Login/Sign up

World Association of International Studies

Post Canadian Military Advisers in Ukraine?
Created by John Eipper on 02/09/15 12:14 PM

Previous posts in this discussion:


Canadian Military Advisers in Ukraine? (Roman Zhovtulya, USA, 02/09/15 12:14 pm)

Eugenio Battaglia (8 and 9 February) mentioned the presence of Canadian military advisers in Ukraine. I'd be interested to know which "English-language Ukrainian TV" disseminates this information. Could Eugenio provide names, links, etc?

I am surprised to hear about this, as none of the regular Ukrainian sites I get my news from (http://www.pravda.com.ua/ , http://www.hromadske.tv/ , etc) mention anything even remotely similar.

I even asked some of my IT developers in Ukraine, and the the closest thing they've heard about is that there were some joint training and consultations with NATO troops about 6 months ago, but none of the foregin soldiers are doing any fighting or providing support in the East.

In fact, the exact opposite sentiment is presented: Obama keeps on vetoing the decision to supply arms to Ukraine, despite overwhelming protests from both parties and the Senate. There are close to 50,000 soldiers of the regular Russian army in Eastern Ukraine, and they keep receiving more of the latest "Grad" multiple rocket launchers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BM-21_Grad ) with every shipment of the so-called "humanitarian" aid from Russia.

I wonder if this a deliberate attempt to create yet another "divide and conquer" setup, by feeding contradictory information to people in various geographic regions and then exploiting the created discontinuities. (Here we go; the oldest trick in the book is alive and well.)

If so, let's see if WAIS with it international outreach can help us debunk these stories and find out what really is going on.

JE comments: I've been thinking a lot recently about Orwell and Hemingway, both of whom volunteered to fight in Spain. The romantic days of Internationalist brigades are over, with one disturbing exception: the global Islamic jihad.

I can imagine some Canadians of Ukrainian descent volunteering for the present fight, but they must number no more than a handful.

The Ukrainian IT developers Roman Zhovtulya refers to have done excellent work. WAISers probably don't know this, but our remodeled website is 100% Made in Ukraine. (Roman and I have asked the developers to introduce themselves, and we'll be hearing from them shortly.)

Rate this post
Informational value 
Reader Ratings (0)
Informational value0%

Visits: 121


Please login/register to reply or comment: Login/Sign up

  • Ukraine Today Television (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/10/15 3:45 AM)
    To answer Roman Zhovtulya's question of 9 February, the TV channel that showed the regular Canadian army trainers and weapons was the satellite channel "Ukraine Today," received here free of charge on channel 77.

    By the way, it seems to be a war between Nazis, as both Ukraine Today and RT (Russia) call each other Nazi.

    JE comments: The "Nazification" of the enemy means to objectify the enemy as pure evil. This does not bode well for the prospects of a compromise peace.

    Ukraine Today (UT) was launched just last August, probably as a direct response to RT.  I wonder where UT got the inspiration for its name...


    Please login/register to reply or comment:

    • Western Europe's Debt to Ukraine (Roman Zhovtulya, USA 02/11/15 2:35 PM)

      My thanks to Eugenio Battaglia (10 February) for the details.

      Is it the item he was referring to?


      If so, then it's not exactly "Canadian soldiers training and arming Ukrainians."  It's merely Kyiv's mayor saying that "Canada has promised training in areas of military police and personal protective measures."

      I wish the West would finally wake up and see what Putin's Russia is really all about. Perhaps some real support would counter-balance the regular Russian army causing havoc in Eastern Ukraine with their latest military hardware. So far, Ukrainians are left on their own (yet again), to fight off the modern-day "Mongol" invasion from the East.

      Arguably, the devastating resistance put up by Ukrainians back in 13th century (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_invasion_of_Rus' ), particularly during the battle of the Kalka River (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Kalka_River ) and Siege of Kyiv (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Kiev_%281240%29) is what weakened the Mongol Empire enough to stop the advance to the West, thus allowing Western Europe to continue its development.

      So you are welcome, Germany (and France, and Italy, and Greece). Now it would only be fair to return the favor and at least not side with Russia, for a change.

      Perhaps drawing the parallel between the Putin's Russia and the Mongol Empire might be a bit of a stretch, but I cannot help but notice how many similarities exist--the expansionist agenda, ruling through fear and intimidation, together with lies and cover-ups.

      JE comments:  The other big meeting going on in Europe (besides the Finance Ministers in Brussels) is the four-party summit in Minsk, involving France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.  If there ever was an urgency for "jaw, jaw," this is it.  Roman Zhovtulya is passionately calling for Western military aid to his native country.  But how much weaponry would it take to quiet the Russian bear?  (That was a rhetorical question.)

      I'm confused about one thing:  how can Russia be negotiating peace, when it still denies any military presence in E Ukraine?

      Please login/register to reply or comment:

      • Western Europe's Debt to Ukraine; I Am Tired of War (Randy Black, USA 02/12/15 6:47 AM)
        Here's my problem with Roman Zhovtulya's call for providing weaponry to Ukraine (11 February). He says, "Perhaps some real support would counter-balance the regular Russian army causing havoc in Eastern Ukraine with their latest military hardware."

        And it easily follows that Russia will up the ante with the latest in air power and perhaps more. Apparently, Ukraine can't do much more than fly kites and shoot down the occasional aircraft. Add Russia's air power that already controls the skies, and then what?

        Personally, I'm tired of the US and parts of western Europe playing cop for the poor this or that nation of the world.

        I'm tired of war. I'm tired of our government trying to help other nations at the expense of my own nation. I sure as hell don't want a war with a crazy dictator in Russia.

        JE comments: I presume the kite reference is a metaphor, but what about Putin as "crazy dictator"? I'd say cunning, egomaniacal, and increasingly ruthless.  Let's throw in pathological liar, as in "there are no Russian troops in Ukraine."  As for dictator, recall that Putin was duly elected each time through a more or less democratic process.  Crazy dictators might be easier to deal with than someone who is at the top of his political game.

        Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • Ukraine: I Am Tired of War, Too (Miles Seeley, USA 02/12/15 1:42 PM)
          I am not often in accord with Randy Black's posts, but this time (12 February) I certainly am.

          I am 85 years old, and not in the best of health (COPD, sciatica, bad eyes and ears, etc.) but my thinking apparatus is still working. I want no more wars, big or small, and I am sick and tired of our trying to save troubled countries like Ukraine, Greece (and maybe Spain and others next) who have brought their troubles on themselves and that do not directly affect our security.

          I never thought I would become an isolationist, and still think I am not one, but these national problems are in urgent need of a fix that will take money and resources we don't have and commitment we are not willing to make. They must take precedence over our self-appointed role of rescuer to the world. Instead we let petty (my word) politics rule our system, and the result seems to be that only the very rich gain while our infrastructure, immigration, and middle class needs are left in the dust.

          JE comments: Since going to Korea nearly 65 years ago, through a long career with the CIA, Miles Seeley has seen (and heard!) his share of strife. I say he has a full right to be tired of war.

          But stay well, Miles!  WAIS needs you.

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Tired of War (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 02/13/15 6:29 AM)
            With his post on aging and on being tired of war (12 February), Miles Seeley has reached the point of no return: Wisdom!

            JE comments: Francisco Wong-Díaz added a sunburst "emoticon" to the end of this post. I'll copy and paste it here:  ��

            It's not radically different from the WAISmart spark, which colleagues might remember from back in April: 

            Either way, I congratulate Miles on his 85 years of wisdom.  And there's good news from Ukraine:  the Minsk four-party talks reached a tentative cease-fire.  Let's pray this one works out better than the last.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Tired of War; on Defeat (Timothy Brown, USA 02/14/15 3:42 AM)

              Having sojourned in a number of war zones--Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, the borders of Israel, Central America--I couldn't agree more that wars are to be avoided almost at any cost, except for one: the consequences of defeat. After all, wars are easy, not hard, to avoid. All you have to do is accede without limitations to your adversaries' demands,
              and there will be no war.

              But are my fellow WAISers really willing to make peace at any price and then live with the consequences, regardless of what they are?


              JE comments:  Some might counter that the United States hasn't genuinely faced the dangers of defeat since Pearl Harbor.  The Cold War, Desert Storm, and the present War on Terror take the notion of defeat to a more abstract level.  We should discuss this further:  history has seen clear examples of "defeat," such as Japan and Germany in 1945.  But doesn't it often mean something far milder than total humiliation, a loss of national integrity and reduction to vassal status?

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • What is Meant by Defeat? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/15/15 4:31 AM)
                I agree with John Eipper's remarks about Timothy Brown's 14 February post: "the United States hasn't genuinely faced the dangers of defeat since Pearl Harbor. The Cold War, Desert Storm, and the present War on Terror take the [risk] of defeat to a more abstract level."

                The real problem has been the lingering negative impact of these many wars on the American people, the US economy and finances. There have been no benefits except to weapons manufacturers and corporate special interests, and to the politicians who wrapped themselves in the American flag while our youth get killed and crippled. Moreover, many returned home to a less than heroic civilian life. Our veterans certainly deserve better, and our government needs to put more money where its patriotic mouth is.

                Tim wrote, "I couldn't agree more that wars are to be avoided almost at any cost, except for one: the consequences of defeat." Yet when you engage in war there is no guarantee that you won't be defeated. The only good excuse for war is in self-defense. Tim also disingenuously wrote that "After all, wars are easy, not hard, to avoid. All you have to do is accede without limitations to your adversaries' demands... But are my fellow WAISers really willing to make peace at any price and then live with the consequences, regardless of what they are?"

                Obviously not. However, if any nation truly wants to stop the scourge of war, it should stop war profiteering by special interests, it should stop starting wars under false pretenses, stop meddling in other nation's business, starting, promoting or enabling lingering civil wars with appalling costs to the civilian populations. Learn to control hell, not unleash it. Go back to a focus on building things for improving the economy, improving people's lives rather than allowing quick profits for a few while the nation as a whole is going down. Engage in war all-out, but only in self-defense.

                JE comments: "Learn to control hell, not unleash it." I shall remember that. (On a bad day, I might describe this as my teaching philosophy!)

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • What is Meant by Defeat? (Timothy Brown, USA 02/15/15 2:29 PM)

                  Several WAISers have responded to my comments on war, as regards the United States, and then only within the last several decades. My question was intended to be
                  general, not specific to one country (the US), one generation of Americans (those that opposed Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan), or one threat or attack (Pearl Harbor).

                  But we're not the only country in the world, nor have our wars been limited to the last several decades. But what about our Revolutionary War?  Should we
                  have accepted British dominance and continued to accept rule from London? Or, a few generations later, should we have accepted the withdrawal of the Southern
                  states from the union and not responded with war that kept the union together and ended slavery in the south?

                  And what about the world's other 190+ countries, not to mention its several hundred non-nation-state peoples? Should Israel be willing to accept defeat at the hands of
                  their neighbors and, in the name of peace not war, be prepared to live with the consequences? Should Taiwan be willing to capitulate to the PRC?
                  I could go on and on.

                  But the basic question I posited is simple. It takes two to tango--and to make war. So my question remains, is peace at any price really peace, when only one side is peaceful and
                  the other side willing and able to go to war? Or are there instances when resistance, even when it costs lives and money, preferable to accepting subjugation?

                  And, by the way, I volunteered and served as an FSO in Vietnam, even after having concluded based on all-sources intelligence that crossed my desk, that we
                  had already lost the ground part of that conflict, not on the battlefield, but on the streets and in the classrooms of the United States. But by then we had won the wider war
                  in Southeast Asia.

                  How on earth can I say such a thing? Read my book.

                  JE comments:  Tim Brown's book is titled Diplomarine:  Terrorism, Turf Wars, Cocktail Parties, and Other Painful Joys.  Every good WAISer should get their own copy, but Tim gave us an overview of his "strategic victory in SE Asia" thesis in a WAIS post from last December:



                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • What is Meant by Defeat? IS Beheads Christians in Libya (Enrique Torner, USA 02/16/15 3:07 AM)
                    I absolutely agree with Timothy Brown (15 February), and only partially with the other WAISers who stated they are tired of war. I am tired of war too, but unless the US leads the world in eliminating ISIS quickly and completely, war will come to our land, compliments of ISIS.  After seeing, in just one weekend, the terror attacks in Denmark and the mass beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya (21 of them), together with a gruesome video which includes a threat to eliminate Christianity and the West, I think ISIS is really stepping up their efforts to terrify and conquer the West. Unless we act quickly and decisively, I see more terror attacks in the US. Check their brutality in the following website:


                    Egypt is vowing revenge. How will the rest of the world react? We'll see. Are there any WAISers in or near Libya? If so, what do you think?

                    JE comments:  Our colleagues in Italy are closer than anyone to Libya.  Egypt this morning has launched air reprisals against IS positions in in that country.  These attacks could be significant, or they could be symbolic.  To me the most disturbing development is the extension of the IS "front" to Libya, which by all measures is now a full-blown failed state.

                    Massoud Malek argued a few days ago that Libya was better off under Gaddafi.  Randy Black (next) disagrees.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • Libya under Gaddafi (Massoud Malek, USA 02/16/15 2:28 PM)
                      On Enrique Torner's post of 16 February, our editor commented:

                      "To me the most disturbing development is the extension of the IS 'front' to Libya, which by all measures is now a full-blown failed state."

                      In 2011, near the end of the Republican presidential debate, Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas drew boos from the crowd and a rebuke from other candidates on the podium when he criticized US foreign policy in discussing the roots of the 9/11 attacks. "We're under great threat because we occupy so many countries," Paul said. "We have to be honest with ourselves. What would we do if another country, say China, did to us what we do to all those countries over there?"


                      Khalifa Haftar is a former general who took part in the coup that brought Muammar Gaddafi to power in 1969. But in 1987, he fell out with the dictator. Haftar is also a US citizen who lived for more than two decades in Virginia and was trained by the CIA in Langley. On 16 May in Operation Dignity, Haftar began a combined air and ground assault against the pro-Islamic militias of Benghazi, as well as a sustained heavy weapons attack against the Libyan parliament.

                      Today we wonder how IS could dare to fight the CIA, which is involved in a civil war in Libya.

                      I have an Italian friend who spent about 10 years in Libya to build apartments and shopping centers. Right after the start of the NATO air raids, he called me and told me about the welfare system in Libya. He couldn't believe that Libyan citizens are involved in the so-called revolution. Could we assume that Libyan citizens who enjoyed free healthcare, free education, and job security, started the revolution, because Gaddafi referred to them as rats, cockroaches, and drugged kids? (See Randy Black, 16 February.) Should we also assume that NATO air raids were to help Libyans to express their thoughts in English or French?

                      The Washington-led decision by NATO to bomb Gaddafi's Libya at a cost of at least $1 billion to American taxpayers had nothing to do with the mission to "protect innocent civilians." In reality it was to control China's economic achilles heel, namely China's strategic dependence on large volumes of imported crude oil and gas.


                      In November 14, 2011, NPR reported:

                      "In their 2007 book on the Libyan economy, authors Waniss Otman and Erling Karlberg call the Libyan worker under Gaddafi 'one of the most protected in the world,' adding that Libyans have a 'subsidy mentality' and a 'job-for-life outlook' which has ill-prepared Libyans for the more aggressive and cutthroat world of competition.... Ali Tarhouni, Libya's acting finance and oil chief, says he hopes the new Libya will feature a smaller government and a larger and freer private sector, but the challenge here is that this is a welfare state, right now the level of expectations of the people are very high."


                      According to the statistics of the United Nations Development Program, Libya at the time of the NATO invasion had the highest human development indicators (which measure levels of health, education and income) in all of Africa, with a life expectancy of 74.8; undernourishment of the population at under 5%; and adult literacy at 88.9%. Beside free medical care, Libya spent 7.1 percent of its GDP (more than Sweden) on education. Libya was ranked above Russia, Brazil, and China in terms of the human development indicators.


                      A 2011 US Census Bureau report revealed the number of people living in poverty in 2010 surged to 46.2 million--one in six Americans--the highest number since the Bureau began tracking such data more than 50 years ago. According to the report, Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 54 percent (25 million) of the poor, with whites at 9.9 percent and Asians at 12.1 percent. Children under 18 suffered the highest poverty rate. Meanwhile, the number of Americans with employer-provided health insurance continued to decline (below the 50 million mark). Analysts said the numbers would have been worse if not for government assistance programs, including extended unemployment compensation, stimulus spending, Obama's health reforms, and Social Security.


                      JE comments:  Eugenio Battaglia (next) spent one week in Tripoli during the 1980s.  Did any other WAISers have the chance to visit Libya during the Gaddafi era?

                      As a parallel curiosity, I wonder what happened to Col. Gaddafi's all-female security detail, known to the West as the "Amazonian Guards."  Presumably a lot of them met pretty grim fates.

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • Visiting Gaddafi's Libya, 1986 (Luciano Dondero, Italy 02/17/15 3:55 AM)
                        JE asked on 16 February: Did any other WAISers have the chance to visit Libya during the Gaddafi era?

                        I had a brush with things Libyan twice.

                        In 1969, when Gaddafi took over, I was living in Rome, an active militant of the Trotskyist Fourth International (the wing led by the Argentine J. Posadas). I was busy typing his articles on stencils to be mimeod later. My "co-workers" were a Greek and a Libyan, also typing stencils on typewriters in their languages.

                        "Giorgio," the Libyan guy, had a brother, "Sergio," who had recently gone back to Tripoli. From him we heard that among the newly appointed government members there were some "Trotskyists." The rumor was never confirmed, to my knowledge.

                        In 1986 I was in London, active in the Trotskyist Spartacist tendency. When the US bombed Libya in retaliation for the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing, I received a phone call early in the morning from our NY headquarters, telling me to put together a team and fly to Tripoli pronto!

