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Iraq and Ozymandias

Justin Webb | 08:18 UK time, Monday, 2 March 2009

The progress from this to this must surely remind us of this.

Comments

  • 1. At 08:55am on 02 Mar 2009, MrsMEvE wrote:

    Justin, certainly. History will have its own way with things, as always. The big question there is- would that be a good thing or a bad thing in this instance?

    Perhaps not a question for everyday use, or one anyone can sensibly answer... but it gets you thinking.

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  • 2. At 09:19am on 02 Mar 2009, thatotherguy2 wrote:

    Well it certainly got me thinking Mrs MEvE that the reporting of the Iraq war can be too clever by half these days.

    What we should never lose sight of is that more than four thousand US troops have todate lost their lives in Iraq. Tens of thousands more have been grievously wounded in body, mind and soul.

    Some of them will be coming on this blog and, I think may feel a bit depressed and desperate about the glib way that such serious matters can be reported today.

    In years gone by war and its passage was reported with gravity. Full stop. And yes the poets have their place as to flagging up what we know and always knew from history - and from poetry - that every war fought by mankind is ultimately likely to end in a far from satisfactory fashion.

    I think that this would have made an interesting essay Justin; and we can all get the points you want to make without you having to go to that bother. But I think that we have all lost something in the telling.

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  • 3. At 09:19am on 02 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Justin,

    Remind us of what????

    Please fix the 3rd link.

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  • 4. At 09:26am on 02 Mar 2009, danwhisker wrote:

    Dr Manhattan to Ozymandias: 'I thought you knew. Nothing ever ends'.

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  • 5. At 11:51am on 02 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Justin, Thanks for Ozymandias, one of my alltime favourites. which reminds me

    ""Hubris -- that was the Greeks' word for what ails you.
    Pride fueled the pyres of tragedy
    Which died (some say) with Shakespeare.
    O, incredible delusion! That potency should have no limits!
    `We believe no evil 'til the evil`s done' --
    Witness the deserts' march across the earth,
    Spawned and nourished by men who whine, 'Abnormal weather.'
    Nearly as absurd as crying, 'Abnormal universe!' . . .
    But I suppose you'll be saying that, next."

    Ravish capacity: reap consequences.
    Man claims the first a duty and calls what follows Tragedy.
    Insult -- Backlash. Not even the universe can break
    This primal link. Who, then, has the power
    To put an end to tragedy? Only those who recognize
    Hubris in themselves."

    Garrett Hardin
    I believe Tolkien references Ozymandia as well...

    Peace and learning from the past. Or is it more likely, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose."?
    ed

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  • 6. At 12:38pm on 02 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    The war in Iraq has been a long, painful, expensive and embarrassing part of our history. Hopefully, it will soon come to an end and never be repeated.

    Frankly, I doubt the "hero" - perhaps architect or decider would be more appropriate terms - of this "war" will ever change his point of view, although it is evident that the excuses for this miserable example of inhumanity are as fluid as water, with the stereotypical heroes and villains morphing dependent on which side of this conflict you happen to be in.


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  • 7. At 12:53pm on 02 Mar 2009, carolinalady wrote:

    Only insofar as you relate President Bush the Younger (or perhaps Darth Cheney would be the better meme here) to Ozymandias.

    They got us -- the US and GB -- into Iraq under false pretenses, with false intelligence, as a smokescreen and a distraction from their poor performance in Afghanistan, because they couldn't find Osama bin Ladin and Mullah Omar.

    The historically invasion-resistant Afghanis (the neo-cons also don't read history, so they are condemned to repeat) as well as the Iraqis have made a silly sham of our hastily assembled fallback position of democracy nurturing nation-building. That's NOT why we're supposed to be there! Just because they held elections doesn't mean we won anything, let alone hearts and minds, among the tribes.

    As long as there is no repeat of the helicopter mob scene on the roof of the Saigon embassy, the sooner we get out of Iraq the better for everyone concerned.

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  • 8. At 12:57pm on 02 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Meanwhile.....Speaking of the fall of the mighty,no matter how much money we throw at the problem, the slide continues....It seems like trying to put a fire out with petrol.

    Slainte!
    ed

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  • 9. At 1:21pm on 02 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Dog ate bailout, says GM

    ;-)
    ed

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  • 10. At 2:01pm on 02 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 8 & 9, Ed

    The problem, in my opinion, is that the amount of money required to restore solvency in our under-capitalized banks is so large that even suggesting it would be virtual political suicide.

    Our financial institutions simply don't have the capital needed to write off their bad debts, and AIG, GM and Chrysler are so deep in debt that the billions we are giving them barely meet their quarterly debt obligations. Unfortunately, there is more to come and it would not be surprised if American icons, such as GE, soon join the line of mega-corporations begging for public money to stay afloat.

    Not surprisingly, the GOP "leadership" and their hero Rush Limbaugh continue to push for $20 a week tax breaks to solve the problem, letting the defunct free market take care of itself, denounce efforts to save our capitalist system as examples of socialism, and express hope that efforts to save our way of life will fail. Incredibly, 1/3 of our fellow Americans continue to buy their rhetoric, and comfort themselves waiving their Bibles hoping for a miracle.

    Sadly, it is beginning to look like no matter how much we invest and how hard we try to save the companies mentioned above, some are likely to go under and the economic, social, and psychological impact of their collapse is bound to have major repercussions in our society - and the world's - for many years to come.

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  • 11. At 2:13pm on 02 Mar 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Thank you for the CIC links Justin and the Ozymandias, which reminds me of another poem- 3 stages of a past nostalgia and pomp, finally ending with the harsh realities of the present day.
    1. Bush, The "rowing" galleon - to hell with the slaves at the oars -dreaming of profit and conquest ?.
    2. Obama, the new galleon about to get underway . His treasures are as many of the crew he can save as possible?
    3. Brown and the world in it's present competitive mode, each country fighting for their piece of the pie?
    Cargoes. John Masefield

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  • 12. At 2:19pm on 02 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 7, Carolina

    Cheney Vader and Bush the Younger simply did what so many unscrupulous leaders have done in the past, they manipulated their subjects by skillfully playing on patriotic emotion, religious, and cultural feelings to achieve their geo-political and economic goals.

    I doubt, however, that Afghanistan was a major factor in their decision to invade Iraq. The need to turn Bush the Younger into a war hero intent on saving the homeland was critical to guarantee his re-election, while at the same time paving the way to achieve neocon long term goals in the Persian Gulf region, were much more important considerations than capturing the man most responsible for the execution of 9/11 or destroying Al Qaeda.

    Getting the eyes off the ball was a small price to pay when the goal was to keep the man with a direct line to the Big Guy in the Sky in office and filling the coffers of Halliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater USA and s many other corporations deprived by the whims of our volatile former friend in Iraq who had the audacity of giving contracts to French and Russian companies after we told him we wanted them. Imagine that!

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  • 13. At 2:29pm on 02 Mar 2009, Andrew Prescott wrote:

    We should also keep in mind this: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/
    99,180

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  • 14. At 2:39pm on 02 Mar 2009, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    I don't understand, Justin.

    Since you have never (in true journalist fashion) really and forth rightly expressed (on this blog at least) your opinion on the commencement and conduction of the war in Iraq, I can only assume from this entry that you wholeheartedly and unequivocally aposed it from the start as did I. But even I admit (all be it somewhat begrudgeingly,) that the so-called "surge," which Bush enthusiastically orcastrated and endorsed and Obama vieamently aposed, worked. And it seemed as though you did on your last entry. And yet in this one you compare Bush/Chaney/Blair to Ozymandias, as if to say that it was all a waste of precious time, money and lives, and that you think that not one policy worked in the slightest bit.


    So what do you really think of Iraq? What are your real thoughts on the surje? Do you think it was worth it and worked or not?

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  • 15. At 2:50pm on 02 Mar 2009, Jeremy P wrote:

    It might... If you have an egregiously distorted view of the progression of events in Iraq between 2003 and now.

    Otherwise it's just another false analogy.

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  • 16. At 2:52pm on 02 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Radio 4 BBC afternoon play

    "Monday: A City Killing
    By Mike Walker

    After a foolhardy trade in the City almost wipes out Harry Tower’s hedge fund, he turns for help to family friend, Bob Glass, probably the most successful trader Wall St has ever seen. Confidence is immediately restored and Harry’s investors seem inclined to give him a second chance - until one day he turns on the news."
    Fiction very close to present and recent reality...

    Try to "listen again"

    The pictures are better on radio.
    ed

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  • 17. At 3:08pm on 02 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Dan "who watches the watchmen"

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  • 18. At 3:11pm on 02 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    Time to end Big american (or world buisness) and return to an economy where the small can flourish.

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  • 19. At 3:20pm on 02 Mar 2009, Orville Eastland wrote:

    Actually, it reminds me of a different poem, which happens to deal more directly with Iraq and losses in Iraq. It's also more recently written- and dealing with more recent events...

    http://home.clara.net/stevebrown/html/expeience_of_war/kipling_mesopotamia.htm

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  • 20. At 3:21pm on 02 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    The US has usually found wars difficult or nearly impossible to win at first. For the longest time the American Revolution looked nearly lost. The Civil War was going badly for the Union until Gettysburg. WWII in the Pacific did not look good until Midway and even afterwards, it was a long slow slog. WWII in Europe was initially even more dismal with loss after loss in Northern Africa. Until D-Day, the US was not winning and losses were staggering. The Battle of the Bulge could have turned the war around for Germany. In Korea, the US was nearly driven out at one point. Even in the 1990/1991 war against Iraq, in the intial phases after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Saudi Arabia was in grave jeopardy and it wasn't until a prolonged American buildup that the stage was set for a victory. So a turnaround in Iraq after initial failure is typical. As for 4000 American deaths, while tragic and every last one of them a hero, this is a small number compared to any other war I can think of and every one of them was a volunteer. There are no American conscripts anymore.

    There's an old saying that has it that God looks out for drunks, fools, and the United States of America." America's improbably history in war, its imporobable very existance gives pause to consider that maybe there is some truth in it.

    Let's hope the US can turn around Afghanistan/Pakistan as well. From the lethargy of its all but useless fair weather allies, it will largely have to rely on itself. But then it always has.

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  • 21. At 3:25pm on 02 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    The youth of today – they just don’t show no disrespect

    "It would seem natural if they went on: “The bloody youth of today; they’ve no disrespect for authority. In my day you started chanting and if a copper gave you any lip you gave him a clip round the ear, and he didn’t do it again. We’ve lost those values somehow.”

    You feel that even if they did come across a mass student protest they’d sneer. “That isn’t a proper rebellion, they’ve used the internet.

    “You wouldn’t have caught Spartacus rounding up his forces by putting a message on Facebook saying ‘Hi Cum 2 Rome 4 gr8 fite 2 liber8 slaves lets kill emprer lol’”."
    ;-)
    ed

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  • 22. At 4:05pm on 02 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    21 lol ED


    “It’s true I used to run the Campaign to Abolish the British Army, but my recent speech in favour of invading every country in the world in alphabetical order merely places those ideals in a modern setting.”

    Class.

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  • 23. At 4:08pm on 02 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    The analogy with the fallen Colossus of Ramsses II (Ozymandius) might more appropriately be made to the fallen statue of Saddam.

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  • 24. At 4:24pm on 02 Mar 2009, carolinalady wrote:

    ref 12
    St.D: Wars are always fought over money -- or some form of property -- dressed up as patriotism. I'm not disputing your analysis there.

    Your line about W having a direct line to the big guy in the sky, taken with the recent spate of commentary on several of Justin's posts equating the US economic recovery legislation with (shudder, shiver, oh dread) socialism, puts me in mind of the odd and ongoing connection between ultra far-right politics and the end-times religionists. Apparently there is convergent (weird, but convergent) thinking among them that the Anti-christ will bring socialism either before or after (this part is a bit fuzzy) the rapture. Thus we get all this CPAC silliness calling out President Obama as a socialist, with the subtext that he just might be the Anti-christ.

    There is a significant fraction of our population that believes this stuff and is egged on by the Rush Limbaughs of the world to skirt the very edges of sedition and treason. Oh, Ozymandias, look upon your works and despair, indeed.

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  • 25. At 4:51pm on 02 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Orvillethird (#19), yes, that is the right poem for the occasion. Thanks for the link.

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  • 26. At 5:19pm on 02 Mar 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    20. At 3:21pm on 02 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    The US has usually found wars difficult or nearly impossible to win at first. F

    Only if you discount the vast majorityof US conflicts, from Mexico to Cuba to the Phillipines, Panama, Granada etc

    For most of its wars the US has picked countries it can easily defeat.

    Which of course makes sense.


    "Until D-Day, the US was not winning and losses were staggering. The Battle of the Bulge could have turned the war around for Germany."


    Really? Wow and here were the rest of us thinking that the Russians were in Eastern Europe at this time.

    Fancy forgetting them over fiv emillion troops.

    " So a turnaround in Iraq after initial failure is typical. "


    Hardly it is an exception for the reasons pointed out earlier and there has been no turnaround. Iran got what it wanted, the Kurds got their autonomy(to the rage of the turks), the Shias got the central government.

    "As for 4000 American deaths, while tragic and every last one of them a hero, this is a small number compared to any other war I can think of"

    Including the Gulf war you yourself cited?

    "There's an old saying that has it that God looks out for drunks, fools, and the United States of America."

    Hmmm do drunks and fools do well in the US? Well one drunken fool became president so that might be right.

    "America's improbably history in war, its imporobable very existance gives pause to consider that maybe there is some truth in it."

    Can't say many alcoholics give the impression god cares for them

    "Let's hope the US can turn around Afghanistan/Pakistan as well. From the lethargy of its all but useless fair weather allies, it will largely have to rely on itself. But then it always has."

    Hardly. The US is possibly the worst country bar Russia in the world to hope to solve the problems of either Iraq or Afghanistan.

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  • 27. At 5:21pm on 02 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    I don't see what is so depressing about our finally
    being able to extricate ourselves from Iraq, which
    was bungled for years and finally rescued by
    Patraeus.

    Hopefully, as british-ish and others have pointed
    out, Pakistan will not now become another Iraq.

    #24, carolinalady, if you have the right secret glasses,
    and a special cocktail of the right economic theory
    and mathematics, I believe that you'll be able to
    see that Obama quite clearly has horns, pointy
    ears, a tail, and a pitchfork.

    If you need a pair, I might be able to rustle one up.

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  • 28. At 6:12pm on 02 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Simple Simon

    The gulf war was an exception to the large numbers of casualties usually America suffers in most major wars. In the fighting before the organized military resistance in Iraq collapsed, there were also relatively few American casualties. This was due largely to Iraq's failure to use chemical weapons and was a pleasant surprise. Most casualties occurred during the insurgency after the Baathist regime fell.

    Germany, Japan, and the USSR were formidable enemies. So was Britain in the American Revolution. So was the Confederacy initially and up to Gettysburg. That is why casualties were so high. America's toughest and worst war was the Civil War in which it fought the most formidable enemy it ever faced, itself.

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  • 29. At 6:15pm on 02 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    In what way? Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall?

    I interpret the poem as a recognition that the sands of time overwhelm all, mighty as well as meek.

    For Iraq I'm thinking something along the lines of "The road to hell..." is more accurate.

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  • 30. At 6:16pm on 02 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 23

    I agree.

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  • 31. At 6:53pm on 02 Mar 2009, arclightt wrote:

    All: Ozymandias? The Ozymandias here is the United States and its people, not just (or particularly) Bush.

    1. We are the ones who have celebrated for ~60 years a Congress that has failed to execute its responsibilities both in domestic policy (e.g. to keep the budget firmly under control and in balance) and in foreign policy (e.g. to ensure that no President commits offensive military action until the Congress commits the nation to war).

    2. We are the ones who have spent ourselves so far in the hole ($54 trillion) that our great-grandchildren will be wage slaves to our debtholders.

    3. We are the ones who have allowed our education process to deterioriate to the point that we spend far more per capita than other nations with far less results, and in the process have produced a nation of people who cannot think clearly but who can emote effectively, and who equate one with the other.

    4. We are the ones who have allowed our infrastructure to deteriorate to the point that hundreds of billions of dollars that we don't have will be required just to carry out necessary repairs.

