Need debunking: Denser cities are more vulnerable to bombing

TheNZThrower

Active Member
According to this article by someone called ''The Antiplanner'', the USSR favoured denser cities because they were easier to bomb to suppress counterinsurgencies. He also postulates that it's harder to escape cities via mass transit than by car:
Can there be any doubt that one of the reasons why the U.S.S.R. favored high-density apartment buildings for everyone in the Ideal Communist City is that it would be easier to bomb them if ever anyone tried to revolt? And one of the reasons why the communists favored mass transit over private automobiles is that it would be more difficult for people to escape such attacks?
His source, ''The Ideal Communist City'', does not mention cities being easier to bomb as a reason to build dense. Do a word search for 'bomb' or related terms if you are skeptical. That lie aside, the Antiplanner's argument is:
  1. Denser cities have more people per unit area than less dense suburbs
  2. Thus if a bomb drops somewhere, there will be more casualties per unit area
  3. If there are more casualties per unit area, then more losses will occur to any potential insurgents
  4. More losses means a less effective insurgency
Therefore bombing insurgents is more effective at suppressing them in dense cities vs sprawled out suburbs.

I know that some of the main issues with this argument is that using tanks and armed soldiers (*cough* *cough* Tiananmen) is a much more effective way of suppressing insurgencies or protests, and that wider roads like those seen in suburbs better facilitate troop and military vehicle movement. I also know that bombing a dense city can create rubble that can create more choke points and block roads in addition to creating more defensive positions. To quote the Modern War Institute:
Unlike other environments, military force applied to urban terrain historically increases the difficulty of conducting operations in it. The preparatory and assaulting fires from airstrikes, artillery, and mortars creates rubble that in turn makes the terrain easier to defend and harder to attack. The rubble blocks vehicle movements and, in many cases, creates even stronger fortifications than the buildings provided while standing.
These are some reasons I can come up off the cuff, but I still can't quite articulate why I find the Antiplanner's argument to be uncompelling, as I don't know much about the intricacies of the challenges of urban vs suburban warfare.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
His source, ''The Ideal Communist City'', does not mention cities being easier to bomb as a reason to build dense. Do a word search for 'bomb' or related terms if you are skeptical. That lie aside

your quote does not say what you are saying it says.

i should expand: the blog author is not claiming the Communists put in writing for the masses to read, that they should move to dense cities so they can be more easily bombed.
The blog author only brings up that book because he is trying to psychologically manipulate us to believe that California city planning is the same as a "communist plot". When really the reason cities and small towns in the US allow unchecked real estate expansion is so they can line their pockets with more tax revenues. ie. greed.
It's the same reason putting Hotels on your properties in Monopoly is better than 4 little green houses.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
Are there any example cities named in the claim? I'd love to be able to look up the poüulation densities and compare them to typical European cities (which were not built with bombs in mind).

It's obvious to me that a "walkable city" is bound to be more dense than car-dependent American sprawl.
 

Alexandria Nick

Active Member
It's obvious to me that a "walkable city" is bound to be more dense than car-dependent American sprawl.
This isn't actually true. There's not really a relationship between density and geographical distance. I know that sounds counterintuitive. How walkable an area depends on where there is to walk. You have an incredibly dense residential area, but if there's no occupational or life support destinations, there's no walkability. Some of the locations people think of as "dense" and "walkable" are more of a system of distributed nodes covering a large geographic area. The full area the system covers large geographical area that in and of itself is not walkable, but people read it as such because they're traveling between nodes in transit that they walked to. Conversely, you can have a low density area that is highly walkable because there's actually places to walk to.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Are there any example cities named in the claim? I'd love to be able to look up the poüulation densities and compare them to typical European cities (which were not built with bombs in mind).

It's obvious to me that a "walkable city" is bound to be more dense than car-dependent American sprawl.
its a super short blog. really all he says is
Article:
Now we are treated to daily videos of apartment buildings in Ukraine attacked by Russian artillery, rockets, and bombs. Thousands of people, perhaps tens of thousands, are dead in Mariupol alone.

Ukraine has almost 50 percent more land than California, but only about 4 percent more people, at least before the current conflict. Its population density was about 25 percent less than California’s, meaning there was plenty of room for low-density housing.

Neither California nor Ukraine have any need for such dense cities. Imagine how much harder it would be for Russia to attack cities like Kyiv or Mariupol if, instead of everyone being packed in a few hundred apartment buildings, they were spread out in hundreds of thousands of single-family homes.


theres one paragraph about how we were warned after 9/11 to "not bunch up". but california wouldnt listen.

that's basically all he says. but the OP is only, i think, about whether its easier to invade a dense city or easier to invade the suburbs.



add: here is a web cache so noone catches a virus. i didnt get a virus warning but the site url space says "not secure"
https://archive.ph/wip/K9sTw

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:LxTas2_PyTMJ:https://ti.org/antiplanner/?m=20220323&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
 
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TheNZThrower

Active Member
its a super short blog. really all he says is
Article:
Now we are treated to daily videos of apartment buildings in Ukraine attacked by Russian artillery, rockets, and bombs. Thousands of people, perhaps tens of thousands, are dead in Mariupol alone.

