The Myth of Sanitary WarJanuary 5, 2009
Allison Kilkenny • Operation Itch Contributing Writer
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There is a myth circulating in the mainstream media that Israel’s missiles are finding their targets with surgical precision.
The lie entails comparing something like the 250-pound GBU-39 “smart bomb” to a surgeon’s knife. A small side-note: the United States Congress approved the sale of this bomb to Israel. Actually, they approved the sale of 1,000 of these bombs to Israel. Second side-note: Your tax dollars bought the bombs.
So-called “rational adults” argue that this horrible, destructive device, which has enough explosive power to decimate six feet of reinforced concrete, is exactly the same as the precision guaranteed between a doctor’s steady hand, a blade, and a patient’s flesh.
It’s generous to call this myth stupid. It’s probably fairer to call it dishonest. Of course a bomb can’t be smart, or precise, primarily because of its very nature as a bomb – a tool of mass destruction. This is like the difference between if I punch you in the face or I slam you with a wrecking ball. You may get up after I deck you, but the wrecking ball will turn you into a human stain. I may also knock over a few buildings whilst trying to thwart you because a giant tool of destruction doesn’t offer any precision. That’s also the difference between a ground invasion and aerial bombing. The whole idea of using a bomb or a missile instead of 100,000 ground troops is to cause maximum damage with minimal casualties on the side of the bomb-dropping or missile-firing country.
That’s why we’re seeing all of these terrible images coming out of Gaza of bloodied children, slain doctors, and hundreds of young men, who may or may not have been fighting for Hamas. “Smart bombs” and “smart missiles” did this damage because a huge explosion causes unplanned consequences. Shrapnel goes flying. Other buildings topple from the impact. The wrong buildings are bombed. Some bombs don’t detonate until much later when a curious child pokes it, thinking it’s a toy.
The myth of sanitary war isn’t reserved just for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but is used in most western-backed offenses. This lie extends past “smart bombs” and addresses the very parameters of war itself. In our interconnected world, the lines of good guy and bad guy are blurred.
America sends billions of dollars of military aid to Israel, and has almost single-handedly built Israel’s arsenal that is now massacring Gaza’s residents. Meanwhile, Hamas uses Katyusha rockets built in China.
In a way, the war in Gaza is a microcosm of a stand-off between the superpowers. Separate ideologies sparked the proxy war, of course. America viciously (and unquestioningly) defends its pro-Western ally, and therefore supplies the old girl as she attempts to “defend” herself, and China’s interests are profit-oriented.
Still, it’s difficult to make the argument that this is a sanitary war when a quarter of the casualties are Palestinian civilians and the bombs, missiles, and rockets themselves are supplied by foreign superpowers.
Israel does herself a disservice by engaging in offenses that will guarantee the deaths of many innocent civilians. Sanitary war is impossible, and just as America lied that its “smart bombs” would spare innocent Afghanis and Iraqis, so Israel lies that her precision missiles will spare innocent Palestinians.