Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps. . .Well, that's interesting. But what actually happened was:
The Soviets gained the grimy wealth of the Upper Silesian Industrial Region on 29 January . . .Also in the possession of the Russians was probably the most terrible place there has ever been on earth -- the death camp at Auschwitz, which had been uncovered by the Sixtieth Army a couple of days before. If the Soviet soldiers needed any justification for why they were fighting, they found it in the skeletal corpses, the bones and the grey mud which were all that remained of the victims. . .Christopher Duffy Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany, 1945 (Da Capo Press 1993, p. 93).
When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today.
Inscription, British War Memorial, Kohima, India. (attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds, Times Literary Supplement[London], 4 July 1918).
Out of action for a couple of days, and I am sorry that I missed commemorating Memorial Day on here, for which I beg your pardon. I was happy to see that so many of my blogging comrades did the day proud with a number of splendid posts. Although I'm late, I wanted to add my own thanks, and remember all of those who wore the country's uniform, who paid the ultimate price, and who gave all their tomorrows, for all of our todays.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
It's not reason that is at the heart of modern-day liberalism but rather the claim to superior virtue and, even more important, to a special knowledge unavailable to the unwashed or unenlightened. Depending on the temper of the time, such virtue and knowledge can derive disproportionately from scientism or mysticism -- or it can mix large dollops of both.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
We must revive our understanding of deterrence, the balance of power, and the military balance. In comparison with our recnt history, American military potential is restrained. Were we to allocate the average of 5.7% of GNP that we devoted annually to defense in peacetime from 1940-2000, we would have as a matter of course $800 billion each year with which to develop and sustain armies and fleets. . .(emphasis in the original).
Monday, May 12, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
It's a safe bet that Hillary and Bill are probably at low tide tonight. There's probably unease among conservatives too. Barack Obama has demonstrated that "reasons" to vote against him are not enough. They count, but they count less than they rationally should. He's riding an emotional tide in a weather system where logic is the smallest of zephyrs. Obama is the candidate of feeling. The expression of a mood. What he is in and of himself has proved less important than his symbolism.To successfully combat Obama conservatives will need more than reasons. They'll need a cause. A reason to believe. What remains to be seen is whether John McCain can provide one.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
On this day in 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space when Mercury-Redstone 3 blasted-off from Cape Canaveral's Pad 5 and took Astronaut Shepard and his capsule Freedom 7 into space. Freedom 7 did not orbit, only going up, and then right back down (a "suborbital" flight), and he was only up for 16 minutes. After moon landings and space shuttles, it doesn't sound like much now, but if you have ever seen a real Mercury capsule (eleven and a half feet wide, just over six feet in diameter), you would understand how absolutely brave a stunt it really was to climb into this thing (actually, you pretty much wore it, you didn't get in it) and sit quietly on the pad while the smart boys fired up a rocket as likely to crash or explode as to fly.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Today in 1898, the US Asiatic Squadron under (then) Commodore George Dewey destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron at Cavite, inside Manila Bay, Philippines (then a Spanish colonial possession). The Battle of Manila Bay was the first battle of the Spanish-American War (the US declaration of war was on the 23rd of April).
Commodore Dewey had ample warning of the coming conflict (from, among others, Theodore Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy) and the outbreak of war found Dewey and his fleet at Mirs Bay, near Hong Kong, which place he left on the 27th, after receiving up-to-date information on the Spanish fleet from the former US consul at Manila. After finding no sign of the Spanish fleet at Subic Bay (west of Bataan Peninsula) Dewey’s force: three protected cruisers, (including his flagship USS Olympia, pictured above) two gunboats and support vessels, rounded Bataan and entered Manila Bay the night of the 30th, appearing off Manila early the next morning.
Finding nothing but merchantmen off Manila proper, Dewey located the Spanish squadron at nearby Cavite. Spanish Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón’s placement of his ships at Cavite was perhaps a mistake (it was out of range of the forts nearer Manila which could have helped him), but it also avoided having US “overs” that missed Spanish ships land in the streets of Manila. The Spanish ships (two protected cruisers, four unprotected cruisers and a gunboat) were old, in poor repair and hopelessly outgunned.
Dewey’s squadron got through the Spanish minefields without difficulty, and, at 5:41 a.m., the Commodore gave Olympia’s captain, Charles Gridley, the famous order to open fire. The US ships, deployed in line, passed back and forth in front of the Spanish vessels and forts, from ranges between 5,000 and 2,000 yards. The American fire was devastating: the Spanish return fire, while “vigorous," was, as Dewey put it, “generally ineffective.” The Americans took a break from between 7:35 and 11:15 a.m, moving out into the bay to re-distribute ammunition.
Fire was resumed from 11:15 till about 12:30 p.m., when it became apparent the Spanish fleet was completely destroyed (some of the vessels surrendered). The Spanish had at least 150 dead, and many wounded. The Americans had seven wounded, none killed (although there was one death due to a heart attack). Dewey’s Marines and sailors landed at Cavite on the 2nd, destroyed the shore batteries, and took possession of the Spanish arsenal there on the 3rd.
Following the battle Dewey was immediately promoted to Rear-Admiral, and eventually to Admiral of the Navy, a rank nobody had held before, and nobody since. Naturally, news of the victory created a big sensation in the United States, not to mention making big waves in Europe: serving notice that America had arrived as a world power.
Admiral Montojo, it should be said, had a nearly impossible task: defending his country’s far away colonial outpost with his obsolete ships, and he got precious little help doing so from his home government, or the local Spanish bureaucracy. Admiral Montojo did the best he could with what little he had, and his subsequent inprisonment was a grievous miscarriage of justice. Eventually, Admiral Montojo was absolved by the Spanish authorities (Admiral Dewey gave evidence for his legal defense: correspondence here and here). American commanders in the Philippines in 1942 facing the Japanese would no doubt have understood Admiral Montojo's problems well.
Finally, Olympia had a long career in the US Navy, finally decommissioning for the last time in 1922. Olympia outlived Dewey, her crew and her enemies, and she still exists today, as a museum ship in Philadelphia, and a tangible reminder of the long-ago era of George Dewey, the sinking of the USS Maine, Teddy Roosevelt and San Juan Hill.