Ninety-Two Years

Honor, courage, commitment.

Last year I wrote the meditation below on Veterans Day.  I am reposting it this year with some palate-cleansing multimedia addenda.

Ninety one years ago, in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the armistice was proclaimed that ended the terrible fighting in World War I.  A war that had erupted in large part because Europe’s political leaders, a century on from the Napoleonic conflicts, were accustomed to war remaining limited, produced some of the bloodiest battles ever fought. The six-month battle of the Somme in 1916 took the lives of an unimaginable 1.5 million French, German, and British soldiers – without either side achieving sustainable penetration of the line of confrontation, or any operational victory. WWI was the most tactically and politically frustrating of wars, admitting little maneuver, little jockeying for advantage, and no enduring significance to victory.

But it marked the debut of the United States on the stage long occupied by the great powers of Europe, as American soldiers boarded troop ships to head “Over There,” Continue reading “Ninety-Two Years”

Interesting Times in the Far East

Chinese curse speaks Russian.

As America readies for a watershed off-year election, Dmitry Medvedev made good Monday on his threat to visit one of the Kuril Islands disputed by Russia and Japan. He chose to visit the major island closest to Japanese territory, Kunashiri. The visit is inherently a significant break with the tacit post-1991 consensus presided over by the US. But it’s what Medvedev was doing before he landed on the island that clarifies how Russia sees this unprecedented move.

Back in late June and July, the Russian military held a large-scale exercise dubbed Vostok (“East”) 2010. Like similar exercises held in Western Russia in 2009, this was the largest such event since the end of the Cold War. During the exercise, Continue reading “Interesting Times in the Far East”

Westboro “Baptist”: The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the American Way

Duty, honor, country.

Westboro “Baptist”: The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the American Way

I’m a firm believer that if you lay things out for people and get enough minds on the problem, people will fight their way out of mental boxes and create answers that awe and inspire.  The repellent problem of the Westboro “Baptist” “Church” protesters (hereinafter the WBC protesters, so I don’t have to waste valuable time on repetitive but necessary scare quotes) presents just such a situation.

Everyone knows what these WBCers do.  I’m not sure everyone knows the extent of what they do: Continue reading “Westboro “Baptist”: The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the American Way”

Google, China, Hillary, and Roswell

What is the Obama State Department doing on this Google-China thing? Nothing explicable by any prior actions or expression of priorities.

Is this a great country or what?  While doing some research on Google, China, and Hillary Clinton (who had dinner with Google’s CEO last week and performed very credibly as his mouthpiece this week), I came across a tidbit I just can’t keep to myself.  The Paradigm Research Group (PRG), which pesters the federal government to release files on Roswell, NM so we don’t have to, has been demanding the release of files relating to a previous assault on the Clintons for release of Roswell-related files, back in the mid-1990s.

Got that? Continue reading “Google, China, Hillary, and Roswell”

“Two Wars” No More – Part III

Part III in a series on the Gates decision to shift away from the “two-war” force planning basis in the 2010 QDR. Looks at this decision in light of America’s warfighting style(s) and ideas on dealing with conflicts and security.

This is the third, final—and most extensively argued – post in a three-part series on the DOD decision to shift away from the “two-war” planning scenario that has been used as the predicate for the size and composition of the US armed forces since the end of the Cold War.  The first two parts addressed this shift in the context of alliances and standing force commitments, and from the standpoint of America’s grand strategy.

 

The whole discussion so far, in Parts I and II, has ended up begging the question of the other major category of assumption about American policy that has infused the two-war construct:  that is, what our warfighting style is.  In the broadest sense, how do we foresee handling conflicts?  This is a particularly apposite question not merely because we have a QDR due next year, but because two other factors are converging at the same time. Continue reading ““Two Wars” No More – Part III”