August 5, 2006

Christopher Hitchens' Hero

On Tuesday, August 8th, BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a segment in their "Great Lives" series, in which prominent personalities are asked to offer a tribute to their heroes. Can you guess whom Christopher Hitchens, the prominent neocon and critic of Mel Gibson, chose? The BBC website promises

A fiery return for the biographical series in which Matthew Parris chooses the living, and the living choose the dead. Christopher Hitchens proposes Leon Trotsky, the hero of the Russian Revolution later assassinated with an ice pick in the skull. He sees him as the perfect combination of the man of ideas and man of action, and says Trotsky's writings still make the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Matthew Parris is joined by Professor Robert Service in resisting him all the way.

Last year, Tom Piatak wrote in "The Purest Neocon" in The American Conservative:

Hitchens—now honored throughout the neoconservative Right—remains what he has been throughout his public life, a disciple of Leon Trotsky and a talented writer and polemicist—perhaps the most talented polemicist the Bolshevik tradition has produced in the West. [More]

It's important to realize that just because Trotsky lost out to Stalin, that doesn't mean Trotsky wasn't a comparably bloodthirsty creature. Indeed, Stalin's Ukrainian Holocaust was in pursuit of Trotsky's policy of collectivization of the farms. During the 1920s, Stalin had posed as a "moderate" in his struggles with the blatantly extremist Trotsky. Once he'd driven out Trotsky, though, lacking his own ideas, he quickly adopted Trotsky's economic policy of forced collectivization, with all the genocidal horrors that entailed.

Stalin and Trotsky did, however, genuinely differ on foreign policy, with Trotsky advocating global revolution, while the relatively less fanatical Stalin backed "socialism in one country" with only opportunistic expansion of Soviet power, such as after WWII or when, in early 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson stupidly left South Korea out of the list of Asian countries America would fight to defend. This degree of prudence on Stalin's part is why the many well-meaning people who claim that Stalin was just as bad as, or worse than, Hitler, are wrong. Hitler tried to conquer the world, and thus he unleashed the biggest slaughter of all time. Stalin's paranoia -- with all the bloodshed it inflicted on his own subjects -- made him less dangerous to the rest of the world. If Trotsky had outmaneuvered Stalin, however, he might well have rivaled or even surpassed Hitler as a cause of carnage.

A reader who was an old drinking buddy of Christopher Hitchens points out that Hitch regularly had his own Mel Gibson Moments after a dozen scotches:

When I knew him, he claimed to be the "world's biggest anti-Semite" and a great friend of the Palestinians. Then he "discovered" a Jewish great-aunt and began a reassessment of his antecedents, or just decided to give the flip-side a spin or two.

I wrote on my blog in 2005, commenting on an extraordinary dialogue between the long-estranged brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens over their infant rivalry:

I've pointed out that what might look like ideological clashes on the surface are often actually just rationalizations for ethnic clashes between extended families, but the Hitchens Brothers represent an interesting case of an ethnic clash between brothers within a nuclear family. [Tory] Peter was the favorite of their English father, [Trotskyite] Christopher of their [possibly] Jewish mother [who committed suicide]. Christopher is still an atheist, but as Paul Johnson pointed out in his "History of the Jews," it's been common down through the centuries for young atheist intellectuals to become more focused on Jewish ethnic interests as they age, without necessarily becoming theists. The conversion to the ideology of neoconism of Christopher, who, despite his hatred of religion, has taken to dropping in to synagogues as he travels to express his ethnic solidarity, is a good example of this venerable tendency toward gerontocratic ethnocentrism.

