The following is a power point briefing I did for  a number of interested agencies some years ago. More relevant  than ever today. Since it is ppt  it is short on text but understandable to those who understand military terns and some knowledge of culture.



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The Massive Iranian Attack on the US in 1983. Unrequited. The Consequence is Gaza.


The Beirut Operation in 1983; Mission Impossible

Reposting  a blog to commemorate the lost lives of the US marines and soldiers in the attack by the primogenitors of Hezbollah,   then called Islamic Jihad, but  they Islamist terrorists working for Iran.It was undoubtably, although as usual our Intelligence agencies waffled on precise identification, the work of Iran.It is important to revive the memory in order to remember the lives of the men lost, but also to note the price we continue to pay for our timidity, cowardice,  ( perhaps  more aptly termed),  in confronting Iran. In fact the Obama/Biden regime introduced a love fest with Iran which reinforced the Iranian mullahs view of the United States as a weak, easily manipulated society.  The JCOA negotiators, including John Kerry, and William Burns ( now our CIA director), were lap dogs sucking  up to the Iranian mullahs. Of course the JSCOA chief  negotiator,  Robert  Malley was  working for the Iranians heart, soul, and probably his  pocket book. Burns wrote a book I read, gritting my teeth, extolling the great works Kerry did in bringing about that disastrous “secret” deal.

A series of disasters in dealing with Iran have continued since that day that tragic day in Beirut. Probably most egregious was the American government’s kid gloves handling of the various  Shi’a  militia and terrorist groups in the pay of Iran killing American troops in Iraq.  In those days we should warned Iran and after a week or two  destroyed their Persian Gulf oil infrastructure.  We protest, threaten, make loud noises, and do nothing. The only bright spot in this legacy of pusillanimity  was the killing of Qassem Solemeini in 2020. Even now there are the gutless liberal-leftist appeasers in the West who blame the Trump decision to eliminate him as the main issue between the West and the  irredentist, presumptuous,  and megalomaniac leaders of Iran.  “Being nice” to Iran has brought decades of death and destruction to the West, and yet the opinion makers in the West always call for restraint,  caution, and understanding of the evil incarnate Islamist Iran.The Islamist Mullahs understand brutal force, not kindness. Kindness is weakness.

see https://www.slideshare.net/tex66/muhammad-taught-us-to-fightpptpptx

Iranian attacks, as are occurring today on US bases  in Iraq and Syria,( and being responded to by laughably  wimpy bombing attacks on militia empty installations). We   should be meeting these  attacks with attacks on their  oil industry and nuclear sites,  blocking and harassing oil transport through the Gulf. and generally making life intolerable for the mullahs.the oil infrastructure.  But I expect very little- nothing more than the usual words our enemies sneer at – from Biden or his incompetent politicized military leaders. Am I wrong I wonder? I would hope I am.

We should not be afraid of Russia. They are up to their ass in Ukraine and in no way ready to confront the US, even in our weakened state. In fact Putin is sick and the succession process is apt to be a very complicated one.  In a game of chicken against a resolute American leader ( I wish we had one) the Russians will back down. With a big daddy Russia put in its place, the Iranians are in jeopardy.  The power of the  fascistic Iranian mullahs are no way as strong as often depicted. They have a fragmented society- that with half a chance of success -would overthrow the regime. The Iranian regime desperately needs to be destroyed.  They are great intriguers, it is a salient characteristic of the Iranian culture but as a military power they are third rate. They fight with surrogates, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Palestinians, and Lebanese.

Along with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah should be on the list for destruction….not conciliation. It need not be done at once but by degrees, an implacable steady erosion of their military capabilities with the understanding that a society that  allows and condones these barbarians to exist within them are not blameless.

Losing our soldiers due to having to operate within tepid and ridiculous  terms of engagement- as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, is idiotic. It was simply  an effort to placate effete Western sensibilities about civilian casualties and put soldiers at risk while the bureaucrats at the European Union and Washington DC, in their well -appointed offices, hypocritically and fraudulently, lament the loss of civilian life. These gutless authorities should be put in their place.

All these Islamist  barbarians who raped, murdered, mutilated babies  have mothers, fathers, sons, daughters  who are capable and should have been  influencing them to be part of the human race, but they chose to cheer them on in their hate. They are complicit in the terror acts, and bear responsibility for the problems they now  face. Yes we understand that in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza there are many decent, kind people, and they will  suffer with the guilty. I know a number of these people and understand they are mostly powerless in the face of the prevalent despotic rule all Arabs suffer under. Is anyone stupid enough to think that the Hamas barbarians would believe they could  rape and murder with impunity, and there would be no  Israeli response?  Of course they did , which is why they took hostages.  They knew that in concert with the usual Jew haters, the decadent, dissipated, Western societies would recoil in the face of violence reaching them.  Many European counties are now deathly fearful of their burgeoning Islamic populations .As always, they are  preying on the weakness of Western culture.  The weak are destroyed by the strong. Not just the Arabs , but all people admire and follow the strong horse -As BinLaden said. It is the way of the world.

We were not very solicitous toward the Japanese  or German civilians in WWII. We understood in those days that whimpering  about civilian deaths in a civilizational war was ridiculous and self-defeating.  Of one thing you can be sure: Those leftist Islamist sympathizers who protest about enemy civilian deaths today do not have a son or father or brother or daughter in the fight.

If we wish to maintain our status as a world power-one that is in question now- we must gird our loins, as the Bible enjoins us, to confront the challenge of the Islamist regime in Iran.



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The End of the War. Another American Betrayal of an “Ally.”

Tomorrow  ..actually in a few hours …President Joe Biden will allegedly arrive in Israel to demonstrate his “unqualified” support for Israel in its war against Hamas and the other  various terror groups inhabiting the Gaza Strip. Many Israelis are jubilant about his arrival, accepting at face value his words of support, including many senior Israeli military officers. I find this perplexing and worrisome. Perhaps it is further evidence  of the creeping malady of wokism in the Israeli military office corps as I wrote in a previous blog.

In fact Biden will be arriving in Israel with two objectives, first to boost his sagging poll numbers, trailing Trump in many states.  The need  to look and act “presidential” without falling over the speakers  rostrum  will be paramount. Secondly Biden and his handlers will beg, threaten, enjoin, encourage, Israeli leaders to back off their ground offensive. This  will be critical. The Iranian threats to order their surrogates in Lebanon to open a second front would bring once again  into odoriferous  question the Obama/Biden strategy of making Iran the Middle Eastern kingpin. The Obama’Biden regime has spent unknown billions of American tax payer  money propping up a murderous regime for reasons that still escape me.  A possible continued Israeli ground offensive is being attacked at every  turn by the establishment elite, usually under the guise that it is bad for Israel and ultimately for America. The Uber elitist establishment Foreign Affairs  had a number  of articles, all lamenting the supposed cost of IDF assault into the rubble of Gaza city. The old stalwarts of the Middle East wannabe  opinion makers, such as Richard Haas and Marc Lynch weigh in on the disaster awaiting the IDF should they attempt to subdue Hamas, the horrors of an urban warfare scenario. From countless articles and talking heads we have all been made aware of the intricacies and difficulty of urban warfare especially in the Middle East. I observed  that first hand  in Amman in 1970 when the Jordan Arab Army ferreted out Palestinian guerrillas  slowly and not very efficiently. It is tough and costs are high. However……;

What these assorted talking heads always fail to touch upon is the price to be paid if Israel fails to carry out the decimation of Hamas and assorted terrorist organizations such as the Islamic Jihad- As the political leaders of Israel  have announced again and again in the early  days of the conflict. It will be immediately be seized up on as the demonstrable weakness of Israel and her few remaining backers- The U.S. and some the effete Europeans.

Actually urban warfare should not be seen as some immovable obstacle to destruction of a terrorist organization. The Russians did it in their second investment of Grozny after their first disastrous try. They used snipers, heavy artillery, and slow methodical tactics to level Grozny  block by block, and eventually the Chechens,  those surviving, the most fearsome warriors in the world, fled the city.

See. Mark Gallieotti Russia’s Wars in Chechnya 1994-2009

So what will we see as an “end “ to this unending war?  The Israelis will be coerced into a much less than satisfactory truce of some sort, with the  release of the hostages. The Hamas leadership will be mostly intact and perhaps some of the  most nefarious butchers  of the Hamas will be find luxurious accommodations in Turkey, Qatar, maybe even Iran.     Netanyahu, much to the joy of the left-to whom most the blame  for the debacle belongs. will be turned out of office.   To quieten the  Israelis  who rightfully want to exact  revenge and  destroy the Hamas, the IDF will conduct limited drives into parts of the Gaza Strip avoiding most of the urban areas.   The Israeli leaders will make victory noises, as  Moshe Dayan said after the  73 war, “ we taught the Arabs to fight and they taught us to lie.”Mark it up as an Islamist victory and A defeat for Israel and for the paper tiger on the block- The once great and feared  USA. Hate to write that ….but ideas and actions have consequences. We have Biden.

I pray I am totally wrong… we will see.

