 years, the Obama administration is hell-bent upon teaching Syria a lesson for allegedly possessing chemical weapons.

According to the United States Army Centre of Military History, the American foreign interventions and conflicts date back to 1775, even before the country’s inception. During World War I (1914–1918), the US had joined the Allies (Britain, France, Russia, Italy, and Japan), who were at war with the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey). Total American deaths in World War I were 116,516. Besides the huge death toll, some 3,350 US soldiers had gone missing.

Historian Michael Oren’s book- “Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present,” which contains the history of America’s political, military and intellectual involvement in the Middle East from George Washington to George W. Bush, newspaper archives and reports aired on numerous television channels tell us that in 1914, Americans were also involved in the Battle of Veracruz with Mexico.

The two-way ties had aggravated after 9 American sailors were arrested by the Mexicans for entering off-limit areas in an area called Tampico. The sailors were released, but the US naval commander had demanded an apology and a 21- gun salute. The apology was tendered, but not the salute. The then US President Woodrow Wilson had ordered the United States Navy to occupy the port of Veracruz. Some 22 American soldiers were killed and 70 wounded in this war.

The United States had then occupied Haiti in 1915 on orders of President Wilson to safeguard the interests of its private sector. In 1916, an operation was conducted by the US against the Mexican revolutionary forces. The American forces killed 195 people, before withdrawing in January 1917.

Then the planet witnessed the 1918 Allied Intervention in Russian Civil War. The US was among 14 countries that had entered the war on the Allied side. In July 1918, against the advice of the US War Department, President Wilson had sent 5,000 US troops for this battle. The allies withdrew in 1920, after the Russian civil war had overthrown Tsar Nicholas’ monarchy.

During World War II (1939–1945), the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) had attempted to dominate the world. The Allies (US, Britain, France, USSR and others) had fought to stop them. The United States entered the war in 1941, after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour. Germany surrendered in 1945 and Japan followed suit same year, after the US had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Total American death toll during this combat was 405,399, while 30,314 of its soldiers had gone missing.

During the Korean War (1950-1953), the Communist North Korea, supported by China, had invaded non-communist South Korea. UN forces, principally made up of US troops, had then fought to protect South Korea. Total American deaths during this war had stood at 36,568, and the number of missing soldiers had rested at 4,759. Other estimates had put the US deaths at 54,246; besides asserting that actually 8,142 soldiers had gone missing in action.

The 1958 Lebanon crisis had also led to US intervention. The then Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, had threatened to use nuclear weapons in the event of an American intervention, but US President Eisenhower had authorized “Operation Blue Bat” to bolster the pro-Western Lebanese government and block communism.

During the Bay of Pigs (1961) combat, the US had orchestrated the invasion of Cuba but was unsuccessful in overthrowing Fidel Castro’s communist regime. Cuba was a Soviet ally when the US was fighting the historic “Cold War” with the former USSR.

During the Vietnam War (1959 and 1975), the US had sided with South Vietnam in 1961 after the China-backed communist North Vietnam had invaded it in 1955. In 1975, North Vietnam again succeeded in taking control of South Vietnam. Total American deaths in this war had stood at 58,177, while the number of missing soldiers was put at 2,489. Other estimates said that the death toll was actually 58,193, the number of missing soldiers was 1,948 and 153,303 Americans carrying guns were wounded in action.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson had sent marines to quash an uprising in the Dominican Republic, fearing the country would follow in the footsteps of Cuba and turn communist. The “Operation Power Pack” had ended in September 1966.

In April 1980, US President Jimmy Carter had ordered “Operation Eagle Claw,” which was an initiative aimed at ending the Iran hostage crisis and rescue the 52 Americans held captive at the US Embassy in Tehran. The attempt failed and damaged American prestige worldwide.

In April 1986, the US bombed Libya. The “Operation El Dorado Canyon” comprised US air-strikes in response to the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing. There were reportedly 40 Libyan casualties and one US plane shot down, killing two airmen.

In 1983, President Reagan invaded the Caribbean nation of Grenada to overthrow its socialist government, which had close ties with Cuba. The “Operation Urgent Fury” had resulted in a quick US victory. A bloody military coup had resulted in restoration of a constitutional regime.

In 1989, President George Bush Senior invaded Panama and overthrew Dictator Manuel Noriega.

The Gulf War (1990-1991), code-named “Operation Desert Storm,” was a war waged by an UN-authorised coalition force from 34 nations. It was led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq’s bombing, invasion and annexation of Kuwait.

President Bush had also deployed forces in Saudi Arabia, which had reportedly paid around $36 billion of the $60 billion war cost. On February 27, 1991, Saddam ordered a retreat from Kuwait and President Bush declared it liberated.

A total number of 482 coalition soldiers were killed in this war and 458 were wounded. On the other hand, 20,000–35,000 Iraqi troops were killed and 75,000 plus were injured. Over 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians also lost their lives along with 3,664 ordinary Iraqi people. Some 70 odd Israeli civilians had also perished.

