Tag: World War II

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. Seawriter Book Review ‘Everything We Had’ a story of Air Force pilot brothers […]

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My maternal grandmother recently died at 93, leaving behind hard working progeny, a dozen grandchildren, and a handful of great-grandchildren. She was humble and funny, a one-time aspiring fashion designer who ended up marrying young instead. Six children came along, and then she began a nearly thirty-year stint at a typewriter factory once the youngest […]

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Today would have been my Dad’s 92nd birthday. Like many of the “Greatest Generation,” he served in the Pacific on a Landing Ship Medium (LSM) as a radioman. He mentioned some twists of fate on how he survived the war. Because of his size (6’1”, 180 lbs.) and strength, he was originally trained to carry a heavy tube radio […]

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This is the first of two essays of which I mean to deliver myself, concerning American Christians at war. I’m enough of a movie critic to raise an eyebrow when people start saying Christian things in stories. It’s pretty rare; it occurs usually in period pieces. I’ve a few things to say about this that you […]

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The conversation you will find below started in Mr. Aaron Miller’s fun discussion of games & therefore I felt it should be taken out, because it’s ugly stuff. The book is, I believe, a must-read for people interested in American war & modern warfare. I expect more than a few people here on Ricochet have read […]

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I just finished Unbroken on my Kindle. It was one of those deeply researched and well-written books that made me reflect in every chapter–actually, made me feel like a different person after I’d read it. Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, one-time Olympic runner who in World War II, went down in a plane over the Pacific […]

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Did Hillary Flunk a History Lesson?

 

ap4101061184-7dbed01724926c75c9cd901e18556a9f6a444529-s500-c85So Hillary Clinton has formally (choose your favorite verb) launched/rebooted/re-packaged/re-introduced her presidential campaign in a Saturday speech on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. My question going into the event: which Roosevelt would she channel in making her case to be America’s 45th president?

Choice A: Eleanor Roosevelt, for whom Mrs. Clinton has long expressed an affinity as a fellow First Lady (some reporters speculated that Hillary’s “Scooby” ride through Iowa was inspired in part by Eleanor’s famous jaunt in a Buick Roadster).

Choice B: Theodore Roosevelt and his rough-riding progressivism of 110 years ago – spirited anti-corporate rhetoric (Hillary’s even shown a willingness to appropriate one of T.R.’s more famous phrases, “in the arena”).

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We in the English speaking democracies are often faulted for our supposed ill motivations in going to war. At this Christmas Season, and at a time we continue to be under the attack of monstrous forces who would destroy everything that we hold dear, it is important to recall why we do at time have […]

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Late in 1944, OSS sent my Dad and his buddies in Field Photo to Washington, D.C, to spend several weeks with Signal Corps, learning to use their serious cameras. After that would come Catalina and then CBI, but at this point they had photography lessons on the Mall, and practiced all over town. Here are […]

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The Poles of 1939 deserve better than this. The Russian invasion of Poland is a non-event in news coverage of current events in Eastern Europe. Russia is currently invading Ukraine in a post-modern fashion. They put unmarked uniforms on their troops and sent them into southern Ukraine (i.e. Crimea) and later into eastern Ukraine with […]

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Sword, Juno, Utah, Omaha, Gold

 

D-DayEach June 6th, those words leap to the front of one’s consciousness. They were the code names of the five most important beaches in the history of the United States — and the free world. (Ok. The men who landed on Iwo, Tarawa, Guam, Saipan and dozens of others in the Pacific might argue that point).

Seventy years ago, the largest armada ever assembled crossed the Channel from England headed for Normandy. It was called “Operation Overlord” and it almost didn’t take place.

A few days before it was to begin, the word “Overlord” appeared in a crossword puzzle in the London papers. Intelligence assumed it was a signal to the Germans about the upcoming invasion. To this day, it has never been explained–except to call it an untimely coincidence.

Never Forget

 

shutterstock_146659976I had soldiers on my mind this morning as I went for a brisk walk in the cemetery across from my house. Victor Davis Hanson is partially to blame. I read his fine NRO piece this week about the upcoming 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and it stuck with me.

But that’s not the only reason my thoughts have been full of marines, sailors, and infantrymen. I’ve also been working my way through the HBO miniseries The Pacific about Raritan, New Jersey’s own John Basilone, who won both the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle for Henderson Field on Guadalcanal in 1942 and (posthumously) the Navy Cross for his valor at Iwo Jima in 1945. The series is not great, but Basilone is undoubtedly a true American hero and it is right and proper that somebody should make a movie about his life. (My dad would want you to know that Raritan is just 20 miles down Rt. 287 from my hometown of Morristown.)

In the cemetery this morning, I came across some yet-to-be-cleared wreaths from my town’s Memorial Day commemoration. I want to share one of them with you:

Did Churchill’s Depression Help Win World War II? — A.D.P. Efferson

 

 In Nassir Ghaemi’s book, A First-Rate Madness, he argues that Winston Churchill’s well-documented depression (or “black dog,” as Churchill called it) may well have been the reason Churchill was able to see Hitler for who he was; whereas Neville Chamberlain, being of sound mind, could not.

Ghaemi credits Churchill’s clarity of thought to a phenomenon known as “depressive realism.” Depressive realism was discovered quite by accident, by two graduate students who were trying to test Martin Seligman’s “learned helplessness” theory of depression. Seligman believed the insidious negativity internalized by people suffering from depression as a result of early trauma precluded them from functioning as normal adults. They would learn to be helpless.

