Review: War Made Invisible (Book)

Not a day goes by without social media posts decrying the ‘great reset.’ But shouldn’t the murder of 4.5 million innocent people be considered an actual, intentional reset?

05 September 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Let’s be honest. No one actually wants to read this book, let alone consider that one country may be responsible for 4.5 million deaths since the War on Terror began in 2001.

A report (cited here and below) from Costs of War suggests:

‘War’s destruction of economies, public services, infrastructure, and the environment leads to deaths that occur long after bombs drop and grow in scale over time. This report reviews the latest research to examine the causal pathways that have led to an estimated 3.6-3.8 million indirect deaths in post-9/11 war zones, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. The total death toll in these war zones could be at least 4.5-4.7 million and counting, though the precise mortality figure remains unknown. Some people were killed in the fighting, but far more, especially children, have been killed by the reverberating effects of war, such as the spread of disease.’

Even a casual reading of the ‘statistics’ would suggest that the wars against these countries over the past 20+ years were anything but arbitrary.

Some reports (The Cost of The US Afghanistan War) suggest that the US government spent one trillion dollars in its ‘operation’ in Afghanistan alone before leaving behind billions in property (Photos: What did the US leave behind at the Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan?).

Some other reports suggest that the US government still has active troops in Iraq and Syria. And of course, we can now add Ukraine war into the woeful mix.

So there is little debate about the who, where, and why in regard to any of these issues.

The overriding question, as always, is why these details are not reported in the so-called mainstream media.

There is little debate in that regard either. It is simply… understood that it is ‘bad form’ to even hint at criticizing the US. It is anti-American, a term that was coined during the Vietnam War and then passed on from generation to generation.

Which is why you will notice in these pages that the real culprit is the United States Government (USG) and not the people of America.

But what of the 4.5 million deaths? We don’t expect to make any headway on this debate, here or elsewhere because, even today, we see the same template being used over and over again.


So it is little wonder that the plummeting birth rates around the world are becoming one of the most critical barometers of the future of humankind. It is no surprise that depression, suicide, and feelings of malaise have become some of the most important parts of our daily lives.

It is not just that ‘life is out of balance.’ It is even more disconcerting because, although we miraculously survived lockdowns and absurd social media debates for over two years, we did so based on the naive notion that things would one day ‘get back to normal.’

But nothing is normal. One could say that ‘forces’ have consolidated their power and are now instituting ‘programs’ such as wars, fixed cost of living crisis, cuts in real wages and more that will continue for decades.

Are these conspiracy theories? I will gladly accept that suggestion, so long as you, dear reader, admit you have likely never read in any media on earth that upwards of 4.5 innocent people may have been murdered over the past 20+ years.

Isn’t that an even greater ‘reset’ than the one featured in social media?

And if that is the case, you might ask yourself: Who started these viral du jour social media campaigns, all the while completely ignoring the possible murders of 4.5 million innocent people?

Who indeed.

James Porteous | Clipper Media News

How to Ignore 4.5 Million Deaths 

05 September 2023 | Bryce Greene | Fairness & Accuracy in Media

Brown University’s Costs of War project released a study this year estimating that US-led wars since 9/11 have contributed directly and indirectly to 4.5 million deaths in the targeted countries. Those countries—Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia and Syria—have also seen an estimated 40–60 million people displaced from their homes.

This refugee crisis is as destructive as any war, and marks the largest number of refugees since the end of World War II. By all accounts, the US-led Global War on Terror has been a disaster for tens of millions of people.

When the study was released in May, there was only one report (Washington Post, 5/15/23) in all of America’s top newspapers that brought attention to the staggering figure. The Hill (5/16/23) and a few smaller outlets (NY1, 5/17/23; UPI, 5/16/23) published pieces on the topic, but the bulk of corporate media did not deem it worthy of any coverage at all.

No solemn reflections about the war machine, no policy pieces about how we might avoid such devastation in the future, and certainly no op-eds calling for the wars’ architects to stand trial for their crimes.

How does our media environment so easily dismiss carnage of this scale? Norman Solomon’s new book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its War Machine (New Press), offers a deep look at the media system that enables a monstrous war machine to extract such a heavy toll on the world with impunity.

Solomon’s book attempts to show how our institutions came to be so casual about burying the costs of US wars.

He challenges the traditional myth of the American “free press” as a check on power, and instead shows how the media act as “a fourth branch of government.” This book serves as a survey of media malfeasance in recent history, but also as a meditation on the role of our media system in manufacturing consent for a brutal foreign policy for the entire world.

Useful victims

Solomon takes aim at the common, unchallenged assumptions that often shape how media portray conflicts. Persistent tropes, like the constant appeal for America to “lead the world,” and dangerously common euphemisms like “defense spending” contribute to a culture that worships a mythical version of America, while the empire’s true nature remains hidden.

One key aspect of that myth-building is the selective way US media cover civilian victims. Some are covered extensively, eliciting calls for revenge, while others are ignored entirely—depending on who the aggressor is. Solomon recalls a critical moment just a few weeks into the US invasion of Afghanistan—at a time when, as the Washington Post (10/31/01) reported, “more errant US bombs have landed in residential areas, causing damage to such places as a Red Cross warehouse and senior citizens’ center.” Images of these atrocities had sparked “criticism of the American war effort.”

At CNN, chair Walter Isaacson declared in a memo to staff that it “seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan.” When the network did cover the toll on civilians, Isaacson told the Washington Post (10/31/01), “You want to make sure people understand…it’s in the context of a terrorist attack that caused enormous suffering in the United States.”

John Moody, the vice president of Fox News at the time, called the directive “not at all a bad thing,” because “Americans need to remember what started this.” The coverage was designed to reinforce the US government line of a noble cause, to shield viewers from the toll on civilians, and justify them if they were shown.

The media’s expedient treatment of civilian suffering has continued to this day. In the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where civilian casualties supported rather than hindered the message the media wanted to send, the coverage was reversed (, 3/18/22).

“By any consistent standard,” Solomon writes, “the horrors that the US military had brought to so many civilians since the autumn of 2001 were no less terrible for the victims than what Russia was doing in Ukraine.” Despite that, the media coverage of Ukraine was “vastly more immediate, graphic, extensive and outraged about Russia’s slaughter than America’s slaughter.”

During April 2022, the New York Times published 14 front-page stories on civilian casualties from Russia’s military offensive. During a comparable period after the US invasion of Iraq, there was only one front-page story about civilian victims of the US attack (, 6/9/22).


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