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Post Do Confederate Monuments Have Any Cultural Value?
Created by John Eipper on 08/20/17 4:19 PM

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Do Confederate Monuments Have Any Cultural Value? (Francisco Ramirez, USA, 08/20/17 4:19 pm)

First of all, let me thank Eugenio Battaglia (20 August). If he had not responded in this fashion, I would have had a cardiac.

But the Confederate monuments were not constructed to celebrate the nation nor as an exercise in healing. The timing of the spikes in their construction clearly indicate that these were acts of defiance, earlier linked with the KKK and later in the 1970s as protest against the Civil Rights Act. So, if you think the defiance is warranted and its celebration justified, it is understandable that the call to remove the monuments offends you. From my perspective not every feature of one's heritage should be celebrated. And a rebellion that would have severed the Union and preserved the institution of slavery is a feature best not celebrated. The monuments belong in museums, not in front of government offices nor in public squares. If the museums were honest, the monuments would not only refer to the persons represented in the monuments but to the eras and circumstances that gave rise to them in the first place.

I do not believe in historical erasure so I do not call for their destruction nor approve of kicking a statue. But to refer to the latter as an ISIS-like manifestation is the kind of moral equivalency perspective that Donald Trump has embraced. One ought to be able to do better.

Take a long hard look at the marchers in Virginia. They were there to save a monument. Listen to what they chanted. "Jews will not replace us." Anti-Semitism is indeed a feature of Western heritage, but one that should not be celebrated. One ought to be able to do better.

Not every defender of monuments celebrating the rebellion that almost severed the Union are white supremacists or Neo-Nazis. But if you are in bed with them, do tell us what it feels like under the sheets.

JE comments:  "A rebellion that would have severed the Union and preserved the institution of slavery is a feature best not celebrated":  This is the kernel of Francisco Ramírez's argument, and it's hard to disagree.  What about placing the monuments in a park setting, as several of the post-Socialist nations have done?  (Two examples:  Budapest's Memento Park and the even more impressive Grütas Park in Lithuania, which we visited in June.)  The problem is/will be one of backlash, which could be worse (and certainly more violent) than the offense generated by the monuments themselves.

And yes:  Why should Washington and Jefferson be excluded?  They both practiced the institution of slavery.

We haven't yet heard from any US Southerners in this discussion.

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  • Confederate Monuments: A Southerner's Perspective (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 08/21/17 3:26 AM)
    John E asked for a commentary from US Southerners about the Confederate monuments debate.

    I've been a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for years (as well as a member of the Sons of the American Revolution). Four of my collateral relatives served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, two of whom were KIA (including General Tuner Ashby, "Stonewall" Jackson's cavalry commander, and 19-year-old Private James Ashby, who died during Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg). Jim's elder brother, Captain John Ashby, was his company commander in the 8th Virginia at Pickett's Charge and was forever after blamed by their mother for "losing Jimmy."

    Before the War John was majoring in Classics at the University of Virginia and planning to become a professor. The war ruined him emotionally (from the accounts of relatives who knew both him and me, he suffered from what would today be termed PTSD) and financially and he eked out a living as a farmer in Delaplane, Virginia for the rest of his long life. I didn't know Captain John but I knew his granddaughter whom he raised, and in the 1950s and '60s I collected stories from my great aunt and her cousins who knew other Confederate veterans.

    I mention this as a preface because my perspective on the Confederate monuments is based on this personal (albeit second-hand) connection with the Civil War, which I consider the greatest tragedy to befall the USA.

    I think it is utter nonsense to believe that the Confederate monuments were erected--by subscriptions and denotations from many thousands of primarily poor men, women and children)--"during the Jim Crow era to stand in opposition to racial equality" and that "Veneration of Confederates symbolized white racial dominance," or as "acts of defiance." I can assure you that such monuments were designed to honor the brave soldiers who fought and died for a cause they believed in, which in the minds of most of them was not about slavery (only about 6 percent of Confederate soldiers came from slave-owning families) but about defending their homelands from Northern aggressors first and the rather nebulous "States Rights" second (although undoubtedly the States Rights issue included the Southern states' rights to maintain slavery). It outrages me to read that such soldiers were "traitors" to the USA because they fought for states that seceded from the Union.

    Both Southern and Northern Americans in those days did not view themselves as US citizens first and foremost. Loyalty to Virginia was the real reason that Robert E. Lee turned down the offer to lead the Union Army. Perhaps a better example is the colorful General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, an abolitionist before the War who thought the country would have been better if the founding fathers abolished slavery. General Beauregard joined the Confederate army because he was a Creole first, a loyal son of Louisiana second, and only after that a citizen of the United States.

    I excoriate the White Supremists who carry Nazi flags and chant racist (including anti-Semitic) slogans in opposition to removing Confederate statues. Frankly, I think that--like in Germany--Nazi symbols should be banned in the USA, which would enable such monsters to be locked up. These deluded creatures do not really care about preserving history but have a different, violent agenda, and are seeking an excuse to practice it. As are the Alt-Left coalition members such as Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA (regarding the latter, Mark Bray, a visiting historian of political radicalism at Dartmouth and himself far on the left of the political spectrum, says that ANTIFA "are illiberal ..."They don't believe in society as a value-neutral public sphere where any kind of ideas can just float around." I see these groups--ALT-LEFT and ALT-RIGHT--as mirror images of each other.

    So, as you've undoubtedly gathered by now, I am fiercely opposed to the removal of Confederate Memorials and disgusted when craven politicians (and the police) cave in to the extremist views of a small minority of radicals who seek to erase history. I was furious when police in Durham NC stood by and watched people tear down and destroy a Confederate statue because they wanted to "avoid an ugly confrontation." This is how anarchy begins. I'm already reading about calls to tear down statues of Jefferson, Washington, etc. because they were slave owners. Where does it end? Tolerating such desecration just deepens an already worrisome racial divide, which may well be the agenda of the radicals on both sides. My relatives in Virginia have recently told me of social media calls for volunteers to provide 24-hour guards around Confederate monuments "because the police can no longer be trusted to do their job," even though Virginia has a state law protecting historic monuments. Some of these volunteers will probably be armed, and their opponents will probably provoke them into more clashes and bloodshed.

    I'm evidently not alone in my opposition to the monument defilers. According to the Washington Post, a survey by the Economist and YouGov found that, by more than 2 to 1, Americans believe that Confederate monuments are symbols of Southern pride rather than of white supremacy. Another survey conducted Aug. 14-15 by Marist Poll for the PBS NewsHour and NPR, found that 62 percent of the 1,125 U.S. adults responding believe that "statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy should remain as a historical symbol." About 27 percent said they should "be removed because they are offensive." The remaining 11 percent were unsure. The poll had a margin of error of 2.9 percent.

    JE comments:  An eloquent defense of Confederate monuments from a historian's perspective.  (By the by, WAISers, if you haven't read Tim Ashby's historical novel Devil's Den, do so.)  Unlike Soviet communism or National Socialism, the US Confederacy was based on regional identity first, ideology second.  Identities cannot be erased.

    So where does this leave us?  The issue in a nutshell:  How can history be preserved without perpetuating its injustices?

    Is the Lost Cause on the brink of being forever...lost?

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    • Confederate Monuments: Eric Foner in NYT (Paul Levine, Denmark 08/22/17 6:42 AM)
      I'm not sure many historians would agree with Timothy Ashby's interpretation (August 21st) of the erection of Civil War statues in the postbellum period.

      As it happens, Eric Foner, one of our premier historians, has an op-ed piece in the New York Times on this issue. He says, in part: "The great waves of Confederate monument building took place in the 1890s, as the Confederacy was coming to be idealized as the so-called Lost Cause and the Jim Crow system was being fastened upon the South, and in the 1920s, the height of black disenfranchisement, segregation and lynching. The statues were part of the legitimation of this racist regime and of an exclusionary definition of America."

      Incidentally, this flourishing period of monument building coincides with the resurrection of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915 and its ascendant popularity in the next decade. The KKK declined after 1925 after some devastating scandals.

      I attach Foner's article for the edification of our readers.


      JE comments:  Prof. Foner makes the salient point that monuments teach us more about the era they were built than the era they commemorate.  One quibble:  there is a Longstreet statue at Gettysburg, which admittedly is a Northern town.

      Francisco Ramírez (next) writes more about the timing of the Confederate monument-building.  We could form interesting hypotheses regarding Jim Crow and Civil Rights.

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      • What About Monuments Honoring Killers of Native Americans? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/23/17 4:43 AM)
        If it is wise to remove the monuments to the Confederates, what about the streets, parks, statues, and even towns (Chivington, Colorado) of presidents and officers responsible for the Native American Genocide?

        Just a few names:  Andrew Jackson, James Forsyth, William Sheridan, John Chivington and so on. Of course, afterwards we may find something else to eliminate.

        JE comments: Slaveholder and Indian-fighter Andrew Jackson's reputation has faded enormously in recent years. Remember the decision to remove him from the 20-dollar bill, in favor of Harriet Tubman?  I presume the change has been put on hold under Trump.  Can anyone confirm?

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        • Confederate Monuments and Soviet-Bloc Monuments: Are They Equivalent? (Tom Hashimoto, UK 08/24/17 4:53 AM)
          The multiple efforts by Eugenio Battaglia (23 August) et al. to list the monuments with questionable legacies in a search for the borderline of acceptable public memory are indispensable, and yet they seem to be rather fruitless.

          Across the Pond, as WAISers already mentioned, numerous communist and fascist monuments were removed from the public eyes. The removal, however, functioned as the "societal healing" for living souls whose personal memories were too vivid to bear the public reminders of the past in their "new" everyday life. In this sense, I believe this is a distinct type of "removal" from the public memory, compared to, say, the protests against the Confederate monuments or the Rhodes Must Fall movements (in South Africa, Oxford, etc). The latter, to me, function as a selection of memories/legacies to pass on to the next generations with immense symbolism involved.

          While I respect everyone's feelings and opinions stemming from collective memories, I weigh personal memory as the primary focus in search for social justice. Of course, I am aware that such categorisation itself is a type of generalisation on the issues at our hands.

          While the elimination of "poisonous" ideologies from our collective mind and society is something I may be able to agree with, I am too stupid to come to a conclusion as to how we decide which shall remain and which shall not, beyond clear-cut/extreme cases. Hence, the aforementioned efforts to search the borderline are echoed (as opposed to consolidated) among us.

          The claim "I have a right to..." is often paired with someone else being prevented from doing something. We are coming close to criminalising the Confederate Flag. Are we ready to let law enforcement officers to step into your private property without a warrant as they saw the Confederation Flag on your wall? If a privately funded gallery kept the monuments with questionable legacies, shall we confiscate them?

          After all, don't we have more important things to do to educate ourselves regarding equality and equity than discussing about the statues of dead people? (Yes, Germany took it seriously when it comes to Nazism, but they are/were aware of the potential conflicts with privacy and the freedom of speech. Are we?)

          One last thing--I believe that the removal of monuments should be done by a legal means without vandalism. Vandalised monuments of the slave-owners do not radiate the sense of justice--rather, it nuances the absence of it. It makes the United States look more barbarian belonging to the pre-modern era.

          JE comments: Tom Hashimoto's "personal memory" litmus test could be a useful beginning, although (ouch) it could now almost be used to resurrect Nazi symbols. The wider question is whether the frenzied removal of fascist and socialist monuments in the moment these systems collapsed can be equated with Confederate symbolism a century or more after their construction.

          Tom, tell us more about Rhodes Must Fall at Oxford.  I hope things in Warsaw and Vilnius are going well.

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          • Put Confederate Monuments in Mothballs? (David Duggan, USA 08/25/17 3:29 AM)
            I think the best solution would be to put the offending Confederate statues in mothballs (or their lapidarian equivalent if the statues are in stone rather than bronze) for another 100 years or so, and then put the issue to a vote. Something similar happened when the British Parliament voted in the 1890s to erect a statue in honor of the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, Oliver Cromwell (d. 1658), who of course had caused the death of an English monarch and indirectly led to the population of insurrectionist Virginia (overwhelmingly populated by expatriate Cavaliers in the 1640s and 1650s). Parliamentarian John George Phillimore responded to the critics (mainly retrograde monarchists and Irish nationalists): "any man who could object to a statue of Cromwell must be imbued with bigotry and party spirit in the highest degree." If 250 years is a sufficient period of limitations to see the merits of a man who cost the realm not only its orb and scepter, but also half of its colonial empire, then maybe we could see a century hence that the Robert E. Lees, Stonewall Jacksons and other defenders of the lost cause were no more misguided than our other enlightened heroes who came together to create a great nation which has since then rescued continents from tyranny and peoples from oppression.

            Having written this, I do not favor the equivalent exhumation of Robert E. Lee's body from the R. E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, VA, to suffer the same fate as Cromwell's body and head on the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne. On Cromwell's 1661 exhumation, his head was put on a pike whence it hung in Westminster Hall until the late 1680s, when it disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Versions have resurfaced and been sold to collectors for sky-high prices. At some point, the dead should be allowed to rest in peace.

            JE comments:  Lexington is also the resting place of Gen. Stonewall Jackson.  One of history's many ironies:  The land of Arlington National Cemetery used to belong to Lee's family--specifically, his wife, Mary Anna.  The Union Army confiscated it in the early days of the war.

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            • Monument Controversies: Columbus in NYC (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 08/26/17 9:06 AM)
              I have been following the recent controversies about Confederate monuments and statues in the US, although in a distant and uninterested way.

              But yesterday's news was too much. I saw that in New York there is an initiative to remove the statue of Cristóbal Colón, or Christopher Columbus if you like, because somebody in the Mayor's office considers it a racist offense to the Caribbean people; an expression of racism, or some other nonsense.

              I do not understand, and if I did, I would probably never accept arguments to remove or destroy historical monuments, streets, parks, statues, or the exhumation and removal of bodies and so on, as much as I would not accept the destruction of historical books or documents with the intention of removing from the collective historical memory some character or ideology of the past for the sake of an intellectual movement or grievance.

              There are many examples, many very recent, about changing the names of cities, before and after the USSR; the burning of books in the Hitler and Mao regimes; the destruction of historical monuments and statues by ISIS in Palmyra; the "Ley de la Memoria Histórica" in Spain, which attempts to erase, by decree, the collective historical memory. I believe there are more irrational and emotional motivations behind these unjustified, and somehow barbaric, acts than actual reason.

              Isn't it a very complex task in the present to judge who is an evil or poisonous historical character of the past?

              By eliminating their legacy, whether "good" or "bad," might we also be eliminating important and transcendental aspects of our past?.

              History should not be "physically" removed to justify our present moral standards. Rather, education should be promoted to critically understand them and their acts, not necessarily to justify them.

              However, I must also confess I would feel some satisfaction if all kinds of representations and icons of the current Venezuelan or Cuban regimes were eliminated, but this only would be a very simplistic resolution of my own resentment. But, would it be wise to remove worldwide, what I personally consider "evil"--the revolutionary icons of Chávez, Fidel or Che Guevara?

              JE comments: José Ignacio Soler is singing my tune: education and critical debate over erasing history. Let us channel Santayana: if we forget the past's injustices, we are doomed to repeat them. (Sometimes we both remember and repeat past injustices, but that's another conversation.)

              But what is the proper place for this debate: the public square, or the museum?

              Tell us, Nacho: Has Maduro built a lot of Chávez statues, or has the era of grandiose cult-of-personality monuments itself passed into history?

              [Sorry for the delay in launching today's WAIS.  We had a "storage problem 28" that has just been resolved.]

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            • A Swastika in Canada (John Heelan, UK 08/27/17 5:08 AM)
              Here is an interesting case in Canada--a recovered German anchor on display in a Quebec park:


              JE comments:  Swastikas come in two varieties--the old Sanskrit good-luck symbol, and the much later Nazi appropriation.  The public no longer makes this distinction, but there are surviving examples of prewar swastikas.  I've pointed out before that Angell Hall on the campus of U Michigan has swastika decorations on its exterior columns.  And then there was the K-R-I-T Motor Car company of Detroit, 1909-1916, which used the swastika in its logo.  Google "Krit emblem" for a look.

              Or how about the Coronado Naval Amphibious Base in San Diego, built in 1967?  This one is creepy--and postwar, which makes it creepier.


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              • NAACP, "The Crisis," and Swastikas; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 08/28/17 3:27 AM)

                Gary Moore writes:

                Re John Eipper's broader look at the Nazi-style swastika:
                In the early twentieth century before the Nazis came along,
                the NAACP routinely used swastikas as margin decorations
                in its monthly magazine The Crisis. They were very busy working for an end to white supremacy: one more question
                about judging the fashions of the past by the fashions of the present.

                Morality does seem to progress into increasing inclusiveness as the
                Info-World continues its inscrutable blossoming. But this leaves the
                dilemma of universal standards. As we leave behind the standards that
                tolerated human sacrifice or trial by combat, there are (to say the least)
                differing opinions about some universal standard by which to look back
                and judge the befuddled past. It's a trap to use the (probably transient)
                standards (or fashions?) of the befuddled present.

                But this leaves what?
                The voice from the sky?

                JE comments:   The Crisis was founded in 1910 by W. E. B. Du Bois.  The journal continues today as a quarterly.  I Googled "NAACP Crisis swastika cover" and came up with no corresponding images.  Gary Moore is WAISdom's authority on African-American history, and I presume he has seen many archival issues of the journal.  Please tell us moore, Gary:  why would none of the swastika covers be readily accessible on the 'Net?

