Read this article to learn about the recent developments in USA related to War!
Suicide Attacks on the US:
Many serious developments have taken place during the recent years with the US and in the conduct of US foreign policy.
An event which has been a major, if not the most important, influence during this period was the terrorist attacks on the US in 2001.
On 11 September 2001, four commercial jet planes were hijacked. Two of these were crashed by the hijackers into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.
The act of crashing with all its horror was seen as it took place on television screens the world over.
The crashes and resulting fire led to the collapse of the towers and destroyed two other buildings in the area. Another place crashed into the building of the military headquarters of the US, the Pentagon, and the fourth plane in a rural area of Pennsylvania.
This was the worst ever terrorist attack with civilians as its target. About 3000 people were killed and over 6000 injured in these attacks. The killed and the injured, most of them civilians, included, besides Americans citizens of various other countries.
The hijackers, none of whom survived, belonged to an Islamic terrorist organisation called al-Qaeda, whose chief leader was Osama bin Laden of Saudi Arabia. The terrorist attacks have come to be referred as 9/11.
War in Afghanistan:
Soon after 9/11, the US declared war on terrorism. George W Bush Jr, who had become the US President in 2000, held Osama bin Laden as the “prime suspect” in the terrorist attacks. He was known to have been in Afghanistan at the time where, with the full support of the Taliban government there, terrorist training camps run by the al- Qaeda have been set up. The al-Qaeda has been formed in 1979 to fight against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, Afghanistan had seen fighting between various groups to dominate Afghanistan.
Many of these groups had earlier been armed to the teeth by the US with sophisticated weapons to wage what was then seen as a “holy war” against the Soviet intervention. Taliban, literal meaning ‘students’ had been trained in what were supposes to be religious schools belonging to a particular theology in Pakistan. In 1996, the Taliban established their rule over most parts of Afghanistan.
The fanatical Taliban government, which was recognised by only three governments in the world—Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates—ushered in a period of oppression and gross violation of human rights in the name of implementing their version of the Sharia law.
On 7 October 2001, the US troops invaded Afghanistan. They were joined by British troops and troops from some other NATO countries. The invasion was given the code name “Operation Enduring Freedom”. The objective of the invasion included the capture of Osama bin Laden and the destruction of the al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The military operations mainly consisted of air strikes against al-Qaeda training camps and Taliban positions.
They were supported on the ground by the forces of the most important anti-Taliban group in Afghanistan called the Northern Alliance. On 13 November 2001, Kabul was captured, the Taliban having fled the previous night. Subsequently, many parts of Afghanistan, mainly cities, were freed from Taliban rule. Later, a government headed by Hamid Karzai was set up.
The government is recognised by most countries and has taken steps to undo the damage done to Afghanistan by six years of Taliban rule and to launch projects for the construction of the country. However, it has not been able to establish its effective control over large parts of the country.
In the meantime, the war in Afghanistan continues. The Taliban and al-Qaeda still remains strong in many parts of the country and form their enclaves in the border areas in Pakistan. The US forces have conducted military operations against them in the enclaves which are under their control in Afghanistan. Pakistan, which has been an ally of the US in the war against terror, has condemned these attacks in Pakistani territory. Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed in the war, May of them during military operations by US-led forces directed against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The war in Afghanistan, except in the beginning when it was launched, has been extremely unpopular throughout the world, including in countries which have sent their troops to fight in the US-led war. It has led to the devastation of the country and starvation deaths.
There have been numerous cases of human rights violation and torture of prisoners in the special jails set up in Afghanistan to question suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Many prisoners were taken to a detention camp in Guantanamo in Cuba—the area has been under US occupation for over a century—and continued to be held there.
Since 2003, when US invaded Iraq, the focus of the US foreign policy and military operations has shifted to Iraq. The war in Afghanistan has gone in for seven years and there are little possibilities of its coming to any end.
War in Iraq:
A reference has been made about the war which the US and some of her allies, notably Britain, had waged against Iraq in 1991. In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and the Security Council of the United Nations immediately authorised the use of force against the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.
The United Nations had imposed comprehensive economic sanctions against Iraq in 1990 and these sanctions continued even after the Iraqi troops evacuated Kuwait. The sanctions were a disaster for the people of Iraq.
For many years, she could not sell her oil or import even the most essential commodities. Even after the UN relaxed the sanctions under what was called Oil-for-Food Programme, the US and Britain made it extremely difficult for Iraq to import food items, medicines and medical equipment’s, and other materials which were essential for Iraq’s agriculture, water supply, education and maintenance of hygienic condition.
