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08 May 2016


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The incineration of German cities during WWII has been well documented. Perhaps more attention by historians should be given to the results of US Air Force bombing of the cities and villages of North Korea during the Korean war. The best estimates of civilian deaths amount to between 15 to 20 percent of the entire population (some estimates go as high as 30%). General Le May bragged about those numbers.

The extermination numbers during WWII don't come close to those numbers. Yugoslavia (mostly Serbia), Poland and the Soviet Republic of Belarus lost 10% of their population. The US has never been made accountable for the mass killing of civilians during the Korean War.


"We all know what the Seljuk’s did."

We certainly do. The Seljuks were a particularly successful cultural and economic high point of the medieval Middle East, which laid the economic foundations of the successful resistance to the Crusades.

I think you'll find that Churchill was being, as usual, racist and unpleasant. If it had not been for the Second World War, he would have been written off as an extremist, with few successes to his name.


"In May of 1942, according to historian J.M. Spaight, the British bombed objectives on the German mainland before the Germans began to bomb objectives on the British mainland. Freiburg was the first German target to be savaged."

I have never heard about that. Sounds odd. It doesn't feel that would have made sense. Although, look into the first event below. Why Freiburg? Close to France?

Deutsche Luftwaffe/German Airforce:

and there was Operation Tigerfish, but that was later.



Probably, the Osmanlis (Ottomans) pillaging in the Balkans more appropriate than Seljuks. Different flavor of Turkish Muslims. Just read recently that bombing the electrical grid would have had a greater effect then anything else that was bombed. They did bomb the oil fields in Romania from Libya w/ horrendeous losses.

Been watching "The Great Courses" videos on the Macedonians. It said part of the heritage of Alexander the Great, emulated by some Roman commanders, was clemency and graciousness in victory. Of course, he didn't always do it and neither did all the Romans.

Part of our heritage in the War of Secession was Gen Joshua Chamberlian's graciousness at the Confederate surrender in the Virginia county of Appomattox Courthouse. And the return gesture by Gen Gordon.

"Chamberlain, on his own initiative, ordered his men to come to attention and "carry arms" as a show of respect. Chamberlain described what happened next:
"Gordon, at the head of the marching column, outdoes us in courtesy. He was riding with downcast eyes and more than pensive look; but at this clatter of arms he raises his eyes and instantly catching the significance, wheels his horse with that superb grace of which he is master, drops the point of his sword to his stirrup, gives a command, at which the great Confederate ensign following him is dipped and his decimated brigades, as they reach our right, respond to the 'carry.' All the while on our part not a sound of trumpet or drum, not a cheer, nor a word nor motion of man, but awful stillness as if it were the passing of the dead.""

Chamberlain had had no formal military training and was a professor of languages at Bowdoin College in Maine. In addition to the Maine connection, he taught Arabic. Two connections to our patron, the Col..

Richard Sale

I agree. But focus was on wWII.



Things have to be put in their historical context.
In military history, the Germans are always the baby-eaters, but for good reason. That's because they have always been the first to cross the line.

They were the first to bombard cities outside the battlefield, to mass-execute civilian hostages, to use submarines against civilian ships, and to air-bomb village, town and city indiscriminately.

The response had to be in kind, although Allied troops on the ground (soviet excepted) did not engage in mass atrocities.

Peter Reichard

I've always been dubious of such claims about Korea. The strategic bombing of Germany and Japan including the atomic bombings in each case killed about one percent of the population. It is difficult to see how Korea could have been more than an order of magnitude higher. The ravings of Curtis LeMay have no statistical value as the airpower boys have always vastly overestimated their own effectiveness. It was, however, an awful thing no doubt with lot's of napalm employed.

Richard Sale

Spaight said in his book, Bombing vindicated, that Britain bombed the German mainland before the reverse, adding, "this historical fact has been publicly admitted."


Babak Makkinejad

Richard Sale:

Perhaps UK & US served as instruments of the terrible Justice of the Lord.

After all, someone had to pay the blood price for what the Axis Powers were doing across all of Europe, in particular in USSR, Poland, and Greece.

The same goes for Japan.

The sentiment I heard from Chinese is this: "Too bad Americans did not drop a few more atom bombs on Japan."

Babak Makkinejad

I think you are confusing what the Prussians did with other German-speaking peoples.

They were not much better than Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi and his inheritors - Ghaznavids operated against Hindus and Prussians against the indigenous people of what later became know as Prussia - Perthurians, if I recall correctly.

William R. Cumming

Great post! Often overlooked and ignored by all Presidents is the fact that civilian populations at risk in all military and terrorism conflicts. A clear and present danger and time for the truth even by candidates for the Presidency.

And the operations and safety of METRO in D.C. area now a high security risk!


>"When America goes to war, it attempts to halt destruction, atrocity, and murderous brutality by its enemies. "

Do Americans still believe this? The humanitarians story is always pushed to get the population to go along with the atrocities that are about to happen and the massive waste. But I am extremely hard pressed to think of when the last time if ever the US went to war for humanitarian reasons was. Perhaps Kosovo but if you scratched the surface I am pretty sure you would find there were other reasons there as well.



Ah! Another America hater heard from. I suppose you think that we went to war in Iraq to seize or exploit Iraq's oil and that we went to war in VN for the rubber or the boundless supply of water buffalos or nuoc mam or some other silly thought you may have. pl

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

I don't think hating America is at issue. My own view of the Iraq debacle is that a cabal, whose members were in positions of influence in the defense and foreign policy segments of the government, skillfully maneuvered America into the invasion of Iraq for an array of reasons which have been discussed at length here. Humanitarian considerations were not involved, except in the propaganda generated in order to gain support for the invasion.

Viet Nam was a different case.



