Trump’s Show of Force

By Jason Kim ‘19

The United States military used the GBU-43 or massive ordnance air blast (MOAB), the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal on ISIS underground facilities in eastern Afghanistan on April 13th. The bombing took place only a week after the US military used 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike Syria’s airbase to retaliate against the regime of President Bashar Assad for using chemical weapons. President Trump described the use of MOAB as “another successful event”. He also commented, “We have given [the military] total authorization and that’s what they’re doing and frankly that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”

MOAB was first developed as a deterrent and deployed to the Middle East in 2003. This was the first time the US military used it.


Why did the US military decide to use it?


General John Nicholson revealed that use of such weapon helped the US and its allies “maintain momentum” against ISIS. As the armed forces of Iraq have been attempting to seize and secure Mosul from IS, they have suffered huge casualties and momentum was slowing down. The unprecedented strike using MOAB serves to send a message to both US allies and ISIS that the new US administration is determined to defeat any terrorist groups in Afghanistan.


However, the use of MOAB carries far more importance than its military significance. The Trump administration also wants to send a clear political and diplomatic message to the world.


One of criticisms the former President Obama faced during his presidency was his passive military response against ISIS and other terrorist groups. Although former President Obama has authorized multiple significant military campaigns, such as using drones against al-Qaeda and killing Osama bin Laden, the former commander-in-chief nevertheless was accused of micromanaging the military and overly avoiding conflicts. President Trump clearly wants to take a different path: a clear show of force.


President Trump seems like he is not hesitant to use or displace the US’s military superiority all over the globe. Within just a few months of his presidency, he has already significantly increased the number of troops in Syria, used dozens of cruise missiles and the MOAB, and moved US aircraft carriers to Korean Peninsula to pressure North Korea. President Trump’s bold military moves and show of force have already sparked some tensions with Russia, China, Syria, and North Korea.


Deterrence is crucial. Some military actions and shows of force are necessary. However, the Trump administrative needs to use such actions strategically to achieve its goals of forcing Syria to abandon chemical weapons, destroying ISIS, and halting North Korea’s nuclear program. There is, however, always the possibility that excessive show of forces might result in an uncontrolled escalation and perhaps full-out war that neither side desires.


The Trump administrative is playing a dangerous game. Will the US win or lose everything?







Filed in: Politics

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