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The War Nerd / September 2, 2011

Green March on Golan

While everybody was distracted with Libya, something interesting happened on the Golan Heights. The Palestinians, with a lot of pushing from the Assad people, staged their own version of the Green March. And it failed.

I’ve written about the Green March before,but if you want the short version, The Green March (green for Islam, not recycling) was an unarmed invasion of what used to be the Spanish Sahara on Morocco’s southern border. It was a classic lebensraum push, but without weapons. The Moroccan government, facing the pretty obvious fact that it couldn’t take a coffee break by force of arms, thought up a brilliant new strategy: They sent a huge crowd of unarmed citizens across the border and dared the few demoralized Spanish soldiers in their way to open fire. The Spaniards held their fire, no doubt causing Cortez and Pizarro to revolve in their graves at lathe speed, but these aren’t those Spaniards, these are sad Euros with no birthrate. Whereas the Moroccans had a healthy birthrate and wanted everyone to know it: They sent exactly the number of people over the border as there were born in Morocco the year of the march. That’s the way to elbow yourself some lebensraum.

I called it the most important battle of the late 20thcentury, and I still think it’s the model for most future conquests. But not all. What happened on the Golan Heights this May and June was a demonstration of the limits of Green-March strategy. To put it bluntly, if the occupier has enough morale and international backing to open fire, you’re screwed–at least in the short run. But that’s not as simple as it sounds. What a lot of war buffs have been real slow to figure out is how hard it is to pull the trigger now, unless you’re in Papua New Guinea where the parasites and mosquitoes keep the reporters at bay. In a place like the Golan Heights, where reporters outnumber bunkers, it’s not easy to  open fire on unarmed crowds.

This is a very strange thing in military history, but it’s time we faced up to it. Firearms have been developing nonstop, but so has video, and they run counter to each other most of the time. You need decades of morale-building, alliance-mending and effective propaganda to make soldiers who’ll open fire in front of the video cameras. That’s where the effort has to go, not all this gun-love crap you see in the cheapo magazines on the rack. “HK vs. M4 Showdown”—my ass. HK or M4, either one works fine. That’s not the problem. Any fool can pull a trigger—that’s an old saying—but what we have to deal with now is something more complicated, like, “Yeah, any fool can pull a trigger but what about any city kid who’s been raised nice, never even been hit by his folks, popped out of some social-democratic kindergarten?” That dude is going to have a problem opening fire on unarmed crowds.

And even if you’re more than ready to shoot into that crowd, and most Americans are, your officers might not let you. It’s not as easy as that. A whole lot of successful rebellions have started out with suicide missions, either unarmed or armed so crummily that they had no hope of winning on the field. They won by the whole martyr strategy, and no matter what Patton said (“No son of a bitch ever won a war by dying for his country…”) martyr stuff can work. Not overnight, but over ten, 20, 50 years. When you consider if the Israelis won this one, you have to think of what Chou en-Lai said about whether the 1789 revolution in France was a success: “It’s too early to tell.”

Take Qaddafi. He didn’t go down because he was squeamish about firing at unarmed demonstrators. In fact, a reader sent a great link to an interview with one of the Tuareg mercs who were fighting for Qaddafi, who explained the traditional method of dealing with “peaceful demonstrators”: “We would kill three or four in the front of the crowd and the rest would run away. It was very easy.”

But that’s Libya, where what you might call the background level of violence is pretty low. In other places, especially after a few generations of facing troops, shooting a few won’t do it. You can see that in this BBC video of the Palestinians’ try at a Green March on the Golan Heights– the second try the Pals made at crossing the border. This time the IDF fired early and steadily. The official count was 20 demonstrators dead, 300 hurt. Even allowing for inflation, which you have to do with any casualty claim, you can hear the BBC reporter talking about people falling after “live fire, aimed fire” and being carried off on stretchers.

The interesting thing here is that it wasn’t the bullets that drove them off. It was the tear gas, which according to the BBC, the IDF only started using once reporters asked why they used live fire instead of tear gas. My guess is that the IDF was pissed off at the way they let the same crowd push over the border in the first Golan Heights Green March, three weeks earlier, on the anniversary of the “Nabka” (Big Disaster) of 1948.

Golan Barricade

Here’s a home video of that one. You can see that in this first march, the Pals broke through the double fences along the valley floor. That’s the border. The guy filming is standing on what looks like a construction site on the Israeli side (I think). There’s a pretty big crowd up there, too many by far to shoot in front of cameras—and like I said, in the Golan you can pretty much assume there’s going to be cameras.

I want to say again: It’s not just a matter of getting troops who’re willing to shoot into a crowd, though that’s part of it. Even if the troops were willing up there in the Golan, and I’d bet that most of them were, it just wouldn’t be a good move. Israel survives because of a US support base—used to be Jews but now it’s more the Evangelicals—who need to believe that Israel is the besieged good guy, a modern Constantinople circa 1453. It’s not a good move shooting unarmed idiots too openly, in big numbers. I’d bet nine out of 10 of the Israeli troops you see in this second video—the line of guys in olive drab along the valley floor—would have been more than ready to fire. For every squeamish Euro descendant of socialist kibbutzim in those ranks, I’d bet there are ten Sephardim or Falasha with lots of juicy family stories about what it was like living in Muslim countries who’d be willing to empty their magazines into the crowd coming down the hill. But then, I’d bet there are plenty of Pals in that crowd more than willing to get shot and martyred. If enough people want you to martyr them, it’s not that easy, not as easy as Patton makes it out to be, to decide to oblige’em. Especially not with the cameras rolling.

Who's Ducking and Who's Dead?

