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The War Nerd / January 12, 2009
By Gary Brecher

When you look at the fighting in Gaza, or any of the other small, chronic wars we get these days, you notice that traditional war buffs, the ones who like to talk about WW II, don’t have much to say. If they say anything at all, it’s usually, “They should just wipe’em out!” Like, “Israel should just wipe the Pals out!” Or “America should just wipe Iraq off the map!”

And on paper, they’re right. Israel could kill every single man, woman and child in Gaza if it wanted to. And Hell, it probably does want to. So why doesn’t it? America could wipe the Sunni Triangle off the map easily, nuke the whole place or use neutron bombs—Hell, nerve gas, even—if we were worried about limiting damage.

But nobody does this stuff. Why not? That’s the big question. That’s what drives the frustration you’re hearing when these old-school war buffs try to deal with war circa 2008: they think in terms of hardware, and the hardware—the nukes—doesn’t seem to apply, somehow. So why not?

The first key fact is that we’re living in a lull, a pause in longterm military history. We live in the hangover after a wild night, the first half of the twentieth century. That was a binge to end all binges, an era of great, total, merciless warfare. Everybody thinks of the Western Front in the First World War when they think of total war, but there were plenty of other fronts just as merciless, just as brutal, like the Russian Civil War or the Greek-Turkish war in western Anatolia, which was even nastier, if that’s possible, than the Russian fighting. No quarter asked or given on either side.

In this phase, nationalism wasn’t a bad word yet. People were willing to die, more like eager to die, for their countries. Even countries like Italy had a real over-the-top mentality in WW I. Like I’ve said many times, Europe before 1945 was an alien planet that has about as much to do with Europe today as Abba has to do with the dead German guy who did the helicopter music in Apocalypse Now.

The first go-round, from 1914-1918, took a lot out of them, so when the sequel rolled around in 1939, a lot of countries were already moaning and groaning that nobody was going to get them out on the dance-floor again. England and France were going, “Aw no, jus’ lemme set a spell, my lumbago’s actin’ up….” But there were the younger, braver countries like Japan, the US, Germany and the USSR who had that “C’mon, the night is young!” spirit and dragged them up for a second waltz.

That little number lasted until 1945, and it got a little hectic even for the hotshot kids. By the end it was like one of those Itchy and Scratchy cartoons where the cat and the mouse face off with knives and escalate to bigger and bigger guns til the last shot is of a giant pistol blowing up the earth.

And that’s when Phase 2, the Hangover starts. After 1945 everything is different. Until you face that fact you won’t understand modern war at all. We’re living in a lull. Nobody wants to admit that; everybody wants their time on the planet to be the big moment of history, but militarily, this is not a great era. We’re waiting, hedging our bets. Nobody’s willing to play the nukes, and until somebody does, big-time, we’re like old ladies playing the slots, one quarter thrown away at a time, nobody willing to roll big at the craps tables.

When you live in a lull like we do, you think everything’s happening for the first time, when what you really have is the same plays called with different rules. What made me realize that was this article I saw in the Israeli paper Haaretz that summed up a US Army report on the 2006 war between the IDF and Hezbollah. According to this report,  Hezbollah had scored some kind of tactical breakthrough by fighting almost like a conventional army, fighting from bunkers instead of relying on mobile warfare. They claimed this was a first in history, a “non-state actor” fighting a successful conventional war.

Well, of course it’s not new at all. What’s new is the squeamish, namby-pamby set of rules that operate since 1945. Those rules are why Hezbollah was able to win. Unless you understand that, you won’t understand how wars work these days.

So let’s take a look at a pre-1945 war for a parallel. Let’s see, where can we find a “non-state actor” trying to use conventional military strategy? About a million places, actually, but my favorite example is one of the biggest and most unknown wars around: Mao’s communists vs. the Nationalists in China in the 1930s. Not many people realize what a huge, ruthless war this was. And almost nobody realizes that it wasn’t a bunch of ignorant peasants duking it out; both sides had expensive foreign advisors, usually Germans for obvious reasons, telling them how to fight.

Mao’s military advisor was a German communist cadre named Otto Braun. He took a Chinese name, Li De, but as you can imagine he wasn’t likely to pass for a local, being a classic German military type, a long skinny skeleton with big glasses and even bigger plans. Mao had been fighting the kind of brilliant rural guerrilla warfare he’d learned from the Hunan bandit chiefs. One of these bandit chiefs told Mao, “All you need to know about war is: circle around, circle around, circle around.” Mao took that lesson to heart, because he discovered if his guerrillas didn’t keep moving away from the Nationalists’ front, they’d get ground up.

Otto Braun convinced the Chinese Communist leadership that these bandit tactics were too low-down and no-count for the People’s Liberation Army. He got them to adopt a “Blockhouse Strategy” which was basically exactly what Hezbollah’s “bunker strategy” was. Only it didn’t work. The Nationalist forces attacked Mao’s bunkers, sustained huge losses but kept attacking, and eventually wore down the Communist defenses. That was the pattern of warfare up to 1945: accept huge losses to take enemy territory, because when you do, you will be able to neutralize those territories for good. So it pays off. You lose, say, 300 men taking a section of Maoist territory by overrunning those blockhouses. You’ve now gained a peasant population of, say, 100,000. You now get the return on your losses: you immediately kill any Communist sympathizers in the region and force all the young men to sign up with your army at bayonet-point. You’ve made good your casualties because, once you control the enemy territory, you change it for good, turn it from red to blue.

You can’t do that now, except once in a while, in remote places like Sudan or Congo where none of the locals have friends in the media. For most other places, where the news cameras are willing to go, this is the era of squeamishness.

Now let me say, before people start writing in with horror stories from Nam or Africa, I’m not saying we’re nice. We’re no nicer than Foch or Kitchener or Ataturk or Chiang or Budyonnov or any of those early 20th-c. maneaters. We’re just more sly and cautious about it, because we’re squeamish, we’re scared, we’re edging back from the cliff out of pure selfish fear. We still do plenty of nasty stuff but only where the locals can’t dish it out in return, like the Brits in Kenya or the French in Algeria in the 1950s or us in Nam in the 1960s or the Russians in Chechnya. What we’re not usually ready to do is what made sacrificing soldiers’ lives worthwhile for attacking armies pre-1945: total, ruthless, unashamed wipe-out of any opposition once the territory was taken.

The best-known case in the Middle Eastern theatre, post-1945, was what the Israelis’ Phalangist allies did in Sabra and Shatilla outside Beirut in 1982. What you saw there was an attempt to do early-20th-century warfare in the wrong era. I repeat: what they did there, wiping out enemy civilians once they’d taken the territory, would have been standard policy for any European army pre-’45. But in 1982 it backfired completely and gave the IDF a bad name it’s never managed to lose.

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Add your own

  • 1. lskjfdj  |  January 12th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    ha ha, genocide is sooo funny.

  • 2. mechagodzilla  |  January 12th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    That’s some food for thought. And the fact that all you guys at the eXiled have a nose for catching the totally retarded reporting of other papers is icing on the cake.

    I would like to know if you really think there’s going to be another “Great War”, though. I remember reading an article about how back in the early 20th century the “man in the street” didn’t think it was possible to have WWII because we were so economically intertwined; the article’s argument being that that was the same opinion as today’s average Joes.

    Your thoughts?

  • 3. Easy  |  January 12th, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Otto Braun didn’t have too much military experience anyway, he just graduated from some fancy European military academy and was foisted on the Chinese by the Comintern in the USSR. He tried to apply the traditional tactics he learned in the academy without bothering to learn the local situation and got a whole bunch of people killed. By most accounts Mao hated his guts and seized control from him after the Long March.

  • 4. Adrian  |  January 12th, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Well The end of the Napoleonic wars up to the first world war was about 100 year. Between that there where no major wars and so Europeans where lulled into a sence that wars where nice honourable things.
    So what we might expect is a new great war in 2044.

    Also the politicians remembering ww2 is dying left and right so we’ll probably head into an era or more conflict as leaders don’t shy away from force as much as just a couple of years ago.
    I’m talking broadly of Europe here BTW.

