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The War Nerd / February 10, 2011

war-nerd-afghanistan-vid1

Want to see how we lose men in Afghanistan?

Are you sure?

Well, if you really want to, you can, thanks to this clip from French TV (scroll down to view it ). I warn you though, it’s pretty nasty stuff.

It starts out boring, the way most patrols in guerrilla territory always do. The French crew is filming a US soldier, Sgt. Allen, standing by the mud wall of some compound or old fort. Allen’s doing his job, calling for more radio contact. He’s probably done this ten times a day for his whole tour. He says something like, “They’re gonna be passing through,” so I’m guessing he’s arranging for another US unit to move through his patrol’s area without the two groups shooting each other up by mistake.

While he’s talking you get a look at the dust world around them. A few knobby dead trees around the compound wall, but everywhere else nothing but dust. Every time Allen moves, he scuffs up dust. Except for the G.I.s calling out to each other, there’s total silence.

The camera moves to a closeup of a machine gunner on the far corner of the compound. Allen’s pacing around on the near corner, back and forth. You can only see his feet now, kicking up the dust.

Then the screen blows up. Dirt flying in the air, and before it settles you hear Allen screaming. The camera stays on him. I have to give the French crew credit here. They keep filming. Allen is lying in the dirt at the corner of the compound, screaming. His legs are gone. You can see the pink stumps, and you can’t help thinking, “All that dust, all that dirt in the wounds.”

The first thing he screams is the same thing you or I would: “Oh fuck! Oh fuck!” I don’t know French, but I know enough to know the French subtitle, “a l’aide,” isn’t the right translation. I’m guessing that means, “Help!” He does scream that a little later, but his first scream is just “Fuck!” which sums up the horribleness of hitting a mine. No enemy firing at you, just you stepped in the wrong place. Allen was walking all around that patch of raised dirt by the compound wall, but nothing happened until he hit the pressure plate on the few square inches that tore his legs off.

In a few seconds, everyone’s screaming. Allen screams for morphine; another soldier—another sgt., I think—says, “I got you, sergeant!” while the medic screams to the radioman to get the medevac chopper sent. Finally the sergeant who was helping the medic goes off to grab the radio himself.

Allen’s quieted down now, so I guess the morphine’s working. That’s the only thing that could quiet you after a wound like that. Nobody, not the Romans, the Mongols, the Cree, nobody could stay quiet with their legs torn off.

The French reporter backs away from the scene, looking kind of greenish. The dog and his handler stand next to him, silent. I bet the dog wasn’t as popular in the unit after that, because I assume the damn dog’s job was to sniff out mines. He didn’t do such a great job today.

While they wait for the helicopter—I think the French guy says it took ten minutes to arrive—the sergeant who first helped Sgt. Allen goes crazy. He’s looking down at Allen, where Allen’s legs used to be, and he just loses it. The medic says, “Get him away from here,” which is sensible: the last thing Allen needs is somebody sending his heartrate up, stressing the tourniquets they’ve tied on his legs.

That’s it. The helicopter takes off, Allen lives as a legless cripple or dies before they make it to the hospital. Most likely he lives, but he’s out of the war.

Here’s the video:

Watched it? Okay, now this is where the real nastiness of irregular warfare comes in. People who romanticize guerrilla war just haven’t thought it through. Why did the Taliban (or just the locals) plant that mine? They’re not hoping to wipe out the US forces with little mines like that. What those mines do is push up the level of hate between the foreign army and the locals.

Most armies throughout history would retaliate fast and brutal. A lot of what we call Nazi atrocities, like wiping out the village of Lidice, were reprisals like that. Heydrich, a Nazi honcho, gets killed right by this Czech village; the villagers act innocent; the Germans wipe them out. We did the same, off the record, to a whole lot of Vietnamese villages after a bouncing betty took some guy’s legs off walking down the same path the villagers walked, without every getting hurt, every day of their lives.

You know they know. Imagine Allen’s squad walking back through an Afghan village. The natural impulse is to kill every living thing in that village. Especially if they smile at you.

And the Taliban’s fine with that. Any guerrilla army with a clue what it’s doing WANTS the occupying army to slaughter locals. There’ll always be enough left to help you, unless you’re dealing with the Romans or some other ancient empire. Very few empires have the ruthlessness to wipe out all the civilians in retaliation. And very few empires care enough about their low-level soldiers to want to. Those villagers are chips in the pot, they could be worth something to the empire; you don’t kill them all.

But you sure want to, walking back through their villages. It would drive you crazy, patrolling to “protect” these people and knowing they were laying traps like the one that just got Sgt. Allen. Talking about “fighting like men” and “stand-up fights” makes no sense in guerrilla warfare, but if I were a soldier in Allen’s patrol, I wouldn’t be thinking that; I’d just hate the cowardly bastards who wouldn’t face you rifle in hand but snuck out at night to bury mines where they knew you’d walk.

So a unit that’s been hit with a mine won’t be much good for the whole “hearts and minds” work of counterinsurgency. They’re not in the mood any more. More like heads and centers of mass. Either they retaliate, on the quiet—making the villagers even more full of hate and pro-Taliban—or they don’t, driving soldiers like the one in the video even crazier.

It’s not a workable way to wage war. Keep in mind that 75%, three quarters, of our casualties in Afghanistan happen just the way Sgt. Allen went down. Three quarters. A war without firefights, just the nastiest kind of booby traps.

There’s no more demoralizing, destabilizing weapon than the antipersonnel mine. And it’s the weapon of choice for whoever it is we’re fighting in Afghanistan. That’s what I meant when I said in another article that this XM25 super-rifle won’t change things. Imagine if everybody in Allen’s squad had one of those. What could they do, blast the walls of that compound? Blow up some dust?

The only consolation for the occupying army about these mines is that people forget where they were laid, so once you leave you can be sure kids herding goats will get their legs blown up for generations afterwards. Unless the US funds mineclearing operations, which we probably will.

And Allen’s teammates probably know that too, which must boost unit morale just no end. Mines are a nasty, nasty weapon, but not by accident or because the Afghans are just bad people. Mines are designed to poison the whole landscape for the occupier. The fact that they poison it for long after the occupier’s gone home…well, to a serious guerrilla army that’s a price you’re more than willing to pay.

I’m telling you: once you see how guerrilla warfare works, you have two reactions: you’re downright awed by how simple and brilliant it is…and it makes you sick.

Would you like to know more? Gary Brecher is the author of the War Nerd. Send your comments to brecher@exiledonline.com. Read Gary Brecher’s first ever War Nerd column by clicking here.

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92 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. jonnym  |  February 10th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Happy to see more War Nerd, I hope Gary’s back to weekly or biweekly articles.

  • 2. Pascual Gorostieta  |  February 10th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Wow! Top notch work as always.

  • 3. Yousif  |  February 10th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    to be fair we do blow up a whole lot of guys up with literal terminator death drones from ten thousand feet in the air.

  • 4. Michal  |  February 10th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I have to correct you regarding Lidice, people in those village really had nothing to do with it. Nazis thought that, but there was no actual connection. As it happens to be the case, the cause for the brutal annihilation of Lidice was accidental. A factory owner found a love letter on one of his employees, in which the female worker’s hero was telling his loveheart that: “What I wanted to do, I did. I slept somewhere near Čabárna on that fateful day. I’m well. I’ll see you again this week, and never after.”

    Since the letter sounded suspicious, the factory owner alerted Gestapo, which then interrogated the woman. During the interrogation when they were extracting every single bit of information about that mysterious man, she remembered that her lover wanted her to say hi to Horák family from Lidice when she stops by again. Here’s where it gets tragicomical, because by complete accident the family was known to have sent two of its sons into England to fight as pilots against the Germans. The village was raided but no incriminating evidence was found. No weapons, no radio transmitters, nothing.