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Sleepwalking to the Next World War

I finished reading the excellent book The Sleepwalkers , by Christopher Clark few days ago.It details how Europe went to war in 1914…a war no one wanted..absolutely no one. Yet four years later 9 million soldiers and 6 million civilians were dead. There are many lessons from this book… easy and fascinating  reading, but one that stands out was simple and very analogous today’s political and military environment. In 1914 the European leaders of the the allies ( the triple Entente)- the good guys- the British,  France and  Russia had woefully weak leaders at the top.

The Russian Czar was a weak ruler, dependent on his wife, a German  who was a spiritual  mystic , dependent on the council of Rasputin, one of the most evil men in history, surpassed only by Hitler, Stalin and more recently, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader. The French PM was Rene  Vivini, a nervous morose man who babbled to himself. The British PM was HH Asquith, who was madly in love with a girl 30 years years his junior,  ( his daughter’s friend) and at times wrote her 3 letters a day, piteously complaining  if he did not receive any. He often wrote letters to her during cabinet meetings. He was once asked by a female friend if he was interested in the war, since he seemed mostly indifferent to it. His letters to Venetia , his love object , were filled with most secret military plans and programs of the British  ( see Letters to Venetia Stanley,Ed Michael Block.) 

Venetia Stanley

Concerning  the military, with one or two exceptions,  the Russian generals were  totally incompetent, oblivious to the terrible losses in casualties. They were moderately successful against Germany’s allies, the The Austrian- Hungarians but totally destroyed by the Germans. Among the French and British, their generals were basically stupid, “donkeys” as they were called, such as Marshal Sir John French and General Douglas Haig  both of whom wasted the flower of British youth in ill conceived and stupidly continued offensives. On the French side , General Robert Nivelle, among a number of mediocre generals, stands out as the most atrociously incompetent. His failed offensive , with massive casualties, led to the French army mutiny in 1917.

Robert Neville

Today we have a similar political and military environment. The European leaders,  the French president Emmanuel Macron, British Rishi Sunak, Germany’s Olaf Scholz are political lightweights, with minimal domestic following, and devoid of leadership qualities in a crisis.  NATO is a bad joke. What is the NATO national anthem? What mother will say I’m so proud of my son dying for NATO?  But most frightening of all is the grotesque spectacle of a Biden thrust into a European leadership role. Never more than a second rate politician, venal, and heavily  affected by developing dementia, he rarely knows where is, let alone understanding the  seriousness of the crisis upon  us. Equally frightening is the coterie of amateur and bungling officials around him. His secstate, Tony Bliken is a  flyweight dilettante, and our  top military leadership is demonstrably  mediocre (at best),  and in their positions by virtue of meeting the requirements of the political hacks who appointed them.  They lack the drive, trust of the soldiers, and the strength of character, to meet the oncoming crisis.

gavrilo Princip. The Serbian freedom fighter/terrorist who fired the shot that enflamed the world.

Soon the overwhelmingly left wing media  will begin the “stop the Bloodshed”  campaign  to pressure Israel in calling off its objective of destroying Hamas. If successful it will be the first step in the inevitable sleep walk to war. The cause of  maintain democracy and freedom as a viable concept is dependent on the destruction of the forces of totalitarianism   as presented by Hamas and the various Islamist gangs. That is not an overdrawn prediction. Israel v cannot afford to lose—losing being an end to the war with Hamas still extant. And we cannot afford another Afghanistan.


Is the GAZA war A replica of the 1914 Serbian affair? Who knows. The leaders miscalculated in 1914 .  Can we trust this conglomeration of Western losers to do better? Is  Western leadership up to the challenge of the Axis of evil?



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The Early Reflections on the Gaza War

Before the finger of outraged blame ( how could this happen?) descends on the land of Israel and its political leaders  there are a few pretty well established truths one can point to. Yes there was a massive intelligence failure, due to a number of factors, one being the hubris of the Israeli leaders, similar to the one in 1973, wherein the general postulation was  “they wouldn’t dare.” Generally it was known as the “conception.”There are a room full of books and articles on the subject. One, not necessarily the best one, is “Intelligence and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War” at http://www.cia.gov.The Israeli post mortem was declassified in 2009. It did not pull any punches. Unlike American post mortems, incompetent generals were named and I am sure they will be this time as well.  See my blog entry https://memoriesandreflections.blog/2022/10/09/yom-kippur-war-48-years-ago/

There is one factor that glaringly stands out but which will not receive much analysis because it is very politically incorrect, especially in our country. It is the infection of WOKISM-a diabolically fatal disease to any army- if not stamped out. It is a disease that was transferred from the United States to Israel in the past few years. The close ties, socially, economically, culturally, between the United States and the Israel, including the military leadership created a social and political  environment, which inevitably infected the top political and military leadership of Israel. Wokism, an effete inchoate ideology incorporating Marxism, and some fascistic tenets, has become the prevailing fashion of the day  among the establishment elites in the Western world.  It is more fashion than ideology but destroys an Army. Among its tenets, while lauding and affecting to love the third world, and its inhabitants, dismissing patriots as “deplorables” or similar appellations, it really has no feeling for the downtrodden, or disenfranchised of the world, especially of their own country. It is the cocktail party “intellectual, “ glibly ridiculing the faith and nationalistic views of the hoi  poloi while publicly feigning support for the “Fallah”who guard their  gated communities and  compose the military units that keep them safe in their beds.


In Israel, the repeated huge demonstrations of the woke liberals and left wingers affected  the military ethos of the Israeli defense forces. Israel has always had a problem with politicized military leaders and WOKISM always begins the rot at the top. It makes them ineffective and figures of ridicule as military leaders.  That particularly applies to our current crop of “military” leadership. Our top military  leader’s obsession with medals and decorations  make them look ridiculous. (check the pics of Gen. Miley). As a junior British officer  once told me, our medal festooned generals look like  latin American dictators.   I always think  back at  the reunions of the First Infantry Division reunions, at which WWII  vets with 4 years of combat  under their belts  had maybe two rows of medals.  Nowadays far too much  too much affectation  and political  show and tell,  and much less attention to the elements of training a combat -ready army. Too many  generals  are positively giddy at the  chance to join the fashionable at the cocktail parties, and rise above the general woke conception of soldiers as knuckle dragging Neanderthals. We need to study the impact of DEI and other subversive programs and eliminate them NOW…as well as the generals who promote them .

In  the months leading up to this Gaza fiasco, reserve Israeli Air Force pilots joined protests against the Israeli government  plans for Judicial reform…one badly needed. A number of Elite unit officers made known their displeasure as well.  On I24, the Israeli network,  the talking heads, joined by retired and some active duty military men were  continuously attacking the government.   This morning, on I24 an Israeli retired AF officer, the head of some anti-netanyahu organization, was talking about national unity, but obviously chopping  at the bit to blame Bibi  for the debacle. Yes, Netanyahu  must shoulder some of the blame, but the Woke officer activists must shoulder an even greater share.  As one of old my  commanders at Ft Bragg stated on  TV, the Israelis “took their eye off the ball.” So did we. The Intelligence failure belonged to us as well. That is not a surprise, nor is the fact that the Biden regime is unable to find any evidence that Iran. sponsored , planned, and supported this diabolical attack by animals (the al Qassem brigade) wearing uniforms pretending to be  soldiers while butchering babies. They are all Ibn Sharmuta.

Our big chief of intelligence, William  Burns,  was one of the Obama  cabal of Iranian fans , responsible for the stink of the Iranian Nuclear deal- a deal which set the Iranians on a path of irredentism and imperialism. The chief negotiator Robert Malley, A big buddy of Tony Blinken, was in bed with the Iranians. Keep this in mind as the Biden officials feign sympathy for the latest Jewish victims  of a mini holocaust.






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Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Clash of Civilizations on the Fault Line.

The map of Armenia after the 44 day Azeri victory over the Armenians in 2020. Today there is basically no Norgorn-Karabakh. Ii has ben subsumed into irredentist Azerbaijan.

Samuel Huntington in his epochal  book, The Clash of Civilizations explained what should have been obvious to  modern historians but were rarely touched upon, i.e.- that the most intractable wars are intercultural wars, civilizational wars. Before the era of post modernism, the old historians did in fact depict cultural factors as a primary cause of war.  ( think of the Persian-Greek wars- now the Greek  Turkic conflict). In this era, primarily since WWII, the more recent historians, engulfed in a tidal wave of leftist ideologies, have bitterly assailed Huntington’s book. It violated their most precious assumptions, among them that all wars have some economic, ideological sociological, perhaps racist basis for conflict.  ( Given that the Cultural wars do contain an element of Racism).Western colonialism, imperialism, was and continues to be a favorite.  Their theme, perhaps somewhat more tactfully put, is that wars  are explainable and have remedies if only the people would listen to the enlighten intellectuals, – the modern historian. Ambitious dictators, poverty, racial discrimination, populist causes, the evils of capitalism, etc are at the top of the list. To be sure these have been and still are, factors at times, but these wars usually have an ending, a conclusion. Revolutionary wars end when the revolutionaries take over, nationalist wars end when one side is vanquished or the leaders chose to call it quits, usually with some great power intervention.

