90% of All Deaths In War Are CIVILIANS

And the U.S. Launched 201 Out of the 248 Armed Conflicts Since the End of WWII

The June 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health  notes (free PDF here; hat tip David Swanson):

  • Around 90% of all deaths in war are civilians:

“The proportion of civilian deaths and the methods for classifying deaths as civilian are debated, but civilian war deaths constitute 85% to 90% of casualties caused by war, with about 10 civilians dying for every combatant killed in battle.”

  • Swanson notes: “A top defense of war is that it must be used to prevent something worse, called genocide. Not only does militarism generate genocide rather than preventing it, but the distinction between war and genocide is a very fine one at best.”
  • The U.S. launched 201 out of the 248 armed conflicts since the end of WWII:

“Since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations around the world. The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq ….”

  • U.S. military spending dwarfs all other countries:

“The United States is responsible for 41% of the world’s total military spending. The next largest in spending are China, accounting for 8.2%; Russia, 4.1%; and the United Kingdom and France, both 3.6%. . . . If all military . . . costs are included, annual [US] spending amounts to $1 trillion . . . . According to the DOD fiscal year 2012 base structure report, ‘The DOD manages global property of more than 555,000 facilities at more than 5,000 sites, covering more than 28 million acres.’ The United States maintains 700 to 1000 military bases or sites in more than 100 countries. . . .”

Here it is in visual form:


This may not be an accident ….

The Project On Military Procurement notes:

To support its world-wide empire at the turn of the 19th century, Great Britain adopted the “two power standard,” which called for the Royal Navy to be equal to the combined strength of the next two largest navies in the world. The United States has more than doubled that standard as regards budgets, and yet our politicians and senior defense officials complain such outspending is inadequate.

In other words, America has apparently adopted an “total power standard” … spending more on military than most of the rest of the world combined:

The United States spent more on its military than the next 13 nations combined in 2011.


Not only is war bad for civilians, it is also bad for the economy and makes us poor.  The oligarchs are the only ones who benefit.

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  • Carl_Herman

    Outstanding, GW and David Swanson. I’ll take this and use it along with the documentation that ~30 million have been killed in those post-WW2 wars; more than killed by Nazis.

    Documentation: http://www.examiner.com/article/us-war-murdered-20-30-million-since-ww2-arrest-today-s-war-criminals

    and: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/obama-celebrates-30-million-us-war-kills-since-ww2-past-hitler-to-3-on-all-time-list.html

  • ClubToTheHead

    American Exceptionalism: The belief that no matter how many foreign governments and their elections the US subverts; no matter how many baseless wars devastate no matter how many millions; no matter how many are tortured and imprisoned without cause for no matter how long; no matter how many non-white Americans populate the extreme lower classes and prisons: The Government of America would NEVER do anything so underhanded and deceptive to its own people.

    • Man on the street

      Exceptionalism is an insult to all other nations. The neocons invented this hubris term to excite the idiots and makes them feel superior? We are the overlords, and we can do no wrong. We are here to kill half of your population, and destroy all your buildings; we do that because we care? If you resist, we will call you terrorist.

      I am vacationing in Italy, which the average American think is a backward little place? Its highway, its electronic advances are just as good if not better than the US. A redneck who pounds his chest with pride would tell me, but how many aircraft carriers do they have?

      • Tecumseh1768

        A redneck might pound his chest over an aircraft carrier, but he is too busy working to do much more than that.
        America’s exceptionalism, and it’s attendant destruction, are wholly owned by our elites in NY and DC.

        • BO_stinks

          what has skin color (red neck) to do with anything?

      • ClubToTheHead

        All true.

        My point is that so many Americans believe they will never experience the degradation piled on other nation simply because America does not treat Americans this way and are somehow still privileged and an exception to American brutality used on non-Americans.

        But I think you recognize that.

      • Joey

        The term has always existed throughout American History. At one point America was truly exceptional. It was a democratic republic in a ocean of monarchies. It was considered by many to be exceptional, a shining city on a hill.

