A Most Resolute People?

This was taken in London in 1940. These people are serious, but they look pretty unafraid, and they even have a smile for their Queen. In fact, those people, no less than the Few in Fighter Command, inspired the world, to defeat Nazi Germany. As has been said so often, there was no more compelling reason for the United States to enter the European War than there was for the Soviet Union to enter the Japanese war, and they didn’t till after VE Day.

But we did. Why? Well, there were the famous radio broadcasts, by Edward R. Murrow, starting with “This is London” with the bombs going off in the background, there was the bravery and success of the RAF. But there was also admiration for the British people, fighting on alone, with the King and his family at their head (and bombed himself) and the words of the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, the best of both countries distilled into one man.

And so, together we built the world of today. But…

The pictures from London this weekend didn’t look like that. They didn’t show a resolute people, who could legitimately say, “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job”. Instead we saw this.

REUTERS/Neil Hall

That is not a portrait of serious, resolute people, that’s a picture of a defeated people, who have given up any control of their own life. Perhaps the police instructed them to do this, it is a reasonable way to make sure they haven’t weapons, but this went on for blocks. They damned sure weren’t ‘walking like free men.’

Thing is, if reports are right, the wannabe terrorists killed 7 people with the total destruction of their force. That ain’t no victory, that’s a defeat, and a bad one. They killed three people each, none of whom had anything to do with their cause, just happened to be there. I think in America the wannabe terrorists would have done even worse, it sounds like there were plenty of opportunities for a civilian who knew what he was doing to intervene decisively. The Mets response was very good, but as always when you need a cop in seconds they were only minutes away.

Then there is this:

It’s kind of reasonable advice, if you’re a helpless subject, totally dependent on the police, which is what the British government seems to want these days. But at some point one must fight, even rabbits will, and rabbits have teeth, and sometimes win.

Kim Quade over at Victory Girls wrote yesterday

Free people don’t live to react. They live confidently and proactively. They fiercely guard their borders and maintain their culture. It’s sad to think that the little island nation of Britain, which kept Nazis from invading their land nearly 80 years ago, may be succumbing to their own folly within.

She’s right, it’s very sad indeed to think that the little island of Britain, whose people more than anyone else, built the world we live in, will end this way. But if they don’t change, it will.

But let’s end with something much more uplifting.

 

Quo Vadis, NATO?

We’ve spent the weekend looking back on the heroics that led to Memorial Day. It is meet and fit that we do so, for in many ways that is where the American character was forged. From the loyalty of immigrants, to the battle heroics, the superb leadership, and the mastery of logistics, the Civil War was our graduation into the ranks of the great powers. From 1865 it has been self-evident that the United States could not be invaded by any other power, it could be defeated tactically, but only at existential risk to the power doing it.

From 1865 it has been self-evident that the United States could not be invaded by any other power, it could be defeated tactically, but only at existential risk to the power doing it. That is the grounding of the American hegemony which has existed since 1945 and it is a different ethos than any that has come before. That is because it has never looked simply to American advantage, but has sought mutual benefit, and in most cases that seeking has been rewarded.

That is the grounding of the American hegemony which has existed since 1945 and it is a different ethos than any that has come before. That is because it has never looked simply to American advantage, but has sought mutual benefit, and in most cases that seeking has been successful.

This has been especially true in Europe, which has been since Roman days subject to intramural wars. That ended in 1945, and it ended due to American leadership.

But that leaves the question: Quo Vadis? Where do we go from here.

Kori Schake wrote recently in The American Interest about this in an article entitled NATO without America. The article makes many good points, quite a few of which are not obvious.

