The United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal yesterday on an Islamic State complex in the mountains of Afghanistan, a powerful indication that the Trump administration takes its responsibilities in the war against Muslim terrorism seriously.
This successful mission is part of President Trump making good on a campaign promise made in late 2015 to “bomb the shit out of” Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh). Yesterday the president referred to the military operation as “another successful job,” after acknowledging he trusted his generals in the field enough to delegate strike authority to them.
It is a welcome change after the Obama administration did little for years to combat Muslim terrorism and engaged in many activities that strengthened and emboldened terrorist groups. It also puts hostile regimes, like those in North Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia, and Syria on notice that America’s new president is dramatically different from his predecessor.
“This president understands that diplomacy without force behind it is nothing,” Dr. Sebastian Gorka, the Trump White House counterterrorism guru, said on “The O’Reilly Factor” last night.
“It’s words. It’s pieces of paper. Statecraft and leadership are when you use these things together to reinforce each other.”
Trump, unlike Obama, refuses to lead from behind and play friendlies off against each other, he said.
What we have seen is eight years of divisiveness, of the Obama White House dividing our nation against itself, and dividing us against our allies and friends. And in just 84 days, President Trump has replaced divisiveness with decisiveness, whether it’s to do with the border, whether it’s to do with manufacturing, whether it’s to do with NATO, or whether it’s to do with our enemies in ISIS, or in this case, the chemical weapons attack [in Syria] last week, we have changed the geopolitical reality in the world in just a matter of weeks.
President Trump is serious about confronting the terrorist threat, Gorka said.
People now understand just how much the president means what he says. When he says – unequivocally – in front of a joint session of Congress, at CPAC, when he says I am going to obliterate ISIS, literally, when he says, I am going to wipe the Islamic State off the face of the earth, it’s not empty rhetoric.
“It’s stunning” if you read the memoirs of Obama’s defense secretaries, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, Gorka said.
The former Pentagon chiefs tell of National Security Council meetings that last “three to four hours with nobody taking a decision,” he said. “That was the last eight years. That was the reality of the red lines. Along comes President Trump, that’s gone. We have a threat. We’ve promised to deal with and we’re dealing with it right now.”
The remarks by Gorka came hours after the Pentagon announced that U.S. forces dropped a very big bomb aimed at a cave-based complex understood to be occupied by militants in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, not far from the Pakistan border.
“As [ISIS’s] losses have mounted, they are using IEDs [improvised explosive devices], bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Army Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., who commands forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against [ISIS].”
The terrorist forces in the targeted area are part of ISIS-KP, or ISIS-Khorasan Province, which is active in Pakistan and Afghanistan. ISIS-KP is said to be led by the TTP or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (in English, “Taliban Movement of Pakistan”) and by defectors from the Afghan Taliban. ISIS-KP has claimed responsibility for a February suicide-bombing at a shrine in Sehwan, Pakistan, that killed 88 people and left hundreds more wounded. It also claimed responsibility for a November 2016 bombing of a shrine about 60 miles north of Karachi, Pakistan, that killed 50 people and maimed another hundred.
In February this year, Islamic State slaughtered 17 Afghan soldiers, shot six Red Cross aid workers, and orchestrated a suicide-bombing at Afghanistan’s Supreme Court that left at least 20 people dead. “The United Nations reported that civilian casualties from ISIS attacks increased by a factor of ten from 2015 to 2016 in Afghanistan,” The Federalist reports.
The bombing of ISIS-KP constitutes the first time a GBU-43, that is, a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB), also known as the Mother of All Bombs, has been detonated by U.S. forces.
At least 15 of the GPS-guided aluminum-skinned bombs, including the one just used, have reportedly been made by this country. To assist in navigation, it features foldable fins that extend while it is falling to the ground.
Weighing in at more than 21,000 pounds, the 30-foot-long MOAB has a mile-wide blast radius and can leave behind a 900-foot-wide blast crater after being dropped from a Hercules MC-130 cargo airplane. The explosion, which takes place six feet above the ground, can be felt miles away. According to one news summary, the MOAB “creates air pressure that can make tunnels and other structures collapse. It can be used at the start of an offensive to soften up the enemy, weakening both its infrastructure and morale.”
The MOAB can reportedly generate a mushroom cloud that rises to an altitude of 10,000 feet. The weapon is intended to be used to “destroy heavily reinforced targets or to shatter ground forces and armor across a large area.”
The MOAB costs $16 million to make and was first tested by the U.S. military in 2003 for use in the Iraq war.
“The goal is to have the pressure be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates,” then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said. “Short of that — an unwillingness to cooperate — the goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight against the coalition.”
The MOAB evolved out of another massive bomb, the BLU-82, known by the delightful euphemism “Daisy Cutter.” That giant bomb, also used in Afghanistan, weighed 15,000 pounds and could be used, among other things, to flatten jungles. With a large blast radius, the George W. Bush-era bomb was also considered to be “a psychological weapon, in that the loud sound and huge flash helped create ‘shock and awe’ in the enemy.”
Hamid Karzai, the feckless former president of Afghanistan, whined about the U.S. action on Twitter, condemning the attack “vehemently” and “in [the] strongest words.”
“This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as [a] testing ground for new and dangerous weapons,” Karzai tweeted. “It is upon us, Afghans, to stop the #USA.”
Karzai was joined in his criticism by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a radical left-winger and reliable defender of Muslim terrorists who rarely misses an opportunity to kneecap her own country.
“President Trump owes the American people an explanation about his escalation of military force in Afghanistan and his long-term strategy to defeat ISIS,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“No president should have a blank check for endless war, especially not this President, who is acting without any checks or oversight from the Republican-controlled Congress.”
Lee demanded Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) “call Congress back into session, so we can immediately repeal the [post-9/11 attacks] Authorization for the Use of Military Force and put real restraints on President Trump’s warmongering.”
Except Trump wasn’t acting without congressional approval, as Lee implicitly acknowledges. The 2001 force authorization against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and any “associated forces,” now known as Public Law 170-40, never expired.
It stands to reason that you can’t have a president “acting without any checks or oversight,” while at the same time legislation authorizing hostilities continues in legal effect.
Congresswoman Lee, like so many other cognitively-dissonant radicals, doesn’t let facts get in her way.