Saturday, April 08, 2017

Trump more aggressive in Middle East, raising number of airstrikes, U.S. troops, and dead civilians (meteor Blades) · Thursday, March 30, 2017, 5:24 pm

The Trump regime is proving more aggressive than the Obama administration when it comes to military engagement. In the words of a front page headline in The New York Times Thursday, “U.S. War Footprint Grows in Middle East, with No Endgame in Sight.” Not just the Middle East, but also Africa, and Afghanistan, where the United States has now been at war for 15 years, America’s longest war unless the Indian wars of 1787-1890 are counted.

What the larger footprint consists of are loosened rules on airstrikes and additional troops. The increase in troops has been small. For example, 300 Marines are being sent to Afghanistan, where they will join the 8,400 Americans and 5,924 NATO troops already there. Some 400 troops are being sent to Syria, another 200 to join the 5,000 in Iraq, where, Pr*sident Trump noted Tuesday, "our soldiers are fighting like never before." That would be news to 2 million soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors who served in the Iraq war, and in which 4,500 were killed.

It should also be noticed that those troops aren’t supposed to be fighting at all, but rather training Iraqis and Kurds, and engaging in combat only incidentally in self defense.

The expansion of airstrikes has been large, with more attacks—38—deployed against al-Qaida in Yemen in the first few days of March than in any year of Obama’s two terms. For the whole month so far, there have been 49 U.S. airstrikes in Yemen.

Trump has quickly greenlighted attacks that the Obama administration sometimes pondered for weeks. And he has shown little concern for the growing numbers of civilians killed in such attacks. Indeed, he’s relaxed the airstrike rules meant to protect Somali civilians. And while he is keen on using the military, it’s not being supported by constant diplomacy unlike what was done under Obama. Based on his proposed boost in military spending and slashing of the State Department budget, Trump’s priorities are clear, and civilian deaths aren’t high up the list.


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