Mussolini's Greek Island



The low status of poorer, especially unmarried women, made them vulnerable to sexual exploitation. The sudden rise in casual sex in return for food, threatened social conventions and the island’s clergy remonstrated about what they saw as the ‘vertiginous decline in morality’. Of the many girls and women who resorted to relations with Italian soldiers in order to survive, most were aware that there would be a high price to pay for transgressing taboos. But faced with starvation, unmarried women’s options were restricted; in a dowry-based marriage system, girls from destitute families had little prospect of any wealth in the future and stood much less chance of getting married after the war. The social importance vested in the dowry was such that some women refused to sell their embroidered linen dowries even when they were starving because, as they said, it had taken them years to make and they would not be able to do so again. Women’s poor prospects and social worth were undermined even further by the general indigence of the population and indeed it is likely that in some cases their own relatives sent them out to procure food from the Italian soldiers, in return for sex. (In fact, the practice existed elsewhere: in Italy, police reports gave evidence of families suffering from near-starvation who exploited their daughters in this way).

Although it was rumoured that Catholic women were more disposed to trading sex for food, which was ‘widespread’ in the town, Orthodox women were equally vulnerable. In fact, most soldiers had little contact with the majority of the Catholic population as they were garrisoned in Ermoupolis.Rigoutsos expressed shock that women from ‘good families’ resorted to ‘prostitution’, suggesting that on every level of society, no one was immune from the degrading consequences of famine. It was well know that, in the murky moral climate of a society in crisis, there were those who were ready to exploit this particular ‘market’, resulting from the Italian army’s demands for sex. These dealers were rated as the most amoral among Syros’s newly rich profiteers. According to Mihalis Stefanos, women were used to extract export permits from the Italians in exchange for a few scraps of food; the women then handed over the permits to the ‘irreproachable Greek operating behind the scenes’. Stefanos thought that the aim was to accustom the girl who returned ‘to be subjected to humiliation time and again, just to get something to eat for a short while’. He reviled his ‘fellow-citizens’ for their betrayal of their own society and nation. For him these men were traitors whose behaviour threatened the moral fabric of the island community. The perception that there was a link between the trade in permits and prostitution was common and came up in the first newspapers published after the occupation by the communist-led resistance group EAM. On the whole, the blame was cast on the women, and scabrous songs and jokes expressed the community’s disapproval of women who associated with the occupiers. Nevertheless there was an awareness that these transactions had ‘protected the lives of the women themselves and entire families’.

The harshness of sexual trading was mitigated in cases where men and women negotiated a stable agreement providing for their mutual needs, or were drawn together by genuine affection. One Orthodox interviewee, living in a village outside Ermoupolis during the occupation, was very reluctant to admit that she was a ‘housekeeper’ for an Italian soldier although this enabled her to survive after her brother and sister had died of starvation. But the scars of the past have still not been effaced and even today both she and her daughter are still reticent about the social stigma attached to her behaviour.

Who was Rasputin?


Matthew Raphael Johnson - Who was Rasputin?
A Review of Rasputin: Neither Devil nor Saint, by Dr. Elizabeth Judas

Of all the topics in Russian history that have interested me over the years, few were as mysterious as the relations between the Royal family and Gregory Rasputin. I knew a few things: first, that the tsarevich was sick with hemophilia, and Rasputin had some sort of ability to heal him. Second, I knew that Rasputin had some influence over policy. And third, I knew that Rasputin had little control over his libido. With this information, I began to dig deeper into the life of this mysterious man. Unfortunately, I began to realize just a quickly, that what I thought I knew about Rasputin was false.

Up until recently, revisionist material on Rasputin was very scarce. Among the patriotic elements in Russian society prior to the revolution, only the royal family itself seemed to have any use for him. Outside of a few rather sectarian circles presently in Russia, Orthodox people either dismissed him, or condemned him as a fraud.

Recently, Liberty and Life publishing in California released a small book on the life of Rasputin from one who actually knew the man, a certain Dr. Elizabeth Judas, who was the wife of Alexander Ivanovich, an officer in the tsar’s secret service. Furthermore, the author’s uncle was a major figure in the imperial government. For years, this manuscript has lain rather undisturbed, out of print for decades and completely ignored by mainstream Russia scholarship. Alas, I myself, though immersing myself in Russian history and literature until it poured from my ears, had never heard of this manuscript, nor had any other revisionist writer in this field writing in English.

I was able to read this volume in two sittings. Now merely because it is short (216 pages in large fonts), but also because it is a gripping story. Nothing anyone has told you about Rasputin has even a shred of truth to it. Rasputin was a victim of revolutionary politics from without, and anti-tsarist palace intrigue from within. In the final analysis, this is the conclusion of this book.


