Persian Shrug

A few days ago Iran shot down an unmanned US drone, which may or may not have been in Iranian airspace. The US military was prepared to respond with airstrikes but:

Mr Trump … called off strikes after being told 150 people would die.

He tweeted: “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Naturally, this being Trump, we find all this out via Twitter from the man himself. Equally naturally, the warmongers aren’t happy:


Bill Kristol is a fat fool who was a cheerleader for the Iraq War. His hatred of Trump is not to do with policy differences but personal ambition: Kristol was all set for a cushy job on the taxpayer dime in a Jeb Bush administration (assuming he’d have beaten Hillary) but Trump upset the apple cart by demolishing his patron and then becoming president. The refrain from the Never Trumpers since the day he was elected has been that Trump is an unstable lunatic who is likely to lash out and plunge the US into a major war without thinking. Only Trump’s done the exact opposite and refused to start a war despite being egged on by neocons and probably half the defence establishment, so suddenly he’s an unreliable peacenik. Here’s General Shapiro:

Do you think Benny boy is going to be pulling on a uniform and volunteering to fight? I sincerely doubt it. War with Iran will be absolutely devastating for all participants: it is not Panama, or even Iraq. Now one of the advantages of using unmanned drones is that shooting one down does not require the same response as if a pilot has been killed or captured. That’s the whole point of using them: while expensive, they are expendable to a much greater degree. The only people who think the US should go to war with Iran over the downing of a drone are unhinged neocons and people who think America and its military should act as Israel’s foreign policy bureau, regardless even of what Israelis themselves might want.

And no, I am not someone who buys into stupid conspiracies that Mossad is blowing up tankers in the Straits of Hormuz in order to goad America into destroying their greatest foe, Iran. There may be plenty of Jewish Americans who think the US should fight Israel’s battles as first priority, and there might be Israelis who want the same thing, but it doesn’t follow that Israel is calling the shots here, nor blowing up tankers. This is as daft as the pipeline theories, or this:


That’s right: the Somali who somehow got elected to the US Congress believes Trump pulling out of a nuclear deal left the Iranians with no choice but to start blowing up Japanese oil tankers.

It’s really come to something when there is violence in the Persian Gulf and Trump is the most sensible, restrained person in the room. I suspect Iran is just being Iran, using terrorism to leverage an advantage somewhere, although who knows what in this case? America ought to keep an eye on things, but it’s really not its business. Not a lot of people know this but most of the oil which leaves the Gulf gets shipped to Asia, not Europe or the US. Sure, oil is fungible which means disruptions to the Middle East supplies affects everyone, but it’s not Americans who are going to be scrabbling around looking for alternative sources, but the Chinese. So let them deal with it, by leaning on the Iranians diplomatically, commercially, or even militarily: I don’t really care. This is not America’s concern, at least for now, and it’s most certainly not ours. If the likes of Shapiro and Kristol want a war, well they can first go here and enroll themselves or their children. Until then, they should sit down and shut up.

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Projection of Power(skirts)

A few commenters on here have raised the question as to whether the US Navy’s infatuation with diversity and political correctness might be behind their recent spate of warship collisions. Via Twitter Kevin Michael Grace I came across this very long article detailing the circumstances around the 2017 collision between the destroyer USS Fitzgerald and a large cargo ship. Not that I wish to extrapolate too much from this, but it makes for grim reading:

Sarah Coppock, lieutenant junior grade, was the officer of the deck, responsible for the safety and navigation of the ship while Benson slept.

Coppock did not trust some of her team that night.

Still, Coppock, naturally self-assured, took the bridge undeterred.

Her conning officer was Eric Uhden. Like Woodley, he was an experienced sailor who served years at sea as an enlisted man before becoming an officer.

Uhden alerted Coppock to the potential danger. At first, she dismissed his concern. But a moment later, Uhden said that Coppock seemed to realize her miscalculation.

Uhden memorialized the incident in an understated note scribbled in his private journal: “Fishing vessel got close on watch.” But nobody else knew about it. Coppock never told the captain, as she was supposed to do.

Coppock may not have ensured that the radar on the bridge was properly adjusted to obtain a finer-grained picture. A post-crash reconstruction showed that Coppock lost sight of one of the ships due to clutter on the “improperly adjusted” SPS-73 screen.

But the 5-foot-4-inch Coppock was used to giving what she got in the Ashland’s wardroom, where the ship’s officers gathered to eat and talk. “You could sit there and scream at each other for hours and it was just to get stuff done. We really didn’t care. It wasn’t personal,” she said. “We’d go out and drink afterwards.”