I suspect that Christopher Hitchens used to love Trotsky for being a Communist mass murderer, but now loves Trotsky more for being a Jewish mass murderer.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 4, 2006

The Catastrophes of Small Talk

Mean Mr. Mustard recounts:

We went to arrange the service with the minister on Saturday. Michelle must've told him about the bar because the first thing he said after I met him was, "So how was the test?" I told him how I thought it was actually rather easy, compared to my expectations, and that I was pretty confident I passed. He then said, "My wife failed it 22 times." I of course immediately began to feel like a heel for going on about how manageable I found it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


The WSJ had a front page article yesterday called "Why Hezbollah Is Proving So Tough On the Battlefield:"

As Israel ended its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, its army left behind part of a strategic outpost known as Karqom. Concerned they might damage an ancient synagogue nearby, soldiers hesitated to level the outpost, as they did the rest of their military infrastructure.

When Israel's military returned to Karqom during the fighting in recent weeks, what was left of the outpost was gone. In its place was a fortified, 5,000-square-foot Hezbollah military base with a radio tower, secure satellite communications and a unit of more than a dozen guards.

I had to read that number a couple of times to realize what they were talking about: "5,000-square-what?" I'm used to military bases like the Marines' Camp Pendleton, which occupies about 200 square miles of prime Southern California real estate stretching 17.5 miles along the Pacific Ocean between Greater Los Angeles and San Diego. That's well over five billion square feet. And Fort Hood in Texas is about 70% bigger.

A military base of less than 1/8th of an acre? You could fit two of them on a run of the mill quarter-acre suburban lot. It's less than one-millionth the size of Camp Pendleton.

I keep harping on the miniature scale of the current war in Lebanon to counteract the "WWIII" hysteria. For example, here's a listing from today's National Review Online:


VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: It’s the 1930s all over again. The Brink of Madness

The Brink of Madness, indeed.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Christopher Hitchens: A man of deep, deep faith

A reader translates an interview with Christopher Hitchens in Brazil's Veja:

Veja: So, your ideal or utopia today is a totally secular society?

CH: Yes. My next book, which I already finished but which hasn't been published yet, will have the title God Is Not Great. The title openly contradicts a well-known principle of Islamic faith, but the book is not just a criticism of Islam. It is against belief in God. I belief that someone who considers himself a radical today has to defend and disseminate scientific discoveries in such areas as cosmology and genetics, for two reasons. The first is to combat racism. We already had the moral abolition of racism, and the discoveries of genetics now brought us its scientific abolition.

Christopher Hitchens apparently has a transcendent belief in the miracle that somehow the random processes of Darwinian selection ended up making every every race exactly equal in everything. That would be like flipping a coin 100 times and having it wind up on its edge every time.

Hitchens is a classic example of Glaivester's great line that a lot of people assume:

"I thought the whole point of evolution was just to deny God. I didn't think it was actually supposed to tell us anything."

As I wrote in Toronto's National Post in 1999 in "Darwin's Enemies on the Left:"

The equal worth of all human souls has been one of the most popular, influential, and beneficial of all Christian beliefs. It inspired many of the great humanitarian achievements in Western history, such as the abolition of the slave trade. Science can neither prove nor disprove spiritual equality -- a defect in a scientific theory, but a blessing in a religious doctrine. By contrast, the literal interpretation of Genesis that the world was created in 4004 BC was eminently refutable, as Darwin demonstrated.

Although the Darwinian demolition of Old Testament fundamentalism was logically irrelevant to the question of whether all souls are of equal value to God, it made the whole of Christianity seem outdated. Thereafter the prestige of evolutionary biology encouraged egalitarians to discard that corny creed of spiritual equality - and to adopt the shiny new scientific hypotheses that humans are physically and mentally uniform. And that eventually put Darwinian science on a collision course with progressive egalitarians.

For Darwinism requires hereditary inequalities...

Darwin did not dream up the Theory of Evolution. Many earlier thinkers, like his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and the great French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck, had proposed various schemes of gradual changes in organisms. Darwin's great contribution was the precise engine of evolution: selection. Lamarck, for example, had believed that giraffes possess long necks because their ancestors had stretched their necks to reach higher leaves. This stretching somehow caused their offspring to be born with longer necks. Darwin, however, argued that the proto-giraffes who happened to be born with longer necks could eat more and thus left behind more of their longer-necked children than the proto-giraffes unlucky enough to be born with shorter necks.

