Later, when the agency’s head of drone operations explained that the CIA had developed special munitions to limit civilian casualties, the president seemed unimpressed. Watching a previously recorded strike in which the agency held off on firing until the target had wandered away from a house with his family inside, Trump asked, “Why did you wait?” one participant in the meeting recalled.
On the campaign trail, Trump often said he would “take out” the families of terrorists.
Civilians routinely die when the U.S. drops its bombs, but our consciences are supposed to be salved because of all the steps the military takes to avoid civilian casualties. (The U.S. government also tends to undercount civilian casualties.) If you’re on the receiving end of U.S. bombs, those good intentions probably don’t count for much: You’re maimed or dead either way, probably angry as hell if you’re a survivor. But at least we can convince ourselves we’re prosecuting messy wars in as morally upright a fashion as possible if we understand ourselves to be trying.
President Trump would dispense with even that fig leaf of moral superiority.
Read the full Washington Post story and you’ll come to understand that America’s wars abroad are confused affairs, that our country is apparently doomed to stumble around causing overseas bloodshed in perpetuity … or until such time as the cost, in blood or treasure or the simple willingness of Americans to ignore and tolerate what’s done on our behalf, becomes too much. I doubt it’s doing much to make us safer.
Trump’s approach makes all this worse. If the people we’re bombing can point to his words, that will create more enemies for America. In the terrorism era, it doesn’t take too many enemies to inflict some serious misery. Trump’s kill ’em all approach seems likely to make us less safe. If morality doesn’t make adifference to the president — and clearly it doesn’t — utilitarian considerations might. Unfortunately, Trump only knows about (and seemingly only cares about) looking like a TV version of a tough guy.