What’s next for the US and its President Donald Trump after he ordered “the mother of all bombs” dropped on what was reported as a network of caves and tunnels used by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Thursday (Friday, local time)?
It seemed that the bombing of the predetermined underground targets would not be followed by Trump unleashing another “mom” called “massive ordnance air blast (MOAB) weapon, or officially GBU-43B, on Afghan insurgents.
The reason is that, according to Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, the world’s only remaining superpower has not much of the MOAB weapon to go around with.
“This is a very specialized weapon, we don’t have many of them, you commonly use them in a very narrow set of circumstances,” Cancian was quoted as saying in a newspaper report.
The bombing killed “at least” 90 ISIS fighters but supposedly no civilians because, the Afghan government insisted, thousands of local families thought to be living in the targeted caves and tunnels had already fled the area in recent months of fighting.
It would not be hard to believe the Kabul line if no living creature died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but, hold your horses, the MOAB weapon dropped on the Afghan militants was “non-nuclear,” as another newspaper report put it.
Yeah, in the same way that carpet-bombing of the Indo-Chinese countryside did not kill both Asian rebels and civilians in the 1960s and Project: Agent Orange spared millions of Vietnamese communist warriors and common folk from 1961 to 1971 as the US military tried to flush out Ho Chi Minh’s guerrillas from their jungle lairs.
In Thursday’s bombing, the business tycoon who now calls the shots in Washington had barked up the wrong tree, according to Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
“[His] Trump administration made a lot of noise with this bomb but the general state of play on the ground remains the same: The Taliban continues to wage a formidable and ferocious insurgency. ISIS, by comparison, is a sideshow,” Kugelman told Agence France-Presse, using an alternative acronym for IS.
Meanwhile, he said, the Taliban, which remains “the top threat” to the US in Afghanistan, “continues to sit pretty.”
Kugelman must have given Trump the added ammo to fire another round at the Afghan militants, this time with, who knows, another weapon of mass destruction (touché!) that is more powerful than the GBU-43B since the weapon has lain dormant in the US arsenal since 2003 and that there are not that many of it to spare.
In the same year, the MOAB weapon was reviewed for the legality of using it and guess who took a second look at it and concluded that it could not be called an indiscriminate killer under the Law of Armed Conflict?
The Pentagon, that’s who, making the revisit of the “mother of all bombs” a farce akin to letting the The New York Times investigate alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.
At this writing, only Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani had thrown his support behind the bombardment, saying it was “designed to support the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces and US forces conducting clearance operations in the region.”
From elsewhere, from the United Nations to the European Union, from China to Russia, and other world centers of political power and political players, there was silence.
The waiting game is understandable, with Trump apparently pulling the rug from under their feet in an act of brinkmanship that could backfire on the American president.
When what militaries in the world call collateral damage begins to surface, bringing back memories of My Lai, then the judging of Donald will begin.
And, when he perhaps starts to defend what he just dropped on a small bit of Afghanistan as a show of strength [or a display of warmongering], then he will probably realize the biggest blunder of his young presidency.
Any “political” act, such as the dropping of the GBU-43B, made in defense of any ideology, according to a military expect, is wrong from the very start if you start explaining it to the people after the fact.