WASHINGTON -- Ted Cruz on Sunday stood by his claim that the U.S. should "carpet bomb" the Islamic State group out of existence and falsely stated that the George H.W. Bush administration carpet bombed Iraq during the first Gulf War.
"You wanna know what carpet bombing means?" Cruz said, invoking the first Iraq War in 1991. "We were launching 1100 air attacks a day. We were carpet bombing." As a result of this bombing campaign, Cruz said, U.S. troops "mopped up the remains of the Iraqi army" with ease.
The United States did not carpet bomb Iraq or Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War. The airstrikes were highly targeted and thus highly effective, as military experts told The New York Times. "Carpet bombing" is not even a term used by the American military. But it is generally understood to be the indiscriminate bombing of large geographic areas without regard for potential civilian casualties.
Cruz has been repeatedly mocked by military leaders, human rights advocates and even fellow conservatives for pledging to "carpet bomb" ISIS. During the GOP debate Thursday, he acknowledged that he would not actually bomb entire cities to take out ISIS members embedded within them, but rather target bombing campaigns against key elements of the ISIS militants. That is essentially the Obama administration's strategy.
Zach Carter is a co-host of the HuffPost Politics podcast "So That Happened." Subscribe here, or listen to the latest episode below: