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Nearly 25,000 U.S. Bombs Were Dropped on Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen in 2016

posted on: Jan 13, 2017

An F-15E Strike Eagle deploys countermeasure flares Nov. 12 over Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

As President Obama’s administration comes to an end, his foreign policy and military approaches are being scrutinized. President Obama ran his presidential campaign on promises to roll back the U.S. military presence in the Arab world and make America friendly again with the international community. However, in his final year in office, President Obama dropped almost 25,000 bombs on Arab and other countries.

President Obama has used ten times more airstrikes than President Bush before him, and hit a total of seven countries during his final year in office. Syria and Iraq received the majority of Obama’s authorized airstrikes, accounting for 79 percent of the total: Syria (12,192), Iraq (12,095), Afghanistan (1,337), Libya (496), Yemen (34), Somalia (14), and Pakistan (3). This means that the U.S. military targeted combatants and civilians 72 times every day in 2016, or three times every hour.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, which tracks this information, the U.S. “dropped 3,027 more bombs—and in one more country, Libya—than in 2015.”

By the end of 2016, U.S. special operators could be found in 138 countries – that’s 70% of the world’s nations. This was a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration.

The administrations also differed in their intentions for attacking these countries. President Bush was reacting to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York City and false intelligence information about weapons of mass destruction when he invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. President Obama used authorizations from 2001 and 2003 to continue Bush’s wars, citing the Taliban’s regained control in Afghanistan and the Islamic State’s expanded territory in Syria and Iraq as reasons for the airstrikes.

Additionally, the airstrikes in Somalia and Pakistan were regarding instability and potential terrorism, while the airstrikes in Yemen were out of support for Saudi Arabia. Since 2015, Yemen and Saudi Arabia have been at war, and the U.S. is aiding Saudi Arabia.

Human rights organizations and the Council on Foreign Relations claim that these figures are actually much higher because not all airstrikes are reported. The number of civilian casualties as a result of the airstrikes is also unclear because in certain areas being bombed, the U.S considers everyone there a combatant.

President Obama campaigned on the platform of ending Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but 2016 saw a surge in airstrikes in both of the countries. Although there are fewer American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since the Bush era, the increase in American troops and strikes in Afghanistan during President Obama’s final year is suspect.

In one week, this military control will be transferred to President-elect Donald Trump. Like President Obama, Donald Trump has said he was against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but opposition to war does not necessarily lead to less military force. Donald Trump has pledged to make the military stronger