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@JPWREL The Germans were in no position to fight when they entered the Rhineland - their first aggressive move - and could have easily been stopped by a fairly small Anglo-French demonstration. But everyone just let it happen.
1 week, 1 day ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Me too Tom - tired of defending the defensible - and not just on this stuff.
1 week, 3 days ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@DrDemento @keithporter I never pretended I could proof read. Terrible and inexcusable typo. My editor wife - a regular grammar Texas Ranger - may now offer me the same choice the Melians had.
2 weeks, 5 days ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@DrDemento @keithporter Santa Anna wasn't really trying. A few settlers and lawmen were able to beat a couple of hundred Texas gun slingers in the famous Johnson County (Wyoming) war of 1890. And the general consensus then was that Texas is a lot more braggadocio than actual achievement. Maybe Santa Anna couldn't do it, but us lily-livered, soft, liberal, decadent, gay-loving Yankee city-dwellers just might be able to. Or not, but a lot of big talk from Texans is par for the course. Doesn't mean it's true. Rick Perry was up in our fair city trying to lure businesses down to Texas just last week. Don't think he had any takers. Lots of questions about safety and exploding fertilizer plants though.
@Huckleberry But this is a masterwork by one of the last real public intellectuals out there. It manages to be both scholarly, extremely relevant, and readable at the same time. And there are serious works - if one is discriminating that are also relevant, readable, and both scholarly and accessable. I am right now reading a book called Burned Bridge about life on the W. German/E.German border in two towns in SE Germany - the largest split population on on that border outside of Berlin. By a Stanford historian named Edith Shaffer. Outstanding and important in that it tells the real story of that border - all 1,300 Kgs of it - beyond the drama of the Berlin wall.
The posts that take any of this seriously - there appear to be many of them sort of prove Richard Hofstadter's point about paranoia. The pro-Texas folks and their ongoing case of the vapors need to belly up to the bar and order a couple of sarsaparillas just to calm down.
Postwar is a classic and Judt is a hero for (among other things) enduring the smears and libels of the Israel - right or wrong crowd (Dershowitz, AIPAC, et. al.) for no good reason while dying of a particularly nasty disease. Kudos to Tom for calling it essential; it is. I don't agree with all of Judt's points, but it's the most comprehensive, integrated, and just plain smart history of postwar Europe to date.
@keithporter Hell Keith - they ARE closing the Red Line on the South side - I'll have to drive to Sox games!
As for Texas - I agree - kick em out, then invade em, conquer their butts, and have a replay of the Melian dialogue - which Tom commented on a while back - and give em the same choice the Athineians gave the good cowboys and cowgirls of Melos.
3 weeks, 1 day ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@DILNIR Well, maybe a few - certainly not in unions after George Meany got his hands on them. But either way, none of them were shooting or bombing anyone or any thing, and the world revolution wasn't a likely event. It was pretty much a pig in a poke - communism isn't banned under the constitution to my knowledge and many would say the reaction or over-reaction was far worse than the threat.
3 weeks, 5 days ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
There seems to be some indication of that. My guess - pure conjecture - is that she was more of a blatherer; yakking about 9/11 conspiracy theories and becoming a devout Muslim at some point. I still believe that Juan Cole's analysis around the father-son stuff, and the older kid's influence on the younger make this less an AQ/international terrorism event and more of an attempted mass murder in the vein of a school or office massacre. Could be 100% wrong on this, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. We don't want to get caught in the 1950s loop of looking at everything in the context of a sort of self-invented international communist conspiracy.
I think my reading list has grown by about a year. What a cool list!I want to continue to push The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919, by Mark Thompson. My guess is that 100% of the readers of TBD have some awareness of the Italian front in WWI and know it was very bad, and I would also guess that most people here have read A Farewell To Arms.But it was very different in both terrain, strategy (if not tactics), and mindset from the Western Front. Cadorna makes Haig and Joffre look like Napoleon, Julius Cesar, Bill Slim, and George Patton combined.
