On Thursday, the US Central Command announced it had killed more people in Yemen.
“More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah.,” a Pentagon statement announced. “Targets of the strikes included militants, equipment, infrastructure, heavy weapons systems and fighting positions.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 3, 2017
From The New York Times:
The White House is considering giving the Pentagon more independent authority to conduct counterterrorism raids as part of an effort to accelerate the fight against the Islamic State and other militant organizations, administration officials said on Thursday.
The CFR points out Trump’s hypocrisy. Micah Zenko notes the fact Trump is more interventionist than Obama. During Obama’s two terms in office, he approved 542 targeted strikes in 2,920 days, one every 5.4 days.
“From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved more than 25 drone strikes or raids in 41 days—one every 1.6 days. These include three drone strikes in Yemen on January 20, 21, and 22; the January 28 Navy SEAL raid in Yemen; one reported strike in Pakistan yesterday; and “more than 20” early this morning,” Zenko wrote in Thursday.
Thus, people who believed that Trump would be less interventionist than Obama are wrong, at least so far and at least when it comes to drone strikes. These dramatically increased lethal strikes demonstrate that U.S. leaders’ counterterrorism mindset and policies are bipartisan and transcend presidential administrations. As I have noted, U.S. counterterrorism ideology is virulent and extremist, characterized by tough-sounding clichés and wholly implausible objectives. There has never been any serious indication among elected politicians or appointed national security officials of any strategic learning or policy adjustments. We are now on our third post-9/11 administration pursuing many of the same policies that have failed to meaningfully reduce the number of jihadist extremist fighters, or their attractiveness among potential recruits or self-directed terrorists. The Global War on Terrorism remains broadly unquestioned within Washington, no matter who is in the White House.
During the election, I wrote Donald Trump and the War on Islam (you can download it free here). I argued if elected Trump would continue and extend Obama’s wars. He courted a number of neocons, including John Bolton, and took advice from the Islamophobe Frank Gaffney. His top adviser, now a member of the NSC, Steve Bannon, believes we are locked in mortal combat with radical Islam.
I was surprised that folks who opposed Obama’s drone war and Hillary Clinton’s role in Libya and Syria supported Trump and went so far as to characterize him as some kind of noninterventionist. This was obviously not the case.