                        We got a Frenchwoman from Paris, because she had lived for a year and a half in Baghdad a few years back with her then boyfriend, spoke Arabic and knew her way around the Middle East a bit, me for being Italian and usually apt at doing strange assignments, and an American guy who was in London at the time.

                        We got our visas through the news agency Jana--there were no formal diplomatic ties between the UK and Libya at the time--and flew in in a Libyan airline plane.

                        When we got to Tripoli, I couldn't believe the chaos at the airport. No uniforms, no indication that anybody you were talking to was whatever they said they were, but we were left through and into the city, staying at a beautiful hotel on the Mediterranean waterfront.

                        We were quite free to roam around, I took pictures all over the place, including of a demonstration against "US imperialism" that took place somewhere in the outskirts of Tripoli, at a house where Gaddafi himself showed up--we were some 50-60 meters from his balcony, actually.

                        I also photographed various anti-Israel/anti-Semitic posters on the walls, and some nice-looking women in a green uniform, parading in downtown Tripoli--if I manage to find these pictures, I'll send them to WAIS.

                        During our stay, our American friend got some ailment that gave him a bad fever. So we took him to a hospital, he was rather upset at the idea, being Jewish, but things went very smoothly. I was surprised at the cleanliness and efficiency of the place--we were told that it was all free for the population, and for us "distinguished guests" as well. I believe it was the former "American hospital."

                        At one point a Libyan official interviewed us to get our politics, and asked if we needed any monetary support, which we declined--our line was to give Libya only some kind of "military support," but no more political involvement, and certainly we didn't want to be tainted with their money!

                        "Military support," lest you think otherwise, was jargon to indicate that we would make noises on the side of Libya against the US and its allies, by writing articles and holding protest demonstration in front of US embassies, without expressing any kind of support for Gaddafi and his policies.

                        In fact I wrote an article, in which I emphasised the fact that my grandfather (Emanuele Dondero, this also being my name on official IDs) had gone to Libya in 1912 as part of the Italian military assaulting the country--it was in connection with the Balkan wars of independence from the Ottoman empire that Italy decided to cut a slice of it for itself (Libya and several Greek islands near the Turkish coast). My granddad was actually a Socialist, but now I had gone there as part of a revolutionary internationalist team to express our "anti-imperialist solidarity," or words to that effect.

                        Shortly afterwards, we took off and spent a few days cooling off in Malta--we had been advised by our NY HQ to avoid flying back directly to England.

                        JE comments: For WAIS content, it's hard to beat the combined travelogue/brush with history! Absolutely fascinating. I hope Luciano will find some photos of his Tripoli visit, which I'll be happy to post.

                        This is somewhat off topic, but is it true that Gaddafi was a Freemason?  Didn't this claim come out in the Lockerbie trial?

                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • What is Meant by Defeat? Beheadings in Libya (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/17/15 6:40 AM)
                    My gratitude to Timothy Brown for replying to the WAISers who sent their reflections on the meaning of defeat. What makes no sense to me is that Timothy defended his position with "My question was intended to be general, not specific to one country" or conflict.  But shouldn't a "general" statement about war address most wars, particularly the ones most important to us affecting our generation and our nation?

                    Next, Timothy zeroes in on some other countries' wars. Regarding the US Revolutionary War, he asks, "Should we have accepted British dominance?" Regarding the US Civil War, "should we have accepted the withdrawal of the Southern states from the union?" Has Timothy ever wondered what would have happened if Americans had used other means to fight, such as organized civil resistance (à la Gandhi) against the British, or increasingly tighter economic sanctions against the Confederacy before engaging in either bloodbath?

                    Regarding Israel, as long as that nation is fighting a war to defend itself, the whole world will back it up. The problem starts when Israeli right-wing religious extremists controlling the government behave like neo-Nazis, massacring innocent civilians while falsely claiming self-defense.

                    Regarding Taiwan and the PRC, the US has signed a treaty for their defense. Should the American people engage in war with the PRC to defend Taiwan's freedom? That is ultimately our choice.  It would indirectly be self-defense, but we must be prepared physically and emotionally to go all the way, possibly to nuclear. Do you have the stomach for that madness?

                    Lastly, I want to address Enrique Torner's post of 16 February. Enrique tells us he is also tired of war but he is ready for more. Fearfully he preaches: let's kill ISIS before they come to America. But, how should we do this? Start bombing Libya again? We have been killing and helping to kill millions of people in the Middle East and Northern Africa for a very long time. We have spent trillions of dollars in fireworks to hurt people--foes and innocent people alike. In return we have earned more enemies, our enemies have learned to fight us more effectively, we don't really know what to do to win stability, and the bad enemies of the past are beginning to look not so nasty compared to our new enemies. This is not a good trend strategically.

                    I have written several times in the past that strategically we would lose a war of civilizations against Islam. Now even tactically things are not looking good. John Eipper has confirmed that by stating: "To me the most disturbing development is the extension of the IS 'front' to Libya, which by all measures is now a full-blown failed state." I echo his concern and would like very much to know how they have accomplished that? ISIS is the latest and the nastiest, and seems to be the most effective and robust Islamic foe. However, bravado, trillions of dollars, and military power alone failed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya. What can make anyone think it is going to work with our latest enemy ISIS? We are doing something wrong. What is it?

                    JE comments:  Do the people of Taiwan really believe the US would go to war to defend it from the Mainland?  That is the $1.3 trillion question.  (This is how much the US owes China.)  The debt alone, I would think, will keep the Chinese from acting too aggressively against Taiwan.

                    For the US Civil War, I don't think economic sanctions against the South would have kept the Union intact.  Quite the contrary:  the Confederacy was confident it could meet its trade needs in Britain and France, and just wanted to be left alone by the North.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • How Can IS be Stopped? (Enrique Torner, USA 02/19/15 3:41 AM)

                      I would like to reply to Tor Guimaraes's criticism of my position on ISIS (17 February). First, one more and worse crime has been committed since then: 45 Iraqi hostages have been burned alive, and they have found out that ISIS has been desecrating bodies by harvesting their organs! These atrocities are escalating. ISIS is trying to get everybody's attention. They are not only killing Christians, but also people from other religions, even Muslims. Arab countries are now retaliating, including Egypt just recently to avenge their 21 murdered Christian citizens.

                      I would like to know how Tor Guimaraes plans to stop them and prevent further escalations. I don't mean for the US to get involved all alone; there are already several countries, including Muslim countries, who are fighting them. We should lead or help a multinational, diverse coalition of countries to eliminate ISIS, because they are everywhere. Only a world united can win this war. But something needs to be done. We can't do nothing while abuses and genocide of men, women, and children keep happening.

                      The Pastor Niemöller poem, "First They Came," comes to mind here.

                      JE comments:  The question is whether IS can be stopped by conventional military means.  Are there any alternatives?  If anyone knew, I guess we'd be stopping them now.

                      Meanwhile, President Obama is seeking to ratchet up the fight:


                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • How Can IS be Stopped? (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 02/20/15 1:22 AM)
                        I beg to disagree with John E about Obama ratcheting up the fight against ISIS. Open your eyes! (See John's comments to Enrique Torner, 19 February.)

                        The Obama Administration talking point now is that we must make more community outreach, because terrorists and aspiring terrorists just need more jobs. This is at best an offensive ignorant argument and at worst a dismissal of a critical national security threat. Tell that to the family of the beheaded Christians, the Iraqis and Jordanians burned alive, and all the victims. Bin Laden came from a billionaire family; his right-hand man was an Egyptian doctor; the leader of the 9-11 attack team was an engineer and so on. Islamic terrorists are from all walks of life and social classes. Their leaders are educated and smart people. Nobody follows stupid people for too long.

                        The real common thread of Islamist terrorists is their fanatic religious commitment. As a recent Atlantic magazine article ("What ISIS really wants") points out and as Peter Berger ("Why does ISIS keep making enemies?") has emphasized in a CNN piece, they are what Eric Hoffer would call true believers behaving like cultists in pursuit of their millennial/utopian goal of a caliphate at Armageddon.

                        Obama and his minions continue, at best by default or at worst by design, to allow the Islamic terrorist cult of fear and death to win more space and proselytize by example. Even the Democratic adviser and TV commentator Bob Beckel has recently asked for his impeachment.

                        WAISdom needs to be more relevant to some like me by connecting their discussion of historical events, like Guernica or the rise of Nazism, to today's events. What is happening now is history is in the making and we need clarity.

                        JE comments:  Eric Hoffer's The True Believer was first recommended to me many years ago by our colleague Noël Valis.  Here's a relevant Hoffer quote:  "To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance."

                        But...how can IS be stopped?  Pres. Obama is calling for much more than community outreach.  For starters, he seeks Congressional authorization for a three-year military campaign.  Will any of this work?  Tim Brown (next) offers his thoughts.

                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • How Can IS be Stopped? Words vs Bullets (Timothy Brown, USA 02/20/15 1:45 AM)
                        IS/ISIS is waging a hybrid form of warfare, neither as a nation-state fighting other nation-states nor as an insurgency. But the coalition opposing ISIS seems to be engaged only in the first half of the war.

                        My research into both sides of several conflicts has convinced me that, far more than in a conventional conflict, the most important part of an insurgency is fought with words, not bullets.

                        But the coalition confronting ISIS does not seem to have a plan, or at least a coherent plan, for how to combat ISIS's propaganda, even though that is the bigger part of the conflict.

                        Hence, a few thoughts. One. There's a military saying: Amateurs talk tactics; Professionals talk logistics. ISIS's supplies must, therefor, either be produced within its lines or imported, better said, smuggled, across them. I have no direct knowledge, but sincerely hope one of the primary goals of the air campaign is to cut its supply lines. Done effectively, the coalition can cut ISIS's supply lines and weaken it over time.

                        Two: ISIS asserts its immediate goal is to create a nation-state. But its tactics, especially its violations of human rights, seem designed to make this an impossible dream. Terror is a tactic, not a strategy.

                        It is also an admission of weakness and fear not confidence and strength, a contradiction that can be exploited.

                        Three: One of the major attractions of ISIS appears to be its appeal for foreign volunteers to join its ranks. We need to invoke our existing US immigration and nationality law that makes voluntarily joining a foreign armed force an expatriative act. Several European countries have entertained the idea of discouraging volunteerism by threatening to take away the passports of their citizens that join ISIS.

                        Having, in decades past as a Consul, made dozens of decisions to expatriate US citizens that voluntarily joined the Israeli army (being drafted didn't count) or voted in Israeli elections. We could--and should --take citizenship and passports away from any and all US citizens that join ISIS and encourage other nations to do the same.

                        We should also cancel the permanent or temporary residence permits of any and all that leave the US to join ISIS. This would, in a way, involve de facto acceptance of ISIS's claim to nationhood. But to recuperate their status would require them to return to the US and accept incarceration until they could be cleared of committing crimes against humanity. While I don't recommend doing so, were we to use the same system we invoked towards the beginning of WWII, we could even intern or threaten to intern, anyone that abets or otherwise actively supports volunteering to join ISIS

                        But, above all we need to counter ISIS's propaganda.

                        JE comments: Tim Brown has often shown his talent for innovative thinking. To Tim's useful suggestions, I would add a beefed-up cyberwar against IS, employing tech-savvy Arabic speakers. Probably a lot of this is happening already, under the radar screen.

                        Expatriation is a tricky subject from a legal standpoint, for, as Tim points out, it would be a tacit recognition of IS as a nation-state.  Pres. Lincoln did a similar legal dance during the US Civil War, when some Northern Confederate sympathizers (Copperheads) were exiled to the South.  Since the Union did not recognize the South as a nation, this was a murky legal move.

                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                        • Stopping IS: Nation-State vs Caliphate (John Heelan, UK 02/20/15 5:22 AM)
                          As usual Timothy Brown pours the good cold water of common-sense on the discussion (20 February). I would quibble that the aim of ISIS is a caliphate rather than a nation-state.

                          The West understands nation-states and how to ally with them or combat them if necessary, but I am not so sure that it understands the different nature of a caliphate that transcends nation-states. The revenge side of me would like to repay ISIS barbarities in like manner (napalm attacks on enemy combatants, summary executions and so on), but that makes me no better ethically than them. The more civilised side of me realises that perhaps the only way to defeat religious fundamentalism is to convince religious communities (mainly moderates) to expel those relatively few correligionists inclined to terrorism. Further, those who fund and supply fundamentalist terrorism (as Tim rightly points out, the logistics) should face global retribution, even those nation-states (and Kingdoms!) that turn a blind eye to the provision of such funds.

                          JE comments:  Ah, the elephant in the room:  Saudi Arabia.  Could the Kingdom do much more to stop the funding of the extremists?  I don't think there's any question that it could--if it wanted to.

                          Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • How Can IS be Stopped? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/20/15 2:57 AM)

                        Enrique Torner asked on 19 February: "I would like to know how Tor Guimaraes plans to stop [IS] and prevent further escalations."

                        Circumstances (i.e. extremely bad ISIS behavior, and we are already up to our neck in this quagmire) force me to share much of Enrique's opinions on the tactics the US government has to use to fight ISIS from now on. Specifically, it makes a lot of sense for the US to join with, and lead, the increasing number of countries, especially Muslim countries, who are now fighting. The fact that Enrique is not sponsoring a more unilateral hawkish approach to this war is a major improvement from what some Republicans were preaching a few months ago. President Obama is already implementing this coalitional approach to the war.  This tactic seems sound, so we must be patient before getting too nervous about what else to do. Also, the link provided by John Eipper shows that strategically President Obama (just as his predecessor) is also wisely seeking to drive a wedge between Islamic fundamentalists and Islam proper:


                        This wise separation is strategically critical but must be done with deeds as well as words, and so far the jury is still out and this is a dynamic issue. On the one hand, the more extreme the crazy behavior by ISIS, the further away most Muslim people want to be from them. On the other hand, the more the US government commits abuses against Muslim people and also condones Israel's abuse of innocent Palestinians, the more Muslim people feel the need to participate in the Islamic Spring. Similarly, Christian extremists preaching violence against Muslims in general also force them towards their own extremists. And don't forget there is a long history on this side while ISIS and their crazy behavior did not exist a short time ago.

                        Last, and most important strategically, the long history of some European and US government abuses against Muslim countries has produced this increasingly bad situation we are in. Without dramatically changing this reality we are doomed to fail in the long run for the reasons I have already discussed numerous times on this Forum. Unfortunately, as Robert Whealey and I said earlier, "US governments have always had faith in imperial adventures all over the world. They escalated unwinnable and lingering civil wars... with no coherent strategy except to follow standard US foreign policy and advance the interests of friends and special corporate interests." Now these chickens have too often come home to roost. Nevertheless, I hear presidential candidate Jeb Bush is being advised by none other than the well-known neocon Paul Wolfowitz; clearly a step in the wrong direction. And I doubt Hillary will have someone much better.

                        Strategically speaking, the only thing more important than the long negative history of US imperialism is that concurrently our nation has been made increasingly weak economically and financially and things are likely to get worse financially. In turn, it is only a matter of time for such weakness to be reflected on our military capability. With all the enemies we have developed over the years, we will need a very strong military just to defend ourselves. As a prerequisite we need a strong economy, which requires a strong middle class. There is no way around the reality of these contingencies, thus we must pay more attention to our own country which is quickly falling apart from within. We need immediate action now while we might still be able to manage our own destiny.

                        JE comments:  At least Walmart is going to raise wages and standardize the schedules of its employees...

                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • How Can IS be Stopped? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/20/15 1:48 PM)
                        The WAIS question of the day is, how can IS be stopped?

                        Before starting the discussion on how many bullets will be necessary to eliminate IS, the US should immediately eliminate the things that for too many years have been considered a great insult to the entire Arabic/Muslim world:

                        1) Abolish the prison facilities of Guantánamo, which are in violation of the provisions of the Fourth Convention of Geneva of 1949.

                        2) Stop condoning Israel each time that it forgets to abide by all the Geneva Conventions.

                        3) Recognize the State of Palestine as a free and viable state without foreign troops or colonial oversight.

                        Without such steps, the fight against IS is doomed to failure, as it will probably be doomed to failure if the above three "conditio sine qua non" are not complied with, but also if the support of Russia is not sought, without the silly smearing of Putin.

                        JE comments: But as I've pointed out before, Putin by any measure is behaving very badly. Should he get a free pass?

                        Nor do I think fulfilling these three conditions would take much wind out of the IS sails.  But the steps might inspire more moderate Muslim states to join the anti-IS coalition.  The problem:  Obama politically cannot afford to sound too conciliatory or soft in the fight against IS.  So don't look for any unilateral concessions from Washington.

                        Early today, I spoke of the necessity of ratcheting up the cyberwar.  According to NPR's Morning Edition, this concern is shared by the White House:


                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                        • How Can IS/Daesh be Stopped? (Luciano Dondero, Italy 02/22/15 3:59 AM)
                          President Obama is doing all he can to deny that the "Islamic State" is an Islamic organization, and is taken to task by two Muslim feminists


                          Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa write:

                          "At the White House summit on 'countering violent extremism,' President Obama declared that violent jihad in the name of Islam isn't the work of 'religious leaders' but rather 'terrorists.' American-Muslim leaders, attending the summit, cheered and applauded, later taking selfies in front of the president's seal.

                          "But, as liberal Muslim feminist journalists who reject the vision of the Islamic State, we can say that the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the alphabet soup of Islamic militant groups, like HUM (Harkut-ul Mujahideen) and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), rely very much on the scholarship of 'religious leaders,' from Ibn Tamiyyah in the 14th century to Sayyid Qutb in the 20th century, who very much have credibility and authority among too many Muslims as 'religious leaders.'"

                          This is comforting for those of us who are trying to face reality.  Maybe people will pay attention to the voices of Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa, although I don't have many hopes in this regard--after all, they are just women...

