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Posts by schurmann

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  • Into the inferno: Families boiled alive as they hid in water tanks and fleeing survivors trapped in molten tarmac... 75 years on, the most horrifically vivid account you'll ever read of the Allied bombing of Dresden – by a British PoW who saw it all

    02/17/2020 11:03:54 AM PST · 178 of 195
    schurmann to Captain Walker; Michael.SF.

    “...Vonnegut is definitely against the bombing and based on his experience, who would argue against him?” [Michael.S.F., post 37]

    “Vonnegut’s opinion wouldn’t have mattered on this thread, apparently.” [Captain Walker, post 167]

    Does victimhood convey greater moral authority than anything else?

    I thought that was a Left/Progressive concept.

  • Into the inferno: Families boiled alive as they hid in water tanks and fleeing survivors trapped in molten tarmac... 75 years on, the most horrifically vivid account you'll ever read of the Allied bombing of Dresden – by a British PoW who saw it all

    02/17/2020 10:52:35 AM PST · 177 of 195
    schurmann to Captain Walker; 2banana; MrEdd; discostu; DesertRhino

    “...those waves were designed to kill civilians...” [discostu, post 87]

    “...The Dresden bombing raid was specifically designed to kill as many civilians as possible.
    And you do nothing but defend it or even make jokes about it...” [2banana, post 88]

    “...I think it helps a lot of people sleep at night if they insist to themselves that the railyards were the primary target, but they weren’t; this raid targeted the city itself.” [Captain Walker, post 168]

    I’ve thought of a couple dozen witty responses to these posts. But all that keyboard work is tiring. I’ll settle for pointing out that no one has posted any factual content.

    Part of the confusion stems from the misunderstanding of what “international law” actually says. Or doesn’t say.

    It doesn’t say “don’t target civilians.” It says that “reasonable” efforts must be made to avoid harming civilians - which opens things up for reinterpretation. Tweet-length accusations sneering at “intentions” are not reinterpretation (though they do get posted quite a lot here).

    RAF Bomber Command tactics of the early 1940s stemmed from system limitations on navigation, aiming, target detection and identification, survivability/vulnerability, countermeasures, and other factors. The assertion that civilians were deliberately targeted has no merit.

    USAAF ran into similar limitations in the bombardment campaigns against Japan, 1944-1945.

    Many forum members appear to be very concerned about the morality of this or that action by the Allies, during WW2. Which leads to the question: why do you insist with such passion, that the moral must take precedence over the real?

  • Into the inferno: Families boiled alive as they hid in water tanks and fleeing survivors trapped in molten tarmac... 75 years on, the most horrifically vivid account you'll ever read of the Allied bombing of Dresden – by a British PoW who saw it all

    02/14/2020 3:30:54 PM PST · 175 of 195
    schurmann to Captain Walker; 2banana

    ” ‘...three principles of international law... applicable to warfare from the air...it is against international law to bomb civilians as such...targets which are aimed at from the air must be legitimate military objectives and must be capable of identification...reasonable care must be taken in attacking those military objectives so that by carelessness a civilian...population...is not bombed.’

    - Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in the House of Commons, June 21, 1938...” [Captain Walker, post 170]

    Neville wasn’t really up to the job. He’d have been a disappointment to his dad, had old Joe lived so long.

    Citing PM Chamberlain as justification for condemning Allied aerial bombardment strategies during the Second World War isn’t much of a gambit.

    “International law” has never been set in stone. It’s a shadowy mishmash of vaguely good intentions forever in a fluid state, changing in accordance with the whims of the various nations and societies who purport to agree with it and claim to live by it; despite what attorneys, moralizers, and social engineers yearn for, it’s honored more in the breach than in the observance. Nations large and small cling to it when it suits them, level accusations of violations against adversaries when it suits them, and plead reasons of state when it suits them to ignore it.

    The only individuals who take it seriously - in the United States at least - are deficient in understanding, incapable of leading responsibly, and ought to be kept as far from the levers of power as possible.

    It is laughable to discover anyone at this late date who attempts to hang a guilty verdict on the UK government for any of its actions or policies of the period 1939-45. Ironic, too; it’s arguable that the UK was the most morally aware and morally compliant power to be involved in that conflict.

