The War Nerd, debugged.

Entertaining and provocative, yes. So are many racist jokes

The War Nerd, writing for the eXile, a Moscow-based alternative newspaper gives his opinion on the 1999 Kargil war between India and Pakistan (via Sepia Mutiny). His account of the military aspect of the war is mostly right. His account of almost everything else is mostly wrong.

First, the undertone of moral equivalence between the aggressor and the defenders. He argues that India and Pakistan fought that battle on those remote Himalayan peaks because they knew it would’nt escalate into full blown war. Well, even if that is so, what it is necessary to point out is that it was not India that chose to fight, and fight in Kargil. In 1982, Britain fought a war in the Falklands, half-way around the globe, because the Argentinians attacked them there, and not because the Falklands is a godforsaken group of islands out in the sea somewhere. Without going into whether Kargil (or the Falklands) were ‘strategic’, it is rather clear that it is not only subcontinental-types that go to war over ‘less-valuable pieces of real estate’.

Then the War Nerd holds forth on what an excellent opportunity it was for India to stir up nationalism and hold the country together. How better to unite a diverse country of a billion people and a thousand tongues than to point an outraged finger at the enemy across the border? The Kargil war did bring about an outpouring of nationalism among Indians at home and abroad. So did the earthquake in Gujarat, so did the tsunami in Tamil Nadu. See! You don’t need a belligerent nuclear-armed dictator next door to bring Indians together.

Respect for dead Indian soldiers is easily trivialised: because of some web page designer’s lack of command over the nuances of English usage; because of unsubstantiated allegations of propaganda carried out by the the India media; because of trying too hard to receive deep intellect from Bollywood starlets. Speaking of which, Bollywood may have made ‘patriotic’ movies about Kargil — but unlike its counterpart in Hollywood, it can’t be accused of rewriting history and claiming credit for other people’s feats. And what about Bollywood’s most recent trend of ‘love-thy-neighbour’ movies — when was the last time Hollywood produced a movie showing good Soviets?

Body bags and military funerals are solemn affairs in the West, but dismissible propaganda when it comes to Indian soldiers killed in a war not of their leader’s choosing, but one that was imposed on them by an hostile enemy.

And that’s where losing 400 men in a high-profile, harmless little war like Kargil comes in handy…When you consider how many Indians die every day, with nobody giving a damn at all, it’s pretty amazing that these 400 dead guys get so much adoring press.

When you look at the list of names, you see why. Some of the names are obviously Sikhs (Sikhs love armies), but there are plenty of Hindu names, Muslim names — for all I know there are Zoroastrian names in there too. It’s a chance to sob together over those dead integrated units… And naturally the most harmless ethnic sidekick in the platoon gets killed and everybody cries, and feels patriotic. I haven’t even seen the Bollywood movie they made out of Kargil but I’m willing to bet it has a scene like that in it.

By losing 400 men up there where there are no mosques, Hindu temples, Untouchables or sacred cows, India got a huge nation-building boost at zero cost — a strategic victory out of a minor skirmish.[the eXile]

That comment is most revealing — surely, there is something different in being killed while voluntarily protecting other people’s homes that deserves the appreciation of those for whom they did it? For the the War Nerd, respecting those who sacrificed their lives in the service of their nation is either a luxury for rich nations alone or worse, totally pointless. Besides, how can a war that easily claimed several hundred lives be termed harmless? Several hundred soldiers killed, several aircraft lost — zero cost?

14 thoughts on “The War Nerd, debugged.”

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  2. his statement wondering why dead armymen defending their country and voluntarily [as you emphasized] indicates a warped mind. does it even deserve a mention on the acorn?

  3. I think The Acorn mentions the war nerd for the same reason as the rebel of all causes is mentioned here. Not out of respect, but to try and minimize the damage they are inflicting on phsyches.

  4. This dumb guy hasn’t even done his home work right.He didn’t even research properly before writing such an article.Otherwise he would have known that the kargil hills are overlooking the main Indian supply route ( Srinagar-Leh road) to the Siachen glacier, the history of siachin glacier etc etc.

    If you search google on “kargil” if brings up all the Homage & Martyrs site.The links that he provided on the site also come up.If you search with words like “kargil strategy” or “kargil tactic” it brings up entirely different results with insight on pakistan’s great tactical move.This lazy bum i guess didn’t even bother to search on other keywords.I wonder who was the indian guy who asked this great columnist to write an article on kargil.