Fighting Oppression vs. Fighting for Home

 

In his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg touches on the widespread sympathy for fascism and communism in the United States in the years leading to World War II. Many others have written on the subject.

It only now occurred to me that many of “the Greatest Generation” who were sent to fight the Nazis, Mussolini’s fascists and the Soviets might have been supporters of those regimes before the war. Is there any history of this?

Why Are the Tyrants Always Short Guys? — Marion Evans

 

Or why only the French can stop Putin.
I am only 5’7” tall, 5’8” on warmer days or when I feel magnanimous. One day, soon after my wife and I started dating, she was in one of her it-is-better-to-be-honest-than-tactful moods, and she casually observed that I was the shortest boyfriend she had ever had. Since my height was a pre-existing condition, I was eminently prepared to face down this abject rebellion and I immediately shot back that I was “tall inside.” The trick worked and we have been married for over 10 years. This is what short guys do. We act and talk tall in the hope that other people will not notice or care. We also adopt some defensive measures, such as avoiding parties where everyone is standing up in close quarters. Dinner parties are so much more civilized anyway.
Another thing we enjoy more than the average American is overseas travel. This is so not only because cattle…uh, coach class on airlines feels roomier to us, but also, more importantly, because people in most other countries are shorter than Americans. Standing tall in the Tokyo subway a decade ago, I marveled at my unrestricted panoramic view of bobbing Japanese heads on their way to work. And then, there is France. The French are not as short as the Japanese, but they are short enough. A persistent theory claims that Napoleon culled the tall gene by recruiting the tallest for his endless battles at the four corners of Europe.
Which brings us nicely to the Napoleon-Hitler-Putin axis of history. Do you see a pattern here? Napoleon was short (5’6”), Hitler was short (5’8”), Putin is shorter (5’5”). Why is it always a short guy? Napoleon and Hitler set Europe aflame. If you think Putin is not as bad, it is only because you lack imagination. Or maybe you are blind. He participated in the destruction of a city inside Russia, Grozny in Chechnya (2000), and invaded two countries, Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014). He also bears some responsibility for the devastation of Syria (2011-2014). And, by the way, he does not particularly dislike Syrians. He had no reason to feel any envy or anger towards them. Just think what he would do to Americans if he could. Use your imagination. Assume the worst. And be pleasantly surprised if you are wrong. That is better than being naïve and hoping for the best.
Now, Putin may not completely live up to his Hitlerian potential. An accident may happen. One day, a pet tiger may not take kindly to the smug humanoid fondling his luxurious coat to impress the cameras. Or he may fall off his horse or suffer hypothermia while bathing in a Siberian lake and be thus incapacitated. Or Pussy Riot may organize a simultaneous revolt across all of Russia’s nine time zones. That would be unfortunate, but here is a simple truth that is not always heeded: it can be reckless and dangerous to toy with unpredictable great forces such as wild animals, mother nature, angry women, and… well, the United States of America. But enough fantasy. Back to reality.
The reality is not only that Putin is short but that Russia is also “short.” I am not the kind of guy who can afford to pick a fight in a bar. And Russia today is not the kind of country that can afford to pick a fight with a superpower. Maybe the Russians are hoping that we will not notice. Maybe they are diverting our attention from their 12,600 miles of land borders, which are largely indefensible save through the threat of nuclear weapons. Maybe they are acting tall, or telling us that they are “tall inside.” Maybe that is why they are trying to rally more populous countries like China and India against us. It is no accident that Putin thanked both of these countries for their understanding just yesterday while he signed the annexation of Crimea. Ok, but problem! China probably wants Siberia and India is our friend.
Russia’s numbers speak for themselves. It has a population of 145 million people, expected to fall to 126 million by 2050 (UN estimates). It has the GDP of Italy (are you afraid of Italy?) and is very dependent on its energy resources. If oil fell to, say, $50 per barrel and stayed there for a few months, Putin would be more reasonable about Crimea. At $40, the Chinese would clear their throat about Siberia. And at $30, the Japanese would cough twice about the Kuril Islands. Remember that Putin’s last invasion (of Georgia) occurred in 2008, shortly after oil hit a record $150 per barrel. Keep that oil price down. Or better, drive it down to $50.
There has been a lot of criticism of President Obama regarding his response to the theft of Crimea. You see, the problem is that Obama is not short enough. Not only is he physically tall — not to say downright greedy — at 6’1.” He is also trying to keep things “tall”, dignified, on a higher plane. He thinks he is matching wits with Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney.
What we need is a Putin-like leader on our side … and this is where the French come in. If you have ever been in a Parisian taxi, you know that you do not want to get into an argument with a Frenchman. It is true that they “took August off” during every month of World War II, but that is because they were deeply divided. Unlike the Germans or Soviet Russians, the French do not need a higher reason to antagonize you. No delusions about ideological struggle, or about master race or rebirth of empire. If you attack them or even just annoy them, they will lash back. What is more, as noted in a recent Ricochet article, in the sorry history of sub-5’9” mass murderers, Napoleon entered Moscow in 1812 (though mainly due to Russian withdrawal) and Hitler did not in 1942. Note that the Russians promptly returned the visit by occupying Paris in 1814.
The incumbent Francois Hollande is short enough (5’8”) to stop Vladimir Putin. But if not him, his predecessor and likely successor, Nicolas Sarkozy (5’7”), certainly has the goods. The super smart, short-tempered, streetfighting, supermodel-marrying Sarkozy has been working on a comeback and could well breeze into office in 2017. He is tan. He is rested. He is pro-Europe. He is pro-America. And he is short.