Bookworm linked to an interesting article analyzing the possible performance of female members of American military in combat. While it is obvious to any sane individual that lowering standards in order to allow women to participate in combat will be deadly, it is useful to look at historical examples of women in combat and analyze possible advantages that women might have over men. These historical examples do not need to be from some ancient history. World War 2 examples are very relevant for this purpose.
1st, let’s mention something that, while extremely dangerous, does not necessarily involve direct combat: intelligence and sabotage work. Here is one example, but really, to list them all a book is required. The advantages are obvious: women often attract less suspicion than men. And, while such operations often do not involve direct combat, they come very close to what often Special Forces do.
2nd example is snipers. Female snipers were quite numerous in the Soviet Army during World War 2. The most famous one was Lyudmila Pavlichenko. During defense of Odessa and Sevastopol she was credited with 309 kills. There were others: Marie Ljalkova, Ziba Ganiyeva, Nina Lobkovskaya and Tanya Baramzina. These are just the ones I found in Wikipedia. There were much more, it’s just too hard to find info on them. However, according to the Wikipedia articles I found, the Soviets had Central Women’s Sniper Training School, so obviously there were more than I listed. Do women make better snipers than men? Well, it is quite possible: they tend to be more patient in stalking their prey. Indeed, in the animal kingdom it is often female species who are hunters (lions, for example). The modern example is the story about female snipers hired by the Chechen fighters in North Caucasus. While it is hard to say whether the story is true, this certainly seems plausible.
3rd example is perhaps the most famous one. The Soviets had 3 female Air Force regiments: 586th Fighter, 587 Bomber and 588 Night Bomber. The 586th Fighter Regiment was assigned to air defense duties for covering rear areas from German attacks. As such, it saw less combat than a front line unit would, although it participated with distinction in the Battle of Stalingrad. However, a couple of girls were transferred to the regular (male) front line units, and there they showed what they were capable of. Lilya Litvyak scored 11 personal kills, plus 3 shared, while Katya Budanova seems to be credited with 11 kills total. These results were achieved in less than a year: unfortunately both girls were killed in combat. In addition, Lilya Litvyak had another unusual kill to her credit, which showed some out-of-the-box thinking. As described in Anne Noggle’s “A Dance with Death”, at one point the Germans were using an observation balloon for artillery fire correction. Nobody could take it out, as it was heavily protected by anti-aircraft fire. Previous attempts to bring it down by the fighter aircraft were unsuccessful and resulted in losses for the Soviets. Lilya volunteered to shoot it down. Rather than attempting to fly toward the balloon directly, she crossed the front line some distance away from the balloon, where there were no anti-aircraft defenses. Then she approached the balloon from the German side. By the time the Germans realized what was happening and opened fire on her, the balloon was down, and Lilya was flying back to base. I want to indulge a bit: here is the picture of the Yak-1 fighter Lilya was flying.
As a side note, Lilya Litvyak had a very good reason to fight the Nazis: ethnically she was at least half-Jewish.
But getting back to the subject at hand: do women make better fighter pilots? Again, it’s quite possible. First of all, they can be just as aggressive and competitive as men. Second, there are evidence that women can sustain higher G-forces than men. The reasons seem to be the facts that center of gravity of female body is proportionally lower than that of male (butt is wider than the upper body) and that women are usually shorter than men. The fact that women are shorter means that the blood has less distance to travel toward the brain, making women less prone to blackouts. That’s important because ability to make tighter turns at higher speeds gives tremendous advantage in air combat.
The most famous of the 3 female regiments was the 588 Night Bomber, better known as Night Witches. It was later re-designated as 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment. The Guards designation meant that the regiment distinguished itself in combat. Stalin was not known for political correctness in the modern sense, so the Guards designation was well deserved. It was also the only one of the three that was 100% female. That included armorers who had to attach rather heavy bombs to the aircraft, so the women came up with mechanisms to help them lift the bombs. The other 2 regiments had some male personnel. The Fighter Regiment had a male commander and some male ground personnel. But it is the history of the 587th Bomber Regiment that demonstrates the capabilities and limitations of women in combat the best.
The 587th Bomber Regiment was commanded originally by Marina Raskova, who originally suggested to Stalin the formation of all-female Air Force regiments. Unfortunately, Raskova did not live to lead her regiment into combat: she died in a flying accident before her regiment was deployed operationally. Her replacement was a man, major Valentin Markov. Just like the Night Bomber Regiment, the 587th was re-designated 125th Guards Bomber Regiment in 1943, which means that it was quite successful. So, what was so special about this unit that might enable us to see the capabilities and limitations of women in combat? We need to examine the aircraft flown by those brave ladies in order to understand that.
587th (later 125th Guards) Bomber Regiment was armed with Petlyakov Pe-2 aircraft, the main Soviet tactical bomber during the war.
Pe-2 was originally developed as a high altitude heavy fighter and designated VI-100 (VI stands for “Vysotny Istrebitel’” – High-altitude Fighter). However, it was later decided to re-design it into a dive bomber. As a dive bomber it was re-designated as Pe-2. This aircraft was used for both dive bombing and level bombing. It retained many of the fighter-like characteristics. Indeed, its speed of 540km/h (335mph) exceeded that of many fighters in 1941. Pe-2 had a crew of 3: pilot, navigator and radio operator-gunner. The 2 forward-firing machine guns were fixed and fired by the pilot. They were aimed just like in any fighter aircraft: by aiming the plane itself. The dorsal gun, protecting the upper rear, was installed in a turret behind the pilot’s cockpit and fired by the navigator. The radio operator-gunner fired the 3rd gun. Its default position was ventral, protecting the lower rear. It was also often used for strafing enemy on the ground. However, this 3rd gun could be moved, as shown below.
This gun was quite heavy: either ShKAS or UB. To be able to move it quickly, aim and fire required upper body strength. That is why the position of radio operator-gunner was for the most part filled by men. Women simply could not operate that gun effectively.
Finally, let’s analyze the problem that is not physical, but often brought up as a one of the reasons why women should not serve in combat units. That problem is sexual tension. As a side note, that is also often an argument against gays in the military. Does this problem exist? Sure, it does. In fact, it could be argued that it led to Lilya Litvuak’s demise. During Lilya’s time in 73rd GvIAP (Russian for Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment) she became romantically involved with another pilot, Alexey Solomatin. Relationship was quite serious, and they got engaged. Unfortunately, Solomatin was killed in an accident, while he was training a new pilot. Lilya became understandably distraught and started constantly seeking combat missions without taking any time to rest. That took its toll, and on August 1, 1943 her luck ran out. But a situation like this one could happen to any man in combat just as well. This has nothing to do with sex. A death of a family member or a close friend could be just as devastating, and with the same result.
So, what can we conclude from this amateur historical analysis? Well, it seems to me that women can in fact participate in combat and be successful at it, if they meet the requirements necessary for combat. The key is to keep the requirements the same for men and women, rather than to try to accommodate women who cannot meet those requirements. Thus there will be women who can be combat pilots, snipers or even covert operators. There might even be some who can participate in infantry combat, if they meet physical requirements necessary for accomplishing the mission and survival. But the stupid political correctness regarding this subject should be stopped. The requirements should be based on what’s necessary for successful mission and survival, not diversity. Thus, in those areas, where women are not at a natural disadvantage, they will succeed in higher numbers than in other areas. And that’s OK. Stupid social experiments for the sake of diversity should not be conducted in the military: the lives of our soldiers, both male and female, are at stake.
In the article I linked to in my previous post, Vladimir Bukovsky touches upon an interesting phenomenon: fascination of many Western intellectuals with socialism and Soviet Communism. Just before anybody tries to point out any distinctions between Communism and Socialism, I have to explain something about the old Soviet Union. The Soviet Union never called itself "Communist". When I was growing up there, we were "building Communism". But we were "country of advanced Socialism". After all, the official name of the country was "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics". We were always taught that Communism was the last and most advanced stage of Socialism. So, all the distinctions between Socialism and Communism are really a matter of degree. Soviet Communism is really a logical conclusion of the socialist policies. So, for simplicity I will use the term "Communism", as it is accepted in this country. The Western intellectuals refuse to acknowledge the staggering number of victims of Communism or, if they do, they find excuses for it: it was not done right, there were excesses, it was done for the greater good etc. But the number of victims of Communism far exceeds the number of victims of Nazism. There are several reasons for it. First of all, unlike the Nazism, Communism is international in nature and thus has larger pool of victims. Communism also was spread over larger territory and affected much greater population. Finally, it simply lasted longer. In fact, it is still around in places like North Korea and Cuba. Yet, while Nazism, or National Socialism, is universally condemned as an anti-human ideology, its international cousin, better known as Communism, is not. Why is that? Well, a big reason National Socialism was condemned were Nuremberg Trials, where not just individual Nazis, but the whole system of National Socialism was put on trial. The whole organizations, like SS, were declared criminal. Does it mean that every member of this organization committed crimes against humanity? No. Many members of the Waffen-SS were simply soldiers of elite units who fought quite heroically, although for a very bad cause. But the organization as a whole was in fact guilty of crimes against humanity. However, Communism and organizations like KGB escaped this condemnation. Why? Well, one of the reasons is that Hitler and Stalin ended up on the opposite sides of World War 2. Thus, the Soviets managed convince the world that they were ideologically on the opposite side of political spectrum. Furthermore, from my narrow Jewish perspective, Soviets were preferable to Nazis simply because Soviet Communists were "equal opportunity murderers". In their bigger pool of victims the statistical chance of survival was better. And so, the Soviets became "good guys". Their crimes were largely hidden. And just like the Nazis before 1939, they did not overtly attack any country. So, for many people it was very hard to understand what was so bad about the Soviet Union. In 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, but even now, in light of 9/11, an argument can be made that a Soviet-controller Afghanistan would be better than Taliban- or Al-Qaeda-controlled. And in any case, the Soviets of 1980s seem definitely more Western-like and more civilized than Taliban. But after the fall of the Soviet Union the crimes of the Soviet Communists for the most part still remained hidden. What Vladimir Bukovsky suggests should have happened is a Nuremberg-like trial, where the whole Soviet system would be tried. That is where the archives should have been open, and all the Soviet crimes against humanity would have been revealed for the world to see. Unfortunately this never happened, although for time there was a chance that it might. This crazy fascination with the Soviet system still remains in the Western intellectual circles. That even includes our current President. But I’d like to make any small contribution to breaking this fascination. Vladimir Bukovsky compiled his own archives. Read them at your leisure. Pass the link around. Maybe enough people will open their eyes to the crimes of National Socialism’s international cousin. Maybe eventually the whole Socialist ideology will be exposed for what it is: an anti-human system of oppression, death and destruction.
