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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…
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    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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    Vocativ’s ridiculous I.S.I.S. story fails to mention the company’s deep links to Israeli intelligence

    I’m sure you’ve heard the latest scare headline: “I.S.I.S. Has Now Infiltrated the Gaza Strip”! Yes indeed, this is a huge breakthrough. You know why? Because it’s the stupidest, most fake headline involving I.S.I.S. in all the years that I.S.I.S. has been featuring in fake scare headlines. I’m about ready to suggest that everybody who doesn’t have a clue about the Middle East just STFU for the duration — but then, I do take a mean-hearted pleasure in working…
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    I.S.I.S. and the Western media: Groping each other in public like a Kardashian Thanksgiving

    The war in Iraq is going pretty much like I predicted it would. The three factions—Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shia Arabs—are holding their own, consolidating their turf, not trying very hard to occupy the other groups’ territories. The Sunni militias, led by I.S.I.S., the Caliphate of Loud-Talking, has been making ridiculous noises about “liberating” not just all of Iraq but Rome and Spain. Both those claims are laughable, but at least Spain makes sense in a lame way. Spain…
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    Lessons from Gaza: The power of any high-tech military is way less than it seems on paper

    Editor’s note: The UN has called for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The following article was written by Gary Brecher, and first published in 2012 by NSFWCORP (now part of Pando). It remains remarkably relevant today. What’s going on in Gaza is war, but not the kind any commander from the past would understand. On paper, Israel should be winning easily, because they’ve got the weapons, the numbers, the organization. The weapons Hamas is…
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    The War Nerd: World Cup vs. Jihad

    KUWAIT CITY—One of the weirdest mashups in recent history is going on right now, as World Cup 2014 plays out in the middle of the Sunni/I.S.I.S. blitz across the plains of Central Iraq. If you were bouncing around online, you were sure to go from stories from Brazil—with pounding music, women in fabric-saving costumes, and booze flowing in the streets—cross-cut with grimmer images from Iraq, as I.S.I.S., which considers everything about the World Cup sinful, zoomed south and east…
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    The War Nerd: Like it or not, what’s happening in Iraq right now is part of a rational process

    There’s been a lot of hysterical reaction to I.S.I.S.’s big land-grab in Central Iraq over the last two weeks. But there’s some wonderful bad news—“bad” from I.S.I.S’s perspective — in the fact that all their gains have been on the very flat, dry plains of Central Iraq. The Northern pincer of their big advance, which was supposed to swing north through Tal Afar, has stalled badly. And for that small mercy, I give wholehearted thanks to whatever god may be.…
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    The War Nerd: Here’s everything you need to know about “too extreme for Al Qaeda” I.S.I.S.

    As the Scriptures remind us, “Do not believe the hype.” The hype of the moment is ISIS, the Sunni militia that just drove the so-called Iraqi Army out of Mosul, Tikrit, and other Iraqi cities. This is one of those dramatic military reverses that mean a lot less than meets the eye. The “Iraqi Army” routed by ISIS wasn’t really a national army, and ISIS isn’t really a dominant military force. It was able to occupy those cities because they…
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    From Najran to Bangkok to Las Vegas: My Time with NSFWCORP

    When I heard that NSFWCORP was going to issue a collection of War Nerd columns, I went back and looked at what I’d written since I started writing for NSFWCORP in September 2012. Back then, my wife and I were planning to go back to Najran, in southwestern Saudi Arabia, to earn some money teaching ESL to “The Empty Quarter,” as a colleague of ours used to call our male students. We’d planned to return to Najran in August 2012,…

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