While the US military already goes around carrying out attacks in places they aren’t engaged in conventional wars a lot more than most, there are actually a lot of rules in place to limit how much they can do this, and a lot of those rules are being respected.
President Trump is said to be looking for loopholes in the constraints put on such attacks, particularly as they relate to the risk of killing a lot of civilians, and is hoping to dramatically loosen the restrictions to allow the military even freer access to carry out strikes around the Muslim world.
The first move to get around the limit in non-battlefields was to unilaterally declare parts of Yemen “areas of active hostilities” so they could carry out attacks there with impunity. Officials say that large portions of Somalia will be similarly designated in the coming days.
It’s not clear, however, that this is either a long-term solution or something which can be credibly expanded across much of the planet, and the calamitous number of civilians killed in Yemen in Trump’s first big raid is likely to make copy-pasting this solution across several continents a difficult sell.
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