How Much of Globe’s Humanitarian Crisis is Fault of US?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned Saturday that the globe is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II.

2016 set post-war records in misery.

* More than 76 mn persons from 31 countries needed assistance.

* More than 51 mn persons were displaced (i.e. kicked out of their homes and made homeless). That is the highest number since WW II.

*There were more than 400 natural disasters in the most recent year for which there is a full count (2014)

* In these 400 disasters, 17,000 people died

* The disasters caused $82 bn in damages.

That’s in general. There were 6 “Level 3” emergencies in particular countries. Level 3 is the most severe category the UN has, implying large-scale humanitarian crises.

In 2016 the Level 3 emergencies were: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Philippines, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

What strikes me is how up to its neck the United States is in creating these crises.

Iraq’s death spiral was kicked off when George W. Bush invaded and occupied it under false pretences. From 2003 to the present, Iraq has never had a chance to get back to normal. The US invasion led to 4 million people being displaced. Likely hundreds of thousands died.

Then the US is up to its neck in the Yemen War, wherein Washington supports the mad Saudi-led bombing raids on backward little Yemen. It helps the jet fighters refuel and the Pentagon even helps choose targets for the forces of the coalition, which is mostly led by Saudi Arabia.

The US has prolonged the Syrian Civil War by strongly backing, via the Saudis and Turkey, one side– the fundamentalist rebels. Half of the 22 million Syrians are displaced.

The US pushed for the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, but then appears, typically, to have done nothing about nation-building. Tribal feuds that have riven the new country. In the old days, the Khartoum regime could at least intervene to broker a deal but now it is irrelevant and the US hasn’t substituted.

As for the Philippines, its crisis is because of unusually powerful typhoons, which are caused by the Pacific Ocean becoming warmer. The US, by putting billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, has created the possibility of climate change on steroids.

So at the very time when the Trump administration wants to turn its back on the world’s migrants, the globe’s worst crises have accelerated.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “UN warning about “largest humanitarian crisis” since its creation”

17 Responses

  1. It isn’t just the U.S.A.’s fault, almost all western countries helped. We need only look at the position countries take in these regions when their corporations want to remain “friendly” with nasty governments so they can continue to make money.
    other governments continue to do business with the waring factions and don’t do much of anything to help the people who have live through it.

    Most of the world doesn’t care if 20 million die of starvation. don’t expect the U.S.A. to do much and China, Russia, rich middle eastern countries will be missing in the action of charity or assisting these countries.

    As long as their side is making money most countries don’t care how many children and adults die. This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.

  2. Unintended historical consequences have very long lives. Much if not most of the blame for what is described here rests on former colonial nations. With regards to persons two Brits and one Frenchman: Balfour and Sykes plus Picot.

  3. When any single country becomes so out of control that the rest of the world becomes threatened by that behavior – history has recent record with Germany and Japan and their demise.

    Here is our actual risk with a Trump/Bannon maladministration to all of US!

  4. There is no doubt the US is much to be blamed, for starting unnecessary wars, being involved in the toppling of Arab leaders, arming and training rebels, selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, and conspiring with Israel to interfere, and promote turmoil, in many of these nations – resulting in the deaths of millions of people, millions more injured, and millions made into refugees, and displaced, because they have had to flee the bombs and the violence. Now the US whines about accepting refugees, and cannot face the consequences of their own actions. Shame. If millions of Jewish or Christian people were killed, imagine the outrage we would be hearing today.

  5. I think you have vastly understated the role of the US in humanitarian disasters. You need to also take into consideration the role of the IMF and their prescriptive economic interventions in many of the African nations on behalf of US-based multinationals; the IMF is a creature of the US and intervenes in these economies on behalf of multinationals (mainly US based ones) selling off the assets of these countries and privatising the economies so that profits flow out of the economies to the multinationals and little is left to benefit the population of the country. Look at the African continent where there are humanitarian disasters today and I bet you can find multinationals today and a prescriptive intervention by the IMF in the past. War is a method of bringing uncooperative countries who are economically stable in line with the desire of the US multinationals to control the country and thus the economy to their benefit.

  6. Suggestion ~ in your emails include an ACTION each reader is invited to take to contribute to the solution of the issue presented.

  7. The United States was forged in the War of the Revolution and has been at war almost constantly since. link to en.wikipedia.org

    After the Second World War the U.S. played a prominent role in writing the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles and adding to the Geneva Conventions. Within a short time span the U.S. began violating those documents designed to promote a more civilized world.

    Among the most blatant acts of hypocrisy in modern history was the war on Iraq in which George W. Bush and Tony Blair and their cohorts violated the aforementioned principles not only without consequence but they continue to be regarded with respect by many of their obsequious fellow citizens while their biographies are saturated by the blood of many of the victims referred to in this article..