According to a UNICEF report, 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five died between the years 1991 and 1998. The estimate of the people, including adults, who died during this period, is over a million. The government of Iraq had no control over a large part of the country’s airspace, while the US and British troops bombed the entire country.
In the meantime, the US leaders began to increasingly talk about the objective of “regime change” in Iraq, that is, to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the President of Iraq. The US, supported by a few other countries again invaded Iraq in March 2003 on the pretext of destroying Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) which Iraq was suspected to be harbouring. The war which is still raging has been the most divesting war since the end of the US war in Vietnam.
The world-wide mass protests against the war, including those in the US, are comparable to the protests against the US war in Vietnam. According to one estimate, from early January 2003 to about mid-April 2003, about 36 million people took part in protest demonstrations against the war the world over.
After the 1991 war, the UN Security Council had passed a resolution which required that all Iraqi programmes for the development of chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range missiles be stopped and all such weapons destroyed. UN weapon inspectors had been sent to Iraq soon after the end of the war in 1991.
The inspection was suspended in 1998 but was resumed in 2002. However, the weapon inspectors found no evidence of WMD. In spite of the reports of UN inspectors about the absence of any WMD, the US government in March 2003 announced that it, along with its allies, would proceed to free Iraq of the WMD, and asked the UN inspectors to leave Baghdad immediately.
The invasion of Iraq began on 20 March 2003. The US, Britain and other countries who constitute what is called “coalition of the willing” did not find any WMD, though the entire country was soon under their occupation.
The war did not last long. It was given the codename “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. The doctrine on which the war operation was based is called “Shock and Awe”. It meant the use of such devastating airstrikes and an enormous number of precision guided weapons so that, in the words of one of the authors of the doctrine, “you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons in Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but in minutes”.
Within a few days of the invasion, on 9 April, Baghdad was occupied. By 15 April, the invasion was stated to be effectively over. Soon after the invasion started, George W. Bush, in his address to the nation, stated that the military operations had begun “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger”. He told the nation: “We will accept no outcome but victory” and “we will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others. And we will prevail’.
One of the objectives of the invasion, besides the elimination of WMD, had been “regime change”. Saddam Hussein, who had gone into hiding, was captured on 13 December 2003 and hanged after conviction by a court in the country which was under foreign occupation.
Many of his associates and leaders of the Baath Party were captured and some of them were executed. The objective of “regime change” was made under the claim of establishing “democracy”, with the US president claiming the spread of democracy in the world as the doctrine of his country’s foreign policy.
Another doctrine was the right of “pre-emptive strike”, the right to invade another country on the ground that the other country poses a threat to the security of the US. Iraq under Saddam Hussein had been totally hostile to Al-Qaeda, the organisation which had been held responsible for the 9/1 1 attack.
The US government, however, fabricated another ground for invading Iraq after that country had been invaded—to fight against Islamic terrorism led by Al-Qaeda. The US president also claimed divine inspiration behind his war. The Washington Post, a leading American daily, reported Bush saving, “God inspired me to hit al-Qaeda, and so I hit it. And I had the inspiration to hit Saddam, and so I hit him”.
The war in Iraq has still not ended. It has devastated the country. According to The Lancet, the reputed medical journal, up till July 2006, over 600,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion. Since then another similar number of Iraqis have been killed.
Apart from the loss of life various other forms of devastation remains unmeasured. Soon after the fall of Baghdad, there was a large-scale plunder of art objects and antiquities from the Baghdad museum. Iraq is one of the most ancient of world civilisations and was a great treasure house of art and antiquities. US forces showed little interest in securing Iraq’s great heritage from pillage and destruction.
They were busy in safeguarding and taking control of the oil fields and pipelines because, it is universally accepted that, the country was invaded and occupied mainly with a view to taking control of Iraq’s rich oil resources. It may be noted that soon after the country was occupied, the UN sanctions against Iraq, which had led to untold misery for the people of Iraq, were lifted and the effective control of Iraq’s oil passed on to the US.
The occupation of Iraq has continued. There is no end to the insurgency against foreign occupation in sight. The foreign occupation and the revival under foreign auspices of political processes have led to violence and near civil wars between different communities and different regions of the country, subverting the existence of Iraq as one country.
The reports of grotesque torture inflicted by the US troops on Iraqi prisoners have shocked the conscience of the people all over the world. The damage done to the US has also been enormous. It is estimated that about 4,200 US soldiers have been killed and thousands injured.
There are reports of serious psychological ailments which soldiers who have returned from Iraq are suffering from. The number of American casualties compared with those suffered by the Iraqis is small. However, the damage that the war has caused to the US economy is very serious. According to Joseph Stiglitz, the eminent American economist who won the Nobel Prize many years ago, the war in Iraq has cost the US three trillion dollars.