Lead, Follow, or get the Hell out of the Way

HT_spencer_stone_alek_skarlatos_anthony_sadler_jt_150822_16x9_992

via ABC News, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler

Is, of course, a very old American maxim. Back when the world was young and I had just met Jess, I used it in connection with a British academic who was irritating her. Jess, being a sensible girl, who loves America nearly as much as I love Britain, proceeded to mutter it at an academic function she attended, about some footless thing that nobody could decide, choice of wine or something like that. Needless to say, it raised a few eyebrows, leading the gentlemen with her to comment about the company she was keeping. Me.

4159So I’m going to do this story backward. On that train in France the other day, there was a 62-year-old British IT guy, an expat living in the south of France. Now, I don’t know about you but that is not where I’d first look for a hero – but that’s where we found one.  His name is Chris Norman He said he thought this:

“I saw someone running down the aisle to the front of the train. I stood up to see what was happening and saw a man with what I think was an AK-47,” he said.

“My first reaction was to sit down and hide. Then I heard an American say, ‘Go get him’. I decided it was really the only chance, to act as a team and try to take down the assailant.

“My thought was, I’m probably going to die anyway, so let’s go. I’d rather die being active, trying to get him down, than simply sit in the corner and be shot.”

“Either you sit down and you die, or you get up and you die. It was really nothing more then that,” he said.

Well, Kipling once wrote that:  “A brave heart and a courteous tongue. They shall carry thee far through the jungle, manling.” I hope Mr. Norman will forgive me if I call BS on that. I bet his thought process ran more like this, a toast by American general John Stark of New Hampshire. It goes, “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” because Chris Norman is by any standard a hero. He saw a chance to fix something and he took that chance, he didn’t lead, but he followed effectively, not many men would have, especially since we have all seen how docile the Brits have become. The same is true for that off-duty French train conductor. Damned good men, both of them.

But the Americans! Well, I happened to be listening to the BBC when the story broke, arriving with the information that the were marines. Without disrespect to anyone, I thought, of course, later the story changed that it was two soldiers and an American civilian. OK, if you look at the pictures they’re wearing their hair pretty high and tight, so it’s a more or less natural mistake, and besides no leatherneck could have done it any better. Think about that for a minute, a junior Air Force medic, an Oregon National Guardsman, in Britspeak, a territorial, and a civilian friend of theirs, running to the sound of the guns. Are they heroes? You’re damned right they are! It was nearly a perfect anti-terrorist operation. What flight 93 could have been with some more luck.

And that Air Force medic, Spencer Stone, who nearly had his thumb cut off by this thug, still had the guts and presence of mind to provide basic aid to a Frenchman who had either been either shot or knifed in the neck, I’ve read both, don’t know which is true, doesn’t really matter at the moment.

It was once written that:

“The truly amazing thing about me is that, as a product of this amazing country, I am utterly ordinary. However, once I leave the borders of these United States, I start to grow in power and influence until I become someone who can do anything; feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, protect the weak and clothe the shabby”.

And that pretty much applies here, utterly ordinary Americans, until some fool on a French train opened up with an AK, and then, well the adults in the train took over, three young American guys. And from what I read, he’s a lucky terrorist, he didn’t maintain his weapon, and it jammed, so they merely subdued him, instead of letting him tell Allah all about it, and his failure.

Kipling also wrote: “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack”. And that my friends is why terrorism doesn’t work on free men, it does not account for the sheepdogs, not all of whom wear uniforms.

And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks that fought with us.

A few years ago, in one of the documentaries about the war in Europe, they interviewed a Dutch woman about the day that the Americans liberated her town.

She stated she knew they were Americans because ‘they walked like free men’.

We still do.

 

Arrant Knavery and Absolute Despotism

A short history of British rights

Article 39 of Magna Charta, dictated to King John 800 years ago says this:

No free man shall be taken or imprisoned, or dispossessed or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

A few weeks ago, David Cameron said this.

For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’

Which is, of course, the very sort of knavery that led to the Barons standing under arms, under the leadership of Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, on the field at Runnymede, in the first place.

It is a feature of Administrative Law, or ‘The Prerogative’ gone awry. There are other instances, one of them was 239 years ago. it led a famous Briton to write this:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

And in making it so, Thomas Jefferson and others ceased to be Britons and became Americans.

This is our common heritage, and the reason underlying the modern world. For more than 800 years, because it was the law of the land long before the Barons wrote it, indeed before ‘1066 and all that’ as well. It is the one cause our people have always felt worth dying, and therefore, worth living, for.

anglosphere1

 

Duty Calls

In England and in America

A (Victorious) Nation of Shopkeepers

English: The Duke of Wellington

English: The Duke of Wellington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 15 June 1815, just over two hundred years ago, and coincidentally the six-hundredth anniversary of the signing of Magna Charta. Charlotte, the Duchess of Richmond gave a ball in Brussels. It was a glittering affair. Attending amongst many other famous names was Sir Arthur Wellesley, soon to be the first Duke of Wellington, and excepting three general officers, all the high command of the army of the Seventh Coalition. Many of them would die or be badly wounded in the next few days.

For on the 16th, the Battle of Quatre Bras took place, leading to the climax today, with the Battle of Waterloo, and the surrender and final exile of Napoleon Bonaparte to St. Helena, where for the rest of his life, the Royal Navy would make sure he would cause no more trouble.

It was a hard-fought battle, and you can easily find out more but for me, Robert Southey, in writing about an earlier English victory that would blaze down history, that at Blenheim that made the Duke of Marlborough, pretty much said it all

“With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby died;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.

“They said it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.

“Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won,
And our good Prince Eugene.”
“Why, ’twas a very wicked thing!”
Said little Wilhelmine.
“Nay … nay … my little girl,” quoth he,
“It was a famous victory.”

“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.”
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why, that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”

One other thing connected the Duke of Marlborough with the Duke of Wellington.

As well as the steadiness under fire of the soldiers that the Duke of Wellington called “scum, the very scum of the earth” commanded by officers who bought their commissions in hope of getting rich on war booty. Free enterprise warfare (sort of) and it didn’t work out too badly.

But that says something as well, doesn’t it. We commented earlier this week that there is a stubbornness in the English, there is a point beyond which, if they are pushed, they tend to wreak a terrible vengeance, whatever the cost, and it has been so since at least 1066. Magna Charta is part of that story with the humbling of a king that thought he was above the law.

It also shows up when the British took on the French in the Second French War and lost the Mary Rose at the Battle of the Solent in 1545.

Then we come to the famous one, The Armada when Imperial Spain mounted a full on Crusade against Elizabethan England. England’s royal navy not only showed them off but started the decline of Imperial Spain which the US Navy would complete at Santiago and Manila Bay in 1898.

This, of course, cleared the way for the First British Empire, That empire featured the colonies that would become the United States. Interestingly, from this point, the only major war Britain lost was the American Revolution, and I would posit that we inherited along with the traditions that include the rule of law, our full share of that stubbornness. It’s often been said that the American colonies even then could not be conquered. I think it’s true, but I think it has more to do with the people than anything else, conquering India really should have been harder than to reassert themselves in the colonies. But India succumbed and the United States didn’t.

The first empire is the setting of course for the coalition war that ended Louis XIV’s pretensions to combine France and Spain (It was called the War of the Spanish Succession for a reason). This is the war that Marlborough so stunningly waged, the first in modern times when England campaigned in Europe, to very good effect. It also was a bit of a religious war, you’ll find that England’s allies were mostly Protestant and were opposing the Catholic powers of France and Spain.

The French revolution divided English society along much the same lines as the American one had. Some supported the revolt and some the king, but when the revolution ran its course into the Terror and all semblance of rule of law was lost, opinion solidified, and when France decided to export the revolution, the war began.

And so, when Napoleon became emperor, it got pretty serious. In 1805, Napoleon gathered barges and troops around Boulogne to invade Britain, an existential threat not seen since the Armada, and not to be seen again until 1940. That threat was ended for all time at Nelson’s Victory at Trafalgar, as were the French pretensions to superpower status. It also enabled Wellington to wage the peninsular campaign that kept Portugal from falling and kept the war going in Spain as well.

