A recent report calculated that the U.S. conducted airstrikes in seven countries last year.
In an interview with Radio Sputnik, IPS Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis argued that these air assaults on Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere were largely ineffective at combating terrorism.
“More important than the number of bombs,” she said, “is the number of people killed.” She argued that when drones, planes, and helicopters drop bombs on people, U.S. intelligence officials hope they’re getting the “right people,” but can’t actually be completely sure of who they’re targeting.
“You can’t bomb terrorism out of existence,” she added. “You can bomb cities, you can bomb people, you can kill them, and once in a while you can bomb a terrorist.” But ultimately, that does not end terrorism.
Rather, it breeds more terrorism, because people who may be viewed as a terrorist by U.S. intelligence officials aren’t viewed the same in their communities. Killing them only sparks “more terrorism, antagonism, and violence,” Bennis explained.
This kind of military-first policy, she argued, is one “that governments often choose because they are not prepared to invest the money, time, high level attention, etc. that it takes to do the real diplomacy and the real development issues that spark terrorism in the first place.”
And in the Obama era, she added, a heavier reliance on air power has made it “much easier for people in the United States to forget that there’s a war going on at all,” compared to the Bush administration, when hundreds of thousands of U.S. ground troops were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bennis explained that the key reason the U.S. continues to use bombs despite the fact that it doesn’t work has largely to do with money, referencing the military industrial complex that profits from war. She said we need to not only mobilize massive public opinion against war, but also to challenge the claim that wars produce jobs. Peacetime investments in education and the environment, she added, yield far more jobs per dollar spent.
Asked about whether the next few years would bring in a more peaceful world, Bennis answered that it is too early to tell. But there’s cause for concern, because many members of Donald Trump’s cabinet come from a military background. “If you’re a military person, you tend to think that all solutions are military,” she concluded.