    5. We are the ones who have for 40+ years tolerated and celebrated an infantile, polarized kind of political behavior that shouts that the side we support is all correct, and "the other side" is to be demonized (back to that emoting vs. thinking again), when neither side has most or even many of the correct answers.

    There's lots more to be pointed out, but this is enough. Ozymandias? Probably an understatement.

    What "we the people" should be doing is quietly facing the debt, the infrastructure, the education, the manufacturing, and the other things essential to the long-term health of the nation, and then putting together a plan to deal with them and getting on with it--realizing as we do so that if we are honest about all this it's highly likely that nobody alive in this country today is going to get most or even some of what they want (either physically or ideologically), but if we are very, very blessed we can get what we all need.

    I'm sure I'll hear the "love it or leave it" nonsense, but that's just nonsense...if we are unwilling to look ourselves in the mirror, and make real adjustments, and be really willing to admit fault, and be really willing to change our behavior, we are just as doomed as Ozymandias was.

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  • 32. At 6:57pm on 02 Mar 2009, Dark Side of the Goon wrote:

    MA II's troll-fu is once more strong.

    Until D-Day? What about the invasions of Sicily and Italy, Marcus?

    And the North African campaign, which (eventually) rolled Germany back into Tunisia and forced a surrender.

    I also loved "The US wasn't winning", as if the USA did anything on it's own.

    Fair's fair, though, outside the actions of Russia, the war was won by American logistical power and the Allies winning the battle of the Atlantic.

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  • 33. At 8:23pm on 02 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    Apart from the narrow focus on Iraq, consider that in a thousand years or less, the America we know now will be no more. Even today the once familiar institutions and corporations are being lost, dismantled or traded. It may seem impossible right now, but a time will come when there will be no Academy Awards, no Disneyland, no Chrysler Building and so very much more. Civilisations come and go and next time Ozymandias may bear another name. The sands of time shift inexorably and one day, people will wonder about us just as we enquire about other ancient nations. What happens in Iraq will be just a nanosecond in history.

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  • 34. At 8:43pm on 02 Mar 2009, U13817236 wrote:

    How deliciously ironical to quote Shelley, one of the most radical of all bards who surely would be appalled not only at wanton warmongers and blatant liars like political soulmates Bush and Obama but also would probably take quite a dim view of pro-American cheerleaders like the "author" of this blog (who hardly waxes lyrical). Actually what sleazy hypocrites and serial killers like Bush and Obama Copacabana tend more to remind one of is another great biting poem of the inestimable Shelley, Queen Mab. In any event, there's plenty to weep about when surveying the unbearable carnage of American gunboat diplomacy in the Middle East and elsewhere. And it's probably not going to much ease the suffering of the countless victims to know they'll now be bombed and strafed and starved by a politically correct, half-black, multi-cultural President instead of an Anglo male-type like Shelley.

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  • 35. At 8:52pm on 02 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    14, norash.
    "But even I admit (all be it somewhat begrudgeingly,) that the so-called "surge," which Bush enthusiastically orcastrated and endorsed and Obama vieamently aposed, worked."

    What do you mean by "worked"? Yes, it further subdued the Iraqis. It also insured our greater control over the country. However, what most of us who opposed the war wanted was a lesser control over Iraq, actually no control at all. We wanted out. The surge may have served to extend our stay. If the surge was a success, then I stand on the side of failure.

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  • 36. At 9:16pm on 02 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    32, and, just to add to what you have said, there
    was the entire Pacific campaign, against the
    Japanese empire which controlled 400 million
    people against our own of about 135 million,
    while we were sending 2/3 of our resources
    against Germany.

    Many Europeans may not be aware that
    Guadalcanal was (IMHO) one of the toughest
    battles that any country has ever fought, and
    certainly for us and the Japanese.

    Really, the tide turned in 1942, at Guadalcanal,
    El Alamein, and Stalingrad at roughly the
    same time.

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  • 37. At 9:56pm on 02 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    David Cunard, how do you know what will be in a thousand years from now? How do you know what will be tomorrow morning when we wake up....if we wake up?

    Where did you say you were educated, Britain? Remind me not to enroll in that school.

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  • 38. At 10:27pm on 02 Mar 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    28. At 6:12pm on 02 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    Simple Simon

    Poor old mad Marcus.

    This will be easy.

    T"he gulf war was an exception to the large numbers of casualties usually America suffers in most major wars. "


    Garbage Marcus as you know the vast majority of the US wars involved few casualties.

    The wars against the American nations involved less than 2500 casualties all told.

    Nice attempt to wriggle out by clainming "major wars".

    "In the fighting before the organized military resistance in Iraq collapsed, there were also relatively few American casualties. This was due largely to Iraq's failure to use chemical weapons and was a pleasant surprise. Most casualties occurred during the insurgency after the Baathist regime fell."

    So what difference does that make?

    "Germany, Japan, and the USSR were formidable enemies. "

    Were they? When did the US fight the USSR?

    Please what was the date of the USSR v US conflict?

    Oh dear mad Marcus what have I told you about sprouting on history? You do look foolish.

    "So was Britain in the American Revolution. So was the Confederacy initially and up to Gettysburg."

    Really? Hmm so you know nothing about the Civfil war either I see.

    Plainly you are a Follower of General McLellan, whom Lincoln felt was a stodgy idiot

    The Confederacy was never a formidable enemy and never looked like winning the war.

    "That is why casualties were so high. America's toughest and worst war was the Civil War in which it fought the most formidable enemy it ever faced, itself."

    No the casualties were caused by disease and incompetence, the Confederacy never looked like winning.

    Most European observers and the US President couldn't believe the blundering incompetence of the US commanders.

    What an idiot do you not know your own country's history?

    Why not? There are plenty of books on the subject.

    read some

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  • 39. At 10:40pm on 02 Mar 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    37. At 9:56pm on 02 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    David Cunard, how do you know what will be in a thousand years from now? How do you know what will be tomorrow morning when we wake up....if we wake up?

    Where did you say you were educated, Britain? Remind me not to enroll in that school."

    This from the man who beleives in some mysterious war between the US and USSR which missed everyone else.

    Just enrol in any school that will have you Mad Marcus, beggars can't be choosers.

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  • 40. At 10:43pm on 02 Mar 2009, OldSouth wrote:

    It does not have to end like Ozymandias, nor do I think it will. We're in trouble, but we've been in worse before.

    And, given the rather wide swath Mr. Shelley cut through life, we need not look to him as a competent judge of history, wordsmith though he was.

    Poor Obama. He can say anything and everything except 'The policy of sending the extra combat brigades worked. I opposed it, and was wrong. When the hyenas went after General Petraus, I stood silent by. When the left vilified you, I held their coats'.

    That's ok--the troops and their families know...




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  • 41. At 10:43pm on 02 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    "Since you have never (in true journalist fashion) really and forth rightly expressed (on this blog at least) your opinion on the commencement and conduction of the war in Iraq"

    Journalists aren't supposed to express an opinion. They just report the news as they see it. A commentator would, sure, but Justin hasn't adopted that role since I've been reading him.

    I assume Justin uses this blog to bounce story angles off of us to see how they resonate. If so, what he wants is to gauge our opinions as a group, not give us his.

    Of course, I don't know that he even reads these threads. What's entertaining for us probably isn't for an international journalist.



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  • 42. At 11:07pm on 02 Mar 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    40. At 10:43pm on 02 Mar 2009, OldSouth wrote:
    It does not have to end like Ozymandias, nor do I think it will. We're in trouble, but we've been in worse before."

    Hardly a sign things will get better.

    "And, given the rather wide swath Mr. Shelley cut through life, we need not look to him as a competent judge of history, wordsmith though he was."

    Hmmm should those who judge history not cut a swathe through life, whatever that means?

    ""Poor Obama. He can say anything and everything except 'The policy of sending the extra combat brigades worked. I opposed it, and was wrong. When the hyenas went after General Petraus, I stood silent by. When the left vilified you, I held their coats'."

    Really you think the hyenas have gone. Who is kiolling the US troops then? themselves?


    Care to live in Basra withoiut a bodyguard? Care to have the wife walk alone on a Mosul street?

    "That's ok--the troops and their families know..."

    yes especially the ones mourning the latest casualties.

    But hey wasn't it Johnson who was advised "shout victory and get the hell out?"



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  • 43. At 11:09pm on 02 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 40

    "That's ok--the troops and their families know..."

    ... and anyone who watched the Superbowl coin flip.

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  • 44. At 11:47pm on 02 Mar 2009, mary gravitt wrote:

    You have not been paying attention. A new AXIS OF EVIL has been declared: Venezuela, Argentina, and Equidor. All located in Latin America and all without WMDs. Thereby the War on Terror has shifted from Middle East to West.

    Just when we thought that Iraq was the end all, it all begins again like Ground Hog Day.

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  • 45. At 00:17am on 03 Mar 2009, SliceJohn wrote:

    So Chinese police did not shoot the monk who set himself on fire?

    I wished they did because that would have been the first reported case in history.

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  • 46. At 00:17am on 03 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Simple Simon

    "This from the man who beleives in some mysterious war between the US and USSR which missed everyone else."

    The only reason you missed it is that you didn't have to pay for it. America paid your share for you and it paid all of the rest of Western Europe's too. We did this so that you could focus on rebuilding your war shattered economies and not fall prey to the USSR the way you fell prey to Hitler. (BTW, in case they didn't teach it to you in school, Britain lost WWII. Just look at where it was on December 6, 1945.)

    Now we will see just how well the UK and the rest of Europe can do without American help.

    "You're all doing very well!"

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  • 47. At 00:59am on 03 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    46. MAII and others.

    A while ago we had a secretary working at our place who was from Romania. She had gone to school in Romania during the time of Ceaucescu, and refused to admit that Transylvania had ever been anything other than Romanian. So I picked up a copy of "Paris 1919" by Margaret MacMillan (?) and flipped to the maps showing Hungary before the Great War and Hungary after the Treaty of Versailles, thinking that this would allow her to see for herself.

    Not bloody likely, though.

    Her conclusion was the the Author was a dupe of the Hungarians, and that the maps were obvious fakes...

    There are times when I see history so badly butchered and twisted here, and it is tempting to comment in minute detail, but what, really, is the point. instead, just four general points:

    First, until and including the Great War, if you include the Influenza, far more military deaths were due to disease than to warfare.

    Second, in wars for a very long time the death toll was 10 - 15 %. It has fallen remarkably (i.e., to approx 2%) since the invention of the helicopter and anti-biotics, so that now, if a soldier receives first aid and is still living 5 minutes after being hit, it is very unlikely he (or she) will die of his (or her) wounds. This has led to some very morally challenging observations.

    Third, The low point in the War was August 19, 1942. Thereafter, things got better, slowly at first, but then more rapidly. The proportion of the US war effort directed toward defeating Japan was about 10 % of US industrial potential. Read the excellent biography of Nimitz by Porter. (Nimitz was a phenomenally talented man.) The Wehrmacht was the toughest opponent ever faced by US forces. Still, the land contribution of the western allies to the defeat of the Third Reich was relatively puny: German divisions on the Russian Front: 144, German Divisions in North Africa: 3 (buttressing an Italian force never (?) larger than the 305,000 captured at Beda Fohm by 36,000 Brits, Australians, and Indians). Enough of this.

    Fourth, it is enough to be thankful that at least you are interested in history at all. Many have no interest in it, and that is a great shame. It is endlessly fascinating, and often stranger than fiction. Don't stop reading, but please do read more than American sources, and don't believe everything you see or hear on the History Channel.

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  • 48. At 01:09am on 03 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    46, MAII : "BTW, in case they didn't teach it to you in school, Britain lost WWII. Just look at where it was on December 6, 1945."

    What an incredibly ugly thing to say, after everything Britain sacrificed in that war. Yes, the war destroyed their economy. They sacrificed that too. When has the American public as a whole ever sacrificed anything? Oh, I forgot. During WWII American civilians had to stand in line for stockings (and they weren't even silk) and cigarettes.

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  • 49. At 01:31am on 03 Mar 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    I think it is much too soon to be likening the U.S. to Ozymandias. I'll agree that we've overreached, and that the hard times aren't over...

    But even if we did overreach, so did Great Britain, and the USSR, and Spain, and France, and all are still around, even if in lesser form.

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  • 50. At 01:39am on 03 Mar 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    5 Ed
    re: Tolkien: "The brief glow fell upon a huge sitting figure, still and solemn as the great stone kings of Argonath. The years had gnawed it, and violent hands had maimed it..."

    "Suddenly, caught by the level beams, Frodo saw the old king's head: it was lying rolled away by the roadside. 'Look, Sam!' he cried, startled into speech. "Look! The king has got a crown again!'"

    "The eyes were hollow and the carven beard was broken, but about the high stern forehead there was a coronal of silver and gold. A trailing plant with flowers like white stars had bound itself across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king..."

    "'They cannot conquer forever!" said Frodo."

    JRRT, The Two Towers, Ch.7, Journey to the Cross-Roads.

    Similar imagery to Ozymandias, I think, but for a much different message. The fallen, defaced king gave hope and courage in the midst of despair.

    I like this message much better than Shelly's, even if also true.

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  • 51. At 01:40am on 03 Mar 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    In addition to the Tolkien image in #50, I'd also suggest the visage confronted by Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes," of the ruined head of Lady Liberty on the beach...

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  • 52. At 01:47am on 03 Mar 2009, Doug wrote:

    The modern "works" at which any reasonable person might "despair" are not wasteland, sad to say. They are too visible as shattered buildings, shattered lives, shattered economies ...

    Doug
    New Mexico, USA

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  • 53. At 01:49am on 03 Mar 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    5 Ed

    OK, #50 got moderated (not sure why-I gave full attribution to the quote.) I referred to Chapter 7, Journey to the Cross-Roads, in The Two Towers. "Suddenly, caught by the level beams, Frodo saw the old king's head: it was lying rolled away by the roadside. 'Look, Sam!" he cried, startled into speech. 'Look! The king has got a crown again!'... flowers like small white stars had bound across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king..."

    My point is that a similar image was used by the Master of fantasy for a very different purpose- as Frodo cries, "they cannot conquer for ever!" Rather than despair, Tolkien has a rather more positive message, and one (with my American optimism, I suppose) that I prefer.

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  • 54. At 01:59am on 03 Mar 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    ed 5
    OK, referred twice for a very, very brief, fully attributed quote from Tolkein's The Two Towers, Chapter 7 (Journey to the Cross-Roads.)

    Instead, a paraphrase because it's very pertinent to my point, and to the discussion in general. Frodo and Sam have journeyed to the very entrance to Morgul-Vale, the "back door" to the black land of Mordor.

    A pall of darkness belched from Mt. Doom has spread across the sky, but just as the hobbits despair, they come across a giant statue of an ancient king of Gondor, guarding the crossroad. It had been decapitated and defaced, but a beam of light from the setting sun fell on the head by the road, crowned with flowers.

    They took it as a sign that the darkness would not conquer, which, as I've stated thrice now, is a much different message than Shelly's Ozymandias. Although Shelly is undoubtedly correct for 2,000 or 1,000 years from now, for the present it is much too soon to despair. I think Tolkien's wisdom speaks louder right now: "'They cannot conquer forever!' said Frodo."

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  • 55. At 02:21am on 03 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    47 Errata
    The dangers of writing from memory
    Beda Fomm: Total Italian forces in Cyrenaica seem to have been about 250,000 as of December 1, 1940, not the 305,000 number that sticks in my memory. Total captured by forces under Generals Wavell and O'Connor during the campaign from December 8, 1940 to February 9, 1941: 130,000.

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  • 56. At 02:25am on 03 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Uninterestingforeigner, I have ancestors in both Roumania and Hungary. My grandmother came from Transylvania. For all I care, the Roumanians and Hungarians can fight a war until all of them are dead and I wouldn't lose a wink of sleep caring about it.

