Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Zulu & Al Qaeda.

This is coolbert:

I am watching this TV program just now on PBS called, "Secrets of the Dead". And this particular program dealt with the Zulu victory over the British at the Battle of Isandhlawa.

And the conventional wisdom is that the British were defeated due to their own ineptness. Reasons such as poor generalship, lack of flow of ammunition, rifles overheating, etc. And there is probably a degree of truth and credibility to all these reasons.

What the TV program also stressed, and this I did not fully comprehend as I should have when I saw this program before, is that the defeat cannot be fully blamed on merely British ineptness. Credit the Zulu with a superior performance too. Numbers, superior generalship, motivation, organization, tactics, etc. The performance of the Zulu was all very good in these regards.

It was not so much that the British were so bad, but that the Zulu was very good.

And this also has a modern analogy.

I have mentioned this before as well.

The 9/11 debacle is often attributed to American ineptness. That our security was poor. That our intelligence was poor. That a lot of people fell down on the job. Etc. It is only our fault, goes the thinking. If we had only did better, this all could have been prevented.

Well, consideration should also be given to the fact that the hijackers were also very good at what they did. Very planful and very meticulous in their planning for the hijackings and subsequent suicide attacks. Many things had to be taken into account by the terrorists when planning these hijackings. To hijack one aircraft is said to be not too easy. To hijack four airplanes simultaneously and direct them to targets for suicide attack is even magnitudes more difficult [such a thing was historically unprecedented]. And yet the terrorists were able to succeed in a manner totally unanticipated.

It seems that there is a constant here. When you lose, the tendency is to blame yourself. To not give credit to the adversary. Rather to find fault with yourself and mete out blame among those in your own camp who are felt to be "responsible".

There is a danger with all this. If you are not giving proper consideration to the ability of your adversary, you are running the risk of not being able to properly evaluate their potential. Sun Tzu's dicta concerning this is most appropriate:

"If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat."

Al Qaeda, whether we like it or not, is good at what they do, and we should realize this at all times.



This is coolbert:

Here is an interesting web site to visit. Deals with the "Origins of War".

Click here to see this site.

I have quoted from this site in the blog entry that dealt with ants and how ants are the only other creature that wages war other than man. [this may be debatable].

The author does not deal with the obvious innate aggressiveness that exists in mankind, and aggressiveness also observed in our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, chimpanzees, by the eminent naturalist, Jane Goodall.

The author seems to feel that war is an outgrowth of "civilization" and the desire of "civilized" societies to "possess" land, objects, and wealth, whatever means wealth may be measured by. Structure and organization of "civilization" leads to war. This seems to be the author's viewpoint.

Let me comment at length on this article in a further blog entry.



This is coolbert:

It seems the U.S. military has done a very good job fighting in the streets of Fallujah.

City fighting has always been difficult for any military. Defenders can take advantage of aspects of city fighting to negate firepower advantages that a more robust attacker may have.

These aspects would include narrow streets, subterranean systems [sewers, tunnels, basements], and a three dimensional battlefield [street-level, multistory buildings and rooftops], and the previously mentioned subterranean environment.

This sort of environment creates a situation that precludes maneuver that attackers can use in combination with superior firepower to readily defeat the defender. In the case of urban combat, neither maneuver or firepower is always feasible. You must often go directly at the defender, a defender who is fighting on his turf, turf that quite often has been improved to facilitate defense.

The classic urban warfare scenario of the past has been Stalingrad. The German Sixth Army, the army whose commander [von Paulus] was told by Hitler himself, "with your army you can do anything!", found itself trapped in a never ending nightmare of urban combat against a stubborn and relentless defender [Soviet troops]. This urban combat eventually wore down the Sixth Army and led to it's eventual defeat and capitulation.

The U.S. military was very much aware in advance of the difficulties of urban combat and studied the subject judiciously and did arrive at definitive conclusions and solutions to the problem of urban combat. Solutions that have been obviously been implemented.

[an impetus to studying the problems of urban combat was a realization that any war in western Europe in defense against a Soviet invasion would involve a lot of urban combat, western Europe being perhaps the most urbanized area on the planet.]

The U.S. military term for urban combat is Military Operations Urban Terrain [MOUT]. And a LOT of thought was given to the correct tactics to be employed in urban combat. Tactics that would be both successful and also minimize casualties. Among these tactics [among others] are the correct methods for:

* Clearing a building [work from the top downward within a building to the greatest extent possible].

* Movement within a building [don't move within hallways and don't enter rooms by doorways to the greatest extent possible. Use mouseholes [holes cut in walls] when moving from room to room].

* Clearing a room [toss in a hand grenade low and hard, allow it to detonate, and then rush into the room firing three round bursts low at different directions within the room. This done by a two man buddy team].

* Have proper equipment on hand. Urban warfare will require equipment that is not normally carried by the infantry soldier. To include pick axes, sledge hammers, rope ladders and knotted ropes [for scaling], demolition explosives, and lots of hand grenades.

As has been mentioned before, it seems the U.S. has learned and put into practice "lessons learned" from historical urban combats. And did very well, if the statistics of this Fallujah incursion are to be believed. And the insurgents did put up a fight, and did have months to prepare. This was not a cakewalk.

Of great value seemed to be the Bradley vehicle.

The 25 mm cannon on the Bradley was evidently put to great use in the Fallujah fighting.

The Bradley seems to be the ideal vehicle for MOUT.

Can move through narrow streets where a conventional tank cannot.

Provides protection for the crew with it's armor, has a five man team of infantry carried within that can provide further protection when dismounting, and that 25 mm cannon fires a armor piercing high explosive [APHE] round that penetrates through the walls of a building and then explodes, sending killing shrapnel through the building.

The U.S. military is to be given accolades for a job very well done. This sort of success is not often obtained without a lot of trial and error that often results in casualties that are regrettable. This was not the case here!!



Saturday, November 27, 2004


This is coolbert:

In my lifetime, without a doubt, the greatest feat of military daring-do was the Israeli "Raid at Entebbe".

