Socialism in Art and Life

Friday, March 23, AD 2012

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Winston Churchill

Those of us of a certain vintage may recall Rocky IV where Rocky fought a Soviet Superman, Captain Ivan Drago, portrayed with robotic efficiency and inhumanity by Dolph Lundgren.  I therefore found it interesting to come across the interview below in which Dolph Lundgren relates why his father advised him to come to America:

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2 Responses to Socialism in Art and Life

  • Didn’t Jesus believe in socialism?

    Something along the lines of “what you do for the least of mine” or feeding the masses with fish and bread…

  • You can read the Scriptures from now until eternity clinicalresearcher and you will never find a hint that Christ called upon the power of Caesar for anything. Christ’s admonition was much more radical than that. He placed upon each of us a personal responsibility to help others, and this duty cannot be fobbed off upon the state, especially when Caesar does a pretty poor job of it in any case.

If it Had Not Been

Thursday, January 12, AD 2012

The Guardian is a singularly obtuse Left-Wing tabloid in Great Britain, but they outdid themselves in a story about the most overrated people in history.

In regard to Winston Churchill, this gem was delivered in the story:

Quite a few of his Tory colleagues might have concurred with Lee’s view of Churchill’s hopeless judgment and over-zealous use of the military, at least right up until the summer of 1940. “If it had not been for the fact that he led Britain to victory in the second world war we would have scant memory of [him],” Lee reckons.

Yeah, that whole leading Great Britain to victory in World War II does seem to spoil the meme that the story is pushing doesn’t it?  Let’s see figures we could say were overrated from American history based upon this “standard’.

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34 Responses to If it Had Not Been

  • Wait please. Mr Churchill was a war-monger. What was the result of WW11? Stalin and his followers enslaved all of Eastern Europe, including East Germany which in effect meant that the West lost a major goal of defending/preserving freedom. Who was with Roosevelt and Stalin for that surrender? It is quite possible that the Third Reich would have imploded anyway as so many of his closest generals were upset by Hitler’s mania and temper. In the long human-spiritual look at the war, was the cost worth it in human life on all sides and the seeds sown for the Soviet-West Cold War and the very hot collateral wars of surrogates to defeat “communism” in SE Asia and Central and South America? The sinking of the French navy with the crews on board because Churchill did not trust them to resist the Germans has to be ranked as a horrific war crime, Mr. Churchill’s record is not as glorious as portrayed.

  • That is a complete load of congealed crap HT. Hitler started World War 2 through his insatiable desire for Lebensraum. The British and the French had no choice but to respond, and my criticism of them is that they responded too late. At the end of the War the only way to expel the Red Army from Eastern Europe was to immediately start World War III. This was the course recommended by Patton, but no one else was willing to do so. Opposition to Hitler in the Third Reich was negligible and ineffective. The bomb plot against Hitler in 1944 by factions within the military only occurred when Germany had clearly lost the War. Most Germans were quite happy to follow Hitler as long as he gave them victories.
    As for the sinking of a portion of the French fleet in Oran in 1940, this occurred only after the French admiral was given a chance to surrender, to sail his fleet to the neutral US for internment or to scuttle his ships. Churchill had every reason to fear that Hitler would seize the French fleet from the collaborationist Vichy government and use it in an invasion of Great Britain. If I had been in Churchill’s shoes I would have done precisely the same thing.

  • There is no need for vulgarity. Just make your points with reason and evidence. As to the sinking was there not a move by a French-speaking allied serviceman who was working but the final move was aborted before finalised and the fleet scuttled. That is neither brave, decent nor justifiable. Is the final word said yet about how Hitler’s inner circle was viewing things? As to the German people they were fed the same propaganda that the USSR fed their people against the West and the USA was filled with the same Red Scare to pump billions over time to the military industrial complex that grew more bloated. Same for China. now N Korea is a threat and Iran apparerently has Israel’s Mossad active with its familar tactics. The Pentagon and White House, Reagan and North armed Pakistan with nukes, now look, and courted Osama Bin Laden in the anti-Soviet surrogate war in Afghanistan. They are always fighting the last war or an imaginary future one in the sky or on lumberng aricraft carrries and nuke subs . They started Iraq 11 and could not provide properly armoured SUV’s and armour for the poor grunts walking all through Iraq to be killed by nail EDs and tanks penetrated by the most primitive of weapons. So much for Star Wars and nukes and massive air-craft carriers. What about the billions spent on National Security and a hands-on FBI agent was ignored re the 9/11 gang learning to fly up but not land! Duh.. The stupid rule and the ordinary GI and citizen pays for their misjudgments. This is a Catholic site so provide Christian Humanist responses to sin and war and dirty tricks. Leave the canonisaton process for churchill to the Vatican, they study the entire record and arere not side-tracked by propaganda or puffed biographies.

  • What is vulgar HT is your foolish attempt to distort history in order to grind an axe. History is very important to me and I will not allow fabricated history to be spread on this site.

    As to your paleocon rantings, every last comment is completely at variance with the facts. I am putting you on moderation as I do not appreciate attempted thread hijackings by people who view History as infinitely malleable to support their political agenda.

  • It is quite possible that the Third Reich would have imploded anyway as so many of his closest generals were upset by Hitler’s mania and temper.

    I always love these exercises in delusional alternate history from people whose sole source of history is Pat Buchanan. Yes, if only we had played nice eventually all the Germans would have realized that ole Hitler was a big fat meanie and everything would have turned up roses.

    You know, except for all those dead Jews, and they don’t really count.

    Sickening.