Armenian troops


Azeri victory parade 2020

Basically with the demise of  religious faith  in the West, particularly Christianity, Western historians are unable to grasp the fact that the loss of religious fervor in the West has not occurred in the East.   The Eastern elites may be total atheists but they are smart enough to use religion to control the masses.  So according to these modernists,  the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks was some manifestation of ultra nationalist feeling, not religion. ( Even the preeminent Middle East historian Bernard Lewis declines  to call it genocide, because it was not centrally directed by the state.) The forever  war  between the Jews of Israel and the Muslims of the Arab world, are simply a nationalist contest between Palestinian nationalists and Jewish Zionists. So goes the conventional story embedded in scholarship by the likes of Edward Said, the ersatz Palestinian, who has probably done more to destroy Middle Eastern scholarship than anyone I can conjure up.

The confused ethnicity of the Azeris.religiously tied to the Iranians but ethnically Turkish. Politically Azerbaijan and Iran at odds as Iran frets about the loyalty of their Azeri population

But cultural, civilizational, wars are often interminable. They can only end when one side is obliterated or rendered helpless and the people evicted or subjugated. They have truces for sure, but do not end unless the condition above is met.The truces are usually on the basis of some greater power, interposing themselves, but as soon as the Great Power influence fades, the war resumes, perhaps on a low intensity basis until one side decides the Gods of War favor them and the war is resumed.

It should be pointed out that the territorial demands of the Azeris also include a corridor -or much more- to their cut off piece of Azerbaijan called Nakhchivan on the border with political rival Iran. Now that the Azeris are feeling their oats they will push the corridor demand and Armenia is too weak to resist if they continue to be abandoned by Russian and the West

Armenian refugees 2015 trying to escape  death rape and servitude of the Turks.Many Armenian women ended up as indentured slaves to wealthy  Turks and Arabs

One such war has just occurred and is now in a truce hiatus- the Armenian-Azerbaijan war- A war between Christian Western oriented Armenians  and Islamist Azerbaijan. A truce has been declared because an Armenian enclave of Nogorno- Karabakh has been obliterated. Any Armenian  who values his life and that of his/her family is leaving or being evicted. The fact that the  street smart president of Azerbaijan has enlisted Western help, particularly Israeli,  is of no lasting impact. The wars of  Mohammed and his successors against the Christians in the Arab world saw both sides enlist some opposing religionists  at times. Same with Zoroastrian Persians and  Muslim Arabs.

The strong Orthodox faith of the ordinary Armenians

Today there is no Armenian enclave known as Nagorno -Karabakh.  It now belongs to the Azeris.No matter the historic, moral, diplomatic or humanitarian concerns. Oil rich Azerbaijan,  cozy with the West and international oil CEOs, new friend of Israel, enemy of Iran,  succeeded in a blitz short war  against the orphaned  irregular forces of the Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh.   Feebly supported supported by  friendless and poor Armenia. they had no chance of survival, so they  unconditionally surrendered. As long as history records can be ascertained , this region was always part of the Armenian land, but in a twisted history engineered by the  duplicity of the former USSR, of which Armenia was once an important principality, the ownership of the land was never completely settled. The Soviets left it as a self governing enclave  with a clouded right of self -determination.

Armenian Refugees from NaGorno Karabakh


Armenian share some blame if we only look at the secular factors, the 6-year war which “ended” in 1994, with a resounding Armenian victory. The Armenians, enthused by their   win over the Azeris, refused to negotiate a peaceful settlement. But no matter.  Even if they had the war would have resumed war at some point. Now the Armenians thirst for revenge. They have clout. Not in Armenia  but in the outside world. Only 20% of the Armenian diaspora live in Armenia.  Many more live in Russia or the West. The Armenians, like the Jews, are a very ingenious, smart, cohesive people  who are usually good loyal citizens of the country they happen to live in but their historical anger  against their eternal enemy the Turks continue. Not longer in violence- as it was right through the seventies- but now using their influence in the Western countries to irritate the Turks. For instance it was the  American Armenian community who pushed through  congress the official recognition of  the Turkish  genocide of the Armenians  of Turkey- a people who lived there long before the mongol hordes overran their land.It is no coincidence that the Azeris are in fact a Turkic people,( despite their Shi’a Islam) and constantly  profess their kinship to Turkey.

Armenians trekking to Armenia proper.


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Americans are No Good at War?

The conservative icon, Robert Nisbet wrote in his book The Present Age that Americans “are no good at war.” As an American soldier I took immediate umbrage at that, but after thinking about it a while and reviewing our recent military history I did see his point.

To be sure the American soldier, properly trained and equipped, has no peer. From my own experience and  a buff of military  history I am sure of that, but then why our rather dismal record in this and the last century, even in the ones we “won?” I see a number of possible reasons. Almost always we are unprepared initially, living in a dreamworld of “everything is going to be ok,” we feel mule – like secure and untouchable behind our oceans. Our hubris, sometimes confused with  optimism, is a cultural attribute of long standing. Most would admit we know very little and care less about the outside world, but few would admit we really don’t know much about ourselves, especially, and most critically, our serious limitations. We tend to see war as as a  temporary, irrational act of human folly and not the habitual state of human endeavor punctuated by short periods of peace. We also tend to think we value human life more than others— but that  our military history does not bear that out. Since the time of the  war between the States, our military leaders have been profligate with the lives of our soldiers.

Troops in Vietnam  after the rot had set in in the latter stages

But most of all our most serious problem has always been the lack of true  understanding of human  nature and the the season that men fight well or poorly. It is always leadership and for my money we have a history of  mediocre military leadership, particularly at higher levels,  which has degenerated further in the past decades.  As General Franz  Halder, the German  General opined, it is character, not intellect that produces the best leaders.  Today  at the helm we endure politicized military leadership  who  care most about satisfying the whims of inept and corrupted  civilian political  animals.  The most disgraceful part of this is the way we have misused our most precious asset, the American soldier.

The  historical American military system is somewhat akin to  the industrial productive systems know as Taylorism, which basically seeks to turn the worker into a machine. From WWII  until now, despite all the right words and glittering phraseology incorporated into Field Manuals  and speeches, the American soldier is seen as a digit, a cog, a number, a particle of a omnivorous machine, important but infinitely replaceable.  Nothing can be more indicative of this than the replacement system of soldiers in WWII in which the impersonal system fed soldiers into an abattoir. Replacement soldiers were sent to a unit and killed before the platoon sergeants even knew their names. This system continued through the Korean War and Vietnam. General Vinegar Joe Stillwell tried to introduce a platoon or squad replacement system but it died an early death.

Seemingly more recently, the short term deployments of units to Iraq and Afghanistan have ameliorated this problem, but it exists in different forms. I am told that many units on their second deployment went with almost all new officers and  NCO’s. Schools and special training courses accounted for much of the changes but the officers and NCO’s seldom return to the unit they left. Since then, the post modernist military, sometimes referred to to as the “Woke” military, has injected all sorts of disfunctionality into the military system limiting the cohesiveness  and feeling of brotherhood in combat units.  but it is not a recent problem. In the late seventies, my battalion deploying to Germany had to incorporate  over 50 replacements in just a few weeks. Those replaced  had  suddenly become non deployable. This  was during the  President   Carter years and his total oblivious nature to the world around him, allowed the army to harbor many who were simply criminals or undesirables. Today pregnancy, transgenderism, gender confusion, and other fashionable social issues, especially in combat service support units,  laboring under the exigencies of wokism,  has exacerbated the  problem.  Granted that the few truly elite unit units we have today,  mostly- not completely- avoid these problems, but Wars are not won  by elite units. They are won by ordinary soldiers, who given proper leadership, do most of the killing and unfortunately are those whom suffer the most casualties.

Anyway here is the “rest of the story.”

On 9/11 we honor the heroism of those who gave their lives trying to save lives. As usual Americans lament the tragedy and the victims but ignore the reasons it came about. I have always been interested in the perennial unpreparedness of the nation for war and why we always seem to be surprised by the initial debacles. In World War I President Wilson, in his ultimately idealistic and pacifist attitude toward war,  and despite the increasing inevitability of American involvement, actively resisted any significant preparation of the nation for war, i.e. continually maintaining his popularity by being the man “who kept us out of war.” No administration ever seems to remember the best prevention of war is to be perpetually prepared for one. In World War I it was almost a year from the date of the declaration of war by  President Wilson that American forces were significantly involved in combat against the Germans. It should be remembered that it was a close thing. The German offensive  in the last phase of the war came close to a breakthrough. No, we did not win the war, as some suggested, but the psychological boost it gave the British and French, gave them the spirit to do so. We were basically unarmed when we entered the war. Our soldiers enthusiasm made up for the lack of training…against a  war weary German army. We had to borrow all out all heavy equipment from the French.