And in a sense, because this book deals with the Balkan parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the end results have a more topical impact on geopolitics today than the Western Front, or the Eastern Front both of which had continuing evolutions caused by the Russian Revolution, WW II, the cold war, NATO, the EU, the fall of the USSR, etc., whereas after WW I the territories of the former Hapsburg empire became states that remained more or less intact with a lot of internal political change till the 1990s and are still getting sorted out. Notwithstanding the bloodbath it became, the Italian front informs most of 20th century Italian politics, and had a great affect on how the Balkans were structured at Versailles and through the rest of the century.
I'm with JPWREL on Rules of the Game. The definitive history of Jutland minute by minute, along with a very detailed history of communications and ship-to-ship signaling and other bitys of important naval history. Outstanding. Dreadnought by Raymond Massie was outstanding too, but Castles of Steel less so, because Rules of the Game is so good and covers much of the same territory,
I just finished The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919 by Mark Thompson, about the usually overlooked or scantily covered Italian front in WW I. Also outstanding and truly bloodcurdling - if anyone was capable of being less cautious with the lives of his soldiers than Hague, it was Cadorna.
1 month ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
It seems to me that LeMay's attitude of "bomb em into the stone age" whether he actually said it or not was the product of his stint with XXI Bomber Command in the Pacific. It's more or less accepted that the racial aspects of the war against Japan were much stronger than in the ETO (all one has to do is look at the propaganda: Hitler looks like Moe Howard, and Nazis are portrayed as clowns and idiots while the Japanese are portrayed as sub-human simians). There was an immediate negative response to the Dresden raids, and "Bomber" Harris is not in the pantheon of British hero generals. Yet when LeMay did more or less the same thing to Tokyo and most of the other urban areas of Japan there was very little if any backlash. And apparently it worked.
So why wouldn't LeMay promote the same thing, albeit with much bigger and more destructive weapons: the nukes? His running of the 3rd Division of the 8th got him the job with XXI Command (granted, his tactical method with the 8th wasn't what it was with XXI, and maybe that's part of the point) after Haslip faltered, and his laying waste British-style to Japan got him SAC in the new independent AF. It had worked for him to date so why wouldn't he advocate it going forward?
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Very good post - hell - I coulda written this myself! Th epoint about "the split" is - to this very moment - extremely important. It informed everything the IRA did.
2 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@Gold Star Father Good point.
Given the changes in the way the news cycle works, who is making video and reporting, and how it gets discriminated (notwithstanding the possible increase in complexity, or not), I doubt operations such as the ones the US ran in Central America in the 80s could be repeated in the same way. Everyone and his brother would be uploading phone-generated video to You Tube, FaceBook, or the Daily Koz. "Secret" is a relative term these days - it's changed drastically even since the invasion of Iraq almost exactly ten years ago. Only in extremely remote and impoverished places like rural Afghanistan, the SW Congo, etc., can stuff happen without citizen journalists - or whatever one wants to call them - recording stuff that might not be meant for public consumption.
2 months, 2 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Is this where TR's "speaking truth to power" comes into play? What if, as Tyrtaios touchs on, there isn't a coherent political plan, or it's not workable in the opinions of the people who are supposed to carry the freight, or it isn't serious. Or there are kinds of support for the government that might slide into illegality (anyone who says the US didn't abet war crimes in Central America in the 80s is either naive, kidding themselves, or just lying). So at which point does the GO or other officer possibly sacrifice his/her career to point out the political pitfalls of a particular situation or spurious plan? It wouldn't be the first time the US ended up on the wrong side of history.
Well, the telegraph was point-to-point, and the Internet is hub and spoke. Which is very different. However in principle I agree with Tom. It isn't a lot more complex, it just seems that way.
With apologies to everyone for moving backwards, but I was hoping Tom ond/or someone else can comment on this story from the Guardian. Doesn't make the SF in El Salvador look too good and it implicates Petreaus in a torture and snatch and kill squad operation.
An outstanding article. Whether you agree or not on the specifics, Anderson's points about the unique nature of all these conflicts, the disparate elements, some of whom are usually willing to talk, and the need to proceed cautiously and without too many preconceived notions about what a reasonable solution might be, We've tried the cookie-cutter approach over and over. Doesn't work. COIN may not work at all, butif it is going to, the lessons Anderson discusses here will have to be learned.
2 months, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@DILNIR I don't think the residents of the NW frontier are easily shocked or awed. Perhaps elsewhere.