Through a series of very interesting events, events that themselves tell much of local politics in the early part of the 20th century, the author, as a young child, met the acquaintance of Rasputin while living in Siberia, where she had many relatives. She knew Rasputin long before the tsar did. It was the author’s uncle, Dr. Lebikov, who first suggested to the royal family that this rather charismatic wanderer (Rasputin was not a priest, nor a monk, nor did he ever have a desire to be ordained or tonsured) from Siberia be brought to the palace to pray for the ailing tsarevich, Alexei. Now, the tsarevich was sick, he suffered from acute pains in his stomach, he never had hemophilia, nor is there any evidence of this serious disease among his medical records, or even within the correspondence between Nicholas and Alexandra, which, by the way, was conducted in English.

The distracted royal couple had no difficulty in permitting this Siberian religious man entrance into the palace. Though his appearance, with long hair and beard, wearing traditional Russian peasant dress, did cause a stir among the nobility at court, many of which were incensed to find such a commoner at the palace.

A few things need to be said about this. The great flaw in Nicholas’s reign was his inability to control the powerful and obnoxious nobility (including other more distant members of the Romanov clan). This was no easy task. Not only did Nicholas have certain familial responsibilities towards them, they also were possessed of political power in their own right, as well as access to substantial fortunes. Nicholas illustrious father, Alexander III succeeded in controlling this element, which is in part explanatory of why terror activity and revolutionary politics substantially subsided during his reign. Of course, Alexander was very different from his son, being much larger and more intimidating, Alexander personally often used physical coercion to control the more restless members of the clan. Nicholas was not of this temperament, being more refined than his father, but he eventually paid for his lack of a hard line in this matter.

Furthermore, Nicholas was a Slavophile: this means, in a nutshell, that Nicholas believed that Russia’s strength was in her peasantry, her agriculture, the commune and the church, all of which Nicholas was attached to not merely as a political figure, but also as a Russian man. To Nicholas, Rasputin represented the best in the Russian peasant: hardy, simple, pious. Rasputin made a powerful impression on the royal couple.

Rasputin was religiously opposed to the use of hypnosis or any sort of “mesmerism” in religious life; he made this clear to the author on many occasions. There is no evidence that he was a part of any sect that used these techniques, nor is there any proof he was even aware of their techniques apart from reputation. Rasputin was able to calm Alexei during his times of physical pain, and it was in this that his services were important. Rasputin did not cure Alexei of anything, but though prayer, was able to soothe the nerves of the young heir. He never took any credit for his services, saying only that God is responsible for the alleviation of Alexei’s pain. Nor did rasputin seek any reward for his services, and was very quick to leave the palace when he was no longer needed. In fact, it is worth nothing htat Rasputin routinely left the company of the royal family with intentions to go back to Siberia. It was only through the pleading of the royal couple that he returned. A rather curious form of behavior for someone who was “power mad.” In fact, twice, Rasputin packed up to leave for his native land, but was enticed back by Alexandra who clearly needed Rasputin to soothe the tsarevich.

Consulting eyewitnesses, there is no evidence that Rasputin had any political agenda whatsoever. There is substantial reason to doubt he was even a monarchist, though he respected the reigning royal family. The author claims that rasputin told her that praying for ht tsar was wrong, and only the poor and needy should be prayed for. However odd this statement might be, it hardly reflects any belief in royalism.

It did not take long for Rasputin to make enemies. The first sin he committed was to foil an assassination attempt on the heir to the throne. Apparently, several members of the palace nobility were ordering one of Alexei’s nurses to rub a certain powder on his rectum. The nurse was told that this was a medication brought back from the Middle East to treat Alexei’s condition. Rasputin, suspicious, asked that it be analyzed, only to discover that it was poison. As soon as this concoction was no longer applied, the tsarevich’s illness disappeared. There is no question, in Rasputin’s mind after this, that there was a cabal in the palace against the young heir. Rasputin’s days were numbered, and he knew it. But it was this incident that sealed the bond of trust between the royal family and Rasputin.

It didn’t help matters when a certain Prince Felix Yusapov approached Rasputin, asking him to intercede with the royal family for the oldest Romanov daughter’s hand. Rasputin, after being offered a bribe, refused. Eventually the story began to circulate, and Prince Yusapov moved to England to avoid further embarrassment. From there, Yusapov began to circulate stories about Rasputin at the English press. Among his accusations was that Rasputin was a Jew, that he had an out of control libido, and that he was an alcoholic. From this time on (about 1909), the stories about Rasputin began to get their start.

The murder of Rasputin is also treated in this book, but one with substantial revisionist material. It is normally told that Rasputin was killed after nearly every conceivable form of killing had failed: from poison to bullets to drowning to beatings. Rasputin was murdered by a group known as the “Mad Gang,” a group of extremely high ranking but also very liberal nobles and politicians who sought the eventual overthrow of Nicholas (and the monarchy in general) and their own installation in power. Among whom was Duma president Rodzianko, Vladimir Purishkevich, and Prince Yusipov. Apparently, according to later police reports, Rasputin was aware of the reason the liberal Prince Yusipov wanted him at his house, though the cover story was to pray for his ailing wife. In several confessions from Yusipov, he said that he first wanted to poison Rasputin, but he refused to eat the cakes especially prepared for him, nor the wine; all of which was poisoned. Eventually, he simply shot Rasputin, and eventually dumped his body into the river Neva, where, according to the autopsy, he died of drowning. It was a rather quick affair, bereft of the drawn out will to live so popular among cinematographers.