It was a different story on the Fitzgerald.

Coppock stopped dining with her fellow officers in the Fitzgerald’s wardroom. By long Navy tradition, attendance at such meals was considered necessary to forge the esprit de corps needed to run a ship. Not eating with them was akin to snubbing family.

Fellow Fitzgerald sailors noted her absence. To some, Coppock appeared disconnected. Other shipmates went so far as to call her “lazy” or “abrasive and unapproachable.”

Coppock said she stayed away from the officers’ mess because of criticism from fellow junior officers. She blamed their hostility on her singular focus on getting the job done. Mission came first, she said.

Coppock had displayed her skills in the weeks after Benson took command. She and her enlisted assistant, Alexander Vaughan, had stayed up almost 48 hours in the successful pursuit of a Chinese submarine off the coast of Japan. The achievement sealed Coppock’s reputation as a hell of a sailor.

It also boosted her self-assurance. She considered herself one of the better officers on the ship.

Parker alerted Coppock. Coppock told Parker not to worry — she was tracking the ship. She said it would pass 1,500 yards behind the Fitzgerald.

“We gotta slow down,” Parker told Coppock.

No, Coppock told her again. “We can’t slow down because it’ll make the situation worse.” Coppock worried that slowing down might bring her into the path of the ship that was supposed to pass behind them.

Coppock disobeyed Benson’s standing orders. Rather than call Benson for help, she decided to continue on her own. Coppock didn’t call down to the combat room to ask for help, either.

Coppock decided that she was not going to clear the Crystal by going toward the right. Such a turn would put her on a possible collision with the Wan Hai 266.

“Oh shit, I’m so fucked! I’m so fucked!” she screamed.

Instead, Coppock ordered a move that disregarded the very basics of her training.

Coppock did not sound the collision alarm to warn sailors of the impending risk.

“I just got so wrapped up in trying to do anything that I had to just drop the ball on everything else that I needed to do,” she said.

Babbitt was trying to save his sailors. The five crew members trapped in sonar were rescued early on. Womack appeared in a daze. Coppock was inconsolable, sobbing and berating herself.

The Navy’s investigators concluded that sailors bore the primary blame for the collision. Benson, Coppock and the bridge and combat information center watch teams had failed to use basic seamanship skills to escape an “avoidable” accident. They had been “excessively fatigued” and had not taken steps to rest. Coppock had ignored basic rules of the road and the captain’s orders.

To be honest, I don’t think this episode makes the case that women are useless sailors. Under a different regime, women could probably perform very well on a warship. The trouble is, the same politicised, ultra-progressive, bureaucratic, management system which places high value on diversity is also responsible for standards plummeting across the board. The captain was a man named Bryce Benson, and he didn’t seem up to the job either. It’s not difficult to imagine that the behaviours and characteristics which get you recognised and promoted in the modern US Navy (and most modern organisations) are not those which are valuable in a crisis. This snippet is illuminating:

Coppock had displayed her skills in the weeks after Benson took command. She and her enlisted assistant, Alexander Vaughan, had stayed up almost 48 hours in the successful pursuit of a Chinese submarine off the coast of Japan. The achievement sealed Coppock’s reputation as a hell of a sailor.

I expect there were many such instances of Coppock’s reputation soaring as her career progressed, only when it really mattered it was abundantly clear it was undeserved. This is depressingly common: I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen slavish dedication to senior management form the basis of someone’s stellar reputation, even as everything falls apart around them. The outlook’s not too gloomy for her, though:

Coppock was charged with dereliction of duty and pleaded guilty. She remains in the Navy and is expected to be a witness against Benson and Combs in their trials. Navy investigators have praised her candor and cooperation. She has a tattoo on her left wrist with seven shamrocks. It features the coordinates of the crash.

I’m slightly surprised she didn’t get a medal.

(I’d be interested in Jason Lynch’s comments on this story.)

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The sudden concern for the Kurds is mostly fake

As America woke up and got on Twitter yesterday, there was a lot of this sort of sentiment:


Some moron who subsequently blocked me asked how can Trump talk about loyalty after such “betrayal of the Kurds”. Even Noam Chomsky is writing articles supporting American military intervention overseas, which is the equivalent of a Liverpool fan saying he hopes for a smooth transition at Manchester United following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

I have a lot of sympathy for the Kurds. They seem less insane than anyone else fighting in Syria, more organised than anyone trying to manage territory in Iraq, and they are well-disposed towards America and their allies. They’ve been screwed over by the major powers on several occasions, suffered terribly at the hands of Saddam Hussein and ISIS, and been oppressed by the Turks. I would like to see their lot improved, and I will be deeply unhappy if the Turkish army move into Syria and start massacring them. If somehow they find themselves in possession of advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry with which they can inflict heavy losses on their enemies, I’d not be too upset.

