In response to the dropping of the Massive Ordinance Air Blast weapon a.k.a. Mother Of All Bombs (MOAB) last week, Donald Trump recently told reporters, “If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that to what’s really happened over the last eight years, you’ll see there is a tremendous difference.”
This statement makes me wonder if Trump can remember events before 2009.
If he can, then he should be able to recall that using airpower to combat large terrorist groups hasn’t really worked out for us. Bombing Afghanistan in 1998 did not destroy al-Qaeda. Bombing Afghanistan in 2001 did not eradicate the Taliban. In fact, it’s been 16 years and the Taliban is still in Afghanistan.
After such a rich history of failures, I’m not sure why the Trump administration thinks using a bigger bomb would make a difference.
The impact of the MOAB on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces exemplifies the ineffectiveness of using airpower against terrorist groups. ISIL is estimated to have 20,000 to 25,000 fighters. Dropping the MOAB killed 94 of them. Eliminating a tiny fraction of the opposition doesn’t justify the force of a weapon; it renders it excessive. ISIL will recruit 94 members within weeks but the rebuilding of houses destroyed by the MOAB will take months.
Similarly, the recent U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airbase caused little damage to the actual base but did kill nine civilians, including four children.
This excessive use of force isn’t saving anyone. This show of airpower isn’t about international justice, it’s about political gain.
The Trump administration doesn’t care about protecting people — it cares about establishing the U.S. as a hegemon.
This is nothing new. Many U.S. administrations have done this. The only “tremendous difference” here is how Trump discusses military action.
When asked about the Syrian missile strikes, Trump incorrectly stated, “We’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq.” He then went on to applaud U.S. technology by championing it as “better than anybody by a factor of five.”
When asked if he himself authorized dropping the MOAB, he skirted the question and instead praised the military as the greatest “in the world.”
Consistent with his campaign, Trump ignores facts and is quick to associate himself with the greatness of America instead. While past administrations have used military force to establish the nation as a hegemon, Trump is using military force to establish himself as the hegemon.
The nationalist rhetoric Trump uses here is the same rhetoric he used in his campaign, which makes me wonder if dropping the MOAB wasn’t just another campaign maneuver. After all, Trump is already registered to campaign for the 2020 presidential election. It’s never too early to start.
Lydia Schwartz, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at LSchwartz17@wooster.edu