                          As usual, denial is not very helpful when you are supposed to confront a harsh enemy. Regarding IS/ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, the starting point should be to state clearly that once again this is the result of "espionage blowback" (see: Stuart E. Eizenstat, The Future of the Jews, 2012), similarly to the infamous case of Osama bin Laden. Once again! It seems that the US and its allies are unable to learn from their own mistakes, and that is a very serious problem.

                          In order to combat Syria's ruler Assad, anybody was enlisted, no matter how murderous and barbaric they themselves where. Now, in order to combat IS/Daesh, the US is prepared to join forces with Iran--a country which is no less murderous and barbaric than Daesh itself! And also with Iran's ally/client Syria (or whatever is left of that country).

                          And it is of course a bit disingenuous to state, as Massoud Malek wrote on 21 February, that Iran is as much Islamic as Daesh while trying to prettify Islam as such. That's exactly the problem, as pointed out by Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa: it doesn't really matter, pace all those who claim that Islam is a religion of peace, whether the Koran says "kill all your enemies" or not (it does). The trouble arises from the fact that the traditions and the teachings of Islam can be easily interpreted as murderous.

                          And, yes, of course, so can the traditions and teachings of Christianity and Judaism--just read the Old Testament, or Wikipedia about the history of the US up to the 1960s (the KKK is indeed a Protestant Christian organization: anti-Blacks, anti-Jews, anti-Catholics). But, and this is no small but, in Christian countries as well as in Israel the law and its implementation trump religion almost all the time. In any Islamic country things are not so: sharia law is religion interfering with civil society. One needs only look at the status of women and homosexuals in Islamic countries (the "bad," the "good," and the "ugly" ones) to see this. Which is why one cannot discuss the military confrontation with IS/Daesh in a vacuum.

                          And, yes, to reply to a question raised by our editor, there are social absolutes: "That all people are created equal, and that they are all entitled to freedom and to the pursuit of happiness," to condense and paraphrase the historic documents that the Founding Fathers (bless them!) wrote when they set up the USA.

                          How does one go to combat Daesh then?

                          1. Stop lying about IS/Daesh and about its nature, and also about the problem with Islam--if the Egyptian president can raise the need to "revolutionize Islam," maybe this is not so absurd after all.

                          2. Stop lying down when confronted with people whining about "Islamophobia" and such: civil society, its democratic fabric underpinned by the existence of a set of balancing forces, comes before any "holy writ" arising out of backward, pastoral societies in the Middle East centuries and centuries ago.

                          3. It is not true that "every idea has to be respected": we do not respect geocentrism, nor idiotic theories about illnesses ("malaria," as the name says, was supposed to arise out of "bad air": we know better now!). Why should we respect the notion that the world is flat, or that it was created 6,000 years ago, or that a man named Jesus is the Lord and that he was born out of a Virgin mother?

                          4. What has to be respected, and defended to the end, is the right of each one of the inhabitants of this planet to say what he thinks, and to think what she wants, and also to do what they want, provided it does not interfere with other people's freedom--and that "interfering" is precisely what unrestrained and totalitarian religions do. Islam is a case in point, whenever it is not restrained and compelled to deal with its own flock, and that also within the framework of civilian law. Therefore, no concession to sharia law or any other barbaric practice in Western societies: No infringing on the right of every girl not to have her genitals mutilated! No "Divorce Italian style!" No "separate but equal" drinking fountains in the Southern states of the US! And so on. (You will notice that the latter examples refer to past practices...)

                          5. Religious freedom for Muslims in Western societies does not mean freedom to incite to join a terrorist organization--like Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, IS/Daesh, to name just a few--or advise on how to kill and subdue "the enemies of Islam." No freedom for hate speech disguised as religion! All imams' sermons should be monitored--I suppose that among all the peace-loving Muslims, one should find a few prepared to tell the appropriate authorities about those who "throw dirt on Islam" by advocating terrorism. And those who violate the law should be dealt with appropriately.

                          6. The fight is not simply against one particular group, of course, but against the very essence of terrorism--the notion that your ideas (whatever they may be) grant you the right to maim and kill at leisure those that you decide are guilty of a crime against your ideas!

                          7. This fight is not just a military/violent confrontation, in fact it is not mainly that. It involves a lot of work to educate people--both those who claim to be on the right side and those that are on the right side (and that's of course symmetrical)--without ideological absolutes, and trying to stick to the basic facts, like: the earth is not flat and it revolves around the sun; no virgin births; no pie in the sky; no right to kill those who "offend our religion," and so on.

                          Regarding the other question: "Is it possible to defeat IS/Daesh?" really it should be phrased differently, i.e., "Is it possible to defeat every terrorist organization, as well as those who fund and support them?"--but then, while I hope so, I am not so sure that it is. I lean toward the skeptical pessimism with which Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa end their article:

                          "Muslim leaders have to realize that grievances expressed on the streets--like the tragic murder of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, NC, last week--become the material of terrorism videos, and we have to lead our communities out of a culture of 'wound collecting,' and toward a pathway for positive, progressive healing.

                          "The alternative is more horrifying scenes like the video on the beach. But spilled blood should inspire--not paralyze--us. Moderates must unite, to see that 'revenge' isn't our answer and that end-time eschatology doesn't become something very dangerous: a self-fulfilling prophecy."

                          JE comments:  A great essay, Luciano.  The central paradox is that public figures like Obama are seeking to portray this conflict as anything but a religious war, in the hope of not alienating those Muslim moderates who are essential for the fight against Daesh and their ilk. But our enemies have already framed their struggle in religious terms.  So Nomani and Arafa are right in their analysis, but they may be wrong in terms of policy.  I believe that Daesh is a political movement cloaked in religion.  The fight against them must be carried out in political, economic, and (yes) military terms.

                          Please login/register to reply or comment:

                        • How Can IS/Daesh be Stopped? (Edward Jajko, USA 02/22/15 6:55 AM)
                          This is a preliminary response to Eugenio Battaglia's "WAIS question of the day ... how can IS be stopped?" (20 February).

                          Eugenio posits three "conditiones sine qua non" that must first be met before action or discussion can be undertaken. Those conditions fall upon the United States, because the "problems" that would be addressed or eliminated "for too many years have been considered a great insult to the entire Arabic/Muslim world."

                          In general, I support Eugenio's conditions, with some added conditions of my own.

                          EB: "1) Abolish the prison facilities of Guantánamo, which are in violation of the provisions of the Fourth Convention of Geneva of 1949." EAJ: fine, but what do you do with the prisoners? Allow them to return to the battlefield or to secret ops against us?

                          EB: "2) Stop condoning Israel each time that it forgets to abide by all the Geneva Conventions." EAJ: I'm all for breaking the stranglehold that the state of Israel has on American politics and politicians. Too many American politicians have to face a singular test of office, having to show sufficient loyalty to a foreign power.

                          EB: "3) Recognize the State of Palestine as a free and viable state without foreign troops or colonial oversight." EAJ: Fine, as long as the State of Palestine can stop living off of foreign welfare checks. And stops breeding murderers.

                          Eugenio says that "Without such steps, the fight against IS is doomed to failure." I say that this is emphatically not so. The Islamic State, Daesh, whatever one wants to call it, will not be positively affected by changes in American policy such as are given in Eugenio's three points. They are not interested in prisoners in Guantánamo, save as a recruiting tool. They are not interested in Israel, save perhaps as the possible source of nuclear weapons should they be able to mount a successful assault on Dimona or the bases where Israel has them stored. They are definitely not interested in the plight of the Palestinians. That they are not interested in the welfare of others is shown in the constant cycle of murders, executions, and mass death administered by IS.

                          They were certainly not interested in whatever might have been the plight of the Yazidis, instead subjecting them to exile and slaughter, with Yazidi women and girls taken as prizes for IS fighters. They have not been interested in the plight of Palestinian Christians, who are a declining minority, nor in that of the Copts.

                          Mass beheadings, burning people alive--these are not acts of people who are going to change their minds and settle down once Guantánamo is cleared, Israel is put in its place, and the Palestinians are recognized as a state. Nor, might I add, are they acts of people who will settle down once jobs programs are set up for them and a more or less secure financial future lies ahead.

                          Nor should the support of Russia be sought. Is it silly to "smear" Putin when he has annexed Ukrainian territory? I seem to recall the German for annexation, "Anschluss," a word that used to be heard often. Is it silly to smear Putin when he has ignited a war in Ukraine and cost the lives of thousands? It would only be a weak West that would invite him in as a participant in actions against IS.

                          Eugenio's conditions, and in particular those referring to the plight of the Palestinians, have long been used by Arab states to cover up their own deficiencies and problems. Arab State X has such and such a difficulty? It must be due to the fact that the Palestinians were robbed of their homeland and since then have lived in squalid refugee camps. Have an honest discussion with an Arab and you'll get an admission that this is indeed an excuse, and simply tired old rhetoric.

                          One might with profit read the article by Graeme Wood on what ISIS really wants, in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly. It is accessible and printable for free at theatlantic.com. I have met and spoken with one or two of the people mentioned in the article and the former boss of one, since tossed out of the UK back to Lebanon. I thought them clownish and silly at first, then found them to be frightening.

                          IS inhabits a different world. We are dealing with people from another planet, who have ideals and goals that are entirely the opposite of ours--including the desire to kill us no matter what policies we enact. There's only one way to deal with such a threat.

                          JE comments:  Here's the link to the Atlantic piece.  I'm going to read it as soon as time allows.


                          Please login/register to reply or comment:

                          • How Can IS/Daesh be Stopped? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/22/15 3:24 PM)
                            I wish to thank Edward Jajko (22 February) for his kindness and his frank response to my ideas about stopping IS/Daesh.

                            My bottom line is that the West should be in a position free of any criticism for violations of human rights.

                            Guantánamo is a terrible negative symbol for the IS/Daesh and the Arab/Muslim world. Proof of this is easily seen by the way in which the orange jumpsuits and the cages are exploited.

                            The present inmates of Guantánamo by the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 should be considered prisoners of war and as such protected, unless they are proven to be guilty of war crimes.

                            It is imperative to settle the problem of the State of Palestine.  We are already 48 years too late. I had the luck on several occasions to meet Monsignor Ilarion Capucci, the Melkite Bishop of Jerusalem, the first time about 45 years ago. At that time he was preaching: "The longer that the West waits to give satisfaction to the Palestinians, the worse the situation in the greater Middle East will become."

                            Of course it is difficult to deal with the Palestinians of Hamas, but putting off dealing with them will make things always worse.

                            The borders of Ukraine were drawn, many years ago, by the Soviets with no respect for the various populations and their desires. For sure we should not now, for the sake of our imperialism, maintain the work carried out by the imperialism of the Soviets.

                            JE comments: There is a certain irony that the US and NATO are seeking to defend the borders drawn by the Soviets, while Putin, the successor to the Soviets, seeks a do over--a geopolitical "mulligan."

                            Eugenio Battaglia mentions the infamous orange jump suits.  IS/Daesh must purchase them by the truckload.  Can't the suppliers be investigated as a source of intelligence?  Has Daesh said that they chose the color as a response to the treatment of the Guantánamo prisoners?  And a final, gruesome thought:  why do they bother to supply jump suits with pockets?  Think about it...

                            Please login/register to reply or comment:

                          • How Can IS/Daesh be Stopped? (Paul Pitlick, USA 02/23/15 1:29 AM)
                            I'm not nearly the Middle East nor Arabic authority as is Ed Jajko (22 February), but I'm in a sort of middle ground between him and Eugenio Battaglia. My Jewish friends used to tell me that the Palestinian problem was really just Arafat. The Republicans told us that Saddam Hussein was the real problem in the Middle East. Then it was Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Now it's IS/Daesh. We get rid of them, and we're done!

                            Does anyone here share my concern that this may be somewhat simplistic thinking? There is a disease out there. Arafat, Saddan Hussein, and bin Laden/Al-Qaeda are all gone, but the problems persist--they were symptoms of the disease, not the root cause. My guess is that IS/Daesh is just the latest symptom.  We can get rid of it (and that will happen), but unless we address the underlying disease, we won't accomplish anything real as something else will replace it, as has happened with the other examples. I'd suggest the Eugenio's conditions may indeed be necessary to combat the underlying disease, but I agree with Ed's thought that they probably won't be sufficient by themselves, as a mathematician may say.

                            While many in the blabbo-sphere are critical of Mr. Obama's actions so far--at least he's thinking! Although the Republicans haven't seemed to figure it out, he's apparently been listening to Will Rogers, "When you're in a hole, stop digging." (This site is worth a Google:  http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=23998 .)

                            JE comments:  Dr Pitlick's medical analogy is convincing:  by focusing on the latest threat du jour, the West has been applying palliative treatment instead of addressing the wider disease.  But what exactly is the disease?  The diagnoses have been many and often contradictory.

                            The days when Arafat was the #1 threat now sound positively quaint.

                            Please login/register to reply or comment:

                            • How Can IS/Daesh be Stopped? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/23/15 6:43 AM)
                              I completely agree with Paul Pitlick (23 February), that regarding our situation in the Middle East, "there is a disease out there. Arafat, Saddam Hussein, and bin Laden/Al-Qaeda are all gone, but the problems persist." We have discussed this problem on this Forum numerous times, but it does not seem to do any good.

                              I share many of Luciano Dondero's opinions which criticize the related religious groups' dogma and behavior. On the other hand there are some important realities that Luciano ignored or conveniently brushed over.

                              As discussed in my earlier post, President Obama (just as Mr. Bush did) must separate Islamic extremism from Islam as a religion. Otherwise, 1.2 billion people all over the world will join the fray, leaning further to the wrong side. We are not just talking philosophy here; we are talking armed conflict with Islamic fundamentalists whose numbers are increasing for the reasons discussed before on this Forum. Strategically, to cut off the oxygen to these extremists, the US government must absolutely not alienate the broader and numerous Muslim population.

                              Trying to piggyback on Islamic groups' justified dissent against mistreatment of gays and women will be a side show, since the West has no credibility due to our own nasty misbehaviors in the past and present.

                              Luciano tried to be balanced in his assessment of other organized religions, by mentioning that "traditions and teachings of Christianity and Judaism [have also committed murder and many injustices against many innocent groups]." However, Luciano severely underestimates the impact of these grievous injustices on our credibility today. Furthermore, incorrectly to some extent, Luciano stated that in "Christian countries as well as in Israel the law and its implementation trump religion almost all the time." Christian and Jewish extremists still have a great deal of power in the US and Israel, particularly in Likud's Israel today. We have no moral high ground here, except in our own minds.

                              Similarly, Luciano's prescription on how to combat Daesh is way off the mark, since everyone already recognizes how murderous and crazy Daesh is, but no one can unilaterally "improve" Islam. Furthermore, the Egyptian [military dictator] president's opinion to "revolutionize Islam" has zero credibility with most Muslim people and any thinking person.

                              Luciano's Item 2 seems reasonable, but good luck trying to implement it. I wholeheartedly agree with items 3, 4, and 5, even though they are extremely difficult to achieve. They are definitely worthy objectives.

                              Regarding Luciano's item 7, "Is it possible to defeat every terrorist organization, as well as those who fund and support them?--but then, while I hope so, I am not so sure that it is. I lean toward the skeptical pessimism." Yes, you can defeat today's terrorism, but the only way is by first earnestly realizing that these horrible forces did not exist as a significant threat a few decades ago. We must be much more assiduous and honest in understanding why and how these terrorist forces arose to such scary prominence.

                              We also must remember that before them, for decades we had overwhelming political power in the Middle East and all over the world. Why and how did the situation deteriorate so badly? These are the critical questions which must be earnestly internalized before any lasting solution can be found.

                              Unfortunately, based on what I see today, our leaders seem incapable of seriously asking these questions, let alone answering them.

                              JE comments:  Is the "West's" claim to moral high ground completely groundless, as Tor Guimaraes suggests?  Many in WAISdom (including Yours Truly) will disagree, but we admittedly are all in the West.  One thing we can thank Daesh for:  its barbarity frees us from having to grapple with moral relativism.

                              I'd like to know more about the Egyptian president's call to "revolutionize Islam."  Maybe Ed Jajko can help?

                              Please login/register to reply or comment:

                            • IS/Daesh and the Medical Analogy (John Heelan, UK 02/24/15 4:19 AM)
                              Paul Pitlick's medical analogy (23 February) chimed with my similar thinking of using an oncological interpretation for considering the strategic approaches to resolving the IS/Daesh problem.

                              I have no medical training, so forgive my simplistic thinking that goes: the original carcinoma, Osama bin Laden, metastasised into subsidiary tumours around the world. Now another major tumour has grown with IS/Daesh. How would oncologists deal with this problem? Would they use immediate radical surgery (i.e. military force) to eradicate the infection, or would they seek to kill it by cutting off the nutrients that sustain it? The first would be far quicker but runs the risk of alienating the patient (the wider Ummah).  How about harnessing the body's (the Ummah's) defence mechanisms so that it eventually expels the cancer within it?

                              I suggest that this analogy describes the dilemma facing the world at the moment.

                              JE comments: But how do you wake up the body's defense mechanisms?  Cutting off nutrients to the tumor has a financial component and a "hearts and minds of the population" component.  IS/Daesh is reportedly the richest terror organization in history, so we are left with the second option.  The gruesome execution videos generate both hatred and fear among the population.  IS/Daesh is betting on the usefulness of the latter.

                              Please login/register to reply or comment:

                            • Middle East Conflict and the Medical Analogy (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 02/26/15 4:14 AM)

                              Paul Pitlick wrote on 23 February: "There is a disease out there. Arafat, Saddam Hussein, and bin Laden/Al-Qaeda are all gone, but the problems persist--they were symptoms of the disease, not the root cause. My guess is that IS/Daesh is just the latest symptom. We can get rid of it (and that will happen), but unless we address the underlying disease, we won't accomplish anything real as something else will replace it, as has happened with the other examples."

