Those Desert Rats

World War Two in North Africa gave the world some unlikely heroes…the Desert Rats of Tobruk……

The term “Rats of Tobruk,” a moniker applied by the Nazi propagandist broadcaster William Joyce (“Lord Haw-Haw”), referred more generally to any of the Allied troops who defended Tobruk, Libya. Tobruk, a key deepwater port city, had been captured on January 22, 1941, by the Desert Rats and the 6th Australian Division as part of a major Allied offensive that saw Italian forces under Rodolfo Graziani effectively wiped out. A counteroffensive launched by Rommel in March enjoyed spectacular success, negating most of the Allied territorial gains, with the notable exception of Tobruk.

Some say that the North African forces were the beginnings of the special operations forces……I disagree……

But before the “Rats” of Tobruk there were others also called the Desert Rats…..but these “Rats” were in the Great War (WW1)….

Contrary to popular belief the special forces began with the these men……

Striking where the enemy is weakest and melting away into the darkness before he can react.

• Never confronting a stronger force directly, but willing to use audacity and surprise to confound and demoralize an opponent.

• Operations driven by good intelligence, area knowledge, mobility, speed, firepower, and detailed planning executed by a few specialists with indigenous warriors…

…this is unconventional warfare.

Here is the story of one of its earliest First World War practitioners…

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Freya Stark

Sunday and my break from the dismal news of the week…..if I cannot entertain then I need to educate.

I have been given my readers a look at the women that helped mold the modern Middle East after World War One….

First was Gertrude Bell then Jane Digby…..

The third and final woman is that of Freya Stark…..

Raised in Italy and England by liberal-minded parents, Freya Stark already spoke several languages as a child. Riding and mountaineering were part of her education, and with her mother and grandmother as role models she developed into an unconventional woman who was as at home in elegant salons as she was able to deal with poverty and physical exertion.

In spite of her delicate and sickly constitution, Freya Stark was tough and tenacious. In 1912 she began her studies in history at Bedford College in London, but broke them off with the onset of the First World War, when she left for Bologna to work as a nurse.

She had problems with self-esteem, feeling awkward and unattractive because she had to wear clothes tailored by her mother. Later in life, when she had her own money, she was known for her elegant and extravagant clothes/outfits.

Her engagement to a physician from Bologna was short-lived. Shocked, Freya moved to London, where for a time she worked as a censor of international correspondence – good preparation for her later collaboration with the Ministry of Information in London where she would be employed as an expert on the Middle East during the Second World War.

To help my readers learn about this fascinating women I found a couple of short videos……

This one is longer but a good look at the life of an interesting woman……

And finally……

Women made a difference in the Middle East as the First World War ended….for the good or the bad…they made a difference….something that cannot be said about the US which pretended that they were solidly behind the idea of self-determination for all people.

I hope this short series helped my reader learn about the courage and the fortitude of these women.

Class Dismissed!

“lego ergo scribo”

The Ghost Of Henry Cabot Lodge


US foreign policy nerds know the name…..a GOP senator from Massachusetts….over 100 years ago……but that is not the topic here regardless the title.

This is actually about the days after WW1 when Wilson offered up his 14 points to include the League of Nations…..

Summary of the Fourteen Points

  1. No more secret agreements between countries. Diplomacy shall be open to the world.
  2. International seas shall be free to navigate during peace and war.
  3. There shall be free trade between the countries who accept the peace.
  4. There shall be a worldwide reduction in weapons and armies by all countries.
  5. Colonial claims over land and regions will be fair.
  6. Russia will be allowed to determine its own form of government. All German troops will leave Russian soil.
  7. German troops will evacuate Belgium and Belgium will be an independent country.
  8. France will regain all territory including the disputed land of Alsace-Lorraine.
  9. The borders of Italy will be established such that all Italians will be within the country of Italy.
  10. Austria-Hungary will be allowed to continue to be an independent country.
  11. The Central Powers will evacuate Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania leaving them as independent countries.
  12. The Turkish people of the Ottoman Empire will have their own country. Other nationalities under the Ottoman rule will also have security.
  13. Poland shall be an independent country.
  14. A League of Nations will be formed that protects the independence of all countries no matter how big or small.

