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09 February 2016

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SmoothieX12

It is well known law, that "patriotism" growth in direct proportion with the distance from the combat zone. The further away one from it--the more "patriotic" he or she is. Enough to take a look at neocon cabal in D.C. For them word kinetic means only movement, and most likely in a luxury foreign-made cars towards expensive beltway eateries. The fact that this may mean losing limbs, being burned or, simply, blown to pieces seems to be lost on them. I believe it was Phil Giraldi who said that the only danger they face is choking on foie gras.

JerseyJeffersonian

BB and all,

The scheduled meeting on February 12 in Havana between Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, may have great meaning in this context. The first face to face meeting between the heads of the two branches of the church after a thousand years seems to potentially be a momentous occasion to me. Defense of the Christian faithful in their ancient homeland against the machinations of the Islamist headchoppers and the Zionist Trotskyite neocons, neither of which forces wish the Christians well (to put it mildly).

Something to watch, good friends.

Margaret Steinfels

Indeed, I did reflect on Fallujah and Belgrade and...Dresden, and let's throw in Chechnya. But perhaps you missed the point. If the U.S. were doing this, and however measured it might be [not saying it would be measured], I am pretty sure many, including some here, would certainly find it "indiscriminate."

Some of the citizens of Aleppo, quoted in the article think what is happening is indiscriminate, and some of them blame the U.S. for their situation, that is, for not acting. In the meantime, we learn Russia doesn't have that many planes, etc., available in Syria, therefore, what they're doing is not indiscriminate! Or maybe it is! Do the number of planes dictate the quality of the bombing as to discriminate and indiscriminate?

In the meantime, What an interesting set of directions the conversation has taken. The phrases we invent to describe and condemn/support our actions in war are part of war itself.

Governments and citizens in wartime: does the calculus of responsibility change when that government is democratically elected and supported by the citizens [quote from Goring, worth further reflection; to which we could add Milosevic and the Serbs as well as the GW Bush Administration]

In any case, thanks to all for so many useful ideas and insights.

Babak Makkinejad

To your last paragraph:

I am posing a question and not really suggesting anything else.

gemini33

I wonder if that comment by Del Ponte was the reason for this Daily Beast article. I read the DB article twice, wondering what the main point and frankly the purpose of it (given DB's strong propaganda of late) and was not sure why it was published though it seemed like there probably was a good reason. Multiple sources (mostly anon) weighed in. Was the main purpose to explain why the US hasn't killed more terrorists in Syria?

Here's the article:
"America’s ISIS War Is Helping Al Qaeda"
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/08/america-s-isis-war-is-helping-al-qaeda.html

Thomas

"Was the main purpose to explain why the US hasn't killed more terrorists in Syria?"

It looks like an article was due to the editor, so the author put pieces together to make the deadline. It does do a great job showing Borgian incoherency.

Margaret Steinfels

Of course, I forgive you.

Steinfels is my married name. Before that I was O'Brien. You may not know that the spelling of Steinfels has been mauled by the U.S. TV show, Seinfeld, so that spelling Steinfels requires a serious excursion into phonetics.

SmoothieX12

Number of things:

----------------------------------------

Of critical importance is the image of a weak and vacillating Britain failing to rearm. Unfortunately, I have not had time to do more than dip into David Edgerton's 2012 study 'Britain's War Machine', but reviews make its arguments clear.
------------------------------------------------------

Correli Barnett's seminal "The Collapse Of The British Power" must be on a "must read" list of anyone who has even mild interest in the diplomatic, economic and political history of WW II. The image of weakness of Britain was not really an image but the reality, which included Britain running of her gold reserves by the end of 1940s. Barnett uses an excellent term "purchasing price" when speaking about Soviet-German Pact. And that brings us to the second point:

-------------------------------------------
As a traditional land power, the Soviets found it much easier to maintain large ground forces than the United States. However, in the event of all-out war, they would have needed to exploit this to eliminate the bridgeheads on which the vastly superior American military-industrial potential could be deployed against them in Eurasia, once it had been remobilised.
---------------------------------------------------