  • Into the inferno: Families boiled alive as they hid in water tanks and fleeing survivors trapped in molten tarmac... 75 years on, the most horrifically vivid account you'll ever read of the Allied bombing of Dresden – by a British PoW who saw it all

    02/13/2020 12:33:56 PM PST · 164 of 195
    schurmann to Mr. Lucky

    “Thank you.” [Mr. Lucky, post 133]

    A special “You’re welcome” for the courteous reply. May your luck increase without limit.

    And special thanks to the many respondents who realize Dresden was a transport hub and industrial center. Every time the topic comes up, I’ve been at pains to point out this fact. For years. May the understanding of all forum members continue to mature so gracefully.

    The Dresden raids come up every year; it’s like clockwork. More than one article from the Daily Mail or one of the other British tabloids has mentioned Victor Gregg by name; invariably, someone throws Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s name into the mix.

    While I stand in awe of the exploits of these men, and honor their sacrifices, I feel duty-bound to point out that neither was privy to wartime strategy-formulation meetings. To junior troops entangled in the horror and chaos of combat at low operational levels, the whole deal often looks wasteful, pointless, and unnecessary. While their personal accounts can be deeply moving, that doesn’t mean their critiques are valid.

    Stop taking their thoughts as if they were Holy Writ.

    For the moralizers like 2banana, I must warn that repeating the words “no military necessity” doesn’t make them any more true. What seems obvious today, 75 years on, wasn’t at the time. Decisions had to be made at the time, under less-than-ideal circumstances, using incomplete information, under serious stress, using the moral precepts of the day. Condemning the results now, after more information has come to light and after decades of analysis at leisure, is not only uncharitable - it’s dishonest. Times have changed; so have morals. Evaluating then in terms of now is hubris of the lowest sort. Worse, it leads to invalid results.

    No poster has hinted they have any familiarity with the theory & practice of aerial bombardment (there are many). Arguments like we are experiencing on this thread cannot have any substance without such knowledge.

    I would humbly suggest that those who are curious look up the term “United States Strategic Bombing Survey.” It’s a starting point.

  • Into the inferno: Families boiled alive as they hid in water tanks and fleeing survivors trapped in molten tarmac... 75 years on, the most horrifically vivid account you'll ever read of the Allied bombing of Dresden – by a British PoW who saw it all

    02/13/2020 9:27:38 AM PST · 129 of 195
    schurmann to 2banana; Dilbert San Diego

    “You think directly targeting and killing innocent people, with no military purpose, is OK?
    You are no better than ISIS.” [2banana, post 16]

    Only the factually ignorant can believe Dresden wasn’t a legitimate target.

    Look at a map, then post.

    Dresden was a transportation hub; the Allies feared the Wehrmacht would retreat through there, regroup, and hole up in Bavaria - a mountainous region very difficult to attack.

    Dresden was also home to a number of industries as vital to the German war effort as armored vehicle assembly plants and aircraft factories: optics, gun sights, electronics, seals for hydraulics, various other precision small parts. Factories too small to be located and targeted individually.

    Morally, it’s less than admirable for you to sit here in comfort, enjoying the fruits of peacetime 75 years after the fact, breezily striking a moralizing pose, denigrating the sacrifices of forbears that made your lotus-eating existence possible. It’s also a pretty cheeky display of arrogance, ingratitude, and bad taste.

  • Yes, Russia Once Had Its Own Version of the SR-71 Blackbird

    02/08/2020 2:27:41 PM PST · 57 of 68
    schurmann to hoagy62

    “...the XB-70 came to being AFTER Kennedy was elected...
    Had multiple problems which seemed to get worked out. It could do as advertised and hit Mach 3. What truly killed it was the mid-air accident that killed a chase plane pilot and one of the Valkyrie pilots.” [hoagy62, post 24]

    None of these statements are correct.

    As early as 1947, the US Air Force began drafting a requirement for a manned bomber capable of supersonic flight and intercontinental range.

    The B-70 was developed to satisfy WS-110A, a specification published in 1955 to answer a mission requirement USAF had published the year before.

