Wednesday, April 19, 2017


I should be writing about Bill O'Reilly or the Georgia special election, but I want to draw your attention to this New York Times story, which seems likely to get lost:
Since the United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” on an Islamic State cave complex in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, American military officials have been circumspect about the bomb’s damage....

The reluctance of the United States to discuss casualties and other damage from the 22,000-pound bomb concerns local officials in Nangarhar Province....

“I and other people have this concern — that why American forces are not letting anyone visit the scene of the bombing?” said Zabihullah Zmarai, a member of the council in Nangarhar Province who held a post-bombing news conference to announce his support. “The U.S. authorities should provide an answer to this question.”
The estimated death toll was 96, but an Afghan security official "provided no proof of the deaths or information on how officials reached the number of 96," according to the Times. And "There are ... reports that the American military has kept even Afghan forces from the bombing site."

ISIS radio in the region, which was wiped out in a pre-Trump drone attack last year but was subsequently reconstituted, was not damaged by the MOAB:
The Islamic State’s local radio outlet, which was unaffected by the bombing, continues to broadcast into Jalalabad, the urban center in the east. It broadcasts half-hour programs during the day and an evening program that often lasts more than an hour.

As early as the day after the bombing, it broadcast a call-in program in which voices of men who claimed to be fighters in the area who were not affected by the powerful bomb could be heard between rhyming Islamic chants.

“The media was expecting that this bomb would have killed all the Islamic State fighters or forced them to flee, but that is not the case,” the program’s anchor said. “After the big bomb, our warrior, brave youth became a shield in front of them.”
And local Afghan forces aren't making any more progress in the fight against ISIS as a result of the MOAB:
Naser Kamawal, another Nangarhar provincial council member, said the bomb did not seem to have succeeded in its mission. Afghan forces had not advanced past the areas they had cleared repeatedly long before the bombing.

“Why the bomb with such a big destruction had such few casualties?” Mr. Kamawal said. “If there was some 90 Islamic State militants, then why were our own Afghan forces not able to eliminate them in a military operation — what was the need for using such a big bomb?”
Well, we know what "the need for using such a big bomb" was: It was a public relations stunt aimed at juicing Donald Trump's polls, and maybe it was a warning to Kim Jong-un. Only after that was it part of any overall war-fighting strategy in the war zone where it was dropped.

Maybe the MOAB wasn't a flop. But we just don't know.

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