Wednesday, September 23

Indiscriminate airstrikes as political cover for withdrawal

"Nixon couldn’t leave Vietnam until he bombed Cambodia; Obama won’t leave Central Asia until he levels Afghanistan", Ordinary Will argues.


  1. Although I think there are some good comparisons between Vietnam and Afghanistan, the use of air power isn't one of them. We aren't & won't be conducting anything like the massive sustained Cambodian bombing campaign.

    Talking about "leveling" Afghanistan indicates that the writer doesn't understand how airpower is used in that theater. We aren't using strategic bombing, and we have made an effort to scale back tactical airstrikes because of all the negative effects. The drone campaign, the one element that's been expanded, is nothing like a Vietnam-style air offensive. It's basically an assassination program that uses drones as a substitute for commandos or other assassins.

    And there are no targets in Afghanistan for Obama to pulverise with air power, ala Cambodia, especially since we are trying to build up the country's infrastructure.

  2. Sure air power has changed, Predators aren't B-52s. I don't see the writer claiming otherwise.

    His point is that substituting drones for troops will result in more civilian casualties but is likely to be done as part of a withdrawal.

  3. If in his analogy the drone campaign = bombing Cambodia, then Pakistan = Cambodia. I don't see a massive drone attack blitz in Pakistan preceding a withdrawal. I'm not sure how much we could increase drone attacks even if we wanted to, given the situation in Pakistan. Unlike Cambodia, which we could more or less bomb at will, we do have to take the Pakistani government and the risk of destabilizing the country into account.

    If we substitute drones for troops, that would mean using them inside Afghanistan, not just in the border areas & Pakistan. That would seem to be politically unfeasible, because the Afghan government doesn't like airstrikes inside its terrority. If we switch to using more airpower and creating more civilian casulties, we'll undermine the government we are trying to prop up.

  4. The presence of different armies in Afghanistan is from my point of view necessary. At least now. But I don't know why, the situation seems to me going to be similar like it was in late 60's in Czechoslovakia. That time Soviet and soviet friendly countries entered to Czechoslovakia and stayed there more than 20 years. Hopefully it will be not like that in Afghanistan.



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