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The Noninterventionist President Conducts Secret Drone War

Published: March 14, 2017
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During his “thank you” tour in December, Donald Trump laid out his noninterventionist foreign policy.

“We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with,” Trump said. “Instead, our focus must be on defeating terrorism and destroying ISIS, and we will.”

This caveat—destroying amorphous terror groups (most created by nation states) that do not directly threaten America—diverges from the ideals established by Jefferson and Monroe. Jefferson urged “entangling alliances with none” and Monroe advised only going to war “when our rights are invaded, or seriously menaced.”

The Islamic State does not endanger our rights. Trump cited the Orlando and San Bernardino attacks during the campaign, but the government was unable to link the attacks directly to the terror group, only to people supposedly “inspired” or “radicalized” by the Islamic State. Omar Mateen complained about US foreign policy and the murder of Muslims, but this was underplayed by the propaganda media.

On Monday, Trump gave new authority to the CIA to run its drone program, a departure from the Obama administration policy of constraining the agency’s paramilitary role in the ever-expanding war on terror.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The new authority, which hadn’t been previously disclosed, represents a significant departure from a cooperative approach that had become standard practice by the end of former President Barack Obama’s tenure: The CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike.

On paper at least, the Pentagon was supposed to report the number of people killed in drone strikes, while the CIA operates under “covert authorities” and is not required to do so. This renewed secrecy will allow the CIA extend its drone program.

While U.S. officials said Trump’s action specifically applied to the CIA’s ability to operate in Syria, it means the agency eventually could become empowered under Trump to once again conduct covert strikes in other places where the U.S. is targeting militants in Yemen, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere.

In short, Trump will wage his war in secret.

The CIA is notorious for conducting secret wars. From Laos to Tibet and Afghanistan in the 1980s and beyond, the CIA has directly, and indirectly, killed millions of people since it was established in 1948.

In 1987, former CIA officer John Stockwell said:

These things kill people. 800,000 in Indonesia alone according to CIA’s estimate, 12,000 in Nicaragua, 10,000 in the Angolan operation that I was sitting on in Washington, managing the task force. They add up. We’ll never know how many people have been killed in them. Obviously a lot. Obviously at least a million. 800,000 in Indonesia alone. Undoubtedly the minimum figure has to be 3 million. Then you add in a million people killed in Korea, 2 million people killed in the Vietnam war, and you’re obviously getting into gross millions of people.


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