Book Review: House of War by James Carroll

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House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power is one of those books that when you are done reading it you cannot quite decide if it was worth reading or not. If you want to know what history looks like, particularly American history, from the perspective of someone who sees evil and nefarious dealings in just about every single action taken by the United States then this is the book for you. I never thought I would see the day when the Marshall Plan would be described as economic warfare but it is in this book and that is just one example. I found it difficult to … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 32

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.   Iraqi Military Makes Gains North of Baghdad in Conflict With ISIS:  It will be interesting to see how the response to the ISIS offensive plays out both in Iraq and in the wider world.  The INA is a broken reed and any gains they make will be fleeting.  I fully expect a stalemate to ensue shortly wherein Iraq is effectively partitioned.  We are saying the beginning of bloody fighting.  Think of it as Sunni Triangle II. Ukraine Says Russia Has 38,000 Troops on Border Amid ‘Invasion’:  The biggest news out of this story is not that … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 31

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  Ukraine battles militants, Russia demands cash for gas:  The hijinks continue.  I am very curious to see what happens in the Elections on 25 May.  If the current regime is selected they gain instant credibility and legitimacy and I would expect them to double down on their efforts to crush the eastern separatists. Hard for NATO to defend Baltic states from Russia – Spiegel:  This should not be news for anyone who has paid attention to the anemic state of the militaries of mos NATO countries.  The question is will Russia even go after the Baltic states? … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 30

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  Ukraine Falters in Drive to Curb Unrest in East:  Perhaps the biggest mistake the Kiev government could make right now is to make threats they are unwilling or incapable of following through on.   Nothing could damage their credibility and legitimacy more than doing so.  It would seem they have done just that in regards to the protester seizure of government buildings in the eastern part of the country. Fragile Europe Weakens U.S. Push for Russia Sanctions:  Who would have thought the current US admin could demonstrate more resolve than the EU right now?  Of course, Obama must follow through or he shows himself … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 29

Russian Troops Ukraine

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  Crimea referendum: Voters ‘back Russia union’:  Yep, That had to be a fair election.  It’s not like the Russians don’t have armed troops all over the place there.  I stand by my prediction that the US and EU will meekly submit to whatever Russia wants and go no farther than sanctions despite the Western Guarantee of Ukrainian sovereignty from the 90’s.  Ukraine will probably continue to dominate the news this month as well. NATO general warns of further Russian aggression:  So, what led NATO’s commander to just now acknowledge the danger that the Crimea will not be … Read more…

How History Repeats Itself

I apologize in advance for the blatantly political tone of this piece but I am flabbergasted by what I see happening on the eastern periphery of Europe and the anemic reaction to state on state aggression by the rest of the world.

I read this piece by Justin Logan from the Cato Institute this morning and was struck immediately on how similar in tone this piece is to the rhetoric of the pre-WWII America Firsters.  Is Estonia Worth a War?

I just ask myself are people so blind or so willing to seek peace at any cost that they will not stand up to tyranny until the cost of stopping it is orders of magnitude greater than if they had stood up for principle at the beginning?  The same kinds of arguments against involvement in WWII were made by isolationists in the US and appeasers abroad as Hitler’s Germany slowly re-armed and swallowed its neighbors in the years prior to WWII.

Largely the same process is in action in Russia today.  Whereas Germany felt slighted and unjustly treated after WWI modern Russia feels slighted and mistreated after the unsatisfactory (from their perspective) end to the Cold War.  It is interesting that roughly a generation passed between 1918 and 1939 and roughly a generation has passed between 1989 and 2014.  Russia was stripped of large swaths of territory in the wake of the fall of communism and Germany was stripped of territory, actually split into two separate blocks by the Danzig Corridor, in the wake of Versailles.  The German people felt they were not defeated, (hence the popularity of the stab in the back myth), while many Russians today feel that they were betrayed from within by Gorbachev and Co.  Hitler was an ideologue that fed on and amplified public perceptions of being unjustly handled by the Allies and Putin has done the same in Russia.  As Germany expanded it was only weakly opposed by the Allied powers and we are seeing the same sort of reaction in the West to Putin’s actions.

History seems to be repeating itself before our eyes as yet another European ideologue and dictator forges ahead towards war and an attempt to dominate its neighbors.  Is the West going to stand idly by and allow it to happen again until the cost of stopping it is immeasurably higher?  The stakes are higher this time around because Russia is a nuclear power.  The time to stop Putin and Russia is now and a serious demonstration of Western resolve would achieve without bloodshed what will costs thousands, if not millions of lives later on.

