'87 Sir

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Battle of the Bulge-70 years later.

As many Americans go about doing their Christmas shopping...signing up for Obamacare...and wondering if they can now go to their corner coffee shop without some Islamic whackjob taking them hostage, it is time to mark the 70th Anniversary of the biggest battle the US Army ever fought...the German Ardennes offensive of 1944...popularly known as the Battle of the Bulge.

Since this is the 70th anniversary there have been many ceremonies, particularly in Belgium, and there have even been some interesting articles written.  And it is fitting that the world should mark this occasion, the last gasp of the Third Reich and the biggest victory in the US Army's history.

The magnitude of the battle is pretty hard to comprehend for modern Americans, especially those educated in the mish-mash social studies world of the American secondary and college education systems, where I'm sure it receives all of 10 minutes worth of attention...mentioned somewhere between the New Deal and the Great Society, no doubt.

But let's review---in this battle, About 19,000 U.S. soldiers died, and 47,500 were wounded and more than 23,000 missing...that means the of all US combat deaths in World War 2, 10% of them occurred in this single battle.

That is a staggering number.  In addition, nearly two full US infantry regiments were surrounded and captured by the Germans at the start of the battle...almost 6,000 US troops, the largest US mass surrender since Bataan in 1942.

However, at the end of the battle, the German Wehrmacht had suffered 100,000 casualties, and Hitler's last strategic reserve was destroyed.

Most American's today couldn't comprehend the staggering level of slaughter...we rightly mourn the loss of every service member in combat, but seem to come unglued at the fact that war involves death and destruction on an unimaginable scale...war is no video game.

Unfortunately, most of those old vets are gone, along with the valor and stories of sacrifice, hardship, and a mutual cause that united all Americans.  Their generation will be missed.  My godfather was one of them, and I have previously written about his service in the 82nd Airborne Division.  He never talked about the war or his service and I wish I had been aware of his service earlier to maybe get some hint of what he did in the war. 

And, of course, no Grouchy Historian blog post would be complete with books to go with the snark
and insightful observations.  I saw this book on Amazon a few months ago and decided to pre-order it.  I have read most of the classic accounts of the battle...John Toland, Charles MacDonald, and John McManus.  I was a little skeptical what else there was to know. 

Hmmm, well, guess again.  Dr. Caddick-Adams, a Brit no less, has written what could only be described as a revisionist history of the battle.  Now normally, this would make me CRINGE, but his narrative, thesis, and supporting research are hard to resist.  He debunks many myths and spears many sacred cows in the book--from the role of Ultra within the overall Allied intelligence failure, to the real reason Hitler launched the attack and why he chose the Ardennes...it's not the reason you think, Hitler was even more crazy than I thought.

This is truly a fresh look at this battle, well written, with excellent maps and illustrations.  What I really liked about this book was...well--the epilogue, where Dr. Caddick-Adams reviews the multitude of histories of the war, from the US Army official version (one of the so-called Green Books, written before the existence of Ultra was revealed) to the recent microhistories written by John McManus and others.  This was very interesting as he picks apart, in detail and with academic detachment, the good and bad part of each previous history and why he researched and wrote his history in the manner he did.

I do enjoy books that reexamine history and offer new insights, especially if they can do it without wandering into useless rabbit holes of gender, racial, social justice or some other prism of modern PC crap.  Sadly, even military history is not immune from this horrible virus.

Fortunately this book is still traditional military history, enriched with just a touch of psychology (Hitler-whackjob) and personalities (oyyy..Monty) to explain how the valor of the GI and Landsers still is worth telling.  I highly recommend it.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Blast from the past

 So I grabbed this from the library the other day. Guilty confession...I love to play 1 series of computer games called Combat Mission...yea..got it..old guy playing computer games, but everyone has to have some guilty pleasure...besides bacon. Well, I have been eagerly awaiting the new tactical simulation (ha, not a computer game like those ridiculous shoot 'em ups the under 30 crowd loves) that encompasses modern warfare in a near-future Ukraine. Or depending on Vlad the Impaler's mood...not so distant future--more on that later. 

ANYWAY, one of the so-called recommended readings for modern warfare discussed in the company's web forum was this book (yes, old guys get together on web forums to discuss military history books...color people surprised)...which I first read about 25 years ago...yup long freakin' time...when I kind of went through my Harold Coyle/Tom Clancy/Larry Bond/Dale Brown phase of reading.   
I call it the "Golden Age" of military and future war fiction--during the Cold War, before Operation Desert Storm, when your imagination could pretty much run wild as no one had any IDEA what a NATO/Warsaw Pact conflict might look like. Unless, of course, they were savvy military analysts and examined the Yom Kippur War, which offered a great deal of information to anyone smart enough to study it thoroughly, another topic for later discussion.
Well, I decided to pick this book up again and found that it really hasn't lost much in the 30 years or so since it was written.  Taut, realistic and in retrospect, pretty darn good at capturing the essence of modern combined arms warfare at the company or battalion level.  Of course like most military fiction of that time, it was long on toys and action, but short on characters, however, I have to say that this particular book did pretty well.  I think every book of that era was measured against Tom Clancy's landmark Red Storm Rising..still one of my all time favorite books, and this one did really well...it didn't hurt that it also sought for inspiration General Sir John Hackett's The Third World War...the granddaddy of all modern military fiction...written while Tom Clancy was still selling insurance.

Of course, we now know from combat experience in Desert Storm, particularly the Battle of 73 Easting that that the M1 Abrams tank was so far superior to the Soviet/Russian T-62 and T-72 tanks that in company sized actions, the M1 would have wiped out nearly all it's opponents.  However, not really knowing how superior the M1 really was, Coyle captures a really good essence in his descriptions of the battles. 

The scale and magnitude of the slaughter of modern combat comes through really well...even if on a micro scale.  In minutes, a tank company can slice through an unprotected mechanized infantry company or a well-sited tank company can wipe out a battalion worth of enemy vehicles in short order...both concepts clearly shown in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

All in all, it was an enjoyable trip down memory line...and a fine way of relearning that a well written story can stand the test of time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Grouchy Historian's Favorite Books of 2014

 We come to the end of another year of books, therefore, it's time for another edition of my favorite books, both fiction and non-fiction. 

Sadly my lofty goal of reading 36 books for the year was missed AGAIN, kinda like the Obamacare enrollment numbers. Oh, well...gives me something to shoot for again next year. Which hopefully will be a LITTLE more conducive to reading than this year was...oyyyyy.....

And NO, Hard Choices by Hillary "What Difference Does it Make?" Clinton did not make my fiction best-seller list.

Overall, I have to say this was not a particularly inspiring year for non-fiction. Although there was a continuing push of new material covering World War I, most of it covered the origins of the war, and perhaps the first six months of fighting. I know there was a bit more strictly military history at the end of the year, and I expect 2015 to produce many more volumes on the major battles of the war. 

Of note, I am heartened to see a new influx of materials on the American contribution to the final two years of the year, particularly the early combat actions of American troops in the spring of 1918.

And, it could also be that I just didn't get to many of the non-fiction books on my shelf as I spent the first quarter of the year studying for my PMP, and delved into some very technical reading (for Dummies, of course) on Big Data and Predictive Analytics. Ouch..
Anyway, without further ado, I think the best award for non-fiction should go to......drum roll please......

