No, GOP, you can’t win by Carpet-bombing

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

At the GOP debate Tuesday night, Ted Cruz came out swinging wildly.

Blitzer: Senator Cruz, you have said you would, quote, “carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion,” testing whether, quote, “sand can glow in the dark.” Does that mean leveling the ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria where there are hundreds of thousands of civilians?

CRUZ: What it means is using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS. To put things in perspective, in the first Persian Gulf War, we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet bombed them for 36 days, saturation bombing, after which our troops went in and in a day and a half mopped up what was left of the Iraqi army.”

Ted Cruz has impressive educational degrees and is a wily if not a smart man, but he most often is ignorant about the things of which he speaks. This statement demonstrates that he has never so much as read a book about the Gulf War, and doesn’t know anything at all about military history. He shouldn’t be in charge of the Pentagon. He shouldn’t be in charge of a henhouse.

The Iraqi army circa early 1991 was a tank army that had invaded Kuwait and had lined up tank battalions along the Kuwaiti border. The US bombed the tank lines in order to soften them up. But actually Gen. Schwarzkopf did not punch through those lines. Having blinded the Iraqis and deprived them of command and control, he executed what he called a “Hail Mary Pass,” going up to the west of the Iraqi lines and going around them.

Despite the US bombing for 3 weeks, the Iraqis had plenty of tanks left. The Battle of Burqan was the largest tank battle since World War II.

Daesh/ ISIL has a few tanks but they are a guerrilla group and do not deploy them in lines. They keep them inside the cities when not deploying them. So there is nothing to carpet bomb. They aren’t lined up out in the desert. If you carpet-bombed the city of Mosul, a Daesh stronghold, you’d kill tens of thousands of innocent women, children and non-combatant males. That would be a war crime.

If it were easy to defeat Daesh with conventional military forces, they would already have been defeated.

As for the idea of putting US combat troops into Iraq and Syria, that’s already been tried. In the zeroes there were 150,000 US troops in Iraq, and Daesh’s predecessor, the Islamic State of iraq, was never wiped out. Sunnis and Shiites fought a civil war under the noses of US troops in 2006 that left 3,000 people dead every month and displaced over a million. Why does Cruz think it would be different this time?

The man has no understanding of or knowledge about history, which offends me personally.

Cruz also said, “We need to be arming the Kurds.”

The Syrian Kurds are leftists and not Arabs, and have limitations as the force that takes conservative Sunni Arab cities away from Daesh. The locals wouldn’t accept them. And, it is odd that Cruz doesn’t know that they are already being armed by the US, much to the anger of Turkey, which fears Kurdish separatism (the Syrian Kurds say they only want states’ rights as a province in a federal state, not independence, but Ankara is paranoid on this subject). In the real world, all of Cruz’s easy choice are actually difficult. Anger Turkey, a NATO ally, or arm far-left Kurds to the teeth? Deploy Kurds in Arab towns where they will be seen as ethnic cleansers, or take years to build an Arab force?

Someone please get Cruz in trouble by telling his dad that he is supporting Communists (well, the Syrian Kurds are far left but post-communist, but I don’t think the Cruzes make that distinction).

Cruz had begun,

“America is at war. Our enemy is not violent extremism. It is not some unnamed malevolent force. It is radical Islamic terrorist.”

America is not at war. There is no declaration of war. There is a police action against al-Qaeda (the plotters of 9/11, who are either dead or aged).

There is no such thing as “radical Islamic extremism.” First of all, it is a redundant phrase. Extremism and radical mean the same thing.

Second, extremism and radicalism can’t be “Islamic.” The adjective “Islamic” in Arabic is used to refer to the ideals of the Muslim religion, which forbids murder and forbids terrorism. The adjective that Mr. Cruz is looking for is “Muslim.” He wants to fight Muslim radicalism or Muslim extremism. Not Islamic. The same distinction is made between Judaic and Jewish. Judaic has to do with Jewish ideals and civilization. You could have a Jewish terrorist. You couldn’t have a Judaic terrorist.

Third, singling out Muslim extremists as the party against which the US government is “at war” is bigotted. More Americans have been killed in the past decade by far right wing white extremists than by Muslims extremists. And, the number of far right wing white extremists in the US is vastly greater than the number of Muslim extremists. In Europe in recent years, some 3% of terrorist attacks were carried out by Muslim extremists. Separatists did most of the terrorism, then far right wing white extremists (funny how they keep popping up).

Terrorism is a crime and should be treated as a criminal matter. You can’t fight a war against a tactic, and to the extent that radicalization is a problem, deploying military tools actually increases radicalization. The US government hard line actions against white supremacists in the early 90s were among the things that pushed Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma (he and Nichols killed more Americans per capita than did that 9/11 hijackers).