An Israeli commando/ranger/special operations unit stormed the airport terminal at Entebbe, rescuing about one hundred Jews [Israelis and non-Israelis], that were being held hostage by a mixed force of Palestinians and members of the German Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang.

The prelude to the storming of the terminal was the hijacking of a French airliner carrying about two hundred passengers, half of which were Jews [again, about half of the Jews were Israeli, the other half were non-Israeli]. The hijacked airliner was first diverted to Libya, refueled, and then flown to the airport at Entebbe, Uganda. Upon landing at the airport, it became clear that the notorious dictator Idi Amin Dada was in league with the hijackers, and playing a sinister and cruel game of "international good offices" in the process. Amin's troops aided and abetted the hijackers, guarding the airport, all the while Amin playing the role of the diplomat attempting to "solve" the crisis. [It should be remembered that Amin was voted in the year 2000 one of the ten worst dictators of the last one thousand years. Amin was not only a cruel man as a dictator, but he possessed a terrible sadistic streak that manifested itself in all sorts of macabre spectacle].

The usual series of demands were made by the hijackers, demands the Israelis had no intention of acceding to. These demands included the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails. The terrorist hijackers threatened all sorts of reprisals if their demands were not met, including executing the Jewish hostages [at some point the Jews had been separated from the non-Jews]. Further the hijackers threatened to blow up the Entebbe terminal if a rescue attempt was made, the terminal already being wired for demolition in advance!!

Israel, as been mentioned, had no intention of acceding to the terrorist demands.

Immediately, the planning for a rescue operation was put into motion.

A rescue operation that was carried out.

An operation that proved to be successful in the extreme.

Israeli commando/ranger/special operations forces did storm the terminal at Entebbe, did kill the terrorists, did rescue the hostages, and did return them to Israel. The cost was slight. One Israeli soldier killed [Netanyahu, the commander of the assault force]. One teenage hostage was killed. And one hostage was subsequently murdered by Amin's goons [a woman who had been ill and had been moved to a hospital in nearby Kampala]. [Netanyahu is the older brother of B. Netanyahu, who was subsequently elected Prime Minister of Israel].

"The rescue at Entebbe is a classic example of a successful special operations. The Israelis used surprise and superior training to overcome their enemies and gain their objectives with a minimum loss of life. It was a logistically difficult mission. Thirty-five commandos in two Landrovers and a Mercedes with four APCs for firepower had to be transported over 2,200 miles and back again with over 100 hostages. The building the hostages were kept in was guarded by seven terrorists and an unknown number of Ugandan soldiers and was reported to be wired with explosives." [the actual force consisted of four C-130 transport aircraft and an airborne 707 aircraft functioning as an airborne command post and hospital].

What is so amazing about this rescue operation of the Israeli is that it was planned and brought to fruition in only six days!!!!!

Normally, military operations of this sort take a lot of time and planning and training.

Of course, the Israeli did not have the advantage of time in this case, but nonetheless, that they were able to succeed in such a marked fashion came as a tremendous shock and surprise to the whole world.

Several factors contributed to Israeli success.

Israeli did have in existence for some time a highly trained, motivated, and experienced anti-terrorist unit specializing in hostage rescue operations. This was the unit that carried out the assault on the terminal at Entebbe. The Sayaret Matkal. This unit constantly trained for these type of hostage rescue operations. Constantly training for any scenario that can be conceived. And constantly devising stratagems and tactics for each scenario. Planning for Entebbe was relatively straightforward according to Israeli commentators. The Israeli were able to pick and choose operational elements from a variety of hostage scenarios and put a workable plan together in relatively short time.

The Israeli did have good intelligence of the situation on the ground. This intelligence was the result of a very intensive intelligence effort coordinated by the Israeli General Rehavam Ze'evi. This man has been mentioned in a previous blog. The operatives of Ze'evi were able to debrief half of the original passengers [the non-Jews] of the hijacked airliner [these persons had been released as a "good will" gesture by the terrorists]. In hindsight, this release proved to be a fatal error on the part of the hijackers. From a careful debriefing of the released passengers, the Israelis were able to obtain intelligence vital to the assault force. How many terrorists were there? How many stood guard duty at any one time? What was the inside layout of the terminal like? Where were the hostages being held? What was the role of the Ugandan soldiers? And most crucial, was the fact that the terminal did have explosives present, BUT THE EXPLOSIVES WERE NOT WIRED!!!!!

Advantages aside, the Israeli did have a number of difficulties that confronted them, difficulties that seemed to be insurmountable. The long distance [2200 miles the aircraft carrying the assault force would have to fly without detection through hostile territory]. The element of surprise was crucial. Surprise had to be achieved for the assault to be successful!! And of course, returning to Israel unscathed without interference also had to be considered.

For each difficulty, a solution was found by the Israeli and implemented.

Penetration of hostile airspace undetected was achieved by low level flight. To elude the radars of the various Arab countries and also Soviet Navy ships in the Red Sea.

Surprise of the hijackers and the Ugandans at the terminal was also achieved. This was done in part by using dark skinned Israeli commandos who wore "blackface". [this maybe somewhat of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, the use of such "pseudo-forces" does quite often offer an advantage to attackers, throwing the defender off guard].

Return to Israel was facilitated by refueling in Kenya and destroying Ugandan MIG aircraft on the ground. The Israeli, in addition to the Sayeret Matkal, had additional army units to provide support and eliminate any possible Ugandan reaction. This force is described as being equipped with APC's [armored personnel carriers]. I have also read of these vehicles being described as some sort of armored jeep, equipped with recoilless rifles.

In my mind, perhaps the greatest advantage the Israeli had in this operation was the element of surprise. I don't think a reputable military man in the world would have ever expected that such an operation as the Entebbe raid could have be done. This must have also been inconceivable to the hijackers, who thought they had gotten themselves beyond the reach of the long-arm of the Israeli military.

In the aftermath of the Entebbe raid, some interesting comments and observations were made by a variety of people. Some of these comments and observations were ill conceived, some were not.

