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26 December 2014

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MartinJ

For some reason the internet brings out the worst in people and they seem to enjoy spewing vitriol against others at the drop of a hat. I think this is one of the few sites that I bother to read the comments because of the (generally) large amount of respect between the participants and/or the good Colonel's efforts at weeding out the trolls.

BabelFish

How about a rousing rendition of "Springtime for Hitler"? I would enjoy seeing a troll explanation of why that is good and speaking about someone like Adolph Galland (other than as a demon airman) is bad.

jr786

When I was a kid I read "The German Generals Talk" a collection of interviews Liddel Hart had made with captured generals. My father had it in his books, along with Skorzeny's autobiography and scores of our own bios about WWII. The funny thing about today is that the more freedom we think we have, the opposite is true. Sure, you can read these books but if you try to have an objective discussion about their subjects you're a Nazi sympathizer.

Most people don't care, but if you're in a job or profession where the accusation is enough, then you know how restricted speech has become.

Jack

Indeed. PCness as well as demagoguery has become so acute that it seems that we are well past the slippery slope. Both sides, left and right, Democrats and Republicans believe in their views with righteous fervor. Intellectual intolerance is clearly on the rise.

Imagine

It is a back-handed compliment; it means your writing matters.

"The [Israeli] Prime Minister's Office is planning to form, in collaboration with the National Union of Israeli Students, 'covert units' within Israel's seven universities that will engage in online public diplomacy (hasbara)...unit heads to receive full scholarships."
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.541142

"Israeli students to get $2,000 [each] to spread state propaganda on Facebook"
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-students-get-2000-spread-state-propaganda-facebook

http://whitewraithe.wordpress.com/a-guide-to-hasbara-trolls/

"Covert online students hasbara units directed out of Israeli PM Netanyau’s office...A diplomacy group will be set up at each university and structured in a semi-military fashion. The head of the unit will be a student 'senior coordinator,' who will receive a full scholarship from the Prime Minister’s Office. Working under the senior coordinator will be three other student coordinators, each of whom will head one of three desks, responsible for languages, graphics and research. These coordinators will get smaller scholarships. A group of student activists, who will receive nominal student stipends, will work under each coordinator. The Prime Minister’s Office will fund a total of NIS 2.78 million in scholarships for the program in the upcoming academic year." http://mondoweiss.net/2013/08/covert-online-students-hasbara-units-directed-out-of-israeli-pm-netanyaus-office

One has to admire the organization effort.

Why is so much energy being put into this? See "Is Israel An Apartheid State? Rhetoric or Reality?" http://icahdusa.org/downloads/10
a summarization of a 300-page joint South African / British lawyer fact-finding mission "Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? --A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law"
(at University of Sussex http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/43295/ or search online).

turcopolier

imagine

It is difficult to distinguish among the various tribes of trolls. A common feature of their technique is for one to enter the network of SST, lie "doggo" for a bit, then make quite reasonable comments for a time. At some point action is decided on and an unexpected screed is launched that essentially screams and proclaims every vile hurtful thing that can be assembled. The idea seems to be to attempt to wound enough so that the target of the attacks will fall silent. I do take it as a compliment. pl

dmr

Colonel Lang -

Apropos your second paragraph:

That soldiers and officers of the Wehrmacht fought with great courage, skill and intrepidity only a fool would dispute. Max Hastings in his comparative study of German and Allied forces during and after the Normandy landings is hardly alone in arguing that the former were far superior and far more dangerous than their adversaries in combat; constituting indeed a war-fighting machine without parallel until the rise of the modern American army and as such to be admired.

At the same time, that not a few members the German armed forces in the Second World War knew directly or from hearsay of - I do not say, here, participated in - the atrocities perpetrated in the East against the Jews by some of their brothers-in-arms cannot really be gainsaid. The evidence for this state of affairs and for their view of the matter, as often as not, is plain to see inter alia from Klees' book The Good Old Days.

I feel it is necessary to hold both these judgments - the one eliciting praise for professional expertise, the other dismaying in the extreme for obvious reasons - in the mind without labouring vainly to resolve them (vainly because this complexity is hardly susceptible of easy of definitive resolution)....

dmr

Colonel Lang:

As a postscript: I do not say that mere knowledge of a crime incriminates the knower. I do say( without wishing to be being dogmatic about it) that complacent or uncritical acceptance of such news, as seems not infrequently to have been the case where Wehrmacht soldiers were concerned, is contemptible. Mitigating circumstances can always be adduced of course in defence of such acceptance. A thorny question, to be sure, and one not to be resolved by facilely labelling a body of men as a collection of "demons." I do no such thing b.t.w.

oofda

Colonel,
Indeed, your writing is hitting home and showing Israeli policies for what they are. Also, some people just can't stand seeing Arab culture and and people in anything other than a bad light. You do provide valuable insight into ME affairs that isn't tainted by anti-Arab animus. Some people can't abide by that. (Recall your noted interview with Doug Feith, who dismissed you when he found that you spoke Arabic.)

