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Belmont Club

The Face in the Mirror

March 28th, 2014 - 3:00 pm

What’s old is new again. Michael Peck describes a 1964 Warsaw Pact plan to overrun Western Europe. They had planned to overrun France in a week. “Within a week, armored columns supported by paratroopers were supposed to blitz across southern Germany, cross the Rhine River and occupy the French city of Lyon, about 250 miles southeast of Paris.”

According to documents in the archives of former Communist Czechoslovakia, Czech and Soviet forces were supposed to take the southern German city of Regensburg on the first day of the offensive, known in military parlance as “D+1.”

They would then vault over the Rhine in less than a week, and reach the French city of Besancon—about 150 miles northeast of Lyon—by D+8, before pushing on to Lyon itself.

The plan called for the Czech First and Fourth Armies to strike southwest from Czechoslovakia into West Germany, in conjunction with the Soviet Eighth Guards Army on their northern flank and the Hungarians to the south. Airborne troops would seize crossings over the Neckar and Rhine Rivers.

To pave the way for the advance, the Peace Loving socialist nations involved in the offensive would have cleared away opposition with tactical nuclear weapons.

“Altogether the operation will require the use of 131 nuclear missiles and nuclear bombs; specifically 96 missiles and 35 nuclear bombs,” the plan states. “The first nuclear strike will use 41 missiles and nuclear bombs. The immediate task will require using 29 missiles and nuclear bombs. The subsequent task could use 49 missiles and nuclear bombs. Twelve missiles and nuclear bombs should remain in the reserve of the front.”

Could the Warsaw Pact have done it? We know now they considered it. The only thing stopping them really would have been the United States. Maybe the Warsaw Pact looked at the USA and said, “nah”.  And so the advance West never started; on that rested the Long Peace, in whose afterglow we survive to this day.

A new realization of the American role in preserving peace has returned to Western Europe on the heels of the Syrian and Ukranian debacles.

The U.S. military’s gradual, 20-year drawdown in Europe looks to be abruptly ending as the Russian invasion of Crimea casts a spotlight on U.S. European Command and fuels calls for reshaping the military mission there after decades of post-Cold War calm.

President Obama met with NATO leaders in Brussels on Wednesday and sought to reassure the 28 allied countries in Europe of U.S. military support in the event of further Russian aggression.

“We have to make sure that we have put together very real contingency plans for every one of these members, including those who came in out of Central and Eastern Europe,” Obama said at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

The old ‘I reject unproven missile defense sytems, stop all future combat weapons and zero out our nuclear weapons’ line seems to have lost some of its gloss.  Recently Obama gave a speech in Europe with less than a rousing reception.

David Ignatius, whose contacts in the administration are probably pretty good, writes: “The Obama administration, stung by reversals in Ukraine and Syria, appears to have decided to expand its covert program of training and assistance for the Syrian opposition, deepening U.S. involvement in that brutal and stalemated civil war.”  Reluctantly, unwillingly but inexorably, reality is dragging the Obama administration back into the place they left behind. The 60′s are calling — and they want their defense policy back.

But there will always be those who will argue that just a little more trust in our Partners for Peace, a little more accommodation, just a tad more Reset will bring the world to a new era.  Recently the Independent featured an article ‘debunking’ the widespread notion that war is part of human nature. Two anthropologists concluded that man has no innate tendency to war, only to misunderstanding. What we think of as “war” is really only crime.

And if so we only have to remove the obstacles for our natures as angels to come shining through.

Douglas Fry and Patrik Soderberg [umlaut over o] of Abo Akademi University in Vasa, Finland, studied 148 violently lethal incidents documented by anthropologists working among 21 mobile bands of hunter-gatherer societies, which some scholars have suggested as a template for studying how humans lived for more than 99.9 per cent of human history, before the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago.

They found that only a tiny minority of violent deaths come close to being defined as acts of war. Most the violence was perpetrated by one individual against another and usually involved personal grudges involving women or stealing.

