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Archive for January, 2009

D’Este on Churchill at HNN

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Military historian Carlo D’Este had an inspiring piece up at HNN last week on Sir Winston Churchill, drawn from his book Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War, 1874-1945:

The Power of Oratory: Why Churchill is Still Relevant

….From the time he became prime minister, until December 1941, when Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war, Churchill’s strongest weapon was oratory. As a young army officer stationed in India in 1897 he wrote that: “Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory.”

His speeches of 1940 become legendary, not only for their magnetism but more importantly for their effect on public morale. To counter both the disastrous news in France and to put to rest any notion that Britain might capitulate, Churchill delivered one of his many patriotic speeches to Parliament on June 18 that was also broadcast by the BBC. He made no effort to sugarcoat the extent of the dire situation Britain faced. The struggle that lay ahead from the air and likely from invasion would be met with every means and would be rebuffed. Of Hitler and the nations now under the Nazi jackboot, he said, “If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free . . . But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States . . . will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age … Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, ‘This was their finest hour.’

Read the rest here.

Churchill was an inordinately creative military leader, deeply interested in all facets of warfare from intelligence to technological innovations in armaments ( famously a proponent of the development of the tank in WWI) to military tactics. The amphibious landing at Gallipoli was a disaster but Normandy a generation later, despite Churchill’s misgivings, was a providential success. When in political disgrace – mostly undeserved – as a result of Gallipoli, Churchill did not retire to the shadows but donned a uniform and went to the Western Front ! Moreover he demonstrated there exemplary bravery under fire.

Can anyone imagine a politician doing that today? Or the public expecting him to do so ?

In the Second World War, in 1940 -1941, Churchill was the  indomitible rock upon which Western civilization rested. A lesser man as Prime Minister would have taken easy terms from Hitler and made Great Britain a satellite empire of the Greater German Reich, akin to the Phonecians’ relationship to ancient Persia. Few people alive today realize how dire the situation was in the Spring of 1941 and how close liberal democracy came to vanishing from history. 

Thanks to Churchill and the bravery of the RAF, the West had a chance to catch it’s breath.

Obamicon-ing Zenpundit

Friday, January 30th, 2009

dark-side.gif       obamiconme.gif

Obamicon.Me ( Hat tip to Lexington Green)

Blagojevich, da People’s Tribune…

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL),  accompanied by his hair, abruptly appeared at his own Impeachment trial today that he had been boycotting in order to mount a defense and lash out at critics:

Clausewitz Roundtable – War as Social Interaction

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

My belated contribution to The Clausewitz Roundtable on Book II.

Clausewitz, On War, Book 2: War is an Act of Human Intercourse

Nation-states are superorganisms and warfare constitutes a form of collective bargaining, a market of blood. Lyndon Johnson in the basement of the White House, pouring over maps of North Vietnam, picking out bombing targets was attempting to bargain with Hanoi through the martial gestures of escalation. Even amidst the total war of WWII, the belligerents made calculated gestures in the intransigence of Stalingrad, the reckless dash for Cairo or through the Ardennes, in the step by step horror that was Okinawa, to signal to the enemy “the price” for continuing the war. Hiroshima and Nagasaki cleared the table of all but the most dangerous of gamblers

Read the rest here.

New Book – Threats in the Age of Obama

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009


I am both excited and very pleased to announce the release of Threats in the Age of Obama by Nimble Books

Edited by my friend Michael Tanji, a former senior member of the intelligence community, the volume is a 224 page  A-Z anthology on the cutting edge security challenges faced by the United States in the 21st century and the strategic thinking required to deal with them. Tanji recruited an impressive stable of experts, many with high level USG and private sector experience, in intelligence, cyberwarfare, terrorism, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, human terrain, information operations, public diplomacy, foreign policy and national security. It was a high honor for me to be included among the authors, who are:

Dan tdaxp, Christopher Albon, Matt Armstrong, Matthew Burton, Molly Cernicek, Christopher Corpora, Shane Deichman, Adam Elkus, Matt Devost, Bob Gourley, Art Hutchinson, Tom Karako, Carolyn Leddy, Samuel Liles, Adrian Martin, Gunnar Peterson, Cheryl Rofer, Mark Safranski, Steve Schippert, Tim Stevens, and Shlok Vaidya. And last, but really first, editor, contributor and chief cat-herder, Michael Tanji.

“….If you are on a mission to change the way government works, particularly in the national security arena, this is one a place where some independent and intellectually diverse thinking is to be found. In these essays, we offer our view of some of the more pressing threats the Obama administration will have to deal with in these early days of the 21st century.”

If support the idea that the national security establishment needs to embrace change, then this is the book for you.

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