Gregg Easterbrook asks, “Why are the lights on in Baghdad?” Then he gives a couple of possible answers:
Traditionally, cities being bombed turn off all their lights. In World War II, air-raid wardens walked the streets of London, pounding on the doors of anyone with a light visible or whose windows were not covered by black-out curtains. Yet Baghdad tonight is alight.
Maybe nobody’s running the show; early indicators are that Iraqi leadership is already collapsing. Or maybe this is devilishly clever. Pilots using satellite-guided smart bombs don’t care if a city is lighted or dark; this matters not to cruise missiles, either. But when pilots are looking through night-vision goggles, as U.S. attack pilots sometimes do, they prefer as little ambient light as possible. Night-vision goggles work best in near darkness. Regular lights fritz them out, forcing pilots to take the goggles off.
So it cuts both ways. Baghdad residents get things a little easier than in ’91, but our pilots may have a tougher time. Although the latter is suspect, since I suspect most everything we drop on Baghdad will be GPS-guided.