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Posts Tagged ‘War

Midway

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Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, where the US Navy destroyed four Japanese fleet carriers for the loss of one and turned the tide of the Pacific war in favour of America just six months after the disaster at Pearl Harbour.

There was still a lot of hard fighting required over the next three years, and in some respects it got harder as the US got closer to Japan, with the terrible fighting in the war’s final battle at Okinawa being a factor in President Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan rather than invading.

But after Midway the Japanese were never on the front foot again and rather than expanding into their new Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, they were forced to fight a grinding defensive war, ultimately falling back on Japan itself.

Dauntless Dive Bombers

The victory involved some elements of good luck, but it was enabled by the bravery, skill and resourcefulness of pilots like Wade McClusky and Dick Best, and also of hundreds of men, lost to history, who showed the same abilities in places like ship yards, and the smarts of Admirals like Nimitz and Spruance.

But the real key to the American victory was that they had partially cracked the Japanese naval codes and, with some educated guesswork, were able to figure out where and when the Japanese would strike, and with what. As a result the Americans could lay a trap.

The battle technically lasted from June 4 to June 7, but the real action came on June 4 when the trap was sprung and the four Japanese carriers were destroyed, although it would take until the next day for a couple of them to sink.

Rather than reading that Wikipedia link however, you should honour this great victory by watching the movie Midway – not the plodding 1976 version which I saw as a kid, but the one made in 2019 by Roland Emmerich, who both produced and directed it. He’s better known for huge, splashy, trashy action movies like Independence Day and is also very much a Democrat and LGBT activist in the US. As such it’s surprising that this Midway is such an old-fashioned war movie, with no hidden messages about anything at all and one that openly celebrates courage, decency and honour. But apparently the movie was a passion of his and when big studios turned it down he raised the money himself. It is one of the most expensive independent movies ever made.

The surprise continues with actors like Woody Harrelson, who got his start in the TV comedy series, Cheers, in the 1980’s and who normally excels in “unstable” characters, playing Admiral Nimitz with all the sobriety and seriousness of the man himself. Similarly for singers like Mandy Moore, who portrays Dick Best’s wife with vulnerable but steely courage and love. The Japanese figures of Admiral Yamamoto , Admiral Yamaguchi, and ordinary Japanese pilots and sailors are also portrayed with compassion.

That’s not to say the movie is Politically Correct. In one scene near the end there is no hesitation in showing the cruelty of a Japanese destroyer captain as he brutally disposes of POW Bruno Gaido by throwing him overboard tied to an anchor after he refuses to answer questions.

In fact the non-PC quality of the movie slaps you in the face right from the start when it opens in Tokyo in 1937 with a British Admiral, annoyed at the “bloody ridiculous” Japanese custom of catching ducks with nets, telling his American counterpart, Intelligence Officer Edwin T. Layton, that he won’t miss Japan and that “The next time I see the little buggers I hope it’ll be over the sights of a 14 inch gun”.

That scene is also an example of one of the other great strengths of the film; it captures all the key elements of the story in quick, concise scenes that allow people utterly unfamiliar with the history to understand exactly what is going in. In that opening we see Yamamoto telling Layton that if Japan’s oil supplies are threatened they will have to go to war against the USA.

It took the awful movie Pearl Harbour (2000), three ponderous hours to cover what Midway does in about 30 minutes as we see the attack on Pearl and the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo (and the survivors experiences in China), while also cramming in the vital scenes showing Nimitz’s appointment as Pacific Commander as he is told how grim the situation is, and Layton’s struggle to recover from the intelligence failure – his failure – of December 7, plus the little known American attack on the Marshall Islands in early 1942.

Similarly we move through scenes of the constant training of the pilots, and the risks and deaths involved in that, the effect of the Battle of the Coral Sea on Layton and his Intelligence team as they try to convince Nimitz that the island of Midway is next, and then of course the Battle of Midway itself.

