Archive for the 'War and Peace' Category
Posted by David Foster on 10th May 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
‘When the crocus blossoms,’ hiss the women in Berlin,
‘He will press the button, and the battle will begin.
When the crocus blossoms, up the German knights will go,
And flame and fume and filthiness will terminate the foe…
When the crocus blossoms, not a neutral will remain.’
(A P Herbert, Spring Song, quoted in To Lose a Battle, by Alistair Horne)
On May 10, 1940, German forces launched an attack against Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Few people among the Allies imagined that France would collapse in only six weeks: Churchill, for example, had a high opinion of the fighting qualities of the French army. But collapse is what happened, of course, and we are still all living with the consequences. General Andre Beaufre, who in 1940 was a young Captain on the French staff, wrote in 1967:
The collapse of the French Army is the most important event of the twentieth century.
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Posted in France, Germany, History, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 32 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 9th May 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
(Here is something I wrote in November of last year)
At a minimum–at a bare minimum–the Benghazi affair reveals a dismal level of incompetence pervading the Obama administration. There is also reason to believe that it reveals decison-making about life-and-death matters based on this President’s desire to preserve his “narrative,” rather than facing reality and acting upon it. And, I suspect, the more we learn about what happened in Benghazi, and why it happened, the more disturbing the answers are going to be.
I’m currently re-reading the memoirs of General Edward Spears, who was Churchill’s emissary to France in 1940. There was a disturbing amount of defeatism, and in some cases actual sympathy with the Nazi enemy, among certain government officials and other French elites. Weygand’s friend Henri de Kerillis, a Deputy and newpaper editor, had been consistently pressing Prime Minister Daladier to investigate some sinister behavior by members of the extreme Right.
“Il faut de’brider l’abces,” he had said time and time again to the Premier. He had done so again lately and received this strange answer: I have done exactly what you urged, I have opened the abscess, but it was so deep the scalpal disappeared down it, and had I gone on, my arm would have followed.” This was really very frightening, and I said so. “You cannot be more frightened than I am,” said Kerillis.
I feel sure that we are going to find that the abscess revealed by the Obama administration’s behavior re Benghazi goes very deep indeed.
5/9/2013: A useful source of information about the Benghazi debacle and the related investigations is the site Special Operations Speaks.
Posted in France, History, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 1st May 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
Posted in History, War and Peace | 10 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 24th April 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Istanbul, compared the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing to the nine Turkish activists killed by the IDF as they tried to break Gaza’s naval blockade. Here’s what Kerry said:
I know it’s an emotional issue with some people. I particularly say to the families of people who were lost in the incident we understand these tragedies completely and we sympathize with them. And nobody – I mean, I have just been through the week of Boston and I have deep feelings for what happens when you have violence and something happens and you lose people that are near and dear to you. It affects a community, it affects a country. We’re very sensitive to that.
Kerry is here conflating the legitimate use of force by an allied state, against people who knowingly put themselves in harm’s way by challenging a naval blockade, with a terrorist act against the wholly innocent citizens of Boston. His statement insults the citizens of Boston, it demonstrates hostility toward Israel, and it blurs moral distinctions and projects a sense of weakness which can only encourage more terrorist attacks against the United States in the future.
As Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks said, “It’s unconscionable to compare the loss of life resulting from an act of self-defense to the results of cold-blooded, premeditated murder by terrorists.”
In related news, Richard Falk, the Princeton professor emeritus who is a high official of the UN “Human Rights Council,” blamed the Boston terror attacks on US foreign policy and “Tel Aviv.” More at Breitbart:
The Obama administration has long championed the UN Human Rights Council, which it decided to join as one of its first foreign policy moves in 2009. Thanks to the Obama administration, U.S. began a second three-year term on the Council this past January. At the opening of the Council’s most recent session in March, Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer traveled to Geneva to address what she called “this esteemed body.” As author Anne Bayefsky says:
There is nothing about a “human rights” body that countenances the likes of Richard Falk that is “esteemed,” and the United States should resign–effective immediately.
