December 5, 2006

The War Nerd in The American Conservative

Gary Brecher reviews Showdown with Nuclear Iran by Michael D. Evans and Jerome R. Corsi in the new Dec. 18th issue of The American Conservative (not on line).

On the claim that Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon is a "proxy army" for Iran, Brecher unloads:

If there's anything that recent military history shows clearly, it's that nobody, not even a superpower, can create a proxy army that will really fight -- and Hezbollah proved pretty clearly that they can fight.

America and the USSR tried creating proxy armies all through the Cold War years. The only time it worked was when the locals had their own reasons to want to fight. In those cases, it's just a matter of sliding the cartons off the C-130's and cracking 'em open. Local warlust will do the rest.

But when the locals are only fighting because some foreign power pays them, they're worthless. I hate to bring up painful memories, but anybody remember our old pal ARVN -- the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam, aka South Vietnam? We poured so much blood and money into the South Vietnamese Army that it still hurts to think about it. …

The Soviets tried the same technique in Africa and Afghanistan, with the same results. It's hard to believe now, but back in the 1970s people thought the USSR was going to take over Africa because those Soviets were funding so many proxy wars. All those African safaris got the Russians were tropical diseases and a huge cash drain. …

That's exactly what happened to our worst-ever proxies, the Contras. They were supposed to be our Latin American version of the Colorado kids in "Red Dawn" -- freedom-loving rebels who would overthrow the Sandinista commies. Instead they spent your tax dollars on fast boats and clothes -- they were the only insurgents in history who dressed like extras on "Miami Vice." And as for how they behaved, it was more like Tony Montana, who would happily talk about how "I keel a Commyunis' fo' fun!" but then lose interest after the coke money started flowing.

So let's drop the nonsense that Hezbollah is just a stand-in for Iran. You can tell stand-ins by the way they fight, or rather don't fight. …

It wasn't Iran that made the Shi'ites of southern Lebanon so tough. It was Israel. Before Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Shi'ites of southern Lebanon were the quietest, most peaceable tribe in the whole crazy country. There's no faster way to turn submissive peasant-types into kamikazes than by grabbing their land, and that's what Israel did, declaring a "security zone" in southern Lebanon. It was Israeli occupation that turned those Shi'ite peasants into the best soldiers in the Middle East, not Iranian cash. Cash just makes Contras; occupations make fighters.

If you want an ultra-painful example of that, just compare the Iraqi army before we occupied Iraq -- a bunch of cowards who were surrendering to news crews -- to the hardened insurgents we have to deal with now.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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