Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Another Day, Another War

with 11 comments

The USA is now at war with Libya. Not to mention in conjunction with our old buddies, France and Britain. Since this website is about war and the onrushing darkness, I guess I better comment on it, depressing as it is. And it is depressing, wars almost never work out the way people wanted, and they almost always have unintended consequences. And, well, people die. Mostly innocent people for the most part. That’s one of the things that shows that we are getting sicker as a species, not better. Before the 20th century, the vast majority of people killed in wars were combatants. Now it’s the other way around. Kill granny for freedom, right. Sigh.

First off, I am dismayed by how little public debate there was over this war. It seems like there’s been less public debate over every recent war than the previous one. More proof that modern propaganda and politics has turned Americans into sheep? Maybe, but also it’s old news. We’ve been at war for nearly a decade now, what’s one more enemy? I suspect most Americans just don’t care anymore, and it’s not like we can do anything about it. We elected a president who promised to close Guantanamo prison and pull the US out of Iraq. Well, neither of those promises are going to be fulfilled, and now we have another war on to add to our troubles. Obama is a politician, not a leader.

But wait, isn’t Libya’s Qaddafi a piece of work who is slaughtering his own people? Well, yes. Doesn’t that mean the West should do something about it? Maybe. And won’t no fly zones protect the Libyan rebels at little or no risk to the West? Answer: You’ve got to be joking. How well did no-fly-zones prevent Saddam from crushing all opposition to his regime? They didn’t of course. Air power has its uses, but it’s also completely useless for many tasks. And protecting a rag tag rebel army from a professional fighting force is one of the situations where air power is of limited or no use.

So what the hell is going on here then? Why is the West attacking Libya? I see two possibilities. The first is that the West, especially the USA, is flying blind so to speak. The situation in the Middle East is very much drifting in ways the the West doesn’t want, and Libya is being seized on as a chance to “take the initiative” and try and restore the West’s waning influence in the region. IE, doing something because they don’t know what else to do. I think the best argument that the “clusterfuck” scenario is unfolding is the name of this military operation: Operation Odyssey Dawn. How the hell did they come up with that, it’s like something a hippie on acid would name their kid, not the name of a military operation. Or maybe we’ve just used up all the good names for military operations, the same way the eighties is remembered as the decade where they ran out of good movie titles.

The other possibility is more sinister. Bottom line, Libya isn’t very important. If it turns into a failed state, no big deal, it’s not going to destabilize its neighbours. And whoever controls the oil fields will no doubt be happy to keep selling oil. The point here, is that a big exciting “shock and awe” campaign in Libya likely won’t make the situation worse. And what it will do is provide a desperately needed distraction from a couple of other ongoing issues: The “Arab Awakening” continues … and various western satraps are using increasingly brutal methods to put an end to any idea of democracy and self determination. And worse, the situation in Japan is so catastrophic that it endangers the entire world, and we can’t have people really understanding that. If people really understood what a disaster unfettered corporate/military capitalism really is, they might demand change, or worse, accountability.

Or in other words, if Tokyo has to be abandoned, the cost to the world’s economy is going to be in the trillions. The rich would prefer that the poor and middle class pick up the tab. Nothing like a shooting war to distract people while their pockets are being picked. Just saying. And I’m not talking through my hat, coming soon, I got some expert (as opposed to talking heads) opinion on Japan’s reactor crisis. As a bonus, I managed to get a first hand account of the revolution in Egypt. Doug’s Darkworld may be a small unassuming blog, but I have my sources.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it’s central to illustrating the post, and it is an historically important image. Credit and copyright: Prescott. It’s a picture taken by Prescott’s grandfather during World War Two, outside of Tobruk, Libya. I leave it to the gentle reader’s imagination why I thought it was an appropriate image to illustrate this post with.)




Written by unitedcats

March 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

11 Responses

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  1. Another great post, Doug.


    March 19, 2011 at 11:06 pm

  2. France has an interest in going to Libya that theoretically supported Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign. Maybe they hope the debt would be wiped off with the termination of the regime. :) (it is very funny that France attacked first)
    Or…other countries borrowed from Libya too.
    Other reasons… oil attraction, fear of the Arab Brotherhood that became stronger and stronger. And last…a weakened economy can be restored only in a context of war.
    If there is so much care for other territories why no help in destabilized African states? No accountable resources.


    March 20, 2011 at 3:11 am

  3. “Before the 20th century, the vast majority of people killed in wars were combatants”
    That statement made me cringe.

    What about the Thirty Years’ War? Caesar’s Gallic Wars? Crusades?
    Yes there was a time when in a battle most of the casualties were combatants. But that was more a result of smaller battlefields than trying to spare civilians.
    Cities were raided, sacked, enslaved or simply slaughtered. Food was confiscated, fields burned, leaving families in the wake of an army to starvation. Not to mention diseases.


    March 20, 2011 at 4:31 am

    • I didn’t say civilian weren’t sometimes victims, but nonetheless the casualty ratio in pre-twentieth century wars was usually about 20-1. IE 20 combatants killed for every civilian killed. Because usually nation states were trying to capture cities and populations, not kill them. More on point, when civilians were killed in ancient wars, it was because they were being deliberately targeted. In modern warfare, huge numbers of civilians are killed simply as “bycatch.” I should have been more precise, huge numbers of civilians are almost always killed as an “unintentional” byproduct of modern war, it’s become the norm rather than the exception. —Doug


      March 20, 2011 at 5:04 am

      • That was my point.
        Today, people die more as a direct result of fighting. Battles involve larger, denser populated areas, civilian death is a consequence.

        Pre-twentieth century had more civilian death as a result of war itself. Due to food shortage, armies that lived of the land and diseases. For example the Napoleonic wars had a huge civilian death toll, not as high as military, but high nonetheless.


