Thursday, December 17, 2015

Carpet Bombing

One of the more malicious obsessions of the mainstream press that has emerged from the latest Republican infomercial is the issue of "carpet bombing," i.e. the question of when it is okay to kill a whole bunch of civilians in order to get a few enemy combatants.  I'm certainly not about to get involved in this stupid and ugly debate, but I would like to write briefly about the supposed historical precedent that is cited to justify this sickening behavior: the Allied bombing of  Germany in the later years of World War II.

The gung-ho warmongers (almost all of them Republicans) who are happy to destroy lots of civilians, as long as they are far away, ignore the facts of that Allied air campaign.  First of all, the strategy of mass bombing of civilian areas, mostly associated with the head of English Bomber Command, Arthur "Bomber" Harris, was never universally accepted.  Even at the time, large numbers of officials thought the process was counterproductive, and as it went on, there was little evidence that it accomplished its goals. Today, I think I may say, it is regarded as having been a failure.  Second, let us remember this: by the time that Allied carpet bombing became widespread, tens of millions of people had already died in the war; the stakes were vastly higher than they are in the Middle East today, and they made it possible to justify actions for which there is no excuse today.
Bomber Harris

Well, I don't want to belabor the issue.  After all, people that can find it in their evil hearts to justify torture, imprisonment without trial and criminal aggression against foreign countries, can hardly be expected to feel bad about a little "collateral damage."  Still, it is probably a bad idea to dignify this sort of behavior by pretending that it is the conduct of decent human beings.

4 comments:

Magpie said...

The object of carpet bombing was largely psychological. It was meant to disrupt the will to fight.
It did not work.
It did not work against rational civilians - let alone against martyrdom-loving thugs.

When all material indication of hope was gone, when Soviet troops were advancing across Berlin, the German forces who could still fight, did fight, believing this is where they would achieve final victory. In the ruins of their own capital.
These people were not insane, nor were they that different from us. It was just the power of delusion, and the perversion of what otherwise would be called ‘courage’.
Carpet bombing Germany reduced industrial capacity but it alone could not have won the war.

Japan was also carpet bombed, including with a prototype of what would later be called napalm, for aim of reducing the will to wage war.
It did not work (neither did the atom bomb in the way people usually think it did – but that’s another conversation).

My father lived through the blitz in Britain. They never thought of yielding.

Carpet bombing did not win Vietnam.

It’s never won anything - in all the bygone times when there was no technical alternative to attacking long range – it never won anything.

Now we have guided missiles and drones. There is no argument to be had that suggests the desire to carpet bomb is anything more practical than making a certain sort of person in America feel better.

They want the demonstration of force independent of consideration as to whether it achieves anything, because they are moral infants, delusional.
And someone somewhere has money to make.

Green Eagle said...

Absolutely true. Like the open carry nuts who wander around with their guns looking for an excuse to kill someone, the advocates of carpet bombing are nothing but sadistic killers. In fairness, I wouldn't say that about Bomber Harris- he was just severely misguided. But the people who advocate it today are psychopathic monsters.

Magpie said...

The positives that Harris felt the bombing had related to diversion of resources the Germans had to suffer. You can’t be fighting on a front if you’re manning AA measures and clearing damage.
It’s highly debatable how far that went but regardless it wouldn’t have any such effects in dealing with IS.

Interestingly, when the distant ancestor of what we have available now – the V2 rocket – came into use, their psychological impact was considerable, because they travelled so fast and hit without any warning.
It’s not being able to see or hear it coming that frightens people. That’s how 'terror' works.
Some of those V2s carried photos of German casualties of carpet bombing.

Plus inevitably we’d start seeing unpleasant pictures ourselves of non-combatant casualties and then we’ll have some of us losing the will to confront IS at all, others (the carpet bombing cheerleaders) getting their sick jollies, and then us in the middle saying this is dumb way to deal with a serious enemy.

Anonymous said...

These are the scum who claim Obama's drone strategy is unconstitutionally killing civilians.