About 85 per cent of the deaths involved killers and victims who belonged to the same social group, and about two thirds of all the violent deaths could be attributed to family feuds, disputes over wives, accidents or “legal” executions, the researchers found.

“When we looked at all the violent events about 55 per cent of them involved one person killing another. That’s not war. When we looked at group conflicts, the typical pattern was feuds between families and revenge killings, which is not war either,” said Dr Fry. …

“These findings imply that warfare was probably not very common before the advent of agriculture, when most if not all humans lived as nomadic foragers,” Kirk Endicott, an anthropologist at Dartmouth College told the journal Science, where the study is published.

The findings also question the conclusions of well-respected academics such as Harvard’s Stephen Pinker and University of California’s Jared Diamond, both of whom have recently published best-selling books on the subject of war-like aggression and tribal societies. In Diamond’s “The World Until Yesterday”, for instance, war is defined as recurrent violence between groups belonging to rival political units that is sanctioned by those units. Under this definition, many tribal societies, left to their own devices, would be in a state of chronic war, Diamond says. …

Pinker in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” argues that humans are innately violent and have only become less so in recent years because of cultural influences that have kept this aggressive nature in check.

Fry and Soderberg seem to argue that war is the outcome of property. And property come to think of it, may cause crime as well. If nobody had a wife and nobody had a hunk of mammoth to eat, where would be the beef? Abolish property and you abolish human conflict. It’s a wonderful idea whose only defect is it does not explain why Socialist countries in 1964 should be prepared to nuke Western Europe and overrun it in a week.  Despite the experiments of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, we are nowhere nearer to explaining the inhumanity of man toward man.  About the closest we’ve come to achieving it, or at least avoiding a hell on earth after all these years, is to ‘trust in God and keep your powder dry’.

Leland Yee had a far more cynical view of human nature. Explaining his willingness to traffic in arms Yee was supposed to have said “people want to get whatever they have to get”, adding that Africa was a “largely untapped market for trade.”

Most of us probably wish that Fry and Soderberg were right. We want man to be fundamentally pacific. Unfortunately Leland Yee and Santayana might be correct. Only the dead have seen the end of our foolishness.


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Top Rated Comments   
I got a big yuk out of Obama going to Europe and talking about the US shipping LNG over there to keep Europe from having to depend on Russia.

The guy whose supporters are such big opponents of fracking. The head of the party that managed to stop drilling in ANWR and has stopped the new pipeline from Canada. The people who want us to rely on solar power and windmills and pay much higher electric bills and even higher taxes so they can subsidize such politically correct industries. HE WANTS TO HELP EUROPE OUT WITH GOOD OLD AMERICAN HYDROCARBONS.

Meanwhile, even as he stood and offered such Hope and Change to the Yerps I got a robocall from my power company. They said that in view of the expected large increases in electricity rates I may want to see if I am eligible for subsidies. Remember Obama's statement that electricity costs will of necessity "spiral upwards" due to his War On Coal and other efforts to stop AGW? Well, here it comes, folks!

No wonder such people are so rabid about gun control. Ask not for whom that cocking sound is meant....

And they wonder if humans are naturally violent?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>>IMHO, the main reasons why the Soviets did not attack was because they could not be certain that they could contain the warfare to Western Europe (there would be no American strategic response with thermonuclear weapons)<<<

The difference is that now they do not have that uncertainty. They know that they are safe, until and unless there is a change of regime in Capitol City.

The Russians have fewer offensive capabilities than in the Soviet era; smaller forces, no Warsaw Pact satrap forces to use as cannon fodder, less capable logistics. So it will be a bunch of smaller bites rather than one big one. And those bites will cause the NATO countries to turn on each other and cut their own deals; to the advantage of the Russians.

Interesting times.

