We’ve seen the future of “war,” and it’s mass murderous, artificially intelligent, and very stupid, too.
Tarik Cyril Amar (@TarikCyrilAmar) is a historian from Germany, currently at Koç University, Istanbul, expert on Ukraine, Russia, and Europe, and the author of “The Paradox of Ukrainian Lviv. A Borderland City between Stalinists, Nazis, and Nationalists.”
Cross-posted from Tarik’s Substack Blog
After a short pause, mislabeled as both a “pause” and “humanitarian,” Israel’s campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians in Gaza – but also the West Bank – has resumed at full tilt. It has, of course, never been genuinely interrupted: Even during the so-called “pause,” the Palestinian victims of the preceding bombing and the continuing, only slightly alleviated siege kept dying from injuries, shock, lack of care and general deprivation. Israel released Palestinian hostages, mislabeled “prisoners,” and, at the same time caught more. American arms and munitions also kept flowing. This was not a “pause.” It was a temporary dip in the ongoing genocide’s intensity.
Hopes that the fascist-Zionist regime ruling Israel would not return to full-blast genocide have been disappointed. The Palestinian victims, temporarily moved from one circle of hell to another, are back to seeing their civilians, women, children slaughtered with abandon, while the West – that “garden” (Josep Borrell) of “values” (Annalena Baerbock) does not simply stand aside. Make no mistake. Despite the popularity of dividing those present in or at a genocide into perpetrators, victims, and bystanders, in reality, genuine bystanders are very rare.
To begin with, being a “bystander,” while a horrific crime is taking place in front of you, is not anything to be proud of. While for some the word may signal genuine helplessness (of those who simply do not have any power to make a difference), more realistically it points to moral failures, such as indifference or cowardice. But, depressing as it is, the truth is even worse: Most bystanders usually are really perpetrators as well. They do not provide the cutting-edge or the “brains” of the mass murder, but they have their contributions to make. In the current case, they can be, for instance, “ordinary Israelis” posting videos that help dehumanize the victims; or “ordinary Germans” tweeting about “Pallywood” and thereby denying the victims’ suffering.
While the perpetrators of the genocide against the Palestinians often use absurd, vile, murderous phrases such as “there are no innocents (or civilians) in Gaza,” in reality, there are no genuine bystanders in either Israel or the West. Yes, it is that stark and unforgiving: You either are against a genocide or you are for it. And the horrifying but also clarifying fact is that, as a whole, the West is for this genocide. While there is a wave of protest and resistance, our, Western, governments, media, and representatives mostly are co-perpetrators.
That means that the West is entirely, utterly shameless now. The masks are completely off. In the pursuit of our geopolitics (misconceived and shortsighted as they are), we will not only kill and help kill. We will do it openly, appearance be damned. To be sure, the difference is one of degree: The West is a killing machine one way or the other, whether we bomb our victims in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya, let and make them drown in the Mediterranean, or die of thirst south of the Rio Grande. Yet something has shifted. Hypocrisy used to be a more serious effort. Now, we, the West, are just letting it rip. That is the first aspect of the Gaza Genocide that points to the real future of real “war.” On a planet undergoing climate collapse, it will get more and more genocidal. And the West, not Russia (for instance), will lead the way.
But then again, there is progress as well. We now know that Israel is using an AI system blasphemously called “The Gospel” to conduct its genocide. “Habsora” selects targets for bombing at a speed that even the truly committed – and very experienced – slaughterers of the IDF find hard to keep up with. Forget about drones and other arms finding their targets with the help of AI. The true breakthrough here is different: This is fascist-Zionist Skynet – all the brutality of a computer deciding who to kill, but humans in the loop to take the sadistic pleasure of actually following its list and carrying out the murders.
Take-away point number two for the future of “war”: It’s not about AI versus human control, sillies. It’s about combining the efficiency and relentlessness of AI with the full human capacity for and enjoyment of evil.
Point number three: Information war does matter – and not. After years of being treated to wave after wave of ludicrous bullshit about how terribly dangerous Russian information warfare is, we now see a fascinating case in a very different place fully supported by us, the West: Nothing could be dumber, more primitive, and, frankly, repulsive than Israeli propaganda. The revoltingly crass attempts to deploy the memory of the Holocaust to justify another genocide, the laughably daft attempts to label everyone who is against that genocide an “antisemite,” the crude pressure tactics of canceling, dismissals, and fear… How brutally idiotic and idiotically brutal does it get? If Hasbara, the propaganda of genocide, weren’t so evil, it would simply be an insult to anyone with an IQ above 50. And yet, lo and behold: Crap as it is, it is good enough. What the “war” of the future will bring us is not, as some assume, sophisticated propaganda hard to tell from reality. It will bring garbage heaps of stupid lies made for morons. And real power, as in the power to not only commit but try to get away with genocide, will consist in forcing that garbage on all of us and making it suffice.
We’ve all been to Gaza now. That’s how present this genocide is. As if the Warsaw ghetto had been live (or death?) tweeting. We’ve all been to Gaza, and we’ve seen the future. Except we rebel.