Napoleon set the stage for his defeat when he decided to hold off on England and invade Russia instead, leading to the destruction of the Grand Army, and his abdication in 1814. he escaped and “The Hundred Days” ensued, ending at Waterloo.

And that set the stage for the growth of the Second Empire, one built more on trade than on the discredited theory of mercantilism that had cost Britain the First Empire. Other than opposing Russia’s drive to the Black Sea in the Crimean War (allied to France) Britain pretty much stayed out of European politics and war. This period saw the decline of France and the rise of Germany. Which at the beginning of the twentieth century led to first the Great War and then the Second World War, as the spread of Germany’s empire was checked, and indeed Germany herself all but destroyed. In large part because Hitler repeated many of Napoleons mistakes, and the British fought him off in the same old way. And then came the Cold War in which Britain and the United States managed to destroy the Soviet Empire without firing a shot in the main theater.

So, is there a common thread here? I think there is, and it’s one shared by all the English-speaking people. Leave us alone. We’ll take care of business, calmly and professionally, but if you choose to mess with us or our freedom, well, as usual, that bard of the English speaking people said it well.

View from the Trenches: Open Letter to the SARC

Screen-Shot-2015-05-14-at-9.33.52-AMI’m a senior electrician and operations manager. In both roles, my major function is to lead, and to get people to do their best, as well as to get the job done: on time and on budget. In other words its up to me to get the best my people can do, whether they are white, brown, black, or purple; male, female, or other. I just don’t care.

Are you a competent electrician, able to do all of the duties of the position? That’s my only question. Granted there are parts of the job that require physical strength, there are parts that require a certain type of intelligence. If I need five hundred feet of trench hand dug in wet clay, I’m unlikely to (if I can help it!) send a five foot two, 98 pound electrician (whatever their gender) to do it. To me that’s common sense. But it happens, it also happens that I end up doing it myself, I don’t like it either, but that’s life. The mission is the thing. And my mission is to get the electrical done, come hell or high water.

One of the places I learned that was in Air Force ROTC way back in the age of steam airplanes, and I learned it from men who had driven airplanes from England to places like Schweinfurt, and from islands like Saipan to Tokyo. They understood the costs of the mission very well and accepted it. That mission (unlike mine), projecting through air power the overwhelming force of the United States, cost them the loss of many of their friends. They, and their friends, willingly paid it. They were warriors.

And we are lucky, we still have warriors but, it seems to me that the Air Force has forgotten their mission, and become a touchy-feely, don’t hurt me outfit. If so, it has become a flawed weapon, not to be trusted, and that is the point of this article.

I start with the original poster’s explanation of the author because it is right to do so.

Kayce M. Hagen is a pen name assumed by an active duty enlisted airman. She wrote the following words to capture her thoughts after attending mandatory annual training given by her base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordination (SARC) office. I’m publishing her letter here not just because it captures in visceral form a sentiment I’ve heard repeatedly from airmen who are frustrated by increasingly tone-deaf and overwrought approaches to this issue, but also because I believe her input raises (or renews) two important questions. First, what is the current Sexual Assault Prevention program doing for the Air Force? Second, what is it doing tothe Air Force? Kayce’s input explores these questions in a powerful way. Enjoy and respond. -Q.

★       ★       ★       ★       ★

Dear SARC,

I got up this morning as an Airman in the United States Air Force. I got up and I put on my uniform, I pulled back my hair, I looked in the mirror and an Airman looked back. A strong, confident military professional stared out of my bathroom mirror, and I met her eyes with pride. Then I came to your briefing. I came to your briefing and I listened to you talk to me, at times it seemed directly to me, about sexual assault. You talked about a lot of things, about rivers and bridges, you talked about saving people and victimization. In fact you talked for almost a full ninety minutes, and you disgusted me.