    Research was cutting-edge and necessarily complex; changing requirements, politics (national, interservice, intraservice etc), bureaucratic reorganization, and competing concepts combined to delay progress yet more. Selection of North American as the system contractor was announced in late 1957. Initial operational capability slipped, from 1963 to 1965.

    Late in 1959, President Eisenhower reckoned that forecast funding levels would delay operational capability until 1967 or 1969. On 1 December 1959, USAF announced the program would be reduced to a single airframe and most subsystem development was canceled.

    The games weren’t over.

    The 1960 election campaigns rekindled interest; a new contract was signed in late September; production of 12 aircraft was authorized.

    The incoming Kennedy administration reevaluated the program and altered it in April 1961, to a development-only effort. Three aircraft were authorized.

    From August 1961 through April 1962, the administration tussled with Congress over the fate of the program. The legislators voted funds for up to 210 aircraft to be built in a modified reconnaissance/strike configuration; Secretary of Defense Robert S McNamara made clear his complete opposition to any new manned bomber and refused to release the funds.

    The first air vehicle was rolled out in early May 1964. A couple months later, the program was reduced further: air vehicle 3, then being built, was canceled. The test program was reduced to 180 flight hours.

    First flight took place on 21 September 1964.

    The mid-air collision resulting in the destruction of air vehicle 2 occurred on 8 June 1966.

    Final flight took place on 4 February 1969.

    It can thus be seen that the B-70 predated the election of John F Kennedy by a number years, and that mid-air collision did not stop the program.

    Forum members interested in examining the subject in detail should read _Valkyrie: North American’s Mach 3 Superbomber_ by Dennis R Jenkins and Tony R Landis (North Branch MN: Specialty Press, 2004) ISBN-13 978-1-58007-130-7

  • A tribute to Kirk Douglas, one of the last stars of Hollywood's golden years, has passed away at 103

    02/07/2020 7:05:05 PM PST · 63 of 84
    schurmann to Boogieman

    “I fail to see how any of those stories substantiates a rape allegation against Kirk Douglas.” [Boogieman, post 56]

    On a forum populated by posters who pride themselves on having already learned “the lessons of history,” it’s always a surprise to encounter someone whose sense of the long term is nonexistent.

    But if you’ve already decided that being moral is more important than being effective, there probably isn’t anything I can post, that will improve your understanding.

  • A tribute to Kirk Douglas, one of the last stars of Hollywood's golden years, has passed away at 103

    02/06/2020 12:34:42 PM PST · 46 of 84
    schurmann to Boogieman; SeekAndFind; Bringbackthedraft

    “Apparently, we don’t need any evidence if the accusation fits our preferred narrative...” [Boogieman, post 42]

    A bit of historical perspective might help.

    Bad behavior was going on in Hollywood before talkies came into existence. Ponder Fatty Arbuckle. Or Charlie Chaplin.

    Strangely enough, such behavior was going on before the public had film stars to obsess over.

    Alice Roosevelt Longworth - president Theodore’s eldest daughter - was chased by the press. Her behavior as a teen scandalized and titillated the nation; the President himself was alternately bemused and exasperated. Right after a stormy exchange between father and daughter, he remarked to White House visitor Owen Wister (author of the western novel _The Virginian_), that he could control Alice or run the country, but not both.

    And it didn’t end when Alice grew up and married Congressman Nicholas Longworth (later Speaker of the House). Their affairs and assignations were the essence of Inside-the-Beltway legend and gossip (whispered, to be sure).

    Edward Albert, eldest son of Queen Victoria of the UK, spent almost all his life as Prince of Wales before becoming King Edward VII of the UK. His mother kept him out of politics and governance; living at the pinnacle of society with nothin substantive to do, he personified the “leisure class.” His exploits and dalliances were talked about around the globe.

