• 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,…
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    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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    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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