However, let’s get realistic here. The US was never in Syria on behalf of the Kurds. US forces on the ground may have formed informal alliances with Kurdish groups, but there was never a US policy of protecting Kurds in Syria, at least that I’m aware of. To begin with, what do people mean when they say America should not abandon “the Kurds”? Do they mean the Kurds in Syria fighting Assad and ISIS? The Kurds in Iraq, who run a peaceful, semi-autonomous region subordinate (in theory) to the government in Baghdad? The Kurds in Turkey? And with whom should the alliance be made? The PKK? The Peshmerga commanders?

I asked a few people on Twitter who the Kurdish leaders were, what were their names. Nobody knew. When people talk of Palestinians we know they fall under the leadership, however flawed, of the PA and Hamas. We know the names of the leaders and what their policies are, and these people regularly attend meetings with the large powers and mediators to discuss their aims. But who represents “the Kurds”? What do they want? If Trump is “betraying an ally” this suggests an alliance was formed and promises given. Okay, but when, and by whom, and with what authority? Did any Kurdish leader meet Trump or a member of his administration? Did they meet any of Obama’s? Nobody who is screaming “betrayal” can answer any of these questions: they want war to continue indefinitely in support of an alliance they can’t describe on behalf of people they know nothing about. If this is what passes for political wisdom in the US these days, it’s little wonder they’ve been neck-deep in unwinnable wars since I left university. Fighting a war used to be a serious undertaking, now it’s something advocated on a whim to spite one’s domestic political opponents.

If Americans want to fight a war on behalf of the Kurds, they need to first come up with a clear strategy. What are the objectives, and over what timelines? And on behalf of which Kurds are they fighting? If they attempted to draw up such a plan, they would see why they need to give the matter a wide berth. The Kurds are not some homogeneous bloc, they are fractured along several lines and were they somehow to get their own state it would likely be completely dysfunctional as the various groups squabble among each other. There’s also the small matter that the most capable Kurds are invariably socialist; I get the impression a lot of Americans don’t know that. If America were to support the Kurds in any meaningful sense it would entail severely distabilising the national government in Iraq, as well as taking on Turkey in a big way. I’m not saying these are necessarily bad things – I’d like to see Turkey booted from NATO and Erdogan put in his place – but they need to be part of an overall strategy which the political classes in Washington simply lack the competence to put together, let alone pull off. Hell, they can’t even agree to protect their own borders.

I’m sure there are US military commanders on the ground in Syria who feel they are betraying local Kurdish forces with whom they’ve built up strong relationships, but this does not make up for a lack of overall strategy. The Kurds might also note that in 2014 when ISIS was at its height and they were facing annihilation on the Turkish border during the Siege of Kobani, the US did and said nothing. What we’re seeing from the American chattering classes are crocodile tears; their concern for the Kurds is opportunism at its very worst.

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On Trump’s withdrawal from Syria

So Donald Trump has decided to pull US forces out of Syria, and people are upset. Some are opposed because they are neo-cons who think America should be fighting wars anywhere and everywhere to spread peace and democracy, while others don’t like it just because it’s Trump. This tweet is an interesting example of the reaction:


If the goal of the US military in Syria is to protect Israel, the Kurds, and Iraqi Christians this should have been stated before their deployment as part of a clear and transparent policy. This never happened. Instead, US troops turned up in unspecified numbers which the public gradually got to hear about as they took part in various actions. Certainly Congress was never consulted, as they are supposed to be (although that requirement is laughable these days). We were told various stories, one of which was that US forces were in Syria to support rebels opposed to Bashar al Assad, another was they were there to fight ISIS. But there was never a clear policy as to why they were there, nor any indication of what would constitute victory. As usual, US troops were in a foreign country for an unspecified purpose seemingly indefinitely. What should be upsetting people is there were US forces in Syria under these conditions to start with, not that Trump is pulling them out.

Trump is quite correct here:

Firstly, Trump is right that ISIS – being a shadow of what they were a few years back – are mainly a local problem in a military sense. I have few doubts Russia can handle any threat posed by ISIS to Assad’s government. One of the points many people don’t like to acknowledge is Russia made short work of the various rebel groups, mainly because they didn’t pussyfoot around with how they went about it. They’ll do the same with ISIS.