Cruz is just bigoted against Muslims, and is using propagandistic language to single them out. Most American Muslims have been in the United States far longer than Cruz’s family has. Some 20% of the African slaves brought here were Muslim, and thus it is likely that some wings of the White House were built by Muslim labor. The fanatical Protestant Know-Nothings of the 19th century would have denounced Cruz as un-American and a threat to US values. It is shameful that he mistreats people from other immigrant families.

Cruz continued,

“Border security is national security and we will not be admitting jihadists as refugees.”

A lot of people didn’t want all those Cuban refugees, either, Ted. And they feared there were communist saboteurs among them. (Or maybe far right wing saboteurs who would want to deep-six our Constitution). The US has admitted 750,000 refugees since 2001. Only 2 of them were deported, for sending money to Hizbullah. Altogether 16 had questions raised about them. Out of 750,000. All refugees are carefully vetted over 18 months, and this is ongoing. The refugee program has not produced any violence on US soil. Thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have come in, refugees in part from the wars we fought in their countries, and they have been model citizens (mostly more model than demagogue Cruz).

Dr. Ben Carson demanded that the US government declare war on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). That is a very bad idea. They are not a state, that the USA would find them a worthy adversary in a war. They are a desert pirate band. They would only gain in prestige and volunteers from such an unwise US action.

Mr. Trump then weighed in.

“We’re talking about security. We’re not talking about religion. We’re talking about security. Our country is out of control. People are pouring across the southern border.”

But Mr. Trump is talking about religion, because he said he wanted to exclude all Muslims from coming to the US. He didn’t distinguish among them. He marked them only by religion.

People are not pouring across our southern border. Last year more Mexicans left the US than came in. They have better economic growth down there.

I could go on. Most everything these people said was wrong.

The thing I worry most about is that one of our two major parties is now regularly throwing up demagogues and psychopaths, warmongers and fascists. Since we have a two-party system, America is now playing Russian roulette. Sooner or later one of these looney tunes is going to get his or her finger on the Bomb.

I usually think Climate Change, about which Mr. Blitzer did not bother to ask these candidates, is the biggest problem now facing humankind. But on some days I think it is the GOP presidential field (Rand Paul excepted).

——

Related video:

The Young Turks: ” Summary | CNN Republican Debate ”

29 Responses

  1. I can’t decide if Ted Cruz looks more like Dracula or a sexually ambiguous master of ceremonies for some decadent, pre-war Berlin cabaret. Maybe it’s just his eye make-up. Or maybe the body is, somehow, a manifestation of the soul. After all, this is a guy who is unwilling to say that he would never “carpet-bomb” a city to get at Daesh. Or maybe he doesn’t quite snap to what carpet-bombing is. The usual justifications for inflicting devastating civilian casualties — to break the spirit of an enemy population or to punish them for their support of an enemy regime — don’t seem to apply to the populations of cities like Raqqa or Mosul, occupied by Daesh. Imagine the intense hatred for Germans that inspired the fire-bombing of Dresden. That’s what I fear Cruz is carrying around inside.

  2. Dara de Brún

    In the minds of these warmongers, the carpet-bombing of Vietnam, and Cambodia was a tactic that assured “victory” for the US.

    • Excellent article Mr Cole. I feel embarrassed to be an American when I think what the world must be thinking about the really low quality of leaders we are producing. Really very disturbing to hear them.

    • The warmonger has no concern for truth, and creates foreign enemies solely to demand power as protector and accuse his opponents of disloyalty, as Aristotle warned millennia ago. He wants the bucks, and only the bucks. The same sleaze wins in business, and business buys power through control of mass media and elections. All thoughts of war and treason should be directed at the right wing, the ultimate causes of all wrongs. Only when they are seen as the terrorists, the subversives of democracy, the traitors, can truth and justice triumph.

  3. Amazingly, I, at least, cannot find much information about what ISIS does to build an organization in the areas that they have captured. Other than coercion and fear, how do they build their “caliphate”? Do they recruit key network leaders? Do they supply essentials of water and food?
    From the small pieces of information I have found, I get the sense that they are similar to warlords taking an area by force and then doing the minimum to maintain life in those areas. They make alliances with other “strong men” and I assume make trade-offs of whatever either side has to offer.
    All of this is a top-down organization of networks and intimidation. So, how does bombing fit into that context? I think of it as a kaleidoscope. If a bomb opens one small spot, the rest of the pieces quickly fall into the vacant spot. Or, another way to look at it could very well be to think of inner city gangs in any of our cities. If the leaders of one gang get arrested, that only serves the interests of their rival gangs to fill the vacuum. —Similar network rivalries no doubt are part of ISIS.

