Donald Trump has more or less admitted that he has given the military free reign over what bombs to drop, how, when and possibly even where.
“…everybody knows what happened”.
“…what I do is authorise my military”.
This is an example of a promise the US President has kept. Donald Trump had said that he intended his military policy to be guided by the generals rather than politicians. The Obama administration generally exercised the opposite strategy.
There are advantages and disadvantages to Trump’s approach.
A clear advantage is that military men generally do not like being dictated to by politicians. They often resent and frequently for good reason, being told how to conduct combat by those with no experience in nor respect for the realities of battle.
A disadvantage is that military men are trained to understand that killing the enemy and destroying his infrastructure and resources is the age old goal of a military engagement. There are of course subtle areas, but there is a broad metaphysical and statistical truth behind this sentiment. This is certainly the case in respect of Donald Trump’s Defence Secretary, James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who once said that one has to be prepared to kill anyone he meets.
There is a solution in-between the extremes represented by the Obama and Trump administrations wherein politicians who have a respect for and among the military are able to define political objectives to top generals without micro-managing their daily manoeuvres.
Today’s dropping of the world’s second largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan, the first time such a weapon has ever been deployed in combat, seems to be an example of military men taking things too far.
Ironically, the military measure is more geo-politically symbolic than it is practically effective against a poorly armed terrorist group, ISIS in Afghanistan.
Trump played it coy when asked if the MOAB drop was intended to send a message to Pyongyang.
“I don’t know if this sends a message..it doesn’t make any difference if it does or not”.
He continued saying that North Korea is a problem, but that
“…the problem would be taken care of”.
In spite of what Trump says, the message is clear and he’s frankly playing Russian roulette with the world. Trump is relying on countries which America is clearly provoking to be more afraid than enraged and retaliatory.
If he loses this gamble it will be war. Even if he wins the short-term gamble, for all the world knows, it is a prelude of coming attractions in North Korea, Iran, Syria or even beyond if America makes the first strike as it did in Syria, a country which has never threatened the United States.
It is a dangerous game to play, one that China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Syria have never played.