        However, the arrogance of empire, the boomers have created a self-entitled and destructive mentality which has transformed this term to mean something different entirely. I.E, America is exceptional and therefore does not have to follow the rules.

        America is the second beast, she will soon be defeated.

      • BO_stinks

        exceptionalism is a fact, the insult to other nations is that half their own people want into our country to flee their oppressive regimes.

  • not authorized

    Good job WB! The world is going to come down on us like an anvil using every legal means available, unless we change our militaristic ways, rapidly. They are fed up with the “war on everything”, just like we are. Turn the military into a force for good, away from evil. The Army Corp of Engineers is a good place to start.. like say, giving them the entire war budget and tell them: “End Hunger”. Not everything about a Military has to be death.

    I think they would accept that challenge, readily, yeah? Many of them bought into the whole “we aid the world” propaganda, and joined the service because of that.

    • IncontinentiaButtocks

      You’ve been watching too many Army commercials

    • Tecumseh1768

      Giving any govt agency the entire defense budget and telling them to “End Hunger” would likely lead to a famine not seen since Mao’s great lead forward. No thanks.

  • Drdetroitdanchap

    When the idiots whine that their schools/infrastructure are collapsing:
    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
    “Trade with all, alliances with none” – Thomas Jefferson
    before the existence of private central banking, there was no such thing as a world war.

  • garyamusic .

    And why did we invade those countries again……………….oh yea, I remember now, to stop that evil communism and fight terrorism. Both of which we promote by sending boats loads of cash to China and weapons to terrorists. What a fargging joke we have become………………………

  • digz

    If the libs and cons want to legitimately end the welfare state in this country then we must end the war fare state. No one in this country will ever go hungry again, EVER! Unless of course the gov finds a new way/excuse to rob us of those trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars.

  • Nick Nadhob
  • Nick Nadhob
  • “The oligarchs are the only ones who benefit.”

    Common mistake. The proper term is plutocrats, not oligarchs. (“Aristotle pioneered the use of the term [oligarchy] as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy.“. –Wikipedia, “Oligarchy”)

    • MacCoon

      could you split those hairs a little more?

  • MegaLiberty74

    I completely support bringing home the troops, closing most bases and ending all aggressive wars. I even support sending Europe, S. Korea, and Japan a large bill totaling $5 trillion for keeping them safe for the last 30 to 50 years.

    However, this argument that America spends more on military than X number of countries combined is a fallacy. Why? Because you cannot compare country budgets in dollar terms. You are comparing apples to oranges. Rather, one must compare the percentage of GDP spent on military spending. When you do such, you will find countries like Russia, China and a few others are right behind us.

    • Man on the street

      Actually the our military is called THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT? That term is simply a lie! To have a defense is to have a soldier sitting by the fence (border) to prevent invaders. If you apply such classical understanding of what our military function should be, you will realize that again we live in a lies. Our military does not control our borders, and is used exclusively in offense not defense. So forget the GDP crap. We are wasting our money and young soldiers on wars to please Israel, and Saudi Arabia. These two countries control who gets elected in our country, the big banana republic.

      • Tecumseh1768

        If there’s one thing the Feds don’t do, it’s “have a soldier sitting by the fence (border) to prevent invaders”

    • Steele

      Keeping them safe from what? Those countries should send America a $5 trillion bill for using the CIA subvert their governments and ensure that no one gets into power that doesn’t favour American bases on their soil and the enormous amounts of taxpayer money that funds them. Sadly, they are all still too stupid to figure it out.

    • pacman

      Thanks mega. At least one person with the ability to look at sweeping claims with a critical eye.

  • Man on the street

    During the sixties, our communist media, and college professors pounded the message of anti-war to our population as we were fighting the communist Vietnamese?

    Recently most of our wars were directed to please Israel, and hence the concept of anti-war has vanished from the popular culture.

    So, obviously our population is in need of the opinion makers to formulate an opinion? That is exactly what robots are! You need to be programmed by the overlord cultural engineer to form only opinions that they approve of. The land of the free is only a myth.

