Scott McConnell writes: Think what you will about America’s contentious identity politics; compared with France, the United States remains Mayberry, TV’s symbol of small-town innocence. We may have Black Lives Matter, massive resistance to a president seeking to enforce the country’s existing immigration laws, and urban riots. But in France the riots are bigger and last far longer. It has hundreds of thousands of people possessing French citizenship but evincing no discernible national loyalty. And there are few geographic barriers between itself and the sources of inundating immigration. No one can forecast with confidence the American future—whether it be a more or less successful assimilation of large streams of new immigrants or a transformed country where ethnic division is a norm underpinning every political transaction. But whatever the fate of Western civilization—whether it be a renaissance, or, as Pat Buchanan has predicted, its death—that fate will be revealed in Paris before New York or Chicago.
And that’s why France is the epicenter of today’s fearsome battle between Western elites bent on protecting and expanding the well-entrenched policy of mass immigration and those who see this spreading influx as an ultimate threat to the West’s cultural heritage, not to mention its internal tranquility. In France it is a two-front war. One is the political front, where Marine Le Pen’s National Front has moved from the fringes of politics into the mainstream. The other is the intellectual front, where a new breed of writers, thinkers, and historians has emerged to question the national direction and to decry those who have set the country upon its current course.
Americans have always had a special affinity for France. It was critical to the American founding by way of Lafayette’s mission. In the 20th century many artistic and upper-class Americans embraced Paris as the site of and model for their own cultural strivings. France’s 1940 fall to Nazi Germany dealt the first real blow to American isolationism. After the 1945 victory in Europe, U.S. links to Paris, London, and Europe generally rendered postwar Atlanticism more than just a strategy: it was a civilizational commitment that helped define who we were as Americans.
Paris remains beautiful, though crime has been rising for a generation and the city has the trappings of wartime, with heavily armed soldiers visibly guarding sensitive targets—museums, schools, newspapers—against Islamist terror. The approaching elections, where the National Front will surely exceed its past vote totals, mark a tremulous new era.
Indeed, serious people have for some years been contemplating whether France is nearing the precipice of civil war. That’s probably unlikely, at least in the near future, but few would be shocked if the political and communal conflicts exploded into violence not seen in decades. And that has spawned a radically changed intellectual climate. The French intelligentsia and its cultural establishment still lean, in the main, toward the left, as they have since the end of World War II, or indeed since the divisive Dreyfus affair of the Third Republic. But today, France’s most read and most discussed popular writers—novelists and political essayists—are conservatives of one stripe or another. They are not concerned, even slightly, with the issues that animate American “mainstream” think-tank conservatism—lowering taxes, cutting federal programs, or maintaining some kind of global military hegemony. Their focus is France’s national culture and its survival. When they raise, as they do, the subjects embraced by American paleoconservatives and the so-called alt-right, that doesn’t mean the French debate has been taken over by extremists. The authors driving the French conversation are in almost every instance prominent figures whose views would have put them in the Gaullist middle or somewhat left of center at any time in the 1960s or ’70s. But France has changed, and what National Review in the 1990s called “the national question” has been brought to the very heart of the country’s national debate.
At the moment, France’s most important political intellectual on the right is probably Éric Zemmour, a former editorial writer for Le Figaro. A natural polemicist, he is a descendant of working-class Algerian Jews who fled to France in the 1950s. Though he demonstrates serious intellectual breadth, Zemmour’s particular passion is polemical battle. He was fined under French anti-racism laws in 2011 for publicly referring to racial discrepancies in crime rates. No one questioned the accuracy of his statistics, but discussing them in a way that was seen as contravening French anti-defamation law was an absolute no-no. Three years later, he reached a pinnacle of influence with the publication of his 500-page Le Suicide français, a modern national history that sold 400,000 copies within two months and became the top-selling book in France. Weeks later, when attacks by French-born Islamists on the offices of Charlie Hebdoand a kosher supermarket outside Paris stunned the nation (while being greeted with shocking indifference in the predominantly Muslim Paris suburbs), Zemmour’s book was there to explain how France had arrived at that dismal intersection.
The literary technique of Le Suicide français seems made for the internet and social media. The book marches, in short vignettes, from the death of de Gaulle in 1970 through the end of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency in 2012. Zemmour takes an illustrative event—sometimes no more than a demonstration, a film, or a pop song—and shows how it reflects national decline or actually pushed that decline onward.
One central theme is that the young bourgeois nihilists of the May 1968 street revolution prevailed. Not in politics or at least not immediately: de Gaulle’s party remained in power for more than a decade after. But the cultural victory was decisive. De Gaulle as a father figure was overthrown, and so was the traditional idea of the father. As the traditional family weakened, birth rates sank. In short order, France embraced legalized abortion and no-fault divorce; the father, when he didn’t disappear altogether, began to behave like a second mother. Traces of the shift show up in pop music. The singer Michel Delpech gave his blessing to his wife leaving for another man in one popular song:
You can even make a half-brother for Stéphanie
That would be marvelous for her.
Or as the comic Guy Bedos put it, “We separated by mutual agreement, especially hers.”
Such shifts coincided, in symbiotic ways that few understood at the time, with the advent of mass immigration. Zemmour writes, “At the same moment the traditional French family receded, as if to compensate symbolically and demographically, the most traditional type of Maghrebine family, the most archaic, the most patriarchal, is invited to take up its role. To come to its rescue. To fill up the places it has left vacant. To replace it.”
Like the immigration narrative of every advanced Western country, the story is complex. France had welcomed and assimilated immigrants from eastern and southern Europe for a century. In the 1960s, Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, encouraged by an industrial elite seeking cheaper manual labor, recruited to France each year hundreds of thousands of workers from Spain, Portugal, and North Africa. Rural Maghrebine workers were preferred; they were seen as less Frenchified than workers from Algerian towns, more docile. After worker recruitment was stopped during the recession of 1974, family reunification as a humanitarian policy was instigated, and hundreds of thousands of North African women and children joined their husbands in France. Zemmour concludes that this represented a kind of posthumous victory over de Gaulle by the partisans of Algérie Française, the blending of France and Algeria which de Gaulle had rejected—for reasons of sociology and demography as much as for peace. As he told Alain Peyrefitte in 1959, “Those who dream of integration are birdbrains, even the most brilliant of them. Try to mix oil and vinegar. Shake up the bottle. After a while, they separate again. The Arabs are Arabs, the French are French.” In the same interview, de Gaulle said the Algérie Française would result in massive immigration to France, and his town Colombey-les-Deux-Églises would be turned into Colombey-les-Deux-Mosquées. Read the rest of this entry »
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Set in Connecticut after World War II, The Stranger is a cat and mouse game between Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), a member of the Allied War Crimes Commission and Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a Nazi who has assumed the false identity of Dr. Charles Rankin. To complete his new intelligentsia disguise, Kindler marries Mary Longstreet, daughter of a Supreme Court justice.