    A very successfull pacification of a rebellious aquisition is the Swedish conquest of Scania “it’s not only a truck you know” and subsequent passification.
    It was really successfull Scane was taken in 1658 and in the Great northern war 1700-1721 there was no hint support when the danes which we had taken it from returned.
    What was done where hte slaughtering of a few villages that supported the partisans, the influential danish families where moved to what is today the baltic countries and swedish families took their place, and everyone had to speak Swedish.

    I miss those days when we where a proud nation, we do have one lingering trait left from those days though. The Swedish Army still preffer being offensive in planning as well as action, unfortunatley it’s never allowed to show it.

  • 5. Chaos Motor  |  January 12th, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Awww, neither side can do scorched earth because the whole world is watching? Now they’ll always have to contend with the civilian populations? Boo fucking hoo. Here’s an idea – instead of lamenting over the lack of ruthless decimation in today’s society, we – wait for it – stop thinking of violence and murder as answers to anyone’s problems? Let’s *STOP FIGHTING WARS* and learn to live with one another in peace. Golly gosh! It just might work!

  • 6. vr  |  January 12th, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Mm, that seems broadly correct, but I think 1945 is too late a dividing point. There was plenty of outrage when the Germans burned Louvain and all that in 1914 – manhandling the population of another (European) country was a no-no even back then.

    Another thing to consider is that populations didn’t always give a crap about who was ruling them. You could argue that the development of nationalism made insurgency movements more likely, and genocide therefore a more needed strategy.

  • 7. geo8rge  |  January 12th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Wipe’em out does not work as well as you think.

    Israel did wipe’em out when Israel was created. What they did not calculate was they created the Palestinian people in the process. The Palestinians have never assimilated into the surrounding countries. The represent an anti Israeli faction in those countries that did not exist before they were “wiped out”.

    The USA “wiped out” the Amer-Indians in the late 1800s. Guess what they are back in Aztec form (and some others like Mayans), AKA Mexicans. It is even possible the majority ethnicity will be Amer-Indian once again. All hail Azatlan.

    Israel could wipe’em out in Gaza but a million refugees would end up in Egypt. Which would be a bad thing for Israel, and perhaps a treaty violation.

    It is also worth noting that wipe’em out is easier if they die of some sort of disease you are immune to, or if you have machine guns and they do not. They gotz AKs and better.

    Unnoticed in your war nerding is that Israel likes its cheap Palistinian labor just like the US likes its cheap Mexican labor. Go ahead wipe out your roofer. Won’t happen.

    You should also note that Lebanon is really a confederacy, Souther Lebanon is really a state in that confederacy. Hizballah is the dominant political party in S Lebanon. Israel did not attack guerillas, they attacked the army of S Lebanon. That is why it was a conventional war. If Israel disloged the army of S Lebanon then a guerilla war was possible.

  • 8. P  |  January 12th, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    what about birth rates now and today? If you are a family with ten children, you probably think different about aggressive war than if you have just one or two children.

    western women are on the Pill, and are too busy getting educations and corporate jobs to tend large families. Consequently, populations decline and everyone is squeamish.

  • 9. eXile fan  |  January 12th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    How would you do it? I mean, wipe out the whole population. NBC? In your own backyard? Hens dying off from vx, driving up the price of poultry? Why not use third party nukes (US/Russia) to extend eastern coast of the Mediterranean all the way to Kazakhstan? No more Palestine, no Israel, no boring news from that patch of insanity you call the holy land anymore. works for me.

  • 10. Eddie  |  January 12th, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    It’s all too easy to believe that using the old school rules might produce better results.

    Below is a thought experiment on what could happen when playing by 1943 rules.

    #1. There has been a massive economic collapse and most people are focused on making it through the winter, foreign conflicts are of no interest. Public opinion has been void.

    #2. Israel decides to use this PR opportunity to play by the 1943 rules. It uses it’s most advanced weaponry to obliterate the Gaza, The West Bank and southern Lebanon massacring the population and giving the land to a booming settler population.

    #3. Israel threatens it’s neighbors with total nuclear holocaust if they should intervene in the conflict.

    At this point the Arabs have to make a decision. Should they tolerate this outcome or should they react. In my mind it can only end with the destruction of Israel by it’s neighbors using Pakistani nuclear weapons.

    Now that Israel is destroyed the Americans and Europeans have to react. The likely outcome in my mind is a truce. And acceptance by both parties that continuing the conflict gains none.

  • 11. Foucellas  |  January 12th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    But what about the Balkans? It seemed that there really was some wiping-out thing going down there!

  • 12. Nately's Whore's Kid Sister  |  January 12th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    “Well The end of the Napoleonic wars up to the first world war was about 100 year. Between that there where no major wars”

    Crimea (and what a war it was). Not to mention the Franco-Prussian war which led directly to WWI.

  • 13. Foog  |  January 12th, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Gary, dude! Big loss of War Nerd cred for implying that the U.S. was one of the “younger braver” countries spurring the U.K. and France to do the dance in WWII. Even I, a non-War Nerd, know that the U.S. sat under the bleachers drinking Southern Comfort until it worked up the courage to join in.

    And no mention of even younger and braver Canada? Afraid of outing your affinity for Canuckistan and its halls of Academe? For shame, Gary.

  • 14. Jason Wolfe  |  January 12th, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    They don’t need gas or nukes. If they wanted to destroy Gaza, all they need is some napalm. Place is packed nice and tight with crappy buildings on the verge of collapsing on their own. Or they could just do it with artillery. 6 miles wide, 30 miles long and only 3 major population centers. Machine guns can pick off the rest once they flee.

    That said, I think the FDR/UN world order of no more colonialism and no more genocide is for the better. In a world of nuclear weapons, race wars are too dangerous. 1 wipe out the population war would justify many other wipe out the population wars. Israel would immediately have to launch a first nuclear strike on Iran if they torched Gaza to the ground. Then what would all the “moderate” Arab regimes do? Sit around wondering when their turn was? They would have to get nukes to guarantee their survival.

  • 15. Nils  |  January 12th, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    “the dead German guy who did the helicopter music in Apocalypse Now.” –> Wagner: “Flug der Walküren”

  • 16. Lead Dick  |  January 12th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    We can’t have another great war.



    It is an absolute no win scenario…and the government knows it.

    But why you say?

    Simple…let’s say if we got into a nuke exchange with say…what the hell…Russia. The VERY BEST CASE scenario would be we hit and destroy all of our targets within Russia, and they don’t even get a single shot off.

    So what’s wrong with that you say?

    We lose. All of the particulate, smoke, dust and ash kicked up by those nuclear explosions will catapult us into a global nuclear winter…some say as long as ten years or more. No crops for ten years? I doubt if the average citizen of any country has more than ten days worth of food at any given time.

    That’s gonzo liberal hippy science you say?


    It’s physics…the same science that built those nukes…so if it doesn’t add up, we have nothing to worry about. As those missiles won’t get off the ground.

    Care to roll the dice?

  • 17. Raverrn  |  January 12th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Lead Dick – “Blah, blah, nuclear winter will kill everyone, blah.”

    That’s retarded. You’re retarded.

  • 18. Jay Reeder  |  January 13th, 2009 at 12:18 am

    War nerd calls it right again.

    When this current military lull ends, most of us will only have a few minutes or hours to realize it. And then we’ll be dead.

    Because we’ve gotten that good at killing people, and we’re only going to get better.

    Oh, you think global nuclear war is bad? At least a civilization-ending nuclear strike requires some serious nation-state-level resources. Maybe the Russian and US governments will stay rational for all time and spare us from that holocaust. Maybe.

    Limited nuclear strikes? Well, they’re just gonna happen, probably sooner rather than later. Do we really think that India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea are all going to be responsible nuclear citizens for the foreseeable future? Nope. Somebody’s gonna bust a nuclear cap (probably through some cutesy, ‘deniable’ third-party intermediary). Hilarity ensues (not to mention global destabilization).

    But it’s biowarfare that keeps me up at night. Effective biowarfare (say, a nice airborne-transmitted ebola-smallpox hybrid) currently requires a handful of deeply misanthropic post-docs and a well-equipped lab, but that barrier to entry isn’t particularly high, and it’s dropping lower every day. And once genetic engineering advances to the point that a ‘eugenic’ pathogen can be tailored to only attack a particular race, the use of bio-weapons will be seen as the mother of all “final solutions”.

    The day someone decides to replay the 2001 anthrax attack, but with 2010’s technology instead of 1970’s, well, that may well be the day we’re done.

