July 23rd, 2014

Second Variety: the use of children by terrorists

How do you fight a group that is perfectly willing—nay, eager—to try to get you to kill its children even if you don’t want to?

That’s the situation Israel faces in Hamas. It’s the situation we face against Islamist terrorists, because they use such techniques as one of their primary tools, and the bleeding heart liberal west and the MSM all too often play right into their hands by demonizing Israel and the US rather than the perpetrators.

This is not new. It began when the west decided that war was something it could no longer in good conscience wage. Civilian casualties in World War II reached such a high point that we turned in revulsion against them, and the increasing accuracy of weaponry enabled us to entertain the idea—for a short while, anyway—that wars could be fought with “surgical precision.”

That would be true, if the enemy cooperated. But it doesn’t.

The Islamist terrorists didn’t invent the technique. But in order for it to come to full fruition, you need a west with a guilty conscience about itself and a desire to excuse the enemy’s barbarism, and an MSM fully on board with the program. This was already beginning to be developed during the War in Vietnam:

The Viet Cong were amplifying and extending tactics practiced in the First Indochina War, most importantly the militarization of civilians and an “opportunistic readiness to exploit any social ‘contradiction’ in order to bring about the violent defeat of the enemy” (Johnson 1968, p. 447). The Viet Cong would attack quickly and then withdraw without trying to win the battle. They would ambush American soldiers; they would blend in with civilians; they would target civilians. Schools were bombed, health centers were bombed. “A teenager was used to throw a grenade into a holiday crowd in downtown Saigon” (Pike 1970 p. 96). Any method that could pull the enemy off balance would be used. The disappearance of front lines and a clearly identifiable enemy was disorienting. It induced fear and paranoia: “Frustrated and frightened, U.S. soldiers tended to view all Vietnamese with distrust” (Lawrence 2008, p. 107)…

The Viet Cong used children as spies (Peer 1970), suicide bombers, and sappers. Recruiters preferred the young for sapper cells “because they are more easily influenced in their thinking, are willing to run risks, physically are better able to carry out their assignments, are less likely to question the arrangements for an operation, and are less apt to become double agents” (Pike 1970, pp. 74-75). ). Some youths were volunteers while many others were forcibly recruited (Goure 1965). The lowest age for recruitment into formal Viet Cong forces was 17, and boys 15-16 years old were eligible for “youth duties” in local hamlet militia (Donnell 1967, p.8-11). However, even younger children were utilized for special operations. Fourteen year olds were known to have worked for demolition units laying land mines (Elliot and Elliot 1969), and to have thrown bombs into police headquarters. A twelve year old was coerced into throwing a grenade into a village. A Viet Cong fighter was known to have given a small school girl an unpinned hand grenade and then told her to take it to her teacher: “At the classroom door the child drops the grenade, killing herself and injuring nine children” (Pike 1970, p. 107). The tactic appeared to work on the notion that the younger the child, the greater the psychological force. The Viet Cong had produced a tactical innovation with their use of children in war.

It is altogether fitting that John Kerry, who made his reputation accusing his fellow soldiers of widespread barbarism in Vietnam, should be orchestrating our diplomacy today in Israel and Gaza for the Obama administration. In addition to his unwarranted sarcasm about the care Israel has taken to minimize casualties, we have his (and Obama’s) working against the interests of Israel and for the interests of Hamas:

As Israel has uncovered the scope of Hamas’s infrastructure of murder and terror, the US has acted with the UN, Turkey and Qatar to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to agree to a cease-fire and so end IDF operations against Hamas before the mission is completed.

To advance this goal, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday night with an aggressive plan to force on Israel a cease-fire Hamas and its state sponsors will accept.

As former ambassador to the US Michael Oren told the media, it is clear that neither Israel nor Egypt invited Kerry to come over. Their avoidance of Kerry signals clearly that the US’s two most important allies in the Middle East do not trust US President Barack Obama’s intentions.

And their distrust is entirely reasonable.

The State Department has openly applauded Turkey and Qatar for their involvement in attempts to achieve a cease-fire. Last week Israeli officials alleged that the US was responsible for Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. By attempting to coerce Egypt to accept Qatar and Turkey as its partners in mediation, Obama signaled to Hamas’s leaders that they should hold out for a better deal.

Due to Turkey’s membership in NATO and the glamour of the Qatari royal family, many Westerners find it hard to believe that they are major sponsors of terrorism. But it is true. Turkey and Qatar are playing a double game.

While sending his ambassador to Brussels for NATO meetings, Erdogan has been transforming Turkey from an open, pro-Western society allied with Israel into a closed, anti-Semitic and anti-American society that sponsors Hamas, ISIL, al Nusra and other terrorists groups.

As for Qatar, the tiny natural gas superpower presents itself to Americans as their greatest ally in the Muslim world. The emirate gives hundreds of millions of dollars to US universities to open campuses in Doha and pretends it is a progressive, open society, replete with debating societies.

…At the same time, according to the Calacalist report, Qatar is the major bankroller of ISIS and al Nusra in Syria and Iraq. It gives $50 million a month to jihadists in Libya. It gives Hamas $100m. in annual aid. And in the past two years Doha has provided Hamas with an additional $620m. dollars, including $250m. it transferred to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s personal bank account, and $350m. in military aid to Hamas, transferred after the Egyptian military forced the Muslim Brotherhood government from power last July.

Add to that the $100m. per year that Qatar pours into Al Jazeera’s satellite network – which has dedicated itself to undermining pro-Western Arab regimes while popularizing the likes of al-Qaida and Hamas, and Qatar is the largest financier of international jihad in the world.

Manipulating the situation so that Israel or the US has virtually no choice but to kill civilians, including women and children, is popular in the Arab world because it works. It’s been working for many decades. In a 2007 piece of mine about the phenomenon I wrote:

When I was about nine years old, I read the Philip K. Dick story “Second Variety” (odd reading for a young girl, I know, but that’s the way it was). The work, in case you’re not familiar with it, was later the basis for such disparate cinema entertainments as “Screamers” and “Terminator.”