Much of the upper nobility in St. Petersburg was frankly being converted to liberalism as the 20th century got started. Many of them resented the traditionalism of the Emperor (though a traditionalism strongly tinged with practical good sense), and certainly, the presence of an “uneducated hick” at court. It might be mentioned that Rasputin was not uneducated, though he certainly had strong peasant roots.

Many of the nobility through their weight behind the liberal reformers, and, slowly but surely, the upper reaches of the nobility were turning against Nicholas. The Emperor was surrounded by turncoats and traitors, each viewing himself as the future president of a republican Russia, or even as the next Emperor. It reached a point where, except for a few trusted intimates, Nicholas was unsure who he could trust. Ultimately, it was Rasputin and Alexandra. As proof of this, here is the official exoneration of Rasputin made by the revolutionary Provisional Government (i.e. the anti-tsarist government under Kerensky, prior to the Bolshevik takeover) in July of 1917:

    19 July 1917

    This testimonial delivered to Mikhail Mihailovich Leibikov certifies that not a single indication of Gregory Rasputin’s political activity was disclosed by the High Commission of Inquiry. The inquiry into the influence of Rasputin on the Imperial Family was intensive but it was definitely established that that influence had its source only in the profound religious sentiment of their Majesties. The only favor Rasputin accepted was the rental of his lodging, paid by the personal Chancellor of his Majesty. He also accepted presents made by the hands of the Imperial Family, such as shirts, waist-bands, etc. That Rasputin had no connections with any foreign authorities. That all pamphlets and newspaper articles on the subject of Rasputin influence and other rumors and gossip were fabricated by the powerful enemies of the emperor. This statement is given under the signature and seal of the Attorney General of the High Commission.

    V.M. Rudnev (signature)

The fact is that the Provisional Government, set up after the formal abdication of the Tsar in 1917, had full access to all the private and public papers of the Tsar, the Duma and all government ministries. Never has such an exhaustive commission into the form, behavior, structure and functioning of the royal government ever been attempted, and certainly, can never be again, given the full access to all records the Commission had (much of which was destroyed by the Bolsheviks for obvious reasons). They found, not only no moral problems with Rasputin, but also that the Imperial government maintained the highest standards in personal dignity while holding office. And all this from the sworn enemies of the Imperial government.

Significantly, the author reports many of the spiritual teachings of Rasputin. He never sought disciple, but he certainly attracted them, and one of his most ardent was the author. Now, here is where things get sticky. Though there is no direct evidence that rasputin was ever a member of one of the small sects that dotted the Russian landscape, some of his teachings are eccentric in the context of Russian Orthodoxy, a view the royal family was certain he espoused. Here, for example, are a few of the spiritual maxims Rasputin made central to his teaching (as reported by the author):

1. Be master of your own Will

2. Don’t worry

3. When in doubt, wait for light

4. Never show temper

5. Keep unpleasant opinions to yourself

6. Take all advice offered to you, but act on your own judgement

7. Be genuine and sincere

8. Understand your own powers

9. Understand your own weakness

10. Have faith in men and yourself

11. Love truth and justice supremely

12. Hold the eye of energy upon life’s ultimate goal

13. Seek light and life up to al light possessed.

According to the author, these were the central maxims of Rasputin’s life. Now, as nice as some of them are, there is a rather odd absence of any reference to God, the Trinity, the church or Jesus. The continued, undefined and deliberately vague use of such terms as “Will” or “the light” are certainly representative of sectarian and semi-gnostic views. He makes reference to faith (#10), but no reference to faith in God. #11 tells us who to love, and it’s not God, Christ, or anyone else. It is the vague and abstract words “truth” and “justice.” Of course, there are 13 maxims that made up his “commandments,” a number loved by Masons and other occultists. This is hardly the language of Russian monasticism, and therefore I remain highly suspicious of the author’s conviction that Rasputin was just a good, simple Christian. There is no mention of Rasputin ever receiving communion, going to confession or other practices normal to Orthodox life. This would explain the nearly universal suspicion of Rasputin exhibited by the upper clergy in the church, which the author fails to explain any other way.

In short, this book is a well done revisionist understanding of Rasputin from one of his ardent supporters and disciples. There is every reason to believe her most important points about the man, and his enemies, largely because they derives solely from eyewitnesses and police reports. For this reason alone, it is an extremely important book. It will not be taken seriously by scholars in “Russia studies,” for it proves one of the major points made by monarchists, then and now: that the nobility in St. Petersburg was anti-tsarist and viewed “parliamentary democracy” as merely a means to gain power under the ubiquitous slogan of “human rights.” Dr. Judas clearly, and though first hand accounts solely, bears this age-old contention out. The peasants were right after all: the tsar was good, his bureaucrats and nobles, bad. This refrain is to be found in peasant folk songs and dances from the 15th century onward, and Dr. Judas shows they were not too far off.

Rasputin was clearly not a bad man, but neither was he an Orthodox one. He spoke of Christ, but did not believe he founded a church. He told men to put their faith in one another rather than God. Nevertheless, had he been listened to, world history would be radically different. He was a quick-witted, educated and very practical man who strongly respected the royal family and wanted their protection, and nothing more. Rasputin correctly predicted that Russia’s entering into World War I would be the end of her, and this prediction, among other things, earned him the hatred of the Petersburg salon crowd. “Neither Devil nor Saint,” a very appropriate title.


Reply from Majorie Rich

Dear Matthew:

It was a real pleasure to read you again. I enjoyed your review of Dr. Judas's book, but I do disagree with a lot of her claims, and will tell you why. All my quotes and remarks are from The Fall of the Russian Monarchy by Benard Pares who was Professor of Russian History, Language and Literature, University of Liverpool 1908-18 University of London 1919-36. In his Introduction he says: "I know of no period of history which is so rich in first-hand materials. That is, of course, due to the Revolution. It is true that a good many materials that I was following up have been lost for ever; for instance, being allowed to live with my regiment that I liked at the Russian front during the War, I found it easy to obtain a lien on the regimental records; but these, for the most part seem to have disappeared. On the other hand the Revolution opened access to a vast number of materials of infinitely greater value, many of which, without it, could hardly ever have been known to the public–private letters of the most personal kind passing between the chief actors in the period, diaries and other personal records. Here, as a student of history, I must pay the warmest tribute to Professor Michael Pokrovsky, the communist historian, to whom fell the priceless opportinity of making the greater part of this rich material accesible. Pokrovsky carried his extreme views into his historical studies, and they have now been discarded in the Soviet Union; but he had those instincts of scholarship which has always been so precious to the academic world of Russia, and in organizing the the work of research and publication under his leadership, he did not forget he was a historian."

I don't believe her claim that the young Alexis did not have hemophilia, and as you mentioned, there are many contradictions. It was through the boy's illness that Rasputin was brought into the palace. He may not have "cured" the illness, but there is no question that he brought relief from his pain. As his last nurse, Teglova, put it to Sokolov, "Call it what you will, he could really promise her (Empress) her boy's life while he lived." So it is easy to see why the Empress turned a deaf ear when Rasputin's many escapades were reported to the Tsar. And some. like the monk, Illidor, and the Bishop Hermogen, were dismissed and sent to different monasteries outside St. Petersburg. Lucas claims that Rasputin, as a Christian, was opposed to hypnosis. Pares wrotes; "Rasputin had already become a great preoccupation to-the principle Ministers. When Stolypin's children were injured by the attempt on his life in 1906, the Emperor had offered him the services of Rasputin as a healer. Later there was an interview between the two at which, according to the account that Stolypin gave to Rodzyanko, Rasputin tried to hypnotize this fine, sturdy and sensible man; Stolypin described how repulsive it was to him. He made a plain report on Rasputin to the Emperor. At the beginning of 1911 he ordered Rasputin out of St. Petersburg and the order was obeyed Stolypin's Minisater of Religion, Lukanov, on the reports of the police, ordered an investigation, and abundant material was forthcoming. From this time ,onwards, the Empress hated Stolypin." For Judas to claim that Rasputin had no political agenda, is ludicrous. All through Pares'book Rasputin brags about not only his sexual conquests, but his polital importance to the Tsar. He was no monarchist, and despised the nobility and declared them members of another race. Surprisingly, he and Count Witte, who held the same views, became friends, One thing I agree with then on, and that was, they both opposed the war and "English diplomacy." Pares says; "On Witte's side, with his rather obvious cunning and predilection for intrigue, it is almost certain that he would be one of the first to gauge Raspotin's political importance and to make use of it." I doubt that Prince Yussupov moved to England to "avoid embarrassment", but he moved there to attend Oxford. I remember that well, as he took an entourage of servants with him, quite unlike most college boys. I do not believe that any "Mad Gang" members killed Rasputin, but I do believe Prince Yussupov's account, plus and Rodzyanko's account in his "The Reign of Rasputin." However, I would not at all be surprised if the "perfidious Albion" didn't have a hand in it.

I was going to list some of the scandalous things that Rasputin did, and was investigated for, but I would run out of time and patience. Nowhere does Pares mention V.M. Rudnev, who gave the Duma findings, but Radzinky does in his "The Last Tsar." He says: "One of the most valuable materials for illuminating the personality of Rasputin was the observations journal kept by the surveillance established for Rasputin by agents of the secret police. The surveillance was both external and internal, and his apartment was under constant watch....Since the periodic press paid inordinate attention to Rasputin's unruliness, which became synonymous with his name, the investigation has given this issue proper attention. The richest material for illuminating this aspect of his personality came from that permanent secret surveillance of his apartment, which made it clear that Rasputin's amorous exploits did not go beyond nighttime orgies and young women of frivolous conduct and chanteuses, as well as with several of his suppliants....As far as his proximity to ladies of high society, in this respect the surveillance and investigation obtained no materials whatsoever." A far cry from Judas's claim. It did proves Rasputin a braggart." In pointing out the Tsar's weakness as a strong leader, does she think that historians blame Rasputin for the Revolution, so she wants to put the blame elsewhere.? That Revolution would have been carried out whether Rasputin had been born, or not. Not being a hard autocratic leader, the Tsar gained Sainthood. Pares saw the Tsar's diary, and his last entry. "Avdeyev was replaced by a Siberian Jew, Yurovsky, a man with a most sinister face and record. Nicholas notes in the last published entry in his diary," This specimen we like least of all."

