B-52 drops large array of bombs on Vietnam during Operation Arc Light, 1965.
Now, at this point, after writing something like that, I will be regaled with charges I am yet another right-wing looney, who hates the MSM. No, I am not right-wing, nor left-wing, nor a vile centrist, and while I might be as looney as the next American (looney being a defining character trait of USA’uns), my main interest is in looking for whatever facts we can discern underlying and often contradicting the junk peddled as facts in MSM slop.
Today’s example is a NYT editorial entitled “Ted ‘Carpet-Bomb’ Cruz”. In this opinion piece, the Times’ editors argue that Ted Cruz is just another ignorant chickenhawk, who likes to bluster about how with himself as POTUS, America will be militarily strong, while actually the blusterer (almost always a conservative flavor) knows almost nothing about military power and its tools of engagement.
As the Times points out:
"Anyone with any understanding of military strategy knows that “carpet-bombing” is a term used by amateurs trying to sound tough."Now, I can tell you from a lot of personal experience with this, that whenever you see a journalist preface their statement with "ANYONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING" or something similar, you should be concerned about the strong likelihood that journalist is generalizing about something they know nothing about whatsoever.
Another sign this might be the case is if the journalist then employs some kind of expert to allegedly make their case for them, which the Times did (see below for this). Often, the expert will be found to have either wildly misstated the facts—and strangely the journalist never checks this with other experts or just Wikipedia or something—or to have been so creatively quoted by the journalist as to make a point they never in fact argued.
Remember this as we go along here.
The key evidence the Times editors use to prosecute Cruz as a military amateur is his recent statement about how he would like to dispatch Islamic State:
“We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion.”Here is Cruz’s statement in context:
“Instead we will have a president who will make clear we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark. But we’re going to find out. And we are going to make abundantly clear to any militant on the face of the planet that if you go and join ISIS, if you wage jihad against the United States of America, and try to murder innocent Americans, you are signing your death warrant.”Now, there is a lot there to unpack, chiefly for example that telling jihadists they are signing their death warrants by attacking the USA is not actually likely to dissuade militants from signing up to ISIS or Islamic State. And while carpet bombing Islamic State strongholds will likely be very satisfying to lots of Americans, who love to watch poor Muslims blow the fuck up, it is also very likely to result in the deaths of lots of collaterals (or as Americans like to call them: “collaborators” ), and then further result in the recruitment of lots more terrorists.
So, let us be clear, Ted Cruz’s war-speak, AKA silly jingoism, is not the basis of an effective strategy for winning a war against Islamic State, or jihadism in general. I’m pretty sure Cruz is knows this too. After all, right now, he’s shown the intelligence to so far outmaneuver the alleged smart-guy in the Republican campaign, Donald Trump.
On the other hand, that point about Cruz’s bluster could have been simply made by just letting Ted speak, especially in context. Instead, the Times decided to focus on the term “carpet bomb”, to make a case that Cruz did not understand the term, and to further argue that it was un-American to even suggest such a tactic should be employed or has ever been employed by the United States military.
After all, slaughtering lots of people like fleas in a carpet just isn’t American—is it?
The Times produced this quotation to help make that case, offered by what the editors claimed was a chuckling “Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, a military historian and former commandant of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.”:
“That’s just another one of those phrases that people with no military experience throw around…America has never carpet-bombed anyone at any time because that’s not our doctrine.”The Times did not at that point fact-check that statement, because the purpose of providing the quotation was to authorize the Times’ claim that employing the term “carpet-bomb” was just an ignorant and un-American thing for Cruz to do.
Instead, the Times' editors claimed the following:
“The only thing close to “carpet-bombing” was Operation Arc Light in 1965, in which two or three B-52 Stratofortresses bombed sections of Vietnam to support tactical operations on the ground, not to flatten the place.”So there, Ted Cruz, you must be wrong!
But, what if the Times just told you a pile of crap? Could that be a possibility?
Well, let’s see. What would most of us do if we wanted to fact-check a claim. Might we start with Wikipedia’s article on carpet bombing? According to that, there is a little more to the tale of carpet bombing in the Vietnam War than General Scales or the Times wanted to admit:
“The first combat mission, Operation Arc Light, was flown by B-52Fs on 18 June 1965, when 30 bombers of the 9th and 441st Bombardment Squadrons struck a communist stronghold near the Bến Cát District in South Vietnam. The first wave of bombers arrived too early at a designated rendezvous point, and while maneuvering to maintain station, two B-52s collided, which resulted in the loss of both bombers and eight crewmen. The remaining bombers, minus one more that turned back due to mechanical problems, continued toward the target.”So, in this version of Operation Arc Light, THREE bombers turned back. In the Times version, two or three bombers actually participated in the operation. Now, what happened?
“Twenty-seven Stratofortresses dropped on a one-mile by two-mile target box from between 19,000 and 22,000 feet, a little more than 50% of the bombs falling within the target zone.”And of course, that is just in Vietnam, which had many such carpet-bombing raids.
In addition, as General Scales ought to know, carpet bombing, or saturation bombing, was much used in World War II by all sides, but particularly by the Allies as the war advanced, and the Allies repeatedly struck, and thoroughly destroyed, large landscapes of German and Japanese industrial production.
So, whatever you might say about Ted Cruz, he wasn’t just inventing or repeating a false notion that carpet bombing is an acceptable brand of American war policy.
Readers must always be aware that the New York Times exists largely to promote and protect the state and its perpetrators, such as the US military, from any effective criticism. And in doing this, even while attacking people, such as Cruz, who would seem to be a natural ally of the Times, since he also is a big fan of the US military, the Times will exploit and often distort the facts to make its case.