There’s no excuse for Cruz calling for ‘carpet’ bombing

Walls of houses of Wesel still stand, as do the churches, but a great part of the town was destroyed when the German commander forced the Allied troops to fight their way street by street through the ruins. Germany, 1945. Army. (OWI) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 208-N-39903 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1336

Wesel was 97% destroyed before it was finally taken by Allied troops in 1945. See that carpet of craters? Wikipedia doesn’t SAY those are bomb craters, but what else might they be?

I tend to agree pretty frequently with Charles Krauthammer on national security issues, but I was disappointed in him over the weekend.

Did you see his column assessing the foreign policy approaches of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, which he termed, respectively, “passivist,” “internationalist,” “unilateralist” and “mercantilist.”

There was much of value in the column, and some things to enjoy — such as his observation that Trump’s worldview comes closest to that of King Philip II of Spain (1556-1598).

Of course, I was disappointed that he left out Kasich — I reject the notion that we have no options left but these four. But to his credit, he promised that “If Kasich pulls off a miracle, he’ll get his own column.” Which he would, of course, unquestionably deserve at that point.

Most of his observations are sound, and he is scrupulously careful to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton would likely be less reluctant to take effective action in the world than her erstwhile boss, President Obama. He says her nearest historical analog is her husband’s approach in the 1990s — which isn’t as good as, say, Tony Blair in that decade, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

What gets me is the way he bends over backwards to make Cruz’ approach palatable:

The most aggressive of the three contenders thus far. Wants post-Cold War U.S. leadership restored. Is prepared to take risks and act alone when necessary. Pledges to tear up the Iran deal, cement the U.S.-Israel alliance and carpet bomb the Islamic State.

Overdoes it with “carpet” — it implies Dresden — although it was likely just an attempt at rhetorical emphasis….

Really?!?!?!? “Overdoes it?” The fact that Cruz uses that word utterly disqualifies him from consideration as POTUS. Whether he really wants to do that, or merely does not understand what the word means, he is beyond the pale.

Here’s what “carpet bombing” means:

Carpet bombing, also known as saturation bombing, is a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land.[1][2][3][4] The phrase evokes the image of explosions completely covering an area, in the same way that a carpet covers a floor. Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many unguided bombs.

And yes, when we think of “carpet bombing” we do think of Dresden, and Tokyo, and Cologne, and all those other places that we sent thousands of planes over in an effort to destroy everything below — including all those civilians.

I’m not going to get into the ethics of our having done that in the course of total war, in a time in which we lacked the technical precision of modern munitions. I’m just going to say that that is what is clearly, unquestionably meant when one says “carpet bombing” — that you’re dropping a carpet of bombs to destroy everything and everyone in the covered area, and let God sort them out.

There is no room in the 21st century, when we have so many other options, for a suggestion like that. The term is primitive, atavistic, barbaric — which is no doubt why Cruz said it, in an attempt to appeal to Trumpist sensibilities.

Yet Krauthammer is completely blasé about it, with that forgiving “overdoes.”

But that’s just the setup to the really bad thing: His assertion that Cruz’ closest historical analog is… Ronald Reagan.

So it’s come to this: That folks on the right are working so hard to talk themselves into settling for Cruz that Charles Krauthammer can equate the Cruz worldview with that of the one guy Republicans believe could do no wrong.

That’s just inexcusable.

15 thoughts on “There’s no excuse for Cruz calling for ‘carpet’ bombing

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Right up until he did that double back-flip for Cruz, I thought he was building a reluctant case for Clinton. Of the four, “internationalist” certainly sounds the least objectionable.

    So when he did get to Cruz, it surprised me…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I’m two minds about the “carpet bombing” comment. First, whatever you may think about Cruz, he’s a pretty smart appellate lawyer and understands that words mean things. So I see that argument for holding him accountable for the actual meaning of “carpet bombing”. However, my guess is if you did that, he might walk it back a little. I mean, nobody carpet bombs anyone else anymore. It just isn’t done, ol’ boy.

      And I think Cruz would probably acknowledge that, and explain that he was using that phrase perhaps as an oversimplification of how overwhelming the application of force would be against ISIS under a Cruz administration.

