Controversy Erupts Over Air Strikes Against Islamic State

Being in a bomber crew in 1944 was no joke. If you were in a B-17 or B-24, you flew in daylight under heavy attack by the world’s best flak guns and swarms of heavily armed fighters. In a Lancaster or Halifax at night, you still had the flak because it was radar controlled- plus more radars that guided in sophisticated night fighters. And, as you made your final run on the target, you had to fly straight and level to give the bomb aimer a chance. Not much of a chance – 1940s bomb sights were nowhere near as accurate as advertised and, even if they had been, a combination of dubious aerodynamics and crude release mechanisms could throw the bombs themselves miles off target – but anyway, until the load was dropped you had to hold formation on an easily predictable course.

So you waited, inside a flimsy metal skin, for a burst of German cannon fire to shred you or for flak to shear a wing off. You counted the seconds to the release point – not so you could strike a blow against Hitler’s regime, but so the pilot could turn away, begin evasive maneuvers and take you back to the safety of an English airfield. And, when you saw the plane in front of you drop its bombs, or the wires of your sight reached the front edge of the fires on the ground, the temptation to press the release button was almost irresistible. The bombs in the average World War Two raid started impacting somewhere near the target then steadily marched backwards as each bomber in the stream dropped a little bit earlier than the one in front.

BombingRecently, the British parliament voted to extend air strikes against the Islamic State from Iraq to Syria. Watching the hysterical language being flung around, it’s clear that many on the left think bombing hasn’t changed at all in over 70 years. The RAF will “bomb at random,” we were told. They’ll “rain death on Raqqa” and “uselessly slaughter innocents.” Children will be “massacred by British bombs.”

I can’t decide if the people making these lurid statements are obnoxiously dishonest or just stupid beyond belief. Or maybe they’re both. I also suspect that more than a few of them want NATO bombs to kill hundreds of innocent Syrians, just so they can scream more hatred at their own societies. There are plenty of comments on the net sneering about how “killing brown people doesn’t matter.” From what I can see, it really doesn’t matter to many on the left- unless of course they’re killed by the west. I haven’t seen Britain’s Stop The War Coalition demonstrating against jihadi atrocities. In fact, in an incredible article on their website, Stop The War compared the jihadis to the International Brigade volunteers who went to Spain to fight fascism. I’m not sure anyone who happens to be Jewish or gay would describe jihadis as anti-fascists.

The fact is, US and British aircrew do everything they can to avoid civilian casualties. The USAF has been aborting over half of its missions over Syria because they can’t guarantee a clean strike. Yes, mistakes happen- but they’re rare. Is it legitimate to oppose military action? Yes, it is. I personally didn’t support the 2003 Iraq war, for example, or the bombing of Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. I wouldn’t have supported bombing the Syrian regime in support of the “moderate” rebels. The thing is, most rational people can see that military action isn’t always the right thing to do, but sometimes it is. We were right to help the Northern Alliance get rid of the Taliban and we’re right to fight ISIS.

What’s never right is to gloss over the atrocities committed by jihadi fascists, then accuse professional aircrew of being psychopathic murderers. That is not the language of a rational adult.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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