Trump Removes the Handcuffs
As the number of Islamic State militants killed by the Massive Ordnance Air Blast or MOAB nears 100, the U.S. as well as the rest of the world is assessing the larger and continued impact of the bomb. The strategic rationale for the using of our biggest non-nuclear bomb was sound, as the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan near the border of Pakistan has become a recent hot zone for the U.S. military’s engagement with an off-shoot of Islamic State militants. In this instance, the MOAB eviscerated an elaborate network of jihadi tunnels. Gen. John W. Nicholson stated that MOAB “is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS.”
In the larger context, MOAB signals a significant change from the last eight years. Barack Obama was no fan of the U.S. military, and while he begrudgingly understood its necessity he did much to limit its ability to engage in effective warfare. Donald Trump’s attitude is markedly different, demonstrated both by his campaign rhetoric in calling for the defeat of America’s enemies and his willingness to back-up his rhetoric by giving military commanders the green light to use necessary force. Significantly, when Trump was asked whether he authorized the bomb itself, the president answered, “What I do is I authorize the military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done a [good] job as usual. So, we have given them total authorization.”
A few of observations can be noted here. First, Trump has taken the handcuffs off U.S. military leadership, trusting in their expertise to wage effective warfare. Second, Trump believes in winning wars. Wars are won when one side defeats the other, and too often politicians prove to get in the way and end up prolonging war, leading ultimately to more suffering and lost lives. As David French of National Review states, “Excessive American caution has cost American lives and American limbs.” Third, this bomb, coupled with the U.S. bombing of the Syrian air base responsible for launching the chemical attack, sends a clear message to both North Korea and Iran that Trump will use any means necessary, including force, to counter their aggression.