Last week's utilization of a 21,000 pound bomb to destroy an ISIS cave complex in Afghanistan was oddly met with jubilation. But as the dust settles, both literally and metaphorically, it is worth asking what we are celebrating.
While large explosions are interesting in and of themselves, the act of dropping the ‘Mother of All Bombs’ was given greater importance than the impact of the ordnance itself. Many saw it as a ‘turning point’ in the war and a ‘gloves off’ moment in the fight against ISIS. Unfortunately, neither interpretation holds, and the utilization of this bomb is only indicative of our continuing failures in Afghanistan.
For one, we’ve been dropping large bombs on Afghanistan for nearly sixteen years, including similar yet smaller bombs on Taliban and Al Qaeda strongholds. Indeed, the overall tonnage of ordnance dropped makes the MOAB an exceptionally small rounding error in the overall total. In the process the United States has killed thousands of members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and now regularly adds members of ISIS to that total. Yet despite all this bombing, transnational terrorist groups are still operating in Afghanistan.
Read the full article at the Independent Journal Review.
More from CNAS
ReportsInvesting in Great-Power Competition
Executive Summary This report asks whether the 2021 U.S. defense budget request is aligned with the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) in selecting priority capability inves...
By Susanna V. Blume & Molly Parrish
VideoThomas Harker performing duties of DoD Comptroller
Bob Hale, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, discusses how Thomas Harker will continue as Navy Comptroller while performing duties of the Under S...
By Robert F. Hale
CommentaryRecognizing the state of Palestine is the only appropriate response to Israeli annexation
The Israeli government may begin taking steps toward unilaterally annexing portions of the West Bank soon. This move would present a grave threat to any possibility of a futur...
By Ilan Goldenberg
CommentaryThe U.S. greenlighting annexation is a greenlight for China’s abuses
Across the sea from America, a leader who has been in power for more than a decade is laying the groundwork for a land grab. His military was always capable of imposing its wi...
By Coby Goldberg