You aptly called the spiritual maxims of Rasputin what they were. Thirteen, the number beloved of the Freemasons and other occultists. Dr. Judas could have known Rasputin all her life, but that s doesn't make her appraisal of him accurate. I have friends that have known George Bush all his life, and in spite of the damning evidence of his failure as a leader, still support him, and some even think he is intelligent I hope that this lengthy epistle hasn't bored you, as you know more about Russia than anyone I have ever read.

My best wishes to you and yours, Marjorie

Dear Majorie: You are very correct. However, I do think that Judas needs to be read, as she was an eyewitness after all. There can be no doubt that other eyewitnesses have contradicted her testimony. I am certain that Rasputin was not a Christian in any recognizable sense and this is the most significnat aspect of Judas’ book of all: even his greatest admirers, when sizing up his religious credentials, saw no room for Christ or even the Trinity in Rasputin’s words. MRJ

War of the Babies by Gary Brecher


This articles was originally published in Taki's Magazine on May 6, 2008.

What was the most important battle of the late 20th century? You could argue it was the one that took place on the southern border of Morocco on November 6, 1975. Of course, we’re not talking about another Stalingrad here. In fact, what happened that day isn’t usually called a battle at all. Its official name is “The Green March.” On one side were 350,000 unarmed Moroccan civilians carrying green (Islamic) flags, and on the other -- miles inside the border, because they were hoping not to have to confront any of the marchers -- was a shaky, demoralized token force of Spanish troops pretending to defend a former Spanish colony, the Spanish Sahara.

The Spanish Sahara hangs below Morocco where the Sahara meets the Atlantic like a crumbling brick wall. It was about the least desirable chunk of coastal Africa around, with no water to speak of and a tiny population, which is why the Spanish got it. By the time the European powers were ready to divide up Africa in the late nineteenth century, Spain had long since lost its glory and tended to get the scraps and leftovers.

But one thing we’ve learned over the last century is that on this crowded, hungry planet, there’s no such thing as worthless land. Spanish Sahara has proven that: in the 30 years it’s belonged to Morocco, big money has been made from the fishing off the coast and the huge phosphate mine at Bou Craa, a hundred miles inland.

That’s why the Moroccan King Hassan II, a wily old sultan with friends in the CIA, decided it was worth his while to ship all those loyal subjects down to Morocco’s southern border, hand out little green flags for the cameras, and send them across the border toward those Spanish troops.

The Moroccans had to think outside the traditional military-conquest box, for the simple reason that Morocco’s armed forces are pathetic. They’re so bad their only contributions to military history have been in the “slapstick comedy” department. For instance, the Minister of Defense once tried to have fighters from the Moroccan Air Force kill Hassan II by shooting down his Boeing 727 as it came home from a foreign trip. They failed. Seriously: jet fighters failed to intercept and destroy a big, fat, slow civilian airliner even when they knew its exact flight path. A military like that pretty much has to resort to unarmed conquest, because its chances in a fair fight are zero.

Of course the Moroccans had the advantage of facing a weak, dispirited colonial Spain just at the moment the Spanish dictator, General Franco, finally got around to dying. If you’re old enough to recall those early SNL seasons, you probably remember Chevy Chase’s running joke, “This just in: General Franco still dead!” The reason that joke worked is that it took the old General a long time to die, and that meant that greedy up-and-coming regional powers like Morocco had plenty of time to plan ways of getting their hands on former Spanish colonies.

It may not have been very exciting for combat fans, but it was an extremely effective invasion. The Spanish troops didn’t fire a shot. The marchers walked over the border, got sand in their shoes, shouted about how this sacred patch of waterless, flat desert was now an integral part of the Kingdom of Morocco, and went back home. And since then, the Spanish Sahara has been dominated by Morocco, although the local guerrilla army, POLISARIO, gave them some serious problems for a while.

What makes this weird episode my nominee for “Most Significant Battle of the Era” is that it showed the new way of winning disputed territory. If there’s one thing that we should have learned over the past hundred years, it’s that traditional armed conquests are getting less and less effective. This is one of the most surprising twists in all military history. All through the nineteenth century, the European powers, led by the British and French, took the land they wanted on the grounds that they had better military technology, transport and organization. Locals who disputed that notion tended to disappear as casualties of inevitable progress. And that was just an updated version of what had been happening all over the world for thousands of years: bigger, stronger tribes displace and wiped out weaker tribes whenever they could. That was the norm, even in pre-contact North America, where the Navajo were displacing the Ute in the American Southwest long before the white guys showed up.