  • decembre

    War is A Racket….now we all know that but it doesn’t stop youngsters to enroll like sheeps….You have to be mentally disturbed to choose the military as a career.

    • Tecumseh1768

      Plenty of cannon fodder is an ancillary benefit to DCs war on the middle class.

    • dante ferno

      yeah I think they are insane too BUT in their defence I spoke to a guy who joined the military and they DO NOT SEE THEMSELVES BEING SENT TO THE FRONT LINES – very naive

      • decembre

        Naive is right, I would add some stupidity to their account!

        It takes too long for the young nowadays to face the real world. Some of them never travel out of the US and stay in school until their late 20’s! They live in a fairy tale world, some completely tied by stupid religous beliefs. Now that’s for some americans. But most of the military forces are youngsters from poor family, out of work, ready to do anything for a pay. I found out the military likes troubled kids, gangsters in their ranks.

        Americans and thei youngs are told lies by the US government. The majority cannot see it, cannot believe it. They believe that they are of a superior kind of human, that there are no country like their country, that their Cause is the right one…

        When I think it took me almost 60 years to accept that the human world is completely crooked and nothing will change it….ever, i can understand their naive mind.

        So there is no need to fight or die for someone else or a stupid idea like ”democracy”, wich never even existed, no need to get sick from working to much, no need to do nothing more then what I like, what makes me happy, liberate the slave inside before I die. I didn’t even know it was a goal in life! Have a happy day.

  • slobotnavich

    The simple fact is that it is politically impossible in our country to risk the slightest possibility of a few casualties to acts of random terrorism. Though all major threats to our national survival are now gone with the collapse of the USSR and the threat of an aggressive China, we’ve become such a nation of sniveling, mewling wimps that the “threat” of terrorism (a few inconsequential acts of random violence) that no national level pol dares suggest that we simply to the rational thing about terrorism – live with it!
    A nation of 330 million people worrying neurotically about a few random acts of terrorism is highly irrational. We’ve turned our whole country and way of life upside down over the loss of 3,000 people in the World Trade Center event, a loss exceeded fifteen-fold every year in vehicle accidents. By this reasoning we should ban the use of privately owned vehicles, or at least reduce speed limits nationally to 5 mph in urban areas and 15 mph on Interstates. The terrorists of the world must be howling with contemptuous laughter at how this once great land of the free, home of the brave has been reduced to a nation of craven neurotics, willingly surrendering our freedoms for the slightest perceived enhancement in personal security. Disgusting!

    • kirkpatrick

      Yes, we are about 50,000 times more likely to be killed by our Government than a terrorist, based on Democide 20th Century stats, yet people say we need to give more power to the Government to protect us from terrorists.

      • Crusader70

        Four people in Benghazi, four people in Boston, whoop-dee-doo. Even the 3,000 in NYC was a pinprick, although admittedly a spectacular one visually.

        • MickRobinson

          While there are many things posted here with which I agree, “whoop-dee-doo” as related to violent deaths, any violent deaths is, at best, callous and inappropriate.

    • Hidden Author

      3,000 innocent dead do not merit a change in policy; the torture of 1 guilty-as-hell terrorist does!

      • dante ferno

        i am not understanding what you are trying to say there

  • Barbaracvm

    Author L Fletcher Prouty has written a number of books about the secret government agency -CIA, that has taken over the US government. The CHINA WHITE drug trade is used to pay for their ‘off the book’ actions. Kennedy tried to curtail them but was murdered.

  • Cloudchopper

    The US economy is built on wars, especially after World War II, Eisenhower warned us about this.

    It has gotten to a point that we can no longer function unless we have one or two wars going at a time. Since Iraq is finished (we destroyed most of it and all the women and children we were supposed to free are worse off now) and Afghanistan is coming to half an end after over a decade of war, we are looking for greener pastures to engage in wars. We just found them. In Africa. How brilliant of the war hawks and generals to bring both the Republicans and the Democrats together for war in the name of some abducted children. The peace loving Democrats (don’t make me laugh) are all on board under the umbrella of feminism to save children. Yet, those same Democrats have no problem whatsoever to kill children all over with drones. McCain and Republicans always love wars trying to show the rest of the world that we are number ONE.