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                • More Pre-WWII Swastikas; Salamanca's "Victor" Symbol (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 08/29/17 11:10 AM)
                  Swastikas figured prominently in the cover and title page of all the volumes of Rudyard Kipling's collected works until, I guess, the eve of World War II.

                  In this case it was, certainly, the Buddhist symbol, as I imagine it was the case for the NAACP magazine.

                  It is indeed a huge problem when a more or less harmless symbol is given a more sinister meaning by a political movement.

                  One example in Spain is the Victor / Vitor anagram you can see all over some buildings in Salamanca, referring to people who have successfully defended a doctoral thesis at the University.

                  It was appropriated by the rebels after they won the Civil War, and many people still think it is a Francoist symbol, while it certainly it is not.

                  JE comments:  The Salamanca "Víctor" sign (below) is so catchy that Franco copied it upon his victory in 1939.  A shame, really, as it contaminated a very cool symbol of academic achievement.

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                • NAACP's "The Crisis" and Swastikas; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 08/29/17 1:52 PM)

                  Gary Moore writes:

                  In response to John E's question, here is a small example that I came across quickly,
                  from The Crisis, June 1921, page 58.


                  But what are the two
                  book-end icons? At first glance they almost look like Torahs
                  with a menorah motif, but there's a cross, so Bibles? Have
                  I discussed the glimpse of Du Bois as a student in nineteenth-century Germany, spellbound in the drafty lecture room as Ranke
                  or some other phenomenal genius was dissecting the world, and at one point making a sharp comment to the class about
                  Africans being inferior--and supposedly knowing they are?  Du Bois was so enthralled by the outpowering of knowledge
                  otherwise that he scarcely even condemned the comment,
                  almost brushing it off, and took back to the States the emblematic
                  empire goatee that reminded him of classical erudition.

                  What in the world do all those swastikas mean--and the other arcana?
                  For one thing, they mean Du Bois was fascinated by the catacombs.

                  JE comments:  Thank you, Gary!  There are more swastikas on p. 60.  They function as snazzy dividers between articles, rather like asterisks today.  How about a far-fetched analogy?  Imagine the future horrors of the "Have a Nice Day" smiley-face, should a racist, genocidal regime ever adopt it as a symbol.

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        • Franco Monuments...and General Custer (John Heelan, UK 08/24/17 6:07 AM)

          Ten years ago, the socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero approved a law that forces the removal of all public symbols of the Franco era, such as statues and plaques, and to rename streets associated with Franco and the generals who fought alongside him in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.

          (As to the killing of American Indians, does not a statue to Custer still exist in Monroe, Michigan?)

          JE comments:  Monroe, George Armstrong Custer's hometown, is 45 minutes east of Adrian.  It's surprising that the Civil War's biggest dandy would hail from such a down-to-earth place.  (To wit, it's the Recliner Capital of the Free World:  La-Z-Boy.)  I believe the monument still stands (see below):  Custer is probably immune from historical expungement, as he already faced "justice" at Little Bighorn.

          Returning to Spain, there must still be a Franco statue or two somewhere on public display.  Who can fill us in?

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          • More on Monuments: Custer, Sherman, Lee, Franco (Anthony J Candil, USA 08/25/17 4:08 AM)
            Why should a memorial to General Custer should be removed? That he was a dandy as John E suggests is not a sin.  Custer was probably a fool but he died in battle, and in my view with honor. Let him rest in peace, for God's sake!

            Are we thinking of removing all our historical memorials?  Why not remove William T. Sherman's memorial in NYC?  After all, he burned Atlanta, didn't he?

            I do think this is all foolishness. Once upon a time I was proud that we were able to respect all the fallen, no matter which side they fought on during the Civil War. To me it was an example of moderation, peace and reconciliation. Now that it's all over, we are no different from others.

            Regarding Spain, that is different to start with. In the US at least we remove the statues and memorials of the losers. In Spain they remove the statues and memorials of the winners! Can you imagine if we had started removing all memorials of Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, and many others who won the Civil War?

            The Spaniards, no matter what some prominent WAISers such as Ángel Viñas, Paul Preston, and others may think or say, are what they are today thanks to Franco and the Nationalists for winning their Civil War. Don't forget the monarchy.  Felipe and Letizia wouldn't be monarchs today if the Republic had won the war. It was Franco, in a wrong move in my view, who restored the monarchy.

            They shouldn't have removed at least Franco's memorial at the Spanish Military Academy, at Zaragoza. He was its first director there. To put up a memorial, anyway, dedicated to the father of Juan Carlos, naming him Juan III, when he was never actually a king and did nothing but live free at the expense of all Spaniards, that's a stupid thing!

            On the other hand, to qualify memorials to generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston as symbols of "modern Neo-Nazism," as the president of the UT at Austin has said--quoting JE--is the most stupid and saddest thing I've ever heard.

            JE comments:  Perhaps Anthony Candil in Austin can answer this.  Is UT's President, Gregory Fenves, a Yankee?  He was educated at Cornell and U Cal-Berkeley, which suggests he is, but none of the on-line bios include a birthplace.  If he were a Texan, I'm sure the info would be plastered everywhere.  It's far easier to identify Fenves's religion (Judaism) and salary ($750K) than his place of birth.

            I saw Fenves speak at UT back in May.  The occasion?  The graduation of engineer extraordinaire Eric Simmons, who is competing this weekend at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition in California.  Godspeed, Eric!  (By the way, he's my nephew.)  Click below; he's done good.



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            • Yankees and Rebels Today: Let's Get Over It (Anthony J Candil, USA 08/26/17 9:16 AM)
              Just to continue talking in terms of "Yankees" and "Confederates" makes me sick, honestly. We are all Americans, and just to realize this is what should define us going forward.

              History is history and should remain as such, without hate or bigotry.

              I didn't know what John E says about the current president of the U of Texas, and I don't consider him a "Yankee" in the bad sense of the word. I used to know his predecessor, William Powers, who came from Berkeley and Harvard and was a professor of law. He resigned under weird circumstances but is still a professor of law.

              Fenves also comes from Berkeley, as well as Cornell, but he is an engineer. Maybe this training gives him a structural mind and he is much younger than Powers. I don't think that Powers would have labeled General Lee as "Neo-Nazi."

              Anyway, congratulations to John E for his nephew's achievement! It must be in the genes.

              JE comments: But Anthony, Texans if anyone are comfortable with identity labels that subdivide the nation. Aren't people from the Lone Star state Texans first and Americans, well, second?

              The Hyperloop competition is today. Go Team Eric! I always wondered, with my poet's brain, how I came from a family of engineers (father, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew).

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              • Celebrating US Outlaws: Jesse James (Enrique Torner, USA 08/27/17 4:12 AM)
                I don't understand all these violent disputes over statues and other monuments erected in honor of Confederate figures. If they don't deserve being remembered in this artistic fashion, why do so many criminals in this country have a museum devoted to them, and nobody complains about them? On the contrary, they seem to be very popular.

                When I first arrived in the US as a student at Indiana University, in Bloomington, our guide (I came with a group of 30 other Spanish fellows) took us to Nashville, Indiana, where we had the opportunity to visit the John Dillinger Museum. My Spanish fellows and I were absolutely amazed that somebody had built a museum in honor of a criminal. I remember that we commented, "This can only happen in America!"  One year later, while visiting San Francisco, I discovered that the famous penitentiary of Alcatraz that I had seen in the movies had become a museum. I took a cruise to the island and took a tour of the prison, being able to see the jail where Al Capone had been! Oh, my goodness! Another major criminal honored! Some years later, after I accepted a teaching position at then Mankato State, I visited the Jesse James Museum in Northfield, Minnesota, built upon the last bank he and his gang tried to rob. For some reason, years later they renamed it Northfield Historical Society Museum, but the exhibits devoted to the famous criminal not only remain, but have grown! In the basement of the museum there is a glass-topped coffin with the skeleton of one of the members of Jesse's gang. Also, there is a desiccated ear of the same criminal sewn to a piece of cardboard!

                There are many other similar museums all over the US that I haven't visited: the Crime Museum in Washington DC, where you can learn the history of crime in the US; the Mob Museum in Las Vegas; and the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa, scene of a still-unsolved murder that happened in 1912, where Sarah Moore, their four children and two young friends were all murdered in their beds. In the US, remembering crime is a great form of entertainment, as you can see from the poster I attach.

                And you say that crime doesn't pay? So, why do people think that Robert E. Lee and others like him don't deserve to be remembered, while all these criminals do? What sense does this make? Isn't this a crazy paradox?

                JE comments:  Don't all societies celebrate outlaws?  There is something culturally fascinating about those who refuse to play by the rules.  Who was the first?  Robin Hood?  Spartacus? 

                Part of the outlaws' appeal is pure economics:  they draw visitors to your museum or festival.  A similar phenomenon is happening in Colombia with Pablo Escobar tourism.  But where do you draw the line?  A Timothy McVeigh museum is out of the question, at least for now.  In another generation, it's impossible to say.

                Guess how Jesse James got his start?  As a Confederate guerrilla/bushwacker during the Civil War.

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                • What Happened in Charlottesville; Looking to 2018 (Istvan Simon, USA 08/27/17 1:57 PM)
                  Let me try to answer Enrique Torner's question (27 August).

                  Virginians do not have any opposition to Robert E. Lee being in a museum. In fact, that is the whole purpose of moving his statue. What they do not want is for Robert E. Lee to be honored and commemorated in a public square, where he can and has become a rallying point for neo-Nazis and other haters that live in this country, who think that anyone with a darker skin color does not belong in the United States.

                  There were a mere 700 of these right-wing domestic terrorists and Trump supporters from the entire United States in Charlottesville and they were outnumbered by local citizen counter-demonstrators who did not want the former's hateful garbage spewed and polluting Charlottesville's streets. As far as I know there was no significant violence between the neo-Nazis and counter-demonstrators until a neo-Nazi decided to commit an act of terrorism against the counter-demonstrators, driving his car into a crowd, injuring dozens seriously, and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

                  See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/us/heather-heyer-charlottesville-victim.html?mcubz=1

                  The pandering of this president to these hate groups is a disgrace and a shame on the United States, and the blot can be repaired only by removing this so-called president and his equally objectionable VP from the White House, and restore this country to at least half-decent leadership. In my opinion, the best opportunity for this is after the 2018 elections, when I expect that Democrats will retake both control of the House and the Senate and terminate this nightmare government.

                  This will not be easy in spite of the amazing unpopularity of this government a mere 7 months after taking office with the smallest crowds in attendance in decades on January 20. That is because of the gerrymandering perpetrated by Republicans in recent decades, as well as because of the disgraceful Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court, which opened the floodgates for buying politicians to anyone with money. Nonetheless these huge obstacles, I believe that it will be accomplished because of the utter and complete failure of this government.

                  JE comments:  It is still very early to forecast the 2018 mid-term elections.  Even with Trump's unprecedented unpopularity, the Democrats have fared poorly in the special elections held so far this year.

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                  • What Happened in Charlottesville; the Antifa Movement (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 08/31/17 3:44 PM)

                    Istvan Simon (27 August) is wrong to write that "What [Virginians] ... do not want is for Robert E. Lee to be honored and commemorated in a public square, where he can and has become a rallying point for neo-Nazis and other haters that live in this country, who think that anyone with a darker skin color does not belong in the United States."

                    According to an August 22 poll of Virginia voters, a majority--51 percent--want the statues to remain on public property while 28 percent would like them removed. A majority--52 percent--of voters polled also consider the monuments part of Southern heritage while just 25 percent believe the statues are symbols of racism.

                    Voters were split on who was most responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, with 40 percent blaming the white nationalist marchers and 41 percent blaming the white nationalists and the counterprotesters ­equally.

                    From the Washington Post:


                    While the counterprotesters included Charlottesville residents, a large number (if not a majority) of this group were outsiders from around the USA. In addition to "Antifa" members who seem to be professional anarchists, the counterprotesters included members of Black Lives Matter, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Industrial Workers of the World, the anti-racism group Showing Up for Racial Justice, the International Socialist Organization, legal aid groups, smaller left-wing groups and the clergy.

                    Anyone who thinks that Antifa is dedicated to "peace and love" is sadly misguided. Take a close look at this photo published in the New York Times on August 14, 2017 identified as "A group of counterprotesters who identified themselves as antifa, or anti-fascists, rested during a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday." The young woman on the left is wearing a machete or large knife in a scabbard. The two men in the center are carrying AR-style "assault" rifles, and the woman on the right is armed with a folding stock rifle that I cannot readily identify.


                    JE comments:  This image is straight from the NYT.  Are the liberals beginning to arm themselves?  Time magazine's Joel Stein asks this same question, with a much lighter tone, in a recent column.  His wife wanted to learn to shoot, to "protect herself from the people who had guns to protect themselves from people who wanted to take her guns, such as her."


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              • "Your Son is Dating a Yankee? What a Pity" (Anthony J Candil, USA 08/27/17 4:50 AM)
                I've never felt what John E said about Texans being Texans first and Americans second. Maybe some fools say something like that or as a joke, but it's not a serious thinking at all.

                However, I have to admit that sometimes there is some antagonism against the North, and yes, they call them "Yankees," but it is always in a funny way.

                Our neighbor--her name is Lisa--is a true Texan and she told me one day: "What a pity Tony, your son is dating a Yankee!"  She had just met my son Fernando's girlfriend! Fernando is my eldest soon.  He is a young attorney, a grad from Texas Tech Law School, and is seriously dating a young lady, a professor of music from Illinois. Still, she's a Yankee! Oh my God!

                Have a nice weekend y'all!

                JE comments:  The dilemma could be solved by granting Texans dual citizenship.  Or you can just buy the t-shirt...

                How about "American by birth, Texan by the Grace of God"?  I've seen that bumper sticker on many a Suburban or Escalade.

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                • Texas "Nationalism" (Timothy Brown, USA 08/28/17 2:40 PM)
                  I stand to be corrected, but since Texas is a state of the United States, a Texan is a citizen of Texas and therefore only votes for Texas state officials and the members of Congress that represent them at the national level.  No citizen of a state has a vote as to who will be their president. They vote for the electors most likely to vote for the president they want. The electors then elect the president. So, legally, a Texan is, in fact, a Texan first. They are Americans because they are citizens of a sovereign state that is a member of the union of sovereign states we call the United States of America.

                  A personal example. You must be a citizen of one of the fifty states to be a commissioned Foreign Service Officer. That's why I was officially commission as "Timothy C. Brown, of Nevada," as was our son.

                  To be a Texan first and American second is a personal choice. It was precisely decisions by individuals that they were loyal to their state first, their nation second, that led to the Civil War.

                  JE comments: The "sovereign state" concept is central to US federalism, yet it's also a fiction, as 1861-'65 proved.

                  Still, my earlier point was slightly different, that Texas does have a national sentiment, an "exceptionalism" if you will.  Is there anything comparable in Nevada, Tim?  We Michiganders are taught to hate Ohio, but that's about as far as it goes.

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            • Franco Monuments in Spain Today (Carmen Negrin, France 08/28/17 12:45 PM)
              In response to Anthony Candil (August 25h), first of all I don't think one can compare Lincoln to Franco!

              Second, yes, we owe a lot, too much, to Franco, in particular the useless king who, as the rest of his family, has lived at the expense of his "subjects."

              We owe to Franco the corruption, lack of ethics, the tremendous power of the church, the arrogance of a new elite still in place, and Spain's low educational and health levels, which have become better since he left but let's stress that it would have been difficult to get worse.  We also owe him the very high level of fear that still exists when it comes to talking about the Spanish Civil War, or wanting a Republic. I have witnessed it time and again, even though it is true that, after 40 years, the level has reduced. The central factor that kept Franco's dictatorship in place was fear--unfortunately a justified fear.

              In his specific case, all the monuments, streets, schools, hospitals, etc., named after him and his people do recall that fear and grievance, to half of Spain. And by law they should be removed, just like the corpses he had thrown in mass graves, but Rajoy is not enforcing the law, on the contrary. Perhaps this is why it is even more important to enforce its application at a grassroots level.

              JE comments:  Anthony Candil was not comparing Franco to Lincoln... I think.  Both won a civil war, but there the similarities stop.

              Carmen:  Have any institutions in Spain (besides the Foundation in Las Palmas) been named after your grandfather?

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              • Franco Gave Us the Royals (Anthony J Candil, USA 08/30/17 3:40 AM)
                To answer Carmen Negrín (28 August), of course I was not comparing Franco to Lincoln. My thanks to John E for coming to my rescue, and I apologize to Carmen if I conveyed to her such a feeling.

                And I was half joking when I said that Spaniards should be grateful to Franco. He certainly made a lot of mistakes and was ruthless with his enemies in the very first years. Later on maybe we can debate this. Spain in the 1960s, and maybe '70s, was not a country living with such a fear, as Carmen points out. At least I didn't perceive it. It was a pretty easygoing country, and public safety in the streets and towns was high. But of course, I'm sure everything that glittered wasn't gold.

                On the other hand, I wanted to emphasize that those who should be more grateful to Franco are precisely the Royals. I agree with Carmen about Juan Carlos. He is a very corrupt person, still living on his subjects and getting a very generous allowance, in spite of not being the king on the throne. And Felipe VI is just his sequel; like father like son.