                              My dear colleague Paul Pitlick is right to differentiate symptoms and disease. Paul mentioned the symptoms. According to Daniel Barenboim, "The Palestinians and the Israelis want to live in the same place but without the other."  In my opinion, this is the disease. A diagnostic approach begins by analyzing the symptoms to then reach a diagnosis. Confounding symptoms with diagnosis is a bad start that makes it difficult to find the correct treatment to cure the disease explaining the persistency of the problem.

                              Being realistic, I am not sure that there is a treatment.

                              JE comments:  To carry the medical analogy further, perhaps we could view the Palestinians and the Israelis as conjoined twins who don't get along?  A careful surgical procedure might allow them to lead separate and normal lives.

                              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • on US "Defeats" (John Heelan, UK 02/15/15 6:57 AM)
                JE commented on 14 February: "The United States hasn't genuinely faced the dangers of defeat since Pearl Harbor. The Cold War, Desert Storm, and the present War on Terror take the [risk] of defeat to a more abstract level."

                I suggest that the 58,220 US military deaths in the Vietnam War--a defeat that the US appears to airbrush from popular history--are more tangible than abstract.

                JE comments: Yes, and with respect to our colleagues who served honorably there, Vietnam was a defeat for the US.

                My original point was different, that Pearl Harbor was a moment where the US truly "faced defeat"--the choice of fighting or being defeated. Let's call it self-defense. In Vietnam the US was defeated, but "facing defeat" (fight or be conquered) was not the rationale for entering the war.

                Defeat is a depressing topic, but you learn more from it than you do from victory.  Further thoughts?

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • Thoughts on "Defeat" (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/16/15 2:01 AM)
                  ​​This defeat business is indeed a fascinating and very complex topic. As John Eipper wrote on 15 February, "Defeat is a depressing topic, but you learn more from it than you do from victory." There is normally the case, since we plan/hope for victory so winning should offer no surprise that demands major changes in our way of thinking. Defeat normally involves a rude awakening, which forces intelligent people into re-thinking their premises, mental frameworks, and behavior. I hope we have learned a lot from Vietnam, but was it a defeat?

                  Sure it was, in the sense that for the first time the US was viewed as a bully attacking a little farming country, propping up an unpopular dictator. War profiteers were big winners though, and most of the media did not sell it as a defeat. Thus most Americans were just relieved it was over. I have a close friend who was a Major in the Vietnam War. I can always get him going by saying Vietnam was a defeat. He will never accept that and I finally understand why and changed my mind. The Vietnam War was a stalemate similar to Korea (except much more costly and emotionally painful). It can be correctly viewed as a major defeat because despite our huge effort, we were forced to withdraw from a little brave nation supported by China and the USSR.

                  No one can say we won that war, because our heroic enemy Ho Chi Ming won it. But we can consider it a draw because our nation's survival or sovereignty was never at stake. Our government could have insanely escalated the war with probably more disastrous consequences, but who knows what the outcome from that would have been?

                  JE comments:  Germany's defeat in WWI led to a major rethinking of tactics for WWII.  Defeat in WWII led to a change of strategy:  seek hegemony through economic, rather than military, means.

                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • Is Fighting Terrorists a Strategy or a Tactic? (Robert Whealey, USA 02/17/15 8:14 AM)
                  Is John E kidding himself, when he wrote on 14 February, "the United States hasn't genuinely faced the dangers of defeat since Pearl Harbor"?  What is the meaning of the cop-out word "genuinely"? The United States had 134 million citizens in 1941. American society today is about 330 million. President Lyndon Johnson and President Richard Nixon had faith in an imperial adventure in Indochina. They escalated unwinnable, illegal and immoral wars in Indochina with no coherent strategy. Henry Kissinger was the major figure who de-escalated the war.

                  John Heelan is one-quarter right, the Vietnam vets now know they fought for a false anti-communist crusade. But John H and John E leave out the roles of Congressional politicians, greedy arms merchants, and the mass media in helping the false anti-communist ideology continue from 1945 and right until the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

                  The tragedy of George W. Bush and Barack Obama is that they studied practically no history of the Middle East wars since 1948.

                  They do not see any connections between the losses in Vietnam and their loses in the Middle East. It is time that the US elect a congress and President who can think the long-term strategy for the peace of Middle East.

                  Fighting terrorists is a tactic, not a strategy.

                  JE comments:  I thought I was making a straightforward point, that Pearl Harbor was the last time the US faced an existential threat, a choice between fighting or utter humiliation.

                  I'd like to address Robert Whealey's final point.  It seems to me that the US has been quite successful at the tactical war on terrorism, but less so when it comes to strategy.  Was Robert claiming that the war has focused too much on the symptoms (individual terrorists) and not on the underlying disease?

                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • More on Strategies and Tactics of Fighting Terrorism (Robert Whealey, USA 02/18/15 2:05 PM)

                    Let us begin the story in 2001 with Bush/Cheney. What were their successes in the
                    long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the American national interests? The CIA cannot administer
                    four or five countries in the Arab or Muslim Middle East. Iraq and Afghanistan are still fighting
                    a civil war that only leads to further death and chaos.

                    President Obama, having no understanding of war or diplomacy, tactically has spread more terrorism to
                    Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Syria. Is there a difference between terrorism and counterterrorism? Only an
                    imperial power with a police state can impose a "lasting peace" over an alien weak group of tribes. The
                    British and French imperialists were eventually convinced they could not afford to fight a Muslim population
                    greater then the populations of democratic Britain and France.

                    For every member of al-Qaeda killed by the US Armed Forces, probably three or four new illiterate Muslims have joined
                    old and new terrorists groups. The Democrats and Republicans learned nothing from lost wars in Indochina. They
                    learned nothing about why the French and British lost their empires in two world wars. One cannot kill hornets with a stick.

                    JE comments:  One emerging thread I'm perceiving across the WAIS political spectrum is a new isolationism.  Has anyone noticed that the neocons have been strangely silent of late?

                    I hope we'll soon hear from WAISdom's most outspoken foreign policy idealist, Vincent Littrell.

                    Illiterate Muslims?  Let us remember the study forwarded recently by Henry Levin, that low education level and terrorism do not correlate:


                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • A New Isolationism? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/19/15 11:31 AM)
                      If Robert Whealey and John Heelan were as old as they are wise, they would have to be at least 200. I adapt Robert's statement of 2 February as a basis to summarize: President Lyndon Johnson, and all the Presidents since, had faith in imperial adventures all over the world. They escalated unwinnable and lingering civil wars, also most illegal and immoral wars all over with no coherent strategy except to follow standard US foreign policy and advance the interests of friends and special corporate interests.

                      Robert is also on the money when he stated: "The Democrats and Republicans learned nothing from lost wars. They [also] learned nothing about why the French and British lost their empires in two world wars. One cannot kill hornets with a stick."

                      Further, Henry Levin's evidence that low education level and terrorism do not correlate is worrisome. We do not need more literate enemies willing to blow themselves up for their cause, who also seem very effective recruiting new members proliferating to many countries, and constantly surprising us in the battlefield.

                      Last, John Eipper commented: "One emerging thread I'm perceiving across the WAIS political spectrum is a new isolationism." I think the US government needs to learn something from the PRC Communist government: how to do business with the rest of the world instead of trying to "democratize" and "nation-build" foreign countries, installing new unpopular corrupt governments, etc. On the other hand, isolationism is far better than wasting resources and human lives and making more enemies all over the globe.

                      JE comments:  What is the US record for nation-building?  As I see it, there have been two enormous successes (Germany and Japan), and perhaps S Korea.  After that, the pickings are rather slim.

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • Give Sanctions a Chance: Altman in WSJ (Richard Hancock, USA 02/12/15 2:16 PM)
          Roger C. Altman, former deputy secretary of Treasury under Clinton, writes in the Feb. 10 Wall Street Journal that financial sanctions are the most effective way to respond to Russian actions in the Ukraine. He comments in regard to the present situation in Russia:

          1. 500,000 people have fled Russia in the past 3 years.

          2. Oil prices, the main factor in the Russian economy, have decreased 50%.

          3. Standard and Poor's have reduced Russia's credit rating to junk status.

          4. Level of corruption in Russia is staggering.

          He adds that Russia is not North Korea. It is a full participant in global financial markets. The next logical step is to prevent European and American investors from holding its sovereign debt. Squeeze Russia to the point where its entities cannot borrow abroad so that all private capital is leaving the banking system and no one wants the ruble.

          Altman's comments make a lot of sense to me. There are other stories commenting on the high level of real estate purchases by Russians in New York, London, Paris, Miami, and Los Angeles. It appears that Russian capitalists are getting ready for a crash in Russia.

          This reminds me of Cuba when Castro ran all of the intelligent and educated Cubans out of Cuba, thus putting it in a North Korea-type economic situation. The Castro regime still exists, but Cuba has become a non-entity in terms of being a world power.

          If we take the steps recommended by Altman, how long will the Russian public put up with Putin? I would like to hear from Cameron Sawyer on this.

          Incidentally, my nephew, who has lived in Russia for four years, has moved to Poland and is writing extremely critical posts in Facebook on Putin. He hasn't said so, but I suspect he might be in trouble if he continued to do this while living in Russia.

          JE comments:  Richard:  could you ask your nephew to share his Facebook address with WAIS?  I know that many of our colleagues would like to read his perspectives on Putin and Russia.  If he is not comfortable with this, I understand.  

          So how long will it be before the sanctions make Putin buckle--or inspire the Russian people to get rid of him?  The problem as I see it is that the privileged classes--the folks buying the London and Paris real estate--have already protected themselves financially.  As long as they are not unduly suffering, Putin could weather the sanctions for a long time.

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Will Sanctions Work on Putin? (Randy Black, USA 02/13/15 1:10 AM)

            I have more respect for fellow Texan Richard Hancock than any other WAISer. With that in mind, I have some comments and a question on the news feature he cited on 12 February.

            Richard quoted from a Wall Street Journal article by Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Roger Altman who opined on the effectiveness of financial sanctions on Russia, sanctions theoretically designed to damage the Russian "system" in order to cause Putin pain for supporting and funding the war on Ukraine.

            The way I analyze Treasury Secretary Altman's article seems to be that Putin's desire to reanimate the USSR has caused:

            Hundreds of thousands of Russians to flee Russia in the past three years; low oil prices are strangling Putin's treasury; the status of Russia's bonds are labeled junk status and are hurting the nation's ability to fund operations across a broad range of activities, and crime in Russia is out of control. Therefore, Russia cannot survive without a war with Ukraine and the NATO members who will defend Ukraine.


            Literally, millions fled Russia in the late 1980s-early 1990s; crime was rampant during the same period; tens of billions of dollars left Russia for points ranging from Cyprus to Manhattan to London; oil was cheap, so cheap that Russia could not dig it out of the earth to the extent that they could support or feed its population. As a result, food was rationed during my first year in Siberia, 1993; Russia could not borrow money anywhere; everyone pretty much gave up on the Russians. During that period, I met WAISer Cameron Sawyer, who had arrived a few years earlier.

            One year in, after meeting and listening to Cameron and a few others in mid-1994, I quickly concluded that while Russian leaders appeared to be stupid, corrupt and lazy, underneath they are amazingly clever, energetic and resilient.

            Sure, they were crooked bastards then, and remain so now. However, you can't swing a cat in the US without getting a mouthful of fur or hitting a person intent on stealing your grandmother's life savings.

            The main difference between them and us is that we live in a country with a system of laws that however flawed, continues to work far better than in Russia. In addition, as one Russian told me, "the difference between our cops and yours is that your cops don't take tips."

            Finally, I have a memory of a Russian politician proudly supporting the news that millions of Russians had fled their homeland over the previous couple of years. "These are millions of pensions, housing and medical care that we will not have to support over the coming decades."

            Question: In Richard's mind, will Putin successfully bait the West into a real war over Ukraine and if so, will anything change? Will Germany, France, the USA and the UK, which seems to be sitting this one out, be able to find a way out of this predicament that might allow all sides to save face?

            JE comments:  Is Putin trying to bait the West into a war?  I would say no:  he's attempting a land grab with a hearty show of machismo, in the assumption that a war-weary NATO will do nothing but gripe about it.  This all begs the question of why:  Russia is already the largest country on the planet.

            What could Putin possibly gain from a larger war?  It would raise oil prices overnight, but Russia would have no one to sell its oil to.  It might bolster Putin's popularity at home, but that would be short-lived as the reality of war sets in.

            Roman Zhovtulya (next) has sent a response to Randy's post of 12 February.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Will Sanctions Work on Putin? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/14/15 10:45 AM)
              Meu Deus, this world is completely upside down. I have been identifying completely with Randy Black's last few posts, including his comment of 13 February.

              Putin is too smart and practical to want a war with the West. But, I don't trust him. You push him too hard into a corner and he will come out swinging at you.  Perhaps with more widespread and stronger covert help to our enemies to undermine us anywhere and everywhere in the world?

              This Ukrainian situation is a very scary thing: too close to Russia for them to let it go; too insignificant a battleground to risk a direct confrontation between Russia and the US. We need some genuine diplomacy here.  Juvenile bravado is useless and dangerous. Time to stop antagonizing and make nice before things really get out of hand. I don't understand why both sides don't agree with a plebiscite to split East and West Ukraine to permanently stop the fighting and get down to normal lives. That is what everyone should want. What difference will it make if it is under the Putin government (directly or indirectly) or the Ukrainian government? Tudo a mesma coisa. [It's all the same thing--JE.]

              I am personally very sympathetic to Roman Zhovtulya's situation and admire his patriotic passion. Nevertheless we have discussed how these coups d'état can quickly take a life of their own and quickly morph into lingering civil wars. Please don't hope to drag us into this quagmire. Let's keep hell as small as possible and dedicate ourselves to eradicating the numerous wars all over the globe. Each is extremely expensive in lives and resources, and the result is always nothing but more misery for all involved.

              We like to blame Putin and call him names for his actions and reactions creating this situation, but originally we also have shown a lot of nerve going to the guy's political/military backyard and setting up camp, making promises to the locals and special groups, and then playing dumb when the going gets rough. It's Georgia all over again, except on steroids and more dangerous.

              JE comments:  The ceasefire is scheduled to take effect at midnight in Ukraine, which is in three hours' time.  Tor's call for serious diplomacy has apparently worked.  Time will tell for how long.

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Is Putin Vulnerable? From Lee Hancock (John Eipper, USA 02/14/15 12:35 PM)
            [JE: On February 12th, WAISer Richard Hancock mentioned his nephew Lee Hancock, who has recently moved to Poland after living four years in Russia. Specifically, Richard mentioned Lee's Facebook page, which has posted some material very critical of Putin. Yesterday I received this kind note from Lee, who has granted me permission to post.]

            My uncle, Dick Hancock, had mentioned that you were interested in communicating with me. My Facebook address is https://www.facebook.com/wlhancockjr

            I'm quite critical of Putin. Dick had sort of implied that I would be at risk in Russia for anti-government views, but I'm not sure that is so true. I mostly refrained from talking politics with Russians while I was there, just because I think if you are a guest in someone's country it is best to keep a low profile and avoid controversy. If people asked me what I thought I would say, but I didn't seek out political conversations with Russians. Although I would talk politics more with my European friends who also lived in Russia.

            Dick may overstate how vulnerable Putin is. In fact, I don't think in the near to medium term he is very vulnerable at all. He has effectively marginalized everyone who has come along who would be a plausible alternative to his leadership. He has a strangle-hold on the media in the country and what little independent media that remains is under tremendous pressure. Now the government has set its sights on restricting the Internet. And unfortunately, Russians by nature are extremely apolitical and follow kind of a herd mentality. That has been one of the things that has surprised me most. The vast majority of my Russian friends are university educated and speak at least one foreign language besides Russian. Many of them speak two or three. They also all have access to the Internet. Despite all of this, a great many of them rather uncritically buy into the narrative on Ukraine that the state-controlled mass media puts out. I don't think as an American you would be able to believe the ridiculous stuff that is presented on Russian television. It is most noticeable in panel discussion shows where some guy who is portrayed as a specialist or expert will express as fact these completely ludicrous untruths that will gather nods of agreement from the other panelists. And the television news is just beyond the pale. They will show file footage of some shootout that occurred between police and Islamic militants in Dagestan or Ingushetia two or three years ago, and portray the bodies as though they were civilian casualties callously killed by Ukrainian forces in Donbass. It is all rather surreal.

            When I lived in Russia the first time from late 2006 until early 2009, I took a long summer driving trip with some Scandinavian friends that took me through much of Southern Russia and Ukraine and spent a good bit of time in Sevastopol. A lot of these small villages that you hear on the news where fighting is going on are places that I have been through, although never really stopped. I do remember spending the night in Mariupol which is now a contested area. It is kind of a hellhole even in the best of times. Very industrial with the coal and steel industries. It looks like I imagine that Birmingham or one of the other Northern England industrial cities looked in the 1880s.

            It is kind of interesting how little things in Russia change. I was reading a bit recently about the Winter War which occurred between Russia and Finland in the winter of 1939-40. It was a result of Russia wanting to secure more territory so that Leningrad would not be so close to the Finnish border. Stalin knew that war with Germany would eventually come and Leningrad was quite vulnerable. Also the railroad between Leningrad and Murmansk was an important asset that was vulnerable. all of this is kind of related to the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrip Pact. At any rate, if you read the propaganda that Stalin used to describe the Finns, it is almost a carbon copy of all of the fascist talk you hear about Ukraine today.