And what selection selects are genetic differences. In "The Descent of Man," Darwin wrote, "Variability is the necessary basis for the action of selection."

Consider the full title of Darwin's epochal book: "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life." It is hard to imagine two words that could get a scholar in worse trouble today than "Favoured Races." But that term is not some deplorable Dead White European Maleism that we can scrape away to get down to its multiculturally sensitive core. Not at all: "Favoured Races" is Darwin's Big Idea. For if we didn't differ genetically, selection could not act upon us.

And the flood of data pouring in since then from genetic studies like the HapMap -- in which Bob Moyzis found 1,800 genes that differ sizably among the major races -- only confirms this logic.

As I wrote six years ago in "Seven Dumb Ideas about Race:"

Much of the Race Does Not Exist cant stems from the following logic (if you can call it logic): “If there really are different racial groups, then one must be The Master Race, which means -- oh my God – that Hitler Was Right! Therefore, we must promote whatever ideas most confuse the public about race. Otherwise, they will learn the horrible truth and they'll all vote Nazi.”

Look, this is one big non sequitur: Of course, there are different racial groups. And of course their members tend to inherit certain different genes, on average, than the members of other racial groups. And that means racial groups will differ, on average, in various innate capabilities. But that also means that no group can be supreme at all jobs. To be excellent at one skill frequently implies being worse at something else. So, there can't be a Master Race. Sports fans can cite countless examples. Men of West African descent monopolize the Olympic 100m dash, but their explosive musculature, which is so helpful in sprinting, weighs them down in distance running, where they are also-rans. Similarly, there are far more Samoans in the National Football League than Chinese, simply because Samoans tend to be much, much bigger. But precisely because Samoans are so huge, they'll never do as well as the Chinese in gymnastics.

It's not a good idea for members of the faith-based community like Hitchens to proclaim things like: Science proves we're all genetically equal, so therefore you shouldn't be beastly toward people of other races. The obvious flaw in this strategy is that eventually people will figure out that you are lying about what the science of genetics says, and therefore, by your own logic, that discredits the perfectly valid second half of your assertion.

By the way, does Hitchens know anything about the history of cosmology in the 20th Century? Two of the most important breakthroughs were extensions of classic proofs for the existence of God -- Father Lemaitre's Big Bang idea is reflective of the Aristotle-Aquinas Prime Mover argument and Brandon Carter's Anthropic Principle builds on the Rev. Paley's Argument from Design -- as I pointed out in "Darwin's Enemies on the Right?"

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

If Shi'ites with ties to Iran

are the most dangerous people in the world, as the neocons are saying this week, then why did the neocons three years ago want to invade Iraq in order to put in as President of Iraq a Shi'ite who frequently vacations at his villa in Tehran: Ahmad Chalabi?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More on bribery

A reader writes:

Bribery has been used very effectively in the past to keep potential enemies tame. In World War 2 there was a British-American scheme to buy off General Franco's military advisers to keep Spain neutral, according to this New York Times book review of Roosevelt and Churchill: Men of Secrets:

And the research is at its most impressive when Stafford reconstructs a byzantine British-American scheme to bribe the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco and his military command to keep Spain out of the war. That scheme involved $10 million, an infamous international financier, the United States Treasury and Churchill's man in Madrid. And it seems to have worked.

It only cost $10 million, which even in 1940s money seems like a bargain to eliminate Spain from the War.

I hadn't heard that before and I can't confirm it elsewhere yet.

Certainly Franco's lack of enthusiasm for the Axis cause, despite German and Italian aid to the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, was strategically important.