Secondly, America has no strategic interest in Syria whatsoever. People talk all sorts of nonsense about surrendering the Middle East to Russia, often in the same breath they condemn Trump for being too close to the Saudi Crown Prince. It also overlooks the rather large US military base in Qatar and the strategic alliances they have with the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain. So what if Russia establishes itself in Syria? Assad has always been aligned with Russia, and I can’t for the life of me think why Russia is so invested in the place other than for some vague notion of prestige and as a handy place to test and sell weapons systems.

Now consider this tweet:


Who cares if Iran and Russia “claim a victory”? Over whom? The US is withdrawing from the battlefield because the Commander in Chief doesn’t know why they’re there or what constitutes victory. Who are they supposed to fight in the coming years? Russians?  I’ve seen some pretty daft justifications for keeping an army deployed overseas in perpetuity, but doing so in order to deny others from claiming a non-existent victory surpasses all others.

What is also laughable is the idea that Russia, Iran, and Turkey are in a grand alliance whose nefarious plans were only thwarted by the presence of US forces. One thing is certain, and that is neither Russia or Turkey are going to allow Iran to do whatever it likes in Syria. I wrote before about how Israel has little to fear from Russia, who might play a useful role in keeping Iranian ambitions in check. And if Israel can’t handle Iranian forces fighting in Syria because 2,000 US soldiers stationed nowhere near their borders have been withdrawn, they have serious problems indeed. Rather than a coordinated effort between Russia, Iran, and Turkey to threaten US interests – whatever they may be – and Israeli security, I expect we’ll see non-stop squabbling, scheming and backstabbing with the occasional military engagement thrown in for fun. I have little doubt that Turkey will seize the opportunity to flatten the Kurds, and personally I’d have been happier if Trump had been a lot tougher with Erdogan on several issues. But with the best will in the world, any attempt to support an independent Kurdish state will end in disaster; I see no reason why the US shouldn’t give them weaponry to make the Turks think twice, though.

Finally, Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria seems to have come at the price of James Mattis, the US Secretary of Defence. In his resignation letter to Trump he said:

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.

Meaning, he disagrees with Trump on how he sees the role of the US military in future. A lot of people are saying this is a body-blow for Trump, and losing a man like Mattis is a big loss for any organisation, but I’m not so sure. Mattis is one hell of a soldier and probably knows everything there is too know about winning wars, but it is not his job – nor his expertise – to determine the political direction in which US forces are applied now or in future. As I understand it, his job is to advise the president on military possibilities and, once strategic political decisions have been made, to make the military decisions necessary to achieve the desired outcomes. In other words, Mattis might be quite happy for the US to stay deployed in Syria forever and “advance an international order” but that’s irrelevant to his duties.  His job is to win battles in Syria, not decide whether the US is involved there and for how long.

So while it is quite right for Mattis to resign at the end of his tenure if he is unconvinced by Trump’s political approach, one must remember that Trump ran on a platform of not using US military power to “advance an international order”. Indeed, that seems to be a policy many Americans, and an awful lot of foreigners, really wish America would abandon. Unless, it seems, it’s Trump making the decision, in which case bombing people is good again.

UPDATE

See this from the BBC:

The Trump administration is planning to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, US media say.

Reports, citing unnamed officials, say about 7,000 troops – roughly half the remaining US military presence in the country – could go home within months.

Analysts have warned that a withdrawal could have a “devastating” impact and offer Taliban militants a propaganda victory.

Better stay for another 17 years then, eh? I remember when the likes of the BBC were against American military adventurism.

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Lest we forget to bash Trump

Blue checkmark Twitter has been alight this past 24 hours with complaints that Trump is a disgrace. Why this time, I don’t hear you ask? Apparently, rather than join Merkel and Macron at Compiègne, the site where the 1918 Armistice was signed, Trump decided to stay in his room and watch TV because it was raining. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but given this version is being widely circulated by lefties and it happens to suit their narrative, we’ll be safer assuming it’s a load of bollocks.

There are several reasons why Trump may not have attended. Was it on his agenda? The main Armistice event is today under the Arc de Triomphe, I don’t know if attendance at Compiègne the day before is normal for a US president. Was Trump even invited? Many people posted pictures of Obama standing in the rain, albeit at a wholly different event but you’d not know that from any caption. This is known as “fake news”. I’m certain that had Trump gone along, the same people now saying “disgraceful” over and over would complain he wasn’t welcome and he did or said something inappropriate. Or his wife looked too good in her outfit, as usual.