            I think that the issue that Putin faces that is a bigger problem than political unrest is people voting with their feet. A number of my friends have already departed for Europe or North America and I think others will follow. And the entrepreneurial class will leave in droves. Russia is kind of a funny country in that small business is not really the engine of growth like it is in America. And the government does little to encourage it, and because of inefficiency and corruption puts up a lot of impediments to it. I think all of the areas that Russia needs to reform to fix the economy are actually regressing. Property rights and rule of law issues to me seem worse today than when I first visited Russia in 1999.

            I'm not too optimistic about the country's future. And I don't quite know how to read the people. I have a few friends who will actively make the case for Putin, but most just stay silent. I think when Russians are polled they are more likely to say what seems like a politically acceptable answer. Putin's support is weaker than the polls would indicate, but as I said above there isn't a real alternative to him out there. But Russians are pretty stoic and used to deprivation, so the idea that sanctions will create unrest is a bit of wishful thinking. I do think if the war spun out of control and Russia started to suffer a lot of casualties that might have an influence, but the government does a very good job of keeping the public in the dark about Russian casualties.

            I do have to caution you that my Facebook page also has a fair amount about European and American politics and sometimes isn't very kind to our president. I was raised in a very liberal Democratic family and mostly stayed that way for my first forty-two years. I guess it is somewhat like an alcoholic who stops drinking or a fat person who loses weight. When I finally got fed up with the Democrats, I had a pretty strong reaction. I'm not a Republican; I'm an Independent, but I mostly vote Republican. Sometimes enthusiastically and sometimes not. But I just wanted to warn you that you may find some articles reposted there that aren't very flattering to the current administration's policies. I assume many people in your group are academics and quite often the academy runs left of center.

            JE comments:  I don't think many would classify WAIS as "left of center."  We run the full gamut of political views, and always have:  that was Prof. Hilton's intention.  "Right and left of center, but sometimes in the middle of center"?

            Great to hear from Lee Hancock, and my thanks to Uncle Richard for reaching out to him.  Lee told me in a subsequent e-mail that he now lives in Nowy Targ, in the Krakow region of southern Poland, about twenty kilometers from the mountain resort of Zakopane.  It's hard to believe that after five or six trips to Poland, I still haven't visited Zakopane, but we were in Krakow last summer.

            Lee raises some excellent points about Putin's longevity:  he's been skillful at controlling the media and preventing the rise of a credible political alternative.  Also, the Russians are "used to deprivation," as Lee puts it.  Sanctions may have to go on for a long time before the people will say "no more."

            Please stay in touch, Lee.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Life in Nowy Targ; from Lee Hancock (John Eipper, USA 02/17/15 11:55 AM)
              JE: On February 14th, we heard from Lee Hancock, nephew of WAIS veteran Richard Hancock.  Lee recently relocated to Poland after living in Russia for four years. As a frequent visitor to Poland, I was intrigued, and I asked Lee about his place of residence. He sent the following:

              I live in a pretty small town in Malopolska, which is the southern part of Poland that includes Krakow. I am about fifty miles south of Krakow and just a few kilometers from the border with Slovakia. The town is called Nowy Targ (pronounced as Novy Targ), which means "New Market" in Polish. It has been a trading center in the region for five or six centuries and there is still a market day here on Thursday and Saturday mornings that brings people from here and Slovakia to buy and sell. We are very close to the Tatra mountains and maybe fifteen or twenty kilometers away from the ski resort of Zakopane. I'm sure your wife will be familiar with the general area.

              Several years ago I had taken a driving trip with my then girlfriend from Petrozavodsk in Northwest Russia (420 kilometers northeast of Saint Petersburg) to Venice and Rome. We had passed through this area enroute and I found it to be quite pleasant and pretty. I had sort of thought at the time that it might be a place to live when I left Russia. Petrozavodsk was not so far from Finland and Estonia but to get to most of Central and Eastern Europe it is a very long drive. Nowy Targ is very conveniently located. It is an hour from Krakow, perhaps four or a little more to Warsaw, four to Bratislava, five to Vienna and Budapest, about nine to Prague and maybe ten or eleven to Munich.

              Poland is fairly inexpensive to live and is quite a normal country. I rent an apartment here that is about twice the size of the one I had in Russia and much nicer for about two-thirds of the cost. Although I guess with ruble devaluation now my apartment in Petrozavodsk might be a bit cheaper for me. I'm pretty impressed with both Poland and the Polish. The economy is not as good as it could be and good jobs are not as plentiful in a small town, but the people are very industrious. It is sort of a marked change from Russia where nobody ever paints anything or mows the grass and that sort of thing. All the houses are tidy and well maintained and usually have flower boxes in the warmer months.

              I'm at a little disadvantage here as I don't speak Polish. My Russian helps me some as there are a lot of similar words and the grammar is similar but there are also a lot of completely different words. I have a Russian friend who is now a doctoral student in Budapest and she says that she has a very difficult time understanding the Poles. When I see the words written I realize they are quite similar to Russian but somehow when I hear them pronounced they seem a bit different.

              Dick [Richard Hancock--JE] had mentioned to me a few times this group that he belongs to and the discussions that you all have. It sounds quite interesting.

              JE comments:  I've never been to Nowy Targ but it strikes me as similar in flavor to Sanok in the Southeast, where we spent three days last summer.  Wikipedia tells us that Nowy Targ's high elevation gives it one of the coldest climates in Poland, although I hear from Aldona's family that this winter has been very mild.  I found myself wondering about the warmest city in Poland.  Some sources give that honor to Tarnów, which like Nowy Targ is in Malopolska ("Lesser Poland") in the South.  For Poland, as for Michigan, the "warmest city" distinction is fairly relative.

              Best of luck, Lee, as you work on your language skills!  Polish is probably more difficult than Russian, with the lone exception of word stress--every word in Polish is accented on the penultimate syllable.  Other than that, the sky is the limit when it comes to complexity, phonemes, and diabolical grammar.

              For WAISers who'd like to check out Lee's Facebook writings, here once again is the address:


              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • Tarnow (Henry Levin, USA 02/17/15 3:40 PM)
                Although my father's family came to the US prior to the US Civil War, the name Tarnów (see Lee Hancock, 17 February) reminds me of my grandfather's migration to the US 125 years ago from that city. Before World War II there were 25,000 Jews in Tarnów, about half of the population. At the end of the war there were only 700 left, with most annihilated in the concentration camps heralding the Nazi claim of Judenrein.


                JE comments:  WAISdom has so many connections to Poland!  I'm pretty sure we drove past Tarnów last summer, on our way to Sanok from Krakow.  Next time we'll have to stop by.

                Many Polish cities are slowly reclaiming their Jewish history.  One might visit an old synagogue (as in Tarnów), but the people are gone.  A visit to any historic downtown in Poland is a reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust.

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • Will Sanctions Work on Putin? Response to Randy Black (Roman Zhovtulya, USA 02/13/15 1:29 AM)
          I have some comments on Randy Black (RB)'s post of 12 February:

          RB: Here's my problem with Roman Zhovtulya's call for providing weaponry to Ukraine (11 February). He says, "Perhaps some real support would counter-balance the regular Russian army causing havoc in Eastern Ukraine with their latest military hardware."

          RZ: I'm at my wit's end. Everything else has been tried (and has failed). The Russians blatantly ignore the all the international treaties, cease-fire agreements, sanctions, etc. I wonder what they do with raging bulls over in Texas, when everything else fails?

          RB: And it easily follows that Russia will up the ante with the latest in air power and perhaps more.

          RZ: I doubt Putin would have the nerve to stand up to the full might of the US. Even the USSR at the top of its might didn't dare to open a direct confrontation. Even if Putin does this, I believe some of his closest oligarch friends/KGB generals will intervene.

          RB: Apparently, Ukraine can't do much more than fly kites and shoot down the occasional aircraft.

          RZ: Ha! Not after giving up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for the empty promises: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budapest_Memorandum_on_Security_Assurances

          As I recall, US was happy to sign the document and guarantee the territorial integrity of Ukraine (along with Russia and the UK). Where are those promises now?

          Ukraine used to have the world's third largest arsenal of tactical nukes. I guess now nobody's going to believe any more memoranda or non-proliferation treaties.

          Besides, Ukraine's army has been systematically and intentionally disbanded by all the previous administrations since independence. Even now, there are probably more KGB spies and traitors among the Ukrainian generals than normal people.

          If you listen to some soldiers, describing what's going on at the front and what kind of orders they get from their commanders (you cannot return fire for at least 1 hour after you've been fired upon, etc.), then it all sounds like a bad joke. (Incidentally, 1 hour is about the time it takes for Russians to disassemble their mobile rocket launchers and move to a different place.) Some of this stuff just defies belief.

          RB: Add Russia's air power that already controls the skies, and then what?

          RZ: OK, so then let's wait until they kill the best people (yet again), take over one country and amass a much larger assault on other countries. It worked great for Hitler; how about we wait for a full-blown WWIII and then what?

          Just ask the Poles, folks from Baltic states and other places closer to Russia how they feel about such prospects.

          RB: Personally, I'm tired of the US and parts of western Europe playing cop for the poor this or that nation of the world.

          RZ: Nobody asked the US to sign the Budapest memorandum in the first place. In fact, they (together with Russians) forced the first Ukrainian president to give up the nukes.  If the US doesn't want to uphold its promises any more, give us back our nukes! Or at least something that will stop the Russians. Seems only fair to me, or am I missing something?

          Already, over 5000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the war, and there's been probably just as many civilian casualties.

          RB: I'm tired of war. I'm tired of our government trying to help other nations at the expense of my own nation. I sure as hell don't want a war with a crazy dictator in Russia.

          RZ: Yes, I'm tired of war as well. However, I don't really see much of a choice at the moment. We know what happens when you ignore Hitlers for too long--they get even crazier.

          JE commented: I presume the kite reference is a metaphor, but what about Putin as "crazy dictator"? I'd say cunning, egomaniacal, and increasingly ruthless. Let's throw in pathological liar, as in "there are no Russian troops in Ukraine." As for dictator, recall that Putin was duly elected each time through a more or less democratic process.

          RZ: Ha! Duly elected? Give me a break (no offense). Just read what the last few murdered Russian journalists said about the elections and the whole "rotation" setup with Medvedev. For Russia, democracy is probably just as impossible as getting to the moon on a bike.

          JE comments:  Many in Western Ukraine must be lamenting the loss of their nuclear weapons, which almost certainly would have deterred Putin from his adventures in Crimea and the East.  But the Budapest Memorandum was one facet of the attempt to rein in the countless number of nuclear weapons in the Soviet successor states, many of whom had unstable young governments.  The biggest danger at the time was of "misplacing" a nuke or three, or of someone selling a bomb to a rogue actor who might use it.

          Still, the Ukrainians understandably must feel betrayed by their Western "protectors."  I've worked closely with Roman Zhovtulya for six years, and this is the first time I've detected his passion about a political event.

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Will Sanctions Work on Putin? Budapest Memorandum (Randy Black, USA 02/14/15 6:47 AM)
            Roman Zhovtulya wrote on February 13 about his frustration with the lack of western military support from the signatories to the Budapest Memorandum as it pertains to Ukraine's territorial integrity.

            The way I read that memorandum, it is a political agreement. It was not a treaty, it was not presented as a treaty and it was not ratified by the US Senate as required by our Constitution to be a treaty.

            Presidents Clinton and George H. W. Bush agreed that no show of force was guaranteed by the signatories.

            Ukraine may have possessed the Soviet nuclear weapons that were transferred to Russia per the Agreement, but it never possessed operational capabilities. Thus the matter of a deterrence is moot.

            Finally, Roman believes that Russia would not stand up to the US if we were foolish enough to take the dare. I am not willing to take the risk that Roman is right, because if he is wrong...

            JE comments: Hope has come out of the Minsk talks, in the form of a cease-fire that is supposed to take effect this weekend. Has anyone in WAISworld looked at the details? Since I presume it involves no territory concessions on the rebel side, it might be seen as a partial victory for Putin.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • Seventieth Anniversary of Dresden Firebombing (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/13/15 1:59 AM)
          I agree with Randy Black's tiredness of war (12 February). At a time in which the winds of war are again blowing in Europe, it may be worth remembering the destruction of Dresden, full of civilian refugees, exactly seventy years ago.

          In three days (12-13-14 February 1945), Dresden was subjected to 9900 high-explosive bombs plus 670,000 incendiary bombs in order to create the "hurricane of fire." According to colonel Grosse, local commander of the police, through 20 March 1945 202,400 corpses were recovered and at the end of the removal of the debris the total human loss could have reached 250,000. At least 68,650 corpses were cremated or disposed of in mass graves.

          The survivors were fewer than the number of dead and were mostly old people, children and women.

          For the latter the ordeal was not yet over, as a couple of months later the "liberators" of the Soviet armies arrived, and the systematic rapes began. Wherever these soldiers arrived women/girls of any age were raped not once but several times.  At the end more than two million met this fate in the area occupied by USSR.

          The great writer Ilya Ehrenburg was preaching about it. "If during the day you have not killed a German, it is a wasted day.  If you have killed one German, kill another one."

          David Irving wrote an interesting book Apocalypse at Dresden. In the preface by Sir Robert Saundby, Air Marshal, the death toll is indicated as "only" 135,000. Furthermore, perhaps trying to justify the war crime of his predecessor, Sir Arthur Harris, the Butcher, to whom a statue has been dedicated in London, Saundby states that it is difficult to believe that the destruction of Dresden was a military necessity, but when a total war starts one cannot be civilized and if one of the two sides tries to do this, it will probably be defeated. But if this is true (I still refuse to believe this), where then is the division between Good and Evil?

          The bottom line is that wars should be avoided.  We should go to almost any limit to seek compromise and peace.

          JE comments: Pax is the word on this gruesome anniversary.  I wanted to link to a WAIS "Dresden Report" from our visit to that city in 2012, but it looks like I never got around to writing one!  Still, I'm going to look for some photos to post, for no other reason than to show how impressively the city has been rebuilt after its destruction.

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Seventieth Anniversary of Dresden Firebombing (Nigel Jones, UK 02/13/15 1:28 PM)
            I am frankly sick of all this breast-beating, hand-wringing and boo-hooing over the destruction of Dresden. (See Eugenio Battaglia, February 13th.)

            Who--pardon my French--bloody well started bombing in Europe? Who reduced Guernica and Rotterdam and Warsaw to ashes and tried to do the same to many British cities?

            The Germans: that's who!

            As Arthur Harris, chief of RAF Bomber Command pithily stated: "They have sown the wind and will reap the whirlwind." They did: and rightly so.

            If they didn't like the result they should not have started the game.

            And I am frankly surprised that Eugenio cites the British "historian" David Irving in support of his arguments. Irving is a Hitler-admiring Nazi apologist who was jailed for propagating his vile creed in Austria and was utterly discredited in his Libel Action in London against Penguin books over his Holocaust denial. No reputable publisher on either side of the Atlantic has touched him for twenty years.

            Today's Germany is inflicting economic warfare on southern Europe rather than the military might of old, but the game remains the same: conquer and dominate. It's in the German genes. As Churchill said of them, "They are either at your feet or at your throat." For fifty years after WWII they were grovelling on the floor, their old militarism muted by war guilt. Today they are feeling strong again and Greece, Spain et al. are feeling the effects.

            JE comments: Nigel Jones is not one to pull punches.  But let's put aside war guilt to ask a simple question:  did the Dresden apocalypse shorten the European war by even one week?  Perhaps even more importantly, did any of the Allied strategists in February 1945 think it would?

            Massoud Malek (next in queue) offers a novel thesis:  Dresden was payback for the Germans' bombing of Guernica.  I'm intrigued, although not really convinced.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • David Irving; Italy's Military Adventures Today (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/15/15 4:52 AM)
              I wish to thank Nigel Jones and Massoud Malek (both 13 February) for their clear explanations of the firebombing of Dresden, because finally I have understood their argument:  war crimes as well as military coups are very good if they favor us, but at the same time they are very bad if against us.

              The law by which David Irving ended up in jail in Austria exists also in Italy. I wonder when it will be extended also for the study of Emperors Nero and Caligula.

              Frankly I believe that a law that specifies what should be said about a historical fact is ridiculous. History is beautiful because you always find new facts.  Depending on which ones you look at, everything can change.

              Also in Italy, Parliament has been discussing a new law (they are all in favor but it has not yet been enacted), that one can go to jail for being an apologist for Fascism. This certainly is of great interest and concern for me.

              On a different topic, the Italian Foreign Minister Gentiloni has stated that if the UN decides to do so, Italy is ready to send troops to Libya, from where all Italian nationals have been ordered to withdraw. Italy already has committed troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria (against IS), Lebanon, Somalia, Balkans and with small missions in other places, even East Timor. This is a total of twenty-two (22) missions!

              JE comments: The exodus of Libyan boat people has become a daily event. Eugenio wrote me this morning that just yesterday, the Italian navy rescued six boats with over 600 refugees. I hope Eugenio Battaglia will send us more updates on this developing humanitarian crisis.

              Massoud Malek and Nigel Jones are in agreement?  Has anyone noticed that the WAISworld planets have aligned in bizarre ways recently?  Tor Guimaraes, for example, is now seconding the opinions of Randy Black, and several of our hawks have become doves about Ukraine.

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Dresden Firebombing: Payback for Guernica? (Massoud Malek, USA 02/13/15 2:06 PM)
            The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936 when the right-wing Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco sought to overthrow Spain's left-wing Republican government. Fascist Germany and Italy supported Franco while the Soviet Union backed the Republicans.

            Monday, 26 April, 1937 was a market day in the Basque town of Guernica; more than 10,000 people gathered to conduct business. In the late afternoon, the German air force's Condor Legion and the Italian Aviazione Legionaria appeared in the skies over Guernica and immediately transformed the Spanish town into a symbol of the atrocity of war. Franco's forces took the city two days after the atrocity.