The main characters are steadily introduced in these scenes in the same quick, concise manner that makes you immediately understand what drives them and what they’re like. Best is arrogant and cocky (what naval aviator isn’t?) but is softened a little as he becomes responsible for more lives than his own; his wife, Anne, passionate in her defence of him (“I often wondered what sort of woman would marry Dick Best and… well you have not disappointed”); Admiral Halsey (played by Dennis Quaid) gruff and smart; McClusky carrying the weight of commanding the likes of Best.

But there’s also humor; the scene where Nimitz finally demands to meet Layton’s “genius” analyst, Commander Joseph Rochefort, clad in bathrobe and fluffy slippers, with his team of code-cracking “tuba players”. Similarly in scenes showing the camaraderie of the men.

Portrayed are men who strongly disagree with each other and piss each other off, but none of them are made out to be useless or a bad guy, another departure from many modern movies. For example the torpedo squadron commander Lindsey is often at odds with an angry Best who has little respect for him, but that changes as death begins to surround them, especially for the doomed torpedo bombers who completely failed, and were slaughtered, yet made a crucial contribution to the battle by completely distracting the fighter planes defending the Japanese fleet.

There’s superb special effects of course, as you’d expect from a film today. But it’s never overdone. Two terrific scenes last seconds only: one where a downed US pilot floating in the water looks up and cheers on the dive bombers as they fall upon the Jap carriers; the second where the camera looks up through the water from underneath an American submarine as it launches a torpedo while a destroyer passes overhead and depth charges descend.

And that’s another great aspect of the movie in that it introduces two small but vital stories of the battle that have been largely ignored.

The decisive moment of the battle came when McClusky and his squadrons missed the Japanese fleet and had to back-search for it. McClusky made a cunning guess and found a destroyer that was clearly trying to catch up with the main fleet, so they followed it and the rest is history, with three dive bomber squadrons arriving at the same time, in the right place and far above the defending fighters who were busy killing the American torpedo bombers.

But the reason that destroyer was catching up was that it had been driving off that submarine, the USS Nautilus (not the nuclear one of course), which had tried to attack the Jap carriers – and that too is shown in intense, quick detail. Had they not tried there would have been no destroyer for McClusky to find and follow.

The other little back-story that I was impressed to see in the film was the effort to repair the carrier USS Yorktown, which had been heavily damaged in the Coral Sea battle and was expected to take months to repair. Nimitz ordered it to be done in 72 hours – and it was. I would have liked to have seen a few shots of the artificers, machinists and welders making on-the-spot decisions on repairs and doing them, plus some reference to the brownouts that occurred in Honolulu because so much electricity was being drawn in the repairs (see Victor Davis Hansons book Carnage and Culture for the details), but that’s a quibble. The fact that it’s in the movie at all is great.

As a final tribute the film ends with the faces of each main actor morphing into the real-life men, together with a brief epilogue of each, and then ends with Annie Trousseau, getting to perform the entire song she’s briefly seen singing in the earlier Officer’s Club scene. The song was originally done by Frank Sinatra during the war but I love this version more: All Or Nothing At All is also entirely appropriate for this story; I suspect Emmerich selected it, Trousseau certainly loved the chance to be a 1940’s torch singer and she nails it.

If, on a Saturday night, you want to see a great war movie that is accurate to history, expertly told, that really does honour brave men and a famous American victory, get this one. You won’t regret it.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 4, 2022 at 1:15 pm

Sanctions and Ordinary People

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I don’t have a problem with so-called targeted sanctions, ones that go after the bank accounts, wealth and connections of national leaders and politicians who do things like assassination and invasions.

But I do not hold with the theory that imposing sanctions on the ordinary people of a nation will lead to them overthrowing the leaders. Frankly that thinking, often heard from Right-wingers, is rooted in the Left’s bullshit mythology of Mighty Revolutions where the peasants rise up to overthrow their Masters. It’s crap and it’s been crap at least as far back as the Peasant’s Revolt in England in 1381:

The thing about the Peasants’ Revolt is that the people who started it weren’t really peasants at all. At any rate, they weren’t the straw-chewing, pitchfork-waving yokels of legend.