    And if the first attack doesn’t produce gigadeaths. you’d better believe there will always be *somebody* to try, try again. And technology will inexorably make it ever easier. Eventually, someone will succeed.

    The End.

    [P.S.: NASA, please keep working on that lunar colony. Humanity needs a lifeboat, and soon.]

  • 19. az  |  January 13th, 2009 at 2:58 am

    Gary, it’s not all about squeamishness, but about money and power. The truth is that war is bad business. Here’s why:
    1) The cost of human live:
    Some while ago a made a rough estimate about the monetary value of an average (western) human live to society and arrived at a figure around 4 million Euros. Wrap your head around this: Losing just one soldier costs your economy 4 million! And injuries might even cost more.
    2) The cost of war gear:
    This point should be obvious. Just take a look at the tremendous costs of the Iraq invasion. The problem is that any army trying to play it cheap is going to get butchered, and this is where point 1) resurfaces.
    3) The global economic impact:
    Capital neiter likes the chaos and wanton destruction war brings about nor moronic commanders-in-chief bringing their countries to the verge of bancruptcy for pointless wars with the only goal of fattening their cronies.

    If you studied history a bit you’d know these points were valid in the past, too.
    For instance during the first world war Germany spent virtually all of it’s gross domestic product on the war, leading to hardships you probably don’t want to imagine, as well as to most severe long-term economic problems. If you add the soft costs of point 1) to the hard money spent you’ll arrive at truly staggering figures and probably understand why it’s 2009 and we’re still not driving rocket cars.

    So again, why are we living in such a peaceful period? War is bad business, there are far more rich people about today than in former times. Rich people don’t like bad business.
    What will the future bring? Well, with the economic superpowers USA and EU firmly in the hand of moronic incompetent kleptocrats (and yes I mean Obama, too), it’s not hard to predict more interesting times ahead. I’m seriously considering moving to Switzerland.

  • 20. Wengler  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Gary, I think you underestimate the problems associated with killing an entire population. I don’t mean moral problems, but actual physical considerations involved in mass slaughter.

    First of all, it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to prepare a society for decades to engage in that kind of business. Germany had at least a decade and a world war when it decided that killing all the Jews was a worthwhile state goal. The Hutu extremists had been carrying a grudge since the Belgians thought the Tutsis should be their natural overlords. The Hutus were some of the most efficient killers in history but it had to take a perfect storm of events for it to happen.

    The Israelis simply can’t make kinetic warfare turn into a genocide machine fast enough. And of course if the Muslim Brotherhood takes out Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three decade old dictatorship, Israel suddenly has its big old enemy back, the one that actually had some victorious days back in October 1973 where it looked like Israel would unleash the Samson option(the unstated policy of blowing up the Middle East with nuclear weapons should Israel be overrun).

  • 21. mechagodzilla  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Oh, I’m aware of nearly every nuclear-apocalyptic scenario that was worth mentioning. However I think that it’s possible for there to be an albeit massive limited-scale conventional war. This is the age of finesse, mostly because all of the senior members of the Huge-Ass War Club are totally worn-out on the extremes of brute force. From generals all the way down to war nerds crappier than our eminent buff here, there’s an endless stream of fap going on about weapons with finesse, these days.

    I don’t think the desire to further foreign policy, as Clausewitz indicated, is particularly diminished in this nation (US) nor any of the others in the HAWC. If anything, they are totally itching to get what they want without the nuke thing hanging over their heads which may be part of the reason why we’re wrapping up with a president who recently stated it was a “disappointment” not to find WMDs in the targets of his interest.

  • 22. appleseed  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Hitler saw jews as a threat, everywhere he conquered he neutralized the jewish threat in what amounted to a genocide we all know well.
    Now that is not exactly the same as Israel neutralizing the Shia threat in Lebanon, there is some differences in the two circumstances, but its pretty much the same thing in theory and practice.

    Gary you could say Israel “can” and “wants” to, but wont because we are in a lull, that is true, but what you didn’t take into account in your analysis is the implications of Israel’s military might being largely the result of military aid. The reason Israel gets all that aid and a pass on most things they do (at least from teh US, which is all that really matters anyway) is because they are Jews and suffered the holocaust. Jewish people have gotten plenty of mileage out of that sympathy, and that has consequences.

    In other words: You cant conquer and neutralize a threat if your country/people have for decades garnered sympathy for having been on the other end of that equation.
    So if they use the same tactic that was so famously used on them, its a game changer. All of a sudden Israel isn’t a country of holocaust victims, they are a country of holocaust perpetrators. After that it would be tougher to justify selling airplanes, tanks or smart bombs to Israel whenever they run out and need more.

    So you have to take that into account when you talk about the 2006 war with Hezbollah. Its like a poker match that Israel had to fold. Yeah Israel was doomed because the hezzies knew Israel cant wipe em out with all that power they got, but that’s at least partly because without the American’s, Israel wouldn’t be in the position to wipe out anyone they wanted. And Israel wants that american card in their hand, they cant risk loosing it one time on some Leb Shia, they got plenty more enemies and they need that card for all its worth.

  • 23. FantasticMrfFox  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Wait a minute. Either I am missing the point here or everyone else commenting is. The war nerd dosent really care about the moral implications of what he talks about most of the time, and absoutly not in this article. The war nerd (and Exiled online in general it seems) deals only in cold hard facts. He shines a blinding and uncaring spotlight on THE WAY THINGS ARE. Stripping away the reactionary emotional trappings of war that clouds opinion. He shows us reality AS IT IS, not as it appears to us as we peer up over the rim of our soda cans and kfc buckets, doe eyed and soft to arrogantly tut tut at the lastest news of conflict around the world.

    He is not lamenting the impossibility of early 20th century warfare he is simply and brilliantly pointing out why it is impossible and why everything you learned in history class and pop culture about war is meaningless.

    “That’s what drives the frustration you’re hearing when these old-school war buffs try to deal with war circa 2008:”

    The almost caustic always satirical way in which he does this is part of what brings me back to this site, several times a day, checking for updates. Though it seems to be confusing some people. The war nerd is a very welcome injection of devils advocate and labratory pure reality into my veins daily.

  • 24. Adrian  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:29 am

    @ Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister

    Yes but those wheren’t all out wars they where local conflicts involving (comparativley) between a handfull of major powers instead of a Europe wide conflagration.
    Especially the Franco-Prussian war was short Napoleon III got his croisants handed to him early on and after that it was básicallly just a siege of Paris (including the worlds first anti aircraft cannon, for use against baloons).

    You could say we’re trapped in a nightmare version ofthe “Concert of Europe” today as everything needs to be solved diplomatically this system was in effect for most of the 19th century.

    It could also be that doday the expiration date for a human is much longer remember that it wasn’t untill after the Franco-Prussian war that medicine became modern in so far as surgery could be carried out with anti bacterial cleaners (ether) and sterile operating rooms (pioneered by the Germans). This in effect made life more precious, you have to remember that if you got a compound fracture anywhere in the world before the 1860’s you’d get a bacterial infection and die.

  • 25. VanSpeyk  |  January 13th, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Concerning the post-1945 ‘hangover’, I like to note that the Netherlands, right after being freed from German occupation, sent an army to Indonesia in order to prevent it achieving indepedence (we had been there for 300 years). This little action, which was euphemistically called a ‘police action’, resulted in about 100,000 dead on the Indonesian side.

    So, obviously, the rot didn’t start until quite a few years after the Second World War had taken place, not unlike how the radiation effects of a nuclear bomb explosion only appear a while after the event.

  • 26. nobody  |  January 13th, 2009 at 8:01 am

    You know maybe it’s the point, but after reading the War Nerd, being a soldier has to be the most unrewarding, pointless thing in existence.

    Run, don’t walk when someone starts talking about one.

  • 27. kotek besar  |  January 13th, 2009 at 8:35 am

    If Hezbollah and Hamas are in any way united against their shared Zionist enemy, northern Israel should be alight with rocket fire by now, nearly 3 weeks into the current conflict. But nothing has happened. Why? Perhaps Hezbollah is more interested in staying in power and maintaining its strength than advancing the cause of Palestinian liberation.

