When the shit hits the fan

The recent weeks were a convincing natural experiment to confirm what I had said and written again and again for well over a decade:

Things are different when the shit hits the fan.
Paradigms crumble. Inhibitions crumble. Resistances to action crumble.

It was unthinkable in January that intra-European borders would shut down for general travel. It was unthinkable that our societies could go into lockdown soon. Europeans don't even wear face masks when sick, how could they possibly resort to such extreme measures against a mere virus?

There was A LOT of shittalking about Western societies being too soft, to un-warlike, too demilitarised and so on for war.*

The shit hit the fan in the virus crisis and unthinkable measures and behaviour were the response.

A war - a real war, not some distant sandbox bullshit - would wake up the beast that Europe is. To force us into war would be a grave mistake. Students of history know what European prowess produces at war. It would be ugly, very, very large-scale ugly. 
Nobody could possibly "win" by participating in or even causing such a mess.



*: And I'm not even focusing on certain commenters here. It was (and is) really widespread.


  1. Everything is relative. Europeans are 'weak' compared to who? Compared to the red army of '45. Okay. Fair point. But theres a problem with that isnt there?

    Calm down SO, you write consistently on this topic, you evidence your work. Are you signalling? What for?


    1. I think this is a great opportunity to hammer the point in. It's very relevant for the proper appraisal of deterrence and defence.

      Sadly, the exhibited decision-making lag of weeks is also very relevant. Nowhere did politicians adequately grasp the implications of exponential growth of infections. They waited till they couldn't do anything else any more instead of understanding that buying a few days of delay offers almost no benefit, but hurts a lot.

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  3. Well, that was an over-reaction to a simple and relatively harmless observation, SO.

    1. To start a comment with a big fat lie is not helpful to its longevity.

  4. I didn't see the post in question, but basically anything Sven does to protect this forum is fine by me. I've seen too many other fora turn into shit-fests or right-wing circle jerks to want it to happen to this one.

    1. He voiced his opinion that Europe's weakness is all induced by the U.S. post-1945 and then IIRC he meant that Europe could rise again. That's from memory and may be a bit distorting. I don't have a copy of the original comment.

      His first line was a lie based on a ridiculous and needless exaggeration.

      I've had enough of people lying about public interest things as you happen to know. I don't care about them lying about their last vacation or such, but certain lies can do real and extreme harm if believed by the wrong or simply enough people. These days provide a worldwide demonstration of it.

    2. My comment wasn't a lie, it was a fairly objective analysis made in hindsight, S O.
      Europe did FUNCTIONALLY lose the war.
      Britain and France went on to lose the vast majority of their colonies and Europe was divided up between the Soviets and the Americans.
      This is how empires work.
      Look, if you don't like the political implication of what I wrote, just say so but don't call me a fucking liar, because I am not!

    3. You wrote that Europe became disarmed post-45. Look up the meaning of that word. It was a ridiculous lie in face of the British and French nuclear arsenals.

    4. France is the only notable exception and it only re-enforces the rule.
      As for Britain, it's a country that purchase a substantial amount of it's military equipment from the US.
      A country whose land is dotted with American military bases.
      Nukes are only useful as a deterrent when we are discussing competitions in between great powers.
      They will only really be used in a situation of total war in between two powerful actors.

    5. You appear to not understand the words "disarm" or "disarmament".

  5. Yes, don't push Italians into fighting Risorgimento 2.0 against Brussels and Berlin.

    Unthinkable now, come 2035? Well perhaps I'm an outlier, I was fantasising about inviting a few juicy Iskander batteries to the Alps already in 2015, pity the Russians consistently value Germany over Italy and wouldn't play.

    Btw, I'm only half joking, I think a Germany bereft of Euro may do some very unwise things in desperation, and I've been noticing how the CDU is normalising the AfD and preparing to go to bed with them. We may have a Salvini, but he's no Bernd/Bjoern Hoecke.



    A sad and very tribal outburst.

    For most of recorded history Europe was 2nd, or at best 3rd compared to other great empires in the East, and even then Europeans were routinely captured and sold into slavery by the Ottoman Empire and Barbary (Berber) pirates.

    A little humility is called for...

    1. War is not about winning or being best. It's about slaughter and devastation.
      Europe is terrific at both. It's no consolation if others are even better at it.

      Your metric system for war seems to be all wrong.

