As Trump Escalates Bombings Abroad, Where Is The Anti-War Left?

Created: 20 November, 2017
Updated: 21 November, 2022
4 min read

President Trump has radically increased the number of U.S. airstrikes overseas.

That should trouble America's voices on the antiwar left and non-interventionist right. Especially since this increase follows up on Obama's own drastic increase in U.S. drone strikes over the Bush administration.

And the Bush administration itself was the subject of intense criticism for drastically increasing the amount of U.S. bombings overseas compared to the Clinton era.

What all these presidents have in common is that each was elected ostensibly to de-escalate U.S. entanglements in foreign conflict.

These entanglements have been extremely costly to the American taxpayer, suck massive amounts of financial resources from productive uses in the American economy, and most importantly, have resulted in no small number of civilian casualties overseas and fostered deep anti-American sentiment in populations vulnerable to terrorist radicalization -- a phenomenon the CIA calls "blowback," which exposes innocent Americans to reprisals in the form of deadly terrorist attacks.

Within Donald Trump's first three months as president:

"U.S. forces have launched 75 strikes on Yemen (more than in any entire year under Obama); launched 59 Tomahawk missiles on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces; dropped more bombs in Syria and Iraq in each of the last three months than in any of the prior 32 months of war against ISIS; and dropped a MOAB, the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal, on Afghanistan."

Those 59 cruise missiles launched at a military base in Syria were especially egregious, given that Trump repeatedly and fiercely criticized the Obama administration from 2013 to 2014 for even considering bombing Syria, noting that the rebels who the U.S. would be supporting are radical extremists themselves, and arguing that if Obama did want to bomb Syria, he would have to receive congressional approval first for the act of war.

Not even three months into his own presidency, Trump launched cruise missiles at Syria -- without congressional approval.

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In his second month as president, Trump ordered 70 airstrikes on Yemen -- one of the world's poorest countries -- in a 30-day period, twice as many as the total number of airstrikes in the entire year of 2016.

After touring the CIA's control center for its overseas drone strike operations, Donald Trump signaled to the CIA that he wanted an even more aggressive use of drone strikes than what had been authorized under Obama. He further wanted looser rules for where CIA drones can operate and who they can kill overseas.

Trump has also stepped up the U.S. bombing campaign in Somalia:

"During his last two years in office, President Obama dramatically increased the number of airstrikes on Islamic militants in Somalia.

Donald Trump is making that increase look paltry.

The U.S. has launched at least 25 airstrikes on Somalia in the first ten months of the Trump administration, a rate equal to seven times the monthly average of the Obama era, according to figures provided to VICE News from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism Thursday.

Put simply: the tally in Trump’s first year is nearing the 34 total airstrikes ordered under Obama’s two terms in office."

Meanwhile, Trump has surged troop levels in Afghanistan, and stepped up bombing campaigns to escalate U.S. entanglement in that foreign civil war as well:

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"President Donald Trump's pledge to expand U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan has been realized, bringing the total number of American soldiers in the country to 14,000, the Pentagon announced on Thursday.

Thousands of troops have poured into Afghanistan since Trump’s announcement in August of a broader U.S. role in the country, as opposed to a withdrawal. The increase came at the request of General John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and the leader of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission...

As well as an expansion of Washington’s troop presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has stepped up its airstrike campaign against radical Islamists aligned with the Taliban and the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

In September, the military dropped 751 airstrikes in Afghanistan, the highest total for any month in seven years of military action in the country."

Back when Donald Trump was considering running for president the first time in 2012, he posted a series of tweets calling for a withdrawal of the U.S. military from Afghanistan.

Here's one from 2013:


As president, he has bowed to pressure from the military industrial complex and deep state, and instead of bringing American soldiers home to rebuild America, he has sent even more to the Middle East to fight in foreign civil wars.

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By the middle of Obama's tenure as president, over half of Americans were already so weary of the wars overseas they told Rasmussen they wanted the U.S. military out of Afghanistan within a year.

Continued U.S. involvement in overseas civil wars, essentially foreign to American interests, demonstrably makes the world and America less, not more safe.

Of all possible grievances against the Trump administration, his escalation of Bush-Obama era open-ended warfare and military adventurism in search of monsters to slay overseas is certainly the gravest and has the most serious consequences and human costs.

Where is the old anti-war Left that protested the wars under Bush, and the non-interventionist Right that opposed Obama's vastly expanded and unchecked executive war powers?

Could it be that partisanship has blinded these factions and relegated them to the irrelevance of squabbling over Trump's every errant tweet while he burns down Africa and the Middle East?

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