  • Sneaky Weapons in History

    01/29/2020 5:18:24 PM PST · 6 of 7
    schurmann to w1n1

    “...the baddest mother of them all: the legendary M82A1 Barrett .50 cal...fires the...BMG round...introduced in 1921 as a scaled-up version of the .30-06 hunting round... airplanes. The BMG went on to widespread use on fighter planes...a bolt-action rifle like this, it’s capable of punching big holes in engine blocks from more than a mile away. The longest known confirmed hit was taken in 1967 by a Marine sniper in Vietnam, and he still holds the record at 6,558 feet...doesn’t so much “kill” as “vaporize.”...” [from original article]

    The authors got most details on the 50 cal wrong.

    30-06 was introduced in 1906 by the military and only later gained popularity among civilian users.

    It was developed for use against armored ground vehicles, not against aircraft. Its use in the anti-aircraft role and as aircraft armament came later. Even at the outset of WW2, it was recognized that aircraft guns firing inert (nonexploding) projectiles were becoming marginal.

    The Barrett M82 (DoD nomenclature M107) is not a bolt action, it’s a recoil-operated semi-auto.

    All long-range hits from the Vietnam period have been bettered by later snipers.

    The 50 cal round is not the final word in long-range sniping. More modern rounds such as 408 Chey-Tac have greater effective range.

    50 cal bullets damage targets by transferring energy. Vaporizing doesn’t happen.

  • Henry Rifle is the People's Choice

    01/27/2020 5:52:31 PM PST · 14 of 14
    schurmann to Paal Gulli

    “Benjamin Tyler Henry was a scumbag who tried to steal the company he worked for from its rightful owner, Oliver Winchester...” [Paal Gulli, post 11]

    It’s not likely that the gun-buying segment of the American public is going to suffer an attack of conscience and stop buying modern Henry rifles because of a condemnation of business ethics (or their lack) of 160 years ago.

    One suspects that the leadership of Henry Repeating Arms chose B T Henry simply as a marketing hook, if they weren’t merely honoring his design & engineering talents.

    It’s worth it to recall that no entrepreneurs of 1860 could meet today’s moral, ethical, nor legal requirements anyway.

    Oliver Winchester himself bought out competitors and smothered their products.

    Sam Colt failed more than once before hitting the big time. He evaded creditors in questionable ways, and shamelessly gifted influential persons with special-presentation pieces, if he thought they might approve a contract.

    Rollin White sold patent rights to Smith & Wesson for bored through cartridge cylinders, and was well-paid. But he spent most of it, fighting patent infringers.

    Other gun designers and industrial pioneers had similar stories: it was a time of rough-and-tumble enterprise, in an emerging nation during the biggest revolutions in manufacturing and commerce yet seen. They were real men with real quirks and flaws, not angelic purveyors of moral probity.

  • Henry Rifle is the People's Choice

    01/27/2020 5:15:08 PM PST · 13 of 14
    schurmann to Ruy Dias de Bivar

    “...’That Old Fogey’ Ripley felt the muzzle loader was good enough for a Civil War soldier! No need of breech loaders at all!” [Ruy Dias de Bivar, post 6]

    This conceit is widely believed among US civilian gun enthusiasts, but has no substance.

    James Wolfe Ripley, Chief of US Ordnance from 1861 to 1863, did indeed oppose adoption of repeating rifles, but as a one-star he had no power to impose any different policy all by himself even if he had a mind. The other senior Union army officers held the same views and would not have tolerated any changes.

    Repeaters seem obvious to us now, but in 1861, no proven models existed. And a thousand and one snake-oil salesmen were desperately trying to sell their pet notions - most absurdly unworkable - to an already-overworked Union War Dept.

    Repeaters don’t merely burden the supply system by heavy expenditure of ammunition: they cost more than muzzle loaders, were more complex and fragile. An entirely different approach to maintenance, parts supply, and repair was needed. The Union had no time to create one, nor any in-house personnel to train a flood of new technicians.

    Besides, even when they did work right, repeaters were inferior to the standard issue muzzle loading rifle-muskets on a shot-for-shot basis. The 44 Flat rimfire round fired from the Henry barely qualified as a pistol cartridge, and rimfire cartridges for Christopher Spencer’s rifle were only a little better. The single-shot rifle-musket greatly exceeded repeaters in effective range, penetration, and energy on target. A unit armed with rifle-muskets could wipe out the same number of soldiers armed with Henry or Spencer rifles before the latter could even get in range.

