Syrian Civil War 101

Source: Wikipedia. Click to enlarge.
I admit to not having been following the Syrian Civil War anywhere near as closely the war in the Donbass.

But with recent rumors of stepped up Russian involvement now being confirmed by videos – and even talk of China possibly sending troops (crazy, but a year ago you’d have said the same of Russians) – it is well past time to remedy this.

The first thing I like to do when it comes to getting up to speed on some conflict or other is studying maps. Just looking at them for an hour or two. Wikipedia has a very impressive data gathering operation that gets updated in real time. In combination with this article listing the military histories for all the major cities and towns you can get a very good idea of the ebb and flow of the conflict through time. Arguably, this is far more useful than reading any number of editorials on the subject.

Some patterns immediately jump out.


Source: Washington Post.
(1) The pattern of regime, FSA/Al-Nusra and ISIS control correlate exceedingly well with the ethnic and religious composition of the geographic areas in question. The coastal Alawite heartlands of Tartus and Latakia, corresponding to the old borders of the eponymous state, are near totally secure. Shi’ite and Christian minorities, such as the Druze, Assyrians, and Armenians, correlate with pockets of regime support – even the Armenian pocket around Deir es-Zor in the desert each of the country, still holding out despite being completely surrounded by the Islamic State. In contrast, Palmyra fell to ISIS this year despite being more than 150km from the nearest area of ISIS control at Kabajeb. Suweida, populated by Dzuze and other minorities, is under Assad’s control in the far south, while neighboring Daraa – entirely Arab Sunni – is held by the FSA.

All this just goes to show the extent to which this is an ethnic, tribalistic war, where the “normal” rules of military theory – where force concentrations are king, and surrounded pockets get liquidated fast – don’t apply as they do even in the Donbass War. I suspect and nothing I’ve read about Syria contradicts this that this is ultimately due to the very low combat effectiveness of Arab armies. Unlike Europeans or East Asians, who have a long tradition of nation-statehood and conscript armies, the Arabs as a people only fight well for clan and God. A dictator like Saddam Hussein or Assad can force them to fight, but not very well or enthusiastically,  while a democracy can barely do anything at all – see how ISIS once steamrolled their way to the outskirts of Baghdad, even though the Iraqi forces are armed with modern US equipment that the Syrian Arab Army can only dream about). This has the effect of depressing the value of conventional military power, with the result that warfare becomes a lot like urban gang warfare, just with much fancier military toys and more rape and ethnic cleansing. In this kind of “4GW” confrontrations, the fact that rebel groups and ISIS are much more enthusiastic, more combat effective (due to fighting for clan and/or God instead of a country whose lines were drawn by the French and British), and have the option of blending in with the civilian population in areas where they enjoy support  allows them to level out the military capital (tanks, artillery, etc.) superiority of the SAA. Even the SAA has over the past few years bowed to these realities and become much more of a homogenous (primarily Alawite) force and come to rely less on unmotivated conscripts and more on the locally-rooted National Defense Forces.

ORB International poll, Syria, July 2015.
(2) The pattern of control also tallies very well with support for Assad in opinion polls (to a large extent this will of course be an ethnic/religious confound). No area in which Assad has more than 60% support is there a very serious rebel threat. In areas where he has less than 40% support, there is either very intensive fighting or the area is entirely ruled by an opposing faction. Aleppo, the “Stalingrad” of the conflict, registers 39% support for Assad; Idleb, in between Aleppo and Alawite Latakia – and the scene of major rebel successes this year, with just a small regime garrison continuing to hold out in the Shi’ite villages around Fu’ah – registers just 9% support for Assad. Nowin fairness, opinion polls have to be treated with some caution in Syria, because none of the warring factions is exactly very nice to visible dissenters. Still, the fact that Assad registers 27% support in ISIS ruled territories, while the FSA registers 15% in areas held by the government – as opposed to near 0% in both cases – does imply that the fear of speaking one’s mind at least privately is far from total throughout Syria.

(3) More generally, many Western media propaganda/neocon talking points immediately become hollow through this simply map-viewing exercise.

For instance, the idea that Assad isn’t interested in fighting ISIS, or even that he is in some sort of alliance with them. Where the areas under Assad’s control and ISIS border each other, there is intense fighting, e.g. an entire frontline on the approach to Al Salamiyah behind which lie Homs and Hama, and the struggle to relieve the surrounded Kweiris airbase. But by far the biggest challenges the legitimate Syrian government faces right now lies in the areas of Idlib and Aleppo, which apart from being large territories under JaN and FSA control also splinter SAA forces and constitute a conduit for Turkish arms supplies to other rebel formations throughout the country. Focusing attention on this area is just military common sense – and its not like there is any cardinal moral difference between Al Nusra and ISIS anyway (Al Nusra just doesn’t act axe-crazy for the cameras).

Another common talking point that has been raised especially since Russia stepped up its involvement is the claim that Assad’s forces have killed far more Syrians than ISIS. The aim is quite transparent: Since ISIS has so ably demonized itself, associating Assad with them by way of quantitative comparison should be pretty easy to do. And I think it mostly works. I see a lot of people in comments sections raising this point in in that really smarmy, pretentious way that the more intelligent American imperialists adopt to come off as “smart” and “balanced.” Entirely absent of course is context:

  • That the SAA is fighting long, grinding campaigns primarily in the heavily built up, urbanized areas of the North-West, while ISIS specialized more in blitzes, typically moving in when its adversaries become mutually exhausted. The latter type of warfare will inevitably produce fewer civilian casualties, regardless of the mass executions and slave markets that ISIS sets up afterwards. But its certainly not account of any greater moral superiority or legitimacy; quite the contrary, in fact.
  • That there is no chance of the SAA getting “smart weapons.” Meanwhile, its relative preponderance in military capital – artillery, tanks, helicopter gunships, etc. – is the one thing it has going for it. Since the average SAA soldier is far less motivated and combat effective than his Al Nusra or ISIS counterpart (see above) and since they cannot blend into the civilian population as the various rebels can, of course the SAA has no choice but to make use of its superior firepower so as to least keep up with if not overwhelm the enemy. Not doing so would not only be criminal towards its own soldiers, many more of whom would otherwise die. The question would also quickly become entirely moot since if the SAA was to go soft it would also be quickly defeated, with tragic consequences for the Shi’ite and Christian minorities it is still heroically protecting.
  • The not completely irrelevant point that ISIS openly and proudly commits all sort of atrocities harkening in spirit all the way back to the methods of the Assyrian Empire. In contrast, the great bulk of SAA “casualties” are collateral damage from military actions, and even when it comes to the dirty but necessary task of rooting out Islamist sympathizers – who would otherwise tell SAA coordinates to ISIS or Al Nusra, or suicide bomb themselves to ease their advance – it is something that the Syrian regime does in shadowy basements, where any such actions properly belong. For those who still want to play the numbers game, in what way in particular is this different from, say, US methods in Vietnam? (With the exception that it was a voluntary intervention, whereas Assad is merely defending his own country0.

Now in fairness I do know that the neocons have a narrative to keep up and so do their shills in the media, like Michael Weiss who is constantly agitating for aggressive actions to overthrow both Putin and Assad and enjoys huge influence in the media despite having zero knowledge of either Russian or Arabic. Same goes for their dupes and bots on the comments sections. But anyone else seriously arguing that Assad is on a level with ISIS has all of this to address first.


Source: Google Maps.

(4) A single, 153km road separates Palmyra from Kabajeb, the nearest ISIS-controlled area to Palmyra prior to the month-long offensive in July 2015 that led to its capture and other tragic consequences. This area looks like it could be used to film a Mad Max sequel. It should also be exceedingly easy for anyone with a competent airforce with air superiority to make mincemeat of any attack along this route. To the contrary, the kind of out-in-the-open, logistically challenging, and lengthy ISIS operation that should have been one of the easiest to forestall went on right ahead, successfully.

So why didn’t the US with its vaunted air campaign against ISIS do anything?

