Today It Is Ukraine. Yesterday It Was Elsewhere. Tomorrow? This Never Rests.

Where do we begin? How do we explain?

24th February 2022. Another Date To Remember….So many events, actions and commentaries since the day Putin and his court decided to take the next step in their endeavours to bring The Ukraine back under Kremlin control. The avalanche into the medias has been such that I literally had to check the start date. It was as if Time measured in days had ceased to be a relevant method of recording, all that counted was The Narrative, every daily action is affected by The Narrative, even Sunrise and Sunset are but part of the backdrop. So many folk are asking ‘How could this happen?’ Understandable.

Under the lens of the seemingly disturbing and dispassionate study of International Relations’ Realism theories what is happening in the Ukraine is predictable, almost inexorable. However this is not the arena to be bandying terms such as ‘Anarchic World System’, ‘Biopolarity’ or ‘Interests’. Their uses are better suited to academic discussions of less vivid times and not against the scenes of raw death and suffering.

As with most events, cases and mindsets in Europe and East of the Dnieper into Russia to focus on How We Got Here is a long road. In terms of Ukraine one which requires a journeying back centuries. To Kievan Rus of the 9th Century (No Vlad you got that wrong about it not being a nation), its disintegration in the 11th to 12th centuries and the subsequent seven centuries of empires, nations and tribes fighting for territory until by the 19th Century it became part of the Russian Empire. There is a pause. Then with the intense industrial wars of the 20th Century the whole complexity of nations, peoples and beliefs starts again. For nothing is simple in Europe / Russia; arguably a portion of land which in terms of area and populations has been a place of more conflicts than any other part of the world. Heritages, folk memories, ethnicities ,injustices often correct, and always very selective run deep. No coincidence the arms industries and sciences settled then proliferated here. Blame America of the World’s ills? Blame its parents.

None of this excuses Putin and his court. They had enough recent lessons to know this would not be a swift walk in. Finland 1939. Ukraine Nationalist Insurrection 1944 to…1955?. Afghanistan 1979 to 1989; a toxic baton taken over by the West in 2001 to 2021. Chechnya (a running sore, still)  The USA / UK’s hubristic invasions of Iraq 2003 to 2011. To name the more prominent ones. And those were ones with military costs (aside from the minor fracas over the 1980 Olympics). Another big power, deluded by its apparent military might falls into another quagmire, an old, old story they never bother to read. They don’t get to walk away from this one though. This is happening in The First World.

And suddenly Western Europe is flexing financial, political, social, cultural and commercial muscles. China is concerned and arguably the USA is running to catch up. Where did that surge of anger and resolve come from? Two decades of teeth grinding frustration at the rise of suspect money? Two decades of seeing Russia is quite as capable of dishing out even more than The USA can in terms of military ‘solutions’. Maybe all those decades of The Cold War and what could happen if it turned warm and those echoes of two world wars came crashing back? Take your pick; mix and match? Though this is harder to fight against Putin. You can blow up a tank, it’s not so easy to destroy a series of expulsions from an international community; you can try to threaten to invade everybody, but you can’t be everywhere at once.

Not that this is of much comfort for those huddled in a cold basement somewhere in Ukraine, short of food, water and maybe important medicines; children crying, walls and floors shaking; the sounds of war getting nearer. Not much help when you have been on the road for days and are in a situation where you are grateful for the least of shelters and supplies which only go from day to day, uncertain of where you family are, not knowing what will be left to return to. War was ever like this. There will never be a clean, swift, surgical war. They tear, they grind, they are careless as they thrash around once the first plan and initial ideas burn up in the consuming destruction and counter destruction. What is happening in Ukraine is bad, it is unthinkable!… No. Think again. You know war did not stop with 1945, but was not just limited to those which made the nightly news. To a villager in some far away third world location to destruction visited by local security forces, militia or self-styled resistance groups, the horror and the suffering are the same. If you are distressed by one, then you should be equally distressed by them all. Selective outrage just does not cut it for the innocent. Ukraine is on TV, it is an example written in burning letters twenty stories high, laced with the choking tang that comes with the conflagration, the fuel of which you are advised not look to deeply at; your imagination will suit.

