Drop the Bomb
Don't mind if I do.
Ok, I just started this website and I had no intentions of attempting a fisking but this op-ed
by Ted Rall demands a carefully considered response. So here we go…
DROP THE BOMB
I’m not sure if I agree that the use of nuclear weapons is warranted but I believe it is possible to persuade me. Carry on.
Why War Talk Is Cheap
Yes. Talk is cheap. Decisive action is what is needed. Decisive and excessive. I’m with you so far.
Why are so many Americans so willing to start a war against Iraq?
Because, like Destro, he is bent on World Domination™ but luckily G.I. Joe (read: America) is there.
It certainly isn't because Saddam Hussein presents any clear and present danger--or any danger at all. The best excuse Bush has come up with so far for blasting more Muslims into bits of protoplasm is what he calls a "growing danger posed by Iraq's efforts to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction." Even if we take Bush at his word--which he asks us to do, refusing to share any evidence--the "danger" is hypothetical at best. Saddam Hussein hasn't attacked the U.S. or its allies in the 11 years since we pounded, partitioned and economically hobbled his country. But, Bush warns, Saddam might possess the Bomb someday. Perhaps he'll use it. Possibly against us. Perchance soon. Or not at all.
Yes. The danger is “hypothetical at best” and at worst catastrophic. Perhaps it is your way to put on your tie-dye shirt, smoke your dope and whip out your guitar for the purposes of entertaining all your hippie friends with you Anti-War songs. Perhaps you just like to hope for the best and forget about all the rest. The thing is that here in the really real world, we work for the best and plan for the worst. Its hard to make a piece sign in Central Park when all that’s left of New York is a mushroom cloud.
Sixty-three percent of American voters favor attacking Saddam, but that's because they assume that it will be a bombing war, not a ground invasion.
It appears to me that you are the one making the assumptions. According to this
August 12th Poll, 57% Support a US invasion of Iraq WITH ground troops. It would appear that the American public understand a great deal more than you think. I’m sure this shatters your image of the American people as a vast, unwashed mass of peasants waiting and begging for the next enlightened command from the anointed Elite. Bullshit.
Support for an Iraq attack drops dramatically if deposing Saddam should require the deaths of thousands of American troops.
Yes. This same poll says that the support would be in the 40% range. I find this to be irrelevant. If doing something is right, we do it. America must stand up for its founding principals or collapse into the moral relativism of Europe and the UN.
Why, people ask, waste our soldiers if bombs will do the job?
Here he goes on to explain that due to modern information age warfare (see Steven Den Beste
) our kill ratio in the last 2 wars is somewhere around 600-1. Not too shabby.
Whenever presidents want to flex American muscle, they bomb. This has been particularly true when leaders don't care to justify the use of military force to the public, as with Ronald Reagan's bombing of Libya and Bill Clinton's cruise missile attacks against Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998. Both strikes hit the wrong targets--the latter taking out a pharmaceutical plant, the former Colonel Khaddafi's young daughter--but a potential PR debacle was avoided by the fact that American lives were neither risked nor lost.
You buy that shit about a “pharmaceutical plant” in Sudan? What kind of pharmaceuticals do they make there? Bathtub meth? As for our new UN Human Rights leader, don’t get too comfy yet. The next one might get ya’.
This is precisely why bombs should be banned.
Woah there. I can’t wait to see how you explain this position.
Don't laugh--war can be made more civilized.
I am laughing and what the hell are you talking about? By all measure, war is more civilized. When is the last time you heard of civilian casualties even CLOSE to World War I, II, Korea, Afghanistan (the Russian version) or Vietnam? The war of this century is far less costly and more civilized than that of the previous one.
The horror of mustard-gas attacks in World War I led the international community to prohibit the use of chemical and biological weapons. Since then only a few countries have used them (including Iraq, when it was a U.S. ally).
The use of Chemical weapons is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. Why kill them slowly and painfully when an enormous explosion (read: Bomb) will accomplish the same. As for biological weapons, everyone agreed to that because they are unpredictable and indiscriminate and, more importantly, useless in a strategic sense.
Land mines were a standard tool of warfare until the 1990s. The Soviet army and U.S.-backed guerrillas scattered an estimated 5 to 10 million anti-personnel mines across Afghanistan, devices which continue to kill and maim today. That carnage, caused by relics of a war fought, won and lost years earlier, inspired the world to come together to ban anti-personnel mines once and for all. Sixty-four nations have ratified the 1999 International Treaty to Ban Landmines. Although the U.S. has refused to sign, it has nevertheless stopped placing mines in combat zones. International consensus is clear: civilized countries don't use mines.