The story featured an end-of-the-world war with a series of killer robots made to look exactly like people, and designed to prey on the humanity of the good guys. The first robot type (“first variety”) looked like a wounded soldier needing help. The second variety was unknown, and only revealed towards the end of the story (I won’t be a spoiler here). But the third—the one that gave me a special chill—was a small vulnerable child needing help, a boy clutching a teddy bear.

At least in the Dick story, these small children were not real, they were only killer robots cleverly designed to look real. But the principle of using an enemy’s humanity against itself was the same. The challenge we face is now how to fight such an enemy effectively without losing our own humanity, and so far—arguments about waterboarding and the like notwithstanding—I have no doubt we have erred, if anything, on the side of caution.

Since I wrote those words, the Obama administration has been trying to retreat from the arena. But the issue will come back to face us again; there is really no retreat possible. Israel does not have the luxury of even temporary retreat, because it lives in that arena.

55 Responses to “Second Variety: the use of children by terrorists”

  1. Harold Says:

    What the West used to understand (and Victor Davis Hanson has written about this) is that we have historically engaged in total war; extremely violent and therefore swift. World War II is a good example.

    Somewhere along the way the west has lost that commitment. So I’d tell the Israelis to adopt America’s rules of engagement in World War II, kill the enemy, ignore collateral damage, just kill the damn enemy.

  2. Doom Says:

    On the good side? Using children as shields in a war that has to be fought is a losing strategy. If the West grows a pair, if the demographics implode, or if the children who survive grow up just a bit… ticked… with full understanding. Evil is always for the moment, and for the moment, using children as shields means something. Tick-tock, tick-tock…

  3. T Says:

    Once again, a profound essay on this topic by Richard Fernandez (at The Belmont Club):


  4. J.J. Says:

    Here’s how I recall the initial briefing my unit received on arrival at Tan Son Nhut in South Vietnam. The date was February, 1964.

    Our briefer, an Air Force Captain, was a colorful guy. Dressed in camouflage fatigues with an Aussie style hat and a big, brushy mustache, he looked more like a grunt from the boonies than an intelligence officer.
    The first thing he said, and I’ve never forgotten it, was, “Men, you are now in ‘NEVER, NEVER Land!’ You NEVER know who among the Vietnamese are friendlies, and who are foes. And you NEVER know where it is safe. Being on this base is somewhat safe, but we have VC probes around the perimeter all the time. We have had mortar attacks and we have had VC sabotage on the base.”
    He paused for a moment to let that sink in. Then he continued, “You have a Vietnamese woman who cleans your quarters. We have investigated her and we believe she is not VC, but there are no guarantees. You are carrying side arms. It’s a good idea to keep very close track of your weapon and, if necessary, be ready to use it. You have to be alert to what is going on around you at all times. The enemy is clever, resourceful, and can be damn deadly.”
    Another dramatic pause, and he continued, “It’s recommended that you not go off this base while you’re here. It is much safer here than it is in Saigon. If you do go into town, stay out of Cholon. We know there are a lot of VC and VC sympathizers there.”
    WELCOME to Vietnam! This obviously wasn’t going to be a picnic. We had now been officially welcomed to the war zone.

    A few nights later the airfield came under attack and we found ourselves lying in revetments fingering rifles that we had never used. No one ever expected Navy pilots to be involved in infantry-like ops. It was pitch black as only it can be in SE Asia. We could see the tracers and hear grenades exploding, but could not tell how the battle was going. Our only instructions were defend our airplanes. Aye, aye, sir! To our great relief the attack was repulsed before we had to fire a shot. The sun rose and things quieted down.

    That’s what guerrilla warfare is all about. Surprise attacks and harassment. All designed to wear the enemy down. You can never relax, never feel safe. IMO, the only way to combat the terrorists is to tell the civilians, among whom they hide, that we’re sorry, but if they don’t want to be in harm’s way, they need to cast out the terrorists. Expose them so we can deal with them. If they can’t/won’t do that, they are the enemy too.

  5. T Says:


    You write (in 2007):

    The challenge we face is now how to fight such an enemy effectively without losing our own humanity . . . .

    I offer that the question is akin to asking “How does one fight those in the gutter without descending into the gutter oneself?” In short we can’t. As long as we predispose ourselves to fight ruthlessness with the strictures of the Marquess of Queensbury’s rules, we condemn ourselves to defeat in an assymetrical war. Our enemies will do whatever is necessary to win — we will not.

    However, a temporary suspension of our humanity is not the same as surrendering our moral compass. Yes we climb down into the gutter just like our enemy but unlike our enemy it is on an ad hoc basis. The violence of a woman defending herself from rape is not equivalent to the violence of the rapist perpetrating the crime. That does not mean she has surrendered or lost her humanity or her moral compass. In fact, quite the contrary, she is serving her moral compass and humanity. Unlike her/our enemy, she/we don’t live in that state.

    IMO one of the best examples of this was Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons. By any stretch of the imagination these were horrific weapons with horrific results (note: justification is a different debate than my point here). Even still, our own limited use of nuclear weapons did not set us on a spree of nuke-ing adversaries at will. Indeed, we have not used them since, but no one doubted our resolve and willingness to do so, at least not until recently.

    Remember the biblical “eye for an eye” adage is mis-interpreted. It was not an acknowledgement of brutality, but rather, in an age when even slight infractions were punishable by death, it was a call to let the punishment fit the crime. So then, let the reaction be measured by the first-strike violation. We needn’t live by those rules but we shouldn’t shirk from them when they’re necessary for preservation.

    Those who deplore waterboarding and other forms of so-called inhuman behavior proceed from the great Progressive false morality of “we are better than they are.” I call BS! All the moral imperative in the universe doesn’t mean a damn thing if those holding that moral imperative lose the battle and become subjected or eliminated.