 Neptune-by my old professor Craig Symonds. Yup, although I gushed profusely about Rick Atkinson's magnificent Liberation Trilogy in another review...in terms of covering with narrative excellence and depth of research of a fairly neglected topic, Neptune was hard to beat. I have not read anything previously on the Navy's contribution to the Normandy invasion and this book not only did that well, but covered the whole issue of the role of amphibious shipping to the success of the Allied war effort and the key fact that the shortage or availability of "some damn thing called LSTs" was critical to the successful invasion of Europe. A good book for anyone looking for the whole story of the Normandy invasion.

Non-Fiction was equally challenging. I don't usually read a lot of non-fiction...I have my favored little band of authors and I don't deviate much. I have to say that JD Robb was particularly good this year with two excellent volumes...and of course I always enjoy the Heat-series of book tied to my favorite TV show. However, in terms of well-written plot and attention span keeping, I have to say my favorite book this year was.................Liberty 1784 by Robert Conroy. 

Well written and plausible alternate history is my favorite genre and Robert Conroy has really come into his own with his last two hard-backs. This particular book was scary realistic in its point-of-departure where the British win the Battle of Yorktown and nearly snuff the Revolution. Well written, with a cast of very interesting characters, it just beat out my other absolute literary addiction...the Monster Hunter series of books by Larry Correia. This year's Monster Hunter with Agent Franks was truly hard to put down, but was edged out...a little...hopefully Agent Franks won't be mad.

I am finishing up another couple of excellent books that may sneak onto my 2014 completed list...and of course, there is a bit of holiday down time to jump start my 2015 reading...I hope.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Whatever happened to Afghanistan? You know--Obama's GOOD War?

It's remarkable to not see, hear, or read anything about the conflict in Afghanistan.  I mean from 2004-2009 all the media did was provide a steady drumbeat of casualties, death, dying and blundering on the war in Iraq.  Since January 20, 2009...not so much from Afghanistan.

This was the war, if course that the highly qualified  and deep foreign policy experienced Senator from Illinois declared the good war and the war the U.S. should have been fighting and had to win.

However, in his new book, Bing West, former grunt, DoD official, and author has some interesting insights in this longest of American wars.

First of all, I have read several of Mr. West's books and found them to be pretty good, if somewhat overly kind to his fellow Marines.  What I mean is, in his book The March Up, covering the initial Marine invasion of Iraq in 2003, he glossed over the relief of one of the Marine Regiment commanders by General "Mad Dog" Mattis by stating he was "reassigned" to a flying command post.  Well that's not what happened, but I think in the general afterglow of the fall of Baghdad he wanted to spare a fellow Marine.  Kind, but not really honest writing.

However, that doesn't take away from his next two books on Iraq, one covering the Fallujah campaign of 2004 and the other a general look at the war from 2004-2009, which I thought were both very good.

Now he turns his attention to Afghanistan by examining the tactical level action in the two most lethal places in the country...the eastern border of Pakistan, specifically Nuristan Province, and the cradle of the Pashtun dominated Taliban, Helmand Province. 

He narrative is well-written and shows the challenges that small, often isolated groups of American riflemen faced dealing with a highly corrupt government in Kabul, indifferent and lax Afghan police and soldiers, and overly hostile villagers.  Like many authors providing a critical look at America's decade in this sheep infested hell-hole, West pulls no punches in stating that attempting to nation-build in this country was an impossible task.  From reading his book, I think LTG Dan Bolger would agree. 

What's surprising and shocking is that often the Americans were tactically and operationally out-maneuvered by the Taliban, who not only understood how to cynically exploit the American aversion to casualties and collateral damage by hiding behind women and children, but had a good understanding of using terrain and patience to wear down American platoons and companies in isolated mountain valleys.  Because there were never enough troops to truly pacify an area, or the will to root out Taliban cells regardless of collateral damage, a strange "live and let live" mentality took hold where all the Taliban had to do was not lose...to win...because the Obama Administration from the get-go stated we were leaving Afghanistan no matter what...by 2014. 

NOW of course, we find out that  Obummer lied about that too...seriously is there anything honest this Administration can do?

In a Shift, Obama Extends U.S. Role in Afghan Combat

Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions.

SO, I wonder when CodePink/MoveOn.Org and the Democratic Underground will start marching on Washington chanting -"Obama lied, kids died!"  Yea, don't hold your breath...anti-war movements are only for Republican Presidents, not the coolest, most awesome college professor President EVAH.

But, I digress............West pulls no punches and shows the impossibility of EVER winning in Afghanistan as long as the Taliban could slip across the border into Pakistan and regroup.  One would think that the U.S. would have learned from Vietnam the folly of giving their enemies a safe haven, and we sure as hell should never have trusted those duplicitous bastards in Pakistan that hid Osama for 10 years...but both the Bush and Obama Administrations tried to work with those back-stabbing sons-of-bitches.... practically ensuring that Afghanistan will fall back into warlordism and chaos.

But the American soldier and Marine certainly comes shining through in this book.  Patiently trying to conduct the principles of COIN in an impossible situation, the troops did their best and certainly killed a lot of bad guys...but...in the end...they couldn't overcome centuries of poverty, ignorance, and an ingrained hatred of anyone and everyone who comes from outside their tribal boundaries.

One can almost hear the ghosts of Geronimo and Sitting Bull as the U.S. troops fight a tribal war against the home team...only this time one that is supported by another country.

West also shows the chaos and anarchy at the top as a steady parade of U.S. commanders each fight their own version of COIN, nation-building, whatever, while dealing with an increasingly useless ally in Hamid Karzai, who is so corrupt he probably makes the old Diem regime in South Vietnam look saintly.  The inability to set clear goals and a coherent strategy made the grunt's life harder and ultimately contributed to the loss of support....as people asked.."What the hell are we doing there?" without a good answer.

West's book is pretty good, a quick read, and a harsh analysis of why the war in Afghanistan is going to hell in a handbasket.  While the media yawns, Obama goes into his last two years of lame duckness, and the Taliban sharpen their knives and wait.

Wonder what 'bamy will do when the Taliban ally with ISIS and starting turning their envious eyes toward Pakistan and it nuclear weapons?  Hmmmmmmmmmmm....probably say "FORE!"

Good book, pick it up...West has written a sequel of sorts focusing on a Marine battalion in the so-called Afghan Surge...it's in the queue

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Clausewitz, like eating bacon...never becomes common for me....

One of my favorite websites is The Diplomat.  A wonderful and often controversial collection of short, pithy posts about politics and diplomacy in the Far East, Pacific, and South Asia regions, it is a really excellent source of news and commentary.

And occasionally...military history.  While surfing the site the other day I came upon this little nugget

Now, normally I would be all over this like white on rice---because even more than revisionist history and turkey bacon, I despise know-it-all "strategic analysts" that take it upon themselves to trash my man Karl (or Carl, whatever) and I have lobbed plenty of typeface at them on this blog.

Just Can't Get Away from Clausewitz

Foucault, Clausewitz, Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, my!

 Of course I calmed down a little when I saw it was written by Dr.  James Holmes, a naval analyst that I do admire and appreciate.

