Archive for the ‘History’ Category

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Definition – Terrorist and Guerilla

30 December, 2016

Watching Rogue One yesterday (thoughts on that here), the interplay between the various factions among the Rebel Alliance, and former members of the Alliance, brought this subject back to mind.  What sorts a terrorist from a guerilla fighter?  Villain from hero?

The debate over the definition of terrorism is actually surprisingly fraught with politics, but mine is this:

  • Terrorism, the use or threat of violence by non-state actors to cause or inspire terror for political ends.  It is ethically and morally reprehensible and usually counter productive to the aims of the organization using terrorism.

States can certainly use terror as a weapon as well, but that is a war crime or crime against humanity, depending on how it is used. and by which part of the state.

  • Guerrilla Warfare, is irregular warfare usually conducted by non-military persons against the military, security and structural forces of a state.  Guerillas often use their ability to blend in with the people to their advantage and try to minimize their infliction of non-combatant casualties, their attacks are designed to weaken the power and legitimacy of the targeted state with the intention of overthrowing it.  It is a legitimate, if little liked, branch of warfare.

States use counter-insurgency (or COIN) tactics to try and divorce guerrilla movements from their support in the general populace, these tactics often shade into government sponsored tactics especially when used by authoritarian regimes.

For historical examples, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) of the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were guerillas, the modern IRA factions (1969-current) veer between terrorism and guerrilla warfare, leaning more towards the former.  The Chechen independence forces started as guerrillas and became terrorists after brutal Russian tactics crushed their bid for freedom from the Russian state, the move to terroristic tactics cost the Chechen what support they had among the Russian people.

Modern reporting tends to blur these two types of violence together, any attack against the United States or its allies by irregular forces is called terrorism, regardless of target type or purpose of the attack.  Terrorism is an overused word and overuse of it blurs understanding of current situations.

But, back on track, in Star Wars, the Rebel Alliance seeks to be guerillas but the implication in Rogue One is that some, perhaps quite a few, of the factions had moved into terrorism against the Empire and some had been cast out because of it.  This is an excellent moral conundrum that most rebel groups will encounter sooner or later (probably soon) and make for good drama and conflict in games.

Just some things that have been bouncing around in my head for a while, make of them what you will.

 

 

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Samurai in Georgia (USA)? Yes, Indeed

10 December, 2015

Go see it!The Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, GA, has a small but very impressive display entitled Samurai: the Way of the Warrior.  It features artifacts from the Florentine Stibbert Museum including multiple full suits of armor (four of which are staged with weapons as well, including a beautiful naginata), a dozen of so helmets, swords and bows, and more.  It is not a huge exhibit but what is there is very impressive and worth the time to view if you are in the area.

The rest of the GMoA’s collections are pretty neat as well and the museum is free.  So, if you are out Athens way, drop in and take a look.  The exhibit runs through 3 Jan.

Photo from the GMoA site and used without permission.

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History Resources for your Game

28 August, 2015

A variety of interesting articles and sites about history I have found recently and wish to share:

An amazing site that is a collection of thousand of aerial photographs of England taken between 1919 and 1953, Britain from Above.

A good article about the new display, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, at will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center.  The Victorian attitude toward death was so very different from ours.

While this bends into a political discussion, it still has interesting information on the history and development of dyes.

Ten apartment building floor plans from early 20th Century NYC (you can find the source for such and more at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery).

From Historic England,  an Introduction to Medieval Settlements, technical but short and packed with information.

One of the ways news was spread of judicial punishment in early modern Europe was through murder ballads, recount the crimes and (more importantly) punishment of those executed.  Your campaign needs these.

Any news of a historical nature catch your eye lately?

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In Remembrance of the Brave and Noble Who Served

11 November, 2014

Time moves on and we have reached another Armistice Day (in modern parlance Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth and Veterans Day in the US).  It originally served as a remember of the end of the Great War, the Armistice that ended the war starting at 11:11am on 11 November, 1918, and those who served and died there.  Since then, it has been expanded to include the many others who have served and died for their country in honorable service through the years.  This year, being the hundredth anniversary of the start of the Great War, evokes the memories of that conflict with a deeper resonance.

If you remember, pause for a minute of silence to honor the brave soldiers and other members of the armed forces that have guarded us -and still do- at 11:11am.

While it has been my wont in recent years to find poems from lesser known war poets, this year, partly in honor of the superb and moving field of poppies display at the Tower of London (properly called “Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red” by ceramic artist Paul Cummins), I am using the poem which inspired it:

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D&D 40th Anniversary Questions in one Big (Blog) Hop

1 February, 2014

D20 Dark Ages is hosting a daily Blog Hop in honor of the 40th Anniversary of D&D.  But as I am not up to doing this on a daily basis (like Tales of the Rambling Bumblers) I will do it in one big post and wish the others well in their blog hopping.

1: First person who introduced you to D&D? Which edition? Your first Character?

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In Remembrance of Honorable Soldiers on Armistice Day (2013)

11 November, 2013

We have reached another Armistice Day (in modern parlance Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth and Veterans Day in the US).  It originally served as a remember of the end of the Great War, the Armistice that ended the war starting at 11:11am on 11 November, 1918, and those who served and died there.  Since then, it has been expanded to include the many others who have served and died for their country in honorable service through the years.

If you remember, pause for a minute of silence to honor the brave soldiers and other members of the armed forces that have guarded us -and still do- at 11:11am.

Though do not let us forget, “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.” -Robert E Lee

And, as is my want, a war poem, to stir memories, this one from an Austrian poet:

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Review – Chinese Warlord Armies 1911-30

14 July, 2013

I recently picked up a copy of Chinese Warlord Armies 1911-30 from Osprey Books as a reference and it succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.  The warlord period of 20th Century Chinese history is fascinating, though it must have been rather horrible to live through, the overthrow of the last Chinese Empire and the establishment of the Republic, which was unable to maintain order or any sense of control and the country rapidly descended into a period of warlord rule.

The warlords fragmented China in their constant grasping for an ever bigger territories to rule until the Chinese Republic finally got its act together and slowly took China back from the warlord, often by co-opting the warlords who saw the writing on the wall, by allying with the Chinese Communists and accepting aid from the Soviet Union.  Yes, history really is that strange.

This book is little more than an overview of the situation and the chaos of that era where warlords with colorful nicknames such as the ‘Dogmeat General’ and the ‘Jade Marshal’ using armies equipped with whatever weapons they could buy from the world market, steal from their enemies or (occasionally) have built.  Where European, Russian (red and white) and Japanese advisers and mercenaries worked for various sides.  What a model for a wild campaign, fortunes to be made (and lost), allies and enemies to make, deals and betrayals abound.

The book is well written with a variety of colorful anecdotes to leaven the basic facts of the situation but it is, of necessity, only a introduction to the complexities of this era but an interesting read and well illustrated both with Osprey’s color plates and a variety of photographs from the era.

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