    It is unreasonable and unrealistic to measure the US contribution to the war effort in WWII by the number of American soldiers who fought. In terms of material and money, the US contribution was overwhelming. The speed with which American industry geared up and transformed itself exclusively to fighting the war was nothing short of a miracle. Without the American contribution, Britain, France, Russia and their allies would have lost.

    bere54, aren't you forgetting the tens of thousands of American lives lost and many many more wounded to defend your country from Adolf Hitler because your leaders were too stupid to see what was coming and prevent it or even prepare for it while they could have? Your continent still doesn't get it 70 years later. Your nation also would have lost World War I against the Germans and World War III against the USSR without the US coming to its defense. I for one hope America is done getting worthless thankless Europe out of its scrapes with its fate. BTW, Americans always had the cigarettes it wanted as "Lucky Strike goes to war." That was their ad slogan during the war.

    The worst war America ever fought was against itself, the Civil war. It was its own toughest most implacable enemy and it suffered the most casualties of any war it ever fought, certainly in proportion to its population. The US has always emerged stronger after every war it has fought. And with Iraq, it already has again. This last election proved it. It has suffered far worse than the current economic crisis it finds itself in. It will survive this too.

    Thank goodness for General Patton. If it hadn't been for him, we could have lost WWII in Europe. As I heard it, MonkeyBoy was nearly as big a pain in the deriere as Hitler was. Eisenhower had his hands full with the British high command. Awful having to fight alongside such people. Patton is one of my favorite movies.

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  • 57. At 02:54am on 03 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    "When has the American public as a whole ever sacrificed anything? "

    The Civil War was the last time war has taken place in the U.S. Americans haven't suffered the depredations of war within their borders since.

    But we suffered 418,000 deaths in WWII. I'm pretty sure that was a sacrifice for the families of the fallen.

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  • 58. At 02:56am on 03 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Via Media (54),

    That's the one. Thanks!

    Peace and literacy
    ed

    And God Bless the Grass
    Which grows through the crack

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  • 59. At 03:19am on 03 Mar 2009, chronophobe wrote:

    What always struck me about the poem is the ironic contrast between the vanished glories of the fallen king, and the enduring legacy of the nameless sculptor(s).

    The kings, the presidents, the generals come and go. Empires rise and fall into dust. Beauty is all that lasts.

    The Romantic view, and seductive, to be sure:

    When old age shall this generation waste,
    Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
    Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
    'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'


    --from John Keats, Ode on a Greecian Urn

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  • 60. At 03:24am on 03 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Andy Post, don't you get it? Europeans are no good. Win a few world wars for them and within a few decades they have forgotten. All you hear from them is "what have you done for us lately?" Doing anything for them ever was our first and worst mistake.

    Interesting fact I didn't know. The reason the US got into WWI was a decoded telegram from the German high command to its embassy in Mexico telling them to offer the Mexican government assistance and the return of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico if they declared war on the US to distract America thereby keeping it out of the war in Europe and siding with the Brits. This was the Zimmerman telegram. I think it was the Brits who decoded it....and we believed it. The whole thing was preposterous because Mexico didn't want anything to do with a war with the US and had written all that predominantly English speaking territory off decades earlier. But this according to a documentary on National Geographic Channel was why President Wilson was "forced" to enter WWI. Bad mistake we have paid for ever since.

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  • 61. At 03:25am on 03 Mar 2009, ChristianLShea wrote:

    Actually, Justin, this thing that you wanted me to look at (George W. Bush: "On the first day of the campaign, Marine units were ordered to secure 600 Iraqi oil wells and prevent environmental disaster. And that mission was accomplished."-- address delivered on 3 April 2003 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina) most reminds me of this (Calvin Coolidge: "The business of America is business." -- speech, Jan. 17, 1925, to the Society of American Newspaper Editors), which may be found here (http://www.bartleby.com/66/21/14821.html), just as THIS THING (General Maxwell D. Taylor: "I have been among the officers who have said that a large land war in Asia is the last thing we should undertake. Most of us, when we use that term, are thinking about getting into a land war against Red China. That’s the only power in Asia which would require us to use forces in very large numbers. I was slow in joining with those who recommended the introduction of ground forces in South Vietnam. But it became perfectly clear that because of the rate of infiltration from North Vietnam to South Vietnam something had to be done:" interview, “Top Authority Looks at Vietnam War and Its Future,” U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 1966, p. 42.) quoted at http://www.bartleby.com/73/1887.html, most reminds me of THIS OTHER THING: 'Vizzini's advice on not getting involved in a land war in Asia is derived from principles stated by Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery (Viscount Alamein) in a speech in the House of Lords on 30 May 1962: "Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war is: 'Do not march on Moscow.' ... Rule 2 is: 'Do not go fighting with your land armies in China.'"' which I quote from this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/trivia. Since I contributed THAT to the Internet's usually muddled pool of muddied quotations, I think I daresay that Field Marshal Montgomery, having once actually won a war, had the right of it in 1962, and that after 1966, only a complete idiot or a True Blue Draft Dodger like George W. Bush could still believe that Vizzini was wrong, and that committing American land armies to a war in Asia could be anything other than a complete catastrophe.

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  • 62. At 03:33am on 03 Mar 2009, DJRUSA wrote:

    As an employee of the BBC Justin you probably could never admit it - but the surge worked.

    For all its faults, name me a nation in the ME other than Israel that is more democratic than Iraq, or one that has a more tyranical dictator than Sadam was.

    To go from having a dictator who throws people into industrial paper shredders, and gasses thousands of Kurds, to a democraticly elected president is not easy. It requires a little more effort than putting a Amnesty International bumper sticker on the back of your car.

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  • 63. At 03:49am on 03 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    douglasroman

    Did you see the anti American anti Israeli diatribes on BBC's Word News Report aired on PBS tonight? I don't know why we don't just declare BBC enemy aliens or some sort of terrorist group and throw them out of the country lock stock and barrel. You'd get more truth from al Jazzerra.

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  • 64. At 03:50am on 03 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #37. MarcusAureliusII: "how do you know what will be in a thousand years from now? How do you know what will be tomorrow morning when we wake up....if we wake up?"

    Quite the stupidest question on this thread. The changes are all around us - who would have considered that the World Trade Centre would have vanished by now? Consider the differences between 1009 and now, then project forward. Nothing, except your ill considered opinions, remains the same.

    "Where did you say you were educated, Britain? Remind me not to enroll in that school."

    Ah! The truth is out! You're not even of school age, no doubt the reason for your views and distaste of countries which you have never visited. As for enrolling in my former school, you'd not pass the entrance examination.

    #46. "in case they didn't teach it to you in school, Britain lost WWII. Just look at where it was on December 6, 1945."

    The Agreement stated that
    The purpose of the discussions has been to arrive at mutually advantageous solutionsof these problems which the two Governments would commend to the peoples and legislatures of the two countries and to the world as a whole. The United States did not give anything away but made a business arrangement which was for the good of itself as well as other parties.

    The United Kingdom paid back the line of credit with all interest due. Whether those entities now being loaned funds by the US government will do so similarly seems highly doubtful.

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  • 65. At 04:23am on 03 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 47

    Excellent post.

    "First, until and including the Great War, if you include the Influenza, far more military deaths were due to disease than to warfare."

    You definitely should include the H5N1 epidemic. Evidence points to a military depot in France that also served as a supply depot (which was packed with livestock to feed the troops including chickens and swine).

    "It has fallen remarkably (i.e., to approx 2%) since the invention of the helicopter and anti-biotics, so that now, if a soldier receives first aid and is still living 5 minutes after being hit, it is very unlikely he (or she) will die of his (or her) wounds."

    ...if you're on the side of the mechanized force. The other side dies just like they used to. Medevac isn't a reality for the Taleban.

    "Still, the land contribution of the western allies to the defeat of the Third Reich was relatively puny:"

    True, but don't underestimate the effect of round the clock bombing on German war production. The U.S. merchant marine took terrible losses delivering supplies to both the U.K. and the U.S.S.R. Also, if it weren't for British victory in the Battle of Britain, the U.S and Britain wouldn't have had the ability to strategically bomb Germany, and Germany would have been fighting a one front war.

    "Please do read more than American sources, and don't believe everything you see or hear on the History Channel."

    American sources are adequate. You just have to read them (which clearly some haven't). I watch the History Channel all the time.I find it accurate. I'm curious as to what your complaints are.

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  • 66. At 04:30am on 03 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    "The United States did not give anything away but made a business arrangement which was for the good of itself as well as other parties."

    David, that's too cynical. WWII wasn't about money. Yes, those agreements existed, and yes, the U.K. met its obligations with interest, but it was war to defeat Nazi Germany, not make money. Americans ended up with a huge debt (21% of GDP), much bigger than even now.

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  • 67. At 04:42am on 03 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 61 (my own post):

    "You definitely should include the H5N1 epidemic."

    That should be H1N1.

    I know. No one cares.

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  • 68. At 05:06am on 03 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    Justin, I believe that you are overestimating
    the effect of Iraq on American influence, which
    is declining for other reasons. The primary reason
    for our relative decline from sole Superpower
    status is that we have been unable to adjust
    to our new role as a pure service economy on
    the world stage - too many middle class
    people have been left behind.

    We're flying through a storm, and when we
    come out the other side, we'll be something
    different. We'll probably still be a vital and
    growing country for another century or so,
    but our days as a "hyperpower" are over.

    Henry Kissinger muses about our new role
    in the latest edition of "The Economist."
    Their web site is down, but I found an excerpt
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 69. At 05:20am on 03 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    If you google for "The Economist", or look
    for a copy at a local newstand, you'll find
    Henry Kissinger's statement.

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  • 70. At 05:20am on 03 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #66. AndyPost: "David, that's too cynical. WWII wasn't about money."

    I think you misread the date - the Agreement was after the war and concerned itself with post-war Anglo-American "Financial and Commercial Agreements." You can find it by clicking here and typing in "December 6 1945".

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  • 71. At 05:41am on 03 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    48, bere.
    "What an incredibly ugly thing to say, after everything Britain sacrificed in that war. Yes, the war destroyed their economy. They sacrificed that too. When has the American public as a whole ever sacrificed anything? Oh, I forgot. During WWII American civilians had to stand in line for stockings (and they weren't even silk) and cigarettes."

    How about the hundreds of thousands killed and wounded? Or doesn't that count? It is true no one bombed or invaded us and we had no loss of civilian life. But the u-boats were active along our coast picking off our ships (although no notice of this ever appeared in our newspapers).

    Also consider that we never actually had to go to war to defend ourselves. It was Roosevelt who championed joining the allies. The populace was against it. It felt it wasn't their war. The rumor will never go away that Roosevelt provoked Japan to attack.

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  • 72. At 06:43am on 03 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #71. allmymarbles: "u-boats were active along our coast picking off our ships (although no notice of this ever appeared in our newspapers).

    Also consider that we never actually had to go to war to defend ourselves."

    But had the u-boats and then the German navy been successful, perhaps having to defend itself would have become necessary. Far better for the US to repel the enemy thousands of miles away than to fight on the home shores. President Roosevelt could see the necessity for destroying the Axis power since should they have won, it would have adversely and irreparably affected the United States.

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  • 73. At 06:57am on 03 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    72, David.

    This we will never know.

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  • 74. At 07:50am on 03 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #73., allmymarbles: "72, David. This we will never know."

    Fortunately. But surely the prospect of Europe dominated by the Third Reich would not have been acceptable. The Germans were technologically advanced, possibly more so than the US and the Allies, and could well have beaten them to the atom bomb. Regardless of how he managed it, Roosevelt did the right thing.

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  • 75. At 09:30am on 03 Mar 2009, british-ish wrote:

    56. MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    " My grandmother came from Transylvania."

    How interesting. That explains his blood lust (usually over the letting of other people's) and why he only comes out at night.

    And why are people going on about who 'won' world War II again ? And as for heroes (we presume Ozymandias was one once) perhaps some people should look up Generals Macarthur and Patton in association with strikes in the USA. Might give a slightly different image of their heroic nature. And how the sands of time obscure some elements of history. And gets into some people's eyes . . .

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  • 76. At 1:03pm on 03 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    IMO, the USA deserves credit for winning WWII in the Pacific, but the main factors for victory in Europe were the Soviet Army, the British RAF, US logistics, and the fact that Hitler over-extended his resources to the breaking point.

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  • 77. At 2:28pm on 03 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    56, MAII -

    "Your nation,'" you kept repeating. I am American, alas. But even so I know that ad slogans don't represent fact, which obviously, like so many other Americans, you don't.

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  • 78. At 2:46pm on 03 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    mainly erroneous


    "bere54, aren't you forgetting the tens of thousands of American lives lost and many many more wounded to defend your country from Adolf Hitler because your leaders were too stupid to see what was coming and prevent it or even prepare for it while they could have? "


    That is exactly what I say about america as well.

    America sat on the wall long enough to get it's own troops killed.

    America's refusal to truly stop arming Germany was the reason for american deaths.
    Well said.


    Or were you being your usual self and making assumptions about bere 's nationality?



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  • 79. At 2:46pm on 03 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    77 MA is a twit forget him

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  • 80. At 2:48pm on 03 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    75

    "And why are people going on about who 'won' world War II again ? "


    Two letters MA.

    More important is his views on who won WW3 which he has some very strange idea's(like it has happened).

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  • 81. At 2:50pm on 03 Mar 2009, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    MarcusAurelliusII:

    We all know from your frequent and absurdly one-eyed posts that you obtain your history "knowledge" from dubious Hollywood films ( like the one in which the US navy captures the Enigma code books, even though the US was still neutral at the time, when in the real world the Royal Navy was doing it - I bet that's one of your favourite movies).

    We also know that you have great disdain for the military prowess and achievements of anyone but US forces. That's an interesting point of view, even if not one supported by an objective examination of the facts. However, as you have so often complained about the lack of contribution made by your allies to defence efforts, and the onerous burden on the US of supporting us (we are ever so grateful by the way), perhaps you should consider the position of some of the most important strategic US military assets around the world.

    What do Diego Garcia, Ascension Island, Gibraltar for example all have in common? Guess what? They are all British territories. There are plenty of other examples. Given your obvious contempt for all things British and European, perhaps you would be happy to pack up all your toys and take them home. After all, in your isolationist world you won't need global reach will you? If at the same time you vacate the listening and radar facilities in Britain itself we can turn them into new Tesco stores. Do take your litter home with you though won't you?

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  • 82. At 2:54pm on 03 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I can't imagine a more awkward pairing than Gordo the shuffling bear and Obama the embodiment of cool...and I suspect Broon is in dire danger of making a complete fool of himself (mission already largely accomplished). Though I'm of moderately advanced years, and not a native Brit, I feel a wee bit like an early teen cringing with embarrassment - please, Dad, do you have to?

    Classic!

    I still can't get over the idea of the Poodle and the Shrub - indelicate mental postural image for "shoulder to shoulder", instead of the more raised leg...

    ;-)
    ed
    P.S. Poor wee Broon!

    "Gordon Brown's attempts to portray himself as a global leader in a time of crisis have been dealt a blow by White House planners.

    Downing Street officials discovered last night that the Prime Minister would not, as had been expected, hold a joint press conference with President Obama after their talks at the White House today.

    Instead, the half-hour meeting in the Oval Office will be preceded by a "pool spray" ? a few shouted questions from pool reporters during a photo-opportunity but no substantive discussion."
    Awwwwww!

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  • 83. At 3:03pm on 03 Mar 2009, robloop wrote:

    Justin
    In the end maybe it will end up as did Ozymandias's statue, an act of human futility. 'The more things change, the more they stay the same.'
    Everyone has forgotten that Iraq under Saddam Hussein's rule launched a war against Iran that cost at least two million lives. They've forgotten his murder of nearly a million of his own citizens later found in mass graves. They've forgotten that he then invaded Kuwait and was driven out by the U.S. and other nations, but George Bush Sr didn't have the naus and intestinal fortitude to let Norm Schwartkopf deliver the coup de gras and remove Saddam, thus removing any need to 'contain' Iraq for the next 12 years, and the possibility of the coalition invasion that has proven so costly.
    Bill Clinton could have had Osama bin Laden handed over to him on a plate by Sudan in 1996, just as Sudan had handed Carlos the Jackal over to France, but Billy Boy and his administration to were too'thick'
    to take up the offer. Later the CIA and Northern Alliance in Afghanistan had Osama bin Laden's camp surrounded and were ready to finish him off, but Slick Willy who might be hot with the girls was hot on a little death, so he and his gutless yahoos called off the attack - death seemed so nasty - even for bin Laden!
    It's a tale of lost opportunities for which a huge price has been paid.

