We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – Palestinian civilian deaths are at the heart of Hamas’s strategy

Hamas likes nothing better than an Israeli strike that kills civilians. That is why it has reportedly been preventing its people from fleeing the war zone, sometimes by force. They seemingly want Palestinian casualties to pile high, in full view of the world’s media. The BBC and others beam footage of the horror of war around the world to people who have lost touch with the reality of armed conflict. Hamas want people in the West to take to the streets in outrage, forgetting that even a just and defensive war is hell. They know this will help them win.

Jake Wallis Simons

Samizdata quote of the day – Do we want Ukraine to Win?

Its in many ways the crucial question that needs to be answered honestly now. Do we want Ukraine to win the war and liberate all its territory? or Do we want Ukraine to be forced to accept a deal which hands over parts of the country to Putin? The rhetoric of western leaders is the former, though to be frank the policy looks more and more like the latter. We armed Ukraine this year specifically not to give it range, air superiority, etc. We forced it to launch direct assaults on defended Russian lines. Zaluzhnyi is saying that cannot continue. Either Ukraine is armed properly to win a modern war, or the technological imperatives will necessitate the continuation of this attritional war we have seen.

Western leaders must therefore answer that question now, and act accordingly.

– Phillips OBrien

Hamas in its own words: “We will do this again and again”.

The video embedded in this tweet from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows Ghazi Hamad of the Hamas Political Bureau speaking on LBC Television, a Lebanese TV channel, on October 24th 2023. What follows is my transcription of the first minute of this video clip. I often do this, transcribe what was said on video into writing, to make it easier for people to search for and cite the relevant words later.


Ghazi Hamad: “Israel is a country that has no place on our land. We must remove that country because it constitutes a security, military, and political catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nation and must be finished.”

“We are not ashamed to say this with full force.”

“We must teach Israel a lesson and we will do this again and again.”

“The Al-Aqsa Flood is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth, because we have the determination, the resolve, and the capabilities to fight.”

Interviewer: “Will we have to pay a price?”

Ghazi Hamad: “Yes, and we are ready to pay it. We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.”

“We did not want to harm civilians, but there were complications on the ground, and there was a party in the area with (civilian) population. It was a large area, across 40 kilometres… The occupation must come to an end.”

Interviewer: “Occupation where? In the Gaza Strip?”

Ghazi Hamad: “No, I am talking about all the Palestinian lands.”

Interviewer: “Does that mean the annihilation of Israel?”

Ghazi Hamad: “Yes, of course.”

Breaking the cycle of violence

We are most of us familiar enough with how the cycle of violence works in the Middle East but for those who aren’t here is a quick summary:

1. Palestinian terrorists commit outrage.

2. Israel resolves to do “something”.

3. “Something” turns out to be against international law and attracts international condemnation.

4. “Something” turns into nothing.

5. See 1.

There are two ways out of this. One, Israel does nothing. Two, Israel ignores international law.

The “do nothing” option sounds suspiciously like defeat and generally-speaking that sounds like a bad thing. So, I’m with Israel ignoring international law. Which means rather than all this “Palestinians bombed their own car park” malarkey, I look forward to the day when the Israelis say, “Yes, we bombed the car park. We intended to do it, are proud of the fact and we will continue to bomb car parks and any other target that will lead to the deaths of 500 ‘innocent’ civilians until the Palestinians surrender.”

All those in favour of a ceasefire between Hamas & Israel…

All those in favour of a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, raise your hands now…

An appraisal of the Ukrainian offensive

Yet another interesting chat by Perun.

People expected Zaluzhnyi to be channelling Heinz Guderian, whereas he is actually channelling John Monash.

What comes next?

What dismal dangerous times we live in.

Hot on the heels of the latest atrocity in Ukraine, I am seeing video after video after video of Israeli civilians being either brutalised and then kidnapped or just murdered in broad daylight by Jeremy Corbyn’s good friends Hamas.

I am overflowing with questions.

Israel seems to have been taken by complete strategic surprise on every level, comparable to 1973, by a Tet Offensive style assault. How did that happen?

And what is the Hamas endgame? Typically the effects of substantive military surprise last about three days, at which point it is hard to imagine an Israeli response that is not completely and utterly unrestrained.

What I did on my holidays

Switzerland is a great country. In most respects Machiavelli’s description of the Swiss as “armatissimi e liberissimi”, “most armed and most free”, still applies. But…

It says,

Mandatory shooting
Mandatory program

Compulsory shooting training applies to all soldiers equipped with an assault rifle and must be completed every year until the end of military obligations.
It must be carried out by August 31 with a recognized shooting club. You can check the dates and times in official publications or on the internet.
Further information can be found at: http://www.be.ch/militaire

The Wikipedia article on Conscription in Switzerland says,

Switzerland has mandatory military service (German: Militärdienst; French: service militaire; Italian: servizio militare) in the Swiss Army for all able-bodied male citizens, who are conscripted when they reach the age of majority,[1] though women may volunteer for any position.[2] Conscripts make up the majority of the manpower in the Swiss Armed Forces.[3]

On September 22, 2013, a referendum that aimed to abolish conscription was held in Switzerland.[4] However, the referendum failed with over 73% of the electorate voting against it, showing strong support for conscription of men in Switzerland.