                What really surprises me is that when the Spaniards are getting rid of everything Francoism meant, why they don't get rid of the Borbón family once and for all? Especially taking into account that it was Franco who restored them to the throne. Don't they realize that Royals are the main corruption force behind the scene?

                How can it be that the Socialist Party is so much a "monarchist" party nowadays? It makes no sense at all. I won't be surprised if Felipe Gonzalez is rewarded with a dukedom or similar, any day.

                I don't think the Spanish military would be an obstacle to dismantling the monarchy. The Spanish military count very little in Spanish society today. So? What's the problem?

                I wonder what Carmen thinks.

                Anyway, best wishes to y'all from the wettest state in the Union, today. We survived Harvey.

                JE comments:  Who can give us an appraisal of Felipe VI's popularity today?  Isn't he considered far less corrupt than his father (and brother-in-law)?  Still, Anthony Candil makes a convincing point.  If Spain by law is removing its monuments to Franco, why not take down the most visible and expensive "monument" of all--the Monarchy?

                Here, Carmen Negrín and Anthony Candil are in full agreement.  Next, Carmen comments on how her grandfather is remembered in Spain.

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                • Fear in Spain: Then and Now (Carmen Negrin, France 09/05/17 4:13 AM)
                  First of all, all my best wishes for recovery to the inhabitants of the wettest state in the US (Texas)! Also, all the best to all of us if the moods of the leaders of North Korea or the USA get itchy.

                  Responding to Anthony Candil (30 August), strangely enough, according to different inquiries, it seems that if we had elections today, the monarchy would be confirmed. We must not forget that Azaña, President of the Republic, tried to negotiate the return of the monarchy in exchange for peace; a number of Republicans approved of that idea, a sort of "anything but Franco," until the monarchy was actually back in place. But then, in the same order of ideas/absurdities/contradictions, although the PP has been the party the most involved in corruption, it still receives the most votes. Try and figure it out!

                  As far as fear is concerned, I can only talk of what I have witnessed: at the end of the 1960s, many classics such as Sartre could not be found in Spain, except in hidden cellars. Books were still censured. The army was very present, even when Juan Carlos was on the throne, the coup attempt of 23 de febrero de 1981 is not so far away.

                  Two small anecdotes: about four years ago, at the Spanish Embassy I overheard two military officers salute each other with an "Arriba España," and five years ago, after I gave a lecture in a small village near Valencia, an elderly lady, maybe in her nineties, came up to me in tears and gave me a hug saying "Thank you, I can finally start taking about what I have gone through." This was not a unique case. It is not what you will hear in a university, but it does reflect the suffering and fear of lost villages, where people know who denounced their fathers or grandfathers in order to take over the family's small piece of land, they often had to live next to the one who murdered the family members either directly or through denunciation and they kept--had to keep--quiet during all those years.

                  Having said all this, of course, Spain is not what it was, but my feeling is that people have been brainwashed. I had a similar feeling in countries like Romania and Hungary, for supposedly the opposite reasons.

                  JE comments:  Living next to those who murdered your family and took your land:  this is the reality of civil war.  Aldona's family has similar stories from Poland in WWII.  Such experiences must be remembered, and give a more accurate picture of war than the "grand scheme" of arrows on a map.

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                  • What Does the Monarchy Do for Spain? (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/08/17 3:41 AM)
                    I am grateful for Carmen Negrín's comments (5 September), but I still don't understand. What is it the monarchy provides to Spaniards?

                    Nor did I know that President Azaña considered bringing back the monarchy in exchange for peace. When did that happen?

                    I cannot see how it would have worked out. Would the Communists or Anarchists have accepted it? Doubtful. If true, I don't think that Franco would have been the main obstacle.

                    The real obstacle would have been the Republic itself.  If the monarchy had been restored, what role would Carmen's grandfather have had? I cannot imagine Juan Negrín being the Prime Minister of King Alfonso XIII.

                    On the other hand I hope Carmen will agree with me that the Republic didn't bring down the monarchy. It was the other way around, the monarchy brought the Republic when Alfonso XIII decided on his own to leave the country without any pressure of any kind.

                    The Republic, a few months later, deprived the whole Royal family of Spanish citizenship on the grounds that the king himself had instigated the coup of General Primo de Rivera. And they were right; he did. In the same way that many years later, Juan Carlos instigated and encouraged the coup of February 23, 1981. He used the Army and some foolish generals--actually, only three--to his advantage.

                    I know many WAISers don't want to believe it, and prefer to continue thinking that Juan Carlos was a true believer in democracy, starting with my friend John E and others, but he wasn't. And he is not. He is just a "bon vivant," as they say in France.

                    It is always nice to exchange views with Carmen Negrín, anyway. I'm pretty sure we are much closer in thinking than anybody would imagine. I wonder why she hasn't written in more detail about her grandfather. I believe it is about time.

                    JE comments: I too would love to read Carmen's memories of growing up in the Negrín household.  She has given many lectures and interviews, but a full-sized book would be, as my students say, awesome.

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                    • Juan Carlos and Spanish Democracy (Paul Preston, UK 09/09/17 8:23 AM)
                      Just a couple of comments regarding Anthony Candil's recent WAIS post about the Spanish monarchy (8 September) The idea that Alfonso XIII "decided on his own to leave the country without any pressure of any kind" is absolutely without foundation. Municipal elections on 12 April 1931 had seen a massive majority for Republican candidates in the towns where, unlike much of the countryside, elections were not rigged. It was clear that for Alfonso to stay would have involved massive bloodshed, and it was made clear to him by his generals that they could not defend him.

                      What Juan Carlos did for Spain was to use his position as Franco's official successor, and therefore commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to neutralise the Francoists in the armed forces and the political establishment, thereby allowing more moderate elements of the right and left to negotiate the process of transition to democracy.

                      Whether Juan Carlos was a democrat is irrelevant. In order to secure his throne, he helped facilitate the democratic process, often at considerable risk to his person.

                      I would like to see proof from Anthony Candil for his categorical statement that "Juan Carlos instigated and encouraged the coup of February 23, 1981."  If Juan Carlos wanted a government with military participation, he could have done so legally and without encouraging the international ridicule that came with a military coup by accepting the offers made after the resignation of Adolfo Suárez by the leaders of the main political parties to accept a coalition government, including a general.

                      JE comments:  Anthony Candil has long argued that Juan Carlos was complicit in the 23 February coup.  (This was the topic of his 2013 talk at Adrian.)  It is not a commonly held belief.  Anthony:  Could you tell us how and when you formulated your hypothesis?

                      Carmen Negrín (next) also sees some involvement of the King in the coup--at least insofar as several conspirators received no more than a slap on the wrist as punishment.

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                    • What Does the Monarchy Do for Spain? (Carmen Negrin, France 09/09/17 12:02 PM)
                      Answering Anthony Candil's post of 8 September on the Spanish monarchy, I personally don't think that the monarchy has provided anything to Spaniards, except, perhaps, at the very beginning, a consensus for a transition towards democracy after 40 years of dictatorial brainwashing and, mainly, a lot of sales for Hola.

                      As for Azaña, although he was a brilliant and wonderful person, he was not the right person, in the right place, at the right time. He was the perfect peacetime President.  I would say he was the exact opposite of Churchill during WWII.

                      If I recall well, he started "betraying" (perhaps the word is not adequate and is too strong since he did what he thought was the best for the Spanish people) the Republic, as well as the Government, around the time of the departure of the International Brigades (September-October 1938). Ángel Viñas and Paul Preston certainly know much more about this episode than I do. He did another "betrayal" just after crossing the border: he was about to resign and go to his country house in France; my grandfather who had accompanied him across the border, told him--after reminding him that the soldiers were still fighting in Spain--that he had to stay at the Embassy in Paris.  He ended up doing this, but not for long--since he resigned from his position, days later, at the end of February, leading to the almost immediate recognition of Franco by the UK and France, even though the war was ongoing until 1st April. My grandfather, just before that tragic decision, went back to Spain and only returned to France by mid March, when he asked the few representatives left in France to formalize the government-in-exile, mainly to attend the needs, as a governing body, of the 530,000 or so refugees. It took a while before they even accepted to meet, but it was eventually accepted.

                      The question of the Monarchy is not properly posed. Communists did recognize the Monarchy a few---quite a few--years later in exchange for their own recognition by the Monarchy. Anarchists are a totally different story, starting by which Anarchists?

                      Negotiations can lead to anything, depending on what you want, which are your priorities, especially how badly you want them, and also depending on ethics.

                      True Royalists left Spain during the Republic.  Many didn't return until after Franco's death.

                      I don't think, in fact I am sure, that had the war ended up with a king, my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister, even if, as was the case with Alfonso XIII, he personally knew him: Alfonso XIII had charged him in 1927 with the construction of the Ciudad Universitaria, the Decreto Real will be exposed in October in the library of the University of Valencia, next to a selection of my grandfather's books. Besides the opening of the Physiology Laboratory in the Residencia de Estudiantes, that task was probably his most enjoyable one while being his least recognized achievement.

                      My grandfather was given a task, which he accepted, and that task was to defend the Republic, which he did until the end. The Republic meant simply people and people's will. There was no possible bargaining.

                      Anthony and I agree absolutely that the Monarchy brought itself down. I didn't know that the nationalities of the Royals had been taken away by the Republic, but I did know that the Republic offered to take care of the King's sister who was ill--the King refused and also that the Republic continued paying the retirement pensions of the Monarchy's ministers, something of course, Franco never did but the following Monarchy did, although late, with the retired soldiers (I am not sure about the government members). And of course, yes, the king was part of the coup, probably more distant than he would have wanted to be, but a real part.

                      I am also convinced like Anthony that his grandson was also part of the February 1981 coup. Many people, including Carrillo had told me the opposite, but how can one explain otherwise that all those responsible were set free relatively shortly after?  One of those who went to prison, I think it was Tejero, used to be seen shopping with his wife in the streets of the town while he was said to be in prison.

                      No memoirs in sight! I admire those who are able to write a full book, I have "corrected" a few, but it is not the same to write some notes or short texts as you all know.  Emotionally it was stressful enough to slightly participate in the film on my grandfather!

                      JE comments:  Carmen, you can write your memoirs in small installments--for WAIS!  Items such as these fascinating tidbits about Juan Negrín need to be preserved.

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                      • King Juan Carlos and the Coup of 1981 (Paul Preston, UK 09/11/17 5:18 AM)

                        I totally agree with Carmen Negrín (September 9th) that her grandfather would have loyally served as prime minister in the unlikely event of a negotiated settlement of the Spanish Civil War with a restoration of the monarchy, and the even more unlikely event of his being invited.

                        I too was surprised by Anthony Candil's statement that the Republic deprived the royal family of Spanish nationality. I do not think that that is true. In an arguably ill-advised process carried out by the so-called "comisión de responsabilidades," the new Republican government sought to try those considered guilty of the abuses committed from 1923-1930 by the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. Having approved and instigated the dictatorship, Alfonso XIII was accused of high treason. His properties were seized but, as far as I know, he was not deprived of his nationality. In any case, all of the sentences laid down in the process were nullified by an amnesty in early 1935.

                        As for the Juan Carlos's alleged participation in the coup of 1981, I would like Anthony to provide some proof. I continue to ask why Juan Carlos would take such an extraordinary risk in the hope of securing something that he had already been offered legally?

                        JE comments:  Juan Carlos was born in Rome in 1938.  When did he receive Spanish citizenship?  Was this something Franco conferred on him when he named the young King his successor?

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                        • Citizenship of Alfonso XIII and Juan de Borbon (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/14/17 4:40 AM)
                          First of all, I apologize for not having answered Paul Preston and Carmen Negrín earlier. I'm traveling through the US Northwest and sometimes I am not even looking at my iPhone, besides not having Internet access at all times. I'm in Montana right now. I wanted always to pay respects to Custer and to all who died at the Little Big Horn, Whites and Reds alike.

                          I'll be back home sometime next week and then I'll answer Paul in kind about February 23, 1981.

                          Nevertheless, two things real quick:

                          I don't think that Carmen Negrín meant for a minute that her grandfather would have accepted to serve as Prime Minister under King Alfonso XIII!! Just the opposite, isn't it? This is what I understood, anyway, from her post. It couldn't be otherwise.

                          On the issue of the citizenship of the Spanish royals, I have always understood that the Second Republic had deprived them all of all their rights including citizenship, but I could be wrong. I have read this in many books and essays published in Spain.

                          In any case, some facts:

                          On November 19, 1931, if I'm not wrong, the Republic approved a law declaring ex-king Alfonso XIII guilty of high treason on several grounds: the disaster at Annual, in Morocco, the coup d'etat of General Primo de Rivera of which he was apparently a principal instigator. It is true that he was judged and sentenced "in absentia," however the Count of Romanones acted in his defense. The sentence established that the ex-king and all his relatives were deprived of all titles, honors, prerogatives and even properties, but above all of their "Paz jurídica" (legal peace?). I don't understand what that could even mean in plain English, but I was told that in Spain, according to the law, it means all rights including citizenship and so forth.

                          I'm sure that Paul Preston could give us all the right answer.

                          In any case, General Franco, on December 15, 1938, from his provisional government in Burgos, approved another law invalidating the Republic's law from 1931 and returning all rights to the Spanish royals. Another reason for Juan Carlos to be thankful to Franco, I guess.

                          On the issue of Juan Carlos's citizenship, John E is right to a point. If I am not wrong, Felipe V approved a law in 1713 ("Auto acordado de La Corona") regulating the access to the Crown, and establishing that being born abroad, outside Spanish territory, was an impediment to becoming the king of Spain, but that law was also rejected in 1789, to make it possible for Carlos IV to become king (the so-called "Pragmática Sanción").

                          By the way, did Infante Juan de Borbón, Juan Carlos's father, have British citizenship? His mother, Queen Victoria Eugenia, was a British royal, and he served in the Royal Navy, I guess he had the right at least.

                          JE comments:  Carmen Negrín also wrote to correct my editing mistake.  She doubts her grandfather would have served Alfonso XIII as Prime Minister.  (Carmen's post is next.)

                          If you're still in Montana, Anthony, send us photos!  The high-strung, impetuous Custer is not one of my favorite military commanders, but he was a Michigan boy (from Monroe, near Adrian).  I have never been to Montana or the Dakotas.  Time to revisit the Bucket List.

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                        • Would Juan Negrin Have Served a Monarchy? On Statelessness (Carmen Negrin, France 09/14/17 5:04 AM)
                          My thanks to Paul Preston for his comments supporting my 9 September note.

                          I do have to point out, in the name of honesty, that one of my sentences wasn't clear. It said: "I don't think, in fact I am sure, that had the war ended up with a king, my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister."

                          It started with "I don't think" (unfinished sentence) but continued with "I am sure ... my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister."

                          However, Paul and I don't fundamentally disagree, since it is true that my grandfather could have loyally served under the king, had he considered it absolutely indispensable for the good of Spain, for a dignified end of the war and mainly if it agreed with the will of the majority, after an election. He did request elections in his "trece puntos," and under all those conditions he might have accepted continuing in his position. As Paul also pointed out: too many "if"s! But, yes, Juan Negrín was a man of duty, not of personal ambition.

                          About the Monarchs losing their nationality, I would like to know where it comes from.

                          I have often noticed that the reproaches made by the Francoists to the Republicans were in fact often carried out by Franco himself. For instance, Franco did take away the Spanish nationality of all the exiles. My grandfather had a Nansen Passport and whenever he had to fill in migration forms he would write under "Nationality": "Spaniard," the customs officer never failed to cross it out and change it to "Stateless." It was so systematic that it had become a tragic game, a game for my brother and me who would wait to see if the officer had noticed and tragic for my grandfather who was refused his identity.

                          Among so many accusations, one, among the most ridiculous ones, was my grandfather's supposedly excessive eating, but it is astonishing to read Franco's April 1st 1939 menu: the "sober man" had an 18th-century-style menu with entrées, fish, meat, wines, cheeses, desserts, etc. while the rest of Spain was starving. In the same order of ideas, he criticized the Republican government for having kept food for itself while in fact it had been stored (mainly beans) in Barcelona for the population for the exact six months it took for the Second World War to start. It was simple planning, even though they were considered reckless.

                          More seriously, there are the killings attributed to the "Reds," when in fact there were 20 Paracuellos if not more, carried out by the rebels. Recently, I went to Paterna. In what seemed to be the tomb of one person, there were around 50 bodies thrown in. Day after day the shootings would go on, one day 20, the next day 36, and so on for months. Each day they would open up a new grave. Who talks about Paterna or the Málaga road? And more symbolically of course, is the fact that the rebels called themselves the "Nationals" and called the legal and official government the "rebels." Hitler used the same method with the Jews, accusing them of stealing the nation while he was stealing from them (and taking their lives)!

                          They were already playing around with the concept of "fake news"!

                          JE comments:  Isn't fake news as old as news itself?  My apologies to Carmen Negrín for the editing error.  I had interpreted "I don't think...he would have refused" as a classic double negative.  Two nos in English equals a yes, although we all know that no means no, and two nos doubly so.  ("I ain't got nobody...")

                          Legal statelessness is a WAISworthy topic we've never discussed.  How is the concept being applied to the present refugee crises (Syria et al.)?  And what about the Ukrainians of Crimea?