No, they were people with something to lose – the village elite. Men who’d served as constables and stewards and jurors. Men who’d moved into those vacant lots that had been left behind by victims of the plague. They’d made some money and weren’t about to see it go down the drain in order to line the pockets of some lawyer and pen pusher in Westminster.

Now while it’s true that the last twenty years of recovery from the dark days of the USSR’s collapse has created a class of “the village elite” in Russia, what’s also happened has been a revival of patriotism, aided and abetted by a lot of propaganda it’s true, but still…

Follow that Twitter stream and it becomes quite clear that there’s a lot of support, grassroots support, from a lot of ordinary Russians for the invasion of Ukraine. If sanctions are making them angry that anger doesn’t appear to be directed at Putin, at least not enough (there have been thousands of arrests of anti-war protestors across the nation).

Then there’s Putin himself, which I’ve covered here, here and here, but there’s no harm in some additional analysis:

It’s not that he doesn’t want prosperity for Russia. His early popularity was based on stabilizing the ruble. But the economy must rightfully take a distant second place to restoring Russia’s national pride and dignity after what he views as the “catastrophe” of the Soviet empire’s humiliating defeat in the Cold War. Our foreign policy experts too often forget that dictators like Putin don’t have to worry about public opinion and economic performance the same way that democratically elected leaders do. Rulers for life, they can put these to one side for prolonged periods of time in service of the greater goal of national honor.

But there are some problems that not even economic growth will cure:

Russia is dying. In just the first week of Putin’s war, the country lost somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 men, according to western sources, an immense and needless tragedy for the poor families left behind to grieve.

Whether those in the Kremlin will weep for them, they must shudder at the thought that in the average week the country loses another 2,000 through population decline, a rate that rose to 20,000 during Covid. But even in normal periods, Russia is now shrinking by more than 100,000 people a year and with no prospect of raising fertility above the 2.1 total fertility rate (children-per-woman) replacement threshold.

That article is not just about Russia: it explores the massive drop in human reproduction rates across almost the entire world. But it does make the point that families with only one or two sons are going to be hurt worse by the loss of one than in the 1940’s when it might be one or two out of half-a-dozen sons. The same is true of the West, though this will likely see us fighting robotic wars in the same way that such technology has enabled factories to be more productive with fewer people.

Almost all of this also applies to Putin’s mate, Xi Jinping of China: population decline, military capability, lost territories, national pride and “face”:

The smoke rising over Kyiv reminds us that the international order is subject to nonconsensual revision, and that the revisionists most likely to mount a violent challenge are nationalist dictatorships with a sense of grievance. I am less concerned about Vladimir Putin, however, than I am about a despot equally unaccountable, who rules a stronger country, and whose opposition to the West is more fundamental. I am thinking of Xi Jinping.

But for all his foibles, Xi shares a trait with the greatest conquerors in history: he resorts to extreme solutions, unconstrained by convention or law or compassion. He has repeatedly done what no one imagined could be done, and his audacity has served him well.

It is an excellent article so read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 16, 2022 at 6:00 am

Back in the USSR

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Well that’s long been Putin’s dream, having said years ago that:

The breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.”

He happened to be a KGB officer working in East Germany as it all came tumbling down so it must have been especially painful for him.

However, with demographic problems and an economy smaller than that of Italy, Canada and South Korea, that’s trying to support a still huge military (one that’s aging and creaking), and with age catching up on him rapidly (he’s 69), I think his chances of re-creating his dream are slim. There’s a lot of huffing and puffing here.

But as I’ve said for several years now, Putin plays a weak hand well. It didn’t stop him invading Georgia or taking the Crimea away from Ukraine a few years ago and today pushing into two small Eastern portions of Ukraine which are Russian-speaking and have been agitating for years to break away from Ukraine and join The Motherland:

The Russian leader recognized the “sovereignty” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Eastern Ukraine. It’s not hard to game out what happens next. With those areas now being “independent” states as far as Russia is concerned, the separatist leadership there can now invite Russian military forces to enter. In other words, Putin has just taken a chunk of Ukraine without firing a shot.

That’s about as clear an example as you can get of what US President Biden mumbled about a months ago (Don’t call us. We’ll call you):

 It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do. 

Wish granted, moron.

As Putin’s strategy is not a surprise neither are his tactics. Again from my post:

Thus there will be ongoing cyber attacks, economic pressure, diplomatic pressure, implied threats, support for Russia-friendly opposition groups, and possibly minor military clashes on the Russia-Ukraine border.

Or what I wrote in 2014 on Kiwiblog during that invasion scare:

I don’t like or trust Putin one bit, but I respect that he’s smart and calculating. My bet will be that he’ll let the new government hang itself and be left twisting slowly, slowly in the breeze by its purported Western allies over the next few months – and then he’ll move with a partition of Crimea and the rest of the Eastern Ukraine, using locals to do it but providing them with logistical, financial and political backing. It’s not like those locals aren’t keen on such a move anyway. 

Having said that, Putin’s speech was rather strange; he’s usually on point, calm and statesmanlike, but here he came across as angry, with the usual boilerplate Russian snivelling that we’ve heard since the USSR imploded some 30 years ago, as you can read here, courtesy of Reuters, with clips shown here. That pain I mentioned above, of a former KGB officer watching the USSR implode, never came through so clearly before as he rambles on about how “nationalists” destroyed that nation.

But there’s also much huffing and puffing on the other side of the fence, making a mockery of crap like this:

Toe-to-toe? Biden was totally onboard with the Obama administration’s “reset” policy with Russia in 2009 (overseen by none other than Hillary Clinton, and they spelled the word wrong in Russian), back in the dark days when it was GW Bush who had “caused” Putin to behave as he was. Or how about 2012 and Obama’s little lecture to Mitt Romney during their debate:

“And, the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Fully backed by the moron, and this was when he had all his marbles.

Given the boogeyman treatment of Russia handed out by Democrats in their pursuit of the Great Orange Man from 2015-2020, they could hardly repeat the “reset” approach. But Biden at least claimed that he could deal with Putin (“Biden will get [the Western Alliances] working again”.). It’s been twelve months now of phone calls, “tough” speeches about sanctions and such, followed by recent babbling about “peace summits”.

In fact Biden and the Democrats actually refused to go after the only thing that might have dissuaded Putin, the Nord Stream II gas pipeline. They howled about Trump’s threats against it and when Senator Ted Cruz put forward an actual sanctions proposal:

“Joe Biden came to Capitol Hill and personally lobbied Democratic senators to vote against Russian sanctions. That’s why we’re facing this invasion. I gotta say Bill, Joe Biden becoming president is the best thing that ever happened, tragically, for Vladimir Putin,” said Cruz.

As an aside they also used the filibuster rule they’d been demonising. Still it’s not a surprise. As Walter Russell Mead wrote in 2017:

If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he’d be doing:

  • Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
  • Blocking oil and gas pipelines
  • Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
  • Cutting U.S. military spending
  • Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia’s ally Iran.

You know who did do these things? Obama. You know who supports these things now? Democrats,, including Biden.

Still, given Germany’s demand for that pipeline in the first place, knowing it put them more under Putin’s thumb, their intricate ties to Russian finance, and the opposition of they and France to Ukraine joining NATO, it’s pretty obvious that they’re all paper tigers.

And Putin knows it.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

We Live in Dangerous Times

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Godwin’s law is for fools!

(Originally set for publication on December 7th but I got lost.)

In2020, the evil Democrats and their media accomplices stole a presidential election and installed their moron as president. In turn, he appointed a woke idiot as Chief of General Staff.

Xi and Putin noticed.

