President Trump has come a long way from the outspoken GOP candidate who condemned the Iraq War, and convinced voters that he would have taken a different approach.
“We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East,” Trump said in 2016. “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none.”
He used the war as a talking point when criticizing Hillary Clinton, appealing to voters who were fed up with the United States’ foreign policy and its patterns of pushing for regime change in the Middle East.
One year later, the newly inaugurated president is the head of an administration that would make Clinton proud regarding its policies in the Middle East.
In addition to calling for increasing the U.S. defense budget by $54 billion, and increasing troops on the ground in Syria, the Trump Administration has also drastically increased US airstrikes in the Middle East, and there is one group paying the price: innocent civilians.
As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald noted, “Although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, there seems little question that the number of civilians being killed by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria—already quite high under Obama—has increased precipitously during the first two months of the Trump administration.”
The thing is, while Trump did speak out against the Iraq War, his current hawkish stance in the Middle East shouldn’t come as a major surprise. When he was on the campaign trail, Trump also promised on multiple occasions to “bomb the hell out of ISIS.”
While Trump’s ability to seemingly play both sides of the aisle on the campaign trail should be highlighted, it’s important to remember that his foreign policy is nothing new—it is simply an escalation of the foreign policy put into place by George W. Bush and prolonged by Barack Obama.