Trump's 1st Military Raid Results In Child's Death
On Sunday, January 29, the first military raid of Donald Trump's presidency occurred in Yemen, and as one official put it, "almost everything went wrong."
The operation ultimately resulted in the death of two Americans: a US Navy SEAL and an 8-year-old girl named Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki.
According to US officials, 14 combatants were killed in total during the raid, including three al-Qaeda leaders, NBC News reports.
There were also a number of civilian casualties.
Reports of the total number of people killed in the raid vary, but medics on the scene said the death toll was around 30, including at least 10 women and children, Al Jazeera reports.
The 8-year-old girl, Nawar, also known as "Nora," was among the noncombatants killed.
She was the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, also a US citizen, the al-Qaeda leader who was killed in a controversial drone strike ordered by the Obama administration in 2011.
On a separate occasion, two weeks after Anwar al-Awlaki was killed, the Obama administration ordered another drone strike that resulted in the death of al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrhaman al-Awlaki.
As The Intercept notes, the Obama administration eventually claimed the young boy had not been their target and was "collateral damage."
In short, President Obama had already killed this 8-year-old girl's father and brother, and now she's dead too as a result of an operation approved by Trump.
President Obama favored a covert approach to counterterrorism during his tenure, and frequently relied on drones and drone strikes. In the process, he arguably set a very dangerous precedent.
President Trump acknowledged the death of the US service member in a statement on the raid, but did not acknowledge the death of Nawar al-Awlaki.
Trump has been president for a little less than two weeks, and it's been very hectic thus far.
His controversial travel ban for refugees and Muslims from seven predominately countries has generated protests, resulted in the firing of Sally Yates as acting attorney general and dominated headlines along the way.
But, the story of the first military death of Trump's presidency, as well as the fact an 8-year-old American girl died, has arguably been overlooked by both the public and media.
Many have expressed their concern, sadness and anger that no one seems to be talking about the fact a child, and American citizen, was killed in a US military raid.
It doesn't help that things are fairly chaotic on the home front right now, which is definitely a large part of the reason this story has been pushed aside.
During his campaign, Trump pledged to kill the families of terrorists in order to defeat ISIS. Some are noting that, whether intentionally or not, he's now fulfilled this promise.
The US has actually be active in Yemen for awhile, which is another important point to highlight in relation to this tragic story.
It's hard for Americans to hold their government accountable for the actions it takes in their name in other countries if they don't have all of the facts.
When stories like this get brushed under the rug, Americans risk allowing their government and military to operate with impunity.
Americans should be concerned that the US military, under both Obama and Trump, has taken actions that have led to the deaths of US citizens.
Americans should be concerned that by entering Yemen without officially being at war there, we are arguably violating its sovereignty.
Americans should also be concerned that when the US kills ends up killing children (or civilians in general) in the name of security — no matter how accidental — it diminishes our global standing.
Not to mention, all of this increases animosity toward the US, which aids terrorists in their recruiting efforts.
This is not to say that America should not be doing what it can to prevent terror attacks and protect its citizens.
But the public should a part of the conversation surrounding how we should approach this issue. It's pretty hard for that to occur, however, when it's constantly left in the dark.
Citations: How Drones Create More Terrorists (The Atlantic), Is the U.S. drone program in Yemen working? (Brookings), Donald Trump on terrorists: 'Take out their families' (CNN), WhiteHouse.gov, The killing of Awlaki's 16-year-old son (Salon), Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister. (The Intercept), Al Qaeda's Anwar al-Awlaki killed in Yemen (CBS News), Yemeni civilians killed in first US raid under Trump (Aljazeera), SEAL, American Girl Die in First Trump-Era U.S. Military Raid (NBC)