China has little coal, iron ore, bauxite, copper, uranium, lithium and mineral sands, all of which Xi needs to support a prolonged war with the enfeebled United States.

Australia is enormously vulnerable.  It’s defense forces are weak and the current US administration cannot be relied upon to come to her aid.

If he going to have a crack at Taiwan, Xi will have to strike before the US mid term elections.  He needs at least two years of an enfeebled and incompetent United States.  I think he will hit Hawaii with an intercontinental nuclear missile strike on the same day he invades Taiwan.  Hawaii will be a ‘keep out of my back yard’ message to the US and a ‘do as you’re told’ message to Taiwan and Australia. This will happen while the is distracted, wringing its hands over Ukraine.

What will Xi promise his citizens to induce them to sacrifice themselves in Australia’s mines?  Enough fried rice and noodles for a millennia in the afterlife?

Who will be the Churchill of the United States?   Who will be the traitorous Lord Halifax?

1933-402012-2021
Communist Dictator and Elected Nationalist DictatorCommunist Dictator and Elected Nationalist Dictator
Huge military build upHuge military build up
Under Europe’s noseUnder the West’s nose
Jews/SlavsUighurs/Muslims
Sudetenland Hongkong
Bellicose Nuremberg rallies and speechesBellicose Tiananmen Square rally and speech
Molotov/RibbentropXi/Putin 
Non-aggression pactFriendly Co-operation treaty
Poland  Taiwan

Hitler, Stalin and Hirohito managed to slaughter 60,000,000 people over five years.   What will Xi’s tally be?  My guess is somewhere between one and two hundred million.

What will be the trigger which sets China off on World War Three? A recession? Some perceived insult resulting in ‘loss of face?’

What will bring the headlong rush to war to a halt?

The assassination of Xi.

Someone had better call Mossad

Addendum:-

For some time I have held the unfashionable view that Chamberlain was not a naïve fool but rather, a realist who knew how woefully unprepared Britain was and used the Munich agreement to buy time to build more Spitfires.

Written by adolffinkensen

February 20, 2022 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Australia, China

Tagged with ,

Afghanistan: “Who goes? And who gets left behind?”

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I vividly recall the fall of Saigon in 1975 as the ARVN collapsed and the North Vietnamese swept into South Vietnam in a perfectly conventional military attack, complete with tanks, a far cry from two decades of guerilla warfare.

It was the first “current affairs news” that I ever took notice of. But then the images were unforgettable: ARVN pilots escaping with their families using any helicopter they could get their hands on, landing on any US warship with deck space; American sailors pushing the machines over the side to make room for more; other choppers landing in the sea.

The best documentary of this event is the 2014 PBS special, Last Days in Vietnam. A terrifying, heartbreaking, gripping movie that you will not regret watching. The title of this post is a quote from one of the Americans involved in that evacuation.

I don’t think we’re going to see anything quite like that from Afghanistan. The cartoon above is actually from 2009, when hopes were high that newly elected President Barack Obama would withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan since, after all, eight years was surely enough.

A decade later hopes were also high that President Trump would withdraw from that benighted tribal land, but like Bush and Obama, he allowed himself to be convinced by the State Department and the Pentagon that the USA needed to stay a while longer, lest the Afghanistan Army and government collapse.

If they were likely to collapse after almost two decades of American training and about $1 trillion of invested effort and resources, then what difference was another four years going to make? Even a decade ago these sorts of arguments had begun to have uncanny similarities to South Vietnam circa 1973-75.

There was also a nasty little pressure campaign launched by insiders in the Intelligence and Military, to the effect that dreaded Russians were paying bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops. It was total shite and obviously so from the start, given that the Taliban were only too happy to do that job for free. But it was designed to mesh perfectly with the Trump-Russia delusion; if Trump pulled out from Afghanistan it could only be because he was doing what the Russians wanted. How much that campaign played in Trump’s decision to respect the Pentagon’s wishes is not known.