Along the same lines, there was recently an on-line magazine article on the A-10 "Warthog" attack plane that hyped the fact that a "Nazi" had helped design it. This was almost 50 years ago, but the author was still bothered by the fact that the U.S. brought Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the famed Luftwaffe Stuka pilot over to provide advice on designing the USAF's plane designed to be a tank-killer. Remember that at that time of the Cold War, the West was facing a huge Soviet tank threat. It made manifest sense to pick the brains of the best ground attack pilot in history. For the record, Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions claiming a total of 2,000 targets destroyed; including 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, nine aircraft, four armored trains, several bridges, a destroyer, two cruisers, and the Soviet battleship Marat. Amazing that he survived, flying the last part of the war with one leg. Oh,and he was not a member of the NSDAP, so he was not a Nazi.
And can't see how comments about the Wharton Business School upset people. As the saying goes, "Drive on!"

turcopolier

All

A strange thread has evolved from my outright praise of Bill Harris, and my implied praise of von der Heydte. dmr - I do not think today's American soldiers are better at their trade than their fathers, grandfathers, etc. They are simply more appreciated, but "it don't matter. It don't mean nuttin..." IMO, the Roman imperial army of the first two centuries AD, The Army of Northern Virginia throughout its existence, and the WW2 Krauts were the best armies in history in terms of sheer fighting quality. This is not to excuse the officers of the Heer, the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine from the guilt they bear unto eternity for not having stopped Hitler. They should have killed him, and they did not and for that they are rightly condemned, but by god, they sure could fight. Winston Churchill once observed that "you cannot judge an army by whether it won or lost. Some times the odds are simply too great. You must judge an army by the quality of its effort." pl

Nancy K

I agree with you completely. It is also the only site I read the comments.

gnv233

Col Boyd kept repeating that the top German divisions of WW2
were the best fighting force ever. He was hoping the Marine fighting doctrine he sponsored will help them become just as good some day.

turcopolier

gnv

Yes, The Grossdeutschland, the 1st Fallshirmjager, 116th Panzer, etc. were incredible. pl

oofda

And to consider that the Wehrmacht was fighting both the Soviets and the Allies (U.S., UK & Commonwealth, etc) makes its performance all the more impressive. The fighting on the Eastern Front in WWII is difficult to really comprehend. Sadly, too often Western writers and military 'experts' have ignored the epic struggle on the Ostfront. (This comment itself might generate some of those troll letters!)

Add to that list the army of Gustavus Adolphus, the "Lion of the North" until his death at Lutzen. His innovative tactical integration of infantry, cavalry, logistics and particularly his use of artillery, earned him the title of the "Father of Modern Warfare", and his army implemented his ideas well.

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

On the general subject, I just watched, via Netflix, "Generation War"; a German TV production which works very well as a coherent movie. It is the story of four young Berliners from the eve of the attack on the Soviet Union to the immediate aftermath of the war. It's a good story, the film has high production values, and is from their perspective as people and not caricatures. The negative revues were basically along the lines of saying that the main characters should have been evil, etc.

I'm consistently annoyed by the defining of The Second World War as the holocaust, followed by Pearl Harbor and the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On great armies, how could you have neglected to mention the Greeks at Troy? They launched a seaborne invasion, landed on a hostile shore, laid siege to a great city, and finally seized and sacked it. I admit there was a degree of underhanded sneakiness and trickery about the whole thing, but it was done for a good cause. To wit, a good looking dame.

Madame and I shall be making our way east to Annapolis and Washington and New Year's Eve at the Army and Navy Club. Happy New Year.

WPFIII

rjj

again with Firesign Theater's "The first word in Turkish is border."

The first phrase to be learned by online public diplomats should be "perverse outcome."

ISL

Dear Colonel,

Somehow our public dialogue has degraded to where the enemy de jour, no matter how two bit is equated with Hitler and Nazi Germany, a ludicrous assertion that contains the implied assumption that for example, the Nazi army was comparable to that of Saddam Hussein.

