Was World War II worth it?

September 3, 2009

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the start of World War II, seventy years ago this last Tuesday, and asks if it was worth the terrible price:

Did any good come from such a monstrous bloodletting?

Perhaps. The Holocaust was finally stopped before every Jew in Europe was killed as Hitler had planned. Germany, Italy, and Japan were transformed from monstrous regimes into liberal states whose democracies have done much for humanity in the ensuing years. And Western civilization survived its own heretical cannibals — to foster in the ensuing decades the greatest growth in freedom and prosperity in the history of the planet.

Like all of VDH’s writings, it’s thoughtful and well-worth your time.

It’s a shame so little has been done to commemorate the moment.

Happy VE Day

May 8, 2009

Today is the 64th anniversary of the surrender of Germany: the "thousand year Reich" had lasted for only a dozen miserable years, but those years cost Humanity tens of millions of dead and left a wrecked continent behind them. In the end, the Hitler’s nightmare state was crushed between the armies of the free democracies of the West and the forces of another obscene dictatorship from the East.

The day Nazi Germany cried "enough!" was a day to celebrate:

VE Day

You can listen to President Truman announce our victory here.

More than six decades later, we find ourselves at war with another implacable foe. It’s hard for many to recognize this war or the mortal threat posed by jihadist Islam, for the enemy clothes themselves in religion, rather than national socialism. Their weapons are those of the terrorist, not a regular army. They hope to wear us down, rather than crush us beneath their heels.

And yet it is no less a fight to the death than the struggle with Germany, for the promise of Paradise that drives the jihadi requires the destruction of every value we hold dear: individual liberty; equality of all before the law; law made by the people themselves through their representatives; religious toleration and the freedom to practice one’s faith — or to have no faith at all; and so much more.

There’s no telling when this new war will end: I suspect it will go on for at least a generation or two, with hot and cold phases, more like the Cold War than World War II. I doubt that there will be an end so sudden and so dramatic that it sparks spontaneous celebrations in the streets.

But it’s just as important we win now as it was then.


Don’t blame Obama for Sarkozy’s petty jealousy

April 8, 2009


It’s hard for me to work up much if any anger over President Obama’s failure to visit the Normandy on his recent European trip. My first thought when I saw this headline:

Barack Obama rejects Normandy trip to avoid offending Germany

…was a hearty “WTF?” The President of the United States passed up touring one of our most sacred battlefields with the President of a close ally? What the frack was he thinking? “Here we go again,” I thought. “Another liberal-lefty with contempt for our military and our history.” I was all set to write a post clubbing PBO for yet again dissing the country he leads in order to placate others.

Then I read the rest of the article. The text makes it clear that France was trying to use the American president as part of a “prestige contest” with Britain and Germany. Sarkozy’s ego and French pride were the problems here, not Obama. Not this time:

“During this trip, we wanted to maintain a balance between the British, German and France”. A White House spokesman in London declined to comment. Last month, White House officials briefed that a Normandy visit had been considered but it had not been logistically possible.

Mr Obama will arrive in Strasbourg on Friday for the Nato summit. He will hold a meeting with Mr Sarkozy and a brief press appearance in Strasbourg and then fly to Baden-Baden to do exactly the same with Chancellor Merkel of Germany. He will then fly to Prague on Saturday.

Mr Sarkozy is said by French officials to be piqued that Gordon Brown became the first European leader to meet Mr Obama and was then lavished with praise by him at a 50-minute joint press conference in London on Wednesday.

The French president tried unsuccessfully to meet Mr Obama before he was sworn in after the G20 summit in Washington last November, even stationing a French military plane on 24-hour standby nearby to whisk him to Chicago should the then US president-elect change his mind.

He had also hoped Mr Obama would agree to a meeting before attending the G20 summit in London on April 3. The French had suggested that Mr Obama fly from London to Normandy on Friday morning for a stop before the Nato summit. Instead, he is going directly to Strasbourg.

The president’s objective for the summit on this trip was to gain support for his economic agenda (whether I like it or not), and getting into the middle of a junior-high clique-fight among jealous heads of government wouldn’t support that goal, nor would it be fitting the office of the President. There’s a much better time for Obama to visit Normandy and commemorate our sacrifices there, as the article itself points out: the 65th anniversary of the landings this upcoming June.

