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Washington’s Backfiring Bombing

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Written by Brian Cloughley; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

Wikipedia tells us that “The Times Square Ball is a… prominent part of a New Year’s Eve celebration commonly referred to as the ball drop, where the ball descends 43 metres in 60 seconds… to signal the start of the new year.” It’s one of these silly things that is quite appealing in the spirit of the Christmas-New Year season, and most of us have a chuckle and consider ourselves slightly foolish for enjoying it.

Washington’s Backfiring Bombing

The B-2 flies over the Utah Testing and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, during the test run Sept. 10, in which the B-2 dropped 80 inert Joint Direct Attack Munitions. (Photo by Bobbie Garcia)

But there was another and less amusing ball-drop on New Year’s Day, involving a tweet from US Strategic Forces Command or Stratcom, which declares it “deters strategic attack and employs forces, as directed, to guarantee the security of our nation and our allies” In the gobbledegook language of the military it, amongst other things “deters catastrophic actions from adversaries and poses an immediate threat to any actor who questions US resolve by demonstrating our capabilities.”

According to Stars and Stripes, the Stratcom tweet read “Times Square tradition rings in the New Year by dropping the big ball… if ever needed, we are ready to drop something much, much bigger.” As greetings go, you couldn’t get much more crass, confrontational and puerile than that.

The Washington Post noted that an embedded video “showed footage of a B-2 stealth bomber. As the words STEALTH, READY and LETHAL flashed across the screen, the aircraft released bombs. They fall to the ground and crash with a fiery explosion.” Just another video game, really.

The tweet was withdrawn with the apology that it “was in poor taste & does not reflect our values” but it is obvious that the original message is the one that Stratcom, the US Air Force and Washington as a whole want to send : their “values” include being “ready to drop something much, much bigger” on targets all round the world, and they’ve been blitzing with depressing frequency for many years. A month before the big ball bomb tweet Reuters reported that “At least 30 Afghan civilians were killed in US air strikes in the Afghan province of Helmand, officials and residents of the area said on Wednesday [November 28], the latest casualties from a surge in air operations aimed at driving the Taliban into talks.”

Of course the Taliban will never be driven into talks by bombing. In 2018 they were blitzed at the highest rate in all the seventeen years that the US and its allies have been rocketing and bombing and generally blasting all over the country. It’s impossible for us to realise what death and destruction has been caused by the 5,213 bombs that slammed explosively onto Afghanistan in the period January to September last year, but one outcome is made fairly clear by a Forbes’ report that “the UN announced that the number of civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2018 is higher than in any year since it started documenting them in 2009.” And it is apparent that Washington’s war aim has not been assisted in any way by its bombing surge.

Washington’s Backfiring Bombing

One of the most over-used clichés is “history repeats itself” — but it’s difficult to refrain from using it, when one compares the US defeat in Vietnam to the present situation in Afghanistan.

As recounted by The Diplomat two years ago, “A new survey on the use of aerial bombing during the Vietnam War has seemingly confirmed what many suspected: the systematic bombing of South Vietnam detracted from, rather than furthered, US war aims… and in fact contributed to the instability of the South Vietnamese government.”

The parallels with 2019 Afghanistan are sadly unmistakable.

Exactly a year ago Donald Trump tweeted “Taliban targeted innocent Afghans, brave police in Kabul today. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims, and first responders. We will not allow the Taliban to win!” Reuters reported him saying that “We don’t want to talk to the Taliban. We’re going to finish what we have to finish, what nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it.”

So 2018 became the Year of the Bombing, and the Taliban, those latter-day Viet Cong, undoubtedly suffered many casualties. Nobody knows how many were killed, and there is no means of estimating the effect that increased numbers of dead Taliban might have on the conduct of the war. What is of more significance, however, is the number of civilians killed, and the effects their deaths have had on Afghan citizens.

All the US-NATO countries involved in Afghanistan, and of course the Afghan government itself, are enormously pleased that the Afghan Air Force is now capable of conducting aerial attacks. Every media release concerned with such operations is redolent with pride that such progress in prowess is being made. The New York Times noted that “the Afghan government increasingly relies on airpower in its fight against a resurgent Taliban” and there is no doubt that many airstrikes are now being carried out by Afghan-piloted aircraft. They are, of course, US aircraft, and thereby lies a little problem.

One important thing to be taken into account is the fact that from the ground the people being blitzed have no idea of the nationality of the person who presses the button that releases the bombs and rockets that are intended to kill enemies of the despatcher but only too often kill civilians who have nothing to do with the conflict.

The problem is exemplified by the BBC’s report about one shambles in 2018, when “The helicopters arrived shortly after midday and sent a rocket hurtling into an area at the back of the crowd where children were sitting. As people began to flee, witnesses said, heavy machine gun fire followed them. It was the latest deadly example of how a ferocious new air campaign against the Taliban has caused a spike in civilian casualties from US and Afghan air operations. This Afghan Air Force attack on 2 April in north-eastern Kunduz province killed at least 36 people and injured 71, the UN says. Although witnesses said Taliban fighters and senior figures were in the crowd, 30 of those killed were children.”

The United Nations estimates that in the first six months of 2018 airstrikes killed 149 civilians and injured 204, a 52 percent increase from the same period last year and “ It is of particular concern that women and children made up more than half of all aerial-attack civilian casualties.”

