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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 10:56 GMT
Sitzkrieg: The bottom line
sitzkrieg n 1. a period of war notable for inaction, esp. the period of World War II from September 1939 to May 1940 (cf. phoney war). 2. (increasingly) a military build up in one location in anticipation of a war and/or to intimidate a potential foe (cf. sabre rattling). Also sits krieg.

CURRENT USAGE: "[Nations opposed to attacking Iraq want to see UN inspectors given more time] even if the US must maintain troops on the ready in a sort of 'Sitzkrieg.' They're saying, 'Thanks for the credible bluff, Mr. President, now just hold the troops there...'" Christian Science Monitor, 23/01/2003.

ORIGIN: from the German for sitting or sit-down war, sitzkrieg is less familiar antonym of blitzkrieg - a "lightning war", a mechanised campaign with a decisive outcome.

The tactics of blitzkrieg were honed by the Nazis during the Spanish Civil War, but came to prominence when their Panzers sped across Poland, France and the Low Countries.

Speedy campaigns with relatively low casualty rates were high in military planners' minds following the grinding stalemate of World War I.

DISPUTED USAGE: can sitting around in, say, Kuwait, be properly considered a sitzkrieg unless it is actually followed by a blitzkrieg attack? (see. the border between North and South Korea.)

QUOTATIONS: "What one analyst called a 'sits-krieg' could rapidly corrode [American troops'] morale." Financial Times - 15/01/2003.

"The Americans describe Saddam's conduct of the war so far as 'sits-krieg' as opposed to blitzkrieg." Sunday Times - 27/01/1991.

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Blixkrieg - swift and decisive action taken by chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix.


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