Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment

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The Campaign Against the Convention on Cluster Munitions

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Evidence of what this meant for the colonial "savages" came quick and often between the two world wars. In reports of Iraqi women and children dying from British planes, dropping high explosive bombs around the clock disturbed even bombing enthusiast Winston Churchill. Air squadron leader Arthur Harris had no such qualms. In , though massive British bombing of villages failed to subdue nationalist rebellions in Burma and north western India, the effect on civilians was appalling.

British soldiers who entered the devastated towns reported, "Pariah dogs are already at work eating the corpses of the babies and old women who have been killed. Based on the Prophets' assertion that modern war had destroyed any distinction between the battlefront the fighting space of the warrior class and the home front where non-combatants toiled in support of the war effort , they proposed that air power be used first and foremost on what Hart called the industrial enemy's "Achilles heel" - its civilian population.

In the crudest of terms, they proposed bombing the enemy's civilian population centres, or what would later be designated a nation's "vital centres", to incinerate the civilian population and force the survivors to flee to an as yet un-bombed city. The bombers would then devastate that city, creating a larger refugee population that, having made their way to the next city, would be blasted again. Eventually, and "by this means alone", asserted the Prophets, the civilians would lose their will to resist and force their government to surrender.

Strategic bombing theory is heavily dependent on gender, race and class-based "self and other" identity analysis. The assumption that civilians should be targeted stems from the Prophets' understanding that the non-combatant population is largely women and children, with a few infirm men thrown in.

Together, as the "weaker other", they simply do not have the same will to resist the terror from the skies as does the manly warrior class. The class and race biases became evident with the decision, as Trenchard purposed, to "precisely" bomb industrial working class homes and places of work while avoiding upper class residential areas.

On the other hand, in addition to the "stiff upper-lip" character attributed to the aristocratic "self", partial or wholesale destruction of the nation's industrial capital would weigh heavily on the adversary's ruling class. Thus the more likely they are to negotiate a way out of their dilemma with those, though different in nationality, of their own class.

Since first articulated, strategic bombing theory has gone through various re-formulations. Yet its theoretical centrepiece remains.

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After nearly a century of terror from the skies in Europe, Africa and Asia, strategic bombing's efficacy remains unproven with the exception of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. Indeed, in every case bombing has proven to stiffen the backbone and productivity of the enemy civilians but at a high cost. Cities like Seoul are badly mangled - but a host of towns and villages, like Chonwon on the base of the Iron Triangle, are completely obliterated. Bridges, railroads, dams are blasted Yet, during the Spanish civil war , " the bomber will always get through " theory started to appear doubtful, as quoted by the U.

The increased speeds of both the bombardment and pursuit plane have worked in favor of the pursuit … The flying fortress died in Spain.

Cluster Munitions and State Terrorism

Large scale bombing of the civilian population , thought to be demoralizing to the enemy, seemed to have the opposite effect. The strategic bombing conducted in World War II was unlike anything the world had seen before. The campaigns conducted in Europe and Asia could involve hundreds of aircraft dropping thousands of tons of conventional bombs or a single aircraft dropping a nuclear weapon over a single city.

This, in high enough concentration was capable of producing a firestorm effect. Initially, this was effected by multiple aircraft, often returning to the target in waves. Nowadays, a large bomber or missile can be used to create the same effect on a small area an airfield, for example by releasing a relatively large number of smaller bombs. Strategic bombing campaigns were conducted in Europe and Asia. By comparison, the British and Americans who started the war with predominantly similarly sized bombers developed their strategic force based upon much larger four-engined bombers for their strategic campaigns.

During the first year of the war in Europe, strategic bombing was developed through trial and error. The Luftwaffe had been attacking both civilian and military targets from the very first day of the war, when Germany invaded Poland on 1 September A strategic-bombing campaign was launched by the Germans as a precursor to the invasion of the United Kingdom to force the RAF to engage the Luftwaffe and so be destroyed either on the ground or in the air.

Initially, the Luftwaffe raids took place in daylight, then changed to night bombing attacks when losses became unsustainable. The RAF, initially espousing a precision-bombing doctrine, also switched to night bombing, also due to excessive losses. The day after the Rotterdam Blitz a new directive was issued to the RAF to attack targets in the Ruhr , including oil plants and other civilian industrial targets which aided the German war effort, such as blast furnaces that at night were self-illuminating. After the Butt Report released in September proved the inadequacy of RAF Bomber Command training methods and equipment, the RAF adopted an area-attack strategy, by which it hoped to detrimentally affect Germany's war production, her powers of resistance by destroying resources and forcing Germany to divert resources from her front lines to defend her air space , and her morale.

The United States Army Air Forces adopted a policy of daylight precision bombing for greater accuracy as, for example, during the Schweinfurt raids. That doctrine, based on the erroneous supposition that bombers could adequately defend themselves against air attack, entailed much higher American losses until long-range fighter escorts e. Conditions in the European theatre made it very difficult to achieve the accuracy that had been possible using the exceptional and top-secret Norden optical bombsight in the clear skies over the desert bombing ranges of Nevada and California.

Raids over Europe commonly took place in conditions of very poor visibility, with targets partly or wholly obscured by thick cloud, smokescreens or smoke from fires started by previous raids. As a result, bomb loads were regularly dropped "blind" using dead-reckoning methods little different from those used by the RAF night bombers. In addition, only the leading bomber in a formation actually utilized the Norden sight, the rest of the formation dropping their bombs only when they saw the lead aircraft's bombload falling away.

