Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘war on terror’ Category

23 OCTOBER, REAGAN, THE WAR OF JENKIN’S EAR, ETC

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Some interesting stuff happened on 23 Oct. Well, I suppose there’s always interesting stuff on every date in history, just not of interest to me. On October 23rd, jackpot. So, we’ll start with The War of Jenkin’s Ear. In 1731 a Spanish privateer captured a British ship, accused them of smuggling, and cut off Captain Jenkin’s ear. The ear was exhibited in British Parliament, people were outraged, and the British declared war on Spain. That’s the story, and a great story it is. It is however, just a story. Yes, the unfortunate Captain Jenkins did have his ear cut off. And he may have testified in Parliament. There is no evidence he waved his ear around. And while there was outrage over the incident, the war didn’t start until 1739. And Jenkin’s ear had little or nothing to do about it, it was mainly about trade conflicts with Spain in the New World. In fact it wasn’t even called ‘The War of Jenkin’s Ear’ until over a century later. One wonders what future historians will rename current events.

In 1812 one French General Claude François de Malet launched an attempted coup, claiming Napoleon had died in Russia. This was a new one to me. The general recruited others into his plot, and made some progress, but Napoleon loyalists quickly determined that despite the good general’s claim, letters had been received from Napoleon that post dated his supposed death. The general and a number of his co-conspirators were tried and executed by firing squad. They had planned on returning the monarchy to power, though honestly it seems like it was a pretty harebrained scheme to begin with. Napoleon was very popular, and I can’t imagine support for the coup doing anything but collapsing once it was discovered that Napoleon was still very much alive.

Harebrained is the correct spelling by the way, but hare-brained is also acceptable. Not hairbrained though, even though lots of people apparently labor under the impression that this is the correct spelling. Nope, hares, not hair. IE rabbit brained, hares not being known as particularly smart animals. Oddly enough hare (the rabbit) was once acceptably spelled hair, in Scotland particularly. So at one point hair-brained was acceptable, but no longer. English, fun language.

In 1906 Alberto Santos-Dumont flew the world’s first heavier-than-air aircraft in front of hundreds of witnesses in France. The first person to invent and fly an airplane! The fact that the Wright brothers preceded him by some months took awhile to sink in. Who cares. Both parties independently built a flying machine, a remarkable achievement for the era. Mr Santos-Dumont was a pioneer in both lighter and heavier-than-air craft and worthy of the fame he has. Sadly he killed himself at 59, partly because of the use of aircraft as weapons in World War One. Yikes.

In 1942 the 2nd Battle of El Alamein began. This was a British offensive against Rommel and his Afrika Korps in North Africa. The British had such an overwhelming advantage in men and equipment that the outcome was not in doubt. Sometimes great generals have won battles when outnumbered two or three to one. Seven plus to one, not aware of any large battle won at those odds. At least with reasonably well matched opponents technology wise. The battles of Guadalcanal and Stalingrad were raging as well at this time. Basically in late 1942 it became clear that the Axis were not going to win World War Two.

And in 1944, after it was clear the Axis were going to lose World War Two (The greatest martial arts contest ever held) on this date the Japanese launched their Leyte Gulf offensive. This was an attack on the US forces invading the Philippines, occupied by Japan since the start of World War Two in the Pacific. The attack caught the US by surprise, since their intelligence branch had concluded that Japan was no longer capable of large scale offensive operations. The War in the Pacific version of the Battle of the Bulge. While possibly more realistic than Hitler’s lunacy in The Bulge, Japan’s Leyte Gulf attack was also a fail.

Lastly, and nicely timed, Reagan. On October 23 the Marine barracks in Beirut Lebanon was attacked by a truck bomb, killing 241, 307 including a simultaneous attack on French troops. God rest their souls. So much to say, huge event at the time. Pre-Internet days, my wife and I were living in our truck. We saw the headlines in a newspaper in a newspaper box. The US was there as part of a peacekeeping mission. Forgotten by most now.

By most. Came across an article titled “21 Reasons Why Ronald Reagan Was a Terrible President.” I was so horrified by it I refuse to link to it. Principles and all. I didn’t read it all, but what I did read basically said Reagan was a terrible president because he didn’t launch the “War on Terror” after the Marine bombing in Lebanon. Right. Not launching the most pointless, destructive, expensive, and counterproductive “war” in American history makes him a terrible president? I’m no fan of Reagan, but pulling out of Lebanon after the bombing was the wise thing to do. The Lebanese Civil War was a horrible mess, especially then after the Israeli invasion. When your soldiers aren’t achieving anything positive, and they are coming under attack, time to bring them home. Good going Reagan, wish today’s leaders had as much sense.