Subotai Bahadur
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>>“We have to make sure that we have put together very real contingency plans for every one of these members, including those who came in out of Central and Eastern Europe,” Obama said at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.<<<

Contingency plans are not reality, and one of the truisms of military planning is that no plan is real until there are real forces and logistics to flesh it out. Promises that someday they will be there have absolutely no deterrent effect. In fact, if there is some prospect that they will be there in the future, it acts as an incentive for an aggressor to advance his own plans.

We have 3 brigades, total, scattered across Europe. POMCUS sets have been withdrawn. Our logistics have been rode hard and not put up at all over the last 13 years. We could not do a REFORGER. The sealift and escorts are no longer there for convoys to Europe. The Brits, at their best, would be strained to deploy one brigade. All the NATO ground forces have been slashed. As since 1966, French participation is optional; even though the real prime French objection to NATO [American forces] are largely gone. The largest overseas deployed US force, and NATO forces, are trapped in Afghanistan with the Russians sitting on the main supply lines and withdrawal routes. The other logistical lines run through hostile territory in Pakistan.

These are the facts. Until and unless Buraq Hussein Obama can point to ACTIONS completed to change those facts; actions that are in direct opposition to his of the last 5+ years; the supposed "realization" is pure Maskirova and Dezhinformatsia.

His "deepening U.S. involvement in that brutal and stalemated civil war.” in Syria can best be viewed as yet another diversion of forces to weaken us overall.

I think that the fact that the Russians are well within what passes for an OODA loop in the West will become painfully apparent in the very short term.

Subotai Bahadur
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (79)
All Comments   (79)
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If you like your (military) insurance policy, you can keep it (NATO)
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"When we looked at group conflicts, the typical pattern was feuds between families and revenge killings, which is not war either"

When you define "war" in a way that excludes all organized violence for 90% of human existence, then, no, war isn't very common.

When you use a more reasonable definition, reality intrudes.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was thinking along the same lines. I could also summarize Fry and Soderburg's conclusion as "Before the existence of any large, society-wide social structures (ie, governments) there were very few documented cases of large-scale, society-wide social actions.

Hmmm, I wonder why that could be. What a mystery.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is an excellent book by Lawrence H. Keeley called
War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0195119126/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=RZQJTCB0XKFI&coliid=ISFZ7JOVR4BIS). In it, he demolishes the current belief that man lived in Rousseaun peaceful harmony with nature, showing instead that warfare between tribes was constant with most tribes losing up to 5% of their adult males -per year.

My local library did not have it, so I got it via an interlibrary loan from VMI. I was the first person to check it out.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Buy a copy -- I did.

The most damning parts are, sadly, the ones Keeley moves away from quickly -- the archaeological establishment's bias against doing any investigation of prehistoric violence, in those terms.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
There was a significant flaw in the Soviet plan after De Gaulle introduced the "Force de Frappe' -- the French nuclear deterrent. The French war plan was to fire their entire arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons at the invading Soviet/Warsaw Pact armies and reserving their strategic for the destruction of the major Soviet urban centers. I credit the French nuclear force with a major role in deterring Soviet aggression and forcing Soviet planners to rethink their strategy.

Most Americans don't realize that de Gaulle was brilliant military thinker. His seminal work "Vers l'Armée de Métier" or the Army of the Future proceeded and heavily influenced German thinking on combined arms mechanized warfare. The only concept that the Germans added to De Gaulle was the integration of air power with land forces.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
well at this epoch, the french nuclear missiles wouldn't have been able to reach Russia, but eastern Germany

I repeat the Soviets had no intention to invade France, whereas a big diaspora of russian expats lived since the bolcheviks revolution too, where the communist party was credited of 20% of the votes.

Besides of that De Gaulle had all their respect as a former WW2 leader
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
That is not correct. By the end of the 1960s France was putting SLBMs to see and had theater ballistic missiles. The Soviet Plan din't die in 1965 but it was dead by the end of the decade in part thanks to Charles De Gaulle's foresight.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't speak French. I am from the other side of the Rhine.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Morlocks put up a sign, "Eloi wanted. Apply within."
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
How stupid it is to generalize from broad labels or small subsets that can be grouped within the label. Many of the Indian tribes in North America circa 1700 A.D. were hunter-gatherers. In terms of how they dealt with others outside their tribes they were not the same. Not at all.

