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08 September 2013


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Well, the premise was simply that it would have been "theoretically" possible for the Pope to excommunicate Hitler, had he chosen to. It is true that, if anything, Hitler was, in his beliefs and actions, deeply hostile to Catholic faith.

Charles I

I heard on the news your last phrase has been tweeted by military personnel, now part of the debate

Charles I

Dan Senor was on one of the three tv shows as I browsed back and forth advocating the same, general acknowledgement that a limited punishment strike really pointless, and specifically pointing out that this is all about credibility with Iran when it comes time to attack them, American impotence, etc.

I can't recall which wag in particular recommended a strike destroying all Assad's
CW stocks and capacity, which however fanciful at least bore on the alleged issue.



It is incredibly depressing to have, in my lifetime, to hear the Drums of War for Vietnam, Gulf War I, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria. Each war was a failure. What is worse is that this time the powers to be did not even bother to try to give us a reasonable rationale for the war. In Syria we will be literally fighting on the side of evil. We will be providing air support for America’s sworn enemy, Sunni Jihadists. The Syrian war will metastasize. The collapse of the World Economy and World War III with Russia are a real possibilities as this war drives towards Tehran.

The only explanation that I can come up with is that Corporatists have seized control of Washington DC. We no longer live in a democracy.

David Habakkuk


About Churchill, you are quite precisely wrong. Very much can be said against him – I can see a case could be made that he was an egomaniac, and certainly he made his full share of mistakes – but by virtue not simply of his temperament but also his background, he could not be a narcissist.

Among the things which most mattered to Churchill was his family. So on his father’s side, he was the son of the ‘Tory Democrat’ politician Lord Randolph Churchill, and a descendant of one of the greatest of British generals, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, whose biography he wrote.

His mother was of course Jennie Jerome, born in Brooklyn –a very remarkable and seriously bizarre lady – and there was a very great deal of the ‘Jerome’ in Winston.

One effect of this is that Winston’s whole sense of self was bound up with a vision of British history – and also, American history. He could not be true to his vision of himself, without being true to a vision of something larger than himself. Indeed I think it is probably not inappropriate to say that one of the reasons some of the ‘appeasers’ were so afraid of Churchill was that they thought he would have been not so very unhappy to go down in a last-ditch stand against an invading German army in 10 Downing Street. The machine gun in the famous photo was not simply for ornament.

Another effect of both of his history and his personality, which absolutely differentiates Churchill from Obama, was that he was quite happy to have as his advisers people who had capacities he lacked, or had capacities he possessed to a much greater extent than he had himself. The crucial successes of British intelligence in the twentieth century largely go back to two figures whom Churchill had working for him when he was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1914 – the Director of Naval Intelligence, Reginald ‘Blinker’ Hall, and the Director of Naval Education, the Scots engineer and physicist Alfred Ewing.

As someone I knew quite well who was in a position to judge remarked, Churchill never felt threatened by having people who might have been accounted much abler than he was working for him – after all, he was a descendant of John Churchill, and they weren’t. By contrast, Obama appears to surround himself with people who will not threaten his sense of himself – which rules out people of the kind of ability and independence of mind displayed by ‘Blinker’ Hall and Ewing.

And (irony alert) had Churchill been trying to work out what was the least worst option in regard to Syria, it is not entirely impossible to imagine that he might have been just slightly sceptical of the views of someone with the background of Samantha Power. Indeed, it is just possible that Churchill might not have been totally convinced that Wesley Clark, or Paul Wolfowitz, or Nicholas Burns, or James Steinberg, were reliable sources of expertise about anything.

It is even conceivable that Churchill's background and experience might have inclined him to pay some attention to the views of an erstwhile special forces officer, who combined a rather diverse experience of military operations with knowledge of Arabic and the the history of the Middle East. (Irony alert again.)



I'd draw the parallel with the Norway Debate.

For years anti-appeasers had been tearing their hair out at the policy and its stupidity but, defended by a subservient press, a massive parliamentary majority, and an incredibly clever and brutal political fixer and press secretary, Joseph Ball, Chamberlain had seemed impregnable.

Then very quickly, the press, the arguments seemed to loose their potency. The brilliantly and ruthlessly executed Bridgwater by-election of November 1938, fortuitously coinciding with Kristillnacht, Hitler's full invasion of Czechoslovakia, and finally Chamberlain's half-hearted declaration of war, all put the writing on the wall.

But the final toppling came in the bizarrest, almost Keystone Cops events of the Norway debate in May 1940. Just as Miliband doesn't seemed to have intended to set this whole chain of Western parliamentary events in motion, so Churchill was the man most responsible for the fiasco of the Norway campaign, but ended up after two days as Prime Minister.

Suddenly, after years of obfuscation of the true facts and the inability to hold an honest, open debate, the whole nation turned on a penny and set off on a completely opposite, and coherent course.

