One of the most affecting things I’ve recently read is this line from Lee Camp’s recent article Trump’s Military Drops a Bomb Every 12 Minutes, and No One Is Talking About It.
While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someone’s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names.
As I’ll describe, this reality of our constant guilt in the slaughter of innocent people is too overwhelming for many Americans to confront. And this reality has gotten bloodier than usual since Donald Trump became president a year and a half ago. Trump’s military is indeed dropping bombs on an average of twelve minutes, keeping up with the average of 121 bombs per day that the U.S. dropped in the first year of Trump’s term. Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have been the main targets of this escalated global assault, with bombs having been dropped on these countries in record numbers throughout the last year. An expanded drone war has naturally been part of this, with Trump having been sued by the ACLU last December for the unethical secrecy of his administration’s increasingly deadly drone assassination practices.
Overall, Trump has outdone Obama’s famous deed of dropping bombs on seven countries, with Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and now Niger having been attacked by the U.S. in the last year. In front of these rarely mentioned warfare escalations from the Trump administration, the U.S. has twice sent missiles at Syria without provocation, and the annual military budget has been raised by more than $80 billion in the last year. And the warfare hasn’t stopped expanding, telling from the Trump White Houses’ considerations for invading Venezuela, its explicitly stated goal of regime change in Iran, and its continued willingness to intervene in Syria.
President Trump has publicly endorsed and approved all of these hawkish, destructive policies. Yet whenever I’ve mentioned them to Trump supporters, the consensus is that I’m being unfair. They say that these things haven’t happened. Or that the drone strikes are justified because they’ve only hit terrorists (despite how the CIA’s own documents have shown that only 2% of American drones are recorded as having killed people on the kill list). Or that it’s unreasonable to expect Trump to fix the system at once. In any case, it’s agreed on that Trump is not to blame, and that I’ve fallen for partisan propaganda.
Do these statements sound familiar to you too? They’re essentially the same things that many of Obama’s supporters have said when confronted with the similar pro-war policies of their president. Anyone who’s recently tried to talk about America’s warfare in online threads can probably relate to my experience; people don’t like to hear when their chosen leaders do bad things, so they push the uncomfortable information aside.
Idealizing leaders is a common human mistake, and it’s evidently been made by antiwar-minded people who support both Obama and Trump. And I don’t blame either of these camps for making it, because they’ve both fallen into the political order that the plutocracy has designed. This is an order where the liberal and conservative teams are pitted against each other, while the ruling oligarchs carry out their wars and neoliberal policies from behind the scenes.
Trump does not represent a salvation from this paradigm. His continuation of Bush and Obama’s worst policies has shown which side he’s on. The only thing that can meaningfully transform society is massive, bottom-up revolutionary action. And that requires us to apply scrutiny to all of our leaders, including the ones we’d like to think are the answer.