Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Targeted Killing, Donald Trump Style
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
When a Navy SEAL was killed and three others injured during a raid in Central Yemen in early 2017, Americans asked, “What are we doing there?” When three U.S. Army Special Forces troops were killed in an ambush while on patrol in Niger, folks back home said, “What are we doing there?”
While these two surprise attacks by suspected al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters on the ground raised important questions about
America’s military presence in countries where we haven’t declared war, as usual the queries and public outrage failed to illuminate the iceberg beneath the surface. U.S. military activity—in particular, airstrikes and raids in the Middle East and Africa, not to mention Afghanistan—has not only accelerated under the Trump administration, but targeted killing campaigns are reportedly operating under fewer constraints and with less transparency than even under the notoriously secretive Obama administration.
In short, there’s a lot of kinetic action going on that the American public doesn’t know about—at least until something awful happens or officials are forced to show their cards, and even then, they will be holding most of the deck under the table.
Earlier this year, investigative journalist Nick Turse, who U.S. African Command blacklisted after claiming he was not “legitimate,” reported that the U.S. has Special Forces operating in 149 countries on the planet—a 150 percent increase over the George W. Bush years. But what about the skies? Of this we have only troubling glimpses. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Trump administration launched over 160 strikes in Yemen and Somalia in 2017—that’s 100 percent and 30 percent more, respectively, than the drone-loving Obama administration launched the year before. The attacks in Afghanistan as of January 1 were reaching the same levels as the 2009-2010 “surge,” and we all know how well that’s working out.
Read the rest here.
(ht Felix Bronstein)
at 10:44 AM