OK, I promise to stop doing that. This time, the answer seems to be: probably …
Coming via Charlie's Diary is a New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh on the new US exit strategy in Iraq, which reports that "A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President's public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower". As Charlie Stross notes, this brings to mind British air control policies, in which bombers were used to pacify and control Iraq in the 1920s (which is what L.E.O. Charlton was criticising). So is this the same thing, but with F/A-18s instead of DH.9s? Could be, because as James Corum has argued, in fact air control did not succeed by airpower alone. It was more like a combined operation, with British Army units often playing a large role. Similarly, the US Air Force won't be working alone, but in conjunction with Iraqi ground forces. Now, Corum also argues that air control was not as effective as is often claimed – for example, rebellious tribes learned to adapt to this strange new aerial weapon by developing air raid precautions: slit trenches and early warning systems. Maybe modern insurgents can adapt too. On the other hand, the modern air weapon is far more precise and powerful than anything available back then.1 So will the US exit strategy work? I guess we'll see.
Update: please ignore the footnote: as pointed out in the comments, Hersh's figure is an order of magnitude too large.
- Hersh notes that a single Marine Aircraft Wing dropped more than 500,000 tons of bombs in the Iraq war up to November 2004; that's roughly as much as the Allies dropped in Europe in 1945.
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