Of this series, I am already anticipating that this is the arc I will get yelled at a lot over. Because of the sheer amount of great music from this period, and the fact that we have so many PJM members who grew up then (many of whom served in-country), means that no list I produce will make everyone happy. Understanding this, this will be a 3-part arc (I can expand that, if there’s enough interest), and I will rely heavily on comments and suggestion for subsequent articles.
It’s an oft-repeated meme – mentioned, for example, in the movie Watchmen – what America might be today, had none of this occurred. Certainly the Protest Generation would likely never have happened, without the war to rally around (“I want to do drugs, sleep around, wear my hair long, and have poor hygiene” is a really lousy call-to-arms, after all). But it did happen, and we’re still living its effects to this day.
As I understand it, this was originally written about the general world situation and the Cold War, not Viet Nam, but was picked up on and frequently played as a standard throughout the war.
1. Barry McGuire – “Eve of Destruction” (1965)
Editor’s Note: See the first two installments in Allston’s wonderful new series: “10 Classic Songs from the World War II Era” and “10 More World War II-Era Classic Songs.” And please leave your suggestions in the comments.
June 25, 1950, and the North Koreans (backed by the Soviets and the Chinese) were suddenly invading the south, pushing their novice Army (and our sole Division stationed there) back, and back, and back again, until they were caught within the Pusan Perimeter, backs to the sea. Things looked desperate.
Until Dougie Mac showed ‘em at Inchon. You may count America as down, but never out. The music of this era shows our optimism and determination, we were not on the ropes, not by any means.
The Ames swept to top billing in January, 1950, with this, their first hit song. Shortly after, they began to appear as regulars on the Arthur Godfrey show, as well as on the original Ed Sullivan (then known as “Toast of the Town”). Later, they began the highly popular Ames Brothers Show in 1956.
1. Ames Brothers – “Rag Mop” (1950)
Readers seemed to enjoy this enough that I must agree, an expanded series is in order. Yes, there were many iconic World War II songs I did not highlight in Part 1 – space limitations prevented me from including them all, else it might have been a 50-video article that no one would’ve read.
That being said, here is the continuation of this list, which includes songs suggested in the comments of Part 1. Ideally, this is how these lists should work, interactively, with people making suggestions for future reference.
These are numbered but not ranked. Frankly, I don’t even see how it would be possible, to say any one of these great songs are “better” than another; turning the radio on then must’ve been a pure delight.
Written about a year after British and German aircraft had been dog-fighting over the aforementioned location. It looked forward to the day when peace would again reign over the cliffs, which are the DeFacto “border” with the European mainland.
1. Vera Lynn – “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) the White Cliffs of Dover”
In late October South Korean intelligence reported that between May and September North Korea managed to distribute over 20,000 to South Korean smart phone users games containing spy software. The North Korean “spyware” was seeking information from banks as well as documents relating to reunification plans and defense matters. The spyware allowed the North Koreans to transfer data from the infected smart phone and secretly turn on the camera. The government reported that this effort has since been blocked. North Korea denied any involvement in this, as it usually does. But over the past few year the evidence has been piling up of increasing North Korean Internet based espionage via the Internet.
In late 2013 South Korea came up with a number (over $800 million) for the cost of dealing with North Korean cyber attacks since 2007.
Theft is the only way for thoroughly progressive governments like North Korea’s to stay in business. The trick is figuring out the best place to cut them off from their ill-gotten gains.
I’d read that Col. John Nagl’s Knife Fights was coming out, but somehow missed its publication last month. Until just now that is, and its already on my Kindle.
If you haven’t read him, you’ve missed out on the future — and the now — of warfare.
Just get this already.
cross-posted from Vodkapundit
I am re-reading the book Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault as I went back to a private lesson last week. I took Krav Maga lessons about six years ago and decided that I needed a refresher course. For those of you who do not know what Krav Maga is, from the book I mentioned:
Krav Maga is today’s cutting edge self-defense and hand to hand combat system. Initially developed by Grandmaster Imi Sde-Or (Lichtenfeld) for the Israel Defense Forces and other national security services, Krav Maga has been thoroughly adapted to meet civilan needs. The method was designed so that ordinary citizens, young and old, men and women alike, can successfully use it, regardless of their physical strength. This is the first and only authorized comprehensive manual on the Krav Maga discipline, written by its founder, Imi Sde-Or, and his senior disciple and follower, Eyal Yanilove. This volume especially focuses on the various facets of dealing with an assailant armed with a sharp-edged weapon, a blunt object, or a firearm.
One of the tips the book mentions is to avoid injury. Apparently, I can’t follow that rule as I came home with a boxer’s contusion on my right hand. I remember when I took Taekwondo, I broke my fingers twice. I was in grad school at the time and decided it wasn’t worth risking not being able to write and left the classes after three years (the karate classes, not the grad school, though the risk of getting an expensive degree that wouldn’t pan out was certainly up for debate).