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              • Remembering Juan Negrin in Spain Today (Carmen Negrin, France 08/30/17 4:06 AM)
                To my knowledge, there are three institutions with the name of Juan Negrín: the Fundación Juan Negrín in Las Palmas, the very recent Asociación de amigos de la Fundación JN in Valencia, which was created this year (http://www.lasprovincias.es/agencias/valencia/201701/08/nace-valencia-primera-asociacion-861018.html ), and the Agrupación Ateneista Juan Negrín within the Ateneo of Madrid (in which I am not involved).

                As far as I know that is it, in spite of his having been, among many other things, Prime Minister for almost 9 years (from 1937 to '39 in Spain and until 1945 in exile, needless to say not recognized by all). No streets, just a hospital, again in Las Palmas, a huge hospital, partly built on what was the family's land--which led my uncle, a doctor, not to attend its inauguration.

                The discussion about memory and streets or statues seems to be a complex debate, but in fact it is very simple, it is just about what the officials want to transmit to the future generations.

                In Paris for instance, we do not have a "rue Napoléon," but we do have a "rue Bonaparte," Not the same message.  On the French coast and in Denmark, bunkers have become museums.

                In Madrid, a number of streets are about to be rebaptized, taking away a number of names related to Franco. There was a discussion about having one put in my grandfather's name, but it seems the matter was put aside. However they will name one for Besteiro who already has a metro station and who joined Casado to give the coup de grâce to the Spanish Republic. (By the way, the text concerning Casado in Wikipedia needs a total rewriting!) In spite of the fact that Besteiro had been a well-respected person, he ended up betraying the Republic; this does not seem to bother those working on Spanish memory at the Alcaldía.

                Ignorance? It's certainly a confusing message for the Madrileños! And let us not mention the Valle de los Caídos which has not followed the European instructions to change its message! (http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-EN.asp?fileid=17417&lang=en )

                In Frankfurt's Städel Museum, there is a bust of Franco (the replica was given by Hitler to Franco), but next to the sculpture is a long explanation about who he was, on what occasion it was done and how the artist was forced to do it, next to it is another piece of art expressing the real hidden feelings of the artist.

                So basically, a monument or whatever will only express whatever one wants it to transmit.

                The problem arises when the message (not the monument) is contradictory and/or unethical and in particular if, under these conditions, it is supported by the politicians. And if the politician is unethical, we have a real problem!

                Next question: how does one define ethics in history?

                JE comments:   One silver lining of even the most controversial monument is that it teaches history--not through the monument itself, but through the debate surrounding its preservation or removal.  And yes, to address Carmen Negrín's final question, this is when the question arises of historical ethics.  Without a public discussion, history is static, irrelevant, and ultimately forgotten.

                Ukraine announced just a few days ago that it finally removed every one of the country's 1320 Lenin statues.  I am surprised this wasn't done years ago, but it's a lot of stone and bronze to move around.  Shouldn't the cash-starved Kiev government sell the surplus Lenins?  What theme park or eccentric gardener wouldn't want one for display?  Maybe Roman Zhovtulya, who is presently in Ukraine, can tell us what the government is doing with the statues.


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                • Ethics in History...and my Memoirs (Robert Whealey, USA 08/31/17 4:16 AM)

                  Carmen Negrín (August 30th) raised an important question: "How does one define ethics in history?"

                  As one who sympathizes with Spanish democracy, I define this in my draft memoir in the Table of Contents below.

                  There are Jewish ethics and Christian ethics. See especially the Section on Civilizations.

                  Returning to my manuscript, I invite questions or suggestions for improving the style.

                  Democracy requires a continual debate within each nation-state in the EU and within each of the 50 states in the US.

                  The Constitution of the US guarantees the free exercise of individuals to a free religion. This includes

                  Atheists.  Like Voltaire, I am a skeptic about life after death. Carl Sagan, an astronomer, was a rationalist

                  and an atheist. My ethics are limited to Newton's solar system.

                  JE comments:  Thanks, Robert!  At 420 pages, this is a most impressive book-in-the-making.  Is the draft complete? 

                  The Table of Contents lists treatises on politics, philosophy of history, comparative civilizations, and religion.  Where is the part about you, Robert?  Shouldn't you rethink the title "Memoirs" and go with something more accurate, such as "Keep Thinking:  A Historian's 80 Years of Reflection"?

                  Finally, how do you address the often non-democratic nature of political Christianity, which in the US is monopolized by the Evangelical Right?

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                  • Finishing One's Memoirs (Robert Whealey, USA 09/01/17 4:48 AM)
                    No, to answer John E, the draft of my memoirs will never be complete.

                    But the Sections from FDR to Reagan are reasonably complete. I am working on Section 11 on Governor Dukakis right now, since I know him personally. Part II on Religions and Civilizations is reasonably complete. I may live 1, 2, 5 even 10 more years. When I die, I hope my daughter Alice will find an editor.

                    Trump is in an Epilogue.

                    I make no predictions about his future and the fate of the Constitution.

                    JE comments: Hang in there, Robert! As our Illustrious Founder Ronald Hilton often said, WAIS needs you.  (I'm going to append the 1915 Kitchener poster.  It's a classic.  Just replace "your country" with WAIS.  As a matter of fact, can anyone do this for us with Photoshop or equivalent?  Kitchener would be the perfect poster child for WAISdom's next fundraiser--he's stern, authoritarian, and motivational.)

                    And yes:  Trump is an epilogue...but to what?

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    • Is the "Lost Cause" Lost? First Louisiana Native Guard (CSA) (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 08/22/17 9:04 AM)
      John E asked on August 21st:

      "The issue [about the Confederate Monuments] in a nutshell: How can history be preserved without perpetuating its injustices? Is the Lost Cause on the brink of being forever...lost?"

      I can't see how keeping Confederate monuments perpetuates historical injustice. I don't believe a monument exists anywhere that praises slavery, the Holocaust, etc. If it were, I would wholeheartedly favor tearing it down. But how can monuments to honor the memory of brave men--ancestors of millions of Americans alive today--who served and suffered in a great national tragedy be a perpetuation of injustice?

      The "Lost Cause" has been forever lost for well over a century. No responsible Southerner, or descendant of Confederate soldiers, would think otherwise. Only foolish people or White supremacist radicals (most of whom I suspect have no ancestral connection to the Civil War) advocate such an absurdity.

      As WAISers know, history is much more convoluted than most people understand, and can never be accurately portrayed in simple terms. The 1st Louisiana Native Guard (CSA) is a prime example.

      The 1st Louisiana Native Guard was a Confederate Louisiana militia regiment composed of "free persons of color" formed during May 1861, consisting mostly of free persons of color, Creole Francophones (gens de couleur) (photo below). While some members of the new regiment came from wealthy prominent free black families, a majority of the men were clerks, artisans, and skilled laborers. At that time, an estimated 10,000 African American residents of Louisiana and New Orleans had gained their freedom.

      Although three white officers served as commanders of the regiment, the company commanders were appointed from among the free blacks of the unit (which not even the Union army allowed at the time, making it the first of any in North America to have African-American officers). Although temporarily forced to disband after the Louisiana State Legislature passed a law in January 1862 that reorganized the militia into only "free white males capable of bearing arms," Louisiana governor Thomas Overton Moore promptly reinstated them to defend New Orleans after regular Confederate forces abandoned the city.

      After the city fell to Union forces, some of the men joined the Union Army. One of these was Jamaican-born Lieutenant Morris W. Morris, who served as an officer in the Confederate Louisiana militia regiment and subsequently served for six weeks in the Union Native Guard regiment. Morris was unique in that he was of Jewish ancestry, making him both the only black Jewish Confederate officer and the only black Jewish Union officer. He later became a famous actor as Lewis Morrison and his granddaughters, Joan, Constance and Barbara Bennett, were actresses whose black ancestry was never revealed.

      By the way, the first Jew to serve in any American government as a Cabinet level official as Secretaries of State and War, and Attorney General, was the Confederate Judah P. Benjamin. I wonder if the Nazis and Klansmen who marched in Charlottesville chanting anti-Semitic slogans were aware of that fact?

      A final note: several dozen descendants of these men are members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans today.

      JE comments:  I once read that citizens of every US state were under arms for both sides.  John C. Pemberton, who led the defense of Vicksburg, Mississippi, was from Philadelphia.  And in one of the war's countless ironies, in its waning weeks of existence (March 13th, 1865) the desperate Confederacy offered enslaved Blacks their freedom in exchange for military service.  The Irish-born General Patrick Cleburne, considered one of the South's best front-line commanders, had advocated the arming of Blacks far earlier.  (This is not necessarily relevant, but historians also mostly agree that Cleburne was gay.)

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    • Wounded at Gettysburg: Tim Ashby's "Devil's Den" (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 08/23/17 4:10 PM)
      Because John E kindly mentioned my historical novel Devil's Den, I hope fellow WAISers won't mind if I include a couple of brief excerpts which I feel are relevant to this discussion because they reflect the almost verbatim memories of Confederate veteran Captain John Ashby as told to me by his granddaughter (the fictional Jack Stribling is closely based on John Ashby):

      "Fortunately for the thousands of wounded strewn across the battlefield there was a full moon that night, providing stretcher parties with enough light to find damaged men who might otherwise have been missed. Jack Stribling thrashed and cried out in his delirium, attracting the attention of a Confederate ambulance corps team who picked him up and carried him to a field hospital. Jack regained consciousness and he never forgot the haunting sound of a Union Army band playing 'Home Sweet Home' while he was borne off the battlefield.

      "Somehow Jack survived the ride in an unsprung ambulance wagon back through Pennsylvania and Maryland and across the rain-swollen Potomac to the haven of Virginia. He remembered very little of that agonizing ride, but until the end of his life he had nightmares of those days and nights spent packed like a sardine among other severely wounded men shrieking 'Oh God! Why can't I die?' and 'Won't nobody have mercy and kill me?'"

      And this, which I understand was how John felt about the War:

      "Jack found it impossible to reconcile the Rebellion's romantic image of glory and charging Southern cavaliers with the reality of its devastation and waste. He came to think of the Civil War as something like a Biblical pestilence visited upon his country.

      "Jack died during the winter of 1909, broken and bitter and glad to go to his Maker. His grandson Seth was by his bedside at the time, and his last words as he grasped the boy's hand were 'Don't leave me, Will! Please don't leave me here to die alone!'"

      JE comments:  It's a great novel, folks.  No need to believe me; click on the link.  (Wow:  can that have been six years ago?)


      Devil's Den also shows how the fratricidal national epic was, above all, an utter waste.  Civil wars have a way of doing that.

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      • Mythic War and Sensory War; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 08/26/17 5:11 PM)

        Gary Moore writes:

        Timothy Ashby's eloquent look at war (August 23) through
        the lens of his admirable novel, Devil's Den, reminds of
        a benchmark in such thinking: the brief 2002 book called War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, by war correspondent
        Chris Hedges.

        Collaborating with former US Army psychologist
        Lawrence LeShan, Hedges paints the two faces of war that
        Timothy evoked, and has classified them. First, there is the
        glorious pre-killing elation, wrapping war in an exalted glow;
        and second, there is the realization that the consequence
        is ruin and horror. LeShan, via Hedges, named them both:
        There is Mythic War (the glorious feeling of intense personal
        meaning) and there is Sensory War (the "bloody skull" and
        landscape of chaotic pain that seems the opposite of personal

        Hedges and LeShan were placing an important marker on the Grandiosity
        enigma: Clearly, mass violence partakes of a mirror palace of illusions which,
        beneath the ideological shouting, is largely founded on thrill and elation as
        combatants feel momentarily elevated to a rarefied plane of personal importance
        (especially with regard to the cherished love object they may feel they are
        rescuing). And the word "grandiosity" seems to fit this universal menace--though the word drifts into fog in its Freudian links to supposed narcissism
        and a world of further illusions and speculation.

        Many writers have looked
        at the problem and flagged it (Timothy's straightforward exposition brings
        to mind Stephen Crane--who never actually experienced the Civil War but
        captured the paradigm). But the phantom remains shadowy, often at the
        level of fiction, which may stand or fall on its eloquence (its thrill?) with little
        or no verification required. It seems a comment on our psychological ignorance
        that the two faces--and the shape-shifter of grandiosity generally--can't seem
        to be brought into stable taxonomic focus, not with a forcefulness that might
        mark out the pitfalls for popular culture. When it comes to reliably systematizing
        the mental landscapes we face, are we doomed to have only disguised fads?

        "The whole country thrills with war fever," said the headline under the tutelage
        of William Randolph Hearst.

        What is this "fever"?

        JE comments: What is most startling is that it takes no more than a generation for "Mythic War" to return to the public consciousness. Hearst's War Fever of 1898 had forgotten the horrors of 1865. And the US was ready for more by 1917.

        The most iconic image of War Fever comes from Munich in August 1914. Anything Hitlerful has a way of taking center stage.  Unsurprisingly, there are many credible claims that this photo is bogus--or at least the Hitler part.  A sans-magnifying glass version of the image was never published before this "definitive" version appeared in 1932.

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        • Limitations of Pacifism (Istvan Simon, USA 09/03/17 8:37 AM)
          Tim Ashby's and Gary Moore's thoughtful comments on war (August 23rd and 26th), its romatic mythical image versus the horror of its reality, is a call for pacifism. Yet the terrible logic of pacifism and war is that if people are not ready to fight and die for their ideals there seems to be a likelihood that their freedoms and ideals will be taken away by brute force.

          The freedoms of my Dad and hundreds of thousands of other Hungarians were brutally taken away by the Nazis. Later, they were taken away again by the Soviet Union that expelled one evil to be replaced by an equally brutal alternative, and still later in 1956 by the brutal reminder by force that Hungary could not choose its own way of life. All these instances are proofs in history of the limitations of pacifism in the face of brutality.

          JE comments:  What is the current state of pacifism?  The Roman adage, "If you want peace, prepare for war" was contradicted by Einstein's famous dictum, a staple of many a bumper sticker.

          Shall we open a WAIS topic on Pacifism Today?  I hope Holger Terp will contribute.

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          • Pacifism Today; War with North Korea? (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 09/04/17 6:11 AM)
            I completely agree with Istvan's Simon's statement, "the terrible logic of pacifism and war is that if people are not ready to fight and die for their ideals there seems to be a likelihood that their freedoms and ideals will be taken away by brute force" (3 September).

            The current example of North Korea reminds me of the appeasement of Hitler and Chamberlain's foolish "Peace for our Time" speech of 30 September 1938. Hitler and the Nazis could have been stopped, and untold millions of lives saved, if pacifism hadn't prevailed at that time. The regime of Kim Jong-un is in many ways as monstrous as the Nazis, and if it is not eradicated I believe that it will also escalate tensions until a full-blown war erupts.

            This leads me to ask fellow WAISers: what do you think is the probability of war with North Korea? Today, I believe there is a 70 percent probability of a preemptive strike by the US within 90 days. I have heard that the Bush 2-era CONPLAN 8022, which was amended by the Obama administration, has been further enhanced by the Trump national security team (who have given it another code name). CONPLANs are "concept plans" for the rapid use of nuclear, conventional, or information warfare capabilities to destroy--preemptively, if necessary--‘time-urgent targets' anywhere in the world.

            Kim Jong-un is not a "rational actor" as was the case with nuclear adversaries the USSR and China during the Cold War. I believe that he will continue to provoke the US and its Asian Pacific allies until a line is crossed and a massive preemptive strike is launched, probably non-nuclear.

            JE comments:  The Chamberlain-Hitler analogy has justified many a preemptive strike.  Rather than prevent war, such an action absolutely guarantees war (Iraq in 2003, for example).

            I don't know about Kim-Hitler comparisons, but a Kim-Saddam Hussein comparison is imperfect in at least two ways:  Kim has nukes, and an all-powerful Big Brother (China).

            It just so happens that Korea-watcher Brian Blodgett has sent two comments on the North Korea mess.  (He also sent a PayPal donation to the WAIS campaign--you're my hero, Brian!)  Stay tuned later today.

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            • Preemptive Strikes are War Crimes (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/06/17 3:30 AM)
              "The Chamberlain-Hitler analogy has justified many a preemptive strike." No wiser words have ever been written, Thanks, John!

              The preemptive strike is a war crime, a crime against peace and a crime against humanity.

              As the Italian historian Arrigo Petacco recently wrote in his book La storia ci ha mentito (History has lied to us), official history is the greatest fraud (fake news we would say now) ever to appear in the human sciences from the day the alphabet was invented.

              As soon as war starts, the first casualty is the truth. (Lies are necessary to galvanize a people and demonize the enemy.) But then when the war is over, the lies of the victors become the "official truth." The real truth never surfaces any more, especially if on top of this you place tribunals that do not allow the "official truth" to be reviewed and/or studied.

              The victors may even be so arrogant as to prohibit the losers from studying national history in their schools for ten years (Japan 1945-55), and then for another 20 years to allow only politically correct history (again Japan). The trick of the politically correct has worked fantastically well in Germany and Italy.

              A curiosity: who knows or has written that after the meeting between Churchill and Mussolini in 1927, the former became a collaborator in Mussolini's newspaper, with 14 articles published and paid for?  Perhaps Mussolini's famous bags of April 1945 also contained the receipts.

              About appeasement: in the late 1930s did anyone ever study why it failed and how many millions of people could have been saved, of course starting from the truth of the moment and not from the a posteriori "official truth"?

              Finally, is there anyone who really believes that Kim wants to submit his personal empire to the present Empire? Maybe he just wants to be sure that nobody is invading North Korea to bring democracy.

