The End

Should there be another truly world war, it would be all over in 25 minutes. Then a new dark ages would begin for the survivors.

What we now called the “developed world” would be a wasteland. The most remote regions of the world today would be the most advantageous.

“Evil Empire”

Outbreak of War

What the events that led to the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 tell us is that diplomats can lose control of situations, which can escalate quickly and snowball out of anyone’s control.

World War 1 was a war that no one wanted, with the possible exception of Kaiser William II who had off-the-wall fantasies of glory in combat. Because of entangling alliances, once the dominoes started to fall, it was inevitable that the world was faced with not a local war but a world war.

It is a lesson that perhaps has been lost on today’s generation of diplomats that seem to be acting as if the nuclear threat were merely an innocuous abstraction that could never happen. But it can happen, and if certain events are set in motion mindlessly, it will happen of its own accord.

And so we will have another world war that no one wanted, but this time it will be the war that does end all war — and civilization as we know it.


Nuclear Confrontation

Is the US planting false flags — like the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which never happened, or supposed weapons of mass destruction, which didn’t exist — as an excuse to send troops into Ukraine or use tactical nuclear weapons against the Russians? Lots of specious and suspicious social-media comments that the Russians are losing and getting desperate, and so will try to use unacceptable weapons to even the score — false flags because the Russians are clearly winning the war.

Such false flags would mean that you and I are now at risk because of this confrontation between the West and Russia in Ukraine because now we are talking the potential of using nuclear weapons. Don’t think that Russia would not response to the use of tactical nuclear weapons against them.

US Sanctions Against Russia

War What Ifs

What if, simultaneously, NK invades SK and China invades Taiwan. What would the US do, led by a Biden administration soft on — and I would say naive about — China?

A NK invasion of SK would require the use of tactical nuclear weapons by the US to deter it (no way the US would send a large army into SK nor would there be enough time to mobilize and do that). But I don’t see the Biden administration willing to use tactical nuclear weapons. Same situation (need for the use of tactical nuclear weapons) with an invasion of Taiwan, which might actually be triggered by a successful first invasion by NK of SK because it would then embolden China — China would conclude that the US was actually a paper tiger and so not to be feared in their takeover of Taiwan. So the first invasion would lead to the second.

The lesson taught by history at Munich that led to the outbreak of a world war is simply that if one side is perceived to not be willing to protect it sphere of influence, that condition invites aggression by the other side.

Consider this: two such successful invasions would mean that the American sphere of influence in Asia would collapse. Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and all of southeastern Asia would all become dominated by China because none of these nations would any longer trust the American defense. China would become the uncontested power throughout all of Asia. Therefore, what is obvious is that China would have a tremendous amount to be gained from a successful takeover of Taiwan — a much greater gain than just that takeover, i.e., a sphere of influence extending throughout all of Asia. Therefore, one should not dismiss a Taiwan invasion as unlikely — it is much more likely than not, imo.

These two situations — the status of both SK and Taiwan — have been simmering, tittering on the edge, and unresolved now for decades.

America Coming Apart?

Tolstoy’s War and Peace

There recently was a contest on television rating the 100 best ever works of fiction.  To Kill a Mockingbird was the final winner, but, in my opinion, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace should have been the winner as the best work of fiction ever written — perhaps that will ever be written.

It weaves together various aristocratic romantic as well as, at times, sinister and self-seeking relationships in a backdrop of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and ultimate defeat at the hands of the Russian military and the Russian winter.  The central character is this somewhat credulous but very humane character Pierre who seems to always find himself in the middle of things — both the various romantic relationships as well as the French invasion itself.  One finds Pierre committing one folly after another, but going through a learning process and ultimately gaining a deeper humanity for it.

There was a television miniseries based on Tolstoy’s novel that’s now available on Hulu.  The screenplay and staging are both excellent, the acting superior, and the miniseries really does this classic novel complete justice.  Yet the miniseries when it was first aired received little recognition and applause for all of that.  But then again there’s no underestimating American taste.

Nevertheless, Paul Dano played the role of the bumbling but appealing Pierre Bezukhov, the pivotal lead character of the novel, to perfection.  He got both Pierre’s early stupefaction and his later enlightenment and character development just right.  Bravo to Paul Dano for bringing this wonderful Tolstoyan character to life.

War and Peace

War and Peace (2016 TV Series)

Pierre Bezukhov

My Story


The Ultimate Pyrrhic Victory

Let’s see.  Russia can destroy the continental United States in about 20 minutes.  Probably kill about a 1/3 of the population with the initial strike, but of the ones who survived, 90% will die from starvation or radiation.  But the Russia-haters in Congress think it is a good idea to keep poking Russia in the eye with a stick.  I don’t.

I do think our military technology might be slightly better than Russia’s since we spend so much money on it, so that in 20 minutes we kill 1/2 their population, and then 95% of the rest dies from starvation or radiation.  So I suppose you could say we would “win,” right?

Pyrrhic Victory

My Story

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Iraq — Our Three Stooges War

During the 1980’s, Iraq and Iran were at war with each other.   Sunni-led Iraq was fighting against Shiite Iran, so that the war had a sectarian character.  The war was fought to a stalemate, and so, ironically, established a clear balance of power between the Sunni countries and the Shiite countries, as neither Iraq nor Iran could make any territorial gains, so that purely sectarian aggression in the Middle East was held in check pretty much throughout the 90’s.

The Iraq War that began in 2003 undermined that precious balance of power.  We went to war to prevent Saddam Hussein from using “weapons of mass destruction,” even though he had none, and to remove him  as an ally of Al-Qaeda, even though he wasn’t one.  But what we did remove was a regime ruled by the Sunnis in Iraq, and replaced it with one ruled by Iraqi Shiites.  The net result was that Iraq invariably fell under the sphere of influence of Iran, as both countries were now  allies as ruled by the same Islamic sect — in essence, Iran ultimately won the 1980’s war without having to fire a shot due to our foolhardy invasion of Iraq.