You should feel anguish. You should donate aid as best you can. You should shout against this invasion. You should also give some of your wrath to those who try and justify naked aggression or worse divert attention because it suits their own blinkered views. There are folk out there on all sides of the political divides who by default have blood on their hands because they could, but did not react or claimed reaction was wrong. A crime just as bad, in the dead or weeping eyes of the innocent. You see nothing is simple, we are fortunate this very visible one in Ukraine seems so. There are some in small shadowed corners of the world where the lines are blurred and twisted.

So we watch and we wait. But we don’t get to switch channels or turn to the sports entertainment or fashion pages so easily. This is First World ‘Business’. It demands and sucks in the attention of all. But remember, if we in the rest of the First World do get out, without a Covid-like spread, there will be a First World nation to repair, while across this Globe, the same miseries and sufferings will continue.

Lamentation For Someone Who Had No Choice

He was not the first to die this century, west of the border of his Motherland in some scrub land or small town.

He was, however, the first to die on the 24th February 2022 and perhaps someone had told him his duty was to free a land from a Nazis clique in Kyiv.

Maybe he believed it.

Maybe he didn’t want to let his unit down, seem weak.

More likely he was scared of his sergeant and his captain, loud bullying men.

And anyway the only hope he had had was to do as ordered and keep sharp.

Hope ran out though.

He’ll on his way back home, hopefully soon.

For relatives and friends to surrender the pieces to Mother Earth.

He did not have the consolation of knowing he was fighting on.

A Lesson Left Unlearnt.

In Western folklore World War II started on 1st September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. As far as the then British and French Empires were concerned it commenced on the 3rd September 1939 in response to the aforementioned invasion. From a Chinese / Japanese perspective this war started on the 7th June 1937, although military activity had been taking place since September 1931. Before this China had been riven by civil wars and warlords since arguably 1927 although scholars of the region would no doubt move that date back further. While Russia and Japan fought between 1938 to 1939 in a region of North-East China and the communist state of Mongolia. Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and there was a civil war in Spain between 1936 to 1939. Total casualties through military action, deliberate murder, sickness, famine and as in all wars error have been estimated between 70,000,000 to 85,000,000. Think on those last two figures. We can’t be certain what happened to 15,000,000 people. Imagine this ‘Oh. We’re not too sure what happened to most of the folk of New York and London, we found about a million of them though,’ (Bothe have populations in the 8,000,000 region)

Following on from the end of WWII on the 1st September 1945 would follow a series of civil wars, social turmoils and independence struggles which would give rise to more loss of life and misery. And these were the ones taking place between 1945 to 1950. Still in the echoes of WWII. No major victorious power was spared these nor those nations under its sway.

From there on each subsequent decade had its series of major conflicts and minor ones which might have made a fleeting glance somewhere in the record. Some involved large swathes of the populations; others a 1% to 5% of the local population. A child crying is a child crying, a woman raped is a woman raped, dead person is a dead person, whether the perpetrators were security forces, ‘resistance fighters’ or local opportunistic bandits  it’s all the same to the victims and their families.

Some folk would like to make this simple and blame one root cause, that is like trying to catch fog and put it in a bowl. You take aware one cause and we, Humanity will find another. If we did not put down our guns after the events ceasing in 1945 then we are the flaw in the system. Not one government, not one belief system, not one perceived injustice. It is us.

This of course is as old as our history. Each war or conflict  has its own sets of unfinished business. The problem now is whereas as before as long as our numbers were small, the world could indulge our follies. No longer. Our time is running out. The clock started ticking in 1930.   

Memorial Day

Some mildly profane words; borrowed from those who were ‘there’.

They may have volunteered out of patriotism, or for the ‘adventure’. They may have been told by the Government they were ‘required’. They may started out as ‘ordinary’ folk; they may have been ‘screw-ups’; they may have been downright annoying; they may have been ‘nasty pieces of work’; they may have been tough; they may have spent their time being scared or ‘bitching’.