Posted in Islam, Israel, Middle East, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by Jay Manifold on 20th April 2013 (All posts by Jay Manifold)
Negative items (weaknesses and threats) first.
Overconcentration of political belief systems by geography and especially by vocation, notably in journalism; the corresponding threat is misdiagnosis of motivation and identity of perpetrators.
This was on full display over the past week, and although the most prominent examples were instances of the amazingly robust narrative about a supposed right-wing fundamentalist Christian underground, the persistence of which reveals a great deal about the mindset of the “liberal” bien-pensant, they’re not the only ones who have this problem. Claiming that people in Boston are cowering under their beds and wishing they had AR-15s, or casually accusing various (and singularly unimpressive) American politicians of being Communists, isn’t much better than fantasizing about entirely nonexistent WASP terrorists. And there has already been at least one wild-goose chase in recent years, the nationwide Federal investigation to find the co-conspirators of Scott Roeder in the assassination of George Tiller. He didn’t have any, and was known very early on to have acted alone. Your tax dollars nonetheless went to work; see also “memetic parasitism,” below.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Media, Middle East, National Security, Organizational Analysis, Politics, Predictions, Society, Terrorism, Tradeoffs, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by Dan from Madison on 15th April 2013 (All posts by Dan from Madison)
A while ago I inherited an enormous box of letters that my wife’s grandfather wrote to her grandmother while he was away during WW2 in India. Here is one of those letters. This one is slightly graphic so I will put it under the fold. All grammar and spelling is left as it was in the letter.
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Posted in History, India, War and Peace | 4 Comments »
Posted by Jay Manifold on 24th March 2013 (All posts by Jay Manifold)
“Bus attacks by suicide bombers have fairly monotonous features. They occur during the morning rush hour because ridership is high at that time. Bombers board buses near the end of their routes in order to maximize the number of people in the bus at the time of detonation. They preferentially board at the middle doors in order to be centered in the midst of the passengers. They detonate shortly after boarding the bus because of concern that they will be discovered, restrained, and prevented from detonating. They stand as they detonate in order to provide a direct, injurious path for shrapnel. Head and chest injuries are common among seated passengers. The injured are usually those some distance away from the bomber; those nearby are killed outright, those at the ends of the bus may escape with minor injuries. The primary mechanism of injury of those not killed outright by the blast is impaling by shrapnel. Shrapnel is sometimes soaked in poison, eg organophosphate crop insecticides, to increase lethality.”
Resilience Engineering: Concepts and Precepts
Chapter 13, Taking Things in One’s Stride: Cognitive Features of Two Resilient Performances
Richard I. Cook and Christopher Nemeth
“But wouldn’t it be luxury to fight in a war some time where, when you were surrounded, you could surrender?”
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Posted in Book Notes, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Terrorism, War and Peace | 4 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 23rd March 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Neptunus Lex, from 2004: Monsters
Robert Avrech, from yesterday: Liberty, Then and Now
Posted in Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 5 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 18th March 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
1942 photos by Margaret Bourke-White. (via The Lexicans)
Women building airplanes during WWII, in color
The London Blitz, in color
Dresden: a meditation on strategic bombing
ShrinkWrapped has published his father’s recollections of flying 50 missions as a B-24 tail gunner. There are 6 different posts at the link–start at the bottom for the first one–and one more post here.
Posted in Aviation, Britain, Germany, History, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by TM Lutas on 11th March 2013 (All posts by TM Lutas)
North Korea’s official newspaper carried the announcement today. The armistice is no longer in force. We are once again in a state of active war with North Korea.
It is not just us, by withdrawing from the armistice, North Korea has reignited conflict with:
Since the armistice was signed by a North Korean general on behalf of China, somebody should probably ask China what its position is regarding the armistice and its obligations.
Posted in Korea, National Security, War and Peace | 14 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 6th March 2013 (All posts by Zenpundit)
Sixty years ago one of the greatest monsters in history, a mass-murderer of tens of millions many times over, the yellow-eyed, “Kremlin mountaineer” breathed his last.