Basically the whole article was neocon propaganda, the “all war all the time” philosophy that has taken over Washington. Moving right along, in today’s news, Trump has been credibly accused of treason. I guess I will blog about that Friday. Vaguely interesting in the pulling off a bandage way, right? Washington just keeps getting weirder.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: “The explosion of the Marine Corps building in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983 created a large cloud of smoke that was visible from miles away.” Credit: USMC. Pictures taken by Federal employees in the course of their job are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

October 23, 2019 at 5:35 am

TURKEY TELLS TRUMP TO ‘TALK TO THE HAND’

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This week started off with Trump thinking he was a Mafia don I guess. He threatened “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)” Yeah, that’s presidential. Where did he get the idea that threatening a major US ally in this way was going to lead to anything good for the US? This is all about the Kurds in Syria, which the US was perfectly willing to pay to fight ISIS. Trump is pulling the US out of Syria, Turkey apparently plans to invade Syria to both keep the Kurds from getting any ideas about independence, and to create a zone in Syria where they can resettle Syrian refugees that fled the Civil War in Syria.

Why is Trump up in arms about this? I don’t know, it’s not like he gives a crap about the Kurds or the Syrians. I think it’s just because he doesn’t like being crossed, Trump has always used his wealth and power to get his own way, regardless of the cost to others. The silly thing about this threat, is any economic action taken against Turkey is going to cost the US too. In fact it’s not clear to me that Trump has many options for hurting Turkey’s economy, it’s not like the world is going to agree to sanction Turkey. We’ll see what Turkey does, but my guess is they will proceed as planned and tell Trump to “Talk to the hand.”

Oh well, at least Trump is entertaining. Sadly the joke is on the American people. The impeachment circus grinds on, I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon, so I’m guessing it’s about rallying the base. Or more accurately, keep the base rallying around the prefered “centrist’ candidates, and away from Bernie sanders and his ilk. And if impeachment does succeed, probably by causing Trump to melt down completely and resign, we get Pence. Yeah, another Evangelical neocon. More “Bombing in the name of Jesus” basically. Here’s an interesting article about a potential Pence presidency.

Well, poot, reality is overtaking this post as I type. Turkey has called Trump’s bluff. With the Washington establishment’s blessing. What a complicated mess. Trump is being pilloried for “abandoning” our Kurdish “allies” to attack by Turkey. Well, we are abandoning the Kurds, as we have done before when they were no further use to us. And they aren’t our allies, just locals we armed and paid to defeat a mutual enemy, ISIS. Turkey is a member of NATO and thus most definitely our allie. A member that has no intention of allowing an autonomous Kurdish defacto state to be established in Syria. It would give the millions of Kurds living in Turkey ideas.

Yes, this post is almost incoherent. Like America’s strategy in the Middle East. Let’s try to sum it all up. Revolution/Civil War breaks out in Syria some years back. Numerous other countries get involved, but eventually with help from Iran and Russia, the Syrian regime wins the war. A large part of Northeastern Syria remains under de facto Kurdish control. Trump announces he is going to actually fulfill a campaign promise (gasp!) and pull at least some US troops out of Syria, who are there completely illegally by the way. The neocon Washington ‘all war all the time’ establishment goes nuts over Trump’s decision, then the Turks announce they will be going into Syria. Trump does his Mafia don schtick and threatens turkey, while also praising them, in a series of classically Trumpian (IE near incoherent) tweets. Turkey announces Trump can “talk to the hand,” Turkey is going into Syria. And now we wait for other shoes to drop.

What a complicated mess in other words. Wars within wars. I miss the seventies. For a time after the Vietnam War there was peace in the world. No wars anywhere. What a concept. For about 8% of the last 3,400 years the world has been at peace. So it’s not an impossible dream. Since the peaceful days of the seventies, we’re now involved in half a dozen wars, with other wars ongoing as well. And most of the wars the US is fighting are stalemates, and are at least as senseless as the Vietnam War. Great for profits in the war industry and promotions in the Pentagon I guess. My point here is that if the world was at peace in the seventies, but is riven with war now, who’s to blame? I would posit that the people who rule the world, the US and its allies, are to blame. In fact the current pile of pointless and hopeless wars we are involved in proves Washington’s strategy, if “kill all the bad guys” can even be called a strategy, has failed.