Walter Russell Mead writes: For the first time in 70 years, the American people have elected a president who disparages the policies, ideas, and institutions at the heart of postwar U.S. foreign policy. No one knows how the foreign policy of the Trump administration will take shape, or how the new president’s priorities and preferences will shift as he encounters the torrent of events and crises ahead. But not since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration has U.S. foreign policy witnessed debates this fundamental.
Since World War II, U.S. grand strategy has been shaped by two major schools of thought, both focused on achieving a stable international system with the United States at the center. Hamiltonians believed that it was in the American interest for the United States to replace the United Kingdom as “the gyroscope of world order,” in the words of President Woodrow Wilson’s adviser Edward House during World War I, putting the financial and security architecture in place for a reviving global economy after World War II—something that would both contain the Soviet Union and advance U.S. interests. When the Soviet Union fell, Hamiltonians responded by doubling down on the creation of a global liberal order, understood primarily in economic terms.
Wilsonians, meanwhile, also believed that the creation of a global liberal order was a vital U.S. interest, but they conceived of it in terms of values rather than economics. Seeing corrupt and authoritarian regimes abroad as a leading cause of conflict and violence, Wilsonians sought peace through the promotion of human rights, democratic governance, and the rule of law. In the later stages of the Cold War, one branch of this camp, liberal institutionalists, focused on the promotion of international institutions and ever-closer global integration, while another branch, neoconservatives, believed that a liberal agenda could best be advanced through Washington’s unilateral efforts (or in voluntary conjunction with like-minded partners).
The disputes between and among these factions were intense and consequential, but they took place within a common commitment to a common project of global order. As that project came under increasing strain in recent decades, however, the unquestioned grip of the globalists on U.S. foreign policy thinking began to loosen. More nationalist, less globally minded voices began to be heard, and a public increasingly disenchanted with what it saw as the costly failures the global order-building project began to challenge what the foreign policy establishment was preaching. The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian schools of thought, prominent before World War II but out of favor during the heyday of the liberal order, have come back with a vengeance.
Jeffersonians, including today’s so-called realists, argue that reducing the United States’ global profile would reduce the costs and risks of foreign policy. They seek to define U.S. interests narrowly and advance them in the safest and most economical ways. Libertarians take this proposition to its limits and find allies among many on the left who oppose interventionism, want to cut military spending, and favor redeploying the government’s efforts and resources at home. Both Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas seemed to think that they could surf the rising tide of Jeffersonian thinking during the Republican presidential primary. But Donald Trump sensed something that his political rivals failed to grasp: that the truly surging force in American politics wasn’t Jeffersonian minimalism. It was Jacksonian populist nationalism.
The distinctively American populism Trump espouses is rooted in the thought and culture of the country’s first populist president, Andrew Jackson. For Jacksonians—who formed the core of Trump’s passionately supportive base—the United States is not a political entity created and defined by a set of intellectual propositions rooted in the Enlightenment and oriented toward the fulfillment of a universal mission. Rather, it is the nation-state of the American people, and its chief business lies at home. Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, or even as a function of a unique American vocation to transform the world, but rather as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens. The role of the U.S. government, Jacksonians believe, is to fulfill the country’s destiny by looking after the physical security and economic well-being of the American people in their national home—and to do that while interfering as little as possible with the individual freedom that makes the country unique. Read the rest of this entry »
His intimations of a new American isolationism are heard in capitals around the world.
Charles Krauthammer writes: The flurry of bold executive orders and of highly provocative Cabinet nominations (such as a secretary of education who actually believes in school choice) has been encouraging to conservative skeptics of Donald Trump. But it shouldn’t erase the troubling memory of one major element of Trump’s inaugural address.
“For 70 years, we sustained an international system of open commerce and democratic alliances that has enabled America and the West to grow and thrive. Global leadership is what made America great. We abandon it at our peril.”
The foreign-policy section has received far less attention than so revolutionary a declaration deserved. It radically redefined the American national interest as understood since World War II.
“Trump outlined a world in which foreign relations are collapsed into a zero-sum game. They gain, we lose.”
Trump outlined a world in which foreign relations are collapsed into a zero-sum game. They gain, we lose. As in: “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries” while depleting our own. And most provocatively, this: “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.”
“Imagine how this resonates abroad. ‘America First’ was the name of the organization led by Charles Lindbergh that bitterly fought FDR before U.S. entry into World War II — right through the Battle of Britain — to keep America neutral between Churchill’s Britain and Hitler’s Reich.”
JFK’s inaugural pledged to support any friend and oppose any foe to assure the success of liberty. Note that Trump makes no distinction between friend and foe (and no reference to liberty). They’re all out to use, exploit, and surpass us.
Blake Stilwell writes: This may seem like blasphemy to some, but Popeye started his professional career as a civilian mariner and then Coast Guardsman. The famous sailor did join the Navy, but as of 1937, Popeye was firmly in the Coast Guard. A two-reel feature titled Popeye the Sailor meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves introduces Popeye serving at a Coast Guard station. The sailor man’s creator did not live to see the United States enter World War II, but it was in 1941 that his creation joined the Navy and the legend of Popeye the rough and tumble U.S. Navy sailor was born.
Popeye the Sailor meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves wasn’t Popeye’s first feature. He started life as a character in the comic strip Thimble Theaterin 1929, a comic actually centered around his off-and-on girlfriend, Olive Oyl. When it became obvious that Popeye was the real star, he made a jump to feature films. In the aforementioned 1937 film is when we see Popeye in the Coast Guard, on guard duty and deploying to intercept “Abu Hassan” (aka Bluto), who is terrorizing the Middle East.
