Like that gunboat in Heart of Darkness, just firing away at random, deserted jungle, the AC-130 we used in Somalia is excellent at making big booms, and leaving large smoking holes. This is thought to have a salutary effect on upstart brown peoples.
There's a discussion over at Yglesias' site (see link below) about whether the AC-130 was the right weapon for the bombing of that suspected/supposed al Qaeda operative in Somalia the other day. But I think that it really is pointless to discuss the finer points of this system's technical strengths and weaknesses for the task at hand, as if there actually were a task at hand beyond making a demonstration of our ability to leave large smoking holes wherever we want. The notion that we have any idea of whatever structure something called "al Qaeda" may have, sufficient to be able to ID who's in charge of what, is laughable. The idea that some notional "our man in Modagishu", ever alert for these key al Qaeda operatives that our expertise has identified, and probably circulates packs of playing cards with their pictures, spotted our intended target and dogged his footsteps to the Kenyan border to call in this airstrike, is ludicrous. I doubt that even the con men in charge of the whole operation believe that they have any idea who or what may have been at ground zero of those smoking holes. The only thing one can be confident of from this report, is that there would be no report were there not a need for some positive news of progress in the GWOT on the eve of Our Leader's inspiring speech outlining the Glorious Way Forward. Onward, to ever more and larger smoking holes, in ever more countries! The brown people will get the message sooner or later.
There is a reason that such operations are covert. They never accomplish anything, except in the song and story of politically useful legend. I don't mean that they create blowback, and are in the long run ineffective, or even counterproductive, because of unintended downstream consequences. That may be true as well. I mean that they are, in real time, essentially fictional. The people who get blown up are all too real, but these people exist to us solely as props in a bad novel generated by an understanding of the world usually totally off-base, and incredibly superficial even where it is not completely misplaced. I have been a keen observer of the US political scene my entire adult life, and I wouldn't have any idea who in the Republican political machine to send the AC-130s after, or any confidence that knocking off any or all of them would improve the world, despite an utter confidence that they have fucked up the world mightily. When thinking about our own society, we're aware enough of the complexity that we recognize that thinking at that superficial level, that our problems all stem from "bad guys" whose blowing away in smoking holes would solve all those problems, however momentarily satisfying it might be, simply doesn't reality-test, quite aside from the "Thou shalt not kill" ethical considerations. I am confident that these black ops idiots and their political masters do not somehow possess a deeper understanding of the politics of the Muslim world than I do of the US scene, not only from the general principle that they cannot be as immersed in its politics as much as I have been in ours, but from the very fact that they think it even possibly a good idea to send in AC-130s to solve a political problem, even if we did have any idea that the person we thought was actually on the receiving end. Even if we did have the intended man, we certainly had no idea who or what he really might have been.
The blind can only lead the blind, which is why they want us to stay blindfolded. We won't be led by sighted persons until we take our blindfolds off and end the security state's regime of secrecy.