I’m sure a lot of gun buffs are going to say this isn’t a real battle, because only one side is armed and it’s slow, with lots of posing and rock-chucking. I’m not sure about that. Not only is this the wave’o’the fuchuh, but it was the wave of the past too. I’ve seen pictures of primitive warfare in the New Guinea highlands before the missionaries made those people as boring as Ohioans, and their battles involve something a whole lot like this one: one tribe on one side of a valley, yelling stuff about the other tribe’s momma and throwing spears that fall way short of the opposition. There’s a lot of flat-out boy stuff, seeing who’s willing to get the furthest into spear range to show how well he can dodge. And if he doesn’t dodge that good, gets one in the leg, it’s probably all the better; he’s a hero in the village, and that limp reminds all the girls how he strutted when it counted.

Casualties in a battle like that are kind of incidental; the point is to show yourself, walk onto the other tribe’s property, remind them you’re there, and that you’re not scared of them. In a way what the Pals did here was the ultimate strutting: Not only are we gonna walk onto your side of the valley, we’re gonna do it UNARMED. And they had to know the IDF isn’t those poor Spanish dregs who let the Moroccan crowds through. The IDF is gonna fire; they know that on both sides.

But they’re not going to empty their magazines into the crowd, and they’re not going to use the .50 cals on the armored cars you see in the video. This is a new ritual we’re seeing here, except it’s probably the oldest one in the world. There was just this weird interval for a couple of centuries with uniformed armies facing off against each other and supposedly not killing unarmed civilians. It never really came down to that, and it was just a blip in a long line of tribe vs. tribe, one side of the valley vs. another. The only new touch is the camera. When they talk about a global village, it only makes sense we’re going back to village wars. The cameras put you right there on the hill with Tribe A.

In fact, this second video, shot by a Pal demonstrator, is so raw you can almost feel the sweat in the crowd on the Israeli construction site. Those are the best strutters, the men who can do the most boasting when they get home. They’re on enemy turf, and legitimate targets by the laws of war if not the laws of TV news. I’d love to know what they’re talking about on the video; maybe some Arabic-speaking reader can tell me.

Some of it’s clear enough that even I can figure it out. They do a chant-along to something like “Filistiniya Arabiya, [some word for the Golan] Syriya” which I gather means “Palestine is Arab, the Golan is Syrian.” You can see the work of their sponsors in the Assad junta in that little slogan; Palestinian refugees don’t usually have a lot of reason to be sentimental Syrian nationalists, but in this case, since they couldn’t get near the border without the green light from Syrian security, a little “thank you” is in order, and that slogan is it. In fact, one thing about these two Green March tries is that for Bashar & Friends, they were a pretty obvious attempt to distract the hotheads’ attention from the fight against the regime. Nothing distracts Sunni like the ones throwing rocks at Syrian cops in the hinterland cities like seeing Palestinians get shot at the Israeli border. It didn’t seem to work, though, that part of the plan. The pressure is still on Assad. And it doesn’t explain why these Pals were willing to walk into live fire. Nobody would ever do that for the Assads, as the Syrian Army has proven every time it went into what it calls “combat.” Hell, the Syrian Army actually TOOK the Golan in the Yom Kippur War, but got so spooked at not seeing any IDF in the vicinity they decided it was some sly Jewish plot to lure them to the slaughter, and bugged out without a fight. These unarmed Pals are a million times braver than the Assads’ soldiers ever were. For them it’s almost like a field trip, one with the chance you’ll get maimed or killed. I think that’s how most battles have been, those New Guinea style battles: laughs and strutting and showing how many of you there are, how un-scared you are. There’s time to laugh between volleys; these Pals laugh like crazy when the IDF makes a dumb mistake, firing tear gas too short and driving an advance of their own men running up the valley (that’s around the 1:05 point). I’m guessing that they’re saying something like, “Nyah nyah, stupid IDF gassed itself!” on that one.

The comedy goes right on with some dead-scary moves, just like it does in New Guinea. One guy stands right in the way when an IDF squad comes marching up to the construction site—and they march around him. That’s a victory, in village terms.

So in the short term (tactically) this was a failure; they didn’t take the disputed territory like the Moroccans did in the Green March. But they never meant to. Nobody thought the IDF would skulk away like the Spaniards did down there. This was meant to show that the Pals are still around, in big numbers, and willing to die. And no matter what Patton said, that can work. When I was researching that last article on the IRA vs. Al Qaeda, what works and what doesn’t, I found out the first move in the Irish independence war was a suicidal occupation of downtown Dublin in 1916 by a bunch of artsy amateurs, poets and painters who barely knew how to aim a rifle. They were wiped out and the survivors shot at dawn; total failure. But in a culture that’s got the martyr thing going strong, that first defeat can kindle a big war, a winning war. Second wave was Michael Collins, going for the kill, and it worked.

So martyr-type defeat is tricky. If it works at all, it’s going to work slow. But with birthrate and morale, it can work over time.

But you better depend on those cameras sticking around. If the world got really seriously distracted, say by a big war…well, you wouldn’t want to try this shit in Golan right then.

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63 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. WarAficionado  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    “What a lot of warbuffs have been real slow to figure out is how hard it is to pull the trigger”

    Book recommendation for those interested in evidence to back up this assertion:
    On Killing by Lt. Col. Grossman

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Killing:_The_Psychological_Cost_of_Learning_to_Kill_in_War_and_Society

  • 2. Jason  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Zhou Enlai was referring to the student riots in Paris of 1968 when he said it was “too soon to say” in 1972.

  • 3. Socrates 1000  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Great piece Gary! You will be known for citing importance of the Western Sahara Green Wave.