I don't know what it means to find it "easier to maintain" in comparison to the US, which historically had and has a minimal necessity for ground forces, but mobilizational realities of Continental Warfare on the scale of the Eastern Front were such, that USSR, even without considering the important help of Lend-Lease, actually matched or was close to US production figures in main articles of the war, from tanks, which USSR produced, actually, slightly more than US, to being able to produce of about 70% of US production of actual fighters and ground attack planes. There are also serious operational considerations which should go into this. In the end, Red Air Force by the end of WW II was the largest operational-tactical air force in the world. But that is beyond the point, USSR wasn't going to France's beaches because it neither wanted nor needed once D-Day happened. What is most fascinating in these kind of discussions is the fact that people remain completely oblivious to the fact that even by 1942 USSR sustained such human and materiel losses, that, in memorandum by British Intelligence, it was pointed out that NO political settlement was possible between Germany and USSR. It was war of annihilation. So, people completely discount the fact that, even Stalin, had a purely humanitarian reason for calling for Second Front.

As per the rest, Stalin, certainly, was a dictator and no humanitarian in "Western" sense, but it wasn't him alone who shared suspicions on the actions of Western Allies. After all, it was General Stanley Embick's (of George Marshall's OPD), whose Casablanca Memorandum on "being led by primrose path" by British made some serious noise. After all, it was Lord Halifax in 1941, on ABC Conferences, who, on behalf of British Government was pushing US to commit not so much to the European theater as to guarding Empire's possession. Accidentally, it was same Embick who, then for the first time, was pretty abrupt with British and final document of ABC conference stated that the main theater is Europe. If you follow attentively military-diplomatic dynamics within Big Three Alliance you will immediately notice how British Empire was pushing for anything but commitment to Europe, which resulted, on ARCADIA, in, first, Torch and, eventually, led to Second Washington Conference where all plans of facing Wehrmacht in Europe proper were abandoned. Ike left a notable entry in his diary about this calamity, Marshall too was outraged. This is a brief description of the situation. By 1943, however, it didn't matter anyway.

YT

Indeed, demagogues are the worst: especially the flag-waving ones...

Tel

Russians don't have a good reputation when it comes to treatment of prisoners, and neither does Assad. I imagine there might be some Sunni collaborators who see the writing on the wall here, They don't want to fight a losing battle alongside Daesh, they know they will be worse off ending up in Assad's hands, so there's the option of doing a runner. Morale amongst Daesh would be dipping kind of low right now.

Half of Daesh were mercs anyway, people Niccolò Machiavelli called "useless troops". You can pay someone enough to do your killing for you, but you cannot pay them enough to die for you.

That said, once the half-hearted have run away, it will leave a core of Daesh true believers, and those will probably fight to the death. Virgins-n-that.

LeaNder

"I do not offhand have the figure of the percentage of the leadership of the German Communist Party ..."

There is this shadowy history around the Hotel Lux. It caught my attention at one point in time. But as it is, it was around a former inhabitant, a social democrat Politician after 45, who may or may not have informed on others before he left Russia for Sweden:

"After Wehner's death, German news magazine Der Spiegel magazine documented accusations that he informed the NKVD on several party fellows like Hugo Eberlein, presumably to save his own life.[2] After being sent to neutral Sweden in 1941 in order to re-enter Germany, he was arrested at Stockholm and interned for espionage in 1942. If he deliberately went into custody has not been conclusively established, at least he was excluded from the Communist Party by politburo chief Wilhelm Pieck."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_Lux
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Wehner

Valissa

Thanks for the Goering quote. Reminds me of a lecture at a high school History class back in the early '70s. We had a grad student from a nearby University teach for a semester. He was trying to explain the history of Vietnam prior to the US involvement there (to a bunch of largely uninterested 15-16 year olds). While I remember very little of that class, there was one bit that has stuck with me since then.

If you look at the history of Vietnam ~1862-1954
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam#1862.E2.80.931945:_French_Indochina
you can see there were many changes in government, politicas and political ideology over a rather short amount of time. This teacher focused on trying to explain to us how the farmers felt about all this political upheaval (probably since our school was in rural upstate NY, and had a large farming community). He said all the farmers wanted was to be left in peace to farm and raise their families, and that the great majority of these farmers were not much concerned with government activities far away from them and their village. Nor were they much interested in the related politics or political ideology either. Of course they would also try to avoid having whatever current government get angry at them either, so they might go along with things they otherwise would not have and behave against their fellows in ways they otherwise would not have. I know this is rather simplistic, but my mind was only 15 at the time... yet it has stuck with me since then.