    Repeaters might have been a better choice for ambush and raiders, or isolated individuals caught off-guard, but the Union Army could not base its doctrine on ambushing and raiding. Disciplined fire from masses of troops had been decisive for generations, and the new rifle-muskets (issued for only a few years before 1861) were expected to be even more decisive - at ranges previously unheard of.

    Ripley had earned a reputation for efficiency and careful adherence to regulations, having modernized Springfield Armory in the 1850s in ways admittedly revolutionary. His orders in 1861 were to maximize Union production of issue rifle-muskets and he stuck to that course of action single-mindedly.

    Repeaters capable of matching performance of muzzle loaders or single-shot cartridge rifles did not appear until the 1870s.

  • Henry Rifle is the People's Choice

    01/27/2020 3:52:15 PM PST · 12 of 14
    schurmann to w1n1

    “...Almost all Henry lever-action models follow the same design...” [original article, paragraph 5]

    Not true at all.

    The rimfire model is based on Ithaca’s 72.

    Most of the centerfire models are based on the Marlin pattern finalized in the late 1880s and subsequently used in the M1893, M1894, M1895, M30, M36, and M336 rifles. Sufficiently well-thought-out that no major changes have ever been made. Stronger, more durable, easier to repair than Winchesters.

    The most recent offerings are based in part on Browning’s BLR, a design noted for strength and accuracy. Capable of handling magnum cartridges, it also feeds from a box magazine, thus it can use pointed bullets.

  • The Bismarck Was a Waste

    01/17/2020 4:01:48 PM PST · 136 of 169
    schurmann to DesertRhino

    ...The Brits were itching for a fight and the Bismark made that even worse. So a devastating war was started that Wilson disastrously got the USA involved with.” [DesertRhino, post 98]

    This assertion holds a certain superficial credibility among makers of documentary miniseries, conspiracy theorists, and other dilettantes. But it relies heavily on after-the-fact reasoning, and on facts about Imperial Japan which came to light only after the war.

    And it leans heavily upon USMC’s public affairs office, plus a number of postwar John Wayne films: gave rise to the pop-culture notion that the only warfare of importance against Japan was waged by the Marines and the US Navy, on tiny central Pacific islands and on blue water.

    A very incomplete strategic picture to say the least.

    Imperial Japan began to move against Northeast China in 1931. During 1941-1942, it stepped up the pace of expansion, taking the Philippines, most of what is now Indonesia and Malaysia, French Indochina, Siam (Thailand), Burma, a number of smaller islands (including Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian chain), and yet more of the Chinese mainland. Air & sea encounters flared in the Indian Ocean; British bases on Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) were raided. Australia and British India came under quite real threat of invasion.

    Euro colonial and American forces were defeated or in full retreat everywhere. The Allies were forced to confront the ugly truth that they did not know what the full capabilities of the Japanese might be, nor what might happen next.

    In the face of such wholesale ignorance it could not come as a surprise that “politics” (a term held in scorn) would play a role. Was Douglas MacArthur an egotist? Of course. So were the other senior commanders: no one rose so high without being so.

    Any claim that a push through the central Pacific was the only effort required isn’t supported by the facts. No one could be sure that Japanese forces would not surge out of the southwest Pacific, or south from Manchuria, to smash the American thrust. Simply spearing across the ocean north of the Philippines looked imprudent, in the length of lines of communication required, and the forces needed to guard them.

    And securing islands like Saipan and Guam for bomber bases was not seen as a winning move. No bomber aircraft yet existed that could make the trip. The B-29 was still in development and its eventual success was looking more doubtful. Air power at that level was by no means a proven concept.

    No one foresaw that the submarine campaign against Japanese merchant traffic would be as successful as it turned out to be. Same with the aerial mining effort.

    So, bets were hedged.

    Gen MacArthur did not spend lives to no purpose. Forces under his command sustained fewer casualties. He displayed an uncanny ability to “hit the Japanese where they weren’t,” throwing units onto shores where they did not have to fight like crazy just to gain a toehold.

    The central Pacific, containing smaller landmasses much more widely dispersed, afforded fewer options to Allied planners. Made it easier for the Japanese to guess where the next blow would land. Heavier losses were not avoidable.