The late Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, who authorized the raid at Entebbe, was later quoted as making an interesting statement concerning the raid itself. Rabin was quoted as saying that the decision had been made to proceed with the assault, no matter what. "Even if the rescuers were all killed, and all the hostages killed as well, it still would have been worth it!!!"

TRY is the mentality at work here.

[After the abortive American Desert One operation in Iran, three years after Entebbe, Rabin was asked about the American failure and how it contrasted to Israeli success at Entebbe. Rabin replied that even if the American attempt was a failure, it still sent a message. That message is, "we are going to TRY and you are not going to be allowed to push us around!!"].

The American gadfly "activist" Jesse Jackson spouted outrage at the Israeli success, saying that "this meant anytime foreign forces want to invade African countries, they can feel free to do so!!"

Some gadfly pundits have pointed to several aspects of this Israeli military operation and raised questions.

One comment has been that the Israeli MUST have had American intelligence help in this operation. Presumably overhead reconnaissance satellite photos of the Entebbe airport. With hindsight, it can be seen that this is just not so. The debriefing by Israeli intelligence of the hundred or so released passengers gave sufficient and vital intelligence for the Israeli.

Another comment is that the Israeli must have some sort of secret weapon to fly the 2200 miles from Israel to Entebbe undetected by the radars of the various Arab countries and Soviet ships in the Red Sea. This is also nonsense. All the Israeli did is very good low level flight on a path calculated to evade radars of hostile forces.

"The difficult we are doing now, the impossible, give us a while" - - David Ben Gurion.

One further observation.

[Dora Bloch, the Israeli hostage murdered in the Ugandan hospital at the behest of Amin in retaliation for the successful Israeli assault, had her body hastily buried, and then reburied in a secret location by Ugandans opposed to Amin [with great danger to themselves]. It was known to the Ugandans that Amin, with his penchant for ghoulish, cannibalistic behavior, might further desecrate the body of Dora Bloch. This did not happen, due to the quick action of these brave Ugandans. Dora Bloch did receive proper burial later in Israel, after the overthrow of Amin].



Wednesday, November 24, 2004


This is coolbert:

I see that the movie "Alexander the Great" has been released to the general viewing public. An Oliver Stone production. The movie is getting three and one half stars, but the critics seems to say it is over-long, and over-done.

Certain aspects of the life of Alexander are dutifully shown in the movie.

Alexander, often rated as the greatest General of all time, and a man who had great physical courage, is shown in the movie as engaging in a long term homosexual relationship with one of his closest companions, Hephaistion.

This does seem to be fact? Alexander was a man that today we would refer to as being bisexual [this term did not exist in the era of Alexander]. He did marry [to Roxanne, although did not begat himself]. But for the most part, his sexuality was expressed in man-man love.

This was not unusual for the period.

Phillip, the father of Alexander, was reputed to have had a number of male lovers.

This seems to have been a common feature of Hellenic society at the time. Perhaps this was an expression of the love the Greeks had for the human body, male and female.

As has been mentioned in a previous blog entry, one of the Greek city-states sent a battalion of homosexuals to fight at the battle of Charonea [the battle that established the dominance of Macedon, led by Phillip, over the other Greek city-states]. This battalion was wiped out to the last man. Phillip upon viewing the bodies of the dead homosexuals, was said to have wept profusely.

Unusual sexual proclivities [at least from the standpoint of modern western society] are not confined to the fighting men of the Hellenic-Alexander period either.

Among the eunuchs of China, were famous generals and a most famous admiral. These men, eunuchs in the service of the Emperor, had the ability to overthrow dynasties and were known for successfully commanding armies that had a marked impact upon Chinese history.

Two Chinese eunuch generals were instrumental in establishing a new order that was favorable in their eyes.

"Two eunuch generals raised Yi Zong's fifth son to the throne as Xi Zong (r. 873-88)."

Even the great Genghis Khan met defeat [one of the only two defeats on the battlefield Genghis suffered] at the hands of a eunuch general. "The second, and last defeat of Genghis Khan took place near Peking in 1213 . . . The eunuch general Hu Sha-hu had rebelled against Emperor Wei-wang, killed him, seized power, and installed another Chin prince on the throne . . . Approaching Peking, while crossing a river, his [Genghis's] army was ambushed and defeated by a larger Chinese army under General Hu Sha-hu." This according to Dupuy.

The Chinese Admiral Zheng He led trading fleets of massive size from China to the Indian Ocean and also defeated in naval battle a pirate that preyed upon Chinese merchant vessels.

"In Indonesia, the fleet defeated a powerful Chinese pirate who was later brought back to China for execution."

"His missions showed impressive demonstrations of organizational capability and technological might, but did not lead to significant trade, since Zheng He was an admiral and an official, not a merchant."

Read about the Admiral by clicking here.

Among the troops of the Ottoman Empire, the Janissaries were renowned for their fighting ability and peculiar life style.

These elite troops, formed as they were from Christian youth that had been nominally enslaved [is such a thing possible, to be nominally enslaved??] by the Ottoman Sultan and converted to Islam, were held to a very strict regimen of behavior.

NO beards were allowed [only freemen in the Empire could wear beards] [Alexander, incidentally, was the first man to popularize shaving his beard].

And CELIBACY!! For life. [as long as they were in the Janissary corps??]. This very strict and some would say absurd regimen did create a military unit of great skill, cohesion, and esprit de corps. A military unit that was for centuries unbeatable by the powers of Europe. Celibacy did not diminish the ability of the Janissary Corps to defeat their opponents. Indeed, it may have contributed to their superior fighting spirit.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy of the modern U.S. military would not have made sense to Phillip of Macedon, the various Chinese Emperors, or the Ottoman Sultans.


Monday, November 22, 2004

Unconditional Surrender.

This is coolbert:

During World War Two [WW2], the German people fought until the end and followed Hitler down a road to destruction. And many commentators have offered reasoning as to why this was. It seems that when faced with the ultimatum of unconditional surrender, the German people felt they had no recourse but to fight to the end, regardless of the consequences.

And it is true, the Germans did not have an option other than unconditional surrender. The Big Three Powers [Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the U.S.], all agreed early on that no option other than unconditional surrender would be offered to the Axis forces.