An excerpt from page 251 of an extraordinary new book illuminating one of the most important Jewish philosophers and why he positioned an explanation of the Noahide laws in the section of Mishneh Torah titled “Laws Concerning Kings”:
Who would you like to see added to the collection next? See the previous PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon selections from this year:
All 75 of the Silly Symphonies, the Gold Standard of the Era:
- Walt Disney’s First Silly Symphony: ‘The Skeleton Dance’
- PETA Would Hate This 1929 Disney Cartoon…
- Nature Animated to Life
- A Disney Cartoon Set In Hell!
- Getting Drunk With Disney’s Merry Dwarfs
- Summer: The Sixth Silly Symphony, A Sequel to Spring
- Corn on the Cob as Musical Instrument
- A Cannibal-Version of Carmen With Clicking Human Skulls… Made By Walt Disney
- Frolicking Fish Almost 60 Years Before The Little Mermaid
- Mickey Mouse As a Polar Bear
- Toy Story‘s Great Grandfather?
- A Bug Flying Too Close to the Fire In the Darkness
- Innocence Incarnate: These Smooching Monkeys Will Make You Smile
- Goodbye Winter! Disney’s Playful Pan Emerges to Call In Spring (two cartoons)
- Birds of a Feather Flock Together
- A Cartoon First Released April 17, 1931: Disney’s Mother Goose Melodies
- Dora the Explorer’s Politically Incorrect Cameo in a 1931 Disney Cartoon
- Apparently Beavers Invented the Wheelbarrow Before Man
- A Sweet & Spooky Silly Symphony for Cat Lovers
- Egyptian Melodies Vs. Father Noah’s Ark
- Geppetto’s Original Workshop And Cogsworth’s Great-grandparents?
- When A Cavalry of Horseflies Goes To War Against the Spider
- Drinking Tea Before the Fox Hunt
- How Much Can an Ugly Duckling Grow Up Over a Decade?
- The Marx Brothers As Cartoon Birds
- A Primordial Winnie the Pooh
- A Dog Jail Break at the Pound!
- The First Technicolor Cartoon: Disney’s Still-Amazing ‘Flowers and Trees’
- It’s Amazing What Kinds of Cartoons Were Considered Family Friendly in 1932…
- Bugs In Love Battle a Blackbird in Black and White
- ‘Babes In the Woods’ Vs. The Witch In The Candy Cottage
- What Secrets Do You See Inside Santa’s Workshop?
- The Snake Hypnotizes His Prey
- The Disney Version of Noah’s Ark
- An Oscar-Winning Cartoon That Defined the Depression Era
- Who’s Ready to Open Pandora’s Box?
- Enter Sandman? Where We Go When We Sleep
- If You Don’t Pay the Piper He’ll Just Take Your Children Instead…
- When Walt Disney Imagined Santa Claus In Alliance With The Robot Toys
- The ‘Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil’ Monkeys In Cartoon Form
- ‘Oh, the World Owes Us a Livin’…’
- Among the Easter Bunny’s Secrets: Scotch-Colored Paint!
- Practical Pig Saved Little Red Riding Hood From the Big Bad Wolf
- Donald Duck’s First Appearance
- The Lesson of the Flying Mouse: Sometimes A Blessing Is Actually A Curse…
- Chill Out Today With These ‘Peculiar Penguins’
- Compare and Contrast: The Goddess of Spring With Snow White…
- Slow and Steady Wins the Race?
- What Would You Do If Everything You Touched Turned to Gold?
- A Cartoon To Teach Kids About the Danger of Celebrating Crime
- Dreaming of an Innocent Unity With Nature
- A Fantasy Land Where Everything Is Made of Candy…
- How Did Disney’s Mae West Bird Caricature Compare With Real Life?
- VIDEO: If Romeo and Juliet Were A Saxophone and Cello
- Another 1930s Disney Cartoon with Creepy Racial Stereotypes…
- What Does It Take to Be the Cock o’ The Walk?
- What Is the Fate of Broken Toys?
- Elmer Elephant: Is This the Most Adorable Cartoon in the Whole Series?
- How Kids Can Learn To Defeat Bullies
- ‘I Like a Man That Takes His Time…’
- The 3 Blind Mouseketeers Vs A Room of Traps
- A Country Mouse Discovers the Joys of Drinking in the Big City…
- This Very Cute Video of ‘Mother Pluto’ Parenting Chicks Will Make You Smile
- 3 Troublemaker Kittens Make a Mess in the Garden
- The Dark Secrets Hidden in the Woodland Cafe…
- What Is Animism?
- One of The Classic Breakthroughs In Animation History
- When Moths Fly Too Close to The Flame…
- 3 Babies Fishing For Stars In Dreamland
- Walt Disney Introduces The Farmyard Symphony on the DisneyLand TV Show
- Long Before Spongebob: The Underwater Circus of the Merbabies
- Katharine Hepburn As Little Bo Peep in Blackface
- Practical Pig Delivers a ‘Harsh Interrogation’ To the Big Bad Wolf
- This Ugly Duckling Abandond By His Family Will Melt Your Heart
Donald Duck’s first appearances:
- “The Wise Little Hen”: Donald Duck’s First Appearance
- “Orphan’s Benefit”: Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?
