President Trump just gave the Pentagon more authority to conduct offensive airstrikes in Somalia. Easing these restrictions will only cause more civilian casualties despite their goal of tackling al-Shabaab.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, Pentagon spokesperson, says the order gives Africom more authority to perform “precision airstrikes” on al-Shabaab. But if anybody has been paying attention to airstrikes, they are nowhere near “precise”. Just last week the U.S. conducted one of those “precision airstrikes” in Mosul and killed 200 civilians. According to Airwars.com, in just the month of March over 1,500 civilians have been killed in U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon is well on its way to outpacing the number of bombs dropped in 2016: 26,172.
Somalia is not only suffering from the violence of terrorist groups, but multiple crises simultaneously. The region is suffering from drought, famine, displacement, violence, and U.S. airstrikes. These crises force people to move around, and with so many people moving around the country makes it easier for U.S. airstrikes to accidentally target them. This is a recipe for disaster.
With the Pentagon’s hyperbolic attitude towards precision strikes, it will be all too easy to create more civilian casualties. Clearly, the Pentagon hasn’t learned its lesson of killing civilians. Military officials have shown little response to these “accidents” and refuse to change its ways. The U.S. has been at war for over 15 years. Terrorism has gotten worse while more troops are lost, and now the Pentagon is getting more autonomy over its methods.
The pattern is clear: airstrikes are increasing, terrorism is increasing. Trump is well on his way to surpassing Obama’s drone record. Micah Zenko, an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, shows that Obama conducted one strike every 5.4 days; Trump has already averaged one strike every 1.25 days.
Since the beginning of the Global War on Terror, terrorism has done nothing but grow. Intelligence agencies predicted it would happen. There has been study after study showing that terrorism has only increased. The past 15 years reminds me of the old saying, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. If the saying is correct, the Pentagon is insane.