From March 1993 until March 1995, a US-led multinational force had attempted to restore order in war-torn Somalia so that food could be delivered within the famine-stricken country.The US had also provided 1,167 troops.

During the 1992 Bosnian civil war, the US had gone on to launch air strikes on Bosnia to prevent “ethnic cleansing,” primarily by Serbs against Bosnians. The US became a part of NATO’s peacekeeping force in the region between 1994 and 1995.

In September 1994, a 20,000-strong US force had landed in Haiti again under the pretext of restoring democracy there.

The 1998-99 Kosovo War, fought by the forces of Yugoslavia, the Kosovo Liberation Army and NATO, had lasted from February 1998 until June 1999.

A US-led NATO force intervened with air strikes after Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbian forces had embarked on the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population. Around 1,000 aircraft and Tomahawk cruise missiles were extensively used. On May 7, 1999, NATO bombs hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese journalists to Beijing’s sheer disgust. The United States and NATO later apologized for the bombing, saying that it occurred because of an outdated map provided by the CIA.

During the 2003 Iraq War, the US and Great Britain had invaded and toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. Troops had remained for long in Iraq (till December 2011) to combat the insurgency, even after Saddam’s defeat and execution. This war had lasted 8 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 4 days, to be more precise. Some 4,805 personnel of coalition forces (including 4,487 American soldiers), 1,554 private US contractors and 16,623 Iraqi security troops had to lose lives. Moreover, 32,226 US soldiers were wounded. Overall, the death toll stood at 24,219 and the tally of the wounded rested at 117,961. The death total of Iraqi combatants and insurgents has been put at 28,821. Death toll of Iraqi civilians in the war is said to be 162,000. According to non-government estimates the total death toll has risen above one million.

The US-led War on Terror had resulted after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The Bush administration had launched “Operation Enduring Freedom” on October 7, 2001, together with UK and other allies after Afghanistan had refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden. Capital Kabul had fallen by mid November 2011. In March 2002, the US, NATO and other non-NATO forces had launched “Operation Anaconda” to completely wipe out the al-Qaeda and Taliban forces. In February 2010, the coalition forces had launched “Operation Moshtarak” in hope that they would destroy the Taliban insurgency for good. As a result of U S and allies war actions over 50,000 men, women and children including infants have died in Afghanistan.

Pakistan had to pay a heavy price for siding with the US and its allies. During 12 years of this War on Terror, nearly 50,000 Pakistanis and security personnel have lost their lives and the country has suffered losses to the tune of billions of dollars.

Research shows that by December 31, 2010, US armed forces were stationed in 150 countries, with some of the largest deployments in Afghanistan (103,700 troops), Germany (42,440), Japan (35,688), South Korea (28,500), Italy (9,660) and United Kingdom (9,015). These numbers, however, change frequently due to the regular recall and deployment of units. Altogether, 77,917 American military personnel are located in Europe, 141 in the former Soviet Union, 47,236 in East Asia and the Pacific, 3,362 in North Africa, the Near East, and South Asia, 1,355 in sub-Saharan Africa and 1,941 in the Western Hemisphere (excluding the US itself). As of December 31, 2009, a total of 1,137,568 personnel were on active duty within the United States and its territories. Of these, 941,629 were stationed at various American bases. There were an additional 37,245 troops in Hawaii and 20,450 in Alaska. Not fewer than 84,461 were at sea, 2,972 in Guam and 179 in Puerto Rico.

In accordance with the National Defence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, the US spends about $554.2 billion annually to fund its military forces, and dishes out another $88.5 billion for its Overseas Contingency Operations. The US has the world’s largest defence budget, by the way. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget website, outside of direct Department of Defense spending, the US spends another $218–$262 billion each year on other defense-related programmes, such as Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, nuclear weapons maintenance and the State Department.

The White House website states: “By service, $225.2 billion was allocated for the Army, $171.7 billion for the Navy and Marine Corps, $160.5 billion for the Air Force and $106.4 billion for defence-wide spending.

Article published in The News International

Five Things Going Right in Pakistan

The challenges that Pakistan faces are all too real. These pages are, in fact, an unending litany of all that is not going right in Pakistan. Indeed, our greatest challenge is to reverse the immense negative trends that glare us in the face. But it is also important to recognise, celebrate and encourage the trends that are progressing in the right direction. Arguably, the key to achieving the former lies – at least, partially – in whether we can progressively invest in the latter.

In this spirit of identifying positive trends that have the potential for large-scale and long-term societal improvement, let me offer five examples of things going right in Pakistan. This is neither a comprehensive offering, nor presented in any particular order. My list emanates from the belief that a failure today to recognise that which is good – even when less than perfect – will condemn us tomorrow to lamenting the unfulfilled potential of the same. And that would be a terrible waste.

A giving people. In the year 2000, a landmark study by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) discovered that twice as much money was contributed annually by private philanthropy in Pakistan as the then total foreign assistance. In 2006, my book ‘Pakistanis in America: Portrait of a Giving Community’ estimated that the giving and volunteerism by the Pakistani diaspora in the US is worth more than a billion US dollars. My own recent experience at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) has reaffirmed and reinforced my faith in Pakistanis as a giving people.