I have observed that just as these Vietnamese farmers he spoke about were generally not all that interested in political goings on far away, the same is true of human beings everywhere. That includes Americans today. Most people just want to live their lives and have little interest in politics, except maybe around election time or if they have personal or local concerns/issues that tie in to regional or national ones.

That's just human nature, however much some intellectuals or ideological or activist types wish that weren't so and start to "blame" citizens for what their leaders do.

Will

This is in a way collateral to the discussion. Russians are accused of having dumb bombs in comparison to our precision weapons. But, maybe not?

"The Americans came up with an elegant solution: the JDAM. The Joint Direct Attack Munition kit was a way to convert “dumb” (non-guided) bombs into “smart” (guided) bombs by attaching a special kit to them. You can read more about this in this Wikipedia article. This made it possible to use old bombs, but this was still not cheap, roughly 25’000 dollars a kit (according to Wikipedia).

The Russians came up with a much better solution.

Instead of mounting a kit on an old bomb and lose the kit every time, the Russians mounted a JDAM-like kit, but on the airplane.

Introducing the SVP-24:"

....
"In practical terms this means that every 30+ year old Russian “dumb” bomb can now be delivered by a 30+ year old Russian aircraft with the same precision as a brand new guided bomb delivered by a top of the line modern bomber."

http://thesaker.is/technology-sitrep-how-russian-engineering-made-the-current-operation-in-syria-possible/

Babak Makkinejad

There is no puzzle; they have turned London into a money/finance machine under US protection; now why would they rock that boat since US would ignore any UK objections in any case.

Medicine Man

FB Ali: At least we have the consolation that the public saw right through Ignatieff.

Thirdeye

I hadn't known that Poland had a role at Munich before. Apparently Hitler's demand that issues between Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland be incorporated into the Munich agreement was taken as a green light by Poland to annex territory in October and December of 1938, before Germany marched into Bohemia. Judging by Germany's subsequent stance leading up to the first Vienna Award (territory to Hungary), I suspect that Hitler's inclusion of the Polish demand was to strengthen his bargaining position with Poland's allies France and Britain. Poland advocated for a partition of subcarpathian Ruthenia between Poland, Romania, and Hungary. Germany and Romania said no. Poland's demands were no longer useful to Germany.

MRW

Then there was this, FB Ali, as history to their efforts:
http://www.ezralevant.com/why_did_the_canadian_ jewish_co/

Thirdeye

There was area bombing and there was strategic bombing. The area bombing was about making German cities unlivable and destabilizing Germany politically. It was in the most literal sense a terror campaign. It was also politically popular because spectacular swaths of urban destruction gave a sense of vengeance. It's hard to make a case that it was anything but a waste. You raised an interesting point about the difficulty of abandoning it. Massive night bombing was what the whole RAF bomber force was built around. The news that all those Lancasters had become white elephants because of a change in strategy might not have been well received.

The strategic bombing targeted transportation, fuel, and industrial facilities with daytime attacks. The original idea was that armed bombers could fend off opposing fighters. That turned out to be wrong. When the Luftwaffe bolstered its homeland air defenses against daytime bombing in 1943, the losses of the bomber fleet became unsustainable. Air superiority had to be established before strategic bombing could resume on a scale that made it effective.

Caught between the inefficiency of nighttime area bombing and the vulnerability of the daytime strategic bombers, the air campaign in 1943 was in a muddle.

YT

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."

Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Aye, sir.

Cretins who have no firsthand experience with matter(s)-at-hand ought not to get involved.

In particular, superannuated graduates - whose feet aren't planted firmly on the ground & head in the clouds.

Yes, Don Quixotes involved with Policy gives rise to one Catastrophe after another (i.e. "tilting at windmills").

http://www.williampolk.com/assets/a-fable-for-our-times.pdf

[There was a reason why the ancient Chinks advised their liege lords not to interfere with the course of battles or the manner their generals waged them: waging war on paper - not good...]

