- A Practical Guide for Boys and Girls
So you've decided to go to war. You've thought about it, weighed up the advantages and disadvantages, and have come to the conclusion that the only solution is to engage the enemy in warfare. Good for you! Wars are fun! And good for the economy!
Know Your Enemy
The first thing to think about is who you want to go to war with. Sure, the French are rude and arrogant and eat snails, but is that a good enough reason to go to war with them? Australia gave us Paul Hogan, Fosters and Kylie Minogue, but should we carpet bomb them and destroy their way of life? I liked the first Crocodile Dundee, and Fosters is quite refreshing - mind you, Kylie does get her bum out a bit too much.
So who should you declare war on? Ideally, you need to pick a fight you can win. America's just too big and powerful, so go for one of the smaller, less well-equipped nations (call says: "Sure the US might be too big to declare war against, but how about declaring war against maybe just one wee state? I mean, really, I reckon Connecticut wouldn't put up much of a fight...") Argentina is a good one, the recent financial shenanigans have destabilised things nicely, and the UK gave them a sound thrashing back in the early 80's, so they're ripe for a bit of invasion - with a handy Falklands base to stage your offensive, too. Iraq is usually gagging for a scrap, but they've got bugger all weapons or even medical supplies, so you could probably take them in a few days. Afghanistan? My mum could do Afghanistan! One hand behind her back, mate! See? Pick a country you can beat, quickly and easily, and then make up some spurious allegations - they've invaded your patch, abused someone or other, or have secretly been stockpiling weapons - they don't have to be true, just convincing.
What's In A Name?
Something that must be decided early is a name for your war, or for the first battle. The standard pattern is Operation (Handy phrase). The "Operation" part is to imply a well planned, organised affair. The handy phrase is up to you. The 1991 Gulf War, for example, took place in desert-type terrain, hence the name Desert Storm - Storm implying some major ass-kicking of crazy Saddam and the filthy Iraqis. Some other good ones were Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Infinite Justice, Operation Essential Harvest, Operation Infinite Reach, etc. The words should be powerful, imposing, yet decent, honest and true. Under no circumstances call it something like Operation Murder Death Kill. This will give the wrong impression. The only bad example of this was Operation Market-Garden. You do not want your mighty offensive to sound like a Sunday afternoon village fete.
Sneak Sneak or Bang Bang?
Now you've settled on a country, you need to work out what sort of warfare you'll be raining down on their heads. A long, protracted campaign, or a brutal, limited skirmish? Guerilla tactics or blitzkrieg? This will depend a lot on the terrain. If they're hiding in caves, bomb the bastards, then mop them up with ground troops. City dwellers? Bomb the bastards, then - actually, this is pretty straightforward, just bomb them constantly until they're weak and cowed, then send in the boys on foot to put bullets in the heads of any survivors. Simple. Although, as pylon rightly points out, the Luftwaffe in doubleyou-doubleyou-eye-eye didn't manage to dampen the good old Blitz spirit, when we was all on ration books, living in tube tunnels, and we hadn't even seen a banana.
Now you're ready to officially announce the start of the war. Don't jump into it; you want to give the impression that you've tried to be reasonable, but that the crazy tyrant has left you no choice. It saddens you, disappoints you, but the people should be in no doubt that you will see this through - and win. Make your television announcement from your office, or from a study of some kind. Green desk lamps are good, leather armchairs, and roaring log fires too. If you have a lovable dog (labradors are best), have it asleep at your feet or gazing up at you adoringly.
The great thing about war is that there really aren't any rules. In boxing you can't hit below the belt, in chess you have to move in certain directions, but in war it's pretty much bomb who and what you like. Oh, sure, there are a few pesky things you should do, but they're really more of a general set of guidelines rather than hard and fast rules.
Bombing civilian targets? No problem (see Propaganda below). Hospitals, houses, shops, orphanages - go for it, they were probably hiding weapons in there. Enemy retreating? Bomb them! Refugees trying to flee the devastation? Where the hell do they think they're going? Bomb the scum! Woohoo!
One of the unfortunate aspects of the modern age is the freedom of the press to say whatever they like, no matter how damaging to you and your cause. You can avoid much of this by only allowing a select few into a pool of reporters - try and pick friendly ones, but if you can't, just keep them in a secure location ("for their own safety"), and ferry them to staged photo opportunities to keep things sensible. If any of them complain, just kick them out and tell them they can't come back - after all, national security is at stake, and we can't compromise the safety of the troop movements. Describe your war technology and how it works, release footage of the smart bombs and clever missiles hitting the head of a pin from miles away - regardless of how good they are, just show the bits that make you look good.
But at times, things will go wrong - you'll bomb an orphanage, or get caught massacring innocent villagers, and so on. Limit the damage and skew reports in your favour by dropping a few of these phrases into your press releases:
Friendly fire - people on our side we killed by mistake
Collateral damage - civilians on their side killed by us (by mistake or on purpose)
ruthless murder of the innocents - civilians on our side killed by them
Our brave boys - our soldiers
The cowardly scum - their soldiers
Be sure to look appropriately contrite, yet resolute - remind everyone that the enemy started it, and have killed loads of our innocent people. If you can imply that it was actually their fault, even better - they tricked us into doing it, or lied about the reported deaths. Patronise the dissenters - this is a war, dammit, people are going to get killed, women, children, babies, goats, etc. What did they expect? Musical numbers?
For a handy, cut-out-and-keep guide to what words and phrases you should always be using, go to www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/REF/warjarg.html - learn from the original (and the best) Gulf War.
But don't worry too much about it, as most of the media will be quite happy to pander to you and your fellow brave hawks (thanks to spiregrain for pointing this out). Any that don't pander are a clear example of the extreme liberal media bias that is ruining any chance of objective journalism these days.
They Think It's All Over - It Is Now
If you have planned and executed things properly, the war should be over in the first few days. You can then pretend it's not over, and merrily slaughter anyone in the country that you like. A war can last as long as you want, years if that's what it takes. You will be popular, the country will unite against a common enemy, the war machine will be well oiled and paid for - a good war can work miracles for you.
But once you've had enough, or get bored, do one last massive bombing raid (better yet, drop a nuke! kaboom!), announce that the war has been won, and accept the unconditional surrender that the leader of the enemy country has been trying to get you to accept for a month.
Now comes the good part: sanctions, divvying up the juicy spoils, installing a puppet leader. The clever bit is that years later, when resentment in their country has risen to an all time high, thanks to thousands of children dying because they have no medical supplies, you can announce that they intend to attack us because they hate us so much! And they do hate us, because of what we've done to them, which just makes us look even better. Isn't war cool? It's the gift that keeps on giving.
Oh, shit - I forgot to include a section on having a reason to start your war. Oh well, don't worry about that too much, if you say enough bad stuff about the enemy, you won't need a reason...