And without the balance of power represented by the Sunni-led Iraq under Saddam, Iran has extended its hegemony in the region as an ally of Assad in Syria and in support of the powerful Hezbollah party in Lebanon, so that its sphere of influence now extends from its own eastern border all the way to the Mediterranean.  That has been one unfortunate result of our Iraq War.  How did that serve the interest of the United States?

The other unfortunate result has been to launch sectarian civil war throughout the region.  Saddam had kept a lid on the violent sectarianism that stewed in Iraq under a seemingly tranquil surface.  That was in fact his mandate for governing — his raison d’etat — to maintain a strictly Sunni government that would hold in check the Shia and Kurdish segments of the country.  By removing Saddam, we removed that check on the violent sectarianism that seethed just below the surface between the Iraqi Sunnis and the Iraqi Shiites.

But the Sunnis that we displaced in Iraq were not going to be subjugated by Shiites without a fight, and so our displacement of the Sunni-led government of Saddam as well as the disenfranchisement of his Sunni-oriented military led inevitably to the spawning of Sunni extremist groups and civil war first in Iraq, but ultimately with ISIS in both Iraq and Syria — yet another unanticipated consequence of our ill-considered invasion of Iraq.  How did that serve the interest of the United States?

So our Iraq War produced results directly opposite of our interests — creating a much stronger Iran regionally and unleashing an ongoing sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiite throughout the entire Middle East that had once been held in check by the stalemate from the Iraq/Iran conflict in the 1980’s.   The conclusion is undeniable: We blunder into stupid wars and have no idea of the consequences, not unlike the buffoonish and clumsy behavior of the Three Stooges.

Iraq War


The Three Stooges

My Story

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On the Brink

I’m fascinated by the Edwardian Age, that period from the 1890’s to World War 1 when civilization had seemingly reached a pinnacle.  The world had been at peace for decades, and it seemed like war itself was a thing of the past, outmoded, irrelevant.  A new age of civility and manners had dawned on mankind, and industrialization had created immense wealth and widespread prosperity.  In America, this was the Newport era where the wealthy (“Robber Barons”)  built their “cottages” by the sea.   The wealthy on both sides of the “pond” enjoyed themselves with extravagant leisure activities like the new game tennis or endless summer lawn parties for the “in” crowd.

The arts were thriving, and culture had seemingly fused the best of old traditions with amazing modern innovations like the automobile and the bicycle.  In one area the Edwardians did achieve a zenith in culture that had never been reached until then or since, and probably will never be reached again: high fashion.  Men wore the perfect tuxedo and top hat, while curvaceous women — shaped by the devilish corset — enjoyed outrageously stylish big hats and stunningly elegant dresses.  Their high fashion really  puts our Kentucky Derby fashion statement to shame — there simply is no comparison.

Many wealthy young American women married into the British and European aristocracies —  a clear trend.  They brought their financial assets with them, and therefore restored the fortunes of a great number of old European houses, so that European aristocracy witnessed an unexpected renewal and flourished once again.   It was a golden age that looked out upon the future not just with mere hope but with bright confidence — nothing could ever possibly go wrong again, and everything would certainly always go right, to bigger and better things, to a higher and higher state of civilization.

Then Sarajevo happened.  Entangling diplomatic alliances took a very local incident and inflamed it into a general European crisis.  And so war burst upon the Europeans suddenly, like a steamroller exploding out of the night.  And what war!   Trench warfare, “no man’s land,” machine guns, heavy ordinance with gigantic cannons, a new and formidable weapon called “tanks,” airplanes with machine guns and bombs, gas attacks, and a horrendous new affliction dubbed with the apt name “shell shock” — all the horror that modern military technology could bring to bear upon the art of killing large numbers of human beings.  In this diabolical type of war, humans were not really individual soldiers anymore, but so many ants to be crushed en masse under foot by the war machine.

And no one in the Edwardian Age — busy whiling away their leisure time playing tennis at a lawn party in Newport — saw it coming.  Busy with social media and our smart phones, are we not the same today as the Edwardians — without a clue we are on the brink?  Our threat — lest you forget — is nuclear.  Whole cities can be destroyed in a blink.  But that can’t happen, right?

(Still one of the classics, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front was banned in Nazi Germany because it was thought it would demoralize the military.  In my opinion, the book is a must read for anyone who considers themselves educated, but, if you prefer, there was also a fine early film made based on the book.)

Edwardian Era

Edwardian Fashion

The Edwardians — a novel


Shell Shock

All Quiet on the Western Front

A Speech Like No Other


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A Speech Like No Other

It was the greatest speech ever given in American history: Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at the dedication ceremonies at Gettysburg, given on November 19, 1963.   The speaker before Lincoln, Edward Everett, a very famous orator in his own right, droned on for over 2 hours.  After the respectful — and perhaps thankful — applause upon the conclusion of Everett’s speech, Lincoln took the podium.  His speech lasted less than 2 minutes.  When it ended, there was dead silence from the massive audience that had assembled to hear the speeches and pay their respects at Gettysburg.  There was dead silence because no one realized  the speech, so brief and to the point, had actually ended.  Slowly there was hesitant clapping from the audience.  This — silence and confusion — was the immediate and ironic response to the greatest speech ever given in American history.  Of course, all the Northern newspapers picked it up for their next edition, and when those 272 words were actually read by the public, an immense reaction took place that reverberates to this day.  Such is the power of the printed word.

Gettysburg Address Text

Gettysburg Address History

Where Is Our Leader?


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