Friday 20 September 2019

Fighting the war from a radio studio

Now, apparently, Eamon Dunphy and Fintan O'Toole are the military experts, says George Dempsey

It seems that the American commanders have got the war all wrong. Who says so? Why, of course, our very own military experts Fintan O'Toole and Eamon Dunphy. They're agreed oh, how they do agree that the Americans are "clearly" just not going about it right. Not content with seizing the sanctimonious high ground, they're intent as well on instructing the generals in how to fight an "intelligent" war. Fancy that.

Just for starters, they've both been taking on Richard Perle, the longtime American defence expert and former Undersecretary for International Affairs in the US Defence Department. It seems that, on RTÉ television, Perle responded to some querulous comment by Fintan O'Toole about cluster bombs by saying, "Nonsense. You don't know what you're talking about." On the foot of that remark, Dunphy charged Perle with having "lied to the Irish people". I don't get it. Since when does telling Fintan O'Toole that he doesn't know what he's talking about constitute lying?

Dunphy voiced this witless accusation on his own talk-show, during a "debate" on anti-Americanism in Ireland. Well, Dunphy certainly ought to know about that topic don't forget that this is the guy who, on the air, boasted of his dislike of Americans (not specifically American foreign policy or American society, but just us plain old Americans). Not surprisingly, then, he proceeded on this particular show to trot out one venomous falsehood about Americans after another. Indeed, the piglets were flying so fast and furious that it's impossible to remember but a few of them. He claimed, for instance, that the United States was one of the largest biological-warfare producers in the world. Wrong, Eamon. The US has been out of that particular business since President Nixon, in the early 1970s, unilaterally renounced biological weapons and we proceeded to destroy our stockpiles (hint: try Iraq and the former Soviet Union).

He also cited our use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War as evidence of our culpability in the chemical-warfare area. Wrong again, Eamon. Agent Orange was a defoliant, and all the claims that it has caused cancer and other diseases are no more than the sort of baseless anti-American propaganda you're so fond of.

For nearly a quarter-century, the US government has funded studies conducted by medical research institutes with results published in peer-reviewed journals into the effects of Agent Orange. No causative links have been found with any disease and, statistically, the only untoward finding is an indication of contributing to one form of adult diabetes. But then, this reality won't be welcome in Dunphy's parallel world where he applauds Robert Fisk for fantasies about the depleted uranium used in ammunition by the allies in the Gulf War causing cancers in Iraq. Medical studies, the fundamental laws of physics what the hell, eh, Eamon?

You see, what these two military experts mean by waging an "intelligent" war in this current campaign against terrorism would be a war where, when you're attacking enemy troop concentrations, you don't use cluster bombs. Try explaining that one to the Northern Alliance. But Dunphy is the guy who, throughout the Kosovo war, claimed that the Serbian army could not be forced to withdraw by bombing.

As for O'Toole: "When the US was bombing Bosnia," he asserts, "its air commander ... specifically decided not to use cluster bombs ... to limit the risk of civilian casualties ... '

Well, no. Actually, the Nato bombing of Bosnia was directed not at infantry (which cluster bombs are designed to be used against) but at the artillery dug in on the hills overlooking Sarajevo. O'Toole also claims that in "Kosovo, 30,000 unexploded cluster bomblets were left lying around, killing at least 50 people in the year after the bombing". Did someone just mention piglets?

So where are we in the real war? The B-52s have now arrived, not with cruise missiles but bombs. For those who aren't aware of what this means, the standard bomb payload of a B-52 totals some 30 tons of high explosives and hits in a "box" approximately a half-mile wide and two miles long. It's a necessary preliminary to a ground assault. The impact on troops dug into trenches can be imagined. You don't have to imagine the reactions of the Northern Alliance troops their delight and satisfaction, as they watch the bombing of the Taliban front lines, lights up their faces. But, then, they actually have to fight this war on the ground, and not from some radio studio.

So what would be "intelligent" enough for O'Toole and Dunphy? How could any rational person possibly say? Both have long appeared impervious to facts and logic, not to speak of common sense. Dunphy, for instance, actually believes that it's the West and, in particular, the US which is responsible for the plight of the Palestinian Arabs. Not a word about their own intransigent refusal to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, not a word about their exploitation by the rejectionist Arab states who have perpetuated their refugee status as a weapon against Israel, not a word about the continued preaching of hatred and murder of Jews by the Palestinian Authority. But then, this is the guy who, confronted with the rejection by Arafat of the peace offer made by then-Israeli PM Barak, claims that "there is no evidence" that such an offer was ever made. Who ever feeds this guy with these whoppers?

* George Dempsey is a former US diplomat.

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