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The War Nerd July 26, 2002
 
Spain vs. Morocco: Two Muppets Du Iwo Jima
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
 
Page 4 of 4
 
There was a lot of fancy talk at the UN about a referendum -- about letting the nomads decide their own fate, but the Moroccans weren't buying. They weren't squeamish Europeans. They've got all the ingredients for expansion: a big birthrate, a greedy Army clique running the country, a strong religion. The Moroccans decided to grab the whole territory before the UN could organize a referendum.

On November 6, 1976, the Moroccans assembled 350,000 civilians at their southern border and marched into Spanish Sahara. Men, women, children, all waving green flags, yelling the usual "God is great" cheerleader routine. The UN just let them through. Like the Bosnians found out at Srebrinica, UN troops are about as much protection as a toilet-paper condom.

The funny thing is, the unarmed Moroccan civilians did a much better job of taking Spanish Sahara than the Moroccan army did of holding on to it. POLISARIO started a guerrilla war with Algerian backing and weapons, and they ran rings around the Moroccan army. Until the Moroccans built their sand wall, POLISARIO units in their Toyotas were hitting anywhere they wanted, then fading into the dunes. Right now it looks like the Moroccans won't be able to hold the place much longer. The Spanish are pushing the UN to get that referendum going. (Jeez, it's only 25 years late! Why all this rush?), and it looks like they might finally succeed. In fact, one of the reasons the Moroccans decided to push the Spanish up north is that they want the Spanish to back off down south.

So the whole Spain/Morocco mess turns out to be a pretty good sample of war in the 21st century.

Which is a real downer. The lessons are all pretty depressing. For example: actual military capability doesn't mean much. Armies are for making gestures, not fighting. The best way of invading a territory you want is the way the Moroccans used in their "Green March" into Spanish Sahara: assemble a big crowd of civilians and send 'em across the border, daring your enemy to wipe them out on-camera, live.

Not many people in the US noticed the Green March, but a lot of land-hungry juntas and oligarchies in the third world paid real close attention. Morocco had invented a new way of invading and seizing another country -- and the coolest, funniest part is it's a way invented by the one and only Gandhi himself! I predict, you'll see a lot more Green Marches, with floods of unarmed "helpless civilians" walking over borders and daring troops to shoot them.

It's a weird thought, that the wars of the 21st century will use a warplan developed by Gandhi. But it seems pretty likely. Of course there'll be countermeasures developed over time. Counter-mobs, maybe: your mob of unarmed civilians vs. our mob of unarmed civilians. Lots of jostling, rugby techniques. It won't be pretty, but it'll work. It'll come down to camera work -- like, can our people die sadder than yours? Can our shot children look sadder than yours? They better start teaching "How to Make Home Videos" at West Point. If they haven't already.

Marocco secret war plan

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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at war_nerd@exile.ru, but, more importantly, buy his book.
 
 
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