SO, I read the article with an open mind and...was....intrigued. Not by what he said, but because I felt he could have said sooooo much more....Clausewitz is like my favorite buffet at Harrah's in New Orleans...there's always more to digest.

Here is Dr. Holmes basic thesis:

Clausewitz’s masterwork On War proclaims — uniformly — that war is a mere continuation of policy “with other means” (mit anderen Mitteln), or sometimes “with the addition of other means” (mit Einmischung anderer Mitteln). Nowhere in On War or his prefatory notes does the Prussian write “by” other means.

Yet this false quotation refuses to die. “By,” “with,” who cares? Well, any student or practitioner of warfare should. Substituting a two-letter for a four-letter word makes a big difference in how Westerners conceive of war. And as Clausewitz teaches, grasping the nature of war in general — and of the particular war we’re contemplating — constitutes the first, most fundamental, most crucial act of statecraft. Get the basics wrong and grim consequences follow.

Okay, so what?  Is the whole "by" or "with" a big deal....MAYBE....it depends

Dr. Holmes concludes with a pretty good dissertation about Clausewitz' theories on war, statecraft, and diplomacy, but doesn't really drive anything home for me...one of the challenges of a short web article I guess.

Pursuing political objectives “with” other means connotes adding a new implement — namely armed force — to a mix of diplomatic, economic, and informational implements rather than dropping them to pick up the sword. War operates under a distinctive martial grammar, in other words, but the logic of policy remains in charge even after combat is joined. In this Clausewitzian view, strategic competition falls somewhere along a continuum from peacetime diplomacy to high-end armed conflict. The divide between war and peace can get blurry.  
  Okay, I am certainly down with this concept. For Clausewitz, as with all late 18th and early 19th century military men, politics and war were inexorably linked.  Military men and politicians alike considered the PRIMARY duty of the monarch/government  was the conduct of war, diplomacy,  and peace, as it were. Wars were fought with regularity, usual for limited objectives, and were often preceded and followed by intense discussions about this province or that territory forfeited by the loser to the winner. 

This, of course, was one of the reasons that Clausewitz and his contemporaries were totally flummoxed by Napoleon---ol' Nappy went for the jugular and aimed for the total whup ass of his opponent....The last time the French really got the better of the Germans.

To be clear, Dr. Holmes is correct in his assertion that Clausewitz spent most of his magnum opus expounding on the differences between theoretical and realistic war, including his famous "Trinity of chance, reason, and violence"  and his axiom-"Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult."  

This was part of Enlightenment thinking I guess...discuss the theoretical, then describe the limits of its application in the real world. The trick to reading Clausewitz, besides reading it at least 4 or 5 times (sigh) is to be able to carefully discern his points separating the theoretical limits of war with the actual application to the human factor...which Clausewitz, being a man ahead of his time, was quick to recognize..unlike his contemporary Jomini who wanted to make everything in war about science and mathematics...use the right formula with the right inputs and WHAMOO victory is assured...only not so much.  

My man Clausewitz well understood the psychological factors in war and was the first to clearly state in his own book that no formula or certainty exists in war.  HOWEVER, he was wise enough to say a good general reads and studies military history....

So, hopefully he will continue this discussion...the theology of Clausewitz, to misuse a term, bears much discussion, thoughtful consideration and constant questioning of assumptions--anything that sparks more discussion of Clausewitz is fine by me.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

The best trilogy of WWII in Europe...period.

I just finished what is...in my opinion, the finest history of World War II in Europe from 1942-1945...period.

Rick Atkinson, former reporter for the Washington Post and 2-time Pulitzer Prize winner (one of them for the first volume in this series) has written what I consider the magnum opus of military history on America's involvement in the liberation of Europe.

This trilogy will become to World War II what Shelby Foote's masterpiece on the Civil War is to the history of that conflict--the definitive must-read account of the greatest and most costly conflict ever waged by the United States.

Ok, enough gushing right? Well, I can't say enough. These books are magnificent on every level: the depth of research, the prose and narrative, the outstanding maps (never to be under estimated, I love maps and hound any history book, especially military history that has poor or nonexistent maps), and the willingness of Mr. Atkinson to address heretofore unspoken aspects of popular or official histories of the war. 

Some of these are expected, even if not previously expanded upon in official histories--the constant bickering and clash of personalities within the Allied high command (British Field Marshall Montgomery comes off as "that British sumbitch" as my father used to call him...and that's being charitable), and Atkinson pulls no punches in describing the often petty arguments that threatened Allied unity.

Other unsavory topics are also honestly discussed, including the often rampant drinking, screwing, and looting of GIs across Europe. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the "Greatest Generation" was not above a bit of seamy behavior...which certainly doesn't diminish their heroism and in fact, makes what they did even more remarkable because they were not mythical supermen, but ordinary men who were both cowards and heroes, and sometimes just wanted a hot meal, bottle of hooch, and to get laid after intense and deadly combat.

To put things in proper perspective, the sheer scale of the combat that many of these men endured is remarkable. Many of these men served for three years overseas and saw combat in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France, often serving for months in continuous combat. Mr. Atkinson does an excellent job of weaving individual stories of personalities into the narrative, relating the march of participants across many campaigns and theaters of war, where often the only relief from combat was serious injury or death.

Even though each volume runs to over 700 pages with notes and bibliography, Mr. Atkinson's magnificent prose makes these truly a joy to read. I know I have written individual reviews of two of these volumes before:

Day of Battle

Guns of Last Light

But I had to take the opportunity to read all three of them together...and wow, that is so much better...you can really get a sense of the progression of the American war machine from the bumbling amateurs of Kasserine Pass to the awesome killing machine of the Battle of the Bulge.

So, if you enjoy well written World War II history, this trilogy should be on your bookshelf.


'Nuff said.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What do Abraham Lincoln and Buddy the Elf have in common?....

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Abraham Lincoln

Clearly this is not a favorite saying of Barrack Obama or the Democratic Party these days....
Or as my not so favorite elf says.

Yup, not that you would know it from the sycophants of the modern liberal media, but the entire Obama Administration has been built on lies and half-truths...and now...SIX years later, their curtain of deceit is finally falling away.

Sadly, it's too late, as the Golfer-in-Chief still has two years to try and rule by executive edict and race-baiting, but at least maybe....just maybe, Americans will be more skeptical of the media election by acclamation of Hillary "kill all Bill's bimbos and let God sort them out" Clinton.

Of course, none of this comes as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention and who doesn't consider John Stewart, Stephen Colbert or ABCBSMSNBCNN a viable news source.

For those of us paying attention, we always knew that the entire Democratic establishment lied, lied, and lied some more to pass Obamacare, and they still had to use dubious parliamentary maneuvering to pass it in the dead of night.

Now of course, the truth really does come out in the form of TV interviews of a prime Obamacare architect saying..to paraphrase Nancy "Where's my Botox" Pelosi--"We had to lie about the bill to pass the bill to see what we lied about putting in it."

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," he said during a panel discussion at the University of Pennsylvania in October, 2013. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the 'stupidity of the American voter' or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.....In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed," he said. "You can't do it politically, you just literally cannot do it. It's not only transparent financing but also transparent spending."
Of course, the usual lefty crowd have no problem with these lies...

