The United States Air Force dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb. What signal does that send to the world?
At 7:32 pm local time Thursday the United States Air Force dropped a bomb on a target in Afghanistan. The bomb dropped was the BGU-43, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” or more accurately Massive Ordnance Air Blast. Weighing in at 22,000 pounds with an explosive yield equivalent to eleven tons of TNT, it is the most powerful conventional bomb in the US arsenal, surpassed only in power by nuclear weapons. First developed a decade ago, Thursday marked its first use in combat.
The United States dropped the MOAB on a tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province near the Pakistan border. The Islamic State (ISIS) uses these caverns and tunnels to travel freely along the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The bombing was a response to the death of a Green Beret in the area only days prior. The Trump Administration made it clear that there would be more than proportional responses to the number of American lives lost in combat. The Trump Administration, in using this weapon, sent a message across the globe: there is a new new sheriff in Washington D.C.
The United States finds itself in a precarious global environment. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has described current U.S.-Russia relations at “a low point.” The United States continues to grapple with the controversial Iran nuclear deal and a tumultuous Middle East. The situation in North Korea continues to deteriorate. Arguably, the past eight years of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy decisions caused the United States to appear weak or hesitant to engage in dire situations. This is not a guiding philosophy Americas can afford to follow. By using the MOAB, the Trump Administration has sent a statement to allies and enemies alike. The United States is willing to lead from the front. It also sends a clear message to our enemies that that hostile actions will not be tolerated. If a nation or terrorist groups crosses a certain line, there will be swift and severe consequences. Most importantly, The United States of America is no longer under the leadership of a President who makes idle threats. The world is now on notice.
Michael Johnson Jr. studies political science at Duke University.