And there was sound reasoning for this line of thinking. It was felt, especially by Churchill and Roosevelt, that at the end of the war, a total restructuring of the German, Italian, and Japanese societies was required to ensure a lasting peace. The Axis powers were felt to be so irredeemable that this was the only action that would be worthy of the sacrifice made to defeat Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Soviets under Stalin had concerns about the invasion and destruction of their own country as a primary motivating factor in insisting upon unconditional surrender, but nonetheless, all Three Big Powers did agree upon this course of action. Unconditional surrender and nothing else!!

Of the leaders of the Big Three Powers, Stalin in particular was most adamant about not offering terms to the Germans, "no negotiations under any circumstances" was the phrase Stalin was fond of. And Stalin WAS very suspicious of the western powers [Great Britain and the U.S.] in this regard. It is known that all during the war, Stalin was constantly prodding his secret agents that he had among the western powers to be constantly on the lookout for any evidence that the western powers were going behind his back and negotiating with Germany. Or even contemplating to do so.

And all throughout the war, the western powers WERE true to their word and did not attempt any sort of negotiations with Germany, or did even contemplate doing so. Roosevelt in particular was extremely sensitive to assuaging the fears of Stalin, going to sometimes ridiculous ends to make sure that Stalin's "sensitivity" regarding unconditional surrender was always mollified.

And there is a tremendous irony to all this.

Stalin, while constantly lecturing the western powers as to the virtues of unconditional surrender, was HIMSELF NEGOTIATING WITH HITLER, and doing so behind the back of the western powers. It seems that in the summer of 1943 [presumably after Kursk], Ribbentrop and Molotov, the Foreign Ministers of Germany and the Soviet Union respectively, DID meet to discuss a possible negotiated settlement between the Germans and the Soviets. This meeting was held on German occupied Soviet territory, and held supposedly in secret.

But the allied western powers did know about the meeting. This was learned from decrypted radio intercepts of German Enigma traffic. While keeping good faith themselves and having to listen to constant lectures from Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt knew that Stalin WAS thinking about and was considering negotiations with Germany, and had began initial parley on the subject!! It would be interesting to know what the reactions of Churchill and Roosevelt were to this intelligence. Conventional histories of WW2 do not deal with this at all.

The meeting between the Ribbentrop and Molotov came to nothing, but nonetheless, it was held. Something that Stalin would not countenance in his western allies.

This is the type of incident that you would have expected from Stalin. A scheming, duplicitous, two-faced bastard if there ever was one!!


Saturday, November 20, 2004


This is coolbert:


An idyllic paradise.

Now a popular tourist destination for westerners.

Was at one time a very exotic tourist destination, but with the advent of modern jet transport, it has become quite popular.

The image of the Balinese people is usually one of a peaceful, contented lot. Living lives of artistry and spirituality that is remarkable. A people that practice a religion that is a mix of Buddhism and Hinduism. This way of life presents a certain attraction to the western tourist, an attraction that demonstrates a marked contrast with the western way of life and it's constant search for greater materialism.

Tradition is very important to the Balinese. The manifestations of tradition also hold great appeal for the tourist. Traditions that include, dance, worship in different forms, feasts and what can only be described as lavish spectacle. These spectacles are a main reason for the tourists arriving in the first place.

There is one tradition of the Balinese, however, that I doubt would not hold much attraction for the tourist.

That is the traditional practice of paputan. Ritual mass suicide. It seems that when the Balinese are faced with a situation that is irredeemable and irrevocable, one option is for paputan.

And do not think that is some ancient tradition no longer practiced. The last incident of paputan occurred in 1906.

At that time, an invading Dutch military force sought to bring the King of Bali to heel. Rather than submit, the King and his family, his nobles, his retainers, and a large number of the King's followers decided to commit paputan. March into the guns of the Dutch and allow themselves to be massacred.

And this is what happened.

Dressing themselves in their finest archaic regalia, the men equipped with swords [keriss], and the women equipped with daggers, the King and his followers marched en masse upon the massed rifles of the Dutch, to be killed.

Four thousand Balinese committed paputan in this one incident. Four thousand!!!

"The symbolic character of the traditional city centre is reinforced even more by the monument which commemorates the puputan, the suicide of members of the royal family who refused to surrender to the Dutch in 1906. Men, white-clad women, and children were shot by the Dutch and when only wounded stabbed themselves and each other to death, because they preferred an honourable death to cowardly surrender."

What were the Balinese saying here?? They were saying, "we die, but we are not defeated." The Balinese choose the time and place and the circumstances of their own deaths.

And showed contempt for the Dutch in doing so. As an example of this contempt, the women threw their jewelry at the Dutch, attempting to goad the Dutch to fire on them, which the Dutch obligingly did so!!

[This very incident is reminiscent of the mass suicide of nine hundred Jewish zealots atop the fortress of Masada in 70 A.D. Rather than submit to Roman rule, the zealots also committed mass suicide. The chronicles of the time register the respect and admiration the Romans had when they surveyed the scene of the dead zealots, realizing that the zealots chose death over submission.]

Read about the Balinese sword [keriss] by clicking here. These swords are also said to possess magical powers. This is in keeping with the beliefs of societies all over the world that swords are imbued with magical powers. Excalibur, Weyland the Smith, the wizards of the Zulu. Swords and the smiths that forge them are said to have magical powers.

The keriss of the king of Bali was taken by the Dutch as a prize of war. This keriss now resides in the Indonesian National Museum in Jakarta.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004


This is coolbert:

Ants, as been mentioned in a previous blog entry, do wage war and do so in a manner reminiscent of the way with which man wages war at the primitive level.

It is no wonder that ants have played a particularly crucial role in the theories of Edward O. Wilson [the Ant Man].

Recent program on TV showed how various types of animals live and thrive in proximity to man. Ants being one of those animals. Ants do well in the proximity of man, flourishing off the food scraps that man, with his sloppy eating habits, leaves behind.

This recent television show highlighted this ability of the ants.

Ants have an ability to forage for food in the manner of an human army conducting military operations.