  • 28. John  |  January 13th, 2009 at 9:30 am

    #16, do you remember when Carl Sagan went on national television saying that if Saddam Hussein were to burn his oilfields, the smoke and particulate and dust and ash thrown into the air would exact a heavy toll on air-breathing life and throw much of the world into nuclear winter?

    Politicians do. Especially Republicans. Military advisors also do. The governments of the world DON’T know that it’s a no-win scenario, because they “know” that it’s all going to be “just the same hippie pseudo-science that Sagan was spewing on broadcast television.”

    You have far, FAR more reason to be afraid of your scenario coming true than you seem to think.

    #7, Mexicans aren’t the Indians that America wiped out. Those Indians never got better, they never recovered, they never came back, and their ethnicity is STILL in statistical decline. Claiming that Mexican immigrants in America is an example of wipe ’em out not working is like claiming that the Visigoths taking up Roman culture in Iberia is revenge for Rome taking Iberia from the Phonecians.

    Gary, squeamishness in war isn’t new. Even in that quickly accelerating bloodbath in ’45 you mention showed some signs of it; not even Hitler used the old gas weapons that the Kaiser had built up, because they’re “bad”–and when people think Hitler, they don’t think of squeamishness. We might be more squeamish than we ever were before, and we might be making counterproductive distinctions between active threats and potential threats, but it’s hardly as unprecedented as you make it sound.

  • 29. GhostShip  |  January 13th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    This is why I like reading War Nerd. He’s one of the few people willing to write about the reality of war and this p.c. nonsense.

  • 30. Arch Stanton  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    So one million corpses in Iraq isn’t enough for you, huh?
    Gary, your candor regarding your total disregard for human life is most refreshing. But where’s the strategic evaluation? A sentimental tome pining for the days of mountains of skulls is drifting away a bit from War Nerd nuts-and-bolts analyst territory and more into the realm of Vlad the Impaler style dementia. Perhaps you might want to take some time off, put on some makeup and start hanging around in goth bars.

    It is, however, heartening to see at least one respondent mention the fact that due to the nuclear winter effect even limited exchanges can lead to the kind of massive casualties some desire. And with the planet in its current state of ecological crisis, maybe only a few nukings will cause enough starvation to kill a few million or so.

    Who says we’re wussies?

  • 31. Max  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Gary, what you’re completely disregarding in your article is that Israel is not fighting conventional armies here – they are fighting TERRORISTS. Nowhere do you mention incessant terror attacks on Israel that cause these IDF reactions, you even put up a picture of Palestinian victims and Israeli soldiers and not Israeli terror victims who are the true reason why Israel goes to war.

    And Sabra and Shatilla was Arabs taking revenge on Arabs during war-time and NOT IDF employing some “tactics”. It was misused by Arabs to put blame on the IDF just like Arabs ALWAYS use civillians to achieve their terrorist goals.

  • 32. Critic  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    The reason why genocide is not used today is because America dosn’t allow it and the euros don’t have the heart for it anymore. Expect to see drastic changes in attitudes now the economy is going down the tubes.

    Its also alarmingly easy I believe to make and mass produce chemical warheads like Serin or chlorine….

    In the future war will probably consist of an aircraft spraying a city like it would spray a crop field.

  • 33. PSmith  |  January 13th, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Brecher, you are such a smart ass. And remember, being right is the worst crime of all.

  • 34. tim  |  January 13th, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    shut max you fukin jew

  • 35. max  |  January 13th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    eat shyte tim you nazi shahid fuke, and have an ass day

  • 36. Kurt  |  January 13th, 2009 at 8:27 pm

  • 37. Carpenter  |  January 13th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Good article. I would say it’s because of Marxism; after WWII Marxism was riding high in every Western university and newspaper boardroom. And the Marxists wanted a disarmed West to face an armed USSR. So they said, colonies are bad, give ’em up. Taking territory is bad. Etc.

    Except these rules never applied for Israel, because of course, Zionists could do no wrong as far as the media bosses were concerned. And look now: the US only gets away with killing 600,000 Iraqis when they are fighting one of Israel’s three main enemies among the Middle Eastern nations. That’s why the media haven’t wiped up another Vietnam hysteria.

    As for Max Israel-is-fighting-terrists, that’s bollocks; for seven years, the Qassam rockets had killed 18 people During that time, the Izzies had killed many thousands of Palestinians. It is the Palestinians who are defending themselves against “terrorism”. And Hamas respected the June 2008 ceasefire, until Israel killed two Hamasians on November 4, when they knew Americans were occupied with the presidential election. That’s when Hamas fired rockets again. Exactly as Israel wanted. Hamas have offered ANOTHER ceasefire, but of course Israel don’t want one.

  • 38. Tam  |  January 14th, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Worryingly, we’re definitely going through a change in mindset in our attitudes towards nukes, becoming much more blase about them as Hiroshima and Nagasaki recede into the distant past.

    I’ve been reading some older books lately, (I was checking them out, in case you care, because I knew they’d been influential on interesting writers including Neal Stephenson and Alan Moore) including ‘Janus’ by Arthur Koestler (a fascinating essay from the 70s by an unjustly forgotten author who was as much of an unflinching free thinker as Gary) and ‘A Canticle for Liebowitz’ by Walter Miller (a post nuke holocaust novel from the 50s) and both authors wrote about nuclear war with a sheer terror that’s completely absent from any modern day references to nukes.

    Reading stuff like this (or ‘Dr Strangelove’ or ‘When the Wind Blows’) and noticing how alien it now seems makes one wonder if we’re collectively in the process of forgetting some fairly important lessons our grandparents’ generation had to learn the hard way.

  • 39. VDV  |  January 14th, 2009 at 6:58 am

    Nobody has the guts to use nukes? You should thank God for that. If that Pandora’s box is ever opened, that is the end of you and everyone else on this planet.

  • 40. Tyris  |  January 14th, 2009 at 10:24 am

    What some people fail to take into consideration is that diplomacy is not the end-all, be-all solution to all the world’s problems. It only works for people who are willing to give up or sacrifice some of their desired goals to achieve a peaceful solution to the problem.

    Being’s as Hamas’s stated goal is the absolute and complete destruction of Israel, there’s simply no ‘peaceful’ solution to the situation. Israel has only a few options:

    A) Utterly annihilate all of the opposition (aka everyone) in the Palestinian land. The could achieve this, but the War Nerd is correct in stating that they are too squeamish to do so.

    B) Utterly annihilate Hamas. This is similar to A, but they try to minimize damage to the ‘civilians’, such as there are. Falls under the same problems, too, and ultimately impossible. This is their ‘stated’ goal, but that’s mostly posturing for the later options, which I believe will be their goal.

    C) Convince Hamas that their stated goal of annihilating Israel is impossible. This can be done by inflicting enough damage as to convince the surrounding people that supporting Hamas is a bad idea. Alternatively it can be done by killing enough members of Hamas to convince them that changing their mission statement of annihilating Israel is also a bad idea. Aka: Bloody them to the point where they surrender, change their ways, or come slinking back to the bargaining table… but this time actually OBEY the agreements they agree to (ie: Stop shooting rockets at Israeli civilians).

    D) Inflict sufficient damage on Hamas so that the current generation is unwilling to actually continue the fight and Hamas is unable to gain sufficient new recruits to expand in size. As a result, it will take another generation before the process of attacking Israel can begin again in earnest. Basically delaying the solution of the problem for later. Which is pretty much how the previous fights have gone.

    E) Be pushed into the sea in a Second Holocaust.

    Clearly, from Israel’s point of view, any of the above options are preferable to E. A is bad, but not as bad as E, so should E ever come close enough to reality to be viable, the situation will end in A.

    They SAY that B is the stated goal. It may even be, in a sort of perfectly-optimistic, everything-goes-our-way situation. But I doubt they expect this to happen. However, they have to convince their opponents and the entire world that this is, in fact, their goal and that they will stick to it no matter what. Otherwise the opposition gets more powerful.

    I believe that C is the actual, desired goal of the Israeli leadership. Cripple Hamas until it is no longer able to sustain itself or convince it that its genocidal goals are impossible and change its purpose enough to accept Israel’s existance. This would be most likely want they will be able to achieve should they keep the pressure up and not let the world distract them from their goal. They realize they have a time limit, since their biggest ally (the US) is soon to have a new Executive administration and they don’t know whether or not they can count on the US still being their ally. Things being what they were, however, this one seems rather unlikely unless they work fast.