    Furthermore, it’s risible that most of those (leftist) organizations who decry violence have no problem with a “by any means necessary” strategy to insure that they, themselves, win. Why the contradiction? They don’t really deplore violence or “immoral” behavior, they just oppose such behavior when it doesn’t serve their own ends which would be the deconstruction of Western civilization.

    To quote Yosemite Sam: “Well I speak loud and carry a biiiiiiigger stick! . . . And I use it, too!” Thus, from time to time, must we all.


  6. blert Says:

    The threat to Ben Gurion International Airport is strategic-economic.

    As Wretchard commented, the Israelis are thus compelled to go for broke.

    I would not be surprised if Egypt warmed things up in the Sinai, too.

    The Egyptians may have to drive west into Libya, too.

    The fanatics are destroying the economies of both Israel and Egypt. (Tourism in both cases.)


    I have made the case that Qatar is THE key money center for jihad over at The Long War Journal.

    People are still too focused on KSA and Kuwait.

    The Saudis hate AQ with a passion. It’s primary goal is to liquidate the entire royal family. (6,000 souls) That little detail keeps falling off the radar.


    It still has not penetrated the American press that ISIS/ ISIL/ IS gained most of its surge capabilities courtesy of the US, UK and Jordanian governments.

    Remember all of the anti-Assad fighters that we were training in the Jordanian desert?

    They crossed the border many months ago — and went rogue — hooking up with ISIS.

    This was the action that caused ISIS to split with AQ and al Nusrah.

    The $500,000,000 in extra funding requested by Barry was to go towards additional training — in Jordan — to expand the number of anti-Assad fanatics. Due to Islam, all of these players go rogue and join the IS ‘project.’

    The training was apparently very, very good. Sunnis conquered by IS tell a tale of great competence and ruthlessness.

    Surprising as it may be, most of the Sunnis conquered by IS are livid. They’re being forced to kiss the hand they can’t bite.

    IS is lousy for business — and generally operates like the Mafia. Hostage taking is now pandemic inside the IS statelet.

    Even at this time, IS actually has a very small irregular army. It’s tiny — about the size of a regiment.

    The Iraqi army is totally demoralized because Maliki put his pals in charge. Like Saddam, he put his palace security into the hands of his own son. (!) His DNA is his only qualification.


    At some point, America is going to suffer a spectacular series of sleeper (Muslim) attacks.

    Such a Pearl Harbor moment will trigger an enraged reaction that’s scary to contemplate. That Barry is all fine with this indicates that he’s as unbalanced as any tyrant that has come before. He must reason that such an emergency would confer extraordinary executive powers upon him.

    A more likely outcome would be a general civil war — Lebanese style. Such travails would destroy Barry’s most resolute voters, for they would suffer the most.

    (Cities are always trashed during civil wars. Look what’s happening in Ukraine.)

  7. Flanahan Says:

    No choice but go medieval with a medieval enemy. Caedite eos; novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    How do you fight a group that is perfectly willing—nay, eager—to try to get you to kill its children even if you don’t want to?

    that depends on whether you want to win, or on whether you want people to like you when you lose

    its not such a hard problem.

    in fact, i find that there are lots of things in which there are solutions but which people believe there arent. (like mice plagues, and other such ilk)

    sadly, Flanahan is partly right…
    that is, if your time frame is short, not much but what he said

    ineffective tactics are given up
    this is why no one goes into battle with cotton candy as a weapon.

    its funny in a dark comedy way
    after all, if genocide was not a crime post hitler
    then the solution would be available
    not many people will comit war if the outcome is every palestinian in palestine, layed out, and turned into fertilizer.

    if THAT was the known outcome, you can be sure the people of the country would grab every asswhipe and turn them over to the other side and say “now please leave us alone”

    so… anyone want a tactical answer or a strategic one?
    i have both.. and again, its not so hard.

  9. Artfldgr Says:

    It began when the west decided that war was something it could no longer in good conscience wage. Civilian casualties in World War II reached such a high point that we turned in revulsion against them, and the increasing accuracy of weaponry enabled us to entertain the idea—for a short while, anyway—that wars could be fought with “surgical precision.”

    thats not the story..
    thats the public idea, not the actual thing
    time to do research if it matters to you

  10. stan Says:

    I believe that the North Koreans used civilians as shields when attacking during the Korean War. I know they had agents dress as civilian refugees as a way to get close for attacks.

  11. Artfldgr Says:

    for every child put in combat so its in our way, we will level a mosque.

    well see whether you run out of children or mosques first – one child, one mosque

    first start with mosques in israel

    Jezzar Pasha Mosque – Acre
    Mahmood Mosque – Haifa
    al-Muallaq Mosque – Acre
    White Mosque – Nazareth
    Makam al-Nabi Sain Mosque – Nazareth
    Mosque of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (Old Mosque) – Shefa-‘Amr
    Al-Bahr Mosque – Tel Aviv
    Hassan Bek Mosque – Tel Aviv
    Mahmoudiya Mosque – Tel Aviv
    Sidna Ali Mosque – Herzliya
    White Mosque – Ramla
    Mosque of Salahaddin al-Ayyubi[1] – Tayibe
    Mosque of Ali ibn Abi Talib[2] – Tayibe

