Is this really a New York Times Op-Ed?

Empty Skies Over Afghanistan

THE Taliban have found a way to beat American airpower. And they have managed this remarkable feat with American help.

The consequences of this development are front and center in the current offensive in Marja, Afghanistan, where air support to American and Afghan forces has been all but grounded by concerns about civilian casualties.

American and NATO military leaders — worried by Taliban propaganda claiming that air strikes have killed an inordinate number of civilians, and persuaded by “hearts and minds” enthusiasts that the key to winning the war is the Afghan population’s goodwill — have largely relinquished the strategic advantage of American air dominance.

The column doesn’t really include anything new on the subject of increasingly restrictive rules of engagement, but I’m surprised to see it (especially with those lead paragraphs) in the NYT.

While we obviously cannot and should not bomb away without regard for civilian casualties, I also worry that we’re putting our troops and the mission at risk by over-correcting.


  1. I’m no sports fan, but I thought playing the other guy’s game was a formula for losing.

    This situation ably illustrates how the media and it’s shaping of popular opinion (in Central Asia and here) is now an integral part of war making. Woe to the commander who does not understand this, and make use of it effectively.

    They may be a bunch of unwashed zealous ***holes, but the Taliban are not stupid. Making routine inflated, and no doubt false in some instances, claims of civilian deaths due to allied artillery or air strikes is well on it’s way to making us sell all our artillery and air assets. Next thing you know……….they’ll accuse of us of causing hundreds of civilian deaths by running people over with our vehicles and we’ll have to give them up too, for fear people will have a poor opinion of us.

    Accurately targeting bad guys who look like the civilians they’ve mixed themselves up with, with indirect fire systems and air power is problematic at best, and has certainly caused unintended civilian deaths, and provided fuel for the fire.

    If you’re going to play this game, and give up some of your biggest advantages, and slug it out man to man………get ready for the increased friendly casualties and the bad press that’s going to cause.

  2. Right on Flanker,

    I never met a surgeon who said he or she could remove a cancerous tumor with out harming a single non-cancerous cell.

    If the surgeon refuses to act given the fact that some health cells would be destroyed the entire body will be lost!

    Afghanistan is just one big sick body with a lot of cancer (Taliban) cells floating around. Arty and air power are the chemo and radiation therapy.

  3. I have commented about this before, but whenever supporting fires or airstrikes are refused due to potential civilian casualties, and US personnel are killed, I would find those who with held the support, and charge them with negligent homicide.

  4. The NYT has to fill their pages with something to avoid reporting on the collapse of the their religion – Global Warming.

  5. Like I said in a much earlier post, the US military either drops everything on everyone, or nothing at all.

    In other words, the Pentagon only reacts to the battlefield, rather than shaping it — and in doing so, they’ve surrendered the initiative to the enemy.

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