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August 16, 2002
[war] Mock Cyberwar fails to end Mock Civilization‘We’ve seen cities immobilized for days by natural events like blizzards, the severest of which are often accompanied by power and communications breakdowns, financial inconveniences and failures of emergency response teams to function, and yet life goes on. Human beings simply aren’t as fragile and narcotically-dependent on state authority as the government desperately desires them to be. We shift for ourselves rather well for moderate periods of time when the infrastructure of state paternalism lets us down and the life-giving commercial heartbeat flatlines. People are remarkably good at solving problems, both individually and in small ad-hoc groups. Thus we survive earthquakes, floods, blizzards, depressions, epidemics, hurricaines, foreign occupations, famines, plagues, slavery, volcanic eruptions, sustained V-1 and V-2 bombing campaigns, and the like. If we couldn’t, we wouldn’t be here now.’
August 6, 2002
[war] One Hell of a Big Bang — Studs Terkel interviews Paul Tibbets the man who piloted the Enola Gay

‘ST: One last thing, when you hear people say, “Let’s nuke ’em,” “Let’s nuke these people,” [al-Qaeda] what do you think?

PT: Oh, I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ’em out. You’re gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we’ve never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn’t kill innocent people. If the newspapers would just cut out the shit: “You’ve killed so many civilians.” That’s their tough luck for being there.’

July 4, 2002
[war] Is this World War III? — Dan Hartnung wonders about a name for the current conflict and discusses the origin of the term “World War II”. ‘…when Germany entered Poland on September 2, it was as if the storm had finally come ashore. The next day, Britain and France honored their mutual defense treaty with Poland and declared war. A famous photograph had a newspaper vendor in a sandwich board which read WORLD WAR DECLARED (OFFICIAL) that same day. ‘ [via Follow Me Here]
May 27, 2002
[aftermath] When Uncle Sam meets ‘Stan — another great report from Afghanistan …

‘In her book An Intimate History of Killing , the historian Joanna Bourke looks at the narratives men create to comprehend their own roles in war and, more specifically, in combat. Apparently, soldiers in each war look to the previous for a frame of reference. Those in the Pacific in the Second World War looked to the First World War. Those in Vietnam looked to the Pacific Theatre. No prizes for guessing where the men in Afghanistan were looking.

Thus the graffiti on the walls of the Portakabins where, if you got to them later than 9am, you’d be greeted by a 5ft-high pile of soldiers’ faeces:

Toilet 7: “I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds’; ‘I am become Bored, Destroyer of Motivation”

Toilet 3: “Though I walk through the valley of death I shall fear no evil, because I am the meanest motherfucker in the valley.”

Toilet 6: “MARINE – Muscles Are Required, Intelegance [sic] Not Essential”

Toilet 2 (women only): “I miss my cat.”‘

May 24, 2002
[aftermath] GIs Battle ‘Ghosts’ in Afghanistan — great article about the mopping up operations in Afghanistan … ‘The soldiers would set up nighttime roadblocks to search every car coming north from the Pakistani border, a particularly dangerous task. “If the vehicle tries to roll through a roadblock that is clearly marked as a roadblock . . . they are now hostile,” Fetterman told his subordinates. “That’s hostile intent. They could hurt you with the vehicle. You are allowed to engage. I spoke to the lawyers about this.”‘ [via Red Rock Eater News Service]
March 28, 2002
[war] American Crusade 2001 Trading Cards‘World affairs today can sure be confusing!’ [via Follow Me Here]


February 28, 2002
[war] Bin Laden’s private life revealed amid rubble‘Osama bin Laden’s underpants were hanging up to dry in the bathroom of his house outside Jalalabad. They were striped grey and black cotton boxers, with a label reading Angelo Petrico, a size XXL large for such a lean-looking man.’ [via Blogadoon]
January 24, 2002
[war] Back to hell — Mark Bowden – author of Black Hawk Down – on a possible US return to Somalia … ‘Because it is so wild, and because most of its residents are Muslims, Somalia seems a logical destination for al-Qaida and Taliban leaders fleeing the rout in Afghanistan. With the longest shoreline of any African nation, with its lack of government, navy, army or police, there is nothing to stop international outlaws from coming, provided they can run the international patrols in the Persian Gulf and Indian ocean. But once in Somalia, there is nothing to stop the US and its allies from coming after them. “We’ll go wherever we need to go in Somalia,” said one American general who asked not to be named. “It’s not likely that we’ll be asking permission.”‘
December 21, 2001
[war] Coming to a Mall Near You: Just War‘We don’t manufacture much of anything; just war. We don’t concern ourselves with education; just war. We don’t attend to the 40 million Americans without health coverage; just war. We don’t focus on the 30 million American children living in poverty; just war. We don’t support the arts; just war. Even though a multitude of human needs were in existence prior to September 11, and have only increased since then, we continue to direct our attention and our resources into what we do best: war. Just war.’ [via Haddock]
November 30, 2001
[war] More from Luke Harding in the Guardian…