    I think that option D is the most likely outcome of this fight, as it has been in all the other previous engagements between the two groups in the past, simply because they haven’t established the ‘new rules’ the War Nerd talks about.

    Honestly, looking at the situation, it seems as if Israel is testing things out and trying to MAKE the new rules for the new generation of warfare. ANd yes, it takes the squeamishness into account. But as the existance of their country is in direct and considerable danger, they are putting a lot more effort into it. The US, USSR, China, all the big states… they won’t lose as much, in proportion, as the smaller nations. If the US and its European allies failed in the Middle East conflict, their homelands remain intact. If Israel fails in its conflicts… it is destroyed.

  • 41. AKM  |  January 14th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    ^^”E) Be pushed into the sea in a Second Holocaust.”

    Ridiculous, Hamas poses no existential danger to Israel.

  • 42. jak  |  January 14th, 2009 at 12:56 pm


    Here we are fencesitting not cheerleading.
    Now get yourselve some popcorn!

  • 43. Technomad  |  January 14th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Trouble is, even in the old days this sort of shenanigans had a nasty tendency to backfire on the perpetrators. In the Thirty Years’ War (or as we war nerds call it, the “Golden Age of Mindless Slaughter”), the Hapsburgs’ forces did a Carthage on the city of Magdeberg in Germany. Bad idea. For the rest of the war, any time the Protestants won a battle, Catholics had a real hard time surrendering…the cry “Give them Magdeberg quarter!” would go up, and the slaughter would begin. Not good, if you were some poor schmuck who’d been vacuumed up into the army after the war had passed through your village.

    And a lot of the Irish are still steamed about stuff Cromwell pulled, like the taking of Drogheda. To this day, if an Irishman says “the curse of Cromwell on you!” he isn’t exactly wishing you a merry Christmas.

  • 44. Carpenter  |  January 14th, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Tyrus says: “Being’s as Hamas’s stated goal is the absolute and complete destruction of Israel,”

    When mass murderer Baruch Goldstein was buried in 1994, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin said: “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” He didn’t lose his job or anything, as this is A-Okay in Likud’s Israel. The Palestinians were respecting the June 2008 ceasefire, but Israel broke it by killing two Hamas members on November 4, taking advantage of the fact that Americans were too occupied with the presidential election to notice. Hamas answered by firing rockets, which do almost no harm. Israel then killed five more Hamas members. Hamas kept firing rockets, but they have also proposed a new ceasefire. But Israel uses this as a lame excuse, saying Hamas, not Israel, broke the ceasefire, so now they can kill 1,000+ Palestinians.

    So, about that absolute and complete destruction again: which side should be worried? And which side uses tanks and jets and bombs donated by the U.S.?

  • 45. max  |  January 14th, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    1. How does ‘you fuking jew’ qualify as ‘fencesitting’?

    2. If you think popcorn is the best answer to anti-semitism then you have no business discussing the Mideast conflict. have a nice day too and shalom.

  • 46. A.B. Prosper  |  January 14th, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I think our squeamishness in using the big guns (NBC warfare) is driven by two things

    #1 we are afraid of the blowback

    #2 Its hard to make any money from a necropolis . Even the the rads, germs, gas, whatever horrors are used — fade a bit no one you’d want there is willing to go there.

    The only people likely to voluntarily move to such a place are adventurers, sociopaths, outlaws and freaks a lot of whom aren’t going to be fond of you. I suppose you could transport convicts but those areas are developed to a degree. What you’d do is hand a motley crew of thugs, pedophiles and psychos the key to a kingdom full of nasty weapons.

    And as I said, they don’t like you. The last thing we need is to have to pacify the kingdom of child-rapia (former Iran)

    More important populations in the West (even the US sans immigration) are or soon will be shrinking — its hard enough to get people to colonize when they are growing (c.f transporting an indenturing in 17th century and later) — no one is going to high off for adventure and start pumping out good little colonial babies.

    So its better to have someone to sell stuff to such as it is.

  • 47. Kurt  |  January 14th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    This is not a military lull. Pre-WWII era wars occurred in a time with little means of communication between peoples. In 1945, although the US was involved in a two front global war, if Americans wanted to ignore the war and live their lives in peace, they could. There was no TV and internet with 24/7 news screaming out how many Americans or Japanese died on some godforsaken island in the Pacific. There was no nightly footage in people’s living rooms of the blood red waves splashing the shores of Tarawa with heaps of bloated Marines floating near the shoreline like driftwood.

    If WWII, with its 50 million dead, could be ignored by most people living outside Europe and a few Asian countries, then how come the small wars of today, like Gaza, where barely a thousand people have been killed, can command international attention where people in every country of the world have an opinion on it? As Paul Virilio has written, every war nowadays is a world war because the smallest firefight can be filmed live and streamed into people’s houses all over the world as it is happening. 19 days of limited war in Gaza has garnered more attention around the world than most major wars fought between great powers pre-1945. This is a GOOD thing. It is not squemishness, it is knowledge and awareness.

  • 48. DocAmazing  |  January 15th, 2009 at 12:07 am

    If you’re responding to reports that the IDF might be considering genocidal measures by accusing people of “anti-semitism”, then you also have no business discussing the Mideast or any other conflict.

  • 49. fajensen  |  January 15th, 2009 at 1:03 am

    The – for now – silent majority of the “Euros” are sufficiently fed up with all Arabs to the point that they would probably let it slide if Israel got it’s shite together and removed both halves of Palestine from the map!

    It’s the diplomats, politicians and the media who carries virus of soppy squeamishness all for their very different ends.

    Diplomats always think that “more dialog is better” … if your only tool is a hammer e.t.c. and nobody ever got rewarded for disagreeing with The Minister.

    Politicians are desperate to cover up the fact that their grand land-for-oil vision of Eurabia soon will end the way it always does in Europe – or Europe wouldn’t exist – The Arabs will either become natives or they will be driven out! The European population does not want any of this multicultural melting pot shit, nah, we want borders that are firm and closed combined with heavy-handed policing to keep away all the other wackos from across the next valley bloody well out. The Balkans are blatant about it, but even the totally pussy-whipped Swedes will be venting the truth after a serious boozing session (for plausible denial).

    The media, well they just have a soft spot:

    Notice f.ex. that we are *only* treated with images of individual people suffering when it’s Palestinians getting trounced – anyone else can basically FOAD in their thousands with some notice on page 11.

    Ahh – we got such sights to show you!

  • 50. Tyris  |  January 15th, 2009 at 5:23 am

    AKM: “Ridiculous, Hamas poses no existential danger to Israel”
    The people killed by rockets aimed at civilian population centers instead of military targets would disagree. Furthermore, it doesn’t just have to be Hamas itself that does the killing. Hamas’s stated goal is the destruction of Israel, not the destruction of Israel solely by Hamas. If Hamas can spin the war coverage in sufficiently in their favor as to make Israel look like the bad guy (despite, you know, their stated goal and all that being blindingly obvious for anyone with the ten seconds required to lookt it up) and gain the support of other nations, they won’t have to do the work themselves. That’s one reason why Israel is doing such simple things as videotaping the Hamas terrorists launching rockets from schools, hospitals, and the like… to offer up undeniable evidence against Hamas and support as to why they should be dealt with.

    “He didn’t lose his job or anything, as this is A-Okay in Likud’s Israel.”
    Awww, how cute. Tell me, which of the two countries under discussion here allows opposing views into its legislative branch? That is, which allows people of any religion or ethnicity, into its lawmaking body… and which one viciously terrorizes those who don’t fit? This should be a simple task, and it easily disqualifies the drek you just offered up as an emotional counter to a logical problem.
    PS: When the phrase you quoted is carved over the doors to the Israeli legislature, or written in the founding documents for their government, then you MIGHT actually have a case. Until then, the difference between the two is like night and day.

