“I’m just back from visiting all of our key air bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and along the Persian Gulf, and I find myself wrestling with two stark contrasts: the contrast between what is happening there in the air and what is happening on the ground, and the contrast between the decency of the U.S. military personnel fighting this war and how unworthy Donald Trump — who has become our divider in chief — is to be their commander in chief.
The first contrast was summed up in two wall-size digital maps at our Kuwait-based command center for the war on ISIS. One map displays every military aircraft the U.S. has in the skies over Syria and Iraq (as well as Russian, Syrian and Iranian aircraft) pounding ISIS targets. There are little symbols for B-52s, U-2s, F-16s, F-22s, F-15s, MQ-9 Reapers and jet refuelers. It is a giant aerial armada, a flying killer symphony orchestrated by the U.S. Air Force.
The other map uses different colors to depict the disposition of forces on the ground. It looks like a broken kaleidoscope. Our U.S. military briefer explained: Purple is for Syrian regime forces and their Russian, Hezbollah and Iranian allies; light green shows Syrian Kurds and dark green Iraqi Kurds; light blue represents “disciplined” Iraqi Shiite militias, while the “undisciplined” ones are another shade. Pro-Turkish Sunni militias have their own color, as do the pro-American Syrian Sunni militias. ISIS fighters are another color, and the official Iraqi security forces are a different one still.As our briefer noted dryly: “Not everyone here has exactly the same endgame in mind.”This is our war in the Middle East today in two maps: “Star Wars” meets “Game of Thrones.” ”
Great Op-ed, thank you. I worry that we will come in a few centuries to wish we had never started drone killing. Maybe it is time now to ban internationally such manner of warfare, as too dangerous to civilization. Isn’t it true that when our enemies have this new technology, that no one will be able to go out anywhere in safety.
I liked the comment that we should consider withdrawing, since we will leave anger and devastation when the war ends, and our expensive victory will allow the Chinese to come in and help rebuild the region for an actual profit.
Do we really know what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, spending our blood and treasure? Does blowing up Taliban martyrs with our drones really make us safer?