Has the West learned nothing from history other than that War is bad?  There are things worse than war, and if the Western leadership does not find their spine soon they will see what those things are.

 

Periodic World Craziness Update # 28

Ukraine

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  Ukraine crisis: Police storm main Kiev ‘Maidan’ protest camp:  The question on everyone’s mind: Is this the start of the Ukrainian Civil War?  I would guess no but still put the likelihood of Ukraine descending into civil war around 50%.  It would appear that the president is hoping he can wait the protesters out.  A hope that appears misplaced since the coldest part of the winter is about over and warmer weather is on the horizon.  The return of warm weather will actually bring out more protesters and if eh fails to dislodge the protesters now he … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 27

Remains of a prematurely detonated Car Bomb (VCIED) outside of Ad-Daw, Iraq in January 2005

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship. Suicide Bomb Instructor Accidentally Detonates, Kills 21 Students In Iraq:  I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I read this story.  I was reminded of the moron one afternoon in January 2005 who came out of a side road racing towards me and my wingman’s Bradley’s as we were driving into Ad Dawr, Iraq.  As he got to about 300m from our two vehicles his car suddenly disintegrated.  Stuff like this is why Arabs make horrible fighters.   North Korea warns South and U.S. over “provocative” drills:  I start to get the feeling that … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 26

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  China’s State Media Blame U.S. for Near Collision of Warships:  I start to wonder how far and how fast China is willing to ratchet up tensions over the Senkaku’s?  It seems that China is not unwilling to provoke an incident.  What happens if they pull something like this in the future and the US retaliates by sinking a Chinese ship, maybe even their beloved waste of a carrier?  Never mind that this whole incident is akin to Hitler blaming Poland for WWII. India-US row over arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York escalates:  though this piece … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 25

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.   Syrian Regime Chokes Off Food to Town That Was Gassed:  What is the point of a siege if food is allowed through the siege lines? I will never understand modern bleeding hearts.  They should be happy the government forces are not catapulting disease ridden corpses into the besieged area or trying to poison the water supply.  Since when is war supposed to bloodless and not affect non-combatants? Update: Starving rebels eat lion from a Damascus zoo – Apparently the siege is doing what a siege is intended to do.  I am not shocked.  Further, the guys … Read more…

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 … Read more…

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 … Read more…

US Secretary of State Announces “Peace in our Time.”

neville-chamberlain

Obama: Nuclear deal blocks Iran’s path to bomb In an ironic twist showing that the 60+ years since World War II have only fostered institutional amnesia the US and five other powers buckled and agreed to appease Iran in talks about its nuclear program.  Agreeing that sanctions will be eased in return for Iran behaving US Secretary of State John Kerry channeled former British Prime minister Neville Chamberlain by paraphrasing him and tweeting:

 I just wonder if he is going to wave a piece of paper around when he gets home too?

neville-chamberlainHas the world really forgotten that appeasing tyrannical regimes is a recipe for getting heartbroken and sore?  Why would any sane, rational person think for a minute that Iran would give up the nuclear program they have defended so fiercely over the past decade+ in return for access to less than $10 billion dollars of oil revenue?  My guess is that Iran already has enough fissile material for at least one but probably more bombs and thus it suits them to play nice right now in return for concessions.  Remember, Hitler agreed to only take the Sudetenland in September of 1938, because he was not quite ready for war.  But then he turned around and occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia in spring 1939 and kicked off World War II less than a year later.

Should I be worried about being recalled to active duty to go fight in the next world war?

Periodic World Craziness Update # 24

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship. Syria: Al-Qaida group changes shape of civil war – It seems increasingly clear that the Syrian Civil War is starting to morph into a more regional conflict.  I would expect that before next summer we will star to see more overt regional alignments and the conflict will start to spread.  Give it another 18 months and we may very well start to see the fighting spread outside of Syria.  I would expect that Lebanon would be the first foreign country to see significant fighting spread onto it’s territory although I can picture a scenario where Iraq is also … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 22

kenya-mall-attack

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.   U.S. weapons reaching Syrian rebels, Syria: nearly half rebel fighters are jihadists or hardline Islamists, says IHS Jane’s report:  As far as foreign policy stupidity goes, arming the Syrian rebels is right up there with deposing the Diem brothers in South Vietnam was in 1963.  I can think of no other act more guaranteed to put American weapons in the hands of America’s enemies unless we were to ship them directly to Al Qaeda.  I am starting to seriously think Alex Jones has the right of the criminal stupidity and treason of the current administration.  It is … Read more…