It's Not Just Syria. Trump Is Ratcheting Up Wars across the World
April 13, 2017
Trevor Timm / The Guardian & Jason Le Miere / Newsweek
Donald Trump's missile strikes on Syria have attracted worldwide attention (and disgraceful plaudits) in recent days. But much less airtime is being given to his administration's risky and increasingly barbaric military escalations on several other fronts across the world. In March, Trump ordered a drone strike every 1.8 days, compared to every 5.4 days under Obama. US-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria may have already killed 1,484 civilians in just Iraq and Syria this month alone.
It's Not Just Syria. Trump Is
Ratcheting Up Wars across the World
Trevor Timm / The Guardian
LONDON (April 10, 2017) -- Donald Trump's missile strikes on Syria have attracted worldwide attention (and disgraceful plaudits) in recent days. But much less airtime is being given to his administration's risky and increasingly barbaric military escalations on several other fronts across the world.
Let's put aside, for the time being, that the Trump administration openly admits it has no clue what it is going to do in Syria next. Or that key members of Congress and in the administration are clearly eager for "regime change" in Syria with no plan for the aftermath. And the fact that hardly anyone seems to care that Russia's former president Dmitry Medvedev said over the weekend that Syrian strikes put the US "on the verge of a military clash with Russia" -- a nuclear power with thousands of warheads.
As troubling as these developments are, we should be just as concerned about the explosion of civilian deaths -- more than 1,000 in March alone -- that have come directly as the result of the Trump administration's other reckless military campaigns across the Middle East over the past few weeks.
Recently, US airstrikes have claimed the lives of 200 civilians in Iraq, dozens were killed in separate strikes supposedly aimed at Islamic State in Syria and several more women and children died in a raid gone awry in Yemen.
Those are just a few examples of the many attacks -- launched under the pretext of defeating ISIS -- that wreaked havoc on civilian populations as the US military ramps up its bombing campaigns in multiple counties.
At the same time, the Trump administration has been expanding official US "war zones" in Somalia and Yemen, while working to "make it easier for the Pentagon to launch counterterrorism strikes anywhere in the world" and loosening restrictions on preventing civilian deaths that were put in place by the Obama administration, as the Washington Post reported a few weeks ago.
Drone strikes, already accelerated under the Obama administration, have increased even more under Trump. Micah Zenko, who tracks the numbers at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted in March that Trump was carrying out a drone strike every 1.8 days, compared to every 5.4 days under Obama.
On the other side of the world, the Trump administration is responding to North Korea's nuclear program with even more saber rattling, sending in US ships over the weekend to the region as some vague "show of force".
This comes just as NBC News reported, "the National Security Council has presented President Donald Trump with options to respond to North Korea's nuclear program -- including putting American nukes in South Korea or killing dictator Kim Jong-un".
Pressure is mounting from the outside too, as the Wall Street Journal's right wing neocon-in-residence Brett Stephens loudly called for "regime change" in North Korea two weeks ago.
And then there's Iran, which the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol is once again saying is the ultimate "prize" for regime change, now that Trump is directly bombing Assad's forces.
Weeks ago, Trump's defense secretary James Mattis was reportedly planning a brazen and incredibly dangerous operation to board Iranian ships in international waters. This would have effectively been an act of war. [Emphasis added -- EAW]
Apparently, the only reason the Trump administration didn't carry it out was because the plan leaked and they were forced to scuttle it -- at least temporarily. But that hasn't stopped the ratcheting up of tensions towards Iran ever since he took office.
On top of all this madness, 16 years after America's longest war in history started, a top general has already testified to Congress that the military wants more troops in Afghanistan to break the "stalemate" there. Well before the end of the Trump administration, there will be troops fighting and dying in Afghanistan who weren't even born when the 9/11 attacks occurred.
To further shield the public from these decisions, the Trump administration indicated a couple weeks ago they have stopped disclosing even the amount of additional troops that they are sending overseas to fight.
The numbers were already being downplayed by the Obama administration and received little attention as the numbers continually creeped up over the last two years. Now, the public will have virtually no insight into what its military is doing in those countries.
It should go without saying that Bashar al-Assad is a monster and a butcher and the people of Syria have suffered incredibly over the past five years. North Korea is potentially dangerous and unpredictable, and Iran is far from innocent on the world stage.
But the idea that starting or expanding wars against these countries is going to solve anything belies the last 15 years of history, where the US has intervened and overthrown leaders in country after country, only to cause even more chaos and destruction, with trillions of dollars and millions of lives lost.
With several conflicts likely brewing with countries that have significant military power, the Trump administration is putting the US -- and the world -- on a potentially catastrophic collision course. And so far, pushback from politicians, the media and anyone else with influence in Washington has barely been seen.
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Under Trump, US Military Has Allegedly
Killed Over 1,000 Civilians in Iraq, Syria in March
Jason Le Miere / Newsweek
(March 31, 2017) -- On the campaign trail, Donald Trump vowed that as president he would "bomb the hell out of ISIS." Two months into his time as president, the evidence suggests he is doing just that, with increasing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria and stepped-up raids targeting Al-Qaeda in Yemen. But as the airstrikes have soared, so, too, according to reports, has the civilian death toll.
US-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria may have already killed 1,484 civilians in just Iraq and Syria this month alone, more than three times the number killed in President Barack Obama's final full month in office, according to British monitoring group Airwars.
For the first time, the number of alleged civilian casualties in events carried out by the US-led coalition has exceeded the death toll of attacks launched by Russia.
The US military said Saturday that a US-led coalition strike hit an area in the Islamic-State-held Iraqi city of Mosul where officials on the ground said around 200 civilians may have been killed. Those figures would make it one of the deadliest-to-citizens US-led bombings in 25 years.
Amnesty International has asserted that hundreds of civilians have been killed in the city and questioned the legality of the attacks.
"Evidence gathered on the ground in East Mosul points to an alarming pattern of US-led coalition airstrikes which have destroyed whole houses with entire families inside," said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, who carried out field investigations in Mosul.
"The high civilian toll suggests that coalition forces leading the offensive in Mosul have failed to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law."
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis responded Monday by insisting that coalition troops "always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent people. The same cannot be said for our adversaries."
Reports of high civilian death tolls under Trump's command have persisted since his first days in office. A week after entering the White House, Trump green-lighted a raid in Yemen that cost the life of a US Navy Seal and reportedly killed at least 25 civilians. The Pentagon's insistence that significant intelligence had been obtained has been widely disputed.
A US-led airstrike was similarly said to be responsible for the deaths of 30 civilians in Syria's Raqqa Province last week. A few days earlier, the US military confirmed it had conducted airstrikes in an area of northern Syria where local reports say a mosque was struck, killing more than 40 people. The military denied bombing a mosque.
Airwars divides its reports on civilian casualties into several categories of certainty. Of the 1,484 reported to have been killed in March, 363 are considered "fair" (at least two credible sources, possibly along with visual evidence), with 238 labeled "weak" and 883 "contested." But even the number of deaths based only on reports regarded as "fair" is still the highest since prior to the group beginning to collect data in August 2014.
The total number reportedly killed in February was 455, while January, in which Trump took office, saw the number reach 613.
The non-profit organization has said it has been overwhelmed with reports of civilian casualties since Trump took office.
"Almost 1,000 civilian non-combatant deaths have already been alleged from coalition actions across Iraq and Syria in March -- a record claim," Airwars said in a statement. "These reported casualty levels are comparable with some of the worst periods of Russian activity in Syria."
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