Like President Wilson, President Delano Roosevelt was elected partially on a “he kept us  out of war’’ platform.  In the interim period, as he allegedly tried to keep us out of war, his policies made it inevitable that we would be at war. Denying oil and vital strategic supplies  to the Japanese, and massive escalating war equipment assistance to the British- in retrospect- seems an obvious path to war. But we were not ready, embarrassingly so.

Sergt. Alvin C. York, 328th Infantry, who with aid of 17 men, captured 132 German prisoners; shows hill on which raid took place (October 8, 1918). Argonne Forest, near Cornay, France. February 7, 1919. Pfc. F.C. Phillips. (Army)
I wonder why in renaming some army posts they did n touse Sgt York.? Bragg was not a good confederate general but renaming Ft Bragg to Ft Liberty? Named  after an Insurance company?

Reading The Joint Committee on the Investigation the Pearl Harbor attack, and a much more trenchant analysis of the reason for Am But the leadership erican failure , Henry Clausen’s Pearl Harbor: Final Judgement details the compendium of stupid human errors of Judgement and commonsense that led to that disaster.  Its was unbelievable that the Japanese , whom most Americans saw as In World War Two as “being a people, who according to the general American view at the time, as bucktoothed,  bespectacled little yellow men, forever photographing things with their omnipresent cameras so they could copy them.” The same attitude was held at the top levels of military intelligence in more erudite language. See Knowing One’s Enemies, by Earnest R. May. No one could believe that the Japanese would dare attack the United States. The debacle at Pearl Harbor  was repeated in the Philippines as  vividly described by Louis Morton in the surprisingly candid, The Fall of the Philippines. “The Battling Bastards of Bataan”were indeed heroic American troops, attempting to shake off the deleterious effects of peacetime Pacific colonial life, while trying to stave off superior trained, equipped, and better led Japanese. But their leadership was  not ready for war. It some cases pathetic.

LTG Masaharu Homma. Executed after the war for war crimes, particularly the Bataan death march, but some observers say simply an act of vengeance by General Douglas MacArthur

General MacArthur’s inadequate preparation for for the Japanese attack and General Wainwrights loss of will were heavily criticized after the war.  Fourteen American generals surrendered in the Philippines. None were killed. Most honest assessments agree General Masaharu Homma, the Japanese commander, outgeneraled the American commanders.

At least Admiral Kimmel and General Short paid for their lack of caution and foresight with their careers, but an equally humiliating defeat and exit from Afghanistan was an act of God?


On the other side of the world, against the war machine of the Germans, the poor state of training for our troops was humiliatingly exposed at Kasserine Pass in North Africa. The veteran, arrogant, and triumphant German troops  put poorly trained American troops to wild panicky flight. The American generals in command were far behind the action and knew nothing of the burgeoning panic. Two infantry battalions, two armored battalions, two artillery battalions plus many other smaller units were obliterated.  See  Rick Atkinson, An Army  at Dawn. We did not underestimate  the the war potential of the Germans, but we did mock their individual  culture. They were first rate warriors, the story went, but they were robotic, follow the leader sorts,  unable to initiate much individually. …. Sort of like Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes. After the war  analysts  such as Colonel Trevor Dupuy,  (USA retired) and Martin Van Crevald (Fighting Power) concluded the opposite. German small unit commanders had more initiative and used it better than the Americans and  British.  Their aufragtaktik  (mission command) system gave small unit commanders more latitude to use their initiative.

Krieg in Nordafrika März 1943 (WK II; Südfront); Ganze Figur gehend (Zivilist m.Kamel; am Straßenrand zerstörter US-amerikanischer Panzer)Our tanks a were inferior to those of the Germans. Some of our troops saw them as simply death traps.



Much has been written about the “butcher generals” of the British and French in WWI but we had them as well in WWII. The awful carnage of the Huertgen Forest in 1944 in which the American Commanders sent  American troops, many poorly trained replacements, into a forested difficult terrain against  veteran German troops who were superior to the Americans in small unit tactics.  The American leaders chose to fight on terrain which gave the Germans all the advantages.The American General “Lightening” Joe Collins, apparently  believing in his own press releases,  pushed for continued American  offensive action when many other of the commanders asked for a supply pause. The results were 33000 casualties in a battle that has had few write about. In fact the historian Charles B. MacDonald ( The Battle of Huertgen Forest) questioned why the battle had to be fought at all.  There were many questionable strategic decisions made by the political-military American leadership that cost immense casualties, the insistence on Operation Overlord in deference to a”soft underbelly” Mediterranean  invasion, the useless southern France invasion, Operation Dragoon, ( Churchill called it a”pure waste.”),   chasing unicorn nazis in the fictitious “national redoubt,”allowing the Russians to push further into Germany and Austria, and Eisenhower’s broad front offensive strategy in lieu of a single powerful axis attack. Russell Weigley in his excellent book, Eisenhower’s Lieutenants, summed it up,.” the victory in Europe in World War II-was more expensive and more postponed that it might have been, because American military skills were not as formidable,  as they should have been.”

General Walter Model. He outgeneraled our commanders in the Huertgen Forest . A fanatic Nazi but a solid professional soldier.

The Korean War saw the same sort of  military unpreparedness that has constantly bedeviled us, along with our buoyant hubris. Our troops boarding the trains at Pusan Korea, going forth confidently to rout the North Koreans “…generally agreed that the North Koreans, when they found out who they were fighting, would turn around and go back.” The term “Task Force Smith,” has become a term for unpreparedness  and humiliating defeat, despite the heroism of many of the  poorly equipped and trained soldiers sacrificed in the name of peace and political expediency. On the Korean War, read one of the best books, This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach. Another is Korea the First War we Lost by  Bevin Alexander. Compared to the massive amount of books available on Vietnam, there are not that many on Korea.  With a bit of cynicism  my thought is that Korea did not offer the  journalists the amenities of Saigon, the nightclubs, and restaurants etc.   Korean women could not  compete with the beauty of the Vietnamese girls of  Saigon either.

Summarizing the war, Fehrenbach wrote, “A nation that does  not prepare for all forms of war should then renounce of the  use of war in national policy. A people that does not prepare to fight should then be morally prepared to surrender. To fail to prepare soldiers and citizens for limited, bloody ground action, and then engage in it, is folly, bordering on criminal.”


Again in Korean a we ran up against a ruthless, brutal enemy who gave no quarter. Web were not prepared for this kind of war

Then came our greatest humiliation –until Afghanistan –Vietnam. I went to war in Vietnam early 1965 with an  Infantry Division. I, like the troops,  troops knew nothing of the country or the people.We did have an operations officer who had spent a year previously advising Vietnamese troops but his stories were primarily about the  beauty of the Vietnamese  women of Saigon, and his conquests of the daughters of the Frenchified Vietnamese elite.  We did kn0w- vaguely – something of the French being beaten by the Viet Minh but we also assumed that being French they couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag and we Americans would do what the French could not.

General Westmoreland, frequently pointed out as one of the tensions for our defeat in Vietnam. But there plenty of blame to go around, starting with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. A good book on the near criminal execution of the war is H.R. McMaster’s Dereliction of Duty

So we went on these massive search and destroy missions, fell into ambushes, punji pits–(traps with sharpened stakes),  got hit by road side bombs, snipers, stepped  on mines, wandered around flooded rice fields, expended massive amounts of artillery on “harassing and interdiction fire,” Etc.  As Colonel Harry Summers, an old Korean War veteran and consummate writer on Vietnam, told my class at Ft Bragg , Americans are culturally incapable of fighting a  successful counter-insurgency war.    Despite howls of protest from the COIN aficionados the record certainly bears this out. Reading the enemy analyses of our war fighting capabilities, especially in COIN, are always a bit disheartening, and often infuriating,  and no doubt exaggerated,  but always important  to read. One North Vietnamese analysis commented  on the American soldiers walking “like ducks” through a rice field totally unprepared for  a possible  ambush. Our  Fire discipline was not good,  with too many troops firing on full automatic. I certainly remember going on a couple of defensive  patrols, in which, while we lay in ambush,  soldiers fell asleep, loudly snored, and made all sorts of noise.  We were artilleryman but General DePuy, our division commander directed these these patrols be set up to  catch Viet Cong creeping up close to the  artillery fire base wire. Luckily we never encountered the enemy on those ambush  missions.

As in WWII, and to a certain extent in the Korean War, we fed  half -trained draftees into combat they were not trained nor psychologically prepared for brutal warfare with people that apparently cared little for their lives or anyone else’s. That was particularly true as the Vietnam war ground  on. It was hard on the professionals as well, with some NCO’s and officers  returning for three and four tours. Professional NCO’s were particularly scarce requiring what became known as “shake and bake” NCO’s who were often not up to the job.  Green horn junior officers were even worse. A really good book to get the flavor of the war in Vietnam is one by Max Hastings, Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy 1945-1975.   My shelves are loaded with books on Vietnam. Other  than the Hastings book very good ones are the series by the US Army Center of History, especially the one on our advisory effort.

Towed 155 Howitzers bringing the sound of music to my ears and panic to the Cong.