  8. Some of this smacks of mindless anti-Americanism. The US was responsible for nation building in South Sudan? And let’s not forget that South Sudan got its independence because of the genocidal like policies of the Sudanese government. We were hardly the only country to support its independence. Did we direct the Saudis to attack Yemen? We shouldn’t be helping, but to say we’re responsible is a leap of logic. And the Syrian calamity is mostly the fault of Assad. Other intervenors include Iran, Hezbollah, Russia, the Kurds, the Saudis and god knows who else in addition to the US and Turkey. Syria was a mess and going to be a mess even if we never intervened. I think the US needs to withdraw from the Middle East but the region has had problems for decades and will continue to do so for decades, regardless of our involvement.

    • Did we direct the Saudis to attack Yemen? We shouldn’t be helping, but to say we’re responsible is a leap of logic.

      The driver of a getaway car in a bank robbery is just as guilty and the robber who holds up the teller.

    • Simply stating that US foreign policy for the past 16 years has been a net negative for the people of the world is not anti-American. It just acknowledges that we have done a great harm to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other countries. The most patriotic Americans are those that are capable of acknowledging the harm that our country has inflicted on many other countries in the form of war, aggression, and climate change. It’s actually those whose blinders make them incapable of acknowledging the continued harm we inflict on the world that do our country a profound disservice.

      The biggest counter-example to your analysis is Iraq. Our intervention there was the biggest calamity to befall the people of the middle east. Saddam was a war criminal, but those crimes are not our responsibility. What is our responsibility is the humanitarian disaster that we inflicted upon the Iraqi people (and the rest of the world too).

      ” And the Syrian calamity is mostly the fault of Assad. Other intervenors include Iran, Hezbollah, Russia, the Kurds, the Saudis and god knows who else in addition to the US and Turkey. Syria was a mess and going to be a mess even if we never intervened.”

      This counterfactual can be assessed. Your counterfactual analysis is extremely unsound. Had the US not green-lighted Saudi Arabia and Turkey to provide arms to extremist groups in Syria, the situation would have been far different. All of the extremist groups that got their arms from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and US would not be able to further funnel them to ISIS and Nusrah Front. Consequently, we would not have seen pogroms of ethnic and religious minorities in Syria. What has happened to the Arab Spring is a quick death at the hands of Saudi Arabia. Secular, moderate, and democratically-inclined opposition were quickly destroyed through the actions of extremist groups that got their financial and munitions from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and US. Yes, Russia and Iran have also committed crimes in Syria, but we are not responsible for those crimes. As I’ve said time and time again, our actions in Syria are in contravention of international and humanitarian law.

      What you also fail to write about is Yemen. Is there any support that you can provide of US actions there? The use of cluster-munitions and double-tap bombings of civilian properties are Saudi war crimes that our government supported. These war crimes happen to be defined through international law.

    • The IMF in 1999/2000 was in Yemen with its normal prescriptive economic recipe for the restructering of the Yemen economy (oil producer and oil exporter ….surprise, surprise). Sooooo I don’t think the comments to Dr. Coles column necessarily smack of mindless anti-Americanism.

    • Be fair. Dr. Cole’s words reflect a needed mindfulness, however uncomfortable to entertain. And anti-American? What does that even mean anymore in a world now slogging through the Anthropocene? One thing is becoming very clear: nation states are a mere fiction to Mother Nature.

      You do pose a provocative question re: Saudi Arabia, i.e. “Did we direct the Saudis to attack Yemen?” It is naive to ignore our longstanding and entrenched Pentagonal industrial ties to the Saudi Royals. And in answer to your question, we are, in fact, choosing Yemeni targets. Hello? Dr. Cole chose his blog title aptly.

  9. If you remove USG and Israeli G from calculating causes, there’s not much that remains. Refugees is what you get from their war crimes.

  10. The tragedies above could have been avoided, at least some. The exodus of half of Syria should have been countered by the UN, supported by Russian and the U.S.-led coalition.

    The intelligence pouring out of Iraq before the war told of major nuclear developments on highways, in vehicles! and the “yellow cake,” a major fear.

  11. “The US pushed for the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, but then appears, typically, to have done nothing about nation-building.”

    We were not effective at nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should stop intervening in these countries with the promise that we’ll help rebuild them.

  12. Remind us – why are we backing the Saudi bombing of Yemen, a country now with 4 million acutely malnourished children and 18 million people needing food assistance?
    Are we again in the situation where a movement supported by an enemy must also be an enemy?

    • Remind us – why are we backing the Saudi bombing of Yemen, a country now with 4 million acutely malnourished children and 18 million people needing food assistance?

      Answer: Brown people who are Muslims can be killed by proxy with impunity. This escalation in Yemen is the new super-predator POTUS at work. link to defenseone.com

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