Ukraine has almost 50 percent more land than California, but only about 4 percent more people, at least before the current conflict. Its population density was about 25 percent less than California’s, meaning there was plenty of room for low-density housing.

Neither California nor Ukraine have any need for such dense cities. Imagine how much harder it would be for Russia to attack cities like Kyiv or Mariupol if, instead of everyone being packed in a few hundred apartment buildings, they were spread out in hundreds of thousands of single-family homes.


theres one paragraph about how we were warned after 9/11 to "not bunch up". but california wouldnt listen.

that's basically all he says. but the OP is only, i think, about whether its easier to invade a dense city or easier to invade the suburbs.



add: here is a web cache so noone catches a virus. i didnt get a virus warning but the site url space says "not secure"
https://archive.ph/wip/K9sTw

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:LxTas2_PyTMJ:https://ti.org/antiplanner/?m=20220323&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
The ''not bunching up'' quote was in relation to military tactics by Historian Stephen Ambrose:
One of the first things you learn in the Army is that, when you and your fellow soldiers are within range of enemy artillery, rifle fire, or bombs, don't bunch up.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Therefore bombing insurgents is more effective at suppressing them in dense cities vs sprawled out suburbs.

"The Russians have, in the past, essentially destroyed and "depopulated" Aleppo in Syria and Grozny in Chechnya, using artillery, rockets, missiles, and bombs when ground forces were unsuccessful. I fear that they will do the same to Kyiv and Kharkiv, as they find the Ukrainian forces so resolute and taking full advantage of their "home field advantage," and as the Russians struggle to bring their ground combat power to bear."

- General (ret.) David Petraeus on 'Jesse Watters Primetime', 3 March 2022

The main purpose of the oft-used 'rubble' tactic of Russia is to depopulate cities by targetting selectively civilian settlements, forcing a mass humanitarian evacuation, and thereby being more free to intensify firepower and take over the city.

This tactic would work in largely the same way by shelling less densely populated suburbs. So no, the Antiplanner's argument doesn't hold up even from the military-tactical perspective.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
From German wikipedia:
Ukraine
Mariupol 2 179 inhabitants per km²
Kyiv 3 497 inh/km²
Kharkiv 4 726 inh/km²
EU
Paris 20 557 inh/km²
Geneva 12 797 inh/km²
Kopenhagen 7 476 inh/km²
Dresden 1 691 inh/km²
California
San Diego 1 651 inh/km²
Oakland 3 035 inh/km²
Irvine 1 712 inh/km²
Modesto 2 357 inh/km²
USA
New York City 11 153 inh/km²
Houston 1 536 inh/km²
Atlanta 1 462 inh/km²


Grosny before the war: ca. 1300 inh/km²
Dresden 1945: ca. 2000 inh/km²

Mariupol wasn't that dense and got bombed regardless (but not necessarily bombed out). Grosny wasn't dense. Cities in California aren't all that dense.

People who hate numbers are often wrong.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
also, I doubt California is going to get hit by conventional air strikes

if you were to subordinate city planning to potential armed conflict (putting you at an unnecessary disadvantage), the threat scenario has to be a nuclear bomb; I kinda doubt population density matters much in that case
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
New York City 11 153 inh/km²
2000 Census
Manhattan has the incredible population density of nearly 67,000 people per square mile.
https://www.nymtc.org › portals › pdf › CPT-HSP


Article:
With a July 2015 population of 8,550,405, New York is the most populous city in the United States, more than twice the size of the second largest city, Los Angeles.
About 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in New York City.
New York has the highest population density of any major city in the United States, with over 27,000 people per square mile.





But the OP guy says "urbanized areas".
Article:
After 9/11, we were warned by World War II historian Stephen Ambrose:” Don’t bunch up.” Yet urban planners in the United States, supported by fellow travelers in the Cato Institute and Mercatus Center, successfully persuaded the California legislature to pass laws that will make that state’s urban areas, already the densest in the nation, even denser.


2000 census:

1660220195223.png
https://www.its.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/05/0506OsgoodEtAL_LANYDensity_Poster.pdf



No idea how "what numbers we pick" relates to Antiplanner's claims, or my claim that America builds for tax revenue increases or Antiplanners claim that is harder to escape with mass transit than with cars.

(although in the suburbs you can sometimes avoid traffic jams by taking alternate routes, but it really depends where you are specifically. Typically, in my area, we can avoid HIGHWAY traffic jams. If the government was bombing us, I would prefer to be in the suburbs. But the "city of Danbury" is more like the suburbs than say urbanized areas of Hartford. You'd still have multiple escape routes in Danbury and there isn't any "Co-OP city" type large apartment buildings in the city of Danbury. so the term "city" is iffy criteria too. and each state defines "city" differently. )

disclaimer: i did not check the statutes directly, so take this wiki info with a grain of salt.
Article:
California law makes no distinction between "city" and "town", and municipalities may use either term in their official names.[5] They can be organized as either a charter municipality, governed by its own charter, or a general-law municipality (or "code city"), governed by state statute.[6]
 
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