  4. Bob Spencer

    Amazingly, I, at least, cannot find much information about what ISIS does to build an organization in the areas that they have captured. Other than coercion and fear, how do they build their “caliphate”? Do they recruit key network leaders? Do they supply essentials of water and food?
    From the small pieces of information I have found, I get the sense that they are similar to warlords taking an area by force and then doing the minimum to maintain life in those areas. They make alliances with other “strong men” and I assume make trade-offs of whatever either side has to offer.
    All of this is a top-down organization of networks and intimidation. So, how does bombing fit into that context? I think of it as a kaleidoscope. If a bomb opens one small spot, the rest of the pieces quickly fall into the vacant spot. Or, another way to look at it could very well be to think of inner city gangs in any of our cities. If the leaders of one gang get arrested, that only serves the interests of their rival gangs to fill the vacuum. —Similar network rivalries no doubt are part of ISIS.

  5. Of course we don’t really know if Cruz is a misinformed bigot, or is simply pandering to the fears and bigotry present in his base of support.

  6. Sandy

    @TheYoungTurks Military intevention, diplomatic solution, fighting ideology with ideology,, and hope of restoring peoples lives.

    • The Republicans’ wars have not been proven to have accomplished anything at all. There were no Iraqi WMDs. There was no global Islamist army until REAGAN allied with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan’s tyrants to create such an army to kill Commies in Afghanistan. Reagan fled from Lebanon after his blundering support for a faction in its war led to the Marine barracks bombing. We killed half a million to a million Iraqis over the years, and you can’t prove that it has reduced the numbers of terrorists worldwide at all.

      You can’t even articulate a solution except genocide. You can’t. Your fascist candidates can’t. We can’t impose a non-Moslem government in the region. Thus we can only destroy people to create a power vacuum that will be filled with another Moslem regime or a new terrorist group. The regime we are helping is Saudi Arabia, the greatest supporter of Islamist terrorism in the world. America’s business oligarchy is tightly allied with Saudi Arabia. You have no solution for that.

  7. Mylissa

    let those that want ground troops, send in their children, 1st, & take care of the domestic terrorist that pose a greater threat

  8. Your opening features a good question from Wolf Blitzer. Too bad he let Cruz get away with dodging the key point.

    He (Cruz) shouldn’t be in charge of the Pentagon. He shouldn’t be in charge of a henhouse.

    And what does that say about his being a member of the US senate** and a leading contender among Republicans for president? And what does it say about the audience in Las Vegas that cheered him?

    The thing I worry most about is that one of our two major parties is now regularly throwing up demagogues and psychopaths, warmongers and fascists.

    The thing I worry about is that both parties remain the two right wings on the corporate bird of prey and when it comes time to choose between one or the other for president there will be no lesser evil.

    **The US senate – the world’s greatest deliberative body. Who ever came up with that crock of feces?

  9. It is a sad state of affairs. I would estimate that from one fourth to one third of Americans have become irrational to the point of delusion. And at least half of the population has become scared by the propaganda from the right wing about the over hyped supposed terrorist threat. The good news is that it is still more than 10 months until the election. I think it is very likely that by the next election ISIS will have been so degraded that it will have faded into obscurity as a right wing talking point, similar to the Ebola scare. When will people finally figure out that they are being manipulated by one phony scare after another? We have become a nation of wimps, frightened to death of our own shadows.

  10. Why does Cruz think it will be different if he were POTUS directing this repetitive strategy? Either he really doesn’t and doesn’t care, or it will be different in his mind because not Obama.

  11. Excellent review of the runners – “debaters” is a term too advanced for them – and their excretions.
    And the usa public sleeps through another day!

  12. Rohan Rowe

    Could it b because carpet bombing is the most effective way 2 use up ammo so that steps r taken to buy new ones & make people rich?

  13. I’m not quite following “he and Nichols killed more Americans per capita than did that 9/11 hijackers”…

    OKC had 168 fatalities (I’m not seeing a breakdown of citizenship, but wouldn’t be surprised if it was entirely American) and 2 Terrorists, yielding 84 per.

    9/11 looks to have had 2605 American fatalities and 19 Terrorists, yielding 137 per.

    Am I missing something?

    Thanks!

  14. The media is to be blamed equally if not more, for giving the nonsense the Republicans continue to utter and the crimes Daesh commits, free airtime. Both will likely fizzle away and self destruct without the free publicity.

  15. Actually, Cruz apparently doesn’t even know what carpet bombing is as he indicated in the debate that it would be selective. But this isn’t about an attempt of any of the candidates to get at anything approaching the truth. The Republicans are afraid to discuss what they really want for America so they focus on fear.

  16. Why doesn’t Trump admire ISIL? Talk about your strong leaders. I am sure he could easily negotiate with them as they have so much in common.

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