It's true that the average Joe didn't know anything about this, but not because the average Joe is stupid. It's because most people simply don't pay attention to this stuff even slightly. The fraction of the electorate that cares about the minutiae of policymaking could be stored in a pickle jar. That's just life.
So America, since we're too stupid and don't pay attention enough to be brilliant policy wonks like liberals...well we got a fast one pulled on us, huh?

Not that we are paying attention, because most of us just found out our health insurance is not less expensive, has higher deductibles, and less access to doctors and hospitals---Let's pick our favorite Obamacare lie, shall we?

1) Obamacare won't pay for abortions or force anyone to pay for abortions

2) If you like your doctor or health insurance plan, you can keep it

3) It will reduce your premium by $2500

4) It will cost LESS THAN $1T over 10 years.

5) All of the above

I pick 5....yup they were all lies.

How about another excellent Obama lie---Benghazi was all about a video...OSAMA IS DEAD AND GM IS ALIVE!

Yea, that was one of my favorites too...just a stupid enough bumper sticker phrase that even "Lunch bucket" Joe Biden could remember it.

Now of course, the ugly truth comes out...ISIS was forming, Syria was falling apart and Iraq was descending into chaos...OH, yea and Libya, that awesome "lead from behind" unconstitutional war that Obama started, as opposed to that warmongering George W Bush, yea Libya's coming apart at the seams too.

So now we read that "Commando" Barry Obama is going to send troops back to Anbar Province Iraq...you know that awful, awful, bad place that no patriotic left-leaning American wanted anything to do with to.......fight ISIS and those pesky Islamic "extremists"  (oh, liberals wonder, why do they hate us so?)   The same ISIS murdering thugs that had the temerity to interfere with Obama's tee time by beheading an American journalist....at least as long as it took Barry "Par Five" Obama to change from his business suit to his golf pants.  

ANNNDDD, just because Barry and his socialist, collectivist minions want to take over and censor the Internet...yup...cuz dissent cannot be tolerated in the Worker's Paradise...can't have anyone not worshipping the Anointed Affirmative Action One...we have an announcement by Barry "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" Obama to...wait for it...regulate the Internet as a "common carrier" service.

Now, not that I have anything against Net Neutrality as a concept...I am just skeptical of three-lettered government agencies...IRS, EPA, NSA, FEC, FCC trying to decide what is or isn't in the public good.

Yup the nexus of the FCC declaring the Internet a "common carrier" combined with the DEMOCRATIC member of the FEC wanting to regulate political speech on blogs (oops, think they mean me?) is just a little unsettling, given this Administration's record of persecution of dissent and desire to impose North Korean-level political correctness on average Americans like yours truly.

So. let's stop kidding ourselves. Liberals lie because they think the rest of us are stupid...and racist...and xenophobic, and misogynist...and well, because they are just smarter and better than us so we need to just sit down, shut up, and let them tell us what to do, what to think, what to say and who to hate....

NOPE, don't think so...the wool fell from this Grouchy Historian's eyes a long time ago. I don't trust any Democrat these days;

Joke---How can you tell when a Democrat is lying....THEIR LIPS ARE MOVING

Oldie but goodie...about the only fun thing about watching liberals lie is when they lie to cover up the lies they told in the first place...which can lead to some pretty interesting mangling of the English language...remember the old joke about the man caught in bed with another woman by his wife---"WHO are are going to believe...me or your eyes?"

Well, I for one, have my eyes wide open and can only hope that enough decent Americans will put  fear into the rest of the Democratic Party that Obama is about to Thelma and Louise them right over the cliff and stop his executive order dictatorship...nahhhhhhhhhhhhh, who am I kidding....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Well written history...not so much of an analysis

In my never ending quest for good history of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars I came across this book, written by that modern rarity--a serving military officer that can write decent military history.

Although LTG Bolger is now retired after a very busy 35 year career, he has taken a crack at analyzing the Global War on Terror.
The best part about reading this book is that I received a review copy courtesy of my book loving colleagues at the New York Journal of Books...and my official review is posted there.

HOWEVER,  as Paul Harvey says, now for the rest of the story.

I didn't include these little snippets as they are my own snarky observations and not really part of a formal book review.

A)  I think LTG Bolger is FAR too nice to the bumbling keystone kops of the Obama Administration.  No matter what liberal talking head says to defend the collapse of American Middle East foreign policy on his watch..the U.S. won in Iraq.  It was ugly and messy but in 2011 when Obama retreated from the most critical country in the Middle East for no strategic reason, merely to satisfy his rabid MoveOn/Code Pink base, Iraq was functional.  Yes, it was a mistake to leave Maliki in office, and I think Bolger tries not too subtly to say we should have backed Allawi in the 2009 election, but overall Iraq could have been a stable bulwark except for Obama's rabid, insatiable desire to brand the war a failure and retreat.  Imagine how differently the whole Syria/ISIS debacle might have been in US forces had been able to stop Iranian resupply of Assad and perhaps bring the Syrian crisis to a close quickly in 2011.  Hmmmm....

B)  Although he tries to hide it...a little, ol Dan Bolger takes more than a few swipes at his fellow generals.  He uses a lot of left-handed compliments to be sure, but it appears to this  Grouchy Historian that he is no fan of David Petraeus (yes the man had more than a little hubris and a loose zipper), thinks Stan McChrystal got a raw deal from the media (yes he did...that little turd from Rolling Stone wrote a real hit piece), yet he doesn't really talk about himself at all.  NOW, this might be a good sign of humility...YET, in the introduction to this book he offers a huge mea culpa as one of the generals that lost these wars....but he doesn't offer any real confession. 

C) As I mentioned in my formal review...our retired LTG is NO FAN at all of COIN, nation-building, or armed democracy building.  In retrospect, I kind of agree with him...trying to drag a bunch of sheep herding, pot smoking fanatics who cling to their religion and guns into the 20th century..or shoot even out of the 7th century is a losing cause.  AND NO, for any liberals reading this, I am not talking about West Virginia, but Afghanistan.  I kinda endorse his roundabout way of saying the U.S. needs to relearn the joys of the punitive expedition, to wit: 
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state.
Basically, the U.S. should whistle up some B-2s, B-52s, and B-1s....bomb the crap out of anyone who looks like a terrorist--rinse, repeat.  Or if you like your death more discriminating...use drones.  DON'T use 10,000 Marines to chase a bunch of morons with AK-47s and RPGs down the alleyways of the souk. I can certainly get behind this.  Islamic knuckleheads will never give us their hearts and minds...so we can just blow them to tiny smithereens when needed and keep GI Joe at home.  Sounds like a plan.

As a history book, it was pretty decent...our LTG does not shy away from telling messy tales of GIs breaking under pressure and occasionally doing bad things or dealing with bad situations with grace and courage.  Certainly on a tactical level the LTs, CAPTs, and SGTs did their jobs...they were just asked to do too much with too little for too long to achieve impossible goals.

As a strategic analysis...eh, not so much...I wanted at least a laundry list of what our culpable LTG thought went right and wrong...what to fix and do or not do in the future...after all, I thought that's what the title promised.  I didn't get that and the book just kinda of petered out for me....I may not have agreed with his conclusions, but I at least wanted to read some.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just when I thought liberals had hit rock bottom.....

