Let's start this article off with a bang:
That's footage of the MOAB- the largest non-nuclear bomb ever to be used- blasting a hole into ISIS's hidden cache of supplies and resources in Afghani mountains.
Afghanistan officials said 36 Islamic State militants were killed when the U.S. dropped the “mother of all bombs” on a tunnel complex Thursday.
The Afghanistan Ministry of Defense added in a statement Friday that there were no civilian casualties and that several Islamic State caves and ammunition caches were destroyed. (via LwC)
Now, most people might celebrate a strategic strike like this against one of the top enemies of the Free World, but it's hard to look at footage like that a smile- especially when you consider that the bomb was the strongest conventional weapon ever used.
It was the first time the bomb, known as the GBU-43, or “Massive Ordnance Air Blast,” was used in combat. It has a yield of 11 tons of TNT, and is nicknamed the “Mother of All Bombs.” (via Breitbart)
That's some serious firepower. And even when used against a legitimate enemy, such strikes make everyone feel a bit nervous. I know I'm a little wet in the shorts.
To think that we have that kind of destructive power reminds us that devastating war is not a figment of our imagination, a relic of the past, or imagery we see in movies. At a moment's notice, much of the civilized world can be plunged into horrific destruction and chaos.
While I'm strongly in support of our President's efforts to wipe ISIS off the map, it's never fun to face the realities of warfare. This is especially true in light of growing conflicts in other parts of the world. As U.S. forces drop bombs on ISIS strongholds, we are tipping closer and closer to all-out conflict in a nearby region. Not for entirely dissimilar reasons.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “steps are under way” to form an international coalition to remove the president of Syria Bashar al-Assad after Tuesday’s chemical bombings in Syria...
TILLERSON: The process by which Assad would leave I think requires an international community effort, both to first defeat ISIS within Syria, to stabilize the Syrian country, to avoid further civil war and then to work collectively with our partners around the world through a political process that would lead to Assad leaving. (via Breitbart)
Eh. You know what that might mean: the U.S. is going to depose Assad in a lengthy engagement in Syria. Secretary of State Tillerson said it would be an "international community effort," but when have we ever seen the United Nations or other countries step up to do the dirty work? There's a good chance that the United States will be forced to send troops- our sons and daughters, husbands and wives- into the region to physically oust the entrenched dictator, not to mention the rebels, ISIS, and various other groups that are vying for control over Syria.
And you know that even after Assad is removed, we're going to have to stick around to "keep the peace" until a democratic system is put into place and is proven to work. Not an easy task.
Doesn't this sound all too familiar? We've tried this out before, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places. Even though military action by the United States starts as an effort to keep our country safe, it often devolves into having to put back together the shattered pieces of another country.
I guess you can say that all started way back at the end of WWII, where Allied Forces took on the responsibility of rebuilding Germany. But it's become a tiresome, yet necessary task as the result of war.
Currently, we have a president who- in the early 2000's- criticized then President Bush's choice to get involved in Iraq. Back then Trump asserted we should be focusing on internal issues, like the economy. Even during the 2016 election, Trump campaigned on rebuilding America's infrastructure and putting our interests first.
Now it looks like we are going to have to commit ourselves to invading Syria and bringing an end to this six-year civil war.
Has Trump betrayed us? Liberals will be quick to say yes (although some have applauded the airstrike), but they say that all too quickly when it comes to Trump. Many diehard conservatives and alt-righters have disavowed Trump because of his involvement in Syria; yet their decision to do so speaks more of their isolationist views- views that might not be realistic in the 21st Century.
While we can dissect just who's to blame for the problems in Syria (i.e.: Barack Obama, Russia, ISIS, etc.) the fact remains that we've reached a point where we can't sit back and do nothing. Even if the sight of innocent women and children being gassed to death isn't enough to compel a moral country into action, the United States has allies in the region that cannot be neglected.