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  • 84. At 3:05pm on 03 Mar 2009, carolinalady wrote:

    Good Morning, all! Just a few responses to my #24:

    re#27, gunsandreligion: a pair of what, dear? You might note that I live in the Bible Belt and can hardly be unaware of the currents of politics and religion that swirl around me, even if I don't subscribe to them. That does not make me one of Rush's "feminazis" and if you have the temerity to say so, I will smack you down so hard you won't know what hit you.

    ref #33, David_Cunard: I am surprised to find I thoroughly agree with your statement that a thousand years from now what happens in Iraq will be a nanosecond in history. What happens anywhere on the Internet, on tv -- what we spend so much thought and virtual ink upon -- will be dust, star stuff eventually and it will all be as if it never happened at all. A comforting thought.

    ref #37, MAII: don't argue with David, dear, He's such a pompous ass.

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  • 85. At 3:08pm on 03 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    71, marbles -

    I was referring to personal sacrifices made every day on the "home front," not military deaths on either side, and to the after effects of the war. I thought that was fairly clear. The point was that the U.S. economy was not destroyed by the war (quite the reverse) while Britain's was. I do not think it is necessary to go into every detail of something (like the war) when one is speaking to one particular aspect.

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  • 86. At 3:48pm on 03 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    MAII: "Thank goodness for General Patton."

    This is a statement from someone who gets his "history" from movies. Patton's Third Army didn't even land in Normandy on D-Day. The principal fighting general of the US forces was Courtney Hodges, who commanded the First Army. Here's a comparison:

    http://www.3ad.com/history/wwll/feature.pages/patton.hodges.1.htm

    For another take on Patton, read Andy Rooney's My War, a memoir of his time as a war correspondent in Europe during WWII.

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  • 87. At 4:21pm on 03 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Requiem for the automakers

    "In 1885 Karl Benz constructed the first automobile.
    It had three wheels, like an invalid car,
    And ran on alcohol, like many drivers.

    Since then about seventeen million people have been killed by them
    In an undeclared war;
    And the whole of the rest of the world is in danger of being run over
    Due to squabbles about their oil.
    ...
    Rome went mad with lead pollution.
    It was Vandals who straightened their pipes

    But of course,
    If you’re conceived in a car as many are.
    If you first fornicated in a car as many have.
    If you go to work in a car,
    And if you derive most of your pleasure, food and sustenance via cars,
    You’re going to defend them to the death."
    ;-)
    ed

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  • 88. At 4:50pm on 03 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    84, carolinalady, I did not say that you were
    a "feminazi," or that you even remotely
    resemble one.

    As for "Bible Thumping," I'll stand clear
    when I know that you are armed and in
    the vicinity.

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  • 89. At 4:54pm on 03 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 70

    No, I didn't misread the date as much as come in late to the conversation. I think I misunderstood the argument.

    My bad.

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  • 90. At 4:54pm on 03 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    83 "Bill Clinton could have had Osama bin Laden handed over to him on a plate by Sudan in 1996"

    I would like to see something backing this assertion up. because if there is none it would seem like slander to me.

    84 so good to see you call MA dear, No one has called him that before.

    (PS he is as pompous as they get (MA)

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  • 91. At 4:57pm on 03 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    87 thats a good one.

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  • 92. At 4:58pm on 03 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    DC, about this whole Britain losing its empire
    thing, the same thing appears to have happened
    to us recently, thanks to some prestidigitation
    with money by the Best and the Brightest
    on Wall Street.

    Perhaps now that you Brits have recovered
    from being kicked out of India, you could
    buy America on the cheap - we'd much rather
    you did it than the Chinese or (gasp) the
    Russians.

    You could start with Santa Barbara. That is
    some cheap, underpriced real estate which
    is surely a good bargain. I have noticed
    that Montecito has already fallen under
    your sway, so all that you have to do is
    to expand a little.

    I would still like to be able to afford
    a cappuccino at the Biltmore, however.
    Perhaps you could find it in your heart
    to let us polyglot natives get the special
    price "for the locals."

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  • 93. At 5:21pm on 03 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    83 robloop wrote
    "Everyone has forgotten that Iraq under Saddam Hussein's rule launched a war against Iran that cost at least two million lives......."

    The war is not forgotten, but the country that provided the weapons for Sadaam is conveniently overlooked I find.


    he continues
    "...... They've forgotten his murder of nearly a million of his own citizens later found in mass graves. They've forgotten that he then invaded Kuwait and was driven out by the U.S. and other nations"

    Again not forgotten, but ignored.
    If this had been used as the justification for the Iraq War it would have changed little on the ground, but at least would have have been more rational.
    The whole WMD b-s was just lies.


    Oddly I agree with you that much has been "forgotten" historically, but I guess we draw different conclusions from this.

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  • 94. At 5:31pm on 03 Mar 2009, seanspa wrote:

    #90, happy, this is what FactCheck has to say about Clinton and bin laden.

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  • 95. At 5:34pm on 03 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #84. carolinalady: "MAII: don't argue with David, dear, He's such a pompous ass."

    I think you have the characters reversed, dear. It would appear that with regard to pomposity, you have not been reading MAII's long enough to judge. Nevertheless, I'm gratified to see that your reference to me is capitalised, although I do not claim to be Jesus Christ.

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  • 96. At 5:38pm on 03 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #92. gunsandreligion: "DC, about this whole Britain losing its empire thing . . ."

    When have I ever mentioned the subject? You must be thinking of someone else.

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  • 97. At 5:49pm on 03 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #96, DC, well, in any case, you can help
    save us from ourselves. Just be brave and
    buy some AIG stock from Ms. Marbles.

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  • 98. At 6:05pm on 03 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    56, staphylococcus aureus.
    "My grandmother came from Transylvania."

    Why is that not a surprise?

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  • 99. At 6:36pm on 03 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    74, David.
    "Regardless of how he managed it, Roosevelt did the right thing."

    I was brought up in Manhattan. At that time we were chock-a-block with European immigrants. Many of my school friends had accents and, if they didn't, their parents did. These immigrants wanted to leave European embroilments behind them. The last thing they wanted was to fight what they saw as a European war.

    You might say that New York might have been unique in terms of the rest of the country, but surely all the big cities had huge populations of newly-American European immigrants. What distinguished them from today's immigrants was their lack of dual loyalties. They saw themselves as American, became citizens at the earliest opportunity, and learned English. Their English may have been marvelously garbled, but it was English.

    But it was not primarily the immigrants that were isolationist. The memory of the earlier European war, and the resentment that followed, was with the rank and file. If that had not been true, Roosevelt would have taken us into the war much sooner. Although I was very young at the time, I was not deaf, and I heard adults raging against Roosevelt. I don't think anyone cared about what was right or wrong, they just didn't want any part of another European war.

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  • 100. At 6:40pm on 03 Mar 2009, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    gunsandreligion,

    I am sure that I speak for most Brits when I say that we would be delighted to welcome you back into the Commonwealth; we have missed you. It would of course involve you all learning to use the language properly:

    it is grey not gray
    it is colour not color
    it is a pavement not a sidewalk
    it is a lift not an elevator
    and cars have boots not trunks.

    of, and you must learn how to play cricket!

    ;-)

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  • 101. At 7:14pm on 03 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    98 Marbles
    He has a cousin in South Africa called Rob as well

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  • 102. At 7:16pm on 03 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    PS I visited Transylvania when a Kid it was beautiful .
    The securitatae did not arrest me thank god.

    Thank God they got the vamps over to the states. and south africa it seems

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  • 103. At 7:30pm on 03 Mar 2009, Dark Side of the Goon wrote:

    "In terms of materiel and money, the US contribution was overwhelming. The speed with which American industry geared up and transformed itself exclusively to fighting the way was nothing short of a miracle"

    - entirely right, as far as I know. Logisitcs won the war, and the major contributor to the logistical effort was the USA. Without American material support early in the war, the RAF would not have been able to win the Battle of Britain and the Luftwaffe would have gained air superiority. With that, they would have been able to carry out the planned invasion of the UK. Britain was in no shape to defend itself against an invasion and would almost certainly have fallen. What that would have done to affect the rest of the war and the Russian campaign is a question we can only speculate about, but we certainly wouldn't be debating the topic.

    However. What MAII isn't facing up to is what would have happened had America not stepped in. America's post-war technological superiority came, at least in part, from German scientists. If America had sat back and done nothing, it would have faced a Europe under the control of one government; there would have been no Manhattan Project and Germany might well have been the world's only nuclear superpower. A nuclear power with early model ICBMs. How do you remain isolated when an enemy nation can pepper the East Coast in city-destroying missiles without ever getting a ship or aircraft within striking distance of the coast?

    America didn't enter the war to save Europe. It entered the war to save itself.

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  • 104. At 7:45pm on 03 Mar 2009, seanspa wrote:

    #100, I don't think that guns and cricket mix.

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  • 105. At 8:26pm on 03 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    94, seanspa, and happylaze -

    I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall that back in 1998 when Clinton ordered that attack on bin Laden's camp, he was ridiculed and accused, mainly by those "Contract With America" goons (and it should have been called "Contract ON America"), of trying to distract the country from the important business of the time - Monica Lewinsky et al.

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  • 106. At 8:26pm on 03 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    #100 malcolm W2.

    Be sure to include

    Bonnet not hood
    Bumper not fender
    Aerial not antenna
    Drive on the proper side of the road
    Tea with milk added first
    Use knife & fork like us.

    If they agree then it is ok by me...

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  • 107. At 8:27pm on 03 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #99. allmymarbles: "I don't think anyone cared about what was right or wrong, they just didn't want any part of another European war."

    All things considered, just as well that he ignored them.

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  • 108. At 8:28pm on 03 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    100, Malcum.
    "oh, and you must learn how to play cricket!"

    We alaready have a hideously dull game - baseball.

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  • 109. At 8:30pm on 03 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    Whoops. That should be Malcolm. I Americanized it.

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  • 110. At 8:40pm on 03 Mar 2009, Reiner_Torheit wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 111. At 9:14pm on 03 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    100, MalcolmW2, I could recommend this sort of
    political realignment if you or one of your compatriots
    could teach us the trick of listening to cricket scores
    without falling asleep or daydreaming about experiences
    that we may have had when we were adolescents.

    Oh, and one more thing that you have to throw in -
    you have to send some brewmasters over here who
    know how to make bitters.

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  • 112. At 9:40pm on 03 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    100 Malcolm, 104 Seanspa

    I agree that guns and cricket do not mix, as this terrible story shows.

    There is more going on in the world than I can keep up with at the moment....



    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20090303/twl-sri-lankan-cricketers-shot-in-gun-at-41f21e0.html

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  • 113. At 9:45pm on 03 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Texans and cricket shouldn't have mixed either .....


    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article5755668.ece

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  • 114. At 9:51pm on 03 Mar 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #56

    Marcus,

    Meanwhile, on Earth, Obama hails the 'Special Relationship'.

    On the World War II front, perhaps we should acknowledge the country that sent troops to the most theatres, provided many many more troops than any allied nation except Russia and ultimately was responsible for winning the war in the pacific by eliminating more Japanese troops and units than any other force.

    I refer of course to India.

    So really we should be thanking India for saving our asses from the Japanese?

    Historian Sam

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  • 115. At 9:58pm on 03 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    Fact are stubborn things.
    The battle of Brittian .Won by UK & commom wealth pilots using Brittish kit spitfire, radar ect.

    US most welcme help came later...

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  • 116. At 10:12pm on 03 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #103. Dark Side of the Goon: "Without American material support early in the war, the RAF would not have been able to win the Battle of Britain"

    While I am agreement with much of your post, I don't think the above is accurate. No US-made aircraft were involved and the Lend Lease Act did not come into being until the year following.

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  • 117. At 10:27pm on 03 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Baseball is a game for thinking people, as, I am sure, is cricket.

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  • 118. At 10:37pm on 03 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 119. At 10:39pm on 03 Mar 2009, CptWillard wrote:

    93. At 5:21pm on 03 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    "83 robloop wrote
    'Everyone has forgotten that Iraq under Saddam Hussein's rule launched a war against Iran that cost at least two million lives.......'

    The war is not forgotten, but the country that provided the weapons for Sadaam is conveniently overlooked I find."

    Yes, it is. Iraq's Soviet T-54 and T-74 tanks, Soviet Mig fighter jets and Soviet and Eastern Block AK-47's and small arms, and German poison gas technology are always credited as US manufacture by leftist ideologues.

    I hesitate to even bother to correct such nonsense because it's the type of factual information that never makes a dent in the ideologues' impenetrable world view. Especially in such a venue as a BBC blog where complaining about smug, ignorant anti-Americanism is a bit like complaining about too many Frenchmen in Paris.

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  • 120. At 10:44pm on 03 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Advance apology - this is way off topic, but good trivia nonetheless


    106ukwales wrote:
    "#100 malcolm W2.

    Be sure to include

    Drive on the proper side of the road"



    It has often been joked that Americans drive on the right side of the road, but the British drive on the correct side.


    Not British arrogance, but historical accuracy.
    Due to the pre-dominance of righthandedness almost all societies naturally used the left side of the road - to do with swords and mounting horses (see link below for the full story).

    It was revolutionary France which first turned the tide to the right - which explains why Britain and ex-British colonies mainly drive still on the left (pace, Canadians!!!, but B.C. only switched to the right in the 1920s and Newfoundland drove on the left until 1947, and joined Canada 2 years later).

    By population approximately one third of the world drives on the left!

    Sweden was the last European country to switch .....
    "In 1955, the Swedish government held a referendum on the introduction of right-hand driving. Although no less than 82.9% voted “no” to the plebiscite, the Swedish parliament passed a law on the conversion to right-hand driving in 1963. Finally, the change took place on Sunday, the 3rd of September 1967, at 5 o’clock in the morning."

    http://users.telenet.be/worldstandards/driving%20on%20the%20left.htm#anecdotes

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  • 121. At 10:49pm on 03 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    British-ish

    Where are you? Your squirrels need you

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/03/map_of_the_week_squirrel_nutki.html#commentsanchor

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  • 122. At 10:49pm on 03 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 105, bere

    "I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong"

    My rapidly deteriorating grey mass has a similar recollection, but as I am sure you already know duplicity has never been an impediment for our GOP cousins who change political positions often dependent on which direction the wind is blowing.

    Please note that I spelled gray with an "e" in deference to our British friends...I am not sure about colour though, that's going a bit too far!

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  • 123. At 10:52pm on 03 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    106, ukwales - "Use knife & fork like us"

    I lived in Germany as a child and would have lunch with my piano teacher before my lessons. I never did learn to play the piano well but did immediately pick up his manner of using fork and knife. Since I am left-handed, the European style of eating was more comfortable for me. My mother tried very hard to break me of this habit when we returned stateside but she failed and all the rest of my life I have received odd looks while dining with others (Americans, of course). Do I care? No.

    What I've never been able to figure out is why we put the fork on the left when it is meant to be used in the right hand. Did early Americans eat with the right hand just to spite the British? Was this an aspect of the Revolution?

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  • 124. At 11:05pm on 03 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    (OT)

    I just read Matt Frei's latest diary entry. A quote: "Gordon Brown looked as nervous as someone on a first date in his meeting with the president."

    Boy, are you Brits tough on your Prime Ministers! I saw a tape of the press "spray" (do I have that term right?), and I saw nothing out of the ordinary. The two men can't possibly have ironed out a working relationship just yet. It's bound to be a little awkward.

    For what it's worth, I think the Brits could better spend time worrying about other things that the dissolution of the special relationship. There's so much more behind it than geopolitics. The British entertainment industry is ever present in our daily lives and is very much loved by Americans (e.g., just about all my favorite bands are British). No other country has such a huge presence in our daily lives. That's how Americans know the British. It creates a powerful cultural bond that transcends politics.

    By the way, easy on the anti-Americanism. Americans haven't a clue about it, and if we catch wind of it, I'm afraid we'll take it hard... but even that won't change anything fundamentally.