    2. War IS about achieving an actor's strategic objective.

    3. Someone thinking so is the cause.

      Look, I dabbled with such descriptions as well, but in the essence war is abut killing, mutilating, destroying and consuming resources.

      Some fool or fools thought to achieve something when war was started, but that's extremely rarely achieved and also extremely rarely guiding the behaviour much during the warfare.

      Most importantly, this was anon misunderstanding what matters most. The dead alone matter more than what some person or group meant to achieve.

    4. "war is abut killing, mutilating, destroying and consuming resources."
      Those can all be part of the war, yes.
      But they are not what war IS all about.

      "Some fool or fools thought to achieve something when war was started, but that's extremely rarely achieved and also extremely rarely guiding the behaviour much during the warfare."
      Not within a well disciplined army.
      They usually stick to the objective.
      Also, killing, mutilating, destroying and enslaving an actor's enemy can also be the main objective of a given war.
      What you are describing is a chaotic situation, a civil war for example.
      You seem to have a childish understanding of it all, teuton.

    5. Read the last four lines of the original post. It was clear from the beginning what I meant and that it wasn't about Europe would win wars if pushed into them.

      "Not within a well disciplined army.
      They usually stick to the objective."

      Even those armies sent into Iraq or AFG to "win" quickly changed their mission to casualty avoidance.
      The NATO air war against Yugoslavia was a limited war, meant to convince to change a policy. The top brass completed its first target list, did not achieve the effect and proceeded to just destroy whatever came to their mind regardless of thought about whether it was helpful any more.

      And in return to your last line, I think of your way of thinking about war as immature and gullible.

    6. The two example you mentioned only back up my point.
      The NATO bombing of the Yugos fully achieved it's goals by bombing whatever they liked so that they can get the Serbs to change their mind.
      They stopped after that goal was achieved and got a bunch of brand new vassal states out of it (Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo).
      This illustrates my point perfectly.
      I stand by my point.
      You have child like understanding of the affair.
      My understanding of it is perfectly logical.

    7. Let's agree to disagree. You're not really paying attention to my point and I don't seem to be inclined to yield either.

    8. Have it your way, teuton.

    9. @SO, the 'other empires' I alluded too were also far ahead of Europe in the sciences, trade, medicine, art, and other descriptions of culture.

      The Chinese 'Ministry of Foreign affairs' is literally translated as "Department of Barbarian Affairs' with some reason (and yes the Chinese people have long suffered under despotism...).


    10. GAB, let's say you are angry with me and want to hurt me.
      It tell you that I have a shotgun and will shoot into your stomach. You can tell me about your gun arsenal all you want, it doesn't change that trying to hurt me would be way too messy and not worth it. And I don#t care. I would shoot you in your stomach, period. It's in my nature and your arsenal would not stop me.

      Did you now understand the point?

    11. You are not very good at allegories.

    12. SO,

      I am out. You and I are talking past each other and the unidentified 3rd party (or more?) that inserted themselves into this thread is not helping.


  7. Well the out of control "debate" on the nature of war may be cleared up slightly by pointing out that the nature of war depends on the nature of the context and society fighting it / being on the receiving end? In this way one could also classify the armed slave raids / devastation expeditions of Ottomans in Mediterranean and Tatar tribes into Southern Russia and Ukraine, to pick late examples of such on the borders of Europe, as belonging to the same broader concept within which one also finds 19th century and beyond nation-state wars fought consciously over what we think about markets and industrial resources. (Internally, of course much fighting even back to Greek/Roman times and much more so during the Middle Ages also had this raiding character). Not really certain what you're all shouting about, basically.

    1. My definition would still apply to the slave raids carried out by the ottoman and the mass massacres carried by the Mongols against any subjugated people who rebelled against them.
      In the case of the ottomans, the goal is to acquire resources.
      In the case of the Mongols, the goal is to fully subjugate a population.
      I never denied that acts of barbarism could be PART of war, I just contested his ridiculous assertions that acts of barbarism are commited for the sake of committing acts of barbarism.

    2. I meant the nature of war, not the motivation for it.
      The whole original post has zero content about motivation. It describes that war with Europe would be a mess and nothing to be gained from.

      It's a mistake to think of wars through the narrative of what the aggressor supposedly tries to achieve. That's not war, that's just a usually silly idea that stood at its beginning and has rarely anything to do with its conduct or ending.
      Such a point of view deceives people about war.