Don’t Trust the Bombers on Iraq: “Shock and Awe” Never Works

In March of 2003, we were treated to an intensive bombardment of Iraq, which the Bush White House propagandists termed “Shock and Awe.” As usual, the US Air Force practically promised us that if only they could throw down all their fancy munitions on the target country from the air, why, you might not even need those impossibly old-fashioned grunts in the US Army. We might be able to “decapitate” the nationalist, secular, state-socialist Baath regime that then ran Iraq, by killing its leader in an air strike.

Breathlessly, we were told that the US suddenly developed intelligence on Saddam’s whereabouts. The war began two days early because of this delicious possibility. The missiles were launched on a restaurant in Baghdad. Dozens of innocent diners were turned into red mist.

Saddam Hussein, of course, was never at the restaurant. Then the massive bombing campaign, 1,300 missiles, hit Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk. US military spokesmen insisted that the bombs were angled so as to reduce civilian casualties. But when you drop a five hundred pound bomb on a building, it creates shrapnel— the cement, the glass in the windows, go flying, into people’s skin and faces and eyes. Baath government and military buildings were targeted, in an attempt to destroy the Baath command and control.

The destruction rained down on Baghdad did nothing to forestall a war. The US and Britain still had to invade. As the troops rushed up to the capital some were surprised to see Iraqi troops discard their uniforms, put on civvies, and become guerrillas.

Read more