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  • 125. At 11:06pm on 03 Mar 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 103 Dark Side of the Goon wrote:

    "However. What MAII isn't facing up to is what would have happened had America not stepped in."

    and

    "America didn't enter the war to save Europe. It entered the war to save itself."

    While one may certainly speculate about Roosevelt's views and motives with regard to the war, surely the proximate reason for the US declaring war on Japan was the attack on Pearl Harbour? And the immediate reason for declaring war on Germany was that Germany declared war on the US? Or as Wikipedia puts it, 'Germany's prompt declaration of war, unforced by any treaty commitment to Japan, quickly brought the US into the European Theatre as well.'

    While I'm not saying that DSOTG thinks that, there do seem to be a certain number of Americans who seem to be under the impression that the US rode bravely on its white charger to the rescue of the Europeans in WW2 out of the goodness of its heart, and to protect democracy, even though it had no stake in the conflict.

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  • 126. At 11:30pm on 03 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 100

    "you must learn how to play cricket!"

    I know how to play Cricket, thank you. I actually made an out by catching a ball on the fly (or is that "on the full"?). Immediately, I gained an understanding of why Cricket is a game for real men... and why we invented the baseball mitt.

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  • 127. At 11:49pm on 03 Mar 2009, arclightt wrote:

    All: Was WWII necessary? My dad thought so. He was a medic who travelled across Europe from Normandy Beach to Germany via Belgium. One of the defining acts of his military career was to help liberate Buchenwald. He later became a print journalist for about 50 years before passing on about 9 years ago. He was reticent to tell me very much about his military career (except for the funny stories that came out of even that grim an occupation!). Nonetheless he made it very clear that (a) it was absolutely necessary (I imagine one look around at Buchenwald gave him more understanding faster than any propaganda film, lecture, manual, or anything else), and (b) it was NOT a foregone conclusion that the Allies were going to win.

    As an aside, I think I'd conclude that we as a world were blessed with a number of "giants" in those days. Nimitz was named earlier, as was Montgomery; I'd agree with both of those. I'd also add Marshall to that list, and also indicate that he was a giant in peace as well (the Marshall Plan). There are others, of course. One name I would not put on that list was MacArthur; I believe that history has correctly judged him to be a lot more hat than cattle.

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  • 128. At 11:49pm on 03 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    107, David.
    "All things considered, just as well that he (Roosevelt) ignored them (the isolationists)."

    That may well be. But it tells us that the the will of the people is irrelavent.

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  • 129. At 00:32am on 04 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    The following may be of interest to persons with children - and adults - with disabilities. Florida Rep. Crenshaw re-introduced a bill to create tax deferred savings accounts for disabled individuals (The bill is H.R.1205). Senator's Casey and Dodd are introducing a companion bill in the Senate. If it passes, this bill will allow for tax deferred savings accounts for children with disabilities that would allow them to draw from to cover for health care costs, equipment such as wheelchairs and van lifts, etc. without tax penalties.

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  • 130. At 00:54am on 04 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    114 Meanwhile, on Earth nice one Samj

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  • 131. At 00:57am on 04 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    117 Baseball is a game for thinking people, as, I am sure, is cricket.

    Yep better do something to keep awake.

    In Opera halls they say they are closing their eyes to listen better.

    ;)

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  • 132. At 01:03am on 04 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    to the list of better English.

    No more "fanny "used inappropriately .
    A rubber is for removing pencil marks.
    There is no period as an exclamation mark.



    GnR
    To the brew masters. I am sure if you were to set up a brewery and get the immigration sorted there would be a few that would jump at it.

    And scrumpy brew to.

    as for keeping awake..................................
    opps almost nodded of at the thought .

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  • 133. At 01:46am on 04 Mar 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 108. allmymarbles:

    "We already have a hideously dull game - baseball."

    Baseball, like soccer, is a game that should be played rather than watched. Preferably with some beer nearby. On a nice summer evening. With friends. Major league baseball has it all wrong. Minor league baseball is closer to the mark.

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  • 134. At 01:57am on 04 Mar 2009, timohio wrote:

    re. 125. john-In-Dublin:

    "..there do seem to be a certain number of Americans who seem to be under the impression that the US rode bravely on its white charger to the rescue of the Europeans in WW2..."

    I think that a lot of Americans of a certain age were simply not paying attention to world affairs until Pearl Harbor. Most of them were in their teens. They were more concerned with surviving the Great Depression. After that, they did their duty as they saw it. A lot of young American men found themselves fighting and dying in countries they had barely heard of a few years earlier. We all forget how isolated America was in the 30s.

    So it's quite understandable that from their point of view, they rode in to save the world. From the point of view of a lot of young men from a lot of countries, they all rode in to save the world. They all did.

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  • 135. At 03:01am on 04 Mar 2009, chronophobe wrote:

    re: 119 Cap'nWillie,

    So, let's get this straight.

    You are actually suggesting the US (along with others) did not support Saddam's Iraq in the war with Iran? No material support? No intelligence? Logisitics? Finance?

    Nada.

    All this is just false, then?

    Who's the ideologue, Cap'n?

    Yours,
    Canadian Pinko

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  • 136. At 03:12am on 04 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    "there do seem to be a certain number of Americans who seem to be under the impression that the US rode bravely on its white charger to the rescue of the Europeans in WW2 out of the goodness of its heart, and to protect democracy, even though it had no stake in the conflict."

    Yes, and it's wrong. Americans have some uncomfortable question to answer.

    The Battle of Britain is one of the finest examples of valor in the face of overwhelming force in world history. Against long odds, the RAF kept control of the skies over England with a fine fighter, the Spitfire, and some of the best flying the world has ever seen. Even so, the German superiority of numbers was producing an attrition rate that was threatening the RAF's very existence. Then Hitler made one of the worst military blunders in history. He redirected his bombers from RAF airfields to England's industrial cities, particularly London. A blunder perhaps, but brutal blow to the citizens of those cities. Major fires from German bombings ravaged the cities and many Englishmen died. English children died. Then the buzz bombs came. It was a truly terrible assault.

    And America? Pretty much we sat back and said, "Phew, looks bad over there, but, you know, not our war." We watched for over two years.

    Hardly a knight in shining armor.

    We did eventually make up for it, I think.

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  • 137. At 03:15am on 04 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    128, allmymarbles:
    "That may well be. But it tells us that the will of the people is irrelevant."

    Perhaps the will of the people should not be irrelevant, but sometimes it needs to be overruled. And often it should be and isn't. After all the "will of the people" was that we should go to war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course in those cases, the people were joined (or rather led) by those in charge.

    Much change for the better in this country has been in spite of the will of the people. Civil rights for instance.

    I for one would rather submit to a benevolent dictator than be always subject to the will of a majority. "The People" can be frighteningly ignorant and bullying.

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  • 138. At 03:26am on 04 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    "One name I would not put on that list was MacArthur; I believe that history has correctly judged him to be a lot more hat than cattle."

    You had me right up to there.

    I've never heard anyone say that. Incheon was pure military genius. It led to a North Korean rout. The island hopping strategy of the Pacific war is typically credited to him.

    He does deserve criticism for his generalship on Corregidor.

    I'll add to the list, though: Zhukov, Tito, Halsey, Bradley, Eisenhower.

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  • 139. At 04:08am on 04 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    117, Gary.
    "Baseball is a game for thinking people, as, I am sure, is cricket."

    And given the slowness of the game, there is plenty of time for thinkiing.

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  • 140. At 04:14am on 04 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    117, Gary.

    If all slow games are for thinking people, then add golf, the dreariest pastime I can think of.

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  • 141. At 04:34am on 04 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    132, happy, if scrumpy brew is a fermented product
    made from apples, then we already have a pretty
    good home-grown product.

    Where I grew up, the Pennsylvania Dutch practically
    invented the stuff.

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  • 142. At 05:01am on 04 Mar 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #118

    Marcus,

    It is worth remembering that the Mods on this blog at night are likely sitting on the sub continent. The same nation that replaced your engineering job by being better educated, more meticulous and, let's be honest, nicer to deal with.

    Rude words and nasty comments regarding the heroic efforts of the Indian nation in WWII will likely be moderated. Be nice!

    Fond regards,

    India Sam

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  • 143. At 05:08am on 04 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    113, timohio.

    In my highschool you had to play every sport. Basketball was fun, especially if you were a fast and sneaky guard. (In those days there were six girls to a team. Three forwards and three guards. You couldn't cross the center line). Sprinting was great, and especially relay races. Then there was softball.... They put you in the outfield where you can do the least damage. You stand and wait, and wait. It gets chilly. You wish you had brought your coat. Your mind begins to drift. "Would I look prettier with bangs?" "How can I get out of seeing my Aunt Ida and my rabbit-toothed cousin?" You practice making rabbit teeth. Suddenly everybody is yelling your name and a ball sails past you.

    It's very intellectual, Gary - if you have the metabolism of a turtle. (I guess beer would have helped.)

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  • 144. At 05:09am on 04 Mar 2009, SamTyler1969 wrote:

    #130

    Jack,

    I think we should get back to the Watchmen. Silk Specter. Oh yeah, now we're talking.

    Sick Sam

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  • 145. At 05:13am on 04 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    131, happy.
    "In Opera halls they say they are closing their eyes to listen better."

    I never heard that one. Beautiful!

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  • 146. At 05:16am on 04 Mar 2009, robloop wrote:

    93 Romestu
    Nothing odd about it. I don't disagree with everything you write!
    What I find thoroughly disagreeable about the overlooking of history I mentioned, is the incessant insistance that there was no basis for the Iraq invasion. As I mentioned before, in a BBC debate that a few years ago involved a few country's Foreign Ministers, heated discussion arose over responsibilty for the invasion. Almost all of those ministers tried to blame the U.S. until the former Spanish Foreign Minister, who had been its Foreign Minister at the time of the invasion, silenced further discussion after 'reminding' all those there that not just the U.S. (and thus CIA) but EVERY intelligence agency in Western Europe had believed and reported that Iraq still had WMD.

    119 CptWillard
    I'm glad you overcame any hesitation. Your contribution was welcome. Now you can appreciate some of my frustration!
    The ideologues wallow and delight in lies.

    90 happylaze
    For a starter read Richard Miniter's 'Losing bin Laden'.

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  • 147. At 05:23am on 04 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    136, Andy.

    But that is just the point, Andy. Most of America felt it was not their war. And it wasn't, until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Our real war was in the Pacific and we had to win that pretty much on our own as I recall. There were no Brits in Iwo Jima or the Philippines, or ....

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  • 148. At 05:29am on 04 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    137, bere.
    "Much change for the better in this country has been in spite of the will of the people. Civil rights for instance."

    Obviously the blacks were in favor of civil rights. However, government would not have supported them, if it were not for white consitituants who also demanded it. I think civil rights is a perfect example of the will of the people.

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  • 149. At 05:30am on 04 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    136, Andy, you are basically correct, but to nit-pick
    a little bit, the buzz bomb (V-1) didn't make its debut
    until June of 1944.

    Even then, Hitler misused this resource by aiming
    them at population centers instead of the Normandy
    beachhead. He made the same mistake with the
    ME-262.

    All-in-all, WWII could have easily gone the other
    way, although we did develop an intercontinental
    bomber (the B-36) so that we could deliver the
    atomic bomb to Germany in case Britain fell.

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  • 150. At 06:09am on 04 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    143, correction. The reference should be #133, timohio.

    I would not compare baseball with soccer. Soccer is a very lively game.

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  • 151. At 07:37am on 04 Mar 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #134. timohio: "from a lot of countries, they all rode in to save the world. They all did."

    Two of my uncles, then in their early twenties, told me that they actually stood up and cheered when war was declared in September 1939 - they could then 'save the world' - or at least Europe - from the predatory Nazi regime.

    I don't like to think what would have happened to Europe and even the USA had not war been declared. Germany developed the Me 264 Amerika, a strategic bomber capable of attacking New York City from bases in Germany. Only one was actually built, but it could have been many more. Had Britain rolled over and allowed Hitler to invade, there is no doubt in my mind that the US would have been next on the list. Although, from a practical standpoint, what would he have done with it had he succeeded? The German army could never have successfully kept the USA under control. England perhaps, but America never.

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  • 152. At 08:06am on 04 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    136 Andy
    "And America? Pretty much we sat back and said, "Phew, looks bad over there, but, you know, not our war." We watched for over two years.

    Hardly a knight in shining armor.

    We did eventually make up for it, I think."



    Yes, America did make up for it eventually.

    But why do certin Americans still have to bang on about how thankful Europeans we should all be. Those individuals create much of the so-called anti-Americanism in Europe.

    When I lived in Paris in the late 80s I often heard Americans comment on how they had "saved the French" in 2 world wars.

    How often do you hear the French mention LaFayette, the French Fleet and US independence .....?

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  • 153. At 08:19am on 04 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    119.CptWillard wrote:
    "93 RomeStu wrote:
    The war is not forgotten, but the country that provided the weapons for Sadaam is conveniently overlooked I find."

    Yes, it is. Iraq's Soviet T-54 and T-74 tanks, Soviet Mig fighter jets and Soviet and Eastern Block AK-47's and small arms, and German poison gas technology are always credited as US manufacture by leftist ideologues.

    I hesitate to even bother to correct such nonsense because it's the type of factual information that never makes a dent in the ideologues' impenetrable world view. Especially in such a venue as a BBC blog where complaining about smug, ignorant anti-Americanism is a bit like complaining about too many Frenchmen in Paris.

    ____________________________-


    Several points.

    Please do not hesitate to correct my "nonsense", if it is such, with some links to some actual information which backs up your claims.
    If you are to refute a commonly held idea, then it is your duty to provide some sort of information.

    I read this blog, like many others, as much to learn as to put out my views. Were your assertations backed by a credible sources, I would certainly be prepared to revise my views. Can you say the same?


    Also please do not call me an ideologue. You obviously haven't read many of my posts. I certainly lean to the left, but ideologue implies an inflexibility which is more often shown by the right these days.

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  • 154. At 08:25am on 04 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    151, DC, if the Nazis had succeeded in taking over
    the UK, and then conquered the USSR, then
    we would probably have eventually fallen,
    although the bomb was a wild card.

    "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick
    was as good a prediction as any of the outcome.

    Nothing is inconceivable when the levels of
    atrocities that the Axis powers were capable of
    achieving are factored in. I've heard stories
    from Chinese who lived through the Japanese
    occupation.

    That's why you'll never hear me express regret
    that we dropped the bomb on Japan. My dad
    was in the 78th infantry division on its way
    to operation Coronet, the invasion of the Japanese
    home islands, when they surrendered.

    I understand that he was a Truman Democrat
    after that.

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  • 155. At 08:35am on 04 Mar 2009, thatotherguy2 wrote:

    Oh come on Justin. Get with the programme. The PM in town to address a joint session of Congress and no blog. Tisk Tisk.

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  • 156. At 10:07am on 04 Mar 2009, british-ish wrote:

    121. RomeStu wrote:

    "British-ish

    Where are you? Your squirrels need you."

    Got a new job in Anglesey. I help grey squirrels to apply for visas for the US when they try to cross the bridge.

    You'd think because that's where they came from they'd be grateful, but they seem to object. There have been riots in the resettlement camp.

    They're refusing to go unless Congress gives them billions of peanuts in advance. And pass a gun law. They keep chanting "they shoot squirrels there, don't they?" And badgering us over 'rendition' and 'torture'. We tell them now Obama's in that's all over, but they really are hard to convince.

    And they keep tearing down the posters of Uncle Sam saying "Your Country Needs You (More Than Ours)". Can't think why. They must have become too Europeanised. They just don't seem to have grasped how grateful they are supposed to be to Americans for saving them from squirrel death camps.

    (We had to abandon the "Better Red than Dead" posters too. They didn't go down well at all.)






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  • 157. At 11:08am on 04 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 146, Rob

    "Almost all of those ministers tried to blame the U.S. until the former Spanish Foreign Minister, who had been its Foreign Minister at the time of the invasion, silenced further discussion after 'reminding' all those there that not just the U.S. (and thus CIA) but EVERY intelligence agency in Western Europe had believed and reported that Iraq still had WMD."

    Does that mean an invasion of the USA would be justified on the basis that we have the largest arsenal of WMDs in the world?

