U.S. human rights violations: exporting turmoil and leaving other countries behind in chaos
U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced his decision to withdraw all the remaining U.S. troops currently stationed in Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, bringing an end to America’s longest war. During the 20-year war in Afghanistan, at least 2,500 U.S. service members were killed in all. In Afghanistan itself, the war led to the deaths of more than 30,000 civilians, while injuring more than 60,000 civilians and generating around 11 million refugees.
U.S. soldiers stand guard at the site of car bombing in Nangarhar Province, east Afghanistan, Jan. 5, 2015. (Xinhua/Tahir Safi)
The U.S. initially deployed troops in the name of counter-terrorism, but in the end left behind a chaotic mess in the region. Under the pretext of preserving justice, the U.S. launched wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, giving rise to tragic consequences for these countries and horrendous suffering among their local people.
In April 2019, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter stated that the U.S. only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 242-year history, making the country "the most warlike nation in the history of the world."
Interference in other countries' internal affairs has always been a key feature of the foreign policies of the U.S.
During the period of Westward Expansion, which began shortly after the founding of the U.S. republic, white colonists massacred Native American tribes and drove these peoples from their native land and onto barren reservations.
Former President James Monroe would later come to proclaim his Monroe Doctrine, a U.S. foreign policy stance developed in the 19th century, which openly claimed the Americas as its own sphere of influence and forbid outside powers from wantonly engaging in any attempts at takeover and expansion in their backyard.
During the Cold War, a period when Americans engaged in hostilities on the Korean Peninsula and in Vietnam on the Indochina Peninsula, the U.S. waged proxy wars throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America to counter the so-called “communist threat” and suppress hostile governments.
After the end of the Cold War, the U.S. took its interference in other countries’ internal affairs to a new level. Just as Robert O. Keohane, Professor of International Affairs, noted in his book After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy, “since 9/11, we have moved into a new era, characterized by [the] vigorous exercise of America’s unprecedented political and military power.”
The war crimes committed by the U.S. during the course of its history are too numerous to list. According to the American media outlet The Intercept, U.S. Navy SEALs launched a now infamous operation in a village situated in Yemen’s al Bayda province on Jan. 29, 2017. While the SEALs were taking heavy fire on the lower slopes of an adjacent hillside, attack helicopters swept over the hamlet from above and unleashed their full fury. In what seems to have been a moment of blind panic, the gunships bombarded the entire village, striking more than a dozen buildings, razing stone dwellings where families were sleeping, and killing at least six women as well as 10 children under the age of 13, while mowing down more than 120 goats, sheep, and donkeys.
Later the Pentagon explained that the raid was launched in an effort to capture or kill Qassim al Rimi, the leader of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. This case was only one of untold instances of purportedly inadvertent bombings and civilian casualties that took place during the “war on terror” over the past 20 years.
The Nation magazine noted that in recent years, U.S. special forces have been accused of a series of heinous acts, including massacres, murders, prisoner abuse, child rape, sexual abuse, drug trafficking, and theft of government property. However, almost no one has been held accountable for these crimes.
Preoccupied with interfering in other countries’ affairs and exporting its own sociopolitical system abroad, the constant saber-rattling of the U.S. has caused prolonged periods of turmoil in many countries. Its actions have upset the regional balance in the Middle East, turning countries such as Iraq and Syria into hotbeds for terrorism and militant extremism. Due to its direct involvement in the region, the terrorist organization Islamic State received a major boost and prospered in the shadow of retreating American forces, with the violent jihadist group posing a huge risk to world peace and security.
In some countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the U.S. established non-governmental organizations in the name of promoting “democratic reform”, which in fact served as a vehicle for cultivating anti-government forces and carrying out a long-term campaign of political infiltration. These NGOs also recruited radical young students as a driving force to spearhead color revolutions and engage in grassroots politics, which eventually developed into internal divisions and sowed the seeds of prolonged instability in these countries.
The Costs of War Project produced by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University found that since the beginning of the “war on terror” in 2001 at least 800,000 people have died as a direct result of war violence, of which over 335,000 civilians lost their lives. Roughly 21 million Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani, and Syrian people are now living as war refugees and internally displaced persons, eking out an existence in grossly inadequate conditions.
As everyone should know, those who attempt to start fires will eventually get burned themselves. The magazine Foreign Affairs has noted that the U.S. pursuit of hegemony has only brought misery to the country’s own doorstep, having propagated more adversaries and enemies, further corroding the domestic political regime, and leading to further divisions and xenophobia in the country.
Our world is a place full of enormous diversity. However, some U.S. politicians continue to maintain a blind eye to the wider world and cling onto an outmoded mentality based on zero-sum politics, hegemonic power, and a clash of civilizations. They have sent out a clear message that whosoever should follow the U.S. will survive and prosper, while those acting in defiance shall perish. The turmoil the U.S. has exported abroad has enveloped many countries and regions in nothing but chaos and has brought ruin to families, including separating and uprooting countless children from their parents and their homes. This behavior can by no means be regarded as befitting a worldwide guarantor of human rights – not now, not ever.