    Meanwhile, the man who wrote the letter was found and identified. They’ve arrested him on the suspicion of assisting the assassination. He admitted to the Gestapo that he wrote the letter, and said that he deliberately made it sound like he’s joining partisans, because he wanted to end the love affair.

    In the end, local Gestapo compiled a report which was sent to Prague offices, in which they wrote (despite the atmosphere of the time when they really, really wanted to find a culprit!) that none of the people involved had anything to do with killing of Heydrich, nor that the village was in any suspicion of cooperating with dissent.

    Nonetheless the decision was made in a political way. Since they couldn’t find any real collaborators to the men who killed Heydrich, Lidice was selected on the basis that it was the nearest thing they had to a convincing native accomplice who could be punished to set an example. In the end, the decision was purely political, and born out of absolutely wilful malevolence, thus becoming an iconic symbol of Nazi crimes.

  • 5. Don Quixote  |  February 10th, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    In my day, Philip II didn’t tolerate this sort of thing from the moriscos and conversos.

  • 6. matt  |  February 10th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Brilliant as usual.

    I will say this though Gary. If you read Malalai Joya or a lot of the Afghan writers, for the first 2 or 3 years, it seems like most of the county, the non-pashtuns at least were willing to give us a chance. But it’s not just the guerrillas. It’s the fact that we made a mephistophelian deal with the warlords and mobsters who run the militias. Afghanistan from the 50′s to the 80′s was not the same country it is today. Some of the urban areas were almost western in character and allowed for the PDP to have something of a base. The soviets, the warlords, and the fact that we as a culture don’t want anything to be hard, bloody, or time-consuming, probably ruined this. i mean the premise was probably fucked from day one, but…who knows.

  • 7. Eddie  |  February 10th, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    You have to wonder about the intelligence of the American planners and decision makers involved in initiating this conflict to begin with.

    Did they fail to notice the history of this place?

    Did they perhaps feel that the lessons learned by another empire(army) did not apply?
    (The second time in my lifetime this happened. The first would be that completely redundant American sequel to that old French classic; the Franco-Vietnamese War. Fought in the same place only 2 decades earlier)

    Or has this become somewhat of a tradition that all dying empires do? They invade Afghanistan and have the Afghanis deliver the coup de grâce.

    Whatever it is it sure is dumb.

  • 8. Eddie  |  February 10th, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Check out the BBC Panorama documentary “The Battle for Bomb Alley”

    Link (you will need to have a bit-torrent client installed): http://eztv.it/ep/25678/bbc-panorama-2011-the-battle-for-bomb-alley-x264-ac3-hdtv-mvgroup/

    The commanders in it share one common conviction. Namely that another 5-10 years of exactly the same is what is required finally end this conflict. Enough said.

  • 9. IED_School_of_Justice.  |  February 10th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    How many Haji ears you think Sgt. Allen had in his fanny pack? Chalk up another win for the IEDs of Justice.

  • 10. Eddie  |  February 10th, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I wonder how the former Mujahideen(now rebranded Tabeban) reasoned about the war beforehand.

    My guess would be:
    No way the Americans will invade us. Not after what we did to the Soviets. Besides they have nothing here that they want except for that arab Osama. Him we don’t like anyway but he fought here bravely against the infidel and we would loose face if we give him up. Where is that guy anyway?

  • 11. Derp  |  February 10th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    DERP DER- ah….. this just makes me sad. :( :( :(

    Derp….. :(

  • 12. Hannibal  |  February 10th, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Here’s a link for the battle for bomb alley from youtube –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A6AJteEwdg

  • 13. Hadding  |  February 10th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Re the reprisals at Lidice:

    “He admitted to the Gestapo that he wrote the letter, and said that he deliberately made it sound like he’s joining partisans, because he wanted to end the love affair.”

    I wouldn’t believe an excuse like that. Would you?

    Reprisals against civilian populations suspected of supporting guerrilla activity has been the practice of many governments, not just the Third Reich. This is a standard method in counterinsurgency. The French used it in Algeria. The UK used it in Ireland. Look at what the USA did in Fallujah: in form it was not a reprisal against noncombatants but in effect that’s what it was.

  • 14. RPG Cunthair  |  February 10th, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Reprisals against civilians is a deeply ingrained habit. Hardwired into the DNA. Someone has to squeeze it out of our ass.

  • 15. GhostUnit  |  February 10th, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    @3. Yousif

    Exactly, blowing up people with a flying drone seems way more repugnant to me.

  • 16. Hoory for American exceptionalism  |  February 10th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Another gift from the Taliban to the US taxpayer as we’ll be paying for the Sgt’s (much deserved) rehab/health care for the rest of his life.

    A mine costs….what? $5, $10, $20?.

    Sgt’s lifetime health care costs….will probably top $500,000 easily.

    Geez, any wonder why the US has been screwed over by Afghanistan/Iraq long-term?

  • 17. Michal  |  February 10th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Re: Hadding

    *Shrug* Just tellin’ it the way I heard it. I’m sure Gestapo’s done its own research. You wouldn’t have to take the man at his own words, you could have undercover agents check his version with his friends for example, see if he quit his job or stocked up on some suspicious supplies &c.

    Either way to say the “village killed Heydrich” is…indescribably wrong version of the events.

  • 18. Fissile  |  February 10th, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    #16 Hoory for American exceptionalism,

    According to Unicef, anti-personnel land mines can cost as little as $3 each. Most anti-personnel mines are designed to maim and not kill. Creating cripples is more advantageous then outright killing your opposition. For one thing, caring for the newly de-limbed greatly affects moral.

    As you have pointed out, costs associated with caring for said cripples is enormous. Sgt. Allen’s lifetime health care costs will probably exceed your conservative estimate of $500K. In addition, Allen will now receive disability payments for the rest of his life. If he’s in his twenties now, he could easily live another 40 years. Total cost to the US for this single incident could come to several million dollars. Not a bad ROI for a $3 mine. This is the kind of cost/benefit analysis that would have made the late, not so lamented, Robert McNamara’s head explode.

  • 19. Marquelot  |  February 11th, 2011 at 3:30 am

    If he would have stayed home in Pig Nuckle Ark. he could still collect welfare with his sister and walk down to the corner for a 32 ounce bottle. He wanted to travel the world and be a hero, fine. He should be happy with this reward.

  • 20. Jay  |  February 11th, 2011 at 4:22 am

    I kind of wonder if that’s even a recent mine, or an old Soviet-era mine. I imagine that for the Taliban, getting a Yank squad to make camp in an old Soviet minefield is perfect. All the casualties, none of the manual labor.

  • 21. u76r4e3  |  February 11th, 2011 at 7:53 am

    The whole TF1 report can be seen here:
    The real Afghan war – on TF1:
    http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/blog-post/2024832/real-afghan-war-tf1

    When I checked the video on the TF1 site was blocked in the US of A, but no other TF1 videos. Sgt Allen runs his had over a satellite map showing the buildings of the village in detail(5:30), probably including the one he lost his legs at.

    The most poignant for me is (liveleak version is at 2:26) where even though he is severely injured, he refuses to relinquish command and keeps control of the symbol of command, the field radio.

    “The only consolation for the occupying army about these mines is that people forget where they were laid”

    I don’t think so, unlike military mines the Taliban mines are hand made by artisans and placed by people with intense attention to detail. You will notice in the full TF1 video it was a trap, the opposition (Taliban?) staged a series of visible demonstrations to force the soldiers to seek cover behind that wall. (min 5:56 of the full TF1 report) Also worth noting is that everyone in the village probably knew more or less to stay away from the at wall, more than a few probably knew were the mine was. The soldiers know this.