Of course it is horrifying that all these ordinary people were slaughtered in the most awful manner. And what is not known is the fate of those who were wounded, physically and mentally, in these terrifying attacks. There is no health care in Afghan villages, and children who are maimed stay maimed.

And the Taliban gain influence.

In two of the latest airstrike debacles on December 31 “the Taliban attacked a military convoy… American helicopter gunships arrived and fired rockets at the trucks. A house was also hit during the bombardment. Two civilian men and three women were killed, and 12 others were wounded, including nine women” and “five civilians were killed by an American airstrike during a joint military operation by Afghan and American special forces in Zurmat District.”

If you are a young man who is a member or friend of a family that has been shattered by bombs and rockets in a terrifying attack from the air, are you going to support the government that ordered such slaughter? It doesn’t matter to you that it was a “mistake”. What matters is that you lost people close to you. And it is very likely that you will join the Taliban, whom you consider to be the only people fighting against those who killed members of your family, clan or tribe. These airstrikes are the militants’ best recruiting advertisements.

Washington’s bombing is backfiring.

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  • Jesus

    One dimensional warfare, in this case aerial warfare does not lead to any lasting success, as was the case in Vietnam, without a resolute ground effort and combined arms operations the effects of air attacks alone are minimal.

    I would want to see those B2 bombers fly over China and Russia and see how far they get, to drop their mother of all bombs. S400 and 300 would locate and shoot down this subsonic flying wing with relative ease.

    • Pave Way IV

      “…without a resolute ground effort and combined arms operations the effects of air attacks alone are minimal…”

      What? Did you forget our great aerial campaign and victory at Ban Laboy crossing? Destroying it shut down the entire Ho Chi Minh Train for decades, allowing the U.S. to win the Vietnam War. Don’t believe the commie lies otherwise. We just need more B-52s in Afghanistan carpet bombing for VICTORY!

      • Jesus

        “””What? Did you forget our great aerial campaign and victory at Ban Laboy crossing? Destroying it shut down the entire Ho Chi Minh Train for decades, allowing the U.S. to win the Vietnam War.”””

        Yawn…Ho Chi Minh trail was interdicted repeatedly by aerial bombings, it did not slow the flow of troops and equipment against a resolute enemy as demonstrated by the Tet offensive and eventual take over of Saigon by N. Vietnamese troops kicking US out of Vietnam. Even B-52 bombings against veritable harbor targets in Haiphong were not very successful in slowing down the N. Vietnamese war effort, using B52’s in Afghanistan would be an exercise in futility considering that only over 5000 bombs were dropped throughout 2018.

        • Pave Way IV

          “…Ho Chi Minh trail was interdicted repeatedly by aerial bombings, it did not slow the flow of troops and equipment against a resolute enemy…”

          The statement about shutting the Ho Chi Minh Trail down and the other one about winning the Vietnam war were supposed to serve as rhetorical clues that my comments were intended as sarcasm.

  • Pave Way IV

    The U.S. will NEVER create stability in Afghanistan, no matter who we kill or how many. It’s our presence and interference that is directly causing the instability. Time to pack up and leave.

    Sorry, Israel. Find some other lackeys to service your anti-Russian, anti-Iranian paranoia via Afghanistan because Americans seriously don’t give a fuck, anymore. And they’ll care even less about you when your long-standing interference with our voting and political processes are revealed.

    Trust Q’s plan? Bullshit – there IS no plan. There are only deep, dark secrets to be revealed by anons. I relish the thought.

    • Brother Ma

      The average American supports their wars and is apathetic about them because only brown people die. I wish it was not so but nothing will change till the average Yank cares enough to push back.

  • Dick Von Dast’Ard

    War on Terror should have been renamed War of Terror.

  • Tommy Jensen

    Thats why US bomb civilians.
    To promote more “terrorists” to Taleban and secure the war(s) never ends. Any public manager knows this scheme to maintain and increase budget. Why cant people understand this simple aim.

    • Jim Bim

      Exactly!!

  • Hisham Saber

    The U.S / NATO are essentially fighting the Pashtun people. The Largest tribal society in the world, with an estimated 30+ million members. The Taliban are Pashtun. The Pashtun are also in north-western Pakistan and don’t recognize the border.

    Afghanistan is where empires went and died. The British tried to subdue Afghanistan, only to receive extraordinary losses and fled.

    The Soviets tried to subdue the Pashtun, and it was unsuccessful. The Soviets realized it was a lost cause.

    The U.S./NATO wont fare any better, but withdraw in disgrace.

    The Pashtun people are a threadbare , rough, hard-nosed warrior type people. Alexander the Great was wise enough that when he encountered them, he decided to go around them, into India.

    The Taliban, riding mopeds, and motorcycles, armed with light weapons like AK’s , RPG’s and IED’s are wreaking havoc on the premier war machines of the world.
    Men wearing bed-sheets and beach sandals against U.S./ NATO Commandos and elite troops, yet they are getting their collective asses handed to them.

    The U.S./NATO/ Israel wont fare nay better, in fact would be totally disastrous, if they intend, or succeed in kicking off a war in the Levant, Iraq and Iran.

    They would be absorbed and annihilated.

    • Brother Ma

      The Pashtun or Pathans clain descent fron Alexander the Great. He broke their back first and then he coopted them by marrying his soldiers to their women with honour.Pasthun have a lot of European blood in them to this day.
      Apart from that all you say is correct.