Sunday 23 April 2017 News Updated at 07:04 AM IST
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US bombing on Af, a futile move - Deccan Herald
US bombing on Af, a futile move
DH News Service,
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The US dropping of its largest non-nuclear bomb - the 20,000-pound Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), dubbed the "mother of all bombs" - on an Islamic State (IS) cave and tunnel complex in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, has kicked up a heated debate across the world over the necessity of deploying such a powerful bomb. US President Donald Trump has described the bombing as a "very, very successful mission." He may be right in the narrow tactical sense. According to US military estimates, 94 IS fighters were killed in the operation. An important IS hideout in the area is likely to have been damaged. However, did the US have to drop the MOAB to achieve this? The IS is a relatively small militia in Afghanistan. A single MOAB bomb is said to cost $16 million. Surely, there was a less expensive and more effective way to eliminate about 90 fighters.

There are parallels between Thursday's bombing in Nangarhar and another bombing in the same province over a decade ago, when the US military dropped massive 15,000-pound 'Daisy cutter' bombs on the al-Qaeda's Tora Bora complex. That operation killed many al-Qaeda fighters but its chief Osama bin Laden and others holed up there managed to escape. The al-Qaeda was bruised but not broken; it retained the capacity to fight for several years thereafter. This is likely to be the case with the IS in Afghanistan too as insurgencies are not defeated by raining bombs from the air. In terms of a long-term strategy, the US deployment of MOAB would not have achieved much either to end the Afghan insurgency or even weaken the IS. The IS is a decentralised group. Its capacity would have been dented at the most by the bombing of its Nangarhar hideout. This was, at best, a temporary setback to the IS. Importantly, any weakening of the IS in Afghanistan is likely to benefit the Taliban, its main rival and the largest of the insurgents active in the country.

All weapons are horrific in their impact and the MOAB particularly so. It shot giant flames and smoke into the sky for over four hours. It terrorised the local population, many of whom believed that the world was ending. Its deployment by the US military was, therefore, reprehensible. The apparent motivation behind the US military's dropping of MOAB last week makes it all the more worthy of strong condemnation. It is widely believed that the MOAB was chosen for the operation for its capacity to 'shock and awe,' to deflect attention away from Trump's string of domestic policy failures and to project his toughness on the foreign policy front.

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