Now, even though the balance in conventional warfare is if anything tilting further toward the first world, the technologically advanced and organized countries are in retreat, and the former victims are pushing back, not just claiming their old territories but infiltrating the former colonizers’ countries. What matters now is morale, national will. The Spanish didn’t have it, and the Moroccans did. So even though the Spanish troops could have wiped out those unarmed marchers, they failed to open fire. Weapons are only weapons if you’re willing to use them. A technologically advanced army without the will to fire is no army at all.

Only us dedicated war nerds seem to realize how weird this is, how totally unprecedented in military history. Until the 20th century, the problem wasn’t usually getting militarily superior forces to open fire -- it was getting them to stop before the weaker tribe, army or country was totally wiped out. I don’t know of a single case, before the 20th century, of a militarily superior tribe or nation lacking the will to defend its territory, or for that matter, take the territory of weaker neighbors.

The 20th century was the big turning point. New powers like Germany and Japan tried to imitate the older colonial powers of the 19th century and suffered total, disastrous defeat, even though they usually prevailed on the battlefield. That’s the weird lesson of the two world wars: military superiority in the narrow sense just doesn’t cut it any more. Despite the total battlefield dominance of the Wehrmacht (and to a lesser extent the Imperial Japanese forces), Germany and Japan ended the war not just without additional territory but with their home territories in ruins, their cultures gelded, their birthrates for generations to come among the lowest in the world.

Even the older colonial powers, Britain and France, finished the century in big trouble, without the will to resist the immigrants from the colonies they’d once ruled. We’re at a very strange moment militarily: our weapons still work but our will is gone.

The colonies that were established earliest are the most successful. For example, northern North America, now the U.S. and Canada, passed into permanent possession of the European settlers (or so it seemed, until recently). Two things determined this: first, they were settled in the 17th and 18th century, before conscience set in, and because most of the native population had been relatively tiny groups of hunter-gatherers (which also holds true for Australia, though it was settled much later). Everywhere else -- in Latin America, Africa, Asia -- the locals have been pushing back the colonizers without coming close to what old-style military theorists would call military superiority. That’s what we’re seeing now in South Africa, and more slowly in Europe and the southern United States. In other places, especially those colonized by the French (who were never as good at it as the Brits), huge colonial populations were totally eliminated, like the million-plus French residents of Algeria.

So there’s a shocking lesson that military buffs have been slow to face: military superiority doesn’t matter nearly as much right now as birthrate and sheer ruthless will.

Ah, birth rate -- funny how it’s become such a taboo subject for both Left and Right. The Lefties wouldn’t dream of telling third-world people to limit their baby-making, and most right wingers can’t bring themselves to endorse birth control even if it could slow the destruction of their own countries.

So birth rate is a weapon without a counter-weapon right now. So it tends to win. The Moroccans made it clear that the Green March was all about birth rate. The number of “volunteers” they sent to the border was 350,000, exactly the number of births per year in Morocco. So this was basically a ”Lebensraum” argument like the one the Germans tried earlier in the century. You might have heard about that one, a little dust-up called the Eastern Front. And you might be saying right now that if any policy ever failed decisively, it was the Nazis’ attempt to elbow themselves a little living space from Stalin. Which is totally true. But the Nazis tried it the old-fashioned way, with armed conquest.

To succeed in the post-1918 world, the world Woodrow Wilson dreamed up where “small nations” have rights even if they can’t defend them, you need to use slower, less obviously military methods, like birthrate and immigration. The classic example of this kind of slow conquest is Kosovo. The Serbs could always defeat the Albanians on the battlefield, even when outnumbered, but the Albanians had a huge advantage in the most important military production of all -- babies. According to the BBC, the birthrate of Kosovo Albanians 50 years ago was an amazing 8.5 children per woman.

The Serb/Albanian conflict offers damn near perfect lab conditions to prove my case that birth rate trumps military prowess these days, because the Serbs always beat the Albanians in battle, yet they’ve lost their homeland, Kosovo. Here again, we can blame Woodrow Wilson and his talk about “rights.” In places where tribes hate each other, a tribe that outbreeds its rival will become the majority, even if it can’t fight. So, after generations of skulking at home making babies, letting the Serbs do the fighting, the Albanians finally became the majority in Kosovo and therefore the official "good guys," being oppressed by the official "bad guys," the Serbs. At least that’s the way the nave American Wilsonian types like Clinton saw it. So when the Serbs fought back against an Albanian rebellion in Kosovo, and dared to beat the Albanians, Clinton decided to bomb the Serbs into letting go of Kosovo, the ancient heartland of a Christian nation that had spent its blood holding off the Turks for hundreds of years.

The Kosovo Albanians proved that military skill doesn’t matter, because they tried and failed to conquer Kosovo the old-fashioned way: armed rebellion by the Kosovo Liberation Army. It was a wipeout: local Serb militias, a bunch of tired middle-aged part-timers and cops, crushed the KLA. What happened next is a beautiful illustration of the way losers win these days: the Albanians took the bodies of KLA men who’d been killed in battle, stripped all weapons and ammo from them, and showed them to gullible Western reporters as victims of a Serb “massacre.” It was a massacre, all right, but only because the KLA couldn’t fight worth a damn. Alive and armed, they were a joke; dead and disarmed, they helped win Kosovo by making their side the "victims," which led directly to U.S. military intervention.

