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There’s No Strategy Behind Trump’s Wars — Only Brute Force

Trump's wars are now all over the map. The peace movement can fight back

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Photo: Licenced under CC BY 2.0


These are awesome days for headline writers. So many global settings, such an abundance of weapons, such a wealth of choices!

On the morning of April 14, the New York Times led with “A Giant U.S. Bomb Strikes ISIS Caves in Afghanistan,” matched by CNN’s “US Drops ‘Mother of All Bombs.'” The Washington Post chose Syria, where “Errant U.S. Strike Kills 18: Victims in Syria Were Allied Forces.” By mid-afternoon that same day, the Associated Press had shifted to the horn of Africa, where the “U.S. Sends Dozens of Troops to Somalia, 1st Time in Decades.”

And as the Friday rush hour began in Washington, Fox News opted to head to the north Pacific, leading with an aircraft carrier: “The ‘Powerful’ USS Carl Vinson Steams Towards North Korea.”

A few days earlier the most popular choices were various versions of CNN’s “U.S. Launches Military Strike Against Syria.” (That headline described something new only because the strike officially targeted a Syrian government military site, while ignoring the not-so-new reality that the U.S. has been attacking alleged ISIS targets in Syria with drones, bombing raids, and special forces for almost three years.)

A couple of weeks before that, coverage of the Trump wars focused on a devastating U.S. airstrike on Mosul, which a Los Angeles Times headline described as “One of the Deadliest Attacks on Civilians in Recent Memory.” And just before that, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism highlighted “Nine Young Children Killed: The Full Details of Botched U.S. Raid in Yemen.” (No headlines, however, told the full story of the U.S. role in Yemen. That one might’ve read “U.S.-Backed Saudi Bombing Has Killed Thousands, Worsened Famine Facing Millions in Yemen.”)

Around the globe, as these headlines testify, Donald Trump has been cavalierly deploying troops and weapons, claiming such military actions are designed to send political messages.

He’s threatened a preemptive strike against North Korea, considered a major escalation in Yemen, and turned loose his military commanders to bomb wherever, however, and with whatever they choose, weakening even further the already insufficient restrictions Obama had put in place to try to minimize civilian casualties. Deaths of civilians under both U.S. drones and conventional airstrikes have escalated.

For those who thought that military restraint was part of Trumpian isolationism, think again.

Raw Power

Not one of these actions was necessary. Not one will make people in this country — let alone the Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Somalis, or others — any safer. Neither was any of these actions sanctioned by Congress: All violated the War Powers Act, and indeed the Constitution itself, which puts the power to declare war in the hands of the people’s representatives.

Furthermore, not one of them fulfilled the minimal United Nations Charter requirements for the legal use of military force — either Security Council authorization or immediate self-defense. Thus they all violated international law.

And even beyond the illegality, not one could claim a strategic, legitimate, or moral justification.

Of course, the U.S. has been at war in various combinations of Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya and Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond since George W. Bush declared the global war on terror just after the 9/11 attacks of 2001. In some of these countries, the U.S. was at war even before that. But Trump’s actions represent major escalations in every one of those devastated nations. According to the British human rights monitor AirWars, well over 1,000 civilians may have been killed by U.S.-led forces just in Iraq and Syria in March alone, the highest monthly total they’ve ever tracked.

Source: Common Dreams

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