But for the most part, even in the latter stages of the war, the American soldier,  often with  mediocre leadership, did his best.   Hastings in his book writes that there came a time when in many units, the leadership was not just disrespected,  but  actually hated. Much had to do with fact that too many commanders led from the rear or from hovering helicopters.   Nevertheless, despite all the stories  (some  true) about fragging, dope, and evasion of combat, the vast majority of soldiers  did their duties quite  professionally, if not enthusiastically. I was proud of the soldiers I served with. They were professional soldiers.  This was before the  draft,  and the ensuing  rot within the army that set in- perpetrated by college kids, afraid of the draft, and cheered on by liberal politicians assuaging the fears of the ruling elite.  This was despite the fact that the corrupted selective  service system allowed many of elitist families or  students in prestigious universities to dodge the draft, including President Clinton. The Woodstock culture of unfettered license  and our  stupid  celebrities, like Jane Fonda, and traitors like John Kerry, polluted and degraded the heroism of the individual troops fighting an unwinnable  war.

Advising the Vietnamese. The south Vietnamese deserved better then. they got from our higher political and military leadership

Since that time tons of books have been written on how we should have instituted the glories of Counterinsurgency ( COIN) war suggesting that had we done so the war  would have turned out differently.  It would have prolonged the war  with some successes–but winning..?I do not think so.  Unless we had instituted total war methods there was not a chance in hell of winning.That would entail  mass resettlement, draconian round up of suspects, and a scorched  earth policy, plus  continuous massive destructive attacks on  north Vietnam, and their more powerful allies, I.E., the Russians and Chinese, who were supporting the North Vietnamese featuring continuous bombing on the ports and shipping.

I have found that the books written by the South Vietnamese  commanders are particularly interesting in that they cast a different light on our advisory missions and the fight, often courageous, by South Vietnamese troops, who ultimately felt abandoned…something experienced later by our Afghan allies. The books I think well of include, Lam Qiang Chi, The Twenty Five year War Century, Tran Van Soon, Our Endless War Inside Vietnam,General Cat Van Vien, The Final Collapse, and a particularly poignant one, The Tragedy of the Vietnam War by Van Nguyen Dung. Vietnam vets who have returned to Vietnam for visits relate the sad sight of the run down, deliberately trashed cemeteries where the soldiers of the South Vietnamese are buried. Perhaps some of our diplomats while glad handing with our former enemy should go visit these sites. I suppose- like here in America – the erasure of history with the removal of memorials to Confederate soldiers should serve as an example.

South Vietnamese Military cemetery. For many years families were not permitted to visit the graves. Now they are permitted to do so and repair the graves at their own expense


Moving to the first Gulf war, operation Desert Storm,   we received a welcome shot in the arm, redressing somewhat our ignominious retreat from Vietnam as we routed the half-hearted and the poorly trained Iraqi army. But given the ineptness of Iraqi military leadership,  the fractured state of Iraqi society, and  an army in a pathetic state of readiness  for war, the overall consequence of the war was to give us a somewhat unwarranted sense of military prowess. Overall  however, it was a very beneficial massive logistic exercise and as we usually do, we  performed magnificently. It appeared our army had basically recovered from the Vietnam malaise and poisoning.   It proved that our army- with favorable  social and political factors- can recover.  For example, , one can go back to the  German assessment of the French army based on the war of 1870, in which the French were disgracefully routed, leading to a German   fatal dependance on ludicrous depictions of an effete French military.  They were surprised at the Marne. The French had recovered their elan. (Too bad it once again disappeared in WWII).

The follow on war, Operation Iraqi Freedom, seemed initially as a repeat of the rout of Desert Storm. But within a few months that I was there, June to August, and October 2003 to January 2004, the second phase of the war began and our luster as a conquering monolith began to erode. Again the Counterinsurgency myth became the paramount  military intellectual  exercise  with “military intellectuals” and journalists writing  books ruminating on how we had forgotten the lessons of  Vietnam-which we had.  To remedy this we  employed   bright young colonels and an Australian journalist, with general officer supervision, to write a PHD thesis type manual FM 3-24. It was well written with much good information, but few of the people who needed to read and digest it did so. By this time the liberal social engineers has seized control of the military educational system and spurious, non essential, basically useless classes and themes dominated  troop training time.

But again in  retrospect  there was no way- even with the scholarly excellence of FM 3-24 and perfectly trained troops immersed  in cultural awareness- that the war would have had a different outcome…i.e.. a friendly and democratic Iraq.  The Iraqis are decades away from understanding the onerous requirements of a democracy and suffer from a society in which Islam and the totalitarian cultural impulse are often interchangeable.  Moreover we ( and they) see today the difficulty within Western democracies of maintaining democracy under assault from a global ruling elites owning almost all the sources of sources of information, castrating the possibility of an informed citizen.  Freedom is a fragile commodity and can erode just a quickly under an “democratic” out of control bureaucracy and law enforcement departments.. Judicial and bureaucratic control measures can be just as terrifying  as the physical extermination methods of the KGB or the Amin al Amn of the Saddam regime.

But back to the theme. Then came 9/11.  From the exhaustive documentation contained in the 9/11  Commission Report we know that almost every  misjudgment, inefficiency, human error, criminal lassitude among our law enforcement and security apparatus  that could be made -was made.  However the Report was very light on  blame  however, not naming names, nor castigating lazy lethargic officials and politicians, but producing some excellent recommendations that for the most part have never been fully implemented. The creation of the Homeland security department was a typical bureaucratic solution to the problem of bureaucrats not doing their job- create another useless government appendage. Their ignominious part in the unimpeded  invasion of illegal immigrants on our borders  is graphic proof of their  abject uselessness.


Finally came the penultimate disgrace, the flight from Afghanistan.  Again the conduct of the war brought the topic of counterinsurgency back with a vengeance, and it was on the lips of every  intellectual  guru or journalist– and of course- politicians and academics.. Social scientists became an instrument war, like the ill-considered  Human  Terrain innovation with anthropologists tagging along with American  patrols.    A war that began shortly after the 9/11 attack has only ended a year ago and despite the egregious failure on the part of military leadership, intelligence officials,  and political leaders, no one has been fired or even officially  admonished. Failure has become the  the norm. Apparently this has become part and parcel of the American way of war. We pass out bushels of medals- some deserved-many not -and  celebrate our efficiency in airlifting  thousands of friendly  (hopefully) Afghans out of the country. It was an impressive achievement, but as Churchill remarked on the Dunkirk “miracle” evacuations do not win wars.

Taking down the flag. We have had to do this more often in the last few decades

So what is the bottom line for an old cranky soldier like me?  Well first that we suffer from from a severe case of hubris, self-centeredness,, and forgetfulness.  Understanding cultures, including our own, we are adrift. Not only do  we not understand  the people we war against, and  we really don’t understand ourselves, especially our limitations.  There are many things we are very good at and quite a few we are not.We play at the idea of war as if it were another Sylvester Stallone action movie Heroically dying for our country is not the answer. As Patton put it making the other bastard die for his country is the answer. Good intentions are a path to hell: platitudes,  stern warnings to our adversaries, the audacity of hope, verbose operations orders, etc. are not the answer. Cogent, cautious assessments,  accompanied by bold well considered operations are the answer. Good book on the Afghan  debacle? Andrew Quilty, August in Kabul.

The answer to our lack  superior generalship? I don’t have one. Some might say we need to follow the Pre-WWII German training and military education system, as described in Jorg Muth, Command Culture, but  people have  to fight within their cultural parameters and we are not Germans.






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Continuing Instability in the Middle East. Why?







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The Cross and the Crescent

An article I wrote 22 Years ago for  the Crisis Magazine, a Catholic periodical. It has worn well and, except for a few names and places,  it is still  true with modifications.

I do believe, however that the excesses of the Radical Islamists have created a substantial number of  educated Muslims who will tell you they are “essential Muslims.” I am always a little confused about what that means  exactly but it entails a cherry picking of those passages and teachings of the Qur’an that seem acceptable in the modern world or  enables their  more Westernized life style, specifically ignoring the “sword” versions., and emphasizing the pen verses, just as many Christians who have a problem with the  “blood and guts “ passages of the old Testament avoid dwelling on them. Also the radicalization of too many of the Islamic religious clerics has diminished their authority.  However The continuing problems of Muslims  in Europe foretold by Bat Ye’or ( Islam and Dhimmitude)  and  Michael Radu ( The Ghost of Europe)  seems to be a continuing reality.  First of all a note here…the work of Bat Ye’or is described in  wikipedia as a “far right conspiracy theory,”  which is one reason I often describe Wikipedia as a pronounced left wing source of information.  I do not agree with some of Ye’or’s   characterizations of Islam but her concerns are legitimate. The recent mass riots in France are only one indicator of that. A book and a very good one,  Nazis, Islamism, Anti-Semitism and the Middle East by Mattias Kunzel, A German non-Jew, lays out the case  for the rationale of my previous  blog, i.e., the easy and wrong answer of the continuing Arab hatred of the Jews  is not Palestine. It is far deeper and psychosomatic for that. His research is very convincing.

