Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Strategic Bombing

For the record; Brussels is the EU capital, and the EU is and has been deeply involved in fighting in North Africa and the Middle East. The Belgian "air component" (the air arm of the Belgian armed forces) has been bombing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Obviously, none of that "justifies" blowing up women and kids in train stations and airports.

But at the same time let's be adults; if you're part of fighting a "war on terror" you shouldn't be surprised when terror fights you back.

I thought we learned that sixty-odd years ago. The people who died under the bombers in London and Berlin and Tokyo were "innocent civilians", too, and they died in their job lots for their leaders' policies. For American politicians to act outraged about this is an insult to We the People's intelligence. This is war, the war our politicians have argued for and supported for years now. This is as expected and expectable thing in a war as the sun rising.

Innocents die in war. If you don't like that, your only real option is not to fight one.


  1. I'm repeatedly shocked how little Westerners have internalised that war is dirty and bad. Most seem to prefer to pretend that we're capable of some white knight version of warfare in which only bad guys die.
    Back when Paris was attacked I wrote something similar as FDChief in response to comments and reports that pretended that France was under attack and maybe article V was to be activated againt the IS/d'aesh.

    "Article 5 enlarges self-defence to collective self-defence.
    France striking back at Da'esh is not self defence in response to the attacks in Paris because France bombed them for quite some time already.

    You cannot as a collective defensive alliance member go to a foreign place, attack a foreign armed group or country, wait till they strike back and then claim that all your allies now need to attack them, too. That's not how this works or was ever meant to work."

    Ignoring this is something the public or published opinion is very good at. It's as if we could kill and destroy in distant places without ever losing the moral high ground, without ever having to expect backlash. Utterly naive.

  2. The other thing to remember: Take your enemies seriously. Otherwise, no matter how big the force differential, the enemy might lead you around by the nose.

    Often the instinctive reaction to an event is exactly what the enemy hopes you will do.

  3. Yeah, I think the thing about this that frustrates and angers me the most is how the overwhelming majority of the public commentary - both from the news combines and the political talking heads - is dominated by "shock" and outrage. Anger? OK, I get anger. Tit-for-tat revenge? I get that to. But the overwhelmingly aggrieved, self-pitying, hands-thrown-in-the-air "Poor poor pitiful me, how could something so awful happen to me?!" is really, really irking because 1) it's so obviously false, and 2) that it reinforces the public perception that "We're the Good Guys!" regardless of the actions of the polity. That's fine for a despotism, where the despot simply needs the adulation and acquiescence of proles. But for a republic it's poison, because it leads the citizens into making really awful decisions based on a short-sighted self-centered view of themselves and their actions.

    So naive, yes, but not JUST naive; foolish and self-defeating, encouraging publics to encourage their leaders to make poor choices and pursue policies that pretty much guarantee blowback and backlash.

  4. I think the next days we'll see bloggers, pundits and politicians who supose to be peaceful and not warmongers proceed to look at military "options" of payback, of killing and destroying. Few will point out that such policies have created/attracted the problem in the first place. The intuitive reaction of the caveman to an attack on his clan is to go kill someone of the supposedly offending caveman clan.
    The facade of civilisation is very, very thin.

    Even worse; the ones who get played the most by the organised criminals and react with the most loudmouthing about military and police reactions will be considered the most decisive "leaders" in the next weeks, at least by an all-too sizeable portion of the population.
    The actually strong-willed people who resist primitive intuition and look at how to actually reduce the (still tiny) problmem will be considered "weak", and "hesitant".

  5. I get why you called this a 'strategic bombing' but I disagree. This was a reprisal. They're trying to punish us.

    And feel free to reverse the 'us' and the 'they' and you have our 'strategic' response.

    PF Khans

  6. Sven: Yep. Sigh.

    PFK: And the difference between, say, this and the firebombing of cities is...remind me? "Punishment" was a big part of the rationale behind strategic bombing, at least among everyone except the USAAF (who, at least in Europe, continued to kid themselves about "precision bombing"). The idea was that the horror and casualties would "punish" the enemy civilians, erode their morale, and make them force their leaders to sue for peace.

