Warmonger tactics

Warmongers changed their tactics during the last generations, the rift was probably WW2.

The old warmonger tactic to launch a war was usually (Napoleonic times till WW2) to exploit patriotism (driven to jingoism) and to define extreme expectations (build an empire, grab provinces and the like). It also helped to create the perception of a defensive war of necessity.

Goering: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. [...] That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Goering: Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

hat tip to Kings of War

This changed a lot post-WW2:

(1) Part of the new warmonger pre-war tool set is an increased effort in misinformation (mis-characterization of the 'foe').

(2) The main tactic and enabler is fear, though. Warmongers have become fearmongers. Ants get hyped up to elephant size. "Domino theory", "Rogue states". "failed states", "Axis of evil", "WMD" and the ubiquitous terror scare (random lightning strikes are more dangerous to Westerners than terrorists!).

This tactic is very different from earlier tactics because warmongers were previously aiming to launch wars with powerful enemies and had to talk them small in order to get their war. They suggested that the own military power was sufficient for a quick victory (well, unless the discussion is about the military budget, of course. That's always the right time to point out own deficiencies and hype up threats.)

The post-WW2 targets of Western warmongers were usually quite obviously inferior and at times even outright defenceless. So they needed to be hyped up to serious threats.

- - - - -

The tool set during wartime is very different, though. Warmongers want to sustain war no matter what the costs are. They're warmongers, after all.

The old tool set for this included two main tools:

(1) They appealed to patriotism, but meant jingoism. Those who were against the war were ill-reputed as if they were no nationals, and certainly no patriots.
That's idiotic, of course. A patriot wants to keep net harm away from his nation. A patriot doesn't want to fight a war till so-called "victory" or total defeat no matter what cost. It was often more patriotic to call for peace than to call for a continuation of war.

(2) The second tool depended on the size of the war. In small wars, it was much about the prestige at stake. Major wars (First World War especially) were different; the warmonger tool of choice was then to point at the losses that had already occurred. No-one should betray those who already gave the ultimate sacrifice by making peace short of total victory.

They also added the prospect of war booty, but that played well only among the upper classes who could actually expect to benefit of it.

Again, this changed a lot post-WW2.

The post-WW2 wars caused less loss of life than earlier major wars did. The prestige argument is still in use. The major tactic became a different one, though: The Friedman unit.

Vietnam War, Iraq Occupation War and the Western adventure chapter of the Afghanistan War required one element more than anything else: time. There was no quick victory possible (except in dreams), so the wars dragged on. The challenge for the warmonger was to keep it going. That was a challenge for military-industrial lobbyists as well, of course.

So how could you fool a nation into staying 'on course'? Simple; you promise that you see light at the end of the tunnel. It's almost done. Just a few more months of increased effort and we'll succeed.

Just a few more months. Really just a few more. Don't get impatient, just a few more months. Seriously - there's light - don't relax - just a few more months. Don't be foolish - it's almost done - give us a few more months.

The greatest miracle is why the f**k these warmongers don't get silenced, but manage to stay in the spotlight. Seriously, who's gullible enough to be fooled by them again and again ?

The classic Friedman unit were six months. This size at times doubled - if the warmonger is especially insecure about the prospects and reactions. And if the situation is really too f**ked up to be saved in six months even in a warmonger's dreams.

Today is such a double Friedman unit moment.

Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) -- while Afghan security capacity matures -- risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible (...)

- - - - -

A proper reasoning about war or peace looks different.

First, we need to say "stfu!" to the warmongers. They're special interest extremists, and such people only distort a rational discussion. We also need to say "stfu!" to pacifists. They're uncompromising extremists by definition and that's nonsense as well. Politicians who claim to be pacifists should stfu as well, for politicians tend to lose their "pacifism" once they join the government.

Then we need a rational discussion about war and peace that really brings up facts and well-written arguments that appeal to reason, not to feelings.

War should be chosen not as last resort, but as least terrible option. That applies both to the beginning and to the ending of warfare.

It's a terrible thought that a society might wage war based on hypocrisy and propaganda instead of on a complete assessment of the situation and options.

Actually, it's not just a thought - it's reality.

Sven Ortmann


  1. That's actually an interesting question, has there *ever* been a war initiated without an excess of emotion driving it?

    In the particular example of the USA:
    The former candidate to the presidency for the Democratic party Howard Dean once said "no nation can stay on top forever. that includes the USA" or words to that effect. Fairly obvious stuff.

    What happened? He was shouted down! Even the fairly level-headed democrats are wedded to the idea of being an empire, a superpower.

    And then you have the paranoid and the ignorant, who can be made to fear and hate most anything they don't know and understand.

    That's why 9/11 was so powerful, because these people seriously expected terrorists to invade Milkawee,, AZ. Look at any survey over average americans' knowledge of the world. Perfect recipients of propaganda.

  2. "That's why 9/11 was so powerful, because these people seriously expected terrorists to invade Milkawee,, AZ. Look at any survey over average americans' knowledge of the world. Perfect recipients of propaganda."

    Average Americans know that "Milkawee", otherwise known as Milwaukee, is in Wisconsin. That's only a few thousand miles from Arizona, so you're close.

  3. Average Europeans recognize the rhetorical tool of emphasizing ridiculousness by adding unrelated ridiculous elements when they see it.

    It's a distant relative of the straw man argument and quite popular among satirists and comedians.

    Above average Europeans are even able to stick to the topic and their discussion repertoire includes more than just ad hominem (this related to the censored part of the troll message).