    when those are gone, then start on the mosques in palestine

    Great Mosque of Nablus – Nablus
    Al-Hanbali Mosque – Nablus
    Al-Khadra Mosque – Nablus
    Al-Masakin Mosque – Nablus
    Nabi Yahya Mosque – Sebastia
    An-Nasr Mosque – Nablus
    Al-Nurayn Mosque – Qusra
    Al-Tina Mosque – Nablus
    Ein Misbah Mosque – Ramallah
    Jamal Abdel Nasser Mosque – Ramallah
    Mosque of Lower Ramallah – Ramallah
    Al-Hamadiyya Mosque – al-Khader
    Mosque of Omar – Bethlehem
    Amir Sanjar al-Jawli Mosque – Hebron
    Ibrahimi Mosque – Hebron
    Ishaqiyyah Mosque – Hebron
    al-Qazzazeen Mosque – Hebron
    Sheikh Ali al-Bakka Mosque – Hebron
    Great Mosque of Jenin – Jenin
    Shiekh Zayid Mosque – Jenin
    Aybaki Mosque
    Great Mosque of Gaza – Old City of Gaza
    Ibn Marwan Mosque – Tuffah
    Ibn Uthman Mosque – Shuja’iyya
    Al-Makhamah Mosque – Shuja’iyya
    Sayed al-Hashim Mosque – Old City of Gaza
    Ash-Sham’ah Mosque – Old City of Gaza
    Sheikh Zakariyya Mosque
    Welayat Mosque – Old City of Gaza
    Umm al-Naser Mosque – Beit Hanoun
    Al-Khader Mosque – Deir al-Balah
    Omari Mosque – Jabalia
    Al-Aqsa Mosque – Old City of Jerusalem
    Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque – Old City
    Marwani Mosque – Old City
    Mosque of Omar – Old City
    Abdeen Mosque – Wadi al-Joz
    Sultan Ibrahim Ibn Adham Mosque – Beit Hanina

    when that is done, start sending black squads and blowing up mosques in the next country… then the next, then the next.

    if they continue to kill children, they wont have a place of worship left on the planet.

    end of game

  12. Artfldgr Says:


    if they insist on using children, they dont deserve to keep them… go in, take the kids and declare they will be raised as jewish and christians

    ie. if you are gonna kill em, we might as well ahve them and why would you mind?

  13. Artfldgr Says:

    any person who kills a member of hamas gets a retirement home, and a stipend to live on in israel.

    open season…

  14. T Says:

    “if they insist on using children, they dont [sic]deserve to keep them… go in, take the kids”

    This rings true to me. After all, social services declares unfit parents all the time.

  15. Artfldgr Says:

    U.N. Official Cites ‘Strong Possibility’ of War Crimes in Gaza Conflict


    “The actions of one party do not absolve the other party of the need to respect its obligations under international law,” said Ms. Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

  16. parker Says:

    What I am in favor of doing to stop the fanatics is not something I wish to share least bho uses a drone to hellfire my house.

  17. Don Carlos Says:

    T writes about “A temporary suspension of our humanity” being not such a bad thing when victory at any cost should be our goal. I believe that “humanity” is not inherently good, and that ‘good” morals are not born of human origin. So we descend again into the Book of Genesis.

    In any event, it is increasingly clear to me that “ethnic cleansing” is not inherently evil, not when said ethnics are doing their level best to extinguish every human life of their adversary at any cost for islamonazi reasons. I personally would like to see Gaza treated like Carthage. Not one brick left upon another.

    I am modestly apologetic for any ruffled feathers this sentiment causes among Neo and her readers. But hard truths are not effectively faced with good manners.

  18. parker Says:

    Don Carlos,

    Don’t forget to salt the earth.

  19. Bernard Says:

    My cousin served a year in Vietnam as a counterintelligence agent around the time of the Tet Offensive. He describes his experience in “A Spinx: The Memoirs of a Reluctant Spy in Vietnam” (available on Amazon). His first-person encounter with “sappers”:

    We were sitting there talking about this when the phone rang. Gus got it and said it was for me. I went to the phone and said, “Mr. Burdick!” It was Major Trang. He rarely called me except when there were problems in the area. I quickly focused on what he was going to tell me. “Mr. Burdick, you are in danger.” My heart grew cold. Damn, what was going on? “We have solid information that you have been targeted for assassination. A sapper squad is in town now, looking for you,” he said.
    “Are you sure it’s me. Why would they be after me?” I asked. A couple of the agents heard what I said and this silenced everybody. They wanted to hear what I was talking about.
    “The description is a tall, white man, wearing glasses with dark rims and a white shirt, who rides in a blue or white jeep. We are sure it is you. You have been very effective and they have decided to remove you. We are looking for the sapper squad, but you must be very careful. I will call you when we know more. Please be very careful. You have helped me many times. I do not want to lose you,” he said. …
    All morning I got calls from intelligence friends offering support and any help they could provide. If the sapper squad were out there, they would find them. I felt better. …
    On the third day, I received another call from Major Trang. He wanted me to come to his office. He had caught the sapper squad and wanted me to see them. I was curious, so I went. …
    “These are your murderers, Mr. Burdick!” he said. I was surprised.
    I just stared and said, “They are all little children.”
    “The VC took them from their village and trained them to fear you. They told many stories about how you loved to kill children. Cut them up. Rape them. Blind them. Stick them on a pole. They were told you are the devil, full of evil. They must kill you to save their village and their families because you were coming to get them. Look at the table. That is how they were going to do it.”
    I looked over to the table. I looked closely. There were three grenades on it. To add insult to injury, they were American grenades. The grenades were wrapped in fishing line with fish hooks appearing every so often. Evidently, they were trained to pull the pin and toss the grenade onto my lap in the jeep. The fishhooks would catch in my clothes or my hand if I grabbed it, and make it impossible for me to get rid of it in the few seconds I would have. Very effective, I thought. I looked back at the children. The fear in all their eyes was apparent. They were afraid that they had failed and now they were mine. I started to say something but Major Trang signaled with his hand for me to remain silent. So I stared at the little kids. The major began asking them questions and they, looking at me with fear in their eyes, answered him. After a few minutes he took me into the other room. …
    When we got back I told the major that the crisis was over for now. They had caught the sapper squad. I also said I would still be careful. Brian filled him in about the makeup of the squad of killer children and how frightened of me they were. He thought it was important that one of the kids had pissed in his pants when he saw me. I knew I was going to be ribbed about that. I went to the bar for a cold beer. A heavy weight seemed to be lifted off my shoulders. Gus had just told me my orders were in. I was going home. They haven’t killed me yet.

  20. Eric Says:

    Neo, fyi, if you haven’t already seen this left2right change essay:

    Why didn’t Saddam comply and disarm as required by the Gulf War ceasefire and the UNSC resolutions? In large part because the US-led enforcement measures (eg, sanctions, Op Desert Fox bombing, threat of regime change before Op Iraqi Freedom) were overtly politically and materially (eg, Oil for Food scandal) undermined by Russia, France, China, and others.