We live, deaf to the land beneath us,
Ten steps away no one hears our speeches,
All we hear is the Kremlin mountaineer,
The murderer and peasant-slayer.
His fingers are fat as grubs
And the words, final as lead weights, fall from his lips,
His cockroach whiskers leer
And his boot tops gleam.
Around him a rabble of thin-necked leaders -
fawning half-men for him to play with.
They whinny, purr or whine
As he prates and points a finger,
One by one forging his laws, to be flung
Like horseshoes at the head, to the eye or the groin.
And every killing is a treat
For the broad-chested Ossete.
- Osip Mandelstam
So great was the terror he had inflicted that many of his victims, dazed and bloodied by decades of fear, savage oppression and war, openly wept. The greatest fear of the late dictator’s closest henchmen and accomplices, who had more than likely escaped the conveyor belt of torture, gulag and execution only by their master’s death, was that the people would think that they had murdered their dear vozhd and would storm the Kremlin and tear them to pieces.
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Posted in Biography, Europe, History, Leftism, Russia, War and Peace | 27 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 6th March 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
…since we lost Neptunus Lex
Here again are some of my favorite Lex posts, most but not all of which I linked last year at this time. All are very much worth reading.
The captain wakes before dawn…with a feeling that all is not well with the ship
Reading Solzhenitsyn at the US Naval Academy
Movie vs reality. Lex, who served as executive officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), answers some question’s from his daughter’s friend about the movie.
Hornets, Tomcats, Scooters, Girls & Guys, Oh My!
Lex, in a pensive mood
Some reflections on a less-than-perfect carrier landing, a verbal interchange that probably shouldn’t have happened, and the nature of leadership
Have you ever killed anyone? asked the massage therapist, after learning that Lex had been in the Navy.
You’re having a dinner party and have the magical ability to invite 10 people–5 men and 5 women–from all of history. Who would you pick?
A troubled pilot and an F-18: Maybe they saved each other.
Colors and continuity.
Tennyson’s Ulysses, personalized and hyperlinked. Created by Lex to mark his retirement from the Navy. Perhaps my favorite of all of Lex’s posts, and particularly appropriate today.
Bill Brandt, a frequent Chicago Boyz commenter, has a tribute to the Captain at The Lexicans.
Posted in Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Obits, Poetry, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 2nd March 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
Worst case is that the sequestration cuts kick in on a month-to-month basis, as the fiscal stand-off between Congress and the president drags on. In early February, in anticipation of having to “operate down” to this worst case, the Navy cancelled the scheduled deployment of the USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) strike group, which was to be the second of two carrier strike groups hitherto maintained on station in the CENTCOM AOR. Secretary Leon Panetta announced at the time that the U.S. would cut its CENTCOM-deployed carrier force to one.
A strike group brings not just the carrier and its air wing but an Aegis cruiser and/or Aegis destroyers, all with Tomahawk missile load-outs. In multiple ways, U.S. combat power has now been cut in half in the CENTCOM AOR due to the long-running fiscal stand-off. The level of carrier presence is insufficient today to execute a limited-strike campaign against Iran while containing the potential backlash.
-J.E. Dyer, Dead in the water: Obama’s military and the Iran nuclear threat
Posted in International Affairs, Iran, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Quotations, War and Peace | 9 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 1st March 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
I recently discovered this British TV drama from the late 1980s, which is focused on British underground agents operating in occupied France during WWII. The series is based on activities of the real sabotage-and-subversion organization which was known as Special Operations Executive. I think it is quite good.
The first agents we meet are Liz Grainger (acted by Kate Buffery) and Matty Firman (Suzanna Hamilton.) Liz is an upper-crust wife and mother who comes to the attention of the SOE recruiters when she responds to a BBC request for holiday photos of France to help in military planning…her excellent French language skills and experience living in that country make her highly desirable as a prospective agent. Matty, from a much less-affuent background, is of mixed French-British parentage (also Jewish) and is eager to contribute to the war effort as an agent, partly because she hates Naziism and partly because of boredom with the factory work she has been doing.