The blue checkmarks also simpered over this Tweet, and followed up in the comments with more Trump-bashing:


It’s a good pic, but I fear the sycophants are missing a vital point. Angela Merkel, who was supposed to be the leader of the free world when Trump “abdicated the responsibility”, is barely in charge of Germany having been rejected at the ballot box. Macron, who is fresh from honouring the leader of the Vichy Regime, has a popularity rating of 29%, a record low. Meanwhile, the Americans have just had a vote which, if it not exactly providing Trump with a ringing endorsement, did not show he was wildly disliked either.

So here we have American, British, and European elites praising two deeply unpopular leaders for a cutesy photo-op while criticising, for the millionth time, a president who remains popular with the masses. Perhaps Trump was being disrespectful for not going to Compiègne, but standing on the graves of dead soldiers to virtue-signal your dislike for him is hardly better.

That’s not the only point they’ve missed, though. A popular view among the dim or dishonest is that it was Trump-style nationalism that caused WWI, whereas it was as much about competing empires as anything. One could hardly argue, as you might with WWII, that populations were whipped into war fever before the shooting began in 1914, nor that those who fought were doing so for selfish internal interests. If we’re looking for parallels between today and the pre-1914 situation on mainland Europe, we might want to look at the EU and it’s economic and political bullying of member states and Macron’s recent call for pan-European army. For the elites, though, this is all good. No doubt Archduke Ferdinand thought much the same thing when planning the tour of his subjects in the Balkans.

Frankly, the sight of deeply unpopular German and French leaders cosying up, cheered on by elites who scream hysterically about an American president, does not bode well for peace in Europe.

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Special Farce

Given the modern British military is mainly an excuse to employ lots of middle class people in the MoD and do a bit of PR, they may as well do this:

Women will be able to apply for any British military role for the first time, the defence secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson announced that all combat roles were now open to women, including serving in special forces units such as the SAS.

He said for the first time the “armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender”.

A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military was lifted in 2016.

As of now, women already serving in the Army are able to apply for the Royal Marines and the infantry. That will open the door for them to join special forces units such as the SAS after the necessary training.

Mr Williamson told BBC News: “We very much expect women to be joining the SAS and the Special Boat Service.

“The value that they’ll bring, the impact they’ll make will be phenomenal and all the services are looking forward to welcoming them.”

Williamson sounds like a bright-eyed head-office spokesman informing staff of a merger which everyone on the factory floor knows will be a disaster and cost half of them their jobs. What value will women bring to the SAS, exactly? What tasks are the SBS struggling to execute with their traditional, all-male teams?

Now this blog is fortunate enough to have ex-seaman Jason Lynch as a commenter, who often weighs in on the topic of women in the military. In the past he has said that, in damage repair drills, women can prove their worth by doing tasks which require small, nimble people rather than big, strapping lads. He also said women have been involved in actual damage repair operations and performed adequately. I have no doubt this is true, and I am not against women serving in military units if they can add overall value.

However, I am certain that for women to serve in the SAS, SBS, or even the Royal Marines physical standards will have to be lowered to the point of worthlessness. We’ve seen how these things go: first they say standards will not be lowered, then there are  complaints that no women are passing, then the instructors are told to cheat to allow women to pass, then the standards are abandoned altogether. I walk the Brecon Beacons along the SAS and SBS selection routes back in my early twenties when a few of my friends in the RMR were training for R-Troop (they passed). The difference was they were loaded down with monster bergens and I trotted along with a day-sack. I am also pretty good friends with this chap, who recreates SAS selection marches for civilians to test their mettle. The loads each man carries and the pace they move at is obscene: a common complaint among my friends was that 21 and 23 SAS only required 4km per hour, whereas R-Troop stuck with the regular SBS and 22 SAS pace of 5km per hour. Over the Brecon Beacons this is a blistering pace, and I knew blokes who practically ran the whole route. I was exhausted after a day’s hike with these guys, and I was carrying no weight and only did it for one day in good weather. I couldn’t even get my friend’s bergen on my back, and when someone helped me I found I couldn’t move. During selection, my friends were doing these hill routes day after day.

Unsurprisingly, some men picked up injuries, mostly knees and ankles but also backs. When my friends joined the regular forces and got a few years under their belt, a few of them tried out for regular Special Force selection (including the Royal Marines’ Mountain Leader’s course). The general advice was, if you fail the first one, you have to think very carefully about having another go because of the pounding your body takes. I know at least one guy who was talked out of going for SF selection because it would wreck his already suspect body, and he was a fit lad in his mid twenties.

