Instead of drawing lessons from the Spanish Civil War about the advantages of close-support aviation and air superiority, which was the conclusion drawn by most other air forces, RAF doctrine was mainly informed by the experience of what was called air policing in the empire or Afghanistan. The use of aircraft to enforce local control against rebel tribes and tribesmen (described in the RAF War Manual as "war against semi-civilized peoples") was taken as a paradigm to explain what might happen if a civilized state was subjected to a heavier level of bombing. Even tribal communities, it was argued, had vital centers that governed their existence; target intelligence on those centers would allow the small light bombers allocated to the operation to destroy them and, in doing so, to compel compliance from unruly subjects. John Slessor, director of plans in the Air Ministry in the late 1930s, gave a brutally frank description in his memoirs of why air policing worked: "Whether the offender concerned was an Indian Frontier tribesman, a nomad Arab of the northern deserts, a Morelli slaver on the border of Kenya, or a web-footed savage of the swamps of the southern Sudan, there are almost always some essentials without which he cannot obtain his livelihood." A model example for the RAF was the bombing undertaken in Ovamboland in southern Africa in 1938, in which rebel chieftain Ipumbu of the Ukuambi tribe was brought to heel by three aircraft that destroyed his kraal (camp) and drove off his cattle. In this case, and others, emphasis was put on the "moral effect" of coercive bombing, as well as its material impact. . . . In September, 1941, Charles Portal, chief of the air staff, used the analogy to explain to Churchill the nature of the assault on the "general activity of a community" in Germany: "In short, it is an adaptation, though on a greatly magnified scale, of the policy of air control which has proved so outstandingly successful in recent years in the small wars in which the Air Force has been continuously engaged."Hey, we put down the chief of the Ukuambi, so we won't have any trouble with Hitler and those pesky Germans. Trust us.
The mind boggles.
From Richard Overy, The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War over Europe, 1940-1945 (2014), pp. 20-21.