Various newly-recruited agents and French local people make their appearance over the course of the series; continuity is provided by Colonel James Cadogan (Julian Glover) and his deputy Faith Ashley (Jane Asher) in London, in the roles that in real life were played by Maurice Buckmaster and Vera Atkins.
Some reviewers have said that the series has too much of a soap-opera quality, and some have attributed this to the fact that it was created by two women (Lavinia Warner and Jill Hyem.) But people don’t cease to have personal lives when they go to war, and there are also subplots which could be viewed as soap-operatic in many male-written novels about WWII….Nicholas Monsarrat’s naval classic The Cruel Sea comes to mind. (See also Vera Atkins’ comment, at the above link, about a real-life British agent who fell inconveniently in love.)
Wish Me Luck is available from both Amazon and Netflix.
For those interested in learning about the real SOE, a good introduction can be found in Between Silk and Cyanide, the memoir of SOE Codemaster Leo Marks. I reviewed it here…the review also contains links to posts about several individual SOE agents.
Posted in Britain, Europe, Film, History, War and Peace | 10 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 27th February 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Not a single Democratic senator managed to demonstrate enough judgment and courage to go against his Party herd and vote “Nay” on the Hagel confirmation.
Not a single one.
Roll call here
About a week ago, Cassandra cited a study showing in which white “racial liberals” (as identified by a four-question survey) were asked whether or not they supported targeted killings of suspected terrorists.
Only 27% of the respondents supported such killings….BUT, if they were told before answering the question that OBAMA had conducted such killings, then the support rose to 47%.
Cass cited another political scientist, Lilliana Mason, who argues that the electorate is becoming increasingly tribal. Our party affiliation is increasingly intertwined with our personal identity, making us more prone than ever to support the policies of “our side,” regardless of their actual content.
As I noted in comments, this kind of thinking/behavior represents the outsourcing of judgment and conscience.
And I think this outsourcing has a lot to do with the Democratic unanimity on Hegal, as well as with the lockstep pro-Obama coverage of the old media.
Posted in Human Behavior, Politics, USA, War and Peace | 21 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 11th February 2013 (All posts by Zenpundit)
Someone for reasons unknown last week leaked the classified Department of Justice “White Paper” on targeting with drone attacks the numerically tiny number of US citizens overseas who have joined al Qaida or affiliated groups. The leak set off an outburst of public debate, much of it ill-informed by people who did not bother to read the white paper and some of it intentionally misleading by those who had and, frankly, know better.
Generally, I’m a harsh critic of the Holder DOJ, but their white paper, though not without some minor flaws of reasoning and one point of policy, is – unlike some of the critics – solidly in compliance with the laws of war, broader questions of international law and the major SCOTUS decisions on war powers. It was a political error to classify this document in the first place rather than properly share it with the relevant Congressional committees conducting oversight
Here it is and I encourage you to read it for yourself:
Lawfulness of Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qa’ida
Much of this white paper debate has been over a legitimate policy dispute (“Is it a good idea if we use drones to kill AQ terrorists, including American ones?”) intentionally being mischaracterized by opponents of the policy (or the war) as a legal or constitutional question. It is not. The law is fairly settled as is the question if the conflict with AQ rises to a state of armed conflict, which SCOTUS dealt with as recently as Hamdi and for which there are ample precedents from previous wars and prior SCOTUS decisions to build upon. At best, framed as a legal dispute, the opponents of the drone policy would have a very long uphill climb with the Supreme Court. So why do it?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Academia, Afghanistan/Pakistan, History, International Affairs, Law, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Politics, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 10th February 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Great color photos of women working in aircraft plants during WWII. More here.
These photos were originally shot in color; the ones at the above links have been enhanced for color and contrast by the webmaster at Shorpy…the full Shorpy collection of enhanced OWI Kodachromes is here.
The originals can be found at the Library of Congress on-line photo catalog.
Via The Lexicans and Among the Joshua Trees.
