The long national nightmare that was the 2016 presidential election is finally over. Now we’re facing a worse terror: the reality of a Trump presidency. Donald Trump has already promised to nominate a segregationist attorney general, a national security adviser who is a raging Islamophobe, a secretary of education who doesn’t believe in public schools, and a secretary of defense whose sobriquet is “Mad Dog.” How worried should we be that Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis may well be the soberest among them?
Along with a deeply divided country, the worst income inequality since at least the 1920s, and a crumbling infrastructure, Trump will inherit a 15-year-old, apparently never-ending worldwide war. While the named enemy may be a mere emotion (“terror”) or an incendiary strategy (“terrorism”), the victims couldn’t be more real, and as in all modern wars, the majority of them are civilians.
On how many countries is US ordnance falling at the moment? Some put the total at six; others, seven. For the record, those seven would be Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and, oh yes, Yemen.
The United States has been directing drone strikes against what it calls Al Qaeda targets in Yemen since 2002, but our military involvement in that country increased dramatically in 2015 when US ally Saudi Arabia inserted itself into a civil war there. Since then, the United States has been supplying intelligence and mid-air refueling for Saudi bombers (many of them American-made F-15s sold to that country). The State Department has also approved sales to the Saudis of $1.29 billion worth of bombs—“smart” and otherwise—together with $1.15 billion worth of tanks, and half a billion dollars of ammunition. And that, in total, is only a small part of the $115 billion total in military sales the United States has offered Saudi Arabia since President Obama took power in 2009.
Why are American bombs being dropped on Yemen by American-trained pilots from American-made planes? I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, a glimpse of the results.