              JE comments:  Doesn't everyone agree that Kim Jong-un wants to be sure nobody invades the North to bring democracy?  I believe Eugenio Battaglia goes one further, to argue that Kim would not start a war.  People of the opposite view, such as the Japanese, see the missile flyovers as acts of war in and of themselves.

              Ed Jajko (next) brings us back to a preemptive strike of 1967:  Israel versus Egypt.

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            • Israel's Preemptive Strike, 1967 (Edward Jajko, USA 09/06/17 3:44 AM)
              The current situation that North Korea has created (with the decades-long complicity of appeasing Western powers) reminds me of another: the Israel-Arab Six Day War of June, 1967, just over 50 years ago.

              I was living in Cairo in 1967, getting ready to leave Egypt after almost two years, and reading the propagandistic news accounts in the controlled press, watching the controlled news on TV, and, in my infrequent visits to movie theaters, watching the patriotic previews. A famous singer of the day would be on screen singing the national anthem or other patriotic songs while one would see massed tanks and troops and flights of East-bloc-made fighters and bombers all ready for attack/defense. It was almost as if war drums were literally being beaten in the streets. There was heightened tension, talk of war, threats against the enemy, statements that forces were being massed, etc. Listening to VOA and BBC didn't provide enlightenment or reassurance.

              The Egyptians and others did not take into account that the Israelis had excellent intelligence and were making plans of their own. While all the noise and bluster and threats were going on in Cairo, early on a Monday morning the Israelis acted first. With intelligence probably supplied by the US, Israeli aircraft attacked Egyptian airbases and systematically destroyed most Egyptian aircraft on the ground. The land war lasted five days and resulted in a humiliating defeat for Egypt and its Arab allies.

              One thing that is extremely worrying about the NK nukes is not just Kim Jong-Un's threats to strike the US mainland (is this not casus belli? and my home and family are within a target area) but the salability and portability of the weapons. The simultaneous test launches of several ICBMs make for a grand show, but what's going on behind the curtain may also be significant. Ayman al-Zawahiri would undoubtedly like to get his hands on one, as would ISIS or any of its franchises.

              We live in interesting times. Much too interesting.

              JE comments:  Chalk up '67 as one preemptive strike that worked splendidly for the strikers (at least in the short term--Israel has had no lasting peace ever since).

              In a July 2017 WAIS post, Ed Jajko told us about his experience as a Western internee during the Six-Day War.  Here's his fascinating account:


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              • Israel at War, 1948 (Luciano Dondero, Italy 09/11/17 3:42 AM)

                Belatedly, may I also congratulate John Eipper for his persistent and resilient editorship at WAIS? I have known him (albeit, only virtually) for just a few years, but I have learned to value his qualities in holding together what my old mentor Posadas would call "una bolsa de gatos" [a sackful of cats--JE].

                However, I have to raise a point of dissent with his statement while commenting on "Israel's Preemptive Strike, 1967" (Edward Jajko, USA), on September 6.

                JE wrote: "Chalk up '67 as one preemptive strike that worked splendidly for the strikers (at least in the short term--Israel has had no lasting peace ever since)" (emphasis added, LD).

                I understand why from a US standpoint that's how it might appear (a few words about this later), but in actual fact Israel has had no lasting peace since it was created in 1948, and indeed violence against it started the year before, as soon the UN voted to partition the rump Mandate Palestine into three sections: an Arab state, a Jewish state, and an internationally run enclave around Jerusalem.

                In 1948 five Arab states with British military officers and weapons at their disposal, launched an attack against the new State of Israel, rejecting arms in hand the UN plan; they were Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, with additional contingents from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

                Between the 1949 armistice and 1956, a litany of terrorist assaults took place, from the Egypt-occupied Gaza strip and from the Jordan-occupied "West Bank," culminating with Egypt blockading Israel's southern port of Eilat closing navigation through the Straits of Tiran and forbidding Israeli ships from the Suez Canal, in violation of the international status of the Canal.

                This prompted Israel to join Britain and France in the "Suez Crisis." The war was a military success, thwarted only by the United States, which was, in a strange alliance with the Soviet Union, hell-bent on curbing Britain's swan's song as a world power.

                Israel's armor quickly took over the whole of Sinai and reached the Canal. But it was compelled to withdraw under threats from the US and the Soviet Union.

                These events, by the way, played a crucial role in prompting France, and Israel in its wake, to develop its own nuclear military capability, independent of the US and NATO.

                Terrorist activities against Israel continued after 1956, as well as the harassment against Israeli land-tillers in the north of the country by the Syrian armed forces installed in the Golan Heights. Preparation for war, with heavy military supply by the USSR, was undergoing in Syria and Egypt, as Edward Jajko witnessed.

                What was different in 1967, with respect to the first twenty years of the State of Israel, was this: for the first time Israel fought with some US-supplied weaponry (not all, as the bulk of the air force was still made up of French Mirage).

                And that is because, unlike the current anti-Zionist vulgata would imply, Israel was not "created by American and British imperialism to further their interests in the Middle East."

                Israel owes its existence to the bravery and courage of its people, and to the hard determination of the Soviet Union to deliver the Jewish state.

                At the UN in 1947, and on the ground in 1948-49, it was Stalin's intent to weaken "British imperialism" and put a wedge between Britain and the US, that meant support for the establishment of the State of Israel, and then, military supply; as well as granting Jews in Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe a chance to move to Palestine (but not from the USSR itself!).

                Britain, under Bevin's Labour government, did all it could to stop Israel. In 1949, when Israel downed five British planes, it even threatened to intervene directly against the new State.

                Some British soldiers and officers took the side of Israel, though: two Sherman tanks were stolen and became the beginning of Israeli armor. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Arab-Israeli_War )

                The US, embroiled in a conflict between a mildly pro-Israel president (Truman) and an "oil-first" State Department, forbade in 1948-49 any export of weaponry to Israel and even threatened to strip US citizenship on anybody who went to fight for Israel. This was not implemented, ultimately.

                The only Western country that amply supplied weapons to Israel, but only after 1949 though, was France, where a layer of public servants and ministry officials felt a sense of solidarity with those who had fought together with them against the scourge of Nazism.

                It's very easy to check on all this. Not only there are plenty of history books and memoirs which describe the events, but you can just look at any picture of the time, and see what kind of weaponry the Israelis used. In 1948 they had German Me109 in the air, fighting and winning against the Spitfires of the Egyptians and the Jordanians--but Israel also had quite a few Spitfires as well, and a hodge-podge of hybrid and semi-cannibalised flying thingies. I'm enclosing some of these pics, taken from an Italian magazine for military buffs, Aerei nella storia.

                JE comments:  Who knew that Israel used German planes to combat British ones in 1948?  Luciano Dondero did, and I thank him for this very informative post.  The AVIA 199 was Israel's first fighter plane.  They were constructed in Czechoslovakia from parts left over from the German workhorse Me (Messerschmitt) 109.  The Israeli pilots called them "Messer" or knife in Yiddish and German.  Due to the cobbling together of mismatched parts, including the "wrong" engine, they handled poorly and had a bad reputation among the pilots.  (This from Wikipedia.)

                I would be interested to learn more about the British officers who advised the warring Arab states in 1948.  Mainstream history certainly doesn't remember them.

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                • MiG 15s in Egypt, North Korea (John Heelan, UK 09/11/17 10:17 AM)
                  Luciano Dondero (11 September) might add to his list of aircraft the Russian MiG 15s. Allegedly the planes were better than Egyptian pilots who were prone to crash them despite the special runway built for training purposes.

                  (Ed Jajko might recall this problem.)

                  The death toll was surpassed only by the later Lockheed Lightning F-104 Starfighter, nicknamed the "Witwenmacher" by the Luftwaffe and the "Lawn Nail" by the Canadians.

                  The joke in Germany at the time was: Q. How do I get a Starfighter? A: buy a field and just wait!

                  By the way, I think that Kim still has a MiG-15 in his air force. "The NKAF's most capable combat aircraft are its MiG-29s, procured from the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, its MiG-23, and its SU-25 ground-attack aircraft," the Pentagon report reads. "However, the majority of its aircraft are less capable MiG-15s, MiG-17s, MiG-19s (F-6), and MiG-21s."

                  One wonders if Putin and his oligarchs are profiting from training aero engineers and replacing parts of these old aircraft.

                  JE comments: Wikipedia says that North Korea still employs the antediluvian MiG 15s (1947) as trainers.  How can they keep them going, 60 years later?  Interestingly, the AK-47 also appeared in that same annus mirabilis for instruments of death.

                  I'm sure WAISer Michael Sullivan met a few angry MiG 15s in Vietnam.  What can you teach us, General?

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                  • A MiG Encounter over Cuba, 1962 (Michael Sullivan, USA 09/12/17 4:16 AM)
                    In response to John E's question, the North Vietnamese flew MiG 17s, 19s and 21s. I never saw a MiG in Vietnam, though I flew several B-52 MiG escort missions around the Mu Gia Pass. The Marines had the mission of flying the night barrier combat air patrol (BARCAP) off Haiphong in our F-4s. Problem was, the NV didn't fly at night, but it allowed the carriers' F-4s in the Gulf to get some rest. We'd go round and round in oval patterns, air-refueling about every 35 minutes. Every now and then we would be vectored on an actual target that would turn out to be another US aircraft or a false target.

                    The only time I ever saw MiGs for real except during training, I intercepted two MiG 17s during the Cuban Missile crisis aftermath and that was a flight I'll never forget. I was on the alert "hot pad" (must be airborne in 5 minutes) at NAS Key West. When the scramble bell went off we'd run to our aircraft. The starboard engine would already be at 10%, as the troops started the starting units as soon as they heard the bell so we could hit the right engine igniter switch and it'd start immediately while getting help to strap in. All this took about 2 and 1/2 minutes to get both engines running and fully strapped in. We were only 50 yards from the end of the runway, so we'd add power, go around a 45-degree turn onto the runway getting a green light from the tower meaning we were cleared for take-off, light the afterburners and take off on RWY 31. We had no radios, radar or navigational aids as it took about 5-7 minutes for them to come on line after engine start.

                    We immediately turned to 120 degrees, which was the closest vector toward Cuba and the 28th degrees N latitude in the Florida Straits. When the radios came on line we could then talk to the ground radar site (GCI) and they'd tell us what heading to fly to intercept the unknown target. The criteria was to launch our fighters if any unidentified aircraft crossed 28th deg. North. GCI then told me to go "Gate," which is max speed terminology for using full afterburner power. My target was 47 NM on the nose when we got a radar contact. They were heading SE and it's only about 90 miles to Cuba from Key West. I leveled off at 800 ft. and was doing 700kts indicated airspeed, or right around 1.1 Mach, which was the fastest I'd ever been.  However, at 40,000 feet, Mach 2 is only about 610 kts. indicated.

                    My intake ramps and hydraulic gauges were cycling but we caught the MiGs just north of the Cuban cays. The GCI site communicated with me via my wingman, who was at 10,000 ft. relaying the instructions, as we were too low to be able to hear the GCI instructions ourselves. My wingman said to maintain 5-mile trail but by then I was into three miles with a 470 kts. overtake in speed! A few seconds later I got a "break X," where a big "X" come up on the radar scope and the target is lost! This is done to keep you from running into the target at night or bad weather. I did a high G barrel roll, reduced the power to idle and put the speed brakes out to dissipate airspeed ASAP. I slowed to around 350 kts. fairly quickly, but I didn't see the two MiGs so I thought I flew out in front of them and was thinking, "Oh s---t, I'm in trouble now," when luckily I spotted them 30 degree high at about 3,000 ft. and about a half a mile.

                    The MiGs went into a port turn, so I thought the game was on. I immediately rolled right into lag pursuit with my Sidewinder missile screaming a loud tone, indicating I was in the perfect position to fire but I noticed the MiGs weren't pulling any Gs in the turn and the wingman looked like he was practicing flying formation as he was pretty shaky. Then I realized they'd never seen me and their GCI (if they had any) didn't know I was there. The MiGs pretty soon set a course for Santa Clara de Las Banos which was a Cuban MiG base. I broke it off, flying over the outer cays and dove down to the water to stay out of their SAM envelope.  I stayed there till North of the 28th and climbed to altitude to make an idle descent into Key West. I landed with about 600-800 lbs. of gas which is low for an F-4 as the fuel "low level" light comes on at 2,000 lbs.

                    The F-4 in full afterburner burns 70,000 lbs. of fuel per hour at sea level and we only take off with about 12,500. My flight lasted 24 minutes as I remember. Both my Sidewinders, which had half-round seeker heads, had gone from clear glass prior to flight to frosted glass after the flight because of the friction on the heads, but they still worked as I had a good, solid tone. However, after the data from that flight was analyzed the Sidewinder was modified to have a mostly pointed seeker head vice half round and it's still that way today!

                    Great times, great memories!

                    JE comments:  You have given us 24 minutes of adrenaline, Michael!  What a ride, and what a close call at the end.  Doesn't an F-4 drop like a rock if you run out of fuel?

                    A naive question:  were the pilots of those MiGs Cuban, Soviet, or could they have been either?

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                    • Running Out of Gas in an F-4 (Michael Sullivan, USA 09/14/17 4:18 AM)
                      This is a followup to my post of September 12th. If you run the F-4 out of fuel and the engines quit, they will start to unwind and the RPM decreases immediately. Once the RPM drops below 53% the powered flight controls freeze and you're just along for the ride and must eject.

                      However, you can keep a nose-down attitude to keep the air speed up and engine RPMs above 53% but you're approaching the ground or water fairly rapidly. Depending on the altitude, if the engines flame out you may be able to glide for several miles while still being able to steer the aircraft, which could get you from land to over water for rescue by the US Navy which was preferred for Vietnam, so you wouldn't become a POW.

                      I have no idea of the nationality of the MiG pilots I mentioned earlier, but I believe the wingman was a "new guy." The Rules of Engagement stated you couldn't shoot unless you observed a hostile act or were cleared to shoot by GCI. There were only a few hostile acts ever committed by Cuban aircraft in all the years of US fighters were intercepting unknown aircraft above the 24 N. I remember one incident where a US fishing boat was dead in the water below 24 N, and Cuban jets made a couple of strafing passes on it but US fighters arrived too late to take any action.

                      In my earlier post I stated 28 deg. N was the "scramble" line when actually it was the 24 deg. N line. It's been about 55 years, so this morning 24 N popped into my mind after reading John's response and I looked it up on the map and 24 N is what it was!

                      JE comments: "You're just along for the ride"--what an example of USMC composure!  I would be saying something more along the lines of "Holy S#%$" or crying for Mommy.

                      I noticed, Michael, that you spoke of "running out of gas" (not jet fuel).  Is this a common way for Marine pilots to refer to their fuel supply, or were you "translating" for us civilians?

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                      • Mid-Air Refueling: a Tutorial (Michael Sullivan, USA 09/15/17 2:19 PM)
                        In response to John E's question about "gas" vs. "jet fuel," we use the term "gas" most of the time as it's so casual. We're always air refueling but we still call it "gas"!

                        The air refueling tanker would say to us as we approached the tanker to refuel, "How much gas do you need?" Then we'd respond in "X" amount of gallons which translates to pounds on the aircraft's fuel gauge. Sounds confusing but it's very simple, and many times we air refuel in EMCON conditions which is no radio transmissions. There are three lights on the back of the tanker's refueling pod.

                        Green: You're cleared to plug in and gas is flowing once plugged in and moving the hose up about half way to open the tanker's fuel valve to permit gas to flow.

                        Amber: You're cleared to the stabilized position 3-5 ft. behind the refueling basket on the end of the tanker's hose that we plug into. We start from that position.

                        Red: Not cleared to plug in or make an emergency breakaway if refueling, as there's an emergency with the tanker aircraft or its hose and drogue system.

                        Navy and Marine aircraft use the hose and drogue system, while the USAF uses a boom from the refueler aircraft to plug into the refueling receptacle located on top of the receiver aircraft. The receiver pilot just flies formation under the tanker and the boom operator in the tanker does all the work!

                        Navy and Marine aircraft can refuel on USAF tankers if they attach a short hose to the end of the boom, but there is no takeup reel so you can't vary your formation flying hardly at all, as you'll slip out. We do it all the time so it isn't a big deal. The problem for the USAF tankers is that they can either refuel USAF aircraft with the boom or Navy/Marine aircraft with the short hose attached to the boom. The decision is made prior to the tanker's take-off so they can configure the aircraft correctly. USAF aircraft can't use our hose and drogue system as they don't have an in-flght refueling probe.

                        You have just had "Air-to-Air Refueling 101," and we're launching you tomorrow on your first air refueling hop...at night!

                        JE comments: One quick definition.  Drogue (in tanker aircraft): "a funnel-shaped part on the end of the hose
                        into which a probe is inserted by an aircraft being refueled in flight."

                        Now I'm ready, General!

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                      • Some Praise for WAIS: from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 09/15/17 5:02 PM)

                        Gary Moore writes:

                        So many great posts appear on WAIS that, as I feel compelled to
                        thank Michael Sullivan for that fantastic cockpit tour over the Florida Straits
                        in Castro Standard Time, I realize I'm slighting all the other WAIS landmarks
                        that it felt too disingenuous to keep congratulating.

                        I hope all those authors,
                        too, realize how much is absorbed from their expertise, and how much unspoken
                        impact they have--with all of it, of course, redounding to the credit of the central force
                        that makes it all happen: the Sage of Adrian.