William R. Cumming


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A politician, political leader, or political figure (from Classical Greek πόλις, "polis") is a person who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making. This includes people who hold decision-making positions in government, and people who seek those positions, whether by means of election, inheritance, coup d'état, appointment, electoral fraud, conquest, divine right, or other means. Politics is not limited to governance through public office. Political offices may also be held in corporations, and other entities that are governed by self-defined political processes or can be known as freedom fighters.


I remember the story about Alan Brooke (one of the posters here reminded me of that--was it confusedponderer or walrus?) and Churchill. Brooke, supposedly, despised about 75% of Churchill and loved 25% of him, and they disagreed all the time, supposedly so that, if they agreed, he would not be doing his job. As a general rule, I don't think people should have as advisors those whom you agree with, ever: there's nothing you can learn from them. Alas, that's not the way things work nowadays, not just with top political leaders, but also with the general public (who too often opt to listen only to the talking heads whom they agree with)


A possible item to support your hypothesis: the Guardian is quoting 'German sources' cannot confirm Assad was behind the attacks.

I am not qualified to assess the accuracy of any of this information, but I don't recall any EU government coming out in this public way in 2002.

It may be worth noting that back during the Arab Spring, the Guardian had a toggle that enabled readers of its online pages to select English or Arabic. (I think the NYT may have done something similar.) These sorts of innovations surely change the culture of the readership.

Also, my recollection is that Al Jazeera had a very difficult time trying to get any sort of foothold in US cable markets until 2012; along came the Arab Spring, and a number of people that I know were suddenly streaming Al Jazeera on their computers during work hours - partly because it was convenient, partly because they need a global perspective for their work, and also because they couldn't get it on their tv's.

In addition, blogs have blossomed (or at least, the good ones have) since 2003, partly as a response to public fury over Iraq. Consequently, in 2013, any reasonably inquiring mind with a computer or a smartphone has access to a broader set of information than was available in 2003.

What this means for the larger outcome, I have no idea.
But at this point, Cameron and Kerry appear to want to evoke Churchill and Acheson. But they bring to mind that statement attributed to Marx (Karl, not Groucho): "History repeats itself; the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

If we have reached the 'farce' phase (and I fear we have), then I suspect the dynamics you describe for deep shifts in public opinion are not too far off. Here's hoping.


Why is Hitler relevant to any of this discussion?
He and his have been dead since 1945 --- 68 years now. His philosophy managed to destroy itself in less than 15 years; much shorter than the equally bankrupt philosophy of Marx and Lenin. His nominal religion has bupkis to do with anything. His use or nonuse of chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, biological weapons likewise.


One could look at who owns the 6 major media outlets, who programs the talking head/opinion enforcer appearances on those outlets, who edits the tapes; one could indulge in Who whom and then ask Is it good for which nation of the dual nationals involved.
Or one could talk about Adolph and the 40's as if they were the only relevant thing in the whole world.

joe brand

Question for people who have more military experience than I do: What is the likelihood that a limited set of air and cruise missile attacks on Syria, telegraphed in advance, will destroy a collection of Quaker guns and leave the real power of the Syrian military untouched? As I understand it, the bombing campaign against the Serbs blew up a lot of plywood "tanks." Can that happen again?


NPR has always been part of the interventionist propaganda machine, provided that the cause is "worth it," meaning that it is backed by people whom they like.

The lack of integrity of our political class in general (including the media talking heads) is astonishing.



Yes indeed., I'm still mystified that Obama & co are willing to bet so much on so little, and with so much downside. Americans may not yet be primed for such a "catalytic moment" but the widespread resistance to this latest adventure suggests the day when they are mightn't be that far off.


Col. it is approaching 10 years this next month since my son was killed in Iraq. He was 20 and next week will be his 30th birthday. I was corresponding with one of his army friends from the 173rd. He is about 30 too. It dawned on me that this buddy has spent his entire adult life at war. We cannot do this again.


Col., I was wondering if you had seen the interview with Andrew Bacevich?



Thank you for your first hand account of the town JohnH, let us hope that the people and town are under divine protection.


Churchill had fought in Three wars or campaigns and reported on a fourth before he held the levers of power.

Australian radio is repeating the WH Chief of staff sound bite at congress: " you are asked to decide if there should be consequences for Assads use of chemical weapons". rubbish.


Guilty as charged! But I'm easily distracted....

Babak Makkinejad

You are underestimating the fact that the English public was reluctant to go to war - Chamberlain was really carrying out what the English people wanted.

Furthermore, the UK leaders were interested in the war that would pit Germany against USSR - they were not going to go fight Germany when she was supposed to be their champion against the Red Menace.

Except that no one had informed Germany of that.

Their machinations came back and bit them in their collective asses; it seems to me.



Sir, please accept my deepest sympathy. My generation went through something similar and I have tried since then to prevent us from doing such things to ourselves. pl


Are you trying to say the jews are trying to twist the knife because of Hitler's nominal Catholocism?


NPR has always been about globalist neoliberalism, friend. A farmer is an honest occupation though. Nothing wrong with it.


Always a pleasure when you display your knowledge, Mr. Habakkuk. Your anaylsis is a great boon in understanding history.

Yours Truly


Sir, you have my deepest sympathies...

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