CNN has been excitedly promoting an “exclusive” story that about 40 percent of Israel’s airdropped munitions in Gaza have been “unguided,” due to the use of “dumb” bombs. This, the piece suggests, is what the White House was referring to when it accused Israel of “indiscriminate” attacks. A Washington Post story picking up on the CNN piece repeats the word “indiscriminate” like a mantra.
“Unguided munitions,” CNN tells us, “are typically less precise and can pose a greater threat to civilians, especially in such a densely populated area like Gaza.”
“Typically,” you say? So there are ways to use these bombs that are not, in fact, “less precise,” yes? What might be an example of such a case?
Twelve paragraphs later we find out—plot twist!—that Israel’s current war in Gaza is one such case. Which is to say, the subject of the story is a prime example of when the thesis of the story isn’t true.
The CNN piece thus reveals itself to be a “dumb bomb.”
Here is CNN debunking itself: “A US official told CNN that the US believes that the Israeli military is using the dumb bombs in conjunction with a tactic called ‘dive bombing,’ or dropping a bomb while diving steeply in a fighter jet, which the official said makes the bombs more precise because it gets it closer to its target. The official said the US believes that an unguided munition dropped via dive-bombing is similarly precise to a guided munition.”
Ah. Well, glad we settled that. Unfortunately, other outlets picked up the story before they read that paragraph. It’s almost as if, instead of educating its readers, CNN was preying on their lack of knowledge.
When asked about the president’s own comment that some Israeli attacks were “indiscriminate,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said Biden was referring to “global opinion, which also matters.” Indeed it does, and this story itself is a great example of the feedback loop that manufactures such “global opinion.”
Think about it: the original article notes that the U.S. doesn’t consider the “dumb bombs” indiscriminate because the Israelis use different maneuvers to make the accuracy of those bombs comparable to guided munitions. But the “world” thinks Israel is bombing indiscriminately. Now, where would the world get that idea? From articles like this one, which falsely paint a picture of indiscriminate bombing. World leaders then prevail upon Biden to increase the pressure on Israel to avoid civilian casualties and better target their bombing campaigns, which Biden already knows Israel is doing. So Biden sends his national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, to Jerusalem to deliver a message: wrap it up.
Sullivan, according to Kirby, “did talk about the possible transitioning from what we would call high-intensity operations—which is what we’re seeing them do now—to lower intensity operations sometime in the near future.”
The “high-intensity operations” constitute the current phase of the war. The world is losing patience because it thinks Israel is indiscriminately bombing Gaza—stop me if you’ve heard this one.
According to the administration, this isn’t as restrictive and micro-managing as it sounds, because the president doesn’t want to put a hard time limit on this phase of the war. That would telegraph to Hamas precisely what to expect. And the president wants Israel to finish its mission of destroying Hamas. Quickly but carefully.
If the administration wants Israel to wrap up this phase quickly, the IDF will have to rely on air-to-surface munitions. That’s okay, because Israel is carrying out these attacks in a more guided manner and one which the U.S. is comfortable with. The only problem, you see, is that the world doesn’t agree. The world thinks these “dumb bombs” can only be used in unguided ways, therefore rendering the attacks “indiscriminate.” Now, if only we could figure out where they’re getting it from.