In the end, I think the Telegraph’s headline is gratuitous, meant to inflame Obama opponents, not enlighten. It doesn’t help the Right’s cause to work itself into a lather that will only make it look irrational to middle-of-the-road voters. Do I wish PBO and his staff had found some way to avoid getting mixed up in intra-EU games while making a quiet, dignified visit to Normandy? Yes, it would have been better. But I just don’t see this as the craven appeasement of the Germans that the Telegraph paints it to be.

I’ve said before that, while I’m quite willing and ready to criticize Obama and the Democrats when they merit it (which is often), I will not descend to the level the Democrats and the far Left hit with their incessant, irrational, and Copperheaded attacks on President Bush. Obama doesn’t deserve it, the nation doesn’t need it, and it does no one any good. We can and must be better than that. The Telegraph’s headline writer should have been.

LINKS: Jim Hoff and Dan Collins muster the outrage for me.

(Cross-posted at Sister Toldjah, where I’m guest-blogging this week.)

(Updated 4/11/2010 to remove old Typepad traces)

A Veteran’s Day story

November 11, 2008

Sworn to silence by the military nearly 70 years ago, Anthony Acevedo finally gets to tell the story of how he survived a Nazi slave camp:

Anthony Acevedo thumbs through the worn, yellowed pages of his diary emblazoned with the words "A Wartime Log" on its cover. It’s a catalog of deaths and atrocities he says were carried out on U.S. soldiers held by Nazis at a slave labor camp during World War II — a largely forgotten legacy of the war.

Acevedo pauses when he comes across a soldier with the last name of Vogel.

"He died in my arms. He wouldn’t eat. He didn’t want to eat," says Acevedo, now 84 years old. "He said, ‘I want to die! I want to die! I want to die!’ "

The memories are still fresh, some 60 years later. Acevedo keeps reading his entries, scrawled on the pages with a Schaeffer fountain pen he held dear.

He was one of 350 U.S. soldiers held at Berga an der Elster, a satellite camp of the Nazis’ notorious Buchenwald concentration camp. The soldiers, working 12-hour days, were used by the German army to dig tunnels and hide equipment in the final weeks of the war. Less than half of the soldiers survived their captivity and a subsequent death march, he says.

Acevedo shows few emotions as he scans the pages of his diary. But when he gets to one of his final entries, the decades of pent-up pain, the horror witnessed by a 20-year-old medic, are too much.

"We were liberated today, April the 23, 1945," he reads.

His body shakes, and he begins sobbing. "Sorry," he says, tears rolling down his face. "I’m sorry."



Quote of the day

September 15, 2008

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel on his Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, in March, 1943:

"Sometimes you feel that he’s not quite normal."

Nah, really? What was your first clue?

(cited in An Army at Dawn, p. 411)


"Can’t I finish my martini?"

July 25, 2008

So, Barack Obama suddenly canceled his planned trip to visit wounded American servicemen and women while in Germany. According to the campaign, it was because they didn’t want to turn the visit into a campaign event “out of respect for the troops.” Odd, if you ask me, since the whole trip has been nothing but one long campaign event.

Well, now we know the real reason. After a hard day regaling the masses in front of a Prussian-Nazi monument in Berlin, he needed a drink.

Way to show depth of character, O Prophet. Waiting

(hat tip: Campaign Standard)


EUtopia watch

July 12, 2008

The German parliament is seriously considering a measure to give babies voting rights.

Dozens of German politicians have tabled a new law to extend voting rights to babies, toddlers, children and teenagers.

The bill, which has won the cross-party backing of some heavyweight German politicians, would wipe away decades of "exclusion" and "discrimination" against minors, according to its supporters.

Currently the voting threshold in Germany is 18, with an exception in some states, where 16-year-olds are allowed to cast a ballot.

But that does not go far enough for the new law’s backers, who want to ensure voting rights from cradle to grave. If the bill gets adopted, babies will have the same powers to voice their opinion on government handling of macro-economic performance in a global downturn enjoyed by their parents.

