Canada is increasingly implicated in the last 19 years of the U.S. war on terror as an appeaser of US imperialism, bearing part of the responsibility for the tens of millions of refugees created by US wars of aggression in that period.
By NICK LIN
September 11 this year marks the 19th anniversary of the tragic terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania that gave the U.S. imperialists, along with appeasers of U.S. imperialism like Canada, the pretext for their brutal and unending worldwide “war on terror.”
Claiming to be bringing justice to those who died, the U.S. government said that the government of Afghanistan was responsible for providing aid and training to those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, despite never providing any proof of such responsibility. Less than a month after the attacks, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, with the support of NATO countries including Canada. The Chrétien government announced “Operation Apollo” and committed air, sea and land support and 2,000 troops. Working people in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere immediately made it clear that this revenge-seeking was not carried out in their name.
In a study published September 8, titled “Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars,” Professor David Vine and his students at the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, attempt to quantify the catastrophic human costs in terms of those displaced by the past 19 years of the U.S. war on terror.
In their introduction to the paper, the authors point out:
“Since the George W. Bush administration launched a ‘global war on terror’ following Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the U.S. military has waged war continuously for almost two decades. In that time, U.S. forces have fought in wars or participated in other combat operations in at least 24 countries. The destruction inflicted by warfare in these countries has been incalculable for civilians and combatants, for U.S. military personnel and their family members, and for entire societies. Deaths and injuries number in the millions.”
Notwithstanding some mischaracterizations of the U.S. conflicts covered in their study, the authors indicate that this paper “calculates the total number of displaced people in the eight post-9/11 wars in which U.S. forces have been most significantly involved. We focus on wars where the U.S. government bears a clear responsibility for initiating armed combat (the overlapping Afghanistan/Pakistan war and the post-2003 war in Iraq); for escalating armed conflict (U.S. and European intervention in the Libyan uprising against Muammar Gaddafi and Libya’s ongoing civil war and U.S. involvement in Syria); or for being a significant participant in combat through drone strikes, battlefield advising, logistical support, arms sales, and other means (U.S. forces’ involvement in wars in Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines).”
The paper documents “several categories of people displaced by the post-9/11 wars: 1) refugees, 2) asylum seekers pursuing protection as refugees, and 3) internally displaced persons or people (IDPs).”
The study gives the following as its major findings:
“- The U.S. post-9/11 wars have forcibly displaced at least 37 million people in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria. This exceeds those displaced by every war since 1900, except World War II. ”- Millions more have been displaced by other post-9/11 conflicts involving U.S. troops in smaller combat operations, including in: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia.
“- 37 million is a very conservative estimate. The total displaced by the U.S. post-9/11 wars could be closer to 48-59 million. ”- 25.3 million people have returned after being displaced, although return does not erase the trauma of displacement or mean that those displaced have returned to their original homes or to a secure life.
“- Any number is limited in what it can convey about displacement’s damage. The people behind the numbers can be difficult to see, and numbers cannot communicate how it might feel to lose one’s home, belongings, community, and much more. Displacement has caused incalculable harm to individuals, families, towns, cities, regions, and entire countries physically, socially, emotionally, and economically.”
Putting these figures in the broader global context, the authors state that “The United States’ post-9/11 wars have contributed significantly to the dramatic increase in recent years in the number of people displaced by war and violent conflict worldwide: Between 2010 and 2019, the total number of refugees and IDPs globally has nearly doubled from 41 million to 79.5 million.”
It is worthwhile to note that the scope of the study does not include other forms of U.S. aggression during this time, such as sanctions against countries that the U.S. claims support terrorism against it and the resulting destruction of infrastructure and loss of life. The study also does not include countries where the U.S. has backed and fomented coups such as Haiti and Honduras, where the situation for the people has yet to stabilize and many have been forced to flee due to economic or security issues.
Canada is increasingly implicated in the last 19 years of the U.S. war on terror as an appeaser of U.S. imperialism, bearing part of the responsibility for the tens of millions of refugees created by U.S. wars of aggression in that period. Canada’s role is particularly unconscionable in that it provides a human face and high ideals for U.S.-led aggression. It also presents itself as a condescending saviour for the victims of war that it has played a part in creating. All of it is unacceptable, an affront to the memory of those killed on 9/11, and anathema to working people in Canada who reject any Canadian involvement in U.S. wars of aggression and want Canada to be a zone of peace and a country that upholds the peaceful resolution of conflicts worldwide.
1. To read the paper in full, click here.