“Today, the first American to orbit the Earth, NASA astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn, passed away. We mourn this tremendous loss for our nation and the world. As one of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts, Glenn’s riveting flight aboard Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, united our nation, launched America to the forefront of the space race, and secured for him a unique place in the annals of history.
“While that first orbit was the experience of a lifetime, Glenn, who also had flown combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War as a Marine aviator, continued to serve his country as a four-term Senator from Ohio, as a trusted statesman, and an educator. In 1998, at the age of 77, he became the oldest human to venture into space as a crew member on the Discovery space shuttle — once again advancing our understanding of living and working in space.
“Glenn’s extraordinary courage, intellect, patriotism and humanity were the hallmarks of a life of greatness. His missions have helped make possible everything our space program has since achieved and the human missions to an asteroid and Mars that we are striving toward now.
“With all his accomplishments, he was always focused on the young people of today, who would soon lead the world. ‘The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel,’ he said. ‘To me, there is no greater calling … If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I’ve accomplished something.’ Read the rest of this entry »
It was previously thought that Abe was not inclined to visit Pearl Harbor. In the process of arranging Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, the U.S. State Department communicated secretly with Japan about the possibility of Abe visiting Pearl Harbor. However, the Japanese side declined. The prime minister apparently thought his visit would have a negative impact on Japan-U.S. relations because the focus would be on whether or not an apology would be made during the visit and historical arguments would resurface.
Hiroshi Tajima and Satoshi Ogawa report: Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned visit to Pearl Harbor later this month is based on his decision to demonstrate a mature and future-oriented Japan-U.S. alliance to the world. The prime minister announced Monday night that he will visit Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27, and visit Pearl Harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama during the Hawaii stay.
“I have long thought of demonstrating the significance and symbolism of visiting Pearl Harbor and the importance of reconciliation.”
— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The visit with Obama — following the U.S. president’s visit to Hiroshima in May — will be a historic event to symbolize Japan-U.S. reconciliation, as the leaders of the two countries that fought fiercely against each other in World War II will have paid their respects to victims of the war on those occasions.
“I have long thought of demonstrating the significance and symbolism of visiting Pearl Harbor and the importance of reconciliation,” Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday night.
The prime minister said he has had the idea of visiting Pearl Harbor for a long time, and started specific planning last year.
Pearl Harbor is a significant place in Japan-U.S. history along with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On Dec. 7, 1941 (Dec. 8 Japan time), the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor and sank and damaged eight U.S. battleships, including the USS Arizona. Americans fought World War II with the phrase “Remember Pearl Harbor” in their minds.
The day after the attack, then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt described the day of the attack as “a date which will live in infamy” in a speech at a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
At the same place Roosevelt made the speech, the prime minister delivered a speech in April last year and said: “History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone,” naming locations of battles such as Pearl Harbor and Bataan and Corregidor in the Philippines.
With this, the prime minister expressed “deep repentance” in a speech that drew standing ovations from U.S. lawmakers and symbolized Japan-U.S. reconciliation.
“The station was called ‘secret’ because during the Second World War its existence was unknown in the USSR. Starting from 1952, Soviet polar explorers were living there, waiting for the opening of a new weather station. In 1956, the German station was destroyed.”
— Russian National Park Service spokeswoman
Due to this year’s warm Arctic summer, experts could fully explore the ground where the military weather station was located, finding more than 600 items.
“These artifacts unmistakably advise about the German identity of the station, and also suggest that its designation was both military and meteorological,” explained a spokeswoman for the Russian Arctic National Park, in an email to FoxNews.com.
Researchers found German mines, hand grenade fragments, cartridge boxes, cartridges for Mauser 98 rifles and boxes for MG-34 submachine gun feed belts. Parts of uniforms, overcoats, underwear, socks, and pieces of footwear, were also discovered, as well as sacks bearing the label of the German army.
Scientific items found include pieces of weather balloons, thermometers, astronomic tables, journals with meteorological data and textbooks on meteorology stamped with the seal of Germany’s Navy. Books of fiction such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” were discovered, as well as packages for food and even toothpaste.
The German weather station Schatzgräber (Treasure Hunter) was located on Alexandra Land, an island in the Franz Josef Land archipelago, from September 1943 to July 1944, during which time it sent more than 700 meteorological reports. Military personnel at the weather station fell ill after eating polar bear meat contaminated with roundworms, forcing the base’s evacuation in 1944. Read the rest of this entry »
“Show your heart — not just your applause — for Mel Gibson,” producer Bill Mechanic asked the crowd after the credits rolled.
As Gibson walked down the aisle to take the stage with fellow producers and key cast members, the audience gave a standing ovation. It was a departure from the typical Hollywood premiere, where the main introductions take place before the screening.
Reel 1 shows a V-2 rocket assembled from German parts at White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico. The alcohol tank, oxygen tank, propulsion unit, and tail housing are placed in position.
The rocket is carried to the firing area and raised to a vertical position. Reel 2, final checks are made and the rocket is fired. Its course is followed by radar. Parts are recovered after the rocket has crashed.
“Look, the fact that the President goes way out of his way, for seven and a half years, to avoid the phrase that is obviously the most descriptive of the enemy, radical Islam, means he’s doing it for a purpose.”
“He pretends and says well, it’s a magical phrase. … I think the President said, calling it a threat by a different name doesn’t make it go away. Of course it doesn’t! Nobody implies it does.”
“But deliberately calling it something meaningless: ‘violent extremism’ is a completely empty phrase. No one has ever strapped on a suicide vest in the name of extremism; nobody dies in the name of extremism.”
“Obama is deliberately trying to deny, or to hide, or to disguise, the connection between all of these disparate acts and groups, and if you want to mobilize a country behind you, you need to tell them who the enemy is and why it’s doing what it is.”Read the rest of this entry »
Amos Zeeburg writes: The stories have become all too familiar in Japan, though people often do their best to ignore them. An elderly or middle-aged person, usually a man, is found dead, at home in his apartment, frequently right in his bed. It has been days, weeks, or even months since he has had contact with another human being. Often the discovery is made by a landlord frustrated at not receiving a rent payment or a neighbor who notices an unpleasant smell. The deceased has almost no connections with the world around him: no job, no relationships with neighbors, no spouse or children who care to be in contact. He has little desire to take care of his home, his relationships, his health. “The majority of lonely deaths are people who are kind of messy,” Taichi Yoshida, who runs a moving company that often cleans out apartments where people are discovered long after they die, toldTime magazine. “It’s the person who, when they take something out, they don’t put it back; when something breaks, they don’t fix it; when a relationship falls apart, they don’t repair it.”
