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On Tuesday, self-described libertarian journalist Julia Kanin compared the airstrikes in Baghdad during Operation Freedom in Iraq to Russia’s bombings in Ukraine that started with its February 22 invasion and continue to indiscriminately hit civilian targets and kill dozens of people in the process.
At El American we consulted with weapons and military equipment expert Ryan McBeth, on whether the 2003 airstrikes on Baghdad are comparable to the Russian bombing of Ukrainian cities.
“An insane amount of planning goes into a strike. Sometimes lawyers are even used to review targets and check for legality. Precision weapons are almost always used in order to minimize collateral damage, although regrettably mistakes are sometimes made,” McBeth explains.
Regarding the airstrike that Julia Kanin claims is comparable to Russian bombings in Ukraine, McBeth explains that “we mainly targeted Iraqi leadership by intercepting phone calls,” however, he explains that other targets such as bridges, communication centers, or factories, are also considered legal by NATO’s military doctrine.
In addition to reducing collateral damage, U.S. forces are also economically incentivized not to engage in indiscriminate bombings as Russia does, given the high cost of precision-guided weapons.
McBeth explained that a tomahawk cruise missile costs $1.4 million, a JDAM (joint air strike munition) strike costs at least $22,000, “we’re not going to shoot a Tomahawk at a guy who is shooting a rifle… but it may be a good option for killing a high-value target if we know he is in a hardened building.”
“From the Joint Operations Command (JOC) side, a person or a building is targeted by “military necessity,” which means asking if ‘destroying this target advances our goals,'” McBeth stated.
Mcbeth believes that after Vietnam, American aviation focused on more cost-effective precision strikes than massive aerial or artillery bombing.
It is not the same for Russia, for whom deep bombing is not only part of its military doctrine, but an instrument of coercion to bend the will of its rivals.
It is common for Russians to use huge amounts of artillery to cover the passage of their columns, as well as to compensate for the lack of precision weaponry, whose more sophisticated parts have to be outsourced to China, or, prior to the invasion, to Western nations, France or Germany.
As Russian analyst Kamil Galeev explains, historically, conflicts in which Russia has been involved have led to massive depopulation of the affected countries. This was the case in Afghanistan in the 1980s, in Chechnya in the 1990s, in Syria in the previous decade, and currently in eastern Ukraine.
“American wars have a lot of war crimes happening. But they are nowhere near the genocidal nightmare of the Russian military campaigns,” Galeev concluded.
Economist, writer and liberal. With a focus on finance, the war on drugs, history, and geopolitics // Economista, escritor y liberal. Con enfoque en finanzas, guerra contra las drogas, historia y geopolítica