Bombing the Rubble, Empire of Destruction, by Tom Englehardt

In large part, the outcome of US policy in the Middle East and Northern Africa has been destruction and rubble, and nothing more. An excellent article from Tom Englehardt at antiwar.com:

You remember. It was supposed to be twenty-first-century war, American-style: precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on Earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science.  Everything “networked.”  It was to be a glorious dream of limited destruction combined with unlimited power and success.  In reality, it would prove to be a nightmare of the first order.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble. It’s been a painfully apt term since September 11, 2001. In addition, to catch the essence of such war in this century, two new words might be useful: rubblize and rubblization. Let me explain what I mean.

In recent weeks, another major city in Iraq has officially been “liberated” (almost) from the militants of the Islamic State.  However, the results of the U.S.-backed Iraqi military campaign to retake Mosul, that country’s second largest city, don’t fit any ordinary definition of triumph or victory.  It began in October 2016 and, at nine months and counting, has been longer than the World War II battle of Stalingrad.  Week after week, in street to street fighting, with U.S. airstrikes repeatedly called in on neighborhoods still filled with terrified Mosulites, unknown but potentially staggering numbers of civilians have died.  More than a million people – yes, you read that figure correctly – were uprooted from their homes and major portions of the Western half of the city they fled, including its ancient historic sections, have been turned into rubble.

This should be the definition of victory as defeat, success as disaster.  It’s also a pattern.  It’s been the essential story of the American war on terror since, in the month after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush loosed American air power on Afghanistan.  That first air campaign began what has increasingly come to look like the full-scale rubblization of significant parts of the Greater Middle East.

By not simply going after the crew who committed those attacks but deciding to take down the Taliban, occupy Afghanistan, and in 2003, invade Iraq, Bush’s administration opened the proverbial can of worms in that vast region. An imperial urge to overthrow Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, who had once been Washington’s guy in the Middle East only to become its mortal enemy (and who had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11), proved one of the fatal miscalculations of the imperial era.

To continue reading: Bombing the Rubble, Empire of Destruction

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4 responses to “Bombing the Rubble, Empire of Destruction, by Tom Englehardt

  1. There were also claims the US were guilty of using toxic gas (which is evil when Assad does it), but for the larger perspective it was time to root out ISIS. I hardly ever support military action but folks that make inroads to the West repeatedly and unpunished, who were emboldened by ever more kowtow to Islamism by our leaders, must be dealt with. Yes, the cost would have been minimal if our elites had dealt with it earlier. Now, it is terrible.

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  2. frank w. hooper

    In 68 I watched our Jets spend 2 weeks flattening the city of Cholon Vietnam. We used the same excuse “it’s full of insurgents”.
    Mr Goldstein, I’m sorry you feel that is a reason or solution. I wish I could describe to you what the results of that policy actually look like or what it does to our troops and families. It may be a bit vain to recommend reading “My War” by Fleabaggs right here on May 15 this year.

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