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03 June 2015


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ex-PFC Chuck

Col., I was going to respond to PB's posts of 04:38 and 10:44 on June 4 but you have said most of what I was going to say. AFAIK MacArthur was the only person who had the total defeat of North Korea on his agenda. The overwhelming concern in DC was western Europe, especially France and Italy. Both countries were dealing with strong Communist-influenced labor movements that were threatening the stability of the governments. As MacArthur was pitching not only advancing to the Yalu but beyond into Chinese Manchuria Gen. Omar Bradley, who IIRC was CJCS at the time, famously said it was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong enemy. So from that standpoint ending the war at approximately the status quo ante was just fine as far as the people in DC were concerned.

Regarding MacArthur, he had his moments of brilliance in the SW Pacific during WWII, as you wrote, as well as with the Inchon landing in Korea. But he could also be blinded by his hubris, as was the case in the weeks leading up to the Chinese counter offensive in Korea. But he apparently could also be tharn in the face of the unexpected. For example in the immediate wake of Pearl Harbor he failed to take the necessary actions needed to protect his fleet of B-17s, and he responded to the aforementioned Chinese counterattack with anything but alacrity.



"This is much as in the greatest offense of French-Canadians was in not accepting Anglo-ness in Canada. Please don't try to tell me that Anglo Canadians did not treat the French like the dogs they considered them to be. pl"
Thank you Col. Lang for that rebuttal. As a proud Cajun and direct descendent of the "300" I was about to fire off one myself..... you did it much more eloquently....I was spitting foam. Rank smugness has that effect on the Agin' Cajun. Come down to the Lucketts Fair in August and I will feed you some good grub for sure. Pee K Twa


England reimbursed the slave owners for their loss of property. France made Hattie pay for freeing themselves, the debt finally paid off a few years ago. I don't know if there was a serious attempt in the U.S. to pay the owners for their slaves freedom, or if the country was too poor to try.


Babak, it's getting deep into what-if, but I actually think something like that might have happened under the scenario I mentioned in which the US remained part of the British Empire. The home government would have used a combination of carrot and stick to wean the slaveholders gradually from their system. As it was, there was no such will for compensation in the North - recall that war was begun under the rubric of preserving the Union, not freeing the slaves - and no interest in the South if there had been, for slavery was still far too profitable, and there were even those among the Southern elites who imagined a new and expansive international slave empire following Southern independence.

Patrick Bahzad

Todd mentioned this in his essay about what he forecast as the end of the American Empire, comparing today to the US of WWII and post-WWII, when it was the most advanced nation on earth, an economic and industrial powerhouse with no serious challengers, a political giant that nations looked up to as a model to emulate and a military that had just taken decisive roles in beating both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
He infers from that, and from statistical date and anthropological data, that this high-point in American history has only been matched at the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union (around 1990), when overall situation was different and the Fall of the USSR was as much an internal phenomenon as an outside victory of the West.
He then proceeds to compare the main variables of American power and Empire, including "military might" and notes that since the end of the Vietnam War, the US military has been involved mostly in conflicts shaped by the model of the "Indian wars", that is - according to his thesis - confronting only weak enemies militarily, as a kind of theatrical show of strength, and carefully avoiding military entanglement against credible enemies. In the context of those years (2002-2204), the contrast between Iraq and North Corea is mentioned as an example.
And just for the record, Todd is half French, half American, so any comments based on a supposedly French anti-US bias in his writings would be misplaced.

Patrick Bahzad


I mostly agree both with you and PL about McArthur. The thing is, he was in a position where he put the UN operation at serious risk, and on the verge of disaster, had it not been for the outstanding bravery of the Marines who slowed down the Chinese offensive, while the rest of the US-US troops were being shipped out of that death-trap.
Without the Marines (and the Air Force to some degree), the Chinese might very well have overrun the UN forces, God only knows what would have happened then !

Patrick Bahzad


Thx for those explanations and documentary references. I will need to have a good look at some of them, as this is not exactly the cultural in which I was brought up and don't know enough about this, obviously.

My background is French Roman Catholic on my dad's side and Lebanese Maronite Christian on mother's side, so you see there's not actual connexion to the world of English or North American Puritanism.

But I'm very interested in cultural aspects and trends in a people's history. So bring it on ;-)

Patrick Bahzad

France still believes in a messianic and universal message it has to preach to the world. Just doesn't have the means to.

But I don't think the Franco-Prussian War has anything to do with that. I would have come anyway as part of first (actually) second German unification under Bismarck.

Regarding Sacré Coeur however, it was actually built not a reminder of "prudent" action in international, but as a reminder of the spiritual sins of the French, who had turned their backs on Catholic Church and had been punished for their sins through defeat by Prussia.

William R. Cumming

DH! Thanks for this informative comment! I understand Steven Cohen's recent comments on the US failures to understand Ukrainian and Russian problems has been turned into a gigantic FP issue and proble for all including USA. I agree.