The rest of the UK special forces selection process which follows “the hills” phase is also brutal: “officer’s week” and “the trees” (i.e. the jungle) are particularly appalling if my friends’ anecdotes are accurate. However, I don’t know whether these would present any great obstacle to women or not. What I am absolutely sure of is if women attempt the current SAS and SBS selection routes in the Elan Valley and Brecon Beacons they will pick up serious injuries at a rate which will later be considered criminally negligent. The course already extracts an awful toll on men at their peak fitness: about 10% pass the whole thing. I suspect the first time a woman attempts it she’ll fail so miserably the units will come under enormous pressure to get her through, which eventually they’ll succumb to.

The good news is once the last British jihadist in Syria is shot and we finally withdraw completely from Afghanistan, we’ll not be sending troops overseas any more, at least not for anything important we can’t leave to the Yanks. Give it another decade and our armed forces will be best known for mincing around a medical tent in a third-world disaster zone along with a bunch of Norwegians, Belgians, and Latvians in green clothes. That being so, why not let women serve in the SAS? After all, Williamson got one thing right:

the impact they’ll make will be phenomenal

Indeed.

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Horizontal Collaboration

This is an interesting story:

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg has issued an official government apology to Norwegian women who were mistreated over World War Two-era relationships with German soldiers.

Many of the Norwegian-German children were born in the German-administered Lebensborn (Fountain of Life) maternity facilities set up from 1941 by the Nazis in the country.

The women who had relationships with the soldiers became known by the nickname the “German Girls”, and were targeted for reprisals in Norway when the war ended – standing accused of betraying the country.

Punishments included being deprived of civil rights, detained or expelled from the country to Germany along with their children.

I have recommended Keith Lowe’s superb book Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of WWII before, and will do so again. He goes into substantial detail on the topic of the treatment of women in occupied countries who had relations with German soldiers, particularly in Norway:

The number of sexual relationships that took place between European women and Germans during the war is quite staggering. In Norway as many as 10 per cent of women aged between fifteen and thirty had German boyfriends during the war.

Regarding coercion, he has this to say:

On the whole European women slept with Germans not because they were forced to, or because their own men were absent, or because they needed money or food – but simply because they found the strong, ‘knightly’ image of the German soldiers intensely attractive, especially compared to the weakened impression they had of their own menfolk. In Denmark, for example, wartime pollsters were shocked to discover that 51 per cent of Danish women openly admitted to finding German men more attractive than their own compatriots.

The alt-right is fond of claiming western women support mass migration and open borders because they find their own menfolk emasculated, and any successful invader automatically becomes more attractive. The above paragraph would appear to support that argument (see also the young women who flock to refugee camps and immediately sleep with the residents). Lowe then describes the reprisals carried out on such women at the end of the war, which were particularly nasty in France and the Netherlands. Regarding Norway, he says this:

The study of Norwegian attitudes towards what they termed the ‘war children’ of German soldiers is a particularly rich area because, unlike in other countries, these attitudes are so well documented. In the aftermath of the war the Norwegian authorities set up a War Child Committee to consider what to do with such children.43 For a short time, therefore, the problem was openly discussed here in a way that it was not anywhere else in Europe.

There were good reasons why other countries didn’t want to talk about it:

In Denmark 5,579 babies were born with a registered German father – and undoubtedly many more whose German paternity was concealed. In Holland the number of children born to German fathers is thought to have been anything between 16,000 and 50,000.  In Norway, which had only a third of the population of Holland, between 8,000 and 12,000 such children were born. And in France the number is thought to be around 85,000 or even higher. The total number of children fathered by German soldiers in occupied Europe is unknown, but estimates vary between one and two million.

The treatment of children born of German fathers during the occupation of Norway included forced exile, being declared mentally unsound, and denied full citizenship and schooling. Given Norway is one of the more enlightened countries in Europe, one can imagine it was a lot worse elsewhere (in the Netherlands, some were killed outright at the end of the war). It’s hardly surprising national governments just buried the whole issue and moved on, but the impact on thousands of children must have been enormous.

There is also the question of whether the women deserved such treatment. In Norway at least, sleeping with a German soldier was not a crime, and the post-war laws were applied retroactively. As one girl complained, she was 19 and the Germans were the de facto government and had been for some time. Leaving aside the fact that teenage girls and women in their early twenties can hardly be expected to be immune from falling in love with whoever struts around town in the best uniforms, how was anyone to know the Germans were not going to be there forever? For much of the occupation it must have seemed that way to a lot of people; for how long were young women expected to wait for liberation?

