Responding to the attack in Brussels on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reiterated calls to carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion.
Cruz says his strategy against ISIS would involve “carpet bombing them to oblivion"
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) March 22, 2016
Cruz’s hawkish statements are perceived as some as a show of force against an extremist group that has now executed or inspired attacks in California and Paris — as well as numerous locations around the Middle East and Africa. The attack in Brussels was also claimed by ISIS, and some analysts assume they are revenge for the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, one of the Paris attackers arrested on Friday.
The problem with Cruz’s proposal is that ISIS is not isolated from society, but entrenched among civilians in places like Syria and Iraq.
Authorities have yet to confirm that the Paris attackers included any non-European nationals. Almost all of those identified were born in Belgium or France to immigrant families. A few of them even spent time in Syria where they are believed to have linked up with ISIS, but Abdeslam’s four months of hiding in Belgium. “It is clear from the amount of time Abdeslam spent on the run that he was looked after by dozens, if not scores of contacts,” the Guardian reported.
Even if Cruz believes bombing areas in Syria heavily populated by civilians is necessary to fight ISIS, he might have a hard time trying to carpet bomb a U.S. ally and member of NATO. And while Cruz’s proposal to shed “political correctness” in favor of security may appeal to his supporters, they’ve been opposed by at least one military official based in Iraq.
“We’re the United States of America, and we have a set of guiding principles and those affect the way we as professional soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines, conduct ourselves on the battlefield,” Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland told the Washington Post. “So indiscriminate bombing, where we don’t care if we’re killing innocents or combatants, is just inconsistent with our values. And it’s what the Russians have been accused of doing in parts of northwest Syria. Right now we have the moral high ground, and I think that’s where we need to stay.”