Letter: Send in the troops

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The Independent Culture
Sir: When will we ever learn? In 1941, the Luftwaffe launched night bombing raids on this country, with the object of weakening civilian morale. Much damage was caused, many were killed or injured, but morale remained staunch.

Learning nothing from this, Churchill's War Cabinet directed Bomber Command to conduct bombing raids on Germany with the intent of weakening workers' morale, specifically targeting working-class districts. Great destruction ensued, casualties were heavy, but the strategy failed. Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, who studied the effects of the bombing campaign, concluded in 1961 that "the morale of German workforce, like the British, was not significantly impaired".

Learning nothing from this, the United States during the Vietnam War of the 1970s launched a bombing campaign of unprecedented ferocity against the Vietcong. Many were killed, great tracts laid waste but, in the event, it was American political will, not Vietnamese, that broke.

Now Nato, having learnt nothing from previous bombing campaigns, has launched its own against Serbia with the intention of breaking Serb will, in particular that of Mr Milosevic. One may predict that it will fail. Serb morale will not falter; it may well, like the British, German, and Russian during the Second World War, be strengthened by adversity. Bombing raids will not stop the eviction of Kosovars, any more than the United States and British bombing campaigns halted Hitler's Holocaust.

In war, there is no substitute for infantry and armour. One should not play this dangerous game if one is not prepared to take heavy casualties.