  • The Bismarck Was a Waste

    01/17/2020 2:22:54 PM PST · 130 of 169
    schurmann to Sam Gamgee

    “The Brits were itching for a fight and the Bismark made that even worse. So a devastating war was started that Wilson disastrously got the USA involved with.” [Sam Gamgee, post 112]

    Sounds like you have your world wars mixed up.

    The British weren’t enthusiastic for any involvement, neither in 1914 nor 1939.

    In 1914, British involvement was not even a factor in German planning nor leadership decisions: the Imperial Germans thought exclusively in terms of ground forces and land engagements; the entire BEF meant nothing compared to the initial size of the forces on the Continent. British involvement hinged on violation of Belgian neutrality, which wasn’t PR-fluffy window dressing, but a substantive question of treaty obligations. The UK, Imperial Germany, and the French Republic were co-signatories to the treaty guaranteeing Belgian neutrality. It’s arguable whether such treaties made strategic sense, but that is a different question.

    President Wilson was not eager to go to war. He formulated numerous peace overtures, but the Allies and the Central Powers rebuffed American efforts or ignored them.

    The entire question of US entry into the war hinged on unrestricted submarine warfare, which the Imperial Germans flirted with on and off, until formally declaring their intent to prosecute it at the end of January 1917. Wilson was not “sneaky:” he laid out the case, after which both the the House and the Senate voted to declare war - by substantial margins.

    Whether the United States was being realistic in standing firm on the rights of neutrals is likewise a different question. It loomed large in the minds of leaders and diplomats in 1914-1917, and that is what counted then. Arguing today that “things should have been different” is ex post facto reasoning, thus less than honest. Submarines torpedoing merchant vessels with no warning was against international law and custom then and that is what mattered.

    In 1939, Germans commenced unrestricted submarine warfare almost from Day One. If objections were raised, they did not amount to much in the total picture.

  • Does California Want to Secede?

    01/10/2020 10:13:38 AM PST · 44 of 47
    schurmann to Zathras

    “...they want to control the entire world...they were on the way to writing all future laws...All of the power, none of the responsibility.” [Zathras, post 9]

    Californians have been doing it for some time.

    In the 1960s, air pollution became a problem in southern California because so many people insisted on living there. They raised such a fuss that Congress passed pollution-control laws that forced the nation to comply - despite the relative lack of pollution problems everywhere else.

    California developed major highway safety problems. Congress passed laws forcing auto makers to install safety gear, radically alter car designs, add pollution-control devices, and many other things. Lead was removed from gasoline. Nationwide, anyone buying an auto had to pay extra for this stuff - even though they lived where vehicle-caused air pollution didn’t exist, and traffic hazards were nil. Across the country, millions of vehicles were rendered inoperable overnight, because they could not run on unleaded gasoline (which cost more to boot).

    Just after the turn of the present century, Californians passed sweeping gun-control laws, banning sale of many specific models of firearms. When these laws failed to reduce crime, they passed more laws. Ultimately, California required gunmakers, distributors, and gun dealers across the nation wishing to do business in the state were forced to register with the California Attorney General’s Office and obtain prior permission to sell guns, ammunition etc to dealers & citizens in the state. In essence, an entire parallel dealer-licensing system was created, to regulate commerce in guns.

    A clear violation of federal law: not merely challenging federal supremacy in Constitutional law recognizing individual rights, but also laws regulating interstate commerce. Restraint of trade is not allowed.

  • The Palmer Raids: America’s Forgotten Reign of Terror

    01/08/2020 5:21:16 PM PST · 72 of 91
    schurmann to Rockingham

    “...I do not see American nonintervention as risking the dire effects that you do.

    Germany’s high command realized that America was poised to enter the war but judged that Germany nevertheless had an opportunity to win decisively on the Western Front in 1917...

    ...the resulting Versailles Treaty contained an unworkable mixture of revenge and idealism. This set the stage for another, more destructive world war. The UN and other post-WW II international institutions were designed as a second try by Wilson’s intellectual and political heirs.

    Judged by aspirations, the UN and other such organizations are failures...