To win the way the Albanians won in Kosovo, you need to make a lot of babies. It’s that simple. And to see how it works, you have to drop the namby-pamby liberal idea that people only have babies out of “love.” In lots of places on this planet, baby-making is a form of weapons production.

In some places, it’s open policy. For example, in Palestine there’s an all-out birthrate war going on between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And one of the most frustrating things about this kind of struggle, from the Israeli perspective, is that the worse you make life for the people in the occupied zones, the more kids they have. The Gaza Strip, for instance, has one of the highest fertility rates in the world outside Africa, at 5.6 kids per woman.

The rate for Israeli overall is about 2.8 children per woman, high for a rich country. But the most amazing rates anywhere, even higher than for the Gaza Palestinians, are in the most extreme Zionist groups, the Haredi “ultra-orthodox” Jews. Until recently they averaged eight or nine children per woman. There was actually a big panic in the Israeli settler press when news hit that their rate had dropped to a mere 7.7 kids per woman.

That’s actually higher than the rate for Mali (7.38 per woman), which has the highest birthrate in the world.

The settlers don’t hide the fact that they’re producing as many kids as they can in order to change the demographics of “Greater Israel” in their favor -- above all to make sure the Palestinians never become the majority.

What’s interesting is that there were plenty of voices in the ultra-Orthodox community in favor of using Israel’s military superiority to settle the problem the old-fashioned way, by expelling or wiping out the Palestinians. Those people lost out; their leader, Meir Kahane, was assassinated by an Egyptian cabbie in New York, but he’d lost the debate long before he died. You just can’t get away with those methods these days, not even with every born-again Baptist Zionist in Texas backing you to the hilt.

If you want an example closer to home, just go to Northern Ireland where the Protestant majority the border was designed to maintain has been getting smaller and smaller, thanks to the higher birthrate among Catholics. As of 2001, the Catholics were about 46% of the population, up from 35% in 1961.

But as the dreaded “Catholic Majority” date approaches, a funny thing is happening up in Ulster: the Catholic birth rate is slowing down even faster than the Protestant rate. This always happens when a tribe breaks out of its slums into the middle class. This illustrates one of the real brain-twisters of contemporary demographic struggle: if you really hate the enemy tribe, the best thing you could do would be to make them rich. Rich people don’t have nearly as many kids. Of course there are exceptions like the Ultra-Orthodox Israelis, who are fairly well-off and just dedicated to making as many kids as possible, but generally, money distracts people from starting big families. So the old methods of keeping down the enemy tribe are usually counter productive. If the Ulster hotheads like Ian Paisley had had their way and kept the Catholic s down in the slums, their birthrate over the past 30 years would have been much higher and they’d be ready to stage a Kosovo-style “majority rule” coup like the Albanians did against the Serbs, complete with the USAF blowing up every television tower in Belfast like we did to the ones in Belgrade, just to teach those Serbs a lesson: “No TV till you let your little Albanian brother have Kosovo!”

Makin'em rich is the only way you’re going to settle the kind of conquest-by-immigration we’re seeing now in Europe and North America. Nobody will even say honestly how many illegal immigrants there are in the U.S. right now, but just from what I see driving to work, I’m inclined to go with the higher estimates, something up to 20 million people who snuck in from Mexico and points south looking for work.

As far as I know, nobody’s claiming the Latino immigrants decided to have a lot of kids as a way of reconquering Texas and California, the way the Israeli settlers are doing. La reconquista, if it happens, will be an unforeseen result of rising birth rates and falling death rates for countries like Mexico that are just moving up from the third world to, say, the second-and-a-halfth.

By 1970, Mexico was at that dangerous stage where there’s just enough basic medical care to keep people alive, so death rates are falling sharply, but people are still poor enough to want a lot of kids. Between 1970 and 2000, the Mexican population doubled, from 48 million to 98 million. So on one side of the Rio Grande you had a lot of young poor people, and on the other, a lot of money and companies eager for cheap labor. And a muddy little creek like the Rio Grande wasn’t nearly wide enough to keep those two groups apart.
As the population of Mexico increased and the living standard rose, the fertility rate actually went into an amazing dive, to the point that the rate for Mexican women now is only 2.39 kids per woman, just two places up from Israel’s 2.38.

And the only thing that’s brought the Latino birthrate down -- in their home countries, not among the ones who immigrated to the U.S. -- is getting enough money that peasant families start thinking of themselves as consumers, and get more excited about buying a new truck or a flat-screen TV than having little Jos.

This is all pretty slow to unfold, compared to traditional military conquest. Birth rate takes decades to have an effect; the Albanian victory in Kosovo is the result of birth rates from the mid-20th century. And in some parts of the world, like the US and Europe, immigrants have a history of being absorbed by the locals rather than sticking to the old tribal hatreds in the style of the Balkans and the Middle East. It’s a cultural deal, after all, not racial. Studies of the U.S. Hispanic population show that within a generation or two, most American Hispanics are ranting about policing the borders and keeping those damn immigrants out of the country.