They may have been killed, died of injuries, disease, accident or ‘dumb luck’. They may have survived and lived or are living out the war in a loop.

 

Malmedy MassacreMalmedy December 1944

EyewitnessWWII-03._V389839563_Normandy 1944

‘Somewhere and Somewhen in Korea’Korean War 2

In Vietnam

C rations

 ‘Boy, you sure get offered some shitty choices,’ a Marine once said to me, and I couldn’t help but feel that what he really meant was that you didn’t get offered any at all. Specifically, he was just talking about a couple of C-ration cans, ‘dinner,’ but considering his young life……..Vietnam 1 …….you couldn’t blame him for thinking that if he knew one thing for sure, it was that there was no one anywhere who cared less about what he wanted.…Extract from Michael Herr’s ‘Dispatches’ 

And still it goes on 

21st US Amry 4 21st US Army 721st USA Army 221st USA Army

And for some it never stops

21st US Army 5

No one composes laments quite like the Scots; this songs was written for the 51st (Highland Division) as they left Sicily in 1943- there are several versions song in broad dialects and are difficult to follow without study- this version by the Clancy Brothers was angelized for general consumption. The message is universal for all soldiers leaving a warzone. One mild profanity from the original song and not here here but worth a mention:

‘Poor biddy (bloody) bastards are weary’

Some might feel uncomfortable about what may be seen as a celebration of war. This is no celebration; this is a remembrance for those who witnessed, heard, smelt and felt the weakness of flesh when fed on by metal, flame and explosion.

Normandy (2)

Maybe if all the national cemeteries were like this, there might be less …’next wars’ 

On War. The Fearful Logic.

Foreword: This post will reveal comments some may consider callous, triumphalist or even suggesting War is a viable solution. None of these were the intention. However once a writer makes a statement that statement is open to many interpretations and so are the writer’s motives. This has always be the case. Thus with eyes open I accept that risk. 

Firstly you will have to accept that  the first thing which springs to my mind when someone mentions  ‘6th August’ is ‘Clare’ s birthday’ (our second child and younger daughter). It is when I read posts on Facebook or Word Press that I am reminded in 1945 the A-Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, on the 9th it was the turn of Nagasaki, on the 15th August Japan surrendered and the documents were signed on the 2nd September.

There will be many evocative, genuine posts condemning the event on the 6th August 1945. I respect their views.

But I do not agree. For I have read, some might say too much, military history and have therefore become subsumed in The Fearful Logic of War. I have looked in very deeply and seen the places where civil and civilian perceptions are left behind and a vast and complex set of other values take over. Some might already be getting angry that this post might be the justification of war or worse the some sort of condemnation at those who take an opposite view. Let me clarify.

This is a warning as to when The Fearful Logic is released on a national scale. When indeed the Dogs of War are let slip.

These opening words are also found on a post by the excellent and consistently hard-working Jill Dennison: (I would strongly recommend you follow this blog, so much going on there)

75 Years Ago- 6 August 1945

My response:

“Don’t stand too close and be advised not to read too much on the subject because it changes the perspective. Just read the words of this writer, the third maybe fourth hand observer. A reader and studier of Military and of War. And bear in mind these words come in all damn analytical sincerity.

The use of the A-Bombs was the result of a military logic in which the Japanese Military High Command had played its part, in its fanatical intransigence to twisted version of the Bushido code and determination not to lose face.

For three years the forces of the USA had slowly, inexorably pushed those of Imperial Japan back towards the homelands, paying a fearful price in ‘blood and treasure’. In response the Japanese Imperial forces did not display by western standards understandable conventional responses by surrendering or retreating when nothing was to be gained in defending land but threw away the lives of its own men and women in indoctrinated slaughter masking as honourable suicide, at a cost to both sides.

War requires a foe to surrender,  be conquered, annihilated or the attacker just plain give up, that is what happens when The Beast is released. Japan was not willing to continuance the first option. An invasion of the home islands of a nation in such a mindset would present a death toll far in excess of anything so far experienced by the USA and by the Japanese Civil population who would have been coerced/convinced into the defence. War requires a swift conclusion where possible. The USA had the weapon. The USA used it. This is the logic of War. The hard, certain, decision making process which exists in such an atmosphere. (You’ll recall Jill I mentioned a reply a while back and have said several times how when Democracies are brought into war they can be as deadly as their totalitarian foes.)