The Apaches never called themselves by that name. The term "Apache" is a corruption of the Navajo word for enemy. The other Indian tribes who had contact with them despised them.

The Comanches had a similar reputation. The key to essentially taking them out rested with alliances with other Indian tribes who hated them and somehow thought the Evil White Man wasn't as bad as the Comanches were.

Ah but Hell. That's just data and history, and in these days we know that when it conflicts with Politically Correct Theory the proper thing to do is to throw the contradictory data out.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The archaeological evidence shows scalping victims in the Dakotas a century before Columbus was born, yet the PC pravda is that Europeans introduced scalping.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kinda like throwing out contradictory AGW records that just don't fit the model? Or 'adjusting' same {OLD!} data to reflect 'changes' in record gathering, such as metal buckets vs wooden buckets for oceanic samples...
Sure, we're adjusting to get more 'accuracy' in tree rings from 10,000 years ago.
Wanna buy a bridge?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think you have to be especially ignorant of history, ethnography, myth, and ritual, or willfully delusional, not to recognize the prevalence of warfare in tribal societies. Obviously, this study is based on rather selective data, somehow. But this is not to say warfare is specifically human. It should be clear that warfare is part of our animal natures, rooted in biological competition over scarce resources, including sexual resoures. It is obviously not specifically human but seen among other primates, and other species.

What is human is the ability to defer intra-group violence through cultural representation, such as the shared recognition that property is privately owned according to law and should not be violently taken, or that all property ultimately belongs to the state and can only be distributed according to its dictates. But of course such shared understanding only works within the group however defiend. Yet it works to make groups internally stronger and thus potentially stronger in warfare. Thus we have the familiar paradox of societies with the power to endlow a rich productive and consumer culture, bringing much peace by historical standards, but with the very same science that might one day allow them to destroy humanity once and for all.

At least it should be a familiar paradox. Those who can't embrace the specifically human nature of such paradoxes, our entwined capacities for perpetual peace and apocalyptic war (not to forget early man's often seemingly happy, childlike, equalitarian domestic tribal life, entwined with his endemic warring outside the tribe, but at times also within, or on an individual basis the mysterious native who is all mirth one moment, murderous the next) should not be allowed to call themselves anthropologists.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remember what the young rabbi said a couple thousand years ago --"Love your neighbor". That word 'neighbor' could have been meant to exclude Martians i suppose, but what would he have had against Martians?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jane Goodall has observed chimps fighting "wars"

Where those fools in Finland get their notions is beyond me.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Finnish political notions alas need to be examined under the light of "finlandization":

http://www.halldor.demon.co.uk/estate.htm
`
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Douglas Fry and Patrik Soderberg [umlaut over o] of Abo Akademi University in Vasa, Finland, studied 148 violently lethal incidents documented by anthropologists working among 21 mobile bands of hunter-gatherer societies, which some scholars have suggested as a template for studying how humans lived for more than 99.9 per cent of human history, before the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago."

It is rather interesting that they can draw such broad conclusions from 148 incidents that occurred more than 10,000 years ago. It seems that details would be somewhat sketchy by now.

Maybe they found some rock drawings from the ancient television program VERY Cold Case Files.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem with that is that modern hunter-gatherers aren't good models of pre-agricultural humans.

Because the populations AROUND the modern hunter-gatherers have agriculture...
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Where those fools in Finland get their notions is beyond me."

From text books written by idiots.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
NATO countries are safe, Obambus will take out his big red lipstick and draw a line, then go back to looking at his face in the mirror.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The 1964 Warsaw Pact plan to over-run Europe just 'may' have been affected by the 1964 deployment of Pershing II Tactical nukes in Germany.
They were in the forests, everywhere...
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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