U.S. president Donald Trump ran his presidential campaign on a strict platform of anti-interventionism (with the exception of his campaign pledge to bomb the sh*t out of ISIS’ oil fields). In reality, Trump hasn’t just bombed the sh*t out of ISIS – he has bombed the sh*t out of the entire region, making former President Obama’s warmongering legacy pale in comparison.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko’s estimate, Donald Trump dropped 20,650 bombs in his first six months of office alone — compared to Barack Obama’s 26,171 bombs for all of last year. As commander-in-chief of the U.S. military, Donald Trump relaxed the restrictions in place to inhibit air strikes, giving free reign to military commanders in the field to call in airstrikes with zero oversight. This privilege was also granted to Iraqi commanders, who called in an airstrike that killed well over 200 civilians in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
In Afghanistan, the Obama administration restricted U.S. forces to only carrying out defensive strikes with the sole aim of protecting Afghan forces rather than launching offensive strikes against enemy forces. Whether or not this distinction had any effect on the ground (regardless, during the Obama era NATO forces were documented carrying out brutal raids on innocent families), Donald Trump quietly overturned Obama’s restrictions, a move that led to U.S. forces dropping three times as many bombs and missiles as last year.
In total, American warplanes, including the infamous B-52, dropped more than 3,900 bombs and missiles in Afghanistan this year to the detriment of the Afghan population. Daniel R. Mahany, a program director at the Center for Civilians in Conflict advocacy group, rightfully stated that if “you increase the number of strikes without allocating the time, personnel and resources to preventing, investigating and acknowledging each one, you get more civilian casualties.”
This is true not just in Afghanistan, but throughout the Middle East. Donald Trump’s illegal war in the Syrian city of Raqqa killed over 1,800 civilians, according to the monitoring group Airwars. At the time the offensive to retake Raqqa was launched in June, the U.S. was aware that some 200,000 civilians were trapped in the city. In that first week of operations alone, the U.N. accused the Trump administration of killing 300 civilians in less than seven days’ worth of bombing.
It later emerged that even while this relentless bombing was taking place, the U.S. had granted free passage to around 4,000 ISIS fighters to escape Raqqa under the watchful eye of the coalition. In other words, the Trump administration was knowingly bombing civilians, all the while allowing enemy forces to escape safely. One Syrian resident explained how his neighbors’ bodies lay rotting in Raqqa’s streets with cats eating their bodies. It later emerged that the Trump administration’s policies in Syria were wiping out entire families.
In fact, Airwars opted to put their monitoring of Russian air strikes in Syria on hold under the Trump administration as the U.S. continued to out-kill Russia as the civilian death toll grew at a monumental pace.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the real civilian death toll was somewhere between 9,000 and 11,000 – almost ten times more than what was previously reported. AP’s investigation alleged that coalition forces accounted for over 3,200 of those deaths, which were caused by airstrikes, artillery fire, or mortar rounds.
This has also been the case in Yemen, where the U.S. continues to back the Saudi-led brutal assault on the Arab world’s most impoverished nation, killing well over 100 civilians over the Christmas period alone. One Saudi airstrike this year, in particular, killed a four-year-old girl’s entire family, making her the sole survivor.
Before any die-hard Trump supporters decide to absolve Trump and blame Saudi Arabia or Barack Obama for the crisis in Yemen, one should bear in mind that current and former U.S. officials already warned the U.S. it could be implicated in Saudi Arabia’s vast list of war crimes as a co-belligerent well before Trump took office. With this knowledge, Trump has merely exacerbated America’s liability rather than mitigate it.
According to Micah Zenko, Trump’s desire to overextend the U.S. military goes further than just airstrikes on the designated battlefields:
“Trump has also escalated U.S. military involvement in non-battlefield settings — namely Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. In the last 193 days of the Obama presidency, there were 21 lethal counterterrorism operations across these three countries. Trump has quintupled that number, conducting at least 92 such operations in Yemen, seven in Somalia, and four in Pakistan.” [emphasis added]
This is precisely why Zenko quite rightly described Donald Trump as the “most hawkish president in modern history,” even after the reality TV-star had pretended to be some sort of non-interventionist who said he believed the Middle East would have been more stable had Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein remained in power (even that was a lie).
By all accounts, Donald Trump is a mass murderer. He may not yet have beaten George W. Bush’s 1-2 million dead Iraqi civilians, but give him time – it’s only his first year in office.