    "We" are still kidding ourselves in the same way the USAAF did; that somehow we can conduct a "surgical" campaign from 1,500ft AGL.

    So I'm happy to stand by the title of this one. I don't see more than a nickel's worth of difference.

    1. Chief,

      The difference, as I see it, is that one was intended to facilitate the end of a conflict of a definite nature and the other is an action in a perpetual and never ending global tribal war.
      Punishment and reprisals can be used strategically but they can also be used for just punishment and reprisal.

      It looks exactly like the picture above regardless, so feel free to leave the title no matter what is decided.

      PF Khans

    2. Some people draw satisfaction from the belief that others are worse off or suffer.
      It's a huge share of what makes up racism; the desire to keep a share of the society marginalised and at a lower step of the ladder than yourself, even if you're a loser in your own group.
      Many of those so-called terrorists don't want to impove their society, but cuase suffering on others. Same goes for many so-called islamophobes; they want Muslims to be considered lowlifes by default. When talking about military actions in Muslim countries, their attitude is even in preference to kill them in droves.

      There is but one noble aspect of wanting others to suffer; it's a humans ocial behaviour to sanction/punish anti-social behaviour, so most humans accept even disadvantages to themselves in order to punish bad behaviour. Things like boycotting companies whose products you actually like, for example. This motivation may play into cycles of revenge / blood feuds, and it may explain why the irrational policies about terrorism and the xenophobia/muslimophobia apepar to have gained much much popular support than only from the 5-10% idiots that all countries have.

    3. PF: Except that there the even on the "good guys" side the Combined Bomber Offensive was questioned at the time as being a legitimate method if "facilitating the end of a conflict" (and let's not get into the whole issue of Rotterdam and Coventry as "terror bombing"...). Since the end of the war the questions have only gotten more difficult to answer. A hell of a lot of innocent people died - and not just German "enemies" but French, Dutch, Belgian and other "allied" civilians - to "facilitate" that end. The question of "ends justifying the means" looms large here.

      And, yes, these Muslim sectarian bombers are using these attacks as a way to both punish the enemies they see as harming them and as a strategic tool to get idiotic tools like Trump (and HRC, for that matter) to conflate all Muslims with "terrorists" and force Western polities to make stupid fucking decisions like starting land wars in Asia (thanks, Dubya!).

      Much as buring German cities and killing German civilians was used to force the Wehrmacht to pull 8.8cm batteries off the Eastern Front where they were doing a hell of a great job killing Soviet tanks and instead park them i flakturm where they could fire a gajillion rounds trying to shoot down B-17s and force the Luftwaffe to pull FW-190s off the tactical airfields where the could escort or perform ground attack duties in support of the maneuver elements and, instead, get chased by P-51s around the sky over Bremen.

      Both are strategies. We may dislike and despise the Muslim extremist groups strategies...but I think it's foolish to assume that there IS no strategy to what these groups are doing.

    4. https://theintercept.com/2016/03/25/highlighting-western-victims-while-ignoring-victims-of-western-violence/

  7. To all,
    This is not an act of war ,but rather simple criminal violence.
    It's rather strange but bombs in the Arab world get 2 minutes coverage while events like Brussels and Paris get continuous coverage. Why is that?
    If we capture the criminals doing the deed are they pows? Are they tried in civilian courts?
    Just because the Belgium and French Armies are conducting the sweeps this does not mean that it's a war.
    Calling it a war only legitimizes the killers.
    BTW- when ISIS fighters are caught in theature by the Iraqi forces of freedom and democracy what happens to the prisoners?
    I bet they don't get GC considerations.
    How many civilians have we killed in our pwot?
    jim hruska
    jim hruska

    1. You know as well as I do why the Western press and the Western publics could care less about dead wogs. "They" aren't "us". It's pure tribalism.

      And this is "war" in the same sense that the Irish troubles were a war, or the Basque insurgencies, or the Tamil Tiger rebellion were wars. It's a very Western convention to only call something a "war" if it has tanks and artillery in it.

      And, like I said, regardless whether it's Monmouth's Rebellion or the Battle of Stalingrad...innocent civilians are gonna die. If "we" don't like that, our only real option is not to fight these things, whatever we call them...