This is where Lodge enters the picture…..Republican Congressman from MassachusettsHenry Cabot Lodge led a battle against the treaty. Lodge believed both the treaty and the League undercut U.S. autonomy in international matters.

The idea of a League of Nations that could head off any chances of another world war…..Congress did not ratify the treaty, and the United States refused to take part in the League of Nations.

All that background leads to the guts of the post…..

The world that Pres. Wilson envisioned is coming to a close…..

Liberal internationalists insist that American engagement abroad be on liberal or Wilsonian terms. But the Wilsonian internationalist vision, especially in its post–Cold War iteration, contains some very serious flaws that helped lead to Donald Trump’s election in the first place.

The first U.S. liberal internationalist wave developed during and immediately after World War !. Woodrow Wilson’s vision was that U.S. entry into war against the Kaiser’s Germany would usher in a new world order characterized by global democratic government, economic interdependence, mutual disarmament, and collective security. This last feature, in particular, was to be secured through a new League of Nations, in which every member state would promise to protect the independence of every other state by force if necessary.

I guess I can be said to hold Wilsonian beliefs in international relations…..Americans have generally seen the principles and objectives proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson during the First World War as having continued relevance for United States foreign policy. However, they have often differed over their application to specific situations, particularly because there is likely to be a tension between a drive to establish democratic values across the globe and commitment to a universal system of collective security. Rather than seeking a pure, abstract definition of ‘Wilsonianism’, it is more illuminating to examine its origins and evolution in relation to the development of American foreign policy over the years. Tracing this historical process reveals that Wilson committed himself to a postwar league of nations during the period of American neutrality, but it was only as the United States became a belligerent that the spread of democratic government became a policy objective, and then only in a partial and qualified way. A similar pattern has been discernible in subsequent decades. It has been during conflicts, or the run-up to them, that the more ideological and revisionist aspects of Wilsonian principles have come to the fore, whereas it has been in the aftermath of conflicts that there has been the greatest interest in the potentialities of a universal collective security organization. There has also been a broad shift of emphasis over time. As confidence in America’s power position has grown, the core of Wilson’s legacy has more often come to be seen as the promotion of democracy rather than the strengthening of international institutions. The persistence of both themes may be seen as reflecting basic and enduring elements of the policy-making context—on the one hand, the interests of the United States as a status quo power, and on the other, the demands of domestic American opinion.

I still firmly believe that world problems can be solved with diplomacy and mediation……wars should be the last resort not the first thought.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Wrote, You know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

What If Archduke Ferdinand Had Survived?

Last year we celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the end of the Great War, World War One…..

As a history buff I am always interested in this war because it was the birth place of the world we live in today.

The War began when Archduke Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated in Serbia in 1914…and as I like to do….a “what if”……

What if the person that started the war had not died in Serbia in 1914……

World War One was a tragedy with particularly Austrian roots, sparked by the assassination of the heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. But could the war have been avoided if he had not been killed? And would the Austro-Hungarian Empire have survived?

Those are the questions that have been posed at a conference at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, which has been training diplomats since 1754.

For at least one person at the conference, the “what if?” question was personal. Maria Camilla Habsburg Lothringen, a descendant of Austria’s former royal family, says the scenario is “quite intriguing” and would have changed her family’s fate.

“We would maybe have a different position here in Austria. Maybe we would have more possessions and more responsibility in our functions.”

However she says the thought of royal responsibilities and the lack of personal freedom makes her a little “uptight”. And the war, she says, is clearly about far more than just the fate of her own family.

“World War One was such a dramatic occasion. To look back at the past and ask what went wrong and learn out of that is a very important thing.”

Think if the war had been avoided….think of all the millions that would have lived to old age……think about the world we may have had to live in today.

Any thoughts to share?

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Where The Hell Is Armenia?

There has been a mash up against Turkey and its invasion of Syria.

For decades there has been a bill on the books condemning Turkey for the genocide of the Armenian people (1915-1926) and for many decades the US has refused to recognize the operation as a genocide…..but those days are falling by the wayside.

But before I go any further there needs to be a history lesson since there are very few survivors left alive…..

Let us go to the Professor’s Classroom…..

But for those that read my stuff then let the history show you the way…..

On the eve of World War I, there were two million Armenians in the declining Ottoman Empire. By 1922, there were fewer than 400,000. In all, 1.5 million Armenians were killed and another half million found shelter abroad after what is now considered the Armenian Genocide.