We know that the Syrian conflict has spilled into many areas of the world. Refugees fleeing the bloodshed have entered Europe, creating an epic crisis. The chaos has given ISIS a significant foothold in the region, presenting a new threat to every Middle Eastern country. If the United States hopes to maintain relations with such groups as Israel and OPEC, there is no doubt we had to act.
It's a terrible situation, considering we've already committed ourselves to destroying ISIS. Now we might face the difficult situation of diverting resources from taking the terrorist group out, to dismantling Assad's regime.
You might say that invading Syria would be killing two birds with one stone. While removing the gas-loving dictator, we can also uproot ISIS in the country. Possible, but maybe not.
That might sound like a wonderful turn of events, but we have more conflict on the horizon. In an entirely different part of the world.
An NBC News report citing “military sources” claims Donald Trump and senior military officials are prepared to launch a preemptive conventional strike against North Korea if the country carries out another nuclear weapons test.
Military sources told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two Tomahawk missiles in the Korean peninsula approximately 300 miles from where North Korea will carry out its next nuclear test. (via Breitbart)
Oh Goddammit, really? We are teetering on the brink of war in Syria and now this? That's just what we need, another conflict to spread our forces thin.
Once again we can argue whether or not we should engage North Korea, or if a strike by U.S. forces won't spark a long and costly war with the Communist nation. While North Korea doesn't exactly have the resources to survive a long engagement with the United States, a preemptive strike against one of our allies could be too terrible to allow.
North Korea has begun preparing festivities for the “Day of the Sun,” a holiday celebrating communist leader Kim Il-Sung. Satellite images suggest that among those festivities may be the nation’s sixth nuclear test, which would arrive at a particularly tempestuous time in the relationship between Pyongyang and its largest benefactor, China. (via Breitbart)
Rumors have been swirling for a while now that North Korea is planning something. It could be another test, or it could be an actual attack. South Korea and Japan are far too close for comfort. If they do have nuclear weapons ready to launch, even a single strike might cause unimaginable casualties. A preemptive strike from the U.S. could stop a conflict before it starts, or plunge us into a short but painful war.
Conflict with North Korea has long been brewing. Stories circulate that before 9-11, the U.S. military even was contemplating taking action against the nation. The constant saber-rattling of their leaders, combined with continued nuclear development, have made the rogue nation too unstable to ignore. For many years the U.S. has been able to turn a blind eye to North Korea; that might not be possible anymore.
When you consider our commitments in the Middle East- not to mention our regular commitments to allies around the world- it's possible that Kim Jong-Un will exploit the distraction to get in a deadly strike.
Then there is the big red elephant in the room: China. While President Trump has recently met with the Chinese president and claims it was a good interaction, China has not made it clear what actions they will take in regards to North Korea. Will they support their economic ally, the United States? Or will the ties of Communism that link the two countries prove too great to sever?
Trump had this to say on Twitter:
I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2017
Strong rhetoric, yes. And considering he just spoke with the Chinese president, maybe this means they will intervene with North Korea and prevent conflict.
But considering there has been no definite word from China, things are still uncertain. During this time, there might be a window of opportunity for North Korea to act, before their big brother China clamps down on their wild behavior.
Can we afford to deal with whatever they do during that window? I hope so.
No matter how you look at it, there is a good chance that President Trump's early time in office will be marked, not by his promised reforms to our country, but by military conflict that could pose costly for our nation.
Political pundits can split hairs over the pros and cons. They can point fingers and blame each other. But the fact remains that if the United States engages in numerous conflicts around the world- at the same time- it won't end well.
Aside from the loss of life and destruction, it will create distractions from the real challenges we face as a country. Needed change, reform, and improvements will be denied as America commits to fighting enemies spread out across the globe.
Then there's the whole, end of the world thing. Best not to think about that, though.
UPDATE: This article was written on April 14th, 2017 shortly before the latest North Korean nuclear test. The test has since happened and reportedly suffered a near instant failure; a massive setback for the North Korean nuclear program.