The question keeps recurring– despite the cowardice of most Western media to bring it up — can Islam in its current idelogized form -be assimilated into the Western world?  The coverage of the riots by the Western main stream media followed the usual pattern –obfuscation, minimization, and misinformation. The same reasons espoused by the media-  have become standard fare- advancing poverty, intolerance of native Frenchmen, refusal  to accept Muslims as fellow citizens, etc. No doubt some truth in all those factors. But why are the many Asians, such as the Vietnamese , and so many other other minorities  able to live peacefully in France, and not the Muslims. Has this ever been explored in detail? Why the reticence to  explore this issue…fear, intimidation, the desire to uber tolerant ( except to conservatives), fear  of violating  the woke fashions of the day? Perhaps some of all these factors. It is apparent to me – and hopefully to others- that hypocrisy and dishonesty have become a bed rock of what used to be termed the “Quality Press.” This disease is rampant in American press and social media.

Sayyid al Qutb ideological father of the Muslim Brotherhood. He wrote the piece “Our Struggle with the Jews.“ he wrote “Our struggle between Islam and the the Jews continue in force and will continue because the Jews will only be satisfied with the Destruction of this religion. (Islam)In this pic he is in an Egyptian jail. Nasser feared his political power not his sentiments toward Jews. Nasser had him executed.

Anyway my article from the magazine Crisis

Cross and Crescent


Christianity in the Islamic World

When I first arrived in the Middle East in 1967 to attend the American University of Beirut, I was told by a number of faculty advisers that between a course in Islam and one in Arab Communism, the course in Communism would be more beneficial. It’s hard to see the wisdom in that advice today.

In the late ’60s, Islam was seen as a religion of peasants. With the accelerating urbanization of the Middle East and the cosmopolitan culture that tends to come with it, Islam was viewed as an irrelevant force in the future of the region. Needless to say, since that time changes in the political landscape have been dramatic. More to the point, the present state of affairs is largely dictated by the resurgence of a revitalized Islamic movement that has continued for some thirty years now.

Islam and Islamism

To the people of the region, all the ism’s of the post-World War II era were Western imports that failed not only to improve the quality of their lives, but also presided over their continuing humiliation at the hands of Western powers or their perceived surrogate, Israel. Arabism failed, Marxism failed, secular-Palestinian nationalism failed, and Western democracy was seen simply as another cultural assault on the Islamic world. It was into this void of bitterness and frustration that a resurgent Islam misnamed “Islamic fundamentalism” again surfaced and quickly became the primary ideological movement in the East.

One often hears of a worldwide fundamentalist revival with Islam simply being the Middle Eastern variety complementing a revival of Christian fundamentalism in the Americas. This is not so. Although the perceived cultural invasion of the East by the West is a continuing source of genuine resentment, the driving force behind Islamism has always been political rather than religious. While the leaders of this movement parade images of a golden historical past for political reasons, in reality theirs is a conglomeration of half-baked Western ideas with an oriental packaging. The fact that various muftis and sheiks continually quote selective passages of the Qu’ran only provides the fig leaf for what is little more than the same old Middle Eastern obsession with power, and not infrequently, ethnocentric bigotry, resulting in a virulent form of racism in such places as Sudan and Mauritania.

For this ideological form of Islam, scholars use the term “Islamism” in order to differentiate it from traditional Islam. Islam and Islamism are not interchangeable terms. Neither is Islamic fundamentalism synonymous with Islamism. The fundamentalists are of many varieties, but in general they are simply devout Muslims who adhere to traditional rules of conduct.

The Islamists are a different breed altogether. Many have had Western educations, and draw upon postmodernist thinking to arrive at an ideology that approximates the Leninist emphasis on an elitist intelligentsia. They speak the Marxist language of mobilizing the masses and so attract many of the urban poor. The Hamas of Palestine and the radicals of Algeria, Sudan, and Afghanistan are all the visible creation of Islamists.

One must takes pains to separate Islam as a religion from the political ideology of the Islamists. Nonetheless there is embedded within the practice and traditions of Islam an animus toward non-Muslims in which the excesses of Islamism are nurtured. Its scriptural denigration of Christianity and Judaism, its insistence on the primacy of Islam, and its assumed intellectual and spiritual superiority create an environment amenable to demagogues with a gift for oratory and rhetoric—an ability long prized in the oral traditions of the Middle East.

But this denigrating view of Christians and Jews, evident in a number of Qu’ranic passages (Surah II: 113, 120, 135, 140, and especially Surah V:51), has been stripped of its historical context and transmitted to a politicized generation in a number of ways. It can be seen, for example, in textbooks published for use by American Muslim school children. In one high school text, Jews are depicted as treacherous: “The Muslims had asked the Jews for cooperation and peace. What they got was [sic] stabs in the back, conspiracies, and plots to kill the Prophet.” In fact it is very difficult in these presentations to draw a distinction between the seventh century Jews of Arabia and those of Israel today—Jews of Arabia were simply Arab tribes that adopted Judaism.

Another disquieting facet of such Islamic literature is a tendency not just to promote Islam, but to belittle Christianity at the same time. One has to remember that the Prophet Mohammed was given the task of redressing the “corrupted” texts of the Judeo-Christian tradition. As such the “truth” of Islam rests, in part, upon a refutation of the Judaic law and the central doctrines of Christianity.

Middle East: Yesterday and Today

My years in the Middle East reaffirmed for me the political good of separating church and state: not on account of the corrupting influence of the church on the body politic, but rather because of the corrupting influence of secular power on religion. A great religion—Islam—is being corrupted by those who cynically use it as a path to power. The Hassan Turabis, with their cultivated English and French, polished manners, and classical Western education, charm the same Western intellectual class that Friedrich Hayek described as so easily moving from socialism to fascism in the 1930s. It is the all-encompassing aspects of Islam that captivate the intellectual elite—not as a spiritual religion, of course, but more as a totalitarian ideology through which man and society fit into their concept of utopia.

In the ’60s the compatibility of Islam and Marxism was fiercely debated. Some saw the two as having many common elements, not the least of which was a tendency toward absolutism and millenarianism.

Islam is a way of life: an all-pervasive moral and ethical system based on an uncompromising system of beliefs. Apologists for Islam, therefore, maintain that imbedding Islam into the written constitutions of various nations is appropriate because in Islam there can be no separation of church and state. This is true. And it is precisely for this reason that an Islamic-dominated government is institutionally prejudicial to the non-Muslims within its borders. As a Jordanian Christian friend of mine told me a few years ago, “I’m too old to leave, but my children must go because there is no life for Christians anymore.” This in one of the more enlightened Muslim nations!

In my visits to the Middle East in the past few years I have observed that while political freedom (only granted at the pleasure of the various national leaders) has expanded, social freedoms have greatly narrowed. There is a certain tension in the air. For Christians and other non-Muslims it means living one’s life in perpetual constraint. The bargain is simply that in exchange for Muslim tolerance, non-Muslims must exercise their faith in private and with due deference to easily aroused Muslim sensibilities. In fact, invisibility would be better.

The history of the Middle East is replete with massive atrocities perpetrated against non-Muslims, but more recent history seems even more ominous for its evidence of governmental or political opposition strategy. From the exodus of the Armenians from Turkey, to the massacre of the Assyrians in Iraq, to the problems in Egypt, major upheavals in the Middle East carry anti-Christian overtones throughout. Christians are seen as a fifth column of the Western world—a perception unfortunately exacerbated by the Western powers’ use of minority communities, especially Christians, as levers to maintain rule in the colonial era.

The Christian Reaction

Perhaps the saddest Christian story of our era is that of Lebanon. Once a paradise combining the best in Western sophistication and Eastern hospitality, it is fast becoming just another Middle Eastern satrapy. Despite the attempts of Western writers on the Lebanese war to reduce that savage conflict to a socio-ideological war in terms of economic class, it was at its core a religious war. Against the combined weight of the Muslim world—as the Lebanese Christians see it—without any Western support, the Christians were ground down. Now demoralized and weakened, they are pessimistic about their future. Lebanese expatriates say the Christians who remain are resigned, dispirited, and bitter about what they perceive as their abandonment by the West, particularly pointing to the Syrian takeover of the last Christian enclave following the 1991 Gulf War. They are angry about the inequities in the Western reporting of that war and refer to the torrent of press coverage given the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps by Christian militia in 1982, compared with the lack of Western media attention given the earlier but equally horrendous butchery of Christians in the port city of Damon.

For these reasons not only is stability the fervent wish of the minorities in the Middle East, but along with it they also encourage any form of government that is not Islamic. As an example, one might be puzzled by the support given a thug such as Saddam Hussein by a large percentage of the Christian population in Iraq. There is a very simple answer: The brutality of Saddam is secular. Fingernails are pulled and executions carried out without regard to religion. Most Christians prefer Saddam to a government of mullahs. If you have doubts, check with the many Iraqi Chaldean Christians who live in that country.