Finally, earlier this year President Biden directed the US to leave, they have almost completely done so, and the Vietnam scenario that so many foresaw has begun. You’re going to soon see – probably in less than a month – similar cartoons to the one above, judging by these sorts of news headlines:

Afghan president appeals for help as Taliban close in on capital

US Embassy in Kabul directs staff to destroy sensitive documents as many diplomats prepare for evacuation

To get a picture of the acceleration of this destruction I present you with the Washington Post’s exposition of the predictions from the Best and The Brightest on August 11:

The Biden administration is preparing for Afghanistan’s capital to fall far sooner than feared only weeks ago, as a rapid disintegration of security has prompted the revision of an already stark intelligence assessment predicting Kabul could be overrunwithin six to 12 months of the U.S. military departing, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

By August 13 there’d been an update:

A new U.S. intelligence assessment has indicated Kabul could be overrun within 30 to 90 days.

Now:

It’s stuff like this that causes me to have some sympathy for President Biden when he said this weeks ago:

“The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

Biden is as stupid a President as the US has ever had; bag of rocks dumb even before he grew senile, which is why he allowed himself to mouth that advice given to him by the same agencies that failed to predict the fall of the Shah of Iran, the collapse of the Eastern European Communist Bloc, and the 9/11 attacks.

By contrast many ordinary people, across the ideological and political spectrum around the world, without access to the “intelligence” and lacking PhD’s in Foreign Policy, have predicted this collapse for years now.

As such we should not let those “experts” off the hook and yet we have. Almost two years ago the Washington Post, – for once doing some real investigative journalism – and in yet another eerie echo of Vietnam, published The Afghanistan Papers, which detailed the failures of the US in that country and the lies that had been told to President’s Bush, Obama and Trump about the progress being made in Afghanistan and that the war was still worth fighting.

The papers were based on a series of massive internal investigations done by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), created in 2008 to investigate waste and fraud in the war zone. But the agency ended up going much further than that with a project called “Lessons Learned” that ran through 2015:

The Lessons Learned staff interviewed more than 600 people with firsthand experience in the war. Most were Americans, but SIGAR analysts also traveled to London, Brussels and Berlin to interview NATO allies. In addition, they interviewed about 20 Afghan officials, discussing reconstruction and development programs.

The reports were packed with bureaucratic language, but it was the interviews, with 90% of the people promised anonymity, that hit hard. Only a few were prepared to go on the record. Here are just two:

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost,” Lute added, blaming the deaths of U.S. military personnel on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department. “Who will say this was in vain?”

“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced thateverything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

Is it any wonder that the WaPo had to spend three years, including two lawsuits filed against SIGAR, to get access to such information:

Since 2001, the Defense Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have spent or appropriated between $934 billion and $978 billion, according to an inflation-adjusted estimate calculated by Neta Crawford, a political science professor and co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University. Those figures do not include money spent by other agencies such as the CIA and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for medical care for wounded veterans.

Yet the radioactive fallout from these reports inside the Pentagon, State Department, CIA and other US Federal government institutions dealing with Afghanistan, has been non-existent.

That should not be a surprise given that the information fell upon the deaf ears of the American public, who apparently didn’t give a shit.

Certainly there was, and remains, an element of wishful thinking from those who listened to such lies, as president Bush demonstrated just the other day with these comments.

“It’s unbelievable how that society changed from the brutality of the Taliban, and all of a sudden — sadly — I’m afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm. I’m sad. Laura and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women, and they’re scared. And I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only U.S. troops but NATO troops, and it seems like they’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart.”

My feelings on Bush are summed up by a couple of comments:

I don’t care how George Bush feels about Afghan girls. Did any members of the Bush family die or suffer catastrophic injury to protect those girls. How many U.S. men and women was he willing to sacrifice so that he didn’t feel bad about the plight of Afghan girls?”

“Bush can spare us all the sob stories. He had eight years to establish the conditions for success in Afghanistan, and he didn’t….for eight years he let the CIA and State Department continually screw up and fail in their missions without any consequences, beginning with 9/11. 