The use of the A-Bomb was a foregone conclusion, from the moment the Japanese Military adopted the defence at the cost of suicide policy. There was no war crime here, there was the steady, deadly, fearful march of the logic and cause and effect of War. Never forget that War works under a different set of values, your people are dying, haunted by the cost in lives in WWI military planners in the West looked to minimise their losses.

The feature of the A-Bombs were they caused a great deal of deaths in a swift spectacular manner. The firebombing of cities of Germany and Japan by conventional weaponry were causing similar death tolls, but in slower manner. They caused us fright though, once we knew ‘The Other Side’ had them and could level our cities also in minutes and there would be no legendary ‘London Blitz’ scenario (over glamorised), there would be death, wastelands and nuclear aftermath (as opposed to unexploded munitions left buried in the earth aftermath).

War demands this behaviour of the parties. The battlefields are nationwide, and the populations are part of the machinery of war. This was ever so. You could claim (as some in the South would) that Sherman was a war criminal for he carried out his march in deliberately destructive fashion. This is War and when nations lock horns and we summon up War, we do so at our own peril, because we then leave our civilian outlooks behind in pursuit of Victory.

I will leave you with one thought which I have never read or heard voiced in The West. Would those in China, Philippines, Malaya, Burma, Singapore or in the military Prisoner of War camps who suffered the capricious and cruel occupations of the Imperial Japanese Forces have objected to the use of those bombs upon the nation which occupied them?

Lee of the Confederacy said the right thing as he viewed the slaughter at one battlefield:

‘It is as well War is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it,’

In my opinion Jill, not a crime but a fearful warning as to what WAR requires of us when we invoke it. It changes all the rules, all the judgments, all the values. Even to read of it in too much detail will change your outlook.”

There were a number of other points swirling around in my mind, but I did not wish to hijack Jill’s post my reply was quite long enough for a response to a post. Thus at this juncture let me proceed deeper.

No side comes out of War with clean hands, reputations intact or even with their original intentions fulfilled. Once War is lose then to a certain extent ethical control amongst other factors is lost. The nation or community invests lives and effort into the defeat of the foe and lives are not given lightly; the deaths are either sources of concern, sources of glorification or measures of how ‘well’ one side or the other is doing, thus each death carries a certain value, those values you will have noticed are manifold. In its chaos, tangle of emotions, and twists of intentions the results themselves are subjected to constant review and evaluation. To say ‘History is written by the victor’ is a mammoth over-simplification which does not take into account the fact that History is constantly viewed through the prism of The Present. Thus the dread question will always arise ‘Was It Worth It?’

‘Was It Worth It?’

This a very dangerous question to ask, even more so to answer. The answer is always ‘It depends who you ask?’. Someone in the UK or the USA might well voice the opinion we should never have got involved in WWI. If you were a Belgium or French citizen in the German occupied zones and subject to brutal reprisals for acts of sabotage and ‘terrorism’ or shipped of to work in journey as slave labour then you might have a quite different answer. Consider the Korean War which might have been forgotten by now were it not for repeats of M*A*S*H and compare the two states on that peninsula. AS for WWII against two militarily aggressive, brutal and racist states? The problem being in WWII the Democracies- for Whites that is- required the partnership with another militarily aggressive brutal state- the jury is out on the racist issue. Citing these examples you could say the wars were unavoidable.

Were they unavoidable?’

Yes, No or Maybe. The problem with wars is when you start to look for the root cause. Take WWII, German revisionist folk lore insisted the nation was tricked or betrayed into surrender. So WWI was the cause? You have to look back to not just the expansion of the various European empires which had formulated a sort of set of rules but the outbreaks of nationalism across the whole continent in which who sections of the populations demanded their slice and the expense of other sections. So you go in the 19th Century, and have to go back to the revolts of 1848, which themselves had resonances in the upheaval during the Napoleonic era and French aggression, which in turn had roots in the French Revolution, which- Do you want me to go on?

