• boko-haram

    The War Nerd: Boko Haram and the Demon Consensus

    Suddenly everyone’s talking about Boko Haram and the massacres it’s committing in Northern Nigeria. There are two reasons for this: First, Boko is making some genuinely scary gains, cleansing the flatlands south of Lake Chad of any community it suspects of disloyalty, burning Churches and killing Christian villagers on the Cameroon border, and pushing against the provincial capital, Maiduguri—not with suicide bombings or quick raids, but a sustained conventional assault. They’ve withdrawn for now, but it won’t…
  • afghan-female-warlord-commander-pigeon

    The War Nerd: Getting “Women Warriors” wrong

    I read a long article called “My Terrifying Night with Afghanistan’s Only Female Warlord” last month. It was utter crap, and so similar to a lot of utter crap I’ve been reading about the women fighters of the Kurdish YPJ militia in Syria that I realized it’s time somebody called foul on the offensive, ignorant crap going around about what the media likes to call “women warriors.” I don’t particularly enjoy the role of progressive scold, and it don’t…
  • 1280px-A-10_Thunderbolt_II_In-flight-2

    The War Nerd: More proof the US defense industry has nothing to do with defending America

    KUWAIT CITY—This has been a classic week in the defense procurement industry. The armed services are trying to boost their worst aircraft, the totally worthless F-35, by trashing their best, the simple, effective, proven A-10 Warthog. The A-10 is popular enough that the USAF had to come up with a reason for wanting to get rid of it, and the one it produced is the sort of thing that would make any psych-therapist chuckle with glee: The…
  • 23B316C300000578-0-image-a-2_1417611277244

    The War Nerd: Murder on the Orientalist Express

    A few days ago, a Hungarian-American woman was stabbed to death in Abu Dhabi. The cops are saying they’ve made an arrest in the case now, but for a while, this looked like it was going to be the most exciting murder mystery in the Gulf for generations. Killing a Western woman is unusual here—well, intentionally killing one. Traffic accidents are another matter.  But it was where she was killed that really scared my fellow expats. The victim, Ibolya Ryan,…
  • barney_drunk

    A War Nerd Thanksgiving: All you drunks, be thankful you’re not in Kuwait

    KUWAIT CITY—Alcohol is illegal in Kuwait. That doesn’t mean there’s no alcohol here. The place is swimming in it. It’s just illegal. And that’s where the grim fun called Prohibition gets down to business. My favorite thing about the booze ban is watching you drunks stumble around embarrassing yourselves worse than any druggie trying to score in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Shame, humiliation—that’s one thing about Prohibition that most people don’t get. It’s just so goddamn embarrassing. And back in the…
  • war-nerd-sherman

    The War Nerd: Why Sherman was right to burn Atlanta

    KUWAIT CITY — There are times when the sheer ignorance and ingratitude of the American public makes you sick. This week marks the 150th anniversary of Sherman’s March from Atlanta to the Sea, which set off on November 16, 1864—the most remarkable military campaign on the 19th century, the campaign which got Lincoln reelected, broke the back of the Confederacy, and slapped most of Dixie’s insane diehards into the realization they were defeated. You’d think our newspaper of record, the…
  • war-nerd-martyr

    The War Nerd: “Martyrdom” — What’s the Payoff?

    If you’re an American, you don’t like the whole idea of “martyrs” much. The first quote you’re likely to think of is George Patton’s great line rejecting the whole idea of martyrdom in war: “No son of a bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making some other poor son of a bitch die for HIS country.” It’s a great line. Is it true? If I had to give a simple yes-or-no answer,…
  • al-baghdadi

    The War Nerd: Farewell Islamic State, we hardly knew ye

    Suddenly, Islamic State just can’t fall fast enough. All summer, the press has been saying IS will soon be accepting the keys to every city on earth, an unstoppable jihadi juggernaut. And now, after six weeks stalled out against a local militia in Kobane and going exactly nowhere in the over-hyped drive on Baghdad, even the mainstream press, represented by America’s paper of record, the New York Times, is saying what I said months ago: IS is just…
  • 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…

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