- “The Dognapper:” Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck Vs The Dognapper
- Donald Duck’s 4th Appearance Is One of the 1930s’ Greatest Cartoons
- Donald Duck’s 5th Appearance: ”Mickey’s Service Station”
12 Early Betty Boop Cartoons
- Betty Boop’s First Appearance
- Before Betty Boop Was Beautiful…
- Betty Boop as Snow White In A Cartoon For Jazz Lovers
- Your Initiation Into Betty Boop’s Secret Society
- ‘No, He Couldn’t Take My Boop-Oop-a-Doop Away!’ (2 cartoons featured)
- Why You Shouldn’t Try Robbing Betty Boop
- The Betty Boop Approach to Dealing With ‘Silly Scandals’
- Moving Day for Betty Boop!
- A Plus-Size Betty Boop As Kitty From Kansas City
- Playing Chess with Betty Boop & Taking a Mean Shot at Mickey Mouse
- Betty Boop’s Crazy Inventions
- Cab Calloway as ‘The Old Man Of the Mountain’ Chases after Betty Boop
22 Color Classics, a competitor to the Silly Symphonies:
- A Redheaded Betty Boop As Cinderella Debuted a New Series
- ‘Joy Like This Cannot Be Bought!’ A Cartoon Variation of Hansel and Gretel
- An Elephant Never Forgets
- Back When Cartoons Taught the Miraculous Power of Prayer…
- ‘Momma Don’t Allow No Music Playin In Here’
- Animal Newlyweds Take Their Honeymoon In Outer Space!
- Seduced By the Black Swan
- An Old Couple Reminisces On Falling In Love…
- Somewhere in Dreamland Tonight
- When a Chick Tries to Be a Duck
- Newlywed Flies Pick The Wrong Hotel For Their Honeymoon
- Greedy Humpty Dumpty Enslaves Nursery Rhyme Creatures To Build His Gold Wall to the Sun
- Two Lovebirds Take a Hawaiian Honeymoon
- Dreaming of a Big Train
- An Eccentric Inventor Saves The Orphans’ Christmas
- The Wedding of Jack and Jill Rabbit
- The Rooster and His Harem…
- Animal Symphony Chaos: ‘The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Astray…’
- VIDEO: A Family of Peeping Penguins Finds a New Home
- A Little Fish Has to Learn His Lesson The Hard Way
- Cute: Little Lamby Eats His Grass With Sugar
- The Vegetable Children Don’t Want to Play With the Little Onion Kid
The Films of Ub Iwerks, co-creator of Mickey Mouse, during his years apart from Disney:
Flip the Frog
- Flip the Frog: The First Sound Color Cartoon
- Flip the Frog Hallucinating in the Opium Den
- Flip the Frog Befriends the Ghost Family With Their Skeleton Dog
- Flip The Frog Vs The Mouse
- The Village Barber
- ‘Techno-Cracked’: When Flip the Frog Built a Robot
- Why Were so Many 1930s Cartoons Set in a Sultan’s Harem?
- An Angel Flashing the Middle Finger In a 1930s Cartoon?
- Willie Whopper’s Mexican Gun Fight
- Willie Whopper Steals Neptune’s Crown
- A Very Angry Sun Vs. Old Man Winter
- A Nutty Knight Escapes from the Insane Asylum
- Sinbad the Sailor and His Parrot Enjoy Cigars
- The Tailor Vs The Giant and Everyone Vs The Mouse
- Baby Bear Has to Learn From Jack Frost the Hard Way…
- Simple Simon in the Lion’s Den
- The First Cartoon Version of Aladdin
- Welcome to Balloon Land! Beware of the Pincushion Man!
- Humpty Dumpty Jr. Rescues His Sweetheart from a Bad Egg
Columbia Pictures’ Color Rhapsodies series
- Little Nell With a Heart As Big as Texas
- The Frog Pond: The Primary Theme of 1930s Cartoons? How to Beat Bullies
- Skeleton Frolics: An Undead Orchestra Rehearses
Terrytoons By Paul Terry
- How Farmer Al Falfa Survived the Drought
- A June Bride: Farmer Al Falfa’s Kitty Elopes With an Alley Cat
- The Dancing Mice Make War on Farmer Al Falfa and His Cat
- ‘Scotch Highball’: a 1930 Terrytoon of Animals Racing
Clack-CLACK, Clack-CLACK… The corporal lifted the bolt of his rifle, pulled it back, then pushed it forward and down again, ejecting the empty casing and putting another round in the chamber. This is too easy… he thought, as he scanned the top of the trench works about twenty five yards away for another German helmet to pop up. Was God testing him? Was he doing His will, or failing the test? He hadn’t really meant to be exactly where he was, doing what he was doing; it just sorta happened. “Thou shalt not kill…” his mind whispered every few minutes, and he couldn’t stop it. Another helmet came up on his right; he sighted and squeezed the trigger. He heard the death grunt, saw the blood vapor, and heard that high pitched foreign yelling from the other men. He didn’t know what they were yelling, but they was powerful scared.
