Saturday 2014-06-07

War Nerd by Gary Brecher

Time-wise, Brecher straddles the divide between conventional insurgency warfare and drone warfare. Most of the world isn't yet on the cutting edge of technology, so many conflicts are still resolved by blades and bullets. And Brecher votes that many future wars will be similarly settled.

That said, Brecher calls out Tom Clancy for having 200M USD and not using it in an appropriately war-nerdy fashion, i.e. not carving out an Old Man of the Electronic Mountain fiefdom someplace. This attack cuts both ways, though, as nothing's preventing Brecher from Kickstarter'ing a campaign to replace a warlord or two someplace with Civilization.

Pancho Villa was the ultimate Mexican braggart; Obregón was modest. In his memoirs, instead of bragging about his early heroics, Obregón curses himself for not joining the fight against the Diaz dictatorship sooner, and says his excuses—he had a family to raise, etc.—were nothing but “cunning lies.”

Perhaps these "cunning lies" are already on Brecher's mind, and he's just biding his time, waiting for the opportunity to strike.

SOME WARS MAKE it onto the TV news, and some don’t. It’s got nothing to do with how bloody or big they are. There are lots of pissant little “wars” that get more press than they deserve. Like Northern Ireland. In twenty-five years of fighting, you know how many people got killed? About 3,100. That works out to 125 people per year. Per year! That’s not as much as a three-day weekend in Detroit. But just look at how much press those few Irish killings got.
That’s the lesson of the twentieth century: If you want to kill a few people and get bad press, then go ahead, dress in black, drink blood, and talk about how you love torture. Like Amin, Bokassa, and Hitler. But if you’re serious about wiping out whole populations, wear a dove of peace and talk about progress and love. That’s what Stalin did, and he wiped out half the population of Ukraine without getting a single piece of bad publicity from the contemporary Western press.
The U.S. Navy learned about North Korea’s coastal patrolling the hard way back in 1968, when North Korea grabbed a high-tech U.S. intel ship, the USS Pueblo, fifteen miles off its coast. North Korean marines boarded the ship, killed one crewman, and took the other eighty-two back to Pyongyang, where they were tortured for eleven months. The U.S. Navy had screwed up, as usual, dumping an old, slow vessel loaded with top-secret listening gear to patrol right off the coast of the world’s most dangerous enemy nation, with no escort whatsoever. The Pueblo was armed with two machine guns, but the crew, a bunch of tech geeks, never fired a shot. They were busy trying to feed top-secret documents into their hand-fed stove. Yup, that’s all they had for destroying America’s most secret recon records. Then the North Korea boats fired a 57-mm shell into the Pueblo , killing one guy and wounding three others, and the Pueblo was taken—the biggest intelligence haul in history for the Soviets, and the Commies didn’t lose a man getting it.
By the way, that’s not the Patriot’s fault. Patriot is a damn good design and did exactly what it was supposed to do: get close to the target and detonate. Trouble was, it was designed to destroy Soviet jets—very fragile targets—not Scuds, which are just giant rocks.
It didn’t have to be this way. If any other past president had been in the Oval Office when the Iran Hostage Crisis went down, we’d have had the mullahs begging us to take back our diplomats—and Khomeini’s “holy city” of Qom would be a lake of molten glass. But we had Jimmy Carter, a man who once got mugged by a rabbit. And that’s what drove us into the arms of sleazy neoconmen like Cheney and Dubya, who know too much about how to fool the suckers back home and not a damn thing about the big, bad world. And who suckered them into invading Iraq? You guessed it: Iran, by sending double agents like Ahmed Chalabi to tell the neocons it was going to be a cakewalk. Meanwhile, our forces are so bogged down by an Iranian-influenced insurgency that we can’t threaten Iran anymore. It’s still fucking with America, and fucking us hard. Now all Iran has to do is wait a couple years and stroll into the oil fields of Basra. Without firing a shot, Iran gets all of Shiite Iraq, 60 percent of the Iraqi population, and two-thirds of the oil reserves. And America will be stuck with even shriller chickenhawks pissing the nation’s power and might away. The result: game, set, and match to the mullahs.
Patton wasn’t somebody you’d want to be stuck in an elevator with. Rommel was worse; there’s a story about how one morning in the desert, Rommel announced to his staff officers, “Today is Christmas. We will now celebrate. Hans, how is your wife? Hermann, how is your wife?” and without waiting for his officers to answer, Rommel said, “That was Christmas. Now—get out the maps.”