Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
President Donald Trump is responsible for the most powerful military the world has ever seen, but many question whether he has the moral capacity for the job.
A new report from the Washington Post by reporter Greg Jaffe brings these questions to the fore. Trump’s behavior in a meeting about drone strikes, as recounted by anonymous sources, gives the impression that he has little regard for civilian lives:
“…[W]hen 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.”
Trump has never hidden his cavalier attitude toward warfare, and this account is in line with his previous statements.
“We’re fighting a very politically correct war,” Trump said in 2015 during the campaign. “When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.”
At the time, other candidates pointed out that this would constitute a war crime. But Trump advocated other war crimes during the campaign as well, like tortureand taking a sovereign nation’s oil. Trump decided early on that he wanted to be a norm-breaking candidate, and advocating war crimes was just another norm to break.
Since taking office, Trump’s military advisers have dissuaded him from bringing back torture, and it’s unlikely the Pentagon would endorse usurping another nation’s natural resources. But despite the predictions and hope of many of his backers, Trump does not appear to have pivoted from the most extreme and dangerous views he voiced during the campaign.