News & Politics

Trump's War on Terror May Prove Even More Deadly Than George W. Bush's

The president's new Afghanistan strategy is a humanitarian disaster in the making.

Photo Credit: Secretary of Defense / Flickr

President Donald Trump took the podium at Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia to tell the world that the war in Afghanistan will continue.

“[A] hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda,” the president said. Despite his own reservations, which were reiterated during the speech, America will forge ahead with military action.

The president doesn’t appear to know that U.S. military action is largely responsible for the emergence of ISIS as it exists today. The continued success of ISIS relies on an extensive propaganda operation that routinely uses violent U.S. military actions as recruitment tools.


Trump’s speech itself was a boost for ISIS. He gave a boost to the terror group by describing it as a powerful and evil force that must be obliterated through armed conflict. ISIS leaders needn’t create a propaganda ad around Trump’s speech; they can just play the tape.

President Barack Obama's role in prolonging and exacerbating the conflict in Afghanistan cannot be easily dismissed. Shortly after assuming office in 2009, he approved a troop increase to fight the Taliban. Like Trump just did, Obama assured the public at the time that the United States military would not be given a "blank check." The war in Afghanistan, whose initial invasion began in the wake of the 9/11attacks, is now the longest running military conflict in American history.

But the president's address Monday took us back to the language of fighting a war on evildoers, the same approach President George W. Bush used when he inadvertently fostered the growth of what would become globally known as ISIS.

Trump does distinguish himself from Bush through a visceral disgust for nation-building. Trump doesn’t care about the world beyond his backyard. Building democracies is as far down his to-do list as publicly producing his tax returns. Instead, Trump just wants to blow the heads off of terrorists, oblivious to the fact that this strategy has failed time and again.

Although U.S. nation-building has proven a fool’s errand, Trump’s violent approach is perhaps even worse from a humanitarian perspective. What do we do with the civilians after we obliterate ISIS in various regions? ISIS often controls civilian access to basic survival needs. Under Trump, American forces may decimate the infrasructures citizens rely upon for survival without any meaningful strategy to ensure their wellbeing. And we know this president won't be welcoming displaced citizens as refugees to the U.S. 

Trump's speech exhibited a basic failure of moral leadership while aping the kind of moralistic language used to drum up support for violent military actions. But unlike one of his tweets, Trump's carefully prepared speech may signal a death sentence for civilians and troops who deserve better from us. 

We should be ashamed.

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Chris Sosa is the Senior Editor at AlterNet. His work also appears in Mic, Salon, Care2, Huffington Post and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisSosa.