Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dominating An Inhuman Enemy

            The Commander Idiot         

Torture will not leave my mind.  Perhaps it is because I've been reading so much about Viet Nam recently. It's caused me to think about the relationship between torture and airpower. Yes, the two are related. 

Since World War II we have dominated the air with our unbelievably sophisticated and powerful weapons. It was during the Korean War, however, that we learned airpower alone is much less successful when dealing with a mountainous terrain, and an agrarian society.   

When we eased into Viet Nam by way of advisors that multiplied into a major military force, we frustrated Americans began to increase the application of air power. At first it was to support our ground troops and we used propeller driven planes to strafe, bomb, and locate the enemy. The power of that initial effort graduated to F-86 and F-100 fighters, coupled with hundreds, if not thousands of helicopters, particularly Huey Helicopters, flown as gun ships and for airborne search and rescue missions. We were still losing the war. This did not satisfy several civilian political whiz-kids like Robert MacNamarra. He and a few others led the President to authorize the use of B-52 bombers.

Until they arrived it was theoretically believable that our air power was shooting at enemy troops, equipment, and installations. When the B-52's were introduced this fiction could no longer be supported. America had crossed the line by purposely targeting innocent civilians; men, women and children. Our war policy became one of gross destruction at any cost. We began a program of indiscriminate carpet bombing. It was a scorched earth policy, and it failed utterly. We used bomb strings,  defoliants, and napalm to clear great swaths of the landscape . . . and any living things that happened to be there at the time, was ethically and morally the wrong thing to do. 

Around the world the reaction was one of horror and disgust. It was political suicide for Lyndon Johnson's administration as support for the war went away. The politics of the war soured and our government and military forces pulled out of Viet Nam. In a way similar to the Korean War . . we did not win in Viet Nam.  

Now, years later, Americans no longer approve of carpet bombing innocents. We still have plenty of napalm available, but it may never be used again. Every effort is now made to guide our airborne weapons surgically to precise military targets.  And TORTURE has been eliminated as a means of gathering military information about the enemy. It seems as if we are restricting our defensive and offensive abilities in order to wage a clean and bloodless conflict, an impossible dream. History has proven that it can't be done.

So where is the middle ground?

How do we dictate more humane way of war. . . to a enemy that could care less?
Think Tanks / Politicians / Preachers / Educators / Philosophers . . . or ?

To be continued . . .

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