Despite a deep cynicism that pervades our societal persona, acts of generosity and giving are abundant all around us, at all times, in all forms, and at all scales. Our giving may not be particularly well-organised, it may be more directed at individuals than institutions, and you may often hear complaints of how it is used, but the undeniable fact is that we are a giving people. Not just the most affluent amongst us, but all. Importantly, in the absence of a formal social security apparatus, private giving acts as a social safety net for many. Across the country, the sufaid-poshi (middle class façade) of so many is maintained by acts of personal giving without which our social landscape would be even more fractured than it is.

Desire for education. There is a palpable desire and demand for education in Pakistan – especially amongst the lower-middle class and the poor. This was not always so. Until fairly recently a major challenge was convincing the relatively poor to invest in the education of their children. Today, one consistently finds parents investing more than what they can afford in the schooling of their children. Not merely because the cost of education has gone up, but also because of a strong desire to give – even if it has to be ‘buy’ – the best education they can for their children.

It is not a trivial matter that the belief in education as a passport to success is beginning to set roots in society, especially amongst the lower-middle and lower economic classes. Arguably, the growth of private schools and the changing landscape of higher education are driven not only by government policy and governance failures, but also by demand-side impulses.

Of course, the myriad challenges that beset our education system at every level – of which the most vital ones relate to education quality much more than quantity – stand in sharp contrast to this growing desire for education. The tragedy is that this strong desire for education has not yet translated to actual improvement. Indeed, in many instances it has been the reverse. However, it need not always be so. Ultimately, there can be no greater driver of quality in education than households that begin to recognise and demand quality.

Pakistaniat. Pakistanis are incessantly and incurably obsessed with Pakistan. We discuss, debate, deliberate, delineate, dispute and eventually devour all things Pakistan with a passion that is both unusual an endearing. I realised just how important ‘Pakistaniness’ is to Pakistanis in the years I edited the website pakistaniat.com. The intensity, emotion and centrality that we invest in discussions related to Pakistan is beyond the norm; is more pervasive than most want to acknowledge, and cannot be dismissed as simple flag-waving.

The constant struggle to grapple with and put meaning into the idea of ‘Pakistaniness’ is a very real and meaningful struggle, especially (but not only) amongst the young. All too often, this merely motivates deep and often divisive fractures of identity that translate into impassioned argument about whose ‘Pakistaniat’ is right and whose is not. But on more rare but also more rewarding moments, the same epicentre can release an immense positive energy that we suddenly discover amongst ourselves when confronted by a common cause that we can all agree on: an external threat, a natural disaster, a game of cricket. If only we could find ways to create more common cause.

Entrepreneurship. In many developing economies the logic of necessity dictates a constant search for novel solutions to overcome hurdles posed by adversity, scarcity and lack of opportunity. In South Asia we have a long and illustrious history of such ingenuity and a special word for it: ‘jugaar.’ Within the culture of jugaar lies the roots of what may be called Survival Enterprise. Today, battalions of the educated young in Pakistan are transforming this legacy into a new wave of knowledge-based innovation and entrepreneurship.

The energy and excitement that is on display anytime an entrepreneurial competition is held anywhere in Pakistan is not just unmatched, but outright infectious. There is clearly a wave of enterprise and innovation running through our educated youth – especially, but not solely, those armed with the liberating spirit of information technologies. It has begun to show up in the still infant but growing world of the Pakistani internet, in successful web businesses being run out of small-town Pakistan, in the emergence of Pakistani designer brands, in the mushrooming of boutique and chain restaurants. But it is most evident in the choices that our young are making at colleges and universities. Suddenly it has become cool to think about entrepreneurship.

Voice. Belonging to a generation whose greatest sin was having remained silent in times of tribulation, there is probably nothing more endearing to me in Pakistan today than the fact that many of the things that we do identify as our strongest signs of hope are, in fact, manifestations of a society struggling to find voice.

Charges of having turned into a cacophony aside, the rise of the electronic media in Pakistan needs to be credited for having transformed the national discourse – mostly for the good. Also worth celebrating is a new generation of Pakistani music, which has given voice to a renewed social consciousness. The debacle of ‘Eye to Eye’ notwithstanding, the (re-)emergence of music with a mission on contemporary issues – education, inequity, corruption, distortion of history, injustice, Sufism, etc – has allowed the young in Pakistan to engage, enthuse and educate the national discourse in a new and powerful voice.

The manifestation of societal voice is debate and discourse. Debate can sometimes be divisive. Discourse can sometimes be jarring. But no matter how uncomfortable the questions – on the role of democracy, of institutions, of law, of the media itself, and maybe one day also of religion – a society that gives voice to its internal angst is better off than one that does not.

By: Adil Najam
The writer has taught international relations and diplomacy at Boston University and at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and was the vice chancellor of LUMS.