Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Called on the carpet: The sociopathy of innocence

Flying Carpet, ceiling sculpture by Cai Guo-Qiang, Herford, Germany, 2005.
What is it about that concept of  "carpet bombing", actually? I mean I know, of course, it's a phrase that gives the GOP voter a boner, with its suggestion of total, all-covering, all-burying power, potency from above the supine victim, not to get all Freud about it, but why aren't they afraid of getting laughed at by the military folks? Quoting from the debate text:
CRUZ: What it means is using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS. To put things in perspective, in the first Persian Gulf War, we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet bombed them for 36 days, saturation bombing, after which our troops went in and in a day and a half mopped up what was left of the Iraqi army.
They did not, for one thing:
General Colin Powell, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 1991 Gulf War, aimed to reduce Iraq's million-strong Army with 5,000 tanks and artillery pieces to a force of about 100,000 with 1,000 tanks - enough to counterbalance Iran, without posing an overwhelming threat to other states.
The Allies failed in that aim, leaving the Iraqis with 350,000 troops, 2,300 tanks and 1,000 artillery pieces in summer 1991. Initial Gulf war assessments of damage to the Iraqi war machine proved excessive. The Iraqis made skilful use of dummy tanks, and many armoured vehicles escaped over the Euphrates. The Allies, lacking bridging equipment, could not follow on the ground, and, fearing accusations of butchery, were unwilling to pursue them to destruction.
But they did create a font of perpetual ill will and understandable hatred with the 20,000 to 35,000 soldiers they did kill, including several dozens buried alive as US tanks ploughed over their trenches, and 75,000 wounded, and 3,664 (minimum) civilians murdered in the 100-hour war.

And that was the one that was conducted competently. Then there's what happened in that other Gulf war, the Shock-'n'-Awe campaign whose name Must Not Be Mentioned, from 2003, where mopping up the Iraqi army left the officer corps that now constitutes the trained and disciplined core of Da'esh (partly thanks to all the training and equipping and intelligence support they received from the Reagan administration in the 1982-89 war with Iran), which is how they were able to conquer so much territory so swiftly—it wasn't by shouting "Allahu akbar!" and beheading Christians.
BLITZER: Thank you. To be clear, Senator Cruz, would you carpet bomb Raqqa, the ISIS capital, where there are a lot of civilians, yes or no?
CRUZ: You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed -- and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn't to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.
Ah, so it's a special and unique variety of carpet bombing he has in mind, the kind that's the opposite of carpet bombing:

So that's different.

But Hugh Hewitt thought the go-to person on the carpet bombing theme was Dr. Ben Carson, member of the pacifist Seventh-Day Adventist cult denomination, though that doesn't stop him from offering bloodthirsty ideas (doesn't stop him from working on Saturdays, either, or supporting absolute abortion bans, which is not an SDA position—he's really a cafeteria Adventist, or as I once put it nothing but a damn vegetarian Baptist), with startling results:
HEWITT: Neurosurgeon. And people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We're talking about ruthless things tonight -- carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?
CARSON: Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we're going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor. They're not happy about it, believe me. And they don't like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me.

They're not afraid of being laughed at because they have no idea how ignorant they are. They haven't really thought it through.

Republicans think they're so hard-ass, to use a favorite Lindsey Graham expression, but the real problem is that they live in a fantasy world where nobody really gets hurt, and talking tough is just part of getting that trophy and making Mom proud. Nobody gets hungry when you cut off their food stamps, they just have to skip the lobster, which they totally don't deserve anyway because they were probably naughty. Nobody really dies when you carpet-bomb them, they just become better or more effective or more compliant or healthier people and they really love you for it after it's over. It's a kind of innocent sociopathy...

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