FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Operation Infinite Disaster

President Bush’s war planners have struggled to find a fitting code name for our latest military venture. But after a week of war, there’s only one appropriate label for the nightmare that has transpired: Operation Infinite Disaster.

Leave aside, for the moment, the moral shortcomings and Orwellian implications of bombing starved people to “fight for freedom” or honor the dead of the September 11 tragedy. What’s even more striking about the War Against … Somebody is that, even on the Bush administration’s own terms, the bombing of Afghanistan has thus far been a failure — a series of tactical blunders guaranteed to make a bad situation much, much worse.

A quick inventory of the week’s events tell the story:

BOMBING PEOPLE WITH FOOD: The first sign of trouble was news that Bush — in a move to give the brutal bombings a humanitarian spin — had opted to drop food supplies along with cluster bombs. This public relations stunt quickly backfired, however, when every major relief agency in the world derided the drops for 1) being insufficient (enough to feed about .5% of the starving population for a single day, provided the rations got to the intended “targets”); 2) containing food Afghan people never eat (hello, peanut butter?!); and 3) having the disadvantage of landing in fields strewn with land mines, adding injury to insult.

HIGH-TECH STRIKES IN A LOW-TECH WORLD: Then came evidence that U.S. bombs are hitting worthless targets — when they hit at all. This may surprise U.S. readers, who, much like during the Gulf War, have been treated to giddy media reports cooing over the Pentagon’s high-tech “smart” weaponry: gee-whiz gadgets like satellite targeting which supposedly make military strikes “surgical” — and blood-free. (Although, in 1991 the Pentagon admitted that under six percent of Gulf War weapons used “smart” technology — and even among these brilliant bombs, fully 20% missed their mark.)

The Pentagon says they’ve gotten better; time — if not the media — will tell. But what have these intelligent machines of destruction been hitting? A few terrorist training camps, which, as British journalist Robert Fisk noted, our planes had “no difficulty spotting … because, of course, most of them were built by the CIA when Mr. bin Laden and his men were the good guys.”

But overall, the Taliban is a low-tech army — and bombing their outdated airstrips and archaic phone systems has had little impact on how they control their terrain. And technology is only as good as the fallible humans who use it, which leads to the next mistake:

KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE: “Serious blunders by American warplanes may have killed at least 100 civilians in Afghanistan,” according to eye-witness accounts obtained by The Observer of London and reported on Sunday, October 14. (U.S. newspapers have been slow to report evidence of innocent people dying.) These deaths — in Karam village, 18 miles west of Jalalabad — came after news of the four workers killed in a U.N. building devoted to clearing land mines.

A total of 400 civilian deaths have been confirmed. Personal testimony from fleeing refugees suggest hundreds more.

What has been the effect of these deaths, besides belying the notion that war can be waged without ending innocent lives? According to The Guardian of London, the Karam killings are straining ties between the U.S. and its shaky allies in the anti-terrorism coalition.

And among the Arab and Muslim populace, the response is predictable: “Reports of deaths” the Guardian reports, have “provoked rage and grief throughout Afghanistan and throughout the Muslim world.”

Which brings us to what the US-led strikes have succeeded in doing:

IGNITING AN EXPLOSIVE BACKLASH: I’m not referring to the 30,000 protesters who marched in England against the US-led bombing, the 70,000 who marched in India, the 70,000 in Germany, the 100,000 in Italy, or similar protests which have filled the streets in other “friendly” turf like Greece, France, and even our own cities.

I’m also not referring to the boomerang response to U.S. bombing in the form of terrorist counter-attacks, which have plunged Americans into dread fear of powdery envelopes and exposed nuclear reactors.

No, more troubling are the 20,000 students who took over the streets of Egypt yelling “U.S. go to hell!” The Jakarta Muslims threatening to kill U.S. tourists and embassy workers. The millions of Arab-Americans and Muslims who are raging — violently — against the U.S. in Jordan, South Africa, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan (brought to the brink of civil war) and Nigeria, where “hundreds” may be dead due to rioting.

President Bush’s reaction has instilled little confidence. When asked in a press conference last Friday for his response to the vitriolic hatred mushrooming around the globe, Bush could only mumble: “I’m amazed. I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are” — which, in the world’s eyes, must bring profoundly new meaning to the word “naivete.”

This disheartening string of missteps, feeding an upswell of moral outrage, led everyone’s favorite war-watching website — — to post this headline over the weekend: “First Week of U.S. Offensive in Afghanistan is Inconclusive Militarily, Earthshaking Geo-Politically.”

And for what? To the Pentagon’s dismay, Bin Laden hasn’t been “flushed out.” The Taliban isn’t waving a white flag. Our supposed allies, the opium-running North Alliance, seem confused about whether or not they should take over the country.

Amidst such chaos, the Bush camp has resorted to the time-tested tactic of creating a diversion, suggesting the blame for September 11 may lay elsewhere — Iraq (surprise) being the favorite fall guy. This comes just weeks after every media mouthpiece instructed us that “ONLY the resources and skills of Osama bin Laden” and the “al-Quaeda network” could have been responsible.

The U.S. may or may not be able to reverse its miserable military fortunes in Afghanistan. But the more dangerous consequences of the U.S. bombing campaign — a world aroused into anger against America’s armed arrogance, in part the very reason for the September 11 tragedy — will stay with us for a very long time.

Chris Kromm is Director of the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, North Carolina.

 

More articles by:
April 26, 2018
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail