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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. 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.

  • 2. 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.

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

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

  • 4. 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.

  • 5. 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.

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

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

  • 7. 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.

  • 8. 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)

  • 9. 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.

  • 10. 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?

  • 11. 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.

  • 12. 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.

  • 13. 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.

  • 14. 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.

  • 15. 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.

  • 16. 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

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

    High Five for Afghanistan!

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

  • 18. 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.

  • 19. 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.

  • 20. 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.

  • 21. 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?

  • 22. 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.

  • 23. 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

  • 24. 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.

  • 25. 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.

  • 26. 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?

  • 27. 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.

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

    @72

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

  • 29. 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.

  • 30. 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.

  • 31. 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?

  • 32. 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”. :)

  • 33. 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.

  • 34. 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.

  • 35. 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!

  • 36. 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.

  • 37. 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.

  • 38. 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.

  • 39. 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.

  • 40. 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.

  • 41. 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.

  • 42. 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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