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

George Orwell
Ok, so as you read the rest of this post...keep referring to that quote.
I was doing my usual scan of news headlines, political punditry and Grumpy Cat photos when I came upon what is without a doubt the biggest piece of garbage ever written by Salon.com---a website that has become almost a self-parody of liberal thought and a nest of idiotic poltroonery. 

 I almost hate to include a link since I wonder if this moron is just waving the red flag to veterans to try and generate some buzz for this useless website and his clearly left-wing bias and stupidity.  However, since it's out there in the 'verse, I figured I had to weigh in.
So let's start with his introduction:

"Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.” "

 So already this "journalist" has girded his loins with the usual race-baiting of the liberal left and not only denigrated the military, but cops....read on and you know why:

"It has become impossible to go a week without reading a story about police brutality, abuse of power and misuse of authority. Michael Brown’s murder represents the tip of a body pile, and in just the past month, several videos have emerged of police assaulting people, including pregnant women, for reasons justifiable only to the insane."

Ah, yes, the Gentle Giant of a Pot Smoking 300 pound crazy man of Ferguson...can't wait to see what he says if the grand jury decides the cop shot him in self defense....maybe he'll go loot a 7-11 with all his hommies.

BUT, it goes on...like a bad case of gonorrhea....

"An understandable reason for calling all troops heroes, even on the left, is to honor the sacrifice they make after they die or endure a life-altering injury in one of America’s foolish acts of aggression. A more helpful and productive act of citizenship, and sign of solidarity with the military, is the enlistment in an antiwar movement that would prevent the government from using its volunteer Army as a plaything for the financial advancement and political cover of the state-corporate nexus and the military-industrial complex of Dwight Eishenhower’s [sic]nightmares."

First of all, it might improve his idiotic rant if he could spell correctly...clearly a product of the modern American public education system...it's Eisenhower...moron.

And yes, let's talk about that anti-war movement...it seems to have pretty much disappeared after January 20, 2009, no?  I don't recall seeing thousands of people protesting Obama's illegal war in Libya, his weak-kneed and useless "surge" in Afghanistan, or his reintroduction of American troops to Iraq?  Where is the MoveOn.Org/Code Pink/ Hippie anti-war left....why no chats of "Hey, Hey, Barry O, how many troops did you kill today, Yo?"
That's because the anti-war movement is just another faction of the modern Democratic Party and has nothing to do with being anti-war, just anti-George W Bush.  Obama got more GIs killed in Afghanistan than Bush and has certainly kept the U.S. in a Middle East quagmire...to use a favorite lefty term...so where's Cindy Sheehan?  Nowhere to be found... because the anti-war movement is another lefty fraud.

 And, of course, no lefty screed would be complete without the required moral equivalency of being a veteran to being...........yes, a community organizer.

"The assignment of heroism, exactly like the literary construct, might have more to do with the assignment of villainy than the actual honoring of “heroes.” Every hero needs a villain. If the only heroes are armed men fighting the country’s wars on drugs and wars in the Middle East, America’s only villains are criminals and terrorists. If servants of the poor, sick and oppressed are the heroes, then the villains are those who oppress, profit from inequality and poverty, and neglect the sick. If that is the real battle of heroism versus villainy, everyone is implicated, and everyone has a far greater role than repeating slogans, tying ribbons and placing stickers on bumpers."

 So, let's hear it for community organizers, social workers and Occupy Wall Street protesters!!! They are heroes too!

Really?  So clearly everyone gets a trophy again, huh?  Keep their self-esteem up, huh?  I wonder if this moron has everyone been a part of anything bigger than himself...ever sacrificed for anything beyond his no-whip, soy, half calf latte or whatever.  Or is he just another whiny self-indulgent Millennial who bought into the hope and change crap.

HERE's a better idea this Veteran's Day...go thank a World War II vet while you can, they are almost all gone...or a Korea Vet or a Vietnam Vet or a Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan vet...tell them how much you appreciate their sacrifice, even if dipshits like David Masciotra don't think their wars were righteous enough. 

While you're at it, thank anyone who served during the Cold War...maybe we never had to fight the Commies, but we sure whipped 'em....and allowed ignorant but college educated idiots like this guy to make a living writing drivel for Salon...I mean seriously, his resume reads:  David Masciotra is the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (forthcoming, University Press of Kentucky). He writes regularly for the Daily Beast and Splice Today. 
WOW, he writes biographies of singers!!!!   Bring on the Pulitzer Prize!  Oh, wait, he probably will win a Pulitzer Prize...in a box of CrackerJacks...like Obama's Nobel Peace prize.
Since we can't actually send this idiot and the editorial staff of Salon.com to Anbar Province alone for a few weeks with only their iPads and liberal moral superiority to see how much they need those white men with uniforms and guns to rescue their whiney selves from evil men wishing to separate their empty heads from their tattooed and flabby selves, let's just sum up with one of my favorite movies lines from one of Jack Nicholson's greatest characters...Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men.    I know this drives liberals nuts...but that's okay...I am one of those EVIL conservatives that keeps Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders awake at night:

And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
Happy Veteran's day to all who served...and thank you for your service.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Strategy or tactics? Which one wins wars?

The argument over "who had the best army" in World War 2, seems to be as eternal as the ol' "Tastes Great!" "Less Filling!" beer commercials of old.   As I recently described in my last review on a book defending the British Army in Northwest Europe, seventy years of scholarship do not seem to have settled this issue.

Which brings me to this little volume, written in the early-80s by Martin van Creveld, and still a popular volume with those continuing this debate. Dr. van Creveld makes no bones about his viewpoint that the Wehrmacht was tactically superior to its opponents during World War II, but---I---frankly---am not convinced.

He does a thorough comparison of various aspects of the American and German armies, from doctrine, to officer training to the rewards and promotion system. In all aspects, he considers the German Army, long a pillar of first Prussian and then German society to be far superior to the American Army, which languished in peacetime and was forced to experience a painful process of rapid expansion and equipping to fight both World Wars.

At the company, battalion, and even up to the division level, his argument is hard to refute...for most of the war...probably until late 1943 or early 1944, the German Wehrmacht was the better tactical army. However, the lack of a comprehensive and winnable strategy...outlined in excellent books on the Germany army in 1942 and 1943 by another of my favorite authors, Dr. Robert Citino, tore the guts out of the German army and by 1944, the Allied armies were in many was more operationally and tactically superior.

Using a well developed statistical methodology, Dr. van Crevald, shows that German forces inflicted more casualties on their Allied opponents. However, as the ol' saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics, and there are some significant shortfalls in the logic and methodology he uses:

1) Wars are not one by companies, battalions, or even divisions, but by corps, armies and ultimately army groups. In addition, modern wars are won using airpower, seapower, and landpower in a coalition environment. Here the Allies clearly outshone their Axis opponents, although not without some significant and painful lessons learned.

2) Campaigns are not won by single engagements but across the entire battlespace. Allied superiority in air power, naval power, and artillery was often enough to turn the tide in critical situations such as Salerno, Cassino, and Normandy.  In addition, the old saying that amateurs talk tactics while professional talk logistics seems to be very much overlooked or minimized by Dr. van Creveld in his analysis.  The Germans were tactically brilliant, but often began offensives with no clear idea how to sustain them...thereby quickly reaching what Clausewitz termed the "culmination" point where the offensive simply ran out of steam and could no longer be maintained...think Operation Blue in Southern Russia in 1942 or the Ardennes Offensive of 1944 where the German army simply wished or assumed that vital fuel, food, and ammunition would appear to maintain the panzers.

