Veteran’s Day

In 2012, as we gathered to salute our veterans, and the rest of the Anglosphere gathered to remember their war dead, there was no one to take our salute for the Great War. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynne. She was the very last veteran of World War I. And so, while we remember them, never again will we see them on this side.

Maybe it’s just as well, they likely wouldn’t be impressed with the mess we have made on both sides of the Atlantic. But we have an advantage, we have their example for a guide. They were indeed our best, equal in every way to those who came a mere twenty years later, and even in the conflicts, hot and cold, that followed that war. Only a fool thinks there will ever be a war to end all wars.

But 101 years ago, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the war we still call the Great War came to end, first by an armistice and then by treaty. The things left undone in the negotiations would have much to do with the Second World War, but that is nothing to do with the warriors.

Interestingly, it is also Old Michaelmas Day, the day when St Michael the Archangel threw out Devil out of Heaven. St Michael the Archangel is, of course, the leader of the heavenly army that will defeat Satan at the end of days. He is also the Patron of Paratroopers, and some say the Infantry. So a very appropriate day, wonder if they thought of it in 1918.

The date of July 4, 1917 marks a watershed. It was the day that a battalion of the 11th US Infantry marched through Paris, proclaiming “Lafayette, we are here”. A recognition that we owed France much for their help in the Revolution.

It marked a watershed in the war, as the promise of new fresh troops, lifted the morale of the Allies, and hurt that of the Central Powers. But more than that, it was a watershed for America, too. For the first time, we put our soldiers in harm’s way to save other people. The world changed.

It took us till about 1942 before we realized that now we were the leaders of the free world, that the British and the Empire had impoverished themselves in the Great War, and could no longer control events. In 1945, we took that mantle, somewhat unwillingly, but decisively. And thus was born both the Pax Americana and “The American Century”.

And all through the century, our troops have been everything we could have wished, and the best ambassadors America could have wished for. A good many years ago now, Robert Leckie called them “Planetary Soldiers”. It was and is an apt description.

 

Admiral Nimitz rather summed up our armed forces when he said after Iwo Jima:

Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

The Real Heroes Are Dead

One of the heroic men I often write about around 9/11 is Rick Rescorla. The man whose foresight saved all but thirteen Dean Whitter Morgan Stanley employees (he was lost that day, and his body was never found) on that dark day. So do others, Powerline, like here has a recurring post on him, and The Victory Girls often do, as well. But we all have something to add now. Colonel Rescorla, born in Cornwall, veteran of the British Paratroopers who served during the war in Cyprus and Rhodesia, and an American veteran of the 7th Cavalry in the First Battle of Ia Drang, in Vietnam. If you have seen the cover of We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, that man is Rick Rescorla. He was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously this week. Watch.

 

I really like the write up that Nina Bookout gave him at The Victory Girls.

There is so much more to Rick’s story. He was a British paratrooper who served with the British Army on Cyprus and then in Rhodesia. Not long after that he emigrated to the United States and joined the Army. This man, who had already been in battle, joined up in time to go to battle again. This time at the Battle of la Drang. The loss of the men he served with never left him.  It is his photo that is the cover of “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young.” 

“In 1965 Rescorla knew war. His men did not, yet. To steady them, to break their concentration away from the fear that may grip a man when he realizes there are hundreds of men very close by who want to kill him, Rescorla sang. Mostly he sang dirty songs that would make a sailor blush. Interspersed with the lyrics was the voice of command: ‘Fix bayonets…on liiiiine…reaaaa-dy…forward.’ It was a voice straight from Waterloo, from the Somme, implacable, impeccable, impossible to disobey. His men forgot their fear, concentrated on his orders and marched forward as he led them straight into the pages of history: 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry…’Hard Corps.’”

Years later, as head of security for Morgan Stanley, Rick found himself in another fight. One against terrorism. After the first attack on the Twin Towers, Rick instituted mandatory evacuation drills. He KNEW that another attack would happen. He wanted every person who worked in those offices to be prepared. He wanted every person in those offices to be able to react immediately.

