Despite US President Donald Trump's proclamations that the country will be stepping back from its role of policing the world, the US global military footprint under Trump is escalating at an alarming level.
On the 2016 US presidential campaign trail, then-candidate Trump promised to a return to the era of American isolationism, pledging to put “America first,” and an end to costly foreign wars.
He attacked his rival Republican candidates from the left, blamed the party’s previous president, George W. Bush, for adding trillions to the national debt in the pursuit of remaking the Middle East in America’s image.
“The world must know we do no go abroad in search of enemies,” Trump thundered in what was billed as his signature foreign policy speech in April of 2016.
In taking direct aim at Bush, war hawks, and Washington DC neo-conservatives, Trump blamed their “foolishness and arrogance” for throwing “the region into chaos”.
Since taking office, however, Trump has gone ahead and done the complete opposite of everything he promised.
He has dramatically escalated America’s global military footprint to a level not seen since the Bush administration. Not only are US troop deployment levels on the rise, but also the total number of foreign countries US military personnel find themselves in is unprecedented, thus reversing a trend escorted by President Obama - who oversaw a 60-year-low in the number of active US military personnel deployed overseas.
Not only has Trump committed another 4,000 US soldiers to the now 16 year long war in Afghanistan, but he has put thousands of additional armed American men and women in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond.
In fact, American Special Forces troops have been deployed to a staggering 70 percent of the world under Trump, conducting missions in 138 countries.
“We operate and fight in every corner of the world,” boasted Gen. Raymond Thomas, the chief of US Special Operations Command, in an interview, “On a daily basis, we sustain a deployed or forward stationed force of approximately 8,000 across 80-plus countries. They are conducting the entire range of SOF missions in both combat and non-combat situations.”
Now juxtapose this rapid and global escalation of US military force against Trump’s decimation of the nation’s top foreign affairs office, the US State Department. Not only has his administration aimed to cut the size of the diplomatic core by 8 percent, but also dozens of senior posts still remain unfilled, including a staggering total of unfilled ambassadorships.
This absence of diplomacy and soft power combined with a massive increase in military force projection under Trump is producing only one measurable and tangible result: the death of tens of thousands of Muslims, and that is no accident.
It’s no accident because Trump has loosened rules that President Obama had put in place to protect innocent civilians. For instance, under Obama - any operation that took place outside of “areas of active hostilities” were overseen by a number of self-imposed constraints, most significantly the Pentagon had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the target constituted a “continuing and imminent threat” to the United States, and that there had to be “near certainty” civilians would not be killed by the proposed kinetic action.
All of which is producing a violent toll upon innocent bystanders all across the globe. In the month of March alone, Trump killed more than 1,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria, and according to a UK based human rights watch group, Trump killed more civilians in his first 7 months in office than Obama killed in the last three years of his presidency.
This week the United Nations claimed US-Saudi coalition airstrikes have killed a whopping 136 civilians in Yemen in just the past 11 days, blowing up its third wedding party since the conflict began 1,000 days ago.
If just a single wedding was bombed in America by a foreign state or group, Americans would rightfully take to the streets, demanding an end to the existence of the perpetrator, but when the US routinely obliterates weddings, schools, hospitals, and houses of worship, it’s almost impossible to hear a solitary word of apology or embarrassment.
The deaths of these people take their place alongside the other 4 million Muslims killed in Western-led wars since 1990.
But going forward, and under Trump, we may now never know the horrific toll US military operations are afflicting around the globe, as his administration has taken measures to conceal its use of force.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon said that it will no longer “routinely announce or confirm information about the capabilities, force numbers, locations or movement of forces in or out of Iraq and Syria.”
All of this is taking place under the disinterested gaze of a US president who spends 8 hours of each working day idly watching television, and another 6-10 hours per week playing golf. Like the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, Trump entertains himself while innocents are murdered in the name of empire.
Essentially, Trump, who dodged the military draft five times by claiming he had a sore foot, has outsourced his constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief to an assortment of military jarheads and war hawks, surrounding himself with an unprecedented number of current and former generals.
Neither his Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor, or Defense Secretary come from the civilian realm, all are former overseers of American military might. Maslow Abraham’s phrase, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail,” comes to mind.
In every sense of the term, Trump has become the ultimate armchair commando, and as a result, the US is carrying out more airstrikes, deploying more soldiers, killing more civilians, and further inflaming anti-American sentiment around the world, which only serves to fuel the very global insurgency the US has tried to fight, foolishly and arrogantly, for the past one and a half decades.
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