  • Sorry you win since you hold the marbles. I studied and taught history and read all of what I did not study formally where I had an interest. I apologise if you think I tried to hijack the site. I was merely trying to give examples of leaders who made awful blunders and cost lives and money. I am neither Left nor Right leaning, I am as I indicated a (Catholic) Christian Humanist. Your attitude seems to be that your version of even the past decades is right; by extrapolation so also WW11 and the later wars were decided and all points considered by the people in power. Do you allow for any other viewpoint on anything you wrote, or are you and your reading of the facts and nuances the only correct ones? I resent your labeling me as you did.

  • Had it not been for Al Gore, I wouldn’t have been able to read this post. Good job, Don.

  • Churchil (his mother was a Yank) also was a Lt. in a cavalry regiment at Omdurman. The colonel charged them into about 10,000 Fuzzy-Wuzzy’s and dervishes, I think.

    “Here’s to you, Fuzzy Wuzzy
    At yer ‘ome in the Soudan.
    Yer a poor benighted ‘eathen,
    But, a first-class fightin’ man!”

    These were the only warriors that ever broke a British square: at Suakim.

    And, I think Churchill as a correspondent during the Boer War had wild adventures.

    Only thing I can think to criticize is Galipoli. But, one may forgive it: “L’audace, L’audace, Toujour L’audace!” The great military minds of that era were obsessed with trench warfare. SIGH

    I guess the ideologue that wrote that dig at Winston thinks Neville Chamberlain had it right.

    The most overrated people in history: the English. As soon as the war was won, they fired Churchill and hired Clement Attlee. That was analogous to replacing John Wayne with Pee Wee Herman.

  • Moreover, if Churchill had got his way in ’37 and ’38 the Nazis might well have been toppled before they’re rearmed enough to be a serious rival to the French and British militaries. The best shot at Hitler’s government imploding would have been if the Allies had thrown him out when he occupied the Rhineland, stood shoulder to shoulder with the Czechs, or as a last chance, counterattacked into the Ruhr when Hitler went into Poland in 1939. This Buchanan-esque nonsense is pretty shockingly ignorant — though I suppose it does underline the squalid admiration that a few elements of the right in Britain and America had for Hitler prior to the war.

    Though as I finish up the second volume of Manchester’s bio of Churchill, it strikes me that the Guardian’s attack is even more off than that. While certainly Churchill was on the outs with the mainstream in the ’30s, he was already by that point one of the major British statesmen of the 20th century (though a quixotic one whose time many thought had passed) and also one of the most prolific and highly paid writers in the English language.

    Even Gallipoli, for which he was so widely blamed, was arguably a fiasco mainly because the local commanders didn’t follow Churchill’s original plan — and the blame for their blunders fixed to him because the public needed a scapegoat and the cabinet was fine with that so long as it wasn’t any of the rest of them.

  • “Your attitude seems to be that your version of even the past decades is right”

    No HT, my attitude is that there is one version of the past, what actually happened. Whenever anyone can establish that I am wrong on a matter of historical fact I am eager to correct it. Everyone has their political beliefs and biases and I am willing to debate them, although that is not what this post or thread is about. It is about History and the men and women who are significant players in History and how we view their lives. Whenever in one of my threads anyone makes statements that I know are historically erroneous, especially in a thread devoted to History, they will be called on it.

  • “That was analogous to replacing John Wayne with Pee Wee Herman.”

    Clement Atlee was actually a brave officer in World War I T.Shaw, and he was usually referred to as Major Atlee as a result. He served as Churchill’s deputy prime minister in the national government during the War. However, he did look like a Caspar Milquetoast and Churchill had fun at his expense with this quote about him: “A sheep, in sheep’s clothing.”

  • “While certainly Churchill was on the outs with the mainstream in the ’30s, he was already by that point one of the major British statesmen of the 20th century (though a quixotic one whose time many thought had passed) and also one of the most prolific and highly paid writers in the English language.”

    True Darwin, although during the Wilderness Years of the Thirties most of his contemporaries thought that Churchill was an anachronism. They viewed his warnings about the rise of the Third Reich as the hysterical rantings of a reactionary alarmist, and a sad ending for a brilliant if erratic statesman. History revealed who was right on that score.

  • By the time of the Yalta conference it was clear that the ‘Big Three’ was in fact the ‘Big Two plus one’. It is easy to criticize Churchill for selling out the Poles, on behalf of whom we had declared war in 1939, but the blame surely lies with Roosevelt who perversely trusted Stalin more than he did his British ally. Of course England could have sued for peace terms in 1940, and indeed for better terms in 1941 when Hitler knew he could not successfully invade and was looking east. But Churchill knew that treaties with Hitler were not worth the paper they were written on, and his claim to greatness was in deciding to stand alone after the fall of France.

    Churchill’s generation still regarded Britain as the pre-eminent world power, and indeed in 1918, when he was already in middle age, Britain (for the only time in her history) had faced the main force of the main enemy in the main theatre and decisively defeated her, and the British Empire was at its greatest extent. In World War II Britain was able to keep going because she was to all intents and purposes on a US life-support machine, and was effectively bankrupt by the end of it. The Empire proved to be what it had been for some time, a drain on the UK economy and a strategic nightmare (and this is in no way to disparage the contribution made by Dominion forces in both world wars).

    The greater the man, the more obvious his flaws, and Churchill had a number of them. In my opinion the greatest man of the last quarter of the 20th century was Pope John Paul II. Yet he was prone to grandstanding and presided over some truly awful ‘liturgies’.

  • “but the blame surely lies with Roosevelt who perversely trusted Stalin more than he did his British ally.”

    The blame actually lies with the sad fact John that the Red Army was in complete control of Poland. Only World War III would have changed that, and only Patton was willing to launch that conflict.

