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Trump’s nightmare vision of perpetual war

28th Apr 2017
Trump’s nightmare vision of perpetual war

Less than three months into his presidency, Donald Trump is already proving his terrifying potential as the most dangerous man in the world with his finger on the button of every kind of deadly arsenal at his disposal. In less than a week, Trump launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Syria, and followed that up by dropping the Mother-Of-All-Bombs (MOAB) on Afghanistan. On the east coast of Asia, he adopted a similarly threatening military posture against North Korea by allegedly sending a naval armada to the region.

If his belligerence wasn’t crude enough, Trump apparently ordered the air strikes against Syria on April 6 whilst relaxing at his Mar a Lago club in Florida. According to the London-based monitoring group Airwars, March had already been the deadliest month ever recorded during the US-led Coalition’s campaign in Iraq and Syria. Since December, the civilian death toll from such attacks has doubled. US air strikes in Iraq and Syria have earned the distinction of killing more civilians than Russian air strikes.

Disdain for international law and human rights was shown early in Trump’s presidency when the supposedly isolationist Republican sent Navy Seals to a botched raid in Yemen on January 29, resulting in the deaths of at least 30 Yemeni civilians. Recent US air strikes in Iraq were reported to have killed over 200 civilians in Mosul and a US-led coalition bombing of a school near Raqqa in Syria is believed to have caused the deaths of at least another 33 civilians, including ten women and children.

Almost 68 years ago, the US did the unthinkable when it dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Never again, everyone thought, after the world woke up to the sheer horror of the incineration and poisoning of tens of thousands of civilians. Now it seems the clocks have turned back and what happened in Japan erased from history. The US used uranium depleted weapons in 2003 in the Iraqi city of Fallujah and elsewhere in the country leading to dramatic increases in infant mortality and instances of cancer and leukaemia among the population. Officials have confirmed that the US military, despite vowing not to use depleted uranium weapons on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, fired thousands of rounds of the munitions during two high-profile raids on oil trucks in Daesh (Islamic State)-controlled Syria in late 2015 (Foreign Policy, February 14, 2017).

Setting yet another unwarranted precedent, Trump resorted to dropping a MOAB, the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal, from the rear end of a cargo plane on Afghanistan. It has never been used since it was first tested 14 years ago because of fears it would be deemed an indiscriminate killer under the Law of Armed Conflict. Trump seemingly did not share these fears.

Despite being imprecise, indiscriminate and lethal, the US, usually with British support, has been dropping bombs on Muslim countries for 16 years. No lessons have been learnt and no plausible explanation has been forthcoming for why General John Nicholson, the US Afghanistan Commander, suddenly decided to deploy this previously unused weapon of such mass power against one of the smallest militias it faces anywhere in the world. Although it is a so-called conventional weapon, the blast radius of the MOAB is estimated to be about 1 mile, comparable to the radius measured for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The target was supposed to be tunnels and bunkers in Achin district in Nangarhar province, but while no one can have any sympathy for Daesh and its murderous offshoots, the use of such a gargantuan bomb left pundits scratching their heads. Cynics suggest it is just the latest example of the west using the “third world” to test its array of weapons. Even more morally repugnant is the claim that Trump is deliberately whipping up more hate and abhorrence of the US and its allies as if to prove there is some validity to Samuel Huntington’s discredited Clash of Civilisation thesis.

No journalists and Afghan army personnel have been allowed in the area where MOAB was targeted. We will not know how many civilians were killed by this gratuitous bomb. Nor do we know how many dwellings have been razed to the ground. Windows and doors were broken and cracks appeared in houses one and a half miles away. Children were scared to death and the psychological impact on them needs to be taken into consideration. What is also not known or discussed is whether such a massive bomb could initiate earthquakes in the region.

Whatever the ill-thought out strategies are behind such misguided terror tactics, Trump is already deploying the most military figures in his cabinet since World War Two. It hardly augurs well being a non-politician himself. Afghanistan has become America’s longest war ever. In Syria, it has spent tens of millions of dollars since 2011 training, arming, and aiding rebels fighting the Government of President Bashar al-Assad. Like in Iraq, America has allowed extremist groups to flourish in the vacuum left behind by its wanton destruction. Yet in none of these countries has Washington figured out how to stop killing people. And as its acts of destruction get even bigger, so does its Frankenstein-esque monster grow.

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