War Immemorial Day - No Peace
for Militarized U.S.
by Bill Quigley
www.commondreams.org, May 26,
Memorial Day is not actually a day to
pray for U.S. troops who died in action but rather a day set aside
by Congress to pray for peace. The 1950 Joint Resolution of Congress
which created Memorial Day says: "Requesting the President
to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a
day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace." (64 Stat.158).
Peace today is a nearly impossible challenge
for the United States. The U.S. is far and away the most militarized
country in the world and the most aggressive. Unless the U.S.
dramatically reduces its emphasis on global military action, there
will be many, many more families grieving on future Memorial days.
The U.S. spends over $600 billion annually
on our military, more than the rest of the world combined. China,
our nearest competitor, spends about one-tenth of what we spend.
The U.S. also sells more weapons to other countries than any other
nation in the world.
The U.S. has about 700 military bases
in 130 countries world-wide and another 6000 bases in the US and
our territories, according to Chalmers Johnson in his excellent
book NEMESIS: THE LAST DAYS OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC (2007).
The Department of Defense (DOD) reports
nearly 1.4 million active duty military personnel today. Over
a quarter of a million are in other countries from Iraq and Afghanistan
to Europe, North Africa, South Asia and the rest of the Western
Hemisphere. The DOD also employs more than 700,000 civilian employees.
The US has used its armed forces abroad
over 230 times according to researchers at the Department of the
Navy Historical Center. Their publications list over 60 military
efforts outside the U.S. since World War II.
While the focus of most of the Memorial
Day activities will be on U.S. military dead, no effort is made
to try to identify or remember the military or civilians of other
countries who have died in the same actions. For example, the
U.S. government reports 432 U.S. military dead in Afghanistan
and surrounding areas, but has refused to disclose civilian casualties.
"We don't do body counts," General Tommy Franks said.
Most people know of the deaths in World
War I - 116,000 U.S. soldiers killed. But how many in the U.S.
know that over 8 million soldiers from other countries and perhaps
another 8 million civilians also died during World War II?
By World War II, about 408,000 U.S. soldiers
were killed. World-wide, at least another 20 million soldiers
and civilians died.
The U.S. is not only the largest and most
expensive military on the planet but it is also the most active.
Since World War II, the U.S. has used U.S. military force in the
1947-1949 Greece. Over 500 U.S. armed
forces military advisers were sent into Greece to administer hundreds
of millions of dollars in their civil war.
1947-1949 Turkey. Over 400 U.S. armed
forces military advisers sent into Turkey,
1950-1953 Korea. In the Korean War and
other global conflicts 54,246 U.S. service members died.
1957-1975 Vietnam. Over 58,219 U.S. killed.
1958-1984 Lebanon. Sixth Fleet amphibious
Marines and U.S. Army troops landed in Beirut during their civil
war. Over 3000 U.S. military participated. 268 U.S. military killed
1959 Haiti. U.S. troops, Marines and Navy,
land in Haiti and joined in support of military dictator Francois
"Papa Doc" Duvalier against rebels.
1962 Cuba. Naval and Marine forces blockade
1964 Panama. U.S. troops stationed there
since 1903. U.S. troops used gunfire and tear gas to clear US
1965-1966 Dominican Republic. U.S. troops
land in Dominican Republic during their civil war - eventually
23,000 were stationed in their country.
1969-1975 Cambodia. U.S. and South Vietnam
jets dropped more than 539,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia - three
times the number dropped on Japan during WWII.
1964-1973 Laos. U.S. flew 580,000 bombing
runs over country - more than 2 million tons of bombs dropped
- double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany. US dropped more than
80 million cluster bombs on Laos - 10 to 30% did not explode leaving
8 to 24 million scattered across the country. Since the war stopped,
two or three Laotians are killed every month by leftover bombs
- over 5700 killed since bombing stopped.
1980 Iran. Operation Desert One, 8 U.S.
troops die in rescue effort.
1981 Libya. U.S. planes aboard the Nimitz
shot down 2 Libyan jets over Gulf of Sidra.
1983 Grenada. U.S. Army and Marines invade,
19 U.S. killed.
1983 Lebanon. Over 1200 Marines deployed
into country during their civil war. 241 U.S. service members
killed in bombing.