    “My guess is that the IDF was pissed off at the way they let the same crowdpush over the border in the first Golan Heights Green March, three weeksearlier, on the anniversary of the “Nabka” (Big Disaster) of 1948.”

    Typo: it’s “Nakba” not “Nabka”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakba_Day

  • 4. Nestor  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Jason: Almost certainly, but the version with the french revolution is a wonderful “wise inscrutable Chinese” story.

  • 5. AG93  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Syrian army didn’t take Golan during Yom Kippur War. It took most of its southern half during the first day of its offensive, and could have pushed to Jordan River during the night. Of course, their tank troops just weren’t trained at all in night fighting, there were a bunch of desperate rearguard actions by Israelis (most notably that of Zvika Greengold), and yeah, I suppose that Syrian High Command got spooked as well. During the next days they did push onwards very hard, but by that time Israeli reserves had organized, and while some of their (war vet) politicians sunk into despair, the outcome wasn’t really in doubt.

    Good article though, apart from that nitpicking. I might also add that Yom Kippur war was really the high point of Arab determination, and since then they’ve gone downhill, concentrating on the really important business of squabbling with each other. So I suppose the Syrian Army today is pretty much the joke it wasn’t back then.

  • 6. John Figler  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Well…

    1- The Spanish soldiers did not hesitate to shoot. And the Spanish soldiers were not demoralized. In fact they were itching for a massacre. It was the Spanish politicians the ones not in the mood for a shootout. You know that old-man dying you better prepare yourself for the upcoming chair ball thing… That demoralized the soldiers, but when they had to return without a good decent nice massacre as the ones they had heard they Grandpas had pulled, not when they saw lots of unarmed civilians running towards them.

    2- The martyrs can start a war, OK, but Patton’s maxim still holds true, you need to kill somebody in order to make the war unpalatable to the enemy. Besides Gandhi who else has won anything just dying (and Gandhi and co. didn’t even died all that much, right)?

    The Pals have tried both approaches, dying and killing, and even the killing by dying and it hasn’t worked. Why? Because nobody gives a damn about them. No Keegan New Guinea shit to that.

  • 7. Vox  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    The Iranians didn’t use boy soldiers against the Iraqis in the 80s because young boys are good soldiers. My understanding is it was done to demoralize Iraqi soldiers who were made to say to themselves “WTF?! These Persians be crazy!”

    In the same vein…
    There is a growing number of IDF soldiers who are refusing to serve in the occupied territories, which certainly doesn’t hurt the Pal cause.

  • 8. Zaf  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    [For every squeamish Euro descendant of socialist kibbutzim in those ranks, I’d bet there are ten Sephardim or Falasha with lots of juicy family stories about what it was like living in Muslim countries who’d be willing to empty their magazines into the crowd coming down the hill.]

    Excellent article, but I think this point was ill advised – or rather, it projects your (our? the West’s?) perception of Ayrabs onto the sephardic historical experience. Israel shoots to kill because of the European Holocaust, not relatively mild dhimmitude under the Ottomans.

  • 9. vortexgods  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    In the end won’t it come down to who has more kids?

  • 10. Urda  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Ah with all due respect,with the exception of the advance of high polymer plastics and certain new bullet types.

    We still use many of the same calibers,the same moving parts as before.In most ways revolvers are not that much more advanced then their civil war precursors.

    Assault rifles though the rate of fire has improved,well we used M-14 rifles as sniper rifle when I was in Iraq.

    No………..firearm technology hasn’t shown much better results then it did 40 or even in some cases a hundred years ago.

  • 11. TrangleC  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I generally hate sounding like a “the Jews control the media!”-conspiracy theorist, so I’ll have to rely on the Mighty Exiled Censor to keep me from sounding like one of those dumbshits. O thank Thee. (Wait, does this mean that the Jews control the Exiled Censor too?)

  • 12. Sam  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Israel shoots to kill for the same reason that the US shot to kill against the Native Americans, not because of the Holocaust

  • 13. J  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Most riot control troops all over the world are masked, so cannot be identified. In a mass bombing like the EU in Lybia, the pilots doing the killing are unseen and unidentified. That solves the troops’s moral problem.

    On the other hand, Israeli response to the unarmed invasion seems to have been effective, as it was never repeated. The same with the Mari Marmara ship.

    Who can remember the hundreds of suicide bombers and “martyrs” accumulated during this unending conflict? One can only hope that there are enough virgins in paradise to care for those already there and those about to join them.

  • 14. TrangleC  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    “I generally hate sounding like a “the Jews control the media!”-conspiracy theorist, so I’ll have to rely on the Might Exiled Censor to keep me from sounding like one of those dumbshits. O thank Thee. (Wait, does this mean that the Jews control the Exiled Censor too?)”

    Really? Seriously?

    What was wrong about what I wrote?
    All I said was that the media in the USA and in Germany does not report much (or anything) on things like that and that it is weird and scary that even talking about that gets you called a anti semite or a nutjob.

    What else did I say?
    And you censor that?

    Seriously, this seems more like a ironic practical joke than real mod-work.

    And why didn’t you just delete my comment alltogether when you thought it was so offensive?
    You just had to use the chance to insult me and call me out on something I didn’t actually say if you really read what I wrote?
    Real professional. Thanks. Or should I say, “Danke.” Dumbkompf!

  • 15. Hannibal  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    “I found out the first move in the Irish independence war was a suicidal occupation of downtown Dublin in 1916 by a bunch of artsy amateurs, poets and painters who barely knew how to aim a rifle. They were wiped out and the survivors shot at dawn; total failure.”

    That made me spit out my cocoa puffs; now I got chocolate milk stains all over my underwear.

