America’s war on terror, launched by the Bush Administration following the 9/11 attacks has uprooted tens of millions of people in the nearly nineteen years since it started. Thanks to the circus sideshow of freaks in the White House, the most costly and impactful war since World War II has largely been relegated to the back pages of our dying newspapers. Cable news doesn’t cover it at all.
Still, the war goes on, and a new report published Tuesday by Brown University’s Costs of War Project claims the unending U.S. war on terror has forcibly displaced as many as 59 million people from just eight countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
The PDF report Titled “Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars” estimates that at the very least, 37 million people have “fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001.”
The Conservative estimate means the equivalent of the entire population of Canada has been forced from their homes in under twenty years. “In historical terms, 37 million displaced is more than those displaced by any other war or disaster since at least the start of the 20th century with the sole exception of World War II.” The report says.
In addition to the millions displaced, the report also put the death toll of the war on terror at 801,000. A very conservative number that doesn’t reflect the true consequences of war such as starvation and sectarian violence. The price tag? $6.4 trillion to date and counting.
And yet many countries, the United States especially, are doing extraordinarily little to accommodate the people suffering from America’s actions. The Cost of War article brought up the issue of responsibility. “Displacement also must be central to any possible consideration of the future use of military force by the United States or others. Ultimately, displacing 37 million—and perhaps as many as 59 million—raises the question of who bears responsibility for repairing the damage inflicted on those displaced.”
American Military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Libya and the Philippines have continued unimpeded through three Presidential Administrations and may continue through a fourth should Biden win in November.
The war on terror, much like the war on drugs is no longer headline news. American’s can’t see the consequences of their actions. They don’t see the masses of people locked up on drug charges, nor do they see the millions of people forced from their homes thousands of miles away. So they are allowed to continue.
David Vine, a professor of anthropology at American University and the lead author of the report explained it this way to the New York Times, “It tells us that U.S. involvement in these countries has been horrifically catastrophic, horrifically damaging in ways that I don’t think that most people in the United States, in many ways myself included, have grappled with or reckoned with in even the slightest terms.”
As time moves on, the names in the White House change, but everything stays the same. This week is the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and it remains clear that the United States has learnt nothing in the years that followed it. Choosing instead to continue or ramp up the type of policies that caused the tragedy in the first place.