The Face in the Mirror

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.

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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.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.


The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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