1983-1991 El Salvador. Over 150 US soldiers
participate in their civil war as military advisers.
1983 Honduras. Over 1000 troops and National
Guard members deployed into Honduras to help the contra fight
1986 Libya. U.S. Naval air strikes hit
hundreds of targets - airfields, barracks, and defense networks.
1986 Bolivia. U.S. Army troops assist
in anti-drug raids on cocaine growers.
1987 Iran. Operation Nimble Archer. U.S.
warships shelled two Iranian oil platforms during Iran-Iraq war.
1988 Iran. US naval warship Vincennes
in Persian Gulf shoots down Iranian passenger airliner, Airbus
A300, killing all 290 people on board. US said it thought it was
Iranian military jet.
1989 Libya. U.S. Naval jets shoot down
2 Libyan jets over Mediterranean
1989-1990 Panama. U.S. Army, Air Force,
and Navy forces invade Panama to arrest President Manuel Noriega
on drug charges. U.N. puts civilian death toll at 500.
1989 Philippines. U.S. jets provide air
cover to Philippine troops during their civil war.
1991 Gulf War. Over 500,000 U.S. military
involved. 700 plus U.S. died.
1992-93 Somalia. Operation Provide Relief,
Operation Restore Hope, and Operation Continue Hope. Over 1300
U.S. Marines and Army Special Forces landed in 1992. A force of
over 10,000 US was ultimately involved. Over 40 U.S. soldiers
1992-96 Yugoslavia. U.S. Navy joins in
naval blockade of Yugoslavia in Adriatic waters.
1993 Bosnia. Operation Deny Flight. U.S.
jets patrol no-fly zone, naval ships launch cruise missiles, attack
1994 Haiti. Operation Uphold Democracy.
U.S. led force of 20,000 troops invade to restore president.
1995 Saudi Arabia. U.S. soldier killed
in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia outside US training facility.
1996 Saudi Arabia. Nineteen U.S. service
personnel die in blast at Saudi Air Base.
1998 Sudan. Operation Infinite Reach.
U.S. cruise missiles fired at pharmaceutical plant thought to
be terrorist center.
1998 Afghanistan. Operation Infinite Reach.
U.S. fires 75 cruise missiles on four training camps.
1998 Iraq. Operation Desert Fox. U.S.
Naval bombing Iraq from striker jets and cruise missiles after
weapons inspectors report Iraqi obstructions.
1999 Yugoslavia. U.S. participates in
months of air bombing and cruise missile strikes in Kosovo war.
2000 Yemen. 17 U.S. sailors killed aboard
US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Cole docked in Aden, Yemen.
2001 Macedonia. U.S. military lands troops
during their civil war.
2001 to present Afghanistan. Operation
Enduring Freedom (OEF) includes Pakistan and Uzbekistan with Afghanistan.
432 U.S. killed in those countries. Another 64 killed in other
locations of OEF - Guantanamo Bay, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan,
Turkey and Yemen. US military does not count deaths of non- US
civilians, but estimates of over 8000 Afghan troops killed, over
3500 Afghan civilians killed.
2002 Yemen. U.S. predator drone missile
attack on Al Qaeda.
2002 Philippines. U.S. sends over 1800
troops and Special Forces in mission with local military.
2003-2004 Colombia. U.S. sends in 800
military to back up Columbian military troops in their civil war.
2003 to present Iraq. Operation Iraqi
Freedom. 4082 U.S. military killed. British medical journal Lancet
estimates over 90,000 civilian deaths. Iraq Body Count estimates
over 84,000 civilians killed.
2005 Haiti. U.S. troops land in Haiti
after elected president forced to leave.
2005 Pakistan. U.S. air strikes inside
Pakistan against suspected Al Qaeda, killing mostly civilians.
2007 Somalia. U.S. Air Force gunship attacked
suspected Al Qaeda members, U.S. Navy joins in blockade against
The U.S. has the most powerful and expensive
military force in the world. The U.S. is the biggest arms merchant.
And the U.S. has been the most aggressive in world-wide interventions.
If Memorial Day in the U.S. is supposed to be about praying for
peace, the U.S. has a lot of praying (and changing) to do.
Bill is a human rights lawyer and law
professor at Loyola University New Orleans. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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