Donald Trump became President of the United States on Friday, January 20, and by the end of the weekend, the U.S. military under its new commander-in-chief had already dropped bombs on three countries. According to the U.S. Defense Department website, the Trump administration oversaw a total of 31 bombing raids and two drone campaigns in the countries of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen in the days following his inauguration.
In Yemen, targeted drone strikes killed five al-Qaeda operatives in the central Yemen town of Bayda. Six airstrikes around Mosul in Iraq targeted tactical ISIL targets, destroying a mobile bomb factory and other vehicles. A total of 25 bombing raids in Syria also focused on ISIL tactical units, according to the Department of Defense.
“Near Bab, two strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an artillery piece and damaged a tactical vehicle.
“Near Raqqa, 22 strikes engaged 12 ISIL tactical units; destroyed nine fighting positions, two tunnels, two tanks an improvised-bomb factory and an ISIL headquarters; and suppressed three ISIL tactical units.
“Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike destroyed two oil well heads.”
The strikes that took place during Donald Trump’s first weekend as President were conducted under Operation Inherent Resolve, which the Defense Department describes on its website as an operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat it poses to Iraq, Syria, the region and the wider international community. The operation includes a coalition of countries who have all conducted strikes in the region, including the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
According to NPR, Donald Trump’s inauguration speech included rhetoric about the use of military force against terrorism.
“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones. And unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”
The problem with this is that we’ve been attempting to eradicate terrorism from the face of the earth via the use of bombs and other modes of war for a decade and a half to no real avail. George W. Bush was also fond of the “war on terror” rhetoric and all it got us was two quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan which opened the door for the resulting catastrophe that now defines the entire Middle East region. Barack Obama was less bombastic in his rhetoric, but nonetheless continued the precedent set by Bush foreign policy, even exceeding the number of countries Bush bombed. According to the Guardian, Barack Obama dropped bombs on seven countries. George W. Bush dropped bombs on four countries.
Dropping bombs on countries has not worked well for the past 16 years, and it is unclear how continuing to drop bombs is the best solution to our problems in the Middle East and around the world, or that these problems are not merely problems of our own creation in the first place. We have become a country where military aggression is barely even an afterthought among the citizenry. Millions of people have shared videos these past few days of Melania Trump looking sad because Donald Trump might have said something nasty to her, but there has been little mention of his apparent willingness to continue a foreign military policy that has had no clear benefit to the people of our country, and by any reasonable measure has only created problems in the entire Middle East region which have spilled out into neighboring regions, including Europe, where there has been an increase in terrorist attacks in recent years in France, Germany, Turkey, and elsewhere.
If Donald Trump is simply going to perpetuate the same destructive U.S foreign military policy as his predecessors, dropping bombs with no concrete plan to one day stop dropping bombs, it’s fair to say that his rhetoric of change lacks substance. If he can put a temporary freeze on federal hiring, as he did by signing an executive order on Monday, then he can put a freeze on federal bombing while a full examination of our military strategy and its consequences is conducted before we continue to drop bombs and engage in military actions.
Donald Trump, a self-styled political outsider, has a real opportunity to be the catalyst for change that he claimed he was during his campaign. More of the same disastrous foreign military policy in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen is not a very good start.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]