  • 16. RanDomino  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    err.. you didn’t know about the Easter Rising?

  • 17. dominic  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    this is why i read the War Nerd. The only fucking guy ever, ever, ever to talk about Isreal and Palestine in the right terms. Sure what Chomsky and Zizek say about the conflict is true, they still dont got it totally figured out. Basically, all Western pro-Palestinians are big cry babies, and pro-Isralies are either psychologically traumatized or have alterier, militiristic/political/economic motives (Glenn Beck is a good example of either one of those camps).

    Anyway, as i was saying, only War Nerd gives you the right perspective and sees it in proper terms.

  • 18. TrangleC  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    “Or should I say, “Danke.” Dumbkompf!”

    “I see nuzink! I hear nuuuuzink!”

    “Colonel Hogan! We have never had anyone escape from Stalag 13!”

    “Klink! Vould you like to spend und vacation en ze Vestern Front?!”

    First you improve me and even insult me just because Germany is a Eurofagsreich

    You don’t censor the next comment (12.) that basically says that I, Eurofagsunterfuhrer, am easily insulted.

    And now you seem to somehow try to insult me further by pointing out my nationality as if the fact that I’m German would somehow invalidate what I’m saying or prove your point or anything like that?
    Is it that what that last jab is supposed to mean?

    (By the way, I’m only half German, but at this moment I very much feel all German. So feel free to go on if you have a problem with Germans. Here is your chance to tell one.)

    Nevertheless, if you really are drunk, you should take a break, go to bed and come back when you are sober. This is no way to behave for a moderator on a professional, international site like this.

    If you are not drunk, you should take a long, serious look at yourself–and thank your lucky stars that you are not a Dummkopf or a dumkompft like me.

    I don’t care whether you post this comment or just read it and then delete it. I’m not out to insult you. Which is why I deserve to be insulted.

    PS: I am a “Dummkopf”.

  • 19. TrangleC  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 12:16 am

    This Eurofag has to go begging my Eurofag.

    You got my love

  • 20. required  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 3:29 am

    “In a place like the Golan Heights, where reporters outnumber bunkers, it’s not easy to open fire on unarmed crowds.”

    Simply not true. It wasn’t true for all the Canadians and Americans and UN observers who got killed and it certainly isn’t true for mere Palestinians whose lives are forfeit. How can reporters outnumber bunkers in a Spartan state with no civilians? What about the fact that most of those reporters overwhelmingly are on the same side as the IDF? Ask Emily Henochewitz how “morale and international backing” plays into this. They’re thugs, pure and simple, gangsters, where Hyman Roth went after he lost Cuba. The real story of the Israeli situation is their organized crime paradise. The Palestinians are merely Cubans without a Castro.

  • 21. Ian Whitchurch  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 5:16 am

    John Figler said

    “Besides Gandhi who else has won anything just dying”

    The Social Wars would be worth a look, where Rome’s Italian client-cities technically lost their rebellion … but given the Social Wars were fought over Rome’s allies not getting citizenship, and then after they were over victorious Rome mysteriously granted the used to be allied cities, then were enemy cities, now are allies cities citizenship, I guess they won by just dying.

  • 22. John Figler  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 6:46 am

    @21

    The Socii went to war and lost, but they were close to winning in the first year of the war by kicking Roman ass. It was not a we’ll just get massacred and get what we want, no Green March would have worked against guys of the like of Sulla, Caesar et al.

  • 23. TheStrawMan  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I couldn’t really sustain interest in this article.
    Maybe that’s because I’m drunk

  • 24. J  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Do reporters and observers outnumber bunkers in the Golan? The area of the Golan is 25 square kilometer (5000 acres) and it may have about 100 bunkers. On the other hand, there are about 5,000 accredited foreign correspondents in Israel, 10,000 UN observers and numberless human rights Jewish and foreign busibodies. It is a fact that when the Palestinians organize a photo-opportunity stone throwing provocation, the TV teams much outnumber the actors.

  • 25. Doug  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Great article, but there’s one big hole that Gary isn’t discussing: the increasing robotization of warfare.

    Sure it might be difficult to find a human soldier to pull a trigger, but an automated turret picking out and mowing down targets has no qualms. Geometric hashing algorithms have no morality.

    And as for reporters, you look a lot less like a bad guy if you have big warning signs and a bunch of idiots walk into the dead zone. There’s no faces to put on the guns. The military command can always claim that they didn’t have time to turn off the auto-turrets. No officer has to take responsibility for shooting a bunch of civilians.

    Israel which has the most advanced software industry on Earth could easily deploy this technology in the 5 years or less.

  • 26. Mac  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 10:31 am

    “When they talk about a global village, it only makes sense we’re going back to village wars.”

    Of course we will. Actually it never went away, it just went away in the west for a while. In Africa it’s been going strong all along, and we’ll have it back in the west before too long. And then I’m talking about the Balkanization of Europe sometime in the next few decades. We were always big on ethnic cleansing and genocide here and with the demographics going the way they are and the economy going the way it is, I’d guess ya’ll war-nerds will have a ball in the not so distant future.

  • 27. Praxis  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 10:40 am

    “This is no way to behave for a moderator on a professional, international site like this.”

    … kind of count on this site to be unprofessional. That way we can get down to the guts and bones of a story without worrying about correctness. It makes the popcorn go down easier for me.

    Professionalism is an unstable term and has been weaponised by whiners who have no credilbe definitions of the word.

  • 28. visitor  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    > there are ten Sephardim or Falasha
    > with lots of juicy family stories
    > about what it was like living in
    > Muslim countries

    The Falasha had been living under _Christian_ overlords since the 16th century. Abyssinia/Ethiopia was and is predominantly a Christian country.

