In less than 100 days in office, President Donald Trump is pushing the United States closer to the brink of war.
If the Trump administration continues down its current path the question will not be whether the United States will be involved in a new war but where.
In just four months in office, the Trump administration has raised the possibility of a military conflict with North Korea, Syria and deeper military involvement in Afghanistan.
On April 7, Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a Syrian air force base. The U.S. blamed the Syrian government for launching a deadly chemical attack that killed over 80 people. Russia claimed that the victims were killed by toxic agents released from a rebel chemical arsenal and pushed for an international probe.
The attack has led to a war of words between the United States and Russia, which backs the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week issued an ultimatum to Russia that it could either side with the U.S. on Syria or embrace Assad.
Russia, Syria and Iran warned the United States against launching new strikes on Syria.
In stark contrast to his campaign promises to establish better ties with Moscow, Trump now says that U.S. relations with Russia “may be at an all-time low.”
A week after the missile attack in Syria, U.S. forces in Afghanistan struck an Islamic State tunnel complex with the largest nonnuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military, reportedly killing 95 militants, Pentagon officials said.
The April 13 strike hit a tunnel complex carved into a mountain that Afghan forces tried to assault repeatedly in recent weeks, according to Afghan officials.
U.S. and Afghan forces have been battling the Taliban for more than 15 years. But the U.S. military ordered the bombing attack against the Islamic State group, which has a smaller but growing presence in Afghanistan. Trump has publicly vowed to aggressively confront the Islamic State.
But former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday the U.S. is using Afghanistan as a weapons testing ground, calling the recent use of the bomb “an immense atrocity against the Afghan people.”
Karzai, in an interview with The Associated Press, objected to the decision, saying that his country “was used very disrespectfully by the U.S. to test its weapons of mass destruction.”
The office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said following the bomb’s usage that there was “close coordination” between the U.S. military and the Afghan government over the operation, and they were careful to prevent any civilian casualties.
But Karzai harshly criticized the Afghan government for allowing the use of the bomb.
As if the cruise missile attack on Syria and then a week later the bombing in Afghanistan was not enough, the possibility of a conflict with North Korea is increasing.
Last Monday, Vice President Mike Pence said that “the era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over and “all options are on the table,” including military.
“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” Pence said during a visit to South Korea that brought him to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) of the North Korean border. “North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”
This boasting by Pence and the attacks in Syria and Afghanistan are in marked contrast to the Obama administration and even candidate Trump who talked about a less interventionist foreign policy.
Republicans criticized President Barack Obama’s cautionary approach to foreign conflicts. But it better reflected the views of most Americans who had grown wary of the country getting involved in more military conflicts after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pence said Trump is showing “strength and resolve,” in dealing with foreign conflicts.
A more plausible view is that Trump is showing his impatience and inexperience.