In The War Against ISIS, Trump Is Already Responsible For More Civilian Deaths Than Obama

I will confess: I belong to a faction of the left that hates war in any context. I turned 15 during the brief skirmish known as Operation Desert Shield, and even then, I wasn’t skipping school to go to the mall. I was spray painting anti-war slogans on every concrete surface in my little town I could get away with.

Okay, I was going to the mall too.

That last part is important because what I mean to convey is that while I have always opposed war in every way, I was also a pretty realistic kid. Even then, I understood that my complaints lodged in Krylon™ on the side of a bridge were mostly meaningless. In that context, I approach The Left who are even further to the left than me: Yes, we are embroiled in the longest war in the history of the United States in Afghanistan. Yes, we are “fighting” an invisible War On Terror. Yes, I hate those things. I also understand that the complaints I now lodge in Facebook posts, tweets, and these articles are like colored mists on the bridges and walls of war.

In the end, the fury of war can only be mitigated by absolutely minimizing the innocent victims of it. But how can that be accomplished in a war against ISIS, an enemy that recruits civilians, uses them as human shields and otherwise disregards humanity in the name of jihad?

There are those on the left that condemn President Barack Obama for increasing the number of drone strikes initiated by the United States in the Middle East and South Asia. And those on the right simply condemn him for existing. So I will stand with whoever has identified with me so far here and give credit to our 44th President for mitigating the level of civilian deaths in those ongoing wars using tactical precision.

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I like to think that Barack Obama opposes war in the way that I do: Absolutely, but if it is happening, it must be done in a way that keeps the most civilians safe.

By contrast, Donald Trump does not understand war. He certainly does not oppose it. I believe that he sees it only in the abstract: An ongoing effort to “win” at all costs, like everything in his life. Almost like war is a jacket and hat you put on for the cameras.

The numbers bear this theory out. According to Airwars, a UK-based “transparency project” that has tracked the number of civilians killed since the US-led coalition formed in October 2014 to combat ISIS, there is a disparity between Obama’s direction and Trump’s that cannot be reconciled any other way:

Civilian deaths in war cannot be avoided. That is a simple fact. But even if you go back to the New York Times link I provided above (“the number of drone strikes”), you can see that precision can mitigate them. Bush ordered 50 drone strikes which killed 296 terrorists and 195 civilians — a 40% civilian casualty rate. Under Obama, the strikes went up, but the casualty rate went down: Ten times as many strikes, more than ten times as many dead terrorists, but less than twice as many civilian casualties. Just over 11%, at the time of that report.

Like his presidency, Trump’s war is messy. More than half of all civilian deaths in the war against ISIS have occurred in the 7 months since Donald Trump was inaugurated.

That’s not opposition. That is an embrace of war.


Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images