Former President Obama earned the nickname of “Drone King” when he dramatically escalated the use of drone strikes, while also downplaying the number of innocent civilians who became “collateral damage.” In the two years that his administration devoted to publicly spending millions of taxpayer dollars to fight the Islamic State group, the estimated civilian death toll ranged from 2,300 to 3,400, according to Airwars, an organization tracking deaths in the war against ISIS.
Our minimum estimate of civilians likely killed by Coalition since 2014 is now 5,117 – with 55% of deaths occuring under Trump's leadership pic.twitter.com/H8S5Ihwuzb
— Airwars (@airwars) August 22, 2017
Trump made headlines in December 2015, when he declared that if elected, he would not only kill members of ISIS—he would also “take out their families.” He is following through on that promise, according to a report from Steven Feldstein, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.
Feldstein noted that researchers have documented the rise of “frequent killing of entire families in likely coalition airstrikes” under the Trump Administration. This trend led to “the deaths of at least 57 women and 52 children in Iraq and Syria” in May.
While this may come as no surprise, considering the fact that Trump promised to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” while on the campaign trail, his administration’s offensive against the Islamic State is not the only ongoing war that is killing civilians.
According to a report from United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documenting civilian causalities during the first half of 2017, “aerial operations” led to a “43 percent increase in civilian casualties compared to the first six months of 2016, including a 67 percent increase in civilian deaths.”
While Trump bragged about giving military commanders “total authorization” to make combat decisions in Afghanistan, Washington Rep. Adam Smith said he believes that this move is contributing to the increase in civilian deaths.
“You really have the military making decisions that were designed to be made by the civilian authorities running the military,” Smith said. “We’ve seen an increase in civilian casualties. … I think they’ve become a little too indiscriminate in what they’re doing.”
The report from Feldstein noted that the Trump Administration has “substantially escalated air strikes and bombings” and the U.S. military “has already used 20 percent more missiles and bombs in combined air operations in 2017 than in all of 2016.”
The alarmingly high civilian death toll has continued to build up over the months. For example, from May 23 to June 23 of this year, at least 472 civilians were killed by U.S. airstrikes. That is significantly more than the 459 civilians who have been killed by terrorist attacks in Europe—in the last 12 years.
While the argument can be made that Trump is doing the same thing Hillary Clinton would have done if she was elected, the question has to asked as to how anyone can justify killing innocent civilians in the first place.
Obama surpassed Bush’s record, and now Trump has surpassed Obama’s record—but the only thing that has actually been “accomplished” is that thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands of civilians have lost their homes and their communities, and the civilians who do survive in the countries the United States is targeting now, will grow up hating America for destroying their home in the name of “Freedom.”