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A rather euphemistic term describing a state in which no official war has been declared, but a whole lot of people seem to be dying anyway. Usually occurs in situations where the offending party wants to be able to inflict as much damage as possible while still claiming publicly that they are at peace. Famous examples in recent memory would be the US sponsored campaign of terror in Nicaragua, and the Mexico sponsored (and US backed) campaign in Chiapas.

It works like this: You try to avoid actual bombing. Way too obvious. Instead you set up army bases and training areas all around the villages you want to beat into submission. Then you can fly helicopters and planes low over their houses at all hours, parade through town with big guns every couple of days, build tiger traps in the woods all around the village, occasionally "disappear" a community leader (you can later claim he was killed in a hunting accident), and block food and medical supplies from reaching an area or crops from going to market. The best part is, you can get away with all this while claiming you're just conducting military training exercises!

Every once in a while it's okay to massacre a few dozen people, as long as you set up some "renegade" soldiers to take the fall and never admit where the orders really came from.