Tuesday, November 28, 2023

How to lose the wars that we were winning

In February last year, with courage and mostly hand-held weapons, Ukrainian soldiers and civilians turned back a Russian invasion that everyone believed would see Kyiv seized and subdued in a matter of days. Then they liberated Kharkiv to the east, and even made some progress in the Donetsk area that Putin's Little Green Men had occupied nine years earlier. Finally, in their fall counteroffensive, the Ukrainians liberated the southern city of Kherson, which the Russians had seized in the first few weeks of the war. 

But this year -- not so much. The war became a slugfest, two armies separated by a No Man's Land of mud, trenches, and minefields. At this game, Putin wins. He can send waves of soldiers -- many or most of them ethnic minorities and not Russians whose families might complain  -- to die in hopeless charges, much as Stalin's troops did in the Second World War. Plenty more bodies where those came from! 

Ukraine has a fifth of Russia's population, and as a democracy it values its soldiers highly. As Francis Farrell writes in the Kyiv Independent today, Ukraine can't afford to fight a war of attrition: it will run out of troops long before Russia does. Simply put, Joe Biden dithered, and American military aid arrived three months, six months, or a year too late. And now it appears he will deliver the same sort of support to Israel.

Monday, November 20, 2023

War as clickbait

This morning I stumbled upon a YouTube video about a Hamas tunnel, with first a drone and then Israeli soldiers exploring it. Before I came to my senses, it was time for mid-morning coffee, and I had devoted two hours to videos from the Israeli military, Pat Robertson's CBN, what was probably Al Jazeera, and London's Daily Mail (linked above). War as clickbait! Soldiers with heavy packs and automatic weapons, wet with sweat and fear, offering their flesh to bullets from the other side. I was lucky enough to do my soldiering in peacetime. Now I'm an old man and can only say: God bless the troops!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Xi Jinping and the Useful Stooges

On Wednesday, American businessfolks gave a standing ovation to the Chinese dictator. I hope Mr Xi gives a bonus to the genius who ran the Flying Tigers game this fall. For the cost of a few dozen round-trip tickets and hotel rooms, he got two 14th Air Force veterans, their kin, and the grandly named Sino-American Aviation Heritage Society to come to China and set off a wonderfully timed barrage of favorable news stories to the worldwide media. Google regularly sends me a list of Flying Tigers references, and on just one day -- November 16 -- there were ten links along the line of "Flying Tigers veterans relive friendship between Chinese and American people during China tour" at Yahoo Finance. 

As part of this months-long campaign, Chinese activists also held ceremonies and put up bilingual historical markers in Commerce, Texas, where Claire Chennault may have been born in 1893.

Well, it certainly paid off for Mr Xi. I wonder who got the frequent-flier miles?

Monday, November 13, 2023

God bless America

It's hard, sometimes, to swallow what freedom of expression sometimes means.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Would you sell them out?

"I will tell you what I witnessed in Ukraine: when Ukrainians see American weapons systems, they applaud. Would you sell them out?" -- Timothy Snyder

Saturday, November 04, 2023

#KidnappedFromIsrael -- and now freed

Update: Dafna and her eight-year-old sister were among the hostages released on Sunday, November 26, in exchange for six Palestinian women and minors from Israeli jails.  Mr Elyakim, his partner, and a third child were murdered in the assault.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Remembering Shani Louk

Shani Louk was 23 years old. She went to the Nova music festival on Oct 7, to be seized by Hamas terrorists, beheaded, and spat upon as her body was taken as a trophy to Gaza. Because the butchery was badly done, a fragment of her skull remained in Israel to be identified by DNA matching. "I'm happy," her father says. “We know she is dead, we know she didn’t suffer, we also know a minute before the murderers came she was dancing, she was happy, she prayed, she went wild, with all her friends around her, and she had fun.”

Friday, October 20, 2023

If you're a tourist, avoid places frequented by tourists in various locations around the world!

The ever-helpful US State Department has issued a Worldwide Caution for Americans tempted to visit another country, or perhaps American hotspots like Harvard Square:

“Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution. Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists.” 

For personal reasons, I had to cancel a trip to Italy this month, including stops at La Scala and the restored Last Supper, which I last saw in April 1955. Both have been known to be frequented by tourists. A narrow escape, apparently!

Saturday, October 07, 2023

What $6 billion can buy

Last month the US cleared the way for $6 billion in frozen Iranian cash to be thawed out, with five Iranian prisoners tossed in, and in return five American hostages were freed by the mullahs in Tehran. 

This month the terrorist group Hamas -- which is, of course, a proxy for Iran -- went to war, showering Iranian-supplied rockets upon Israeli towns and kidnapping Israeli soldiers and civilians.

What did we expect would happen?

Friday, October 06, 2023

Snow Gaetz and His Seven Dwarfs

The recent circus in the US Congress, when Republican Mark Gaetz and his Seven Dwarfs shot their leader -- with the connivance of every Democrat there and voting  -- they managed to hit another victim: funding for Ukraine's defense against Vladimir Putin. The effect, as Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal this morning, was like seeing Julius Caesar assassinated by Groucho Marx.

What a commentary on American leadership! In the White House we have a president who slow-walks every delivery of military aid to the people fighting against Russian aggression, and in the Congress we have these eight clowns whose only accomplishment this week was to freeze the money that would pay for the next tranche of aid.