In the history of warfare the number of futile gestures must be enormous. Usually, we try to forget them but, thanks to the film industry, we are to be reminded of one of them from WWII. Anthropoid was the code name given to the SOE operation which led to the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the SS ruler of Czechoslovakia in May 1942.
It is difficult to be critical of it because the men involved showed enormous courage but even so the whole disaster smacks of 'something must be done!', nearly always a recipe for disaster. True, Heydrich was a sub-human monster of Hitlerian evil but his assassination led to a massacre in which around 13,000 innocent people were arrested and about 5,000 of them executed. Included in the butcher's bill was the entire village of Lidice, men, women and children. Part of the momentum for this operation came from the exiled Czech government of Edvard Beneš who were, apparently, keen to show their allies that Czechoslovakia and its people were, so to speak, 'fighting the good fight'. Or, in other words, it was politics not strategy that drove this avoidable disaster.
Today's politicians would do well to study Operation Android, in which the Law of Unintended Consequences is writ large, before they embark on military adventures.