    ” The Palestinians were respecting the June 2008 ceasefire”
    Now I know you’re full of it. I guess the THOUSANDS of rockets fired from Palestenian territories into Israel during this time don’t, somehow, qualify as a breaking of the cease-fire? Yep, cease-fire must ACTUALLY mean “One side gets to shoot at the other while the other has to take it without complaint, or everyone else will accuse them of breaking the cease-fire.” Sorry, but that doesn’t fly. Go check up on your facts. Rocket attacks against Israel have only INCREASED after Hamas was ‘voted’ into power, and they continued during the cease-fire as well. As soon as a single, solitary rocket was fired in the general direction of a population center, the war was back on whenever Israel decided it would be.
    The thing is, if you play nice with people who want to kill you, and try to exercise self-restraint by not mopping the floor with those who provoked you, when you finally DO decide to respond… well, then people will suddenly think it’s all kinds of ‘unfair’ because you didn’t actually defend yourself those previous times.

    “Hamas answered by firing rockets, which do almost no harm. ”
    Your bias is so amazing that when you make comments like this, it’s comedy gold.
    The reason they do less harm than they could is because of their inept and crude design, especially in the guidance category. That should be no reason to give them a pass, however, as the intent to murder innocents is there, judged by what they’re aimed at (cities and towns, not military targets).
    The reason they do less harm than they could is because Israelis have concrete bunkers handy and early warning raid sirens that go off when an attack is detected. Convenient how they have all that? Hardly. It’s from YEARS of being bombarded by those things, someone having developed a half-arsedly decent defense… when they get the warning in time. Being able to defend yourself sometimes from an attack does not give the attacker as pass to continue.

    Oh, and tell the ‘almost no harm’ screed to the people or families killed by them. I’m sure that’s a great consolation prize.

    If you want to be more convincing, it would help to respond with some useful counter as to why you think it’s alright for Hamas to fire rockets at Israeli civilians but not alright for Israel to fire rockets at Hamas attackers. Last time I checked, Israel wasn’t the country randomly shooting into another one with intent to kill as many people as possible. (Of course, if they had done this, we wouldn’t be having this little discussion.)

    “Israel then killed five more Hamas members. But Israel uses this as a lame excuse, saying Hamas, not Israel, broke the ceasefire, ”
    Good. The less terrorists to launch rockets at innocents, the better. War is not a tit-for-tat exercise where you try to kill exactly X many people, where X is how many you lost in the last fight.
    It’s not a lame excuse, either, because while you list your example in a vaccuum, you miss where Hamas and its minions had been launching rockets before that. It’s good of YOU to arbitrarily make a line and say “Ha, look, see, after I set this time for comparison, the Israelis attacked!” Convenient. Conveniently specious.

    “So, about that absolute and complete destruction again: which side should be worried? And which side uses tanks and jets and bombs donated by the U.S.?”
    If Israel with a modern military hasn’t completely annihilated every Palestinian, it’s because they CHOOSE not to. Maybe you missed that, but this issues been going on awhile. They’ve had ample opportunity, and plenty of capability.
    Oh, and it’s good to see that indirect slam against the US. Yes, heaven forbid it help out its allies when they’re threatened.

    Hey, if Israel is so bad, why does it keep sending humanitarian aid into Palestine? It’s funny how you never see it going back the other way, isn’t it? And if Hamas is so good, why is it that, once the aid gets past a certain distance, they raid the trucks and take the supplies for themselves, selling them to the highest bidder or saving them for the rocket-launching, mortar-firing terrorists, rather than letting the aid go to the innocent people (which they endangered by firing from schools, mosques, and the like) where its needed most?

  • 51. Harald  |  January 15th, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Do you really think people don’t learn from history? That we are doomed to keep repeating the same patterns over and over again?

    There are a few attempts here to picture a future war, but they are linear extrapolations from the world of today.

    Tomorrow will not be like today. In ten, twenty years we might be able to expand our brains with extra ram and rom and whatnot. We might be transhumans, or simply wear very silly clothes, who knows?

    WWII was only 30 years on from WWI, but it included major conceptual leaps like blitzkrieg, aircraft carriers and such.

    If there ever is a WWIII, it will be very different from what we know today. I doubt it will happen in the near future (India and China having a nuclear war with a front line in the Himalayas? They’re not that stupid.) And anything we’d say about the further future would just look silly looking back to now.

  • 52. Carpenter  |  January 15th, 2009 at 10:09 am

    If you think popcorn is the best answer to anti-semitism then you have no business discussing the Mideast conflict. have a nice day too and shalom.

    You can’t hide behind “anti-Semitism” and get away with it when discussing with thinking people. This isn’t a public school. By the way, what about Israeli anti-Arabism? Seems to be a lot more deadly and truce-breaking. Shalom.

  • 53. Max  |  January 15th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    >>Baruch Goldstein was buried in 1994 […] this is A-Okay in Likud’s Israel.

    For your information 1994 was a year when the late Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister (the guy who signed the Oslo peace accord with Arafat) from the dovish Labor party NOT Likud. After the Hebron massacre he personally phoned Arafat describing the attack as a “loathsome, criminal act of murder”. Some rabbi shmuck that you mentioned is a complete unknown not representative of Israel at the time.

    Moving on to current events, the Nov 4 attack was a missile strike on a tunnel that Hamas was digging under the Israeli border in order to infiltrate Israel and kidnap soldiers, abusing the “cease-fire” the way Hamas always does.

    If you believe that rockets that fall on kindergardens “do almost no harm” then perhaps you should fire some on the city where you live and watch how officials respond. I’m sure the “no harm” argument will work in a court of law.

    The Merkava is primarily Israeli designed owned and produced, as is the majority of weapons that IDF uses:
    Pay specific attention to the Local military development section

  • 54. Plamen Petkov  |  January 15th, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Good lord, man, your articles are really going down in quality!
    Lets take your Nuke the Sunnies? first.
    Only a total American moron would say something so ridiculous. America doesn’t want to “nuke the Sunnies”. America wants to get the ool that’s underneath them sands; nuking is obviously out of the question. Come on, are you really THAT lame?
    “Israel could kill every man woman and child in Palestine if they want to.” Have you bothered to read the real news. Not the fake bullshit spoonfed to you by the corporate owned media? There have been protests against Israel from South Korea to London. Israel may be winning the ground war but they are certainly losing the world opinion war. Thanx to the Internet the whole world KNOWS the truth now; Isreaelies are the attackers and bullies who are stealing the land; they are NOT the helpless little lambs getting bombed by Hamas or Hizbolla.
    I am only skimming through them now, they are not worth the time to read fully. Getty dangerously low on noise to signal ratio.

  • 55. PSmith  |  January 15th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    @ #42. Technomad | January 14th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Very interesting about Magdeburg.

    But while you are likely right about Cromwell, at least it is not in everyday use. Time wounds all heels, Dyslexia KO. etc.

    > To this day, if an Irishman says “the curse of Cromwell on you!” he isn’t exactly wishing you a merry Christmas.

  • 56. Herbert West  |  January 16th, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I see two false assumptions in your articel and in the comments.

    A, Wars are won by culling the enemies population

    and B, being culled is something good.

    Well, A is quite false, as you win wars by destroying the enemies armies, and his abilities to produce armies. The potential culling of the civ. pop is a secondary consequence of the destruction of his army-producing abilities. Historically, since, lets say, Napoleon, at the very latest, we see a trend in which opposing forces try to destroy each other first, and the hinterland later, or not at all. Lets take WWI, where the casualty rates of civ/mil were something in the area of 1/10 (flu excluded), or the Napoleonic wars, or the Franco-Prussian one, both wars in which, if you were not a soldier, you had a very low chance of getting killed. Compared to this, WWII with its 1/1 rate is an exception, not a rule (among other cases, as this is the last total ideological war, and, one could say, the first one as well). Even in medieval warfare, the “for the sake of it” culling of civ. population was not a great norm (exception: 30 years war, again, and ideologically fuelled war, fought by mercenaries). So, no, you do not aim to kill the other tribe in war. Mostly couse they are useless dead.

    B, Excuse me for this, but only an american could perceive a war fought on the civ. pop. as something good, simply by the fact that the last time an enemy put an american city to the torch was like 200 years ago, IIRC, if at all. The US, by and large, only knows how it feels to fight a war abroad, and as such, the civ pop has little to no connection to the “horrors of war”. Would lets say NYC get burned to the ground in a vicious house-to-house fighting, the overall mentality would change.

    But, as someone mentioned it, when everybody who _knew_ somebody who died in WWII dies out, we will have another big war. But, I trust that everyone will be (even in military sense) sane enough, to keep the actual fighting limited to the armies on the ground, and the mil factories.