    Interesting is at min 5:30 the commander says “I remember this field” indicating they have been there before.

    At the beginning of the full version it says the commander (a Sargent) name is Allen is 32 married and has 2 children. He was also in Iraq if I get the French right.

  • 22. Eddie  |  February 11th, 2011 at 8:23 am

    For the really hard core war nerds out there I recommend reading the US manual on counterinsurgency.

    You can find it here: http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-24.pdf

    It bares the signature of this mythical Lieutenant General of the U.S. Army, David H. Petraeus. So you know it’s good.

    If you like me find this 282 page document somewhat dry then here is a highly condensed version of it. (On the plus side it has some really cool Mao quotes)

    To win:

    #1. Fight a very high energy war against insurgents with the aim of finding, killing or capturing as many of them as possible.
    #2. Win the hearts and minds of the people through extensive civic action.

    If this works out then clearly my own dream of running a Formula One team is just one step closer. Here I prepared this awesome race strategy.

    To win:

    #1. Drive car at maximum speed making sure to turn and maneuver it in corners.
    #2. Make sure to break hard and often. Do not be afraid to stop the car if needed.

  • 23. C  |  February 11th, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Its always funny to see how many people are waiting to crawl up Gary’s ass. I mean he’s good, but the term “brilliant” loses meaning when it isn’t used judiciously. ie: not every-single-article. This one is okay. Enjoyable and insightful, but if you think that its brilliant than you need to read more often.

    @Michael
    That’s all hearsay. Just like the official story. Its all myth. Which means that its meaningless to point out supposed corrections in the story, especially having to do with the minutia and not the final result. The real story probably has elements of both accounts, but almost certainly isn’t true to either. However, in war, its the story that’s told that matters and not what actually happened.

    The one thing that can be said for sure is that the Germans didn’t care about the story. More specifically, they didn’t care about whether the village was innocent or not. All that mattered was the message sent.

    Its missing the point entirely to put so much emphasis on the minutia. Both the Germans and the dead didn’t and don’t care.

  • 24. Tyr  |  February 11th, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Translation of the french bits:

    This is the case of sgt Allen. Buried under his feet, the insugents have placed their trap. Under our eyes his life is going to take a fateful turn.

    The sgt has his two legs torn off, the arm torn to shreds. The doc, Ruben Roundtree, attempts to save his life.

    A tourniquet on each thigh, a massive dose of morphine, every seconds counts.

    The forward group led by sgt boone comes back to the site to secure the perimeter.

    Cameraman 1: Wait, wait you can tell me after
    Cameraman 2: Ahead … It exploded just in front of me. I don’t know, I saw …
    1: Who was it, an American ?
    2: The sgt.

    Situated at the bottom of the fortified wall Gilles was lucky, the effects have the blast passed over him.

    The rescue helicopter arrives in 10 minutes. Thanks to the effectiveness of the doc, ruben roundtree and the calm of Boone sgt. Allen is taken care of in record time.

    Despite the state he’s in he is conscious and even attempts to give instructions by radio.
    Some crack.

    Cameraman: he’s just been evacuated probably to the rear base …

  • 25. peckerwood  |  February 11th, 2011 at 8:50 am

    This kind of reminds me of an ongoing question I have. Would the USSR have “defeated” the Afghans if Stalin was running the show? No doubt the Soviets were hardcore in Afghanistan, but they weren’t Great Patriotic War wave after wave of peasant conscript being directed by a sociopathic, completely eveel leadership hardcore

  • 26. Kat  |  February 11th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    geez.

  • 27. Great Sage Equal of Heaven  |  February 11th, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Am I missing something? Why do we need to waste money and lives (lost or broken) for such bunch of losers? Why can’t we play smart? The locals are muslims, hence the are not partial to pigs or pork. Bring in some oink oinks, slaughter them in front of the locals, collecting the blood, chop up the carcasses and then star carpet bombing the place with pork chops. And spray the crops with pig’s blood, which will also be dished out in the wells. Rinse and repeat. I betcha they would not take that for long before rolling belly up. We could do the damn operation much much more safely (a load of guys with big guns for the slaughter show, then planes) than anything. And it’s not strictly lethal either.

  • 28. Bob  |  February 11th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    So, how do you fight back? Responsive, honest politics?

  • 29. Ganryu  |  February 11th, 2011 at 10:03 am

    War Nerd’s last sentence was beautiful. As video-game cool war make look on TV, the awful reality of everything that happens is rarely documented. Not only will Sgt.Allen be fucked up physically, but likely mentally as well–that is, if he survived. But all of Sgt. Allen’s buddies will be impacted by the experience as well. Will they be more likely to be trigger-happy in some other incident, killing some kid or old lady he mistakes for the enemy? Now they will have another great piece of guilt slathered on other incidents. Will those men eventually go crazy, commit suicide, or kill someone else because they can’t cope with what’s happened? This ain’t Vegas–what’s happens in AfPak comes back home eventually.
    And another family/village (being the recipient of undeserved bullets) will pledge their silent, eternal grudge against the army, and plant even more IEDs. This escalates in a logarithmic fashion. The part that all those “smart” generals don’t get is that you can’t win something like this. Would you prefer to lose face or lose legs?

  • 30. Jack Boot  |  February 11th, 2011 at 10:25 am

    The Afghan War is analogous to swatting a swarm of bees with a sledgehammer – pointless & painful.

    The only way out is for the USA to arrange a “Jirga” with the Taliban: Object – compromise.

    “We will give you Pushtuns your very own country – Pushtunistan, taken from bits of Afghanistan & Pakistan.

    We’ll buy all your opium at market price plus 10%, and let you buy all the AKs, RPGs & red henna you can eat.

    You’ll have complete internal autonomy – feel free to raid one anothers’ villages, whup your women & bugger your boys. In effect, Pushtunistan will be a human wildlife refuge.

    All we ask in return is that you don’t allow furriners the use of your territory for international terrorism.

    Deal?”

    It might just fly – Afghanistan & Pakistan are legal fictions at best; and, for all their undoubted courage & hardihood, the Pushtuns are likely growing tired of fighting the USA.

    But, I can’t see any US Administration going for it – herds of sacred cows would have to be butchered. Pity…

  • 31. Alok  |  February 11th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Ah Gary, how could you speak of CI and not mention the British in India even once?!

    The British knew depopulating the country side is too expensive and time consuming (and frankly won’t look good for the bottom-line) when the natives got uppity. So they did the next best thing; turn the natives against each other.

    See, this is where the Brits were master sociologists. They knew, deep down, as you always say, “my team yay, your team, boo” was a powerful sentiment that could be fairly easily exploited for most people, even if it wasn’t always obvious who was “my team” and who was “your team”.

    Their real genius was taking the loosest of labels and turning them into hide-bound identities. So they create “criminal tribes”, “the weak Hindu”, “the conquering Muslim”, “the Anglo-Indian” and grant them all varying levels of benefits and punishments just to make the branding worthwhile.

    So, it’s not a rebellion, it’s a Hindu uprising, therefore use Muslims/Sikhs to put it down, and so on. They were also in for the long game so they could shift sides subtly or abruptly as the situation demanded and had no “withdrawal deadlines”.

    Plus, they were always clear about their goals, and how to lie about them to their own public. It’s a real pity that one of the world’s premier “soft powers” no longer has the ability to do that.

  • 32. Michal  |  February 11th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    @C. (23) What, so the real story has elements of both accounts, just because Nazis had a different story? Here’s something to think about: Scientists say we breathe oxygen to stay alive. I say we need radon. Would you like to breathe a bit of both?

    What happened matters, because if knowledge of this crime gets erased, then the legacy of Nazi Germany becomes a little more brighter and a little more appealing. Which it probably shouldn’t, because it means someone somewhere is slightly more prone to get the idea that it was awesome and well worth repeating.

    Either way, it’s all well known stuff, the village had nothing to do with it. You won’t find a credible publication saying otherwise, the only printed media that might are newspapers from the time published by nazis. You don’t have to believe me, you can go into your local library and read up on it. It’s an event that resonated around the world.

  • 33. no one in particular  |  February 11th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    @27 , Why do people think pigs are muslim kryptonite? Its just a non-kosher food to them… its not going to melt them, and its not like it would piss them off any more than having their family members shot and killed by drones like they currently are.

  • 34. empire in decline  |  February 11th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    The drone comments are spot on. Casually committing mass murder against the weakest and abused people on the planet from a base in Arizona seems far worse than anything the Taliban do while trying to fight the most powerful military the world has ever kown.

    In Iraq about 55,000 insurgents were killed while in Afghanistan close to 40,000 have been died. This was after 1 million died under sanctions in Iraq (half of them children) and 1 million afghan died fighting the Soviets. All for something 19 highly educated hijackers did, most from the U.S.-backed dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, a dictatorship the U.S. won’t touch because of that sweet, sweet bubbling crude.

    I swear the United States would take 10 9/11s and 10 times the amount of soldier dead currently incurred so long as this country doesn’t have to lower its standard of living by standing up to the country financing and supplying most of the world’s terrorists.

    Also keep in mind the precious troops have an army of hateful apologists in the media, government, and among the average American citizen hating and ostracizing anyone who dares utilize the freedoms soldiers are supposedly sacrificing and dying for in Afghanistan and Iraq against what those same soldiers are doing. Soldiers don’t really want you to speak out if you disagree with them and what they’re doing, they want you to lie through fear and tell them what they’re doing it right. Say anything else and their supporters call you an unappreciative liberal faggot who should shut up or leave the country while cowardly soldiers sit back and enjoy the show.

    Not once do these soldiers tell anyone on the rightwing to stand on the merits of their own arguments, to stop using the military to lend weight to their political opinions and beliefs, to stop trading any respect they deserve for political influence and power they don’t want. Soldiers want the rightwing to shut those liberal faggots up and their rightwing buddies have done a fantastic job. There is absolutely no opposition to the military as they torture, imprison, and kill people who have no political or legal rights.

    Anyone else notice that? You can criticize the media, government, president and the police, but god-fucking-forbid you criticize the most powerful entity the human race has ever produced, an entity that can wipe out the entire human race. They can just violate the rights of tens of millions while never being held accountable to those same people and everyone either doesn’t care or agrees with the policy.

    The United States fought a revolution because it was taxed without representation after the British saved the colonists from the French and Indians and it cost a bit of spending money and yet soldiers can torture, imprison and kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan with no political voice or representation here and those soldiers and their apologists act oblivious to the injustice.

    Well, they had ever opportunity to know and do what’s right. Anyone they’re fighting deserves infinitely more sympathy than any soldier ever did. If soldiers can’t understand the freedoms they’re supposed to be sacrificing and dying for then it’s their fault, they’re problem.

  • 35. u76r4e3  |  February 11th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Sergeant Allen may be this person:

    http://theartofencouragement.blogspot.com/2011/02/februarys-hero-of-month.html

  • 36. u76r4e3  |  February 11th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    BTW, in the full length version I think Sgt “Boone” is using an XM-25.

  • 37. j, pat  |  February 11th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    With one $10??/$20??/very cheap mine, the Taliban:

    a) incapacitates one soldier that cost more than $100,000 to train; and

    b) the US taxpayer will spend more than $500,000 to treat/rehab/provide life-long care for the soldier.

    Gee, which side is the idiot?

  • 38. Eddie  |  February 11th, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    @GhostUnit

    I think it would be a mistake to frame this issue in moralistic terms. War is never and has never been about anything other then interests. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ guys in war. What you have are opponents and sometimes one of these might seem to have a more just cause then the other. There can be no better example of this then Afghanistan, where exactly the same people(then Mujahideen now Taleban) find themselves on the opposite side of our moral judgement. Then they where noble patriots defending there country against those evil atheists. Now they are evil islamists fighting against the very notion of freedom and human rights. Ask yourself this question. What exactly changed between these two conflicts? Except of course roughly a decade in time and the invader in question.

    In anticipation of some dumb American comment about their own precious civil war I include a comment made by Abraham Lincoln about the very objectives of that war as he saw them.

    “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

    What is evident from the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now the revolution in Egypt is that the United States have become a second rate power. Just like Britain, France, Russia or any other former European superpowers. It still wields considerable power but this power is limited to the destruction of the world including itself in it. And it shares this power with all the other former empires.

    Once this realization sinks in a lot of things will change. A whole lot of new relationships will be forged and perhaps even a few new wars fought. My money is on Israel next. There you have a country that understands that wars are neither about good or evil. In her case it is about survival.

  • 39. laivindil  |  February 11th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Whats sad is that the United States has not signed the mine ban treaty.

  • 40. bieber's girlfriend  |  February 11th, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    When Sarge gets back to the USA it’s gonna be pretty hard to bust pot smokers and write traffic tickets for a living with NO LEGS. Like, “Stop, police! Hey come back here!” Ahahahaha! What a dumb hick!

  • 41. gc  |  February 11th, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    “Unless the US funds mineclearing operations, which we probably will.”

    ^ This is probably the most horribly funny thing I’ve read all month.

  • 42. Hannibal  |  February 12th, 2011 at 12:50 am

    The US needs to follow Brecher’s advice – arm the Tajiks/Uzbeks/Hazaras to the teeth, pull out the boys, and let the locals tear themselves a new one. Maybe Amrullah Saleh; I know he’s up for it. Was reading this interview from frontline where he pulls no punches:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/2011/01/video-amrullah-saleh-spy-who-quit.html

    From the transcript:

    You said [within] three weeks on the death of Massoud you got an interesting phone call.

    I think it was Sept. 14. [3 days after 9/11] I received a call, and the person told me, he said: “Amrullah, in the face of this tragedy, this disaster that we have in the United States, thousands of lives, innocent lives have been lost. And the massive destruction, the damage in our economy and the stain in our psyche, all of this is very, very bad for United States. But this is good news for Afghanistan. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for you, you are going to have a very bright future. And I am calling you that don’t act as you were doing before. Go to your leadership and tell them we have changed. We want to do things you cannot even imagine. What do you need?”

    And I started to tell him what we need. He said: “Amrullah, it’s a changed world. Go back to your leaders. Have a bigger discussion. Get back to me as soon as you do that meeting. Tell me what you need. Think out of the box. It’s not going to be the same. Afghanistan will have a bright future.”

    How soon did you call him back?

    Then as we started to discuss what we were needing, that person called and said they were on their way to come.

    It was the CIA.

    Yes.

    So that was the beginning of the fall of the Taliban really.

    It was like a dream. All of a sudden, a village in the middle of these mountains became command centers for the most powerful army in the world; sometimes I would wash my eyes and say: “Am I dreaming? No, I’m awake. This has happened. Yeah.”

    *

    So today, who is winning this war?

    It’s a stalemate.

    Can the NATO strategy succeed?

    What is their strategy?

    Targeted assassinations and COIN [counterinsurgency] operations.

    I don’t see consistency either in COIN or in the special operations.

    So you see no coherent strategy?

    I have not seen that.

    That’s quite a statement.

    It is.

    After all this time?

    No, my views have not changed. I said those operations are very useful, but they should be part of a grand strategy, the region, the governance piece, economic development, a narrative for Afghan population in which they see themselves as players. That is what I call a strategy. But if it is special operations are done in isolation and Kabul is not partnering with them, that’s not a strategy. And if they did, it’s a NATO strategy.

    ***

    Karzai on the one hand criticizes the United States. He criticizes NATO. Then Petraeus goes to see him, and he comes out with a statement of support. How are we supposed to understand President Karzai’s flip-flops?

    President Karzai exploits the inconsistency of the American policy. President Karzai asks a very legitimate question: Is Pakistan an ally or an enemy? And NATO cannot answer. So the president says, “If Pakistan can take your money and in the meantime can afford to kill you, I can softly do things.”

    ***

    Are you worried about what happens when the Americans withdraw?

    Yes.

    What will happen?

    If they happen and the situation is the way it is, it will be a disaster – massacres, bloodbath, disintegration of power, fragmentation of authority.

    Why should America stay here and sacrifice the lives of its young indefinitely?

    Why did they come here? They came here for three distinct objectives: Defeat Al Qaeda; make the Taliban irrelevant; create a viable Afghan state. If those objectives are achieved, good.

    How long is that going to take?

    How long did it take to defeat communism?

    Fifty years.

    So they can reconcile with Al Qaeda [if they don't want to stay fifty years]. It’s up to them.

    But you oppose that?

    Well, we will fight it. We will fight Al Qaeda. We were fighting Al Qaeda not because of the U.S. We will continue to fight Al Qaeda not because of the West, because I still want my daughters to go to an Afghan university, and if Al Qaeda takes over, that’s over. I’m selfish, very selfish, very self-interest[ed]. I am not fighting for America, and I was not fighting for America. America is not fighting for me. And they will not fight for me. It is in their national interest. We happen to fight a mutual enemy…

  • 43. Sarran  |  February 12th, 2011 at 1:29 am

    @ Peckerwood:

    I presume Stalin would’ve adopted the same strategy he did with the Chechens – burn their villages and towns, deport them to another province miles away and replace with settlers (it’s not like American’s haven’t done the same, removing “injun savages” to desolate, practically-worthless “reservations”).

    Alternatively, they could also consider the British predecessor to the Strategic Hamlet program (or alternatively the Final Solution) – the concentration camps of the Boer War.

  • 44. my talkative ringpiece  |  February 12th, 2011 at 2:21 am

    War Nerd’s articles are all good, but this one has made me both sick and sad.

  • 45. galv  |  February 12th, 2011 at 3:09 am

    @laivindil
    What’s ironic is that Afghanistan has.

  • 46. Ape  |  February 12th, 2011 at 3:35 am

    You dumbasses who write how cheap a mine is are idiots. A 5.56 mm bullet is also cheap and will kill you.

    What matters is how many mines was needed, how long they took to place and what effect they had.

    I bet a UAV’s has a better cost/benefit. You see, a mine only have a minimum area of influence, while a UAV can influence a very, very large area. Think how many mines would have been needed to affect an area the same size that the UAV can affect.

    You can never mine and booby trap everything, so the solution have always been to take alternate routes every time and not to take the paths that are most obvious. Of course, as pointed out by the fact that they said they’ve been there before, this is not being done.

    Also, the War Nerd is wrong, the Taliban often marks out the location of their bombs to the locals and retrieve them if they are not used. They also use a lot of manual detonation, which is probably because they don’t want “kids herding goats” to be blown up.

    laivindil: USA didn’t sign the mine treaty because they (UN) wouldn’t compromise and allow the de-militarized zone to be still mined. Signing the treaty would have meant that USA and South Korea would have had to remove all the mines, which of course would have been real stupid.

  • 47. j7y76  |  February 12th, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Tribute to Chaz Allen on Bravo Company web site:
    http://www.1st-bravo-company.com/index.php

    http://www.1st-bravo-company.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=119

  • 48. David  |  February 12th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    “This kind of reminds me of an ongoing question I have. Would the USSR have “defeated” the Afghans if Stalin was running the show? No doubt the Soviets were hardcore in Afghanistan, but they weren’t Great Patriotic War wave after wave of peasant conscript being directed by a sociopathic, completely eveel leadership hardcore”

    Peckerwood, you’re right, leaders like Stalin and Genghis Khan would have eradicated the country. Stalin deported most of the Chechen population to Siberia after they sided with Germany in the World War II.

  • 49. gary  |  February 12th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    i am no fan of the military but to mock the sargeant as a hick or laugh about him being a legless cop seems cruel and quite stupid…hard as it is to believe many join the military for unselfish reasons..the old take advantage of the youngs ignorance and idealism..while we sit blogging and mocking they do the dying…i don’t think the intention of the article was to make the sargeant a fool

  • 50. AJ  |  February 12th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    This is why we need to frost Afghanistan under a glaze of radioactive glass and be done with these people. But we’re just too “civilized” to do it.

    @empire in decline Yah, Mr. Rove was quite successful in conflating the American soldier with his boss’s disastrous foreign policy. You’ll be interested to know that in my hick neck-of-the-woods, a lot of these good ole boys are getting tired of becoming cannon fodder and are starting to wise up that they don’t have to be “dumb brute beasts doing the government’s bidding,” to paraphrase Dr. Kissinger. If something’s not done soon about these foreign excursions, I think we might well see sedition in the ranks.

  • 51. Allen  |  February 12th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    The somewhat lucky thing about Iraq for the United States is that it kind of worked out that everyone had a stake to protect. The Kurds didn’t want to go back to getting slaughtered; the Shi’a didn’t want to surrender their new found political power; and the Arab Sunnis, who were kind of used to having things good, decided that a holding position was preferable to some illiterate haji foot soldier cutting off your fingers for smoking or some illiterate Sadr city resident shooting you in the head for having the wrong name on your I.D. card…

    So the place has chilled a bit.

    Iraq was kind of a semi-modern place with real education and a real economy once. People remember that.

    But

    What the hell does your average Pashtun have to live for anyway? The nerd said it best in a past article; war is just cultural there, and I’m reasonably sure as long as America is Afghanistan someone will be shooting at them or laying out the I.E.D.s.

    It’s not just a tradition; it’s fun too … & what red blooded pashtun wants to live past 35 anyway? Unless he’s going to be a tribe leader, warlord or Mullah, or something.

  • 52. Arch Stanton  |  February 12th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Awwww … Do “our” “brave” troops have a little morale problem? Well that’s a real bummer, man. What happened to all that testosterone stoked arrogance just about every American was spewing forth about nine years ago? Looks like the Af-Iraq double whammy didn’t really pan out, did it? It didn’t stop the relentless march of the Chinese, break Arab resistance or even European impertinence. The only thing that’s really changed in ten years is that the US is now in hock up to and over its eyeballs. So keep up the good work America. At this rate the new American century won’t even make it near the halfway mark.

    Deranged fascists with delusions of godhood rarely last out the long haul. Just ask the nazis.

  • 53. Don Quixote  |  February 12th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

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

  • 54. jello  |  February 12th, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    “I bet a UAV’s has a better cost/benefit.”

    It doesn’t matter, you dolt. The Taliban don’t care about cost/benefit. This is the definition of asymmetric warfare.

    The Taliban’s labor is virtually free and everything is completely funded by heroin profits. Afghanistan has 30 million people the same as Iraq. Even if you sent the entire US army to Afghanistan at once, you still don’t have enough soldiers to control 30 million people.

    the US is losing/barely holding on while spending more than $100,000 annually for each soldier in Afghanistan against an “army” filled with pissed off illiterate dudes happy to fight for a few bowls of rice, some weed and hooker money.

    The Taliban won’t go bankrupt fighting America, but America is going bankrupt after fighting for so long in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • 55. rick  |  February 12th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    When you seem to be the only person saying interesting things out of 1,000,000,000–that’s a big number, coupled with a lot of subjectivity that gets increasingly objective and frustrating. But that seems like a good War Nerd article. A War Nerd article is the only thing I’d immediately read in the world.

  • 56. Ed L  |  February 13th, 2011 at 4:52 am

    For every GI maimed or killed, 500 “American” muzzer immigrants should have their legs amputated.

  • 57. Tim  |  February 13th, 2011 at 6:49 am

    READ AND LEARN FROM Colonel Kurtz, “Apocalypse Now” ! ! !

    I’ve seen horrors … horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that … but you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face … and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us, and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember … I … I … I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized … like I was shot … like I was shot with a diamond … a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God … the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men … trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love … but they had the strength … THE STRENGHT … to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral … and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling … without passion … without judgment … without judgment. Because it’s judgment that defeats us.

  • 58. Tim  |  February 13th, 2011 at 7:01 am

    “If there are bad guys in there we need to get in there, knock them out, and get the hell out of there fast. No nation building, no democracy promotion … remember what happened to the Soviets.”
    (Zbigniew Brzezinski on Afghanistan, 2001)

  • 59. Erik  |  February 13th, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I bet lots of Jihadis would be ecstatic to meet an American patrol ‘rifle in hand’. Provided, of course, that the Americans borrowed them their night vision goggles.

  • 60. fissile  |  February 13th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    @ #46 Ape,

    You want cost/benefit analysis?

    Let’s say that the Taliban purchased 100,000 new antipersonnel mines, and paid $5 a piece for them, instead of recycling old Soviet mines. That’s $500K outlay right there.

    Now? how much does a cost the Taliban to “tain” people to lay those mines? I’ll bet their their entire annual budget for mine ops is less than a million a year.

    Now let’s contrast that with how much it cost to train Sgt. Allen. Allen’s training alone probably cost over $100K. How much will Sgt. Allen’s de-legging cost in total…medical, rehab, disablility? $3 million? $4 million?

    This single incident alone puts the Taliban mine operations in the black.

    It costs the US billions to be in Afghanistan, but it cost the Taliban only a tiny fraction to resist. Who do you think will run out of money first?

  • 61. Ape  |  February 13th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    jello: Your comment is so incredibly stupid. It doesn’t matter if you care or not, you still need resources to do something and you need to consider cost/benefit of spent resources regardless if you pretend not to care. And no, the Taliban doesn’t have infinite resources. If they have an infinite supply of people willing to fight for a bowl of food we would have been driven out of the country a long time ago.

    fissile: You are such a dumbass. You can’t even begin to compare DOLLARS since USA have so much larger budget. Jesus Christ you people are daft. You have to count how much total resources (money, personal, etc.) each side has and how much (percentage) is lost with every action. I am not denying that is cost much more for the US IN DOLLARS, but you have to consider who has the greatest ability to replace/repurchase and USA still is the largest economy in the world and there is no shortage of people wanting to serve.

    You people are seeding this myth that the war is a cake walk for the Taliban, when in reality it costs them a lot in “human capital” and money. The same was true about Vietnam. The Vietnamese even admitted after the war that they would have soon ran out of people to fight.

    And no, before you say anything, I am not for the war and yes, I do realize it cost a shitload of money and that we should leave the country and that there is no point to it. All I am trying to say is that maybe landmines isn’t as unbelievable as this article makes it out to be. In fact mines are quite limited in use and effect.

  • 62. Eddie  |  February 13th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    @fissile

    Precisely because of this obsession with cost and money that you will never be able to understand and therefore influence a society where money itself is next to useless.

    What is the value of money if your cannot do anything that you want with it? What if for example you lived in a valley where housing and transportation where free or almost free. What if food was free provided that you where willing to grow it or help someone else grow it. What if you had never even left your valley and had no particular dream of doing so in the future.

    What if everything you needed and wanted was in that valley and no one living there have ever heard of mortgages, interest rates, collage tuition or even banks. What if you could not even read or count (literacy in Afghanistan is somewhere around 10%. Exact figures are not surprisingly hard to come by) What do you think the market price for a house would be? I’m guessing null since no one would be willing to give up a perfectly good house for money.

    If you are able to put yourself in the place of such a person then you will understand why the 50 million dollar bounty on Osama is so laughable and why very few even understand the meaning and implications of such an offer.

    If you remove the monetary incentive from a society then not surprisingly other things become more valuable. Things such a security, trust, respect and most importantly family and clan loyalties.

    The puzzle for Petraeus is that he and his army has nothing to offer these people that they want.

    They offer no security since everywhere they turn up people start dying.
    They offer no trust since these people cannot be trusted to keep what they have promised. One day they come and tell you that you and your village are safe the next they break into your house and take one of your sons on suspicion of being a Taleb fighter. When you ask about his whereabouts you are told not to ask such questions.
    They certainly do not show you any respect since their preferred way of fighting involves unmanned drones firing missiles. This believe it or not could even be miss-interpreted as a sign of cowardice.

    In short, Petraeus can forget about the hearts and minds part.

    In fact I think this hearts and minds part could even be contra productive. Say your gate and garden was blown up by some Marines trying to make their way through a mine field. And then these same Marines give you a wad of cash as reimbursement. Would you buy a mine and place it strategically next to a wall. I know what I would do if I where in their place.

  • 63. C  |  February 13th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    @32 Michael: I don’t get your analogy at all, and I’m quite sure it isn’t because it went over my head. I just don’t think that it applies in the least to wartime history. Not even a little bit.

    I would say that one of the reasons the story doesn’t matter is because whatever story that you pick as your “truth”, almost certainly isn’t the real story. So you can put all of your faith in any myth, but its still a myth. Any amount of almost certain to exist nuance would change the story radically.

    Now if your myth’s purpose is to prevent another Nazi regime from rising, then by all means propagate it. After all, that’s what the purpose of historical recollection is. Its a series of myths designed to create a result in the minds of the humans who read it. Sure, the overall wartime result is uncontested: the allies won the war. But all of the minutia, such as the true story behind Lidice, cannot be truly known. Beyond that, the truth is pointless. What people have been and continue to be taught is what matters. Perhaps that is your myth, Im not sure. But, for the most part, the correction of the story is masturbation.

  • 64. j7u78  |  February 13th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Have any US news sources, besides exiled, picked up on the TF1 report? The excuse for covering Monika Lewinsky was that the then irrelevant Drudge Report covered it. TF1 is a top shelf outfit, it is unprofessional not to report on their work.

  • 65. hello  |  February 13th, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    “Have any US news sources, besides exiled, picked up on the TF1 report? ”

    Let’s see—

    ABC-owned by Disney
    CNN-owned by Time Warner
    MSNBC/NBC-owned by Comcast
    CBS-who cares about them? (only old people, lol)
    Fox-owned by News Corp/that Kuwaiti prince

    There’s a reason mainstream media aims for the lowest common denominator.

    Real news” is either too complicated to turn into a two minute piece or too depressing to watch.

    Besides, anger the “powers that be” and you get lose access to interviewees, no invitations to cocktail parties, etc. etc.

  • 66. Hannibal  |  February 13th, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Here’s a link that has the entire 8-minute segment

    http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/blog-post/2024832/real-afghan-war-tf1

  • 67. emil  |  February 14th, 2011 at 3:54 am

    High Five for Afghanistan!

    This Anglonazi got the Lord’s mercy and blown up real good!

  • 68. j7u78  |  February 14th, 2011 at 7:53 am

    This is the direct link from WAT.tv, which seems to have a relationship with TF1, which maybe why it is constantly removed from YouTube.

    Une mine antipersonnel explose à quelques
    http://www.wat.tv/video/mine-antipersonnel-explose-3cvc1_2ey5x_.html

    I say pass it around until it gets some traction.

  • 69. proletariat  |  February 14th, 2011 at 10:21 am

    This article perfectly explains why the maoist method of organizing works so well.

    Find a small group of radicals, launch attacks against the state and sit back as their inevitable crackdowns and reprisals draw more recruits into your cadre.

    Eventually the whole situation reaches critical mass and the state falls down.

    It’s so simple and damn near foolproof, but the spineless little rich brats calling themselves “leftists” in the west don’t even have the nuts to try.

  • 70. Juggernaut Nihilism  |  February 14th, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Forget bi-weekly or even weekly… with the isht jumping off all across the Mid-East and North Africa, we need thrice daily War Nerd updates. Tell me where to send the donations so he can quit his day job.

  • 71. my talkative ringpiece  |  February 14th, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    #62 – Gary, is that you? BRILLIANT. To fight the money-based Empire, simply disengage yourself from the money system. These brave fighters are already disengaged from it, of course.

    I wonder if the invading Goths really gave that much of a damn about bribes/plunder of denerii during the fall of Rome?

  • 72. Hardaway Abernathy  |  February 14th, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Of course, there are counters to the insurgent model. One of them is to accept that there will be an increased number of casualties like this, and inculcate in the soldiers devotion to the strategic value of not overreacting.

    This worked for the Brits in Ireland. It’s tough, but doable.

    The article rightly acknowledges the ugliness of it all, but seems to imply that insurgent victory is a fait accompli. It is not.

  • 73. Frank  |  February 15th, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Hello Gary!
    Hope I can contribute a little, have a look at these pics from the recent Egypt epsiode.
    Hope you find them interesting/funny!

    http://wagingnonviolence.org/2011/02/egyptians-craft-makeshift-helmets-amidst-desperation/

    http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2046757_2234034,00.html

  • 74. Carpenter  |  February 15th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    1.
    Best description of mines in war that I’ve read. Much better than all the “Mines are evil, we must ban them internationally!” do-gooding; they’re never going to get banned, they’re always going to be with us. Take a sober look at them instead, nothing else will do any good.

    2.
    After the “Oh fuck!” The soldier screams, “Help, god damnit!” That gets translated to, “A l’aide, bon Dieu!” — Help, good God. Isn’t that typical? Even in a video like this one, reality is combed through and changed a little to make it look nicer for the people at home. Always these falsehoods, always. Can’t let the viewers know that soldiers swear. Can’t show them what soldiers are REALLY like: swearing, mocking the locals, high on amphetamine, shooting at apartment walls for fun, buying blowjobs from dirt-poor 9-year-old girls.
    The nastiness in human nature is brought out in war. That’s the kind of people we shape.

    3.
    The rebels are winning. That is clear. They take and hold territory with small-arms weapons, when their enemy has 50% of the world’s military expenses. Afghan civilians know that Israel’s U.S. mercenaries will leave eventually, while the Taliban groups are homegrown and living among them.

  • 75. The Last Fenian  |  February 15th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    @69: “It’s so simple and damn near foolproof, but the spineless little rich brats calling themselves “leftists” in the west don’t even have the nuts to try.”

    RAF/RZ in West Germany in the ’70s tried precisely this, and failed miserably.

  • 76. postman  |  February 15th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    What if?
    What if the people behind the war are not intent of killing Afghans, but intent on killing Americans?
    So when the pre-planned economic depression reaches the bottom, those fallen Americans will not be there to lynch them?
    What if?

  • 77. baron ungern von sternberg  |  February 16th, 2011 at 3:46 am

    surprised by the dullness of the article.
    and guess what, the first prize in cowardness goes to —- the american soldier, if there is such a thing! already in ww1&2 they were infamous for their cowardry and total lack of courage, shooting in the air and entering battlefields only after germans were out of ammo. then, with the arrival of aerial attack and virtual warfare, the degenerate gi could kill whole populations at keystroke and feel great about it. so, better be careful when talking about anybody´s courage, specially if its resistance fighters kicking your ass in such formidable fashion. the us way of war is by sheer quantity, which at some point compensates for the lack of quality. still, so many wars have been lost in most humiliating way due to vastly inferior soldierdom and lack of morals.

  • 78. Dolfboy  |  February 16th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    @72

    Please don’t compare the pitiful, glorified pranksters that were it IRA with the Taliban.

  • 79. P  |  February 16th, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    “I’d just hate the cowardly bastards who wouldn’t face you rifle in hand but snuck out at night to bury mines where they knew you’d walk.”

    That is funny. By this logic all those who use fighter planes or missiles or UAVs are cowardly bastards too.

  • 80. Carpenter  |  February 17th, 2011 at 6:53 am

    There is no “cowardice” in using mines. Or sniper rifles. Or air bombings. “Cowardice” is just a word used to insult your enemy, when you would use the exact same weapons yourself given the chance.

    To avoid unnecessary risk is not cowardly.
    To avoid NECESSARY risk is cowardly.
    To not avoid unnecessary risk is foolhardy.

    Or in other words: Cowardice is to allow perceived risks to carry too much weight in your decision-making.

  • 81. Eddie  |  February 17th, 2011 at 7:05 am

    @postman

    What if there where no conspiracies?

    What if for example you lived in a society where your leaders where there to do what the voters and money interests told them to do. And they did exactly that.

    What if the people had no respect for the truth. What if they accepted lies and exaggerations told to them daily in commercials, political campaigns and even their professionals. What if these lies where considered part of the everyday mosaic of doing business.

    What if these people even hated the truth and took every opportunity to condemn those who reminded them of it.

    What if this society valued the pursuit of money more then anything else and valued politics only in so far as it help them in this pursuit. And what if politicians knew this and where more then willing to play along as long as they where given the right monetary incentives to do so.

    What if there where no anomalies? What if this is what your system produces?

  • 82. postman  |  February 18th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    @ Eddie,

    that means, to paraphrase the great Gary Brecher: “The human race is going to Hell in a Honda”. :)

  • 83. Bill the Butcher  |  February 18th, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I’m interested in all that this article avoids mentioning-for instance,just why do the Taliban get local help? What made a despised group of obscurantist mullahs back into a potent force? Why do Afghans hate the Empire? What about drone strikes on weddings,or shooting civilians to hack off their fingers as trophies?

    Going by what this article says, it’s almost as though the Empire wouldn’t be hated but for soldiers blowing their tops after mines. Also,of course,the US is the world’s biggest landmine manufacturer and has always refused to sign the anti-landmine treaty.

    And what do landmines achieve? Not the pushing up of hate, but the denial of territory to the occupation. The Empire’s stormtroopers aren’t going to be too eager to get off the roads and into the villages and so on if the ground under their feet is liable to blow up at any moment. That is the idea of the landmine. Another advantage is that it doesn’t often kill the enemy, but maims him. A wounded soldier is a much greater burden to the enemy than a dead one, and in terms of loss of morale much more devastating.

    Not a very literate article, even without the misstatements about Heydrich and Lidice. The primary cause of the hate is the Evil Empiren, and not the Taliban, who would have long since withered away but for the occupation.

  • 84. eddie  |  February 19th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    COIN doctrine of Dr.Oskar Dirlewanger PhD would’ve had that bomb alley cleared out in a couple of months tops.

  • 85. Dark Markets  |  February 21st, 2011 at 4:29 am

    @#4 Michael: re Lidice, the “holy” bible is SATURATED with SCORES of villages the Jews WIPED OFF THE MAP: Jericho, Ai, the Amorites, the Hazarites, the list is cities put to the sword is nearly endless, the list of people killed is endless. see theBrickBible.com especially Joshua
    http://thebricktestament.com/joshua/index.html
    What is amazing is how strong the PROPAGANDA NARRATIVE is: today the “holy bible” based faith STILL CELEBRATES the MASSACRE and EXTERMINATION of others (especially in regard to claims to “the holy land”) – even as they bewail genocides that befall them!
    It’s kind of like TIME-SHIFTING propaganda: “OUR massacres & genocides against others were GOOD because they were so ancient and “god blessed’, but OTHER’S genocides AGAINST US are evul” because…???
    Indeed, what is most astounding about the bible’s version of “MORALITY” is how frequently the Jews turned and attempted to exterminate THEIR OWN ALLIES, most particularily the Midianites – who HELPED MOSES FLEE EGYPT, Moses was MARRIED to Ziporah, he tried to EXTERMINATE his in-laws!

  • 86. Eddie  |  February 27th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    @eddie #84

    I never said that. Saying that hearts and minds does not work is by now only a simple statement of facts. If they did then surely some signs would have materialized during the last decade of comprehensive testing. Neither does it follow that the Dr. Dirlewanger approach to conflict resolution is any more likely to succeed.

    However, since the Israelites are planning to use this exact strategy in their planning for the third Lebanese war I feel compelled to comment on it here. If you are an cognitive infiltration troll or meant it as a joke then I apologize to you in advance. As a side note I visited China last summer and noticed that exiledonline.com is blocked by the great firewall there. Perhaps it has something to do with Gary’s article on the topic of carriers. But I digress.

    Ok, now suppose Obama got real serious about Afghanistan(who are we kidding) and decided that the conflict there was simply to important to loose. Suppose further that he realized that any mediated end to the conflict would involve compromises that he would not be prepared to make. Let’s also suppose that at this important juncture he was presented with a report by the former Under Secretary of Defense, Douglas Feith. A man known by many as a brilliant strategist and all round risk taker. In this report
    Feith lays out a whole set of options that during the normal conduct of war would not be considered and cites Dr. Dirlewanger as a man far ahead of his time. He argues that Muslims do not recognize peace treaties with non muslims and that they cannot under any circumstance be made to surrender. Further he argues that the only realistic option for victory would be to demonstrate to the Muslims the American resolve and engage in a total war. In such a conflict no distinctions between combatant and civilians would be made and the goal of the conflict would in part be the destruction of the Afghan people.

    What do you think the results would be if Obama decided to implement such a strategy?


    Well first we must look at the track record of the good doctor.

    On the plus side we notice that he is a man of great bravery having won both the first and second class Iron Cross. Not to mention countless other medals in both World Wars as well the Spanish Civil War.

    This near perfect record is somewhat tarnished by the fact that he was also a convicted child molester, car thief and drunk driver. But let’s not make this too personal. What about his skills as a tactician. Here I’m afraid there can be very little debate. He was personally responsible for the death of tens of thousands of civilians and achieved next to nothing militarily. In fact his ruthlessness shocked and disgusted even hardened SS officers. He also ended his life in great agony being tortured to death by some of the very people he himself tortured. So on balance we can conclude that his tactics proved useless if not contra productive.

    The results for Obama would be quite similar.

    The first problem he would have is with his own army. Americans generally believe what they are told and believe that the reasons for this conflict involve the spreading of democracy and human right. Convincing them to annihilate whole cities would prove quite difficult. They are also very prone to take the conflict personally and get involved in retribution killings as one can notice by the TFI report above. Notice the black solider towards the end of the report. He really wants some payback. (This by the way would be less of a problem for the British and the French. For them war is not personal. They will kill as long as they are ordered to and stop when they are told to.)

    Assuming Obama manages the annihilation of an Afghan valley we come to the second problem. Blowback.

    If you have ever watched Al Jazeera for any length of time you will understand that Muslims have an extremely long memory and love stories of American atrocities. In fact they cannot get enough of them. They also do not generally recognize any of the borders on the map and consider the Afghans part of the community of believers. Any attack on them mights as well be an attack on their own country. One thing we can conclude is that as soon as the stories of the Afghan valley become known any and all control that America has had on the Middle East will quickly evaporate and many millions would take to the streets demanding retribution. No expense will be to to large in the pursuit of thereof. Remember that there are about 1 200 million muslims in the world and assuming that the US can control this many people is highly optimistic to say the least. We must therefor conclude that the cycle of violence would escalate to a point where at the very least a couple of atomic bombs would be detonated all over the world resulting in at least a couple of million casualties along with a complete loss of legitimacy for America as a country and Americans as a people.

    Let me stop here, because I think have made my point.

    America has a choice. Republic or Empire.

    If you go for the Empire then make sure it’s empire light. No need to piss off to many people.

  • 87. Carney  |  February 28th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I agree that we have to create Pushtunistan. The Pushtun are and always have been the problem. Leaving the Taliban a safe haven in “Pakistan” is asinine. Destroy Pakistan, with Indian help. Break it apart and create real nation-states out of the remnants of “Pakistan” and “Afghanistan”.

    Then you either impose a MacArthur regency and transform the country, or make a cynical “do as you like but no international terrorism” deal. But without an ETHNICALLY DEFINED nation-state that includes all the ethnicity’s members and leaves no one outside the border, you’re going to fail.

  • 88. Eddie  |  March 1st, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    @Carney

    I’m sure the Pakistanis would not mind the breakup of their country. Especially if it was done with the help of their neighbor India. Most likely the Pakistani army would welcome such a move, and great Americans and Indians as welcomed friends. Why I even think they would decide at that very moment to give up their Nuclear capabilities and ask India nicely to give up theirs. No pressure India, the Pakistanis are cool with whatever timetable you choose. China and Russia would probably see no threat in the breakup of a Pakistan. It’s not like they are paranoid about secession movements or anything.

    This might just be the plan that we have been looking for. Especially since this course would keep the risks faced by the US to the absolute minimum.

    Now if we can only find a politician wise enough to embrace it. I must say I have a special fondness for Douglas J. Feith. But sadly he has left the noble profession.

  • 89. Aaron  |  March 2nd, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Brecher’s articles get called “brilliant” not necessarily because each one of them outshines the rest like a bucketful of diamonds, but rather because, at least for most Americans who read him, it’s the first time in our lives we’ve run across somebody who can talk about war without being totally and completely full of shit. The fulsomeness of the praise isn’t entirely merited by the quality of the work, but the incredible rarity of work like it more than makes up the difference.

  • 90. Anti-fascist  |  March 16th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    “Want to see how we lose men in Afghanistan?

    Are you sure?”

    Hell yeah. Nothing makes me happier than seeing international fascists (U.S. military) getting their ass blown off unless it’s see domestic fascists (U.S. cops) getting their ass blown off.

  • 91. CB  |  March 18th, 2011 at 11:26 am

    @ Bill the Butcher
    “Going by what this article says, it’s almost as though the Empire wouldn’t be hated but for soldiers blowing their tops after mines. Also,of course,the US is the world’s biggest landmine manufacturer and has always refused to sign the anti-landmine treaty.”

    Yeah, it’s “almost as though”, as in because the article doesn’t contain the specific statements you want, you infer that it supports the opposite. So it’s “almost like” but “not actually”.

    “Invaders are hated because everyone hates invaders” is the theme of like a dozen or so War Nerd articles. Maybe it’s a fault of Gary’s that his articles make the most sense if you’ve been following him for a while. But in any case, it is also true that guerrillas benefit from having the invader crack down on locals and increasing the hate, and will take steps they know will result in crack downs on the populace. This is part of the theme of this article.

    Not every article has to say “nobody will love you for bombing them”. It’s already been said.

  • 92. Downton Crabbey  |  October 21st, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    @bieber’s girlfriend,

    You’re correct, he’s probably a hick with no education who joined the military to escape poverty and society. Or maybe you could track him down to see how he’s doing. And poke fun of his missing legs. and how he can’t “chase after drug dealers and give tickets”.? Didn’t realize he was a policeman. by the way, no one uses the term “The USA”, unless their from a poverty stricken country or Canada.


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