As politicians put aside their political diffierences to pose for photo-shoots at the Cenotaph, REVOLUTION remembers that British soldiers are not fighting and dying for ‘Britain’, but rather in the interests of a British elite which profits from their deaths, and doesn’t do body counts.
The annual Remembrance Day circus in Whitehall has been overshadowed this year by ‘poppygate’, where David Cameron tried to make a political point out of whether people wear a poppy or not. The fact is, you don’t need to wear a poppy to be disgusted by the senseless sacrifice of young British service personnel, and the often uncounted cost to the civilian population in the countries where they operate. That warmongers like David Cameron should tell ordinary people how to ‘commemorate’ our soldiers’ sacrifices is an unparalled feat of hypocrisy.
The capitalist media will be full of breakdowns of British military casualties, so here at socialistrevolution.org we bring you the civilian cost of Britain’s military adventures.
2011: Libyan Revolution (NATO Operation Unified Protector)
After the rapid fall of western-backed dicators in Egypt and Tunisia, the imperialists wasted no time in preparing to intervene in the Libyan revolution to ensure that the political and economic investments they had made under Gadaffi would be protected by any new regime. Indeed, the ex-Gadaffi, pro-imperialist National Transitional Council explicitly promised to reward any foreign power who helped them overthrow the dictator, and guaranteed that the favourable agreements made under Gadaffi to allow French and UK oil companies to exploit Libya’s human and oil resources would be safeguarded.
The imperialist charge was led by France and Britain, desperate to maintain their influence in the region (read: ensure their oil companies retained privileged access to Libya’s oil fields). Rushing a resolution through the United Nations, NATO got a mandate to ‘protect Libyan civilians’ by imposing a No-Fly Zone over the country.
Below we print the results of this humanitarian mission in black and white. (Total civilian deaths during the revolution are estimated in the tens of thousands, the figures below are only for those inflicted by NATO airstrikes).
2003-2010: Iraq War
The Iraq War in 2003 was declared unilaterally by the US and UK under the guise of the so-called ‘War on Terror’. Far from being an exercise in creating a safer world, it was the conclusion of US imperialism’s unfinished business with Iraq after the First Gulf War in 1991.
Using the flimsy pretext of finding Saddam Hussain’s (non-existant) weapons of mass destruction, the US and UK toppled his regime, dismantled the army and police force and oversaw a descent into anarchy.
The Iraq War was big business for the world’s arms companies, with the United States alone spending $12 billion a month, including a $20.2 billion a year in air conditioning costs.
All wars are a gold-mine for war-profiteers, but the Iraq War took this to a new level, with unprecedented levels of plunder, theft and unaccounted spending by western military contractors. Particularly shocking was the wholescale looting of Iraqi State resources in the form of construction and building equipment which almost entirely disappeared in the months after the invasion.
US Congressional hearings found that up to 2007, $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces had gone ‘missing’. $10 billion accounted for ‘mismanagement and waste’, while $9 billion of US taxpayers’ money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors was ‘lost and unnaccounted for’. To this must be added $6.6 billion of U.S. taxpayers’ money earmarked for Iraq reconstruction, reported on June 14, 2011 by Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen who called it “the largest theft of funds in national history.”
Of course, at the time of the Iraq War, George W. Bush’s government was dominated by directors and shareholders of US military contractors, the largest being Halliburton who were the recipients of much of this ‘unaccounted’ expenditure, along with a $20 billion payment to supply the U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items.
So while western capitalists who sat on national governments and arms companies robbed their taxpayers in the name of ‘fighting global terrorism’ and stripped Iraq of everything that could be sold off, the US army sat in their fortified “Green Zone”, and watched on as Iraq became a slaughter house.
103,472 – 113,052 killed
2001-present: Afghanisatan (Operation Enduring Freedom)
The war and occupation in Afghanisation marked the debut of the ‘War on Terror’, where US imperialism turned against the Taliban who it had trained and funded in the 1980s and 90s to act as its proxy forces against Soviet forces invading Aghanistan.
After ten years of war, there is no end in sight to the occupation, and the first months of 2011 were the bloodiest since the beginning of the conflict.
There has been no systematic, independant accounting of deaths and injuries in Afghanistan since the start of the war. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) only started accounting for deaths in 2007. The imperialists’ attitude to the slaughter in Afghanisatan is best summed up by US General Tommy Franks who famously said: “You know we don’t do body counts”.
17,611 – 37,208 killed
29,716+ wounded (since 2007)
Serbia (Operation Allied Force 1999)
The NATO-led attack on Serbia in 1999, was the precursor of the imperialists’ strategy for imposing regime change from the skies, most recently observed in Libya.
The attacks on civilians in Serbia included daylight bombings of refugee convoys, a passenger train, hospitals, residential areas, an old people’s home, and market places.
489 – 528 killed
Northern Ireland (1969-present)
While the media devotes thousands of hours of airtime and miles of column inches to our leaders’ crusades across the world, we should not forget the consequences of British imperialism closer to home.
The occcupation of Northern Ireland has seen British forces, and their loyalist paramilitary allies carry out dozens of unprovoked attacks on the civilian population. The most infamous of which was the ‘Bloody Sunday’ massacre which resulted in the deaths of 14 peaceful demonstrators. Bombings by the IRA and various splinter groups waging a campaign against the occupation of their country account for a large number of civilian casualties, both in Ireland and on the Mainland.