Let me make it quite clear that I supported the initial invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. In fact I saw no choice but to take out the Al Qaeda base camps, and if that meant the Taliban government also fell, then too bad.

That was done in a matter of months, but when I began to read stories about the likes of Bush and “Pottery Barn” Powell (“You break it. You buy it”) talking about setting up a democratic government there and building a “civil society” I absolutely disagreed.

Afghanistan is and always has been less a nation than a place of warring tribes. The idea of turning it into even an approximation of a civil society, even by the low standard of various Gulf States, seemed crazy to me. Were these people not aware of the history of Britain in two 19th century wars there, plus the USSR in the 1980’s? Here’s Churchill writing in his first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, of the different policy options for Britain in the 1890’s:

The “Full steam ahead” method would be undoubtedly the most desirable.  This is the military view.  Mobilise, it is urged, a nice field force, and operate at leisure in the frontier valleys, until they are as safe as Hyde Park.  Nor need this course necessarily involve the extermination of the inhabitants.  Military rule is the best rule suited to the character and comprehension of the tribesmen.  They will soon recognize the futility of resistance, and will gradually welcome the increase of wealth and comfort that will follow a stable government.

Only one real objection has been advanced against this plan. But it is a crushing one, and it constitutes the most serious argument against the whole “Forward Policy.”  It is this: we have neither the troops nor the money to carry it out.

If they had not read Churchill – and I recall that he was all the rage with the Bush Whitehouse – surely they had read Kipling’s war poetry:

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
and the women come out to cut up what remains,
jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
and go to your gawd like a soldier.

The likes of Bush claimed that they were aware of such history. Not just Bush but Obama-loving voices like David Brooks in the NYT, writing of spreading progressive values, because:

“at their core the liberal powers radiate a set of vital ideals — not just democracy and capitalism, but also feminism, multiculturalism, human rights, egalitarianism, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and the dream of racial justice.”

FFS!. Insane. Quite utterly insane, and now here is the result of that insanity staring us in the face.

Having said that, and even holding Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump responsible for what they failed to do in Afghanistan, there’s no question that Biden has fucked this up badly.

For a start, he announced the order to withdraw in Spring – right at the start of the annual fighting season, when the Taliban are always gearing up to fight. Had he waited until Winter the Afghanistan government and military would have had six months to prepare to fight on their own.

In other “Lessons Not Learned”, according to the Wall Street Journal article:

“… about 5,000 civilians and military personnel are based at the embassy and Hamid Karzai International Airport.”

What the hell are 5,000 people still doing at the American embassy and airport offices? Can they be extracted? Apparently Biden has sent some 5000 US Marines and soldiers back in for that reason. Will they be able to extract the even greater numbers of Afghanis who helped the USA for years? There are more than 18,000 of them still in the country. They could have, and should have, been evacuated starting back in May. How hard can that be: you land planes, put people in them, and fly them out?

Finally, Biden has been reduced to pitiful displays of “diplomacy” and “military actions”:

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. diplomat who negotiated a withdrawal deal with the Taliban last year, is back in Doha, Qatar, desperately trying to cobble together some kind of face-saving agreement for the Afghan government that would allow them to leave the country aliveKhalilzad will press for “a reduction of violence and ceasefire and a commitment not to recognize a government imposed by force,” and will urge the “Taliban to stop their military offensive.”
  • American B-52H bombers are understood to be conducting an attack on the largest Afghan air force base in order to destroy the aircraft based there. They don’t want A-29B & AC-208B attack aircraft remain in hands of Taliban.”
  • Press Secretary Jen Psaki: “The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community.”
  • State Department spokesman Ned Price:  “If this violence continues, if the Taliban continues down this path, we are likely to see a prolonged, protracted period of violence, of instability, and that is not in anyone’s interest.”

FFS! Like the North Vietnamese in 1975, the Taliban’s only interest is in victory.