Had this been true, WWII would never have been (a world war), yet the assertion is never challenged by our ever suppine media.

There also is a conceit that technological advantage must devolve "by divine right?" to our (allied/US) forces because of their inherent "goodness." Yet, the impressive progress by the German missile scientists, nuclear scientists, and other engineers easily could have tipped the war (in the world of what if) if hostilities had started a few years or even less later. I suspect this point is too heretical for open discussion.

My point is that as our society has lost its roots to our history, paid propaganda trolls find easy workings. And for their mission, centers of informed discussion (aka SST) that re-link to reality, pose a particular threat. SST is the only site where I engage and judge it worthwhile to engage in the comments.

Joe Robinson

Colonel,
The vitriol could be coming from hate-filled trolls, but it could also be a deliberate tactic. There was a very interesting article in the NY Times (This Story Stinks, March 2, 2013) on the effect of including abusive language in a comment. Opinion immediately became polarised, and open debate became much harder. Any organizations coordinating internet campaigns will be well aware of the effects of their language on different audiences.

ex-PFC Chuck

About 30 years ago I read a memoir written by a private in the Grossdeutschland Division and what that unit went through was appalling. After a bit of head scratching and intertubes searching I think the book was entitled "The Forgotten Soldier," by Guy Sajer. I had recalled that the soldier was from the Alsace Lorraine area and thus the French-sounding name is plausible. It's a worthwhile read for people interested in firs-person combat memmoirs.

ex-PFC Chuck

A bit off-topic, but I'm aware that this committee of correspondence follows matters regarding the Russia-Ukraine dust up. So, for your Saturday-after-Christmas enjoyment I bring your attention to an interview with rebel economist Michael Hudson. You can either read it or watch it on the embedded video from The Real News Network. The TLDR (too long, didn't read) is that US policy in the Ukraine is a strategic shot in the foot.

http://michael-hudson.com/2014/12/russian-pivot/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Hudson_%28economist%29

harry

Surely we should give a lot of credit to the Red Army. They did beat them after all.

turcopolier

ex-FC Chuck

Guy Sajer's father was French and his mother German. he was classified as German by that government and drafted into the Wehrmacht. At the end of the war he was captured by the US. The French declared him a victim of the war and he joined the French Army. pl

confusedponderer

I don't quite recall where I read it, but it was put along the lines that somewhere along the way the US has developed a near totalitarian attitude of not ever talking with enemies. I think that particular sickness comes from the dysfunctional domestic policy discourse.

As far as treating and treating with enemies is concerned, the US after WW-II were not as dumb, as suggested by Operation Paperclip.

Moon landing? Thank von Braun for that, an SS member (NSDAP Nr. 185,068). Anselm Franz, who developed the T53 engine that powered the ubiquitous Huey (and the T55 powering the equally ubiquitous Hercules)? He learned his trade at Junkers building engines for the Me 262. Knemeyer, the man who tamed the Starfighter? Before that he was the Luftwaffe's top engineer-test pilot. Etc pp.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wernher_von_Braun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_Franz
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siegfried_Knemeyer
...
Etc pp.

Had they been Iraqis in 2003, the US under Bush would have probably thrown all of them into Abu Ghraib or Camp Bucca because today, they would be all enemies beyond the pale (as in, for all practical purposes, 'brown skinned'?).

IMO it means that in America that intractable, moralistic streak has taken over in domestic dialogue, doemstic politics and international politics.

http://tinyurl.com/lclhc5e

America has forgotten the art of dialogue, and along the way, the art of decorum.

Haralambos

All--largely off-topic here. This is up today: http://tinyurl.com/kpp5rxx My paternal grandfather took part. He was wounded and unconscious when the gas arrived. He died early, at age 45, before I was born. He was in the 104th out of Massachusetts: http://mastatelibrary.blogspot.gr/2013/02/the-courageous-men-of-104th-infantry.html, a unit decorated by the French government. By a tragic irony, my maternal grandfather was a chemist working on gas in the US Army. The chickenhawks' cavalier talk and strutting walk to war are appalling to me.

turcopolier

CP

'brown skinned?" Ever been here? I am surprised that you would write such an anti-American comment, surprised and disappointed. we should withdraw from Europe and leave all of you to deal with the Russians and the Muslims. As for your theory of domestic discord having distorted our ability to deal with the outside world, there is a certain truth to that in that politics her and foreign policy as well were once the province of the educated elites. that is no longer so. pl

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