Much as I admire the Swiss, I cannot make myself believe that constitutes being liberissimi.

That thing 22 years ago…

I have not forgotten it.

An unprivate death. Instapundit met with some opposition when he showed the famous photograph of a man falling to his death upside down, having leapt from the burning World Trade Centre.

You can’t help wondering: did he know as he jumped that he’d turn in the air and spend his last seconds upside down? Mortal insult added to mortal injury. If he had known, would he have chosen the other death? I had a friend who died when both parachutes failed to open. I think of her when I see that picture. I don’t know if she fell upside down. I hope not.

I say, show it. Show it often. I know all about hating to see it: like most of you I can remember first seeing that picture on September 11 – only in my case it was September 11 2002. Out of all the hundreds of hours of film and the thousands of photos taken of the slaughter on September 11 2001, I saw only a few seconds of footage until a year later. On that day I didn’t want the children seeing people die on camera (though we talked about it, of course), particularly as I didn’t know if there were more attacks to come. My fear of the children seeing it flowed from my fear of me seeing it. I’ve always disliked even fictional images of modern-day, realistic violence, the sort of violence that can happen to me and mine; and this dislike has hardened into almost a (controlled) phobia since I had children. It’s a thousand times worse when the images are real. Yet my hunger to know more about what had happened was as primal, as voracious, as anyone’s. That hunger is a survival trait. (Refined and systemised, it is also a victory trait: the defining victory trait of Western civilisation. It will win us this war, too – if a fatal squeamishness more sickly by far than my purely visual queasiness doesn’t rot our guts first.)

I have nothing to add to what I wrote twenty years ago, and nothing to subtract either.

Samizdata quote of the day

…”once again the reintroduction of National Service is being mooted by think tanks, this time as a thinly veiled mechanism for enslaving the young. Leave aside the point that, far from bolstering conservative values, the diversity commissars of the Civil Service would turn it into the `national woke service’ from day one. Conscriptin is just about defensive as a way to maintain a military reserve; as a way to extract free labour for the state, it’s morally reprehensible. It’s also economically insane. The public sector is staggeringly unproductive. Labour that is unpaid is labour that is asking to be used in the most inefficient way possible, on jobs that would never be done if the work cost the minimum wage.”

Sam Ashworth-Hayes, Daily Telegraph (£). This is probably one of the best take-downs of the whole “put ’em in the Army and sort out the kids” trope that I have come across in a while.

Lin Biao welcomes Prigozhin to the club

From the Wikipedia entry for Lin Biao:

Lin became instrumental in creating the foundations for Mao Zedong’s cult of personality in the early 1960s, and was rewarded for his service in the Cultural Revolution by being named Mao’s designated successor as the sole Vice Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, from 1966 until his death.

Lin died on 13 September 1971, when a Hawker Siddeley Trident he was aboard crashed in Öndörkhaan in Mongolia. The exact events of this “Lin Biao incident” have been a source of speculation ever since. The Chinese government’s official explanation is that Lin and his family attempted to flee following a botched coup against Mao.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin presumed dead after Russia plane crash – BBC

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list of a jet which crashed killing all on board, Russia’s civil aviation authority has said.

Earlier, Wagner-linked Telegram channel Grey Zone reported that the private plane, which belonged to the 62-year-old, was shot down by air defences.

Grey Zone posted later on Wednesday that Prigozhin died “as a result of actions of traitors of Russia”.

Prigozhin led a failed mutiny against the Russian armed forces in June.

Why is there such a fuss about F-16s?

Since Day One of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine and others have been demanding F-16s. Rare is the day that Garry Kasparov does not take to Twitter to condemn Joe Biden for withholding these supposedly war-winning weapons.

But are they potential war winners?

Many years ago I asked a military man why air superiority was so important. “Because you can see.” he said. Except in this war – where drones are ubiquitous – you don’t need fighters to see.

So, what can an F-16 do for you? To answer that question I have done quite a lot of binging and duckduckgoing and come up with very little. The best I could find was Ryan McBeth’s video. It’s not a long video but if even that is too long the TL;DR version is that an F-16 fires missiles that hit fighters, ships, radars and the ground.

Great. Except that it’s all missiles. Why not fire those missiles – or their equivalents – from the ground? I can imagine a couple of objections. I suspect that converting an air-launched missile into a ground-launched missile is not easy even if the Argies did pull off the trick in the Falklands. Also, physics would suggest that – all things being equal – an air-launched missile has a greater range than a ground-launched one.

Fine. So why do you need an F-16 to do this? Why not any aircraft that can get up to the right height? I suspect there are satisfactory answers to all these questions and that when F-16s do start appearing they will make a big difference. But I would prefer to rely on something better than suspicion. And there’s also the observation that big and expensive stuff i.e. planes, tanks and ships, have done almost nothing in this war apart from getting blown up. If the F-16 proved effective it would be something of an exception.

Update 1700. I said that it was a rare day that Kasparov fails to condemn Joe Biden and today was not one of them. Also, Ian recommended Justin Bronk. Here he is in The Spectator. F-16s are not easy.