Friday, August 04, 2006

Economist, J.K.Galbraith Offers Lessons from the Terror Bombings of WWII.

Photo: Reuters

Total war, as we're seeing in Lebanon, includes Strategic Bombing.

In that the Israeli tactics are not an appropriate response to what is not a critical threat to the country, it is a war crime.

During the London Blitz in 1940-41, 43,000 people lost there lives. Out of this came the Area-bombing of German cities, an attempt to derail the Nazi war machine. We should have no illusions, destroying the war capability of the Nazis from the air meant destroying factories and transportation networks. Around these factories and roads and train tracks live the people who work them. This was the first lesson in the horrors of Air Power.

But it went further than that. As the tide began to turn; as the allies began to develop fighter escorts that could fly deep behind German lines, the thinking chamged. Area bombing of German cities came to be seen as a second front that our Soviet allies had been begging for.In the Stratigic Bombing Survey, economist J.K.Galbraith determined 300.000 German civilians were killed and 750.000 were injured in the area bombing champaign. 73 million died on both sides in the war over all in only 5 years of world war. Air Power meant Mass Death.

The tactic should be considered a war crime. If We all could vote on it I'm sure the remaining voters would pass the law.

In 1945, a different kind of mass death was designed and tried on Dresden. A non-industrial city full of refugees and wounded, a city of the arts and culture. With no warning, Strategic Bomber Command immolated the entire city in a raid in two horrendous waves. All those who didn't leave before, before.. Before they would never. Estimates go as high as 200,000 civilians killed. The British, choose 45,000 dead. As I am a Canadian, I must report a conflict of interest - roughly half of those sorties were flown by Canadians.(this is based on a break down of nationalalities of pilots in the RAF at the time.)

"We're all sons-of-a-bitches now", the nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer said. He was commenting after viewing the 'results' of the Strategic nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, August 6,1945.

If there's no good guys any more then I'm afraid the gig is up. We cannot choose total war and throw out civilization. There must be limits, therefore the UN should pass a resolution against the use of area bombing. It is state terror, and thus President George.W. Bushs' representative Mr. Bolton should lead the way.

"But were not aiming at the houses." goes the familiar refrain nowadays, "And we have smart bombs!". Smart bombs are great for taking out infrastructure as a precursor to invasion, or to decapitate the enemy's command.

But what of this vengeful flattening of cities? Stalingrad showed us that razing the place doesn't avoid the street to street fighting all generals want to avoid; the enemy actually ends up with better cover. It has no purpose other than terror, to clog the roads with refugees, which disrupts enemy manouvers. If this is not a crime, watch the starvation now beginning in Lebanon, watch how it asymmetrically plays on TV.

It's been book since WWII, to neutralize a strongly defended city that would slow down your fast advance go around it, and siege it so it doesn't get out and crawl up your back. This is no picnic for non-combatants either, but at least it leaves an opportunity for escape, or to negotiate a walking exit, before the artillery starts. This window for civilians should be standard operating procedure. After all that's what we're fighting for isn't it, the ones we leave behind at HOME?

In April 2004 a large part of the city of Fallujah, Iraq was flattened with air power and artillery. Read the link RAHUL MAHAJAN. He's lucky to be alive, they drove right into a free fire zone controlled by the insurgency. Luck, just plain luck. The siege of the city started slowly and built for two weeks. First the US commander turned off the electricity. What he was saying was, "Go now."; Now, no water, "GO!"; Road blocks choke the food supply, "GO!!". But now incompetence (or worse), there were mixed messages at the road blocks. Some US forces weren't letting people out! The word must have spread like wild-fire with in the dying city, forcing innocents to make choices about their lives and the lives of their children, choices they didn't need to make!

The local insurgency adapted in the horror and came back a month later, more professional and disciplined in organization and tactics, and perhaps in numbers too.

Area bombing doesn't work as a tool of counter insurgency. Check out the British Empires experience in India.(I'll add a link soon)

I can hear King George W. Bush the ll, somewhere down the road to the New American Century codify, "We will have a free and democratic world empire, even if we have to kill all the voters and destroy all the institutions to do it!"

As J.K.Gailbraith said concerning allied area bombing, "random cruelty and death inflicted from the sky had no appreciable effect on war production or the war." You can't bring enlightenment with random death. You can't get oil from blood. You can't win friends with shrapnel(sing to Simpsons' tune;"You can't make friends with salad").

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