Clack-CLACK, Clack-CLACK… He thought about exactly where he was; lying prone, where he could clearly see all the trenches and the pits for about a dozen machine guns, all chattering away. But they had to keep looking over the top to get the drop on him; and they couldn’t just start spraying them guns every which way, else they’d get some of the prisoners he and the boys had just captured right before all this shooting started that were behind him on his right. What made him land just here in this perfect spot when everybody that wasn’t hit took cover? He didn’t rightly know. He saw another part of a helmet and one eye appear on the side of a sandbag next to one of the guns… and again he squeezed the trigger.
Clack-CLACK, Clack-CLACK… He looked for a second at the rifle breach just ahead of the bolt that was getting too hot to touch with a bare hand. “U.S. Model of 1917 Eddystone” it read. He never did figure who, what or where Eddystone was, but it was a right smart rifle. Much better than the .303 Lee-Enfield he had for a while when they was training with the British after they got to Le Havre. The .30-06 bullet had more punch, and the longer barrel meant better accuracy. It wasn’t nothin’ like the homemade muzzle-loaders back home, but he got good with it right quick back at Camp Gordon, so they asked him to help out some of the city boys with their shootin’. He’d have felt pretty poorly about himself if he hadn’t – shootin’ was about the only thing he could do that he was right proud of, even though pride could be a sin. Some of the boys complained the rifle was too heavy – about eleven pounds with the strap, kit, bayonet and all. But he was a big fella, and being heavy like that meant the rifle didn’t kick so much. He stroked the smooth wood encasing the barrel with his callused hand, licked his thumb to wet the far site to cut down on the haze, spotted a target, and fired. Another poor German boy was sent to his maker.
image via Liberty Island
Most Hollywood science fiction isn’t really all that “out there.” Take the computers on the original Star Trek. They operated a lot more like creaky 1960s IBM mainframes than 21st century iPads. Nevertheless, Hollywood has often been the inspiration for how militaries think about future wars. Here are 10 films that impress by their ability to presage the next weapons of war.
1. The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1961)
The 19th century novelist pretty much single-handedly invented science fiction—and in the process he forecast military weapons from submarines to super bombs. The single best effort to bring his imagination to the screen was a 1958 Czech film, later released in the U.S. and dubbed in English. What makes this film so engaging is a unique visual style called “Mystimation” which combined flats that looked like Victorian engravings with live actors.
Editor’s note: this is part 3 in an ongoing series exploring the history of dictators and their evil ideologies. See the previous installments: Part 1:”Why It’s OK to Be Intrigued by Evil Dictators“ and Part 2: “Does Everybody Want Freedom?” Have ideas for who you’d like to see Robert explore next? Get in touch on Twitter: @RobertWargas and @DaveSwindle
Celebrating its centennial, The New Republic recently mined its archive and republished an intriguing piece from its February 27, 1965, issue: an exclusive interview with Mao Zedong by the American journalist Edgar Snow. As TNR correctly notes, as far as interviews go this would be analogous to a Western journalist today being granted exclusive access to Kim Jong Un. The sit-down took place almost seven years before Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger arrived in Peking to re-establish relations with China.
Though the interview has value as a journalistic artifact, it isn’t the most satisfying piece of reportage when it comes to Mao the man. Snow, who was not exactly Red China’s greatest critic, wasn’t allowed to quote the Great Helmsman directly, and most of the discussion concerns issues of policy and military strategy. These are big subjects, and big subjects always make for big answers laden with propaganda.
Mao comes across as intensely theoretical; he seems genuinely infatuated with Marxist theory and its rigorous application to world affairs. When asked about the Vietnam War, for instance, Snow writes that Mao “repeatedly thanked foreign invaders for speeding up the Chinese revolution and for bestowing similar favors in Southeast Asia today.” He ”observed that the more American weapons and troops brought into Saigon, the faster the South Vietnamese liberation forces would become armed and educated to win victory.”
