Tag: Second World War

The Perils of Peacemaking

 

“It is much easier to initiate a war than to end one.” With this sentence, I begin both my most recent book — Sparta’s Second Attic War — and a blogpost put up this morning on the Yale University Press site.

The point of the latter is simple enough: the settlement imposed at the end of one war — say, the First World War — often lays the foundation for the next war, and that is what happened not only at the end of Sparta’s First Attic War, but also at the end of the First Punic War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and, yes, the Cold War.

The error that statesmen and citizens alike tend to make is to fail to recognize that those who accepted terms and have merely yielded to circumstances and are in no way broken in spirit are apt in the future to be lying in wait for an opportunity to strike.

Bearly Heroic Service

 

Yes, you’ve driven me to bear posting, again. This is the story of a heroic bear, Wojtek (VOY-tek), who helped beat the Axis powers in Italy. He joined a unit of Free Poles, served with them through the war, and retired with honor to the Edinburgh Zoo, where he lived out his days. His death in 1963 was reported on radio and in the newspapers. His likeness became part of his unit’s official badge.

Wojtek was born in what is now northern Iran, and was orphaned when another group of orphans adopted him into their den. The other group of orphans, so to speak, were Polish soldiers who were released from Soviet Russian prison camps, the Siberian gulags. These men made their way south across the Caspian Sea and down into Persia/Iran, then effectively controlled by the Soviets and British, who had invaded from the north and south on the pretext of securing the oil fields and supply lines.

The Shah had made the miscalculation of trying to be neutral when there was no German force immediately adjacent, in contrast to Spain and Portugal. The British already had a grudge against this local ruler who dared tear up their exclusive oil deal in the 1930s. Deposing and making the Shah a prisoner in South African exile until his death, the British and Russians put the man who would be the last Shah on the Peacock Throne: Crown Prince Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The deposed ruler’s son was realistic and took the throne, eventually outlasting the British Empire and building an alliance with the United States to counterbalance the Soviet Russian empire’s continuation of the Great Game.

Memory and Forgetfulness: Part 3

 

The Normandy D-Day Ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery was absolutely first class. The staging, audio and video production were excellent. Both presidents gave exceptional addresses. While each reflected their own nation’s character and perception of the good, they both kept the focus on the surviving veterans, there with them, and those who have long laid to rest in this consecrated ground. Warning: this is at least a two hanky event.

The ITV YouTube channel carried the Normandy American Cemetery ceremony, with President Trump and President Macron. President Macron helicoptered in just before the ceremony started, as he had started the day in the British beach sector with Prime Minister May, and with representatives of the British royal family at a church service. He, and the French people, did a fine job as grateful hosts. Don’t miss the WWII cargo aircraft formations towards the end of the American ceremony, with the two presidents and their wives side-by-side looking out over the beach to the sea. That rumble is the sound of liberty.

Seventy-six years ago, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, America went to war. Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover senior fellow and author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, discusses lessons learned from that conflict’s successes and failures and how they apply today.

Carpet Bombing: A Brief History

 

Ted Cruz locked onto the phrase “carpet bombing” on the campaign trail and repeated it in the most recent Republican debate. He presumably means heavy, concentrated, tactical airstrikes such as those used in the First Gulf War. In popular imagination, these were also decisive in the Second Gulf War, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the 1995 NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the 1999 campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In other words, he probably means a massive concentration of tactical airstrikes against all C3 targets (command, control, communication) and against enemy logistics and operational forces.

It’s true that the air rate of sorties (one craft, one mission) against ISIS has been very low compared to those campaigns. It seems that Cruz envisions using air power alone to destroy ISIS by accelerating the tempo of strikes. For some reason, he’s confused the phrase “carpet bombing” with this idea. Perhaps he saw it on a documentary somewhere.