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There are many people who share my views on the current administration who don’t think that comparing to leftist totalitarian regimes is useful. One of the most outspoken on this is Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs. Bookworm also suggested that it should not be done (also here). Even my fellow Protest Warriors argued against it. Back when I suggested comparing the leftist demonstrators to Nazis, it was not so much because I view the leftist ideology as similar to National-Socialism, but for the shock value: the Left does not expect anybody to compare them to Nazis. But any careful review of the leftist ideology will reveal their desire to perfect society by subordinating individual liberties to what they consider the common good, with the state as the enforcement mechanism. And there lie the similarities between the modern Left and the totalitarian regimes of the past and present, including the Nazi regime. Whenever the term "Nazi" invoked, people immediately think of the Holocaust. But that is not the only thing the German Nazis did. Jonah Goldberg in his "Liberal Fascism" brilliantly shows the similarities between the Left and the German and Italian versions of Fascism. He also points out that Hitler’s genocidal anti-Semitism was not at all common to all of such movements. In fact, Mussolini considered it stupid. I highly recommend this book. Whoever reads it will learn to look beyond the Holocaust and will see the horrors of totalitarian ideology even without Nazis’ genocidal policies. Whoever reads it will also learn that the horrors perpetrated by various totalitarians are the direct result of their desire to perfect society. As they say, "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions".
As I was considering this post, I received an e-mail from a friend. The e-mail contained an open letter supposedly written by Ayn Rand in 1941. I attempted to verify that this is indeed her open letter, but only could find the same letter here and here. While reading it, I found myself largely agreeing with what Ayn Rand supposedly wrote back in 1941. Given similarity of my background to that of Ayn Rand, this is not surprising. Here is that letter, entitled "To All Fifth Columnists":
You who read this represent the greatest danger to America.
No matter what the outcome of the war in Europe may be, Totalitarianism has already won a complete victory in many American minds and conquered all of our intellectual life. You have helped it to win.
Perhaps it is your right to destroy civilization and bring dictatorship to America, but not unless you understand fully what you are doing.
If that is what you want to do, say so openly, at least to your own conscience, and we who believe in freedom will fight you openly.
But the tragedy of today is that you — who are responsible for the coming Totalitarian dictatorship of America — you do not know your own responsibility. You would be the first to deny the active part you’re playing and proclaim your belief in freedom, in civilization, in the American way of life. You are the most dangerous kind of Fifth Columnist — an innocent subconscious Fifth Columnist. Of such as you is the Kingdom of Hitler and of Stalin.
You do not believe this? Check up on yourself. Take the test we offer you here.
1. Are you the kind who considers ten minutes of his time too valuable to read this and give it some thought?
2. Are you the kind who sits at home and moans over the state of the world — but does nothing about it?
3. Are you the kind who says that the future is predestined by something or other, something he can’t quite name or explain and isn’t very clear about, but the world is doomed to dictatorship and there’s nothing anyone can do about it?
4. Are you the kind who says that he wishes he could do something, he’d be so eager to do something — but what can one man do?
5. Are you the kind who are so devoted to your own career, your family, your home or your children that you will let the most unspeakable horrors be brought about to destroy your career, your family, your home and your children — because you are too busy now to prevent them?
Which one of the above are you? A little of all?
But are you really too busy to think?
Who "determines" the future? You’re very muddled on that, aren’t you? What exactly is "mankind"? Is it a mystical entity with a will of its own? Or is it you, and I, and the sum of all of us together? What force is there to make history — except men, other men just like you? If there are enough men who believe in a better future and are willing to work for it, the future will be what they want it to be. You doubt this? Why then, if the world is doomed to dictatorship, do the dictators spend so much money and effort on propaganda? If history is predestined in their favor, why don’t Hitler and Stalin just ride the wave into the future without any trouble? Doesn’t it seem more probable that history will be what the minds of men want it to be, and the dictators are smart enough to prepare these minds in the way they want them, while we talk of destiny and do nothing?
You say, what can one man do? When the Communists came to power in Russia, they were a handful of eighteen men. Just eighteen. In a country of [170,000,000] population. They were laughed at and no one took them seriously. According to their own prophet, Karl Marx, Russia was the last country in which Communism could be historically possible, because of Russia’s backwardness in industrial development. Yet they succeeded. Because they knew what they wanted and went after it — historical destiny or no historical destiny. Adolf Hitler started the Nazi Party in Germany with seven men. He was laughed at and considered a harmless crank. People said that after the Versailles Treaty Germany could not possibly become a world power again, not for centuries. Yet Hitler succeeded. Because he knew what he wanted and went after it — history or no history. Shall we believe in mystical fates or do something about the future?
If you are one of those who have had a full, busy, successful life and are still hard at work making money — stop for one minute of thought. What are you working for? You have enough to keep you in comfort for the rest of your days. But you are working to insure your children’s future. Well, what are you leaving to your children? The money, home, or education you plan to leave them will be worthless or taken away from them. Instead, your legacy will be a Totalitarian America, a world of slavery, of starvation, of concentration camps and of firing squads. The best part of your life is behind you — and it was lived in freedom. But your children will have nothing to face save their existence as slaves. Is that what you want for them? If not, it is still up to you. There is time left to abort it — but not very much time. You take out insurance to protect your children, don’t you? How much money and working effort does that insurance cost you? If you put one-tenth of the money and time into insuring against your children’s future slavery — you would save them and save for them everything else which you intend to leave them and which they’ll never get otherwise.
Don’t delude yourself by minimizing the danger. You see what is going on in Europe and what it’s doing to our own country and to your own private life. What other proof do you need? Don’t say smugly that "it can’t happen here." Stop and look back for a moment.
The first Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Russia. People said: well, Russia was a dark, backward, primitive nation where anything could happen — but it could not happen in any civilized country.
The next Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Italy — one of the oldest civilized countries of Europe and the mother of European culture. People said: well, the Italians hadn’t had much experience in democratic self-government, but it couldn’t happen anywhere else.
The next Totalitarian dictatorship happened in Germany — the country of philosophers and scientists, with a long record of the highest cultural achievements. People said: well, Germany was accustomed to autocracy, and besides there’s the Prussian character, and the last war, etc. — but it could not happen in any country with a strong democratic tradition.
Could it happen in France? People would have laughed at you had you asked such a question a year ago. Well, it has happened in France — France, the mother of freedom and of democracy, France, the most independent-minded nation on earth.
What price your smug self-confidence? In the face of millions of foreign money and foreign agents pouring into our country, in the face of one step after another by which our country is [moving] closer to Totalitarianism — you do nothing except say: "It can’t happen here." Do you hear the Totalitarians answering you — "Oh, yeah?"
Don’t delude yourself with slogans and meaningless historical generalizations. It can happen here. It can happen anywhere. And a country’s past history has nothing to do with it. Totalitarianism is not a new product of historical evolution. It is older than history. It is the attempt of the worthless and the criminal to seize control of society. That element is always there, in any country. But a healthy society gives it no chance. It is when the majority in a country becomes weak, indifferent and confused that a criminal minority, beautifully organized like all gangs, seizes the power. And once that power is seized it cannot be taken back for generations. Fantastic as it may seem to think of a dictatorship in the United States, it is much easier to establish such a dictatorship than to overthrow it. With modern technique and modern weapons at its disposal, a ruthless minority can hold millions in slavery indefinitely. What can one thousand unorganized, unarmed men do against one man with a machine gun?
And the tragedy of today is that by remaining unorganized and mentally unarmed we are helping to bring that slavery upon ourselves. By being indifferent and confused, we are serving as innocent Fifth Columnists of our own destruction.
There is no personal neutrality in the world today.
Repeat that and scream that to yourself. In all great issues there are only two sides — and no middle. You are alive or you are dead, but you can’t be "neither" or "in between." You are honest or you are not — and there is no neutral "half-honest." And so, you are against Totalitarianism — or you are for it. There is no intellectual neutrality.
The Totalitarians do not want your active support. They do not need it. They have their small, compact, well-organized minority and it is sufficient to carry out their aims. And they want from you is your indifference. The Communists and the Nazis have stated repeatedly that the indifference of the majority is their best ally. Just sit at home, pursue your private affairs, shrug about world problems — and you are the most effective Fifth Columnist that can be devised. You’re doing your part as well as if you took orders consciously from Hitler or from Stalin. And so, you’re in it, whether you want to be or not, you’re helping the world towards destruction, while moaning and wondering what makes the world such as it is today. You do.
The Totalitarians have said: "Who is not against us, is for us." There is no personal neutrality.
And since you are involved, and have to be, what do you prefer? To do what you’re doing and help the Totalitarians? Or to fight them?
But in order to fight, you must understand. You must know exactly what you believe and you must hold to your faith honestly, consistently, and all the time. A faith assumed occasionally, like Sunday clothes, is of no value. Communism and Nazism are a faith. Yours must be as strong and clear as theirs. They know what they want. We don’t. But let us see how, before it is too late, whether we have a faith, what it is and how we can fight for it.
First and above all: what is Totalitarianism? We all hear so much about it, but we don’t understand it. What is the most important point, the base, the whole heart of both Communism and Nazism? It is not the "dictatorship of the proletariat," nor the nationalization of private property, nor the supremacy of the "Aryan" race, nor anti-Semitism. These things are secondary symptoms, surface details, the effects and not the cause. What is the primary cause, common to both Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, and all other dictators, past, present, and future? One idea — and one only: That the State is superior to the individual. That the Collective holds all rights and the individual has none.