The death rate for U.S. whites (USW), U.S. Hispanics (USH), and six comparison countries (France, Germany, UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden) since 1990.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
These lonely deaths are called kodokushi. Each one passes without much notice, but the phenomenon is frequent enough to be widely known. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported there were 3,700 “unaccompanied deaths” in Japan in 2013, but some researchers estimate that because of significant under-counting, the true figure is closer to 30,000. In any case, the frequency of kodokushi has been on the rise since they emerged in the 1980s.
The increase seems to be associated with deep social changes in the country, particularly the breakdown of the traditional multigenerational Japanese family. In 1960, about 80 percent of elderly Japanese lived with a child; since then that number has split in half. Read the rest of this entry »
‘I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.’
If you remember the plot of the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family escaped over the Alps rather than submit to the Nazis. Kitty wasn’t so lucky. Her family chose to stay in her native Austria. She was 10 years old, but bright and aware. And she was watching.
“Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.”
“We elected him by a landslide – 98 percent of the vote,” she recalls.
She wasn’t old enough to vote in 1938 – approaching her 11th birthday. But she remembers.
“Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.”
Hitler is welcomed to Austria
“In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates.
“If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.”
Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs.
“My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily.’
“We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living.
“Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands.”
“Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.
“Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.
“We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed.
“The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free.”
“After the election, German officials were appointed, and, like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service.
“Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time, unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler.”
“Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been required to give up for marriage.
“Then we lost religious education for kids”
“Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school.. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,’ and had physical education.
“Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail.”
And then things got worse.
“The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free.”
“We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.”
“My mother was very unhappy,” remembers Kitty. “When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination.
“I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing.
“Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time, unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler.
“It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.”
“In 1939, the war started, and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and, if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death.”
“Women who stayed home to raise their families didn’t have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men.”
“Soon after this, the draft was implemented.”
“It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps,” remembers Kitty. “During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for military training just like the boys.
“They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps. After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines.
“When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat.
“Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack. I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service.
“When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers.
“You could take your children ages four weeks old to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, seven days a week, under the total care of the government.
“The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had.”
“After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything.”
“Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna..
“After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything.
“When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full.
“If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.
“As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80 percent of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families.
“All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.”
“We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables.
“Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands.”
“Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control.”
“We had consumer protection, too”
“We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the livestock, and then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.”
“In 1944, I was a student teacher in a small village in the Alps. The villagers were surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with snow, causing people to be isolated. Read the rest of this entry »
Here we are, 70 years after the nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m wondering if we’ve come even one step closer to a moral reckoning with our status as the world’s only country to use atomic weapons to slaughter human beings. Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun? Will it absorb the way they instantly vaporized thousands of victims, incinerated tens of thousands more, and created unimaginably powerful shockwaves and firestorms that ravaged everything for miles beyond ground zero? Will it finally come to grips with the “black rain” that spread radiation and killed even more people — slowly and painfully — leading in the end to a death toll for the two cities conservatively estimated at more than 250,000?
There’s also the fact that the conventional firebombing of Tokyo by 330 B-29 Superfortresses killed the same number of people as the Hiroshima bomb with plain old firebombs. Is this somehow morally superior to Hiroshima? 100,000 people dying in one bombing s perfectly acceptable as long as uranium and plutonium aren’t bombed, eh, @salon??? How about millions, @salon???
If you can’t tell me which of the below cities is Hiroshima and which one is Tokyo, you really should stop talking.
Look at this. Look at it. We did this without any fucking atom bombs and they still didn’t surrender.
But that’s not important.
Do you have any fucking clue what the alternative was, @salon???
It’s blood chilling.
Put simply, that above is the alternative, but no mere map can drive home the horror that would have been the aptly named Operation Downfall. D-Day would have been PEANUTS in comparison
It would have consisted of two phases: Operation Coronet and Operation Olympic. Olympic was scheduled for November 1st, 1945, with the goal of invading the southernmost Japanese home island of Kyushu. It would have been spearheaded by forty two aircraft carriers, twenty four battleships and over four hundred assorted cruisers, destroyers and destroyer escorts. By comparison, today’s US Navy only has 271 deployable combat ships.
Fourteen Army and Marine Corps divisions would have fought and bled and died on those beaches, with the Fifth, Seventh and Thirteenth Air Forces providing tactical close air support. The Twentieth Air Force would have continued the job of strategic bombing, pummeling Japanese infrastructure in the hopes of slowing down the inevitable Japanese main counterattack. Thirty-five landing beaches would have been concentrated around the cities of Miyazaki, Ariake and Kushikino, most of which were as heavily defended if not more so than Omaha Beach in Normandy. For the record, as can be clearly seen on the maps below, we weren’t even planning on taking the whole island, just the southern third of it because casualty rates would have been that FUCKING high.
Here’s a close-up map of Olympic:
Operation Coronet was scheduled for March 1, 1946- no, that date is not wrong; this would have extended World War II into the fifties- and was supposed to march on Tokyo, the heart and soul of the Japanese empire. Twenty five Army and Marine divisions would have landed that day on two opposing beaches with the plan being to take the city in the largest pincer movement since Operation Barbarossa. For comparison, the entirety of all American, Canadian and British forces landing on D-Day amounted to twelve divisions.
It wasn’t hard at all for the Japanese to figure out where we’d be landing and they had some plans of their own. Operation Ketsu-Go aim was not to win Japan the war; they knew that was impossible at this point in the game. No, their entire goal was to kill as many Allied troops as possible before going down.
They had five thousand aircraft, just for use as kamikazes. During the Battle of Okinawa just months prior, they had launched fifteen hundred kamikazes, causing more than 10,000 casualties; with more favorable terrain on Kyushu their kill rates would only have risen. They also planned to target troop carriers as they ferried men to the beaches; this alone could have destroyed one third of the invasion force before it even arrived.
They also had a little over a thousand suicide submarines and suicide boats- literally motorboats filled with explosives- to ram Allied shipping. They also planned on using “human mines”- just men in diving gear who would swim out and detonate bombs as the American transports passed overhead.
