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How Many Innocent People Will Die for the Illusion of American Safety?

Every year we kill thousands of innocent people. Does that seem reasonable? Does that seem right? Is your supposed safety worth that?

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Now, three decades later, it's possible to see that every step taken from the earliest support for Afghan jihadis in their anti-Soviet war has only made things worse for us, and ever so much worse for the Afghans. Unless somehow we can think our way out of a strategy guaranteed to kill yet more civilians in expanding areas of South Asia, it will only get worse still.

Maybe it's time to suck it up and put less value on the idea of absolute American safety, since in many ways the Bush administration definition of our safety and security, which did not go into retirement with George and Dick, is now in the process of breaking us. Looked at reasonably, even if Dick Cheney and his minions prevented another 9/11 (and there's no evidence he did), in doing so look what he brought down around our ears. What a bad bargain it's been -- and all in the name of our safety, and ours alone.

Ask yourself these questions in the dead of night: Do we really want stories like Awal Khan's to float up out of the villages of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and who knows where else for the next seven years? Or the next 30 for that matter? Does that seem reasonable? Does that seem right? Is your supposed safety worth that?

Tom Engelhardt, editor of Tomdispatch.com, is co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The End of Victory Culture .

 
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