Get caught up with yesterday’s selections here: 33 Headlines Today That Know the Secret For Grabbing Your Attention
At Truth Revolt today, a new video from Ben Shapiro, sifting the numbers to find what percentage of Muslims worldwide believe in radical interpretations of their faith that include honor killings and death for apostates: The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority
More at Truth Revolt:
- A Hermaphroditic Snail Named to Honor Same-Sex Marriage
- Crowder: Real Rape vs “Rape Culture”
- Slate: Time To Fully Embrace Abortion As ‘Social Good’
- Teen Girl Cuts Off 10-Year-Old’s Fingers As Sacrifice To Satan
Via Drudge this morning:
- Professional Clowns Protest ‘AMERICAN HORROR STORY’ Murderous Character…
- Cops: Barber slashed customer’s throat…
Two lead stories juxtaposed at the New York Post:
Eleven stories at the Daily Mail today:
- Watching child porn does NOT make you a pedophile, says author John Grisham in bitter attack on US judicial system after a ‘buddy from law school’ was locked up
- Third law enforcement agency investigates Stephen Collins after he is accused of exposing himself to 13-year-old girl in 1983
- I blame myself for Peaches’ death, says Geldof: Boomtown Rats singer reveals he ‘goes over and over and over’ what he could have done to help his daughter
- ‘Oscar faces death if he goes to jail’: Prison gang leader ‘The General’ has ordered hit on athlete behind bars, claims Blade Runner’s lawyers
- Playboy model in ecstasy drug bust after flying into California on a private jet with more than 50,000 pills and 90 pounds of MDMA
- Man who murdered Hee Haw banjo-playing comedian David ‘Stringbean’ Akeman granted parole after 40 years
- Washington high school football student quits his team as he faces rape charges even though coaches told him he could continue playing
- Most decorated officer in state police history reaches plea agreement on gross sexual assault charges against child relative
- ‘We will chop off the heads of whoever you bring’: British ISIS fighter dares west to send ground troops in new video rant – despite fanatics being pushed back in Kobane
- Killer Queen and Another One Bites The Dust: Killer gigolo who cooked his transgender lover before slashing his own throat is farewelled at Queen-themed funeral as family remember a ‘loving young man’
- Police investigating the possibility that a father murdered his daughter by slashing her throat before killing himself – just days after she moved home to care for him following surgery
These two headlines next to each other:
- Embattled Seattle megachurch founder who called women ‘penis homes’ resigns amid accusations of bullying and financial corruption
- Multimillionaire mom on trial for death of her autistic son, eight, claims ex-husband put a contract on her life… but she didn’t tell police
And these two together:
- Prison camps? Torture? Human rights abuses? Not us says North Korea – and world’s most secretive regime tells UN ‘we have nothing to hide’
- Brazilian police crack open haul of child pornography on ‘dark internet’ and rescue six children from abuse
In Iraq, ISIS threatens the Baghdad airport. Meanwhile, in the U.S, theatergoers get to watch people frantically scrambling to be on the last flight out of Vietnam.
Not everyone is eager to relive America’s last great foreign policy disaster—even cinematically. But Rory Kennedy’s new film, Last Days in Vietnam, offers a stunning history lesson as it depicts the anguish at the end of a badly waged war. The documentary revolves around the last chaotic days before the fall of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam.
In 1973, under the Paris Peace Accords, the U.S. agreed to withdraw all its combat forces. In turn, North Vietnam agreed to “respect the independence” of South Vietnam.
Peace didn’t last long.
U.S. President Richard Nixon promised the South Vietnamese government he would rush in support if conflict resumed. But, with Nixon’s resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal, North Vietnam decided to test Washington’s resolve, launching a major incursion into the central highlands. When Congress refused to support additional aid, the invasion expanded rapidly south. By May 1975, enemy troops closed in on the capital.
Wanting to show a brave face of support for the South Vietnamese, Graham Martin, the American ambassador in Saigon, pushed off evacuation planning until the last minute. Even then, the official policy was to remove only U.S. citizens, leaving behind many thousands of Vietnamese officials and their families who worked closely with the Americans.
300 is the kind of film that seems too good to be true. It gets us pumped up, but we don’t believe it — not really. The Spartan soldiers in the film stand for Greece’s freedom against Persia’s colossal empire. they do it with elegant nobility and boisterous relish. They lift their spears into the air and charge onward to glory. So most of us in the audience decide it has to be a fairytale. Things as they really are, we think, are rougher around the edges than that. We don’t believe in that kind of slick, glamorous heroism.
But Herodotus, the Ancient historian whose writing is the source material for 300, did believe. He believed the battle in 480 BC at Thermopylae was mythic in its grandeur and titanic in its importance. When he wrote his Histories, that’s what he was trying to preserve: that monumental sense of glory. So even though 300 takes some poetic license, it strikes right at the core of the valor and drama that Herodotus wrote his Histories to convey. That’s why 300, for all of the facts it gets wrong, is more true to Herodotus than any history textbook.
Tuesday night I had the honor of sharing the podium with Prof. Angelo Codevilla under the auspices of the Claremont Institute at New York’s Yale Club. He is one of the wisest and sharpest strategic thinkers to come out of the Reagan Revolution, and his new book, To Make and Keep Peace is a must read: if you read only one book about politics (and especially foreign policy) this year, this should be the one.
I reviewed the work in the Claremont Review of Books, and my review has been posted at the Federalist website. It is excerpted below.
To Make and Keep Peace: Among Ourselves and with All Nations by Angelo M. Codevilla. Hoover Institution Press, 248 pages, $24.95.
To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune, Lady Bracknell observed in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” but to lose both looks like carelessness. To have lost the peace three times in the past century suggests something worse than carelessness in American foreign policy. Woodrow Wilson set the stage for World War II by making the best the enemy of the good when negotiating the resolution of World War I. Franklin Roosevelt’s naïveté about the Soviet Union set the world adrift into the Cold War. And now a succession of mistakes following the fall of Communism has left America flailing. The overwhelming American majority that favored foreign interventions after 9/11 has melted, yielding isolationism unseen since the 1930s. How did it come to this?