It is no accident that almost all the secularist ideologies and political movements of the Middle East have been initiated or sustained by minorities, particularly Christians. Even among the Palestinian guerrilla movement, the Christians comprise the most secular and Marxist elements, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by a Greek Orthodox George Habash, or another even more radical organization led by another Greek Orthodox, Nayif Hawatmeh. Despite their antipathy to one another, the tacit alliance of the Lebanese Maronite Christians and the Israelis in Lebanon against all forms of Islamist rule is only one other example of the very real fears that an Islamist government instills in non-Muslims.

Petty Persecutions

Perhaps a more pernicious sort of discrimination against Christians is the Kafka-like rules inhibiting their ability to expand, proselytize, or build new churches. This is particularly true in Egypt, where the government, in an attempt to appease the more radical Muslim element, imposes all sorts of restrictions on any new church construction.

Within Islamic tradition there is a school of thought that allows Christians to keep existing churches but forbids the building of new ones. These limitations extend to repairing churches as well. Any repair, no matter how minor, must await presidential approval—a process that can take several years. In the meantime, a church may deteriorate and require further repairs, thus entailing a whole new permission process. If in repairing a church damage is found to require more than the repairs originally authorized, it will also entail a new authorization process. These rules date back to an 1856 Ottoman decree and, despite some appeals, have not been repealed.

A particularly sad result of the increasing intolerance for non-Muslims within the Islamic Middle East is the accelerating exodus of Christians from the lands of their origin. There is an economic component to this emigration, but an increased sense of alienation from their own lands is its primary cause. A steady stream of emigrants has diminished the Christian communities of Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine. The once-Christian town of Bethlehem is now Muslim and the minority of Christians remaining may have to steer between Scylla and Charybdis in living with continued Israeli occupation or the installation of an Islamist government. With the continued erosion of support for an increasingly moribund Palestinian Liberation Organization, Islamist rule has become a distinct possibility.

When I was in Bethlehem several years ago, Christian shopkeepers were worried about an Israeli withdrawal, not because they saw the Israelis as their protectors, but because they believed that the common enmity toward the Israelis produced a welcome bond between Christians and Muslims. With an Israeli withdrawal, the Muslims might turn on them. Christians in the region give credence to a rumored Muslim slogan, “Today Saturday and tomorrow Sunday”: after the Jews are driven out, the Christians are next. But these matters are not simple. To be sure, the policies of the Israeli military government, the anti-Christian attitudes of some of the Jewish fundamentalist settlers, and the early support of the Israeli government for the radical Muslim organization Hamas all greatly exacerbated the Christian’s problems.

Wider Christian Persecution

The politicization of religion has led to a paucity of purely religious Islamic leadership in the Middle East. It has become difficult to separate the politicians from the spiritual leaders. Of course, many would say this is integral to Islam and its doctrine of the indivisibility of religion and politics, but the result has been to represent Islam as a religion lacking any moral or spiritual base. At the national and international level we hear the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood advocating the removal of Christians from the army in Egypt while reinstating the jizya—a sort of poll tax levied on non-Muslims in lieu of military service—a tax that apologists have tried to defend as a humane gift to the non-Muslim communities.

The Islamic government of Iran in earlier years demonstrated a thirst for savage brutality both in the suppression of Kurds and other minorities within Iran and in the relentless persecution of Bahais for being apostates, a transgression in traditional Islam that warrants the death penalty. The murder of several Christian ministers in recent years would seem to undercut the view of a kinder, gentler Iran. Iranians who have visited Iran in recent years tell of corruption within the clerical leadership that extends well beyond the levels tolerated in the era of the shah. The overwhelming election of a more moderate president, Mohammed Khatami (himself a cleric), was based in part on public revulsion to the rule of the mullahs.

All of this has distorted the international face of Islam. Doubtless there are thousands of village sheiks, mullahs, and Imams who lead their followers in the simple devotions of the faith, but they do not presume to speak to the world. In this era of mass communication, the demagogues have the playing field practically all to themselves.

In the face of increased Islamic militancy, the timidity of Western Christian leadership is typified by the World Council of Churches as it grovels before every third-world demand, so as long as it is presented in some suitably anti-Western rhetoric. In some sixty press releases issued in 1997 and this year, the WCC has weighed in on land mine issues, environmental issues, handguns in Great Britain, offered condolences to the Islamic world on the tragic fire in Mecca, and attacked the Shell Oil company as well as the Nigerian government for destroying the land of the Ogoni people, but not a word on the plight of the non-Muslim people of Sudan or any other Muslim nation.

This timidity is matched by national leaders who grate fully accept large cash donations originating in nations busily engaged in eliminating Christian communities—Indonesia and China especially. The Department of State, inhibited by the exigencies of national interests, seems able to manage only the most tepid criticism of Christian persecution around the world. The response to the blatant and well-documented repression of Christians in Sudan was: “U.S. Government led efforts to pass tough resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Commission.” In essence the policy is clear enough: make perfunctory complaints to low-level officials and deflect domestic demands for greater U.S. involvement.

Nothing I have written here obviates my admiration for Islam as a faith, immovable, self-confident, pervasive, and demanding of its adherents. Compared with the mush emanating from the pulpits of so many mainstream Christian churches, I find a great deal to admire in Islam and in the simple devotion of its faithful. But at some point it must be made clear that Christianity cannot accept a condition of vassalage, or defer to any Islamic practice that denigrates Christianity or its followers. We cannot remain silent in the face of Muslim intellectuals who claim that Christianity is a fraudulent religion that celebrates its two central rites by “rolling eggs down a hill and tying gifts to a fir tree.”

It is just this kind of arrogance—and Western acquiescence to it—that underscores the dangers envisioned by Samuel Huntington in Clash of Civilizations. He quotes the eminent historian Bernard Lewis in describing the traditionalist Islamic concept of a house of war (populated by non-Muslims) and a house of peace (populated by Muslims) is very much alive. What is more, the world will not have tranquility until the house of war is absorbed by the house of peace. For those who choose not to convert, this peace may carry a very heavy price.

It is a particularly sad fact that at today’s rate of Christian emigration from the Middle East, the faith will soon be nearly devoid of adherents in its birthplace. This is unlikely to change so long as Islam remains so politically charged. The demagogues of the Middle East need scapegoats, and minorities of any form are increasingly vulnerable. Further, the insecurity of Christian communities reflects a larger erosion of the social fabric of the Middle Eastern mosaic of diverse communities. The elaborate social conventions and economic interdependence that held together ethnic and religious communities have unraveled in the face of accelerating urbanization. The movement from rural to urban results in increased identification with radical religious movements.

The present leadership of the Middle East is aging, and massive changes in regime are likely in the next decade. This transition of power is not likely to be peaceful, and the resulting instability will put the Christian communities in further jeopardy. Those who advocate a more tolerant, secular society are intimidated by an all pervasive religiously correct environment in which dissent can be dangerous. Although some Muslim scholars do believe a modernized Islam and a secular state can coexist, it is hard to see how this is so. The few who advocate secularization rarely do so from a forum in the Middle East. Even Anwar Sadat, a man of vision and courage, knew that any move against the Muslim radicals required a public move against Christians, which, in my time there, usually resulted in Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Church being put in internal exile. As many Lebanese Christians will tell you, compromise and the search for a modus vivendi with the Muslim community are resulting in institutionalized inferiority.

During my travels of the past nine years in the Middle East, my observations are of a society and people in a state of near-constant tension. Despite the political upheavals of the ’60s, there was a certain love of life, a determination to live life to the fullest, despite the turmoil and danger. I do not see or feel that now. There is a grim resignation, and especially among Christians, a desire to be as unobtrusive as possible. And as the old Arab adage has it, blessed is the man with a beautiful wife and whom the sultan does not know.

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The legacy of Nazi Propaganda to the Middle East

Grand Mufti Muhammed Amin al-Husseini a charismatic and manipulative figure who remains a hero to many Arabs..and a forced of ubiquitous evil to most Westerners and all Jews. He was appointed as the Grand Mufti by Lord Samuels, first commissioner of Palestine and a Jewish zionist. Go figure!

Putting the bottom line up front. The collision of Zionist aims and Arab Nationalism was -to a large degree- a by product of the highly effective and continuous propaganda of the Nazi regime beginning in 1939 and right up till the last days of the Hitler regime.  The clash between Jewish immigrants  and Arab residents of Palestine began in the 1920’s. During this time right up till beginning of World War Two  the conflict was confined to Palestine. The ceaseless and omnipresent Nazi propaganda turned the issue from one of an Arab Palestinian issue to one of the entire Arab and Islamic world.  The legacy of this continues to this day.

