Reprinted from The Guardian
This Saturday marks one full year since the US military began its still-undeclared war against Islamic State that the government officials openly acknowledge will last indefinitely. What do we have to show for it? So far, billions of dollars have been spent, thousands of bombs have been dropped, hundreds of civilians have been killed and Isis is no weaker than it was last August, when the airstrikes began.
But don't take it from me -- that's the conclusion of the US intelligence community itself. As the Associated Press reported a few days ago, the consensus view of the US intelligence agencies is that Isis is just as powerful as it was a year ago, and they can replace fighters faster than they are getting killed.
Like it does for every stagnant and endless war, this inconvenient fact will likely will only lead others to call for more killing, rather than an introspection on why continuing to bomb the same region for decades does not actually work. Perhaps we're not firing missiles at a high enough rate, they'll say, perhaps we need a full-scale ground invasion, or perhaps we need to kill more civilians to really damage the enemy (yes, this is an actual argument war mongers have been making).
Speaking of civilian deaths, they've barely gotten mention in the media over the past 12 months, likely because the US military has, somewhat incredibly, only admitted to two civilians casualties in an entire year of airstrikes spanning multiple countries. A new report by journalists and researchers in the region argues that the real number is probably around 500 civilians. Good luck getting the US military to come close to acknowledging that, though. Despite credible reports about civilian casualties almost immediately after the war started, it took the US nearly six months to admit there were any at all. And it's tougher than ever for members of the media to travel into these war zones, and even when they head over with military officials, they are tightly restricted.