Author Archives: Nicolas J S Davies

The persistent myth of US precision bombing

In my recent report on the death toll in America’s post-9/11 wars, I estimated that about 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion and hostile military occupation of their country. But opinion polls in the United States and the United Kingdom have found that a majority of the public in both countries believe that no more than 10,000 Iraqis have been killed. Continue reading

How many millions have been killed in America’s post-9/11 wars?

Part 3: Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen

In the first two parts of this report, I have estimated that about 2.4 million people have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, while about 1.2 million have been killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. In the third and final part of this report, I will estimate how many people have been killed as a result of U.S. military and CIA interventions in Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. Continue reading

How many people has the U.S. killed in its post-9/11 wars?

Part 2: Afghanistan and Pakistan

In the first part of this series, I estimated that about 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the illegal invasion of their country by the United States and the United Kingdom in 2003. I turn now to Afghan and Pakistani deaths in the ongoing 2001 U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. In part three, I will examine U.S.-caused war deaths in Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. According to Ret. U.S. General Tommy Franks, who led the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan in reaction to 9/11, the U.S. government does not keep track of civilian casualties that it causes. “You know, we don’t do body counts,” Franks once said. Whether that’s true or a count is covered up is difficult to know. Continue reading

How many millions of people have been killed in America’s post-9/11 wars?

Part One: Iraq

How many people have been killed in America’s post-9/11 wars? I have been researching and writing about that question since soon after the U.S. launched these wars, which it has tried to justify as a response to terrorist crimes that killed 2,996 people in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Continue reading

A National Defense Strategy of sowing global chaos

Presenting the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States last Friday at the Johns Hopkins University, Secretary of Defense James Mattis painted a picture of a dangerous world in which U.S. power—and all of the supposed “good” that it does around the world—is on the decline. Continue reading

How America spreads global chaos

As the recent PBS documentary on the American War in Vietnam acknowledged, few American officials ever believed that the United States could win the war, neither those advising Johnson as he committed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, nor those advising Nixon as he escalated a brutal aerial bombardment that had already killed millions of people. Continue reading

Why North Korea wants nuke deterrence

The Western media have been awash in speculation as to why, about a year ago, North Korea’s “crazy” leadership suddenly launched a crash program to vastly improve its ballistic missile capabilities. That question has now been answered. Continue reading

Covering up the massacre of Mosul

Iraqi Kurdish military intelligence reports have estimated that the nine-month-long U.S.-Iraqi siege and bombardment of Mosul to oust Islamic State forces killed 40,000 civilians. This is the most realistic estimate so far of the civilian death toll in Mosul. Continue reading

The Democratic Party’s deadly dead-end

The most encouraging trend in the otherwise bleak landscape of Western politics is the success of the “new kind of politics” unveiled by Bernie Sanders in the U.S., Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K., and parallel movements, parties and candidates in other countries. Continue reading

The ‘post-truth’ mainstream media

For several months, Western officials and media outlets repeated thousands of times that there were between 250,000 and 300,000 civilians trapped under Syrian and Russian bombardment in East Aleppo. Western reports rarely mentioned the Syrian government’s estimate that there were only one-third that number of civilians in the rebel-controlled enclave—nor that its estimates were solidly based on what it had found in Homs and other rebel-held areas after it restored state control. Continue reading

Reflections on the ‘Dispossessed’

After centuries of hard-fought but limited progress, human society seems to be reverting to the law of the jungle. For many of our international neighbors, this means leading lives defined by aerial bombardment, guerrilla warfare, militia rule and displacement as refugees. Continue reading

The non-existent Trump mandate

Within days of the U.S. general election, central elements of the result have already entered into American mythology: the revenge of the “white working class voter”; the unprecedented anti-establishment character of the president-elect; the populist revolution that led to Trump’s victory; and the years in the wilderness now facing Democrats and progressives in America. Continue reading

US impunity erodes world justice

In the past week, Burundi and South Africa have joined Namibia in declaring their intention to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). They are likely to be followed by a parade of other African countries, jeopardizing the future of an international court that has prosecuted 39 officials from eight African countries but has failed to indict a single person who is not African. Continue reading

Delusions of worthy wars

Fifteen years ago, on October 19, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld addressed B-2 bomber crews at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, as they prepared to fly halfway across the world to wreak misdirected vengeance on the people of Afghanistan and begin the longest war in U.S. history. Rumsfeld told the bomber crews, “We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter. And you are the ones who will help achieve that goal.” Continue reading

America’s deceptive model for aggression

Across the political spectrum, U.S. leaders insist that they will only go to war “as a last resort.” They want us to believe that they will try every peaceful means to resolve differences with other countries before resorting to war. But if those “peaceful means” mean only ultimatums that are unacceptable to the target country, then U.S. leaders are simply going through a diplomatic charade before going to war. Continue reading

US war crimes or ‘normalized deviance’

Sociologist Diane Vaughan coined the term “normalization of deviance” as she was investigating the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986. She used it to describe how the social culture at NASA fostered a disregard for rigorous, physics-based safety standards, effectively creating new, lower de facto standards that came to govern actual NASA operations and led to catastrophic and deadly failures. Continue reading

Escalating U.S. air strikes kill hundreds of civilians in Mosul, Iraq

USA Today revealed on April 19th that U.S. air forces have been operating under looser rules of engagement in Iraq and Syria since last fall. The war commander, Lt Gen McFarland, now orders air strikes that are expected to kill up to 10 civilians without prior approval from U.S. Central Command, and U.S. officials acknowledge that air strikes are killing more civilians under the new rules. Continue reading

