‘US mega-bomb usability limited, but makes dramatic show of force to Syria, N. Korea & Russia’
RT: What can you tell us about the impact of the bomb?
Jack Rice: It's dramatic. It's massive. If we contemplate what this is, this is non-nuclear 11,000 pounds of explosives. The idea that you are going to have one single bomb hit that is that large is catastrophic in its impact. And I think it was part of that purpose. It was about showing force and certainly the US air force did that.
RT: How big of a deal was it to drop this bomb?
JR: I think this is a big deal symbolically. The problem is that a weapon like this has limitations in terms of what it is, and the US needs to contemplate this anyway. With the number of civilians who have been killed in other bombings, we can look back to Mosul not that long ago and realize that you use something that is this large… It is huge in terms of what it is, the ability to use that in the city, in the area where there are civilians – you can't do that. So this is very limited. As I understand this was actually ordered in by the commanding general inside of Afghanistan, and they were looking in at a very particular issue.
But let's be clear, this is never about just one theater of operation, everything is connected. They drop this now, they know the North Koreans are watching. They know that the Syrians are watching. Yes, they know that the Russians are watching. This is an issue they are doing for effect, and I don't think that could be discounted.
RT: The White House said the bomb was accurately delivered – with every effort made to minimize civilian casualties. Will it have an effect on civilians?
JR: No question about that. Again where this was? This was in the mountains in the eastern part of Afghanistan, near Pakistan. And so the idea was to try to focus on an area where this was simply militants and in fact not civilians. But the problem is there are civilians who live throughout this region anyway, and so the potential is for fatalities, not just injuries, not just people’s homes.
This can be death. And the problem that comes with that, and this is one of the issues I’ve seen all over the world when I was working and continue to work through Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of Africa too, is that it is the civilians who regularly pay the price. They are the ones far more so than the militants or military on any side who are the ones end up paying frequently more than anybody else. And that’s always the fear.
RT: In a particularly fascinating twist of the story, Edward Snowden has cited an old article that said that the bomb apparently targeted tunnels that the CIA built for the Mujahideen. What do you make of that?
JR: You know that is fascinating, and it is actually hard to say because there are lots and lots of tunnels in that region, some of them go back millennia. So were there some that may have been financed by the Agency, my former employer? I think it may be possible under those circumstances. But the irony with Afghanistan goes back much more further than that. I mean we contemplate obviously when the Soviets were in Afghanistan, the agency was pushing back with the Mujahideen. But of course when they push back with the Mujahideen who are they training? They are training what ultimately becomes to some degree Al-Qaeda. And so there is expertise that is acquired from the US that is turned around and used against the US. So the ironies don't start here. The ironies go way, way back.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.