Because ultimately it is entirely fine with ISIS making advances when it is at the expense of the regime. This is not too surprising, since ISIS is after America’s baby and destabilizing Assad is its entire raison d’etre – as declassified Pentagon documents, Wikileaks, and the intuitions of Syrians themselves have proved over the past few months.

Plus, ISIS is better than Assad anyway. Look at all the hundreds of articles making this point they can’t all be wrong.

The US has an air campaign that is supposedly fast “degrading” ISIS, but there is no evidence of it making any kind of dent in its military capabilities. From its unconditional demands to have Assad step down to its attempts to pressure its NATO allies to block airspace to Russian planes carrying military aid to Syria (Bulgaria obliged, Greece didn’t) the US cannot be considered a sincere partner in wishing peace upon Syria. And that will remain the case so long as the US continues to be ruled by the neocon agenda, even if the actual neocons are now mostly out of power.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. For all the Trump fans out there, including me up until very recently, it would be worth remembering that he is just as gung-ho for these utterly discredited interventionist policies as the rest of the GOP candidate field (with the exception of Paul).

  2. Yes I agree with jtgw, Trump is actually worse on this issue. I could not ever bring myself to vote for someone who is an interventionist.

  3. Trump has been very specific about immigration and very vague about intervention. He will surely prioritise the former.

    I suspect a lot of these type of concern trolling comments tbh are from other candidates’ partisans who don’t care at all about the US national question.

  4. @jtgw @Positive Dennis
    Hasn’t the US presidency always been an interventionist? Not like the electorate is concerned with foreign policy anyway (apart from hand-wringing China, rightfully so I might add).

    From the debates it sounded as if Fiorina will start another World War with Russia, and I expect Clinton to continue Democratic interventionism (though maybe not a war with Iran).

    At least with Trump you’ll have a chance at a decent domestic policy on the border.

  5. Doesn’t “concern trolling” mean you pretend to care about someone else when really you have another agenda? I’m not pretending to care about getting Trump elected; I’m a Paul supporter.

    Supporting Trump only makes sense if you see immigration as the root of our problems, when I believe it is merely a symptom of a failed foreign policy. The fact that Trump has been vague about intervention only means that he will go along with whatever the military-industrial complex tells him, which will include continuing to destabilize other countries and creating more refugees. For similar reasons, I don’t see President Trump making any real effort to end the drug war and the instability it causes in Latin America.

    At best, Trump will just put off the day of reckoning for this country.

  6. Supporting Trump only makes sense if you see immigration as the root of our problems, when I believe it is merely a symptom of a failed foreign policy.

    The immigrants to the West are making a rational decision. Immigrating to the West normally gives them a much better quality of life.

    The idea that it somehow results from our foreign policies is an absurd libertarian contortion formulated to protect an a priori belief system.

    If a Somalian can become an American citizen with all of its tremendous benefits then they would be crazy not to. Just as if I could be adopted by Warren Buffet I would be crazy not to.

    Let me put it simply: are you really trying to say that those potential immigrants would rather starve in the third world than have a life with all necessities catered for, if only America never intervened?

    And yes they’re far from all starving but then again the only difference between their reality and my argument is a matter of degree.

    Your ideology makes you stupid.

  7. The Americans helped Ho Chi Min in the 40s, they thought the problem was the Nips and European colonialism. At an early stage Israel encouraged Islamic extremism to weaken the PLO. Nothing suggests IS is in any way a US creature. Absolutely no one in the US wants IS to get near victory in Syria. But the Israel lobby don’t want to get US forces committed in Syria, because that would make it difficult to get into a war with Iran, a war which is the Israel lobby’s main objective. Iranian support for Assad is a reason Assad gets bad press. There was a similar Civil war in Ageria decades ago. Syrian problems sprang from a Tunisian street trader committing suicide, thereby initiating the Arab spring in which Libyans got the use of western airpower. Syrians thought they would get the same help but there was a strong anti war sentiment in the west , and the Iseal lobby didn’t want it either. Anyway the uprising in Syria and the Arab states was inevitable sooner or later. Academics like Gunnar Heinsohn had been predicting all this for years.