You made me a victim today, and I am nobody’s victim. I am an American Airman in the most powerful Air Force in the world, and you made me into a helpless whore. A sensitive, defenseless woman who has no power to protect herself, who has nothing in common with the men she works with. You made me untouchable, and by doing that you made me a target. You gave me a transparent parasol, called it an umbrella and told me to stand idly by while you placed everything from rape to inappropriate shoulder brushes in a crowded hallway underneath it. You put my face up on your slides; my face, my uniform, my honor, and you made me hold this ridiculous contraption of your own devising and called me empowered. You called me strong. You told me, and everyone else who was listening to you this morning that I had a right to dictate what they said. That I had a right to dictate what they looked at. That I had a right to dictate what they listened to. That somehow, in my shop, I was the only person who mattered. That they can’t listen to the radio because they might play the Beatles, or Sir Mix-A-Lot, and that I might be offended. That if someone plays a Katy Perry song, I might have flashbacks to a night where I made a bad decision. I might be hurt, and I’m fragile right? Of course I am, you made me that way. […]

When you isolate me, you make me a target. When you make me a target, you make me a victim. You don’t make me equal, you make me hated. If I am going to be hated, it will be because of who I am, not because of who you have made me. I am not a victim. I am an American Airman, I am a Warrior, and I have answered my nation’s call.

Help me be what I am, or be quiet and get out of my way.

Read it all: One Airman’s View: Open Letter to the SARC : John Q. Public.

There is nothing to add to that, except to thank God for women, no warriors, like Kayce.

Lead her

Follow her

—or—

Get the hell out of her way!

70 Years Ago Today: VE Day

A Lancaster from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight drops poppies over London during the 50th Anniversary of the VE Day Celebrations in 1995.

A Lancaster from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight drops poppies over London during the 50th Anniversary of the VE Day Celebrations in 1995.

70 Years ago GEN Eisenhower sent this message to GEN Marshall.

At 0001 hrs BDST 7 May 1945 the mission of this Allied force was accomplished.

signed Eisenhower.

And so it ended. The war in Europe. Hitler had committed suicide. The Germans had surrendered unconditionally. Here read it for yourselves.

This was the result in London.

Here is the Prime Minister Winston Churchill

On 4 April 1945, elements of the United States Army’s 89th Infantry Division and the 4th Armored Division captured the Ohrdruf concentration camp outside the town of Gotha in south central Germany. Although the Americans didn’t know it at the time, Ohrdruf was one of several sub-camps serving the Buchenwald extermination camp, which was close to the city of Weimar several miles north of Gotha. Ohrdruf was a holding facility for over 11,000 prisoners on their way to the gas chambers and crematoria at Buchenwald. A few days before the Americans arrived to liberate Ohrdruf, the SS guards had assembled all of the inmates who could walk and marched them off to Buchenwald. They left in the sub-camp more than a thousand bodies of prisoners who had died of bullet wounds, starvation, abuse, and disease. The scene was an indescribable horror even to the combat-hardened troops who captured the camp. Bodies were piled throughout the camp. There was evidence everywhere of systematic butchery. Many of the mounds of dead bodies were still smoldering from failed attempts by the departing SS guards to burn them. The stench was horrible.

When General Eisenhower learned about the camp, he immediately arranged to meet Generals Bradley and Patton at Ohrdruf on the morning of April 12th. By that time, Buchenwald itself had been captured. Consequently, Ike decided to extend the group’s visit to include a tour of the Buchenwald extermination camp the next day. Eisenhower also ordered every American soldier in the area who was not on the front lines to visit Ohrdruf and Buchenwald. He wanted them to see for themselves what they were fighting against.

During the camp inspections with his top commanders Eisenhower said that the atrocities were “beyond the American mind to comprehend.” He ordered that every citizen of the town of Gotha personally tour the camp and, after having done so, the mayor and his wife went home and hanged themselves. Later on Ike wrote to Mamie, “I never dreamed that such cruelty, bestiality, and savagery could really exist in this world.” He cabled General Marshall to suggest that he come to Germany and see these camps for himself. He encouraged Marshall to bring Congressmen and journalists with him. It would be many months before the world would know the full scope of the Holocaust — many months before they knew that the Nazi murder apparatus that was being discovered at Buchenwald and dozens of other death camps had slaughtered millions of innocent people.

Read the entire account.

Most of the American, British, and Canadian forces, having defeated the Germans were soon preparing to be transhipped to Asia to assist in the invasion of Japan, with the realism of veterans few expected to survive. But President Truman saved the allies perhaps 1 Million casualties and possibly the entire population of Japan with his decision to drop the Atomic bomb.