What’s really weird -- and I can testify to this from my own experiences growing up -- is when the local culture infiltrates the immigrants, like the fact that Mexicans in the U.S. are deserting the Catholics and becoming born-again Protestants. Go to any of the younger, feister churchers in the U.S. like the Church of the Nazarene and you’ll see lots of Mexican families with plenty of kids, singing old Scottish hymns in Tex-Mex English. In fact, I ran into a really hilarious article by a U.S. Baptist writer who worried that the Baptist birthrate is going down while the Nazarenes are having babies at a rate of three-plus per woman. So the nightmare scenario that anti-immigrant bloggers are always predicting, where the U.S. turns into one giant Mexico, might end up being true in what you might call “racial” terms -- I mean, your second-grade class photo might be two-thirds Hispanic -- but those Hispanic faces would have absorbed a whole born-again American world picture that actually comes from the Scots-Irish who settled the American south hundreds of years ago.

This is one point where people’s anxiety over these slow, demographic conquests splits according to their real fears: do you just not want to see that kind of face when you go outside, or do you not want to import the culture of the immigrants’ home country? The whole debate right now is so censored, so totally dishonest on both sides, that nobody will come clean about which it is. I suspect for some people it’s the faces: they want the faces on their street to be the same shape and color they were when they were growing up. If that’s what you want, then no matter where you are, I can guarantee that if you’re rich enough to worry about things like this (as opposed to where your next meal’s coming from), then yup, you definitely have grounds for worry. People move around to where the food is, the money, the good grazing, the jobs. The Germanic tribes who moved in on Europe a couple millennia back took a more reasonable view; they called wars “the movements of the peoples.” The Huns push the Goths off the steppe, and boom! Next thing you know, the Goths are wiping out a Roman army at Adrianople.

The faces are going to change. We are in a new military-historical era, in which the only states with the sheer will to resist slow “conquest” by immigration were the Stalinist states. Of course they didn’t have much of a problem there anyway -- not too many immigrants trying to sneak into North Korea or the old USSR -- but even if they had faced real demographic challenge, they had the will to open fire. The Berlin Wall is a nasty case in point, where the will was used to stop people leaving.

But those Stalinist states are not exactly a growth industry these days, and no liberal democratic state has the will to shoot down unarmed people trying to get in (or out, for that matter). Even the Israelis, who are maybe the fiercest first-worlders on demographic issues, don’t shoot the poor Africans who cross to Beersheba for jobs in the cafes. They just send them back to Sudan to be shot there.

So the movement of the peoples, the slow demographic wars, are going to go on. We just don’t have a counter-move, except maybe bombarding poor people with money to stay home. Basically, no matter where you are, the complexions and the features you see on the streets are going to change. If it’s any consolation to face-fascists, Europeans got their licks in first, so to speak. Not many African-Americans around with pure African blood; not many Mexican Indians without some Spanish in them. So now the faces blend the other way.

For most people the real worry, if they were allowed to even say it out loud, is culture: if you’re French, you really don’t want Paris turning into Kinshasa, because let’s be honest, Kinshasa is a Hellhole. If you’re English, you don’t want London turning into Karachi, because Karachi is a nightmare. If you’re American, you don’t want Houston -- oh Hell, ever been to Houston? If you have half a brain, you don’t want Houston at all, the lousy sweatbox.

The thing is, most of the people who invaded from those places tend to agree with you. That’s why they moved in the first place. Nobody knows what a Hellhole the Congo is like a Congolese. I read somewhere that on the Congo riverboats, they have these slang terms for the different decks. The first-class deck they call “Europe.” The second-class deck is “China,” meaning not that great, but livable. The third-class deck is “Congo,” and nobody wants to be there, least of all the Congolese.

So to assess your situation in terms of the new conquests, you have to decide whether you’re in a Kosovo -- two tribes hating each other forever, turning out babies as weapons -- or that Congolese riverboat, where nobody wants it too “authentic” if they can help it. There’s a lot of blurring and overlap between those two models, sure. Take Northern Ireland: a lot of yelling, a lot of noisy tribal hate, but I just don’t think they have it in them to be another Kosovo. Too interested in TV and cars.

That’s what’s funny about the debate right now: the diehards in the U.S. and Europe wish we had the old ruthless will to seal the borders, but the “weakness” of the advanced countries generally works pretty well to turn the immigrants into immigrant-hating locals in a generation or two. The old model, bayonets on the border, isn’t even in the running. Time to face that fact. So the faces will change.

If you can handle these new faces, you’re likely to be surprised to see your “weak” American or European culture win out, slowly, un-gloriously but surely, and you may live long enough to see a whole new crop of pols who look like they just came from Karachi or Kinshasa until you turn the sound on and hear them ranting about how we need to get rid of all these damn immigrants.

Gary Brecher is the author of the book, The War Nerd