    According to Heinsohn, 80 per cent of world history is about young men in nations with a surplus of sons, creating trouble. This trouble may take many forms — a increase in domestic crime, attempts at coups d’état, revolutions, riots and civil wars. Occasionally, the young commit genocide to secure for themselves the positions that belonged to those they killed. Finally, there is war to conquer new territory, killing the enemy population and replacing it with one’s own.

    But, as Heinsohn emphasizes again and again, the unrest and the violent acts caused by youth bulges have nothing to do with famine or unemployment. In his book he describes it as follows: “The dynamic of a youth bulge — it cannot be emphasized too often — is not caused by a lack of food. A younger brother, who may be employed as a stable hand by the first-born son and who may be well fed and perhaps even fat, does not seek food but position, one that can guarantee him recognition, influence and dignity. Not the underweight but rather the potential losers or the déclassé are pushing forward” (p. 21).

    In recent years the West has been facing a gigantic youth bulge in large parts of the Muslim world. This bulge is created by a Muslim population explosion. Over the course of just five generations (1900-2000) the population in the Muslim countries has grown from 150 million to 1 200 million — an increase of 800 per cent. As a comparison the population of China has grown from 400 million to 1 200 million (300 per cent). The population of India has risen from 250 million to 1000 million (400 per cent).

    Assad’s enemy is the majority Sunnis , the West can hardly back a Iranian (Shia) ally minority sects ruling over a Sunni majority in Syria, when many of the West’s client states in the Middle East are are Sunni minority dictatorships.

    The beginning of the civil war proper was the defections from Assad forces ordered into Daara the defectors were the backbone of the Free Syrian Army. Assad regime forces can and do mount sucessfull offensives, against the FSA.

    In February 2012, Syrian Armed Forces carried out a major attack on Homs to regain control over the city which was turned into an operation center for the Free Syrian Army, a collection of anti-government fighters and army defectors. Ten days of operations resulted in the deaths of about 700 people in the city according to the Local Coordination Committees.[50] On 1 March 2012, the Syrian Army had gained control over the Baba Amr district while lesser clashes continued in other neighborhoods.[51] Currently, the Syrian Arab Army is in full control over the city of Homs

    Assad’s forces have concentrated on the FRA . the reason Islamic State have been able to conquer regions in the east is they are not doing fighting. The US has such a stringent (anti Jihadist) vetting process for the training it gives anti Assad forces that the FSA has not even been given meaningful help in the defensive sphere.

    Earlier this week, US Gen Lloyd Austin admitted to Congress that only four or five of the US-backed rebels were still fighting in Syria, prompting Republican senators to call the training programme a “joke” and “total failure”.
    Gen Austin, who heads the US military’s Central Command (Centcom), also confirmed that 54 graduates of the programme were attacked by the al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, in northern Syria in July.

    INSIDE ALEPPO: Syria’s most war-torn city

    On June 15, dozens of blue metal gas canisters fell from the sky and slammed into the streets of western Aleppo, Syria. “It was raining gas canisters,” recalls a shopkeeper. Locals here know them well and call them jarra. Filled with nails, ball bearings and crude explosives, the modified domestic propane cylinders are fired from homemade howitzers the rebels have dubbed “hell cannons” and have a range of less than a mile.

    The non IS rebels have no real heavy weapons, just lash-ups. No anti aircraft weapons either, so there is no real US intervention in Syria, except air strikes against Islamic State

    HASAKA had been divided into zones controlled by the Syrian government and the Kurds until an Islamic State attack in June.

    Overstretched government forces collapsed in the face of that attack, leaving the city’s defense to Kurdish militia the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which now controls nearly all of Hasaka.

    The YPG has seized wide areas of territory from Islamic State this year, backed by U.S.-led air strikes.

  8. I guess the number one reason why Assad is so much hated in the West is that he is seen as a “racist” or “islamophobic”. What he said is that every muslim rebellion in the early 21. century will turn into a huge, fanatic butchery.
    Of course IS a creation of the West, also there are thousands of Europeans fighting for them and bringing there full of relish way of murdering.