On the beaches, the Japanese moved one million soldiers to Kyushu. They also forced civilians into the fight, training women, schoolchildren and old men to kill Americans with goddamn muskets, longbows and bamboo spears! Anything they had they were told to kill Americans with. They were strapping explosives to schoolchildren as suicide bombers- eerily similar to what US soldiers are facing right now in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
But that’s barely scratching the surface. What’s truly chilling is the predicted casualty rates. The very best estimate for Allied forces was in the hundreds of thousands, more likely in the millions; up to that point the US had lost “only” 240,000 men in combat; we would have doubled and then tripled that in the first week of the invasion alone. The Japanese, on the other hand, were facing upwards of nine million to ALL OF THEM. Civilians would be dying left and right from starvation, the bombings, the blockade; even the atrocities their own military would have committed against them. This is the same military that forced parents on Okinawa to kill their children and then themselves, this is the same military that in Nanking raped and killed upwards of three hundred thousand people; this is the same military that did shit that puts your worst nightmares to shame.
Of course, the truest irony of it all is that even if we had gone with Operation Downfall, wasting another fifteen million innocent lives in a war that had already cost us eighty million, is that some plans for Downfall called for the usage of atomic bombs anyway! Numbers vary from seven to twenty; seven is most likely. So even if we had invaded, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been destroyed anyway!
We were also planning on nuking the beaches to soften up Japanese defenses too. But think about that. Nobody knew about radiation at the time. We would have been marching our troops through the still glowing impact zone. We were this close to killing EVERYONE in BOTH armies. Compared to the 250,000 dead at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this seems like a blessing!
However, for me, the most thought-provoking reminder of how many people almost died is the fact that in the leadup to the invasion that ultimately never was, the USA manufactured over 500,000 Purple Hearts. These have been used in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever else brave men have been injured or died defending our freedom…. and we still to this day have one hundred thousand of them left.
News agency and Third Reich said to have made mutually beneficial deal, with AP providing countless photos for Nazi propaganda; AP denies collaboration.
Raphael Ahren reports: The Associated Press news agency willingly cooperated with Nazi Germany, submitting to the regime’s restrictive rulings on the freedom of the press and providing it with images from its photo archives to be used in its anti-Semitic and anti-Western propaganda machine, a new report reveals.
When Adolf Hitler’s National Socialists rose to power in 1933, all international news agencies but the US-based AP were forced to leave Germany. The AP continued to operate in the Third Reich until 1941, when the United States joined World War II.
According to German historian Harriet Scharnberg, the world’s biggest news agency was only allowed to remain in Germany because it signed a deal with the regime.
The news agency lost control over its copy by submitting itself to the Schriftleitergesetz (editor’s law), agreeing not to print any material “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home,” she wrote in an article published in the academic journal Studies in Contemporary History.
“Instead of printing pictures of the days-long Lviv pogroms with its thousands of Jewish victims, the American press was only supplied with photographs showing the victims of the Soviet police and ‘brute’ Red Army war criminals.”
— Harriet Scharnberg, a historian at Halle’s Martin Luther University
According to the paper, the Nazis’ so-called editor’s law forced AP employees to contribute material for the Nazi party’s propaganda division. One of the four photographers working for the company in the 1930s was Franz Roth, a member of the SS paramilitary unit’s propaganda division. His pictures were handpicked by Hitler, the Guardian writes.
Photocollage cover of Der Untermensch (The Subhuman), a 52-page SS pamphlet that used images taken by the Associated Press (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)
The AP’s images appeared in many of the regime’s propaganda publications. Most of the images in a pamphlet called “Jews in the US” were provided by the AP. In a different publication entitled “The Subhuman,” the AP provided the second-largest number of photographs, according to Scharnberg.
It is possible to argue that the AP’s agreement with the Nazis allowed the West a “peek into a repressive society that may otherwise have been entirely hidden from view,” the Guardian writes. Read the rest of this entry »
The Beatles captured the hearts and ears of a generation with music that continues to resonate today. Here are 17 hits by The Beatles, produced by George Martin, whose contributions ranged far beyond the traditional producer role, from arranging to composing to playing instruments:
1. “Please Please Me” (1963)
When John Lennon and Paul McCartney first played “Please Please Me” for George Martin during their second EMI recording session on September 4th, 1962, the song was miles away from the uptempo tune that would become their first Number One. “At that stage ‘Please Please Me’ was a very dreary song,” Martin recalled to historian Mark Lewisohn. “It was like a Roy Orbison number, very slow, bluesy vocals. It was obvious to me that it badly needed pepping up.” He suggested they speed it up double-time, and suddenly they had a hit on their hands. “We were a bit embarrassed that he had found a better tempo than we had,” admitted McCartney in The Beatles Anthology.
2. “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964)
Song featured in the Beatles’ first film, with that title — taken from drummer Ringo’s response to a comment that he looked tired: “Yea, I’ve had a hard day’s night, you know.”
3. “Yesterday” (1965)
When Paul McCartney first completed the song he literally dreamed up, the rest of the band were at a loss for what to play on it. The somber tone and mournful lyrics didn’t really lend themselves to an effective drum pattern, jangly guitars or even vocal harmonies. Read the rest of this entry »
Holland Cotter reports: Ellsworth Kelly, who in the years after World War II shaped a distinctive style of American painting by combining the solid shapes and brilliant colors of European abstraction with forms drawn from everyday life, died on Sunday. He was 92.
Mr. Kelly’s simple shapes and flat colors — which he sometimes relegated to separate panels — were an important departure form the fussier geometric abstraction, heavily influenced by Mondrian, that most American abstract painters were pursuing at the end of the 1940s. His work was startlingly clean and airy, its plainness creating a bold sense of scale.
Often his paintings consisted of only two colored shapes. Their contrasts could be stark — blue and yellow, or red and white — or subtle, as with two shades of gray. He derived spatial tension from gently curving the edges of shapes, pitting them against the straight edges of the canvas. But he also made some of the first shaped canvases of the postwar period. Read the rest of this entry »
Is the United States an exceptional country that has played a uniquely good role in history? Or is it a typical country, perhaps even a uniquely bad one considering the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow? On this, the Left and Right do not agree.