Thus ended the war that Hitler had started on 17 Sept 1939, soon another and greater foe of liberty would arise in Europe, and the Allies would face that one down until it disappeared in 1990. Thus lending point to the old adage: “If you would have peace, prepare for war”.

American troops went on to occupation duty, soon General Patton at a review in Berlin would pronounce the 82d Airborne as ‘America’s Honor Guard’. In 1950, the Bundesrepublik Deutschland would be formed and would soon become the eastern bulwark of NATO, along with the Norwegians, British, Dutch, Italians, Turks, Canadians, and Americans. thus would freedom be sustained in western Europe and in God’s own time the Soviet Empire would fall, restoring freedom to all of Europe. The Americans are still in Germany, no longer as an occupation force but, as an ally, and as a friend.

The result of the Second World War was thus the Liberation of Europe as a result of what was in Eisenhower’s term The Mighty Endeavor.

Thusly:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

So it was spoken; And so it was done.

Peacekeepers

FVhF8GUArchbishop Cranmer yesterday shared his thoughts about the British Trident, and they’re apropos for us as Americans as well. Trident is, of course, the British submarine based nuclear deterrent force, comparable in most respects to the US Strategic Command. The British were the world’s second nuclear armed power, because of their contribution (a huge one) to the Manhattan Project, and they have, as always, been steadfast in their duty.

I doubt I’m the only one who remembers with gratitude the sight of the American strategic forces at RAF Greenham Common guarded by the RAF regiment from the Moscow inspired Greens of the CND.

But that was then and now is now. The old Soviet Union is gone, although it does seem to be stirring somewhat like a phoenix, and its nukes still exist as do China’s, Pakistan’s and North Korea’s. Nor does it lo0k improbable that Iran, and perhaps others in the Middle East will develop nuclear weapons, and some may not be as rational.

Here is some of what His Grace had to say:

Trident is the price we pay not only for peace and national security, but for the contribution Britain makes to the security of the world. Our seat on the UN Security Council is contingent on our nuclear potency, which the SNP may not care very much about, but they will if President Putin keeps making incursions into Scottish airspace.

And it’s not only Russia: there’s also North Korea, and President Obama has just gifted the eschatological ayatollahs of Iran the means of ushering in the Mahdi and wiping Israel off the map. There is denial that this deal will do anything of the sort. But an assurance that Iran will open up their nuclear programme to inspection and not make a bomb for 10-13 years is no assurance of anything at all. When you believe you have a prophetic role to play in ushering in the End Times and the Second Coming of Isa, a decade-long delay is as a few minutes in the quest to reestablish Allah’s kingdom of righteousness.

There is no ‘Christian’ approach to nuclear deterrence: Jesus would no more bless a Trident submarine than He would a fruitless fig tree. And it’s hard to square a nuclear bomb with the Just War theory on the grounds of proportionality alone, let alone the collateral incineration of civilians. There is no jus post bellum after a nuclear strike: you’re dealing with the fallout (quite literally) for decades if not centuries.

But Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ And Trident helped to establish international treaties of concord throughout the Cold War era, even if that peace was sometimes hot. How would a nuclear-free Scotland defend herself against a nuclear aggressor?

Keep reading Archbishop Cranmer.

And that’s the point, isn’t it? These ugly weapons, always restricted for ‘no first use’, that no one ever wants to use, have kept the peace in Europe, for 70 years, courtesy of the United Kingdom and the United States. These two great maritime powers have taken the doctrines that allowed them to first make and then protect the modern world and turned them into a doctrine that has allowed them to keep the peace worldwide, for nearly 70 years.

It has been hugely expensive for both countries both fiscally and psychically. It is a power no rational man would desire, the ability to end life on Earth, and yet our countries have done so, and kept the peace.

It was no joke when back in the 1940s the USAF Strategic Air Command took as its motto:

Stategic Air Command

Stategic Air Command; via Wikipedia

Peace is our profession

For truly these warriors, some of the best in the United States and the United Kingdom are indeed the peacekeepers. To them every person in the world owes their life, and such freedom as they have, or even hope for.

As Cranmer said above:

But Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’

For truly:

Si vis pacem, para bellum

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