Episode 366

Urban Warfare 2.0

A Conversation with John Spencer

May 7, 2024

Sam Harris speaks with John Spencer about the reality of urban warfare and Israel's conduct in the war in Gaza. They discuss the nature of the Hamas attacks on October 7th, what was most surprising about the Hamas videos, the difficulty in distinguishing Hamas from the rest of the population, combatants as a reflection of a society's values, how many people have been killed in Gaza, the proportion of combatants and noncombatants, the double standards to which the IDF is held, the worst criticism that can be made of Israel and the IDF, intentions vs results, what is unique about the war in Gaza, Hamas's use of human shields, what it would mean to defeat Hamas, what the IDF has accomplished so far, the destruction of the Gaza tunnel system, the details of underground warfare, the rescue of hostages, how noncombatants become combatants, how difficult it is to interpret videos of combat, what victory would look like, the likely aftermath of the war, war with Hezbollah, Iran's attack on Israel, what to do about Iran, and other topics.

John Spencer is an award-winning scholar, professor, author, and combat veteran. He currently serves as the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, Co-Director of the Urban Warfare Project, and host of the Urban Warfare Project podcast. He is also a founding member of the International Working Group on Subterranean Warfare. John served 25 years in the U.S. Army, having held ranks from Private to Sergeant First Class and Second Lieutenant to Major. He was an active duty Army officer during two combat tours in Iraq. 

His research focuses on military operations in dense urban areas, megacities, and urban and subterranean warfare. Spencer holds a Master of Policy Management from Georgetown University, and his writings have appeared in the Time magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on urban warfare and has served as an advisor to everyone from top four-star generals to world leaders. He is the coauthor of Understanding Urban Warfare.

Website: www.johnspenceronline.com

Twitter: @SpencerGuard


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