    • haris khan

      i think it’s far more than difficult for america to avoid wars for now we all know that a great capitalist evil has grabbed america so firmly by corrupting its politics, institutions and security agencies that even a president of its own eg. JFK was killed in months by giving some statements against these cooperations and ordering fedral reserve to be function as a full national institute. and then what the person who assassinate a president was freed by marking him mentally disabled and then killing his brother during his election campaign. Here i”m to say that it is not only non-americans but also americans that are at stake at the hands of these bankers and big cooperations.

  • Boris


  • GonzoI

    A “two spending standard” is not the same as a “two power standard”. Where another country buys an older, well tested jet fighter, the US sinks a few billion into design, then a few more billion into development, then hundreds of millions per jet fighter the new program designed. Or worse, spends the billions and then finds out that it was a poor design, then never ends up ordering any of the finished product.

    If you adjusted for pay differential and took out the waste – the bad investments, the massive contract work with blank checks, and the massive purchases of equipment that sits in a field rusting – then the US investment would look a lot closer to China’s.

  • Hidden Author

    The problem is, not that America necessarily targets civilians so much as that America’s enemies are often terrorists who will use family homes as bases for their military attacks on American soldiers and civilians and also have additional means of using civilians including women and children as human shields. This will never end until America disengages from the terrorists’ countries. Ironically this offends both the peace and love left who want open borders and the blood and guts right that wants vengeance. The thing is, is that vengeance is unworkable until scaled up to a level that most Americans would deplore as criminal and genocidal. But with a left and a right with rigid views of the world, disengagement is unfortunately not in the cards.

  • Mike

    In true American Government fashion, we sent some 68,000 young men to their deaths in Vietnam killing hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children all in the name of saving them from the spread of Communism. We lost. We retreated. And did Communism spread? Nope, it did the exact opposite and failed under it’s own merits within a decade.
    Who would waste hundreds of billions of dollars, who would send a generation of kids off to fight and die to defeat something that, when left alone, fails on it’s own, for free? Washington DC.
    Who do we contiually give more and more power and control to? Washington DC.

  • FreemanAmerica

    We can whine all we want about the elites and Military industrial complex…

    But the only answer is to take it back…Take the ideas of the founders and this time put in safe guards that keep the banks and elites ( or at least those criminals who think they are elite) from regaining power..

    Decentralize power back to the states,and Give the Federal government the only job it was ever given, by the constitution…Protect the borders, and homeland from an outside attack ( not world police)…Make sure the states don’t pass unconstitutional laws..

    Senators elected by the state houses like they were meant to be..This gives the States power over the FEDS..

    • David Schultz

      People need to vote for opposition candidates in their primaries. Both Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi have had primary challenges and nobody cared. In summer 2018 America will be distracted by something and vote the same congress back in. Too many conservatives don’t mind wasting tax dollars on foreign wars.Too many liberals don’t mind bombing civilians. Too many Americans want it like this.

  • Cas

    Some interesting fact that was buried in the data:

    Military Expenditures include all current and capital expenditure on:
    (a) military and civil personnel, including retirement pensions of military personnel and social services for personnel;
    (b) operations and maintenance;
    (c) procurement;
    (d) military research and development; and
    (e) military aid (in the military expenditure of the donor country)

    Besides the US, (and perhaps China and Russia), who else in the world do you think spends much money on (d) and (e)?
    For that matter, how many countries pay their military personnel very well, or even worry about their “quality of lIfe” for them and their families, and even pay them a retirement pension?

  • Joachim

    Armed conflicts are not the same as military operations, these two figures are completely unrelated. The AJPH paper refers to the book “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated” by Gore Vidal. This book indeed lists military operations (I did not count but quite possible that the number 201 is correct). This list includes peace keeping missions, drug enforcement operations (also on U.S. soil), alone 30 (!) individual operations for Ex-Yugoslavia, even the Berlin Airlift is included what is hardly an armed conflict started by the United States.

