Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump unleashed one of the most powerful U.S. bombs—the 20,000 pound GBU-43, known as "the mother of all bombs"—on Afghanistan on Thursday, the Pentagon has confirmed.
The MOAB, which stands for massive ordinance air blast, reportedly struck an Islamic State (ISIS) tunnel complex in Nangarhar province. According to the Department of Defense statement, "the strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities."
However, as observers pointed out, with a one-mile blast radius, the chance of numerous civilian causalities is high. The MOAB is said to be one of the largest non-nuclear bombs in the U.S. military arsenal and this is reportedly the first time it has been used.
The US just dropped a MOAB bomb with a blast radius of 1mile on Afghanistan, knowingly taking innocent lives in it's wake. Let that sink in. pic.twitter.com/bfXxDsKnu0
— The Sparrow Project (@sparrowmedia) April 13, 2017
odd how the media magically knows the bomb only hit "ISIS" pic.twitter.com/a3v7kUIFEu
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) April 13, 2017
The U.K.-based Stop the War Coalition declared Thursday that the attack "should terrify everyone."
"Called the mother of all bombs, it is Donald Trump's latest military foray—this time against ISIS but last week it was against Syria and in January against Yemen," the group states, pointing to other recent U.S. bombings. "According to one expert, the blast with the radius of one mile will feel like a nuclear explosion to anyone in the area. Trump's supposed isolationism has been shown to be a sham as he lashes out in every direction without regard for the consequences."
"Trump must be opposed in his relentless drive to war," the group added.
In a statement on Thursday, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said the "unprecedented use of a MOAB...marks a new front in the almost 16 year war in Afghanistan."
"President Trump," Lee said, "owes the American people an explanation about his escalation of military force in Afghanistan and his long-term strategy to defeat ISIS. No president should have a blank check for endless war, especially not this President, who is acting without any checks or oversight from the Republican-controlled Congress."
As both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are currently on a two-week Easter hiatus, Lee urged House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) "to call Congress back into session, so we can immediately repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force and put real restraints on President Trump's warmongering."
Other observers similarly questioned what effect the bombing would have on the protracted conflict, while numerous people, including whistleblower Edward Snowden, pointed to the munition's estimated $314 million price tag. As one put it, "You could do a lot of good in this country for $314M."
Igor Volsky, deputy director of the Center for American Progress's political arm, CAP Action, wrote on Twitter after the MOAB dropped:
Bombs not gonna solve Afghanistan. If military power was the answer, we'd have won 15yrs ago
Trump taking military action w/o strategy
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) April 13, 2017
Kabul. Staff meeting. 0800.
"We've been fighting this war for 15 years. Any ideas on how to make people in the US care about it again?" pic.twitter.com/nf4Gu0FH67
— Thomas Gibbons-Neff (@Tmgneff) April 13, 2017
The bomb @realDonaldTrump just dropped cost $314 million.
Don't tell us we can't afford to fund programs that help the poor.
— Jordan Uhl (@JordanUhl) April 13, 2017
— Scott Santens (@scottsantens) April 13, 2017
The U.S. military has been emboldened under Trump, who has deferred substantially to his military leaders. At the same time, the president has taken steps to undo certain restraints, making it easier for commanders to order attacks outside of war zones, without approval or oversight, and lowering the standard for what defines an "acceptable" civilian casualty.
Thursday's massive strike follows a series of high-profile U.S. military attacks. Last week, Trump unilaterally bombed a Syrian government airfield—a move that was widely lauded by the media and leaders in both political parties, but widely condemned by critics of military action.
It also comes mere weeks after U.S. military airstrikes killed more than 200 civilians in Mosul, Iraq. March was the most deadly month for civilians in Iraq and Syria, according to the military watchdog Airwars. At the same time, the number of munitions dropped in both countries reached a new record in March, as well.
So far this year, 10,918 munitions have been dropped on Iraq and Syria, with January, February and March each setting new records for munitions dropped. This represents a 59 percent rise on the number of munitions released during January – March 2016, suggesting that President Donald Trump may be following through with his election promise to "bomb the shit out of ISIS."