Dr van Crevald, in my opinion, minimizes or denigrates the role of logistics and firepower in modern warfare...as the story goes, maybe the Germans were better fighters, but they were often buried under bombs, artillery, and naval shells that often stopped German efforts in their tracks. By 1944, the argument can be made that Allied divisions measured up quite well against their German counterparts, especially when you consider the fact that the statistical analysis used in this book used a lot of fighting from the Italian theater, where, quite frankly, the best Allied divisions were not deployed.

No offense to those brave veterans, but there really is no comparison of the divisions assigned to Normandy with those assigned to Italy, especially after the more veteran units were siphoned off from the Mediterranean to England for Operation Overlord.

There seems to be a lot of cheery picking comparing Allied infantry divisions with German Panzer or Panzer Grenadier divisions. NOT exactly an apples to apples comparison. I wonder what a comparison of American versus German divisions in the Battle of the Bulge might have shown, hmmm? Or a comparison of German divisions with the 82nd or 101st Airborne?

Ultimately wars are won by strategy and the gathering of all the elements of statecraft to provide a winning war machine. Again, here the Allies clearly were significantly better than their opponents.

This book is often quoted to show the shortcoming in the American Army and the operational dominance of the Wehrmacht, but in the end, the Germans did lose, so the argument seems a moot point...however, as I have learned in my extensive study of military history, the German Army's reputation was built up after the war and much of their doctrine, particularly defensive fighting against the Russians was adopted by the Cold War U.S. Army.  Therefore, the assumption of German tactical superiority has remained for nearly 50 years and is only now being challenged.

I think there is a lot more to be said on the subject.  This is a good volume to start the debate, but in my opinion, is not the definitive answer.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A somewhat defensive view of Monty and his men.

World War 2 history is one of my favorite things...right up with Bacon, John Wayne movies, and eating bacon while watching John Wayne movies.

Recently I have tried to broaden my research to some of those roads less traveled in my library, so to speak, and finally got around to reading this Christmas present...yes, it has been that kind of year.

Mr. Buckley, a true and loyal subject of the Queen, tries to disprove the generally, but not universally, held view among military pundits that the British army was not up to tactical snuff, as it were, when compared to their Wehrmacht counterparts in World War II.  Numerous critiques have been written by highly regarded military historians such as Max Hastings and Carlos D'Este that postulate that the British army was rigid, plodding, and not suited to the high speed mechanized warfare characteristic of World War II.

Mr. Buckley takes strong exception to this, noting quite correctly that the British (and Americans, and Russians) did win the war after all, so they must have been doing a lot right.  However, he seems very defensive in his thesis and quite frankly, has a difficult time making his case.

He makes two interesting observations from the top British leadership that, in his opinion, drove ALL British operational and tactical thinking leading up to June 6, 1944 and beyond...which as he rightly notes, caused a bit of schizophrenia in conducting military operations.  First, Britain had to make a contribution to the Allied victory be engaging and defeating the German military...however, it had to do so with minimal casualties so Britain had an army left after the fighting to keep a seat at the peace table.

By 1944, the American ascendancy in the Western Alliance was pretty much complete, with Ike at the top and the ratio of American to British divisions getting more pronounced every month.  The British, after nearly 5 years of war, were literally running out to troops and needed to preserve as much military power as possible to not only get a seat at the peace table, but ensure the maintenance of the Empire.  This led to an emphasis on firepower over manpower, the dominance of logistics, and the aversion to risky battles that would remind senior leaders of their time at Passchendaele and Ypres in World War One.

AND, of course, there was the influence of Field Marshal Montgomery,  Britain's most influential and notable soldier since Wellington.  Interestingly the author doesn't seem to be enamored with ol' Monty and shows many times how his ego and quest for glory clashed with this American counterparts and put severe strains on the alliance.

Mr. Buckley defends British actions in an interesting manner.  While the British seemed to get bogged down opposite Caen in the weeks following D-Day...launching several futile offensives that usual ended in a bloody slog, he states that the British caused many German casualties (and British ones too) and paved the way for the eventual American breakout and the defeat of the German army in Normandy and subsequent dash across France.  His points about the almost, sorta kinda, successes of attacks such as Operations Goodwood and Epsom seem a little weird, frankly...clearly Monty intended them to be fully successful, not half successful and trying to defend them as anything other than failures seems disingenuous.

Mr. Buckley does offer a blistering critique of Market-Garden which is pithy and well deserved.  The Allies got victory fever in the fall of 1944, and Monty's desire to out-do his American counterparts and march the British into Berlin seems as nuts now as it should have then.  Monty's ego and Ike's wishy-washiness combined to wreck three good airborne divisions and restore German confidence in the fall of 1944.  As Mr. Buckley does correctly point out, logistics alone would have prevented the war from ending in 1944, even before the short-sighted decision to launch Market-Garden instead of clearing the approaches to Antwerp.

Finally, Mr. Buckley tries to offer a balanced assessment of how well the British mastered the modern art of combined arms warfare, with mixed results.  Very often it seems, at least from my reading between the lines, that the British still loved their World War I doctrine of using artillery to clear a path through the enemy for the infantry to follow with their support tanks.  Clearly American generals like Patton understood the cavalry aspects of armored formations as did the Germans, while the British just seemed uncomfortable from departing from their artillery security blanket...so to speak.

As Mr. Buckley points out...Monty could fight a set piece battle better than anyone, and his crossing of the Rhine was probably his magnum opus of the war....yet the Americans hurled themselves headlong over the bridge at Remagen and got over the Rhine with much less fuss.

I actually liked this book, understanding the bi-polar needs of the British army from a political need to minimize casualties versus the military need to win the war makes a lot of decisions more understandable.  I am NOT convinced that the British Army become some tactically adept force, rather I think, as does Mr. Buckley, that the British won through superior firepower and logistics to try and play to their strengths will minimizing their opponents.  While not always elegant or dashing, their army did win and contributed mightily to the final Allied victory.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A book that tries too hard....

This book was highly recommended on Amazon and since I take a keen interest in all things dealing with strategy, thinking about strategy, and thinking about how to think about strategy, I picked it up.

It was good but not great, offered some interesting insights, but no huge revelations, and overall didn't really wow me as much as I thought it would.

In the end, I would say I think the author tries too hard to take a good 100 page doctoral thesis and stretch it out to a 200 page book.

So, what insights does the book offer?  Well, the one that really caught my "hmmmm" was the critique on Clausewitz (cuz you know how I love me some Clausewitz) and how the binary model of Clausewitzian warfare is no longer really applicable.  Fortunately for this author he pays due homage to the masterpiece that is On War...unlike some other poltroons that I have critiqued, but he does raise some very fine points about how warfare is waged today within the overall context of waging war.  AND no, the two are not synonymous.

Mr. Simpson's primary point is that in a world of global media and interconnectedness, two parties waging war are not merely waging combat on each other, they are creating two different narratives of the conflict and then trying to sell them, as it were, to many different audiences, whether it's domestic populations, international organizations, or other countries.  This may seem intuitive on the surface, however, it is a subtle distinction lost on many Western militaries designed to smash the opponent and win military victories.  While this is indeed the job of military forces, in today's world, it's not enough. 