    > Casualties in a battle like that are kind
    > of incidental;

    Not at all, since such battles also included duels with deadly outcomes, and wars included ambushes (including against what we would call “civilians”). Remember, too, that a single fatality corresponds to a fairly high death rate for a tribe numbering even 100-150. I remember a documentary about warfare in Papua-New-Guinea where locals stated that about 3 deaths in a battle constituted such a massacre that it usually led to the interruption of hostilities. Every able-bodied male counts, and natural survival in a peaceful pre-modern society without antibiotics and advanced surgery is quite an exacting affair already.

  • 29. ☭ mouse ☭  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    TrangleC – Your comment was censored and nothing of value was lost. No one cares, shut the fuck up

  • 30. dominic  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    @ 24 you beat me to the punch, thank you. It is true the IDF are thugs (although that other guys Castro equation is typical liberal/arab anger-backlash-bullshit), as are many of the settlers, remember they ran over an American citizen with a bulldozer. The whole problem is they get away with it. They have almost a blank check in human rights abuses and aggression. Hence my admiration and support of the WN perspective; its not the Turkish flotillas, media attention, or western intellectual/activist involvment that is going to ensure the continued existance of the Palestinian race. Its birthrate.

    @ 21 I referenced the Social Wars in one of the other warn nerd threads, but i think your example here doesn’t hold. The allies were incorporated for several reasons, one of them was because Rome needed troops. Another is because Rome needed tax revenue. That would’ve happened with or without dying.

    @ 22 Caesar had nothing to do with the social wars, and I’m pretty sure Sulla didnt either (the civil wars they were involved in were over a different issue: control of Rome). Im hopping over to wikipedia to refresh my memory of chronology, but I seem to remember that the social wars pre-dated the rise of Sulla, or even Marius…

  • 31. dominic  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    yep, should’ve stopped at Caesar, the only one i was certain of…either way i dont think that analogy holds. My point on the other thread was that the allies wanted enfranchisement within the Empire. The Palestinians want their homes back.

  • 32. darthfader  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Folks, donate to the eXile to support the War Nerd.

    I did and within 30 minutes my pee pee stood up correctly for the first time since my horse died.

  • 33. Robert  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I love your work Gary.

    But….

    You really need to read more about Islam and it’s history- specifically regarding jihad and the afterlife.

    They believe death “for Islam” grants eternal paradise.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zb326lP5RPg

    And it ain’t just for non-violent victims but also for those terrorist assholes.

    This Palestinian propaganda video, of course, presents an idealized form of paradise and of the “martyr.”

  • 34. gary  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    speaking of cortez..(not that anyone was)…the conquistadores were some of he most violent and vile people in history..but they had cojones to spare…travelling tens of thousands of miles in little wooden sailboats for gold,glory and jesus

  • 35. abc123  |  September 4th, 2011 at 5:18 am

    The problem is that there is a western world who sits around watching all this happening and the same world is capable and willing of military intervention. Left and right wingers in my country have both expressed a strong desire to intervene in Libya.

    The most obvious case I think is how the Chechens lost all western support after Beslan and those decapitation videos.

    Neither of this is however anything written in stone, the western world might not be able to intervene in the future then it doesn’t matter if some asshole in the west is sitting around having opinions on things that doesn’t concern him.

  • 36. Eddie  |  September 4th, 2011 at 6:00 am

    It bears remembering that the squeamishness you talk of is rooted entirely in cultural and resource factors. It is in no way rooted physiologically in the European gene pool. Thus it is subject to very rapid change when circumstances change.

    It is like observing a colony of rats in a half full wheat granary and complaining that these docile rodents share no resemblance to their ancestor the forest rat. A forest rat would never take shit from another rat and would certainly never back down from a fight over a meal or even territory.

    I guess your point would be valid but only up to the point when the granary became empty. Faced with the new realities of life, you pampered rodents would quickly show levels of frustration and aggression rarely seen in even the most savage of their forest cousins.

    And very soon you would have a hard time telling a granary rat apart from a forest rat.

    For me the only real utopians today are those who believe that the current way of life can be maintained and improved indefinitely. People who believe that a new IPhone will be launched every year and that your new computer will always be twice as fast as last years model.

    I could go on and on about these dumbasses, how they seriously believe oil seeps from the earth’s core and will never run out and that fish will always be plentiful no matter how many of them we catch.

    These people are wholly unprepared for the realities of biologic life and will respect no rules once faced with them.

    Be careful what you wish for. I know it’s hard to think of a form of life worse then spending your nights in front of the TV watching American Idol but believe me my fat friend. Things can get way, way worse. :-)

  • 37. David Jackmanson  |  September 4th, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Fascinating article. I’ve never thought much about non-violent resistance, writing it off as wish-fulfilment by rather naive people. But laying the factors out like this helps to make sense of when it can work.

    One thing about Gandhi being used as proof that non-violent resistance works, is that it’s absolute rubbish. Gandhi moved in on a power vacuum that was caused when the Japanese violently destroyed British military and naval power in East and South Asia. Without that huge act of violence India would have taken far longer than it did to gain independence.

  • 38. captain america  |  September 4th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    poor #14, still unfamiliar with how the exiled works.

  • 39. fajensen  |  September 4th, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Times change. The palestinians may have become The Favorite Repressed People – EVERY politician likes an unsolvable problem like Israel/Palestine “peace” to build a lifelong and lucrative career on.

    But look what happened with the Tamil Tigers when the “hot-career-ness” factor ran out … and right in front of the cameras too!