While WWI raged, the Young Turk government implemented a policy of Pan Turkism in order to save the remains of the weakened Ottoman Empire. Pan Turkism envisioned the establishment of a mega-Turkish Empire including all Turkic-speaking populations of the Caucasus and Central Asia extending to China. It also intended to Turkify all ethnic minorities of the empire. The Armenians were the main obstacle standing in the way of Pan Turkism. Although the elimination of Armenians from Western Armenia, or what is now Eastern Turkey, was planned as early as 1911, the Young Turk government found WWI to be the most suitable opportunity for implementation.

Now I feel that I must help those poor souls that do notm read understand this situation….

Now that all that history and background has been laid ….onto the meat of this post…..

In the wake of two votes last week in the US House and Senate to recognise the massacres as genocide – a long-awaited symbolic victory for Armenians – Turkey’s authoritarian president Recip Tayyip Erdogan threatened to shut down Incirlik air base, which is based in Turkey and hosts US nuclear warheads..

Turkey is butt hurt and has gone to their favorite American, Trump, to stop this recognition from happening…..and like a dutiful puppy he did all, he could to make the master happy….

The Trump administration has said it does not consider the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 to be a genocide, contradicting a unanimous vote by the US Senate.

The historic vote last week incensed Turkey, which has always denied that the killings amounted to a genocide.

Turkey’s foreign ministry on Friday summoned the US ambassador to express its anger over the vote, accusing the US of “politicising history”.

Armenia says 1.5 million were killed in an effort to wipe out the ethnic group.

The killings took place in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, the forerunner of modern-day Turkey.

Just like there are deniers of the Holocaust….we will always have those that will turn a blind eye to the systematic killing of a ethnic group……pathetic and cowardly to look the other way in the facfe of evidence.

But I am not surprised because that is what Americans do…..ignore evidence and make shit up to cover their beliefs.

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Kurdish Massacres

The Kurds are making news….not in a good way but rather as the recipient of yet another betrayal of their trust.

And that gives us a chance to use the “By Back Machine”…….

Set the dial for the year is 1916 the month of May……

In a manner of speaking, the carnage unfolding in Northern Syria is one of Britain’s early 20th century Near Eastern original sins (one of many similar sins across the globe) that bears the Anglo Mark of Cain emblazoned in gory detail in today’s bloodstained Palestinian, Syrian, Kashmiri, Somali, Iraqi, Yemeni, Afghani, and Burmese soils, to name but a few.

Prior to 1917 the exhausted Ottoman Empire’s rule over Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and  small swaths of the Arabian Peninsula was losing its grip. The empire was gasping its last breath as a result of The Sick Man of Europe’s involvement in WWI and the hubris that befalls spent empires. Smelling victory at smashing the Triple Entente, Mark Sykes and François George-Picot, British and French diplomats, convened a secret 1916 kleptomaniac meeting to carve up the Ottoman Empire and Arab World into their spheres of influence.

In 1901 huge oil reserves were being discovered in Iraq, Iran, and the Arabian Peninsula, reserves that enticed the ever-ruthless and greedy Brits and French, much like Cain, to covet large expanses of desert which were heretofore merely uninhabitable backwashes.

And 85 years later another superpower, led by Bush the Elder in 1991 and his son, Bush the dumber in 2003, would twice invade Iraq and pulverize it back to the stone-age – all because of oil, that black gold that jaundices moral behavior and justifies covetous Mark of Cain schemes to lay claim to what belongs to others.

Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins

It is understandable for the Kurds to not trust easily….I think the Kurds never fully trusted the US….they did however need our support and weapons and cash….so they threw in with our lot…..

The Kurds are a minority so they will throw in with whoever will give them support…..that was proved when they threw in with an “enemy”, Assad……

Syria’s Kurds said Syrian government forces agreed Sunday to help them fend off Turkey’s invasion — a major shift in alliances that came after President Donald Trump ordered all U.S. troops withdrawn from the northern border area amid the rapidly deepening chaos.

The shift could lead to clashes between Turkey and Syria and raises the specter of a resurgent Islamic State group as the U.S. relinquishes any remaining influence in northern Syria to President Bashar Assad and his chief backer, Russia.