        March 20, 2011 at 5:57 am

  4. The Japan reactor disaster is SO huge, a ‘wag the dog’ scenario was implemented IMHO.

    It will take weeks for the real dimensions of the ongoing nuclear flares, and the previous critical nuclear explosion (reactor #3), to be known and digested. It is far, far, worse than the sheeple are led to believe.

    Its just a matter of time before we have boots on the ground in Libya. Another long and permanent occupation of yet another country by a bankrupt superpower. Libya was an oil exporter, Egypt was not.. its that simple folks. If all Libya exported was broccoli we would not be having this conversation.

    In the meantime, the loss of Tokyo, a major super-city, will bring down economies around the globe. Japan/Tokyo is the REAL story of our time.. just imagine the effect of the worlds most expensive real estate, a city of 13 million people, becoming worthless.
    It is a realization that the powers that be fear the most. Full scale propaganda is in swing to prevent it. There will be a major diaspora of japanese nationals around the world.. the elite have already fled.


    March 20, 2011 at 7:17 am

  5. I have to agree with JM here … I hear this point made over and over without much for supporting docs, and it doesn’t meet the logic test, IMO. Prior to the 20th century, one of the most common forms of war was “rape and pillage.” Whole villages would be burned to the ground, the populations killed or captured and enslaved. Women were taken as concubines, slaves, or just raped on the battlefield. This was the standard mode of war for MANY “barbarian” invasions of Europe and was pretty much the ONLY mode used by folks like Genghis Khan and his cohorts.

    But even beyond the rape and pillage mode of “barbarians” supposedly civilized Europe laid siege to entire cities during the Crusades, under the banner of “kill them all and God will sort it out.” Christians and Muslims, soldiers and civilians were slaughtered indiscriminately in those campaigns.

    Civilians have always paid the price for wars. Wars are fought were civilians live, work and eat, and civilians have always been the “resources of power” in pre-industrial ages. When you attacked a village, you attacked the village wholeheartedly … you raped and pillaged and left the place in flames, with piles of bodies only marginally less lucky than the lines of slaves being towed off.

    Sure, our modern weapons can kill more people with a single shot, but whether you are killed by a cruise missile, or by Genghis and his buddies, you are just as dead. Whether your house burns as a result of the nuclear blast, or Genshis’ torches, it’s still on fire.

    Lyle Bateman

    March 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    • Very VERY few civilians die in the crossfire when people are fighting with swords. Human nature hasn’t changed, I will agree with you there, but weaponry has … and it’s vastly easier to kill civilians now (people could and did run away when the barbarians descended on a town, much harder to run from bullets and bombs) and huge numbers are killed simply by accident now, which didn’t happen until modern warfare and gunpowder arrived. Try this for a more detailed discussion:

      To repeat, I’m not saying human nature has changed, or that ancient armies didn’t kill civilians. I’m saying that modern weaponry has greatly increased the risk to civilians in warfare. I’ll write and expanded blog post, but there’s just so many ways modern warfare kills civilians that didn’t even exist in ancient times. For example: Thousands of civilians are still being killed and maimed every year by leftover munitions from 20th century wars today, there’s not even an ancient category for those kinds of civilian casualties. —Doug


      March 24, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      • I do see your point, especially re landmines and the like. But I think there’s an important distinction you are overlooking … to Genghis and his boys, there was no difference between men, women, and children … he sacked, looted and pillaged regardless of civilian, or soldier. That simply wasn’t a distinction in his world … in HIS world, you were the predator, or the prey, and that was that. Much of the ancient world worked that way and while we may kill more civilians by accident, we at least make the distinction between combatant and non … Genghis couldn’t have cared less about that distinction frankly … the only difference between a civilian and a soldier to Genghis was that civilians ran instead of fought back.

        Lyle Bateman

        March 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      • One other quick point. You said “Very VERY few civilians die in the crossfire when people are fighting with swords.” I agree with that to a point, but mounted swordsmen on war horses, be they Mongols or Crusaders, could do some pretty heavy damage in their day. Riding into a crowd of civilians, a single mounted knight could kill dozens or hundreds as they scattered and tried to flee. They were the mobile armor of their day, and every bit as intimidating as a column of tanks rolling into town. You are right that its hard to flee bombers, but at the same time, civilians fleeing an oncoming Mongol horde had few options. They COULD run, of course, leaving everything they had for the barbarians, but how quickly could mounted Mongols track down ragged civilians fleeing on foot? Very quickly, because they were driving state of the art tanks (at the time, stirrup-ed and armoured horses were a devastating weapon of war that Genghis made famous) for their day.

        I don’t discount that our toys do more damage today, and they linger longer … but I think you are minimizing both the destructive power, and the lack of concern for human life, that a horde of Mongols (or Crusaders, or pick your favorite ancient warriors) in control of the most advanced weapon of mobile warfare of their day were capable of.

        Lyle Bateman

        March 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

  6. Lyle Bateman
    You sound like a nice guy – but either naive or in denial.
    Lebanon was the beneficiary of broadcast bomblets that looked like shiny toys : great for blowing up kids.
    Agent Orange was not available to the ancients. Sure there was Greek fire and some other exotics usually not mentioned – disease ridden blankets given to ‘natives’ come to mind, ditto Bibles that Amerinds came to associate with the pox – but it’s not polite to mention the hideous reality even worse than raining white phosphorous ‘flares’ down on populated areas.
    You wouldn’t thank me for the full ugly I have under ‘Uranium’ in my Topical Index.
    Here’s the ‘sanitized’ version of the Depleted Uranium notes
    When the Dust Settles


    March 30, 2011 at 8:50 pm

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