            The bombing had nothing to do with helping General Franco. Hitler used the residents of Guernica as guinea pigs in an experiment designed to determine just what it would take to bomb a city into oblivion.

            In 1928 election, the Nazi Party won no more than 2.6 percent of votes cast. But thanks to the residents of Saxony, in the July 1932 Elections, the Nazis became the largest party in the Parliament. More people in Dresden (the capital of Saxony) voted for Hitler than any other cities.

            On May 10, 1933 student groups at universities across Germany carried out a series of book burnings of works that the students and leading Nazi party members associated with an "un-German spirit." Dresden had the distinction of burning books before Berlin did.

            In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, British and American bombers unleashed bombs on Dresden with its 360,000 inhabitants, killing and melting about 25,000 people. They even dropped bombs on the zoo and the botanical gardens. Historians regard the bombardment as an act of revenge, unnecessary from a military standpoint. They believe that firebombing was unjustified, except that it was a retaliation for the bombing of Guernica and the overwhelming support of Hitler and his policy by Dresden residents.


            JE comments: Was there any sense that Dresden was the most pro-Nazi of German cities? I was unaware of that distinction.  My understanding is that the Allied command believed the destruction of the "Florence on the Elbe" would deal an overwhelming blow to German morale.

            Perhaps it was revenge for London or Coventry, but what historians have claimed Dresden as payback for Guernica?  I am unconvinced, for the simple reason that the Republican cause had largely been discounted as "red" by both Britain and the US.  There was even a category, "premature antifascist," to describe the foreigners who had fought in the Republican ranks.

            I hope we can continue this discussion.  One final thought:  how much did the probability that Dresden would be occupied by Stalin influence the Western Allies' decision to level it?

            I think I ran this photo before, but here we are last July with our Basque host son, Aritz, at the epicenter of the Guernica bombing.

            John, Aritz, Aldona.  Gernika, 17 July 2014

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Bombing of Nijmegen, Netherlands (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 02/13/15 2:40 PM)

            War is hell. Last August we spent some time in Nijmegen, a beautiful Dutch town near the German border.

            During WWII British and American bombers returning from a mission dumped
            their remaining bombs along the way. Many of them fell right in the
            center of town killing scores of civilians--many of them school
            children. The town library has displays like the ones attached. Bobbie
            is holding a memento scroll containing photos of the dead. They are
            rolled into the holes on the wall-sized display of the burial
            day--attended by the royals of our allied country.

            JE comments:  One of the countless forgotten tragedies of WWII.  Wikipedia claims that the February 1944 bombing of Nijmegen, which resulted in 750 deaths, was a case of mistaken identity:  the Americans thought they were bombing the nearby German city of Kleve/Cleves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nijmegen ).  This was the conclusion of an investigation released in 2005.  Do the Dutch tell the story the way Francisco has related it--the "dumping excess bombs" version?  Perhaps the Americans believed they were "disposing" them on Kleve.  Granted, this distinction makes no difference when you are on the receiving end of the violence.

            Here's a coincidence:  I exchanged e-mails with Bobbie (whom I met in March) just yesterday.  I hope she'll be working with us on the WAIS Golden Jubilee in October.



            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Bombing of Nijmegen, Netherlands; My Stepfather's Story (Randy Black, USA 02/15/15 7:19 AM)
              In response to Francisco Wong-Diaz's and John Eipper's comments about the unintentional bombing of Nijmegen, Netherlands (14 February) on 22 February 1944, I offer the following:

              American, Dutch and German research, more than one book, a Dutch officer's Masters Abstract decades later, and conclusions accepted by the Dutch government all demonstrate that those bombs were not simply "dumped willy-nilly" nor "leftovers" from an earlier raid that was returning to England.

              Correct me if I misunderstood his intent when Francisco wrote, "American bombers returning from a mission dumped their remaining bombs along the way." That statement leaves the impression that rather than haul hundreds of bombs back to England, the Americans chose to drop them indiscriminately on the way back, and that it is was unfortunate that the Dutch were in their path.

              Perhaps I misunderstood Francisco's post. Here is what I found:

              1) The bombers of the 446th Bomber Group, 8th Air Force, had orders to hit Luftwaffe industrial targets in Germany. The high-altitude, daylight raid ran into severe weather over their pre-determined targets. Ordered back to England, they followed standard protocol and attempted to hit alternate "targets of opportunity."

              2) In those pre-GPS days before "smart bombs," they tried to hit bridges over the Rhine at Arnhem and Nijmegen along with a rail yard near Nijmegen. Some of the bombs missed their targets by less than one kilometer and hit the center of Nijmegen, causing hundreds of casualties and deaths.

              From The Fatal Attack by Alfons Brinkhuis: The author extensively researched...US and German archives.

              "His conclusions also point to mistakes and confusion and dispel any notion of intent by the ...pilots of the 446th Bomber Group of the 8th US Air Force to simply [dump their bombs anywhere handy]. Such high-altitude and daylight raids by the USAF only aimed to hit pre-determined targets and ...also targets of opportunity. Because of bad weather over German targets, the Bomber Group had turned back, searching in the crowded confusion for such targets of opportunity. They found them mistakenly (over) the bridges of Arnhem and the rail yard in Nijmegen."


              I ran across a thesis for a Master of Military Art and Science, dated 2010. The thesis was written by Major Joris A. C. van Esch, Royal Netherlands Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

              His abstract: "A steadfast misbelief in precision bombing evolved into the leading concept for US Army Air Force during the Second World War. This concept envisioned the destruction of the German industrial and economic system as the swiftest path to victory. However, the belief in survivability of bombers through self-defense proved incorrect, and the Allies realized that the Luftwaffe had to be defeated first, by attacking the German aircraft industry.

              "On 22 February 1944, Eighth Air Force conducted a mission as part of this offensive. During this mission, the bombers were recalled because of severe weather. On the return trip, the airmen decided not to abandon the mission outright, but to attack targets of opportunity. Because of navigational errors, a section of 446 Bombardment Group misidentified the Dutch city Nijmegen as in Germany, and bombed it. Due to aiming errors, the greater part of the bombs missed the designated marshaling yards by a kilometer, and hit the city center instead. The bombardment caused chaos on the ground. It surprised the citizens, ignorant by earlier faulty alarms, and damage caused great difficulties for the provision of aid relief. As a result, the bombardment killed about 800 citizens and destroyed the historic city center."

              Item 1, above, is to the best of my recollection, part of a much longer story about "Operation Argument" (Feb. 20-25, 1944) related to me as a young teenager in the early 1960s.

              That story was related by my stepfather, who was the pilot of one of those 8th Air Force B-17s that for want of a primary target tried to bomb a bridge over the Rhine near Nijmegen in February 1944. The record demonstrates that the US Army Air Force contributed more than 1,000 U.S. bombers to the battle known as Operation Argument. Dad told me that the US lost more than 100 B-17s and crews that week. After a long day, he finally landed his B-17, shot up and on three engines, in southern England. His turret gunner in the turret above and slightly aft of the cockpit died on that mission, and my stepfather was wounded in the left leg from shells from an enemy fighter.

              My numbers and plane models may off depending on whom you ask, but I also add that the story is hazy more than half a century since it was told to me. During the same period, I seem to recall that he also commanded B-26s, but I may be misremembering the story.

              During that same period (1944), Dad took his bomber to Berlin and the surrounding areas several times, day and night. I also discovered that the average mortality of the American flight crews during that period was six missions.

              Dad would have been about 26 at the time of the February 1944 raids. A few months later, as a result of his 30 bombing missions, he was awarded a certificate as a member of the "Lucky Bastards Club." During those operations, his commander was the legendary Lt. General Jimmy Doolittle.

              My sister has the framed Lucky Bastards certificate on her wall in College State, Texas. She also has his bomber jacket with the 30 bombing missions indicated. My stepfather (my younger sister's father) was Major William B. Douglas at the time he mustered out in England.

              Within a few days, he volunteered for the Royal Air Force, where he flew de Havilland Mosquitos until Germany's surrender. The Mosquito, aka "The Wooden Wonder," is an interesting and effective bomber-fighter aircraft built nearly entirely from wood. That glued-together plane could carry more than 2,000 lbs. of bombs, ammo for its four Browning .303 machine guns and four 22mm cannons and rockets. The twin-engine plane also had nine fuel tanks tucked tightly into the recesses of the fuselage and wings. And we only call them "the Greatest Generation."

              JE comments:  Unbelievable bravery--and I have just finished re-reading Heller's Catch-22.  In a separate e-mail, Randy Black has promised to scan the image of his stepfather's Lucky Bastard certificate.  When I receive it, I'll put it on WAIS.

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • Nijmegen Bombing, 1944 (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 02/15/15 3:26 PM)
                Randy Black (15 February) is correct in clarifying that my posting referred to the practice of seeking to find and hit targets of opportunity on the return leg of bombing missions.

                The Dutch I spoke with in Nijmegen remain sore about the alleged lack of a timely apology from their then allies.

                JE comments:  Why no apology?  Between individuals apologies don't usually cost money, but in geopolitical terms, sometimes the do--reparations, etc.

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • The Lone Mosquito Bomber in WWII Italy (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/16/15 1:31 AM)
                Randy Black (15 February) mentioned the de Havilland Mosquito, which made me recall the lone Mosquito night bomber: what a terrible pain in the neck!

                During the war the bombing of my hometown was by day and night, but during the night we had the "Pippetto" or disturber. The information on it is scanty, because this plane would appear by night over all parts of the RSI, so there must have been many of them. It is supposed that they were Mosquitos. If anyone has more information on this, I will be delighted to find out more.

                This pain in the neck (or much lower!) would go around all night keeping people awake. At times it would drop a bomb or machine-gun anything seen moving. It was an excellent (not for my sleep or for those who received the sporadic bomb or burst) idea to disturb the enemy during the entire night.

                About the bombers dumping bombs that they had been unable to drop on the enemy, it has been reported by photos from various divers that on the bottom of the Adriatic Sea from Trieste to Taranto there are plenty of depleted uranium bombs. These are cluster bombs and even missiles that NATO pilots during the years 1994-'95 in Bosnia and 1999 in Kossovo dropped at sea--rather than face the Serbian guns? Lately one fishing boat was sunk when she recovered a bomb in her nets.

                The Italian government has often promised to reclaim them, but there is no money and no other NATO member wants to participate or even accept responsibility. So the war crime is fixed for thousand years with the depleted uranium that remains and will continued to poison the environment.

                JE comments:  This type of nocturnal harassment was called a "nuisance" mission, and it must have left a deep psychological impact.  The Mosquito was a remarkably effective multi-purpose combat aircraft, all the more surprising because of its wooden construction.  Per Wikipedia, it was originally intended to have no defensive weaponry, but was to rely on its speed to avoid enemy fighters.  Wood was chosen primarily to save metal for other military applications.

                We tend not to think about the military detritus on the bottom of our oceans, but all that uranium is alarming.  Is it technically possible to remove the weapons?  If it is, then why aren't they being removed?

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • De Havilland Mosquito, and Greetings from Bern (Patrick Mears, Germany 02/16/15 8:38 AM)

                  On the Mosquito fighter-bomber (see Eugenio Battaglia, 16 February), one of my favorite films when I was younger was 633 Squadron, which featured 8 of these wonderful planes in the WW II-themed film. The film and the planes are described in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/633_Squadron

                  JE comments: This 1964 film used actual Mosquitos in the filming; the RAF had only recently retired them from active service.  Presently, according to Wikipedia, only two Mosquitos remain airworthy, although some 30 survive in museums.  To polish the wood, it must take a lot of Lemon Pledge.

                  Patrick Mears has made my day...twice!  This morning I received both a post and a real-life postcard, from Bern.  I'm searching way back in my memory, and this may well be the first Swiss postcard anyone ever sent me.

                  In fact, it's worth a scan.  Sorry about the excessive border; I couldn't crop it out.  Thanks, Pat!

                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • Depleted Urananium in the Adriatic? No (Michael Sullivan, USA 02/16/15 1:50 PM)
                  I don't know where Eugenio Battaglia gets his information that there is depleted uranium ammunition all over the bottom of the Adriatic Sea from Trieste to Taranto (16 February). First of all, it would have to be dropped from an aircraft and the only ammunition aircraft carry that have depleted uranium is for 25MM and 30MM canons. Only the A-10 and Harrier carry these rounds. There is no way to jettison canon ammunition as it's a bullet and must be shot or be returned to base with the aircraft.

                  Bomb jettison areas are always set up in combat zones in case the aircraft has hung ordnance. (This is when the aircraft tried to deliver the bomb or rocket pod and it failed to drop for various reasons and it can't be returned to base or the carrier deck due to the fact it could come loose on landing and detonate.) The pilot was unable to deliver his ordnance on target due to weather and is too heavy to land as the aircraft is over maximum landing weight, or the aircraft has an emergency requiring all external ordnance be jettisoned. This could be mechanical, electric, fire or fuel transfer problems.

                  I don't believe there was ever a case that US pilots dropped their ordnance in a bomb jettison area in the Adriatic because they were afraid of Serbian guns! This is wishful thinking on Eugenio's part.

                  JE comments: With all things aviation, Michael Sullivan knows what he's talking about. But I wonder what happened to the Italian fishing boat that sank after netting a bomb?

                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • Bomb Jettison at Sea (Michael Sullivan, USA 02/17/15 7:35 AM)

                    When commenting on my post of 16 February, JE asked about the Italian fishing boat that sank after netting an underwater bomb. The rule is you don't ever touch a bomb that has been found buried on land or recovered from the sea bed because they are so very dangerous. That's why there are bomb disposal units accessible in most places worldwide to disarm bombs.

                    Bombs that are dropped in a bomb jettison area over water by aircraft are dropped in the "safe" mode, but many times when they hit the water they may explode. However, most don't explode and they sink to the bottom. If a fishing boat net hauls one up it's a live bomb. The only thing a fishing boat can do, if they see a bomb in their nets, is put the net back in the water and try to open the net and get rid of the bomb.

                    The good news is that the bomb jettison areas are usually established in very deep water and where the fishing boats troll it's hundreds to thousands of feet above where the jettisoned bombs lay. In Vietnam our Group's bomb jettison area was 30-40 miles out over the South China Sea where the average depth, as I remember, was close to 3,000 feet.

                    JE comments:  How many of you knew this?  I'm learning a lot on WAIS today. 

                    Specifically regarding the Adriatic, I suppose the bombs littering the ocean floor are from WWII as well as the later Balkan conflicts.  Some of them might even be leftovers from the Great War, especially mines.

                    I found this item, which dates from 1994.  The mariners claimed that WWII bombs are rusty and covered with seaweed, while these were fresh and shiny:


                    I wonder if Eugenio Battaglia knows Elena Romanato (author of the above).  She is from Savona.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • Bomb Jettison, Isle of Wight (John Heelan, UK 02/17/15 9:55 AM)
                      The Isle of Wight is littered with WWII bomb craters created by German bombers jettisoning unused ordnance after raiding the UK and before crossing the Channel back to their home airfields across the Channel.

                      JE comments: The Luftwaffe must have thought it preferable to harass the Caulkheads rather than simply to drop the bombs in the Channel.  But any jettisoned ordnance is militarily ineffective.  I'm curious:  when planning a mission, how much emphasis is placed on not "wasting" the bombs?  Do pilots get in trouble for this?  I hope Michael Sullivan can enlighten us.

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • More on Jettisoning Bombs (Michael Sullivan, USA 02/18/15 2:09 AM)

                      Without getting into too much detail, bombs are only jettisoned when they can't be returned to base due to the craft being overweight for landing, or a bomb is hung up on the external bomb rack (the Multiple Ejector Rack, MER, carries 6 bombs or Triple Ejector Rack, TER, carries 3 bombs) by one lug (attempted to drop but only one of the two lugs opened). Other reasons for jettison are the need to reduce the drag to have enough fuel to get back to base, or a serious aircraft emergency. Also there is a charge shaped like a shotgun shell that fires a plunger when the bomb pickle switch is depressed which ejects the bomb clear of the aircraft to avoid bomb/aircraft collisions.

                      Ordnance is always in short supply, so jettisoning it is only done when warranted. You can land with bombs and rockets, no problem, providing you're not over gross landing weight.

                      JE comments:  Very informative.  I can imagine that when you jettison, much paperwork ensues.  This is certainly the way it would be in Academia--not that we drop bombs, but we do have a lot of paperwork.

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Dresden Firebombing and David Irving (Robert Whealey, USA 02/14/15 6:28 AM)

            The Destruction of Dresden published in 1963 was David Irving's best book. I believed it at the time because I met

            two survivors of Dresden. Irving later went too far.  He claimed that Hitler did not know that Heinrich Himmler had carried out the "Final Solution."

            The code word was written down by the SS, but Hitler gave the order orally to Himmler to set up six death camps in Poland.

            JE comments:  Irving based his denial hypothesis on the lack of a written order from Hitler to carry out the "Final Solution."  Irving's Destruction of Dresden apparently served as a principal source for Kurt Vonnegut's Slautherhouse-Five, which appeared in 1969.

            Among other denial absurdities, Irving has claimed that the Poles after the war built mock-ups of the Nazi death chambers.  He should speak with my father-in-law, who right after the war lived in the shadow of Majdanek (Lublin).  Even today, the camp remains largely as it was in 1944-'45.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

      • US to Send Advisers to Ukraine: RT (Bienvenido Macario, USA 02/12/15 8:01 AM)
        This report came out today on RT. Another news item said that 400 US airborne troops were sent to Ukraine. I wish we had a think-tank group from among WAIS members and readers to work as consultants in these kind of situations, especially Greece's debt crisis which is basically an EU problem. It would be on a per-project basis, with the Forum receiving the fee.  [Great idea; huge project--JE.]