  9. The Syrian government’s defense against the Islamic State has been godawful, and is probably the product of these rumors about collaboration. Really, no decent defense of Palmyra? Allowing the IS to almost completely control the desert, even to attack Druze villages? The one place where the Syrian government does (or at least, did) seriously try to fight the IS is in Kurdistan, around Hasakah and Qamishli.

    The U.S. does not want the Syrian government to fall. That would lead to Iran being a thorn in America’s side, rather than the other way around.

  10. I’m saying that our interventionism has directly caused instability in countries like Syria and Afghanistan which are the source of the bulk of the refugees. I know Steve likes to think most of them are fake, but he hasn’t provided evidence for this other than some rumors about discarded passports. I’m sure some are fake, but that most of them are? I doubt it.

  11. Of course IS a creation of the West, also there are thousands of Europeans fighting for them and bringing there full of relish way of murdering

    1. Most of those are not actual Europeans.

    2. ISIS is the only group we actually bomb.

  12. Britain received 700,000 immigrants last year and only 200 refugees. I don’t care what percentage of the refugees come from Syria…and whether Syria is really the West’s fault (both of which are debatable, it’s not like the Syrians lack agency) the problem of mass migration from the third world to the Europe is 95 percent because the third worlders create dysfunctional countries and Europe is a relative a paradise.

    This is not controversial. Everyone knows this. You really are being very obtuse by not accepting it.

    The last time America went to war with a decent functional country was when we burnt your Whitehouse down. Maybe you learned your lesson haha.

    I’m not saying America does not often help increase dysfunction but let’s be honest – it has always already been there in very generous amounts…America flocks to it and you have causation and correlation backwards in your logic.

    (WWI Germany doesn’t count…it had already lost millions of its young men in that war and so was hardly a stellar example of well functioning statehood)

    Anyway…You’re pro-refugee so to be honest you’re going to make any argument you can to get your fellows though the door. Even trying to play the guilt card…how boring…and as above you even try to pretend to be neutral to negative on this issue to get people to not vote for Trump.

    You’re a classic concern troll…or are you not arguing on that other thread for refugees to be welcomed?

  13. Since here you are pretending to be a soft immigration restrictionist but on Sailer’s blog you are pro it. Should anyone really listen to your nonsense views on Trump?

    Out of interest why would you come here to lie? What’s your background and interest in lying?

  14. Do you ignore the fighting in Deir ez-Zor because it does not fit (in) your narrative?

  15. Assuming Russian forces go into action, I’m looking forward to see (a) who Russia decides to target (ISIS or another anti-Assad group), and (b) how effective the Russian military proves to be. Should be interesting.

  16. You’re not even making sense anymore. Maybe moderate the number of pints you down before coming on here?

  17. The Russians are probably going to attack the Free Syrian Army and democratic Islamic rebels. The US trained Division 30 which only recruits those who want to fight Islamic state has already been exterminated by al-Nusra. Don’t hold your breath for IS getting attacked.

  18. Don’t forget the Syrian regime’s ally Hezbollah, which just recently pulverized ISIS in Qalamun for the second time. It’s funny, most of the people who think Assad is in cahoots with ISIS also believe that Hezbollah is a mere puppet of the Ba’athist regime. If all of that is true, Assad must be doing a piss poor job of controlling his puppets.

  19. [The Russians are probably going to attack the Free Syrian Army and democratic Islamic rebels.]

    And after that, they will wage war on Santa and the Easter Bunny.

    [The US trained Division 30 which only recruits those who want to fight Islamic state has already been exterminated by al-Nusra]

    If “exterminated” means hired.

  20. No.

    These are two quotes from from this blog and one from Sailer’s.

    I’m simply saying refugees should get a chance to come here and make a living for themselves, but they shouldn’t expense to see a single dime from our treasury


    For all the Trump fans out there, including me up until very recently

    The first quote means that the second is a lie. You’re a doctrinaire libertarian on immigration, there is no way that you ever supported Trump over Paul.

