A graduate of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, George Cassidy Payne is a SUNY Adjunct Humanities Instructor and domestic violence counselor. He serves on the National Council of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the nation’s oldest peace and justice organization. In 2014 he founded the online educational resource called Gandhi Earth Keepers International.
UPDATES: a version on this article was republished in Public Media for Southern New Mexico & Far West Texas on 4/15/17. On 4/18/17, a version of the article was republished in OVI magazine, a publication in Helsinki, Finland. On 4/19/17 a version was republished by the Minority Reporter.
Trump Knew About MOABThe “Mother of all Bombs” was designed and developed under Bush’s watch in 2003. Officially known as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, it is the most powerful weapon in the American arsenal that can be used without violating an international war crime.
Wednesday, leading up to Holy of the Christian calendar, the bomb was detonated in a remote area of Afghanistan to cripple ISIS supply lines.
Now, as I write this editorial on Good Friday, according to journalist Robert Burns, the Pentagon has stated that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan didn’t need and didn’t request President Donald Trump’s approval. “The officials said that even before Trump took office in January, Gen. John Nicholson had standing authority to use the largest non-nuclear bomb ever dropped in combat.”
I don’t buy this chain of events. It is highly suspect that Trump was not briefed about this ahead of time. To think that this massive news story and international breach of martial precedent could be ordered without Trump’s knowledge seems counter-intuitive. Is the Commander of the Armed Forces that irrelevant? Does the man with the nuclear codes mean so little? Can it possibly be the case that Trump was left in the dark when he is engaged in enormously high stakes diplomacy with Russia and China?
Propaganda aside, there are serious questions that must be asked and answered no matter who authorized the bomb’s deployment. What about the atmosphere which was poisoned? What about the crops which were contaminated? What about the trauma inflicted on the land and air? What about the suffering inflicted upon the animals? This region is home to endangered bears, exotic wildcats, and rare birds. What about them? Do they not count?
And don’t be hoodwinked. To blindly accept that innocents did not die in this massive explosion is to believe a fairy tale. This historic weapon takes out city blocks. (It wasn’t made to weigh 22,000 lbs for nothing.) Some of the dead were ISIS. Some were Taliban. Some could have been farmers. Some could have been infants. I can tell you one thing: it wasn’t just 36 ” ISIS terrorists” as the Pentagon stated. There is no such thing as a perfect bomb. There is most certainly no such thing as a perfect MOAB. If it was as clean as the Pentagon said it was, it was an Easter miracle for sure.
I think the bomb was dropped because the president — in cahoots with his military brass in Afghanistan –wanted to see what the damn thing could do. Trump and his more hawkish advisers wanted to fulfill another campaign promise and kick ISIS in the ass. They probably sent out a low key memo to DOD about finding a rational target and the baddest weapon available. It was done to show North Korea, Russia, Iran, and China, what American supremacy looks like. It was a saber rattling blow from the White House that aimed to keep the president immune from tactical and moral responsibility.
But, given the high stakes political context, it seems far fetched to think that this magnitude of a decision would be made rogue style by a general in the field.