For someone who lives in Alameda County, California you have an intriguing set of interests. Is this a personal matter? Your interest and focus on slavery in the USA probably exceeds that of most of us, but not me. The culture and history of the US is a main interest for me. 1- Slavery in the US is not and was not a great enough concern for most Americans in the 18th and 19th Centuries for them to wish to remain a part of the British Empire. Quite the opposite was desired and war was thought preferable to remaining connected to "the home country" in any way. In fact the exclusion of British influence from the Americas was a major concern for the US. We would have pushed them out of Canada if we had possessed the power to do so. 2- You will have to produce some proof of your thesis that the "elites" in the South wished to expand the "Slave Power" to other countries. There are journals published in New Orleans and SC that you might look at. pl


What is the best part of "Innocents Abroad"? People read Twain's wonderful fiction as real history. Imagine how amused he would be with that!

Farmer Don

Col. Lang,
I think I used the wrong word "advanced" in describing England's relationship to slavery. I should have been more clear and said Advanced in the sense that Slavery in England have moved to a point where the cost benefit ratio had moved so that they could end the practice. Also Advanced in the sense that as the major power at the time countries would be following their lead in matters economic. I did not mean morally advanced.

When I read your comment that the South's greatest sin was being different from the North, did you mean the South's greatest sin as thought of from the North at the time of the war. If so I miss understood it as meaning the South's greatest sin as we look back at it today.

Best regards


Thanks, Patrick, I guess I am still struggling with his German family system (heritage) and its impact on the larger society. Maybe since one or the other bit of contextual historical data comes to mind. Would be much more easy to accept if I could observe it around me. Or, maybe the idea that we Germans rule Europe... Democracy and Europe is a much more interesting matter. But don't you have a Marie Le Pen over there?

I love Kafka too, from his interview with the weekly DIE ZEIT:
"Todd: When I look at Europe I see myself as part of the story The Metamorphois by Franz Kafka. Man falls asleep as a minor official and wakes up as a big beetle. This is Europe today. Man falls asleep as a citizens of the free nations of Europe and wakes up in a hierarchical system in which the Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Italians serve as second class citizens, the French somehow manage to get off the hook as good second, while everyone is listening to the true top pupil (Primus) Germany."

Look, I don't like austerity politics, and I sure see the very different economic results in Europe in post 2008 times. Greece is only a sign of that. And I still hope there will be some type of solution both Europe and Greece can live with. Recall the amount of money that fled the country. Germany's fault?

But I also find it interesting that Kafka comes to his mind, and that the bureaucracy he considers himself struggling with is purely German. Again? Remember Kafka died in 1924. Or ultimately American? How else could "the best pupil" enter the scene?


Apart from that, I do respect his resistance to current trends. And I assume that's what you like about him. We always need that.

But I also think that mental shortcuts have their limits.

As far as his above theory of Americas-war-with-weak-enemies goes, while no doubt true on an technological/economical level, it also ignores the cold war context of the two competing ideologies. Incidentally I like numbers a lot and used it in film/movie studies to compare statistical data with overall impression. ... But consider me skeptic that you can read human society this way. Ok, maybe I look into his methods. ;)

Babak Makkinejad

بهزاد is a Persian name; like the famous painter


David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

I searched for Kipling's story of Ashura on the net – and was struck to find a quote from it heading up an article in the Pakistan 'Daily Times' on the recent violence on that day in Rawalpindi. The original story, however, had to do with Hindu/Muslim, rather than with Sunni/Shia violence.

(See http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/21-Nov-2013/rawalpindi-riots-insult-injury-and-the-milieu .)

Like so many of Kipling's stories, 'On the City Wall' is charged with ambivalences. The 'Westernised' Muslim succumbs to the passions of the commemoration of the death of Hussein, and so fails to play his assigned part in the plot to free a prisoner from what we used to call 'the Mutiny'. The 'rational' Englishman is duped by the courtesan into playing it instead.

I am not able to judge whether the story is or is not based upon accurate observations, as far as the portrait of Shia culture in Lahore is concerned, and would be interested in your view (and indeed, that of F.B.Ali, if he is still following this thread.)

(See http://www.online-literature.com/kipling/indian-tales/13/ .)

The questions you raise as to whether, if the 'ersatz religion' of 'progress' collapsed, there would be an intolerable vacuum, and if so, what would fill it, are real ones, and I do not pretend to know the answers.

However, the sense that things are run by 'the Borg', which is utterly impervious to any notion of objective reality, is something new. The case of Stephen F. Cohen illustrates this. Back in the Eighties, although he was a minority voice, he could expect to find an audience and to merit a response. Now he is simply smeared as a 'Putin's American Apologist'.

(See, for example http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116820/vladimir-putin-defended-american-leftist .)

A first precondition for meaningful change on many issues is that people wise up to the fact that this kind of 'hermetic' approach to the views of others is dangerous for themselves, as well as those others.

In Kipling's most famous novel, the scholar-soldier-spook Colonel Creighton tells Kim that there is 'no sin so great as ignorance.' The case may be overstated, but the writer was trying to make a rather important point to his fellow-countrymen.