                        JE comments:  Adrian has a sage?  (Blush.)  Thank you, Gary.  Yours is the perfect post to set the tone for the weekend.  Here in Adrian it's promising to be a beautiful one:  sunny and in the upper 70s (24-25C).

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            • Is Kim Jong-un a "Rational Actor"? (Istvan Simon, USA 09/08/17 4:45 AM)
              Many thanks to Tim Brown, Gary Moore and Tim Ashby for their thoughtful comments to my essay on pacifism. I would like to add a few comments to Tim Ashby's take on North Korea (5 September).

              I generally agree with what Tim said, including the parallels of appeasing North Korea with the Second World War folly of Neville Chamberlain's "peace in our time" mission to Hitler's Munich, in which he gave away Czechoslovakia's freedom for, as Churchill said, neither peace nor honor. Yes, unfortunately war with North Korea seems likely, and the consequences may be horrendous.

              There are no good military options in North Korea. The North does not need to retaliate with nuclear weapons to a hypothetical preventive attack by us. Responding with nuclear weapons of course would be suicide and total annihilation for the North Koreans, and therefore it is fairly safe to assume that they will not do so. The problem for us is that the North Koreans have many non-nuclear military options that could devastate Seoul with conventional artillery and kill an estimated one million South Koreans in a few hours if they so chose.

              Kim Jong-un is a bad dude, but I believe that he is not irrational. On the contrary, unfortunately his nuclear gamble is rational and what is even worse, a consequence of our own misguided policies. Kim's father had agreed to suspend their nuclear program in exchange for food and aid. But George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, in which we forced "regime change" for Saddam Hussein, changed his mind, and he restarted the North's pursuit of nuclear weapons. They have pursued it ever since with singular and obstinate focus, and their resolve was only reinforced by what happened later to Col. Gaddafi in Libya, who looking at Iraq had suspended Libya's pursuit of nuclear weapons. So, from the North Koreans' point of view, it made perfect sense that their insurance against us forcing regime change in North Korea was developing nuclear weapons.

              Now, one look at the map will convince anyone that Kim's nuclear weapons are a much greater threat to Russia and China than to us. So we must ask why Russia and China do not do more to curb Kim's nuclear ambitions. Kim is also threatening us with a nuclear strike, but to do so he needs to put his weapons on an ICBM. That is difficult to do technically, and what's more I believe that his ICBMs could be destroyed before they take off. We may be able even to destroy them in flight after they take off, though that certainly would be very dangerous for us.

              I would like to ask our many generals in WAIS whether my analysis here makes any military sense, and what would they recommend our options should be if a military conflict becomes inevitable with North Korea.

              JE comments: Failing to destroy even one of Kim's nukes would cause a devastation unseen since WWII.  Like David Pike (6 September), I'm uncomfortable with the odds.  And why wouldn't the Chinese get involved, if the US and South Korea unleash a scorched-earth retaliation on the North?

              Shall we revisit Tim Ashby's suggestion that a solution might be found by allowing the Chinese to (gently) take over the North?  This at least would bring stability.  The cost might be mostly symbolic:  China would acquire its first neo-colony.

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              • Why Would China Want N Korea? (Brian Blodgett, USA 09/08/17 11:31 AM)
                John E's comment about revisiting Tim Ashby's suggestion for China to take over North Korea implies that the Chinese would want North Korea.

                The Chinese already have to deal, and that is the right word, with the many North Koreans who left the country and fled into China where they are not wanted (no skills for the most part) and a drain on the Chinese economy if they even are doing anything for them--years ago they were not. The NK citizens as we know have lived their entire lives being told one thing about the world--what the Kim family wanted them to hear. Would China want the estimated 26 million citizens to become a part of their country, and what would they gain from these citizens? The country itself is in shambles in basically every way possible and the cost China would have to spend on the country would likely be high even to raise it to the level of the poorer sections of China.

                I really do not want to compare this to the US and our ongoing situation with illegals entering the country.  One can draw many similarities to them (if one wanted to), but I am going to avoid going down that path.

                So, back to China taking over North Korea.  We would also have to consider how Japan, the Republic of Korea, and even Russia would feel about the "annexation."  I doubt they would appreciate their neighbor moving even closer. We also would have to consider if North Korea would willingly become a neo-colony of China and the fact that the North Korean military may put up a fight against the Chinese. Or, just as likely, they would abandon their posts and simply head south into the Republic of Korea. Can you imagine the impact it would have on the northern sections of South Korea to wake up and find tens of thousands of refugees crossing into their country and seeing all the food and other consumables that they have never dreamt were so close to their own country?

                In the end, I am not sure who would win in this scenario, as the North Koreans would likely be unwanted in either country and the neighboring countries would lose Kim but have China even closer (and so would the US if we remain allies with the Republic of Korea and Japan).

                JE comments:  So even the "least bad" scenarios are pretty bad.  Brian Blodgett suggests that if the North becomes Chinese, most of Kim's former subjects would prefer to live with their countrymen (and women).

                But at the very least, there would be no nuclear war.

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                • Koreans in Mongolia (Timothy Brown, USA 09/10/17 4:25 AM)

                  A small, but interesting addition to our discussion of the current North Korea imbroglio.

                  Several years back, while he was staying with us at our home, I asked Elbegdorj Tsakia, EB, recently President of Mongolia, about Mongolia's relations with China.  He mentioned that when asked by China, Mongolia would take in North Korean refugees that were seeking refuge in China (he called them escapees). While he didn't ever say as much, he made it rather clear that one of Mongolia's most important relationships is with the PRC, a subtle but understandable bow to the ancient reality that "the strong do what they will. The weak do what they must."

                  JE comments:  China outpopulates Mongolia by about 300 to one.  Perhaps they need the extra people, although the most likely explanation is the PRC wanting to get the Koreans out of sight and mind.  Stalin did something similar:  the Koreans in the Soviet Union were deported en masse to Uzbekistan, leaving a significant and lasting impact on that region.  See this recent radio piece (PRI's The World) on a Korean-Uzbek restaurant in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.  This is a fusion cuisine I never thought about:


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              • Is Kim Jong-un a "Rational Actor"? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 09/09/17 5:20 AM)

                On what basis does Istvan Simon (8 September) think that Kim Jong-Un is "rational"?

                I am not saying he's not--but I just don't think we know. There are a certain number of signs that he is a raving lunatic. Or, he may be crazy as a fox, building his starving little hell-hole into a major military power to parlay into geopolitical clout above its weight, to negotiate some deals which would otherwise be far out of reach. But at the expense of beggaring his starving population? I just don't think we know what makes him tick, and this is extremely dangerous--this is what is essentially dangerous about the situation.

                Correspondingly, I just don't think we know under what circumstances he might use his nuclear weapons, or against whom. We know that his policy is extreme aggressiveness, and he does seem to be itching for war. There is a certain type of dictator who believes that power, and even domination, may flow from simply by being more aggressive than others--Hitler is the classic case of this, but even Churchill represents this point of view (his main thesis about the start of WWII, is that we could have prevented it, simply by being more aggressive, never mind that we did not have much actual military force). Napoleon is another who went far, very far, unto near total domination of Europe, on the basis primarily of extreme aggressiveness. So it is not hard to imagine that the boy dictator fancies himself as more powerful than we can imagine, and might think that he could conquer South Korea by sheer aggression, and ruthlessness in using weapons of mass destruction. To us these seem like crazy ideas, but they might not seem like that to him.

                As to whether he would be more likely to nuke Russia or China than us--why? China is something like a patron state; Russia has been a friendly neutral since the 1990s. The US, which is the protector of the (to their minds) renegade South, and with whom a state of war still officially exists, in their minds, is clearly the main enemy. The purpose of building nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles is to scare the US, not Russia or China, and we may thank God if it turns out that the purpose goes no further than scaring.

                In short, I think the whole situation is extremely unpredictable and hideously dangerous--the most serious direct threat to the US since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and probably more dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis, since our enemy in that case was a fairly rational and cautious actor with recent experience of a devastating war, and no desire to have another large scale war with a major power.

                As to whether we have any options to play with--I can't say. Our military experts will have a better understanding than I do, but it does look to me that it would be quite difficult, if not impossible to neutralize North Korea's ability to attack the South, before they could get off a devastating attack, of one kind or another, on the densely populated Seoul region, if not a nuclear attack on us. WAISers will know me as something of a pacifist--I am proud nowadays to claim that I am one of the few who was strongly opposed to the 1991 attack on Iraq as well as the unprovoked war on Afghanistan. But North Korea waving nuclear weapons at us seems to me to justify military action, as a pure matter of self-defense, if there were an action available to us, which could achieve the purpose. But also, I don't think we could act unilaterally, without risking a more general conflagration--can we agree with the South Koreans, and with China? You don't just go attacking a major power's client states, without permission, if you don't want to risk big problems up to and possibly including a declaration of war. And what about Russia? These issues are some of the most grave ones we have faced in any of our lifetimes. It sure doesn't help that at this grave moment we have a commander-in-chief, ultimately responsible for these decisions, who is probably the stupidest man to ever occupy the position.

                In my opinion, the only option we have, which has a reasonable chance of reducing this threat, is an agreement with China, South Korea, and possibly Russia, maybe backed by or even initiated by the UN, to pressure North Korea to give up their weapons of mass destruction. We do have common interests with all of these states--China for one certainly does not want a reckless Kim Jong-Un throwing nukes around in their backyard or starting wars. If we were to guaranty to respect China's position in North Korea, and guaranty not to try to overthrow the government and reunite the country, the Chinese might agree to cooperate in disarming North Korea. The same kinds of guarantees could work with Russia. As to South Korea--I have no idea. But I think that if a coalition of all of the countries concerned presented Pyong Yang with an ultimatum backed up with a total blockade or a joint military action--that could work. Unilateral military action--I really doubt it. Doing nothing while the North Koreans finish development of a missile-transportable thermonuclear weapon, also seems to me to be just not the right approach. It's a hell of a situation, without any decent solution which I can see.

                JE comments:  A Sino-Russo-US ultimatum backed up by the threat of a total blockade could work.  But how do you assemble the coalition?  I suspect Putin for one enjoys Kim's antics and the headaches he is causing the US, S Korea, and Japan.

                On the other hand, blockades can turn into war.  See Eugenio Battaglia (next).

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                • Is Kim Jong-un Rational? (Istvan Simon, USA 09/10/17 7:44 AM)
                  I thank my friend Cameron Sawyer (9 September) for challenging the assumptions of my post on the rationality of Kim Jong-un and his policies. I would like to respond first to his question. He asked on what basis I think Kim Jong-un is rational.

                  I explained this already partly in my post. I think the Fat Boy is rational, because his policies are the continuation of his father's policies, which were also rational (from the North Korean point of view), to pursue nuclear weapons as an absolute insurance policy against us forcing regime change in Pyongyang like we did in Iraq, Afghanistan, and to a certain extent in Libya. This is rational and makes sense.  China is the controlling power in North Korea that could force Kim Jong-un to his knees.  China could decide to stop all fuel and food deliveries to NK, two very big weapons held by China. But Kim Jong-un is rational because he correctly predicted that China would not do that, even if he murdered his half-brother, who was under Chinese protection, and he turned out to be right. He calculated the Chinese reaction correctly and thus got away with murder and at the cost of loss of face for Xi Jin Ping and the Chinese leadership, and at the cost of the life of his half-brother and the sacrifice of the two NK agents who were arrested for the murder.

                  Cameron's analogy to Hitler is actually perfect. We can say that it was extremely reckless for Kim Jong-un to murder his half-brother when China seems to have all the cards to whether he survives or not, so we can say he gambled. Hitler also gambled that he could re-occupy the Rhineland militarily, and he was also correct in predicting the non-reaction of the Western democracies. So, both Kim Jong-un and Hitler won this risky bet, risky to more prudent and cautious leaders. But the fact that they won these bets indicates also insight and intelligence on Hitler's and the Fat Boy's part, not merely pure luck.

                  Cameron Sawyer is strictly speaking correct that I cannot know with absolute certainty that the Fat Boy is rational. But absolute certainty is not given to humans, only a probability, based on careful observation and intelligent analysis. So it is on this probabilistic basis that I affirmed that the Fat Boy is rational.

                  What do we know about the Fat Boy? We know that he is a gambler like Hitler was. We know that he likes to provoke like his father did, but his provocations are carefully calibrated and he has avoided major wars and combat so far. He takes risks, but seems to be accurate in gauging the likely reaction of those he provokes. We know that he cares not a whit about his people--he risks famine to pursue his nukes, and he lives in luxury while his people live in poverty. We know he is ruthless. He murdered his uncle and his half-brother. We know he craves power. We know his regime is the last Stalinist dictatorship on Earth. Will he use his nukes? I doubt it. All of the above suggest that he is rational and that he will not.

                  JE comments:  Perhaps "rational" is not the correct adjective for this discussion.  Is Kim suicidal?  Hitler ultimately proved to be, with his invasion of the Soviet Union.  Evan Osnos in the New Yorker quotes a North Korean official that even in a nuclear exchange, the North would "win" because it would have inflicted incalculable damage on the US.  This is both sickly rational...and suicidal.

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                  • More on the Kim-Hitler Analogy (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 09/10/17 5:41 PM)

                    Istvan Simon's analysis of Kim Jong-un (10 September) is cogent and interesting.

                    I would like to drill into the analogy to Hitler, which I think is, unusually for an analogy to Hitler, instructive and interesting.

                    Hitler was certainly a "gambler," as Istvan says, and his gamble in the Rheinland paid off. He took another gamble by making, in 1940, an extremely energetic and aggressive attack on arch-enemy France, which had a larger army than Germany's, and succeeded again, defeating a much larger and better equipped force with a short, sharp blow. But these successes went to his head, and the idea that "We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down," as Hitler famously, or infamously said on the eve of Barbarossa, was a disastrous miscalculation, based on an irrational view of his enemy which flew in the face of facts which he had at his disposal. I think he was drunk on his own aggression, and I think Kim Jong-un may also be.

                    JE comments:  Drunken, yes.  A 33 year-old petty tyrant with nuclear weapons is almost certain to be.

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                  • Irredentism and War: Rhineland and Elsewhere (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/11/17 11:09 AM)
                    The famous Godwin's Law about Hitler has struck again. (See Istvan Simon, 10 September.)

                    What the hell does recovering the Rhineland have to do with North Korea? The Rhineland was part of Germany, inhabited by Germans who wanted to be part of Germany.

                    After WWI at Versailles, Germany lost (excluding the Rhineland) an area of 70,500 square kilometers with a population of 6,475,000, of whom 3,481,000 were ethnic Germans. Of these, 769,000 were kicked out of their homes, and many were killed, especially in 1939.

                    On top of this, 3,000,000 ethnic Germans were lost from Austria-Hungary. Therefore, the so-called democracies left about 6,500,000 people without their motherland and completely discriminated against.

                    Perhaps because I was born in Fiume (Rijeka), I know the terrible pain of these people and of their brethren who remained within the motherland. Therefore I strongly believe that these people had the right to be reunited as they wished.

                    Lord Halifax in his meeting with Hitler in 1937 clearly let him believe that the UK was favourable to a redefinition of the borders and to the recognition of the rights of the ethnic minorities. In many places they were the majority, such as Sudeten, Danzig, etc.

                    A recognition of the rights of the ethnic groups would have prevented WWII, the Holocaust, and 50 million deaths.

                    Unfortunately Churchill preferred to completely destroy the British Empire just to destroy Germany.

                    JE comments: Irredentism has started, or at least justified, many a war. (France, for example, was fired up in 1914 to reclaim Alsace and Lorraine.) The rub is when two different peoples inhabit the same territory. The result: Israel-Palestine.

                    Do WAISers agree with Eugenio's penultimate paragraph?

                    "A recognition of the rights of the ethnic groups would have prevented WWII, the Holocaust, and 50 million deaths."

                    To my mind this is quite a reach.  Hitler's modus operandi was exactly the opposite:  to deny the rights--and often the lives--of ethnic minorities. 

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                    • Hitler and Minorities (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/13/17 5:22 AM)
                      When commenting on my post of 11 September, John E wrote of Hitler denying the rights of ethnic minorities. (Granted, he wanted the Jewish people out of the Third Reich one way or another, but no nation wanted them; only Italy accepted several thousands.)

                      Are you sure?

                      Hitler agreed with Italy to accept all the people from Alto Adige who identified as German. (He was the only German or Austrian not to give Italy problems about this situation, from 1918 to the present.)  He agreed also to withdraw German minorities too far away from the Fatherland, such as the 60,000 Germans from the Baltic states taken by the USSR, 118,000 from former Polish territories taken by the USSR, plus 140,000 from Bucovina and Bessarabia.

                      In 1941, there were 577,000 Germans in Romania, almost 1,000,000 in Hungary, and 60,000 in Slovakia. Liechtenstein was entirely German. Luxembourg was German in the countryside, but the main towns were instead dominated by French-speaking people.  However, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg were of no interest to Hitler.

                      Very debatable was the situation of the Autonomous Bohemian Protectorate. You will not like this: the working and social conditions of the people inside the Protectorate improved with German influence (this alone would not have satisfied me). After the institution of the Protectorate, Italy should have broken the Pact of Steel. This possibility was discussed, but a decision was postponed. This was a mistake.

