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.
[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own]
KirovÂ by John Schettler is theÂ PhiladelphiaÂ Experiment in reverse. Â It is the tale of aÂ RussianÂ cruiserÂ thatÂ through someÂ anomalyÂ that is never fully explains finds itself catapulted eighty years backwards in time from 2021 to 1941 to just weeks prior to the meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill at Argentia Bay in Newfoundland.Â The cruiser in the novel is the resurrected, upograde, and fully modernized guided missile cruiser Kirov that currently exists in the Russian Navy today. Â Of course the cruiser used in the book is aÂ fictionalizedÂ version but realistic. Â A very goodÂ aspectÂ was the use of historical figures and theÂ convincingÂ way they are portrayed. Â I am Â not normally someone that likes historical fiction, you could even say that I despise it as a genre but Mr. Schettler does a good job of making the reader forget he is writing historical fiction.
I very much enjoyed reading this book. Â The plot is fantastic enough to be Sci-Fi but realistic enough to be good fiction and my favorite, there is plenty of well researched andÂ portrayedÂ action. Â The action scenes in the book are very well written and it is some of the best naval combat fiction I have read. Â I would compare the qualityÂ ofÂ naval combat portrayal with that of David Weber in the HonorÂ HarringtonÂ books. Â Fantastic, but gripping enough to keep you reading. Â The plot moves smoothly along for the most part and I was not tempted to put it down until it was finished. Â I could wish there was more of an epilogue but the one that is there leaves plenty of room for the readers imagination while setting a stage for that imagination.
I have only one complaint about the book and it may be minor and is definitely a personal quirk of mine. Â When the main characters are introduced he tends to be fairly long-winded (or penned?) when describing the character’s history and motivations. Â It is almost as if each main characters ends up anÂ excursionÂ from the main plot instead of these elements being interwoven into the narrative.
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed this book immensely. Â There is plenty of action along with plenty of introspection on motives and human nature. Â I also have to say that I don’t understand why one of the bigger publishing houses hasn’t picked up this book or others by Mr. Schettler. Â It is currently published by The Writing Shop Press and as is all too often true in the world of publishing, great books get overlookedÂ becauseÂ the big publishers can’t or won’t pick them all up. Â I would probably never have found this work had the author not contacted me directly asking if I would be willing to read one of his books and review it on my site. Â I am glad he did, KirovÂ is an excellent work and fans of authors, such as David Drake, David Weber, Eric Flint, Tom Kratman, and John Ringo can confidently add John Schettler to the roster of authors putting out excellent military Sci-Fi.
Truth, lies and Afghanistan: How military leaders have let us down
LT. COL. Daniel L. Davis probably just ended his career by publishing the above linked article in the Armed Forces Journal. LTC Davis is calling out the administration and senior military leadership as liars in the reports they are publicly producing on the state of affairs in Afghanistan. I applaud LTC Davis for calling it like he sees it. Unfortunately, I don’t think anything will come of it except professional disgrace for an officer who is trying to stand up for what he believes in. No doubt, he tried to bring these issues up to his superiors and was told to be a good LTC and shut up and if he plays nice there might be a bird in it for him. Instead he is doing what his conscience tells him is the right thing to do. I encourage everyone to do what I am going to do and send a link to his article to their Congressman with a message expressing support for discovering the truth of his statement and holding someone to account if the nation has in fact been lied to for years about things in Afghanistan.
There has been much talk and discussion both in editorials and on various internet forums about the pending decline of the supposed US “empire” or the USA itself. I was thinking about this on the way back from dropping my wife off at work this morning and the more I think about it, the more I think it could only possibly happen if America lets it happen. The USA is not comparable to the UK prior to their fall from Great Power status post WWII. The disparity between the size of the two nations both physical and in population is too great for their to really be a valid comparison.
The USA has no choice in the modern world but to be a maritime power. This is especially true given the importance of trade to the future prosperity of the country. By virtue of the size and education of the US population it is inevitable that any military fielded by the US that is even half-way competently led will be a player on the global stage. America may have to share the world stage as one of the Great Powers with the rising giants of Asia such as China and India, but America will not lose it’s status as a Great power as quickly as did Britain and the European powers of the 19th century. Or, is there anyone willing to say that Britain, France, and Germany are all still Great Powers. I think their inability to sustain a small air campaign in Libya this past spring without significant American logistical support shows how far these nations have fallen. The problem with the countries of Europe is that they still think they matter on the world stage and while they may have some soft power they have none of the hard power they were able to use 100+ years ago.
China is an up and coming power, they are already an economic power although the amount of US debt they hold is a two edged sword that can cut both ways if they are not careful.Â They are rapidly engaged in upgrading their military and especially in trying to build a blue-water navy that at a minimum will be able to challenge America for control of the Chinese littoral.Â That they want to project power beyond the littoral is evident by their purchase and upgrading of an aircraft carrier.Â Aircraft carriers are only used to project power, they are offensive platforms not defensive.Â Submarines, destroyers and frigates are primarily defensive platforms.
India must be reckoned on as well.Â The saving grace there is that India is a friendly power to the US and has increasingly adopted western ideals of government and freedom as it rapidly modernizes both its society and economy.
The USÂ looks set to maintain its ability to project hard power for the foreseeable future at least. As long as America can put a carrier battle group off someone’s coast, they are a power to be reckoned with. America may be in decline, but despite the current economic difficulties, a fall is quite a ways off.