After the Americans and the British landed in northwest Africa in November 1942, the U.S. was scared that Franco would let the German army move through Spain and fall on the green American troops from the rear. (The OSS gave the two-fisted physical anthropologist Carleton Coon the mission, in that eventuality, of becoming the "Lawrence of Morocco:" he was to disappear into the Atlas mountains and organize the wild Berber tribes that he had long studied into a guerilla resistance.) Fortunately, Franco ungratefully kept the Germans at arm's length.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 3, 2006

Time to cut out the middleman

To influence the Middle East, why buy influence in Washington, when it's even cheaper to buy it directly in the Middle East?

One of the anomalies of modern history is how cheap it is to buy long term influence in Washington. America is a vastly wealthy country, but only a tiny fraction of its rich men bother to pay for the kind of institutions that can have long term effects on the direction of American policy.

The Exile ran a story pointing out how an ultra-corrupt American politician like Rep. Rep. Duke Cunningham is a penny ante thief, stealing a few million. Rep. Jefferson was found with $90,000 in his freezer. Hoo-boy. In contrast, quite a few Russian politicians, despite a tiny economy to leech from, have ended up with hundreds of millions or even billions.

But you can be a perfectly honest donor and buy influence legitimately by paying for a think tank or a magazine. Public policy intellectuals are cheap. I've visited the offices of the think tank with perhaps the most influence on global events in this decade, and, let me tell you, it looked pretty non-descript compared to the average third tier corporate law firm's office.

But, even leasing wonks to agitate to get the U.S. is to do what you want in the Middle East seems pretty expensive compared to going to the source. Right now, tens of millions of dollars are being spent in Washington to persuade the U.S. into a war with Iran or Syria to deal with the problem that Hezbollah is causing Israel. Such a war would no doubt cost the American taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars, So, the return on investment to the investors would be pretty high.

But the nutty thing is that the annual Iranian subsidy of Hezbollah, which we are constantly told is a world-historical crisis, turns out to be about $100 million.

For 28 years, the U.S. has paid Egypt $2 billion annually not to blunder into another war with Israel. This has been a good deal for all concerned, but it's pretty expensive because it's public. I would imagine you could rent most of the important people in Egypt for a lot less, if you did it surreptitiously with deposits in the right Swiss bank accounts.

Lebanon is a tiny country compared to Egypt with less than $4 million, which is why Iran's $100 million seems so vast to them.

Surely, the friends of Israel could outbid Iran for influence in Lebanon? There's always the problem of making sure the VIPs you buy stay bought, but the people who have the money to spend on this problem are often geniuses at structuring deals, so that doesn't seem insurmountable.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A thought on "nation building"

The last two administrations have devoted a lot of effort to nation building abroad, but there is a fundamental problem with the idea: historically, nations are primarily built by war, especially against invading Great Powers. United Germany, for example, was built mostly by war with the French, especially defeat by Napoleon and victory over Napoleon III.

The United States most definitely did not "build" the nations of West Germany and Japan after WWII. Instead, we took two supremely united nations that had been forged into terrible instruments of war and defanged them. The Occupations, the transformations of these two militarist nation-states into good neighbors, were perhaps the greatest triumph of American New Dealers, much more impressive in many ways than the New Deal itself.

In contrast, despite all the big talk about Islamofascism, Iraq is the anti-Germany. The sinister fact is that the only plausible way that we could facilitate the nation building of Iraq is by losing to some upstart Iraqi insurgent, as modern Turkey was forged by Ataturk in his victories over the British and French would-be colonialists after WWI. So far, no general of genius has emerged in the Iraqi insurgency, but it might still happen.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 2, 2006

The Bad News and the Good News about "4th Generation Warfare:"

The U.S. has shown itself in Iran poorly equipped to fight guerillas who use civilians as shields. We're too humane to use the old Roman method -- kill 'em all, civilian and militant, and let the gods sort them out -- and too ignorant about Iraq to eliminate the bad guys retail.