    Saddam didn’t just “hold out for a better deal” than compliance and disarmament, he already had a better deal in hand with UNSC permanent members.

    With the help of his advocates on the UNSC, Saddam believed he would beat the ceasefire mandates. After Saddam was captured, he said he didn’t believe the US would invade, only bomb, and that bombing would be limited and absorbed like the ODF bombing which had been cut short under political pressure.

  21. kaba Says:


    I don’t know what you flew but did you ever make it to Kham Duc by any chance? It was in I Corps about 10 miles from the Laotian border.

  22. rickl Says:

    Harold Says:
    July 23rd, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    What the West used to understand (and Victor Davis Hanson has written about this) is that we have historically engaged in total war; extremely violent and therefore swift. World War II is a good example.

    Somewhere along the way the west has lost that commitment.

    Well, World War I definitely damaged the Western psyche. Afterwards world leaders created the League of Nations and actually tried to outlaw war. We all know how well that worked.

    World War II caused even more death and devastation. I think what happened is that this time, leaders sought to manage war instead. We entered the era of UN resolutions, “police actions”, and “limited war”. This approach has been successful in that we haven’t had another world war, but at the price of a constant state of low-level war with no resolution in sight.

    I think this state of affairs mostly benefits the bad actors, and handicaps people and nations who just want to be left alone. The latter are better off fighting to win and getting the war over with as quickly and decisively as possible.

  23. David Foster Says:

    “Civilian casualties in World War II reached such a high point that we turned in revulsion against them, and the increasing accuracy of weaponry enabled us to entertain the idea—for a short while, anyway—that wars could be fought with “surgical precision.””

    I don’t think this was actually the historical sequence. In the wake of WWII we developed a large nuclear strike force that was targeted at enemy cities. Bombers would not always get through, early missiles were very inaccurate, large warheads were intended to compensate for these factors.

    The precision-weaponry focus came considerably later and was enabled by compact electronics; also, the Kennedy administration attempted to develop nuclear strategy options that were somewhere in the continuum between “do nothing” and “bring on the apocalypse.”

  24. Eric Says:

    David Foster,

    Kennedy understood and anticipated modern conflict:


  25. Eric Says:

    To finish my thought at July 23rd, 2014 at 6:31 pm, it’s disturbing that what was done to us in sabotaging our enforcement effort with Saddam, we’re now doing to sabotage Israel.

  26. Mike Says:

    Totalitarians and Fascist types – like terrorists or the Democrat Party and Liberals – invariably abuse children for their political ends. Look at what they did with kids – making them sing and dance for a no good no count nothing from Chicago – when they abused them for Obama. Look what the Left does with kids in school. Their level of routine child abuse – by brainwashing and all other sorts of things – is just one level below the other worse kind of child abuse.

    Plato, as usual, was correct: The two most important things about any society (Hamas, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Democrats) is who gets to teach the children and what they teach them.

    Question: Was the Hitler Youth Program an example of child abuse? All they did was go to camp and get indoctrinated into some very important societal matters at the time.


  27. DaveindeSwamp Says:

    There’s nothing like rendering safe the corpse of a little kid to make one hate and despise the “progressive” bastards

  28. Matt_SE Says:

    Remember that the rise of central planning as an ideology coincided largely with WWI and WWII. This was the era of technocratic experts.

    Maybe the conservative aspects of western society were worn out from the wars, and were persuaded to buy into the left’s siren song; that wars would henceforth be manageable affairs instead of the uncontrollable forces they had previously been.

    All-out wars, i.e. trying to “win,” were to be a thing of the past.

    This was either promoted by, or gave rise to the type of psychology described in Fernandez’ essay: in short, navel-gazing to the point of paralysis, a la Hamlet.
    As stated by T above: “…the great Progressive false morality of “we are better than they are.” I call BS! All the moral imperative in the universe doesn’t mean a damn thing if those holding that moral imperative lose the battle and become subjected or eliminated.”

    I don’t have much use for hand-wringing. You make the best decision you can, given the information you have at the time, and then live with the consequences.
    GWB seemed to operate that way, and it drove the lefties crazy…probably because it made shaming him into paralysis difficult.

    And returning to Fernandez’ essay and the “solution” to the Palestinian issue, you do what you have to and live with the consequences.

    As one concentration camp survivor once said (I forget where), “you’d be surprised what a person can learn to live with.”
    The generation that built Israel, fresh from the horrors of WWII, did what they had to. They kept a lot of that to themselves over the years, and maybe they suffered silently.
    But their children grew into a better future because of it.

    Israel and the U.S. both need to relearn those lessons.

  29. J.J. Says:

    kaba, “I don’t know what you flew but did you ever make it to Kham Duc by any chance? It was in I Corps about 10 miles from the Laotian border.”

    I flew A-1s. Our unit was attached to the Air Force 2nd Air Division. A forced marriage of convenience. The Air Force had no low and slow air interdiction aircraft at the time. We filled the gap until the A-1Es were delivered to the Air Force’s Air Commandoes. We were always based in Tan Son Nhut and did most of our flying in the Delta south of Saigon. ‘Twas a rather stormy relationship with the Air Force. They didn’t want us there. We only wanted to do the job we were sent to do. There are a few stories to tell, but not appropriate here. “Sorry ’bout that!” 🙂

    rickl: “World War II caused even more death and devastation. I think what happened is that this time, leaders sought to manage war instead. We entered the era of UN resolutions, “police actions”, and “limited war”. This approach has been successful in that we haven’t had another world war, but at the price of a constant state of low-level war with no resolution in sight.

    I think this state of affairs mostly benefits the bad actors, and handicaps people and nations who just want to be left alone. The latter are better off fighting to win and getting the war over with as quickly and decisively as possible.”

