Category Archives: General History

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Women in Combat-Part 5

This is an issue I feel strongly about so every time there is a development I will be posting updates.

Marines delay female fitness plan after half fail

Yet more evidence that women are not physically capable of performing the combat tasks required of ground combat soldiers.  There are jobs in the military that women can do and do well.  Combat is not one of them.  Why is women in combat being pushed so relentlessly?  I am left with only the conclusio that liberals and PC types would rather see more women come home in body than admit that there are in fact differences in capabilities between men and women.

 

Machiavelli? Try Clausewitz!

Full disclosure: I consider the NYT to be a gang of flabby, post-modernist girlymen who stroke each other(‘s egos) all day long, and try to get an emotional response out of their dwindling readership.

So today I saw a comment on one their articles that fully describes my opinion of what is wrong with America.

Who do we want to emulate? A bunch of tribalist beach bums who sing “O Sole Mio” while thinking about how to poison their uncle in order to take over his restaurant, or the Iron Will of Prussian Steel???

Here is the comment from the unworthy-to-read article:

Do we really need to be told that “Machiavelli still matters”? The Medicis had maybe a small handful of household advisers. Today, we have vast bureaucracies–the State Department, the NSA, the CIA, the Pentagon, etc.–all full of thousands of little Machiavellian policy advisers, whose careers depend on being as coldly realistic and pragmatic about National interest as possible. Our entire economy is run by little Machiavellian profit maximizers who get fired if they think about anything but the bottom line.

 

So if anything, we need more reflection on how so much of all this pure Machiavellian advice has gone so terribly wrong, even judged by its own Machiavellian standards. And then we need to ask if we the people should put so much trust in these Machiavellian guardians. Their claim to power is based on supposedly understanding policy complexities better than “the people” and having the Machiavellian virtue of being committed to the exclusive pursuit of National power and economic interest. Why does that so seldom work out as promised? Why has Iranian hegemony been strengthened by the invasion of Iraq, not weakened? Why do their policies so often harm National interest instead of furthering it, or turn out so often to serve narrow sectoral interest, like Wall Street, enriching a few but leaving the country in economic crisis or mounting debt? Maybe the problem is that Machiavelli matters too much.

Original Article Why Machiavelli Matters

P.S. – I do have Italian friends and I enjoy their company a lot. I am not an Italo-phobe.

 

The Phonetic Revolution

You are on a hill, a commander. Your troops are aligned in a phalanx.

Your commanding officer is guarding the bridge on the opposite side of your fortress. He sends his messenger to you: By ths rdr ttck t th wstrn flnk nd kp prssr n th nmy whn h s rtrtng

It’s not Greek, its an abjad, meaning that there are only consonants in this alphabet.

Although you want to focus on the enemy formation, you take a moment to decipher this message:

By this murder attack to the western flank end keep pressure in the army when he is returning

So, we must attack the western flank end of the enemy after a murder (the first blow the enemy strikes). Attacking the end and keeping pressure as the enemy returns towards our fortress. Therefore we must maneuver towards his back end and wait for him to strike the first blow.

My commander is wiser in fighting this enemy than I am, so I fully trust his orders.

Oh dear, things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to……

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*Obey this order attack at the western flank and keep pressure on the enemy when he is retreating*

Von Saucken – The Last Aristocrat

Today’s generation can be forgiven for seeing the Second World War’s common participants as engaging in a battle of ideologies. That being said, the Waffen SS were the ultimate outsiders who became the ultimate insiders. During the blitzkrieg into Poland the Wehrmacht saw them as little more than auxiliaries, along for the ride. It is therefore interesting to appreciate the fact that the majority of the Heer were not ideologues, and therefore why they were capable of constantly putting up amazing fronts against an opponent (Russia) that outnumbered them 13:1.

The German military predated the rise of national socialism and shared few values with the Fuhrer and his henchmen. German military officers usually hailed from rigid class hierarchies that could trace their bloodlines back 600 years to the Teutonic Knights.

Stereotypically, this is the image we have of the Kaiser, the pickelhaube, and the monocle, and this was actually the attitude of the majority of Germany’s fighting men during the second World War. In other words, the majority of the Heer’s warriors were primarily interested in fighting to preserve Germany’s honor after what they viewed as the betrayal of Versailles.

No man exemplifies this aspect of the Wehrmacht as much as Dietrich von Saucken. The Panzer leader famously refused every formality when greeting the fuhrer, hands on his cavalry sword he made a slight bow and proclaimed his lack of intention to fight under the NS brass. The two men’s eyes met and the fuhrer’s will crumbled, as he allowed the cavalry officer to lead his own kampfgruppe.

Like Ernst Junger his only interest was a deep sense of personal honor that his Junker ancestors instilled in him.

If we are to understand the motivations that led Germans to fight under the banner of National Socialism, we should remember that the majority of the fighting men were ideological anachronisms, products of 19th century thinking, at best.

To appreciate this truth is to begin to understand why German officers, from Rommel on down often had a reputation for honorable dealings with their opponents, despite the broad brush we often paint their side with.

Book Review: The Medieval Fortress by J.E. & H.W. Kaufmann

The Medieval Fortress: Castles, Forts, And Walled Cities Of The Middle Ages is a good study of the art and methods of fortifications and castles built in Eastern and Western Europe during the Middle Ages from the fall of Rome to the early modern period.

The book is right around 300 pages long and includes many illustrations.  It also includes a glossary, which is very helpful to those that are not familiar with the technical terms for elements of castles and fortifications. It is separated into 5 chapters, the first deals with the elements of fortification, the next three are chronological about the development of castles and the final chapter covers the significant castles of Europe by country of location.

The layout and organization of this book is very good, but one of the things I like the best about it is the way in which the information is presented.  This book is written for the layman but the authors manage to maintain the scholarly feel of the writing without putting the reader off the subject.  that is a very difficult balancing act with any subject but particularly so with something as inherently technical as the design of castles and fortifications.  The authors manage to both inform and entertain in this book.

Another interesting aspect of this book is the author’s use of castles that are not famous as well as those that are to illustrate their points.  What I discovered while reading this book was that many of the less famous castles are more interesting than the ones we have all heard of.  It is interesting to read about the history of the White Tower in London but most people have heard of it.  What most people have not heard of who do not study fortification or the medieval world are Vincennes Castle in France or Doonagors Castle in Ireland, both interesting takes on tower construction.

Perhaps the best part of the book is the descriptions of significant forts and castles of the countries in Europe.  I got several travel ideas from reading this section of castles I would like to visit when I get the chance. The only drawback, if you can call it that, is that there are no color illustrations in the book, everything is black & white.  That is only a minor complaint though and the lack of color photos does not really detract from the value of the book.  This is an excellent book on medieval fortification that should be of interest to both the medievalist and those who just think castles are cool.  I highly recommend this book.