Balance of Power

Europe - Satellite image - PlanetObserver

Europe – Satellite image – PlanetObserver (Photo credit: PlanetObserver)

With the destruction of the Soviet Union, for most purposes, the stationing of United States forces in Europe became unnecessary. It is reasonable to have some based there as a contingency, and it is also desirable that the US help maintain Europe as a nuclear free zone (if you exclude Russia, France, and the United Kingdom). I would say they are diverse enough to take care of it, with merely some warnings from time to time.

The thing is with the end of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, we are no longer dealing with “the rompin’, stompin’, Red Army” where every soldier was a ten foot superman. Russia is a regional power, perhaps a bit stronger than Germany or France, but not as powerful as the United Kingdom, although it does have more nuclear devices, which is why we need to remain engaged.

But much of our problem is that all of Europe has been on the dole for better than half a century. They have had the luxury of having America defend them, without cost to them. Most of their militaries have become parade units not much more useful in a war than the UCLA marching band. And so they’ve had the freedom to support the unproductive and jeer the Americans.

In addition, because of the willful nonsense of the green policies, Europe has become almost completely dependant on Gazprom, the corrupt Russian cartel for their gas and oil.

In my opinion, our major interest in Europe at this point, becomes rather similar to the UK’s in the nineteenth century, make sure nobody take over the whole fool continent, with the additional proviso that nobody gets to use nukes. That doesn’t require a standing American Army in Europe, and we have other needs in defense, so it’s time to come home. Germany will have to feed the Germans.

As for Europe and energy, they need to find some common sense, tsunamis are very unlikely in Germany, and so Fukushima type disasters are as well. Nuclear energy is very clean, and since the plants are built, make more sense than coal plants that aren’t.

It should be a no-brainer for the United States to drill and frack our way, to energy dominance. It’s very obviously in our interest. Near as I can tell, Russia needs oil at about $90/ barrel, if we develop as rapidly as we can, we should be able to force the price well below that.

Who is America’s other persistent opposition? Yeah, Islamic fanatics, some state supported, some not. What do they all have in common? Yep, they’re supported by oil money, so we can expect some subsidence in their activity if we cut their funding by using American oil, and if we’re making money selling oil, we’ll have more good jobs, reducing welfare, Europe will be better off, reducing our subsidies to them. and our opponents will be hurt.

Tell me again why we’re not drilling for oil on public land?

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Hannah Arendt and the American Experience


Hannah-Arendt (Photo credit: Ben Northern)

My friend Servus Fidelis has a post up concerning Hannah Arendt. It concerns her work in covering the Eichmann trial as well as her doctoral thesis on love in the writing of St. Augustine.  The Eichmann trial is what caused her to talk about “the banality of evil”. It’s a very good article, go there. Hannah Arendt.

Hannah Arendt was one of the people I was introduced to as an undergraduate whose thinking has colored mine ever since. Yes, the banality of evil is surprisingly true, and I think the construction that evil is the absence of good that is sometimes based on it is true, and profound.

But I want to talk about a couple of other things she talked about first there was this.

Her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), covered the roots of Stalinist Communism and Nazism in both anti-Semitism and imperialism. It infuriated the Left because it presented the two movements as equally tyrannical. (And because that is true.) She also contends that the Jews were really a target of convenience for the Nazi’s megalomania and consistency, not eradicating Jews. I’m still not sure I agree about this part, Anti-Semitism is pretty deep in European.

She makes some distinctions and defined some words which is very useful

Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together.

Strength unequivocally designates something in the singular …

Force  … should be reserved, in terminological language, for the “forces of nature” or the “force of circumstances,” that is, to indicate the energy released by physical or social movements.

Authority can be vested in persons – there is such a thing as personal authority, as for instance, in the relation between parent and child, between teacher and pupil – or it can be vested in offices, as, for instance, in the Roman senate or in the hierarchical offices of the Church. (A priest can grant valid absolution even though he is drunk.) Its hallmark is unquestioning recognition by those who are asked to obey; neither coercion nor persuasion is needed.