The anger these relationships generated among the male population is understandable, and Lowe goes into detail on its origins. However, it’s hard to say with 70 years’ hindsight that all these women deserved to be abused, beaten, humiliated, and sometimes killed because of their relationships with German soldiers. Credit is due the Norwegian government for looking into this sordid episode of their past and issuing an apology, particularly as no other country dared even approach the subject. Surprisingly – or perhaps not, given their true intentions – the treatment of women following the liberation of Europe warrants nary a mention from feminists, outside of the mass rapes of the Red Army.

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Kofi Annan

From the BBC:

Kofi Annan, the only black African to become UN secretary-general, has died.

The 80-year-old “passed away peacefully on Saturday after a short illness”, the foundation named after him said.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for helping to revitalise the international body, during a period that coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

My abiding memory of Kofi Annan is his repeatedly appearing on my TV screen shaking his head sadly and saying he was “gravely concerned” about something or other, and that something or other continuing as if he didn’t exist. I always thought he was probably a decent guy, but hopelessly weak and easily manipulated. The Iraq War probably did more damage to the UN than any other event: firstly the weapons inspectors dillied, dallied and let themselves get pushed around for a decade; then two permanent members of the security council undermined the very sanctions they voted for by doing illegal business with Saddam Hussein; then two other permanent members decided to gather up a posse and attack Iraq under the auspices of Resolution 1441, telling a pack of lies in the process. Of the five permanent members and the UN itself, the only entity that came out looking good was China. And doesn’t that tell you everything? As the UN was rendered impotent by its senior members, Kofi Annan shook is head and said he was gravely concerned. Nobody cared.

This would not be so bad were this not the first time something awful happened on his watch, but as the BBC says:

However, Annan was not immune from criticism. His critics blamed him for the UN’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s when he was head of the organisation’s peacekeeping operations.

Kofi Annan was head of UN peacekeeping between 1992 and 1996. During that period we not only had the Rwandan genocide – which happened right under the UN’s nose – but also the Screbrenica massacre. I find it hard to blame the individual Dutch soldiers in blue helmets who stood by and let a few thousand Bosnians get murdered by Serbs, but the Dutch government was so ashamed they resigned en masse in 2002. Not Annan, however: despite having failed to prevent two of the worst acts of genocide in my lifetime he got promoted a short time afterwards to the top spot. I’d be interested to know what you have to do to miss out on promotion at the UN, let alone get fired.

Unfortunately, Kofi wasn’t the only Annan making headlines during his tenure either. His son Kojo was also in the papers for being neck-deep in Iraq’s oil-for-food scandal, which (again) occurred right under the nose of his father. As Mark Steyn said back in 2005 in an article that’s worth reading in full:

You’ll recall that Kofi Annan’s son Kojo – who had a $30,000-a-year job but managed to find a spare quarter-million dollars sitting around to invest in a Swiss football club – has been under investigation for some time for his alleged ties to the Oil-for-Food programme. But the investigators have now broadened their sights to include Kofi’s brother Kobina Annan, the Ghanaian ambassador to Morocco, who has ties to a businessman behind several of the entities involved in the scandal – one Michael Wilson, the son of the former Ghanaian ambassador to Switzerland and a childhood friend of young Kojo. Mr Wilson is currently being investigated for suspected bribery over a $50 million contract to renovate the Geneva offices of the UN World Intellectual Property Organisation.

The actual head of the Oil-for-Food racket, Kofi sidekick Benon Sevan, has resigned, having hitherto insisted that a mysterious six-figure sum in his bank account was a gift from his elderly aunt, a lady of modest means who lived in a two-room flat back in Cyprus. Paul Volcker’s investigators had planned to confirm with auntie her nephew’s version of events, but unfortunately she fell down an elevator shaft and died.

Most of the Ghanaian diplomatic corps and their progeny seem to have directorships at companies with UN contracts and/or Saddamite oil options. I had no idea being a Ghanaian ambassador’s son opened so many doors, and nor did they till Kofi ascended to his present eminence.

I got the impression the world gave Kofi Annan a pass on almost everything because, as an African, he was held to appallingly low standards. The same bigotry of low expectations which plagues prominent Africans everywhere was applied to Annan time and again, but reading the tributes pouring in it seems he’s been deified in the same manner as Nelson Mandela. For example:

Well, okay. But I remember him for being utterly ineffectual and presiding over a UN which proved itself to be both impotent and corrupt in equal measure, both of which got considerably worse when he was in charge – perhaps because he was in charge. This from the BBC sums up his career for me:

He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a solution to the conflict.