  • Bah, you want over-rated, look at what someone did do and see if it holds up.
    The Beatles? Over-rated. Not BAD, just not the second coming; very successful at riding a fad. Gilbert and Sullivan? Still awesome now.

  • Nolan Ryan was no great shakes if you take away the strikeouts.

  • PHILIP: It’s their wedding or the Vexin back. Those are the terms you made with Louis.

    HENRY: True, but academic, lad. The Vexin’s mine.

    PHILIP: By what authority?

    HENRY: It’s got my troops all over it. That makes it mine.
    The Lion in Winter

  • I left the discussion back there. I do however challenge the view that History is what is written and there are no other viewpoints. That is neither true, accurate nor rational. The old saying is that the conquerors write the history. So true. Every flawed human being who writes brings her/his biases to the craft. That is one reason why reviews are written and the professions have peer-review articles and books that flatly contradict the “other true” account!

  • Major Attlee? Who’d-a thunk!

    RE: WWI trench warfare, the following comes to mind:

    SIWARD
    Had he his hurts before?

    ROSS
    Ay, on the front.

    SIWARD
    Why then, God’s soldier be he!
    Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
    I would not wish them to a fairer death:
    And so, his knell is knoll’d.

    MALCOLM
    He’s worth more sorrow,
    And that I’ll spend for him.

    — Macbeth, Act V Scene VIII

    The lost generation.

  • What LarryD said.

  • “I do however challenge the view that History is what is written and there are no other viewpoints”

    No HT, as I stated History is what actually happened. Written history can accord with History or not, depending upon the honesty, skill and source materials of the historian writing it. Interpretations of the meaning of historical events differ, but no discussion is possible about interpretation unless the underlying facts of a historical event are ascertained and agreed to by the participants in such a discussion as a preliminary matter. It is a canard that the winners write the history, usually the losers are also quick to pick up their pens and, as occurred for a long period of time in regard to the American Civil War, the interpretation of the losers can become dominant in regard to the interpretation of a historical event.

  • I wish to respectfully wish to disagree. It is not only the losers who cry foul, I am much more familiar with the dominant group ‘s interpretation and twisting the actual facts. A simple example is from the New Testament about which I am doing some writing now. JESUS worked miracles, He was accused of being in league with the Devil. his trial was so illegal in Jewish law the Temple hierarchs should have been expelled then and not wait until the year 70 to see their cosy system destroyed. The many efforts to link Jesus romantically with the Magdalene which culminated in the Brown Da Vinci Code is a long effort to discredit the Gospel, and the Church’s beliefs. The protestant interpretation of the revolt-amation, my word, is so full of holes, lies and selective redaction, we are are just now sorting out the interpretations and facts. NOW if you want to ask me about the British Empire and its current incarnation, I will not try to hijack your site but it flatly contradicts your thesis that the facts are clear and purely stated.

  • Nolan Ryan was no great shakes if you take away the strikeouts.”

    Blasphemy.

    😉

    Nolan Ryan is MY president.

  • “The great military minds of that era [WWI] were obsessed with trench warfare”. This is an odd statement. The usual Great War myth is that the generals were all cavalrymen who didn’t understand trench warfare. Not true, of course. The deadlock on the Western Front resulted from a large number of men deployed in a relatively restricted geographical area (no flanks) and from the fact that military technology at that particular time favoured the defensive. Yet victory on the Western Front alone would defeat the German Empire (all reputable historians are agreed on this). Strategically Haig and Robertson were right, and Churchill and Lloyd George wrong.

    That said, Churchill’s original Gallipoli plan, to force the Straits using mainly naval power was not a bad one. If the Navy had pressed on despite ship losses (they were pre-dreadnoughts and arguably expendable) it might well have succeeded, and in February 1915 the peninsula was virtually undefended. Two months later the situation was very different. The experience of the Gallipoli debacle had a positive result in WWII; Churchill was surely right in resisting an invasion of northern Europe in 1943. However, his faith in diversionary actions was still in evidence – Italy, which he referred to as “the soft under-belly of the Axis” proved instead to be a hard spine.

  • “However, his faith in diversionary actions was still in evidence – Italy, which he referred to as “the soft under-belly of the Axis” proved instead to be a hard spine.”

    Anywhere where there were large number of German troops to fight was going to be difficult. Churchill desperately wanted to avoid the type of massive casualties, one million dead, suffered by the Brits and Empire troops in World War I. Ironically, when the Allies did invade France in 1944, the casualties were far lighter than the most optimistic projections had anticipated, and the fight far shorter. Churchill was right to avoid the 1943 invasion sought by Americans. The men and material simply had not been developed sufficiently, and the Allies benefited by the rapidly moving technology, especially the advent in large numbers of the superb P47 Thunderbolt and the amazing P 51 Mustang, which, in addition to protecting long range strategic bombers, provided first rate ground support for infantry and armor divisions. In 1944 many German units were decimated by these fighter-bombers even before they arrived at the front against the Allies in France.

  • The western Allies also benefitted from the fact that the main theatre of war 1941-1945 was the Eastern Front where attrition rates far surpassed those on the Western Front 1914-1918. Montgomery’s divisional casualty rates after D-Day were in fact higher than divisional casualty rates in the Great War (the highest daily rates for that conflict actually occurred during the ‘advance to victory’ August-November 1918). General Mangin remarked pessimistically but accurately in 1917: “Quoi qu’on fasse, on perd beaucoup de monde”. The less fighting you do, the fewer casualties you will take.

  • Paraphrasing Churchill’s own words – he was the worst prime minister Britain could have had except for all the others. The British Empire was heading into its twilight, the fiction that India would be content to stay on as a colony of a seaborne version of Vichy France is too ridiculous for comment. Churchill ensured that its last days would be among its most glorious. The Poles were probably the most heroic nation in WW11, but they were a victim of geography caught as they were between the Nazis and the Soviets. Once the French fell, it would have been clear to the Poles that they were in for the long night. Churchill tried many expedients to shorten the war and reach the East before the Soviets- Market Garden, the soft underbelly of Italy. But in all cases the cussed Germans proved too strong.

  • Actually, British double-agent Aleister Crowley sunk the Lusitania, thereby instigating the chain of events that would lead to WWII. And Churchill was a eugenicist monster.

  • Thank you OCB for providing us with our daily dose of insanity. Much appreciated!

  • Would enjoy more rational refutation of the points, one by one, or in several posts, made by those who disagree rather than dismissing the people with ad hominem comments such as “congealed crap” and “daily dose of insanity.” We live in a very hostile anti-Church, post Christian Europe, where there is no FCC to keep the in many ways and do not need to see the same stuff dished out on a site where one expects some

  • We here in Europe are exposed to a very hostile anti-Church, post-civilised society where there is no protection against the use of the F and S and A words, even in early evening Tv programming. I would like to see that disagreeements on here would receive replies that avoid sarcastic dismissal of the person, ad hominem rather than point by point refutation of the position. Thank you

  • My last post above was written because the one before it was rejected as a duplicate but published anyway with part of a sentence missing.

  • As for the “Churchill was a eugenisist” accusation, it is true that he was part of a eugenics conference at least once in the pre-war period, however it was a “fashionable” idea at the time and I don’t know if his affiliation with said belief continued afterward. (I do suspect, however, that it would have at least been modified (to understate things) once the Prime Minister found out about the Final Soluation and all that entailed. Anyone have documentation from him about that?)

    Also, I’ve been reading Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud’s “A Question of Honor” (about Polish fighter pilots who flew with the British on behalf of the Polish government-in-exile) and the book details the betrayal of Poland, first by Chamberlain-era Britain and France, and then by FDR and Churchill. (Churchill, at least, had at least private issues with giving in to Stalin’s European demands.) This, along with Don’s post about Patton’s willingness to start WW3 with the Soviets, got me to thinking: What should have been done?

    True, I do think the British and French should have launched a full-scale offensive into Germany as soon as they could when Hitler attacked Poland, but what should Churchill and FDR have done regarding Eastern Europe in general (and Poland in particular) in the post-Barbarossa era? While I do sympathize with Patton’s desire to roll into Moscow and topple “Uncle Joe” from power, could the Anglo-American alliance win an offensive war against the Red Army? Would it have resulted, not in a free Europe, but one completely dominated by the Communists (instead of the half-liberated Europe that resulted from WWII?)

    I’m not sure. I do think World War II in general was a just war (though I disagree with some of the things the Allies did do in bello, to say nothing of the Axis powers); so I’m just throwing these questions out there. What do you think?

  • The Czechs in 1938 had the best army in central Europe and would have resisted had their French ally supported them. The German General Staff were well aware of the deficiencies of the Wehrmacht at that time, as well as the fact that the French army was at least quantitively superior. Unfortunately Daladier and Chamberlain did not have the moral courage of Reagan and Thatcher. After Munich World War II was more or less a foregone conclusion.

    Churchill was a late Victorian romantic imperialist. During the war he was accosted by a female American journalist who demanded, rather aggressively, “What are you going to do about the Indians?” Churchill’s riposte was “To which Indians, Madam, do you refer? Are you referring to the inhabitants of the great sub-continent who under benign and munificent British rule are prospering? Or are you perhaps referring to those other Indians who under successive American administrations are now almost extinct?”

    The fact was that India was moving rapidly towards self-government. Had it not been for the war partition and the ensuing bloodbath might have been averted. Who knows?

To Awaken A Sleeping Giant

Wednesday, December 7, AD 2011

i-fear-all-we-have-done-is-to-awaken-a-sleeping-giant

 

At the end of the epic movie Tora, Tora, Tora, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the head of the combined Japanese fleet, after the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, refuses to join in the elation of his staff, and makes this haunting observation: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”  The line is almost certainly apocryphal.  The director of the film, Elmo Williams, claimed that Larry Forester, the film’s screenwriter, had found the line in a 1943 letter written by Yamamoto.   However, he has been unable to produce the letter, and there is no other evidence that such a letter exists.

However, there is no doubt that Yamamoto would fully have endorsed the sentiment that the line contained.  He had studied at Harvard in 1919-1921, and served two tours as a naval attache at the Japanese embassy in Washington DC.  He spoke fluent English, and his stays in the US had convinced him of that nation’s vast wealth and industrial power.  He had also developed a fondness for both America and Americans.

In the 1930’s Yamamoto spoke out against Japan allying with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, fearing that such an alliance would lead inevitably to a war with the US that Japan would lose.  He received frequent death threats as a result from fanatical Japanese nationalists.  These were not idle threats, as such nationalists did assassinate a fair number of Japanese politicians and military men during the Thirties who were against war with the US.  Yamamoto ignored the threats with studied contempt, viewing it as his duty to the Emperor and Japan to speak out against a disastrous course.  Yamamoto wrote in a letter to one nationalist:

Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.

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3 Responses to To Awaken A Sleeping Giant

  • A gigantic boiler. I like that.

  • I hadn’t realized that the “sleeping giant” line came from Tora, Tora, Tora. I could swear that I’d read it presented as history in a couple of books when I was a kid reading up about WW2.

  • A good discussion on the subject of the quote is here:

    http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=72131

    This is something we are seeing more of in the age of the intertnet in which a manufactured quote is cited quite a bit and becomes gospel. A prime example is this alleged George Orwell quote which is completely apocryphal:

    “We sleep safely in our beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.”

    Then we have this quote universally, and falsely, attributed to Edmund Burke:

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    A final example is a description of government attributed to the Father of Our Country but which he never uttered:

    “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

    Fake quotes, even when they express the sentiments of the individual purportedly having said them, are a bug-a-boo of mine.

We Shall Never Surrender

Saturday, June 4, AD 2011

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old. “

Seventy-one years ago today, on June 4, 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallied Great Britain to the coming Battle of Britain with his “We Shall Never Surrender” speech.  In the face of an overwhelming  defeat in France, Churchill gave no thought of peace with Hitler, but rather called his people to a hard uphill fight against evil.  It is simple to call a nation to take an easy, expedient, at least for the short term, path.  It is difficult to call a nation to a path filled with danger, and with the issue of the struggle quite in doubt, in order to defeat a great evil.  Any politician can do the former;  only a statesman can do the latter.  Here is the text of the speech:

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69 Years Ago

Tuesday, December 7, AD 2010

My sainted father was 8 years old on December 7, 1941.  He told me how the next day men and older boys, ranging in age from 60-16, gathered in long lines in front of the recruiting offices in Paris, Illinois to sign up to fight.  I think those of us who weren’t alive at that time have difficulty grasping the impact Pearl Harbor had on the nation, as it launched the country on a crusade to break the power of the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany.

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19 Responses to 69 Years Ago

  • There is grave sadness on many levels.

    The saddest is: America in the 21st century is not America of the 20th century.

    E.G., the current unknown in the White House stated in 2006 America had lost the war . . .

  • Until a nation is put to such a test T. Shaw, it is hard to say just how it will respond. Viewed from abroad America in the Thirties must have seemed weak, its economy still struggling with the Depression, committed to isolationism, bitterly divided over the policies of the New Deal, and led by a President widely regarded among his detractors, and a few of his supporters, as shallow and weak. I am unconvinced that in many essentials the America of today is not the same as the America of 1941, the America of 1861 and the America of 1776.

  • Mac,

    You; my son, Captain US Army Infantry, Airborne Ranger, CIB; the ROTC cadets I had the extreme honor to dine with last Saturday evening yet are “there.”

    It’s just that . . .

    “Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot.”

  • I deleted your comment Nate. You do not get to attack the US war effort against Japan in this thread today. I am happy to debate such issues in other threads and on other days, but not in this thread on Pearl Harbor Day.

  • Thank you Mr. Churchill and Mr. McClarey.

    “I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!”

    My husband is a naturalized exile, retired special forces officer and former defense researcher. He knows firsthand how hard the US tries ‘not’ to kill. I thank God he stands next to me and guards our children.

  • I had just turned ten at the time. My mother had died in June of pneumonia leaving us five brothers and our father with the loss of our dearest love somewhat adrift. It was a sunny day in Dayton, Ohio as I was on my way out to find one of my playmates that Sunday. He greeted me on the sidewalk with “The Jap’s bombed Pearl Harbor”. With no TV or newspaper and one radio that had not been turned on yet we knew nothing of what had happened. I suppose there were plenty of kids just like me whose thoughts were the same as mine. Who are the “Jap’s” and where is Pearl Harbor? It wasn’t long before all of us were totally immersed in Uncle Sam’s war effort that included collecting tin cans, used tires, cast iron, paper, and buying saving stamps or war bonds along with accepting rationing of food, shoes, gasoline, or “nylons”.
    That was the “easy” part. Soon almost every family in the neighborhood had their front window draped with a service flag containing a star for every member of the household in the armed forces. One week after Pearl Harbor was the sixteenth birthday for one brother who begged his older one to wait so they could “go fight together”. The eldest of the lot had a wedding coming up in the spring and his girlfriend asked him to wait until after the wedding. The fourteen year old enlisted as soon as he turned old enough. Like the others, all in the Marine Corp and all in the Pacific from Guadalcanal to Iwo to the occupation forces. Thank God all returned whole if not unscarred, hundreds of thousands that have been all but forgotten by a world saved from tyranny did not.

  • Bill, I had two uncles who served in the Pacific, one as a Marine and one as a sailor in the Navy. They both got back without a scratch. They used to tell me that the real heroes of that war were the men, like many of their buddies, who never made it back.

  • Nate, I had thought that I had made my wishes plain to you in regard to this thread. Apparently not, judging from your last attempted comment. I am placing you on moderation for the time being. You will have plenty of opportunities to argue your pacifist position in future on other threads, but not on this thread.

  • “The more we glorify war, the more we ignore murder, the more we put men …into terrible spiritual danger.”

    Language doesn’t change the truth.
    War with the brutality, enslavement, and killing (murder) that comes with it can be and is “glorified” only in the minds and policies of those who use it to gain dominion or expand their rule. Spreading liberty with the use of force after all else has failed to God’s people crying out for freedom from tyranny is quite the contrary.
    Scripture at its very source has forever testified in God’s name to this truth. We are even told to destroy the parts of our own bodies that seek to defile our souls or deny God’s will for us.
    The Church, in truth and justice, can and should rightly honor its sons and daughters past and present who place their lives on the line to assure peace and tranquility among “men of good will” who keep and cherish her precepts.

  • “An old woman stood at an intersection outside town (Nettuno, Italy – Anzio), kissing the hand of every American soldier tramping past. As one private reported, ‘She did not miss a man.’”
    The Day of Battle, The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, Rick Atkinson

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention 69 Years Ago | The American Catholic -- Topsy.com
  • An interesting story I spotted today: the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is not ready to disband just yet even though its members are now close to or past 90 years old:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40552543/ns/us_news-life/

    “A Pearl Harbor Survivors Association has been around for 52 years and, while struggling to continue, 100 members voted against disbanding at their annual meeting on Monday, said association president Art Herriford.

