Offsetting behaviour alert: What did the bombing of Germany (and the CIA interrogation program) achieve?

Both the bombing of Germany and the CIA interrogation programmes of captured Al Qaeda terrorists have one thing in common. Their main achievement was not their intention.

Their main achievement was through the offsetting behaviour of their opponent to counter the bombing of Germany and the CIA interrogation program, respectively.

Much is made of whether the bombing of Germany did much damage to its targets and disrupted the German war economy.

Graph to show accuracy of night bombing of German cities; AIR 16/487

The main benefit of the bombing of Germany is it destroyed the German air force. More than that, and much sooner than the destruction of the German air force by 1945, much of the German air force was withdrawn from the Eastern Front and the landing beaches of Normandy to defend Germany from bombing attack. The Germans conceded complete air superiority by the time of D-Day and conceded air supremacy to the Russian air force.

Another big bonus was a large number of those famous German 88 howitzers were withdrawn from the front for home air defence.

Another bonus was a substantial part of German aircraft production was moved to defensive capabilities rather than an attack capability. Munitions productions was redirected towards production of antiaircraft shells and flak. Substantial effort had to be redirected towards the construction of bomb shelters.

What cannot be denied is that 10 years ago when captured terrorists were in a sufficiently integrated organisation that they had useful information about each other, there was bipartisan support in the US Congress to be tough in interrogations. Congress knew exactly what was happening through classified briefings to select committees.

One of the results of these interrogations is it broke up Al Qaeda as a network. It degraded Al Qaeda as an organisation capable of launching major attacks with key terrorists at the centre with the skills and determination to be able to organise these large-scale attacks.

Because captured terrorists would be interrogated thoroughly, Al Qaeda had to change into a far more decentralised and less effective network to be less at risk to captured members informing on them sooner or later.

In its early days, Al Qaeda was happy to have key people going around with lots of information in their heads and coordinating everything from the centre because they thought they wouldn’t be interrogated thoroughly if captured. That is no longer the case.  Al Qaeda translates as The Base. The jihad was supposed to have  a structure, leadership  and central direction and financing.

Al Qaeda was far more effective when directed from the centre. These days it can barely mount a random attack in the street by a mentally disturbed, barely literate recent recruit.

Anything more than these random attacks on the street risk exposure to the authorities through electronic interception and interrogation of captured terrorists followed quickly by a missile through the car window somewhere in the Middle East while tweeting.

As  President Obama noted around the time that Bin Laden was killed, 20 out of the top 30 in the management structure of Al Qaeda had shared that fate  under his administration along with their replacements not long after stepping into the dead man’s shoes.

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