Demographics of Israel and Palestine

  1. Population of Israel: 8,585,500 (2015)
    1. Jewish population: 6,119,000 (75%)
    2. Arab population: 1,688,600 (21%)
    3. Others: 349,700 (4%)
      1. This includes around 140,000 Druze
    4. Note: This equals 8,157,300 as data is from 2013 (I think).
    5. Annual growth rate: 2.0%
      1. Growth rate of Jewish population: 1.7%
      2. Growth rate of Arab population: 2.2%
    6. So Jewish population is around 8,585,500 times .75 = 6,439,125?
  2. Population of West Bank: 2,862,485
    1. Growth rate: 2.59%
    2. In 2014 population was 83% Arab, 17% Israeli Jewish and other
      1. 80-85% Muslim, 1 – 2.5% Christian, 12-14% Jewish.
    3. Jewish population is included in the Israeli figures
    4. So 2,862,485 x .83 = 2,375,863 Arabs?
  3. Population of Gaza Strip: 1,819,982
    1. Growth rate: 3.41%
    2. 98-99% Muslim, 0.7% Christian
  4. Population of East Jerusalem: (192,800)
  5. Total Palestinian Arab Population: 4,192,845 or greater (see below)

1. Total Jewish population in Israel and Palestine: 6,439,125

2. Total Arab population in Israel and Palestine: 5,884,445 or more

    A. Around 6.08 in 2014 according to Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics

    B. Around 6.2 million according to Israeli statistics


This is all drawn from two Wikipedia articles:

  1. Demographics_of_Israel

  2. Demographics_of_the_Palestinian_territories

  3. I will let you all sort out the details…as I am sure I made an error somewhere

Anyhow, the main point is in the areas of Israel, West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip there are over 6 million Jews and a little over 6 million Arabs (of which 1.7 million are Israeli Arabs). At some point in the near future (2020 according to one article I saw), Israeli and Palestinian Arabs will outnumber Israeli Jews across the area of Israel and Palestine. Right now there are effectively three states covering this area: Israel, Palestinian Authority (West Bank) and Gaza (under Hamas).

Top Defense Priorities

As of 1 December, according to a memo from the Trump transition team, the top defense priorities were (only four listed):

1) Develop a strategy to defeat/destroy ISIS,

2) Build a strong defense [Eliminate caps from Budget Control Act; improve force strength/size/readiness],

3) Develop a comprehensive USG cyberstrategy,

4) Find greater efficiencies [pursue/build on ‘great work’ led by DSD Work; open to new ideas from the Department].


Article is here: trump-administrations-top-defense-priorities

Now, I believe #1 is already being done…except maybe for the emphasis on “defeat/destroy.” “Contain, disrupt and reduce” may be more viable consideration. Pretty hard to “defeat and destroy” a guerilla movement that spans across multiple countries and continents. It will also take a decade or two (or more). It is kind of like “defeating and destroying” the anarchist movement or the communist movement a hundred years ago.

“Finding greater efficiencies” is an effort that many administrations have pursued. Traditionally there has been no significant impact from these efforts, although it is hard to argue that they don’t need to be done. I suspect it will be hard to fundamentally improve the system without significant changes in the civil service system, addressing means and methods of government management, and addressing the oversight of government programs by uniformed personnel. It may also require the restructuring of the contractors. Like any truly challenging problem, there are multiple aspects to addressing this.

I might also have a few other things on my top defense priorities list.

Economics of Warfare 5

Examining the fifth lecture from Professor Michael Spagat’s Economics of Warfare course that he gives at Royal Holloway University. It is posted on his blog Wars, Numbers and Human Losses at:

This lecture is about regressions and logistics regressions. Now, I think everyone should take a econometrics course….but just a warning, this is all pretty dry stuff. So, if you choose to skip it, don’t blame you.

The link to the lecture is here:

On the other hand, what he is discussing is using regression models to analyze the nature of the civilian casualties, including in the Rwandan genocide. This gets a little hard to discuss. On slide 11, you can learn that in the Kibuye Prefecture in 1994 there were 31,117 people killed by machete, 9,779 killed by clubs and 442 burned alive. Not exactly relaxing reading.

Slide 20 tracks Israeli and Palestinian deaths from 2000-2005, which is a lot less.

Anyhow, Dr. Spagat’s work often focuses on civilian casualties. These are often a significant part of warfare, even if we don’t particularly like to address it. For example,. the United States lost over 4,000 troops in Iraq 2003-2011. Iraq lost over 150,000 people during that time. The same pattern for Vietnam, where the United States lost over 58,000 people in what was the third bloodiest war in our history. Vietnam lost one to two million people !

I did attempt to address civilian casualties in our insurgency work. It is also addressed in my book America’s Modern Wars in Chapter 9 “Rules of Engagement and Measurements of Brutality” and Chapter 15 “The Burden of War.” I am not sure that this attention to civilian casualties was fully appreciated by our DOD customers, but it was there because sadly, it is always a significant part of warfare. Tragically, sometimes so is genocide, as recently demonstrated by ISIL. Dr. Spagat, in a course on the “Economics of Warfare,” is quite correct to focus on civilian casualties.