We'll know fairly soon whether the Israelis have some better way to handle underground fighters. It would be nice if they did, because asymmetrical warfare is a major nuisance, and weaponry is only going to get smaller and more easily hidden. Right now, the Hezbollah guerrillas' rockets are mostly of the kind that Francis Scott Key would vaguely recognize -- they fired 200 rockets into Israel yesterday, their biggest barrage yet, and killed one Israeli civilian. So far, while trying not to hurt civilians, the Israeli Air Force has killed vastly more civilians than Hezbollah has while trying to kill civilians. But we can't assume that happy state of affairs will last for too many more years or decades. In the future they might someday have enough guidance or nasty enough weapons to cause real trouble.

On the other hand, the good news is that not too many ambitious men want to live like guerilla chieftains for the rest of their lives, sleeping in caves or a different safe house every night. So the problem is somewhat self-limiting.

Say the Hezbollah leader comes out of this fracas much strengthened and eventually he succeeds in modernizing the 1932 Lebanese census gerrymander that restricts the Shi'ites to the lowly Speaker of the House role, and under the new principle of one-man one-vote he gets elected President of Lebanon. His followers then take control of the big government ministries and he moves into a beautiful presidential mansion in Beirut overlooking the sea, preaching blood and thunder from his majestic presidential balcony.

That's the end of the world, right? Well, actually, no. If that happened, the Israeli air force, which has complete air supremacy, can then credibly deter him by threatening to blow up the physical emblems of his triumph, along with him personally in his magnificent presidential bed, just as they've deterred their other neighbors for a generation.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

July 31, 2006

How Jews actually felt about the 1924 immigration restriction

It's widely believed by Jews today that the 1924 legislation that cut back on immigration was an anti-Semitic conspiracy. That mythology is one of the main reasons the media is, on the whole, so virulently against immigration restriction today. In reality, Jewish opinion in 1924 was, sensibly, much more mixed. The most politically powerful Jewish figure in America in the early 1920s, American Federation of Labor founder Samuel Gompers, himself an immigrant, was a strong voice for cutting back on immigration.

I stumbled upon the following passage in the 1978 autobiography, In Search of History, by the famous reporter Theodore H. White, author of The Making of the President series. Around 1925, when he was ten or eleven, he was asked by his teacher to do a special presentation to her night school seminar to show what a child was capable of. A half century later, White recalled his discussions with his father, who was an Orthodox Jew and a socialist:

My assignment was to study immigration, and then to speak to the seminar about whether immigrants were good or bad for America. Her seminar mates would question me to find out how well I had mastered the subject. The Immigration Act of 1924 -- the "Closing of the Gates" -- had just been passed; there was much to read in both papers and magazines about the controversy, but my guide was my father. He put it both ways: the country had been built by immigrants, so immigrants were not bad. He had been an immigrant himself. On the other hand, as a strong labor man, he followed the A. F. of L. line of those days. The National Association of Manufacturers (the capitalists) wanted to continue unrestricted immigration so they could sweat cheap labor. But the American Federation of Labor wanted to keep the wages of American workingmen from being undercut by foreigners. This was a conundrum for my father: he was an immigrant himself, as were all our friends and neighbors. He helped me get all the facts, and I made a speech on the platform of a classroom at Boston University Teachers College at nine one night, explaining both sides of the story and taking no position. I enjoyed it all, especially when the teachers began asking me questions; I had all the dates and facts, and an attentive audience, but no answers then just as I have none now.

In the long run, class proves less powerful than race (in the sense of family and ancestry) in shaping the imagination. Today, most of Jewish opinion believes that immigration restriction was bad for the Jews, so therefore they are against it now. That it was good for the working class, which included much of the Jewish population at the time, is forgotten.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"The Revolution was made, not to make France free, but to make her formidable,"

said Edmund Burke in 1796. The formidable fight put up by Hezbollah, so rare among Arabs in recent generations, underscores the lunacy of the neoconservative theory that the problem with Muslim countries and the reason they don't get along with Israel are the elderly dictators who run them, and that the solution is for the U.S. to promote democratic revolution, faster please.. In reality, the rickety, illegitimate regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Syria (and, formerly, Iraq), have meant that battlefield opposition to Israel has been hopeless for a generation. How many Syrians would fight for the Alawite heretic regime, unless Syria was invaded? In Hezbollah, however, Israel has now run into an organization whose people actually believe their bosses' pronouncements and are willing to die for them.