      Or maybe not. Maybe he really would carpet bomb them. In that case – yeah. He might be a little over the line. Has anyone actually pressed him on this position?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Here’s Cruz’ explanation, in the transcript of a February debate, which Krauthammer linked to:

        RADDATZ: Senator Cruz, you advocate what you call carpet bombing, or saturation bombing, to defeat ISIS, citing the more than 1,100 air attacks that the U.S. carried out during the first Gulf War in 1991.

        Explain how a strategy to defeat a standing army would work against an unconventional terrorist group that is now hiding amongst the population.

        CRUZ: Well, sure. It starts with a commander-in-chief that sets the objective. And the objective has to be utterly and completely destroying ISIS. Obama hasn’t started with that objective and everything else flows from there.

        Once you set that objective, we have the tools to carry that out. The first tool is overwhelming air power. It is one of the blessings of the United States of America, having the greatest military on the face of the earth, is we have the ability to use that air power.

        As you know, in the first Persian Gulf War, it was 1,100 air attacks a day. Obama is launching between 15 and 30. Now, when I say saturation carpet bombing, that is not indiscriminate.

        That is targeted at oil facilities. It’s targeted at the oil tankers. It’s targeted at command and control locations. It’s targeted at infrastructure. It’s targeted at communications. It’s targeted at bombing all of the roads and bridges going in and out of Raqqa. It’s using overwhelming air power.

        You know, couple of weeks ago, it was reported that a facility is open called Jihadist University. Now, the question I wonder, why is that building still standing? It should be rubble. And if you had a president…

        So, how do we take that? It’s nice that he wants us to understand his use of strategic bombing would not be “indiscriminate.” But we’re left with the fact that he wanted the PUNCH that came with the word. He wanted to give the impression of no holds barred, for pretty clear political reasons….

        1. Bryan Caskey

          BREAKING: Politician stretches the meaning of a word in order to curry favor with base.

          Film at 11:00.


    2. Juan Caruso

      Unlike too many (I suspect most) columnists, Krauthammer, whether we usually disagree with him or not, rarely wastes his reader’s’ time.

      In this case his analysis prompted your questioning why Kasich’s plan for destrying ISIS was omitted. Hint: It was not omitted, only Kasich was omitted. The latter’s approach (/ for destroying ISIS appears to parallel the “internationalist” (globalist view) that Krathammer does mention.

      Furthermore, you say, “The fact that Cruz uses that word [carpet bombing] utterly disqualifies him from consideration as POTUS. Whether he really wants to do that, or merely does not understand what the word means, he is beyond the pale.”

      Both history and the tenets of Islam indicate otherwise. Allah’s injunction, “Inshallah”: Surat Al Kahf (18):23-24: ..”And never say of anything, ‘I shall do such and such thing tomorrow. Except (with the saying): If God wills! [Allah willing]'”.

      Historically, non-Muslim nations have had to convince ISIS-minded radicals that Allah IS NOT willing.
      Again, we must satisfy those sacred words with convincing deeds . Sorry, not only will palliative words, attempts to moderate radical teachings of eacg generation of Muslim youth never stop ISIS, but such efforts allow ISIS more time to strengthen and commit the moral equivalents of non carpet bombing like genocide and 9-11.

      In June 1965, 27 B-52F Stratofortresses dropped tons of high explosives on a one by two-mile site containing a communist stronghold in South Vietnam. Our U.S. president at the time of this approved saturation [carpet] bombing was LBJ. Progressives too often marginalize unflattering history. ISIS demands we not.

      I do not support lawyer Cruz, but his “carpet bombing” approach will not be beyond the pale until Muslims convincingly adopt their updated New Testament.

  2. Karen Pearson

    Given Cruz’s behavior in the senate, I don’t believe he’s just using “rhetorical emphasis.” I think he’ll try to do exactly what he says. I don’t think Cruz is concerned about what happens to others as long as he achieves his objective. That’s one reason he scares me so much.

  3. Doug Ross

    “we sent thousands of planes over in an effort to destroy everything below — including all those civilians…I’m not going to get into the ethics of our having done that in the course of total war,”

    Ethically, it’s wrong. Morally, it’s wrong. Strategically it may be right.

          1. Doug Ross

            “If you attain success in the war, it will not prove that you were in the right. It will only prove that your power of destruction was greater.”

            – Gandhi

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