    Armed conflicts are not the same as military operations, these two figures are completely unrelated. The AJPH paper refers to the book “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated” by Gore Vidal for this figure. This book indeed lists military operations (I did not count but quite possible that the number 201 is correct). This list includes all kinds of military operations including peace keeping missions, drug enforcement operations (also on U.S. soil), alone 30 (!) individual operations for Ex-Yugoslavia, even the Berlin Airlift is included what is hardly an armed conflict started by the United States.

    • Joachim

      No idea why it appears twice and one paragraph is missing. This is what I wrote:

      Sorry, the claim that the U.S. launched 201 out of 248 armed conflicts since the end of WWII is utter nonsense. Did you bother to look at the paper you are citing here? You correctly quote the AJPH paper: ““Since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations around the world. The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001” but then you come to a completely false conclusion.

      Armed conflicts are not the same as military operations, these two figures are completely unrelated. The AJPH paper refers to the book “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated” by Gore Vidal. This book indeed lists military operations (I did not count but quite possible that the number 201 is correct). This list includes peace keeping missions, drug enforcement operations (also on U.S. soil), alone 30 (!) individual operations for Ex-Yugoslavia, even the Berlin Airlift is included what is hardly an armed conflict started by the United States.

  • BO_stinks

    yet, our neighbors Mexico and Canada are not threatened one iota.

  • Paul

    The US defense spending numbers are misleading since most of the other “world Military powers” have conscripts in the armies. Case in point: approx. 60% of the US defense budget goes to manpower, not weapons. A Chinese conscript gets about $110 a month. You are paying the price for not having a draft. (They also save a lot on R&D by stealing it from us.)

  • biljay

    The USA is addicted to war because it never has been conquered. War funds the careers and promotions of the war bureaucrats. As long as we glorify war the world will be a violent place. As long as we reward men for killing people in another country the world will be a violent place. As long as women like men in uniform the world will be a violent place. ” A man will do anything for a little ribbon on his chest”. Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Timothy Sielbeck

    You are misstating what you have quoted. The quote says, “Since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts… The United States launched 201 overseas military operations…” The quote does not say the U.S. started 201 armed conflicts, it states that there have been 248 armed conflicts and it states the U.S. launched 201 overseas military operations. A military operation is not necessarily the cause of, or resulting from the reaction to, an armed conflict. For instance the U.S. military aid and assistance to Indonesia after the tsunami of 2004 was a millitary operation and was not the result of, nor cause of, an armed conflict.

  • GoianiaHeights

    85-90% is difficult to believe, and I would ask which wars it was based on, but it makes Israel’s much lower rate in Gaza even more incredible (given the use of human shields, and the placing and firing of weapons from civilian areas).

    Adding this to the comparative military strengths, it would make any aggression by the Gazan leaders (20,000 rockets, millions of donor money in attack tunnels) clearly irresponsible. (And their proven, declared aggression therefore as very much responsible.)

    Add also, the sympathy with which Gaza is treated in the West and at the UN, it should be clear that using non-violent means and rational representation would produce exceedingly greater well-being for their people.

  • “And the U.S. Launched 201 Out of the 248 Armed Conflicts Since the End of WWII.”

    Since the end of WWII? The story the U.S. public was sold in regard to WWII was not truthful. Don’t believe me? Watch this:


    We have been lied to for a century. At what point are the citizens of the U.S. going to understand this fact? Our country has exploited some of the poorest countries on Earth.

    Our government has used our military in ways that most American citizens would never authorize. The illusion that the U.S. Government is operated by the people, for the people…is over! They operate for themselves, and themselves alone. WAKE UP!

  • Beowulf73

    If you want credibility list the 201 wars started by the US and list the total 248 wars since WWII.

  • Paul Pomykala

    There are lies, damn lies, statistics, and then there is this. If I can cherry pick what I want to call an Armed Conflict, I could probably prove Lesotho is the greatest threat to peace on the planet.

  • Le Chat qui Pique

    Every US dollar put in my pocket by an US client, is a dollar less for a war somewhere in the world.