    Just so. If you plan to defeat the enemy, war can’t be calibrated. If you are only looking for a stalemate or truce, then it can work……temporarily.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    WWI, by that time, the West had already lost a great portion of its reason for existence and emotions to fight, as a cultural foundation.

    WWII was just the death screams of the individuals, as the rest of the West’s fortitude burned up. America, which suffered not much from WWI or WWII, served as the back up. And look where that Backup has turned out, after decades filling in Europe’s death desires. All the money and treasure put into the Cold War, what was it for after all, when things like the Ukraine are what they are?

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    Parker, the new gen drones use J dam GPS bombs.

    However, if the GPS satellites fall, then GPS doesn’t work any more. Or if they are hacked or “reprogrammed”.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    In the short term, human atrocity archives are of limited tactical benefit and can definitely shock an army once in a single battle, such as the kamikaze tactics of the Japanese.

    After awhile, though, this can be adapted to and used to further increase allied propaganda, by giving them something to fight against. Normally Regimes the entire span of human history have had to “invent human” atrocities on the part of their enemy, to justify as a pretext the decision to invade or kill. These days, there’s no need to invent them. And yet, they were not used. Not by the US and not by Israel, until years after the advent of the 21st century and social networking.

  33. waitforit Says:

    Defense is God’s mode. Always, But then he created the system and is impervious to harm. God does not offend. He has no offense other than what is “is.”

    Asking what would Jesus do is an attempt to equivocate God with man.

    So what should man do?

    For starters, he can protect his life and property. Those are inalienable rights.

    Could it be that protecting those rights clash with the same rights by another individual or group or nation?

  34. waitforit Says:

    It seems perfectly clear that man’s evolving goodness would settle those differences.

    But is that happening?

    Or is the obverse happening? Is there a better form of one human than another? And why shouldn’t there be? Natural selection demands it?

    Bitch all you want. You bought the action.

  35. Beverly Says:

    English poet Ebenezer Elliott (1781-1849) wrote:

    What is a communist? One who hath yearnings
    For equal division of unequal earnings:
    Idler, or bungler, or both, he is willing
    To fork out his penny, and pocket your shilling.

  36. kaba Says:

    The A-1 provided some excellent up close and personal support. I watched one do a dead stick, gear-up landing at Kham Duc in July 1970. I don’t know who the pilot worked for but he wasn’t wearing anything recognizable as a uniform and had a ten gallon hat in the cockpit.

    Kham Duc was an interesting place. A C-123 pilot by the name of Joe Jackson won the CMH there in May 1968.

  37. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Win or be liked if you lose….
    Israel isn’t liked when it loses, either.
    That being the case….

  38. M of Hollywood Says:

    Eric: thx for that link on left2right http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/07/ten_reasons_i_am_no_longer_a_leftist.html

    it can be sent to friends who are softened up a bit by the current avalanche of facts and “optics” in this “tranquil” world

  39. J.J. Says:

    kaba: ” I don’t know who the pilot worked for but he wasn’t wearing anything recognizable as a uniform and had a ten gallon hat in the cockpit.”

    Nam birthed a number of “irregular” practices. Customized flight suits, special hats to be worn upon exiting the cockpit, personalized side arms, personalized survival kits, and more. A-1 pilots were probably the biggest practioners of such. The plane wasn’t affectionately called the SPAD for nothing. We mostly considered ourselves throwbacks to the era of the Red Baron and the Squadron Espadrille.

    Glad to hear the A-1 rendered some worthwhile services for you. That was it’s forte.

  40. Maureen Coffey Says:

    The problem with all that reasoning is that it can mobilize moral feelings and it can explain a part of the story. But in all conflicts there are underlying causes. Certainly Vietnam was a strange mixture of moral failure on both sides: the US propping up dictatorial regimes in the region (not Vietnam alone), then wondering when e.g. Buddhist monks burnt themselves alive. In Iraq the regime there did not come about or stabilize itself without massive support from the US – until the US thought they would let the dictator go and instead bring “democracy” to the region. They failed miserably, as they did in Vietnam and Korea. I think looking at all these examples they are not comparable to the situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict though I think that there are hardliners on either side that may stand in the way of moderation. Which is not to say that putting children in the line of fire is ever excusable.

  41. Ymarsakar Says:

    Korea? Which Korea Vietnam? Which Vietnam

  42. Eric Says:

    Mauren Coffey,


  43. J.J. Says:

    Maureen Coffey: “……until the US thought they would let the dictator go and instead bring “democracy” to the region. They failed miserably, as they did in Vietnam and Korea.”

    Last I knew South Korea was a pretty robust success both democratically and economically.

    During the Cold War the U.S. always sided with any government that was anti-communist. That meant cozying up to some bad dudes – Saddam Hussein being probably one of the worst. It worked. The USSR and China both renounced their desire to Communize the world. Unfortunately, both powers, now faced with a weakening U.S. resolve, are thinking about conquest again.

  44. Eric Says:


    Didn’t Saddam buy his military gear from the Soviets?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall that we were ever allied with Iraq. This is my understanding of our relationship up to the Gulf War:

    Dealing cautiously with unsavory competitors that are rational actors is normal for the US and shaped the initial American approach to the Iran-Iraq War. A common misconception is that the US was allied with Iraq against Iran, like the US relationship with the Soviet Union during World War 2. Actually, although Iran had recently become an enemy, the US viewed Iraq with, at best, cautiously favorable neutrality. The US priority was containing the conflict per the Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine, which established the security and stability of the Middle East as a US national security interest. However, Saddam proved to be an irrational actor with dangerously poor judgement. Saddam was warned over his actions in the Iran-Iraq War, yet followed his defeat by brutalizing Kuwait, defying international demands to stop, and even attempting to expand the conflict.

  45. T Says:

    For anyone still following this thread, here is a recent post by Bill Vallicella (aka The Maverick Philosopher, emphasis mine):

    But if you attack me with deadly force and I reply with deadly force of greater magnitude, your relative weakness does not supply one iota of moral justification for your attack, nor does it subtract one iota of moral justification from my defensive response.