Reconnaissance is carried out by scout ants who begin the search for food by fanning out and searching in a random pattern. This random search pattern ensures that the widest area is searched, more or less guaranteeing some sort of results.

Upon finding a source of food, the scouts then begin a more detailed search of the immediate area. To see what types of food are available and which type will be the easiest to carry back to the nest with the reward of the most energy. Efficiency is most important here.

Having found the food source for the the ant colony, the scouts then return to the nest, communicating their discovery as they go. The scouts lay down a chemical trail that allows the main body of the ant colony to follow to the target [the food source].

If at some point, the chemical trail to the target is broken, the scouts from the point of the break will begin again the random search pattern, hoping to rediscover the source of the food.

This foraging of ants, done as it is with seeming military precision, has intrigued many naturalists over the years. What is most intriguing is that this sophisticated behavior exists in animals that DO NOT POSSESS BRAINS. This behavior is done all by chemical reaction hard wired into the body of the ant. [the term hard wired usually refers to some sort of brain network. I am using this term here referring to the ants, even though ants do not possess brains].

Ants waging war is commented about by various authorities when speculating on the very nature of warfare itself:

"Although it is possible to dismiss virtually all forms of hostility among animals as being not truly warlike, there remains one glaring exception... ants. Besides ourselves, they are the most social and well organized of creatures. Virtually all prerequisites for war are present in ant society—government, armies, politics, and lasting societal results—but the practitioners are automatons just a few millimeters long. Nonetheless, a number of creatures within the vast family Formicidae qualify as true war makers. Here, not among ourselves, we can find that true warfare originated as far back as fifty million years ago."

"when Thoreau watches two armies of ants wage war with all the 'ferocity and carnage of a human battle,' Thoreau’s attention is not that of an entomologist describing their behavior objectively, but rather that of a philosopher thinking about the universal urge to destroy."

Behavior [war] which in man is thought of as a well-thought out social activity, is in ants nothing more than chemical reactions.

Does this pose a problem for those persons speculating on the very nature of the causes of warfare?? I am not sure.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004


This is coolbert:

I want to juxtapose two incidents that occurred just the last few days in Fallujah. These two incidents in the most graphic terms illustrate the difference between the forces of "good" , the U.S., and the forces of "evil", the jihadists.

The two incidents in question are the shooting of the wounded jihadi prisoner by a U.S. Marine and the finding of the terribly and grotesquely mutilated body of a "western woman" who was being held hostage by the jihadi terrorists.

As regards the first incident, the shooting of the wounded jihadist, it does appear to be true. This shooting was caught on video and audio. This entire incident has raised a world wide stir, especially in the Arabic world.

What was this Marine thinking and doing?

Apparently, the Marine doing the shooting was under the belief that this individual wounded jihadi was shamming. Faking his wounds so as to get the drop on the Marine. This sort of stuff does happen. And the Laws of Land Warfare and the common practices and customs of war are quite clear on this matter. If the man is shamming, the Marine CAN protect himself and shoot to kill. If the man is merely wounded, the Marine cannot shoot.

It seems this Marine did reasonably believe the jihadi was shamming, and was within his rights to shoot.

It was later found the jihadi was NOT shamming, was wounded, but this was of course after the fact. The Marine has been taken into custody and an investigation if forthcoming. Listening to the tape of the incident, it sounds to me as if the Marine did act reasonably, did fear for his life, thought the jihadi was shamming, and did act in good faith.


And now an investigation will be held. The Marine maybe completely exonerated. But what is important is that an investigation is being held. The killing of wounded prisoners is not something that is tolerated. The forces of "good" are at work here.

This second incident, the murder and subsequent grotesque mutilation of this "western woman", is something of an entirely different nature.

The descriptions of what happened to this woman, a hostage, are most horrific. Throat slit, limbs severed, disemboweled, and face disfigured. Body left to be found by the U.S. troops.

This is the act of the jihadis that can only be described as inhuman, depraved, cold-blooded, and the sign of an extremely disturbed, malevolently evil mind at work. To take a woman hostage in the first place is bad enough. Typical terrorist activity to be deplored. Killing the woman is yet another thing. To mutilate and disfigure the dead body in such a manner is far beyond the pale of reasonable human experience. The forces of "evil" are at work here.

Consider the two incidents and the mentality at work in both. One is an almost spontaneous act during the heat of battle. The second is an act of cold-blooded sadistic savagery.

Consider further what will be the response in the Muslim world to this grotesque and obscene act of murdering the "western woman"? Will the mullahs of Iran want to do an investigation? Will the jihadis themselves exact justice on the perpetrators? Will the Arab "street" hang their heads in shame? MY guess is, NO! Emphatically so!

It would seem to me that in the Islamic world, those persons who consider themselves "moderates", persons of "good will", "reformers", or just the average Muslim in the "street", should place close attention to this act of barbarity.

This is a sign that something is awfully, incredibly, terribly wrong!! Among their fellow co-religionists are persons of the most EVIL nature. As witnessed by what was done to the "western woman". The entire Islamic world needs to stand up in response to this barbarism and say very loudly, "STOP, STOP!!!!"

These malevolently evil "muslims" who perpetrated this atrocity are a danger to not only "western women", but to the average Muslim themselves. Voices need to be heard. MODERATE MUSLIMS NEED TO ACT, AND NOW. THESE VILLAINS ARE A DANGER TO EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE MODERATES THEMSELVES!!!!!

Will they speak and be heard??? My guess is, NO!



Sunday, November 14, 2004


This is coolbert:

This current battle being fought in Falluja to root out and destroy the insurgent "nest" may turn out to create a perspective in the media similar to one battle fought during the Tet Offensive of 1968.

A North Vietnamese/Viet Cong [NVA/VC] unit had occupied and entrenched itself in a Vietnamese town [Ben Tre] that was considered to be friendly to the South Vietnamese government in Saigon. American and South Vietnamese forces were required to retake the town. A very terrible fight for control of the town began. And very strong American firepower was called in during the fighting to destroy the NVA/VC "pockets of resistance". This firepower included heavy artillery and close air support. And the use of this overwhelming firepower and ground attack by American forces was successful. The NVA/VC unit was wiped out and the town was retaken. But at very great cost. The U.S. commander was quoted [this quote became famous and has been repeated over and over ever since] as saying, "we had to destroy the town to save it".