There is a reason the U.S. refused to sign. This is because the U.S. can envision a time in the future when they would like to use land mines. Wars are not for fun nor are they about being fair. Wars accomplish a political goal and the militaries job is to accomplish this at any cost. Even land mines. Even civilian casualties. The only thing worse than fighting a war is losing a war.
Bombs have similar shortcomings: some fail to detonate upon impact. "Cluster bombs" dropped on Afghanistan by the U.S. will be killing hapless passersby for years to come, long after the fighting has ceased. But the real problem with bombs isn't the lives they take. It's the lives they save.
Now you are really losing me. How is he going to explain that saving lives is a bad thing.
As I waited out a U.S. bombing raid last November in northern Afghanistan, I realized that "Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher had caught hell for telling the truth: only cowards push a button from thousands of miles away--or tens of thousands of feet up--to kill people who can't possibly fight back. This is especially true when superpowers like the U.S. use computer technology to fly beyond the range of Third World anti-aircraft batteries.
Anger rising. head … about …. to …. explode …. ok... calming…….
My response to this giant, steaming pile of idiotarian crap is simply, only idiots put their lives at risk when it is unnecessary. Only deranged governments put the lives of their soldiers at risk in exchange for some misguided attempt at fairness. A government’s job is to protect the interests, lives, and rights of its citizens in the way that least endangers the same. War is a tool of last resort, but when it becomes necessary, I would hope that our government makes all possible attempts at reducing OUR losses before even considering the losses of our enemy.
If the people of a nation feel a strong moral compulsion to attack another nation, if they truly believe in the righteousness of their cause, the least that they can do to demonstrate that resolve is to send their young men and women into harm's way to fight. Those who seek to take the lives of others ought to be willing to risk their own.
And I thought I was angry before. This is the chickenhawk argument taken to an extreme I wasn’t really prepared for. There is a HUGE difference between risking your life and purposefully endangering it. The young men and women you so gleefully would cast into harms way signed on knowing that just such a thing was possible. They also signed on because they had faith in the military to take every possible precaution to protect their fragile young lives. Again, war is POLITICAL. It attempts to accomplish a goal that diplomacy cannot. It is not supposed to be fair and it is not supposed to be pretty. War is a dirty business and the people in charge of the American military know that their job is to make it as painless for our side as possible. Only morally bankrupt groups like Palestine would ask their soldiers to die for their cause. Ours are asked to FIGHT.
Bombs are tools of error as well as terror. In a conventional ground war, non-combatants can often flee in order to escape battles. They can become refugees. They can take cover until the fighting moves on. Innocents die, but infinitely fewer than in the holocaust that is unleashed by a carpet-bombing. Satellite intelligence and precision guidance systems can deliver a bomb to its target, but only an experienced soldier on the ground can tell if that bomb is hitting a war council or a wedding party. Bombs hit gas lines, blowing up entire blocks. Bombs kill whoever happens to be walking by at the time. Bombs are sloppy, random, murderous. Bombs are used by cowards.
Bombs are used by the intelligent. Bombs are used by those that feel a moral obligation to protect the lives of their subordinates.
Ultimately, bombs make war too easy. Leaders are less likely to engage in military aggression if going to war will cost the lives of their own people. The risk of large-scale loss is a big political gamble. By their nature, bombs make "enemy" lives cheap and "your" lives expensive. We see this phenomenon as Americans discuss attacking Iraq; sure, we're willing to kill thousands of Iraqis, but only if we lose very few Americans in the process. It's all too cold and painless.
Ask the mothers of the soldiers lost in Afghanistan if that war was ‘easy’. Ask them if it was “cold and painless.” I’m sure you would say I should ask the Afghanis the same. I would assume they would say it was worth it. Freedom is worth lives, theirs and ours. Again you seem to be suggesting that there should be some attempt at fairness in war. There should not. Our military will kill as few people as it can to accomplish its goal. If they can minimize our losses they will. I guarantee that they will also be trying to minimize Iraqi losses. If we weren’t, we would “drop the bomb” as you so cleverly name this article
Of course nations should use every available tool to protect the safety of their military personnel when they send them into battle. But bombs, like land mines and mustard gas, shouldn't be counted among the available tools.
Perhaps, being that you believe so strongly, you should put your life at risk to stop their use. You said yourself that if people believe in something, they should be willing to give up their lives.
In closing, I would like to say that I count you among the tools and hope to see you dropped from an F-16 in the near future.