    The principle ought to be borne in mind when one hears leftists, those knee-jerk supporters of any and every ‘underdog,’ start spouting off about ‘asymmetry of power’ and ‘disproportionality.’ Impotence and incompetence are not virtues, nor do they confer moral justification or high moral status . . . .


    The principle that mightlessness makes right seems to be one of the cardinal tenets of the Left.

    The link posted Thursday, July 24, 2014 @4:49 PM):


  46. Eric Says:


    Left activists aren’t principle based, unlike genuine liberals, who are principle based. Rather, left activists are client based, like shark litigators who are unshackled from court rules and civil procedure.

    They’ll cite to any principle that furthers and maximizes the interests of their clients. They’ll switch to another principle, even if it contradicts the prior principle, if that furthers and maximizes the interests of their clients. They’ll even make the switch in the same breath.

    Their goal is defeating you and winning dominance, not a social ethical transformation, though to left activists, the two are the same thing.

    Leftists aren’t idealists. They’re zero-sum competitive pragmatists. Words and ideas for them are means – swords and shields – not ends.

  47. T Says:


    I do not disagree. The point behind posting the Bill Vallicella excerpt above was to reaffirm the point I made at 2:57 PM above (7/23):

    The violence of a woman defending herself from rape is not equivalent to the violence of the rapist perpetrating the crime.

    This in turn was a response to Neo’s thoughts about how do we fight such asymmetry; i.e., even if a potential rape victim were to kill her attacker, her use of a defense of greater magnitude than his attack does not “subtract one iota of moral justification from [her] defensive response.” This might be seen as nothing more than an extension of the stand-your-ground and castle doctrines which also explains why the left goes bonkers about them, too; another example of false moral equivalence and false premises.

    Also I am enjoying the discussion and your depth of knowledge on Neo’s “Moving to the Left” thread especially your comments about burden shifting and false premises (the latter which have been a topic of many of my comments on Neo’s posts).

  48. J.J. Says:

    Eric, sorry I didn’t see your question earlier. (I’ve been traveling.)

    Here’s Wiki on our support:
    “Following Iran’s success of repelling the Iraqi invasion and Khomeini’s refusal to end the war in 1982, the U.S. made an outreach to Iraq, beginning with the restoration of diplomatic relations in 1984. The United States wished to both keep Iran away from Soviet influence and protect other Gulf states from any threat of Iranian expansion. As a result, it began to provide limited support to Iraq.”

    “Support to Iraq was given via technological aid, intelligence, the sale of chemical and biological warfare technology and military equipment, and satellite intelligence. While there was direct combat between Iran and the United States, it is not universally agreed that the fighting between the U.S. and Iran was specifically to benefit Iraq, or for separate issues between the U.S. and Iran. American official ambiguity towards which side to support was summed up by Henry Kissinger when he remarked, “It’s a pity they both can’t lose.”[166] The Americans and the British also either blocked or watered down UN resolutions that condemned Iraq for using chemical weapons against the Iranians and their own Kurdish citizens.”

    “The United States pursued policies in favour of Iraq by reopening diplomatic channels, lifting restrictions on the export of dual-use technology, overseeing the transfer of third-party military hardware, and providing operational intelligence on the battlefield.”

    Not big time support, but enough to keep him in the fight. Then it was our envoy to Iraq, April Glaspie, who made statements to Saddam that “it was argued that Glaspie’s statements that “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts” and that “the Kuwait issue is not associated with America” were interpreted by Saddam as giving free rein to handle his disputes with Kuwait as he saw fit. It was also argued that Saddam would not have invaded Kuwait had he been given an explicit warning that such an invasion would be met with force by the United States.”

    Whatever happened, it opened up a can of worms that we’re still dealing with today.

  49. blert Says:


    That Henry Kissinger quote occurred — “when he remarked, “It’s a pity they both can’t lose.”– at the Ruff Times investment conference at the NY Hilton main ballroom, circa Sept 1980, IIRC.

    I was (fluke of history) a mere 20 feet away during his spontaneous interview. The directional microphone suppressed the intense back round sound as the ball room emptied. Henry had been the keynote speaker — just before the long lunch break.

    It remains a chuckle moment for me.

    The only reason he was interviewed at all was that he had flown in for this speech — and the MSM knew how to get the the NY Hilton — and that he’d be there.

    At the time, the war was huge news, and it did not look like the Iranians could stop Saddam. Oil prices were heading to the Moon.

    And, I’d say that both sides did lose.

    It’s a general mistake to place the US in the forefront of protecting Saddam in the 80s. His primary protector became PARIS — with Bonn in a side-kick role.

    ALL of Saddam’s war critical tech aid came from FRANCE.

    It was FRANCE that was supplying Saddam with army officers — especially artillery officers. The French laid out all of the Iraqi defenses. (France has led the world in fort construction since the 16th Century. Believe it.)

    And, it was FRANCE that sold Saddam Mirage jets to replace the Soviet jets shot down right and left by Iranian (American) F-4 jets. Go to YouTube and find video about their exploits.

    The only pilots that freak the Iranians out are American pilots. We trained them.

    It is a Leftist idea that Reagan supported and supplied Saddam.

    Heck, the only American supplies of note went to the mullahs: Iran Contra. Those TOW missiles entirely ended ANY Iraqi thoughts about tank advances. From that date onwards, the Iraqis dug their tanks in deeply.

    This tick continued right through both Gulf Wars.

    Even today, the Iranians have an American designed military. The Shahs weapons have been maintained all this time… as best can be.

    Gradually, the mullahs have second sourced parts — especially for the F-4 and F-5. Since they had a fulsome opportunity to fly off the Soviet jets against the American jets — they came to one conclusion. Stay with the American stuff as long as possible.

    While IRBMs with atomics seem the way they’ll go… don’t be surprised if the mullahs deliver atomics via the old reliable F-4 — hiding in the tail stream of a jumbo jet. (Delayed fusing, of course)

    Such a stealth attack would be entirely in keeping with the mullah’s over arching stealthiness.