In this Biden is unified with the equally useless and pathetic creatures of NATO and the EU, who have threatened the Taliban with “isolation” if they seize power.

You have to laugh or you’d cry.

Over on the US Powerline blog, Paul Mirengoff, made the following statement:

“Great nations don’t betray entire populations or the sacrifices of their own servicemen.”

Oh yes they do, Paul. They have always done so, and you as a former Vietnam War protestor should know that better than most. All we can hope for now is something less than a bloodbath. The following woo is not encouraging.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 15, 2021 at 5:36 pm

Godwin’s Law is For Fools

with 8 comments

We Live In Dangerous Times

The drums of war are beating.

Many commentators say Australia would not be invaded, in the event of hostilities between China and the US.  I disagree.  Australia is enormously vulnerable.  Its defense forces are weak and the current US administration cannot be relied upon to come to her aid.

Australia is rich in high grade coal and iron ore, bauxite, copper, uranium, lithium and mineral sands, all of which Xi needs to support a prolonged war with the enfeebled United States. (China currently is storing imported iron or on its sea bed.)

A decision to occupy would indicate Xi’s calculation he can’t control supply by threats alone.

If he going to have a crack at Taiwan, Xi will have to strike before the US mid-term elections.  He needs at least two years of an enfeebled and incompetent United States.  I think he likely will hit Hawaii with an intercontinental nuclear missile strike on the same day he invades Taiwan.  Hawaii will be a ‘keep out of my back yard’ message to the US and a ‘do as you’re told’ message to Taiwan and Australia.

History is full of repetitions.  E.g. the killing of John the Baptist, the killing of Jesus Christ, the metaphorical killing of President Trump.

This essay draws on a multitude of historical repetitions:

Who will be the Churchill of the United States?   Who will be the traitorous Lord Halifax?                                  

Hitler, Stalin and Hirohito managed to slaughter 60,000,000 people over five years.   What will Xi’s tally be?  My guess is somewhere between three and five hundred million.

What will be the trigger which sets China off on World War Three?  A recession? Some perceived insult resulting in ‘loss of face?’

What will bring the headlong rush to war to a halt?

The assassination of Xi.  

Someone had better call Mossad.

Russia China

Written by adolffinkensen

July 12, 2021 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Australia, China, USA

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War as Art

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I don’t know much about Japan’s history outside of WWII but it seems that the following battle was a pretty big deal, on a par with the consequences for Britain of the Battle of Hastings, and for Europe with the Battle of Tours.

The consequences meaning how the societies were permanently changed. Large battles such as Agincourt, Trafalgar, and even Waterloo were huge and important, but I don’t think Britain or Europe would have been as fundamentally changed as they were after the first two battles listed above, or as much as Japan was changed by Sekigahara:

One of the most important wars in Japanese history, the Battle of Sekigahara took place during the Sengoku period on October 21, 1600, in what is now Gifu prefecture. All told, 160,000 men faced each other; the samurai warriors of Tokugawa Ieyasu against a coalition of Toyotomi loyalist clans.

The Tokugawa troops won, leading to the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan for another two and a half centuries until 1868.

In Japan there’s even a rough equivalent to the Bayeux Tapestry, with a huge wall-sized screen painting of the battle, which can be seen at this link to My Modern Met:

But that article is actually about a Japanese artist who has animated the huge picture:

Inspired by this moment in history, Shigeta based his artwork on an ancient, multi-panel screen that depicts the battle. The original artwork was made in the 1620s and belonged to the Lord Ii of Hikone. A replica made in 1854 illustrates the details of the bloody battle, and even in its still composition, there’s the sense of movement. Shigeta further brings the scene to life by transforming the 19th-century painting into a digitally animated loop.

It’s “only” 1m27s long (there are hours of work involved in producing even 1 second of such computer animation), but you have to watch it repeatedly to see the details.

(UPDATE: Met link corrected)

Written by Tom Hunter

May 27, 2021 at 9:13 am

Posted in History

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