Witness the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel.  Hamas, a terrorist organization, labeled even by THIS administration as a terrorist organization, launches waves of rockets and missiles at Israel.  Israel uses its superior technology to shoot down these weapons, sparing their civilian population and launches a punitive expedition (my term, which I really like!) to wipe out these missile launchers, kill Hamas fighters and leaders, and send a political message to stop launching missiles into Israel. 

From a military point of view, this is a magnificent victory, the Israel Defense Forces protect their people and counter-attack against their enemies.  Sounds logical right?  BUT, in the weird world of leftist, socialist, terrorist loving politics of the UN and far too many useful idiots in America---ISRAEL is the aggressor bombing the poor, helpless Palestinian people.

Why is this so?  Messaging...and the West better wake the hell up because we are doing a horrible job defending Western Civilization and pointing out loud and clear what an evil Islamo-fascist groups like Hamas and ISIS murdering thugs are...but I digress.

Mr. Simpson makes some other interesting points that all orbit around this main thesis, but the book becomes somewhat repetitive and redundant and even the case study he uses seems somewhat contrived.

It was a good book, not as good as the recent work by Hew Strachan, but it has some valid points...fortunately I am good at skimming!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A marvelous mix of science fiction and alternate history

Allen Steele is one of my short list of favorite sci-fi authors.  I read a number of his early works, which were a marvelous mixture of Robert Heinlein and Ben Bova.  One of his earlier short stories was an excellent "what-if" story of the space race occurring not between the Soviet Union and the U.S., but the U.S. and Nazi Germany during World War II...the ultimate space contest between Robert Goddard and Werner Von Braun...space geek fantasy football, as it were.

As Steele explains in the afterword to this book, he tried to make this short story into a movie, which didn't work out, so he wisely decided to make it into a full length novel.   This short and intense read is an excellent combination of sci-fi and alternate history, two of my favorite fiction categories.

Blending real people like Robert Goddard and Werner Von Braun with lots of outstanding fictional characters, Steele also does an excellent job of integrating Nazi visions of technology and gadgetry, and they were far, far ahead of
anything the Allies had in almost every category:  jet planes, rockets, missiles, tanks..you name it, German engineering had a "super-weapon" and Steele seamlessly blends the technology into the story all the way.  

Told in a blend of flashback and current times, it is an excellent summer read...light, fun, and totally engaging...almost, I say ALMOST as good as my favorite Monster Hunter books.  How good was this book?  Well, I pretty much devoured it like a bag of Fritos..reading it in about 2 days.

If you like science fiction, read this book..even though you already kinda know how it will end, the journey is still well worth the trip.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Excellent World War I Anthology

There have been many recently published books on World War I, with the current wave composed primarily of volumes dealing with the beginning of the war.

Sir Max Hastings has written a marvelous book about those first months of 1914, reviewed here by yours truly.  Another of my favorite British military historians, Sir Hew Strachen, has also taken a keen interest in this war and has written a doorstop on the beginning of the war, that is on my to-read list...someday...when I have a lot of time...it's quite the door stop.  Sir Hew is also quite the strategic thinker, and has also written an excellent volume on many current issues facing western militaries in the post Afghanistan era..also reviewed by yours truly.

In this book, recently re-published for the 100th anniversary of the start of the "war to end all wars", Sir Hew Strachen has updated his excellent anthology of essays covering all aspects of this highly important conflict and written by a gaggle of top historians.  I will say that this is NOT a beginners history of the war.  The essays are all very rich is substance, but they all assume a pretty in-depth knowledge of the general facts of the war.  It is certainly NOT a narrative history, although the essays do mesh well, and to a certain extent many build off each other.  The essays on the strategic planning and motivations for both the Allied and Central Powers are particularly fascinating...the chapters of socialism and the home-front politics, a little less so, at least for me. 

Keeping in the new-found spirit of wrapping gender, social, and cultural studies into EVERY historical topic, (something I detest most of the time) there were essays on women, propaganda, and the societal changes wrought by the war that were at least tolerable for this ol' Neanderthal historian.

All in all, this is a fine addition to a World War I bookshelf, but is not for beginners.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A forgotten anniversary

A lot of time and digital data has been spent commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, even by yours truly, and rightly so.  The Great War was the primordial event of the 20th century, beginning thirty years of war, fifty years of Cold War, and creating the mess that is the Middle East today.

BUT, let's not forget an equally important anniversary...the 50th Anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

What is that you say?  Especially if you went to public schools.....using Common Core history...or social studies...or language art...or whatever Charlie-Foxtrot passes for history in America today.

SOOO, let's review....

In 1964, the American Navy was supporting a series of covert naval operations by South Vietnam against North Vietnam.  The operations, called Operation 34-A, were conducted by...yup, you guessed it, the CIA against North Vietnam.

On 2 August 1964, North Vietnamese PT boats attacked a US Navy destroyer, the USS Maddox off the coast of North Vietnam, mistakenly thinking the ship was involved in Operation 34-A missions...it wasn't ...it was actually conducting covert intelligence gathering...however that is done with a big stinkin' warship.  In any event, with the help of  aircraft from the USS Ticonderoga, the destroyer drove off the PT boats.  The controversy began with a supposed 2nd attack the night of 4 August on the Maddox and USS C. Turner Joy, an attack that was in dispute, even at the time.

Historically speaking, evidence over time has shown the LBJ and his minions either choose to ignore, covered up, or didn't ask a lot of questions as they seemed to be looking for an excuse to get more involved in Vietnam.  

The end result of all this was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the beginning of Operation Rolling Thunder, and the deepening involvement of the US in Vietnam, leading to 50,000 American dead.

This day has a personal meaning for me.  As a young midshipman and history major, my first research project was an examination of this entire incident, as I tried to determine if, in fact, the second attack had taken place.  My research showed that the issue was in great doubt, as bad weather, taut nerves, and an overeager sonarman probably led to the mistaken conclusion that the North Vietnamese attacked the two destroyers the night of August 4.  Needless to say, this was not a popular conclusion with some of my classmates, who figured I was just being a pessimist and Monday morning quarterback.  Of course, the fog of war is always in play, and even the commander of the two destroyers raised doubts immediately after the incident that an attack actually took place. 

However, LBJs mind was made up and he ordered retaliatory strikes.  Eight years of combat resulted.

So when some crazy lib starts spouting about how Bush lied about the WMD intelligence, ask them about the Gulf of Tonkin and their Great Society patron saint.

Chances are you'll get the typical clueless stare as most public school educated liberals probably have no idea what the Vietnam War was...much less how the Gulf of Tonkin incident led to direct American involvement.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Let them come...........warning...not for the faint of heart

JUST BE WARNED, if you think Luis Gutierrez, Jim Moran, Charles Schumer or Shelia Jackson Lee are rocket scientists, read no further...your head will explode.