    Contrary to popular opinion, living in a warzone is not a nice thing.

  • 57. John  |  January 16th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Herbert West, NONE of the armies were defeated in World War I. Even the Belgian military kept on fighting until the end. The Tsar didn’t surrender because of military defeats (though he certainly had plenty of those), he surrendered because a fellow by the name of Vladimir Lenin had been unleashed on the home front. Keeping at each other’s soldiers instead of their populace is what kept the war going for so long, defeating the populace in the form of creating a civil war via communist uprising is how the Kaiser finally managed a victory against the East, demoralizing the government and leadership of Germany is how the West gained victory over them.

    Secondly, most modern wars are ideologically based; take, for instance, Nkunda’s campaign in the Congo, or America’s current “War on Terror,” or Hezbollah’s campaigns, or anything currently going on on the Gaza strip. You cannot defeat the enemy’s government when it is not their governance that makes them your enemy.

  • 58. unfamed  |  January 16th, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Pointless article is pointless. You could have wrapped this up in two words: “atomic bomb”. Obviously war is different now, post-1945. Obviously there are rules now (although I would not dare call them “namby pamby”, unless you have something against being alive). The rules may not be as flamboyant and in-the-open as olde age Britain-era rules of engagement, but everyone knows they’re there. We can only be thankful that Japan didn’t end up holding a grudge. If it comes down to nuclear war – or really, any kind of “all out” war at this point, the consequences would be unimaginable.

    As far as I’m concerned, the cold war never really ended, it just became a global affair and merged into a set of ever-present rules. We live in a new age of warfare that can’t really be compared to anything in the past, and if we don’t get our shit together soon things are really going to get sour. Tuesday can’t come quickly enough.

  • 59. shoop dah woop  |  January 17th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    geo8rge is a beaner.

  • 60. Or  |  January 17th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    i am from israel
    and dam … you are talking so much bulshit !!!!
    stop talking behind you countries like you fell what we feels every day …
    you dont have the right to judge us until you will come here and live at least for 1 month , AND israel is a strong country
    if we want we can wied out all arabs with out been worried about US aid
    becuse we have many millatry and unmillatry invention
    we have the right to fight pepole that think god have told them to blow up there self in schools and in buss and in clubs
    and to shot rockets for 8 years on regular pepoles homes …
    that sad that 8 years no one has talked about us living in a rocket booming everyday
    but now when our goverment responve
    everyone is cursing us =\

  • 61. dn  |  January 17th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    This was a very confused article. It alternates between blaming Israel’s defeat on them not being able to engage in genocide. To why old war nerds are wrong. To that the media are pinko commies to God knows what…

    Seriously confused article.

  • 62. Big Orange  |  January 17th, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Why should we want another fucking global war? Most people didn’t want WWII, while it took culturally aggressive countries with criminally insane leaderships like Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and Imperial Japan to get the ball properly rolling. Even in their own time, people like Beria, Heydrich, Himmler, Tojo, Shek, Mao, Hitler, Hirohito, and Stalin were seen as reptile aliens by people with their heads screwed on properly

    Wanton massacres of people do not work and is a sign of incompetence and weakness really, with the survivors only feeling raw terror for a few days followed by many years/decades of festering resentment. People today in Europe, North America, Dubai, parts of India, and East Asia have far too much to lose and it is only the ignorant shitholes that have wars, because life is misrable and short to begin with anyway. And you don’t think conscripts and maimed civilians never cried before, Bretcher?

  • 63. Carpenter  |  January 18th, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Max writes, “Some rabbi shmuck that you mentioned is a complete unknown not representative of Israel at the time.”

    Yeah, except he did the sermon for a great mass murderer who fired into praying Arabs. Nice try. All of Israel and the world knew of this mass murderer. His funeral was a great event in Israel. The rabbi saying that all the Palestinians are not worth a single Jewish fingernail, is not “a complete unknown” – other than for the fact that Israeli media ignore such a comment. They think a comment like that on a mass murderer’s funeral is too trivial to mention – since the murderer was celebrated by the Israelis. Thank you, you just proved my point.

    Btw, the Israelis have killed around 2,000 Palestinians in the few years that Hamas killed 15 Israelis with Qassam rockets. How do you explain away that fact with something like, “Israel is fighting for its existence,” etc?

    And how do you explain away the fact that Hamas respected the ceasefire from June 2008, until Israel broke it by killing two Hamas members on November 4? US media consistently ignore that detail, as do Israelis when interviewed.

  • 64. Carpenter  |  January 18th, 2009 at 2:59 am

    fajensen writes, “The – for now – silent majority of the “Euros” are sufficiently fed up with all Arabs to the point that they would probably let it slide if Israel got it’s shite together and removed both halves of Palestine from the map!”

    You won’t get me onboard on pretending that Israelis are on “our side” just because there is Arab immigration in Europe. US media bosses favor Arab immigration, and they favor Israeli occupation of Arabs. Why? One standard for Israel, another for Europe.

    There have been many attempts to make anti-immigration Europeans become pro-Israeli. The tacit argument is, “This way you can prove you are not Nazis!” Sorry, not buying it. Israel cheer Arab immigration to Europe. When Jörg Haider entered Austria’s government in 2000, Israel withdrew their Austrian embassy and lobbied for EU isolation of Austria.

    Israel want a green light to occupy Palestine. But they want Arab immigration to Europe. All in their interest. No fajensen, you fail in making their occupation our cause.

  • 65. internet anti-Zionists  |  January 18th, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    It is instructive that people who are so unbound and brilliant on every other subject make such appalling mistakes when pretending to discuss Israel.

  • 66. Ben  |  January 18th, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    “There have been many attempts to make anti-immigration Europeans become pro-Israeli. The tacit argument is, “This way you can prove you are not Nazis!”

    How about the argument that, if Israel is destroyed, all the Israelis will be coming to Europe? Now that would be fun! Eurojudeoarabia. If Palestinians get right of return, so do Jews. The Poles are gonna love it.

  • 67. Alex  |  January 19th, 2009 at 1:43 am

    I see the paid defenders of Israel are earning their money well on the War Nerd now.

  • 68. Eye del Cul  |  January 20th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Ah, the old mantra again… “Israel is the little poor David, Hamas/Hezbollah/Whatever is the big old terrible Goliat”. Please, spare me of it. It’s getting ridiculous.

    @49. fajensen:
    Sorry, I can’t read seriously any text with the word “Eurabia”. It’s only used by paranoid nutcases and Milosevic wannabes. Your opinion may be widespread in Sweden -I doubt it-, but here in Spain you sound like a buffoon. Please, speak for your little crazy town and not for all europeans.

  • 69. daniel  |  January 21st, 2009 at 3:13 am

    as an israeli i congratulate you for that article. especially about sabra and shatila. it gave us a bad name even though we didnt do it, its just that our slow reaction time didnt stop it. and after that we had to rethink everything.

    and the reason we dont wipe em out is because simply were A WESTERN country. AND OUR set of morals inhibit us nowadys from doing this. but this will also be our bane cause the other side have no quarrel with population cleansing. so when the wheel turns we wont be able to use asymetric warfare to our benefit.

  • 70. fajensen  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:04 am

    You won’t get me onboard on pretending that Israelis are on “our side” just because there is Arab immigration in Europe.

    That Israel is on Israels side is perfectly understood and accepted (generally) by everyone.

    People are questioning the reasoning behind “official” European involvement in the “Palestine cause” to the tune of millions of EUR per year (and the bloating of social service budgets and prison population due to failed immigration policies).

    US media bosses favor Arab immigration, and they favor Israeli occupation of Arabs. Why? One standard for Israel, another for Europe.

    Maybe the US think that enough unfriendly immigration into Europe will destroy a potential competitor to the US, which would be in the interest of the US?

    Or maybe the Americans genuinely believe that what happened to work for the US – at least as long as the economy was growing – is universally applicable … although the Sioux might see things differently 😉

    Who knows??

    @ 68. Eye del Cul: You sound disturbingly like the Swedish establishment: Head stuck firmly up their arse while places like Rinkeby and Gothenburg burns. Spain is a failing socialist state too, I gather.