This quote is highly disputed. Attributed to Peter Arnett and cannot be authenticated:

"The 'We had to destroy the village to save it' comment, by Peter Arnett is told too. Peter Arnett was an anti war reporter from the beginning. In 1965 he wrote a bogus report about our Marines using toxic gas on the VC. It was just tear and pepper gas, and was widely used in Vietnam to clear bunkers and tunnels. It was thought more humane than blowing up the people in the tunnels or bunkers. Arnett reported it as poison gas and made world wide headlines. This is discussed in Utters Battalion"

In this book, he invents a quote "We had to destroy the village to save it" and again it makes world wide headlines.

During the Tet offensive at the battle of Ben Tre, Arnett says an Army Major made the comment. Neither the Major, or any other living person heard the comment."


"You've probably heard the phrase: "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it." Peter Arnett included that quote in a story and attributed it to an unnamed American officer. The quote ran in a February 7th story describing a battle at Ben Tre. It made it sound like the Americans had gone completely insane, flattening villagers to save them from themselves.

Ben Tre WAS destroyed, but not by Americans. It was destroyed by the retreating Viet Cong."

Nonetheless, so much damage was done to the town that the townspeople had more or less nothing to return to. And many civilians, loyal to the central government in Saigon, had been killed during the fighting.

Falluja is not an exact comparison of course.

The city is much larger [250,000] people, and the populace is mostly Sunni Muslim, and presumably opposed to the interim Iraqi government, not loyal. However, the fighting has been very intense, with very strong American firepower being used. It seems this firepower runs the gamut from "daisy cutter" bombs [these bombs are designed to set off by their pressure wave land mines, booby traps, etc.], TOW missiles, direct tank fire, etc., has been employed to destroy the insurgent "nest". And successfully so.

The city has been recaptured.

But it seems that a lot of destruction to private dwellings and the infrastructure has been done too. And this is not avoidable. To recapture the city firepower had to be used. But it must be understood that when the decision to use that firepower is made, you are going to have this type of destruction. Now a massive rebuilding task must commence. A rebuilding task that will be hampered by further insurgency and lack of resources. This will create perhaps even more animosity among the Sunnis that existed before the American offensive to retake the city.

Further, a perspective may be created that the entire town of Falluja was destroyed in the process and this effort only becomes self defeating. As it seemed to at Ben Tre, Vietnam. We are not winning the war it seems, rather, we are as elephants stomping ants in an indiscriminate manner.

It seems the tactic being employed now by the provisional government in Baghdad and the American forces is to clear these insurgent "nests" out one city at a time, hope to restore order, and prepare for the forthcoming elections. Only time will tell if this tactic will work.

I am sure Falluja, either before the offensive, and surely after, is not going to be strong supporters of the central government in Baghdad.

[personal note: It is just astounding that already many anti-war blogs I have visited have hit upon this same subject and are creating the perspective and image that there IS an almost exact parallel between Ben Tre and Falluja. THE TOWN IS BEING DESTROYED TO SAVE IT.]



Saturday, November 13, 2004


This is coolbert:

I see that Iris Chang has died.

Wrote an interesting history of the "Rape of Nanking". The Japanese atrocity [among many] perpetrated on the Chinese people during the 1930's era war between China and Japan.

[Upon capturing Nanking, the Nationalist capital, the Japanese troops embarked on a thirty day episode of mass rape, murder, and general mayhem. This is one of the most sordid and depraved incidents of the entire war between China and Japan.]

Iris also wrote several other histories and her death at the age of thirty six will be counted as a tragic loss.

It seems that a dramatic incident in Iris's life changed her perspective on World War Two [WW2], the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities that ended the war in the Pacific, and the whole nature of the relationship between China, Japan, and other Asian countries in the period before, during, and after WW2. This change in perspective provided a marked stimulus that resulted in the history on the "Rape of Nanking".

A number of years ago, Iris and several of her relatives fell into a discussion about the American atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And the opinion of Iris was that the atomic bombings were while perhaps necessary, were excessive. Suddenly, Iris's Chinese aunt, born and raised in China, and who has been listening quietly all the time, blurts out something that Iris had not expected. According to what Iris remembered, the aunt says to the effect that:

"My older aunt, my dah ahiee (big aunt), is actually very small. Her wrists are the size of napkin rings, as delicate as rice paper--and the clothes we pass around in our family do not fit her slight frame. She is shy, especially in English. And during one heated family discussion on the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a mid-peninsula Sizzler, she kept quiet. I had pointed out to her rather talkative husband that the U.S. government was still the only government that had dropped the atomic bomb on human beings. Hiroshima, I could maybe see, but Nagasaki too? At this point, my petite aunt spoke up. "I think they should have bombed the whole country!" she bellowed, and then lapsed back into silence."


"It was the first time I realized how profoundly the Chinese were affected by World War II. Even then, I was not familiar with what had happened in the country of my mother's birth during the war"

After this outburst, the aunt then clammed up and was silent on the topic after that.

And this is all true. Undeniably, the Japanese DID in WW2, as been mentioned in previous blog entries, behaved as sadistic beasts and crazed rapists. Carrying the act of rape as a weapon of war to an unprecedented level. This of course was not just sex-crazed soldiers lusting after Chinese women. This was an act of power. The Japanese are saying [whether they realize it or not], "we dominate you and can abuse you and do with you as we please."


After doing much research, Iris, probably ashamed at her lack of knowledge, devoted an entire book to the "Rape of Nanking". Iris's entire perspective on the war and Japan's role in same was changed totally about face based upon a single statement of fact by her aunt.

[to discuss even with family such shameful incidents as mass rape is probably a taboo in Chinese society. People know this stuff happened, but are hesitant to talk about it, for fear of shame. My appraisal. That Iris's aunt responded as she did was due to being provoked by her family members for perhaps being so ignorant and seemingly sympathetic toward the Japanese].


