And the war deaths we no longer protest (or even think about).

by Andrea Mazzarino, Tom Dispatch

We Americans have been at war now since October 7th, 2001. That was when our military first launched air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan in response to al-Qaeda’s September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. That’s 22 years and counting. The “war on terror” that began then would forever change what it meant to be an Arab-American here at home, while ending the lives of more than 400,000 civilians — and still counting! — in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In the days after those September 11th attacks, the U.S. would enjoy the goodwill and support of countries around the world. Only in March 2003, with our invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, would much of the world begin to regard us as aggressors.

Does that sound like any other armed conflict you’ve heard about recently? What it brings to my mind is, of course, Israel’s response to the October 7th terror assault by the Islamic militant group Hamas on its border areas, which my country and much of the rest of the world roundly condemned.

A military contractor stands in the doorway of a ruined mosque

Many Americans now see the destruction and suffering in Gaza and Jewish settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank as the crises of the day and I agree. It’s hard even to keep up with the death toll in the Palestinian territories, but you can certainly give it a college try. More than 29,000 Gazans have already been killed, more than 12,000 of them reportedly children. The scale of the loss of civilian life has been breathtaking in what are supposed to be targeted missions. For example, in mid-February, in an ostensible attempt to free two Israeli hostages in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where more than one million civilians are now sheltering under the worst conditions imaginable, Israeli troops killed 74 Palestinians. Between December 2023 and January 2024, four strikes there had already killed at least 95 civilians. And on and on it goes. Anyone with concerns about Israel’s response to Hamas’s bloody attacks has ground to stand on.

But if war deaths among people of color in particular are really that much of a concern to Americans, especially on the political left, then there are significant gaps in our attention. Look at what’s happening in the 85 countries where the U.S. is currently engaged in “counterterrorism” efforts of one sort or another, where we fight alongside local troops, train or equip them, and conduct intelligence operations or even air strikes, all of it in an extension of those first responses to 9/11. Ask yourself if you’ve paid attention to that lately or if you were even aware that it was still happening. Do you have any idea, for instance, that our country’s military continues to pursue its war on terror across significant parts of Africa?

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