Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Call for More War After Orlando Massacre
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may be bitter political rivals, but the presumptive Republican and Democratic presidential nominees have this much in common—both believe the best way to respond to the horrific massacre of 50 Orlando clubgoers by a homegrown attacker is to bomb more Muslims on the other side of the world.
Orlando shooter Omar Mateen may have sworn allegiance to Islamic State during his deadly rampage on Sunday, but there is no evidence that the attack was planned, directed or funded by anyone but the gunman himself. This seemed to matter little to Trump, who fallaciously claimed Mateen was “born in Afghan” as he doubled down on his call to ban all Muslim immigration and travel to the United States. In fact, Mateen was born in Queens—the same borough of New York City where Trump was born. Another fact: of the more than 784,000 refugees resettled in the United States since 9/11, not a single one has been found to be involved in any credible plot to carry out a terrorist attack in the country.
But Trump has never been one to let facts stand in his way.
“We have generals that feel we can win this thing so fast and so strong, but we have to be furious for a short period of time, and we’re not doing it,” he said during a Monday morning appearance on Fox & Friends. When pressed by host Brian Kilmeade whether the US should bomb Raqqa, the densely-populated Islamic State capital, Trump insisted that “we’re going to have to start thinking about something.”
Clinton also sounded a hawkish tone in the wake of Sunday’s tragedy.
“The attack in Orlando makes it even more clear, we cannot contain this threat. We must defeat it,” she said in Cleveland, Ohio. “And the good news is that the coalition effort in Syria and Iraq has made recent gains in the last months. So we should keep the pressure on ramping up the air campaign, accelerating support for our friends fighting to take and hold ground and pushing our partners in the region to do even more.”
Clinton has consistently supported the US war against terrorism since the Islamist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, even when that war has been expanded into countries having nothing to do with 9/11. As a US senator, she voted for the punitive war in Afghanistan. As senator and later secretary of state, she also voted for and supported the 2003-2011 invasion and occupation of Iraq, despite there being no connection between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the September 11 attacks. As secretary of state, Clinton played an instrumental role in persuading top Obama administration officials to intervene in the Libyan civil war in 2011. As a presidential candidate, she has called for a no-fly zone to be enforced over northern Syria, a move that many military and political experts say will increase the danger of war with Russia.
None of the wars backed by Clinton have ended well for anyone but Islamist militant groups and war profiteers. In fact, none of them have ended at all. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria remain in various states of civil war, their populations devastated by years of violence and privation. As many as 1.3 million people have been killed since the US-led war against terrorism began 15 years ago, the longest war in American history. Despite the endless campaign against them, Islamist radicals have been empowered and emboldened in all four countries, with a resurgent Taliban plaguing Afghanistan and Islamic State controlling large swathes of Syria, Iraq and Libya. The rise of Islamic State and the multi-national coalition campaign to defeat it has created the worst refugee crisis the world has witnessed in decades. That, in turn, has fomented widespread Islamophobia throughout the Western world, sentiment upon which Trump and right-wing politicians like him have seized to boost their own political careers.
The presumptive presidential nominees’ call for more war is all the more dubious considering a 2004 Defense Science Board Task Force report, ordered by then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that concluded “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” was a major motivator of Islamist terrorism against the United States.
One last fact: over the past half century, US military action has killed more innocent foreign civilians than any other force on earth. This is quite an uncomfortable truth for a nation whose people overwhelmingly consider themselves liberators, even as successive administrations—including the current one, with Clinton as its former top diplomat—have supported many brutal dictatorships, some of them genocidal, and overthrown democratically elected governments viewed as undesirable by Washington and elite American interests, mostly of the corporate variety.