Comparing Bush's Afghan air effort v. O's ISIS air....
RAND’s Benjamin Lambeth summed up the Afghan air campaign as follows: “[D]uring the 75 days of bombing between October 7, when Enduring Freedom began, and December 23, when the first phase of the war ended after the collapse of the Taliban, some 6,500 strike sorties were flown by CENTCOM forces altogether, out of which approximately 17,500 munitions were dropped on more than 120 fixes targets, 400 vehicles and artillery pieces, and a profusion of concentrations of Taliban and al Qaeda combatants.”
Now compare with the statistics on the current U.S. aerial bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. According to Central Command, in the 59 days between August 8, when the campaign started, and October 6, the U.S. has conducted 360 strikes utilizing 955 munitions.
That’s a big difference between dropping 17,500 munitions in Afghanistan and 955 in Iraq/Syria. So rare are U.S. strikes today that Centcom has actually taken to issuing press releases to announce the dropping of two 500-pound bombs.
Boot notes that this understates matters in two ways: (a) in 2001 Bush used strategic bombers dropping heavy munitions; (b) in 2001 Bush had significant boots on the ground to support the air & ground campaigns.
Bill Gertz reports that the long, ineffective air campaign is driving al-Qaeda & ISIS together.
Also at Commentary Blog, Mideast maven Michael Rubin compares Kobane 2014 to Warsaw 1944:
The Kurdish resistance first toward sl-Qaeda and then toward ISIS started out strong. But, as ISIS has enriched itself through the seizure of equipment and a flow of foreign militants and, perhaps, some support for Turkey as well, it has grown strong. At the same time, Turkey, the Syrian regime, and ISIS have blockaded the Syrian Kurds. The State Department demand that the Syrian Kurds forfeit their claim to federalism and subordinate themselves both to the Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups of the official opposition who live in Istanbul and control nothing on the ground and to Iraqi Kurdish leaders who, because of corruption and the antics of their sons, are hugely unpopular is short-sighted and ridiculous. That Secretary of State John Kerry is prepared to watch thousands slaughtered, raped, or enslaved in order to drive this point home is a poor reflection on what America stands for.
How sad it is that history is repeating, with the Syrian Kurds playing the part of the Warsaw partisans and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan playing the part of Stalin. The Americans, alas, are once again recognizing pending tragedy but refusing out of cynicism, misplaced diplomacy, or simple incompetence to do anything about it. The freedom-seeking world should be better than it was in 1944, as the freedom fighters of Warsaw perished. Unfortunately, events are showing it is not.
Then, Stalin held his forces outside Warsaw, while the Nazis carried out their genocide. The FDR administration, out of utterly misguided realpolitik, ignored pleas for help to preserve our wartime alliance with Soviet Russia, that was to dissolve as soon as the Third Reich was toppled. Stalin knew all along that he would do this; FDR did not.
Obama is further hampered by his obsession with preserving, in the name of stability, the Arab borders established by the colonial powers after the First World War. Thus he seeks a unified Syria & Iraq--the former in tandem with an increasingly rivalrous Russia, the latter with an Iraq free of American influence. Alas, neither will turn out good for us.
Bottom Line. Obama wants to keep the Kurds in a unified Iraq state, something that cannot come to pass. A strategically more savvy president would forget the misguided Palestinian state & push for a separate pro-US Kurdistan, petro-rich, with US basing rights far more reliable than in Islamist Turkey today.
Summing up what passes for Team Obama's geopolitical thinking: Palestinians screw us (and Israel), Kurds help us; we screw Kurds & help Palestinians. Syrians and Iraqis screw us....
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