1. That which precedes an event is not necessarily its cause says the wisdom of the ancients. The century which has ended has often demonstrated the opposite and no one can truly support the idea that they are safe from the rules of causality applied by the military war machine and the science of decision making.
In the hostilities of ancient times defense was not an acceleration of hostilities but was a process of deceleration, a slowing down. The preparation for war was the construction of the wall, the strengthening of the bastions of the fortress. And the fortress itself as a permanent fortification provided the foundations for the immutability of the city; the endurance of urban settlements was inextricably linked to the resilience of the fortifications of the city.
2. From the period of the First World War to the Gulf War of 1991 when CNN undertook the amalgamation of the info-war and conventional tactical warfare, we who are informed by all means of mass communication are under the impression that we have an adequate comprehension of what is happening on the field of battle.
Despite the disputes, the analyses and the theorizing about the tactics of modern warfare, which are a combination of traditional military operations and techniques of deception amplified via the possibilities of digital technology, the complexities of the levels of engagement in post-modern warfare constantly escape us.
3. The generally accepted view that the package of strategies comprising modern warfare does not differ from that of videogames does not only have to do with the concept of allaying the brutality of bloodshed but also, on the contrary, seeks our participation through a simulation of the process.
The relationships of modern warfare and the nonlinear narratives that derive from the digital splintering of the world, as well as our practical experience of them, seem to connect in a much more realistic and pragmatic way.
4. In 2006, an article based on interviews with Israeli army officers was published. It was concerned with the implementation of post structural theories of spatial organization, town planning and architecture. The general director of this project described the attacks by Israeli forces with the term "inverted geometry".
During battle soldiers moved through the town via underground tunnels, hundreds of meters in length, carved out within a dense, serially connected urban city structure. Although several thousand Israeli soldiers and Palestinian guerrillas were simultaneously moving through the city they were mainly contained within the urban network and were invisible to the means of surveillance on the surface or from the air.
Furthermore, they did not use any of the roads or alleyways of the city or external doorways or windows, but moved horizontally through walls and vertically through holes opened by explosives in ceilings and floors. These are situations in which the perceptions of space are highly reminiscent of the forms of spatial understanding and movement by players of video games.
5. "The space you see now, the room you are looking at, is no more than your interpretation of it. The question is how you interpret the alleyway before you. We can interpret the alleyway as an area you are forbidden from crossing, and the doorway as a place you are forbidden to pass through, and the window as a point you cannot look out from, because there is a gun waiting for you in the alley, and a team waiting for you behind the door. In this way, if the enemy interprets the spatial area in the traditional classical way, I do not wish to conform to his interpretation and fall into his trap. I want to surprise him.
The soldiers, gathered together behind a wall, use explosives, drills and sledgehammers to open up a hole wide enough to pass through. Maybe they use hand grenades or bursts of fire to get through what is often a private living room where unsuspecting tenants are to be found.
When the soldiers have made their way through the hole the tenants lock themselves in one of the rooms and may sometimes stay there for days until the operation is concluded, often without food, water, bathroom facilities or medicine. Palestinian citizens, just as those of Iraq or Kosovo, have the unpredictable experience of invading forces breaking into the private space of their homes, one of the most deeply traumatic and humiliating experiences.
6. "Imagine, you are sitting in your living room, which you know so well; it is the room where your family sit together and watch television after your evening meal, and suddenly a wall disappears with a deafening blast, the room fills with dust and debris, and through the wall appear soldiers one after another, yelling orders. You do not have the slightest idea whether you are the target, if they have come to take over the house or whether your house just happens to lie in the path to some other target location. The children scream in panic. It is not difficult to imagine the terror of a four-year-old child when four, six, eight or twelve soldiers, their faces painted black, with sub-machine guns trained in all directions and antennae poking out of their backpacks, making them look like huge alien insects, open their way forward by demolishing walls with explosives."
7.In urban wars, citizens become fighters and fighters become citizens. Identity changes as fast as it can, just as even the sex of an individual may be a pretence. The transformation of women into combat ready fighting men may happen in a flash.
For the time being urban wars are camouflaged for communications purposes as nationalist wars. But the shape of that war is changing dramatically.
In cases of emergency, traffic pileups, riots, earthquakes, terrorist attacks or epidemics, wherever order breaks down, the people of the police, fire service and the army, who come to our aid, are transformed into the ruling class in an exceptional situation.
The basic irony of our times is how various geopolitical forces can be supported through cooperation at the same time as the wider economy is based on the consumption of military products.
How can the structures of all-out war be maintained in a time of peace? The middle class, the class of consumption, is preparing for long-term war against its neighbors, against immigrants, the forces of nature, and terrorism.
8. The battles with the enemy have, for the army, taken the form of a debate about the nature of reality, or rather, about its interpretation.
The same applies for us, the "observers", who through the media ignore the fact that as bystanders, we not only participate in the hostilities but also define the form of the dialogue of warfare.
The frontiers today look less and less like national borders, and more and like an archipelago comprised of occupied zones. A different architectural employment of space appears in the ever expanding landscape, under "continuous surveillance", of the urban wars of the immediate future, which have already begun.
9. Extracts were read from Elias Marmaras' text "Urban Wars" from the Personal Cinema group.
Special participation by Stamatina Papamichali
Sound Editing: Yiannis Lambropoulos