  • 40. Sick and Wrong  |  September 4th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Civilian casualties and atrocities – http://www.federaljack.com/?page_id=37933

    A film in arabic with english subs about NATO war crimes
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2lDASCZE48&feature=player_embedded

  • 41. super390  |  September 4th, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    The war of the cameras is underway. The cameras of the authorities, recording all the faces of protestors to be processed by computer and hunted down at their own homes, against the cameras of the media recording all the misdeeds of the anti-riot troops to be multiplied countlessly on YouTube.

    Presumably we’re living in the strange time where we don’t yet know how this will mesh with shooting wars. But there are already people who have considered the extreme limits of war as an act of propaganda, with no concept of the Internet or webcams. The People’s Army of Vietnam called its primary activity “Armed Propaganda”. The first force formed by Ho Chi Minh during the Japanese occupation called itself an armed propaganda team, and went forth to learn exactly what that was supposed to mean.

    As Douglas Pike pointed out in his excellent book “The People’s Army of Vietnam”, Ho’s western opponents never understood what he meant by war. They thought that his armed propaganda teams supported the war effort by guerrillas and infantry. In fact, the opposite was true. The APTs got first pick of draftees, meaning the smart ones. Everyone else was just providing a diversion to keep the Foreign Legion and the USMC off the APT’s backs. That was why Operation Phoenix was the only thing we tried that actually got anywhere – it sought to execute anyone who engaged in armed propaganda.

    Given the primitive media of impoverished farm villages, what the APTs did looked crude; they snuck into villages and held what we would now call underground concerts. But they also blew up things and shot people to get their points across. They formed revolutionary kangaroo courts to convict those landowners and police already hated by the locals, then carried out their executions to prove that they were more a functioning government than Saigon.

    Imagine the possibilities today, where even the poor are getting cell phones with webcams. No one since 1975, except maybe Hezbollah, has had the discipline and unity to view public indoctrination as the living battle plan of armed forces and carry it out decade after decade. We in the West have been very lucky that we have not faced a modern, comprehensive rethink and implementation of the Vietnamese master doctrine of dau tranh (armed struggle) which puts armed propaganda into the context of strategic warfare. Instead, we’re being bled to death drip by drip by theatrical amateurs rediscovering old lessons of how to make yourself look good and how to make your enemy look bad.

    That will be the completion of the inversion of warfare that War Nerd is talking about; every single act of violence will be cost/benefit analyzed and focus-grouped for its effect on the popularity polls, like the Nielsens and Q Scores.

  • 42. Strelnikov  |  September 4th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I get a vibe from some of the commenters here; and it’s faintly “stick the camel jockeys in death camps already!” mixed with a “fuck Palestine/Israel it’s boring as fuck.” Truth is, things are happening that guys like the War Nerd gives less of a shit about, but will be decisive in the future. Case in point, Israel and Turkey. They are barely at speaking terms over the Mavi Mamara incident, and now the Turkish navy will be following the next Gaza relief fleet. Maybe it will be a standoff; and possibly we will see the beginning of a real shooting war. On the demographic front, things are looking bad for Israel because the only Jewish group having large families are the Ultraorthodox “settler” types, and none of their men work; they just putter around the Synagogue and read commentaries all day, for which they get an exemption from the 2 years of national service. The non-religious hate that, and it’s a real point of friction. Nobody in Israel is happy save for the very wealthy and the generals; the former because they can leave if the shit hits the fan; the latter because they get the bulk of the Israeli budget. Let’s face it, a high-tech army like the IDF costs a lot more to run then a clapped-out goon squad like the Syrian Army, where all the weapons are Cold War era or modernized versions thereof. Big things are coming.

  • 43. iSockpuppet  |  September 4th, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Israelis should have launched a couple 40mm grenades. That would have fixed that situation.

    M4 vs. HK? HK what? Seriously? That’s tool analysis? Lame.

    For combat infantry you want the same rifle as everybody in your company whatever that may be so that you all have the same ammunition. And you want that ammunition to be light. End of story.

  • 44. El Hombre Malo  |  September 5th, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Not sure if the spanish troops facing the Green March would have shoot. They would if they would have been a Legion Tercio, but I think I reed somewhere these were “reemplazos”, compulsory military service guys with the bad luck of beign sent to Africa.

    And they wouldnt have been shooting to defend “the homeland”. (We) Spaniards can be very sanguine about that, even about Ceuta and Melilla. But not about Western Sahara, a place where only some mining companies were making a profit that didn’t reflect on the general population. That place was as important to the spanish people as the antartic research station is now.
    .
    I think its been said in the comments but the Sephardim are less virulent against arabs than the central european askenazi. Religious determination and entitlement run deeper with the central european bunch. Likewise with all those russians whose jewry is put into doubt so often. Those went to Israel to get a job and have a nice house, and if they have to prive they deserve it by evicting the previous tenants at gun point, they are ready. No “siege mentality” with these guys, they are cultural mercenaries, ready to call themselves anything you want if you give them money and respect.

  • 45. AG93  |  September 5th, 2011 at 5:38 am

    @37

    Even more important, India was at boiling point by the time Gandhi got rocking. There were people and organizations advocating violent revolt. Without Gandhi – especially if Gandhi had been snuffed by British – the whole place would have exploded. Gandhi knew it, and the British knew it. So, it’s pretty much the same thing as some guy pointing a gun at someone’s face and telling him to hand the wallet over or the nosejob gets it. Yeah, there will be no violence used, but is it really non-violent when the whole thing is based on a threat of massive violence?

    Another thing: British kind of liked to think themselves as nice and civilized. In reality they did plenty of sick shit, of course, but they really preferred to maintain a plausible deniability. Absolutely no way to start a full-scale repression in India and do that.