Labels: ,

Friday, November 12, 2004

November 9 marked 15 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, built in 1961.

Amazing that it is 15 years. Our fathers defeated the Nazi and Japanese regimes in WW II. A great victory that most people recognize.

Our generation defeated Communism in WW III. We never really celebrated or understood, partly because it went out with a wimper. A very good thing. The Communists of the Soviet Union, China, South Vietnam, Cambodia, & Laos killed far more people than the Nazi / Japanese war machine, and were more dangerous because they had the power to destroy the world in a nuclear war.

We did it partly with military force, including numerous small conflicts plus Korea and Vietnam. We also did it in part with a very large military build up that the Soviets could not match.

But just as important was civilian engagement, where the Russians and Chinese got to know our country. They eventually saw that we were not so bad, and they saw that our system greatly outperformed theirs by virtually every measure.

Case in point - A high level delegation from the Soviet Construction Ministry, including the top guy, visited Chicago. My wife was the Director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. They wanted to see our Federally funded new towns. Beth and I took them to University Park, where we lived at the time. UP is 90% African American, with very low housing values, but still provides nice homes and a fine community. The Soviets could see that we provided quality homes and communities for our lower income people - much better than they could provide for their middle class.

We took them shopping at our malls. They liked KMart the best, and bought all kinds of things.

I think these contacts eventually convinced their leadership elite that their system was broken, and could not be fixed. They had the courage to change. And they have a long way to go, but the world is a far better and safer place today than 20 years ago. And I am optimistic that over time they will convert to quality democratic countries with good economic performance.

> From: "susan”

> Subject: war
> Last night while watching the news on the fighting in Fallujah, I couldn't help but feel a sense of insane futility of this war in Iraq. This is not the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWI, or WWII, whereby we're fighting for the freedom of OUR country, or fighting for the freedom of the ENTIRE world, with the assistance of the ENTIRE world. I am appalled that this government of ours would stoop to such levels in sending American men and women over the age of 45 to Iraq! Has common sense taken a holiday at the highest federal levels in our government? Just how effective would someone over the age of 45 be on a battlefield?

Craig - I volunteered, but apparently they agreed with Sue. Several of my Vietnam era friends are serving in Iraq now. Most of the old guys are not charging up hills, but then most of the guys in any war don’t do that. All kinds of people making the airplanes fly, moving men and machines around, providing support.


> I see parallels between this war in Iraq and that of Vietnam. Both were political in nature and both were fought against perceived evils. Fighting Communism with human lives was just as insane as fighting a dictator's perceived threats. Iraq use to be a dictator state, now it's a terrorist state-ly playground and our presence there has accerbated an already dangerous and volitile situation.


> It will not happen, at least not for several generations. To do so, would require a dismantling of the ENTIRE Middle East, but not with combat or physical force.
> The policing of the World by the United States of America is the forerunner to our decline.
> Susan.

Craig replies. Our current war is certainly divisive, and reasonable people can disagree on whether it makes sense or not. A large percentage of the world think we are crazy to be doing this. They could be right.

The argument for the war is complicated, but goes something like this.

We are now engaged in WW 4, having won WW 2 against the Nazi/Japanese, and WW 3 against communism.

WW 4 is the war against terrorism, primarily Islamic.

What were our choices after 911 and numerous other attacks - our embassies, ships, civilians, etc.

1. Do Nothing - always governments first option
2. Turn the other cheek. Forgive the terrorists. Very Christian. Hope they stop killing us.
3. Use diplomatic means and foreign aid to convince the terrorists to be nice to us.
4. Hire Hollywood to make movies to improve our image in the Islamic World
5. Convert to Islam, confess the error of our ways, eliminate our hedonistic ways, and put women in their place.
6. Increase police and security in the US
7. Hunt them down and kill them
8. Bomb them back to the stone age

We chose options 6 and 7. I think that was probably the best choice.

Where did we choose to fight? First in Afghanistan, where the bad guys were in charge. We quickly whipped them, but are still searching for the remaining bad guys in their caves and hideouts.

Then we invaded Iraq. Virtually everyone thought Saddam was a bad guy, who raped and murdered and started wars, and tried to assassinate our President. He paid the families of terrorist suicides $25,000 to encourage more killing. We also thought he had or wanted weapons of mass destruction and that he might provide them to terrorists to use against us. WMD and terrorist links appear to be less than was thought.

Saddam was the kingpin in a very bad neighborhood of countries that hate us. Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Libya are also quite bad. By taking Saddam down, the other countries learned a bit of fear, which hopefully will help them not to support terrorists or provide them with WMD. Libya was the first shoe to drop- Kadafi had bombed our airplane over Lockerbie. Now he is promising to go straight.

The plan is to try to create a stable, affluent, peaceful democratic Iraq which will be a model for the Middle East. The Middle East would become prosperous, and drop their hatred of the west. Palestine could even become a stable democracy, and develop peace with Israel.

Now, this is certainly not easy. Maybe it is impossible. We may fail.

I am hoping that we prevail. We probably won’t know for 10 to 30 years.

Just like our war with Communism, it will either go out with a quiet wimper (We will gratefully accept that outcome).

Or it will fail. And we will find that out when terrorists get their hands on serious WMD, and deliver it to our cities. Hoping Chicago is well down that list. I would think New York, Washington, LA, and San Fran are ahead of us.

Keep your fingers crossed, and Prayers flowing.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

This is coolbert: Here is a topic that has become very germane with all this talk about restoring the draft recently. The topic is the "sole surviving son". And is also germane with regard to my previous blog entry about families in the U.S. being so small, sometimes with just one child. What people in the U.S. generally believe is that the law is that if a family has just one son, that son cannot be drafted and be compelled to go to war or even into the military at all.

And this is just not true!

"Contrary to popular belief, "only sons," "the last son to carry the family name," and "sole surviving sons" must register and they can be drafted. However, they may be entitled to a peacetime deferment if there is a military death in the immediate family."

It is true if the son is the "sole surviving son" AS A RESULT OF MILITARY ACTION! This is the key part. The offspring can only be considered to be the sole surviving son if this is due to military action. The father or a sibling was killed in military action.

