Bombing in Gaza, Ukraine, etc.

Ever noticed that when politicians see parts of their country or a part that they think probably should be subservient to their interests and it is weak enough that it cannot return the favour, they seem to resort to bombing as a means of first resort. They see it as a good deal because it costs rather little politically, and they think it brings the errant population to heel. The fact is, it does not.

Obviously, bombing has a real purpose in a real military conflict, but that purpose is to prevent resupply of the armed force of the opposition, or to destroy opposition troops or equipment. Examples of the first that succeeded include in World War II, German production of tanks was such that on the western front, in France, Germany could only put something like 35 tanks in the field at one time, and at the end, they finally got their Me 262 to fly, but their supplies of fuel were near zero. Bombing ships, troops, etc is obvious. However, as a means of making the civilian population call to surrender, it has always been a failure. Hitler’s bombing of Britain merely made the recipients want to resist more strongly, as did the allied bombing of Germany. Some would say that “shock and awe” led to the collapse of the Iraqi military, but that would be wrong. The Iraqi military realized it had no defence to US air superiority, that Iraq topography was unfortunately ideal for the US to deploy tanks and tank-killing aircraft, and to go out and fight would merely lead to everybody getting killed.

The problem was, just as in Afghanistan, the population did not surrender, nor did they accept defeat. They merely realized they would have to fight a different way. Afghanistan had more friendly topography for resistance, so in Iraq even that sort of resistance was difficult. Nevertheless, the only two ways to win wars are to remove the opposition from the field, or to remove their means or willingness to fight. The usual route for an occupation force is to remove the willingness to continue fighting. That can be done through fear, or through showing there is a better way. At the end of WWII, Stalin resorted to the first; the western allies resorted to the second, thanks to some enlightened policy from the US. Unfortunately, in Iraq, that sort of policy was abandoned. Recall Paul Bremer? There was a man who single-handedly took the opportunity to grasp victory and immediately trashed it for some sort of personal power gratification.

So, where is this going? My view is that bombing Gaza will achieve nothing, nor will Kiev achieve much by bombing eastern Ukraine (other than smash buildings and generally make a mess). In the first case, Israel refuses to give the Palestinians enough to think there are better things to do than to get killed, and in the second, Kiev refuses to give the Russian speaking people some sort of economic independence, or to make them feel welcome. The outcomes? I do not know, but I cannot see them as being desirable in the short term.

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