    Herriford, 88, said old age makes it difficult for members to organize their biennial meetings and handle other duties, but they “don’t want to throw in the towel right away.”

    “Some of these old duffers, if you tried to do away with this organization, you’d have them all to fight,” Herriford said after the group met in Waikiki. A vote count was not provided.”

    Of the 18,000 survivors who joined the association after it formed in 1958, only 3,000 are still living. (Frankly I’m surprised it’s that many.)

  • “Some of these old duffers, if you tried to do away with this organization, you’d have them all to fight,” Herriford said after the group met in Waikiki. A vote count was not provided.”

    I love that remark Elaine! I’ll pass it along to some World War 2 vets I’m having lunch with tomorrow!

  • Sam, I deleted your comment, and for the personal insult it contained, you are banned from this site.

  • Donald,
    You are really handing out the excommunications today! 😉

  • Good for you, Donald. Excommunications are good for the soul! 😉

  • A blog excommunication is rather like being mauled by a toothless ancient poodle; it doesn’t hurt but it does tend to attract attention. 🙂

  • Donald,

    Can I refer to you as a “toothless ancient poodle” from now on?

  • I have been called much worse than that WJ.

8 Responses to Happy Belated 136th Winston

Their Finest Hour

Saturday, June 19, AD 2010

Yesterday, June 18, marked the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech to Parliament,  as he alerted Great Britain to the coming Battle of Britain.  Churchill did not sugar coat the situation for his listeners.  Britain faced a formidable enemy and the odds were against them.  However, rather than a call for negotiations or surrender, Churchill called for defiance and victory.  He starkly reminded his listeners that a victory for Nazi Germany would mark the end of Christian civilization.  Churchill was not speaking in hyperbolic terms.  He was a careful student of history, as well as writing and making it, and other than politics, history was his ruling intellectual passion throughout his long life.  He realized that the menace of Nazi Germany was sui generis and could not be lulled by appeasement or a meaningless negotiated peace that Hitler would violate with impunity, but that rather the Nazis must be resisted implacably with all the force that the Brits could muster.  Everyone who cherishes freedom is in the debt of Churchill for the words that he spoke on June 18 and his leadership at a time when the fate of the world truly hang in the balance.  This was the finest hour indeed for him and the nation he led, and no leader can have a finer accolade.

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  • Mr. Woodward,

    I am Major Jim Harvey of the U.S. Army Reserve. I am writing an article for a Catholic periodical and would like to use some information from your blogs on military chaplains. Footnotes would be used. Please advise if I have your permission to do so. Thanks! Jim

  • Sorry meant Mr.McClarey

  • Be my guest Jim!

  • The Battle of Brtain was essentially a defensive air battle.
    If one individual were to stand out as the principal figure in the success of the Battle of Britian, it was New Zealander, Sir Keith Park.

    His record in both WW1 and WW2 is stuff legends are made of, and yet this humble self effacing man, after his retirement from the Air Force, went about quietly doing his civic duty in NZ until his death in 1975.

    I cannot help but think how he may have known my maternal grandfather on Gallipoli, or my great uncle at the Somme, and would definitely have rubbed shoulders with another great uncle in the Royal Flying Corps during WW1. As was often the case, he was treated as a “colonial” by his English peers during WW2 – a superior attitude by the British which was still noticeable in English migrants to NZ in the 1950’s and 60’s’ and which I encountered in my youth. Not any more though.
    He was decorated by the British, French and USA, and was called the “Defender of London” by the Germans. A statue of him was erected on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar square in London 2008 in his honour.

    There is a good article on him on Wikipedia.

  • Ha ha Don – McClarey trumps again. 😆

    That interview with Park’s grt.neice was done at my local airport here in Tauranga at the Classic Flyers museum, which I visit frequently – about 5 miles away. I didn’t know that it had been done, or on you-tube.
    Just a dumb kiwi eh? 😉

    Classic Flyers is a great set-up. Every 2 years they do an air show with WW1, WW2 aircraft plus other air displays – its a great weekend. This year they had a couple of Spitfires, a Hurricane, Corsair, Mustang, 2 Kittyhawks, a Messerschmitt 109 (not genuine) a couple of Dakotas, a Catalina, and various others I can’t recall right now

    Excellent.

  • Here are parts one and two of the interview Don:

    What Sir Keith Park brings home is just how international an effort was the defense of Britain during the Battle of Britain. Among the pilots were 145 Poles, 127 Kiwis, 112 Canadians, 88 Czechoslovaks, 32 Australians, 28 Belgians, 25 South Africans, 13 French, 10 Irish, 7 Americans, 1 British Mandate of Palestine, 1 Jamaican and 1 Rhodesian. Eventually American volunteers would supply 244 volunteer pilots for the RAF who would form the three American Eagle Squadrons in the RAF. After America entered the war the Eagle Squadrons became part of the US Army Air Corps.

Brits Forgetting Winston Churchill

Thursday, May 13, AD 2010

Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air.  One in five British adults were unable to identify a picture of Winston Churchill in a recent survey.

As part of the survey, carried out to mark this week’s 70th anniversary of Churchill’s prime ministerial tenure, more than 1,136 people were asked to identify three prominent 20th century PMs including Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

One in five (19%) adults failed to name Churchill, with the figure rising to 32% of 25 to 34-year-olds and 44% of those aged 16 to 24.

Following the pattern, researchers projected the rough date when the leaders would no longer be recognised, with Churchill’s demise predicted in 80 years’ time…

The survey, which involved people naming black and white headshot photos of the prime ministers, saw Churchill mistaken for Stephen Fry, Robert Hardy, Michael Gambon, Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, John Betjeman and Roy Hattersley, the Royal Mint said…

Kevin Clancy, head of Historical Services at the Royal Mint, added: “It’s shocking that one of our greatest statesmen runs the risk of potentially being forgotten.

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  • Pathetic.

  • I should add don’t blame the schools, Don. They are busy with more important things like teaching the kids “how” to learn and ensuring high self-esteem. Who cares what happened 50 years ago?” The dude was probably just some old white guy.

  • True Mike. The schools obviously have to keep their priorities straight: politics and sensitivity first, knowledge if there is time.

    The truly dismal aspect of this is that more than a few of the teachers are probably not that clear on Churchill, probably dimly remembering him from a politicized survey course on British History they took in high school or college.

  • Perhaps I’ve found a way to make children reconnect with Churchill:

  • I bet more than 1 in 5 Americans won’t be able to identify FDR. School is where you’re locked up while your parents work. We learn from TV.

  • “We learn from TV.”

    God help us all.

  • Yet only in 2002 Winston Churchill was voted the greatest Briton by over 500,000 votes. A little more representative than 1000 in this survey. Besides which if the poll was taken in London then it is almost like the pool was undertaken in a foreign country, London is so cosmopolitan now.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/2509465.stm

    Saying that, we live in a culture which recognises only youth and celeb gossip which is a fairly recent import from the USA, (thank you USA!!). If you’re not in the media ever other day then you aren’t anyone!!

  • Sorry for the typo, it should have been ‘poll’, not pool.

    I live about 15 miles from Sir Winston Churchill’s family home – Chartwell which is now part of the National Trust. Visting there is like stepping through history, letters from all the world leaders during World War II and post war. Gifts from all over the world in gratitude for his efforts and with a library full of books he’d written. I came out feeling very insignificant. I learnt more there than in all the lessons at school.

  • If we learn everything from TV, then I suspect that Britons would fare better in this poll if taken today. Mr. Churchill appeared in an episode of Dr. Who a few weeks ago, so he should by now be readily identifiable. 🙂

  • Bear in mind the article was in the UK newspaper the Daily Mail, I was once offered a
    copy free with a Latte and refused to accept it. My dad used to read
    it and it always wanted to make me slit my wrists.

    On the wider note about engaging the younger generation, I have twin
    boys of 14 and if anything as a result of the likes of the History
    channel etc they have a better appreciation of history and WW2 than I
    ever did at their age. They have recently come back from a WW1 tour of
    Belgium, we didn’t do that sort of thing when I was a lad.
    I wrote a book with my boys in mind called Churchill’s Secret Skills
    which takes Winston’s WW2 talents for running the war and applies them
    to modern business. I figured if I could keep them interested enough
    to read it through to the end then I had just about pitched it right.
    You have to keep it engaging and throw in as much humour as possible.
    Teenage kids are a tough crowd

  • I can sort of understand mistaking him for Oliver Hardy by a photograph.

  • I bet plenty of British school kids have heard of the Spitfire, though.

Churchill-Finest Hour

Tuesday, September 1, AD 2009

On the anniversary of the beginning of World War II, I recall this speech of Churchill, and his presentation, before the beginning of the Battle of Britain in 1940, of alternative futures for mankind based upon how the war came out.  For all our problems since the Allied victory in that war, the mind recoils from what the world would have been like after an Axis victory.

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  • This is but one of many eloquent speeches delivered by Churchill.

    Quite telling that the isolationists back then relied on George Washington as their advocate to refrain from those impending events (the same from which the United States itself would historically supplant Britain as World Power), especially as concerning foreign alliances; while those who were interventionists adopted Churchill as theirs.

    It is recalled that when the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, the man actually proclaimed an automatic victory for the side of the Allies.

  • Choosing Washington’s admonition against “entangling alliances” as the rallying cry of the isolationists was especially ironic e since Washington and the other Founding Fathers won our victory in our Revolution by successfully converting a local American conflict into an Eighteenth Century World War, with fighting taking place between America and her allies and the British in all the then known Continents by the end of the war. Washington had no problem with foreign alliances as long as they served the interests of America.

  • I cannot overstate enough how annoyed I get when ‘Old Right’ and libertarian conservatives are branded as ‘isolationists’ simply because they see greater consequences by military intervention.

  • Washington had no problem with foreign alliances as long as they served the interests of America

    I’m confused – you say this as though it were a bad thing?

  • Which I think is Anthony’s point – as far as I can gather, paleo and libertarian conservatives are not necessarily against all foreign alliances, but only those that serve no legitimate American interest.

  • “Washington had no problem with foreign alliances as long as they served the interests of America”

    “I’m confused – you say this as though it were a bad thing?”

    No, I say this in approval. That is why I think the America Firsters prior to World War II were blind fools as it clearly was in America’s interest to stop Nazi Germany as quickly as possible.

  • “No, I say this in approval. That is why I think the America Firsters prior to World War II were blind fools as it clearly was in America’s interest to stop Nazi Germany as quickly as possible.”

    While it might very well have been in America’s interest to stop Nazi Germany, I would say that America sure could use some more ‘America First’ attitudes today. One of the detrimental after effects of the WWII intervention, in my opinion, was the rise of a philosophical tendency to see the United States as being responsible for global security— the ‘policeman of the world’ as it is referred. That would seem to me a perpetual ‘foreign entanglement’ without real benefit.

  • The advantage of the US being involved abroad Anthony is thus far we have avoided a World War III. I think a large reason why is the network of alliances and mutual security agreements we built up during the Cold War and which helped us gain ultimate victory in that decades long struggle by containing the Soviet Union. Foreign involvement is neither automatically good nor bad. Like many things in life it depends upon the circumstances.

  • “… I would say that America sure could use some more ‘America First’ attitudes today.”

    No doubt, a person who once himself joined in the ‘America First’ rallies of yester years.

    What’s next?

    Those from Socialist Party, U.S.A.?

    (Incidentally, might Joe Hargrave been a former member thereof?)

  • “The advantage of the US being involved abroad Anthony is thus far we have avoid a World War III.”

    Of course, we can really never know if that is true. Both World Wars occurred thanks more to deficiencies in European politics and economics than to U.S. non-interference. American intervention in WWI for example, tipped the scales in favor of France and Britain preventing them from ever having to properly work out their stalemate with Germany. If we want to talk about things that could theoretically have been avoided, Germany’s humiliation and thus WWII was quite avoidable.

    Guys like Lincoln, Churchill and Roosevelt are always heralded as heroes, but its seemed to me they were interested more in maintaining or increasing their nation’s superior place in the world over peace for the sake of…well…peace. To the former end, exacerbating and maneuvering crises is the proper strategy. The latter goal would result in political accusations of cowardice, and of course, that is not an acceptable risk.

  • “…more interested in maintaining or increasing their nation’s superior place in the world…”

    Might I introduce you to the notion of Manifest Destiny?

  • “Might I introduce you to the notion of Manifest Destiny?”

    What’s your point?

  • “Of course, we can really never know if that is true. Both World Wars occurred thanks more to deficiencies in European politics and economics than to U.S. non-interference.”

    Do you have any doubt that those deficiencies in European politics and economics would not have continued after World War II and led to another grand blood letting into which the US would have been drawn? Without a strong US backing up the West Europeans, I have no doubt that all of continental Europe would quickly have been under the sway of Stalin. Our proactive involvement in the world after World War II, God bless you Harry Truman!, avoided such a result and the inevitable conflict with the US and Britain which would have resulted.

    In regard to World War I, neither Germany nor the Allies had any intention of ending that war short of victory. I think the US was correct in its assumption that the world was better off with the western allies victorious in that war than Imperial Germany. I do not agree that German humiliation after World War I led to Hitler. The Allies made the mistake of leaving Germany powerful and unoccupied. Hitler thrived on the “Stabbed in the back myth” which was a useful fable for the Germans to latch on to and to pretend that they had not been beaten by their opponents but rather betrayed by traitors at home. After World War II no German outside of an insane asylum could pretend that Germany had not been completely defeated.

  • Our nation initially consisted a mere 12 colonies.

    Do you really insist on casting as un-heroic historical figures in history simply due to their having had interest in maintaining/increasing the nation’s superiority?

    If so, you might find a vast number of suspects in our American history, not only Lincoln and Roosevelt.

  • corrigenda: obviously, “13”; not 12.

    That’s what I get for doing too many things at the same time. Apologies.

  • Don, as much as you and I agree on fundamental matters we part ways severely on foreign affairs. You have much more of I guess what I would phrase as a ‘triumphalist’ view of American history— you admire the strong, particularly the ones willing to flex military might. If I’m incorrect in that assessment I apologize.

    I find it difficult to admire Truman, for example, a man who dropped the atomic bomb, not once but twice on the Japanese people. I do not find that fact a source of proud distinction for the United States. To me, its sad that ‘neutrality’ is not as respectable a policy position as it once was.

    “Do you really insist on casting as un-heroic historical figures in history simply due to their having had interest in maintaining/increasing the nation’s superiority?”

    I insist on having both eyes open. I wonder at times, if the people who love to love America love her accumulated power and prestige over her more humble and mundane virtues. Can it be heroic to have an interest in lifting a nation to greater accomplishments? Sure. But its not particularly heroic if that effort involves stepping over the requisite dead bodies to get there. (the Native Americans, the Southern people, the Japanese, the passengers of the Lusitania… take your controversial pick).

    So yes, I have a dimmer view of American history, and politics and power in general, that stretch further than Lincoln and Roosevelt. (I’m not a huge fan of guys like Woodrow Wilson, TR or LBJ for example) If I were to compare myself to Don, knowing what I’ve read of his posts in the past- he lives in Lincoln and Roosevelt’s America whereas my sympathies are more with the Jeffersonian line of thinking that is generally thought of as ‘fringe’ in our modern political dialogue.

  • “corrigenda: obviously, “13?; not 12.

    That’s what I get for doing too many things at the same time. Apologies.”

    so on some forum somewhere is a reference to ’13 apostles’? 🙂

  • I do not think I have a triumphalist view of American history. I appreciate those times when action was taken to preserve the freedom that I and my family enjoy. I believe the US did a wonderful thing in the last century in defeating those two monuments to the infinite capacity of Man for evil, fascism and communism. The US would have left the world a much darker place if it had attempted to stand on the sidelines.

    In regard to Mr. Truman I believe he was a very great President who brought one War to a swift conclusion and then laid the foundations for victory in the Cold War. The bombs, as appalling as they were, avoided an invasion of the Home Islands of Japan that would have involved many Okinawas in regard to American and Japanese casualties. Perhaps my opinion is colored by the fact that I had two uncles slated for the invasion and who believed till their dying days that the use of the bomb by Truman at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the only reason they came home alive. Of course I know I will be told that this is consequentalist reasoning, but I still am very glad that my uncles came home in one piece as did hundreds of thousands Americans who were also slated for Operation Olympic, and that millions of Japanese also did not die in a futile effort to defeat the invasion, or as a result of starvation or continued bombing of their cities in the event that the invasion was postponed or cancelled and a “starve them out and bomb them out” strategy was used instead.

    Historian Richard Frank published a cogent article in 2005 as to why Truman used the bombs.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/894mnyyl.asp?pg=1

20 Responses to Why Does This Not Surprise Me?