    We provided weapons and military intelligence to Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, as well as political cover, when he engaged in a misadventure that was to our liking, and looked the other way when he informed the White House that he was going to invade Kuwait. Why the sudden change of heart?

    Yes, there was debate in Europe about Iraq having WMDs, but I do recall UN inspectors asserting that all had been destroyed and that there was no evidence of any remaining. Regardless of whether there were some left or not, that was no reason to launch an unprovoked attack against a developing nation and our subsequent justifications: Saddam's atrocities, the need for regime change, the need to stabilize the Persian Gulf, and our desire to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq attest to the weakness of the first excuse.

    Iraq was a target long before 9/11; that dreadful event and the WMDs were the excuses used to carry out a long term goal that had the added benefit of transforming a hapless President into a war hero and a valiant patriot at home. Without the fearmongering and war, it is doubtful the Decider would have been re-elected.

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  • 158. At 11:19am on 04 Mar 2009, Old-Man-Mike wrote:

    Americans, dont be so hard on yourselves. I was a five year old kid in London when Britain declared War on Germany to for fill our Treaty obligations to Poland.

    I really liked American dried egg pancakes, dried bananas and corned beef but not too keen on Spam. FDR risked impeachment to keep us supplied with food, oil, ships including 50 destroyers, and aircraft right from the beginning and well before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

    After the war ending the Truman Administration not only master minded Marshall Aid which was offered to all European Countries whatever their politics, but also granted a direct credit to the British Government of ,I think, nearly 4 billion dollars, A truely massive sum in those days.

    I see no Problem in being both pro-Europe and pro-American.

    P.S. I have no intention of getting involved in discussing the Second World War. I lived through it in spite of having bombs, rockets and flying bombs rained down, more than 30,000 Londoners did not. I would nor recommend the experience to anyone.

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  • 159. At 12:01pm on 04 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    The other guy,

    "Oh come on Justin. Get with the programme. The PM in town to address a joint session of Congress and no blog. Tisk Tisk."
    No mention of it here! but there's an embarrassing video of the entire "press spray" here, and aome discussion on protocol here

    And afterwards, Obama met with the Boy Scouts.... and probably enjoyed it more than his meeting with Broon

    ;-)
    ed

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  • 160. At 12:23pm on 04 Mar 2009, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    #147 allmymarbles:

    "But that is just the point, Andy. Most of America felt it was not their war. And it wasn't, until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Our real war was in the Pacific and we had to win that pretty much on our own as I recall. There were no Brits in Iwo Jima or the Philippines, or ...."

    I would have thought, given the unspeakable attrocities that the Nazi regime was perpetrating on millions of innocents within its camps - Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Slavs, political opponents, et al - it should have been seen as every decent human's war, but there we are. Even without Pearl Harbor, it would have eventually become America's war once the first rocket containing an atom bomb landed on New York! (And yes, there were plans in place for just that). That the rockets became the basis for the America's space programme, rather than her nemisis, is at least in part due to Britain's resistance after 1940. Had she agreed to the proposed armistice after the fall of France, rather than continued fighting with the high cost to herself already detailed in earlier posts, those German troops retained in France, and those later deployed to fight in North Africa and the Mediterranean, plus the aircraft held in Gremany to defend against RAF raids, would have been free to engage in the Russian campaign of 1941, with a high probablity that the German invasion could have been successfully completed before the onset of the winter, which eventually defeated it. A free hand then to complete the rocket-building and nuclear projects which would certainly have gained America's attention once used.

    As for the Pacific war, I think you will find that Britain (and her commonwealth forces like Australia, India, New Zealand among others) contributed rather significantly in South East Asia from December 1941 onwards. It was only in Hollywood's imagination that Errol Flynn won the campaign in Burma. The casualties suffered by Imperial forces were high through desease as well as combat, and the suffering of those held captured by the Japanese were truly horrific. My late uncle was such a POW and never really recovered. American efforts in the Pacific are well documented on film; the opposition they faced, however, would have been even tougher had those Japanese forces engaged fighting British and Empire troops in SE Asia and New Guinnea been available for deployment on the islands. It is not for nothing that the British 14th army is called "the Forgotten Army".

    By all means American's should celebrate the efforts and valour of their forces in WW2. They should, however, not do so at the cost of ignoring the considerable efforts and sacrifice of their allies.

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  • 161. At 1:05pm on 04 Mar 2009, MinnesotaTim wrote:

    152 RomeStu

    Some Americans did remember all that the French did for this country.

    The LaFayette Escadrille comes to mind.

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  • 162. At 1:35pm on 04 Mar 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    # 160 MalcolmW2 wrote:

    "By all means American's should celebrate the efforts and valour of their forces in WW2. They should, however, not do so at the cost of ignoring the considerable efforts and sacrifice of their allies."

    I believe that someone summed up the contribution of the main allies to winning WW2 in a sentence.

    Something like "Britain gave time; The Americans gave money; the Russians gave blood"

    [Obviously a simplified view, but I think they have a point.]

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  • 163. At 1:41pm on 04 Mar 2009, john-In-Dublin wrote:

    Regular readers of the blog will recall Justin revealing recently that his son had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and may be interested in this interview with him from the Daily Mail

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1157987/The-disease-8217-s-stalking-children-BBC-newsman-Justin-Webb.html

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  • 164. At 1:42pm on 04 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    148, marbles -

    By the "will of the people, " I assumed you meant the majority. Blacks made up even less of the population during the civil rights era than they do now, and Johnson was very unpopular among whites for the legislation he pushed through. If civil rights laws had been dependent on a popular vote they would never have passed. It's the same problem we have now with gay marriage. The "will of the people" is preventing gays from having the right to marry in most states, and in those states that have legalized it, it has been done by way of the courts or the legislature, not by popular vote. Look what happened in California when it was put to "the people."

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  • 165. At 3:05pm on 04 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    144 lol Sam mmm ... that gives one something to think about during the cricket.

    Good Book that. I thought that global warming should have been the big monster, the unifying factor ,
    except that in this case it is real.

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  • 166. At 3:16pm on 04 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    "Oh come on Justin. Get with the programme. The PM in town to address a joint session of Congress and no blog. Tisk Tisk."

    Since at least half of the participants in this blog are Americans, I suspect Justin is addressing topics that interest us. I don't mean to be rude, but the truth is that most Americans don't even know who Gordon Brown is, are unaware of his visit, and are indifferent about anything he has to say.

    IMO, President Obama's statements regarding globalization and the need for a global recovery plan were just diplomatic niceties and have little to do with his economic priorities which are, not surprisingly, focused on stimulating the US economy rather than global matters. His Administration may pursue global solutions in a couple of years, if nothing else because the current global economic malaise affects our global corporate interests.

    I apologize in advance for appearing so insular, but those are the unfortunate realities when it comes to visits by foreign dignitaries and global affairs.

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  • 167. At 3:45pm on 04 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 149

    "Andy, you are basically correct, but to nit-pick
    a little bit, the buzz bomb (V-1) didn't make its debut until June of 1944."

    I was on a roll. Stop confusing me with facts.

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  • 168. At 4:12pm on 04 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    bere54 (#153), Was this an aspect of the revolution?

    I have read somewhere that switching the fork to the right hand was a secret sign among those advocating the American Revolution, although I can't remember where I read it.

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  • 169. At 4:19pm on 04 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    That should have been (#123), of course.

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  • 170. At 4:26pm on 04 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #159, Ed, very puzzling. Obama is increasingly
    resembling Mack the Knife.

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  • 171. At 4:29pm on 04 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    Sam, I like your taste in Superheroines.

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  • 172. At 4:35pm on 04 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    AndyPost (#136), I've read that the predominant UK aircraft in the Battle of Britain was actually the Hawker Hurricane, rather than the Spitfire, which was relatively new at the time. Is that correct?

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  • 173. At 4:52pm on 04 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    A lesson for us all...

    My post 115 was done after the no4 tin of Bishops finger.I do apologise for my spelling.
    It will not happen again..
    May be...

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  • 174. At 4:55pm on 04 Mar 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    164. At 1:42pm on 04 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:
    148, marbles -

    By the "will of the people, " I assumed you meant the majority. Blacks made up even less of the population during the civil rights era than they do now, and Johnson was very unpopular among whites for the legislation he pushed through. If civil rights laws had been dependent on a popular vote they would never have passed. It's the same problem we have now with gay marriage. The "will of the people" is preventing gays from having the right to marry in most states, and in those states that have legalized it, it has been done by way of the courts or the legislature, not by popular vote. Look what happened in California when it was put to "the people."



    Well said. There seems to be a popular illusion about that popular votes always produce tolerance.

    If the politicians gave in to the popular will there would be no defence lawyers, all immigrants legal or illegal (not the celebrities of course) would be expelled, the death penalty would be extended to car thieves etc.

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  • 175. At 5:01pm on 04 Mar 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    146. At 05:16am on 04 Mar 2009, robloop wrote:
    93 Romestu
    Nothing odd about it. I don't disagree with everything you write!
    What I find thoroughly disagreeable about the overlooking of history I mentioned, is the incessant insistance that there was no basis for the Iraq invasion. As I mentioned before, in a BBC debate that a few years ago involved a few country's Foreign Ministers, heated discussion arose over responsibilty for the invasion. Almost all of those ministers tried to blame the U.S. until the former Spanish Foreign Minister, who had been its Foreign Minister at the time of the invasion, silenced further discussion after 'reminding' all those there that not just the U.S. (and thus CIA) but EVERY intelligence agency in Western Europe had believed and reported that Iraq still had WMD."

    That is incorrect and is a popular illusion.

    The truth was that no intelligence agecy was ready to give a definitive answer and none, including the British ones at first, was prepared to say an invasion was needed.

    The Atomic inspection agency also did not beleive Iraq had WMD.

    Common sense also said the country was not capable of developing such technology under a tight military blockade

    There has been a concereted attempt by the war-mongers to alter the facts.

    The disastorous invasion of Iraq was not justified.


    "The ideologues wallow and delight in lies."

    Well don't tell so many off them then.

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  • 176. At 5:04pm on 04 Mar 2009, Simon21 wrote:

    157. At 11:08am on 04 Mar 2009, saintDominick wrote:
    Ref 146, Rob

    "Almost all of those ministers tried to blame the U.S. until the former Spanish Foreign Minister, who had been its Foreign Minister at the time of the invasion, silenced further discussion after 'reminding' all those there that not just the U.S. (and thus CIA) but EVERY intelligence agency in Western Europe had believed and reported that Iraq still had WMD."

    Does that mean an invasion of the USA would be justified on the basis that we have the largest arsenal of WMDs in the world?

    We provided weapons and military intelligence to Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, as well as political cover, when he engaged in a misadventure that was to our liking, and looked the other way when he informed the White House that he was going to invade Kuwait. Why the sudden change of heart?

    Yes, there was debate in Europe about Iraq having WMDs, but I do recall UN inspectors asserting that all had been destroyed and that there was no evidence of any remaining. Regardless of whether there were some left or not, that was no reason to launch an unprovoked attack against a developing nation and our subsequent justifications: Saddam's atrocities, the need for regime change, the need to stabilize the Persian Gulf, and our desire to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq attest to the weakness of the first excuse.

    Iraq was a target long before 9/11; that dreadful event and the WMDs were the excuses used to carry out a long term goal that had the added benefit of transforming a hapless President into a war hero and a valiant patriot at home. Without the fearmongering and war, it is doubtful the Decider would have been re-elected."

    Your last point is the answer to this adventure.

    Bush and his gang were counting on an easy victory (whoever thought a-rabs could fight?) a nice parade and the election in the bag - ditto Blair who had watched Thatcher's success in the Falklands.

    Democractic politicians love small wars, you can dress up in a nice battle uniform, get wonderful photos and coverage and claim affinity to Churchill or Lincoln.


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  • 177. At 5:21pm on 04 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 178. At 5:32pm on 04 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    G'nR, It's not just Obama ignoring Broon. Hardly a blip in US headlines The only story with a British angle is Ted Kennedy's Knighthood...;-)

    Broon is eminently ignorable.

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  • 179. At 5:52pm on 04 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 168

    "I have read somewhere that switching the fork to the right hand was a secret sign among those advocating the American Revolution, although I can't remember where I read it."

    I you can find the source, I'd love to see it. That's just the kind of historical tidbit that fascinates me.

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  • 180. At 6:01pm on 04 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 172

    "I've read that the predominant UK aircraft in the Battle of Britain was actually the Hawker Hurricane, rather than the Spitfire, which was relatively new at the time. Is that correct?"

    This page http://www.retrosellers.com/features61.htm supports your contention. While the Hurricane racked up more kills that the Spitfire (something I did not know), I would be curious to see the breakdown as to how many were ME-110s and Stukas and how many were ME-109s and FW-190s.

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  • 181. At 6:05pm on 04 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 173

    "no4 tin of Bishops finger"

    What's that? Beer?

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  • 182. At 6:06pm on 04 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    168, Gary_A_Hill:
    "I have read somewhere that switching the fork to the right hand was a secret sign among those advocating the American Revolution, although I can't remember where I read it."

    Are you serious? If true, that would be really funny. You'd think they could have gone back to sensible fork-holding once there was no longer a need for secret signals.

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  • 183. At 6:08pm on 04 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    160MalcolmW2 wrote:
    "I would have thought, given the unspeakable attrocities that the Nazi regime was perpetrating on millions of innocents within its camps - Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Slavs, political opponents, et al - it should have been seen as every decent human's war, but there we are."




    Your sentiment is correct, even if your history is sadly a little off.

    It was not widely known until much much later in the war the extent of the Nazi atrocities, so while retrospectively it has been convenient for some pseudo-historians to ascribe good intent as a reason for the USA joining the war, this is false.

    Besides, concentration camps opened within 6 weeks of Hitler coming to power in 1933, and internationally nobody really worried about it.


    However, I believe we've done this subject fairly intensely on a previous thread, so I don't intend to reopen the discussion

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  • 184. At 6:10pm on 04 Mar 2009, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    #172 Gary_A_Hill

    You are correct about the Hawker Hurricane being more numerous than the Spitfire during the period of the Battle of Britain. In total 1,715 Hurricanes fought during the period, although nowhere near that many were available at any one time. New aircraft were consantly being released to squadrons to replace destroyed and damaged machines. I do not have the total of Spitfires employed to hand, but is was much fewer.

    The Hurricane first entered squadron service in 1937, the Spitfire in 1938. The Hurricane, being a wooden framework and fabric covered was far easier to build (and repair) than the newer design of the Spitfire which was all metal. Consequently there was always a shortage of Spitfires compared to Hurricanes (which is why Dowding rightly refused the French request to send any to France before Dunkirk; he knew he couldn't afford to waste any).

    The Hurricane shot down far more aircraft than the Spitfire during the battle, partly because of numbers but also because where possible they were targetted at bombers while the Spitfires took on the fighter cover, having the better performance.

    As time went on, however, the design of th spitfire allowed it to be constantly developed to increase, range, armament and performance. It was the only fighter aircraft in any airforce to remain in front-line service throughout the 6 years of the war. It remained (as the mark 22/24) in operational service right through to the early 1950's, alongside jet fighters. Very impressive design.

    Other fighters used by fighter command during the Battle of Britain were the twin engine Bristol Blenheim, and the single engine Boulton Paul Defiant. Neither were successful as day fighters.

    The debate about whether the Spitfire or the Bf109 had the edge still rages. Both had some strengths and weaknesses against the other. My vote, despite not having a fuel injection engine on the earlier models, would go to the Spitfire, if only because Adolf Galland (who should know) said so! The real difference between the two sides during the B of B was radar. It enabled the RAF to husband its resources rather than employ standing patrols, only launching when a raid was detected. Add to that the fact that British pilots bailing out were over friendly territory whereas Germans went into captivity and it tipped the scales.

    Hope that helps.

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  • 185. At 6:23pm on 04 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    After 9/11 when NPR and the NY Times turned into goose-stepping nationalistic Bushites, I bought a short-wave radio and every night listened to news from around the world. I heard interviews with Ritter, al Baradei (sorry if I've misspelled that), and others who were in a position to know about Iraq and WMD. Not even from the BBC did I hear anything at all that made me think there were WMD in Iraq (quite the opposite, which is why I've never understood what the hell Blair was thinking).