…As writer and director of his own films, Lewis is responsible for some of the greatest slapstick gags in history. Just watch “The Nutty Professor,” “The Bellboy,” “The Errand Boy,” “Cinderfella” or “The Ladies Man,” and his particular comic genius is evident. In Europe, he has been named Best Director of the Year eight times since 1960.
He created Video Assist, a technology that allowed him to watch his on-screen performances, instantly, before the film was developed. Video Assist is still used by nearly every film and TV director to this day.
One Lewis project has been shrouded in mystery for decades: “The Day the Clown Cried.” It’s a World War II drama concerning a clown in Auschwitz. The film was mired in legal troubles, and Lewis has never allowed it to be seen.
Now, in an exclusive interview, he tells me why he has kept the film under wraps for so long.
Here’s a clip:
“That’s the problem, there was no artistry,” Lewis said. “The work was bad.”
This is just one of the many revelations he shared with me during a hilarious and moving interview that will air Thursday on “The World Over” on EWTN.
Lewis will be 90 in March. As he closes in on that milestone, I caught up with the legendary performer at his home in Las Vegas for an hour-long conversation touching on everything from his breakup with Martin to the real reason he led the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon for nearly 50 years.
The Toto toilet company recently opened a $60 million museum for toilets in Kitakyushu. Everything from giant sumo wrestler toilets to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s humble washroom to high-tech electric thrones are on display. (Anna Fifield and Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)
Toto, the beloved Japanese toilet maker, has opened a $60 million museum to celebrate its 100th anniversary. And it’s a hit.
KITA-KYUSHU, JAPAN — Anna Fifield reports: If there’s one thing Japan is passionate about, it’s toilets. Potties, loos, restrooms, john, powder room, however you say it, Japan has put a lot of thought into the smallest room of the house.
Japan loves its toilets so much they opened a museum for them
Japan is famous for its high-tech, derriere-washing, tushie-warming toilets. These are now such a valued part of Japanese culture that Toto, the beloved Japanese brand, has just built a $60 million museum devoted to its renowned product, at its home base in Kita-Kyushu, on the southern-most of Japan’s four main islands.
Toto even makes extra-wide, extra load-bearing toilets for sumo wrestling stadiums.
In Japan, there’s an app to help women find restrooms with space to fix their make-up.
Here are four things you might not know about Japan’s obsession with lavatories.
There’s an app for that
Don’t take your chances going to a restroom without a little seat in the stall for your baby, or a fold-down platform for standing on while you get changed so you don’t have to put your feet on the bathroom floor.
There are a bunch of apps in Japan that can help you find the nearest public bathroom, or one with a special facility, like large stalls with facilities for people with ostomates (a relatively common issue in rapidly aging Japan).
Lion, a manufacturer of diarrhea medicine Stoppa (and various toiletries and detergents), provides an app @Toilet for people who need to take care of their business urgently away from the home or office. Click on the “emergency” button and it locates the closest restroom.
NPO Check operates a free app called Check a Toilet, listing over 53,000 restrooms in major cities. It shows restrooms nearby with information including whether they’re wheelchair accessible and/or have ostomate-friendly functions. Users can contribute by submitting information on the restrooms they’ve visited.
The Asahi Shimbun carried a story in August about a toilet opening ceremony in Aichi prefecture that involves drinking tea and eating rice cakes on the loo.
And for those ladies who, we now know, need clean bathrooms if they’re ever to leave the house, the well-known map publishing company Zenrin offers an app for women called Koisuru Map — A Map in Love — with information about nail salons, cafes and clean restrooms. This app includes information such as whether there’s a powder space for fixing your makeup, electrical outlets and diaper changing facilities. Zenrin’s (female) staff visits and reviews each bathroom before adding it to their list.
There’s a god of the toilet. Really.
You know how Japan’s washrooms got to be so clean and full of advanced technology? Maybe because they’re being watched over by a toilet god.
Here’s a video about a shrine to the toilet god in Tokyo.
According to the myth, Kawaya-no-kami, the Japanese toilet god, was, appropriately enough, born from the excrement of Izanami, the Japanese goddess of the Earth and darkness. Read the rest of this entry »
Paris (AFP) – France’s far-right National Front (FN) failed to win a single region in elections on Sunday despite record results in the first round, early estimates showed, as voters flocked to traditional parties to keep it out of power.
The leader of the anti-immigration FN, Marine Le Pen, lost out to the centre-right alliance in her northern region after the ruling Socialists pulled out of the race ahead of the second round.
Lindsey Patterson writes: Japan has made a bold move, making Godzilla an official resident. It’s unknown if Godzilla sightings will be a daily occurrence, however, many local businesses wouldn’t mind. It’s believed by many that fortune follows any place that is destroyed in a Godzilla film. Hopefully, they’re providing room and board for him as well because nobody wants to rent to a monster that’s always destroying cities. There has been no comment from Godzilla’s new neighbors but it’s suspected that his destructive life has been left behind, only to be utilized for his film career. Making Godzilla an official resident of Japan could be seen as claiming Godzilla, their own creation, and letting the United States know that they are only temporarily borrowing the idea for a couple of movies.
Born in 1954, it’s taken long enough for his residency paperwork to go through. Shinjuku also made copies of Godzilla’s residency plaque, for the first 3,000 fans that demanded proof of his residency.
The plaque of Godzilla’s residency reads:
Address: Shinjuku-ku, Kabuki-cho, 1-19-1
Date of birth: April 9, 1954
Date of becoming a Shinjuku resident: April 9, 2015
Reason for special residency: Promoting the entertainment of and watching over the Kabuki-cho neighborhood and drawing visitors from around the globe in the form of the Godzilla head built atop the Shinjuku TOHO Building.
Previous visits to Shinjuku Ward: 3 times; Godzilla (1984), Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah(1991), Godzilla 2000 Millennium (1999)”
Shinjuku, a neighborhood in Tokyo, is home to Toho Cinemas. Toho Cinemas, the company that makes the Godzilla movies, erected a giant Godzilla head on their building, which is sure to make for some amazing Japan tour pictures. It is complete with glowing eyes and claws, making it stand out against the night sky. Not only is there a giant Godzilla head, but it’s animated as well. He roars and comes equipped with Atomic breath, too. Soon after the Godzilla head was erected, a ceremony was held, naming Godzilla the local Tourism Ambassador for the area and even awarded a plaque of appreciation. Surely, Godzilla plays an active role on day-to-day lives in the area. Japan tour guides won’t be complaining either. It’s likely that assigning Godzilla these new responsibilities will ensure higher tourism rates for the Shinjuku area, and possibly all of Japan.