  • Allies direct the death rites of trapped Taliban fighters‘Last night a small group of up to 40 volunteers were still holed up in a house in the corner of the castle’s rambling compound. They signalled their presence with firework-like bursts of gunfire, just to remind their enemies crouching on the shadowy ramparts above them that they were not yet dead. After spending years killing their fellow Muslims, the Taliban’s Arab and Pakistani fighters have finally got the jihad they were looking for. The foreign volunteers – who surrendered on Saturday only to overpower their guards the following day – know they have hours to live.’
  • A tank roared in. It fired four rounds. Then there was silence in the fort‘Three Pakistani Taliban escaped from the 19th century fort on Monday night by scrambling out of a water channel. Two were shot dead immediately, but a third got as far as the nearby mud-walled village of Sar-i-Pool. There local people discovered him and killed him. He had some bread in his pocket, they said.’

November 29, 2001
[war] Dead Lie Crushed or Shot, in the Dust, in Ditches, Amid the Willows — Luke Harding’s reports from the massacre in Mazar-i-Sharif have been excellent over the last couple of days … ‘Beyond the gazebo, next to where the Taliban had set up a makeshift mortar factory, were the corpses of several well-off Arab volunteers. Unlike their Pakistani counterparts, dressed in flimsy salwar kameezes, the Arabs wore expensive fleece jackets and trousers. One Talib corpse sported a San Francisco 49ers football sweatshirt; another a zip-up Dolce & Gabbana top. Osama bin Laden’s fighters may have rejected the west’s relativist ideology, but not its fashions.’
November 19, 2001
[war] Why we must show the dead — Media Guardian on publishing pictures of war victims … ‘Sometimes you publish a picture to prove that something has happened. The saddest, most powerful picture I ever helped to get into the paper was of a dead woman hanging from a tree in Bosnia. There she was in everyday clothing, as though she had stepped straight out of Marks & Spencer, hanging from a branch. What struck me most was how normal she looked.’
November 18, 2001
[war] Black Hawk Down — excellent documentary website covering the journalism on which the book and film are based … ‘The Battle of Mogadishu is known today in Somalia as Ma-alinti Rangers, or the Day of the Rangers. It pitted the world’s most sophisticated military power against a mob of civilians and Somalian irregulars. It was the biggest single firefight involving American soldiers since the Vietnam War.’
November 5, 2001
[war] The Sims Take on Al Qaeda — a look at computer simulations of war and terrorism …

‘He is looking for ways that seemingly small actions have big consequences. “I think about terrorism in terms of popcorn,” he said. “You assume you’ll always have some kernels that are going to pop. How much lower does the temperature have to get before you have a dramatic decrease in the ability of terrorists to operate?” His research has found that when the underlying relationships between color blocks are constantly shifting, the blocks look to the government as an anchor and their colors mesh into a pattern of support. But if the blocks share a common concern about risks from the outside world, they are more likely to become disaffected and blend with dissident groups. Lustick’s flashing grid is conflict in its most abstract form. That turns out to be its greatest strength–as well as its most glaring weakness. Researchers are painfully aware that their models omit the messy edges of real life, and some of them might turn out to be critical.’
November 3, 2001
[quotables] Dwight D. Eisenhower: ‘Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.’ [via Wood s Lot]
October 27, 2001
[war] Steve Bell’s brilliant step-by-step guide to “smart-bombing”. ‘…can we talk about something else?’
October 23, 2001
[politics] ‘Those that are not with us are against us’ — interesting transcript of a conversation between the Labour MP for Shrewsbury Paul Marsden and the Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong about UK Government policy over Afghanistan…

‘HA: In fact we may well hold a vote, but if we do, it will be whipped. PM: That is outrageous. You won’t even give us a free vote on whether we go to war – it is an issue which should be a matter of conscience. HA: War is not a matter of conscience. Abortion and embryo research are matters of conscience, but not wars. PM: Are you seriously saying blowing people up and killing people is not a moral issue? HA: It is government policy that we are at war. You astound me.’