        Violence will only lead to more violence, except in some cases, like perhaps Ukraine. But still the negotiating table is the best venue to resolve this and other crises.

        See: US military to train Kiev troops fighting in E. Ukraine--US Army commander

        February 11, 2015


        JE comments:  The US commander in Europe has said that trainers will be sent to work with Ukrainian security forces.  Is this the first step along the slippery slope?

        Note how RT spins the Ukraine war:  rebels in the East refused to recognize the illegal coup in Kiev.  On the face of it, it's a perfectly convincing argument.  Also, RT accuses Ukraine's National Guard of war crimes, such as shelling civilian positions.

        Please login/register to reply or comment:

      • Step Getting Involved in Ukraine (Massoud Malek, USA 02/15/15 3:50 AM)
        Before our air raids on Libya in 2011, Libyans enjoyed one of the best welfare systems in the world. We celebrated the death of a dictator who ruled Libya for 42 years, believing that freedom and prosperity will come to the citizens of that oil-rich country. Today Libya is at war with itself. Across the country people shiver in the cold with freak snowstorms, many without running water or electricity.

        We invaded Iraq with our snipers and white phosphorous fire bombs to install democracy. Instead we transformed the country into a sultanate of the Islamic State (IS).

        Instead of sending our poor boys and girls to college, we send them to distant lands to kill or get killed. We are raising a generation of uneducated patriotic Americans who believe that patriotism means killing people living in some faraway lands.

        Now we want to get involved in Ukraine, just because we must stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin who is a megalomaniac. For almost a century, the concept of democracy was unavailable to the citizens of Ukraine. In 2010, they chose a native Russian speaker who only learned to speak the country's first language in his 50s out of political expediency. Then they told him not to align with Moscow, but join the EU.

        On 22 February 2014, against Chapter V, Article 111 of the Ukraine Constitution, 328 of 447 members of the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove the democratically elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych from the post of president. He was guilty of refusing to align his country with the EU. We all applauded this unconstitutional act.

        On 15 December 1967, at the age of 17, Yanukovych was sentenced to three years incarceration for participating in a robbery and assault. On 8 June 1970, he was convicted for a second time on charges of assault. He was sentenced to two years of imprisonment. But somehow, in 1971 Yanukovych married Lyudmyla who was a niece of the Yenakiyeve city judge!

        Ukraine is in the process of repealing a law giving regional rights to minority languages. The bill would also ban Russian media in Ukraine.

        Russia illegally annexed Crimea on 21 March 2014, but according to Pew Poll, Crimean residents are happy with "annexation" by Russia; 93% believe the referendum was free and fair. Only 2% think the US is having a good influence on the way things are going on the Crimean peninsula.

        According to France 24 and Deutsche Welle, the reason why Angela Merkel visited Washington last week was to dissuade Obama from arming Ukraine. Europe needs Russian oil and natural gas.

        This week more than 300 Africans died trying to cross the sea from Libya to Italy. The high number of deaths included 29 people who died of hypothermia on the deck of an Italian coast guard boat hours after being pulled from the water. Today, Western sanctions make life difficult in Crimea, in what used to be a popular tourist destination. When an official from the western "democracies" came to visit the former residents of the eastern Ukraine, at refugee camps in Russia, these refugees were asking why only Russia is offering them any help.

        Imagine sending a convicted felon to the White House! Should we defend a regime that uses white phosphorus fire bombs on their Russian citizens and bans the freedom of speaking in their native language?






        JE comments:  The ceasefire appears to be holding 12 hours later, although both sides have already cited violations by the other:


        The accusations against the Ukrainians for using white phosphorous bombs, according to the fourth link above, come from Russian television.  I'm also skeptical about Crimean "satisfaction" with the Russian takeover, although the Pew organization is extremely reputable.  Anecdotally I've heard different stories, including massive relocation campaigns, abuses of the Crimean Tatars, a devastated economy, and the death of the tourism industry.  The Pew survey was from April of last year, so public opinion may have changed a lot since then.

        How can we cut through this cacophony of perspectives?

        Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • Libya under Gaddafi (Randy Black, USA 02/16/15 6:26 AM)
          Massoud Malek began his 15 February post with the claim that under the rule of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, "Libyans enjoyed one of the best welfare systems in the world." I must ask, "What else, anything, did they ‘enjoy?'"

          Various sources from the Internet agree to a point with Massoud's claim of free medical care for Libyans.

          Wikipedia notes that while healthcare became free to all citizens, the government was not able to produce adequate housing and much of the socialist package promised by Gaddafi.

          As the dictator promised, along with the motto "freedom, socialism and unity," he also supported the PLO, the IRA, the Polisario Front and implemented "increased political repression" among his subjects.

          He also ordered and caused an untold number of atrocities on his people coupled with wars on Chad and Egypt.

          Wiki again: By 2011, it was illegal to speak English or French in Libya and public dissent was illegal from 1973. By 2009, the Freedom of the Press Index rated Libya the most censored nation in North Africa and the Middle East.

          Gaddafi, talking about exiles in 1982: "It is the Libyan people's responsibility to liquidate such scums who are distorting Libya's image abroad."

          Gaddafi ordered the assassination of many exiles and local police across the world from London to Mecca to Boulder, Colorado. Gaddafi employed his network of diplomats and recruits to assassinate dozens of his critics around the world. Amnesty International listed at least 25 assassinations between 1980 and 1987.

          Gaddafi's agents were active in the UK, where many Libyans had sought asylum. After Libyan diplomats shot at 15 anti-Gaddafi protesters from inside the Libyan embassy's first floor and killed a British policewoman, the UK broke off relations with Gaddafi's government.

          Even the US could not protect dissidents from Libya. In 1980, a Libyan agent attempted to assassinate dissident Faisal Zagallai, a doctoral student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The bullets left Zagallai partially blinded. A defector was kidnapped and executed in 1990 just before he was about to receive US citizenship.

          Gaddafi asserted in June 1984 that killings could be carried out even when the dissidents were on pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca. In August 1984, one Libyan plot was thwarted in Mecca.

          As of 2004, Libya still provided bounties for heads of critics, including $1 million for Ashur Shamis, a Libyan-British journalist.

          All of this in order to support "free medical care?" Indeed.

          Finally, Massoud began a sentence with "Before our air raids on Libya in 2011..."

          Actually, the "our raids" were the United Nations, the French air and sea forces, the British Navy and components of the American Navy and Air Force. These UN-authorized attacks were the result of Gaddafi's attacks on his own people during the Arab Spring of 2011.

          He referred to his people as rats, cockroaches and drugged kids. He also accused the dissidents as being part of al-Qaeda.

          Other notable crimes committed by Gaddafi's "leadership": Confiscation of personal property and expulsion in the early 1970s of 20,000 Italians and 37,000 Jews in operation Day of Revenge, a Libyan national holiday.

          And then there's the unforgettable matter of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103...

          Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Libya_under_Muammar_Gaddafi#Political_repression_and_.22Green_Terror.22


          JE comments:  There was a time, in the mid 2000s, when Gaddafi was viewed in the West as a more or less "reformed" sponsor of terrorism.  Regardless, it seems to me that the question is not how bad things were under Gaddafi, but whether or not things have been better after his removal.  With the weekend's developments especially, it's hard to argue that there's been an improvement.

          Are there any lessons to be learned?  Possibly one:  Assad in Syria is the last secular strongman remaining in the Middle East.  He's unsavory, yes--but what is the alternative?

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • One Week in Gaddafi's Libya (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/17/15 3:25 AM)
            I assume that Randy Black (16 February) is fairly typical of the average American, always ready to bring democracy to the world using bombs without looking at the necessities inside the US, where in spite of the improvements in the financial markets the situation of the poor is not improving, while the big corporations are making ever larger profits, no matter what and how.

            In the early '80s I spent one week in Tripoli and I found normal happy people. They were extremely friendly with a good level of income.

            If Sarkosy and his British friends attacked Gaddafi, that had nothing to do with democracy but only with the almost exclusive exploitation of Libyan gas and oil by Italy.

            About democracy I remember as a child asking my teacher: If the Americans treat their black population with contempt, why do they bomb us to teach democracy?  Shouldn't they rather bomb themselves?

            Of course, now the geopolitical situation with the Caliphate has deteriorated. This is not only the fault of the Islamists, but this time a wise action should be taken.

            Returning to my week in Tripoli, I was not on vacation but with the president/owner of the shipping agency where I worked.

            We were there trying to get the job of supplying crew and boats for the new oil platforms. But the ENI/SNAM was too dominant and the contract went to them.

            I desperately tried to get copies of Gaddafi's "Green Books," but it was impossible. Finally a representative of the Libyan Industry with whom we were negotiating gave me two of the three books in English, promising me that he would send the third one when found, but I never saw it. A very disappointing dictatorship.

            A similar thing happened to me in Tenerife in 1972 when I stopped in several music shops to buy a cassette with "Cara al Sol." No one had it. In one shop a beautiful young girl asked me what band recorded the song, so she could locate the song that way. Finally I got it from Radio Nacional de España.

            Another very disappointing dictatorship.

            JE comments: I would never think of combining the words "disappointing" and "dictatorship," as they all strike me as depressing!

            I can't imagine Spanish record shops in the early 1970s got too many requests for "Cara al sol."  They might have confused it with George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun."

            Returning to Libya, we should remember that there was an international hue and cry for NATO to come to the defense of the Arab Spring rebels who were facing extermination after rising against Gaddafi.

            Luciano Dondero visited Gaddafi's Libya on two occasions, including shortly after Reagan's retaliatory bombing in 1986.  Stay tuned for Luciano's fascinating account.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Gaddafi and Philippines (Bienvenido Macario, USA 02/19/15 6:20 AM)
            Randy Black wrote on 16 February: "As [Gaddafi] promised, along with the motto 'freedom, socialism and unity,' he also supported the PLO, the IRA, the Polisario Front and implemented 'increased political repression' among his subjects."


            Under Muammar Gaddafi, Libya supported both the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a Muslim secessionist movement, and the communist rebels in the Philippines. The Mindanao war between the Marcos administration and the MNLF started on March 29, 1969.

            In 1976, Imelda Marcos asked Gaddafi to broker a ceasefire. This led to the Tripoli Agreement that includes the creation of the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), composed of thirteen provinces of Mindanao. Gaddafi made his book The Green Book: Part One: The Solution to the Problem of Democracy (The Authority of the People) required reading. When I was in the Philippines my friend gave me a copy and asked me to do a book report.

            JE comments: Bienvenido Macario and Eugenio Battaglia both have copies of the Green Book. I'd like to know more. Who in WAISworld can walk us through the tenets of the Gaddafi political worldview?

            I made this point a few years back, but no name in world history has more competing spellings. This book cover has "Qhadafi."  ABC News published a list of 112 variants:  http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2009/09/how-many-different-ways-can-you-spell-gaddafi/

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Gaddafi and the Sandinistas (Timothy Brown, USA 02/19/15 2:10 PM)
              I certainly can't get inside Gaddafi's head. But I can add a couple of things. Gaddafi also supported the FSLN. José "Pepe" Puente León, One of my post-Cold War friends, a second generation Marxist-Leninist, was a personal aide to Fidel Castro prior to Castro's departure for Cuba. He was later was a National Director of the FSLN, managed its main safe house in Mexico City and was liaison between several Central American revolutionary fronts and the Mexico City stations of the KGB and Cuban intelligence. In a videotaped oral history I did, he described his experiences while spending more than a year as a guerrilla warfare training instructor in Libya. You can read part of his story as he told it to me in Chapter Two of my book When the AK-47s Fall Silent--Revolutionaries, Guerrillas and the Dangers of Peace (Hoover 2001).

              Puente was trained in Honduras in guerrilla warfare by the late Noel Guerrero Santiago, a founder of Nicaragua's communist party that had worked in the United States prior to WWII as a railroad union organizer under the direction of Earl Browder. Prior to that, Guerrero was the post-Cuba Revolution top confidential aide to Che Guevara on the organization of liberation movements in Latin America.

              Don Noel also gave me his oral history, but on the condition that none of it be made public until after his death. He passed away a couple of years ago and you can find the only known published photo of him at page 52 in Diplomarine. Contrary to the official cover story, Guerrero, not Carlos Fonseca, was the first leader of the FSLN. This is confirmed by General Humberto Ortega in his "La Epopeya...," although Fonseca did later become the FSLN leader. By the by, Puente was best man at Carlos Fonseca's December 1965 wedding to María Haydee Terán Navas. (Copies of Fonseca and Terán's blood tests can be seen on page 38 of AK-47s.)

              Another Nicaragua Sandinista trained by Guerrero alongside Spent, was Dr. Manuel de Jesús Andara y Ubeda. Andara y Ubeda was later sent to the USSR, where he was trained in Line FA Sabotage for one year before returning to Mexico where, according both to personal letters from Andara y Ubeda and documents in the Mitrokin archives, per Andrew's The Sword and the Shield p. 385, he became the head of a Soviet sabotage sleeper cell located in Ensenada on the US-Mexico border.

              Another Marxist friend, Plutarco Hernández, a Costa Rican who was at my 1958 wedding in San José, was later educated at Patrice Lumumba University, trained in guerrilla warfare for one year in Cuba at Campamento Cerro, for an additional six months in North Korea and then spent 14 years as a National Director of the Sandinista Front. His comments are at Chapter Five of AKs. Separately, he described to me in a videotaped interview the role the PLO played in supporting the FSLN's combat operations against Somoza.

              Hernández's first cousin, José Eduardo Sancho Castaneda, Comandante Fermán Cienfuegos, was the military commander of El Salvador's Faribundo Martí Front. He made it possible for me to review some of the archives of that front. Those archives confirmed that more than 20% of the FMLN's cadre were trained in Cuba. He separately confirmed that the FSLN's headquarters in Managua after 1979 cooperated closely with several other revolutionary movements, including the PLO and ETA. In fact he was once married to an ETArrista.

              I could go on. But, to believe that there were only arrangements of convenience but never organic, operational links between Cold War revolutionary movements and the Soviet Bloc, is to deny the physical evidence in favor of Cold War propaganda tales. Gaddafi was just one of many players in the "game."

              JE comments:  How reliable a Soviet ally was Gaddafi?  I always had the impression that the Kremlin saw him as a loose cannon, but put up with him as he could be useful for "dirty jobs."

              (Note to Tim:  my copy of Diplomarine is on order!)

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Gaddafi's Green Book in PDF (Massoud Malek, USA 02/19/15 3:27 PM)
              Here is link to the Green Book:


              Have a good day!

              JE comments: This is a useful link, but I wanted somebody else to read it for me and send the highlights! Here's a teaser quote from Chapter 1: "The GREEN BOOK presents the ultimate solution to the problem of the proper instrument of government."

              Are you listening, Political Scientists?  No one ever accused Gaddafi of modesty.

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • Gaddafi's Green Book; A Meeting in Mindanao, 1982 (Bienvenido Macario, USA 02/21/15 7:48 AM)
                What stands out in reading Gaddafi's The Green Book is his criticism of the democratic elections. He cited as an example a presidential election where you have three candidates getting 40%, 30%, and 30% of the votes. While the candidate who garnered 40% of the total votes is the winner, the genuine majority is in fact represented by votes of the two losing candidates.

                Another aspect of the poll he questioned was the plebiscite, referendum or propositions. He wrote that it is not enough for the voters to simply vote "yes" or "no," but they must explain why they are voting for or against an initiative. This should demonstrate how familiar the voters at large are with the very important issues of the day.

                From here I thought in the list of candidates and propositions, why not have an option that says: "None of the above"?

                Of course during one of the book gatherings where MNLF [Moro National Liberation Front] commanders were present, I dared not criticize Gaddafi's Green Book for fear of starting a new war in Mindanao. That was back in 1982, and I remember meeting a certain Commander "Jimmy" of the MNLF who was around 38 to 40 years old. His real name was Hashim. He was wearing a printed two-tone polo shirt like a Hawaiian shirt.

                While it was not in the book, I did mention to Commander "Jimmy" that Gaddafi's favorite US presidents were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Gaddafi admired Washington for leading the American revolution. And Abraham Lincoln for declaring martial law and resorting to force to save the union.

                JE comments: One can find many holes in democratic elections, but it's bizarre to use that as a justification to do away with them.  Interestingly, unrepentant Confederate types in the US tend to cite Lincoln's use of martial law (suspension of habeas corpus) as a reason for disliking him.

                I hope Bienvenido Macario will tell us more of his encounters with the MNLF in the early 1980s.

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

  • Why Isn't There a Ukrainian Lobby in Washington? (Bienvenido Macario, USA 02/10/15 4:05 AM)
    First, a big thank you to IT Director Roman Zhovtulya for the fantastic improvements we have seen on WAISworld.org, the "link sharing" with social media being the most recent. Thank you!

    It would be better for Ukraine to seek the intercession and support of Germany, France and the UK. With the one-sided 1994 Budapest Memorandum, it would be wise for Ukraine not to let the US take the lead or even participate in the negotiation with Russia. No more memorandum; it has to be a treaty with iron-clad guarantees. US foreign policy is very unstable and changes with every administration. This is how Ukraine got in this sticky situation in the first place. The US is not even on the same continent as Ukraine, and they could always pull out at the first sign of negative polls or survey.

    Roman wrote: "Obama keeps on vetoing the decision to supply arms to Ukraine, despite overwhelming protests from both parties and the Senate."

    My question to Roman is this: Do you have a Ukrainian lobby in Washington?  None?  Organize one; lobby with the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee currently chaired by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) as ranking member. Get a bill passed; if Pres. Obama vetoes it, get the US Senate to override the veto.

    In Washington DC even Native Americans must lobby. Money talks; the poor suffer. Welcome to the American system.

