On the December 2 CNN program "State of the Union," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared "the U.S. is in greater danger of a terrorist attack now than we were prior to September 11th," adding: "Terror is up worldwide, the threat to the U.S. has grown with the rise of more groups, more fundamentalist, more jihadist, more determined to kill to get to where they want to get. There is huge malevolence out there." The seeds of the Global War on Terror, or GWOT, were planted in 2001 following the United States attack and defeat of Iraq’s military and the U.N. sanctions which included water purification chemicals and limited foodstuffs. Although the estimates of Iraqi deaths vary widely, UNICEF, in a 2000 report to the United Nations, estimated that over 500,000 Iraqi children under five had died from malnutrition and water borne diseases.
To avenge this loss of life, Osama Bin Laden on February 23,1989, issued a religious vow against the United States saying "that to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians and military, is an individual duty on every Muslim who can do so in any country in which it is possible to do it." He and his al-Qaeda then began a holy war on Americans by bombing the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the U.S. Naval Destroyer USS Cole and culminating with the 9/11 tragedy.
President Bush, in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, launched the GWOT by invading Afghanistan, the nation that had harbored al-Qaeda bases, in October of 2001. This operations was followed in 2003 by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, having cast it as a terrorist threat even though no such evidence ever existed.
In Afghanistan the Congressional Research Service estimates that nearly 12,000 civilians were killed from 2007 to 2011 while in Iraq, according to the Iraq Body Count Project, the eight year war cause the deaths of more than 180,000 people. To these numbers must be added those killed by unmanned aerial vehicles, or "drones," in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, sovereign countries where the United States is not engaged in hostilities.
According to the UK based Bureau For Investigative Journalism, between 3,000 to 5,000 people have been killed in those countries, including 500 to 1,200 civilians. In a recent report, Amnesty International condemned these drone killings as war crimes while a similar report by Human Rights Watch classifies them as violations of international law. In his report to the U.N. Security Council, the Special Rapporteur of Human Rights Abuses and War Crimes describes the United States’s actions as "extradicial, summary or arbitrary executions."
In Iran, last February 10, the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution when the United States installed despot was overthrown, hundreds of thousands of people rallied through Tehran and other Iranian cities chanting "Death to America!" In Egypt, anti-Americanism became part of the rallying cry to overthrow the United States supported dictator, Hosni Mubarak, whose army and secret police we had armed and supplied for thirty years. The Global War on Terror has expanded and now includes any anti-American extremist Islamic militant group, such as the Haqqani Network in Pakistan, the al-Shabab in Somalia and the Ansar al-Shariah Islamist Militia in Libya believed to be responsible for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi.
Here, in America, we have been subjected to "blowback" attacks by radicalized American Muslims such as the Boston Marathon bombers and the Fort Hood, Texas murder by Army Major Nidal Hasan, both of which were seen by the perpetrators as their response to America’s war on Islam.
Sen. Feinstein was right: "There is huge malevolence out there."
Andrew Schoerke is a resident of Shaftsbury and member of Veterans for Peace.