Old imperialists were, quite often, aware that things could blow up in one's face - as indeed had happened in 1857 - if you did not make an effort to understand. The new ones aren't.

Babak Makkinejad

The story is contemporary - just like the fiction of E.M.Forster.

Everything has remained the same - and frighteningly so.

"Din, din, din" - what Turkish soldiers are reputed to have said when attacking during the Korean War.



Well, why would they not say that? I knew many Turkish Army veterans of Korea when I lived there. They were all good Kemalists. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Just that they would say it - all that stuff about secular etc. just does not mean anything - just as the Muslims in the story to which DH supplied the URL.

Has anything changed in over 100 years?

Babak Makkinejad

The novel "Ambassadors" may be viewed as a counter point to Twain's writing; where the protagonist comes back to the austere City on the Hill (Boston) to marry a cold and unintelligent - but virtuous in a Puritan way, I assume - fish.

Johnny Reims

Patrick B. Thanks for the info. Very beautiful church sitting atop Montemartre. Art and religion in one locale.

I have wondered if the French, both now and in the latter part of the 19th century, associate the name “Sacre Coeur” in any way with those who opposed Napoleon. (b/c of Vendee, etc.)

David Habakkuk

Patrick Bahzad,

Since you began your extraordinarily informative series of posts on the current shambles in the Middle East here, I suspect others as well as me have been puzzled by your identity. Clearly you had acquired enormous experience both of the area and of military matters generally in the service of some European government. But which, and why the Middle Eastern-sounding pen-name? Now both questions are answered.

In relation to the Puritan roots of the propensity to demonise enemies, it is of course material that two critical enemies the United States faced in the last century – Hitler and Stalin – did rather cast themselves for the demonic role. However, I came to think that we had done ourselves no favours by conflating the two – ghastly as they both were, the dynamics of Hitler's system and that of Stalin were radically different.

It was in my view, moreover, profoundly foolish to see the retreat and collapse of Soviet Communism as a simple vindication of the 'City on a Hill' self-image which the United States inherited from the Puritans.

Compounding the problem is the way in which American policy has become entangled with the propensity of Zionists to demonise their enemies, and their – in my view –ultimately self-destructive attempts to destroy as many as possible of Israel's adversaries in the Middle East.

The toxic interaction of these two cultures of demonisation has, in my view, already caused catastrophes and threatens to cause still worse ones.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

'Everything has remained the same – and frighteningly so.'

I think that is partly right, but misleading.

When you have a culture where children of reasonably well-off families are largely brought up by servants, and it comes to rule over other cultures, odd things happen.

And they get even odder when a young child is sent back to England to lodge with an Evangelical Christian woman, who teaches him the Calvinist fear of hell and damnation.

This may partly explain Kipling's love of the 'dimly-seen, friendly Gods' from the temples to which one of the servants who looked after him in childhood took him.

(The reading of Kipling by Edward Said, who if I read him right, was an Arab Protestant prig, is, incidentally, a classic case of how not to make sense of the complexities of British rule in India.)

The villain of 'On the City Wall' is the Captain who on his return takes the two British guards off Khem Singh, the Sikh who still dreams of another 1857. Asked who should replace them, he replies 'Sikhs, Pathans, Dogras – they're all alike, these black vermin'.

The – predictable – result is that the Sikh guards conspire to enable Khem Singh to escape.

In Kipling, instruction in manipulative Machiavellianism is bound up with a – quite unfeigned – revulsion at a contempt he in no sense felt, and indeed regarded with horror.

(I sometimes think that one makes better sense of the complexities of Kipling, if one interprets him as seeing the British, in India, as a kshatriya caste.)

Patrick Bahzad

Nowadays, lots of french people probably wouldn't even know what "sacré coeur" stands for i suspect.
In late 19th century, that was probably different but I don't think people back then would have made any connection with the revolutionary wars and in particular the royalist insurgency in the Vendee region. It was more a period of transition between the previous imperial time of Napoleon III and the new republic that gradually took over, traditionalists and Catholics on one side, republican secularists on the other.
The uprising of the Paris "commune" in 1870 is probably a better symbol of the struggles of that time.

Patrick Bahzad


I guess now you also understand my deep interest for Lebanese olive oil :-)
On a more serious note, and in relation with the main topic, have you read or heard about "American nations: a history of the eleven rival regional cultures in North America" ?

Ishmael Zechariah

David Habakkuk,

" Yet Brahmans rule Benares still,
Buddh-Gaya's ruins pit the hill,
And beef-fed zealots threaten ill
To Buddha and Kamakura.

A tourist-show, a legend told,
A rusting bulk of bronze and gold,
So much, and scarce so much, ye hold
The meaning of Kamakura?

But when the morning prayer is prayed,
Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade,
Is God in human image made
No nearer than Kamakura?"

Kipling, indeed.

Ishmael Zechariah

P.s. to BM: The battle cry of the Turkish Infantry (and cavalry), on attack against enemy positions, has always been "Allah, Allah, Allah,....", not "Din, Din, Din"; "Din" meaning religion in this context, not the "Din" of Gunga Din.

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