    On the whole, I tend to think that America and the world would do better with less Wilsonian idealism but closer attention to the elements of national power, to history, to how wars are won and lost — and better yet, avoided when possible...” [Rockingham, post 65]

    There were many more American lives lost than just the 130 or so who died when RMS Lusitania was attacked, a couple miles off Ireland’s coast. More indicative of a pattern of behavior by Imperial Germans, not a fluke nor an isolated incident. The US government protested formally, more than once.

    Britain’s situation was more serious than propaganda admitted to, more serious than the UK public understood. Days after the United States declared war in 1917, RADM William S Sims, USN, sat down for his first meeting with ADM John Jellicoe, then First Sea Lord. Sims was told that only six months’ supply of wheat was in country. The Admiralty estimated that the British would have to capitulate by 1 November. King George V agreed with this assessment; Prime Minister David Lloyd George was more optimistic.

    Nobody really in the know had confidence that any response would be successful.

    The Imperial German government was not unanimous on unrestricted submarine warfare; Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg argued against it, predicting it would provoke American entry on the Allied side; ultimately, Paul von Hindenburg & Erich Ludendorff decided to go ahead with it (Kaiser William - officially Supreme War Lord and commander of all Imperial German armed forces - was himself ambivalent, but had by this point been reduced to a figurehead).

    Can’t disagree on the flaws of T Woodrow Wilson, a man of outsize ego, unrealistic in his idealistic notions, and (worst of all) his infatuation with Progressivism. But none of that can inform us as to the strategic utility of this or that action on the world stage, nor of the usefulness in general of supranational organizations. Measurement of these proceeds along different axes. An assertion after the fact that course-of-action “X” was tougher than we expected, therefore we never should have tried in the first place, is puerile.

    Railing against the 1919 Treaty of Versailles is empty noise. From the beginning of European history, warring nations concluded treaties that fixed blame and assessed reparations; the one that formally ended World War One was nothing unusual in either respect. Germans claiming otherwise were merely playing the victim card. The Allies were not at fault for being “mean” to them, but for not convincing them they had been defeated. Subsequent Allied weakness and irresolution convinced them they could get away with bad behavior if they tried a second time.

  • The Palmer Raids: America’s Forgotten Reign of Terror

    01/08/2020 3:00:49 PM PST · 71 of 91
    schurmann to dfwgator; Rockingham

    “We should have demanded Britain stop their naval blockade of Germany, that is what endangered our ships more than anything.” [dfwgator, post 66]

    You have it backwards.

    The blockade by Britain’s Royal Navy was an annoyance and an inconvenience, which did some injury to the bottom line of Americans; at least one commentator at the time likened it to a hair shirt.

    German submarines actually killed American nationals.

    If isolationists cannot tell the difference, the rest of us ought to be wary of taking their advice in the sphere of international relations.

  • Gun Show Bustles; 'Fear of Democrats' (Lot's of great pics of a Gun Show - Yeah Baby!)

    01/06/2020 4:33:39 PM PST · 15 of 16
    schurmann to laplata

    “...I got a kick out of the older guy checking out the M-60. I’d bet he was a M-60 gunner in Nam.” [laplata, post 2]

    If you are referring to the closeup, where a man wearing a tan shirt, black ball cap bearing an image of a classic-Greek style helmet and short sword above a five-point star, and spectacles, looking to the image’s right, holding a 20-dollar bill in his left hand resting on the wood butt of a mounted gun, with a linked belt of ammunition draped over the butt just ahead of his left little finger—

    The gun is not an M60.

    It appears to be an MG3. A modernized version of the MG42 used by the Wehrmacht during WW2. MG3s chambered 7.62 NATO and that is what the belted stuff looks like. Too short for 7.92 Mauser, MG42’s original chambering.

    The image appears distorted, or the fellow is displaying a number of subscale replicas:

    To his lower right, partially obscured by the blurry fingers of his right hand, is what looks like a US M1919A4 machine gun. In actuality, it’s comparable in size to an MG3, but looks smaller here.

    Near the extreme left of the mage, to the right and behind the M1919A4, is a Soviet RPD. To its right sits an M1918A2 BAR. None of their relative sizes look right.