Thirdeye

The Luftwaffe had a pretty effective riposte to the Ruhr campaign with upgraded aerial defense that made the campaign unsustainable - albeit at the price of drawing air power away from the eastern front. The result was that bomber losses became so severe that the campaign had to be called off and German war production ramped up anyway. Given that Speer's industrial expansion was still in planning when the Ruhr aerial battle opened in June of 1943 and the Kursk battle was launched in July of 1943, it's difficult to see how Speer's planned industrial expansion would have been timely for the Kursk battle.

The strategic bombing campaign in early 1944 did result in the defeat of the Luftwaffe. Whether or not it was the only way to defeat the Luftwaffe remains an open question.

David Habakkuk

SmoothieX12,

I stand corrected. Clearly the claims made by David Edgerton about relative British strength and confidence in the Thirties are decisively refuted by the fact that Britain was 'running of her gold reserves by the end of 1940s.' Stupid of me not to grasp this.

As you obviously know, Correlli Barnett's ''Collapse of British Power'' was published in 1972 – upwards of half a century ago. Rather a lot of research has been done since this time.

Actually, Edgerton's work – from its early days – was in substantial measure a polemic against Barnett. A 1991 paper he wrote is entitled 'The Prophet Militant and Industrial: The Peculiarities of Correlli Barnett.'

(See https://workspace.imperial.ac.uk/historyofscience/public/files/edgerton_prophet_militant.pdf .)

David Habakkuk

Thirdeye,

You provide no links, so I have no means of checking out whether what you claim is or is not plausible.

However, you began by responding to a comment in which I linked to interviews with a leading contemporary scholar of strategic bombing by simply restating the old conventional wisdom she was debunking.

And Professor Biddle is certainly not someone who is predisposed to act as an apologist for the advocates of terror bombing. A quick Google search brought up a review of 2002 study of the subject is entitled 'Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-45, which among other things, made clear that 'Harris stands as a villain in Biddle's work.'

(See http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/bookrev/bibble.html .)

However, further quick Google searches brought out that both Biddle and David Edgerton, to whose work I also referred, were reflecting the conclusions of a massive study by the Cambridge (England) economic historian Adam Tooze, published under the title 'The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy' in 2006.

This, it seems, mounts a full-frontal assault, supported by immensely detailed research, on a whole range of conventional wisdoms about the background to German side of the Second World War – just as Edgerton does in relation to the British.

Among these are conventional wisdoms about the inefficacy of the bombing campaigns. From a review in the 'Financial Times':

'Tooze also refreshes our understanding of the Anglo-American bombing campaign of 1942-45. The raids on the Ruhr region, he argues, dealt a mortal blow to Germany's military-industrial complex. But the RAF's futile attempts at repeating in Berlin the firestorm it had sparked in Hamburg in July 1943, instead of tightening the hold on the coal-and-steel choke-point of the Ruhr, was ''a tragic operational error'' that may have put off victory for a year.'

(See https://next.ft.com/content/b5ef2df2-22b3-11db-91c7-0000779e2340 .)

The judgement that Harris's belief that one could destroy an enemy's will to wage war by terror-bombing led to a monumental amount of unnecessary human suffering, and actually prevented the maximally effective use of air power, still stands.

But the argument that 'it was only in the last months of the war that strategic bombing made much difference to Germany's war production', as you put it, looks to be flat out wrong.

If you want to dispute the conclusions of Tooze, Biddle and Edgerton, supply references to work which takes into account recent research, I am most happy to follow them up, as far as time permits.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

That is part of the story, but only part.

The British variety of 'the Borg' is in part the product of a bizarre coming together of the 'Marxism Today' crowd and the dregs of the Cambridge right – who were associated with a college called Peterhouse.

On the intellectual evolution of these dregs, a piece by the 'Henry Jackson Society' published last June by the journalist Peter Oborne is to the point. Unfortunately, he is still too indulgent.

(See http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/cameron-neo-con-395124903 .)

David Habakkuk

YT,

Absolutely. I loved the Mark Twain quote – also William Polk's vision of Obama as Sancho Panza.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments, very informative.

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