William Fitzgerald

Don't kid yourself. This guy thinks that we do these thing to rip off the brown people. So why did we fight in VN? Was it for the nuoc mam? pl


Norks (like the Chinks sent to aid them) & Gooks (who suffered from napalm aplenty in northern Viet Nam) are Asiatic.

They are unlike the Kraut, whom the writers from the Anglosphere are able to "identify" & find "common ground" with.


David Habakkuk

Richard Sale,

I think people who were in London, and in particular the East End, through the war – who included my own and my wife’s parents, two of our grandparents, and other assorted relatives – would have been most surprised to learn that the Germans did not bomb targets in mainland Britain before May 1942.

From the Wikipedia entry on the Blitz:

‘Between 7 September 1940 and 21 May 1941, 16 British cities suffered aerial raids with at least 100 long tons of high explosives. Over a period of 267 days, London was attacked 71 times, Birmingham, Liverpool and Plymouth eight times, Bristol six, Glasgow five, Southampton four, Portsmouth and Hull three and a minimum of one large raid on eight other cities. This was a result of a rapid escalation starting on 24 August 1940, when night bombers aiming for RAF airfields drifted off course and accidentally destroyed several London homes, killing civilians, combined with the UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill's retaliatory bombing of Berlin on the following night.’

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blitz .)

From the relevant entry on a site called ‘World War II Database’:

'15 May 1940: The British War Cabinet decided to attack the German oil industry, communications centers, and forests and crops; attacks on industrial areas were to focus on the Ruhr region. Also, due to the costly daylight bombings, attacks were to be launched at nights. On the same day these directives were issued, the RAF began attacking industrial targets in the Ruhr, with 99 bombers flying the first mission. The decision to begin bombing civilian property outside of combat zones was the direct result of the German bombing of Rotterdam on the previous day.'

(See http://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=55/Bombing-of-Hamburg-Dresden-and-Other-Cities-World-War-II-Database .)

This decision was not taken in May 1942, when Germany was confronting the Grand Alliance, involving both Soviet Union and the United States. It was taken two years earlier, days after the Wehrmacht had invaded neutral Holland, at the beginning of the offensive which weeks later would lead to the collapse of France, leaving the British Empire to fight on its own. It was, moreover, not a decision to engage in ‘terror bombing.’

A quick Google search suggests that J.M. Spaight did not actually write what he is often supposed to have written. Rather than being an historian, he was Principal Assistant Secretary at the Air Ministry, and ‘Bombing Vindicated’ was written in 1944.

If the entry on the ‘Airminded’ site, which links to the complete book, is accurate, he was not an enthusiast for ‘Douhetism’, but was defending strategic bombing – and they are different things.

What Spaight actually wrote about the ‘who started it’ question appears to be that:

‘because we were doubtful about the psychological effect of propagandist distortion of the truth that it was we who started the strategic offensive, we have shrunk from giving our great decision of May, 1940, the publicity which it deserved. That, surely, was a mistake. It was a splendid decision. It was as heroic, as self-sacrificing, as Russia's decision, to adopt her policy of “scorched earth”. It gave Coventry and Birmingham, Sheffield and Southampton, the right to look Kief [sic] and Kharkov, Stalingrad and Sebastopol, in the face.’

As the ‘Airminded’ entry brings out, there is a crucial distinction between targeting militarily important facilities, in knowledge that, as many of them are in urban areas, large-scale civilian casualties are bound to result, and deliberately causing such casualties, in the hope of breaking an enemy’s will to fight.

In a work written in 1944, Spaight – hardly surprisingly – was not candid about the fact that the British were clearly doing the latter: although this was something they did not start. However, according to the ‘Airminded’ entry, he was not himself an enthusiast for ‘Douhetism’, at least by this time.

(See http://airminded.org/2012/09/26/on-googling-british-terror-bombing/ .)

As it happens, while ‘Douhetism’ clearly caused inordinate human suffering, to no good end, the argument about the efficacy of strategic bombing more generally is certainly not finished. And it is also necessary to set decisions taken in the context of the situation at the time.

On all this, I would recommend to anyone interested an interview with a very fine American scholar, Professor Tami Biddle, which is helpfully split into sections, so one can easily locate material on particular subjects of interest.

In fact, it emerges from the section on ‘Bomber Harris’ that, at precisely the time that Spaight was writing, there was a behind-the-scenes argument going on between Harris and the Chief of the Air Staff, Portal, who thought that his subordinate was not focusing enough on the oil targets.

(See http://ww2history.com/experts/Tami_Biddle/Professor_Tami_Biddle .)


Speaking of the Iraq debacle CBS Morning News
had a segment profiie of Second Invictus Games
from Orlando Florida whose champion is Prince
Harry, two tour Iraq vet. An Olympic style event
show casing wounded veterans from many countries.
The most ghastly image was GWB speaking to the
audience in the presence of a severely burned
Air Force enlisted man. Has this creature no
conscience or humility? Complete denial? Almost
lost my breakfast.

Babak Makkinejad

MRW & Tyler:

This if off-topic but I thought you might be interested:




You are perhaps not aware that I opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq from the beginning, actually from before the beginning, but BS is BS and I am tired of the endless war for economic exploitation crap. pl

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

Short laundry list: cold war ideology, inadequate appreciation of the China - Soviet relationship, belief in the domino theory, post WW II hubris, and failure to understand the role of nationalism. Not to mention an indispensable ingredient, a president who was petrified at the prospect of being identified as the man who "lost" Viet Nam.




Col Lang
I am aware of your opposition. My point
the tragedy imposed on all these service
members and the chutzpah of GWB
to partake in these events.



Tony Blair wasn't available.

Richard Sale

That is no accurate.


Richard Sale

Very helpful. I have an old copy of Bombing Vindicated" which clearly not very helpful.


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