  • The Palmer Raids: America’s Forgotten Reign of Terror

    01/05/2020 1:23:26 PM PST · 61 of 91
    schurmann to Rockingham

    “I am confident of what I read even though it is not at hand...Wilson was induced to declare war on Germany by British representations that their enemy was near collapse...was thereby inveigled to declare war in order to shape the peace. In truth, Britain, France, and her allies were in desperate circumstances...American financial support and supplies were of rapid benefit...Germany’s strategists knew...a renewed Allied offensive could not be resisted. Wilson got his peace settlement, thereby letting loose upon the world an idealism about war and foreign relations that has often animated American counsels toward phenomenally destructive decisions and effects...” [Rockingham, post 52]

    The verbal exchange between then-Deputy State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Arthur Zimmermann and Ambassador James W Gerard is recorded on page 237 of Gerard’s book, _My Four Years in Germany_ (New York: Doran, 1917). Recheck sources, then proclaim confidence.

    Are you asserting that in 1917 Americans were so naïve and unschooled in geopolitics that one politician (admittedly, a vaunted Progressive of national repute) was able to bamboozle the public and both houses of the US national legislature in declaring war by stating falsehoods and non-germane trivia? And that the aftermath has warped and skewed US policies toward unhappy goals, to the exclusion of all else, ever since?

    To claim such is to elevate propaganda, emotionalism, puerile idealism, pop-culture revisionism, and conspiratorialism above hard-headed reasoning and acknowledgement of facts.

    The Allies were near collapse. American industrial firms, financial interests, and many other sectors of the national economy were heavily involved; if the Central Powers had been victorious, it’s most unlikely that the United States could have survived the conflict without severe damage. Complete collapse was not out of the question.

    At this late date, asserting that American businesses should have steered clear is meaningless: by the end of 1916, 2 and 1/2 years in, it was too late. Standing aside while invoking a concern for morals and philosophical rectitude, and other vaporous whims might have pleased prissier souls, but would not have improved things. Unless, of course, one believes that being “moral” is preferable to getting livable results.

    Here is a generality to toy with: the USA was founded as a trading nation. Trading nations cannot be isolationist.

  • The Palmer Raids: America’s Forgotten Reign of Terror

    01/04/2020 5:21:45 PM PST · 49 of 91
    schurmann to Rockingham

    “...So confident was the German ambassador in his country’s hold on the loyalties of German Americans that he famously warned the American Secretary of State that if America declared war on Germany, a million German Americans would rise in rebellion against the government. The Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, replied that would not deter the government because we had a million and one lamp posts available...” [Rockingham, post 20]

    Your numbers, dates, contexts, and names/titles of officials are incorrect.

    Arthur Zimmermann was Deputy State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Imperial German government during the aftermath of the sinking of RMS Lusitania (May 1915); that was when he warned James W Gerard (US ambassador to Imperial Germany) that “the United States does not dare do anything against Germany because we have five hundred thousand German reservists in America who will rise against your government if it should dare to take any action against Germany.” Gerard replied “that we have five hundred and one thousand lamp posts in America and that is where the German reservists would find themselves hanging if they tried any uprising.”

    Zimmermann had been elevated to State Secretary for Foreign Affairs before the United States declared war in spring 1917.

    President T Woodrow Wilson’s address to Congress made it clear that his request for a declaration of war was based on the German intent - stated publicly on 31 January 1917 - to wage unrestricted submarine warfare not only against Allied shipping, but against any neutral merchant traffic approaching the British Isles or other Allied destinations, and deemed by submarine crews to be of doubtful provenance. U-boats of the Kaiserliche Marine did just that in the ensuing weeks.

    The remark about making the world “safe for democracy” was an afterthought and contained nothing sneaky.

    Whether American attitudes about warfare at that point in time were realistic is another argument. Geostrategic realities in 1917 precluded anything like “balanced trade” with all belligerents, because of the Allied blockade of the Central Powers.

    The quotes can be found on page 711 of the hardbound edition of Robert K Massie’s _Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea_ (New York: Random House, 2003. ISBN 0-679-45671-6)