Stop here. This is the crucial point. What you think of this will determine whether you are a mental Fifth Columnist or not. This is the point which allows no compromise. You must choose one or the other. There is no middle. Either you believe that each individual man has value, dignity and certain inalienable rights which cannot be sacrificed for any cause, for any purpose, for any collective, for any number of other men whatsoever. Or else you believe that a number of men — it doesn’t matter what you call it: a collective, a class, a race or a State — holds all rights, and any individual man can be sacrificed if some collective good — it doesn’t matter what you call it: better distribution of wealth, racial purity or the Millennium — demands it. Don’t fool yourself. Be honest about this. Names don’t matter. Only the basic principle matters, and there is no middle choice. Either man has individual, inalienable rights — or he hasn’t.
Your intentions don’t count. If you are willing to believe that men should be deprived of all rights for a good cause — you are a Totalitarian. Don’t forget, Stalin and Hitler sincerely believe that their causes are good. Stalin thinks that he is helping the downtrodden, and Hitler thinks that he is serving his country as a patriot. They are good causes, both of them, aren’t they? Then what creates the horrors of Russia and of Germany? What is destroying all civilization? Just this one idea — that to a good cause everything can be sacrificed; that individual men have no rights which must be respected; that what one person believes to be good can be put over on the others by force.
And if you — in the privacy of your own mind — believe so strongly in some particular good of yours that you would be willing to deprive men of all rights for the sake of this good, then you are as guilty of all the horrors of today as Hitler and Stalin. These horrors are made possible only by men who have lost all respect for single, individual human beings, who accept the idea that classes, races, and nations matter, but single persons do not, that a majority is sacred, but a minority is dirt, that herds count, but Man is nothing.
Where do you stand on this? There is no middle ground.
If you accept the Totalitarian idea, if the words "State" or "Collective" are sacred to you, but the word "Individual" is not — stop right here. You don’t have to read further. What we have to say is not for you — and you are not for us. Let’s part here — but be honest, admit that you are a Totalitarian and go join the Communist Party or the German-American Bund, because they are the logical end of the road you have chosen, and you will end up with one or the other, whether you know it now or not.
But if you are a Humanitarian and a Liberal — in the real, not the prostituted sense of these words — you will say with us that Man, each single, solitary, individual Man, has a sacred value which you respect, and sacred inalienable rights which nothing must take away from him.
You believe this? You agree with us that this is the heart of true Americanism, the basic principle upon which America was founded and which made it great — the Rights of Man and the Freedom of Man? But do you hear many voices saying this today?
Do you read many books saying this? Do you see many prominent men preaching this? Do you know a single publication devoted to this belief or a single organization representing it? You do not. Instead, you find a flood of words, of books, of preachers, publications, and organizations which, under very clever "Fronts," work tirelessly to sell you Totalitarianism. All of them are camouflaged under very appealing slogans: they scream to you that they are defenders of "Democracy," of "Americanism," of "Civil Liberties," etc. Everybody and anybody uses these words — and they have no meaning left. They are empty generalities and boob-catchers. There is only one real test that you can apply to all these organizations: ask yourself what is the actual result of their work under the glittering bromides? What are they really selling you, what are they driving at? If you ask this, you will see that they are selling you Collectivism in one form or another.
They preach "Democracy" and then make a little addition — "Economic Democracy" or a "Broader Democracy" or a "True Democracy", and demand that we turn all property over to the Government; "all property" means also "all rights"; let everybody hold all rights together — and nobody have any right of any kind individually. Is that Democracy or is it Totalitarianism? You know of a prominent woman commentator who wants us all to die for Democracy — and then defines "true" Democracy as State Socialism [probably a reference to Dorothy Thompson]. You have heard Secretary [Harold] Ickes define a "true" freedom of the press as the freedom to express the views of the majority. You have read in a highly respectable national monthly the claim that the Bill of Rights, as taught in our schools, is "selfish": that a "true" Bill of Rights means not demanding any rights for yourself, but your giving these rights to "others." God help us, fellow Americans, are we blind? Do you see what this means? Do you see the implications?
And this is the picture wherever you look. They "oppose" Totalitarianism and they "defend" Democracy — by preaching their own version of Totalitarianism, some form of "collective good," "collective rights," "collective will," etc. And the one thing which is never said, never preached, never upheld in our public life, the one thing all these "defenders of Democracy" hate, denounce, and tear down subtly, gradually, systematically — is the principle of Individual Rights, Individual Freedom, Individual Value. That is the principle against which the present great world conspiracy is directed. That is the heart of the whole world question. That is the only opposite of Totalitarianism and our only defense against it. Drop that — and what difference will it make what name you give to the resulting society? It will be Totalitarianism — and all Totalitarians are alike, all come to the same methods, the same slavery, the same bloodshed, the same horrors, no matter what noble slogan they start under, as witness Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.
Principles are much more consistent than men. A basic principle, once accepted, has a way of working itself out to its logical conclusion — even against the will and to the great surprise of those who accepted it. Just accept the idea that there are no inalienable individual rights — and firing squads, executions without trial, and a Gestapo or a G. P. U. will follow automatically — no matter who holds the power, no matter how noble and benevolent his intentions. That is a law of history. You can find any number of examples. Can you name one [counter-example]? Can you name one instance where absolute power — in any hands — did not end in absolute horror? And — for God’s sake, fellow Americans, let’s not be utter morons, let’s give our intelligence a small chance to function and let’s recognize the obvious — what is absolute power? It’s a power which holds all rights and has to respect none. Does it matter whether such a power is held by a self-appointed dictator or by an elected representative body? The power is the same and its results will be the same. Look through all of history. Look at Europe. Don’t forget — they still hold "elections" in Europe. Don’t forget, Hitler was elected.
Now, if you see how completely intellectual Totalitarianism is already in control of our country, if you see that there is no action and no organization to defend the only true anti-Totalitarian principle, the principle of individual rights, you will realize that there is only one thing for us to do: to take such action and to form such an organization. If you are really opposed to Totalitarianism, to all of it, in any shape, form, or color — you will join us. We propose to unite all men of good will who believe that Freedom is our most precious possession, that it is greater than any other consideration whatsoever, that no good has ever been accomplished by force, that Freedom must not be sacrificed to any other ideal, and that Freedom is an individual, not a collective entity.
We do not know how many of us there are left in the world. But we think there are many more than the Totalitarians suspect. We are the majority, but we are scattered, unorganized, silenced and helpless. The Totalitarians are an efficient, organized, and very noisy minority. They have seized key positions in our intellectual life and they make it appear as if they are the voice of America. They can, if left unchecked, highjack America into dictatorship. Are we going to let them get away with it? They are not the voice of America. We are. But let us be heard.
To be heard, however, we must be organized. This is not a paradox. Individualists have always been reluctant to form any sort of organization. The best, the most independent, the hardest working, the most productive members of society have always lived and worked alone. But the incompetent and the unscrupulous have organized. The world today shows how well they have organized. And so, we shall attempt what has never been attempted before — an organization against organization. That is — an organization to defend us all from the coming compulsory organization which will swallow all of society; an organization to defend our rights, including the right not to belong to any forced organization; an organization, not to impose our ideology upon anyone, but to prevent anyone from imposing his ideology upon us by physical or social violence.
Are you with us?
If you realize that the world is moving toward disaster, but see no effective force to avert it —
If you are eager to join in a great cause and accept a great faith, but find no such cause or faith offered to you anywhere today —
If you are not one of those doomed jellyfish to whom the word "Freedom" means nothing —
If you cannot conceive of yourself living in a society without personal freedom, a society in which you will be told what to do, what to think, what to feel, in which your very life will be only a gift from the Collective, to be revoked at its pleasure at any time —
If you cannot conceive of yourself surrendering your freedom for any collective good whatsoever, and do not believe that any such good can ever be accomplished by such a surrender —
If you believe in your own dignity and your own value, and hold that such a belief is not "selfish," but is instead your greatest virtue, without which you are worthless both to your fellow-men and to yourself —
If you believe that it is vicious to demand that you should exist solely for the sake of your fellow-men and grant them all and any right over you —
If you believe that it is vicious to demand everyone’s sacrifice for everyone else’s sake, and that such a demand creates nothing but mutual victims, without profiting anyone, neither society nor the individual —
If you believe that men can tell you what you must not do to them, but can never assume the arrogance of telling you what you must do, no matter what their number —
If you believe in majority rule only with protection for minority rights, both being limited by inalienable individual rights —
If you believe that the mere mention of "the good of the majority" is not sufficient ground to justify any possible kind of horror, and that those yelling loudest of "majority good" are not necessarily the friends of mankind —
If you are sick of professional "liberals," "humanitarians," "uplifters" and "idealists" who would do you good as they see fit, even if it kills you, whose idea of world benevolence is world slavery —
If you are sick, disgusted, disheartened, without faith, without direction, and have lost everything but your courage —
— come and join us.
There is so much at stake — and so little time left.
Let us have an organization as strong, as sure, as enthusiastic as any the Totalitarians could hope to achieve. Let us follow our faith as consistently as they follow theirs. Let us offer the world our philosophy of life. Let us expose all Totalitarian propaganda in any medium and in any form. Let us answer any argument, every promise, every "Party Line" of the Totalitarians. Let us drop all compromise, all cooperation or collaboration with those preaching any brand of Totalitarianism in letter or in spirit, in name or in fact. Let us have nothing to do with "Front" organizations, "Front" agents or "Front" ideas. We do not have to proscribe them by law. We can put them out of existence by social boycott. But this means — no compromise. There is no compromise between life and death. You do not make deals with the black plague. Let us touch nothing tainted with Totalitarianism. Let us tear down the masks, bring them out into the open and — leave them alone. Very strictly alone. No "pro-Soviet" or "pro-Nazi" members of the board in our organization. No "benevolent" Trojan horses. Let us stick together as they do. They silence us, they force us out of public life, they fill key positions with their own men. Let us stick together — and they will be helpless to continue. They have millions of foreign money on their side. We have the truth.
As a first step and a first declaration of what we stand for, we offer you the following principles:
We believe in the value, the dignity and the freedom of Man.
— That each man has inalienable rights which cannot be taken from him for any cause whatsoever. These rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
— That the right of life means that man cannot be deprived of his life for the convenience of any number of other men.
— That the right of liberty means freedom of individual decision, individual choice, individual judgment and individual initiative; it means also the right to disagree with others.
— That the right to the pursuit of happiness means man’s freedom to choose what constitutes his own private, personal happiness and to work for its achievement; that such a pursuit is neither evil nor reprehensible, but honorable and good; and that a man’s happiness is not to be prescribed to him by any other man nor by any number of other men.
— That these rights have no meaning unless they are the unconditional, personal, private possession of each man, granted to him by the fact of his birth, held by him independently of all other men, and limited only by the exercise of the same rights by other men.
— That the only just, moral and beneficent form of society is a society based upon the recognition of these inalienable individual rights.
— That the State exists for Man, and no Man for the State.
— That the greatest good for all men can be achieved only through the voluntary cooperation of free individuals for mutual benefit, and not through a compulsory sacrifice of all for all.
— That "voluntary" presupposes an alternative and a choice of opportunities; and thus even a universal agreement of all men on one course of action is neither free nor voluntary if no other course of action is open to them.
— That each man’s independence of spirit and other men’s respect for it have created all civilization, all culture, all human progress and have benefited all mankind.
— That the greatest threat to civilization is the spread of Collectivism, which demands the sacrifice of all individual rights to collective rights and the supremacy of the State over the individual.
— That the general good which such Collectivism professes as its objective can never be achieved at the sacrifice of man’s freedom, and such sacrifice can lead only to general suffering, stagnation, and degeneration.
— That such conception of Collectivism is the greatest possible evil — under any name, in any form, for any professed purpose whatsoever.
Such is our definition of Americanism and the American way of life.
The American way of life has always been based upon the Rights of Man, upon individual freedom and upon respect for each human individual personality. Through all its history, this has been the source of America’s greatness. This is the spirit of America which we dedicate ourselves to defend and preserve.
In practical policy we shall be guided by one basic formula: of every law and of every conception we shall demand the maximum freedom for the individual and the minimum power for the government necessary to achieve any given social objective.
If you believe this, join us. If you don’t — fight us. Either is your privilege, but the only truly immoral act you can commit is to agree with us, to realize that we are right — and then to forget it and do nothing.
There is some excuse, little as it may be, for an open, honest Fifth Columnist. There is none for an innocent, passive, subconscious one. Of all the things we have said here to you, we wish to be wrong on only one — our first sentence. Prove us wrong on that. Join us.
The world is a beautiful place and worth fighting for. But not without Freedom.
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There is a company called Vishay Intertechnology. They make all kinds of electronic components, which I, as an Electronics Engineer, use in my designs. In particular, they are the first ones I think of when I need to use filed-effect transistors (FETs, or MOSFETs, to be exact). I won’t get too deep into the technical details, but their FETs are very well suited for use in the switching power supplies. Recently I learned about amazing history of this company and its founder, Dr. Felix Zandman:
In the 1950s, patents were issued for the PhotoStress® products developed by Dr. Felix Zandman. These products reveal and measure stress distribution in airplanes, cars, and other structures under live load conditions. His research in this area led him to develop Bulk Metal® foil resistors, the most precise and stable resistors available — both then and now, over four decades later.
Dr. Zandman, with the financial support of Alfred P. Slaner, founded Vishay in 1962 to develop and manufacture Bulk Metal foil resistors. The Company was named after the village in Lithuania where relatives of Dr. Zandman and Mr. Slaner had perished during the Holocaust (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit). The Company’s initial product portfolio consisted of foil resistors and foil resistance strain gages.
Here is more:
A survivor from the Polish town of Grodno, Dr. Felix Zandman, immigrated to the United States and became an inventor and important industrialist there, in Israel, and in other countries. He named the electronics concern he established Vishay in memory of his beloved grandmother Tema Freydovicz, who was born in the town of Vishay, and the Jewish community there that had been annihilated in the Holocaust. The electronics plants he established in Israel also bear the same name.
This indeed is an amazing story. I sent these links to a friend of mine, an Applications Engineer from a Vishay distributor company, who is also Jewish. He did not know this history. But later, when he came to visit me in the office on business, he brought me a present from the local Vishay representative: the memoir of Dr. Felix Zandman. I am sure I will enjoy this book. And it is very satisfying to be able to use good products and support a good company and worthy causes at the same time.
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I haven’t posted for a while. Part of the reason for it is some feeling of apathy on my part. I keep encountering people who just refuse to hear my arguments about dangers of what Obama administration is doing domestically and internationally. On the other hand, not everything is bad: they do seem to make some responsible decisions, like the ones with restoring military commissions and blocking the release of photos of some GIs mistreating prisoners. Obama is now planning a trip to Europe and the Middle East. Apparently the trip includes a stop in Normandy to commemorate 65th Anniversary of the D-Day, a stop in Germany and in Egypt. The stop in Germany is what concerns me. I recently received an e-mail with a link to this story:
In a move aimed at healing the rifts of American foreign policy decisions, President Obama will make a trip to Europe next month, including a trip to Dresden, Germany. The trip will consist of several stops and the President will meet with the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany. Also slated are several policy speeches.
Perhaps the most controversial is a planned speech in which President Obama will formally apologize for American ‘war crimes’ during the Second World War. This would be particularly comforting to Europeans, who have long condemned American foreign policy actions, especially regarding civilians.
This speech will also be welcome in Germany, who had over 12,000,000 of its citizens killed during the war. Mayor Johann Krupp of Augensburg in Saxony stated to DW that the speech will "help my great-uncle’s soul rest. He burned to death during the Dresden bombings."
I then followed a link provided by Weasel Zippers. There it all seemed like some sort of satire. I could not find this story at the Deutsche Welle web site. Could it be satire? I started digging some more. I found this Gateway Pundit post on the subject with more links. Do follow those links and read the articles there. And if you have have time for just one of them, go to this Pajamas Media article. It does seem that Obama is planning to go to Dresden and apologize at the very least for the Dresden bombing. Bookworm also has a post on the subject of Obama going to both Buchenwald and Dresden, where she points out that the myth of Dresden bombing just to terrorize German population and the city of Dresden having no military value was started by none other than Josef Goebbels. And here we come to the book review. The definitive book on the subject of Dresden bombing is "Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945" by Frederick Taylor.
In the book Mr. Taylor proves beyond any doubt several things. First of all, the number of people killed was exaggerated 10-fold. As such, with 25 to 30 thousand people killed, Dresden did not have the most casualties of all the cities in Germany. The largest absolute number can be claimed by Hamburg, and the largest percentage of the population can be claimed by Leipzig. Further, Dresden also had significant number of legitimate military targets. First of all, it was the largest railroad junction in the Eastern Germany, through which the German Eastern Front was supplied. The Soviets requested in Yalta that Allies would bomb the German supply routes, and the Allies obliged. Dresden also had large tank repair shops, clearly a military target. Additionally, Dresden was home for a factory making communication equipment for the German Army and a factory making bombsights for the German bombers. The local cigarette factory was making rifle ammunition, since the equipment used for stuffing cigarettes can be also used for stuffing rifle rounds. Indeed, if you look at the history of Dresden, the ancient capital of Saxony, the claim that the city was devoid of any industry of military value would understandably seem as ridiculous as it really is. It is true that the city did not have much heavy industry, but it did have what in modern parlance would be called "high tech". All the jewelry historically produced in Dresden would just naturally evolve into it. The reason why Goebbels claimed the Dresden, of all other German cities, was an ultimate victim was because Dresden was a popular tourist destination before the war, particularly for the British and the Americans. The claim of Dresden victimhood was dismissed at the time. Obviously, in February of 1945 it was impossible to know that the war in Europe would end in May. But with the start of the Cold War the Soviets and their East German puppets were eager to paint the Western Allies in the bad light, so they resurrected the old Nazi lie. Now the blame-America-first crowd on the Left is eager to repeat it.
Other things that Frederick Taylor proves in the book are:
1. The blame for the high number of civilian death should placed squarely on the city Nazi leadership who built the nice bomb shelters for themselves, but neglected to provide adequate shelters for the population;
2. There was no strafing of the ground targets in Dresden by American escort fighter aircraft. Indeed, anyone who even played a Combat Flight Simulator game (this or this) knows that any air combat invariably sinks close to the ground, as the fighters maneuver and try to restore their air speed. So, imagine an American P-51 Mustang attacking a German Fokke-Wulf FW-190 from above and behind (a common mode of attack), close to the ground. The Mustang pilot lines up the German in his sights and opens fire. He scores some hits. But where do you think the bullets that missed the German aircraft go? That’s right, down to the ground. Now, what if you are a civilian on the ground and you did not see the Fokke-Wulf, but you did see the Mustang shooting, the tracers from its machine guns streaming to the ground? It would obviously seem to you like the Mustang was strafing something on the ground, even though the Mustang was in fact shooting at the German aircraft. Indeed, the air combat did take place during the day, when Americans bombed the railroad junction. But there were no ground targets to strafe, so there were no strafing attacks by the the American escort fighters.
The bottom line, this book should be required reading for anybody who wants to at least attempt to understand history. For President Obama it would certainly be better to read this book rather than the crap Hugo Chavez gave him.
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As I have mentioned before, last Saturday my wife and I went to see the movie "Defiance". The movie is based on a true story told by Nechama Tec about 4 Bielski brothers who organized a Jewish partisan band in Nazi-occupied Western Byelorussia and saved 1200 Jews. This is the only kind of Holocaust movie that I like: the kind where Jews save themselves, have guns, fight back and defend themselves. The movie is very well made, and the acting is pretty good too. The reviews by regular movie-goers are almost universally good. People can relate to the story: people hunted like animals stand up and defend themselves. The professional critics, being the pretentious blowhards that they are, don’t particularly like the movie and keep analyzing artistic merits of the story. But there are no artistic merits in this story, it is what it is. This is a docudrama, or, more properly, a reenactment of historical events. The script writer did not have to invent any clever plot lines, they were provided by life itself. However, the review linked to above is not the most insulting and idiotic. Yesterday my co-worker sent me a link to this Atlas Shrugs post, which links to a review written by someone named Tom Charity and published by CNN. Pamela quotes this lovely passage from the review:
"The timing is unfortunate. For a story that has gone neglected for the best part of 60 years, this is hardly the ideal week to be extolling heroic Jewish resistance fighters. Ari Folman’s angst-laden nonfiction animated film, "Waltz With Bashir," is altogether more relevant."
This guy of course has a problem with the Jews in Israel defending themselves against Hamas murderers. This basically reveals the main problem the Left has with Israel. Besides the anti-Semitism prevalent on the Left, the leftists prefer Jews as quiet little victims silently marching into the gas chambers, so the Left can feel sorry for them afterwards. But as bad as the passage above is, the complete article is even worse. The term "pretentious blowhard" is, well, too charitable for Mr. Charity (pun intended). Mr. Charity writes his review with very little, if any, knowledge and understanding of the subject matter of the film. Well, I will take up an exercise in futility and attempt to enlighten Mr. Charity and his ilk.
One of the idiocies of this review that stands out is this:
In "Defiance" those words come with a thick, guttural European inflection (Hebrew is spoken as English, though characters also break into subtitled Russian and German on occasion). The speechifying is often clumsy and long-winded.
I would have forgiven Mr. Charity if he would have said "Yiddish is spoken as English". This is probably the way it was intended by the director anyway. But Hebrew? This guy is just an ignorant idiot. No, I am not being charitable any more. Apart from a rabbi conducting a service, Hebrew was never spoken by Jews in Byelorussia. The language spoken by those involved in the story was probably a mixture of Russian, Byelorussian, Polish and Yiddish, with Russian predominating among the city dwellers from the East and Polish among those from the West. Any commands and speeches would probably be given in Russian. How do I know this? Well, look at my background! Yes, Odessa is not in Byelorussia, but I know enough people from there too. And there are and were enough similarities in conditions in Odessa and Byelorussia for me to know what language was spoken by the real characters in this story. And by the way, there was no German spoken by the Jews in the movie.
Mr. Charity laments Zus’ decision to join the Soviet partisans and take the fight to the Nazis. Hiding in some hole must be more appealing for Mr. Charity. He does not think that the Russians were true friends of Zus. It would help if Mr. Charity would have read Nechama Tec’s book on which the movie is based. Victor Panchenko, the Russian commander, is not shown as a villain in the movie. Indeed, he was not. Unlike many Russian partisans, Panchenko accepted Jewish able-bodied men into his group. And once he esteblished contact with the Belski brothers, he sent the non-fighters their way. If Mr. Charity would have read the book, he would know that Panchenko was very helpful to the Belski brothers. He helped the Jewish partisans establish contact with the Soviet High Command, which was necessary for treating the wounded and getting supplies. Jewish fighters were participating in missions together with the Russians, missions ordered by the Soviet Command. And Panchenko made use of Jewish camp as a base, using skilled laborers weapons maintenance and repair and medical professionals for treating lightly wounded. This actually alluded to in the movie, when the newcomers to the camp are asked what they can do. And, by the way, Panchenko punished anti-Semites. While Zus and some of his comrades did come back to the Belski camp, some other Jewish fighters stayed with Panchenko because they wanted to fight the Germans more actively as members of a more mobile Panchenko group. Here is one more news flash for Mr. Charity: wanting to take the fight to the Nazis is a good thing.
Here is another lovely passage by Mr. Charity:
The movie is full of mud and muck, yet somehow Zwick sanitizes the things that matter most. In the most challenging scene, just as Tuvia turns a blind eye as his enraged fellow Jews beat a German prisoner to death, Zwick consistently pulls back from anything that might be too unpleasant or tasteless.
Mr. Ignoramus conveniently does not notice clearly visible SS insignia under the "poor" German’s camouflage coat. The fact that he was SS means that he was likely a member of one of the Einsatzgruppen, a special SS unit whose only purpose in life was to murder Jews. So, what would Mr. Charity have Tuvia Belski do, shoot his fellow Jews in order to save an SS-man? And what would partisans do with a POW? Start a POW camp in the woods? The circumstances were such that the German had to be killed anyway. Or should they let him go, so that he would come back with his Einsatzkommando? I personally would have preferred that the Nazi were thoroughly interrogated and then disposed of cleanly with a bullet to the back of his head. But once the mob started beating on him there was no stopping them without shooting one of long suffering people whose loved ones were perhaps murdered by that SS-man. It obviously was not worth it. The ignorance and lack of historical perspective displayed by Tom Charity is staggering. And he uses this episode to take another anti-Semitic potshot at those "murderous" Jews. By the way, why is this scene more challenging than, let’s say, the scene where Tuvia shoots Arkady, the man who challenged his command authority? The man was a jerk, but at least he was on our side. He was one of the Jews initially saved by the Belskis. Could it be that Mr. Charity feels more sorry for the Nazi than for the Jew? "His [Edward Zwick's - Eric-Odessit] heroes remain fundamentally unsullied," Mr. Charity laments. He clearly would prefer to sully them.
There is also this idiotic passage:
Zwick’s Hollywood liberal credentials are not in doubt, but his films have a surprisingly gung-ho undercurrent (they include such martial adventures as "The Last Samurai," "Glory," "The Siege," "Legends of the Fall" and "Courage Under Fire").
Tom clearly does not like plots where good guys are fighting the bad guys. He must subscribe to the notion that "War never solves anything". Well, I have to remind him that war did stop slavery, Nazism and Communism. So, it did solve something. And who cares about "Zwick’s Hollywood liberal credentials"? He probably does lean Left, but it does not matter. He made a good movie, movie I can relate to. Older generation of my family lived this story. I know people who were participants in similar stories. And he made a movie about Holocaust where the Jews take up guns, shoot back and defend themselves, killing the Nazis. That’s better than all the "Schindler’s Lists" and "Pianists" combined.
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On May 12, 1948, Clark Clifford, the White House chief counsel, presented the case for U.S. recognition of the state of Israel to the divided cabinet of President Harry Truman. While a glowering George Marshall, the secretary of state, and a skeptical Robert Lovett, Marshall’s undersecretary, looked on, Clifford argued that recognizing the Jewish state would be an act of humanity that comported with traditional American values. To substantiate the Jewish territorial claim, Clifford quoted the Book of Deuteronomy: "Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them."
Since then, this pattern has often been repeated. Respected U.S. foreign policy experts call for Washington to be cautious in the Middle East and warn presidents that too much support for Israel will carry serious international costs. When presidents overrule their expert advisers and take a pro-Israel position, observers attribute the move to the "Israel lobby" and credit (or blame) it for swaying the chief executive. But there is another factor to consider. As the Truman biographer David McCullough has written, Truman’s support for the Jewish state was "wildly popular" throughout the United States. A Gallup poll in June 1948 showed that almost three times as many Americans "sympathized with the Jews" as "sympathized with the Arabs." That support was no flash in the pan. Widespread gentile support for Israel is one of the most potent political forces in U.S. foreign policy, and in the last 60 years, there has never been a Gallup poll showing more Americans sympathizing with the Arabs or the Palestinians than with the Israelis.
The story of U.S. support for a Jewish state in the Middle East begins early. John Adams could not have been more explicit. "I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation," he said, after his presidency. From the early nineteenth century on, gentile Zionists fell into two main camps in the United States. Prophetic Zionists saw the return of the Jews to the Promised Land as the realization of a literal interpretation of biblical prophecy, often connected to the return of Christ and the end of the world. Based on his interpretation of Chapter 18 of the prophecies of Isaiah, for example, the Albany Presbyterian pastor John McDonald predicted in 1814 that Americans would assist the Jews in restoring their ancient state. Mormon voices shared this view; the return of the Jews to the Holy Land was under way, said Elder Orson Hyde in 1841: "The great wheel is unquestionably in motion, and the word of the Almighty has declared that it shall roll."
Any discussion of U.S. attitudes toward Israel must begin with the Bible. For centuries, the American imagination has been steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures. This influence originated with the rediscovery of the Old Testament during the Reformation, was accentuated by the development of Calvinist theology (which stressed continuities between the old and the new dispensations of divine grace), and was made more vital by the historical similarities between the modern American and the ancient Hebrew experiences; as a result, the language, heroes, and ideas of the Old Testament permeate the American psyche.
The United States’ sense of its own identity and mission in the world has been shaped by readings of Hebrew history and thought. The writer Herman Melville expressed this view: "We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people — the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world." From the time of the Puritans to the present day, preachers, thinkers, and politicians in the United States — secular as well as religious, liberal as well as conservative — have seen the Americans as a chosen people, bound together less by ties of blood than by a set of beliefs and a destiny. Americans have believed that God (or history) has brought them into a new land and made them great and rich and that their continued prosperity depends on their fulfilling their obligations toward God or the principles that have blessed them so far. Ignore these principles — turn toward the golden calf — and the scourge will come.
Both religious and nonreligious Americans have looked to the Hebrew Scriptures for an example of a people set apart by their mission and called to a world-changing destiny. Did the land Americans inhabit once belong to others? Yes, but the Hebrews similarly conquered the land of the Canaanites. Did the tiny U.S. colonies armed only with the justice of their cause defeat the world’s greatest empire? So did David, the humble shepherd boy, fell Goliath. Were Americans in the nineteenth century isolated and mocked for their democratic ideals? So were the Hebrews surrounded by idolaters. Have Americans defeated their enemies at home and abroad? So, according to the Scriptures, did the Hebrews triumph. And when Americans held millions of slaves in violation of their beliefs, were they punished and scourged? Yes, and much like the Hebrews, who suffered the consequences of their sins before God.
Although gentile support for Israel in the United States has remained strong and even grown since World War II, its character has changed. Until the Six-Day War, support for Israel came mostly from the political left and was generally stronger among Democrats than Republicans. Liberal icons such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King, Jr., were leading public voices calling for the United States to support Israel. But since 1967, liberal support for Israel has gradually waned, and conservative support has grown.
On the right, the most striking change since 1967 has been the dramatic intensification of suppport for Israel among evangelical Christians and, more generally, among what I have called "Jacksonian" voters in the U.S. heartland. Jacksonians are populist-nationalist voters who favor a strong U.S. military and are generally skeptical of international organizations and global humanitarian aid. Not all evangelicals are Jacksonians, and not all Jacksonians are evangelicals, but there is a certain overlap between the two constituencies. Many southern whites are Jacksonians; so are many of the swing voters in the North known as Reagan Democrats.
U.S. opinion on the Middle East is not monolithic, nor is it frozen in time. Since 1967, it has undergone significant shifts, with some groups becoming more favorable toward Israel and others less so. Considerably fewer African Americans stand with the Likud Party today than stood with the Jewish army in World War II. More changes may come. A Palestinian and Arab leadership more sensitive to the values and political priorities of the American political culture could develop new and more effective tactics designed to weaken, rather than strengthen, American support for the Jewish state. An end to terrorist attacks, for example, coupled with well-organized and disciplined nonviolent civil resistance, might alter Jacksonian perceptions of the Palestinian struggle. It is entirely possible that over time, evangelical and fundamentalist Americans will retrace Jimmy Carter’s steps from a youthful Zionism to what he would call a more balanced position now. But if Israel should face any serious crisis, it seems more likely that opinion will swing the other way. Many of the Americans who today call for a more evenhanded policy toward the Palestinians do so because they believe that Israel is fundamentally secure. Should that assessment change, public opinion polls might well show even higher levels of U.S. support for Israel.
One thing, at least, seems clear. In the future, as in the past, U.S. policy toward the Middle East will, for better or worse, continue to be shaped primarily by the will of the American majority, not the machinations of any minority, however wealthy or engaged in the political process some of its members may be.
Of course, read it all. This article is completely in line with "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present" by Michael Oren.
Basically, this article is a review of this book. I highly recommend it. In addition to explaining the roots of American support for Israel, the book also helps to understand the roots of our current conflict with militant Islam, otherwise known as Islamo-fascism. The book details how jihad warriors, otherwise known as Barbary pirates, terrorized merchant shipping and even raided villages on the East Coast of the United States. It also explains that, far from being "Gentlemen of Fortune", the Barbary pirates had jihadi ideology and their governments’ support behind them. After reading this book one starts to understand that our current conflict has nothing to do with American foreign policy and perceived injustices perpetrated by the West. Rather, it is a conflict between religion-based totalitarian ideology and Western liberal values, similar to the other conflicts of the 20th Century between Western liberal values and atheistic totalitarian ideologies of Nazism and Communism. That totalitarian ideology has to be defeated. It cannot be appeased.
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The month of May has several significant dates in modern history, particularly in modern Jewish history. Those are the Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli Independence Day and Victory in Europe Day (Victory Day in Russia). Additionally, the Memorial Day is also at the end of May. So, in commemoration of all these dates I’d like to present an article that I compiled several years ago. This article was originally published on the wonderful historical site called WW II Ace Stories. I highly recommend this site for World War 2 history and aviation history enthusiasts. I used the word "compiled" rather than "written" regarding the article because the article is based on the book "I Am My Brother’s Keeper" by Jeffrey Weiss and Craig Weiss.
In fact, there are chunks of text that were simply scanned out of the book. But I don’t think the authors would mind: after all, I am suggesting to people that they should buy the book and read it. It really is a very good book. The pictures are also from this book and the Internet. I dedicate this post to those, who fought back and saved or avenged themselves and their loved ones. So, without further ado, let me present the story of
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My older daughter takes figure skating lessons. She’s been a bit lazy lately (she is only 7), so in order to prop up her enthusiasm her coach suggested that she should prepare a short program with music. Her program would have to be only about a minute long, so any musical piece would have to be shortened. In trying to pick music for her I discovered that there is a song that I can listen to over and over, without getting tired of it. I am fascinated by the World War 2 history, so it is not a surprise that this song is from that era. The song is "Bei Mir Bist Du Shein", with lyrics originally written in Yiddish and then translated into English. In English it became a tremendous hit when it was performed by The Andrews Sisters. Of all the versions of this song I think that the Andrews Sisters is the best. Enjoy:
I actually still undecided, whether the Andrews Sisters or Benny Goodman’s version is the best. And here is Al Bowlly’s version, with lyrics addressed, properly, to a girl:
Which one do you like best?
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That is the title of an article about Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang. And it applies perfectly to those leftist idiot of the 1970s:
…Hopelessly incompetent, these terrorists were products of the Left-wing counter-culture of the Sixties, a group who railed against the Establishment and had bonded around casual sex, rock music and the ingestion of massive quantities of illegal drugs.
But despite their inadequacies, they left a trail of destruction and dead bodies in their struggle against the ‘capitalist exploitation’ of workers.
What is most shocking, though, is the support they attracted from the liberal-Left not just in Germany but throughout the western world.
The Baader-Meinhof story is a chilling lesson in the appeasement of terrorism by a Left-wing consensus so blinded by ideology that it glosses over horrendous crimes in support of its cause.
These terrorists were the lethal face of the radical generation who went on to occupy the heights of the liberal establishment across the western world.
In Britain, the Left-leaning universities, the arts, the BBC, and many more institutions are still dominated by survivors of an era whose ideologies – a disrespect for authority, contempt for the family unit, an emphasis on human rights not responsibilities – permeate every facet of our lives 40 years on.
Read it all. And remember them when you see young idiots of today wearing black bandanas over their faces at the leftist demonstrations.
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Yesterday we visited out friend in Los Angeles. Her little girl is the same age as my older daughter, and she had a birthday party, so we went there. After the kids’ party we went to our friend’s house. Later in the evening her parents came over. We were sitting there and talking about life, politics, history etc. And in the course of the conversation my friend’s father told me a story, his story. It was a story I’ve heard before. No, not from him. But I’ve heard similar stories about members of my own family and about members of my wife’s family. I’ve read stories like this many times. Yet, when someone who lived through this and tells you about it is someone you know, someone sitting next to you at a dinner table, that tends to affect you much more…
My friend’s family is from Berdichev, a small town in Northern Ukraine. Her father, Mr. K., was 4 years old when the Nazis entered the city in the early July of 1941. The Jews comprised a very large percentage of the population, perhaps even a majority: the city was historically a shtetl and a center of the Jewish life in Ukraine. The city’s male population of military age was in the Soviet Army fighting the Nazis, including Mr. K’s father. The rest of the Berdichev’s Jews did not have time to evacuate and frankly did not think it was necessary. You see, Berdichev was already occupied by the German Army once before, in 1918. Back then the relationship between the Jews and the Germans was quite friendly. There were Jews in the German Army, and the Germans of 1918 preferred to deal with the Jews: Yiddish is close enough to the German language, so they simply could communicate easily. But in 1941 things were different.
According to Mr. K’s recollection, around mid-September of 1941 the Jews of Berdichev were rounded up and brought to the square in the center of the city, ostensibly to be moved somewhere. Mr. K was there with his mother, his 6 years old older brother and his 2 years old younger brother. His grandparents were also there. The rumor had it that those with the little kids would be left alone, and so Mr. K’s mom sent his older brother to be next to the grandparents. Soon Mr. K’s mom sensed that something was not right. She told her parents that she had a feeling they they were all going to be shot. So she decided to make a run for it. She picked her youngest one up, took Mr. K’s hand and told her oldest to keep running with her and not to stop no matter what happens. They ran. The Germans were shooting at them, but they kept running. Finally they got away far enough and hid in some orchard. Mr. K’s older brother was not with them. They have never seen him again. Perhaps he was hit while they were running. They were recaptured later that day, but by that time the Nazis were done with murder for the day. As they were recaptured, an auxiliary policeman from the locals hit Mr. K’s mom in the shoulder with his rifle butt. Ironically, a German officer intervened. They were brought to the market place and placed in a line with a bunch of other Jews they thought were recaptured like them. But it turned out that those people were the ones who had some skills deemed useful by the Germans: tailors, cobblers, jewelers, dentists etc. Amazingly, all those people were released for the time being. Mr. K with his mom and the little brother came back to their apartment. They hoped that the oldest kid might come there if he was alive, but he was not there. The apartment was already looted. The only thing left there was Mr. K’s father’s green army-style wool blanket. So, Mr. K’s mother said: "That’s it, we have to get out of Berdichev". They picked up the blanket and left. They figured that the further away from the city they get, the better chance they would have to survive. The Germans and the local collaborators would be further away: they tended to stay closer to the city. And the locals would be nicer.
They moved from one village to another for over 2 years, until the liberation. Mr. K’s mom could sew, and so they would stay with people in a village until she would sew clothes for them. Then the peasants would ask them to leave and go somewhere else. You can’t blame those peasants for that: hiding a Jewish family in occupied Ukraine was extremely dangerous. If discovered, the Jews had a chance of being sent to a camp: still some meager chance of survival. But people hiding them would likely be shot on the spot, the whole family. So, Mr. K with his mother and brother had to move around. In the summer they hid in the farm fields, and in the winter people hid them in their houses. They survived. When the Soviets came back, it was still a liberation: as bad as Stalin’s regime was, it was better than the Nazis. In 1944 they got that telegram dreaded by every soldier’s family: Mr. K’s father was killed in action.
So, there were only 3 people left out of a pretty large family: Mr. K, his little brother and their mom. They survived, thanks to Mr. K’s mother’s resourcefulness and her will to save her children. As for those Ukrainian peasants that hid them, there are no words to express my gratitude. Clearly, Mr. K’s mom’s sewing was very meager compensation for the risks they took. It had to be their simple humanity that prompted them to save this mother with her 2 young kids. I hope those people had long and happy lives.
In this country among Jews Ukrainians often regarded as universally anti-Semitic. There is some truth to it: from the time of Bogdan Khmelnytsky anti-Semitism was rampant in Ukraine. But there were people who were willing to risk their lives to save other human beings. They sometimes might bad-mouth Jews and even call them derogatory names, but they would still save them. In fact, I knew people like that.
This is history. But how is it relevant now? Well, for starters, there are some nuts that insist that Mr. K’s story never happened. And my and my wife’s family members were not murdered. Those nuts want the world to believe them, rather than Mr. K. They don’t want the world to believe the stories my grandpa told me. There is one nut in Iran that accuses Mr. K of lying, while he himself wants to acquire weapons to make it happen again. Look at this video that Judith Klinghoffer sent me:
While you are watching, pay close attention to those "salutes" so loved by Islamo-Fascists. And, to refresh what you saw, take another look at the pictures in this article of mine. There quite a number of people in the world that want to repeat Mr. K’s story once again, only this time ensuring that there are no survivors. To this I say:
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Sultan Knish, with whom I was having a friendly dispute over my recent book review responded to me several days ago. So, here is my reply. I’ll try to keep it short because I don’t want to keep dragging it along.
First of all, I strongly disagree that the Left was somehow less anti-Semitic than the Right. The only place where it applied to a very limited extent was the early years of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War, mainly because the Jews were often major figures on the Left. And even there the anti-Semitic atrocities committed by the Red 1st Cavalry Army were numerous and stopped only by the Army’s commissar Voroshilov, whose wife was Jewish. Later, during World War 2, according to some sources Soviet Partisan leader Ponomarenko issued orders not to accept Jews into partisan units (this varied from one instance to the next). The treatment of the Jews by the Soviet partisans described in "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans" by Nechama Tec, a book that tells the story of the Bielski brothers’ efforts to save as many Jews as they could. In Poland, according to the book I reviewed, as well as Dan Kurzman’s "The Bravest Battle", Polish Communist leader Gomulka also issued orders not to help Jews. In fact, according to both books, explicit orders to help the Jews came from the Polish Government in London, which controlled the Home Army. So, the amount of anti-Semitism was about equal on both Left and Right, as was the amount of help to the Jews. I am just trying to avoid giving the Left an undeserved credit.
I don’t think that Polish and Jewish nationalists found common ground in their respective nationalisms. I think the fact that the members of the ZZW were officers of the Polish Army and fought together with the Polish officers back in 1939 was much more significant for their cooperation. It is only natural: in an extreme situation, when survival is at stake, political considerations get replaced by the bond of combat, as they should.
Sultan’s analogy of white nationalists being OK with Israel, but still wanting to rid their countries of Jews, might be a good explanation of why European white nationalists are friendly to Israel. But I don’t think it applies to America. In this country white nationalists are aligned with Islamists. By the way, Sultan has a great analysis of the recent dispute within the anti-Jihadist movement.
The NKVD conspiracy may or may not be true, especially in view of Sultan’s recent revelation about the author of the article I mentioned in a private e-mail, but I don’t see how, even if it is true, it excuses post-war pogroms in Poland. After all, the fact that the pogroms in czarist Russia were often instigated by the government does not excuse the Russian anti-Semites.
Sultan mentions Russian military historians "claiming that Hitler was a Soviet agent". He must be talking about Vladimir Rezun, better known under his pen name of Viktor Suvorov. Suvorov indeed claims that Hitler was manipulated by the Soviets back in the 1920s, although I did not take this claim as meaning that he was consciously working for the Soviets. I think in this Suvorov takes his argument too far. But, for the record, I have to say that I subscribe to his theory that Stalin was getting ready to attack Hitler (this would not be necessarily bad). Suvorov describes his theory in "Icebreaker". In my opinion, this is the only theory that explains disastrous Soviet defeats in 1941 without portraying Soviet generals who eventually won the war in the East as complete idiots. This theory is also supported by the circumstantial evidence that I read about in sources totally unrelated to Suvorov, as well as stories my grandpa told me. But that is a subject of another discussion.
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I recently wrote a review of a book I have read: "Two Flags: Return to the Warsaw Ghetto" by Marian Apfelbaum. I submitted this review to the latest Jewish Blog Carnival. That is probably how a commenter by the name of Sultan Knish found me. His comment is 3rd there. He is a typical Jewish Conservative, with views very similar to my own. His blog is very good and nicely done. So it was very strange to read in his comment assertions typically coming from leftist Jews, not unlike frequent accusations of Christian Right of anti-Semitism. Although, I suppose I should not be surprised: I’ve heard many times from fellow Jews, including the ones from the former Soviet Union, who are usually on the Right, that anybody could potentially be an anti-Semite. So I would like to respond to his comment on the front page of this blog. I have to preface my response with this: Sultan Knish and I agree on more issues than we disagree on. In fact, we probably agree on almost everything. So this is a minor disagreement between friends (I am pretty sure we could be friends, had we met).
Sultan Knish begins his comment by asserting: "The Home Army was indeed anti-semitic". What is the basis of this assertion? Or, more to the point, what does it mean? Does it mean that Polish Home Army was an anti-Semitic organization, conducting anti-Semitic policies? Or does it mean that many its members were anti-Semites? Well, I have no doubts that many members of the Polish Home Army were anti-Semites. But so were many members of the US Army, and other Allied armies for that matter. Patton was known to say anti-Semitic things. But that does not make US Army anti-Semitic. As for the Polish Home Army policy regarding the Jews, that was most definitely not anti-Semitic. There is evidence that they did what they could under the circumstances. That includes evidence presented in the book I reviewed.
Sultan Knish also says that much of Poland was anti-Semitic. Again, it is true that anti-Semitism in Poland was rampant. But it is not fair to single out Poles for that. People often talk about Polish anti-Semitism, but forget about the Vichy French, who ran their own concentration cam in Drancy. People forget about Latvians serving in Arajs Kommando, Estonian SS Division, Lithuanian Nazis and Ukrainian SS Division. People forget about Dutch SS and Belgian SS. I am deliberately listing Nazis from the Allied countries. And those Nazis were quite numerous. So, in light of this, singling our Poles does not seem fair. Especially given the fact that among Righteous Gentiles Poles outnumber everybody else. This is really not surprising, since the Jews comprised about 10% of Polish pre-war population and since most of the Holocaust happened on Polish territory. But this also means that there were a lot of people willing to risk their lives to help the Jews, despite rampant anti-Semitism.
Finally, Sultan Knish brings up the notorious Kielce pogrom that happened after the war to prove general anti-Semitism of the Polish population. But there is no need to prove this: I agree that anti-Semitism was rampant in Poland. I mentioned that I read in a Russian-Jewish magazine an article that suggested that the Kielce pogrom was instigated by the Soviet intelligence (this is disputed in the Wikipedia link I referenced above). Even if that pogrom was indeed instigated by the Soviets, it does not mean that there were no Poles perfectly willing to kill the Jews in Kielce. Quite the opposite. The name of the magazine I read that article in is Alef (sorry, the link is in Russian). It is published by Chamah in New York. The author of the article was Vilen Lulechnik, a Jewish military historian from Russia, living in the US (sorry again, the link is in Russian again). But whether that pogrom was instigated by the Soviets or not, it is very hard to suspect the magazine and the author of the article in Polish nationalism. Suggesting that NKVD was involved in the post-war pogroms does not whitewash or excuse the original crime, but merely adds another set of criminals to already existing ones. Comparing my mention of an article in a Jewish magazine to Holocaust denial was a bit offensive (understatement here). It certainly was not my intent to whitewash the crimes of Polish anti-Semites. I am merely attempting to give credit where credit is due. Besides, the times have changed. After all, it was the Polish Members of the European Parliament who boycotted anti-Israeli anti-Semitic hatefest organized by UN. So, while condemning Polish anti-Semites, we should be grateful to those Poles who helped the Jews, who were and are on the side freedom, decency and Western Civilization.
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I wanted to add Book Reviews category to my blog for a while. Finally I got around to doing so. The book I have just finished reading and would like to review is "Two Flags: Return to the Warsaw Ghetto" by Marian Apfelbaum.
I learned about this book only recently when I was researching my post about the Polish Members of the European Parliament boycotting anti-Israeli anti-Semitic hatefest organized by UN. The title of the book refers to the well documented episode during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when the defenders of one of the fortified buildings in the Ghetto raised 2 flags: white-and-red Polish and white-and-blue Jewish. This book tells the story of a less known resistance organization in the Warsaw Ghetto called Żydowski Związek Wojskowy, or ZZW, which is Polish for Jewish Military Union. I first learned about ZZW when I read "The Bravest Battle" by Dan Kurzman. It was an organization formed by the Jewish officers of the Polish Army. They obviously had personal connections with the other Polish officers. Politically members of the ZZW were followers of my fellow odessit Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist Zionism, an ideology similar to the modern Likud party in Israel. Because of the personal links the ZZW members had with the Polish resistance and because they were not Communist, the ZZW received significantly more help from the Polish Home Army than the leftist-leaning ZOB. Political views of the ZZW members are pretty close to my own political views. So, I was very interested to read a book that tells their story.
So, what have I learned that I did not know before? Well, first of all it turns out that ZZW was founded much earlier than ZOB: November of 1939 vs. July of 1942. ZZW was not smaller than ZOB: about 500 core members, the same as ZOB. Thus, since ZZW was much better armed than ZOB and had better military training, they had to be much more effective. So, why did ZZW receive more help from the Polish Home Army than ZOB? I mentioned personal contacts and pro-capitalist ideology. But, as it turns out, it was more than that. ZZW was in fact a part of the Polish Home Army, so much so, that ZZW members were getting rank promotions from the Home Army. For example, the commander of ZZW, Dawid Apfelbaum, was a Porucznik (Lieutenant) in 1939. But during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising he held the rank of Captain, and after the uprising he was posthumously promoted to Major. By the way, to answer the obvious question, yes, the book author is related to the leader of ZZW.
Polish aid to ZZW was quite significant. The Poles formed a special unit dedicated to helping the Jews. It was ZOB whom they did not help much. And it is very hard to blame the Home Army for that. Besides ZOB pro-Soviet leaning, they were also viewed as political demagogues who would not be very effective soldiers. Given relatively limited resources of the Home Army (remember, they were operating in a country occupied by a ruthless enemy), it is hard to blame them for allocating their resources to ZZW, whom they had often seen perform in combat back in 1939.
The charge that ZOB were to a large extent political demagogues does have merit. ZOB was plagued by political in-fighting. The talks between ZOB and ZZW about uniting their efforts failed because ZZW suggested that combat leadership should have some combat experience. This suggestion seems very reasonable. But since combat veterans were members of ZZW for the most part, ZOB viewed this idea as a power grab. ZOB even went as far as calling their ZZW counterparts "fascists". Now it seems eerily similar to the present-day Left. The ZOB leaders were political leaders for the most part. On the other hand "ZZW recruited on the sole basis of previous military training, physical fitness and courage, deliberately seeking an apoliticalism that the left always found extremely suspect if not downright diabolical" (page 259). So, members of an armed resistance organization should have military training and courage and be physically fit?! What a revolutionary concept! ZZW in fact did not care much about political views of its members. For example, one of the ZZW units during the uprising was commanded by someone named Moishe the Bolshevik.
After the war the Communists took over in Poland. Thus, anybody associated with the non-Communist Home Army was a suspect. Most of the ZZW leadership died during the uprising. The fact that the leftist ZOB did not get enough attention from the Home Army suited the new rulers of Poland very well: now it was very convenient to accuse the Home Army of anti-Semitism. True Polish heroes, like Henryk Iwanski, whos 2 sons and a brother died while fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Jews during the uprising, were even initially jailed by the Communists. Many leftist Jewish historians in the West were happy to oblige the Communists. The Poles were accused of mass anti-Semitism. (As a sidenote, I read in a Russian-Jewish magazine that the post-war pogroms in Poland were in fact staged by the NKVD – the predecessor of KGB.) But while anti-Semitism was rampant in Poland, please tell me where it was not present at that time. Whenever someone like Henryk Iwanski would claim that they helped the Jews, these historians would dismiss such claim, saying that they are not confirmed by Jewish sources. In fact, Iwansky for a while was not recognized in Israel as a Righteous Gentile (it has been fixed since). And when people like Tadeusz Bednarczyk try to argue with such historians, they are accused of anti-Semitism. But even if Bednarczyk said something anti-Semitic in nature, still, he risked his life to help the Jews in Warsaw. As my favorite talk show host Dennis Prager often says, you know the man by his actions, not his words.
So, how is it all relevant today? Well, both then and now the Left demonizes its political opponents, even in the face of a ruthless enemy that would kill us all. Both then and now the Left is willing to lie in order to achieve some dubious political objective. This finally has to stop. Marian Apfelbaum says at the end of his book:
"Out of respect to the Warsaw ghetto uprising , the time has come to complete its history. As imperfect and provisional as this book may be, it is an attempt to break the silence".
To this I would like to add 2 more things. First, it is time to restore Poland’s honor. Second, it is time to finally realize that all the Left-Right political differences don’t mater when a ruthless totalitarian enemy is ready to kill us all.
Finally, read the book. I learned a lot from it and highly recommend it.
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Today I received an e-mail from my friend George Mellinger of Veteran-American Voices, an author and historian. His e-mail contained the links to 2 documentaries about Vietnam War, attempting to correct the misconceptions about that war and explain the role of the media during that war. Apparently they are being posted on YouTube in pieces and also available for download in full.
The first documentary is called "Vietnam War – The Real Story":
Full 1-hour version is available for download here.
The second one is called "Vietnam War – The Impact of Media":
Full 1-hour version is available for download here.
So, why is the history of Vietnam War important now? Because then, as now, our enemies used our Left and our leftist-dominated media to defeat us. We need to learn from history in order to prevent this from happening again. In conclusion, let me quote a journalist who participated in these documentaries, Robert Elegant. He wrote an article entitled "How to lose a war". Obviously, I highly recommend reading the whole thing. The article is full of "money" quotes. But here is the conclusion:
…As long as the "Viet Nam Syndrome" afflicts the media, it seems to me that it will be virtually impossible for the West to conduct an effective foreign policy. It is apparently irrelevant that the expectations of paradise after Hanoi’s victory evoked by "the critics of the American war" became the purgatory the Indochinese people have suffered. Just as many denizens of the antebellum American South did not know that "Damyankee" was really two words, an entire generation in Europe and the United States behaves as if "the dirty, immoral war in Viet Nam" were an irrefutable and inseparable dogma. Merely equate El Salvador (or any other American intervention) to Viet Nam — and not only the American public but all "liberal" Europeans will condemn it without reservation. That is all they need to know. In its final effect — what has over the last decade been called "the paralysis of political will "— it will make it especially difficult for the United States to honor any political commitment anywhere in the world where small and threatened nations may expect American support for their independent existence. Before they fall to an aggressor, they will have been victimized by "the Viet Nam Syndrome."
It has long appeared to me that the medical and legal professions enjoy one enormous advantage. If they err, doctors and lawyers may be blamed. Yet, except in the most flagrant cases, the client or the patient pays them again for correcting their mistakes — if they can, and if he can. But the media on Viet Nam, it has become blatantly obvious, have enjoyed even greater advantages. Even in the most flagrant cases, they have not been blamed. They have, rather, been acclaimed for their errors. Who can, ultimately, prove it otherwise? The peoples of the non-Communist world have paid dearly for these errors — and may well continue to pay.
Let’s just hope that we can defeat that "Viet Nam Syndrome".
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The reason I am writing on this subject is because some time ago I got an e-mail on this subject from from somebody I respect. Thus, although normally I would not dignify any conspiracy theory with an answer, in this case I felt that I needed to respond.
Friendly fire happens in wars. The Wikipedia article I link to lists numerous examples of friendly fire incidents throughout history. The most well known recent incidents are the accidental killing of 4 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and the death of Pat Tillman. It is always sad and tragic. In some instances friendly fire happened between future foes. For example, the highest-scoring Allied Ace Ivan Kozhedub is officially credited with 62 aerial kills. Yet his real score is 64. His 2 additional kills are American P-51 Mustangs. Apparently late in the war, while on a fighter sweep mission, he spotted a formation of American B-17 Flying Fortresses under attack by German fighters. He went in to lend a hand to the Allies and opened fire on the Germans. The Germans retreated, but Kozhedub found himself under attack by P-51 Mustangs escorting the bombers. Why? You see, Kozhedub flew Lavochkin La-7 fighter, which could be easily mistaken for the German Focke-Wulf FW-190. Look at the pictures for yourself:
Fig. 1. Kozhedub’s Lavochkin La-7.
Fig. 2. Focke-Wulf FW-190-A8. Spring of 1945.
In heat of battle it is pretty easy to mistake one of these aircraft for another. And if you have ever flown any Combat Flight simulator, you know that it is almost impossible to see the markings. Mustang was slightly faster than La-7, so the only way for Kozhedub to avoid being shot down by the unrelenting Mustangs was to shoot the Mustangs down. Unfortunately one of the Mustang pilots was killed. But the other managed to bail out and land in the area of Kozhedub’s airfield. When Kozhedub landed, he thought he was in huge trouble, but lucky for him, when the American pilot was asked who shot him down, he replied that he was shot down by a Focke-Wulf with a red nose. Thus, the incident was hushed up.
Sometimes friendly fire occurs when a party not participating in the conflict tries to gather intelligence on both sides. American Wayne Peake shot down an RAF Mosquito, while flying for Israeli Air Force during Israel’s War for Independence. The Mosquito was flying from Iraq. Aparently the British denied that they were flying there. So, an assumption that it was a hostile aircraft was very reasonable. There was another incident, also described here, when RAF Spitfires went down to the ground to look at the Israeli convoy just strafed by Egyptian Spitfires which fled the area. Needless to say, they were immediately engaged by the IAF, also flying Spitfires. 3 or 4 RAF pilots were shot down.
What all these incidents have in common is the fact that they are all regarded for what they are: unfortunate and tragic accidents that often happen in wars. There is however one such incident that is surrounded by conspiracy theories that even now, 40 years later would not go away. I am talking about the USS Liberty incident. Anti-Semites on the Left and on the Right are eager to scream about deliberate Israeli attack. For the Left this incident also presents a rare opportunity to be on the side of American military, just like the story of SS St. Louis gives them a chance to defend the Jews. In the case of SS St. Louis they get to defend the Jews, while blaming America. In the case of USS Liberty they get to defend American military, while blaming Israel. The incident was investigated in both countries. But it does not matter: the conspiracy lives on. Just like with 9/11 conspiracy theories, there people who believe that huge numbers of people in both countries are in on it. There are even people who actually justify a deliberate attack by Israeli forces on USS Liberty, as described on this conspiratorial site. Here the proponents of the conspiracy theory use a straw man argument, saying that those who justify the attack claim that USS Liberty was spying on Israel, and then go on to say that there were no Hebrew linguists on board, but only Arabic and Russian linguists. Yet then they go on to quote one of the survivors saying: "We heard their (Israeli pilots – Eric-Odessit) communications". So, which is it? The last time Israeli pilots communicated in English was during the War for Independence, when they all were American, Canadian and other British Commonwealth nationals. And those who were born in Israel, like Modi Alon and Ezer Weitzman, were RAF veterans. But in 1967 the language used by IAF was Hebrew. So, whatever survivors of the attack might have heard, they could not understand. In June NSA released the declassified intercepts of Israeli helicopter pilots participating in the rescue efforts. Here are the links to those transcripts in English:
It is very clear that the helicopter pilots and their commanders did not know who the ship belonged to, although by that time they were already worried that a tragedy had occurred. The fact that there are no intercepts prior to the rescue efforts suggests that indeed there were no Hebrew linguists on board, and Liberty was not spying on Israel. So, what the hell did the survivors hear? Read the rest of the NSA document dump. Apparently, USS Liberty was ordered out of the area, but somehow did not get the message. Yet, the Israelis were assured that there were no friendlies in the area. Now put yourself in the place of Israeli commanders. You are assured that the only ships in the area are hostiles. You know that your enemies are not shy about using illegal tricks, like flying false colors. You would order an attack even if if you did see the friendly flag. In fact, I suspect the ship would have been attacked even if it was flying an Israeli flag. And by the way, if you have a combat flight simulator (any of them), try attacking a ship in it. By the time you the flag, you’ll be crashing into the ship.
On the other hand, what would be the motivation for Israel to attack an American ship? The conspiratorial site I linked to, as well as other sites like that one, mention some tactical reasons for it. But again, put yourself in the position of Israeli leaders at the time. Your tiny country is surrounded by enemies. The country that was your sole supplier of sophisticated weapons, like aircraft, just decided that they would be better off if they were friends with the Arabs. Yes, that was France. They even used your preventive strike on your enemies preparing to attack as an excuse to stop the shipment of Mirage fighter that you had already paid for. Out of 2 world superpowers, one – the Soviet Union – is openly hostile and supports your enemies bent on your annihilation. The other superpower – the USA – is somewhat friendly. You would hope to cultivate that friendship, and you have a good chance to do just that, since the rival superpower happens to support your enemies. Why would you risk alienating America and blow your chance for American support, even if you think that an American ship is spying on you? Les Kinsolving of World Net Daily wrote a couple of articles on the subject. In one he wrote:
…the theory that Israel, during the Six Day War in 1967, would have deliberately attacked the U.S.S. Liberty is utterly preposterous.
It is as preposterous as the idea that Capt. John Paul Jones would have been ordered by Gen. George Washington to sink the French troop ships bringing soldiers and artillery to help us win our war of independence. (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit)
This is exactly my thought.
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