Violence, finally, as I have said, is distinguished by its instrumental character. Phenomenologically, it is close to strength, since the implements of violence, like all other tools, are designed and used for the purpose of multiplying natural strength…

These will provide you with a good basis indicating why it is very important to resist the use of violence as long as possible. It is also important to have a goal in mind and stick to it. The application can start to be applied here: (from Wikipedia)

Arendt’s essay, “On Violence”, distinguishes between violence and power. She maintains that, although theorists of both the Left and Right regard violence as an extreme manifestation of power, the two concepts are, in fact, antithetical. Power comes from the collective will and does not need violence to achieve any of its goals, since voluntary compliance takes its place. As governments start losing their legitimacy, violence becomes an artificial means toward the same end and is therefore, found only in the absence of power. Bureaucracies then become the ideal birthplaces of violence since they are defined as the “rule by no one” against whom to argue and therefore, recreate the missing links with the people they rule over.

And here is where we come full circle back to Eichmann, who self-described (during his trial in Israel as) an anonymous mid-level bureaucrat

Arendt never doubted that Eichmann was guilty of great wickedness, but she saw the Nazi functionary as the very incarnation of what she famously called “the banality of evil.”  One of the distinctive marks of this banality Arendt characterized as Gedankenlosigkeit, which could be superficially rendered in English as “thoughtlessness,” but which carries more accurately the sense of “the inability to think.”  Eichmann couldn’t rise above his own petty concerns about his career and he couldn’t begin to “think” along with another, to see what he was doing from the standpoint of his victims. This very Gedankenlosigkeit is what enabled him to say, probably with honesty, that he didn’t feel as though he had committed any crimes.

From the article linked above.

One of the distinctions she made between the American and French revolutions was (from Wikipedia)

Arendt presents a comparison of the two main revolutions of the eighteenth century, the American and French Revolutions. She goes against a common view of both Marxist and leftist views when she argues that France, while well studied and often emulated, was a disaster and that the largely ignored American Revolution was a success. The turning point in the French Revolution occurred when the leaders rejected their goals of freedom in order to focus on compassion for the masses. In America, the Founding Fathers never betray the goal of Constitutio Libertatis…

And that was my main take-away all those years ago. The founders pulled off that rarest of all things-a successful revolution because they paid attention to what they were trying to accomplish and didn’t let it degenerate into a mob rule. This is the basis of the commonly cited 3 stage of revolution theory, and what we are speaking of when we say the Americans stopped at the 2d stage.

And, of course, what many of us fear is that we are now descending into the third stage, the mob scene. Although in a very different mode in that we are being led there by a long-established government which seems to have forgotten what good government is. And in many ways what we are seeing now is the rise of the faceless bureaucrat. Do ours resemble Adolph Eichmann?

No, not yet, anyway.

Obamacare or Jobs

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service. The design is the same as the Treasury seal with an IRS inscription. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I haven’t talked about Obamacare a whole lot here. A lot of that is that my readers are sensible folk, who already know that it is already, even before implementation is hurting the economy. I mean, remember when we had 40+ a week jobs? Won’t be much longer till we’re a nation of part-timers, probably two (at least) because no employer will be able to afford to insure us.


That’s one of the almost silly roots of the problem. That we have installed our employers in our health care payment system. Why? Taxes and government controls, that’s why. Way back in World War II, everybody was working 48 hours or so a week, getting paid pretty good money (except of course for those army privates making 21 dollars a month plus bad housing and sort-of OK food, plus a chance to get killed for their country). But the thing is the government wouldn’t let employers compete for the good people with wages, they were controlled, ostensibly because there wasn’t anything to buy anyway, and they didn’t want to fuel the black market. Who know, it might even be true.


So employers who still needed good employees came up with all sorts of benefits to get people to work for them, health insurance was one of them, and the government made it deductible for a business to provide that insurance. But as usual it got out of hand. If car insurance was like health insurance, we’d be turning in the bill for checking the oil in our engine on our insurance. Sensible people don’t insure for expected expenses, they save for it, or indeed just pay it out of their checking account, or cash.