                      Generally the Axis powers gave satisfaction to the minorities. For instance, consider the union of the Albanians of Kosovo to Albania. For their part, the Ustasha wanted a Greater Croatia and finally Slovenia. But the Slovenes did not want to become Croatian, so they got an autonomous state united to Italy for the main part. This was also a great mistake. The northern part of Slovenia, with many Volksdeutsche, became part of the Third Reich. In the occupied territories of the USSR certain freedoms, as much as war conditions permitted, were given to the minorities--especially if they, due to their hatred of Bolshevism, agreed to cooperate against the Soviets.

                      Unfortunately in the war in the East, Nazi ideologists wanted to be involved and brought defeat.

                      JE comments: Nazi defenses of "minorities" was limited to the German diaspora, as well as useful ethnic groups sympathetic to German expansionism. Was there a single exception to this? The examples given above suggest that there was not.

                      Most of us are very uncomfortable with viewing Hitler as a defender of minorities.  Istvan Simon (next) has sent a forceful rebuttal to Eugenio Battaglia's post of September 11th.

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                    • Hitler and Rhineland, Sudetenland (Istvan Simon, USA 09/13/17 8:32 AM)
                      Eugenio Battaglia's opinions are often diametrically opposite to mine, and once again (September 11th) he does not disappoint.

                      I have to say that his defense of Hitler is deeply offensive to me personally, because my maternal grandparents were murdered at Auschwitz and my father was almost starved to death, used as slave labor at the Henkel aircraft factory, near the camp at Oranienburg where he had been deported to. A more disgraceful regime than Hitler's can hardly be found. The only thing worse or comparable in recent human History that I can think of is Mao ZeDong's disgraceful regime in China and Stalin's in Russia. Yet Eugenio has the temerity to defend Hitler's decisions in the Rhineland and still much worse, later in the Sudetenland.

                      So let's just review this history step by step. Eugenio cites ethnic compositions of the Rhineland and Sudetenland in defense of his theory. But ethnic composition has little to do with borders, and therefore his entire argumentation is absurd. To begin with, Eugenio acknowledges in his own post that German ethnicity was only about 50% of the inhabitants of the Rhineland, and an even lower ratio in the case of the Sudetenland. However, all that is besides the point, because even if the ethnic compositions on these lands were 100% German, it still would not follow that Hitler had any rights to annex them to Germany. Ethnic composition only determines borders in the feverishly sick and racist mind of Hitler and his cohorts.

                      I am of Hungarian Jewish descent and a proud American citizen. Let me state it clearly: the fact that I reside in the United States does not give Hungary any rights over the borders of the United States. If there were say a county of the United States, hypothetically, where Hungarians had settled predominantly, so that let us say again hypothetically 80% of the population in this hypothetical county were ethnic Hungarians, still under this scenario Hungary would have zero rights over this region of the United States.

                      So having disposed of the logical absurdity of Eugenio's argumentation, let us turn to the actual events in the Rhineland and Sudetenland. Even if we accepted the view that the Versailles Treaty was unjust to Germany, something that I have not conceded, it still would not have given Hitler the right to reoccupy the Rhineland militarily, because there was a treaty that Germany had signed that this would be a demilitarized zone. There was no dispute about the Rhineland being part of Germany. Here the only issue was whether Germany could or not station military forces on this territory. So the answer is no, it could not because it had signed a legally binding treaty that it would not. The Treaty could be renegotiated, if Germany felt that it was unjust, but that is not what Hitler did. He unilaterally moved his troops there.

                      At the time when this occurred, Germany was still very weak as a military power. So the Generals that advised Hitler, who were a lot saner than him, all advised against it, knowing full well that if France had reacted militarily to the move, Germany would not have had a chance. Indeed the orders were that any mobilization by France would be answered by an immediate withdrawal of German forces. We know this from the German archives captured after the war by the allies. William Shirer's excellent The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich gives a full account of this History.

                      The case of the Sudetenland, is of course much much worse. For the Sudetenland was not German territory.  It belonged to Czechoslovakia, and Czechoslovakia was a wonderful democratic little country, a much better country than Germany at the time, a cultured highly humane freedom and music-loving country, that is not my own, but nonetheless I greatly admire and love.

                      Just as an aside that illustrates what an extraordinary little country Czechoslovakia was, my father told me that his train passed through Czechoslovakia on the way to Germany, and the Czechs knew what "cargo" the trains transported, and in every overpass the Czech people threw bread and water bottles onto the train in a display of humanity that moves me to tears to this day.

                      No matter what the ethnic composition of the Sudetenland was, it does not follow that Hitler had any rights to it, and he did not. Though the Nazis had sympathizers that were creating trouble in the Sudetenland, no democratic elections ever established that this land desired to become part of Germany, and I am fairly sure that in fact if such a choice were presented to them it would not have voted to join Hitler's Germany in free elections that were not vitiated by Nazi storm troopers, as they were in the vote held in Austria.

                      It is for this reason that Munich was a shameful episode of capitulation by England, a great power, to Hitler's blackmail, to the eternal shame of Neville Chamberlain. Not only he shamefully ceded the Sudetenland to Germany, but in so doing he sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia, because the defense of Czechoslovakia depended on the geography of the Sudetenland, so indeed the Czechs had no chance after losing the Sudetenland in defending the rest of their mauled little country.

                      JE comments:  Irredentism, as Istvan Simon points out, always has a flip side.  A more apt analogy than Hungarians in the US would be the Hispanic populations of, say, New Mexico.  They stayed put while the borders shifted.  The only "successful" settling of border scores since WWII happened in recent memory, with the Russian takeover of Crimea.  Or am I overlooking another example?

                      Didn't Saddam Hussein use an irredentist justification for his invasion of Kuwait in 1990?  This move led to his downfall.

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                      • False-Flag Operations: Germany and Elsewhere (John Heelan, UK 09/14/17 10:34 AM)
                        Istvan Simon (13 September) should also review the German false-flag operations Project Himmler (aka Project Konserve): "The goal of this false-flag project was to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which could be used to justify the German invasion of Poland. Hitler also might have hoped to confuse Poland's allies, the United Kingdom and France, into delaying or stopping their declaration of war on Germany."

                        Other contemporary false-flag operations were: The strategic railway at Jablunka Pass (Jabłonków Incident), located on the border between Poland and Czechoslovakia; the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz (Gliwice) (this was arguably the most notable of Operation Himmler operations); the German customs station at Hochlinden (today part of Rybnik-Stodoły); the forest service station in Pitschen (Byczyna); the communications station at Neubersteich ("Nieborowitzer Hammer" before 12 February 1936, now Kuznia Nieborowska); the railroad station in Alt-Eiche (Smolniki); Rosenberg in Westpreußen district (per Wikipedia).

                        Other nations have used similar excuses, such as Operation Northwood aimed at Cuba and Project TP-Ajax aimed at Iran, Israel's Lavon Affair. More worryingly, Noam Chomsky alleged earlier this year, "Donald Trump's administration could stage a false-flag terrorist attack to maintain the support of voters after they realise his 'promises are built on sand.'" If so, one looks towards the Korean isthmus with some concern.

                        JE comments: False-flag operations are the Gold Standard for conspiracy theorists--which may make them, paradoxically, easier to carry out.  Regardless of how genuine an attack is (think 9/11), some will find a false-flag conspiracy.  This Cry Wolf factor makes the real false-flag event deniable.

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                      • Had Ethnic Minorities Been Respected, Hitler Would Not Have Risen to Power (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/18/17 12:46 PM)
                        In response to Istvan Simon (September 13th), not recognizing the rights of minorities is an internationally recognized crime.

                        Hitler would have not risen to power if the ethnic Germans had had the possibility of choice according to what President Wilson was preaching. Rhineland and Sudetenland were ethnically German. In my earlier post I simply stated that of the territories taken from Germany after World War I, 54% were German; therefore the shifting of borders was justice only for the remaining 46%.

                        Czechoslovakia was a wonderful democratic country only for the Bohemians (even the Slovaks were discriminated against). Likewise, South Africa was a wonderful democratic country for white people and Israel is a wonderful democratic country for Jewish people and not for the occupied Palestinians.

                        By the way, Israel's right-wing political parties in the government have voted for the annexation of the West Bank.

                        A comparison with communities which immigrated to the US or Argentina or other places is not pertinent.

                        Our esteemed editor, when commenting on shifting borders, was correct to mention Crimea, but he forgot the wars for the creation of new nations based on ethnic principles--Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia or better the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo and peacefully Germany (East and West) plus the Czech and Slovak Republics (confirming the division of March 1939), and the dissolution of USSR. Pretty soon we may even have Catalunya and Scotland....

                        About Saddam's war against Iran:  was it only irredentism or was some big country meddling and pushing him, also supplying intelligence, etc?

                        Of course I strongly sympathize with Istvan's family tragedies and I can understand his feelings, even if I still believe his post was based on misinterpreted data.

                        JE comments: My example of Crimea referred to an irredentist "settling of scores," with a larger country taking from a smaller country what it allegedly used to possess. The breakup of Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia is not the same thing, although Albania hypothetically annexing Kosovo, or Romania conquering Moldova, would be close analogies.

                        Historians have often argued that there would have been no Hitler had the terms of Versailles been more lenient. But Eugenio Battaglia's ethnic minority argument is harder to accept. Did the unemployed and desperately poor German "mainstream" of 1933 really care about Sudetenland?

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                • Is Kim Jong-un Rational? What About Trump? (John Heelan, UK 09/10/17 11:26 AM)

                  Cameron Sawyer's comment (9 Sept) about the rationality of Kim Jong-Un is also applied in today's media to Donald Trump, suggesting that he should not be regarded as mentally unstable just because some people dislike him.  (Sic!)

                  However, has anybody noticed that Kim's acolytes sport a similar hair-do as their Leader, and each carries a notebook and pen, presumably to capture his deathless words?  Of course the Qing (Manchu) dynasty demanded the same thing of its subjects a few centuries previously (not the notebooks), who had to have hair on top of the scalp grown long and braided into a queue (or pigtail), while the front portion of the head was shaved. Is Kim modelling himself on the Manchus?

                  JE comments:  I was waiting for the Kim-Trump comparison to arise.  Will The Donald's sycophants start sporting the Trump 'Do, too?

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          • Pacifism Today; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 09/04/17 6:33 AM)

            Gary Moore writes:

            Thanks for Istvan Simon's reply (Sept 3) to the questions about war raised by Timothy Ashby
            and by me, re Timothy's novel Devil's Den and my reference to the book War is a Force That
            Gives Us Meaning

            However, by pointing out the illusions of war I was not arguing per se for
            doctrinaire pacifism--and yet not arguing against it. Istvan's example of his own somber heritage
            in Hungary would seem to support rather than refute what I was saying. Hungary wasn't brutalized
            because it was pacifist or too soft to fight (witness the bravery of 1956), but because the force ethic
            had come to power next door.

            Nazi Germany glorified the one face of war (Mythic War, the grandiose
            thrill), and finally fell to the second (Sensory War, the pain and horror). One of the dilemmas in the two faces
            of war is that there is always a time to resist force--but there are always illusions saying the time is now,
            when maybe it's not. The appeal to mythic thrill made to Hungary by Voice of America in 1956 was
            waving the glorious banner: The time is now! It wasn't.

            JE comments:  Is pacifism a more effective tactic now that we have one interconnected planet?  Meaning, any bald aggression today will be put on the Internet for everyone to see, and world opinion always sympathizes with the peaceful side. 

            Imagine if the Hungarians had Twitter/Facebook et al. in 1956 (or the Chileans in 1973).  Would it have made a difference?

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            • Hungary 1956, Chile 1973: Would Social Media Have Made a Difference? (John Heelan, UK 09/05/17 3:39 PM)
              JE asked on 4 September: "Imagine if the Hungarians had Twitter/Facebook et al. in 1956 (or the Chileans in 1973). Would it have made a difference?"

              History seems to show that primary targets after an invasion or a coup appear to be the centres of news circulation (and propaganda?) such as TV and radio stations. The Trump campaign went one stage further in his preemptive capturing those outlets (Breitbart, alt-right, Fox News, etc.) to proclaim his messages and continues to do so via social networks such as Twitter. (In the UK the pro-Corbyn Momentum movement used similar techniques to rally the student vote in support of the Labour Party.)

              Perhaps in the future, preemptive cyber-strikes will be aimed at silencing these communications hubs? As Marshall McLuhan famously said, "The Medium is the Message!"  He sometimes changed the last word to "massage," "mass-age," "mess-age": each interpretation carrying another level of meaning.

              JE comments:  We could go one further.  If a strike against democracy/the people/etc. shuts off phones and the Internet, the result would be paralysis--and absolute control.  In the pre-Social Media Age, people still knew how to organize without these tools.

              Is it possible to shut down phones and the Internet?  Think of the multiplicity of providers and networks in developed countries.  In authoritarian regimes, the infrastructure is much more centralized and controllable.

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            • Nations with Limited Internet Access (Brian Blodgett, USA 09/07/17 6:09 AM)

              John E, in his comments on Gary Moore's post of September 4th, mentioned having one interconnected planet. It is important to point out that access to the Internet is still very limited in some countries. In fact there are 13 countries that limit or do not allow its citizens to freely use the Internet. These include Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. Libya, Maldives, and Nepal are just starting to let their citizens access the Internet. Many other countries may have the Internet in their main cities, but a large number of their citizens do not have access for a variety of reasons.

              Ignoring these facts, a more important one is news apathy. I know many people who simply do not watch, read, or listen to the news. Many newspapers and channels focus more on local news than events that have worldwide or even just national impact. This, to many US citizens, was evident in the months leading up to last November.

              Even more importantly is whether the leaders of countries that may be considering aggression against a neighboring country even care what others think. If they are not concerned about public opinion, either within or outside their countries, and the potential economic impacts that could result from their actions, then they are likely to do as they wish and no matter how much others sympathize with the other country's pacifism, cold, hard brutal aggression is still likely to occur.

              JE comments:  I am surprised to see Tunisia and Belarus on this list.  How especially did the latter become such a dysfunctional and near-totalitarian state?  Consider that Lithuania, which has a connectivity far faster than the US (I observed this in June), is right next door. 

              Has anyone in WAISworld visited Belarus in recent years?

              Brian Blodgett adds another variable to the equation:  news apathy, and its close cousin, news burnout.  We WAISers don't suffer from either, but what about the world's masses?

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          • It is Easy to Avoid War... (Timothy Brown, USA 09/04/17 6:59 AM)

            I agree with Istvan Simon (3 September). It's actually easy to avoid a war. Your enemy attacks, you surrender, war over. You can do this by simply bowing your head and submitting.

            The only question left is, "and now what?"

            JE comments:  William Tecumseh Sherman, of "War is Hell" fame, said the same thing.  You want to stop the total annihilation of Georgia?  Well, surrender.

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            • Avoiding War in 1914 (David Fleischer, Brazil 09/05/17 4:00 PM)
              Regarding how World War I could have been avoided, see an interesting book by Max Hastings, Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914. London: Harper Collins, 2013.

              JE comments: As for what happened in 1914, Barbara Tuchman said it best: Peace became intolerable. Time and again humanity has been reminded of this grim fact.

              Thank you for the recommendation, David. Much closer to home, don't forget WAISer Hall Gardner's The Failure to Prevent WWI (https://www.amazon.com/Failure-Prevent-World-War-Operational/dp/1472430565 ).

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          • Pacifism Explained, and a Bibliography (Holger Terp, Denmark 09/06/17 4:59 AM)
            On Pacifism:

            Latin: Pacificateur or pacificator. In English, the term is known from 1902 and in Danish from 1922.

            Pacifism refers to nonviolent efforts and ideology aimed at resolving international disputes and group conflicts by non-military means, so that peace is achieved. Examples of practical pacifism: The solution of the union conflicts between Norway and Sweden in 1905. The opposition to Swedish participation in World War I on the German side, and the solution of the civil warlike conditions in Liberia 1932 by Dr. Melville Mackenzie, from the League of Nations Secretariat.


            Hyatt, John.  Pacifism:  A Selected Bibliography.  London: Housmans, 1972.

            Brock, Peter. Freedom from War: Nonsectarian Pacifism 1814-1914.

            Brock, Peter. Twentieth-Century Pacifism.  New York:  Van Norstrand Reinhold Company, 1970.

            Brock, Peter, ed.  Challenge to Mars: Essays on Pacifism from 1918 to 1945.  Toronto:  U Toronto Press, 1999.

            Earle, Augustus. Narrative of a Residence in New Zealand, 1827.

            Richards, Howard. On the Concept of Peacemaking, 2004.

            Wartenweiler, Fritz. Was tun wir für den Frieden?  Leipzig : Rotapfel-Verlag, 1932?

            JE comments:  We've long known Holger Terp as WAISdom's tireless warrior for peace.  Your efforts are more needed now than ever, Holger!

            I am surprised the word pacifism in the modern usage dates just from the 20th century.  It (pacifism) was most in vogue between the two World Wars.  There is a huge irony here.

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            • Pacifism Today (Tor Guimaraes, USA 09/06/17 5:00 PM)
              This topic of war and pacifism is an interesting one. From a philosophical view, mankind has always seen war as a natural solution to conflict, some sort of misinterpretation of the survival of the fittest concept. Thus, I should not have been surprised by Holger Terp (6 September) writing that the term pacifism showed up only in the early 1900s.

              If war propensity has not been genetically coded into some human groups, at least culturally it seems to have been programmed into some groups: Mongols, Huns, Vikings, Japanese, German. In the 1920s, after the intelligent concept of pacifism was invented, it is rather startling that the Germans were the main players behind both World Wars. Was that just a coincidence? Japanese culture also had a lot to do with their blatant aggressiveness which provided the Asiatic component of WWII.

              When we take in all the evidence regarding humanity's experience with war, it is difficult to understand why everyone is not a pacifist. The misery created, the enormous waste of resources and human lives is staggering. Thought exercises dealing with what the Nazis could have accomplished if their ideology did not include racism and extreme violence toward the rest of humanity, make their devastation of Europe even more depressing. Thus, I share Eugenio Battaglia's notion that a "preemptive strike is a war crime, a crime against peace and a crime against humanity."

              Concurrently, while I strongly believe in pacifism, we have to be realistic and make sure that crazy people (non-pacifists?) like Hitler and the North Korean leader are not encouraged to run around threatening to start wars. Something has do be done about such people, otherwise they might proliferate. The right to self-defense trumps my strong pacifism with no hesitation.

              Long term, pacifism calls for more active intelligence about what is going on all over the world (the opposite of isolationism). It should also call for nations to work together to enforce jointly decided action against aggressors. I believe the US government has done a very poor job negotiating with the PRC and Russia to get their assistance in dealing with North Korea.

              JE comments:  "It is difficult to understand why everyone is not a pacifist."  Yessir, Professor G! 

              Millennia ago, limited resources probably necessitated war:  you had to take from someone else or you starved.  But now?

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              • Pacifism Again (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/16/17 4:52 AM)
                Not only millennia ago did limited resources probably necessitate war. (See John E's response to Tor Guimaraes, September 7th). Also today, there are always situations somewhere, somehow, in which resources appear limited and therefore war is seen as a necessity.

                But most probably it is not question of resources but a question of human nature. If we believe the Old Testament, of the two first brothers, one killed the other. From then on, men have kept killing each other until this very moment. So how can you expect that suddenly men will stop killing one another?  There is always a good reason for war. Just ask poor Bush, who started his with the best intentions.

                You just do not fight only for resources, but for honor, justice, ethnic reasons, pride, jealousy, love--anything is a good reason for war.

                Do not misunderstanding me. I am a pacifist but also a realist.

                JE comments:  How about the simple Darwinian factor?  Warlike societies always wipe out the pacifist ones.  So we all have killing in our DNA--our ancestors, to a man and woman, were bullies and jerks.

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  • Confederate Monuments; What About Washington and Jefferson? (Francisco Ramirez, USA 08/21/17 3:51 AM)
    No, John, monuments to Washington and Jefferson should not be removed for what I thought would be obvious reasons. They helped create the Union and their monuments were not constructed to celebrate the rebellion. This is not about lumping all slave owners in the same category. This is thinking about why these monuments were constructed in the first place. I understand that Donald Trump cannot think or chooses not to so as to maintain his base. But we should think.

    There was backlash against the emancipation of slaves and it took the form of the KKK and lynchings. There was backlash against desegregation and people were beaten and killed. So, yes, there may indeed be backlash. And the focus on monuments is itself a backlash against Trump and the white supremacists he has helped unleash. Do note that these folks did not feel the need to hide their faces. They feel empowered. They act as if the election of Trump is a signal that the good old days of white men at the helm are back. Do note that the Black man in the White House did not much emphasize the monuments. He really wanted to be President of all Americans, but from the outset his legitimacy was questioned. No challenging voice was louder than that of the current President. For some folks that is exactly what attracted them to Donald Trump in the first place.

    Imagine a secessionist movement today. Imagine another civil war and that after years of fighting the secession is crushed. Can you imagine that decades later the secessionists would be allowed to create monuments to celebrate the leaders of the secession? Well, if there was some popular understanding that that the war was a costly mistake and now it was time to reconcile and if putting lesser sorts in their proper place was the price for reconciliation, we could repeat history. Check out how early 20th century textbooks framed the Civil War and Reconstruction. Some of my students and I have. No, these are not textbooks written by Southern authors. The appeal of Gone With the Wind was not limited to a region. And yes, I enjoyed the book and loved the movie. But then I grew up.

    JE comments:  Washington and Jefferson led a rebellion, too.  I am not trying to draw any moral equivalencies, but imagine how W and J would be remembered by a fictional North American commonwealth that remained British and abolished slavery with the rest of the Empire in 1833--or conversely, how Lee, Jackson and Davis would be celebrated today if the Confederacy had succeeded.

    Francisco Ramírez makes an important observation, that the Confederate monuments are being attacked under Trump's watch.  With Obama, they were largely a non-issue.  Is this because the monuments are the lowest-hanging fruit for a population that has few other avenues for airing its anti-Trump frustration?

    Eugenio Battaglia (next) has sent a response to Francisco's post of yesterday.

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    • Confederate Monuments as Symbols of Jim Crow, Anti-Civil Rights (Francisco Ramirez, USA 08/22/17 8:35 AM)
      It looks like the big spike in Confederate monument building did take place in the Jim Crow era. It also looks like the more recent small spike takes place during the Civil Rights era. These are mere coincidences? In both eras nothing malign motivated their construction?

      You can make the case that not all persons who contributed to construct these monuments were malignly motivated. But the timing of their construction is consistent with a defiance interpretation. Mixed motives underlie a lot of human behavior. This is especially true as regards collective action and their consequences.

      If there is evidence that this graph is inaccurate, please let me know. If the graph is accurate, why should we not think of their creation as acts of defiance?

      We defied them when they sought to take away our sovereignty and we lost (sort of). We defied them when they sought to take away our segregated way of life and we lost (sort of). Now they are coming after our monuments and we will again lose (sort of). This is all about the continuing Southern resistance to the continuing War of Northern Aggression?

      My best friend in graduate school was Alabama born and raised. He did his undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt. His wife was also from the South. (There were always warm biscuits at dinner in his home.) He identified with the South but not with the celebration of the Confederacy. Without the South there would be no United States. Had the South triumphed and two or more countries emerged, there would be no United States either. He brought this up fully aware of the irony. I bring this up only to demonstrate that valuing your Southern heritage does not require celebrating the Confederacy. Some do and some do not.

      Source of the chart: Mother Jones, a left-wing magazine citing the Southern Poverty Law Center.

      JE comments:  Coincidentally, the 1890-1910 period corresponded to the final years of the veterans themselves, who would have been concerned with preserving their place in history.  Again coincidentally, the late 1950s-early '60s marked the Centennial of the war.  This was the period in which Civil War re-enacting became a vibrant US subculture.  And why did the 1920s, which saw the very worst of Klan activity, also see a drop-off in monuments?

      I believe the situation is more complex and nuanced than Mother Jones suggests.  Tim Ashby (next) gives further thoughts.

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      • Confederate Monuments Removed at U Texas, Austin (Anthony J Candil, USA 08/23/17 3:50 AM)
        No surprises here. After all, what is happening at the University of Texas is happening across the nation. The removal of Confederate statues was due to happen at any time.

        In my view this is sad, because it is just history but it looks as though others don't see it as such.

        Nevertheless, the statues will be moved to the Briscoe Center, within the University, as a tribute to history. It is a wise decision.

        The statues were removed at night and without warning to avoid disruption and turmoil.

        In the meanwhile nobody has stopped at what is written in stone at the Littlefield Fountain Memorial:

        "To the men and women of the Confederacy, who fought with valor and suffered with fortitude that states' rights be maintained and who, not dismayed by defeat nor discouraged by misrule, builded from the ruins of a devastating war a greater South and to the men and women of the nation who gave of their possessions and of their lives [so] that free government be made secure to the peoples of the earth this memorial is dedicated."

        What about this? Should it be removed as well?

        Have we stopped at thinking that in 1860 there were no provisions at all within the Constitution for any state wanting to secede from the Union?

        And beyond that, does anyone recall the inaugural speech of President-elect Lincoln on March 4, 1861?

        "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."


        "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend it.'

        "I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

        I confess that all these words are making me think all the time. What are we doing, here, today, in the year of the Lord, 2017?

        JE comments:  The University's president, Greg Fenves, said that the monuments had become symbols of "modern white supremacy and Neo-Nazism."  Their hurried and clandestine removal prevented any informed discussion, but it was probably the best way to prevent UT from turning into another Charlottesville.

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      • Racism was Not Confined to the US South (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 08/25/17 3:44 AM)

        No one can deny that racism was endemic throughout the United States in the early part of the 20th century, but it was certainly not confined to the Old South. In the early 1920s the Ku Klux Klan was recruiting more new members in the Midwest and Western states than in any other part of America. In 1921 the governor of Oregon and the mayor of Portland gave speeches at a Ku Klux Klan dinner honoring the local Grand Dragon. And the same year the Mayor of Omaha, Nebraska was made an officer in an organization called the "Fascisti of America" which was a front for the Klan.

        Ironically, when the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC was dedicated on Memorial Day 1922, the thousands of black people attending were confined to a segregated position far from the memorial (at which Lincoln's son Robert Todd Lincoln spoke).

        Racism (or rather, the widespread notion of preserving "Old Stock" White supremacy) was not confined to blacks or other "persons of color").

        The Immigration Act of 1924 (the National Origins Act) legalized restrictive immigration policies to restrict the number of from southern and eastern Europe based on the 1890 proportions of foreign-born European nationalities. Madison Grant's best-selling 1916 book The Passing of a Great Race, heavily influenced the US Congress to pass this legislation. The book held that northern European immigrants were skilled, thrifty and hardworking like native-born Americans, and that recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were unskilled, ignorant, predominantly Catholic or Jewish and not easily assimilated into American culture. Madison Grant and Charles Davenport, among other eugenicists, were called in as expert advisers during congressional hearings on the threat of "inferior stock" from eastern and southern Europe, playing a critical role as Congress debated the Immigration Act of 1924.

        And let's not forget that women were denied the vote until 1920 on the basis of many absurd arguments including the fact that their brains were generally smaller than men's!

        Regarding the erection of Confederate Monuments: I stand by my assertion that these were primarily done to honor what was then a fading generation of Confederate soldiers (like our WWII generation today). Many (if not most) of these monuments were sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy "to preserve and uphold the memory of the Confederate veterans, especially those husbands, sons, fathers and brothers who died in the Civil War."

        How can this be even remotely considered malign in the context of the era? From a modern perspective, would the UDC of that period have been considered racist? Yes, but so were most white Americans then. And did the UDC perpetuate the myth about the "Lost Cause"? Of course, but again this should be placed in the historical context of the bitter aftermath of a devastating war that infected several generations of southern Americans.

        I remember visiting Vicksburg a few years ago and was amazed to learn that the town did not officially observe the Independence Day holiday for 81 years after its surrender to Union forces (not returning to its observance until 1945). I asked a guide the reason for this and he soberly replied: "Until the last person with a memory of the siege had died."

        JE comments:  The long and brutal siege of Vicksburg ended on July 4th (1863).  It was also one day after Meade's victory at Gettysburg (1-3 July).  The war was basically decided at this point, although far from over.

        To return to Northern racism, we should also recall the New York City Draft Riots of that same month (July 1863), in which white mobs unleashed their murderous wrath upon the city's African-American population.  Among the large Northern cities, New York was probably the least supportive of the Union cause.

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        • Fascisti of America (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/27/17 3:14 PM)
          Even If I very much enjoyed the posts of Timothy Ashby (25 August and previous), I was troubled by the following: "And the same year (1921) the Mayor of Omaha, Nebraska was made an officer in an organization called the 'Fascisti of America' which was a front for the Klan."

          In 1921 Fascism in Italy was still a minor movement, with no goal of getting involved in the internal politics of faraway America. I seriously doubt that in Nebraska someone knew of Mussolini's existence.

          Moreover, how can you associate the Ku Klux Kan with the Italians, when the Italians were lynched by the Ku Klux Kan almost as much as were the African-Americans?  The KKK, completely WASP, wanted to eliminate African-Americans, Catholics (Italians) and Jews. Just remember the massacre of "Dagos" in New Orleans on 14 March 1891.

          The Fascist League of North America was founded in 1924 by Paolo Ignazio Thaon di Revel. But it was closed by Mussolini in 1929 following an article by Harper's Magazine which accused the FLNA of an (absurd) Mussolini plot to control the Italian-American community. Instead Mussolini repeatedly said that the Italians of America should honor their old country by being good Americans. See also the speeches of the great aviator Balbo.

          For a better understanding of Fascism in the US, please see Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America by John P. Diggins, but please forget the BS of Naomi Wolf in "Fascist America," in which she describes George W. Bush as the greatest fascist in the US.

          JE comments:  Regarding anti-Italian sentiment in the US, Eugenio Battaglia reminded me a few days back that the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti was carried out 90 years ago:  August 23rd, 1927.

          Perhaps Tim Ashby can clarify.  I am no authority on the topic, but a quick search shows that no movement in the US called itself Fascist prior to 1924.

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          • Fascisti of America (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 08/28/17 3:57 AM)
            In response to Eugenio Battaglia (27 August), I got my dates wrong but the context was right. The American Fascisti Association (aka Order of Black Shirts) was formed in the spring of 1930. They issued a magazine called Black Shirt. At the height of the Depression the group attempted to appeal to white workers by parading with placards stating "No Jobs for N------ Until Every White Man Has a Job."

            Although the group adopted the name of the Italian fascist movement, they were associated with the Ku Klux Klan. I did not write that they or the Klan were associated with Italian-Americans. The organizations were, as Eugenio correctly states, opposed to Catholics.

            JE comments:  This post presented me with the N-word quandary.  Should one publish the word in the interest of history, or resort to ellipsis?  I opted for the latter, as the meaning is abundantly clear.  Was this a prudent decision or a cop-out?

            There are several appearances of the full N-word in the WAIS archive, mostly from the Ronald Hilton era.  Always a direct quote of course.  As I age (today is my 11th anniversary as WAIS editor), I must be getting more squeamish.  Or simply cautious.

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          • Fascisti of America, Omaha 1922 (Edward Jajko, USA 08/28/17 4:54 AM)

            Knowing that Eugenio Battaglia is highly sensitive to misuse of the term Fascist, I almost hate to inform him that, in the matter of the "Fascisti of America" he has unnecessarily deployed his defenses of Mussolini (and has gratuitously slighted the people of 1920s Nebraska).

            This iPhone in my hands is so brilliantly designed by the Apple engineers just a couple of miles from my house that I am unable to figure out how to extract and post the URL link. So I suggest to Eugenio that he Google "omaha fascisti of america" and then read the extract from, believe or not, the Journal of Electrical Workers and Operators.

            JE comments:  Following Ed Jajko's instructions, I found the (very long) link:  https://books.google.com/books?id=vb0uAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA626&lpg=PA626&dq=omaha+fascisti+of+america&source=bl&ots=Rn1-y3ZJTV&sig=wqPv5Q2MIhhlxRZcyktSKAvH7ls&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjslraO7_nVAhUB94MKHahmAb4Q6AEIOjAD#v=onepage&q=omaha%20fascisti%20of%20america&f=false

            The article is from 1922, and it stresses that the American Fascisti, headquartered in Omaha, are not connected to the Italians.  To their credit, the Electrical Workers take a mocking stance against the nativist Fascisti and their fellow-travelers, the KKK:  "The Fascisti of America (distinct from the Italians organized in this country) are now on their feet and eagerly bidding for trade in the whipping and murder games."  Note the emphasis on organizing.  Remember when Barack Obama was derided for his roots as a "community organizer"?

            So did Tim Ashby get his dates right?  There was a self-described fascist group in Omaha as early as 1922.

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  • Confederate Monuments...and Slavery Today (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/21/17 4:19 AM)
    There were very good points in the post of Francisco Ramírez, 20 August. I therefore assume that if Francisco were living in 1935 he would have enrolled in the Italian Army, singing "Faccetta Nera sarai liberata" and fighting to abolish slavery in Ethiopia.

    According to the Australian Walk Free Foundation, in the world there are still 45.8 million slaves, mostly around the Arabian Gulf, India, China, Pakistan, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand. In 2005 the US State Department stated that Saudi Arabia is the third nation in the world for the traffic of human beings, to which we should add that there is no freedom of politics or religion.

    If I am not wrong, many of the above nations/area are very good friends of the US with the presence of American military bases.  Pushing the US government to stop any collaboration with said nations/areas should be more urgent than removing monuments.

    On the other side of the world, Poland has removed over 2000 communist-era monuments, and Ukraine has torn down 2389 (1320 of Lenin).

    It would be far better to leave these monuments in place to serve as reminders of the past with a placard explaining the facts instead of vandalism and destruction.

    Art representations and books should never ever be destroyed.

    JE comments:  "Little Black Face, you shall be liberated":  Note the phonetic similarity of "Faccetta" and "Fascism," as well as the black face/black shirt parallel.  Check out the English lyrics, below.  They speak of freedom, yet in a way that really makes you wince:


    Eugenio, are you really saying that Mussolini invaded Ethiopia to abolish slavery?  Conquest is undeniably another theme of the song:  "We'll give you a new law and a new King."

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    • "Faccetta Nera": Italians in Ethiopia (Carmen Negrin, France 08/22/17 9:28 AM)
      Regarding the lyrics of the Italian war song "Faccetta Nera" (Eugenio Battaglia, 21 August), it seems quite cynical to pretend to liberate a fraction of slaves while enslaving the totality of a population.

      This was the not very advanced philosophy of conquest and colonies: We are a superior race, we will teach you what you need to know and, en passant, we will use your goods.

      JE comments:  Carmen Negrín has identified the essence of paternalism and the White Man's Burden.

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