It’s unknown if this move is related to the impending release of The first Japanese Godzilla movie in 12 years, but it’s likely that it is. Toho is planning on releasing the new Godzilla movie throughout Japan in 2016. It will be the first Japan produced Godzilla film since 2004 and should be expected to be a huge hit. The United States is planning an American Godzilla movie, to be released in 2018, it’s second attempt at taming the monster that Japan has perfected. The American Godzilla film did create a resurgence in fan support, making 3.2 billion yen ($26 million USD) in Japan alone and a whopping 57 billion yen ($470 million USD) worldwide. Toho is quoted as saying that they will be making “a film that will not bow down to the Hollywood film,” and is expecting to blow fans away graphics made possible by more recent technological advances. It isn’t surprising that Toho is not planning to link the new Japanese Godzilla film to the one made in the United States. The new Japanese Godzilla will stand alone. Does this mean that the cheesy style of the old Godzilla movies will be lost forever? Maybe. The styling of the new movies has not been released but, taking all things into consideration, fans will likely have to revisit their old favorites if they desire the original Japanese Godzilla feel.
It’s understandable why Godzilla is so dear to Japan. He is the embodiment of many historical moments that have effected Japan. He symbolizes the feelings that Japan had after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, being a mutation caused by nuclear testing in the Pacific. Despite the serious undertones of his origin, Godzilla has received several awards, including the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award and a star in Hollywood. It’s no wonder that’ during his residency and Ambassador ceremony, it was said that he is “the pride of Japan.
It’s unknown how much Godzilla’s salary has been effected by becoming Tourism Ambassador but he must be making movie star wages in Japan and the United States. Surely, he will be a lot busier this day, making movies, attending ceremonies, and possibly making the occasional appearance for Japan tourists, because why would anybody make a trip to Japan if seeing the great Godzilla isn’t a guarantee, right?
Yasukuni is widely seen as a symbol of the country’s militarism before and during World War II. Among the 2.4 million war dead enshrined are 14 convicted class-A war criminals.
TOKYO— Mitsuru Obe reports: An explosion at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo may have been politically motivated, police said.
“Many Japanese on the political left warn about a return of that militarism, and there was widespread anger at the Abe government’s passage in September of legislation expanding the overseas role of the country’s military.”
No one was injured in the blast, which came at 10 a.m. local time Monday, a national holiday in Japan, just before a ceremony in celebration of the autumn harvest.
“The bills, which cast off restrictions that had been in place since the end of World War II, prompted months of street protests and scuffles in parliament.”
It left the walls of a bathroom burned and a small hole in the ceiling, according to local media, which reported investigators found batteries and wire at the scene.
Yasukuni is widely seen—including by some people in Japan—as a symbol of the country’s militarism before and during World War II. Among the 2.4 million war dead enshrined are 14 convicted class-A war criminals. Read the rest of this entry »
Security services face difficulties due to Belgium’s local devolution and tensions between the country’s French-and Dutch-speaking halves; the country has long been open to fundamentalist preachers from the Gulf; and it has a thriving black market in automatic rifles of the kind used in Paris.
Jan Bartunek and Alastair MacDonald report: “A breeding ground for violence” the mayor of Molenbeek called her borough on Sunday, speaking of unemployment and overcrowding among Arab immigrant families, of youthful despair finding refuge in radical Islam.
“Belgium is a federal state and that’s always an advantage for terrorists. Having several layers of government hampers the flow of information between investigators.”
— Edwin Bakker, professor at the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands
But as the Brussels district on the wrong side of the city’s post-industrial canal becomes a focus for police pursuing those behind Friday’s mass attacks in Paris, Belgian authorities are asking what makes the narrow, terraced streets of Molenbeek different from a thousand similar neighborhoods across Europe.
“In such a case it’s very difficult to get feedback from the community. That means while the neighbors may have seen something going on, they’re not passing it to the police. Then it becomes very tough for intelligence agencies as only relying on them and not local police is not sufficient.”
Three themes emerge as Molenbeek is again in a spotlight of Islamist violence, home not just to militants among Belgium’s own half a million Muslims but, it seems, for French radicals seeking a convenient, discreet base to lie low, plan and arm before striking their homeland across the border:
Security services face difficulties due to Belgium’s local devolution and tensions between the country’s French- and Dutch-speaking halves; the country has long been open to fundamentalist preachers from the Gulf; and it has a thriving black market in automatic rifles of the kind used in Paris.
People shop at a market in the neighbourhood of Molenbeek, where Belgian police staged a raid following the attacks in Paris, at Brussels, Belgium November 15, 2015. Reuters/Yves Herman
“With 500-1,000 euros you can get a military weapon in half an hour,” said Bilal Benyaich, senior fellow at Brussels think-tank the Itinera Institute, who has studied the spread of radical Islam in Belgium. “That makes Brussels more like a big U.S. city” in mostly gun-free Europe, he said.
Two of the attackers who killed over 130 people, 170 miles away in Paris on Friday night were Frenchmen resident in Belgium. Belgian police raided Molenbeek addresses and seven people have been arrested in Belgium over the Paris attacks.
“Almost every time, there is a link to Molenbeek,” said 39-year-old centrist prime minister Charles Michel, whose year-old coalition is battling radical recruiters who have tempted more than 350 Belgians to fight in Syria – relative to Belgium’s 11 million population, easily the biggest contingent from Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat’: Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940
First Speech as Prime Minister to House of Commons
On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. When he met his Cabinet on May 13 he told them that “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” He repeated that phrase later in the day when he asked the House of Commons for a vote of confidence in his new all-party government. The response of Labour was heart-warming; the Conservative reaction was luke-warm. They still really wanted Neville Chamberlain. For the first time, the people had hope but Churchill commented to General Ismay: “Poor people, poor people. They trust me, and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time.”
I beg to move,
That this House welcomes the formation of a Government representing the united and inflexible resolve of the nation to prosecute the war with Germany to a victorious conclusion.