  5. You have to be kidding me… the War Nerd clearly does his homework, despite whatever ideology that the Acorn may be pimping. Further, in case you have read any of the War Nerd’s other articles, he purposely chooses a flippent style, and when he states that the hills were strategically advantageous he does not mean that it was consciously choosen, rather, he points to a human characteristic. You people need to read between the lines to understand the War Nerd’s thought, it may seem simple, but there is a great deal of truth to be had–it just happens to be in an “off the cuff” sort of way.

  6. Quinn,

    Thanks for the clarification.

    The Kargil battle killed hundreds of Indian soldiers. It killed hundreds of Pakistani soldiers too, you’ll never know how many, though. It killed a peace process that Vajpayee started. It caused several more years of terrorism. There was the danger of a nuclear attack. I would not think that this is a matter for flippancy, no thank you.

    If not trivialising matters of India’s national security and sentiment towards the war dead is pimping an ideology, I’m glad to be doing it.

  7. To the War Nerd, everything’s a matter for flippancy. Read his early column titled “What’s a Chechen?” to realize that Brecher’s at least half nihilist that way.

  8. No matter how much the Indian patriots try to rewrite history. Siachen Kargil etc are remote wastelands not worth the money and blood wasted on them. However flag waving patriotism does not favour cold blooded logic.

    If India lost Kargil or Siachen it really would not affect anything going on in Mumbai or Chennai. However since this is part of a long running and rather pointless dispute between arch rival Pakistan over Kashmir, logic goes out of the window. I think India and Pakistan should just declare the Line of COntrol a true border and forget the whole silly dispute.

    Reading the history of how this dispute came about really shows you the kind of idiotic things countries go to war over. I mean arguing over whether some dilettante maharajah wanted to his state to join India or Pakistan and then fighting 3 wars in order to settle this dispute as well as shelling, raiding and bombing each other for 60 years over the same to me seems rank stupidity.

    If one sees whow borders have been redrawn in Europe particularly where France, Germany,Poland and the former USSR, this mere bagatelle over a pretty but rather worthless little state is mind boggling. People forget that whole swathes of Poland for instance were hostoriclly part of Germany for instance. Poland and Germany do not seem to want to go to war over this. Alsace and lorraine have been German or French over the last two hundred years yet Germany is not testing nuclear weapons or organising insurgencies in Alsace against the French.

    Since they have shared Kashmir nearly equally why noot forget the whole affair and get back to normal life. France,Germany, Poland Russia have. why can’t Pakistan and India.

  9. Sould we fight an enemy who is encroaching a wasteland? Or should we only indulge in saving the world around the oil rich land masses? Why die in battle for country when you can die in a hooch tragedy at home for free. And other such sentiments are very informative & have a butcher’s ideals for us to follow. Fight only for financial reasons cause we are all dying anyways:)

    But that doesn’t take away or should not take away the efforts of soldiers, officers, civilian truck drivers, potters or journalists. Who thought it was worth risking their life for.

    How a Vikram Batra or Richard Nomgrum or Haniffudin died fighting for the cause of national pride (minus monthly incentive scheme or first on Tiger hill bonus).

    Its hard to comprehend.

    Its a free world & one can belittle or mock anyone. To an Indian however, the sacrifices of those who allow us to enjoy this freedom is worth both our respect & gratitude.

  10. i would like to tell bima that J&K is not a worthless state which she claims it is. and i would also like to remind her that this is India and not some hyppocratical european country we fight to defend our motherland not to prove a point to anyone else. and maybe if u were an Indian the loss of kargil would mean something to u wether u live in mumbai or in chennai

  11. You people take yourselves and your country too seriously. The War Nerd is one of the few realists and truth-tellers out there. Nationalism is a primitive religion that leads to death and taxation.

  12. how can a war that easily claimed several hundred lives be termed harmless?

    Of course it’s totally harmless. Compared to the 1 billion of India’s population, that’s 0,00004 percent.

    Russia lost 12 million combat deaths out of a population of 200 million in the Second World War. If their casualties where like India’s in Kargil, the whole death toll would have been ca. 80 people, not 12 million.

    So forgive me, but your silly Kargil adventure was nothing more than a bar brawl. Calling this a war is insulting to those nations which left a huge percentage of their population on the battle field in the fight for national survival.

    The War Nerd was right.

  13. I think you’re missing the point. In the War Nerd’s columns, he makes a point that in the past, many casualties are to be expected. These days, it’s a big deal.

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