On that day, that fateful day when terrorists tried to bring us to our knees, Rick Rescorla’s planning and training saved lives. 2,700 lives in fact. While building personnel were ordering people to stay at their desks, Rick bullied Morgan Stanley employees into moving out to safety.

THEN…he went back UP the stairs!

“”Everybody said, ‘Rick your folks are out. You’ve done what you need to do,’ but he pointed up the stairwell and said, ‘You hear those screams? There’s more people up there. I have to help get them out,’” Lt. Col. Andrew Watson said at the conference room dedication, as reported by Military.com. He said he would run to safety only once he had gotten everyone in the building out.”

Probably the best write up from the time is by James B. Stewart in The New Yorker.

The title as you’ll find in the New Yorker article is a quote from Rick Rescorla.

“”Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming
Can’t you see their spear points gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready.
STAND AND NEVER YIELD!
– “Men of Harlech”
Sung by Rick Rescorla in the Ia Drang Valley 1965 and in the stairway of WTC Tower 2 on September 11, 2001″”

 

Baghdadi Mission, Early Ramifications

What I’m going to do today is take two articles from The Federalist, one by Sumantra Maitra on US policy and one by Mollie Heminway on the media response, and see if there is any synergy there. Both are well worth your time to read and reflect on.

One of the things that struck me the most watching the events unfolding last night was the fact that President Trump knew about the ongoing operation to kill or capture ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for more than a week. This is significant, as it goes against all conventional wisdom about a man who’s extraordinarily loquacious on social media.

As the reports started to come in, it was apparent that this was an operation planned in exquisite details and the administration was kept abreast of the developments all the way.

“The president was taken options this week [meaning last week]. He reviewed them, asked some great questions, chose the option that we thought gave us the highest probability of success and confirmation that the head of ISIS would be there and either captured or killed,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.

That’s how it’s supposed to be done, a decapitation strike, and that’s what this was, always goes to the President. Although I suppose there could be exceptions, say if Jefferson Davis had suddenly stood on the defenses of Richmond, a Union sniper just might have taken the shot. But the point is, this type of strike can have ramifications far beyond what the captain or colonel on the ground knows.

This strike was meticulously planned and executed. Nobody can do that on the spur of the moment. That tells us there was pretty good operational (as opposed to strategic or tactical) intelligence – we actually do have a clue what’s going on. The other thing about that is that security held, from the President to the lowest ranking Ranger, we didn’t read about it in the press before it happened. In a city of leakers, that is remarkable and perhaps tells us that Trump’s team is coming together. I read a report yesterday, that the enemy knew about it when the helicopters came over the horizon. American power at its best, applying the right force at the right point. That matters, a lot.

Other powers who could be affected (or screw up our plans) Russia, certainly; Turkey possibly, and of course Assad and the Kurds were all told. Congress was not, nor should they have been. Nobody leaked the slightest bit about it.

And all this while the President was being roasted for the (I think, very wise) withdrawal from northeast Syria, and note both things were happening at the same time. All in all a very good operation, well planned and well-executed.

And my lord, as Mollie tells us, the press simply went crazy. I imagine you’ve all read the horrific headline in the Washington Post (and the Twitter response, if you haven’t, do, it’s the best comedy in America right now) but it was widespread

Legacy media outlets responded to President Trump’s announcement of the U.S. military’s successful mission against ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with their trademark hostility and anger. That’s because the inarguably good news threatens corporate media goals for shaping foreign policy, impeaching the president, and defeating Trump in 2020.

“Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death, has violently been eliminated — he will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child,” Trump told the nation on Sunday. “He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place.”

Note that for Mollie (who is one the half dozen best reporters in Washington) as for me, it is simply a given that the press will do anything to drive Trump from office. If they have any residual American patriotism, they’ve long since locked it in the vault, along with the memory of being a profitable business.

In The Lion and the Unicorn George Orwell wrote that:

England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save the King” than of stealing from a poor box.

That describes our press (and most of our establishment, especially on both coasts) to a T. That’s sad, but reality is real, and we have to deal with it. From Mollie, she supports her points in the article.

Instead, President Trump’s administration has been marked by success in the domestic and foreign spheres. The economy is humming, including job and wage growth the media had previously said was unlikely to impossible to achieve. This is due to tax cuts, tax reform, and unprecedented deregulation. No new wars have been launched, much less the apocalyptic nuclear wars the media predicted. A long overdue recalibration with China is taking place.

What is good news for the country is bad news for the media and their political allies. […]

The death of Baghdadi, following a successful operation that required cooperation with Turkey, Syrian Kurds, Russia and others, at the very least complicates that narrative. That recent events with Turkey might have helped accomplish this goal complicates the narrative. That the Delta Force came in from troops stationed outside of Syria complicates the narrative. And the fact that all this happened at the very moment SNL was accusing the president of helping ISIS obliterates the narrative.

While the bipartisan foreign policy consensus promised ISIS’ growth and victory over the U.S., the U.S. military was actually planning Baghdadi’s capture or killing. The media are attempting to spin that this event happened “despite” Trump’s foreign policy approach, but that argument will have little persuasion outside of the Trump-deranged Resistance. […]

Yesterday’s Sunday Morning shows — no matter the outlet or the particular host — were all scheduled to throw more fuel on the impeachment fire. Instead, they were forced to cover a major success in the battle to defeat the Islamic State.

To repeat:

What is good news for the country is bad news for the media and their political allies.

That’s a fact of life, we have to live with and will destroy the media if we do, and that is a very good thing.

Remember what Andrew Breitbart said? “Fuck yeah, War!”

Monday Roundup

And so, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, serial rapist and the founder of ISIS, met justice Sunday morning, in the form of an American Ranger, who so frightened him that ran into a cave screaming and crying and there detonated a suicide vest killing himself and three of his kids.

Good! As they say, “You can run but you’ll only die tired.”

What was not good was the Washington Post’s response. First, they got it right, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief,’ dies at 48.” But the Bezos Bulletin couldn’t have that, so they changed it to this, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48,”. They took so much flack on Twitter (not only from conservatives) that they changed it again, to, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48.”   Better, but not as good as what the headine writer originally wrote.

But that was the tone of it anyway, they didn’t get around to his keeping of sex slaves until paragraph 40. The Washington Post, all the fake news that is unfit to print. More at The Federalist and everywhere else.


A lot of very good stuff showed up over the weekend, so let’s take some quick looks, shall we?

From John Eidson at American Thinker comes Hong Kong’s Freedom Protestors are Making Democrats Grimace.

During his farewell address from the Oval Office, Ronald Regan referred to the country he loved as “that shining city upon a hill … a magnet for all who must have freedom.” A century and a quarter earlier, Abraham Lincoln, on the verge of signing the Emancipation Proclamation, sent a letter to Congress in which he referred to America as “the last best hope of earth.”

Now threatened by the kind of ironfisted crackdown common to every communist nation in history (no exceptions), the people of Hong Kong see the great United States of America as that shining city upon a hill.

In the days since China threatened harsh action against the growing protest movement, freedom-loving Hong Kongers have defiantly waved U.S. flags at massive demonstrations in the city that finds itself in the crosshairs of the world’s most heavily armed communist nation.

Not everyone sees America as that shining city on a hill, the last best hope of mankind. China certainly doesn’t see America that way, nor do other totalitarian countries, such as Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela. And neither does the modern Democratic Party, which decades ago stopped seeing their country as the greatest land of freedom the world has ever known.

Keep reading, but I think he might be incorrect here. I think the Democrats do indeed see the United States that very way. That is why they hate it (and us) so. We are almost the last impediment to their totalitarian dream. A hundred million or so armed people who still believe in what the Founders said, wrote, and did.


Also at American Thinker, Diana Mary Sitek tells us how to, How to Bring Down the Ideology of the Left.

The great Roman orator, Cicero, advised that there are always two sides to every dispute. Both sides justify their claims using chains of reasoning (not necessarily in accordance with objective data) against which logical argument, he stated, cannot carry off victory. Vanquishment can be achieved only by an appeal to the emotions — and here, Democrats have been winning hands down, except in the area of popular national patriotism championed by the president.

She has some very good ideas, I think.


Our subscriber and new friend, The Portly Politico has some thoughts on The Dirty Pierre

If only I had a shadow Twitter account, from which I could give myself an emotional boost whenever I’m having a rough-and-tumble, post-recovery morning.

That’s my clumsy segue into today’s topic—Senator Mitt Romney’s latest pathetic act of perfidy, the Twitter account with the hysterical, outrageous nom de plume “Pierre Delecto.”

It’s excellent and I agree wholeheartedly.


Maybe a couple of videos to round this off.

Lloyd Marcus at American Thinker is finding that Young Adults Fed Up with SJW and LGBTQ Tyranny, As usual with Lloyd, the article is worth your time. He’s also touting a film by conservative filmmaker Robert Kirk. Here is the trailer. It’s funny!


Mark Steyn is not funny, but he is right. Here he answers the mail.


My Sunday earworm was this so I’ll pass it on.

Thus was built that great shining city on the hill to be dreamed of by all the world’s people. It’s still worth fighting for.

Yes, I know the film was not real history, but as Jess used to tell us, it is our myth and this is how we, and the world too, see us. Not a bad thing, either.

McGenius McRaven, Trump, Strategy, and Forever Wars

So ADM McRaven doesn’t like Trump’s foreign policy. That’s OK since it limits the opportunity for special operators to die for the deep state or maybe nothing at all. And that is his problem, I think. He has been seduced by the power, glamour, money, and respect generated by the ‘forever wars’. There’s a reason that as far back as when I was in ROTC, it was common knowledge to never trust an officer above lieutenant colonel – they were often (far from always) more concerned with their career than they were with either the mission or the troops. Anybody think this has changed?

And even more to the point, does anybody who thinks even close to objectively, think that US foreign policy since about late 2001~2003 has served America well? Bueller? Bueller? Yeah, that’s what I think too. I’m very proud of our military, as all know, it is by far the best in the world. But that doesn’t mean that every well in every shithole in the world needs American troops. maybe we should let them solve (or not solve) their problems their way unless they threaten us seriously.

There is a pretty good article on The Federalist about this, which should be read widely. One snippet.

Even during times of hyper-partisanship, the military remains the most-trusted institution in America by a wide margin. But trust can be undermined if the services are viewed as yet another partisan institution. As Duke University law professor and retired Air Force Deputy Judge Advocate General Charles Dunlap recently explained:

…that sterling reputation is much-based [sic] on the public’s belief that the military, unlike so many other entities these days, is an altruistic organization impartially focused on serving the Nation’s interests. Because the military normally stays apolitical, something too rarely found in today’s hyper-polarized environment, I don’t think it’s perceived as yet another self-serving interest group.

Yep. And as for McCraven, if he believes Trump is screwing up, well there is a traditional way for generals to say so – he can run for president, like McClellan and MacArthur, I doubt he gets far, but that’s his option. Otherwise, it’s just idle bitching, of no more account, and perhaps less, than mine during the Reign of Error.

Over at The American Spectator, Andrew J. Bacevich has some thoughts on Trump’s strategic thinking, as well. Here’s a bit:

However infelicitous his phrasing, Trump promises to revive an approach to war to which Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin Roosevelt adhered back when they demanded that their adversaries surrender unconditionally. He is echoing Douglas MacArthur, who famously declared that: ‘There is no substitute for victory.’ He is harkening back to the canonical lessons of Vietnam as articulated by Reagan-era defense secretary Caspar Weinberger who in 1984 insisted that US troops would never again go into battle unless the nation had a ‘clear intention of winning’. He is even doing a fair imitation of George W. Bush, who in announcing the 2003 invasion of Iraq assured his fellow citizens that in the ensuing campaign ‘We will accept no outcome but victory’.

Once upon a time, the American way of war was all about winning. Today it has come to mean something quite different. Once the United States fought wars to end them. Today it seemingly fights wars to perpetuate them.

To his credit, Trump has apparently intuited that there’s something amiss here. For this Commander-in-Chief, any war that drags on and on is by definition a failure.

Other than the gratuitous swipe at Trump’s language, he’s right here (there are a lot of those swipes in the article, they’re best ignored because there is a fair amount of sense, as well.)

I’m inclined to think that Grant (he really means Lincoln, but he probably thinks Grant is held in lower regard) and FDR did pretty good as wartime Presidents. Trump could choose far worse models.

In short, it’s time for the US to stop mucking about in everybody’s business for little to no reason. It was fine to feed the Yazidi on that mountain a few years ago, but tell me again why we invaded Libya, or have troops in the sand of Syria. Or packing the hill of Afghanistan for that matter. Time to come home,   China is a lot more important, and maybe some of these genius strategic thinkers could fix the military procurement system. Or they could retire and STFD and STFU and live on their millions extracted from the blood of young Americans, and nearly everybody else in the world.

The difference between McRaven, the rest of the deep state and Trump? Teddy Roosevelt said it for the ages.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Fight Her Till She Sinks

Well, you know our problems as well as I do. We’ve got ourselves some iconoclasts running about trying to destroy our heritage by destroying anything (like statues) that remind us of who we are while quoting Marx (sadly Karl, not Groucho). We’ve got a media and deep state that thinks they know better than the people and should rule us, the people who invented the maxim that America being ungovernable is a feature, not a bug. We’ve got a lot of problems but the words of Captain James Lawrence of USS Chesapeake, “Don’t give up the ship, fight her till she sinks”.

Some say he wasn’t the greatest captain in our history, and the crew did give up the ship after he died, but his words live on, not least because Commodore Oliver hazard Perry had the first part made into a flag and nailed to his mast at the famous (and very unlikely) victory at the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.

That legacy lives on, in Erie Pennsylvania as Salena Zito tells us in American Greatness.

Several large pieces of cobalt-blue glass panels bearing “Don’t Give Up the Ship” and a bold likeness of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry lay broken at the top of the third-floor stairs of the old Park Place building in the city’s main square.

If ever there were a motto that exemplified a place and her people, it would be those five words Perry had stitched on a flag—words that inspired him over 200 years ago when he bore the flag in his unlikely defeat of the British at the Battle of Lake Erie.

Given everything this town has gone through—from her heyday as the industrial powerhouse of the Great Lakes to a city bleeding people, jobs, and opportunity—finding this inspiring reminder in a building that used to produce “Carter’s Little Liver Pills” brought into focus the city’s effort at rebuilding. […]

John Persinger and Matt Wachter could live in any other city in the country and prosper quite nicely. Instead, the CEO and vice president of finance and development are the founding leaders of the Erie Downtown Development Corporation. They, along with Tim NeCastro, CEO of Erie Insurance, the city’s largest employer, have committed themselves to not give up the ship but to stabilize and rebuild it.

All three men are standing along a row of century-old buildings on North Park Row. The bones are good, but the buildings have all seen better days. The three men are discussing the projects they already have underway. These are projects meant to spark a cultural and culinary center, which they hope will, in turn, lead to a citywide metamorphosis.

“This is Perry Square. This is the heart of downtown. It’s often been called the ‘beating heart,’ but we’re not sure how much it beats these days because there’s not a whole lot of activity,” he said of the boarded-up buildings and scant pedestrian activity.

Here’s the odd thing: The moribund heart is surrounded by an arc of life. “UPMC Hamot campus is a few blocks away,” Persinger explains, “where they (are) putting in a new $111 million patient tower.”

There’s more: “Erie Insurance employs 3,000 people right there. They’re building a new office building. You can kind of see it over the tree line.”

And that’s how, I think, we are going to solve our problems if they are to be solved. Not by running to Washington for grant money, not by asking experts, but by going and doing it ourselves. After all, that is how we built this country, and it’s how we will rebuild it, better than ever.

For America, the rule is going to have to be the one Captain Lawrence gave us:

Don’t give up the ship,

Fight her till she sinks.

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