Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Failure of Airpower

You're as aware as I am I'm sure of how much our military has come to rely on airpower (precision-guided bombs and the like) to wage the "war on terror" and the real wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are so many things wrong with using 2000-lb. bombs to fight terrorists and insurgents that you wonder why we continue. Ted Rall breaks it down for us:

...there's a second, even more disturbing reason the American people lend their tacit consent to the cult of Bomb 'em All, Let God Sort Them Out: We value the lives of our troops a lot more than those of civilians in other countries. We're willing to slaughter them en masse in order to minimize casualties among our own.

Think about it: 200,000 dead Afghans and Iraqis, but no one--not even the left--really cares. 2,500 dead American soldiers, and Bush's popularity sinks to those of cable companies and month-old liver. As far as we are concerned, a foreigner's life is worth a thousandth of an American's...maybe less. Perhaps our transparent disregard for foreigners' lives is why they take us less than seriously when we come to "liberate" them.

Is anybody willing to say he's wrong? He isn't. We use airstrikes and drop bombs on houses full of families to kill an Al Qaeda operative that might be inside because it spares us from putting our soldiers in harms way, and spares us from seeing what we've done except now and again when our cable news networks get their hands on video footage invariably filmed by a native cameraman on the scene. Doing so also spares us from having to use adequate forces in a military campaign. So in short, we're willing to drop powerful "precision-guided" weapons on civilians because it's convenient, easy, cheap, and requires no sacrifice on our part.

The only problem is it's wrong, and it doesn't work.


adam said...

Rall tells it like it is, and yes, it's pretty much impossible to refute on rational grounds.

Nat-Wu said...

Given that we've known for a long time that "precision" strikes always come with lots of "collateral damage" (also known as mass murder), there's no way that continuing to use air power in the way that we have looks rational unless that's exactly the effect we intend to achieve.