Guest Opinion: What comes after ‘mother of all bombs’?
The U.S. bombing last week in Afghanistan, using the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in its arsenal, signals a shift in U.S. foreign policy.
It was the second Thursday night in a row — after the justified airstrikes in Syria — that the U.S used military force in a big show of might in a foreign conflict. This time the U.S. used the biggest weapon ever employed in combat.
If this was just about stamping out Islamic State soldiers hidden in caves and tunnels, we would laud the move unconditionally. Officials say the bomb took out 36 of the 800 Islamic State fighters believed to be hiding in the mountains and destroyed tunnels and weapons.
We worry, however, that this is about more than that. What’s President Donald Trump’s end game? Is there a comprehensive strategy behind these moves?
Tensions are escalating around the globe. Trump says the Afghanistan strike wasn’t meant as a message to North Korea. He also said it doesn’t make any difference if it was or not: “North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of.”
Such ambiguity is troubling.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has intensified his war of words against the U.S. and may be planning a nuclear test. U.S. military troops are conducting exercises near the North Korean border.
The president says he’s given his military leaders “total authority” to make moves they see fit. (He authorized the Syrian attack; it’s unclear whether he gave the green light for Afghanistan.) That sounds like he’s given them free rein. At what point is that an abdication? This country has a civilian leadership form of government for good reason.
The strikes on Syria were the right thing to do. That barbarous chemical attack they came in response to left 86 civilians dead, including children who burned up from the inside after breathing savage sarin gas. The strategy behind this bomb is less clear.
And where is Congress? If Trump’s predecessor had done anything like this without congressional input, its leaders would have been apoplectic. Are they urging Trump to exercise any measure of restraint now?
Americans need more information. The president must make clear he has a strategy with a realistic chance of defeating the Islamic State without launching us headfirst into another war.