    JE comments: President Obama met just yesterday in Washington with Chancellor Merkel. My understanding is that Obama is leaning towards providing lethal aid to Ukraine, but Merkel is adamantly against.

    See this NPR report:  http://www.npr.org/2015/02/09/385000752/obama-merkel-downplay-disagreement-over-ukraine-aid

    Given Ukraine's role as a German "satellite" in WWII, it is understandable that Merkel would want to stay out of the fight against Russia, for PR reasons alone.  Poland must be especially nervous about a German client to the east.

    One thing is clear:  we have no clarity on Ukraine.  WAIS has been receiving wildly conflicting reports.

    Fortunately, we do have more clarity with the WAISworld.org website.  Bienvenido Macario is an active Facebookista.  Bienvenido:  have you been re-posting WAIS content?  If so, let us know how the technical aspect is working.

    Please login/register to reply or comment:

  • Hemingway in Spain (John Heelan, UK 02/10/15 4:25 AM)
    JE wrote on 9 February: "I've been thinking a lot recently about Orwell and Hemingway, both of whom volunteered to fight in Spain."

    Orwell--yes. But Hemingway? My impression is that his fighting was limited to intermittent fisticuffs with his companions, and pugnacious reporting and filmmaking, although he did take some personal risks when doing the latter. (I must look it up in Paul Preston's We Saw Spain Die.)

    JE comments: Oops, yes.  I should have said that Hemingway volunteered to be in Spain.  He spent his time reporting, drinking, and womanizing--all pugnaciously, of course.

    Please login/register to reply or comment:

    • Hemingway's "The Fifth Column" (Luciano Dondero, Italy 02/10/15 3:11 PM)
      Unfortunately, when Hemingway was in Spain he also found the time to write a disgusting Stalinist piece of trash, "The Fifth Column." Nonetheless I still love the writer.

      JE comments:  Hemingway's only play, "The Fifth Column," is probably his most overlooked work.  (At least I have overlooked it!)  I'll take Luciano's word about the Stalinist trash.

      I've been revisiting the 20th-century classics on CD during my long commute. Right now it's A Farewell to Arms, soothingly read by John Slattery (best known as Roger Sterling on Mad Men).


      Please login/register to reply or comment:

      • Hemingway's "The Fifth Column": Noel Valis in "The Hemingway Review" (Noel Valis, USA 02/10/15 4:20 PM)

        I saw that there was some commentary on Hemingway
        and the Spanish Civil War, including his only play, "The Fifth Column."  I thought you might
        like to read a piece on it. Feel free to pass it on to anyone else

        For other news, I had a novella, The Labor of Longing, come out at the end of

        Otherwise, just waiting for winter to be over.

        JE comments:  It made my day to hear from Noël Valis (Yale U), my esteemed Profesora at the University of Michigan and a member of my PhD Committee back in 1991.  Noël's 2008 article on "The Fifth Column" gives an excellent overview of the "fifthcolumnist" paranoia that gripped Civil War Madrid.  The monograph masterfully contextualizes Hemingway's work, to reach the conclusion that it fails both as political propaganda and as a morality play. Noël's study shows how you can still learn a great deal from studying bad works of art.

        I've uploaded Noël's monograph to our website; click here to access.

        Noël became a WAISer in 2009.  Here's the introductory bio that appeared on September 10th of that year.  As an added bonus, I waxed philosophical on the word "fortuitously."


        ¡Muchísimas gracias por escribirme, Noël!  Abrazos...and congratulations on the novella.  I'm going to look for it.

        Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • Post Unpublished - please check back later

        • Hemingway's "The Fifth Column" (Paul Preston, UK 02/11/15 6:51 AM)
          I would like to make a couple of comments about the statement by Luciano Dondero (10 February) that Hemingway's "The Fifth Column" is "Stalinist trash," and about an element of Noel Valis's extremely interesting article on the play.

          In my book The Spanish Holocaust, I investigated in great detail the activities of the Spanish Republican security services in attempting to curtail the acts of saboteurs and snipers of the Fifth Column. Those activities were a necessary part of the war effort. Their brutality is shocking, albeit both quantitatively and qualitatively less than what was happening on the other side. Hemingway was trying, not entirely successfully, to portray these activities in their moral ambiguity. I don't think that doing so makes him guilty of writing "Stalinist trash."

          An issue relating to the anti-Fifth Column activities in which Hemingway was involved was the arrest and execution of José Robles Pazos, the friend and Spanish translator of John Dos Passos. Stephen Koch, in his book, The Breaking Point, argued that the differences between Hemingway and Dos Passos over the death of Robles led to the breakup of their friendship. This view is supported in the far more nuanced semi-fictional account by the Aragonese novelist Ignacio Martínez de Pisón, Enterrar a los muertos. In a nutshell, Hemingway believed that Robles had been arrested because of Fifth Column activities, whereas Dos Passos believed that he was the victim of Communist malice.

          The majority of writing on this question, particularly by biographers of Hemingway, is based on the colourful account The Starched Blue Sky of Spain and Other Memoirs (first published in 1960) by the novelist Josephine Herbst, various writings by John Dos Passos and Hemingway's "The Fifth Column."

          In my earlier book, We Saw Spain Die, I dedicated a long chapter to Hemingway, Dos Passos and the death of Robles. On the basis of documentation not seen by previous scholars, I reached the conclusion that Hemingway was nearer the truth than Dos Passos. José Robles worked at the Soviet Embassy, had access to sensitive material and was in touch with and had protected his brother Ramón who was a prominent figure in the Fifth Column. Hemingway was told about this by his friend Pepe Quintanilla, the brother of the distinguished artist Luis Quintanilla. By the time that I wrote The Spanish Holocaust, I had found additional material, including the trial records of Ramón Robles which strengthened the case that Hemingway was right and Dos Passos wrong.

          One element of the story that derived from Act II of "The Fifth Column" has coloured subsequent accounts in a way that makes the Republican security services seem especially sinister. In The Starched Blue Sky of Spain, Josephine Herbst claimed that Hemingway told her that Pepe Quintanilla was the "head of the Department of Justice." This is contradicted by her own unpublished diaries of the time. In "The Fifth Column," the character of "Antonio" is described as the "thin-lipped security chief."  Hemingway was writing fiction and "Antonio" may have similarities to Pepe but he is not Pepe. The same can be said of John Dos Passos who, in his novel Century's Ebb, portrays Pepe as "Juanito Posada" and in his article "The Fiesta at the Fifteenth Brigade" (reproduced in his book Journeys Between Wars), as "the then chief of the Republican counterespionage service." Carlos Baker in his biography of Hemingway then described Pepe as "the thin-lipped executioner of Madrid" simply on the basis of reading "The Fifth Column."

          Where Hemingway got the idea for "thin-lipped security chief" was from a lunch with Pepe attended by himself, Herbst and the journalist Virginia Cowles. At that lunch, if we are to believe Cowles's recollections, Pepe gave a rather exaggerated account of the fight against the Fifth Column, perhaps relishing his capacity to startle the two women. In fact, Pepe was neither "head of the Department of Justice" nor "thin-lipped security chief."  He certainly had access to inside information about the Robles case. His real job was as the assistant to the head of Republican counter-espionage--the Comisario General de Investigación y Vigilancia--David Vázquez Baldominos, head of the special brigades, one of which arrested Robles. It is extremely doubtful that Pepe would have been personally involved in executions, but he would have had access to important information about them which he passed on to Hemingway.

          In We Saw Spain Die, I wrote about the relationship between Tom Wintringham, the commander of the British battalion of the International Brigades, and the American journalist Kitty Bowler, who had been at Bryn Mawr with Martha Gellhorn. Hemingway and Gellhorn visited Kitty and Tom when he was in hospital recovering from a serious wound. In a second, paperback, edition of We Saw Spain Die, I discussed another element of "The Fifth Column." My friend and biographer of Tom Wintringham, Phyll Smith, made the plausibly and fascinating suggestion that the lovers in "The Fifth Column" were at least partially based on Tom and Kitty. Tom reviewed the play when it was produced in London by the movie director Michael Powell (Tom Wintringham, "Love and War in Madrid," Picture Post, 18 March 1944). Tom's motive for this unusual, and probably unique, excursion into theatre reviewing was to refute accusations from the British Communist Party that he was an infatuated dupe in Spain, that Kitty had been a spy, that he was irresponsible and a frivolous journalist. Much of the language both in the review and in the play itself could be read as a direct reference to the slurs made about Kitty in Spain by the British Communist Party--"adventuress" and "time wasting journalist."  Phyll also speculated that Michael Powell had decided to direct "The Fifth Column" as his next project after his film Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, with its many passing references to Tom in the Home Guard, precisely because he thought it was also loosely based on Tom.

          JE comments:  What could I possibly add?  It's a privilege to gain this insight from Paul Preston, who has studied these events more than anyone.  As soon as time allows, I'm going to review the Hemingway-Dos Passos chapter in Paul's We Saw Spain Die.

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • Hemingway at Battle of Bulge: Antony Beevor (Nigel Jones, UK 02/11/15 12:09 PM)
          Regarding the ongoing discussion on "Papa" Hemingway (as he liked to style himself, though by all accounts he was a lousy father), I am currently reading Antony Beevor's forthcoming book Ardennes 1944, and came across this vignette about Hem during the savage battle of the Hurtgen Forest:

          "Hemingway, again armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun despite the recent inquiry into his martial activities, was also carrying two canteens, one filled with schnapps and the other with cognac. He certainly demonstrated his own fearlessness under fire on several occasions, and even took part in one battle. Journalism was not high on his priorities. He referred to himself mockingly as "Old Ernie Hemorrhoid, the poor Poor Man's Pyle," in a mild jibe against Ernie Pyle, the most famous American war correspondent. But he studied the men around him and their conduct under fire because he had plans for writing the great American novel about the war... J.D. Salinger, little more than a mile away with the 12th Infantry Regiment, continued to write short stories furiously throughout the hellish battle, whenever, as he told his reader, he could find an unoccupied foxhole. This activity seems at least to have postponed Salinger's own psychological collapse until the end of the war."

          [Later, following the German breakthrough in the Battle of the Bulge.]

          "Ernest Hemingway heard of the German attack at the Ritz on the Place Vendome where he was installed with his paramour Mary Welsh [eventually to be the fourth and last Mrs Hemingway]. She had returned from a dinner with the Air Force Commander Lieutenant General 'Tooey' Spaatz, during which aides had rushed in and out bearing urgent messages. The Ritz lobby was in chaos, with officers running backwards and forwards. Although still not recovered from the bronchitis he had picked up in the Hurtgenwald, Hemingway was determined to rejoin the 4th Infantry Division. He started to pack and assemble his illegal armoury. 'There's been a complete breakthrough,' he told his brother Leicester, who was passing through Paris. 'This thing could cost us the works. Their armor is pouring in. They're taking no prisoners...Load those clips. Wipe every cartridge clean.'"

          JE comments:  I'm enormously looking forward to Beevor's new book.  "Old Ernie Hemorrhoid" by my calculation was 45 at the time of the battle, which is starting to sound positively young.  Dueling canteens of schnapps and cognac will age you prematurely, although this is an appropriate cocktail for a battle over control of the Franco-German borderlands.

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • In Praise of Noel Valis (Enrique Torner, USA 02/12/15 3:47 AM)
          It was a great surprise to see a post by Noël Valis! She is a very well-known and respected scholar in the field of Spanish literature and culture. I have read many of her articles over my career. I want to take this golden opportunity to congratulate her for her brilliant and very helpful book Teaching Representations of the Spanish Civil War. The book inspired me to teach a course on the Spanish Civil War using literature, art, and film, which I have taught twice. Last time I taught it (spring 2014), I invited David W. Pike to give a lecture to my students, as well as the whole campus community. It was during this two-day event that he invited me to join WAIS. Isn't this a small world?

          Noël Valis reminds me of the time I was a college student and was studying Spanish literature. I remember reading lots of articles by her on 19th and 20th-century literature, especially her works on Clarín (a Spanish realist/naturalist novelist) and Valle-Inclán (a major author of plays, but also of poetry and essays, among others), about whom I wrote my doctoral dissertation. Thank you, Noël, for all your invaluable work on Spanish literature and culture! It was fun and interesting to see your post on WAIS.

          John, you are very blessed to have had her as professor and member of your PhD committee.

          JE comments: WAIS doesn't usually do "attaboy/attagirls," but I'll file this one from Enrique Torner in the "small world"/"one degree of separation" drawer. I had a similar experience with WAISer Norman Tutorow, whom I met at our 2001 Stanford conference. Norman's The Mexican-American War: An Annotated Bibliography (1981) remains the definitive work on the writings (in both Mexico and the US) by participants in that conflict, which was arguably the first war to become a journalistic phenomenon.  Norman's work has been an extremely valuable source for my own research.

          Returning to Noël Valis, I'll attest that her intellect, her work ethic, and her kindness have been hugely inspirational for my own career.  (I hope at the very least to rival her in the kindness department...)

          I'll end with a relevant counterpoint:  Guess who said in 1999, "My special dislikes are Hemingway, Pío Baroja, and Valle-Inclán"?  I came across a lengthier critique of V-L in the Ronald Hilton archives at the Hoover Institution.  I'll try to scare it up for posting.


          Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • "Memorias del Hispanismo Estadounidense" (Noel Valis, USA 02/13/15 12:51 PM)
          I'm glad that you've put my essay on Hemingway's "The Fifth Column" on the website. I think WAIS readers will find it of interest. Over the years, I've worked quite a bit on the Spanish Civil War, in particular with the Teaching Representations of the Spanish Civil War volume, as well as a chapter in Sacred Realism. And my current project on Lorca also deals, inevitably, with the Civil War.

          It's been too many years, John, since we last saw each other. I will certainly think about attending the WAIS Golden Jubilee. (This is terrific news in itself!) I read Ronald Hilton's pieces on Emlia Pardo Bazán years ago, but I never met him, alas.

          Also, WAISers may be interested in a new volume of essays that has come out, edited by Anne Caballé and Randolph Pope, ¿Por qué España? Memorias del hispanismo estadounidense.

          JE comments:  Another tome to add to my reading list.  This is an anthology of essays by some of the superstars of US Hispanism.  In addition to Noël Valis, I see a chapter from Linda Gould Levine, who was my first-ever literature teacher at Dartmouth College (fall 1982:  she was a Visiting Professor that term).  I'm sure Prof. Levine does not remember me.  I've also met Prof. Randolph Pope, co-editor of the volume, at several conferences.  The name sounds very Anglo, but I believe he's Chilean.

          More information:  http://www.galaxiagutenberg.com/libros/%C2%BFpor-que-espa%C3%B1a.aspx

          What about the WAIS Golden Jubilee?  Mark your calendars:  10-12
          October, Stanford.  I will start ironing out the particulars this week. 
          Much more information to follow...soon.

          If you missed Noël's outstanding essay on "The Fifth Column," here once again is the link.  Click where it says "click here."


          Please login/register to reply or comment:

Trending Now

All Forums with Published Content (41037 posts)

- Unassigned

Culture & Language

American Indians Art Awards Bestiary of Insults Books Conspiracy Theories Culture Ethics Film Food Futurology Gender Issues Humor Intellectuals Jews Language Literature Media Coverage Movies Music Newspapers Numismatics Philosophy Plagiarism Prisons Racial Issues Sports Tattoos Western Civilization World Communications


Capitalism Economics International Finance World Bank World Economy


Education Hoover Institution Journal Publications Libraries Universities World Bibliography Series


Biographies Conspiracies Crime Decline of West German Holocaust Historical Figures History Holocausts Individuals Japanese Holocaust Leaders Learning Biographies Learning History Russian Holocaust Turkish Holocaust


Afghanistan Africa Albania Algeria Argentina Asia Australia Austria Bangladesh Belgium Belize Bolivia Brazil Canada Central America Chechnya Chile China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark East Europe East Timor Ecuador Egypt El Salvador England Estonia Ethiopia Europe European Union Finland France French Guiana Germany Greece Guatemala Haiti Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran (Persia) Iraq Ireland Israel/Palestine Italy Japan Jordan Kenya Korea Kosovo Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Latin America Liberia Libya Mali Mexico Middle East Mongolia Morocco Namibia Nations Compared Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria North America Norway Pacific Islands Pakistan Palestine Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Polombia Portugal Romania Saudi Arabia Scandinavia Scotland Serbia Singapore Slovakia South Africa South America Southeast Asia Spain Sudan Sweden Switzerland Syria Thailand The Pacific Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan UK (United Kingdom) Ukraine USA (America) USSR/Russia Uzbekistan Venezuela Vietnam West Europe Yemen Yugoslavia Zaire


Balkanization Communism Constitutions Democracy Dictators Diplomacy Floism Global Issues Hegemony Homeland Security Human Rights Immigration International Events Law Nationalism NATO Organizations Peace Politics Terrorism United Nations US Elections 2008 US Elections 2012 US Elections 2016 Violence War War Crimes Within the US


Christianity Hinduism Islam Judaism Liberation Theology Religion

Science & Technology

Alcohol Anthropology Automotives Biological Weapons Design and Architecture Drugs Energy Environment Internet Landmines Mathematics Medicine Natural Disasters Psychology Recycling Research Science and Humanities Sexuality Space Technology World Wide Web (Internet)


Geography Maps Tourism Transportation


1-TRIBUTES TO PROFESSOR HILTON 2001 Conference on Globalizations Academic WAR Forums Ask WAIS Experts Benefactors Chairman General News Member Information Member Nomination PAIS Research News Ronald Hilton Quotes Seasonal Messages Tributes to Prof. Hilton Varia Various Topics WAIS WAIS 2006 Conference WAIS Board Members WAIS History WAIS Interviews WAIS NEWS waisworld.org launch WAR Forums on Media & Research Who's Who