On Friday evening last I received His Majesty’s commission to form a new Administration. It as the evident wish and will of Parliament and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties, both those who supported the late Government and also the parties of the Opposition. I have completed the most important part of this task. A War Cabinet has been formed of five Members, representing, with the Opposition Liberals, the unity of the nation. The three party Leaders have agreed to serve, either in the War Cabinet or in high executive office. The three Fighting Services have been filled. It was necessary that this should be done in one single day, on account of the extreme urgency and rigour of events. A number of other positions, key positions, were filled yesterday, and I am submitting a further list to His Majesty to-night. I hope to complete the appointment of the principal Ministers during to-morrow. The appointment of the other Ministers usually takes a little longer, but I trust that, when Parliament meets again, this part of my task will be completed, and that the administration will be complete in all respects.
I considered it in the public interest to suggest that the House should be summoned to meet today. Mr. Speaker agreed, and took the necessary steps, in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by the Resolution of the House. At the end of the proceedings today, the Adjournment of the House will be proposed until Tuesday, 21st May, with, of course, provision for earlier meeting, if need be. The business to be considered during that week will be notified to Members at the earliest opportunity. I now invite the House, by the Motion which stands in my name, to record its approval of the steps taken and to declare its confidence in the new Government.
To form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations, such as have been indicated by my hon. Friend below the Gangway, have to be made here at home. In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” Read the rest of this entry »
Daniel Hannan writes: Seventy-five years ago today, Red Army troops smashed into Poland. Masters of deception and propaganda, they encouraged locals to believe that they were coming to join the battle against Hitler, who had invaded two weeks’ earlier. But, within a day, the true nature of the Nazi-Soviet collaboration was exposed.
The two armies met at the town of Brest, where the 1918 peace treaty between the Kaiser’s government and Lenin’s revolutionary state had been signed. Soldiers fraternised, exchanging food and tobacco – pre-rolled German cigarettes contrasting favourably against rough Russian papirosi. A joint military parade was staged, the Wehrmacht’s field grey uniforms alongside the olive green of the shoddier
Soviets. The two generals, Guderian and Krivoshein, had a slap-up lunch and, as they bade each other farewell, the Soviet commander invited German reporters to visit him in Moscow “after the victory over capitalist Albion”.
These events are keenly remembered in the nations that were victims of the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty: Romania, Finland and, most of all, Poland and the Baltic States. But they don’t occupy anything like the place in our collective memory of the war that they deserve.
Almost everyone in Britain knows that the Second World War started when Hitler sent his panzers into Poland. Stalin’s mirror invasion 16 days later, while not exactly forgotten, is not nearly so central in our narrative.
Which is, if you think about it, very odd. The Nazi-Soviet Pact lasted for 22 months – a third of the duration of the entire conflict. We remember, with pride, that we stood alone against Hitler. But in reality, our fathers’ isolation – and commensurate heroism – was even greater than this suggests. I can think of no braver moment in the war than when, having already declared war on Hitler, we prepared to open a new front against Stalin, too. British commandos were on the verge of being deployed to defend Finland, while the Cabinet toyed with various schemes to seize the USSR’s oil supplies in the Caucasus.
In the event, such plans were overtaken by developments. Still, for sheer, bloody-minded gallantry, it was an unbeatable moment, beautifully captured in the reaction of Evelyn Waugh’s fictional hero, Guy Crouchback: “The enemy at last was plain in view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off. It was the Modern Age in arms.”
Why do we downplay that memory? Largely because it doesn’t fit with what happened later. When Hitler attacked the USSR – to the utter astonishment of Stalin, who initially ordered his soldiers not to shoot back – it was in everyone’s interest to forget the earlier phase of the war. Western Communists, who had performed extraordinary acrobatics to justify their entente with fascism, now carried out another somersault and claimed that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had only ever been a tactical pause, a moment when Stalin brilliantly stalled while building up his military capacity. Even today, the historiographical imprint of that propaganda lingers.
To the modern reader, George Orwell’s depiction of how enmity alternates between Eurasia and Eastasia seems far-fetched; but when he published his great novel in 1948, such things were a recent memory. It suited Western Leftists, during and after the War, to argue that Hitler had been uniquely evil, certainly wickeder than Stalin. It was thus necessary to forget the enthusiasm with which the two tyrants had collaborated.
The full extent of their conspiracy is exposed in The Devils’ Alliance, a brilliant new history by Roger Moorhouse. Moorhouse is a sober and serious historian, writing with no obvious political agenda. Calmly, he tells the story of the Pact: its genesis, its operation and the reasons for its violent end. When recounting such a monstrous tale, it is proper to be calm: great events need no embroidery. What he reveals is a diabolical compact which, if it stopped just short of being an alliance, can in no way be thought of as a hiccup or anomaly. Read the rest of this entry »
Hungry’s parliament has authorised its army to shoot rubber bullets, pyrotechnical devices, (flashbangs), net guns and tear gas grenades at migrants.
They say that the use of the so-called non-lethal weapons will help Hungary’s military handle the migrant crisis.
As Hungary rushes to finish building a fence along its border with Croatia, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the police needed the army’s help to secure Hungary’s borders with Serbia and Croatia.
“The migrants are not only banging on our doors but they are breaking them down. Not a few hundred, not a few thousand but hundreds of thousands, even millions besiege the borders of Hungary and the European Union,” said Orban before lawmakers voted on the controversial measures. “We cannot see where the end is. There are plenty more coming, millions are setting out on the journey.”
Amnesty International said in a statement that “Hungary is violating the human rights of refugees by blocking their access to a meaningful asylum procedure on its territory. Amendments of the law criminalizing the ‘illegal’ entry of refugees and migrants and intended to shift Hungary’s responsibility towards those in need of international protection must be repealed.”
Colorized Photos of WWII Refugees Offer New Perspective on This Year’s Migrant Crisis
Sanna Dullaway – As Europe is faced with one of its largest refugee and migrant crisis, comparisons have been made with World War II when more than 60 million Europeans were forced to leave their homes as they fled persecution.
The images we have seen in recent weeks of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees, among many others nationalities, walking from Greece to Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Germany are reminiscent of the photographs of refugees produced during and after World War II….(see more here)
Sanna Dullaway is a photo editor based in Sweden and the host of a new monthly column on TIME LightBox on colorized photography. See more of her work here.