I am trying to enjoy and complete my summer reading...and there is plenty of it. But I have been listening to all the broooohaha about the invasion (refugee flood, whatever) of illegal or undocumented, or unregistered Democrats on our southern border. Now it seems to me that lots of morons like Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Demoamnesty-ILL (murder capital of the US)) are eager, very eager to welcome these illiterate, unskilled poor people into the US. Amnesty shills love to quote the ol' Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Now, I would have no trouble with that...if it were true.  But here's my question...if all these folks fleeing drugs and violence want is a chance at the American dream...to make money...have a better life, whatever...that's fine...BTW don't go to Chicago or Detroit (bastions of liberal policies).  SO, how about we tell them that if you want to live in America, fine, then stop sending $50B back home while soaking up our food stamps, welfare, and other benefits?
Remittances from all sources to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries have more than doubled since 2000 but remain below their peak in 2007, the year in which the U.S. Great Recession began. The 2013 estimated total ($53.8 billion) is 13% below 2007’s $61.6 billion (in 2013 U.S. dollars).
The United States is the most important source of money sent home by migrants to the 17 Latin American nations as a group (including Mexico) that are the focus of this report. U.S. remittances accounted for three-quarters of the total in 2012—$41 billion out of $52.9 billion, according to World Bank data.
 I mean think about it...$50B...that's BILLIONS, 1,000 MILLIONS...sent home while American taxpayers pay for their medical care, food, housing, etc....seems kinda skewed doesn't it?

However, being the Machiavellian that I am, I actually think Republicans are not handling this well.   Given that most Americans are becoming increasingly alarmed and upset by our Dear Leader's actions or inaction in dealing with this invasion--a problem for a number of vulnerable Democrats in the upcoming election, I think Republicans should borrow a line from that most hated of persons by the left--George W. Bush, to wit:  "BRING IT ON!"

If Obama wants to unilaterally declare some pseudo-amnesty, I say let him...absolutely....go ahead, Barry...give away 5,000,000 work visas.....THEN here's what I would do:

1)  NOT PASS a bit of immigration reform...and let Obama PROUDLY say he blew off Congress to do what his radical amnesty pushing base wanted...and go ahead and throw the U.S. Chamber of Commerce under the bus too, because they are just as guilty...sadly I would have to point out to my fellow Americans that the so-called Republican Party is completely in the tank for big business on this one...and they want plenty of cheap labor to undercut salaries and depress wages while exploiting these people.  WOW, did I just sound kinda like a Democrat there?  Maybe, but I could get behind a little populism now and then....just sayin' 

2)  Make sure the various states and cities know that they will not get ONE ADDITIONAL federal $$ to overcome the dumping of these illegals on their schools, hospitals, police, social work, and whatever.  After all, there really isn't any federal money anyway.  BUT I would sure as hell let Barry and his travelers OWN this.  When average Americans find out just how much this act of invasion is costing THEM, then the fun will really begin. Wait until all those helicopter parents get told that AP classes have to get cut to pay for ESL courses...hmmmm.  Or wait until hospital ERs are filled with people carrying who knows what diseases from the Middle Ages....hmmmm

3)  If I had my way, we would send every single one of these huddled masses yearning to be free to one of America's sanctuary cities.  I know this seems harsh and uncaring, but it's really more of what my momma said to me-"Actions have consequences."  Since this Administration has NO legislative skills, NO ability to get anything done except by executive action...FINE...DO IT...then deal with the fallout.  And since these cities are clearly more caring and compassionate than others...let them have these poor refugees...seems fair.

4)  Also, if I had my way, I would stop remittances to Latin America from the U.S.  If these poor folks want to come to America, then their money should stay in America and boost the economy...after all, that's what Democrats say immigration does, right?  Or, even, better, we could do what Democrats love and tax it at 50% to help cover Medicaid and welfare costs...that seems fair, right?

As I have said before, this Administration can't get anything done, not because Republicans are evil, mean racists, although that's what everyone on MSNBC says, but because NO ONE TRUSTS OBAMA!

Even Bill Clinton could get things done, because he didn't rewrite laws to serve political purposes and of course he had a Republican Congress to write the laws who didn't say-"Well, we have to pass the bill to see what's in it." After the executive bending and contorting of Obamacare to influence 2 elections, I wouldn't pass any immigration legislation until 2017, because it WON'T MATTER anyway.  If Republicans don't want to impeach Obama...and I have two words for that...President Biden....then let Obama take the political heat for his unconstitutional executive actions....or better yet let the Democrats who want to get elected AFTER January 20, 2017 take the heat...Obama won't care.

SO, go ahead Republicans, let Obama take responsibility for putting thousands of MS-13 gang members on our streets and watch to see how average Americans react.

Rational people know that SOME kind of immigration reform is needed, including PROTECTING the borders and ensuring employers OBEY the law and don't hire illegals.  But this President isn't going to get it done...period....his might as well finish checking out because he has no credibility left in this town.

So go ahead Barry....use that pen and phone...let loose 5,000,000 more people into an economy that's still got millions out of work and the lowest labor participation rate in 40 years.   Then we'll see you at the ballot box in November.............

Friday, July 25, 2014

Brad is back

So, my summer fiction rolled on with this long-awaited book.  Although I do love Brad Thor, as I have previously noted, I kinda felt he was getting into a bit of a rut.

Fortunately, his characters are excellent, his pacing is perfect, and whatever he writes becomes a page turner pretty darn quick...and he is becoming maddeningly excellent at the multi-volume plot and backstory that left me saying..."Wait, I remember this from an earlier book!" 

This book brings him back to what I feel is his origin and area of excellence, the "save the U.S." thriller that he is known for. 

I really enjoyed this book, and have to say even though you are reading the action and conspiracy unfold, it isn't until about halfway through the book, that I started to get an inkling of exactly what the dastardly plot was...which even though it isn't new in terms of evil plans, was nonetheless done fairly well. 

Mr. Thor doesn't waste time or energy on secondary plots or even secondary characters...everyone is merely a supporting actor to Scot Harvath and that's fine. 

It's good to see Mr. Thor moving past his conspiracy stage to his thriller roots.  I am still hoping for a full Athena Project sequel or crossover with his Harvath character...maybe next year.

Nonetheless a fine summer read that was quick and satisfying.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Excellent Summer Read

Ahh, after patiently waiting for almost six months...I at last dove into the latest Monster Hunter book. Needless to say, it was like fiction crack. Yup, hated having to eat, sleep and take care of biddness, but I did at some point.

If you are a fan of the series, this book does a marvelous job of telling the story of Agent Franks, my favorite denizen of death, destruction, and snark.

It goes so far that we learn the theology of monsters...which is totally awesome. Mr Correia really enjoys his monsters...who knew they had such a spiritual side....so to speak.

I was personally a little disappointed that there was not more involvement from my favorite Monster Hunter International characters, but Agent Franks more than takes up the pages with his awesomeness.

These books continue to improve and I was really happy to see that Mr. Correia has now published his second hardcover book, which I know is a BFD for an author, especially a sci-fi author. He has managed to find an excellent niche that he can clearly dominate and build a fan following....including yours truly.

Certainly these book will never be considered "serious fiction, " like say The Audacity of Hope or Hard Choices or...my personal favorite Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters, but they are solidly written, show some above average character development, have sharp dialogue, and achieve any author's primary goal...to get the reader to like the characters and want to turn the page to see what happens, which I can safely say would not be true for the above noted volumes.

For these metrics, Mr. Correia succeeds and has consistently done so for this entire series.

If you love a good story, read these books...you won't be disappointed.