  21. this is a good obsevation by Heinsohn. Yet concerning other issues he is clueless. In 2013 he wrote a article which was published in several big german newspapers about immigration from Africa to Europe. In the article he stated that Europe needs immigration, that racists should be shut down and that Africa would be on the way to close the education gap. He said that for example Ghana had reached a “decent” 42th rank in the international math olympiad (IMO). First he mistook the TIMSS for the IMO. Second he forgot to mention that only 42 countries took part in the TIMSS


    The United States said on Tuesday it was falling far behind plans to build a Syrian opposition force to battle Islamic State, disclosing that just 60 fighters were in training after U.S. vetting thinned the number of recruits.

    The U.S. military launched its programme in May to train up to 5,400 fighters a year in what was seen as a test of President Barack Obama’s strategy of getting local partners to combat extremists and keep U.S. troops off the front lines.

    The training programme has been challenged from the start, with many candidates being declared ineligible and some even dropping out. Obama’s requirement that they target militants from Islamic State has sidelined huge segments of the Syrian opposition focused instead on battling Syrian government forces.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter revealed the low number of Syrian trainees at a Senate hearing, acknowledging that it was “much smaller than we hoped for at this point.”

    Division 30 was recruited specifically to fight Islamic State and there was very extensive vetting of them. The first, 50-strong group of Division 30 who entered Syria were immediately attacked and killed or captured by al-Nusra . The head of Division 30 quit and, those left said they had not joined to fight al-Nusra. There are only 5 of division 30 left in Syria The US army generals in charge testified in front of congress about the all this. Are the US army generals a false flag operation working for IS too now? Or is the secret state supporting IS and making the army take the blame by lying to congress.

    The unit was quickly overwhelmed, with five killed and another 18 wounded. The remaining militia fighters fled to territory currently held by the YPG– who as you may recall has been one of the primary targets of the Turkish military’s “anti-IS operations.” It definitely does not look good that the organization couldn’t even defend its own headquarters. […] his latest setback to the train-and-equip program has only realized the quiet fears percolating throughout the Pentagon for months that the U.S. was essentially creating cannon fodder—rebels it was not prepared to defend in the likely event they needed defending. The raison d’être of all Syrian rebels, after all, is to overthrow at the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad, not fight jihadists. And any inductees of the program were bound to have targets painted on their backs from all other comers in a complicated and gruesome four-year-old civil war with many attendant sideshow conflicts. Pro-Assad forces including Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-built militias, Nusra, ISIS and even other independent rebels—all were bound to try to kill or capture Sunni Arab proxies of Washington […] The raison d’être of all Syrian rebels, after all, is to overthrow at the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad, not fight jihadists. And any inductees of the program were bound to have targets painted on their backs from all other comers in a complicated and gruesome four-year-old civil war with many attendant sideshow conflicts. Pro-Assad forces including Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-built militias, Nusra, ISIS and even other independent rebels—all were bound to try to kill or capture Sunni Arab proxies of Washington.

    “If you wanted to sabotage your strategy, this is a pretty good way to do it,” said one official advising on the process. “None of this is about achieving the objective. It is about going through the motions.” “The Pentagon’s vetting process itself is basically an invitation to everyone who knows who these rebels are,” said Michael Pregent, a former U.S. Army officer who served in Iraq and helped train Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi soldiers. “The people being vetted out of the program know who made it through, and so Nusra, ISIS, Hezbollah, and Assad’s guys know it too.”

    At least Division 30 don’t have to worry about being attacked by Turkish forces, as the Kurds, the only effective anti-IS force* has been.


    Kurds :HASAKA had been divided into zones controlled by the Syrian government and the Kurds until an Islamic State attack in June. Overstretched government forces collapsed in the face of that attack, leaving the city’s defense to Kurdish militia the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which now controls nearly all of Hasaka*. The YPG has seized wide areas of territory from Islamic State this year, backed by U.S.-led air strikes


  23. I believe German professors can easily be sacked for saying things the government doesn’t like, and there is such a thing a cognitive dissonance. One would not expect an academic like Heinsohn to say or believe anything different about African abilities.

  24. “And that will remain the case so long as the US continues to be ruled by the neocon agenda, even if the actual neocons are now mostly out of power.”

    Time to stop calling it neocon since Democrat Jews pursue the same objectives.