The U.S. decision to kill more civilians in Iraq and Syria

USA Today reported on April 19th that U.S. air forces bombing Syria and Iraq have been operating under new, looser rules of engagement since last fall. The war commander, Lt Gen McFarland, now orders air strikes that are expected to kill up to 10 civilians without prior approval from U.S. Central Command, and U.S. officials made it clear to USA Today that U.S. air strikes are killing more civilians as a result of the new rules. Continue reading

The science of killing has become an impractical instrument of political domination

Surveying the U.S.’s imminent defeat in Vietnam in his 1972 book, Roots of War, Richard Barnet observed, “ . . . at the very moment the number one nation has perfected the science of killing, it has become an impractical instrument of political domination.” Continue reading

Hillary Clinton & the dogs of war

A poll taken in Iowa before the presidential caucus found that 70% of Democrats surveyed trusted Hillary Clinton on foreign policy more than Bernie Sanders. But her record as Secretary of State was very different from that of her successor, John Kerry, who has overseen groundbreaking diplomatic breakthroughs with Iran, Cuba and, in a more limited context, even with Russia and Syria. Continue reading

Defeating terrorism—theirs and ours

France and Russia’s military responses to mass murders in Paris and Egypt echo the United States’ response to mass murders in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania in 2001. As Oxford University researcher Lydia Wilson told Democracy Now on November 17th, Islamic State (IS) is “seemingly delighted” by this warlike response to its latest atrocities. Continue reading

The record U.S. military budget

To listen to the Republican candidates’ debate last month, one would think that President Obama had slashed the U.S. military budget and left our country defenseless. Nothing could be further off the mark. There are real weaknesses in Obama’s foreign policy, but a lack of funding for weapons and war is not one of them. President Obama has in fact been responsible for the largest U.S. military budget since the Second World War, as is well documented in the U.S. Department of Defense’s annual “Green Book.” Continue reading

America’s endless air wars

U.S. Central Command’s latest figures on its aerial bombardment of Iraq and Syria reveal that this is the heaviest U.S. bombing campaign since President George W. Bush’s “Shock and Awe” campaign against Iraq in 2003. In the campaign’s first ten months from August 2014 to May 2015, the U.S. and its allies conducted 15,245 air strikes, or an average of 51 air strikes per day. Continue reading

Is violence the answer or not?

U.S. leaders should make up their minds

As I write this on the 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the news is filled with its violent repercussions across the Middle East and the world. The latest atrocity is a multiple suicide bombing at 2 mosques in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, that have killed at least 137 people. Two days ago 24 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed in Tunis. Continue reading

Tick tock: The world blunders 2 minutes closer to doomsday

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the hands of the “Doomsday Clock” two minutes closer to midnight. After 3 years at 11:55, the new edition published in January shows the hands of the clock at 11:57, with the dire warning, “It Is 3 Minutes to Midnight.” Continue reading

How propaganda conquers democracy

Do we live in a country where citizens are critically informed on the issues of the day by media that operate independently of the government? Or do our political leaders deliberately plant a false view of events and issues in the mind of the public that complicit media then broadcast and amplify to generate public consent for government policy? Continue reading

Western imperialists have been bombing Iraq for 100 Years

President Obama’s campaign of aerial bombardment against ISIS in Iraq and Syria maintains a British colonial policy designed 100 years ago to avoid the consequences of putting large numbers of boots on the ground in what are now Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Continue reading

We should slice the Pentagon budget—it would save trillions and rescue America

Next week, Congress will begin debate on a roughly $601 billion Pentagon budget for FY2015. Before we let this pass unchallenged, let’s take a few minutes to put it in some historical perspective. Continue reading

Fiery chaos in Odessa: 42 perish after Ukrainians launch Waco-like assault

The group behind the clashes is Right Sector, the strike force of the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew Ukraine's government

The death toll in Odessa stands at 42 people killed, most of them burned to death or suffocated by smoke inhalation in the inferno at the Trade Unions House. There is no dispute over who were the victims and who were their killers. The victims were pro-Russian protesters who had occupied the building. The attackers who set fire to it with petrol bombs were members of Right Sector, the ultra-Nationalist strike force of the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine in February. Continue reading

93 countries that have changed their minds about Obama

And 31 where he's less popular than George W. Bush—including Kenya

During the Bush years, people all over the world were horrified by America’s aggression, human rights abuses and militarism. By 2008, only one in three people around the world approved of the job performance of U.S. leaders. The election of President Obama broadcast his message of hope and change far beyond U.S. shores, and Gallup’s 2009 U.S.-Global Leadership Project (USGLP) recorded a sharp rise in global public approval of U.S. leadership to 49 percent. Continue reading

America’s coup machine: Destroying democracy since 1953

Soon after the 2004 U.S. coup to depose President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, I heard Aristide’s lawyer Ira Kurzban speaking in Miami. He began his talk with a riddle: “Why has there never been a coup in Washington D.C.?” The answer: “Because there is no U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C.” This introduction was greeted with wild applause by a mostly Haitian-American audience who understood it only too well. Continue reading

We need to end the disastrous failure of the ‘war on terror’

Twelve years into America’s “war on terror,” it is time to admit that it has failed catastrophically, unleashing violence, war and instability in an “arc of terror” stretching from West Africa to the Himalayas and beyond. If we examine the pretext for all this chaos, that it could possibly be a legitimate or effective response to terrorism, it quickly becomes clear that it has been the exact opposite, fueling a global explosion of terrorism and a historic breakdown of law and order. Continue reading