One political party or the other may blunder, but disasters on this scale can be achieved only by consensus. Angelo Codevilla contends that a self-perpetuating foreign policy elite, incapable of taking in abundant evidence about all the things it neither knows nor does well, has steered American foreign policy in the wrong direction for the past century. The shrill partisan debates, he argues, obscure an underlying commonality of outlook among the “liberal progressive,” “realist,” and “neo-conservative” currents in foreign policy. All three schools of thinking derive from “turn-of-the-twentieth-century progressivism.”
All regard foreigners as yearning for American leadership. Their proponents regard foreigners as mirror images of themselves, at least potentially. Liberal internationalists see yearners for secular, technocratic development. Neoconservatives see budding democrats, while realists imagine peoples inclined to moderation…. Different emphases notwithstanding, there is solid consensus among our ruling-class factions that America’s great power requires exercising responsibility for acting as the globe’s ‘policeman,’ ‘sheriff,’ ‘umpire,’ ‘guardian of international standards,’ ‘stabilizer,’ or ‘leader’—whatever one may call it.
From Hyperpower to Hyperventilator
It isn’t just that the emperor has no clothes: the empire has no tailors. In the decade since President George W. Bush’s 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech, America has gone from hyperpower to hyperventilater. The Obama administration and Republican leadership quibble about the modalities of an illusory two-state solution in Israel, or the best means to make democracy bloom in the Middle East’s deserts, or how vehemently to denounce Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, everything that could go wrong, has. Europe’s frontiers are in play for the first time since the fall of Communism; Russia and China have a new rapprochement; American enemies like Iran have a free hand while traditional American allies in the Sunni world feel betrayed; and China has all but neutralized American sea power within hundreds of miles of its coast.
America’s credibility around the world is weaker than at any time since the Carter administration. American policy evokes contempt overseas, and even more at home, where the mere suggestion of intervention is ballot box poison, while the Republicans’ isolationist fringe wins straw polls among the party’s core constituents. In 2013 the Pew Survey found 53 percent of U.S. respondents considered America less important and powerful than a decade earlier, the first time a majority held that view since 1974, just before the fall of Saigon. And four-fifths of respondents told Pew that the United States should not think so much in international terms but concentrate on its own problems, the highest proportion to agree with that proposition since the survey began posing it in 1964.
How War Is Like Pregnancy
Codevilla offers a bracing antidote to stale, wishful thinking. A professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, he is one of our last sages, an actor in the great events that brought down the Soviet empire during the 1980s, as well as a distinguished scholar of political thought. Among the modern-day classics he’s authored—including “War: Ends and Means” (1988, with Paul Seabury) and “The Character of Nations” (2000)—“To Make and Keep Peace” is his “Summa,” a tour d’horizon of American and world history crammed with succinct case studies of success and failure in war and peace.
Read the whole review here.
Zack Snyder’s 300 is a heart-pounding, jacked-up action thrill ride about an epic battle that actually happened. In the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, a tiny ragtag band of Greek freedom fighters faced down a colossal onslaught from the tyrannical Persian empire. Now, there are some parts of the film — “soulless” Persian super-soldiers, mountainous beast-men, glittering eight-foot-tall monarchs — that can’t have been real. But stretching the truth wasn’t Snyder’s idea. Herodotus, the ancient historian who recorded the wars with Persia, loved insane legends — the more implausible the better. When Snyder filled his film with outsized heroes and mythical beasts, he was taking his cue from Herodotus.
In fact, 300 doesn’t even scratch the surface. Herodotus’ book is massive, and it’s crawling with bizarre creatures and impossible dramas. Most of them aren’t relevant to Thermopylae, so they didn’t even make it into the movie. From barely believable to downright nuts, here are the 10 craziest stories from the book that got left on the cutting room floor.
America has been at war for over a decade. In that time, Hollywood has managed to make only three films worthy of the people who do our fighting—The Hurt Locker, Lone Survivor, and Fort Bliss. In one way or another, all three stood apart from mainstream Tinseltown. They reached the big screen more because of the passion and vision of the filmmakers than the Hollywood suits who usually pick and choose what gets released to the corner cinema.
Take the The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow’s story tracing the harrowing experiences of a three-man bomb disposal squad in Iraq. Big studios were not that interested in it. As Bigelow noted in a 2009 New York Times interview, “I’ve never made a studio film.” But audiences loved this movie. The Hurt Locker won the Best Picture Oscar in 2008.
Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor (2013) performed equally well at the box office, but was snubbed by Oscar. Although Berg has made his share of standard Hollywood fare, this film was anything but mainstream cinema. The director struggled to find support and financing to bring the story of an ill-fated Special Operations mission in Afghanistan to the screen. “Nobody puts a gun to your head and makes you do something,” Berg said in one interview, “It’s just better when you care.” Audiences cared. It was one of the highest-grossing films of the year.
Less well-known is Claudia Myers’ Fort Bliss. It recently opened with only a very limited theatrical release. The movie follows an Army medic—a single mom who returns home and struggles to reconnect with her young son only to be confronted with the possibility of being deployed once again.