He quit his post as UN envoy to Syria after only six months in the role, citing the failures of world powers to fulfil their commitments.

He did seem like a kind, decent person and I wish him to rest in peace, but he is undeserving of the professional platitudes being heaped on him.

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Montenegro and Article 5

This is another example of Donald Trump using bone-headed language but making a valid point nonetheless:

Carlson questioned why the US should have to defend Montenegro, as required by Article 5 of the NATO treaty.
Trump responded: “I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. … They are very strong people. They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III.”

Now his characterisation of Montenegrin people is unhelpful and irrelevant, but in classic Trump style he raises a point most people would rather not discuss.

Article 5 of the NATO treaty requires the whole alliance to come to the aid of any member that is attacked. This made sense when a coalition of large and small western European countries were facing off against the Warsaw Pact: the Soviets had to understand that were they to invade Germany or Norway, America would step in. Taken to its logical conclusion, Article 5 meant the alliance was willing to risk nuclear war with the Soviet Union in the event any one of them was attacked. During the Cold War this made sense, but now?

Supposing Russia decides to attack Montenegro. Are NATO’s member states really going to attack Russian forces, triggering a massive conventional war that could easily go nuclear within days? Would the various electorates be behind this? Now if France or Germany was invaded, then yes, despite everything I reckon enough Brits, Americans, Danes, Spaniards, and Dutch would think this was worth fighting over. But Montenegro?Does anyone even know the first thing about the place? Or Albania? Sorry, but I’m not sure I want to enter into a global nuclear war with Russia because Albania’s been attacked. Yet this is what the Article 5 of the NATO treaty requires, and Trump is raising serious questions over its suitability almost 30 years after the end of the Cold War.

Darmanovic took a generous view of Trump’s comments, suggesting the US President was making a broader point. “I think President Trump actually did not speak on Montenegro. He spoke on 2% on financing and contributing to NATO, and Montenegro was just picked up as an example — maybe because we are one of the tiniest countries in the alliance,” the foreign minister said.

Now Montenegro joined NATO in June 2017 when Trump was president, so it happened on his watch. Of course, his opponents are leaping on his remarks to claim they have undermined NATO by casting doubt on whether member states are fully committed to triggering Article 5 in all cases, but this is just shooting the messenger. The real doubt was cast as soon as countries like Albania and Montenegro were admitted to the alliance, and it’s high time western leaders both civilian and military acknowledged that.

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Waiting for Paradise

There’s something deeply ironic about this:

Thousands of protesters have marched in the Nicaraguan capital Managua and other cities to demand the resignation of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo.

Demonstrators blocked main roads, waving placards and chanting slogans.

Weeks of anti-government protests have led to at least 76 people being killed in clashes with security forces.

The latest rallies took place after peace talks mediated by the Catholic Church broke down on Wednesday.

Four people were killed in clashes on Saturday, police and witnesses say.

“They want to take us off the streets at the point of bullets,” said protest leader Francisca Ramírez, who led a rally in the north-west city of Leon.

Nicaragua was the setting for a pretty nasty proxy war during the Cold War, with the Soviet Union backing the popular Marxist Sandinistas who’d taken control of the country in a coup, while the US backed the hated Contras, who were basically a bunch of thugs. Insofar as America’s Cold War policies go, Nicaragua wasn’t one of their highlights. One of the claims lefties in the West used to make was that had the US not interfered, Nicaragua would have become a socialist paradise under the Sandinistas, who were led by Daniel Ortega. Asked to hold up an example of socialism that worked, they’d often point to Nicaragua – until the Yanquis got involved.

It was an interesting twist of history that, two decades after he was at the head of a Marxist Junta fighting US-backed forces bent on killing him, Ortega was democratically elected President of Nicaragua in 2007. The US had lost interest in the region since the collapse of the Soviet Union, meaning this time around his government wouldn’t have to fight a devastating guerrilla war against right-wing rebel groups. This was his chance to deliver what, according to lefties, he’d been prevented from doing in the 1980s only thanks to US interference. Yet here we are, 11 years into his rule, and the country is in free-fall. Maybe he needs more time?

However, his critics accuse him and his wife of also behaving like dictators.

Now there’s a surprise, eh? In fairness to Ortega, I expect things would be the same no matter who was in charge.

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