    And of course it would angered Americans, and given Soviets perfect opportunity to meddle (both being so very anti-imperialistic, of course barring Native American or Caucasian subhumans who don’t count). So yeah, non-violent resistance is awesome when your enemy can’t fight you. Of course so is violent resistance, and it’d have most likely worked even faster, but hey, at least the Indians got to strut on moral high ground this way.

    When enemy can fight back, having no qualms about massacres or important allies who really give a shit, then both are way harder.

  • 46. fajensen  |  September 5th, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Case in point, Israel and Turkey.
    Whatever it takes to keep Turkey out fo the EU is just fine with me

  • 47. Tommo  |  September 5th, 2011 at 10:08 am

    @42
    big things are ALWAYS coming. Who would’ve predicted Libya. Maybe on 9/11 10 years from now, the news will have ‘President Palin leads the nation in mourning for 9/11 2001 and 9/11 2011.’

  • 48. rhinohorn  |  September 5th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Dear War Nerd and All,

    If you are trying to understand and make sense of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, you must be aware of the Israeli propaganda machine called “Hasbara”-meaning “explaining away”, which is basically pro-Jewish Israel-advocacy-behind the Israeli interpretation of the events.
    So, for beginners, the “Hasbara Handbook” is your homework to read:
    http://www.middle-east-info.org/take/wujshasbara.pdf

  • 49. RhombusJ  |  September 5th, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Israel is a country I think about a lot. Like Nietzsche said, “antisemite is another word for ‘underprivileged.’” Which pretty much sums me upu.

  • 50. RhombusJ  |  September 5th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    You demand proof? Fine.

    You can pronounce the word “jew-obsessed nerd who lives in parents’ home still” without closing your lips. I’d try but I have my own lips wrapped around a mock-up of Charles Koch’s lovely cock.

  • 51. RhombusJ  |  September 5th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I wish Jews would control my lips

  • 52. A-Lex  |  September 6th, 2011 at 3:39 am

    @AG93
    For future reference, by the time India broke free from Britain, the Soviet Union was still ruled by Joe Stalin, who was Georgian (and so was his favorite henchman, KGB-chief Lavrenty Beria). Another Georgian was trumpeted and heavily decorated as the guy who put the red banner on the top of the German Reichstag in May 1945 (which in fact had been done by a bunch of Soviet soldiers).

    So much for the nationalist Russians who allegedly despised the “Cauvasian subhumans.” Truly arrogant imperialists indeed.

  • 53. Phoenix Woman  |  September 6th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    So we’ve got “Robert” the Likudnik ranting about subhuman Muslims and “Sick and Wrong” the Putin propagandist in the thread! Woohoo!

    One thing about your work, WN: it collects a wide range of skull farmers.

  • 54. super390  |  September 6th, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    #53 Phoenix Woman, do you recall me from Juan Cole’s blog? If you haven’t been here a lot, we are pretty mean here. I’m much meaner here than at Cole’s, and somewhat less verbose. We’re really just a bunch of amateur shock jocks who haven’t figured out Youtube yet or are just camera shy. Like Gary Brecher himself, who doesn’t show on video at all.

    It would be more fun over at Cole’s if the Stalinists and Breivik-lovers here would go over there and try to pimp their claim that the entire conquest of Tripoli was carried out by NATO commandoes from the sea and all the video was faked in Qatar. However, the mental damage to the regulars there would be incalculable.

  • 55. Phoenix Woman  |  September 7th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Super390: Yeah, I know what you mean. A lot of the IC regulars, no matter their ideology, would have an attack of the vapors if exposed to a WN column, much less a WN comments thread.

    I grew up with older brothers who made sure I developed a thick skin. I’ve also been online for nearly twenty years, and loud talk doesn’t faze me. One of my favorite things is when some right-wing dipwad decides he’s going to play “let’s scare away the hippie chick” and throws around nouns like “cunt” every third word to see if he can make me turn into Innocence Abused. (http://www.flamewarriors.com/warriorshtm/innocenceabused.htm) I just think to myself “Dude, one of my brothers was a Marine DI for twenty fucking years; by the time I was twelve I’d uttered three times more curse words than you’ll ever know.”

  • 56. Russky  |  September 7th, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    WN, you have War in your name. And this shit doesn’t qualify, not even remotely

  • 57. DrunktankDan  |  September 8th, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Goddamn it’s good to have you back Brecher. Sucks that it requires your unemployment to get all of that awesome new War Nerd content. I know that my paltry subscription does nothing to offset your guy’s operating costs. Too bad you gotta suck Koch in your profession to make any money these days.
    Anyways,what in the hell is goin’ on in Iraq? When even the War Nerd is ignoring it, you know that Americans don’t give a shit anymore.

  • 58. joseph  |  September 8th, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Here is a quick translation – it’s interesting to note the man behind the camera speaks with a Palestinian accents whilst the protesters pouring over the fence speak with a thick Syrian accent

    0:03 – Protestors chanting – the people want to liberate Palestine or want freedom for Palestine
    0:05 – go back (male voice)
    0:07- go back (female voice screaming)
    0:13 – hey people! Enough, enough! Enough already! Enough already! (said in the context: you have made your point)
    0:17 – enough, enough (bi kafeh)
    0:27 – There are land mines, there are land mines
    0:30 – Stop! Stop!
    0:34 – There are land mines, there are land mines
    0:40 – Hey! Stop, stop
    0:49 – Land mines, land mines, stop
    0:55 – Listen to me, just listen to me