Adding to the turmoil Sunday, hundreds of Islamic State families and supporters escaped from a holding camp in Syria amid the fighting between Turkish forces and the Kurds.

A quick look at the Kurds in Middle East history, recent history, and a look at the direction they will travel to get what they want.

Pres, Trump has done something that could very well lead to another massacre or two…….

The Turkish ceasefire in Syria that was agreed upon last Thursday is a permanent one, said President Trump Wednesday, and so sanctions against Turkey will be lifted—although he allowed that “you will also define permanent in that part of the world as somewhat questionable,” reports CNBC. CNN quotes him as saying, “I have, therefore, instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to lift all sanctions imposed October 14th in response to Turkey’s original offensive moves against the Kurds.”

The AP adds that Trump also touched on his decision to pull almost all US troops from Syria, saying, “we’re getting out. Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand.” The AP lays out the plan going forward, with Turkey overseeing the areas of Syria that it captured during its attack against Kurdish forces; Russia and Syria will oversee the remaining border areas, with the US having “little influence in the region.”

The US leaving the Kurds in a lurch has done one thing…..ended any trust the US had with the Kurds.

This week, as hundreds of ISIS fighters escaped from Kurdish prisons in northeastern Syria following Donald Trump’s decision to pull out American troops, a group of current and former “special operators” for U.S. intelligence met for a previously scheduled casual lunch in Washington.

Their take on Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds—a move that enabled Turkey to invade the region, for Russians to move into former U.S. positions and for extremists to maybe start plotting attacks on Europe again.

But there is a deal between Turkey and Russia… the text for yourself….

Now we have a new set of problems developing…..

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”


Deadliest Battle For The USA

I have been studying World War One for a very long time……it has been 100 years since the end of this war and what have we learn?

To be honest…we have learned very little.

To Europe the war was a “Big Deal” because they lost so many young men that a whole generation was damn near wiped out.

It is not so important to us Americans…..but since we did participate in this conflict then what was the deadliest battle for our troops?

A century ago, the first shots were fired in one of the most important American military engagements ever — and the deadliest battle in U.S. history.

World War I’s Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which involved more than a million American soldiers and claimed the lives of 26,277, was launched in northern France on Sept. 26, 1918 to push the German army out of the country and reclaim a rail network vital to supplying enemy troops. The fight lasted a grueling 46 days and generated scores of stories of heroism and sacrifice.

But most notably, it helped bring an end to The Great War.

World War One, The Great War, The War To End All Wars, was considered by many as an accident brought about by events that spiraled out of control…..but to others including myself think that the war was NO accident…..

Not surprisingly, this has brought all sorts of stories and op-eds discussing the disastrous events that killed some 16 million people and wounded an additional 21 million others.

To this day, most observers continue to claim that World War I was an inadvertent war: that is, that none of the countries involved particularly wanted war but war came nonetheless. Some claim it was the major armament programs and offensive military doctrines adopted by European countries in the run-up to the war that made WWI inevitable. Others claim it was the hypernationalistic populaces that caused the war.  Still others blame the tight alliances that European nations formed in the years prior to WWI, which created an environment in which the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by an anarchist could plunge the entire continent into a bloody war. And then there are those that blame the situation on the irreconcilable interests of a rising Germany and a declining Great Britain. Regardless of the particular explanation invoked, most seem to agree that the war was an accident.

AS I have said…I studied WW1 because of the scope….others study WW2 because of its result……as they say Idealists study WW2; realists study WW1…..

Scenario one: a dominant superpower, serving as the unquestioned head of an international alliance, and possessing unmatched military and economic strength. This superpower appears exceptionally led at the military, political, and bureaucratic levels, and possesses the time and space to conceptualize a focused strategy against a specific threat.

Scenario two: several powerful nations operating in a multipolar world, pursuing divergent interests, with none possessing an absolute advantage over the others. Exceptional political and military leadership is lacking, and the rapid pace of change means these nations are carried forward by events over which they exercise little control. Few are certain what a future threat or strategy may resemble.

Our first scenario describes the world of 1945; the triumphant United States at the head of a new international order and poised to combat a clear challenger. Our second describes the world of 1918: victorious powers fighting over diverging interests, squandering their opportunities of peace, but convinced in their conceit that the world could be ordered in their image.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

“I Read, I Wrote and now You KNow”

“Lego ergo Scribo”