Fortunately, Hezbollah doesn't have much of a population and economic base to draw from (maybe 1.5 to 2.0 million people, most of them poor), and only about $100 million per year in chump change from Iran.

By the way, Bush's idea of using Israel as America's proxy in our struggle with Iran is a lot like our attempt to use Israel's old ally, apartheid South Africa, as our proxy to fight the Soviet Union's proxy, Cuba, in African countries like Angola in the 1970s. Militarily, it made a lot of sense, but politically it was so disastrous that it didn't work. Was it fair that everybody around the world was so prejudiced against the Boer State? No, but, then, life isn't fair.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

July 30, 2006

Are demographics dragging the IDF down?

A reader writes:

Here's a suggestion for an iSteve piece: New new thing - perception - factoid - and perhaps reality: Israel is militarily weak.

Why? because the much-celebrated Israeli Defense Force, after days of repeated efforts to do so, can't defeat Party of Allah guerrillas fighting within

actual sight of the border of Israel.

There is no good strategic military or diplomatic reason for the Israelis' rather diffident efforts to capture Assembly of Allah [Hezbollah] villages within 155 mm artillery range of Israel. Diplomatically, the Israelis gain almost zero good will by holding off their ground attacks but bombing the bejeebers out of Lebanon.

At the strategic and operational military level, the Israelis would have been smarter to launch a fast moving blitzkrieg ground invasion of southern Lebanon, to first cut off the Assembly of Allah fighters near the border from escape or reinforcement and disrupt rocket launching from deeper within Lebanon. Later, as a second step, the IDF should have taken on the A. of A. defensive strongpoint nearer the border.

And getting the dirty work done as soon as possible in southern Lebanon would have been a smart move both diplomatically and militarily.

At the tactical military level, the Israelis made the mistake of not assigning a sufficient quantity of infantry to retake the Arab village where the IF suffered thirty or so killed or wounded. US Army doctrine specifies a least a 3:1 ratio of attackers to defenders if determined defense is expected. The IDF sent in their soi-disant Golani brigade of roughly 2,000 men against approximately the same number of A. of A. fighters. This was a tactical mistake plain and simple. ( On paper, a US Army brigade would have about 4,800 soldiers, btw. )

... What's a deeper reason for the Israeli Defense Forces problems? One school of thought is that the IDF has always been overrated because the IDF has always fought patsies in the past. Arabs are incompetent when they try to fight in the highly mechanized Western mode.

Another possible reason for Israel's timorousness is that Israel doesn't have many men of prime military age. They Israelis have been trying to keep their demographic problem hushed up, but it may be that Israel has been experiencing net out-migration during the past six or eight years ... lots of dudes moving back to Brooklyn or to Pasadena. Yes, Israel had a few good recruiting years during the 1990's when a lot of Russians wanted to get out of the disintegrating USSR, but that's in the past. The Jewish Israeli population is now aging and shrinking in absolute size. This would explain why Israel seems to be extremely averse to suffering too many IDF casualties.

I'm not sure if it's really that dire. I see an estimate of a total fertility rate of 2.7 babies per Jewish Israeli woman, which is high for a first world population. But I wonder what proportion of the population is now made up of ultra-orthodox who won't fight? A paper by Dov Friedlander divvies up Israel's fertility in the late 1990s like this:

The Jewish non-religious group of both ethnicities (67 per cent-70 per cent) with TFR of 2.0-2.2

The Jewish ultra-orthodox, and the National Orthodox (12 per cent-15 per cent) with TFR 6.0-7.0

The Arab Christian population (2 per cent) with TFR of 2.6

Arab Moslems and Druze (16 per cent) with TFR of 4.0

Israel’s overall TFR 2.9

(Of course, what counts for cannon fodder at present are birth rates in the 1980s, not in the late 1990s.)