On the other side of the globe two vibrant expansionist powers were moving into collision in the Pacific, Sino, SE Asia region. USA and Japan. Yes Britain and France in the 1930s could have let Nazi Germany have its way as long as it kept its crimes indoors and pointed eastwards. That would not have stopped the USA-Japanese confrontation.

Are Wars avoidable? In the current state of Human Society, no. We’re stuck with them. Unless there is a world wide movement of whole populations who are prepared to risk their lives in non-violent protest and their relatives and friends are prepared to accept the deaths as being ‘just’ and ‘acceptable’. We can march, we can don ironic masks we can post up impassioned or fashionable statements on Social Media, but until we are ready to stand there and take the blows and the deaths without equal retort all that is so much noise and no more. The acts may dissuade one government or two from taking part but it does not stop The War, ask anyone in Syria how much they appreciated the  actions of the UK ‘Stop The War Coalition’, better still ask Assad and Putin how much they appreciated ‘Stop The War Coalition’.

War goes deep into our mindset and our community. The urge to defend and strike back, one from pre-human evolution. We haven’t got passed that stage. We might not. Doing away with War is a full-time day and night task full of contradictions and questions which cannot be answered simply. It is achievable……but at its own cost

I would wish for Compassion, Respect and Tolerance. But I realise there are folk who would never embrace those ideals. Thus if to assert  The Only Justifiable Intolerance is Intolerance of Intolerance, how far does one go to ensure this will be so?

Will for the rest of Humanity’s time on this planet  there be the motto:

Si vis pacem, para bellum 

“If you want peace prepare for war”

Memorial Day Message

Firstly apologies if WP stick any inappropriate adverts in this post. Complain to them.

Secondly, keep this picture

 

Malmedy Massacre

Malmedy 1944

American P.o.W soldiers massacred by the German SS

And shove it in the faces of any of these idiots

neonazis-usa_8d71a88a (I am not sullying this post with a larger picture of them)

And ask them how well their message worked out for the last poor shmucks who followed it

dead-german-soldier-near-stalingrad-1943-CPM84B

(German dead Stalingrad 1942/43)

Just for me please

In memory and greetings to True Americans

Veterans Day

 

For my friends in the USA

11th November Veteran’s Day. USA

The song at the bottom of this post by Brewer & Shipley ‘Seems Like Long Time’ always conjured up at image of soldiers around a fire, singing:

From 2:49 are the most telling lines:

‘War time is only the other side of peace time

But if you ever seen how wars are won

You’d know what it’s like to wish that peace would come

And don’t it seem like a long time….’

Think on these following images of how you got to be so comfy, and when those folk who have never been to war start banging the drum…..

And the ones who never got back in body or in mind….

 

Eyewitness 3

(Hurtgen Forest Germany 1944)

 

Eyewitness 4

(‘Somewhere’ in Europe 1944-45)

Eyewitness 2

(‘Somewhere’ in the Pacific 1942-1945) 

 

EyewitnessWWII-03._V389839563_

(Omaha Beach Normandy June 1944)

And just a ps for those Fools who embrace a neo-nazi cause:

Malmedy Massacre

(Malmedy 1944)

You Traitors.

11th November, Forever

Wars persist.

While historians both professional or pundit will step forth and say this one or that one was or wasn’t necessary, there always seems to be another one. Among the volumes written either way there is one topic they all agree on.

People die in them.

 

 

battle-of-verdun-1916-british-wounded-soldiers-fgp57w

(WWI)

Commonweath WW2

(WWII)

Korea

(Korea)

britAfghanistan3_1456273a

(Afghanistan)

WOUNDED-IRAQ-large570

(Iraq)

And for those who are wont to bang a drum and spout Hate and Intolerance….

Are you ready to step up, take your place and suffer this in your ‘glorious’  cause?

dead-german-soldier-near-stalingrad-1943-CPM84B

(German dead Stalingrad 1942)