    Now when other Americans whine about how they were fooled and lied to, I don't have a lot of patience. I was not fooled (and of course I'm not the only one) and knew they were lying all along. But that's because I made an effort to find out what the rest of the world was saying, instead of pouring French wine down the sewer.

    But I do not think I knew more than the intelligence agencies of all the European countries who have been accused by someone above of having all thought Iraq had WMD. That's just nonsense.

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  • 186. At 7:15pm on 04 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    183, RomeStu:
    "Besides, concentration camps opened within 6 weeks of Hitler coming to power in 1933, and internationally nobody really worried about it."

    I don't think it was so much a matter of nobody worrying about it, but that few people were willing to believe it. Most European Jews didn't even believe the stories they were hearing, which is why they didn't try to escape until it was too late.

    Not that I intend to reopen the discussion either.

    Except that the willingness to refuse to believe the truth of one's government's actions is relevant today.

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  • 187. At 7:36pm on 04 Mar 2009, seanspa wrote:

    ukwales, Bishop's Finger? Try some Bishop's Tipple!

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  • 188. At 7:46pm on 04 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    178. Ed Iglehart wrote:
    "The only story with a British angle is Ted Kennedy's Knighthood...;-)"



    Come on Justin, dig up some dirt on Ted, Noraid, the Russians, Chappaquidick (?)

    We could go for 1000 posts on that one with all the conspiracy theories (some may even be true!)

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  • 189. At 7:47pm on 04 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    181 Andy post.

    Bishops finger,Kentish strong ale,Britains oldest brewer, 1698, shepherds neame.
    From Faversham Kent.To say its good is an under-statment!!!

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  • 190. At 7:49pm on 04 Mar 2009, Dark Side of the Goon wrote:

    @116

    David - US made aircraft were not involved, but there is evidence to show that early modifications to the Spitfire engines were made using American engine parts and American-supplied aviation fuel was also used. Small stuff, I agree, but "for want of a nail" comes into play here.

    And if I can find the wretched source of the information, which I've spent a fruitless lunch-hour trying to track down, I'll link it. Until then, I do stand to be corrected.

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  • 191. At 7:52pm on 04 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    Andypost #136,

    We did eventually make up for it.

    West Europe owes its freedom to the help the US gave,From Nazi or Soviet domination.That debt can never be repaid....

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  • 192. At 8:12pm on 04 Mar 2009, seanspa wrote:

    RomeStu,I know you don't want to carry on with concentration camps, but I think you simplify the international response to them.

    While in Munich for the beerfest many years ago, I took a train the short journey to see Dachau. The museum shows how the camp transformed over the years from one where 'undesirables' were held, to a camp where 'sub-humans' were disposed of. I would not describe the initial living conditions as comfortable, but they were positively palatial compared to the chicken coups that they ended up as.

    The international community may well have known about the camps existence, but that doesn't mean they knowingly accepted what subsequently happened there.

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  • 193. At 9:06pm on 04 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    MalcolmW2 (#184), thank you for the excellent summary of the facts of the Battle of Britain. You point out that geography was also a significant factor. It was crucial for Britain when it was standing alone, but also for the United States, which was safe an ocean away while biding its time, and throughout the war when it was eventually forced to enter it.

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  • 194. At 9:14pm on 04 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    test

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  • 195. At 9:20pm on 04 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    Malcolm w2 Garry a hill.

    In his book fist and the last, Adolf galland said the Hurricane was a hopless air craft, easy to shoot down.
    But he was flying an ME109.All other German bomber a/c did not like the hurricane at all

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  • 196. At 9:46pm on 04 Mar 2009, gunsandreligion wrote:

    180, Andy, no FW-190's were in the campaign.
    They entered service later (1941?) than the
    Battle of Britain, and they were encountered by
    American bombers over Germany in roughly
    equal numbers to ME-109 variants.

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  • 197. At 10:32pm on 04 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 191

    You're not Welsh?

    My grandmother was Welsh (apropos of nothing).

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  • 198. At 10:34pm on 04 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    186 bere
    "Except that the willingness to refuse to believe the truth of one's government's actions is relevant today."


    Wise words. I quite agree.

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  • 199. At 10:35pm on 04 Mar 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 189

    "Bishops finger,Kentish strong ale,Britains oldest brewer, 1698, shepherds name.
    From Faversham Kent.To say its good is an under-statement!!!"

    I will certainly look for it. If it's exported, my local liquor store should have it. We do have a fine selection of English brews over here.

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  • 200. At 10:55pm on 04 Mar 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    seanspa 192

    Yes, I did simplify somewhat, as I didn't have time for a long post that would have gone rambling way off topic.


    You say
    "The museum shows how the camp transformed over the years from one where 'undesirables' were held, to a camp where 'sub-humans' were disposed of. I would not describe the initial living conditions as comfortable, but they were positively palatial compared to the chicken coups that they ended up as.

    The international community may well have known about the camps existence, but that doesn't mean they knowingly accepted what subsequently happened there."




    However the information was out there. Remember that the initial "round-up" of undesirables targetted political oponents - Jews came much later. However the terror and death was there from the start, although the early treatment of prisoners then paled beside later Nazi atrocities.

    From this source
    http://www.holocaust-history.org/dachau-gas-chambers/

    "Hans Beimler, who was imprisoned in Dachau for only four weeks in 1933 before he was able to escape reported the brutal murder of nearly 50 men during that period."


    More about Beimler from wiki
    "A fervent anti-Nazi, he had been detained in Dachau in April 1933, but managed to escape in May 1933 and ultimately went to Spain. He fought in the the Spanish Civil War and was killed in action during the Battle of Madrid.

    He wrote an account of his experiences at Dachau which appeared in the Soviet Union in August 1933. It was one of the very first published accounts of life inside a Nazi concentration camp and was translated into several languages, including English, Spanish and French."



    The information was out there, but there was no internet to spread news fast.
    No one wanted another war and so much suffering was conveniently ignored.


    Just as it is today.....



    ps there was an irony in Nazi Germany that it was better to go to prison for a serious crime with a long sentence than for a minor offence. Prison was not nice, but was much better than being released, when as an ex-con you were transfered to a concentration camp as an "undesirable". Parole board, anyone! No thanks.

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  • 201. At 11:46pm on 04 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    69#142

    The truth is that there is a huge shortage of engineers in America. The jobs haven't been outsourced, they've just been left undone. As a result, much of America's infrastructure in the public sector, the private sector, and for utilities is crumbling. It's a miracle much of it has lasted as long as it has. That is testimony to how well it was originally built but nothing lasts forever. For the most part, for things we build that are construction related many types of engineers can't be imported nor can the work be outsourced. Most foreign engineers are not familiar with American codes, standards, products, even the way our shorthand notations are expressed. Most of them are also inadequately skilled insofar as their training and education is concerned to satisfy American employers. In realizaton of this and because the consequences of mis-spent resources and misplaced priorities are becoming manifest, the market for those left is starting to boom. My phone is constantly ringing with offers, the result of posting on only two boards. Remarkable how distant and far fetched some of the jobs are people call me about. That is evidence of desperation beginning to seep in. These "headhunters" frequently admit they just can't find qualified people. Creating jobs is one thing. Creating jobs people have the skill for and can do is quite another.

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  • 202. At 11:52pm on 04 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    160, Malcolm.
    "I would have thought, given the unspeakable attrocities that the Nazi regime was perpetrating on millions of innocents within its camps - Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Slavs, political opponents, et al - it should have been seen as every decent human's war, but there we are."

    The general populace did not know about this until later.

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  • 203. At 00:11am on 05 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    164, bere.

    I was active long before the government acted on civil rights. I know how ardent whites were in terms of equality. (This may not have been true in the South.) We worked for it. The blacks, as a relatively small percentage of the population, would not have had sufficient clout to achieve their ends without the help of dedicated non-blacks. Congress is all about votes and pleasing their constituents to get them. We pounded Congress. All the liberal communities were in favor of civil rights - blacks and whites together.

    I am fed up with the suggestion that all whites were racist before civil rights were enacted. Whites were protesting too. And we did something just as, or more important than protesting, we gave them jobs when we could, when decent jobs for blacks were hard come by.

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  • 204. At 02:47am on 05 Mar 2009, bere54 wrote:

    203, allmymarbles -

    No one, certainly not I, has suggested that all whites were racist, and it is well known that whites were active in the civil rights movement. A group of white women here in Vermont published a book a couple of years ago about their experience in that movement. But these activists, whether overt or covert, did not make up a majority of the population of this country during those years, and had the issue been put to a popular vote in, say, 1963, civil rights for blacks would have lost. That would have been the will of the people. And that would have been morally wrong. And that was my point.

    I don't know what the problem is here, but you seem determined to misunderstand a lot of comments. I rather resent your insinuation that I was implying that all whites were racist when I said no such thing and it never occurred to me to even think it. But quite a lot of whites were racist, and that is a simple fact (and not just in the south). Have you ever read "Kingsblood Royal" by Sinclair Lewis? Very much an eye-opener, though it was written earlier, in 1947. Though a novel, it speaks a great deal of truth. Sadly.

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  • 205. At 03:04am on 05 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    lostallyourmarbles, now there's gratitude for ya. Don't you wish you could go back and undo what you did? But you can't. No taking back because.....you didn't cross your fingers. It's a tradition every kid who grows up in New York City knows well. At least they used to when it was New York City.

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  • 206. At 04:13am on 05 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    204, bere.
    " I rather resent your insinuation that I was implying that all whites were racist when I said no such thing and it never occurred to me to even think it."

    I did not mean you; I meant the general perception. I remember when the whole situation blew up (in the 50's) and all whites were tarred with the same brush. It was upsetting to those of us who sincerely worked for equality.

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  • 207. At 12:04pm on 05 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    #197Andy post.

    O yes I am Welsh,& By nature passionate.

    if you get a chance please look up ,

    Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial,
    Wikipedia.
    I have visited twice.My 191 post was from the heart.

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  • 208. At 00:07am on 06 Mar 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    ukawailee

    "West Europe owes its freedom to the help the US gave,From Nazi or Soviet domination.That debt can never be repaid...."

    I wrote that.

    "We did eventually make up for it."

    By what delusion of dementia do you think that debt has ever begun to be repaid? HOW? Your posting may have come from your heart but it was not from your brain. You have no concept of the magnitude of the sacrifice that has been made on Europe's behalf by the People of the United States of America. I am sorry to say it is probably one that has not only not been received with gratitude but was also probably in vain. Ultimately, I think Europeans are destined to go back to killing each other over crumbs. All it's been waiting for is a return to very hard times.

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  • 209. At 02:36am on 06 Mar 2009, BienvenueEnLouisiana wrote:

    Hey! While we are on the subject of American power and how it is used in the world, yall might be interested to hear about this:

    Russian Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Leonid Shershnev has a different take on last month’s collision between American and Russian satellites in orbit.

    He believes that the American satellite was actually one of the two used in the 2007 NASA-Pentagon Orbital Express experiment, which involved one satellite hooking up with another satellite so as to refuel it.

    Shershnev does not believe that Orbital Express was shelved two years ago, but rather it continued in secrecy. In his own words, Shershnev said that the program reached its goal of developing "technology that would allow monitoring and inspections of orbital spacecraft by fully-automated satellites equipped with robotic devices."

    He emphasized that last month’s collision demonstrated that the capabilities of Orbital Express have gone beyond its original goal, giving the U.S.A. the ability to manipulate hostile satellites and cause their own destruction by command from a ground control center.

    Wow; I doubt that such an imaginative thing has been developed, but if that is the case then the US has a significant technological leg up on the competition and could theoretically control low earth orbit.

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  • 210. At 1:20pm on 06 Mar 2009, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    MarciaRegius @ 208:

    " I think Europeans are destined to go back to killing each other over crumbs. All it's been waiting for is a return to very hard times."

    I think you need to go back onto the stronger pills, the newer ones don't seem to working so well!

    The only thing I sometimes regret about British inventiveness is that we created things like television, computers and the internet (look it up). Without them we wouldn't all have to suffer your delusional drivel.

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  • 211. At 5:19pm on 06 Mar 2009, happylaze wrote:

    210 mention the trains to him. and how screwed america would be without them.

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  • 212. At 10:13pm on 06 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    MalcolmW2 (#210), you are on shaky ground when you assert that one person rather than another invented something when it is as complicated a device as television or a computer. It depends on how define "television," for example, as this history shows. Baird is neither first nor last, but he can be placed first by a suitable definition, as can Farnsworth, who is the more usual choice.

    http://www.mztv.com/newframe.asp?content=http://www.mztv.com/pioneers.html

    As for computers, certainly Alan Turing gets credit for the abstract idea of automata, but the true inventor of the electronic digital computer was John Atanasoff, an American professor, with the help of his student, Berry. Atanasoff alone, without reference to others, conceived that his machine would be digital, electronic, and compute in binary. He and Berry built it between 1939 and 1942, before Colossus.

    However, as Atanasoff himself declared, there is plenty of credit to go around where computers are concerned. He was not one to be obsessed with claims of priority.

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  • 213. At 10:54pm on 06 Mar 2009, hms_shannon wrote:

    The farther of the computor.

    Charles Babbage 1791-1871.

    uk 1 us 0.

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  • 214. At 11:28pm on 06 Mar 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    That link to the pioneers of television should look like this:

    http://www.mztv.com/pioneers.html

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  • 215. At 01:44am on 08 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Go away for a few days, and you miss the re-fighting of WWII - among the allies.

    56. MAII. The speed of the US industrial transformation was not a miracle, but rather good planning by FDR.

    In some ways, the US was very much in the war prior to December 7, 1941. The Ruben James was sunk in October(?) 1941 because the US Navy had already taken up convoy duty from the US coast to Iceland. Formally they called it something like "neutrality patrols" to protect US commerce from ocean raiders in international waters - as if they were worried about anonymous pirates.

    The backbone of US efforts in the Western Pacific were TF38 and TF58 (same ships, different commander), and the core of this force was the group of 16 fleet and light carriers commissioned between December 21, 1942 and December 31, 1943. As a display of awesome industrial capacity, this feat takes some beating. The key to it, though, was that authorization for design of the Essex class by Congress came in May (?) 1938. The keels of all of those Fleet carriers, and most of the light carriers, were laid before Pearl Harbour.

    As for Island hopping and General MacArthur...

    It would be wrong to say that MacArthur's campaign was a waste, but it was overtaken, or outflanked, by the US Navy's campaign, first in the Solomons. The New Guinea, New Britain, and Philippines campaigns tied down, and chewed up, a lot of Japanese resources, but you really have to wonder if they wouldn't have withered on the vine anyway once TF 38/TF 58 outflanked them, and once the US Navy submarine campaign got going. Not that many people are aware that the most successful submarine warfare campaign of all time was waged not by Germans U-Boats, but by the US Navy against Japan under Admiral Lockwood.

    Nimitz had no end of political troubles with MacArthur, and simply usually let MacArthur have his way in public, and then quietly went out and used the carrier task forces to solve whatever the problem was. MacArthur was a vainglorious something-or-other.

    At Inchon, again, it was the US Navy that picked up the ball. MacArthur then overplayed his hand and brought China into the way, a disastrous mistake. He was to Truman what MacLellan was to Lincoln - a real pain, and was finally fired.

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  • 216. At 02:02am on 08 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    127 Arclight.

    Moving on from MacArthur, Field Marshall Montgomery has a huge reputation, but I have never understood why. Like MacLellan in the US Civil War, it was next to impossible to get him to move. Yes he was the victor at second Alamein, but he had crushing superiority in every conceivable category. How could he possibly have lost?

    Immediately following Alamein, Rommel, already hugely outnumbered and soon to be sick with jaundice (?) had to cope with Montgomery's ponderous host in front of him, and the Torch landings behind him.

    Montgomery was a pain to deal with, and caused no end of friction between the allies. Although Patton was a good general, he had this same fault. In the ETO, Omar Bradley was a class act by contrast, and, in my view, much the better leader, and, although it is a nasty swipe, much the better man.

    For my money, William Slim, who re-took Burma with the cast-off, clapped-out kit nobody else had any further use for, was the best British General of the war, with honourable mention to Guy Simmonds, and, if only he hadn't foolishly let himself be captured, General O'Connor.

