In this image taken from video and posted online, a man leads a tearful woman and a child out of the area after airstrikes hit Aleppo, Syria, on April 28. (Validated UGC via AP Video)

Growing numbers of people worldwide are turning their Facebook profile pictures into solid red squares in an attempt to call attention to a new, deadly phase of the Syria war. The latest round of violence was marked by the bombing of a refugee camp near the Syrian border with Turkey, which resulted in 28 deaths. That attack was probably the work of the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad or its ally Russia. Only days earlier, a horrific bombing took place in the rebel-controlled city of Aleppo, targeting Al-Quds Hospital, which was supported by the Nobel Prize-winning organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. That airstrike, which came in the form of multiple barrel bombs (the Assad government’s signature bomb), killed dozens of civilians, including one of the city’s last remaining pediatricians. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the strike, saying, “We are outraged” at what “appears to have been a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime’s appalling record of striking such facilities and first responders.” Kerry’s statement reeked of hypocrisy. In October, U.S. planes struck an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing about as many people as last week’s Syria strike. MSF staff condemned the hospital bombing as “deliberate” and a “war crime,” given that the U.S. and Afghan forces had been made well aware of the hospital’s coordinates ahead of time. Almost at the same time that Kerry was chastising the Assad regime in Syria, the Pentagon’s internal investigation into the Kunduz hospital strike absolved the U.S. military of war crimes, saying only that minor violations had taken place. It is not far-fetched to compare the impunity of the U.S. government to that of the Syrian government. The Syrian government has been bombing and destroying its own country. The U.S. government has been bombing, occupying and destroying other countries—chief among them Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. For the Obama administration to attempt to set itself apart from Assad’s government is laughable. A quick survey of the latest news emerging from Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya is a testament to the disastrous impacts of American wars. In addition to the slap on the wrist that the Pentagon gave itself for bombing the Kunduz hospital, a recent audit of the money that the U.S. spent on Afghan schools was found to be severely lacking in accountability. The office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that three U.S. departments spent $760 million on the impoverished country’s education system but failed to properly track how the money was spent and if its goal was achieved. The U.S.’ investment in schools was lauded as one of its most important reconstruction initiatives against the Taliban, and now it’s not possible to even measure the success of that effort. In fact, there is evidence that the successes of the schools was exaggerated, and that Islamic State is rapidly expanding inside Afghanistan, shutting down dozens of schools. Meanwhile, Afghanistan continues to be marred by constant violence, and the threat of Islamic State is prompting continued U.S. bombing of the country. In Iraq, public anger over a paralyzed and polarized government is so high that hundreds of protesters recently broke through security barriers in the Green Zone that protect the Parliament. Islamic State has overrun large swaths of the nation, prompting U.S. soldiers to return to a country it had briefly withdrawn from. The U.S. is supposed to be playing an advisory role on the ground, but the lines between ground war and advice are increasingly blurry, as a recent combat death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq illustrated. From the skies, the U.S. is back to dropping bombs on Iraq and even borrowed a macabre technique from the Israeli Air Force of “roof knocking” before dropping a bomb. The U.S. has so far admitted to killing 41 Iraqi civilians since 2014, but the actual number may be higher. A recent poll found that young Iraqis overwhelmingly despise the U.S. In Libya, a U.S.-led NATO war has resulted in violence and chaos almost from the moment Col. Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. President Obama has gone as far as admitting that the U.S. made mistakes, saying that his worst foreign policy mistake was “probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.” Rebel groups and even Islamic State are now threatening the fabric of the country.
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