    1:15 – clap with them, clap with them (as in, clap with the protestors)
    1:18 – Protestors chanting – the people want to liberate Palestine or want freedom for Palestine
    1:40 – go back, go back, landmines, landmines
    1:52 – phones rings “what do you want? They have reached the fence with the landmines, I will speak to you later on”
    2:25 there are landmines, there are landmines, landmines, landmines
    3:00 there are landmines, guys, there are landmines
    3:27 in spirit, in blood, we will liberate you O’Palestine, in spirit, in blood, we will liberate you O’Palestine
    3:47 may God protect them, may God protect them – say to them, may God protect them, may God protect you all guys
    4:00 – God protect you, God protect you
    4:04 – film it, film it, look
    4:13 – God give you his greetings
    4:19 – stop, stop, stop, there are landmines
    4:40 – Protestors chanting – the people wish to liberate Palestine or want freedom for Palestine
    5:08 – God is the greatest
    5:13 – God is the greatest
    5:15 – May God give you his greetings
    5:20 – May God give you his greetings
    5:20 – May God give you his greetings
    5:24 – I want to kiss your hands, I want to kiss your hands
    5:30 – May God give you his greetings
    5:43 – May God give you his greetings, you hero, you free people
    5:51 – cheer for them
    6:14 – May God give you his greetings all you heroes
    6:21 – May God give you his greetings
    6:24 – May God give you his greetings
    6:25 – Film it, film it
    6:28 – You hero, what do you want to say to your family in the Golan?
    6:30 – May God keep them, we will return to Palestine, we will return to Palestine
    6:50 – God is the greatest, God is the greatest
    7:01 – May Palestine live, may Palestine live
    7:05 – God is the greatest
    7:20 – May God give you his greetings
    8:19 – May God give you his greetings
    8:24 – I am Syrian, from the Golan, from the Kassabey family
    8:26 – One hundred welcomes to you and your God
    8:28 – The people’s revolution [or movement] will liberate Palestine
    8:30 – We will liberate it, and may you be kept well
    8:45 – to here, to here
    8:54 – bring him here
    8:59 – May God give you his greetings

  • 59. A-Lex  |  September 9th, 2011 at 2:06 am

    It was hillarious yesterday to watch a news report on yet another Palestinian march on TV, with the anchor’s voiceover calling it a “peaceful demonstration” – while the footage showed bunches of young men hurling rocks and firing springals at something.
    Peaceful Arabs, my ass.

  • 60. fajensen  |  September 9th, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Should have been:
    “”"
    4:19 – stop, stop, stop, there are landmines
    4:20 – BLAM
    …. – static
    “”"
    Obviously those landmines were made by the lowest bidder; China, presumably.

  • 61. TGGP  |  September 11th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    “you have to think of what Chou en-Lai said about whether the 1789 revolution in France was a success: “It’s too early to tell.””
    Wrong.

  • 62. Carpenter  |  September 12th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    “Israel survives because of a US support base—used to be Jews but now it’s more the Evangelicals”

    –No, men like Bill Kristol, Peter Chernin, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod to name a few aren’t Evangelicals, they are Jews. It is because of their massive presence in the media and therefore politics (from fanatics to “moderates”) that they can promote the right Evangelical leaders, the ones who are willing to betray America’s interests – peaceful oil trade with the Arabs – and promote the destructive interest of a foreign country instead.

    And THAT is why the Green March on the Spanish worked, and the one on the Golan Heights didn’t. Don’t disparage the Spanish as weak. They are not weak, but they are beaten, by a U.S. that will only tolerate ethnic pride for Israel, not for Europeans. The Spanish would have been stomped on politically, economically, even militarily by Israel’s U.S. mercenary army if they had dared stand their ground and fire.

    By contrast, the Israelis know they can do whatever they want, kill whoever they want, because they have a chokehold on Capitol Hill. When AIPAC holds a banquet and two thirds of Congress show up to applaud their racialist talk about “the Jewish State”, you know something is going on. There are many ex-politicians, ex-generals and others who have said Capitol Hill is pretty much run by Israel in all matters where they choose to dictate policy. You can’t stand up to them – if you do, your career is over.

    [Note: This comment has been turned over to Mossad and the Elders of Zion for further review. If neighbors of "Carpenter" hear any funny noises, say screaming or screeching or car-trunks slamming in the middle of the night, please ignore them. You did not hear them. You were not there.]

  • 63. Rehmat  |  September 17th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Golan Heights is as much a disputed Arab territory as is the Jewish occupied Palestine. Golan Heights is not a strategic post, as Israelis like you to believe – but a ‘cash cow’ for Israelis for stealing spring water water for their bottle-water industry.

    On 2011 ‘Nakba Day’ – tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees, both Muslims and Christians, protested along four border crossings. At three crossings, the protestors clashed with the Jewish occupation force which killed 22 protestors while Jordanian police clashed with the protestors waving Palestinian flags, gathered at the Al-Karameh (Jordan-West Bank) border crossing.

    None of the Palestinians infiltrated into their lands occupied by foreign Jews, however, the same foreign Jewish soldiers have a history of infiltrating into every neighboring country (PA, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) during the last 63 years.

    Lebanese Islamic Resistance Hizbullah fighters avoided direct involvement at Lebanon-Israel border protests, however, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Nasrallah said the protests gave the anniversary a new meaning and proved to Israel that the Palestinians hold onto their uncompromising right to return to their homeland.

    “We must bow before the courage, the bravery, of those who protested yesterday at Lebanon and Syria’s borders with occupied Palestine, who faced the tyranny of the enemy with bare chests and their heads held high. Your message, loud and clear, to the enemy is that you will liberate your lands, that the fate of this entity [Israel] is demise, and that no initiatives, treaties or borders will protect it,” Nasrallah said on Monday…..

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/israel-only-jews-have-the-right-to-infiltrate-arab-lands/


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