Toddlers will be able to take a stand on issues such as whether German armed forces should be deployed abroad.

According to the head of the liberal Free Democratic Party ­ traditional coalition partner of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party ­ the constitutional change would enfranchise 14 million people.

"Unfortunately in Germany, 17 per cent of the population, namely the children and adolescent, are excluded from political decision making," said FDP chief Dirk Niebel.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Spain’s ruling Socialists have seriously argued for granting human rights to simians, so why shouldn’t human children be given the franchise?

Just so long as they’re alert to the ever-present danger of infant racism.

Great, now I have this image stuck in my head of rioting skinhead babies in leather diapers wielding spiked rattles. Hee hee

Pat Buchanan is disgusting

June 20, 2008

Please explain to me why anyone outside of Stormfront and other neo-Nazi groups still takes this leftover America-Firster creep seriously:

Was the Holocaust Inevitable?

That Hitler was a rabid anti-Semite is undeniable. "Mein Kampf" is saturated in anti-Semitism. The Nuremberg Laws confirm it. But for the six years before Britain declared war, there was no Holocaust, and for two years after the war began, there was no Holocaust.

Not until midwinter 1942 was the Wannsee Conference held, where the Final Solution was on the table.

That conference was not convened until Hitler had been halted in Russia, was at war with America and sensed doom was inevitable. Then the trains began to roll.

And why did Hitler invade Russia? This writer quotes Hitler 10 times as saying that only by knocking out Russia could he convince Britain it could not win and must end the war.

Hitchens mocks this view, invoking the Hitler-madman theory.

"Could we have a better definition of derangement and megalomania than the case of a dictator who overrules his own generals and invades Russia in wintertime … ?"

Christopher, Hitler invaded Russia on June 22.

The Holocaust was not a cause of the war, but a consequence of the war. No war, no Holocaust.

In other words, the Holocaust was the fault of the British and (later) the Americans for attacking Germany. If only Britain hadn’t pushed Hitler into a corner, Auschwitz and Buchenwald wouldn’t have happened. This garbage so misrepresents the truth that it’s hard to know where to start in order to shred it, but here’s one damned good try.

And how can Townhall carry this nonsense? This isn’t conservative: it’s anti-historical revisionist filth. They should be ashamed. Angry

(hat tip: LGF)

LINKS: More at Gateway Pundit and A Blog for All.


May 29, 2008

Today is a sad day, the anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople, thus ending the last remnant of the Roman Empire, which had existed, if one accepts the traditional founding date of 753 BC, for 2,206 years. On May 29th, 1453, the city fell to the jihad armies of Sultan Mehmet II. Seven thousand defenders behind the city’s ancient walls couldn’t long hold out against an army at least 11 times their size and armed with siege cannons. The last Emperor, Constantine XI, fell defending his throne to the end. According to Runciman, whose Fall of Constantinople is the best book I’ve read on the topic, legend has it that the Emperor removed his regalia of office and died defending one of the city’s gates: his body was never found. Greek legend tells that an angel turned him to a pillar of marble and placed him in a hidden cavern, where he waits to return at his capital’s liberation.

So, of course, some wag made a bumper-sticker for the occasion:




Someone should tell the author that it’s 555 years. But who am I to quibble over details?

I’m sure there are Greek nationalists who take this seriously, but, sorry. Tragic as the city’s fall was, five centuries makes it a done deal.

Revanchist movements aren’t unique to Byzantine buffs, naturally. Palestinians and their Arab exploiters brothers for so long and so steadily pushed the myth of the nakba and the forced Palestinian expulsion from what is now Israel, that many accept it as unvarnished truth. From 1871 to 1914, France dreamed of recovering Alsace-Lorraine from the Germans. Chicano nationalists work themselves into ecstasy at the thought of returning the US Southwest to MexicoViva Aztlan! More threateningly, jihadists lay claim to the whole of the ancient Islamic empire, from Spain to Indonesia, as Allah-granted parts of the Muslim umma: theirs to reconquer.

About the only group I think has a real claim to a "right of return" are the Jews: Israel hasn’t been perfect since its foundation, but few people have suffered as much for as long as have the Jews, nor have many given the world as much. If anyone has a moral claim to an ancient home, it is they.

