The Pentagon has published its first ever publication. Airpower SummarySince President Biden assumed office almost one year ago. These monthly reports were published in 2007 to record the number of bombs, missiles and strikes by U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2004. However, after February 2020, President Trump decided to stop publishing them and keep secret the ongoing U.S. bombing.
As shown in the table below over the past 20 years, U.S.-allied air forces have dropped more that 337,000 bombs or missiles on other nations. That’s an average of 46 strikes per day for 20 years. This endless bombardment has not only been deadly and devastating for its victims but is broadly recognized as seriously undermining international peace and security and diminishing America’s standing in the world.
The U.S. government has been remarkable in keeping the American public ignorant about the terrible consequences of long-term wars of mass destruction. This allows them to continue to project the illusion that U.S. militarism is a force for good throughout the world through their domestic political rhetoric.
They are now doubling down on the success in selling the counterfactual narrative to Americans despite the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. This will allow them to rekindle their Cold War with Russia, China, and dramatically increase the risk of nuclear war.
The new Airpower SummaryData shows that the United States has dropped an additional 3,246 bombs or missiles on Afghanistan and Iraq since February 2020 (2,068 under Trump, 1,178 under Biden).
The good news about this is that U.S. airstrikes on these three countries have significantly decreased since the 12,000+ bombs and missiles dropped on them in 2019. In fact, since the withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces from Afghanistan in August, the U.S. military has officially conducted no air strikes there, and only dropped 13 bombs or missiles on Iraq and Syria — although this does not preclude additional unreported strikes by forces under CIA command or control.
Both Trump and Biden deserve credit for recognising that in Afghanistan, endless bombing and occupation would not bring about victory. The speed at which the Taliban overthrew the U.S.-installed government was a clear sign that 20 years of hostile military intervention, aerial bombardment, support for corrupt governments only served to drive war-weary Afghans back to Taliban rule.
Biden’s callous decision to follow 20 years of colonial occupation and aerial bombardment in Afghanistan with the same kind of brutal economic siege warfare the United States has inflicted on Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela can only further discredit America in the eyes of the world.
This 20-year-long period of senseless destruction has gone without accountability. Even with the publication Airpower Summaries the ugly truth of U.S. bombardment wars and the mass deaths they cause remain largely unknown to the American people.
What percentage of the 3,246 strikes documented in the Airpower Summary from February 2020 were you familiar with before reading this article. You’ve probably heard of the drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians at Kabul in August 2021. What about the 3,245 other bombs and missiles they used? Whom did the terrorists kill or maim? And whose homes were they able to destroy?
The December 2021 New York Times exposéThe five-year-long investigation into the effects of U.S. military airstrikes revealed shocking facts. It not only exposed high civilian casualties and military lies, but also showed how little U.S. media did to investigate these two decades of war.
In America’s industrialized, remote-control air wars, even the U.S. military personnel most directly and intimately involved are shielded from human contact with the people whose lives they are destroying, while for most of the American public, it is as if these hundreds of thousands of deadly explosions never even happened.
The lack of public awareness about U.S. airstrikes does not reflect a lack in concern for the mass destruction our government has committed in our names. The public is keen to know the facts in rare cases, such as the August drone strike that killed dozens of civilians in Kabul, and strongly supports U.S. accountability.
Public ignorance of the consequences of U.S. air attacks and the causes thereof is not due to public apathy. It is the result of deliberate decisions made by the U.S. military and politicians from both parties, as well as corporate media, to keep the public in the dark. This is only the latest example.
The new Airpower Summary has now revealed the figures for 2020-21. Here is the most comprehensive data available on the 20 years of devastating and deadly U.S. air strikes.
Grand Total = 337.055 missiles and bombs.
**Other Countries: Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia.
These figures are based in the U.S. Airpower Summaries for Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s count of drone strikesIn Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen Yemen Data Project’s count of bombs and missiles dropped on Yemen (through September 2021); the New America Foundation’s database of foreign air strikesLibya and other sources
There are many categories of air strikes not included in this table. This means the real number of weapons unleashed will be much higher. These include:
Helicopter strikesMilitary Times published a February 2017 article titled, “The U.S. military’s stats on deadly air strikes are wrong. Thousands have gone unreported.” The largest pool of air strikes not included in Airpower Summaries are strikes by attack helicopters. The Army informed the authors that its helicopters had carried out 456 unreported air attacks in Afghanistan in 2016. The authors explained that helicopter strikes were not reported throughout the post-9/11 wars and that they did not know how many missiles had been fired in those 456 attacks in Afghanistan.
“Counter-insurgency” and “counter-terrorism” operations in other parts of the world: In 2005, the U.S. joined 11 West African nations in a military alliance. It also built a drone station in Niger. However we have not been able find any systematic accounting of U.S. air strikes in that area, in Latin America, or in the Philippines.
The failure of the U.S. government, politicians and corporate media to inform and educate the American public about the systematic mass destruction wreaked by our country’s armed forces has allowed this carnage to continue largely unremarked and unchecked for 20 years.
It has also made us extremely vulnerable to the revival anachronistic, Manichean Cold War narrative which risks even greater catastrophe. In this topsy-turvy, “through the looking glass” narrative, the country that is actually bombing cities to rubbleand waging wars kill millionsPeople present itself as a well-intentioned force for the good of the world. It then paints countries such as China, Russia, and Iran, who have strengthened their defenses largely to deter the U.S. attacking them, and the world as threats to the American people, and to world peace.
The high-level talksThis week’s Geneva talks between the U.S. & Russia offer a crucial opportunity, perhaps the last chance, to stop the current Cold War from spiraling out of control.
To emerge from the stench of militarism, and to avoid an apocalyptic conflict with Russia or China. The U.S. public must question the Cold War narrative that U.S. military leaders and civilian leaders use to justify their ever-increasing investment in nuclear weapons and the U.S. warmachine.