Mailvox: A USAF vet writes

LW sees my point, to an extent:

I’m retired Air Force and, regarding subject article, I don’t think you fully appreciate the accuracy of new smart weapons. Up until the 2003 Iraq war, they were used in only a limited fashion. In the first Gulf War, for instance, they comprised only a small percentage of bombs dropped.

Dumb bombs have never been very accurate. During WWII, over 100 bombers were sent on single missions to take out single targets, many times unsuccessfully or only partially successfully. Nowadays a single B-2, with smart munitions, can take out as many targets as the number of bombs it can carry, so a single B-2 can replace thousands of WWII era bombers.

The true limitation of airpower is that airpower, no matter how accurate it’s bombs may be, can’t hold ground from which the enemy, or the enemy’s means to continue the fight, has been eliminated. In short, there must be boots on the ground.

Still, your point is well taken. The military is stretched to the point that action against Iran, other than from the air, is impossible. And the Chinese have helped them bury their nuke facilities so deeply that our most robust bunker busters can’t reach them. So an air attack on Iran most likely will only further antagonize Muslims worldwide without eliminating their nuke facilities, thereby exhibiting a profound impotence on our part. That’s not something we need to show the Muslim world, who seem to only understand and respect overwhelming force.

I think the Iran scenario offers an even higher likelihood of making matters worse than the foolish decision to try nation-building in Iraq. The Islamic world would have taken a salient lesson from the beautifully executed invasion and subsequent removal of Hussein from power. That lesson has been lost and others inimical to our national interest have replaced it through the occupation.

As for the efficacy of the new weapons, well, that’s a song that has been sung more than once before. Militaries have been misled into believing that superior weaponry will win wars for millenia; the fact that it has happened once or twice doesn’t mean that it’s very likely this particular time.