Via Drudge today, Bret Easton Ellis at Vanity Fair goes after the millennials, whom he christens “Generation Wuss”:
My huge generalities touch on their over-sensitivity, their insistence that they are right despite the overwhelming proof that suggests they are not, their lack of placing things within context, the overreacting, the passive-aggressive positivity, and, of course, all of this exacerbated by the meds they’ve been fed since childhood by over-protective “helicopter” parents mapping their every move. These are late-end Baby Boomers and Generation X parents who were now rebelling against their own rebelliousness because of the love they felt that they never got from their selfish narcissistic Boomer parents and who end up smothering their kids, inducing a kind of inadequate preparation in how to deal with the hardships of life and the real way the world works: people won’t like you, that person may not love you back, kids are really cruel, work sucks, it’s hard to be good at something, life is made up of failure and disappointment, you’re not talented, people suffer, people grow old, people die. And Generation Wuss responds by collapsing into sentimentality and creating victim narratives rather than acknowledging the realities of the world and grappling with them and processing them and then moving on, better prepared to navigate an often hostile or indifferent world that doesn’t care if you exist.
One objection, pointing toward the experience that made the Greatest Generation more masculine than those that would follow:
Do you agree or disagree? Is war an essential experience for a boy becoming a man?
If you’ve never seen Zack Snyder’s 300, do yourself a favor and drop everything to go pick it up right now. It’s the story of a tiny coalition of Spartan rebel fighters who make a heroic stand against the massive Persian hordes threatening to enslave them. With unflinching courage, the soldiers battle valiantly and die nobly for the freedom of Greece. The best part? It’s all true.
Well OK, some of it is. Snyder based the film on a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. But the comic book is a stylized retelling of the battle of Thermopylae during the Persian War of the 400s BC, as recorded by the Greek historian Herodotus. If 300 seems too epic to be real, it’s because Herodotus fudged a lot of details himself. But he got the outline right, and most of all he captured the feeling of one of the West’s most spectacular triumphs. Some of the most intense moments in 300 are lifted right out of Herodotus’ Histories. Here are the five most fist-pumping quotes from the movie, from awesome to awesomest, along with the true(ish) anecdotes from Herodotus that inspired them.
5. “SPARTANS! WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION?!”
Marching into battle, our Spartan heroes run across an army from another Greek district. The rival general turns up his nose at the size of Sparta’s ranks — they’re no match for an unstoppable Eastern empire. With a knowing look, the Spartan King Leonidas stares down the Arcadian fighters and asks them, “What is your profession?” One by one they answer: potter, sculptor, blacksmith. But when Leonidas turns around and bellows, “Spartans! What is your profession?!” his troops instantly respond with a resounding war cry. Leonidas grins. “You see old friend,” he growls, “I brought more soldiers than you did.”
Will radar technology advances render stealth jets obsolete, as one Russian military expert claims? Probably not, but it does add another element to a constantly-changing equation. Joe Trevithick has the story:
It’s not for no reason that the U.S. Navy is taking its time acquiring stealth fighters, and is instead focusing on building more and better EA-18G electronic-warfare jets that can jam enemy radars instead of avoiding them.
Likewise, consider Washington’s renewed interest in extremely long-range, fast-flying hypersonic weapons. These super-fast weapons could help make up for the decreasing effectiveness of stealth. An attacking warplane wouldn’t need to fly so close to enemy radars if it could simply attack from long range with a weapon that’s really, really hard to intercept.
Even aging and portly B-52 bombers—which are anything but stealthy—could lob hypersonic projectiles at targets from hundreds or thousands of miles away. The speedy missiles could zip right through enemy defenses.
In theory. In reality, the Americans—as well as everyone else—have struggled to get hypersonics to work. Just like it’s hard getting stealth to work. And just like better sensors also require intensive development and investment over many decades.
Perhaps most importantly, Moore’s Law—the idea that computing power doubles every two years or so—has never been repealed, so to speak. The fact is, stealth like any advanced technology was always bound to face challenges from any number of other technologies, particularly those that hinge on improvements in computer processing.
But future plane designs will still incorporate stealth features, even if those features don’t represent a major advantage. Stealth might not be a panacea, but having no stealth at all just might be aerial suicide. New sensors work even better again non-stealthy jets than they do against stealthy ones. [Emphasis in original]
I’m reminded of what almost killed Volvo as a make of automobile. While most carmakers sold models based on horsepower and performance, or luxury and status, and later gas mileage and economy. Volvo took a different tack, selling cars to consumers concerned about safety. “Boring but safe” was for years Volvo’s brand.
But then seatbelts were mandated, followed by airbags. And a host of other safety features like crumple zones and anti-lock brakes became standard features on just about every car made. “Safe” became the lowest common denominator of every new car sold, leaving Volvo with nothing but “boring.” The brand nearly died as a result.
Stealth is now the “safety” of modern jet fighters, and increasingly of bombers, too — you’ve got to have it just to have a chance at all. What’s telling is how difficult it’s proving for anyone but American aerospace companies to develop fully-stealthy fighters. China is trying with the Chengdu J-20, but development is slow going. Further hindering the effort might be that China still doesn’t even have a fully homegrown fourth-generation fighter, much less a stealthy fifth-gen. Russia has upgraded their aging fourth-gen designs with much-improved avionics and some stealth-type features, but also has floundered trying to develop a true fifth-gen fighter. The Europeans and the Brits are kinda-sorta trying, but their tiny defense budgets probably can’t handle the strain.