Posted in Aviation, History, Photos, USA, War and Peace | 13 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 31st January 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
Chicagoboyz community member Morgan Norval reminds us that January 22 was the anniversary of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in 1879 (and immortalized in the famous movie, Zulu).
I’ve been to Rorke’s Drift and it was an interesting site. The Lutheran Mission is still there and Isandlwana is a few miles across the river and up the road. Fortunately for the Brits, the Zulus were unfamiliar with the rifles they picked up from Isandlwana as there was bluffs behind looking down on the Brits position at Rorke’s Drift and in the hands of skilled shooters shooting at the defenders would have been like shooting at fish in a barrel. Hollowood did a later move after Zulu called Zulu Dawn which was about the wiping out of the Brit’s regiment at Isandlwana. For one who wants to watch both just flip the sequence and watch Zulu Dawn before Zulu to get the complete historical picture Hollowood style.
(I’ve corrected the spelling of Isandlwana in Morgan’s passage.)
Posted in Anglosphere, History, War and Peace | 4 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 22nd January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
…high-powered weapons being provided to someone who should not pass a basic background check.
The first four F-16 fighters are on their way to Mohamed Morsi’s Egypt. The total package will be 20 planes, all being paid for out of your tax dollars.
As I noted here, each F-16 is equipped with a M61-A1 Vulcan gun—the capabilities of which vastly exceed those of any “assault rifle”—in addition to considerable other weaponry.
And while providing this weaponry to the Morsi regime, the Obama administration actually wanted to send a bill to our traditional ally, France, for the logistical support we have provided them during their Mali operation. The total amount of the payment demand (which was dropped after France went public with its criticism) was about $17-19 million. This amount of money is very close to the cost of one of the 20 F-16s we are providing to Egypt.
Posted in Aviation, France, Middle East, Obama, War and Peace | 18 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 22nd January 2013 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
…and the USA ignored it.
It just happened.
Lee Smith reports the following:
Last week, we learned of a secret State Department assessment that forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had recently used chemical weapons. The State Department cable, signed by the U.S. consul in Istanbul and based on interviews with doctors, defectors from the Syrian Army, and activists, made what one unnamed administration official called a “compelling case” that the Syrian military had used Agent 15, or BZ gas, in Homs last month against the Sunni-majority opposition. Nonetheless, within 24 hours, the State Department challenged the news report and the cable’s conclusion, stating that it “found no credible evidence to corroborate or to confirm that chemical weapons were used.”
Hat Tip to Instapundit for the above link.
Please note that this denial by the Obama Administration is not unique in American history. In fact it has been the unofficial policy of the US Government to ignore evidence of chemical weapons use since at least the 1930′s.
See this PDF document by Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi York University, Toronto on the Japanese use of chemical weapons in pre-World War 2 China that documents what the American government knew at the time, compared to official US government policy.
Posted in Big Government, History, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, USA, War and Peace | 13 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 15th January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Well, it took a few days, but the news about Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi’s anti-Semitic rant (from late 2010..he referred to Israeli Jews as “bloodsuckers” and “descendents of apes and pigs”) has finally been picked up by traditional media outlets. (A video of the speech, with English subtitles, can be found here.)
We already knew about Morsi’s demands that the U.S. release Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is currently serving a life sentence for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Morsi is considered to be “one of the world’s leading theologians of terrorism.”
We already knew about Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood connections, about his centralization of power, about his affinity for Sharia law. We already knew about the increasing oppression of Christians in Egypt.
So why is the U.S. proceeding with plans to give Egypt 20 F-16 fighters and 200 Abrams tanks?
Hey President Obama–you want to talk about guns?
The F-16 carries an M61A1 Vulcan gun, which fires 20mm projectiles at the rate of 6000 rounds per minute, in addition to various ground-attack and air-to-air missiles.
The Abrams tank carries a 120mm smoothbore gun with a muzzle velocity of more than a mile per second…even with an earlier generation of ammunition it could penetrate 22 inches of armor at more than a mile, and this performance has since been improved. The Abrams also carries three machine guns and a sophisticated ballistic computer system.