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  • 217. At 02:27am on 08 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    103. Dark Side.
    Agree with David C at 116. The Battle of Britain was an all RAF affair - including the refugee Czechs, Poles, and Norwegians, Canadians, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders, and volunteer Americans (yes, there were three "American Eagle" squadrons).

    Interestingly, far more spitfires were destroyed in training accidents than by the Luftwaffe. There is a book called something like "Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Warm Beer" that you may enjoy.

    The Spitfire (R.J.Mitchell) was the air superiority fighter, the Hurricane (Sidney Camm) was the bomber killer. Both went on to long successful careers in many variations. For many of us, the Spitfire is still the most beautiful aircraft ever to have flown.

    184. Malcolm - Well the Spitfire had a long career, it was not built in as many copies (20,334 Spitfires, all marks, 2556 Seafires) as its contemporary the Me (of Bf) 109 (estimated 35,000 copies, Willy Messerschmitt) and only slightly more than its bane, the FW 190 (Kurt Tank, 20,000 copies), and its successor, the P-51 (15,386 copies).

    The Me 109 was also a front line fighter throughout the war, and, in the hands of a skilled pilot remained a dangerous aircraft right up to VE-Day. Erich Hartman (1400 combat sorties, 352 aircraft shot down, numbers that are so large as to be almost incomprehensible) chose to keep flying the Me-109 rather than the Me-262.

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  • 218. At 03:18am on 08 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    151, David.
    "Had Britain rolled over and allowed Hitler to invade, there is no doubt in my mind that the US would have been next on the list. Although, from a practical standpoint, what would he have done with it had he succeeded? The German army could never have successfully kept the USA under control. England perhaps, but America never."

    Yes, Germany would have been overextended, if it could have conquered America in the first place, which is doubtful. And we are forgetting Russia. With these two vast nations, Russia and the U.S., Germany ultimately could not have survived its own conquests.

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  • 219. At 03:34am on 08 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    215, interested.
    "The speed of the US industrial transformation was not a miracle, but rather good planning by FDR."

    Perhaps most important, we had all the necessary raw materials and were even the world's number one producer of petroleum. We also had a huge workforce and a vast industrial capacity. We were, in very simple terms, very rich and powerful.

    Re: MacArthur. Good old Harry got rid of that arrogant bastard.

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  • 220. At 04:31am on 08 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    114. Thank you, Sam-walla.

    65. AP.
    Yes, agreed.
    There are those, and quite prominently so in Canada, who have questioned both the effectiveness and the morality of the strategic bombing campaign carried out in the night skies over NW Europe. The firestorm in Dresden in February 1945, in which more civilians were killed than at either Hiroshima or Nagasaki, is particularly controversial.

    The point is, though, that defending against the strategic bombing campaign consumed 1/4 of Germany's military potential. Although German aircraft production peaked in 1944, notwithstanding the bombing, it did so only through remarkable effort. We know the effect it had on the German air force from Adolf Galland's memoirs. The first great three day firestorm, aptly named "Operation Gomorrah", the destruction of Hamburg on July 24 - July 27, 1943, was a first magnitude crisis for Germany, and it prompted desperate efforts to develop countermeasures.

    Still, for all that, my point was that efforts of the western allies pale by comparison to the scale and barbarity of the apocalyptic struggle in eastern Europe. Russia lost 2/3m men in not much more than a ten days near Kiev in September 1941 - and hardly blinked. 300,000+ dead at Stalingrad, alone. Leningrad withstood a siege of 900 days - 3000 people starved or froze to death in the city on Christmas Day 1943, for example, and on the next day, and the next day, and the next ... No, this is a kind of suffering that our countries have not known.

    J-in-D's epigram at 162 has a lot of truth in it.

    As for the history channel, perhaps I am being too harsh, and sure, I've seen good programs on it.

    But after a while the WWII documentaries always seem to have the same narrator, and the same intonation of gravity, and then it seems all the same, and shallow, and from only one viewpoint. And you find yourself thinking, "Oh, please, give it a rest." It's the packaging. They rarely make candid analyses of the real cock-ups, (and there were lots of them). Obviously I have a fair interest in this stuff, and perhaps I am a bit jaded.

    There was a series made in England and France after the war, in which major figures were interviewed on camera, usually in English, but also in French and German. The interviews were sometimes riveting.

    There's a book called "Churchill's Generals" that is essentially a series of case studies. It pulls no punches.

    The original "Canada at War" series, made in 1961 and narrated by Bud Knapp (?) has quite a different tone, too. One of the parts of the series ends with the siege of Ortona in December 1943, sometimes referred to as "little Stalingrad". This is an important event in Canadian military history, and one that has been subject to criticism as an unnecessary battle that might have been avoided.

    The war reporting was recorded live, in the middle of the battle. There is no packaging. I believe the reporter was Matthew Halton (father of David Halton, who may be known to Justin). The section ends with silent footage of an old man walking up the street in the rubble that is all that is left of his town, and his life. It's heartbreaking. If you can watch that film, and not be overcome with compassion, then you don't have a pulse. It is incredibly powerful journalism.

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  • 221. At 04:41am on 08 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    219. Marbles.

    You had doubts about America's entry into the war.

    The peace and security of western Europe, was, and is, a matter of critical strategic importance to the US. FDR did what simply had to be done, one way or another. As for democratic accountability, well, he was re-elected in 1944.

    A while ago The Economist ran a summary of US Presidents and GB Prime Ministers. The entry for FDR was three words:

    "Saved the world."

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  • 222. At 05:11am on 08 Mar 2009, allmymarbles wrote:

    221, Interested.
    "You had doubts about America's entry into the war."

    I think you misunderstand. I was recounting the attitude of a majority of Americans at that time (before history rewrites itself, which it is already doing). As for FDR getting reelected, that was a given because we were at war, whether people objected to our entry or not.

    We should remember that before WWII Europe was truly a foreign place to most Americans. Only the well-to-do took the grand tour. There were no cheap and fast flights to take us across the ocean. East coasters might go to Cuba or Canada and west coasters to Mexico, but that was pretty much it. We were, in essence, an island, and far, far away. The people did not feel tthe allegiance of kinship.

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  • 223. At 12:53pm on 08 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 224. At 1:41pm on 08 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 225. At 3:25pm on 08 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Correction or addition to 216:

    Bernard Freyberg was an outstanding General Officer, and subsequent Gov. Gen of NZ.

    Harold Alexander was a very good general, and subsequently very popular Gov.-Gen of Canada.

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  • 226. At 6:07pm on 08 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Just checking the pulse....

    Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Peace
    ed

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  • 227. At 12:48pm on 09 Mar 2009, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    Interestedforeigner #217:

    "Agree with David C at 116. The Battle of Britain was an all RAF affair - including the refugee Czechs, Poles, and Norwegians, Canadians, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders, and volunteer Americans (yes, there were three "American Eagle" squadrons)."

    Sorry to be hyper critical, but whilst it is true that the RAF had a number of nationalities within its ranks, only 11 of them were officially American. One, Billy Fiske, was killed in action. He was an interesting man, having attended Cambridge university before the war. He captained the US olympic bobsleigh team, set a record for the Cresta run, and raced a car in the Le Mans 24 hour race aged 19. He lived in Europe and volunteered for the RAF 2 weeks after the outbreak of war in September 1939. He is buried in a churchyard in Boxgrove, Sussex, but a bronze memorial plaque was unveiled in St Pauls Cathederal, London in 1941 which states," An American citizen who died that England might live". He was 29 when he was killed having been shot down in flames in August 1940. I believe that his wife was British, but may be wrong about that.

    The first of the American Eagle squadrons wasn't formed until after the Battle of Britain had officially ended. There were eventually three of them which were transfered, complete with their Spitfires, to the US 8th Airforce once America entered the war, giving the US airforce a nucleus of combat experienced pilots they would otherwise have lacked. There were no Eagle squadrons in the Battle of Britain.

    The roll call of men who were entitled to wear the campaign medal clasp for the Battle of Britain, which entailed flying at least one operational sortie with Fighter Command as aircrew (mostly pilots, but also airgunners or other aircrew in certain multi seat aircraft) between 10th July 1940 and 31st October 1940 - the official dates of the battle:

    British 2353
    Australian 29
    Belgian 29
    Canadian 97
    Czech 87
    French 13
    Irish 9
    Jamaican 1
    Newfoundland 1
    New Zealand 126
    Palestinian 1
    Polish 145
    Rhodesian 3
    South Africa 22
    American 11

    Small point, but as well as the RAF, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm contributed 2 squadrons of fighters.



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  • 228. At 2:35pm on 09 Mar 2009, robloop wrote:

    Interestedforeigner
    Having done some formal studies on WW11 and later lots of reading, your postings have been interesting.
    Good to see someone describe Field Marshall for what he was, on over-rated pain in the neck. Correlli Barnett in
    'The desert generals' portrays him for the unpleasant man he was. With the over-whelming equipment and men he finally had at Alemain, how could he lose? For all his boasting about having dispatched with 'The desert fox', he wasn't half the general that was Erwin Rommel most of whose supplies, not least tanks and oil, ended up at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.
    I wonder if you have any information about American troops who towards the end of the the war were in territory by then held by the Soviets, supposedly our allies, and who were swallowed up by the Red Army and never seen again? I'm under the impression that quite a few thousand disappeared, yet evidently FDR (by then a sick man) did little to retrieve them.

    I'm not convinced that you are fair to MacArthur over the Inchon landing. I don't even know what you mean by "the U.S. Navy picked up the ball" other than it being primarily or exclusively marines who fought there. MacArther went ashore to conduct that campaign and I'm not aware of any other senior general doing so.
    Yes, he provoked the Chinese, but it was pretty dumb of the U.S. not to have destroyed the Yalu River bridges (which MacArthur wanted done) - for fear of provoking the Chinese. They were spoiling to be provoked once the U.N. forces began edging up to the Chinese border and beating the hell out of their allies, the North Koreans.

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  • 229. At 4:42pm on 09 Mar 2009, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    Robloop:

    Monty had many personal faults, not least he tended to speak without thinking through the political implications. My point about the ramifications of his press briefing after the Battle of the Bulge was a classic example. It was perfectly true that he saw the serious danger posed by the German offensive which broke through the lines of the American army before others; it is also true that the American commanders had been "asleep at the wheel", many of the ground commanders being away from their inexperienced units at the time of the assault, some even away doing their Christmas shopping! Complacency is always a dangerous luxury in war. No one expected the assault, or believed that Germany had the capability to launch it, but that is not really an excuse for the lack of readiness.

    It was Monty who committed British xxx Corps, acting without seeking approval, and it was they who actually stopped the German armoured units from reaching their main objective - the River Meuse. It is also true that in the immediate choatic aftermath of the assault by German panzer units, Monty was given temporary command of more American divisions than the three American army commanders combined. I am sure that this rankled, and his tackless remarks at the subsequent press briefing were enough to ensure that they demanded Eisenhower rein him in after the battle. Specifically, Bradley refused pointblank to serve under Monty, and insisted that if called upon to do so he would demand to return to the USA. Eisenhower had his eye on the White House even then, and knew he couldn't allow that. The sad thing is that 2,500 British troops died in stopping the German drive to the Meuse, many more were seriously injured, but through Monty's lack of tact, even though what he said at the briefing was broadly true, their sacrifice has largely disappeared from history.

    As for El Alamein, it is true that Monty made sure that he had overwhelming superioity before launching his attack, but he was a young officer in the carnage of the first World War, and had determined in the second to do everything is his power as a general to minimise unnecessary casualties to his men. It is probably difficult for Americans to understand how the mass slaughter of the trench warfare in the first 3 years of WW1 affected those nations that had suffered it. The sheer scale and horror of it went some way to explaining the efforts made to avert a second war during the mid 1930's; it was simply too awful to contemplate.

    Monty inspired admiration and affection among the men under his command. He was also a successful (and "lucky") commander. Unfortunately he was, as you say, an egotist, although probably less of one than Patton. He had a prickly relationship with many other generals, British and American, but that should not be allowed to mask his contribution to final victory. Many successful generals had / have personality flaws.

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  • 230. At 01:14am on 10 Mar 2009, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    227. Malcolm. Absolutely right.

    I had not meant to imply that the American Eagle squadrons were formed that early, merely that eventually not only were there American pilots who volunteered to serve in the RAF (against US law at the time, too, I think?) but that eventually they had their own squadrons, and both their squadrons and their aircraft were eventually transferred to the 8th AAF.

    Thought there were Norwegians there, too, though. Maybe that was later.

    228. Robloop.
    I'm not as well versed on Korea as WWII, but the irony of Ichon has to do with internal US politics.

    After the war there was some suggestion that the US no longer needed a large navy and quite such a large CVA capability. There was significant pressure to cut Navy funding more sharply than some of the other services. But when the army got into trouble in Korea, it was (at least if you are partial to the US Navy view of history) the capability of the US Navy to project force that turned the situation around and saved the day.

    229. Malcolm.
    Hmm. Have to think on that, too. As you can tell, I am no fan of Montgomery.

    In WWI the Canadian and Anzac forces were said by Rommel to be "the shock troops of the British Empire". They had very good leadership - from a shaky start, too. Sir Arthur Currie and General Monash were highly gifted leaders.

    In WWII, the Aussies and Kiwis fought everywhere, all the time. Meanwhile the Canadian government deliberately kept the Canadian Army from fighting. Much of the Army (5 good sized, overstrength, divisions, including the equivalent of an armoured division, or more) mostly sat in GB for four years (2nd Division got shot up at Dieppe, !st Division went to Sicily and Italy) doing next to nothing until D-Day. There was internal Canadian politics behind this - the conscription crisis in WWI nearly tore the country apart - but mainly I believe it had to do with Mackenzie King's deep personal antipathy for all things British.

    Not surprisingly, the effectiveness of the Aussies and the New Zealand division rose to an exceptionally high level. Everybody knows how tough the Australians were, in both wars. The New Zealand division, in particular, however, seems to have been involved in virtually every major engagement from Crete onward. Phenomenally good unit.

    The 1st Canadian Army, by contrast, despite (or perhaps because of) spending four years in the UK (lots of war brides and children, not much fighting) was essentially green when it hit Juno beach. It did not perform as well as the Canadian Corps in 1914-1918, and simply did not have the same quality of leadership. It is painful to say this, but there isn't any secret about it, and it has been the subject of critical analysis and writing. Armies learn from experience, and find their true leaders in battle. In that regard, 1st Canadian Army was no different from any other.

    Which brings me to Montgomery. Rommel had next to no resources. (Excellent work by RN U-class submarines based on Malta!) and yet, over and over, showed himself to be a clever, creative, and resourceful leader. To my mind, by contrast Montgomery was a plodder with an outsized ego. Wasn't he behind Nijmegen? I do believe he got better, in general, as time went on, because experience is a great teacher. The same can be said of U.S. Grant.

    And which brings me to the point. Notwithstanding the blather by some on this string, the US Army simply wasn't very good at first, because it was green, too. The Germans knew it, and had a shrewd, and rather low, opinion of the quality of US Generalship and training. That's what Kasserine Pass was about. It's what Salerno was about. It's what Anzio was about.

    Montgomery seems to have shared the views of the OKW on this point - which, in my view, is hardly fair. The British army was good, but not that good, at the start of the war. The Royal Army had a fairly long learning curve, too. And the Royal Army had the luxury, for a long time, of being able to hide its second rate units, and generals, in far away backwaters east of Suez. There is a reason why 135,000 Empire troops surrendered to 35,000 Japanese at Singapore. Montgomery was a snob, and it showed smallness in him. A bigger man wouldn't have done or said those things.

    America and Canada had volunteer civilian armies, trying to do their best. A lot of them died doing it. Fault them if they make the same mistake twice, but don't fault them merely for being green and trying their best. They weren't very good to start with - not even remotely in the same league as the Wehrmacht - but they got better over time, and by the end of hostilities were quite profficient.

    And, while I don't condone needless loss of life, I would somehow prefer it to be that way, than to have a professional military culture such as symbolized by the Prussian officer class, or the Bushido code.

    And, finally, it is a pleasure exchanging comments with other people who are interested in this history. Thank you both.

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