On the other hand, the Palestinian total fertility rates are sky high -- both sides are are fighting a Battle of the Cradle. But the Palestinians don't have much in the way of weapons, so they have been forced to rely on tactics like suicide bombing.

I don't know what the fertility rate of the Lebanese Shia is, but for Lebanon as a whole, it's only 1.9. Strikingly, the Iranian total fertility rate is only 1.8, lower than America's. The Iranian birthrate fell sharply in the early 1990s, when the ruling clerics endorsed population limitation. However, due to "population momentum," the population of Iran will continue growing for several more decades.

The other thing to keep in mind is are the small sizes of the countries: the total population of Israel and Lebanon combined is just over half that of Southern California: Lebanon 3.9 million and Israel 6.4 million. Lebanon's #1 secret is what % are Shi'ites (the Christians haven't allowed a census since 1932, when they were a majority), but there are no more than 2 million and probably fewer. So, this isn't exactly Japan vs. China or Germany vs. Russia.

Israel's demographic shrinkage might explain its reluctance to launch larger ground war in Lebanon. However, demographic problems do not explain or excuse the IDF's tactical mistake of suffering more casualties during the past week by attacking with an insufficient quantity of infantrymen ... unless the IDF fears that only a small percentage of its ground forces, its elite units, are up to the task of fighting Allah's Faction within plain sight of the border of Israel. This does not bode well for the future of Israel.

Now, the War Nerd makes the same argument. Gary Brecher writes:

July in Fresno, and yet I'm happy. In a mean way, the only way I know. For once I don't care how hot and miserable it is, because I've got something waiting for me at home: AC and CNN. God, I love watching CNN right now. Watching that needlenose whiner Anderson Cooper, trying not to state the obvious: Hezbollah is not only winning every round of this fight, but it was bound to win from the start. Get Jane Fonda out in the streets again, spray some pain relief on her saggy old throat, stuff a bullhorn in her liver-spotted hand and have her sing out: "Who needs Ho Chi Minh/Hezbollah is gonna win!"

The rest of you idiots actually seem to take Cooper seriously when he talks about how the IDF is going to "expel Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon." Christ, Hezbollah IS Southern Lebanon. You might as well try to expel ants.

I said in a column 16 months ago that Lebanon was due for a slow but unstoppable warming trend, finishing up with a hot war.

Like I said in that column, we're not dealing with a few bad apples or bad luck. We're dealing with demographics, and demographics has no more mercy than a glacier. For a hundred years Lebanon has been shifting from a Maronite-Christian country with a bunch of non-Christian minorities (the Druze -- my personal favorites, the Sunni, the Shia) to a Muslim country with a Christian minority that's trying to emigrate as fast as it can fake up its resume for Uncle Sam's Migras. That part of the war is over, and Islam won. All that's left to see now is which Islam ends up in power: the Shia, with Syria and Iran backing them, or the Sunni, who have the backing of...well, nobody, actually.

Add in a couple of real important facts nobody ever mentions on CNN -- birthrate and morale. The Shia, who cluster in the slums of S and E Beirut and in the rural south of Lebanon, have the highest birthrate in Lebanon and have always been the poorest, most death-hungry people around. That's the stuff you make great soldiers from.

And Hezbollah has great soldiers. That's one reason I can't help liking them. They're some of the most underrated soldiers on earth facing what I consider the most overrated military force on earth, the IDF. The Israelis have been coasting on their reputation for a long time, but way back in Gulf War I it was clear they made their record like a Don King fighter, padding their Win column against a bunch of bums. When I saw those pitiful Arab "soldiers" crawling toward US camera crews on their hands and knees to surrender, the first thing that went through my head was, "Whoa, so that's the kind of opponent the Israelis have been showboating against?...