So, Mr Obama…do you think Mohamed Morsi can pass the background check to qualify for the ownership of such weapons?
Posted in Middle East, National Security, Obama, War and Peace | 16 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 5th January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Sarah Hoyt has been reading a lot about the 1920s, and–in a post which encompasses both Agatha Christie and Robert Heinlein–she does some thinking about the impact of Word War I on the twenties and on Western civilization generally.
World War I was terrible, and for many reasons, including the prevalence of pictures and news, the fratricide/civil-war quality of it, the massive number of casualties. It shocked an entire generation into … writing an awful lot about it, and into trying to tear down the pillars of civilization, believing that Western Civilization (and not human nature, itself) was what had brought about the carnage and the waste.
A thought-provoking post, well worth reading, with an interesting comment thread. I very much agree with the comment by William Zeller:
Here’s my quick version of the test I use to determine if a speaker is doing the WesternCiv teardown:
If the argument begins with the phrase: “American…” or “America…” and proceeds to identify a horrifying cultural or political trait.
Absolutely…and this happens all the time…people observing something bad and discrediting it to America (or, less frequently, to Western civilization as a whole) without making the slightest attempt to consider whether the bad thing they are talking about might be something like a cross-cultural human universal rather than something specific to Americans or the West.
There’s no question in my mind that the First World War did do immense harm to Western civilization, as we’ve often discussed here. Erich Maria Remarque’s excellent and unfortunately-neglected novel The Road Back, which I reviewed in this post, is very helpful for understanding just how powerful and malign that impact was.
Sarah’s post reminded me of a particular passage in Remarque’s book. Ernst, the protagonist, has returned to Germany after the end of the war that killed most of his classmates and fellow enlistees. He has accepted a job teaching school in a small village:
There sit the little ones with folded arms. In their eyes is still all the shy astonishment of the childish years. They look up at me so trustingly, so believingly–and suddenly I get a spasm over the heart.
Here I stand before you, one of the hundreds of thousands of bankrupt men in whom the war destroyed every belief and almost every strength…What should I teach you? Should I tell you that in twenty years you will be dried-up and crippled, maimed in your freest impulses, all pressed mercilessly into the selfsame mould? Should I tell you that all learning, all culture, all science is nothing but hideous mockery, so long as mankind makes war in the name of God and humanity with gas, iron, explosive, and fire?…Should I take you to the green-and-grey map there, move my finger across it, and tell you that here love was murdered? Should I explain to you that the books you hold in your hands are but nets in which men design to snare your simple souls, to entangle you in the undergrowth of fine phrases, and in the barbed wire of falsified ideas?
…I feel a cramp begin to spread through me, as if I were turning to stone, as if I were crumbling away. I lower myself into the chair, and realize that I cannot stay here any longer. I try to take hold of something but cannot. Then after a time that has seemed to me endless, the catalepsy relaxes. I stand up. “Children,” I say with difficulty, “you may go now.”
The little ones look at me to make sure I am not joking. I nod once again. “Yes, that is right–go and play today–go and play in the wood–or with your dogs and your cats–you need not come back till tomorrow–”
Posted in Book Notes, Europe, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Society, War and Peace | 58 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 4th January 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
David P. Goldman:
Is there a better way to handle the Syrian calamity? I believe so.
First, neutralize Iran, by which I mean air strikes to destroy its nuclear weapons program and a few other military capabilities. That would remove the Assad regime’s main source of support. It would also make the Turks dispensable: without the Iranian threat, the Turkish army is just a makework program with obsolete weapons. Let the Alawites have their enclave, and let the Sunni Arabs have a rump state, minus the Syrian Kurds, whose autonomy would be an important step towards an eventual Kurdish state. The Turks and the Russians would be the biggest losers.