    It’s something to look forward to.

  50. Ymarsakar Says:

    I would rather believe might makes right and right makes right, than to believe the Left when they say that their personal slaves are right and any other slaves speaking truth to power must be exterminated from the Race.

  51. J.J. Says:

    Interesting info. I suppose the French were interested because of Total’s investments in Iraq. Much as the Italians and French were interested in Libya because of oil investments/production there.

    Old “Debil Oil” is never far from the scene in the ME. G_d has a sense of humor – providing so much oil to such a retrograde population was calculated to provide no end of mischief. 🙂

    My point is that, during the Cold War, every move we made diplomatically or militarily was calculated to contain, as best we could, International Communism. We cozied up to some tyrants. All in the name of keeping the Commies at bay. These relationships have always been a major source of propaganda of anti-Americanism for the progs (Our Commie fifth column). Our involvement with Iraq was not all that great, but we were certainly more favorable toward Iraq than Iran.

    I have a small bit of history ala Iraq. Back in 1960, I was a field geologist with Pan American Petroleum (which became AMOCO, which was merged into BP.) Oil was about $2.50 a barrel. The easy oil had all been found in the U.S. (With the technology then available.) The chief geologist was looking for volunteers to go to Iraq and help in the opening of their oil fields. He was enthusiastically describing easy to discern structures that were ten miles wide and fifty miles long with drilling depths of 5,000 feet or less. For an American geologist of the times these were mind boggling. I was considering signing on, when I was suddenly recalled to active duty by the Navy. Had duty not called, today I might be an expert on oil exploration in Iraq.

  52. Eric Says:


    Interesting. In college, when I learned about the Iran-Iraq War (class: Conflict Resolution in the Middle East), the US role was represented as marginal, if not entirely insignificant – as I said, at best, cautiously favorable neutrality. The substantive international support for Iraq came from other Arab states. When the Iranian revolution lost us the Shah, we were pushed into the Arab camp, particularly with Saudi Arabia. My understanding is whatever favor we showed Iraq was from that context and disfavor for Iran rather than friendship with Iraq. Our impact was minor. However, the Arab support for Iraq came with debts that Saddam didn’t believe he should pay, which was a contributing factor to Iraq’s follow-up act.

    After the wars with Israel, the war with Iran, and the pan-Arab movement of the 20th century, it was reasonable to believe that inter-Arab disputes were intra-Arab disputes and as such, would be handled with decorum. But whatever covenant the Arabs had amongst themselves, Saddam broke it when he invaded Kuwait.

    The Iraq-Kuwait issue became an American concern when it radically blew up from a neighborhood drilling dispute into a barbaric invasion. Given the US regional policy per the Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine, active containment role in the Iran-Iraq War, and relationship with Saudi Arabia, Saddam knew or should have known that his invasion of Kuwait and regional threat would cross a red line for the US. Interpreting any US response about his argument with Kuwait as permitting an invasion of Kuwait was a very poor read.

    But that’s likely what happened, part and parcel with Saddam’s dangerously poor judgement that necessitated our intervention and strict enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire. The Iraq Survey Group talks about how Saddam up to the end consistently misjudged the US to a delusional degree, even when that meant overruling the objections of his advistors who had a more reasonable take on the US’s Iraq policy.

  53. Eric Says:

    advistors advisors

  54. Eric Says:


    Thanks. I already knew you and I agree. I disagree with the Vallicella observation that “The principle that mightlessness makes right seems to be one of the cardinal tenets of the Left.”

    “Cardinal tenet” implies that the Left holds that idea to be a fundamental true principle. But that’s not true. Like I said, and we agree, Left activists are client based, not principle based.

    It’s a cardinal tactic for them, not a cardinal tenet.

  55. Eric Says:


    Add: It goes without saying, but it’s still worth noting that our Iraq policy from the Iran-Iraq War to the Gulf War ceasefire, until we switched to the regime change mandate in 1998, did factor our want for Saddam to counter Iran, which neatly explains the wiki cites for the early to middle US policy with Saddam.

    You see it come up repeatedly in our attempts to balance Saddam’s regime as a counter to Iran (pro) vs the danger threatened by Saddam’s regime (con).

    The wiki cites of carefully limited favor for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War point to the IR-realist balancing act. With his chemical attacks, for example, we wanted Saddam reprimanded and to prevent further violations, but we also didn’t want to lose Saddam as a counter to Iran.

    The IR-realist balancing act was also the guiding principle of the Gulf War and Gulf War ceasefire in 1991 that responded to Saddam’s realized threat but then, in order to retain the counter to Iran, deviated from concluding the logical course of the war when we stopped short of regime change. But we only suspended the Gulf War with a strict set of weapons and non-weapons mandates that would assure Saddam could be trusted with the peace.

    Again, we wanted Saddam to counter Iran. But we also needed Saddam to rehabilitate and stop his destabilization and threat to the region. HW Bush’s last IR-realist balancing act to retain the former and achieve the latter was the Gulf War ceasefire compliance and disarmament process to rehabilitate Saddam.

    The problem is Saddam refused to comply, disarm, and rehabilitate. If anything, Saddam’s behavior and judgement became worse during his defiance of the ceasefire. By the point of Op Desert Fox, HW Bush’s IR-realist balancing act, the Gulf War ceasefire, had degenerated from the initially planned rapid compliance and disarmament process into an indefinitely stalemated toxic and broken ‘containment’.

    By the time that Clinton made regime change for Iraq a legal mandate in 1998, the risk/reward, cost/benefit calculation of allowing Saddam to stay in power to counter Iran had tipped over due to Saddam’s “clear and present” (Clinton) and “grave and gathering” (Bush) danger.

    This is why ‘conservative’ IR realists (eg, my college poli sci professors) join with anti-American leftists and isolationist libertarians in perpetuating the anti-OIF myth that the ‘containment’ was working, contra the UNMOVIC and Iraq Survey Group findings. It was the IR realists’ attempt at a balancing act with Saddam that failed us and got us to OIF.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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