"The salient points being that you are only exempt from service if one of your parents or siblings died as a result of military service, and, perhaps most importantly, this exemption does not apply during times of war."

And this provision applies only in PEACETIME. During a time of war, Congress can change and rescind this measure at their discretion.

"But again, in times of war, this exemption is null and void."

I can very well see this issue becoming a hot button topic if and when the draft is restored [I doubt at this point it will be].



This is coolbert: Evil is the correct term to apply to the terrorists of this world.

Recently a Japanese diplomat in Lebanon visited the leaders of Hezbollah and lectured them on the evil of terrorist suicide bombings.

And the Hezbollah leaders told the Japanese diplomat that they had derived inspiration for the tactic of suicide bombing from the kamikaze of World War Two [WW2].

This Japanese diplomat reminded the Hezbollah that the kamikaze were military men, in uniform, acting openly, attacking other military men.

During the kamikaze attacks of WW2, both the attacker and the defender knew what the score was. American military men subject to the attack of the kamikaze did respect the Japanese doing what they were doing [attempting to dive their bomb laden planes into American ships]. The Japanese piloting their planes knew what they were doing, did it in an open manner and took all the full risks. The American targets were military men, armed, and able to defend themselves.

It was a fair fight, military men against military men, and in the open.

With the modern terrorist and their suicide bombings, we see the opposite.

We see determined young men, sometimes women, and even the phenomenon of pre-teens even willing to do suicide bombings. [And one would have to wonder about the mental state of pre-teens or even teenagers willing to act in a suicide bombing].

But the problem is how it is done and who are the intended targets. Carrying out a suicide mission dressed in civilian clothes and attacking a pizza parlor or a dance hall with murderous intent is hardly what a kamikaze pilot would have done.

Even with the weaponry used by the suicide bomber as employed by say Hamas or Hezbollah we see a problem.

Detonating a nail laden bomb is one thing.

To use rat poison as also part of the bomb is another. This is strictly against all the Laws of Land Warfare and the common practices and customs of war [the use of poison at war is strictly prohibited. As is the use of weapons that cause unnecessary suffering. The rat poison acts as an anti-coagulant. Persons wounded bleed profusely and may not survive the many wounds they suffer and bleed from because of the use of the rat poison]. This use of poison also demonstrates a mentality by the attacker that can only be considered to be depraved.

[Here is an example of how issues can be made of such a topic, violations of Land Warfare by using weaponry that causes "unnecessary suffering". During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese accused American forces of using a bomb that had a plastic case. When the bomb would detonate, Vietnamese wounded by the detonation would suffer unnecessarily because of the plastic being embedded in their bodies. Plastic that was not detectable by x-ray machines. The surgeons did not know where the plastic was to remove it. This was found to be true. The U.S. had designed the bomb so that the plastic would melt when the bomb would detonate, but it was found that particles were still not melting fully and were becoming projectiles unto themselves. A simple fix of the chemical mix for the plastic casing of the bomb solved the problem. But this was not INTENTIONAL AND WAS REMEDIED!]


[Terrorism is also a sign of weakness. A method of attack that is indicative of desperation. A sign that the perpetrators themselves realize they are weak and cannot gain what they want by conventional methods].




Thursday, November 04, 2004

I really detest terrorists. They attack civilian targets indiscriminately. They certainly do not rate the title of military. They are not cowards, but they are evil.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Unlawful Combatant.

This is coolbert:

Many people have heard the statement, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter".

Well, how valid is this statement?

It seems that a whole lot of terms are used by the media to characterize practitioners of unconventional warfare. They are sometimes called "terrorists", "fighters", "guerrillas", "partisans", etc.

So what is the status of these "combatants" under international law, the laws of land warfare, and the common practices of war, even if unwritten?

Very clearly defined criteria is generally applied to legally determine who is a legal combatant and who is not. Who is entitled to fair and humane treatment under the common practices of warfare and who is not.

Usually, there are criteria that are applied to determine who is a terrorist and who is a guerilla. The former is considered to be illegal, the latter is not. These criteria includes:

(1) Wearing a uniform or displaying a badge of rank identifiable at a distance.

(2) Carrying a weapon openly.

(3) Obeying the laws of land warfare.

If you are a combatant and you follow with consistency any of the three above criteria, you are a legal combatant and should be recognized as such.

Consider the Afghan fighters in the war between the Afghans and the Soviets. These Afghans did not have uniforms. But for the most part they did carry their weapons openly, and did engage Soviet troops in typical guerilla style combat. The Afghan fighters under prevailing international law and common customs of war were entitled to treatment as legal combatants.

The forces of Al Qaeda are an entirely different story altogether.

Al Qaeda combatants do not carry weapons openly. They do not wear uniforms. And they attack with deliberate malice and forethought civilians. With the intention of killing as many unarmed defenseless civilians as possible.

Al Qaeda combatants therefore do not qualify in any way, shape, or form as legal combatants under prevailing international law and the customary practices of warfare. These are illegal combatants not entitled to the normal fair and humane treatment normally accorded legal combatants.

Chechens, however, are a contradiction.

When in combat with Russian army forces, the Chechens are legal combatants and entitled to fair and humane treatment as legal combatants. Those persons [Chechens] attacking a school or a theatre with the intention of harming as many unarmed and defenseless civilians a possible are not legal and condemn themselves with their illegal actions.

As has been mentioned in previous blog entries, terrorists [illegal combatants], are in the same category as slavers, genociders, war criminals, torturers, pirates, and perpetrators of crimes against humanity. By their very actions, terrorists, as have been pirates, are said to have committed crimes outside the pale of reasonable human experience and are not considered to be entitled to the normal protections and safeguards that are granted accused criminals.


[This situation is analogous to the bail bond recovery agent and the bail jumper. The latter is said to have committed a crime so egregious that the former may use any and all means necessary to apprehend and return the bail jumper to custody. Normal rules do not apply in the chase and hunt for the bail jumper].

It seems that when deciding if one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, there are reasonable criteria that can be applied.