With that exception, however, revanchism and other forms of railing against the past gain one nothing except grief. After enough time has passed, it’s better to accept reality and look to the future.

Byzantium ain’t coming back.

(hat tip: Jihad Watch)


Did the Germans avert an attack on the 2006 World Cup?

April 12, 2008

According to Bavaria’s police chief, they may have done just that.


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Sixty-six years ago today, part two

December 8, 2007

On the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt delivered this speech to a joint session of Congress:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

You can listen to FDR giving the speech here. (Real media file.)

Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the US. Four years later, Mussolini had been executed by his own people, Hitler had committed suicide, and Germany, Italy, and Japan were under occupation.

Today’s lesson: It’s not a good idea to make us angry.

Germany gets in on the act

September 5, 2007

First it was Denmark, then Norway. Now the Germans have made a big anti-terror bust, arresting three men and charging them with plotting to blow up Americans.

Three suspected Islamic terrorists from an al-Qaida-influenced group nursing "profound hatred of U.S. citizens" were arrested on suspicious of plotting imminent, massive bomb attacks on U.S. facilities in Germany, prosecutors said Wednesday.

German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms said the three, two of whom were German converts to Islam, had trained at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union, a group based in Central Asia. They had obtained some 1,500 pounds of hydrogen peroxide for making explosives.

"We were able to succeed in recognizing and preventing the most serious and massive bombings," Harms told reporters.

Harms declined to name specific targets, but said the suspects had an eye on institutions and establishments frequented by Americans in Germany, including discos, pubs and airports.

Sudwestfunk televison, citing unnamed security sources in Berlin, reported that Frankfurt international airport and U.S. Ramstein Air Base were among the targets.

I’m not a chemist, but apparently hydrogen peroxide can be mixed with other chemicals to make a pretty powerful explosive — according to the Germans, the equivalent of 1,200 lbs. of TNT, larger than the Madrid and London bombings. Given the arrests in Norway and Denmark, one wonders if al-Qaeda wasn’t planning a series of spectacular, near-simultaneous strikes in these three countries. That fits their style.

There are several observations to be made about these latest incidents: first, Western security agencies have gotten pretty good at tracking these lunatics and disrupting their plots. Second, don’t get complacent, yet; we’re going to miss one someday and a lot of people are going to die for it. Our enemy tries again and again: we have to be right every time; they have to be right only once.

These events are also stark reminders that the jihadis aren’t just in Iraq, Algeria, or Afghanistan, but here in the Western democracies they so despise. Effective counterterrorism work requires effective counterintelligence, and that requires electronic surveillance, undercover work in radical groups and, yes, profiling. With proper safeguards and oversight, these are all compatible with liberal democracy and civil liberty. To deny ourselves these tools is to tie our hands behind our back and guarantee a disaster down the road.

(hat tip: Blue Crab Boulevard)

LINKS: More at LGF, Gateway Pundit, Hot Air, Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs, Power Line, and Captain’s Quarters. Pajamas Media has lots of links and notes the approach of the September 11th anniversary. German blog David’s Medienkritik notes the strong anti-Americanism of the suspects and blames the German media for helping to fuel it.

And they say we’re racists….

April 16, 2007

To paraphrase the line from Casablanca, there are certain sections of New York I wouldn’t advise the German Army to try to invade.

Especially after this.

(hat tip: PJM)

LINKS: More at Jules Crittenden.

Frederick the Great weeps

March 22, 2007

German Soldiers Contest Tornado Mission In Afghanistan

A group of German soldiers are contesting the military’s decision to send Tornado jets to Afghanistan to carry out surveillance missions for NATO, the defence ministry confirmed on Friday.

Officers have published a letter in the online newspaper Netzeitung accusing Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung of misleading the country about the mandate of the mission.

The group, who belong to an army association called the "Darmstaedter Signal", dispute Jung’s repeated assurances that it is not a combat mission.

"The results of the reconnaissance flights will be used directly to support the combat led by ground troops and fighter aircraft," they said.

Can’t have that, now, can we?

Thank God for Australia.


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