Trump won’t say if he signed off on bomb use
In just the last week, the rookie commander in chief has presided over the use of some of the most powerful weaponry in the US arsenal, sending a signal that he is one President who relishes ordering the use of deadly force. It’s clear that he believes Washington and the rest of the world are watching.
First, Trump dispatched Tomahawk cruise missiles to slam into an airfield belonging to President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government forces, to punish what the US says is their use of chemical weapons. On Thursday, the military dropped one of its most powerful non-nuclear bombs — a 21,600-pound behemoth — over a warren of ISIS tunnels in Afghanistan. Afghan officials said 36 militants were killed in the strike.
Both actions can be justified by solid military rationales and fall into the context of mainstream foreign policy goals — namely deterring the further use of some of the world’s most heinous weapons in Syria and a desire to halt the spread of ISIS into another failed state, even as it loses ground in Iraq and Syria.
But the White House also knows that the use of such eye-catching force has a political impact: Both in the United States, where Trump is politically beleaguered; and overseas, where foreign governments are trying to work out how Trump will wield US power and military might.
The President described the use of a device dubbed the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan as “another successful event,” basking in his role as commander in chief — though preserving some mystique about the strike by declining to say whether he had personally signed off on the operation. He left open the question of whether it was conducted under widened authorizations that have freed up the Pentagon’s room for maneuver since he took over from President Barack Obama.
But he appeared to be quite content if his willingness to deploy some of the most powerful ordinance in the US military’s inventory was interpreted by some US enemies as evidence that he was ready to use force to carry out his threats — toward North Korea especially, which is apparently making final preparations for a new nuclear test.
“It doesn’t make any difference if it does or not. North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of,” Trump said, referring to the Stalinist state.
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