But stealth-defeating radars and missiles are a helluva lot easier to develop than fleets of fighter aircraft. And even if they don’t totally obsolete our F-22s and F-35s, advanced detection certainly complicates things for us.
So we’d best find the money to stay a step ahead of the game, or risk going where not even Volvo has gone before.
It’s a generational thing.
Distinguished historian Victor Davis Hanson was born in 1953, part of a generation that understands the importance of World War II every bit as much as “the greatest generation” itself.
Baby boomers—the sons and the daughters of those who had fought in Normandy and Iwo Jima, or served on the home front tending victory gardens and riveting B-17s in Seattle—were raised on black-and-white television. Selection was limited. There were only a few channels, and “content” ran heavily to old movies. World War II classics like Flying Leathernecks and Guadalcanal Diary were daily fare. Many of the new TV series—from The Gallant Men to Combat! to, yes, the small-screen version of Twelve O’Clock High—played up World War II themes.
The boomers were old enough to remember President Dwight Eisenhower, and to know that he was the same “Ike” who had led the great crusade across the battlefields of Europe. The war may have ended before they were born, but it was nevertheless a visceral part of modern memory for Hanson’s generation.
Professor Hanson’s passion for World War II history drives a fascinating, entertaining and enlightening six-part video lecture from PJ Media’s Freedom Academy. (View the first installment here for $9.90.) The series covers the story of the war that shaped the modern world from its origins to its aftermath.
Engaging scholarship and polished delivery combine with judicious multi-media that enrich rather than overwhelm the story. Three hours never seemed so short.
For many years now I’ve counted Dr. James Jay Carafano as one of the most trustworthy voices on national defense. His accessible, passionate, historically-informed, and morally-centered approach to analyzing the threats to global peace and prosperity is one that I hope more people can come to appreciate.
For almost a year now I’ve had the joy of working with Carafano to explore ways to get his analysis out to new and broader audiences. Lately he’s been developing a series using Hollywood war movies as a gateway to explore America’s history of military conflicts. I’ve asked him to expand and grow this series more in the future. Now’s a good time to see the progress he’s made so far and also catch up on his older pieces that you might have missed.
If there are any war films or military/cultural subjects that you’d like to see Carafano address in future pieces then please leave your suggestions in the comments or shoot me an email at DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com
7 Installments in Carafano’s War Movies Series
- The 10 Best Movies to Watch to Understand the Cold War
- 10 War Movies Guaranteed to Make You Cry
- America’s First Wars in 10 Movies
- 10 Movies For Understanding the Civil War
- A 10-Film Introduction to America’s Turn-of-the-Century ‘Small Wars’
- America Over There! A 10-Film Introduction to World War I
- Telling the Story of World War II in 10 Movies
3 Book and TV Reviews
- The Soviets’ Secret Weapon to Defeat America
- Bill Gates’ Summer Reading List Is So Lame. These 6 Books Are Much Better.
- 5 Reasons ABC’s Scandal Is Too Silly To Take Seriously
7 Essays on Contemporary Issues in Culture and National Defense
- The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall Again of Zombie Nation
- The Anti-Hero Rides Back into Washington
- Edward Snowden the Movie?
- Hollywood’s Benghazi?
- Why Hating Spies Is All the Rage
- The 10 Films You Should Watch to Better Understand the Benghazi Scandal
- What Could Terrorists Do to Vegas?
3 Lighter Movie lists
First I ascertained that the class members were unanimously in favor of progress. Then I sprang the first of my traps:
“What is progress? How can you distinguish developments that constitute progress from developments that don’t?”
The students were stunned by the question. Doesn’t everybody know what progress is? was the modal reply. I responded “If you’re one of ‘everybody,’ then define it for me.”
Not one student was willing to take a swing at the question. So I set my second trap:
“This is a basic scientific calculator. I bought it last year for less than $30 at Radio Shack. But twenty years earlier, a calculator that would do somewhat less cost nearly $120. Who here would say that that reduction in the price of such power you can hold in your hand constitutes progress?”
Every hand went up..at which point I sprang the trap:
“Now what if I were to tell you that that price reduction was made possible by enslaving a million men to make calculators for nothing but bread and water and a place on the floor to sleep? Would you still think it’s progress?”
The room buzzed with a welter of objections and qualifications. Of course, the students’ previous willingness to endorse the price drop as progress was founded on the assumption that the process that brought it about was morally acceptable. When that assumption had been invalidated, they were no longer of that opinion.
After a couple more examinations of the processes that had driven developments that we could all agree were progress on their faces, we examined Kevin Cullinane’s famous definition of progress:
1. The improved satisfaction of human needs and desires,
3. And with less input.
However, though the class was willing to accept that definition as suitable, its implications eluded them for a few minutes more.