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Dominating the Skies – and Losing the Wars


Dominating the Skies – and Losing the Wars

William Astore

In the era of the long war on terror, Thursday, June 2nd, 2016, was a tough day for the U.S. military. Two modern jet fighters, a Navy F-18 Hornet and an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, flown by two of America’s most capable pilots, went down, with one pilot killed.


Well, after a lot of “we, we, we” all the way home, Professor Astore does close with a call to stop air war.

As Henry David Thoreau wrote in 1861:

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”

And as Reverend Wright stated almost 150 years later:

“God damn America!”


Always encouraging to see a commentary like this and doubly so from a former military officer.


Thanks for a fine article Mr. Astore. Your evaluations along with those of Andrew Bacevich are great sources of information for us civilians. Bad strategy & overpowering weapons haven’t worked in civil/guerilla war situations for a long time, but DC doesn’t get the message or the knowledge.


I am cynical [perhaps realistic?] enough to believe the point is not to win at war because then its over and the funding slows down or god forbid stops. Nothing better than endless war, creating new enemies everyday killing civilians with drones with no physical danger to our military.
This all must stop if there is to be a future for us and so many other species that are going extinct from our reckless behavior.


Raining death

Showering profits


Thank Heavens that someone has the intestinal fortitude to be a contrarian, to allow the American people to imagine the horror that America has brought to so many peoples of the World. Surely if the citizens of the US could just muster up sufficient interest to understand that what their government is doing, with constant bombing, attacks etc. is creating enemies where there were none before and doing it on a massive scale!


And it’s so inexpensive, need drinkable water?


“Dominating the Skies – and Losing the Wars”

That’s because they are using those air assets half-assed.

The air force was complaining it was running out of bombs and missiles after having dropped 20,000 of them on ISIS. Now we’re not talking WWII iron bombs but precision munitions. If every one of those bombs had killed 5 ISIS fighters to whole thing would have been over by now.

So my questions is “WTF did they hit?”. I mean you got trucks full of oil lined up on a highway. There’s drones in the sky, satellites in orbit imaging all that stuff. Don’t these guys have like staging areas?

Why is there even a ground battle for Falluja? Why aren’t those air assets taking out anything that moves holding a weapon. Ground forces should only have to go in a sweep up.

Maybe “William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and professor of history” could answer those questions in followup article in more detail.


Are you related to Gen. Curtis LeMay? You sound like him.


Air power works when the enemy is kind enough to concentrate military targets. It doesn’t work against dispersed mobile guerrilla fighters. Bombing cities simply annoys civilians to the point that they get angry with the bombers and eventually become guerrilla fighters.

Simple. Predictable.


Yes, this was a very informative and logical and humane argument form the author. I wish more military staff or retired military would add their voices, like Ray McGovern’s group does at Consortium.org. However, I do have to respond that the countries of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen (and Iran) are not “our enemies”, as the author referred to them. And the people who are victims of our airpower and its aftermath are rightly angry, and terrified of our nation’s power, and stance of perfect democratic idealism and “exceptionalism”. As a citizen and tax-payer, it sickens me.

We should be building international systems of dialogue and tackling problems like climate change and drought and pollution and refugee crises together–not dictating to the world with our bombs and drones and global trade treaties that benefit the 1%. Perhaps campaigns like Senator Sander’s, and global efforts to stop drones, curtail our military budgets and stop TPP and TTIP, and groups like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam, indigenous native rights fighters–all these are building toward some sane changes in our future. One can hope, and act to help it along…