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    The War Nerd: To lighten the mood, here’s the cheery tale of Dammaj

    One of the weirdest stories to come out of the war in Yemen is the Siege of Dammaj. In a small way, it was a microcosm of the Sunni/Shia world-wide conflict. But a goofy, almost endearing microcosm, with a lot of enthusiastic kids flocking to a little Yemeni town, comic blog posts, and only a few casualties. You could cast Selena Gomez and Pharrell in the movie. At the moment I’ll take all the cheery stories I can get out…
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    The War Nerd: A Brief History Of The Yemen Clusterf*ck

    DILI, EAST TIMOR — I ought to be familiar with the Houthi, the Shia militia that’s now conquering most of what’s worth taking in Yemen. After all, the Houthis started in Saada Province, just a few miles due south of Najran, Saudi Arabia, where I was living a few years ago. But the truth is Yemen was totally closed off to everyone in Najran, and no one except a few networks of smugglers and spies who, from what I heard,…
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    Fear and Forgetting: The War Nerd in East Timor, Part One

    DILI, EAST TIMOR — I just got back from a week on a remote military base in East Timor, and boy is my soul tired. Before my week at that base, I would’ve sworn I didn’t have soul in the first place, but something sure got beaten up out there in the bush. I never wanted to go out there, to the provinces where it’s even poorer, muddier, grimmer than here in the so-called big city, Dili. They were…
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    The War Nerd: Why did Mohammed Emwazi become Jihadi John?

    Everybody knows by now that Jihadi John, that masked man with the bowie knife and the London accent, is actually Mohammed Emwazi, a rich boy from Maida Vale, one of the poshest neighborhoods in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Why, oh why, would a rich boy from a nice home go on to make snuff movies? That’s the whine you hear from the press. As always, first thing to do is question the question; why…
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    The War Nerd: Tomb Raiders of Kobane

    It’s the stuff of horror movies: A convoy of military vehicles rolls over a highly militarized border, through a blasted, burnt-out war zone, to the tomb of an ancient chieftan. They dig up his remains, but one soldier dies “in an accident” while they’re doing it. Then they bump their way back north, passing through the silent, wet streets of Kobane, and deposit the remains in a new tomb, a “temporary” resting place for the old Steppe conqueror. Then they…
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    The War Nerd: Islamic State and American Narcissism

    DILI, EAST TIMOR—It’s about time to do a premature autopsy on Islamic State (IS). It’s not quite dead, but the flies are buzzing, the thought-pieces are a-stinkin’, and the smell is impossible to ignore. It’s clear enough: Islamic State, the hope of middle-class Wahaabis around the world and darling of way too many idiot Western Leftists, is dying—wailing away like a soprano, but still dying. What’s odd is how many people who should know better are mourning its passing. Mark…
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    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…
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    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…
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    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…
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    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,…

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