• war-nerd-crunching-the-numbers-in-kobane

    The War Nerd: Crunching numbers on Kobane

    How many Islamic State fighters have died in Kobane? That question isn’t as easy to answer as you might expect. In fact, nothing about Islamic State’s numbers really adds up. How many fighters does IS have in the first place? Even that isn’t easy to answer. Islamic State expands and contracts in the press according to its own propaganda requirements, and the fear-level of Western correspondents. IS has been very good at hiding its dead. Oh yeah, jihadis love to…
  • wannabe-jihadis

    The War Nerd: How do you deal with wannabe jihadis? An upgrade to business class

    KUWAIT CITY—It’s been a busy week for Canada’s home-grown jihadis. Monday, October 20: Martin Rouleau, a French-Canadian convert to Islam, ran down two Canadian soldiers with his Nissan Altima, then led the RCMP on a chase that ended when he rolled the Nissan, came up out of the wreck waving a kitchen knife, and got himself shot to death “like he wanted to.” Wednesday, October 22: Michael Zehaf-Babeau, also Quebecois and a recent convert, shot a soldier standing…
  • kobane-war-nerd

    The War Nerd: Nobody could have predicted Islamic State’s retreat from Kobane (except me)

    KUWAIT CITY — A strange thing happened in Kobane, the Kurdish border town besieged by Islamic State: It didn’t fall. In fact, today the BBC reported that Islamic State, the supposedly invincible jihadis who have been besieging Kobane, is retreating from the city. Nobody expected that. Well, nobody except me. I’ve been saying for a long time that IS(IS) was the most overhyped military force on the planet, and that IS has been attacking Kobane for fifteen months—fifteen…
  • ooredoo-war-nerd

    The War Nerd: Technology, culture wars & jihad

    KUWAIT CITY — Islamic State is advancing unstoppably into the Turkish border town of Kobane—or not, depending on which story you read this morning—and the US, always desperate for something to be scared of, has decided to go officially insane about a West African virus with a mere single-digit KIA count. But here in Kuwait, there’s no talk about jihad or disease. What matters is that we’ve got a holiday this week—Eid el Adha, commemorating God’s sadistic…
  • is-sulking-baghdad-war-nerd

    The War Nerd: Islamic State is sulking on the edge of Baghdad

    One thing you have to say for the Islamic State (IS) militia: Whatever its failings as a military force (see my last article) it still has an amazing knack for generating scare stories in the Western press. Last time I tried to show why the hype about IS’s advances on its Western Front (the Syria/Turkish border zone) meant a lot less than the panic headlines suggested. Well, no sooner did the noise about that front die down than we…
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    The War Nerd: Let’s put Islamic State’s menacing advance into perspective by… looking at a map

    For a week now, we’ve been getting nonstop scare stories about Islamic State’s menacing advance on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. And as far as it goes, the stories are true: Islamic State (IS) did come within 14 km of Kobani, attacking from the South, West, and East, before US air strikes and reinforcements from the Turkish-Kurdish PKK militia stopped them. And yes, the fall of Kobani would be a bad thing. A very bad thing,…
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    The War Nerd: Bombs away in the Middle East! But why is Israel so quiet?

    Where’s Israel? That’s one of the most interesting, and widely ignored, questions to come out of the US bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. Two days into the bombing, and there’s near-silence from Israel, a country not known for shyness about military operations on its borders. The only public reaction from Bibi Netanyahu so far is this vague mumble about helping behind the scenes: Netanyahu said Israel was also contributing to the international coalition. “Israel…
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    The War Nerd: The Day After 9/11

    The big anniversary is here again. The big Muslim/Western confrontation. Only it wasn’t on September 11, it was actually September 12. And it wasn’t just a couple of buildings falling down in Manhattan, it was way bigger than that. Those two towers that went down in Manhattan are like a counter-illustration of the old Phil 101 koan, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it…” This version goes, “If a couple of buildings fall down right…
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    The War Nerd: The long, twisted history of beheadings as propaganda

    Well, here we are: Another American journalist beheaded by the Islamic State (IS). First it was James Foley, a wild-child freelancer, who was shown kneeling on the sand in an orange jumpsuit—a little visual revenge on Guantanamo dress code—while a Brit jihadi scolded America for daring to interfere with the Islamic State’s blitzkrieg-lite campaign to overrun Northern Iraq. Foley’s beheading video was released on August 19, 2014. Two weeks later, IS killed a second American hostage, Steven Sotloff, using…
  • whitehouse

    The War Nerd: Today is the 200th anniversary of the wimpy so-called burning of Washington

    Editor’s note: This is a slightly edited version of an article first published by NSFWCORP (now part of Pando) as part of The War Nerd’s Guide to the War of 1812 Today is the 200th anniversary of the burning of the White House in 1814. People talk about how the British troops “burned Washington” after the Battle of Bladensburg left D. C. wide open, but really, Americans have no idea how easy we got off. The British took it very,…

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