July 7, 2001
[quote] ‘In London, where Southampton Row passes Russell Square, across from the British Museum in Bloomsbury, Leo Szilard waited irritably one gray Depression morning for the stoplight to change. A trace of rain had fallen during the night; Tuesday, September 12, 1933, dawned cool, humid and dull. Drizzling rain would begin in early afternoon. When Szilard told the story later he never mentioned his destination that morning. He may have had none; he often walked to think. In any case another destination intervened. The stoplight changed to green. Szilard stepped off the curb. As he crossed the street time cracked open before him and he saw a way to the future, death into the world and all our woe, the shape of things to come.’
May 15, 2001
[war] The Smoking Gun has a recently declassified report on Hitler’s leisure time and sexual activities‘Once Dr. Sedgwick asked him: “Why don’t you marry and fool your enemies?” Hitler answered: “Marriage is not for me and never will be. My only bride is my Motherland.” Then seemingly with no sequence of ideas he added: “There are two ways by which a man’s character may be judged, by the woman he marries, and then the way he dies.”‘ [via Clog]
December 27, 2000
[war is hell] Playing with Cobras comes up with a great link covering the life and work of Sven Hassel…. writer of many great books about War…. ‘Sven Hassel’s novels have a major effect on one’s outlook vis-à-vis life. Take a quick read through one of the books and you will find that you suddenly have absolutely no respect for authority, a rabid distrust of anything political, religious or dull and a healthy craving for beer, cheating at cards and very large ladies. Your culinary skills will suddenly be in great demand and you will never want to go to sleep again. You will not consider Saving Private Ryan to be in any way a realistic interpretation of war.’
September 7, 2000
[falklands] Twenty-Two Royal Marines Vs Argentine Naval Frigate Guerrico. No Contest: ‘Marine David Combes, who was normally the ships steward on Endurance now placed his name in naval history books by firing his Carl Gustav 84 mm anti tank weapon at the Guerrico. The Royal Marines watched as the 10lb projectile staggered across the waves and then, on it’s last legs, smashed into Guerrico’s hull just above the waterline, sending up a column of white water. They then heard a loud rumble come from inside the ship. Below decks Argentine damage control parties struggled to stop the flow of water that was now coming though the hole.’ [Note: This entry was blogged by the part of Darren’s brain which is still a 12 year-old right wing war film and comic loving little boy. It’s a small part — honest. :) ]
August 2, 2000
[war] The Man Who Dropped The Bomb — Newsweek interviews Paul Tibbets who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima fifty-five years ago … ‘Oftentimes, in Tibbets presence, I would see men and women in their seventies and eighties come up to him (once they figured out who he was) with tears in their eyes, to thank him for letting them live full lives. The men had been young American soldiers on their way to a land invasion of Japan. Because of what Tibbets did, they came home instead, and raised their families. They cry now, when they meet him.’
July 6, 2000
[mobiles] The New York Times reports on Text War in the Philippines. ‘Muslim insurgents battling Philippine troops in the south have a new weapon. When the shelling and gunfire let up, they send a barrage of scathing insults to Manila’s forces by cell phone. “There is a text war among the MILF and our forces,” said Brig. Gen. Eliseo Rio Jr., referring to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the larger of two rebel groups fighting for an independent state. “Our soldiers are texting insults to the MILF. And the MILF are sending the insults back.”‘ [via Slashdot]
June 4, 2000
[history] People are still looking for lost Nazi treasure. The haul is believed to contain top-secret Nazi documents detailing how assets from the Third Reich were deposited in Swiss bank accounts, as well as art objects, gold and the records of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. Documents detailing the assistance of the Vatican in transferring funds to South America, and some gold, are also believed to be concealed there.”
April 13, 2000
[onion] David Irving would probably agree with the Onion on this: Did Six Million Really Visit The Holocaust Museum?
March 20, 2000
Frightening article about war correspondents during the Kosovo conflict.
“One difficulty is that the media have little or no memory. War correspondents have short working lives and there is no tradition or means for passing on their knowledge and experience. The military, on the other hand, is an institution and goes on forever. The military learned a lot from Vietnam and these days plans its media strategy with as much attention as its military strategy.”