Since even a very tight bomber formation could cover a vast area, the scatter of bombs was likely to be considerable. Add to these difficulties the disruptive effects of increasingly accurate anti-aircraft fire and head-on attacks by fighter aircraft and the theoretical accuracy of daylight bombing was often hard to achieve. Strategic bombing was initially a way of taking the war into Europe while Allied ground forces were unable to do so.

Between them, Allied air forces claimed to be able to bomb "around the clock". In fact, few targets were ever hit by British and American forces the same day, the strategic isolation of Normandy on D-Day and the bombing of Dresden in February, , being exceptions rather than the rule. There were generally no coordinated plans for around-the-clock bombing of any target.

Strategic terror: the politics and ethics of aerial bombardment - Beau Grosscup - Google книги

In some cases, single missions have been considered to constitute strategic bombing. Strategic bombing in Europe never reached the decisive completeness the American campaign against Japan achieved, helped in part by the fragility of Japanese housing , which was particularly vulnerable to firebombing through the use of incendiary devices. The destruction of German infrastructure became apparent, but the Allied campaign against Germany only really succeeded when the Allies began targeting oil refineries and transportation in the last year of the war.

At the same time, strategic bombing of Germany was used as a morale booster for the Allies in the period before the land war resumed in Western Europe in June However, the Japanese military in most places advanced quickly enough that a strategic bombing campaign was unnecessary, and the Japanese aircraft industry was incapable of producing truly strategic bombers in any event.

In those places where it was required, the smaller Japanese bombers in comparison to British and American types did not carry a bombload sufficient to inflict the sort of damage regularly occurring at that point in the war in Europe, or later in Japan. The development of the B gave the United States a bomber with sufficient range to reach the Japanese home islands from the safety of American bases in the Pacific or western China.

The capture of the Japanese island of Iwo Jima further enhanced the capabilities that the Americans possessed in their strategic bombing campaign. Unlike the USAAF's strategic bombing campaign in Europe, with its avowed if unachievable objective of precision bombing of strategic targets, the bombing of Japanese cities involved the deliberate targeting of residential zones from the outset. Bomb loads included very high proportions of incendiaries, with the intention of igniting the highly combustible wooden houses common in Japanese cities and thereby generating firestorms.

The final development of strategic bombing in World War II was the use of nuclear weapons. On August 6 and 9, , the United States exploded the nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing , people and inflicting a psychological shock on the Japanese nation. On August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan , stating :.

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  8. Should We continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects; or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors?

    This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers. Nuclear weapons defined strategic bombing during the Cold War. The age of the massive strategic bombing campaign had come to an end. It was replaced by more devastating attacks using improved sighting and weapons technology.

    Strategic bombing by the Great Powers also became politically indefensible. The political fallout resulting from the destruction being broadcast on the evening news ended more than one strategic bombing campaign. Because the Korean War was widely considered a " limited war ", the Truman Administration prohibited the USAF to bomb near the borders of China and the Soviet Union in fear of provoking the countries to enter into the war. In response to the Chinese intervention, the USAF carried out an intensive bombing campaign against North Korea to demoralize the North Koreans and inflict as much economic cost to North Korea in order to reduce their ability to wage war.

    The extensive bombing raids on North Korea continued until the armistice agreement was signed between communist and UN forces on July 27, In the Vietnam War , the strategic bombing of North Vietnam in Operation Rolling Thunder could have been more extensive, but fear by the Johnson Administration of the entry of China into the war led to restrictions on the selection of targets, as well as only a gradual escalation of intensity.

    The aim of the bombing campaign was to demoralize the North Vietnamese, damage their economy, and reduce their capacity to support the war in the hope that they would negotiate for peace, but it failed to have those effects. The Nixon Administration continued this sort of limited strategic bombing during the two Operation Linebacker campaigns.

    Strategic bombing

    Images such as that of Kim Phuc Phan Thi although this incident was the result of close air support rather than strategic bombing disturbed the American public enough to demand a stop to the campaign. Due to this, and the ineffectiveness of carpet bombing partly because of a lack of identifiable targets , new precision weapons were developed. The new weapons allowed more effective and efficient bombing with reduced civilian casualties.

    High civilian casualties had always been the hallmark of strategic bombing, but later in the Cold War, this began to change. Strategic bombing was entering a new phase of high-intensity attacks, specifically targeting factories taking years and millions of dollars to build. Strategic bombing in the post—Cold War era is defined by American advances in and the use of smart munitions.

    More frequently in the Kosovo War , and the initial phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom of , strategic bombing campaigns were notable for the heavy use of precision weaponry by those countries that possessed them.

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    Although bombing campaigns were still strategic in their aims, the widespread area bombing tactics of World War II had mostly disappeared. This led to significantly fewer civilian casualties associated with previous bombing campaigns, though it has not brought about a complete end to civilian deaths or collateral property damage. Additionally, strategic bombing via smart munitions is now possible through the use of aircraft that have been considered traditionally tactical in nature such as the F Fighting Falcon or FE Strike Eagle , which had been used during Operation Desert Storm , Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to destroy targets that would have required large formations of strategic bombers during World War II.

    During the South Ossetia war Russian aircraft attacked the shipbuilding centre of Poti. Air warfare must comply with laws and customs of war , including international humanitarian law by protecting the victims of the conflict and refraining from attacks on protected persons.