The Mufti of Jerusalem , Emir Husseini was a key element in the widening of the Nazi racial warfare   horizons. His nefarious career, particularly became diabolical when he became involved with the Nazi war effort in the Middle East. In fact Barry Rubin, in his book, Nazis, Islamists, and The Making of the Modern Middle East, makes the assertion thaHitler’s turn to the “final solution”-the extermination of European Jewish population- was in part based on Husseini’s exhortations to Hitler during  his face to face meeting with him not to allow Jewish emigration to Palestine. Previously among other ideas floating around Berlin at that time  were proposals  to simply banish all the Jews from Germany and the subsequent areas to be conquered. This would entail a flood of refugees fleeing to Palestine from Germany. It was the Emir’s objective to stop this Jewish immigration- by whatever means.  Rubin notes that a couple of weeks after Hitler’s meeting with the Emir, the “final solution” at the Wannsee conference, became the official doctrine. The Emir, blue eyed, light skinned, with a magnetic and forceful personality, had a magnetic effect on many people, and apparently so with Hitler.  George Antonius, the Greek Orthodox literary father of Arab nationalism (The Arab Awakening) described him as a great Arab patriot, and  was positively entranced by the Emir. See To War With Whitaker by Hermione Ranfurly.  ( Madame Ranfurly, the young wife of of a British officer captured by the  Germans,  traveled all over the Middle East during WWII and apparently met almost anyone of note in the entire region,  quoting a long passage of Antonius’s hagiographic description of the Emir.) His popularity with the Germans was undoubtedly  enhanced by his teutonic appearance as it was with Arabs in general.


As Klaus Gensicke ( The Mufti of Jerusalem and the Nazis: The Berlin Years) wrote, “The eliminatory kind of power politics which Amin al Husseini pursued throughout the Arab region against both Jews and Arabs is the recurrent theme of Palestinian politics  and is still unambiguously reflected in the Hamas Covenant requiring the destruction of Israel, and in the infamous phraseology Protocols of the Elders of Zion, inveighing  against all Jews irrespective of their nationality.”

This hate doctrine was perpetuated by the very effective German propaganda machine which broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, portraying Jews as the eternal enemies of Islam, and more graphic depictions as monkeys, emphasizing historical pictures of the Jews as genetically disposed to usury, cheating, immorality, and depravity. Jeffrey Herf, In his book Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World  throughly covers this subject, and the many ways in print, radio, and word of mouth, through the Mosques, the German Nazis cultivated this depiction of the Jews.

Not that this depiction was new. In fact European anti -semitism was always more virulent and that in the Arab world. Some has written that there was no real anti-semitism until the advent of Zionism but that is patently untrue. Reading  the preeminent Middle East historian Bernard Lewis, (Semites and anti-Semites) or Bat Ye’or (Islam and Dhimmitude) the Western style anti-semitism was different than the Middle Eastern/Islamic variety.   Lewis wrote , “For Christian anti- semites the Palestine problem is a pretext and  an outlet for their hatred. For Muslims it is the cause.”  However this is not the total picture. In the Islamic world the Jewish people were seen as mostly disreputable and powerless people, devoid of martial qualities, filling a required place in the Islamic economic scheme as financial lenders, and small shop keepers.  They were in powerless in a  world that venerates powerl.  They were a People to be mostly ignored or pitied rather than hated. One hates those above him, not below.The European hatred was one of jealousy, envy, and an engrained hatred blaming the Jews for the death of Christ. As Ibn Khaldun, the great Arab historian, wrote, the Jewish  “depravity” was an  acquired consequence of their subject status in life, as second class citizens in the Islamic world.   In fact, Arab/Islamic history  is replete with blood libel and genocidal episodes against Jews who were often blamed for  any event of domestic  unrest. They were convenient targets of the mobs.

It was the Nazi propaganda that turned the  Arab/Islamic intolerance for the Jews into a more European style hatred. One example being the Farhud in Baghdad against the Jews. In June 1941, as the British army closed in on the ragtag  revolting Iraqi army,  supported by the Nazi regime a mass  mob rampage broke out in the City.Hundreds of Jews were murdered and their properties destroyed. Baghdad had, at that time, the most populous Jewish population in the Middle East. They had survived centuries with only  minor anti-Jewish riots in the past, and generally  lived tolerably peaceful, fruitful lives.  Even today one can find many web sites of exiled Baghdadi Jews  reminiscing about their enjoyable live style in Baghdad. Of course the immediate answer of the neo-Arabists is to a say this was all the fault of Zionism. No doubt the Palestine problem was a factor but it was the Nazi and Italian propaganda that engrained and perpetuated the Palestinian issue in the minds of Arabs and Muslims all the way to India.

Bosnian SS troops

All this was a consequence of the Nazi propaganda linking the Jews to the Jewish immigration to Palestine-despite the British infamous “White Paper’” effectively ending Jewish immigration to Palestine.  The ambivalent and often anti-Jewish of attitude of the British general officers was the example of the Commander of the British forces pursuing  the retreating Iraqis, General Archibald  Wavell, kept his troops waiting outside Baghdad, while the anti-Jewish rampage continued– supposedly he was fearful a British army entering famed Baghdad would set off a general Islamic insurrection.

Emir Hussein having fled Palestine during the Arab revolt in Palestine in 1936-1938 – which he helped incite- he fled to Iraq. During his stay there  he assisted in fomenting the Iraqi rebellion.  Chased out of Iraq he eventually wound up in Berlin where he managed to ingratiate himself with the Nazis. He received a substantial amount of money from the German as well as the Italians, with whom he adroitly played against one another. Awe promised to raise an army of  100,000 Arab volunteers to fight with the Axis, but other than a few hundred, he failed to do so. However he had much  better luck with the Islamic population of the Balkans were he raised a considerable amount of troops, mostly Bosnian Muslims, to fight against the Yugoslavian  Partisan leader Tito’s  Christian Slavs.  An excellent book on this phase of the Mufti’s career is George  Lepre’s, Himmlers Bosnian Division:  The Waffen SS Handschar Division, 1943-1945.  The Bosnian Muslims  were pretty much useless in conventional warfare, even mutinying against its German officers in France, murdering some of them,  but had some effectiveness in anti -insurgent warfare, notorious for atrocities against the Slavic people. Even their German officers were turned off.

reading propaganda on Judaism


The British propaganda to counter  the Nazis  in the Middle East was generally inept.  Although Charles Cruickshank, ( The Fourth Arm)  A British official in the Ministry of Supply, who read the daily reports, wrote that “The most important of PWE’s overseas mission was in the Middle East,” their efforts to counter the Germans was totally( arguably perhaps) ineffective. Freya Stark, the intrepid lady adventurer, and Arabist, a latter day Gertrude Bell, blamed the ineffectiveness-indirectly- on the Palestine problem, In her books, East is West, and The Arab Island, she constantly laments the problem of Palestine.  She wrote,“ Here too, was confirmed the immense emotional influence  of Palestine, spread out so far beyond its geographic boundaries. Practically every expression of antagonism would centre on that small country, whose power for trouble, like that of  Cleopatra, age cannot whither or stale.” She mentioned that even in the wilderness of Yemen the isolated villagers had Palestine on their minds. Having spent some time in Yemen about 30 years later I found that hard to believe.

Freya Stark. great writer on the Middle east. Courageous adventurer. Very unhappy with Zionism but unlike Gertrude Bell she was not anti-semitic .


Being an Anglophile, especially WWII  era, I have read quite a bit about British ( and some American) propaganda efforts in the Arab/Islamic world, including  Ranfurly’s, Crucikshank’s books but also Gershom Gorenburg, War in The Shadows, Youssef Aboul -Enein and Basil Aboul-Enein, The Secret War for the Middle East, Duff Cooper, Old Men Forget, and the best one, Comes the Reckoning by R.H. Bruce Lockhart. My opinion is that the British screwed up their propaganda produce with petty squabbles, infighting, lack of leadership, and fragmented psychological branches, most fighting one another. ( Blaming the Zionists were lame excuses.

Harold MacMillan, the future British PM wrote ( The Blast of War), “The Germans are conducting a very active propaganda among the Arabs. They have seized a large quantity of goods of all kinds for distribution to the natives ( Tunisians).  And by every possible possible means, with the active cooperation of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem influencing  them against us. I have already done my best to expedite the formation of a proper Arab section 0f the psychological Warfare Department. ”

He went on to express his frustration with Allied psychological warfare  in another book, War Diaries: The War in the Mediterranean, writing “ All the people concerned with propaganda and publicity and political warfare are a neurotic, feminine type, and quarrel with each other a great deal. They are much more difficult to handle than anyone else in A.F.H.Q, ( Allied Force HQ)or indeed in the theatre generally.”

Be as it may , the malevolence of The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was happily in accord with the Nazi plans to continue its “final solution” to the Middle East. As the German army pincer operations continued in North Africa  and the Caucasus, seemingly on an axes  to meet in Palestine, the German  had Walter Rauff, an expert on the use of mobile gas vans to use on the Arab world Jews.  He did manage to kill about 2000 Tunisian Jews before   the Germans were evicted from North Africa. Rauff managed to escape after the war and went to world  for Syrian intelligence. In fact many of the more notorious German Nazi propagandists found work and hospitality, especially in Egypt and  Syria continuing their vitriol after the war ended for a new employer.

The Grand Mufti a happy guest of Abdul Nasser, appointed Nasir Arafat as the leader of the PLO.



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