  • 71. Eye del Cul  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Spain, socialist state? WTF? In certain circles, anything at Margaret Tatcher’s left must be “socialism”, I suppose…

    I, for one, welcome our new islamic communist overlords. And I must go now to work in the koljhoz, sorry. 🙂

  • 72. rex  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Again I think a lot of people are missing the whole point of the way the war nerd writes.
    He’s not condoning or condemning any of this. Just saying how it is in all probability he doesn’t want total nuclear holocaust. He’s just stating why it isn’t happening.

  • 73. fajensen  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Well, I appreciate the War Nerd for his unique ability to send the ecologically-correct grown-by-indigenous-people coffee straight through my sinuses and into the keyboard of my Corprat PeeCee. Cleanses the mind – well as close as we get anyway 😉

  • 74. Green Boy  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Hey WN – care to weigh in on the DIME controversy? Military claims it is used to reduce collateral damage. Peaceniks claim it is the new napalm. What is your take?

  • 75. Mycos  |  January 27th, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Until we all recognize the existence of a subgroup within mankind whose cognitive “style” compels them to over-simplify issues of peace and war into easily understandable “black and white” components, then there is no hope of our ever learning from the lessons of history. These people, variously called right-wing conservatives, authoritarians or the social dominance oriented, are compelled to over-simplify. In doing so they ignore any facts that do not resonate with their preconceived notions as to good and evil, hence who is right, who is justified, what really happened, and what others are thinking. Fear and aggresion dominate their thinking in a way that allows them to transform small, stateless actors who they denigrate as weak and cowardly one minute into a terror threat that should command every resource available into wiping them out befpre they take over the world..this despite the combined USSR and Red Chinese Armies being unsuccessful at it.

    In short, these people are so divorced from the real world that any attempt to account for man’s behavior in the future is doomed to failure if it doesn’t take into account the insanity of this one small group. In fact, our failure to recognize them as an identifiable and separate subgroup is probably the greatest single reason for most wars in the past, and what now keeps the rest of us talking about when and how the next war will be fought.

    Intellectuals have long known of their existence, but their presence is still thought of by mainstream societies as being just another ideaological sector — one that has as much legitimacy as any other.

    The problem with that is they are not at all like the rest of us. They actually think differently at the most basic cognitive level. Test after test shows them to behave in ways similar to the rest of when we are pressed for time or feel the need to make decisions hastily and without all the facts being integrated into the whole neccesary for making a correct decision. It resembles the decision making process of people with high mortality salience or who are in fear of being found out for something they did wrong and can expect to be punished for it.

    Even DHS’s terror and counter-terrorism center warns that right-wing conservatives are the primary group from which politically motivated violence is most likely to arise. After all, Saddam Hussein, OBL, GWBush, Hamas, Likud, Zionism and Nazism are all right-wing conservative leaders and movements.

    Examples of the way they are capable of torturing history or known facts are revealed by the attempts to recast Nazism as a left-wing movement. This, as well as Islam and any other group that is embarrassing to their own self-image by virtue of their being on the right. Just look how they now belive media has been taken over by “libruls” despite the overwhelming presence of conservatives in every sector of the news media. But because that’s the source of embarrassing newscasts eg. dead Pali kids, they tell themselves that these are lies or exaggerations from a hostile (to them) media. Conveniently, so too are the universities and scholars themselves similarly hostile liars. How else can they handle the fact that scholars are the ones who have all the records showing the truth of historical massacres or other events they prefer to recast as defensive or “accidental” events. Max and Tyre above are two of several displaying this unique ability to recreate reality in their own image.
    Oh..yes! Empathy is another trait that humanity evolved in order to socialize our adaptive approach to the environment but which RWCs seem largely unable to use…a factor (among several others) that is suggestive of some kind of evolutionary dead-end or throwback being responsible for their violence.

    From DHS:
    “A meta-analysis by J. T. Jost, J. Glaser, A. W. Kruglanski, and F. J. Sulloway (2003) concluded that political conservatism is partially motivated by the management of uncertainty and threat. Medium to large effect sizes describe relations between political conservatism and dogmatism and
    intolerance of ambiguity; lack of openness to experience; uncertainty avoidance; personal needs for order, structure, and closure; fear of death; and system threat.”

    “We now take it for granted in the United States that political conservatives tend to be for law and order but not gun control,
    against welfare but generous to corporations, protective of cultural traditions but antagonistic toward contemporary art and music, and wary of government but eager to weaken the separation of church and state. They are committed to freedom and individualism but
    perennially opposed to extending rights and liberties to disadvantaged minorities and others who blur traditional boundaries. There is no obvious political thread that runs through these diverse positions and no logical principle that renders them all con-
    sistent. Their cooccurrence may be explained just as well with psychological theory as with political theory. Conservative opin-
    ions acquire coherence only by virtue of the fact that they minimize uncertainty and threat while pursuing continuity with the past (i.e., the status quo) and rationalizing inequality in society. Basic social, cognitive, and motivational differences may also explain why extreme right-wing movements are typically obsessed with purity, cleanliness, hygiene, structure, and order — things that would oth-
    erwise have little to do with political positions per se — and why religious fundamentalism is so attractive to right-wing parties and their followers in just about every nation stretching from North
    America to the Middle East.”

  • 76. von Adler  |  January 29th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Eh, no major wars between 1815 and 1914? How about the Crimean War, the Mexican-American War, the Prusso-German War, the Prusso-Danish War, the Austro-Prussian War, the Wars of Italian Unification, the Spanish Carlist War(s), the Burmese Invasion of India, the Pacific War, the Spanish-American War, the Balkan Wars, the Oriental Crisises, the Italo-Ottoman War, the British-Zulu War, the Boer War, the 1877 Russo-Ottoman War, the Russo-Japanese War, the Graeco-Turkish War of 1897, the First Sino-Japanese War, the Boxer Rebellion, American Civil War, The War of the Triple Alliance etc. etc. etc.

  • 77. Rpche  |  March 18th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    “wiping out enemy civilians once they’d taken the territory, would have been standard policy for any European army pre-’45.”


    The 1930s and 1940s are pretty much the only time in Europe in which wiping out enemy civilians was considered okay, and then it was only done on the Eastern Front in WW2.

    During the Franco-Prussian war, for example, the Germans had Paris surrounded but refused to bombard the city because they didn’t want to be mean.

  • 78. Robert Farley  |  April 4th, 2009 at 4:09 am

    Dude, the Blockhouse strategy was the brainchild of Hans Von Seeckt (de facto commander of the Reichswehr for much of the 1920s), and was executed the the Nationalist forces, not the Communist. It was remarkably successful, because it cut down on the mobility of the Chicoms. This, rather than the advise of Otto Braun (which wasn’t taken very seriously by the Chicoms in any case) was the proximate cause of the abandonment of the Jianxi Soviet and the onset of the Long March.

  • 79. G. Tingey  |  April 15th, 2009 at 12:13 am

    “wiping out enemy civilians once they’d taken the territory, would have been standard policy for any European army pre-’45.”


    Like I said – go and read some real history.
    This did NOT happen in the areas taken by the Western allies in WWII, and, after the rape-wave had passsed, nor did it, even under the area controlled by the Soviet theocracy.

  • 80. mephistopheles  |  June 29th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    It’s probably that you’ve been reading popular Chinese history but if you read Sun Shuyun’s history of the Long March, Otto Braun wasn’t as bad a strategist- he wasn’t the one advocating a static WWI approach to fighting the nationalists. Braun’s history is whitewashed because Mao hated him.
    Still I have no clue how you figured that Mao was the one using the blockhouse strategy, Chang Kaishek was the one making blockhouses and it slowly worked. He said he got it from a 19th century Chinese general. Since Jiangxi was surrounded by nationalist troops there was no way to move away from the blockhouses as they inched closer in and coordinated artillery and machine gun fire on Mao.

  • 81. Antonio Garcia  |  October 1st, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    It’s a sad day when this world looks for guidance from people in there region regardless if your great ancestors wrote the Bible or the Koran. There’s more genocide now with the creation of religion such as common Christianity than when there was no religion in the world but yet nobody will ever see that aspect of society

  • 82. Really Now  |  September 21st, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    “wiping out enemy civilians once they’d taken the territory, would have been standard policy for any European army pre-’45.”

    So why were Russian Civilians so shocked that the formerly civil army of the Kaiser was suddenly brutal enough to go so far as to kill civilians?

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