P.S. I have been informed by Dr. Spagat that he still has another ten lectures to post up on his blog.


Year Two

By the way, the blog is now a year old, with our first posts having been made on December 27, 2015. In this last year we made 259 posts and received 104 comments that we posted.

Going forward, we would like to tell you about all the new great new things we are going to do with the blog, but in fact, right now we have no plans to do anything different. Our focus is going to remain on quantitative analysis of warfare, we are going to avoid being a daily news blog (because they are several blogs that already do this and also it takes a lot of time), and we will continue to discuss whatever strikes our fancy. We do try to stay away from politics, but there is a point when it crosses over with policy, so hard to avoid entirely.

The one thing that is missing is “guest bloggers.” We only had one such blog post this last year. We hope to have a few more this year, but have not aggressively sought it out. We would like to invite any of our erudite readers out there to contact us if they have something they feel is worth posting.

This blog is supposed to be a “not to interfere” effort, in that we have various writing, marketing and analytical efforts on-going, and the blog is not supposed to subtract any significant time from those efforts. These other efforts are our primary focus. This blog is something that we are supposed to be doing in our “quiet moments.”

Anyhow, wish you all a happy New Year and hope that 2017 will be a good year for you all.

Fresh Advance in Mosul

By the way, there is still a war going on in Iraq, and it is going slowly. The Iraqi’s actually made a good timely advance up to the city, isolated the city, entered east Mosul….and then things have slow down…considerably….immeasurably: Fresh Advance in Mosul

To summarize:

  1. They have 1/4 of Mosul.
  2. They will start advancing again in a couple of days.
  3. Americans will be deployed in the city and with the units.
  4. It was a planned “operational refit” (should I take this statement at face value?)
  5. “A heavily armoured unit of several thousand federal police was redeployed from the southern outskirts two weeks ago to reinforce the eastern front after army units advised by the Americans suffered heavy losses in an Islamic State counter-attack.”
  6. Three U.S. servicemen have been killed in northern Iraq in the past 15 months.
  7. The article states that there are up to 1.5 million people still in Mosul. This is higher than some other estimates I have seen.

Economics of Warfare 4

Examining the fourth lecture from Professor Michael Spagat’s Economics of Warfare course that he gives at Royal Holloway University. It is posted on his blog Wars, Numbers and Human Losses at:

This one is on “opportunity costs,” linear regression, comparing unemployment rates to violence, and the effectiveness of some civil action problems in Iraq to violence. This discussion does get into the weeds, so to say. It is not casual reading.  The link to the lecture is here:

To summarize:

  1. On slide 9 there are links to two papers by Dr. Eli Berman and others: 1) Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines? (2011) and 2) Modest, Secure and Informed: Successful Development in Conflict Zones (2013).
  2. Conclusion on Berman’s first paper: It is a little more complicated than a simple trade-off between violence in an insurgency and unemployment (slides 11-13). In fact the relationship is “negative.” As Dr. Spagat notes (slide 26): “In summary, I would say that the relationship between unemployment and violence in Iraq is not tiny, but it is not big either.”
  3. Conclusions on Berman’s second paper: This one look at levels of funding versus insurgent attacks. There are of course problems with trying to determine cause and effect here (see slides 29-30). As Dr. Spagat notes (slide 41): “Again, we wind up with a statistically significant effect that does not have enormous practical significance.”

Now, I did discuss civil works briefly in Chapter 14 of America’s Modern Wars. It is a grab bag chapter called “Other Issues” that looked at 1) Duration of Insurgencies by Type of Insurgency, 2) Outcome of Insurgency by Type of Insurgency, 3) Winning Hearts and Minds, 4) Decapitating Insurgencies, 5) Early Suppression of Insurgencies, 6) Wounded to Killed Ratios, 7) Exchange Rates, 8) Bleeding an Insurgency to Death, and 9) Focus on Population.

In the section on “Winning Hearts and Minds” we ended up noting (on page 151) that:

As much as people talk about winning hearts and minds (a Vietnam-era phrase, which of course, was not entirely successful), there is no program, theory, agenda or list that tells the counterinsurgent what he must do to achieve this….

In the long run, there needs to be a focused analytical effort that looks at what efforts in other insurgencies have actually worked in the long run to gain support from the population, and what efforts in other insurgencies have not made that much of an impact. Considering the large amount of money being spent on these efforts, it is surprising that nothing systematic has been developed on this.

I do start the Chapter (page 147) with a great quote written by Bernard Fall in 1967:

Civic action is not the construction of privies or the distribution of anti-malaria sprays. One can’t fight an ideology; one can’t fight a militant doctrine with better privies. Yet this is done constantly. One side says, “Land Reform,” and the other side say, “Better culverts.” One side says “We are going to kill all of those nasty village chiefs and landlords.” The other side says, “Yes, but look, we want to give you prize pigs to improve your strain.” These arguments just do not match. Simple but adequate appeals will have to be found sooner or later.