But we're talking demographics again, dude. Passage of time, plus difference in birthrate, means that by now the IDF has a thin, real thin, crust of Ashkenazi brains'n'brawn on top and a bunch of flabby mama's boys under them....

Casualties. That's the key here. Every war, every army has a different population base, different demographics, and a different take on casualties. Israel's biggest weakness has always been that it hates to take casualties. You can see that in their famous prisoner exchanges, giving away hundreds of Islamic prisoners to get back one IDF guy, or in one case just the bodies of a couple of dead IDF guys. You can see it in the design of the Merkava -- a brilliant design, one that gives infantry the full protection of MBT armor, but also an indication that this army is terrified its guys might get hurt.

Compare that to the Hezbollah attitude to death, which is basically extreme eagerness. Death? Hell yes, can I have seconds? The sooner the better! I've talked about the Shia and their whole Gimme Martyrdom deal before.

Like I said in that column, killing Shi'ites a few at a time is pointless. ...

The way Israel is conducting the war right now is the worst of both worlds: it's too bloody and not bloody enough at the same time. Give me a second to explain what I mean by that. At the moment that skinny nasal-voiced jerk Anderson Cooper is saying Israel's killed about 320 Lebanese, vs. 36 Israelis dead. Now actually that's a perfectly standard count for asymmetrical warfare; the technologically superior force usually kills about ten of the guerrillas for every one of its own losses. But in PR terms, this war has been a disaster for Israel, a can't win scenario. Just try this experiment: watch CNN with the sound off for a few minutes. Without that non-stop pro-Israel commentary, you'll see what the whole world outside the US sees: non-stop video feed of terrified Lebanese civvies fleeing in terror, crying on camera, hugging their bloodied-up kids. Then there's a shot of the IDF zooming around in their Merkavas and US-supplied SP 155mms, blasting dry hills or doing dirt donuts on some local's wrecked house.

An Israeli reader responds:

Are demographics dragging the IDF down?

Simply said, no.

How do I know this?

Because demographics are not something that is being hushed up in Israel. It's talked about all the time and the needs of the army are talked about all the time. The fact is that the army has enough recruits and volunteers for combat units to meet its needs and to cause the following changes in the past few years: service in the reserves has been reduced by approximately five years recently and more of the burden is placed on the standing army. There are economic considerations as well. The chances of getting called up (other than at times of war) has also been reduced. The duration of military service may also be reduced from three years to two and a half years. Women are now being used (voluntarily) in combat roles. I'm not sure what impact that has had.

Look at your numbers by Friedlander. They don't tell the whole story. "The Jewish ultra-orthodox, and the National Orthodox (12 per cent-15 per cent) with TFR 6.0-7.0" These two camps were lumped together. But the National Orthodox do serve in the army, are highly motivated and their women have lots of babies. Also the Druze serve in the army.

Israel's Achilles heel is its low tolerance for casualties. Israelis just don't like it when its 18-21 year old men die. We're funny that way.

As General Patton said: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

Israel's combat units are manned by the best and the brightest. Getting into a good unit is for Israelis like getting into a good college is for Americans. That means their parents make up Israel's political, media and business elites (They themselves were also most likely in combat units). Israel's most influential sectors have kids in combat units, and they use their influence to affect policies in a way that protects their children (in their view).

That's why Israeli elites prefers Kassam rockets landing randomly on Sderot (a town with no elites, except Israel's minister of Defence is from there but that's an anomaly) than having their sons in the Gaza strip fighting Hamas, which is the real reason for the disengagement.

Israel is not losing this round of fighting. Hezbollah will come out of this weaker than it started. Syria will also be weakened by this. Patience.

BTW: Israel has called up a lot of reserves for this war and compliance has been 110%. That's because many people who weren't called up showed up at their units to volunteer or because they figured they were accidentally forgotten.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer