The Use of Power

You remember last month we talked here about how a couple hundred Russian mercenaries got handled very roughly when they attacked a camp that contained American advisors. It seems we put on quite the air show for them beyond the artillery response. Everything from Apaches all the way to B-52s. Seems people noticed

From Business Insider via Warsclerotic comes the story.

Since the US-led effort against the Islamic State has reclaimed almost all of the terrorist group’s territory in Syria, 2,000 or so US forces remain in control of the country’s rich oil fields.

And though Russia, Syria’s government forces, and Iran’s militias all oppose that remaining US presence, there’s little they can do about it.

A small US presence in an eastern town called Deir Ezzor has maintained an iron grip on the oil fields and even repelled an advance of hundreds of pro-Syrian government forces— including some Russian nationals believed to be mercenaries — in a massive battle that became a lopsided win for the US.

Russia has advanced weapons systems in Syria, pro-Syrian government militias have capable Russian equipment, and Iran has about 70,000 troops in the country. On paper, these forces could defeat or oust the US and the Syrian rebels it backs, but in reality it would likely be a losing battle, according to an expert.

“They have the ability to hurt US soldiers — it’s possible,” Tony Badran, a Syria expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider. But “if they do that,” he said, “they’ll absolutely be destroyed.”

In Badran’s view, even if Russia wanted a direct fight against the US military in Syria, something he and other experts seriously doubt, the forces aligned with Syria’s government don’t stand much of a chance.

The real saving grace is that nobody, not Russia, not Syria, not even Iran really wants to fight the US. That expert is correct, they could kill some American soldiers, and from what I’ve seen of Trump as Commander in Chief, they won’t like what happens next.

We talked about how America makes war, long ago, here. It’s a devastating combination when given enough latitude to fight the war, not make reporters and other such riff-raff happy. It looks like the President understands that.

Some of the British have their priorities straight. Also from Warsclerotic comes a report that a British woman was killed recently in Syria. She was Anna Campbell and she was a volunteer with the Kurds.

Anna Campbell, from Lewes, East Sussex, was volunteering with the US-backed Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) – the all-female affiliate army of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – in the besieged city of Afrin when the convoy she was travelling in was struck by a Turkish missile on 16 March.

A very brave woman. I think Teresa May should be contemplating why that woman wasn’t in the British army, and maybe asking Turkey just what the hell they think they are doing rather than worrying full time about some Russian spy that got almost killed.

Stacy McCain makes the point very clearly, why the hell do we care what Europe does?

If you’re old enough to remember the debates that preceded the Iraq War, a key point was the posture of our so-called “allies” in Europe. Many liberals argued that if European countries didn’t support the U.S., we couldn’t go to war against Saddam Hussein. In effect, liberals wanted to give Europe a veto over U.S. foreign policy. Americans had to endure the humiliating spectacle of our leaders basically begging France to join the anti-Saddam coalition, only to be rebuffed in the end.

Without regard to the specific issue of Iraq, however, that debate called attention to the general uselessness of our so-called “allies.” How many armored divisions can France put in the field? How many brigades of combat infantry can Belgium or Portugal deploy? How many attack helicopters and fighter aircraft do Spain and Italy have? If you scrutinize Europe’s military preparedness, you realize that even if they had wanted to join the U.S.-led coalition in smashing Saddam, they didn’t have very much operational equipment and manpower to contribute to the effort.

Consider the current condition of the German military:

Germany has come up short once more in meeting its military obligations to NATO. Leaked readiness data indicates that a key component of the NATO rapid reaction force, which Germany is to supply in 2019, is nowhere near ready to perform duties German said it could handle. The German armored brigade that was promised for 2019 is not able to fulfill its duties. Only about 20 percent of the armored vehicles (Leopard 2 tanks and Marder infantry vehicles) are fit for service. German military aircraft continue to have the lowest readiness rates in NATO and Germany continues, as it has for over twenty year, to promise the situation would be fixed but it never is. When the Americans press Germany to meet its NATO obligations (which includes spending at least two percent of GDP on defense) there are promises but no performance.

(Hat-tip: Austin Bay at Instapundit.)

Can’t even keep an armored brigade working, so much for the vaunted German army, once rated the best army in the Warsaw Pact and in NATO. They have become the joke that Italy was in the twentieth century, simply a drain on their allies. Willing to fight to the last Briton (and American). There’s an army ISIS could probably take on, even in their current depleted state, particularly since undoubtedly their 5th (and probably 6th, 7th, and 8th) column is already in place.

I don’t think post-Brexit Britain has too much to worry about from the continent. You’ll notice that Stacy doesn’t mention Britain in that story, I’d bet his reason is the same as mine. Whatever the faults of the British government, and it has many, it is one of the two most reliable allies we have and has been for many years. Yes, the other is Israel. It is also the only other power that can reliably project power around the world, in much the same manner as we do.

I also think it is time to case the NATO standard, and ally ourselves who believe the same things we do and let the rest fend for themselves, we’ve rescued Europe three times in a hundred years and that is enough.


Lady Lex

Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen announced something this week that amazed many of us. He found the USS Lexington (CV2), the legendary Lady Lex, which the Navy was forced to scuttle after the battle of the Coral Sea, a few weeks before Midway. This was the battle that blunted to forward thrust of Japan, that would end forever just a few weeks later as the Japanese lost four fleet carriers at Midway, some of the Lex’s aircrew were there.

This was the second US carrier, the first was the USS Langley called the covered wagon because it had no island, and while the Langley had been converted from a collier, the Lex was converted during construction from a Treaty Battlecruiser.

The ship (and some of the planes lost with it) appear to be in remarkable shape, all thing considered. and one of the pictures woke a lot of us up.

That is a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter belonging to VF -31 The Tomcatters, commanded by John “Jimmy” Hatch who created the combat tactic the Thatch Weave. But two other things caught our attention. the pilot of this plane had four Japanese kills by May of 1942 less than six months after Pearl Harbor, and right there is Felix the Cat, The sign of the Tomcatters.

And some people dug into the records and now we know whose plane this is. It was the plane of LT Ed O’Hare. And he was one heroic pilot.

His record is very impressive, in the course of defending the Lexington, he became the first Navy winner of the Medal of honor in the Second World War, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and went down without trace in 1943. Chicago O’Hare airport and the destroyer USS O’Hare are both named after him.

If you’ve ever wondered why when you fly to Chicago your baggage stub says ORD, now you know, the ORD is the old name, it was renamed after Commander O’Hare. It started out as a military field in World War II named Orchard Field, in a town that is now defunct Orchard Place.

13 Days of Glory

Well, I did it again, yesterday was the 182d anniversary of a seminal event in Texian, no make that American history, the fall of the Alamo. Which cannot be mentioned without this…

Brave men holding the line, until death. It’s a recurring story in our history. But let’s just enjoy the music and think about those men.


That Mexican Army that was delayed at the Alamo got itself surprised at San Jacinto with a bit of help from an unlikely source.

Yeah, I know that this is the cleaned up Mitch Miller version but, I suspect we all know the story, and I like this one. Something about those Texas girls, isn’t there?

Then came the big war, and over Sam Houston’s objections, Texas cast its lot with the South.

Those of us that keep up with history will notice something in that song, in the English speaking world revolutions are fought to restore rights that government has taken away. It’s a tradition that reaches back, at least, 800 years to Magna Charta, and it still lives.

Back in 1898 in that “Splendid Little War” with Spain, well there were a lot of cowboy boots that went up San Juan Hill, with those Yalies.

And you know, it just keeps going on, there were a fair number of those boots flying in those Mustangs and Fortresses, back in the Forties as well. To the point that one officer in the Eighth US Army Air Force provoked a protest from the Ambassador from Ireland when he commented that the Allies would have lost if it weren’t for Ireland and Texas. But he may have been right, although he actually meant the Irish-Americans.

But you kind of have to feel for the Mexican Army, they’ve always done their best, and twice they’ve won engagements fought to the last man but both times the glory has gone to the losers. The first was the Alamo, and the second made this unit famous.

Who is, of course, no one but the French Foreign Legion. Sort of sad though, when your best and most famous military unit is made up of every nationality on earth, except the one whose flag it fights under.

To Crush Your Enemies

You may have heard that our military had contact with Russian troops last weekend and that it was hostile. You also know that for at least a decade we have been fighting under very restrictive rules of engagement, which have pretty much precluded ever winning.

That appears to be changing.

From The Daily Caller.

“One squadron fucking lost 200 people … right away, another one lost 10 people … and I don’t know about the third squadron but it got torn up pretty badly, too … So three squadrons took a beating,” a man believed to be a Russian contract soldier said in the first of three audio recordings obtained from a source close to the Kremlin by, a fact-checking website affiliated with Voice of America.

“They beat our asses like we were little pieces of shit,” the man said, Newsweek introduced.

A U.S.-led strike following a raid on a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) base where U.S. troops were stationed is believed to have killed hundreds of Russian military contractors fighting alongside pro-Syrian irregular forces. The U.S. forces hammered the attackers with heavy artillery and air strikes. (RELATED: The US Military Is Now Fighting Russian Mercenaries In Syria)

“They were all shelling the holy fuck out of it and our guys didn’t have anything besides the assault rifles … nothing at all, I’m not even talking about shoulder-fired SAMs or anything like that… they tore us to pieces, put us through hell,” the man in the recording revealed, calling the incident a “total fuckup, another humiliation.”

“We got our fucking asses beat rough. The Yankees made their point,” he said. “What were they hoping for, that the Yankees are just going to fuck off? … It’s bullshit. Some people can’t even be fucking ID’ed.”

“Nobody gives a fuck about us,” a man in the recording explained.

The Russians are downplaying it, of course, there is no benefit in admitting that some of their mercenaries, which is essentially what these troops sound like, got handled very roughly. Actually, they got handled in the traditional American manner. The joke from World War Two ends, “when the Americans open fire, everybody takes cover”. It’s a methodology that is a bit expensive in ordnance, it also saves American lives. We can afford a hell of a lot more artillery rounds than we can American lives, and you know, soon we won’t even need the artillery shells, cause no is going to be stupid enough to shoot at Americans. Why? They shoot back. When the answer to a 7.62 Russian round is a 155mm shell, people tend to get a bit gunshy.

And our enemies all talk to each other, you know that the Iranians noticed, as did Whoa Fat. The world is going to start settling down. A few more demonstrations may be needed, but the lessons just might be learned without to much damage to the world.

Seems like I remember Trump saying something about changing the Rules of Engagement and uttering a word that hasn’t been heard much in the American military since the Second World War, that word is Victory. In fact last weekend he used a different word about ISIS, that word was ‘obliterate’. Here’s where he said it.

Kind of reminds me of Admiral Halsey’s comment, “When this war is over, Japanese will be spoken only in Hell”.

And that is a very good thing if you believe in freedom.

One day in the pavilion at Karakorum he [Genghis Kahn] asked an officer of the Mongol guard what, in all the world, could bring the greatest happiness.

“The open steppe, a clear day, and a swift horse under you,” responded the officer after a little thought, “and a falcon on your wrist to start up hares.”

“Nay,” responded the Kahn, “to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet — to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best.”

 Harold Lamb, GENGHIS KAHN: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MEN, pages 106-107:

The Indispensable Man

Yesterday was, of course, the anniversary of George Washington’s birth. Without his life, the United States, if it even existed, would be a very different place. Long ago, Jessica touched on his (probably unconscious) model:  Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.

I addressed King George’s view of him after he resigned his commission in the Continental Army here, and here, even how the left attempts to steal the legacies of the founders.

Scott Johnson at PowerLine wrote about him yesterday, as well.

In anticipation of Washington’s visit to Newport, the members of America’s oldest Jewish congregation prepared a letter welcoming Washington for presentation to him at a public event on the morning of August 18. The letter was authorized by the congregation’s board and signed by its president, Moses Seixas. It is Washington’s magnificent letter responding to Seixas that that has become famous as one of the classic statements of religious toleration in America.

The congregation’s letter to Washington is not so well known, although the most prominent line in Washington’s letter is an echo of the congregation’s letter to Washington. By far the most striking feature of the congregation’s letter is its expression of sheer gratitude to Washington himself and to America for the freedom and equal rights the congregants had attained as American citizens. Here is the congregation’s letter:

Permit the children of the stock of Abraham to approach you with the most cordial affection and esteem for your person and merits ~~ and to join with our fellow citizens in welcoming you to NewPort.

With pleasure we reflect on those days ~~ those days of difficulty, and danger, when the God of Israel, who delivered David from the peril of the sword, ~~ shielded Your head in the day of battle: ~~ and we rejoice to think, that the same Spirit, who rested in the Bosom of the greatly beloved Daniel enabling him to preside over the Provinces of the Babylonish Empire, rests and ever will rest, upon you, enabling you to discharge the arduous duties of Chief Magistrate in these States.

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People ~~ a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance ~~ but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: ~~ deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: ~~ This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.

For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men ~~ beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life: ~~ And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.

Done and Signed by order of the Hebrew Congregation in NewPort, Rhode Island August 17th 1790.

Moses Seixas, Warden

The painting that leads this article was painted by Scottish-born portraitist Archibald Robertson, on commission from David Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan (1742-1829), who wished, he wrote,  “that I might place it among those whom I most honor.” (You can read the earl’s entire letter to Washington here;Buchan also entrusted Robertson with a special gift for Washington, a wooden box said to be made of the oak that sheltered William Wallace.). From: Two Nerdy History Girls.

After some adventures of its own,”in 1951, the current Earl Buchan presented the painting to Sulgrave Manor,the English birthplace of Washington’s ancestors, where it hangs today.”

But before (or after, who knows) painting that portrait of Washington as the fearless and decisive Commander in Chief, he painted another one, a miniature of Washington (and another of Martha, as well, as they appeared in 1792.

This one shows the very man that quelled the only reported American military coup with the words.

 “Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind.”

As General Light Horse Harry Lee eulogized him:

First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.

B-Ball and the Chaos Before the Storm

In one of those unpredictable things, last night turned into movie night here, first with Hoosiers and then with Darkest Hour. It is an interesting pairing.

In the first, we have the eternal American story of the underdog, the Milan Huskers, overcoming the big city South Bend Central Bears, a quintessentially American story of the underdog overcoming the big city favorite. And all the better for being true.  See this post. But it carries over to the Darkest Hour as well.

Here we have Britain, holding firm alone amongst the Europeans against the Nazi Germans. When all the others buckled, there was Britain, standing alone, as it had against Napoleon. The nation of shopkeepers standing alone, waiting for the new world to step to its rescue.

And here again, a half-century later it becomes true again. The ruling class in the UK has sold out to the left and left the real conservatives without representation, but we know many proud Britons remain. And so. once again the New World prepares to rescue the Old World.

We know what they do not wish to acknowledge, and we are OK with that, but that is the situation. I always wonder if the situation would have worked out if Winston Churchill’s mother hadn’t been Jennie Jerome, an American. It’s an interesting point to ponder.

And we see it once again, the British establishment unable (or unwilling) to confront the leftist tide in their own society, the right taking their cue from their own daughter society, the United States. That is not a bad thing, when necessary we too have taken inspiration from our British forebearers. As I’ve said before, the difference is that we wrote it down.


You know as I continue with these subjects, increasingly it strikes me that only Americans recognize the difference between good and evil as opposed to what sounds good, feels good, but is in reality not good at all.

As for the movie, Darkest Hour, I liked it. Yes, the scene in the underground that so many have talked about is jarring and unbelievable but is there to make the point about the differences between normal and those in the ruling class, who then and now, existed in a bubble.

But do see it, in truth since both are out, pair it with Dunkirk, they portray nearly the same week, and the difference between the calm of London with the chaos of the evacuation beaches is important itself.

No movie is really historically accurate, and that is true for all three we’ve mentioned here. But movies can make a point that is hard to convey in written words, and all three do here. Hoosiers remind me of much of what I loved about growing up in Indiana, some of which is lost forever, as it always is.

The other two speak of a time just a bit before mine, when the entire world was chaos, and a very few people took the duty to lead us through the storm and did it without thinking overly of the effects it would have on them. For all of us today, these are the people who built the world we live in, and it behooves us to try to understand them, as once again chaos threatens us.

In any case, see the movies, you’ll enjoy all three.

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