[A] palpable sigh of relief emanated from NATO’s headquarters in Brussels and the capitals of 27 NATO members when Donald Trump finally had a good word to say about history’s most successful and enduring alliance. He did not, of course, go so far as to acknowledge NATO’s genuine achievements: agreeing in 1949 that an attack on any allied state would be considered an attack on all; creating in 1950 a structure of military commands that facilitates operations and creates a common strategic culture among members’ militaries; integrating West Germany as a military power into a cooperative framework in 1954; holding at bay bristling Soviet aggression for 45 years and Russian revanchism since; voluntarily sharing the burdens of a common defense—including nuclear weapons responsibilities; using America as a counterweight to potentially ruinous intra-European competition; reunifying Germany in 1991 without setting off alarms among European countries and Russia; imposing an end to the Balkan wars in 1995 and keeping the still-hostile parties from shooting at each other since; expanding the perimeter of security that encourages prosperity and accountable governance to Eastern and Southern Europe; preventing the Qaddafi regime from carrying out its apparent plan to massacre Libyans in March 2011; fighting for 15 years in Afghanistan; and continually finding ways to adapt a Cold War institution to new security challenges. […]

President Trump is certainly ruder than previous American leaders have been in decrying the shortfalls of our European allies, but the aggravation has long been widespread and is still growing. Americans of all political stripes believe it is long past time for Europe to stop indulging in post-Cold War defense cuts. Every American President of the past thirty years—actually longer, for the plaint goes back to the early years of the Nixon Administration—has dreamt up a NATO initiative to cajole greater defense expenditures out of our European allies. […]

Referring to the invocation (largely at British instigation) of Article 5 after 9/11.

But even if the support of some allies was grudging, they did nonetheless pledge on September 12 that the attack on us was an attack on them, and offer any and all support the Bush Administration wanted in the unnerving aftermath. That Americans were consumed with doing as quickly as possible all that was needed in those unimagined circumstances in no way diminishes the magnitude of commitment evinced by our allies.  […]

But most European governments conduct their national security policies at a much greater distance from their militaries, celebrating their concentration on “soft power” tools in lieu of force. Not only do they privilege those tools, they often consider their policies, and themselves, morally superior for the choice. One need only listen to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker or read of the European Parliament passing legislation condemning U.S. intelligence agencies to share President Trump’s aggravation with Europe. We sentimentalize the Transatlantic connection at our peril.  […]

In some ways, we have created a ‘welfare state’ with regards to the defense of Western Europe, but it is very hard to see what the alternative was. We have become the ultimate European power, and the ultimate outcome of European culture, for better or worse. For all we wish that the Europeans would do more, well at least Germany isn’t invading Poland this week. We could certainly use better allies, but who, exactly might they be?

The Saudis are often maligned as being as great a threat as al-Qaeda or ISIS. This not only ignores the great changes in Saudi national security policy, especially after the 2005 terrorist attack in Riyadh, but also the important political and social changes enacted under the influence of the Emirates’ successes and a reformist leadership in the Kingdom. America’s partners in the region have gone on a defense-spending spree, driven by concern about Iranian efforts to destabilize Sunni governments and infiltrate Shi‘a ones. Even with those changes, however, impediments to deeper cooperation remain […]

Jordan, in particular, has been heroic in its generosity to Syrian refugees and courageous in its policies toward the Assad government. The United Arab Emirates  leads in the development of serious military forces and in cooperating with U.S. operations, as it did in Libya. Jordan, Egypt, and the UAE have been stalwart in their commitment to the war in Afghanistan and are being cajoled into a common front against ISIS. Even so, the countries of the Middle East pose challenges that European allies do not. […]

[I]t also merits emphasizing that NATO and “Europe” are not the same. Very often when American exasperation boils up at Europeans, it is the European Union we are reacting to. Not only do the EU’s ambitions outpace its achievements, its advocates and officials often seek acclaim in the present for intentions to accomplish things in the future. But while most NATO allies are also in the European Union, they behave differently in each setting because the institutional cultures of the two organizations are markedly different.

American leadership in NATO creates opportunities that we will never have in other venues. The integrated military command (IMC)  in NATO is the way we go to war, because the NATO allies are the countries we most frequently fight alongside, and the long-practiced procedures of the IMC facilitate understanding. Allies show up using equipment compatible with American equipment, talk on radio frequencies already known to American forces, share intelligence across linked systems, and drop bombs that can be shared if one country’s forces run short. […]

[R]ussian aggression is reviving interest in European security, but not diminishing other claims on American attention. Part of the reason why Trump’s criticism of European defense resonates is that challenges in Europe look manageable with the power Europeans could muster on their own. Could Britain, France, Poland, and Germany really not bring enough power to bear to defeat a Russian invasion of a Baltic state? If not, should they not quickly mobilize greater military forces—or more creatively use the nuclear and conventional forces they already have—instead of relying so heavily on American guarantees? Russia is not the peer of any of those countries (with the possible exception of Poland), much less all of them combined.

This plaint misses an important point. In aggregate, Europe’s military assets look formidable, but only the United States can bring them together in an effective fighting ensemble. We are the mainframe, so to speak, and the allies plug into that—whether we are talking about intelligence, logistics, lift, or half a dozen other crucial functions in contemporary warfighting. However well equipped they look on paper, our allies strain to coordinate their assets without us.

In any event, Americans would be wise not to scorn Europeans for clinging to us when they’re worried. Few states have the ability or domestic support to act without benefit of allies or international institutions. The United States does. But allied support matters for our domestic political purposes as well: Americans are more confident that our government is in the right when we win the support of other states that share our values. It matters especially now, when the international order is fraying. The world looks less safe, and the rules less respected, than they did a decade ago.

There is quite a lot more at the link, which you should read and digest. But the point is valid. Without the US at the center, as we have been for 70 years now, Europe has real problems in executing anything especially at any distance from home. It’s easy for us, as Americans, to forget that while we easily switch from considering the Balts to the middle east to Asia, only we, and before us, Great Britain, have ever truly been world-wide powers, able to project force almost anywhere on earth. The other are all regional powers of one sort or another, but they can be and are increasingly worldwide partners, because their militaries are constituted to work within the distinctive American pattern.

That makes them uniquely valuable, and it makes us essential to them, forging a win for all of us.

Manchester

So, it has happened again, this time in Manchester, England. We talked about this after the Boston bombing, and it’s just as true for our cousins, except this was arguably worse, targeting kids, many of them girls. I simply have no words, not even unprintable ones, for the scum that do such things. But I do have words for the way Manchester and England reacted, but Cranmer put it better.

Bodies and blood.

Carnage, terror and tears.

“There are children among the deceased,” confirmed Greater Manchester Police. “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face,” said Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

Nuts and bolts and nails.

Smoke and burning.

“This is horrific, this is criminal,” said Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. “May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next.”

Emergency services praised.

Cobra committee convened.

“Please hold the people of #Manchester in your prayers,” tweeted David Walker, Bishop of Manchester. “We’ve faced terror attacks before and this latest won’t defeat us.”

Fear and division.

Thoughts, prayers and condemnation.

Evil descended upon Manchester Arena last night: his target was teenagers at a pop concert. He wore a vest packed with explosives and metal bits. There was a blast and then a flash of fire. And then everyone just started running, screaming and crying.

And then Jesus came.

“We are visiting for a health conference from morecambe bay trust tomorrow 3 Theatre ODPs available if needed,” tweeted Kirsty Withers, an NHS theatre clinical manager.

“If anyone needs shelter we are right on the outskirts of central Manchester in Salford, anything I can do to help DM me!!” tweeted science student Karolina Staniecka.

“Anyone in Manchester who needs to wait for their parents or needs somewhere stay or to make phone calls, etc, just DM me. We have tea!” offered the BBC’s Simon Clancy.

“Anyone needing somewhere to stay can come to our Manchester headquarters in the city centre,” tweeted Stephen Bartlett.

“The Holiday Inn nearest to Manchester Arena have taken dozens of kids who have been separated from their parents tonight,” said Samuel Carvalho.

“Taxi drivers in #Manchester offering free journeys to those stranded after the events in #ManchesterArena,” tweeted Bethan Bonsall.

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,‘ said Jesus.

God love the cousins, “We have tea!” It’s the way of our people, care for the injured,  help the helpless, bury the dead, and carry on.

The Book of Common Prayer has it.

MERCIFUL God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life; in whom whosoever believeth shall live, though he die; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in him, shall not die eternally; who also hath taught us (by his holy Apostle Saint Paul) not to be sorry, as men without hope, for them that sleep in him: We meekly beseech thee, O Father, to raise us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness; that, when we shall depart this life, we may rest in him, as our hope is this our brother doth; and that, at the general Resurrection in the last day, we may be found acceptable in thy sight, and receive that blessing, which thy well-beloved Son shall then pronounce to all that love and fear thee, saying, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world: Grant this, we beseech thee, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.

And then there will be time to consider what must be done.

But our cousins don’t need us for that, like us, they will find the answer, likely after they have tried almost everything else. That too is the way of our people. But I suspect I speak for all Americans, that we agree with what Harry Hopkins told Churchill, long ago, in another crisis.

Well, I’m going to quote you one verse from that Book of Books … ‘Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’” Then he added very quietly: “‘Even to the end.’”

But those who wish us ill would be wise to consider the words of another Englishman, as well.

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy — willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddently bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

Forged in Battle, 99 Years Ago

Back on Anzac Day, I picked up an article by Anton Lang, known as Tony from Oz. In comments, we got to talking about one General Sir John Monash, and how the military friendship between Australia and America got its start. Frankly, although I’ve recently read a biography of General Pershing, I had never heard of General Monash, and that says a little too much about American military history.

During World War I, Australia and America both strongly resisted the idea of having our troops under foreign command, some of that being due to what looked like extravagant expenditures of men, often to little purpose. A case in point being the Anzacs at Gallipoli.

I still haven’t chased down the book he recommended to me, but I promise I will. Here’s some from Tony,

That first association between these two great military forces was on 4th July 1918. The U.S. had finally joined the War, and had not been tried in any battle as of that time.

When the War began he was given command of a Brigade and was part of the campaign at Gallipoli in Turkey, landing there with his men the day after the intitial landing, which was on 25th April 1915. He was known for his Independent decisions and meticulous planning of military operations. He was promoted to Brigadier General in September of 1915. After that Gallipoli campaign, he was then sent to France where the War had bogged down along the Somme River. Monash arrived in June of 1916, when that Somme had already been bogged down for two years, with hardly a gain against the German military might. He was promoted to Major General in July of 1916, and given command of the 3rd Australian Division. Again his attention to detail and meticulous planning came to the notice of the High Command.

One of Monash’s biggest bugbears was that the by now very large Australian Force was still under the disposition of British Officers. Monash, although not the ranking Australian Senior Officer desperately wanted all those Australians to fight as a united group under Australian command only. This was also a politically sensitive thing as well, and the Australian political leadership also wanted the same thing. Monash was not favoured to command the hoped for Australian Corps. He won a few victories that brought him to the attention of senior Officers of the British forces, and he had the respect of them, even if not from his own political masters, influenced in part by a media outlet who actively campaigned against his taking that command. Those victories, the way he handled his planning, and the men under him brought him to notice. He was promoted to LtGen in May of 1918. His thinking was radically different from the English whose main thrust was to inject huge numbers and try and just keep driving, and those huge numbers meant that there were also huge losses, which did not seem to bother the English High Command all that much. Monash looked on his men as the most important asset, and only meticulous planning would protect them. He had some setbacks, but in the main, always had less losses than in other similar situations.

4th July 1918 – The Battle Of Hamel

Monash was tasked with planning a minor battle, taking command of all the forces for that battle, and then proceeding with the action, and here’s where the U.S. comes in. Always the meticulous planner right down to the tiniest detail, he again planned the set piece to the finest detail. The Americans had just come into the War under General Pershing, but had still been basically untried in the heat of a major battle. This operation Monash planned was the Battle of Hamel.

Monash was given as part of his force 2000 U.S. soldiers, 2 Battalions. This had never happened before, and the U.S. has never had their troops under the Command of anyone other than the U.S. This was the first time this had happened. Those 2000 troops had trained hard for this and were looking forward to actually taking part. Pershing did not want to be seen as the first U.S. person to submit his men to non U.S. command, and asked the senior English Command to remove his men from outside Command. 1000 of those men were reluctantly withdrawn, under the protest of those men, who wanted to join in the fight at last. Monash recast his battle plan, and on the eve of the battle, he was summoned to English High Command and asked to withdraw the other 1000 Americans, as Pershing did not want any of his men associated with the Battle. Monash vigorously opposed their withdrawal, saying that Battle could not proceed without them. There was back and forth and no relenting from the High Command. Monash virtually asked the Senior Command to disobey the order and allow the Americans to stay in, and to delay the message to the Americans until after the start of the Battle, too late for them to be withdrawn. This swayed the High Command, that what amounted to a lesser ranking senior officer willing to stake his future on this. They swayed and allowed the Americans to stay in, although delaying that decision to Pershing. Monash walked away from that meeting full in the knowledge that if this went badly, it would all be over for him, both with the English High Command, and also going with that, any support from his fellows, and the Australian political front, as well as any chance to lead an Australian only force under Australian Command.

The date of the Battle. 4th July 1918. Monash had intentionally and specifically planned it that way in honour of the Americans to show that they were accepted as part of the fight against the Germans. Those 1000 Americans would join with 8000 men from Australian forces.

The Battle was set to begin just before Dawn on the morning of July 4th.

It was all over in ….. 93 minutes.

Keep reading American And Australian Military – A 99 Year Relationship. And thus was an alliance formed, in a battle that few from either ally remember, between two former British colonies which would continue for 99 years and counting, including action in Word War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the War on Terror, in all its phases.

It’s sometimes said that the US and Australia really are quite a lot alike. I don’t know if that is completely true, it could be, but one thing we agree on is that foreign leaders are rarely to be entrusted with the lives of our citizens, except each other. That is one of the legacies of General Sir John Monash, and General of the Armies, John J. Pershing, neither of whom trusted either the British or the French with the lives of our soldiers. But Pershing found he could trust Monash, and 99 years later, the results are evident.

Standing with friends

Standing with friends who have staunchly stood up for themselves is rarely a popular thing to do, but it is the right thing to do. A case in point, the Kurdish militias in Syria. These may well be the closest thing to the good guys in that mess, and they have long since made plain their loyalty as American allies. From Turkey threatens to strike U.S. forces partnered with Kurdish militias in Syria – Washington Times:

The war of words between Washington and Ankara over the U.S. military’s partnership with Kurdish paramilitaries in Syria escalated Wednesday, when a senior aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested American troops could be targeted alongside their Kurdish allies in the country’s ongoing air war against the militias.

Senior presidential aide Ilnur Cevik said U.S. forces who are teamed up with members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, were in danger of being hit by Turkish fighters patrolling the volatile border region with Syria.

If YPG units and their American military advisers “go too far, our forces would not care if American armor is there, whether armored carriers are there,” Mr. Cevik said during an interview on Turkish radio station CRI TURK Wednesday. “All of a sudden, by accident, a few rockets can hit them,” he added, referring to partnered U.S. forces.

When asked to clarify that U.S. advisers or artillery positions would be in danger from Turkish warplanes, if they continued to support YPG operations in northern Syria, Mr. Cevik replied bluntly that they would.

His comments come days after U.S. forces moved into the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Rojava, in a dramatic show of solidarity amid Turkish airstrikes targeting those U.S.-backed forces there. The strikes were part of an ongoing counterterrorism operation targeting members of the YPG, which Turkey has condemned as a terrorist organization.

Syrian Kurds, some of which are members of or allied with the YPG, make up half of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF — the 50,000-man strong constellation of Arab and Kurdish militias backed by the U.S., who are preparing for the final, large-scale assault on Raqqa, the self-styled capital of the Islamic State terror group also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Keep reading. Well, I can’t say I have any desire to have any form of hostility with Turkey, but there comes a point where one has to simply stand up and say, “Bring it on”. Or have the whole world know you stand for nothing. This may well be that point.

Free Men Celebrating Free Men

I got tied up and forgot to post this yesterday, that by no means suggests I forgot the day or the men who made it a remembrance. Just as on 4 July, many will think a bit of America, or on 1 July, we think of Canada, and how we all honor Remembrance day, For yesterday was Anzac Day, and it’s important to us all.

See on 24 April, at 0415, a green Australian Corp jumped out of longboats to wade ashore at Gallipoli. Braver men never walked the earth or died on the beach. So today is one of those holidays where we take the time to salute very brave men.

This is a man who uses the screen name Tony from Oz, and I like it so very much.

Why is ANZAC Day so important in Australia?

At 4.15AM on Sunday the 25th April 1915 an untried Corps of Australian soldiers waded ashore from the longboats that had brought them there from the large troopships further out to sea. As they came ashore in the dawn’s half light they were mowed down in droves by the Turkish soldiers who had the high ground.

An original image of one of the landings at ANZAC Cove, this one at 8AM on April 25 1915. (Image Credit – Australian War Memorial Archives)

The place was an insignificant little Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, part of Turkey, near a small place known as Ari Burnu, now forever known as ANZAC Cove, a small piece of Australian Sacred Ground on a foreign shore.

The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Forces from New Zealand were also part of this campaign, hence the acronym includes New Zealand, who, while part of this campaign, were under the command of their own fellow New Zealanders. This was a combined effort, and this day is also recognised just as reverently in New Zealand.

So, why is this one day so revered by Australians, when the 8 Month campaign that followed was considered in the main overall scheme of the War as a failure, considering that Australia has been part of so many famous victories on fields of battle in War since that time.

The original Badge of the Australian Army, worn on the hats of every Australian soldier. This is known as The Rising Sun Badge.

This was when Australian troops, commanded by Australians fought for the first time for each other as fellow Australians.

Those coming ashore who survived this original murderous onslaught regrouped and started to fight back. This campaign lasted for eight and a half months. In that time, Australian soldiers announced to the World that they were now no longer an untried group of colonials, but a magnificent fighting force in their own right, and one to be reckoned with.

During those 8 Months, nine Australians were awarded The Victoria Cross for valour, the highest award for bravery that there is. (This is the equivalent of the Medal of Honor in the U.S.) In fact, seven of those medals were awarded in just one  three day period. This was at Lone Pine, in August, where the Australians engaged in what was a diversionary feint to disguise the massed landing by the British further up the Coast at Suvla Bay. This Lone Pine engagement was some of the most savage hand to hand combat in close quarters of the whole 8 Month period at Gallipoli.

During that 8 Month period of this Gallipoli Campaign, 8,709 Australian soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

Each year from then forward, Australia has recognised that day of the first landing as the most solemn of days on our Calendar, when we, as a nation, pay reverent homage, not only to those brave men who fought and died at Gallipoli, but to all our Australian Military forces who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in times of all Wars, and for all our current serving men and women in Australia’s military forces.

Dawn Services are held across the Country timed for 4.15AM local time at memorials in the large Capital cities, and across cities and towns all over Australia, literally at thousands of such places. While still early morning at that time, these services are always attended by masses of people all across Australia.

Later that same morning, marches are held in many of these places as well. Those marches in the Capital cities have literally thousands of men and women marching, with only veterans and current serving members from the three armed forces, and some marches may only have a handful of men marching, as numbers now thin out with the passing of years.

While those people march, many thousands line the length of the march and pay solemn tribute to those old men who fought so that we actually could line those streets to salute them, and to also pay silent tribute to those who did not come home.

Keep reading ANZAC Day – 25th April 2017 | PA Pundits – International

I note in passing that Tony is one of the best in writing on energy matters, which is why I read him. But, here’s a belated

 

Well done, mate.

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