Alas, America is the country that can do no wrong. So no matter how often our wars fail, we just pay the toll in blood and gold (usually not American blood) and carry on. This is why the world is a mess, this is why by all objective metrics the US is worse off than any other developed nation, this is why Trump got elected! And this is why it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

I know, I know, ranting again. I’ll go take a Valium.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: From Wikipedia: “Part of the set of five hanging scrolls Extermination of Evil depicting benevolent deities who expel demons of plague. This scroll was originally part of a handscroll known as the “second edition of the Masuda family Hell Scroll” before being cut into sections after World War II. The text on the scroll explains the acts of the god in exterminating evil. The Divine Insect is an euphemism for the silkworm which takes the form of a moth here. The set of five scrolls has been designated as National Treasure of Japan in the category paintings.” Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

October 9, 2019 at 5:13 am

9/11 DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES

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nps

September 11 2019. The 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Possibly the most written about event in history. At least in America, I wonder how much attention it gets in the rest of the world. Years of cultivating foreign friends has taught me a bit about the world. Two things I have learned so far. Most of the world has little interest in America and Americans, aside from superficial stuff like our movies and such. And that I know basically jack about most other countries. The older I get, the more I am impressed with how breathtakingly ignorant I am about most things. So I spend a lot of time in the library.

18 years ago. Time flies. People under 25 or so don’t even remember pre-9/11 America. There was still a facade of participatory democracy. There was still a reasonably robust antiwar movement. The USA hadn’t yet turned the Middle East into a morass of failed states and terrorist breeding grounds. Mandatory flag waving and anthem singing wasn’t required at every single public gathering and professional sporting event. The Internet was only 90% crap.

And facts mattered. At least a lot more than they do now. Conservatives and liberals still talked to each other, they hadn’t yet retreated into their respective parties’ fantasy worlds. Conspiracy theories were still fringe beliefs, not planks in major party platforms. Americans didn’t live in fear of immigrants, terrorists, Muslims, or school shooters. A college education didn’t require lifetime debt. And in many very measurable ways, the typical American was better off than they are now.

Finally 9/11 is fading into history, but the damage done by the Bush administrations cowardly and self-serving insane overreaction to 9/11 is with us still. Permanent endless wars, a national debt that’s almost incomprehensible. The erosion of our freedoms and the giant security state now monitoring us. Bush did claim Osama Bin Laden was attacking us because he was jealous of our freedoms. So I guess taking them away made sense. That’s what the image above alludes to.

In other words, 9/11 and America’s response to it are pretty depressing topics. I wish I had something positive to say. Wracking my brains here. A terrible crime, used to justify countless subsequent crimes. How does one find the silver lining in that? The 9/11 Truthers have been amusing I suppose. The conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories. Of course the amusement fades when one realizes just how divorced from logical thinking one has to be to imagine that thousands of Americans conspired to murder thousands of Americans for no reason whatsoever. And left exactly zero evidence of their crime.

God rest the souls of all who died that terrible day. I dreamt about it as it was happening, so was more than a little shocked when I turned on the TV. And God rest the souls of all who died as America lashed out in a quixotic crusade to rid the world of terror. And our 9/11 inspired wars are killing people to this day. The idea that war will end terror is about as dumb as people thinking World War One would end all war. As someone said back when America still had an antiwar movement, “Fighting for peace is like fucking for chastity.” Nowadays Americans are so shell shocked that our “leaders” in Washington don’t even bother to promise peace anymore.

So in summation, 9/11 was a terrible crime by a tiny extremist organization. It wasn’t an act of war, clash of civilizations, or an attack on the United States. The perpetrators should have been hunted down and brought to trial. The dead buried with respect, and we should have stayed calm and carried on. Kinda the opposite of how we reacted. And here we are 18 years later, and Al Qaeda is as strong as ever. Again, God rest the souls of all the 9/11 victims.

And now here in Iowa a tornado watch. Well, now I’m both depressed and nervous. At least I live close to downtown, so I will hear the tornado alarm if it goes off. On the plus side, we’re finally getting some rain. The lake is down a foot or so, the lawn rolled over and died of thirst last week. And dry soil makes treasure hunting impossible. I know, I know, white peoples’ problems. A future blog post.

Hope everyone is having a good week.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Twin Towers in NYC shortly after the planes struck. Credit: A federal National Park Service employee took this photo as part of their official duties, and thus it is Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 11, 2019 at 4:05 am