FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Unbearable Lightness of Bombing

by Hamit Dardagan

?

“Might makes right until they’ve seen the light.”

“Send The Marines” Tom Lehrer

Be it in Afghanistan or Vietnam, Cambodia or Panama, Iraq or Kosovo, Libya, the Sudan or elsewhere, US-led bombing is always in some way associated with the word light:

Like a skilled surgeon avoiding arteries, “surgical” US bombing scrupulously avoids civilian casualties, so that the civilian death-toll is light, or as light as can be expected.

When these surgical bombs do hit a civilian artery (so to speak), American “investigators” will make light of victims’ claims, saying things like “Where are the bodies?” or “There should be more blood.” [The Guardian.] You could say that here, “Might makes light.”

When US bombing is at its most indiscriminate, as in the practise of “carpet bombing” or the use of “daisy cutters” and “cluster bombs”, it is given lighter coverage in the mainstream US media. In comparison to their laser-guided cousins, the effects of these far more numerous and destructive bombs barely see the light of day. This is presumably because masonry being expertly pulverized makes for light viewing, while humans suffering the same fate do not.

At any rate, it’s a safe guess that most US-led bombing transforms the young, the old, the tired, the poor and huddled masses at the receiving end into light sleepers.

To allay any misgivings, such bombing is always pursued from a very high moral ground, ensuring that its overall impact on the American psyche is light. (What this high moral ground is, no one can explain, but it can be assumed to be related to and approximately as substantial as a thousand points of light.)

The bombing is almost as invariably performed from a very high altitude, so that American bomber casualties are as light as air supremacy allows (although you might be pulled off the air for pointing this out; political incorrectness has its limits, after all).

Performed in a timely manner, it permits politicians facing uncomfortable domestic scrutiny to get off lightly by providing searing prime-time distractions and a convincing illusion that the country is in a shooting war. Indeed it seems that the latest, Afghan bombing campaign has cast the current light-headed, light-touch, lightweight US President in an entirely new light (apparently, just nodding at a handful of advisors is no longer regarded as light work).

It sets light to the paper on which the Geneva Conventions are written, such as the onerous provisions that would prohibit the US and its allies from performing massacre by aerial bombardment of mutinous (but completely trapped) POWs.

It lightens the workload of diplomacy, as a President who carries (and wields) this big stick can speak unintelligible nonsense and still be clearly understood in every corner of the planet.

However despite these advantages US bombing is never undertaken lightly (although that may depend on what your definition of “is” is). Instead it is always conducted in the guiding light of reason. (Or more accurately, “reasons”; reasons which may be fully revealed later but are rarely admitted. Usually these can be traced to eyes lighting up with dollar signs.)

Finally, it must always be remembered that American bombing is the greatest hope for the forces of light against the forces of darkness, in so far as US bombs flash more brightly and widely and often than any others. In this sense American bombing is truly a light unto the world.

And what a miraculous light that is: so supremely illuminating when unleashed in its ultimate form, that a blind girl many miles from the epicentre of a nuclear blast was reported to have seen it. No rapture can do such wonders justice, for in the words of its first witnesses,

“No man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power had ever occurred before. The lighting effects beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun. It was golden, purple, violet, gray and blue. It lighted every peak, crevasse and ridge of the nearby mountain range with a clarity and beauty that cannot be described but must be seen to be imagined.” [http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/trinity/wd_press.txt]

Who knows? Perhaps the day will soon arrive when such sights will be glimpsed again, albeit all too briefly, by those fortunate enough to be there. [http://www.psr.org/NPRfactsheet.html]

Hamit Dardagan can be reached at: hamit@onetel.net.uk

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight for Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail