'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Week In Military History

Hmm, I was so busy watching Navy's OOHHHH so close loss to South Carolina, I completely forgot the significance of September 17.  Now, for the usual Civil War historian in me, I usually mark Sept 17 as the date of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in the Civil War.

But what I really should have remembered was that date as the beginning of the Battle of Arnhem in 1944.

This battle, the largest airborne drop and paratrooper battle in history, involving 3 Allied Airborne Divisions and 1 Independent Brigade was a fiasco from the start.  I can only imagine what the New York Times today would say about it!  Or some talking head on CNN......sigh.  So many brave men sacrificed for a flawed plan, poor execution, and plain bad luck.  In today's world, Monty might have been fired....which might not have been a bad thing...just sayin'

Of course, I wouldn't mention a battle without mentioning some of may favorite books.

The classic, of course is Cornelius Ryan's A Bridge Too Far, written in the early 1970s based on extensive interviews with the participants.  Ryan's account has never really been equaled or surpassed, in my opinion, and was made into one of my all time favorite war movies, the last truly well done Hollywood block buster patriotic movie that EVERYONE in Hollywood had a part, before they became all pinko commie tree hugging liberals...I mean seriously, can you picture Robert Redford in a movie about the Battle of Fallujah???? I didn't think so.

Ryan's book was kind of a door stop, and didn't offer a lot of strategic and operational analysis, but did present the soldier's eye view that made his earlier works some of the best military history of all time.

Recently a new book has emerged that attempts to capture more of a sense of the battle as a campaign than Ryan's book, and it succeeds in that sense, but it was generally not as satisfying as Ryan's.  Bennett presents a more complete picture and analysis of the battle, presenting what for me was the new information that the other two British Corps from British 2nd Army had a much bigger role in the battle alongside XXX Corps than Ryan captured in his book.  And, since it is the first really new book on the battle in almost 30 years, it does deserve some attention.

There are several division histories that cover the battle, particularly new histories of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division, and plenty of memoirs and "I was there" types of books.  Some of them are quite good, but not really about just the Arnhem operation.

But the real prize, as far as recent scholarship for me, was this book.  Kershaw looks at the battle entirely from the German perspective, a completely fresh take that really does a marvelous job of describing how the German Army in the West...routed and nearly destroyed during the retreat from France, comes very close to destroying the entire First Allied Airborne Army, and does effectively destroy the elite British 1st Airborne Division.  An excellent bookend to Ryan's book, this one is highly recommended.

So we should always remember these gallant soldiers from the sky, particularly those British lads who fought tanks and half-tracks with rifles and machine-guns while valiantly holding the Arnhem bridge for nearly 9 days.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rant for this week

So, I love to have intense political discussions with my office mate, who is a self-described
"moderate" and can't understand conservative politics.  Of course I tell him I define moderate as a liberal who's too wussy to say so, but I digress. 

When we begin discussing the 2012 GOP field, he expresses his dismay that many of them have {gasp} strong opinions on topics, particularly conservative opinions.  That got me thinking about how all the "pundits" and talking heads are saying the Bachmann is whacko or Perry is looney and it reminds me of 1980.  The chatteratzi tried to portray Ronald Reagan as a whacko or loon or just crazy old coot that would get us in a nuclear war with the Rooosians.

But a strange thing happened...the economy tanked, Reagan turned out to be not so scary and he went on to win two elections in landslides.  Could history repeat itself?  Well that's a good question, and it really depends on if the GOP wants to have an honest conversation with Americans and not treat them as amiable dunces like the Obamazombies usually do.

Here's what I mean:
1.  Does anyone honestly think Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are JUST FINE and don't need major overhaul?  Now, I'm not talking about throwing Grandma off the cliff, although that's usually what the Demagugeocrats do, but seriously, does anyone think that Americans, including Grandma, will continue to get those monthly checks in another 10 years?  NOT a chance.  Rick Perry at least had the guts to call Social Security what it is A PONZI SCHEME.  Only the most die hard New Deal Democrat actually believes there is a Social Security Trust Fund...cause brother, the Easter Bunny done made off with it had he and Santa Claus are livin' it up in Tijuana.  Major changes need to be made...and they will be wildly unpopular and really piss people off...but the alternative is worse....means testing, tax increases, raises in the eligibility and retirement ages...all will need to happen, and they will likely piss off every constituent group.

2.  Someone in the GOP needs to pledge that their first act in office will be to officially call for the repeal of Obamacare.  This disaster is going to not only wreck our economy and vastly increase the welfare state, but it was bad legislation that was rammed down our throats.  I would bet unemployment would drop 2 points just by removing this weight on businesses and government spending.

3.  Secondly, the GOP needs to pledge to roll back everyone of Obama's job killing environmental regulations, especially the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.  Again, the envirowhackos will scream about dirty air and dirty water, but really, does anyone think that will happen?  There are plenty of environmental regulations that do not have the taint of Obama politics and desire to destroy the oil and gas industry. Use the old Reagan tactic...:"Do you like paying $4 a gallon for gas when it was less than $2 when Obama took office?  Why do you think gas prices have doubled when consumption hasn't?"

4.  Finally, the GOP needs to hammer everyday from now to election day that GOVERNMENT does not create jobs or wealth.  Every dollar the government spends is either taxed or created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve.  ONLY private sector jobs and a lot of them will reduce our deficit, end our housing crisis and restore American confidence, not STIMULUS, QUANTITATIVE EASING or GREEN JOBS (green being the color of taxpayer dollars).  The entire edifice of Keynesian economics and the New Deal, along with the Great Society needs to be shown for what it is..a FAILURE who's time has come, as Ronald Reagan says to consign it to the trash heap of history.

So, that's my rant for the day....

More history later....