The USA isn’t likely to do this, which was probably Goldman’s point. It’s possible that the Iranian regime will collapse or that Israel will attack. The near-term odds of the regime falling on its own seem slim. The odds of an Israeli attack are probably increasing as the Israeli Right seems likely to increase its parliamentary majority. But an Israeli attack is far from certain and might not succeed in any event. It therefore seems likely that Syria will continue to fester, that Iran’s imperial ambitions will remain unchecked until there is a regional war, and that nuclear weapons will spread at a faster rate than otherwise. Eventually someone will use a nuke, or two or three, and then what? Richard Fernandez points out that we haven’t been thinking seriously about such things. Maybe it’s time to start. It doesn’t look like containment is going to work this time.
Posted in Iran, Middle East, National Security, Quotations, War and Peace | 19 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 3rd January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Until recently, the world’s only flyable WWII B-29 bomber was “Fifi,” operated by the Commemorative Air Force. Unfortunately, the airplane has…at least temporarily…lost its flyable status due to the need for expensive engine repairs. You can contribute to Fifi’s engine fund here.
The B-29 Superfortress was the most technically advanced bomber of WWII: it featured pressurization, a centralized fire-control system for its guns, and both higher speed and a greater bomb load than the B-17. Visually, it is also a very beautiful airplane, at least to my eye. Design of the aircraft that was to become the Superfortress began in 1938 with the receipt by Boeing of a request from the Army Air Corps–Boeing funded much of the initial development itself since the Air Corps did not at that point have funding for the project. The initial production order was not placed until May 1941…remarkably, production aircraft were being delivered by the end of 1943…total production would reach almost 4000 aircraft. Thousand of subcontractors were involved. My back-of-the-envelope calculation based on numbers in this factsheet suggests that there must have been somewhere around 100,000 workers involved at one level or another in B-29 production.
Japanese fighter pilot Ryuji Nagatsuka described his first encounter with the B-29, on a combat training mission in late 1944:
At a distance of 1000 feet, I had a clear view of this famous bomber for the first time. It was like some fabulous flying castle. Its elegant, uncamouflaged fuselage made me think of a monstrous flying fish. What imposing fins, what a rudder! The most disquieting thing about it was those six domes: two gun turrets on its back and four defense turrets operated by remote control…The four engines developed 8800 horsepower. The white star that stood out against a black background seemed to me like a challenge. It was the mark of the enemy.
The efficacy of the B-29′s centralized fire control system…which provided not only remote control of the guns but automatic computer calculation of necessary offsets (“leads”) to hit the target…has been questioned–but Nagatsuka gives it a good review:
Their central firing computer, controlling the gun turrets by remote control, had proved extraordinarily efficient. An isolated B-29, on a photographic mission one day over the Nipponese archipelago, had been attacked by more than ninety of our fighters, and, lo and behold, the enemy plane, which was not equipped for a bombing mission, managed to repulse their attack by climbing to a very high altitude and putting on all possible speed. During this battle, which lasted more than half an hour, he shot down seven of our fighters and finally escaped.
However, most of the gunnery equipment was removed from the B-29s when US General Curtis LeMay ordered a change in tactics from high-altitude day bombing to low-altitude night bombing, focusing on the use of incendiary bombs. Wide areas of Toyko and several other cities were destroyed: the total number of Japanese killed in these raids has been estimated variously but was certainly at least 100,000.
In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school
They said, ‘Here are the maps’; we burned the cities.
We’ve talked here before about the dangers of the loss of historical knowledge. I believe that keeping FiFi flying is a useful contribution to maintaining the continuity of American historical memory. Again, you can donate here.
ShrinkWrapped has published his father’s recollections of flying 50 missions as a B-24 tail gunner. There are 6 different posts in the collection–start at the bottom for the first one.
Thoughts about strategic bombing at my post Dresden
Excerpts of some of Randall Jarrell’s WWII Air Corps poems, here
The Ryuji Nagatsuka quotes are from his memoir I Was a Kamikaze (obviously, an unsuccessful one)…an interesting book that is worthy of a review one of these days.
Posted in Aviation, History, Japan, Management, USA, War and Peace | 16 Comments »