Friday, July 19, 2019

Good old German know-how

RtO won't be celebrating the men on the Moon along with everyone else, although I will how long will pause to remember the 30,000 people who were murdered in order to make it happen.

The first and trivial reason  that I won't be celebrating is that it was pointless, as is demonstrated by the fact that no one has gone back to that dead rock for the past half century. It was impressive all right, but so is a Chinese acrobat spinning 20 plates on rods.

The second and important reason to avoid celebrating is that at the bottom of the achievement was crime. Many many crimes in fact, crime that continued long after the Moon men came home. Balzac wrote behind every great fortune is a great crime. This indictment is too broad if there is something to his thought.

Although there was no scientific point in going to the Moon, the crime had a political point: the United States was desperate to prove our moral superiority to the Commies, which we did by hiring Nazi war criminals to build a rocket.

A friend of mine was as a young Air Force officer given the job of calculating the orbits of Air Force satellites. In that job he came to know the Nazis in Huntsville. They were very very happy to be there, he once told me. Indeed. They were aware that if there were any justice in the world they would've been swinging from gibbets.

All this was known or knowable to the public at the time. The public chose and still chooses not to care.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fear in the streets

Since nobody else is going to say it, not even those most adamantly alarmist and angry about Trump's pathetic parade, in much of the world American tanks in the street and planes in the sky are terrifying, because they mean indiscriminbate destruction and death.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Spirit of Drancy III

How convenient that a day that  should have been devoted to follow-ups of detailed reports of kidnappings, starvation and brutality by Trump's agents against children, we were in instead treated to endless stories about softhearted Donald not wanting to see any Iranians hurt.

Among the latest proven atrocities carried out by ICE and Border Patrol was the kidnapping of a four-month-old baby. When finally returned to her mother the baby did not recognize her and was afraid to go to her. I readily recognize this sort of atrocity as the same thing happened to my grandfather at the end of the Civil War.

When Rodney King was beaten there were 25 law enforcement officers on hand but only one raised any objections to the savagery, leading us to conclude that in Southern California 95% of police officers are savages.

Christopher Browning's outstanding history of Reserve Police Battalion 101,  "Ordinary Men," found that of about 500 German policeman, only one raised even the mildest objections to the murders and other atrocities they were told to commit against Jews and other enemies of the people.

So far as it is known, no one in ICE or the Border Patrol objected in any way to the kidnapping of a four-month-old baby. If they do not have sufficient moral boundaries to draw the line there, history suggests they would not draw it anywhere.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Pompeo shoots self in foot

Whatever the object is in the spy film released by the Secretary of State to demonstrate Iranian guilt in the tanker bombing, it isn't a ship-killing mine.

One man handled it without straining, so it cannot have weighed more than 30 pounds or so.


Monday, June 10, 2019

Book Review 411: Joe Alsop's Cold War



JOE ALSOP'S COLD WAR: A Study of Journalistic Influence and Intrigue, by Edwin M. Yoder Jr. 220 pages, illustratedl. U. of North Caroina Press, $29.95.

I started reading Joe Alsop's newspaper column in the summer of 1966.  I thought he was an idiot.  He was, too.

I did not then understand how rank the stupidity was or how far back it went. It began in China during World War 2 when Alsop was on the staff of the crackpot aviator Claire Chennault. Chennault's fantasy of defeating an industrial state by random terror bombing was destroyed by infantry attack but Alsop remained a believer to the end of his life.

That 400,000 Chinese peasants were killed in the process did not affect his views.

After the war Alsop made a fine career as a sort of global village idiot specializing on foreign policy and military security.

He claimed often to have invented the domino theory, although Edwin Yoder is skeptical. If he wasn't the father, he was the doting godfather although anyone with a school atlas in the 1950s could have seen that if there was a domino effect, it ran in the opposite direction from the one Alsop and hisRless colorful brother Stewart spent 14 years flogging.

The Red Army stopped in its tracks as soon as it had defeated the fascists of Germany and Japan and never took another goose-step forward, until 1979 in Afghanistan. It even retreated from Finland, Austria, Iran, Korea and Manchuria.

This very obvious fact did not deter Alsop from bleating constantly about the dangers of Soviet imperialism although if any country was sending imperial armies into new territory in the '50s and '60s it was the United States.

People who knew Alsop intimately considered him stupid. It is impossible to argue with this opinion although Yoder, a personal friend, does his best to prettify the sordid scene.

After Chennault, Alsop maintained a lifelong predilection for tough talking fools in military uniform. He was a deeply closeted homosexual, a precious queen clinking his china tea cups and smoothing his custom made Italian silk shirts. Yoder does not speculate about Alsop's attraction to such crude milites gloriosi, but there is a distinct flavor of Tom of Finland here.

The Alsop brothers pretended to be real reporters and claimed always to have at least one previously unreported fact in each of their columns. They made much of their trips to see things for themselves.

However like other men of their time and class -- they were near kin of the Roosevelts and heirs to a Connecticut progressive Republican tradition -- they did not believe that colored people could or should govern themselves, and when they went to a foreign country it would never have occurred to them to speak to anyone who lived there. Their idea of getting the facts was to quiz diplomats, foreign businessmen and others who they believed to be in the know.

As a result they maintained a colonialist mentality.

Joe Alsop was especially smitten by William Westmoreland and was unwaveringly certain that the Republic of South Vietnam was going to prevail despte its complete lack of political legitimacy.

And yet despite their silliness overseas, back home the Alsops worked bravely and effectively, openly and deviously, against McCarthy and McCarthyism . Though not a fan of the somewhat dumpy Dwight Eisenhower -- one the few generals Joe did not admire -- Alsop did tell friends in 1952 that he was afraid that if the Republicans were kept out of the White House for another four years they would turn into a native fascist party.

He was right about that although premature.

Since "Joe Alsop's Cold War"  is subtitled "a study of influence," Yoder tries to assess whether the Alsops really exerted any influence. It is clear that they did in the counterattack of the regular Republicans against the McCarthyites. Yoder is skeptical that they had much impact on their chosen area of foreign relations.








Waiting for the news

So, Trump says we (meaning he) got 'everything we wanted' from Mexico, and he will be annoucing the additional goodies soon. Can we assume that this means Mexico is paying for The Wall?

Wasn't that one of the things he wanted?

Prediction: his besotted adorers will give him a pass on this one, too.




Thursday, June 6, 2019

The failure of anti-fascism

A cannonade of blather has been launched over beaches of Normandy today and many salvoes of freedom and democracy light up the sky there. Let's state the obvious: The great antifascist crusade in Europe failed.

The displacement of Italy and Germany succeeded, but fascism had already taken over nearly all of Europe before September 1, 1939; in the few states purported to represent democracy, democracy was a strange and phony system. No one in Egypt thought England was a democracy; no one in the East Indies thought the Netherlands were a democracy; no one in Congo thought Belgium was a democracy; no one in Vietnam thought France was democracy.

To the Russians who did most of the fighting and dying in the supposed antifascist movement, when that wing of the antifascist drive got to the German-speaking , it areas did not distinguish between fascists and antifascists; if you spoke German, you were a fascist.

Though it was fought with ideological weapons, from the perspective of 2019 it is hard to see the war an Europe is anything but a continuation of the struggle for national hegemonies that had been going on for 500 y.ears

For 50 years after the war ,fascism was suppressed except in Iberia and Greece but only suppressed. People who lived in Europe did not reject it. It's more than a little ironic that the place where antifascist political sentiment is strongest today is probably Germany.

The '30s were low, mean decade. The present time is not yet as low or as mean but we're on the same path.