«These things happen in war» – US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, December 19, 2015, after US airstrikes killed ten Iraqi soldiers.
For many years US combat aircraft have been involved in operations in far-flung areas of war and military confrontation. In recent months these have ranged from the multi-casualty destruction of a hospital in Afghanistan to «provocative» overflight in the South China Sea, by way of deploying fighter interceptor aircraft to Turkey to threaten Russia and the killing of ten Iraqi soldiers in airstrikes near the city of Fallujah.
None of these operations has contributed to the security of the United States or to the stability of the regions in which they took place; they succeeded, however, in confirming that the US has no intention of attempting any sort of conciliation with Russia as well as making it clear to Beijing that Washington’s aggressive meddling in and over the South China Sea will continue. Further, they alienated Afghans and Iraqis in whose countries US airstrikes continue at varying rates of intensity and diverse degrees of accuracy.
The «inquiry» into the killing of (at least) ten Iraqi soldiers by US airstrikes on December 18 will, as declared by the Defence Secretary, the intellectual Ashton Carter, show only that «these things happen in war» and that «there are faults on both sides».
Carter, full of compassion for the dead and maimed, then declared «I hope Iraqis will understand that this is a reflection of things that happen in combat».
The Washington Post reported that «At Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad, chaotic scenes unfolded as the injured were brought in on stretchers. Soldiers and family members crammed the entrance and hallways. ‘At first, we thought it was something fired by Daesh [Islamic State],’ said one army soldier, his uniform blood-stained from carrying the injured. ‘The explosion was very big. We ran. I saw many dead bodies. I saw that one of my friends had lost a leg.’ That was one result of Mr Carter’s casually noted «things that happen in war».
Mr Carter’s actions and comments have immense worth to Islamic State as propaganda tools, and his heartless – barely believable – statement that the tragic killing of Iraqi soldiers by US air strikes was «also a reflection of how closely we are working», is shocking evidence of his complete lack of human feeling and his indifference to other nations’ pride and dignity.
The man Carter is – and there is no kinder phrase to describe his personality – a cold, callous, pitiless, mechanical moron.
Therefore, he is ideally suited to direct the aggressive activities of the United States around the world. While the (admitted) recent hits and misses of US airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in the death of only a few dozen people – ten allied soldiers along with forty doctors and patients (but only three children, that time) – the confrontational antics of other of his combat aircraft are of wider international significance.
In one of these cowboy excursions on December 10 a US B-52H Stratofortress nuclear-capable bomber flew over Chinese-administered territory in the South China Sea.
On December 18 the Wall Street Journal reported that the aircraft «unintentionally flew within two nautical miles of an artificial island built by China... Pentagon officials are investigating why one of two B-52s on the mission last week flew closer than planned to Cuarteron Reef in the Spratly Islands, an area where China and its neighbours have competing territorial claims. A senior US defence official said that bad weather had contributed to the pilot flying off course and into the area claimed by China».
The WSJ noted that Cuarteron lies about 620 miles (1,000 km) south of China. It did not point out that it is 5,900 miles (9,500 km) from the nearest US Pacific territory, Hawaii, and 7,500 miles (12,000 km) from the West coast of the Continental United States. And as with all other US media it did not question the claim that the aircraft had flown off course because of bad weather.
The idea that a nuclear-capable Stratofortress could lose it way is utterly ludicrous.
According to the US Air Force «the B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can... carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability» [emphasis added].
But Carter’s Pentagon would have us believe that one of their mighty bombers whose task is to deliver nuclear weapons with pin-point accuracy can wander off a planned flight path.
It’s difficult to believe anything that Pentagon people say – except when its representatives make belligerent pronouncements about countries that fail to bend the knee to US military power. For example, General Philip Breedlove, commander of NATO forces and the US European Command, told the media on October 30 that he intended to «show in the NATO sense, support to our Turkish ally as we help them to address their concerns about their airspace». The Pentagon then deployed twelve F-15 fighter aircraft to the US airbase at Incirlik in southern Turkey, six of which were «air-to-air combat jets» [F-15Cs], which were hardly likely to be used against Islamic State which does not as yet have an air force. They arrived on November 6 to convey «a pointed signal to Moscow that the US was prepared to assist Turkey in guarding its airspace against Russian incursions».
Carter’s Pentagon was sending a message of direct confrontation to Russia, but after he visited Incirlik on December 14, and Secretary of State John Kerry had talks in Moscow next day, it seemed that at least a modicum of sanity surfaced, and there was a quiet announcement that the F-15s were going back to their base at Britain’s Lakenheath airfield.
The message in this aerial confusion is that the hits, misses, menacing redeployments and confrontational overflights by US combat aircraft are guided – or, rather, misguided – by the Pentagon, backed to the hilt by the rabid Republican majority in the Senate, with the aim of demonstrating military superiority. As Obama told military cadets last year, «America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership». America «uber alles».