But that’s where we are, and Obamacare going to make it far worse, we might as well get used to being France, if our Congress can’t find enough guts to kill this. And given how much this system is disliked, if Congress can’t find the guts to kill this, they could just as well pass a bill that says, “The President can do anything and spend anything he wants, forever.” and put themselves on unemployment. That’s how useless they’ve become.


One of the most sensible people talking about this is Dr. Ben Carson, lately of the Johns Hopkins, listen to what he says.



And you have, of course, figured out that the IRS is going to be in charge of this monstrosity, right? I’m sure that gives you a warm and fuzzy feel as well, kind of like this



Of course what many in the government want is nothing less than single payor, which the model for the British National Health Service, which for some reason with it starving people to death, killing off old folks, and any number of other horrors, they seem to love. Why a free people would love a Stalinist system like this is beyond me but, I’d like to think Americans can occasionally learn from other people’s mistakes.



(Not) John Cleese on Threats to Europe

English: John Cleese in May 2008.

English: John Cleese in May 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[A quick note here. Am I the only one who remember why we classed chemical weapons as 'weapons of mass destruction'? It was because during the cold war we had lots of tactical nuclear weapons but no gas shells. the Russians had lots of gas shells. so we decided that a gas shell, a bio weapon, or a nuke were all nukes to us, and that was how we would respond.

Now on to the main story]

I’ve seen this before (in fact I think I’ve run it before) but it’s still pretty much accurate. From Steven Hayword at Power Line


UPDATE: Turns out this is not from John Cleese, though it has an Aristotelian authenticity that causes me to leave it up anyway.

This is making the rounds, and should not be missed:



The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels ..

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

John Cleese ,
British writer, actor and tall person

And as a final thought – Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.

(Not) John Cleese on Threats to Europe (Updated) | Power Line.

So the British told us to go away and deal with our own silliness, and now we’re stuck with the Cheese-eating surrender monkeys French

Which doesn’t mean or State Department shouldn’t take a lesson from the British Foreign Office

And we might want to do something about immigration before it gets like Britain’s as well

Welcome to Labor DayThe end of Summer, the first weekend of college football

The Battle Of Crécy, 1346

Josuapundit wants to remind you that 667 years ago the unmatched superiority of the noble over the common man ended. As should surprise no one, it was ended by the English. Here’s the story.

File:Battle of crecy froissart.jpg

The Battle of Crécy, fought this day 667 years ago in Normandy was one of the most decisive battles in history. It marked the beginning of the end of knighthood as a military force, the beginning of the age of infantry and the start of England’s rise as a world power.

The series of off again, on again conflicts known as the Hundred Year’s War began in 1337, 9 years before Crécy over a dispute between Edward III, King of England and Phillip VI of France over the French throne. William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy and a French noble was the last man in history to successfully invade the Island of Britain in 1066. He also retained lands in France as a vassal of France’s king. Over the next two and a half centuries or so, Williams’ descendents retained their official status as French vassals and paid tribute to France, but the two kingdoms had become different peoples.

When Edward III stopped paying tribute to Phillip VI of France, Phillip confiscated Edward’s land in Aquitaine, in Western France. Edward, in turn claimed that Phillip was not the rightful King of France anyway, because Edward’s uncle, Charles IV of France, died without a direct male heir. Phillip VI was the dead king’s cousin.

That was politics in the 14th century, and the war was on.

The first few years were mainly occupied with political maneuvers, as each side sought allies to counterbalance the other. In those days, warfare was largely a matter of corralling support from vassals rather than raising large national armies, something the Hundred Year’s War was to change. Both kings also allied with kingdoms on each others’ borders. The French allied with Scotland, while England allied with Flanders, a key partner in the wool trade.

In 1340 Edward III sailed across the Channel to the Zwyn Estuary, where a French/Scottish fleet had assembled outside the port of Sluys.The French originally thought they had frightened the English fleet into withdrawing, but when the wind changed in the late afternoon, the English attacked with the wind and sun behind them and decimated the French fleet in what became known as the Battle of Sluys. French losses were so heavy that chroniclers or the time said the Channel ran red with blood and that the fishes had learned to speak French. More importantly, French naval power was effectively ended for the duration of the war, so the Channel route was free and clear.

Edward lacked the funds and the men to follow up at that time, and the next few years were taken up by proxy wars in the French provinces of Brittany and Gascony.

But in 1346, Edward III assembled an invasion force and landed in France at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue on July 12, 1346. Resistance was light because crucial elements of the French forces were not French, but mercenaries and they hadn’t been paid on time. One of them was a contingent of 500 Genoese crossbowmen, who figured prominently in the battle to come.

The English army continued to advance along the Cherbourg Peninsula, pillaging as they went – another feature of war at that time. Finding out that he had been separated from his Flemish allies because the French had destroyed key bridges along the Seine River, Edward, who had intelligence of a huge French Army King Phillip had gathered to attack the invaders had his troops retreat until his forces could be consolidated, taking a defensive position on a small hill in the forest of Crécy, just outside Calais,where he dug in and rested his forces.


The French, seeing an opportunity to destroy Edwards forces pursued him without resting their troops. Edward’s army was outnumbered with nowhere to go except the English Channel.

Before the battle, King Edward addressed his troops,reminding them of the victories they had won together and urging them to follow the orders of their commanders, to stand together and not falter. He then divided his troops into three divisions, one commanded by his 16-year-old son Edward, the Prince of Wales, known better to history as the Black Prince because of the armor he wore, a central force under the King’s command but led by Sir John Chandos, and a third reserve group under the Earl of Northampton.

What was most interesting was the differing make up of the armies. The English had five early cannons, around 8,000 archers, most of them sporting the English longbows 2,700–2,800 men-at-arms, heavily armed and armored men that included the English King and various nobles with their retinues as well as lower-ranking knights and other contingents, and around 4000-5000 Welsh and English spearmen, billmen and other troops. Per Edward’s orders the English knights and men at arms fought dismounted in the battle, as heavy infantry.

Continue reading The Battle Of Crécy, 1346 – The Age Of Knighthood Ends « Sago.

And that’s the story, for the first time since Rome, common foot soldiers stood up to heavy cavalry and won. After the battle it became law in England to practice every sunday with the longbow. The interesting thing is that the war bow had a pull of about 170-180 lbs, roughly twice that of any modern bow. It also had a rate of fire that was higher than the Brown Bess musket that served through the Napoleonic war. When they were trying to figure out what the skeletons on the Mary Rose were, they were able to identify bowmen because there shoulder had never reached their adult growth, they had never solidified into one bone because of the constant flexing from using the heavy bow.

For the rest of the middle ages English mercenaries were the highest paid of all.

And the Age of Chivalry was never the same again. But Edward, the Black Prince

Won his spurs, today, in 1346


Logistics, or Winning Wars

Landing craft and tanks at Omaha beach during ...

Landing craft and tanks at Omaha beach during the D-Day landings, many of which had departed from Penarth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


We talked a bit yesterday about how Operation Overlord was such a near run operation. It was, but not because there was a shortage of men, nearly all the troops who would fight in Europe were already in England. The problem was getting them to battle. You see going in and across the beach is not like getting off a cruise ship, particularly since people are inclined to shoot at you.

There were (and are) a whole series of boats and ships designed to do this from the LCVP which could hold about 30 men, to the big LST which was (is)a sea-going ship which could be beached and doors in the front opened and everything up to battle tanks driven off. But where did these come from?

Mostly we got lucky, because nobody expected the French to totally collapse in 1940, even those who thought we would have to intervene were planning on sending the troops and materiél to Cherbourg and the other ports  just like we had in 1917-8. That calculus went out the window when France surrendered.

But there was a bunch of men who were thinking that we might have to fight Japan, and to do that we were going to have to invade islands. The Army had done this back to the Mexican War and again in the Spanish-American War but where horses could swim, trucks and tanks (with some exceptions, but not many) can’t.

So who were these guys? They were the United States Marine Corps. They had a problem, the army absolutely detested them because the Marine Battalion got that publicity back at Belleau Wood. One of the (very few) things that Truman and MacArthur agreed on was that the USMC had gotten all they publicity they needed for all eternity in 1918. The other problem was that other than intervening off and on in Latin America and doing some stuff in China they didn’t have much of a mission. It’s tough being sort of the second army in a country that doesn’t want to pay for the first one.

So they decided to create themselves a mission, they got some help from the Navy, after all they did belong to them, sort of an unwanted stepchild but still. Anyway in the 30s a guy by the name of Andrew Higgins, a Louisiana lumberman developed a boat for work in swamps and such by trappers and oil well people, although there were and are persistent rumors that it was fairly effective at illegally importing alcohol during prohibition as well. Anyway the Marines liked it and championed its development, including adding a front ramp, which allowed it to carry things up to a jeep and trailer along with a 12 man squad, and allowed the quick disembarkation, compared with going over the side, anyway. This is the origin of the LCVP.

Without writing a book here, you can see this was kind of a shoestring operation, remember the army was using broomsticks for rifles up till Pearl Harbor, and such, there just wasn’t any money to be had during the depression, the navy/marine corps team kept plugging away, designing, testing when they could, because they felt, practically to a man, that they were going to have to fight Japan, and so it proved. The army sort of turned up it’s nose and said whatever, and concentrated on those big infantry divisions and started to think about replacing the horses with armored vehicles and such, but in truth, they didn’t have any money either.

Then France fell, Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Philippines surrendered, and all of these calamities meant that we were going to be doing a lot of invading, if we were going to win. The good thing was that landing craft could be built nearly anywhere, LCVPs could be loaded on a truck, if you needed to (that’s how Monty crossed the Rhine) and the bigger ones could move on surprisingly small rivers, LSTs (I think) were built all up and down the Ohio River and went down to New Orleans to go to sea.

But there were never enough, because they were a bit of an unloved stepchild, they got little advocacy, and had trouble getting the priorities they needed, but soon the lack started telling everybody what they couldn’t do, they limited the landing in North Africa, in Sicily, at Overlord itself, and in truth, what they wanted to do was invade the south of France (Operation Dragoon)at the same time. Can you say Cannae written really, really large.

Of course, Rome fell on 05 June, and it had only been a few weeks since the Anzio lodgement had been relieved thus free up the landing craft that had supported that beached whale. Some of those craft went to England but, most supported Dragoon. And if you look at the war there were no more big assaults until the Philippines around the 1st of November. Why? because the Armies in northern France were being supported across the beaches, when they finally took Brest, the port was quite thoroughly destroyed, and when 21st Army Group took Antwerp they failed to clear the Scheldt Estuary thus the port remained useless. Marseilles was used of course but worked better for direct shipment from the US than transhipment from the UK.

There were bright spots, the British designed a rapidly deployed underwater pipeline that helped a lot with fuel, but the success of the air campaign, which was essential to get the troops ashore also meant that the French railroads were pretty much useless. Thus almost all of 3d Army’s supplies roared all the way across France by truck convoy. It’s interesting to note that at this date in late 1944, the German and Russian armies were still mostly horse-drawn while the British and Americans were pretty much completely mechanized. And that’s what stopped 3d Army, it ran out of gas.

Did it matter? I don’t know, Eisenhower wanted to bring his armies up more or less evenly, and I’m inclined to think it was a good idea considering what happened in the Ardennes that winter. Could the shock of an American army taking a German city in November have ended the war? In my judgement, No, not as long as Hitler lived. Eisenhower was right, I think.

There’s an old saying, “Amateurs study tactics,

Professionals study Logistics”


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