Anyhow, it does not look like this has all been resolved yet. The line to remember is: “One can’t fight an ideology, one can’t fight a militant doctrine with better privies.”

Economics of Warfare 3

Examining the third lecture from Professor Michael Spagat’s Economics of Warfare course that he gives at Royal Holloway University. It is posted on his blog Wars, Numbers and Human Losses at:

The link to the lecture is here:

This one starts with the war in Kosovo (1998-1999), which was actually a successful invention although very poorly done. It does pick on a constant theme of Dr. Spagat’s, which is how to get the correct counts of actual people killed in the conflicts, including civilians. For those of us who actually try to do things like quantitative analysis of insurgencies (for example America’s Modern Wars)….this is very useful. A lot of other people don’t particularly care, sometimes because a particularly high or low number serves their political agenda (or cosmology).

Starting on slide 11, Dr. Spagat discusses Iraq casualty estimates. This, along with Colombia, were the two areas we discussed with him when we were working on our Iraq and insurgency material (2004-2010). He was one of the few people out there doing work similar to ours. He points out that there were two estimates of deaths in Iraq, one of 150,000 and one of 600,000. Needless to say, the lower one was closer to correct. The higher number got heavily broadcast. This whole section is worth reviewing and remembering for any future conflicts. I like the picture on slide 14.

Sorry about this abstract look at some very sad and gruesome statistics.

P.S. Merry Christmas

Economics of Warfare 2

Examining the second lecture from Professor Michael Spagat’s Economics of Warfare course that he gives at Royal Holloway University. It is posted on his blog Wars, Numbers and Human Losses at:

The link to the lecture is here:

It is all good stuff, but we don’t do a lot of work on terrorism, so don’t have any insights to add. We actually don’t have a category for “terrorism” so this is filed under “insurgencies.”

The point that got my attention was on slide 13 where he states: “Mueller and Stewart estimate that the US is spending about $75 billion per year more on terrorism after 9/11 happened than it was spending before 9/11. The real number is almost certainly bigger than this and, possibly, a lot bigger.”

Hmmm…..16 years since 9/11 times $75 = $1.2 trillion. Is this really the whole cost for the Global War on Terror?

Slide 12 gives economic “losses per incident.” The financial losses from 9/11 is estimated at $200 billion. Of course, there was considerable human life lost. Not sure how that is “costed.”

Anyhow, it is always interesting to see what the economists are looking at. It is worth flipping through the entire lecture. It is pretty interesting material.

Economics of Warfare 1

If you look at our “Interesting Links” down towards the bottom of the right side of the page, you will see a link to a blog called Wars, Numbers and Human Losses with the byline “The Truth Counts”:

This is the blog of Professor of Economics Michael Spagat of England’s Royal Holloway University. He is American. We think highly of Dr. Spagat’s work. In particular, there a series of blog posts that publish the lectures of his course “Economics of Warfare.” A look at the first lecture is worthwhile: economics-of-warfare-lecture-1

The link to the lecture is here:

A couple of highlights:

  1. Slides 13 & 14 on the causes of casualties among civilians in Iraq.
  2. Slide 20 is damn interesting. More on civilian casualties over the first years of the Iraq War.

For those few who have read my book America’s Modern Wars, I do address civilian casualties, primarily in Chapter 9 “Rules of Engagement and Measurements of Brutality.”

Vincent Viola

We have a new nominated Secretary of the Army and I will try to avoid any obviously way too cute headlines or puns.

He is another New York billionaire from outside of the DC establishment: Vincent Viola and vincent-viola

Not much on him. Military experience is:

  1. Graduated from West Point 1977.
  2. I gather he served a full five years in the Army (bio doesn’t state, but that was the standard at the time).
  3. Is a reserve major.
  4. Has been involved in founding and funding the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and several other projects.

Anyhow, I gather the real challenge with the Army over the last few years has been the budget. With DOD taking 50% of the sequestration cuts (which were really a big deal), it does appear that the Army took about half of those defense cuts. The nature of things is that the Army does not have a lot of big ticket production items, like F-35s and Littoral Combat Ships, that are difficult to cancel and hard to cut. Instead their costs are in personnel, which are easier to cut (except for the people who get cut). In the last 5-6 years the Army has dropped from around 570,000 to around 480,000 people and was slated to drop to 450,000. Trump has said he is bringing the Army back up to 540,000. Not sure where that figure comes from and have my doubts that it will actually occur.

See: us-military-personnel-1954-2014 and end-strength

Anyhow, the budget for the Army is not going to be determined by Mr. Viola, although it may be influenced by him. There are lots of players involved in determining the budget and balancing the budget. The Trump’s administration’s first real budget will be next year, FY2018.