    It’s Globo-Zionist.

  25. German_reader says

    If I’m not mistaken, Heinssohn is also a proponent of the ridiculous “invented middle ages” theory, i.e. he believes that several centuries of early medieval history never happened.
    Frankly, anyone who believes things like this, must be regarded as an idiotic crank.

  26. Kasparov is another adherent of this cult, which was founded by the Russian topologist Fomenko. In fact, I didn’t know of anyone not an ex-Soviet citizen who believed it.

  27. German_reader says

    Had never heard of that Fomenko guy…interesting parallel, thanks. Heinssohn’s bizarre ideas about chronology seem to belong rather to a German tradition however; apparently a German named Wilhelm Kammeier espoused such ideas (the Roman Catholic Church invented early medieval history which never really happened) already in the 1930s. This was taken up in the 1980s by Heribert Illig who published “Das erfundene Mittelalter” (The invented middle Ages) in 1991 and – together with Gunnar Heinssohn – edited a magazine devoted to these theories. Really weird stuff, and even though the subjects aren’t related, this makes me doubt if Heinssohn should be taken seriously on matters of demography.

  28. Heinsohn’s successful prediction of what is happening right now makes him worth reading on that subject, which he must be regarded as a the world authority on.

  29. German_reader says

    Not sure about that…you don’t have to be a genius to recognize that population growth in Africa and parts of the Islamic world will probably lead to massive violence and is in all likelihood the gravest danger to Europe today. Heinssohn might even do the anti-immigration side harm because it would be easy to paint him as a deluded crank…it’s not just his views on chronology, he also makes some claims about demographic history that seem bizarre to me, e.g. that the Church in early modern Europe instigated the persecution of witches with the intent of destroying knowledge about contraception (supposedly the expertise of “wise women” denounced as witches)…according to Heinssohn this project was successful and the main reason for Europe’s demographic expansion and imperial conquests….which seems like nonsense to me, bordering on conspiracy theories.
    In any case, as far as I can tell Heinssohn offers absolutely no solutions for the West’s immigration problem (apart from lauding Canada’s system…pretty weak tea). Basically it’s just defeatist “The 3rd world hordes will submerge you, nothing you can do, apart from maybe fleeing to Australia”.

  30. I have to thank you in turn for the reference to Kammeier, whom I suspect – but cannot be sure – Fomenko had never heard of. Their most famous predecessor, I suppose, was the Jesuit Jean Hardouin, who claimed almost all Latin literature had been forged by mediaeval monks.

  31. Seamus Padraig says

    Here’s what Wikiepedia has to say about Fomenko:

    Fomenko is a supporter of drastically revising historical chronology. He has created his own revision called New Chronology, based on statistical correlations, dating of zodiacs, and by examining the mathematics and astronomy involved in chronology. Fomenko claims that he has discovered that many historical events do not correspond mathematically with the dates they are supposed to have occurred on. He asserts from this that all of ancient history (including the history of Greece, Rome, and Egypt) is just a reflection of events that occurred in the Middle Ages and that all of Chinese and Arab history are fabrications of 17th and 18th century Jesuits.

    He also claims that Jesus lived in the 12th century A.D. and was crucified on Joshua’s Hill; that the Trojan War and the Crusades were the same historical event; and that Genghis Khan and the Mongols were actually Russians. As well as disputing written chronologies, Fomenko also disputes more objective dating techniques such as dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating (see here for an examination of the latter criticism). His books include Empirico-statistical Analysis of Narrative Material and Its Applications and History: Fiction or Science?.

    Most Russian scientists and worldwide historians considered Fomenko’s historical works to be pseudoscientific.

    What a nutbag!

  32. Apart from his profession (in which he showed considerable promise at one time) and his avocation of historical research (which unfortunately took up an ever-increasing proportion of his life) Fomenko was also a keen amateur painter (of fantasy/ science fiction scenes) not devoid of talent.


    Poor old Kurds are the only ones actually fighting Islamic State, but a lot of good it does them

  34. European-American says

    I just want to say thank you for this post for referencing a lot of data. The map links alone make it worth the visit.