Saturday, December 22, 2012

Archbishop of York warns defence cuts 'risk the safety of the nation'

Our gloriously colourful Archbishop of York sounds the trumpet on behalf of our armed forces, and the Rev'd Giles Fraser bleats with all the comprehension of a 10-year-old, as though the Government's 'cuts' were chronic and deep and they were perpetually robbing pensioner Peter to pay Paul's disability benefit. In fact, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is robbing us of 20,000 soldiers (that's a fifth of the British Army) in order to pay our EU (and euro) bill.

Dr Sentamu is a bishop quite unafraid to voice what his episcopal brothers rarely do: they prefer to nag about the pink fluffy stuff like the elderly and welfare while Dr Sentamu tackles the thornier issues, with nails if necessary.

He is of the view that cuts to the number of full-time military personnel would 'risk the safety of the nation', and so he opposes plans to increase our reliance on amatuer reservists. He warns: "These defence cuts need to be done with far, far greater sensitivity because we live still in a world that is very fragile and there are people out there still, wanting to do harm to...many, many people.

"To replace professionally trained, full time serving soldiers with part-timers, I'm afraid, for me. I don't think that can be the backbone of the British army," he added.

The Archbishop has form on this: back in 2009, he challenged whether troops serving in Afghanistan were being looked after in accordance with the terms of the military covenant. And in 2008, he made a sponsored parachute jump and raised an impressive £100,000 for the families of troops serving in Afghanistan. He cares about our armed services, as does a while network of chaplains which fuse the military with the church, binding them together for the common good and in the national interest. 

What Giles Fraser and his ilk appear to ignore is that we do not live in an era of peace on earth and goodwill to all men. Sometimes the protection of life requires its surrender and sacrifice. The whole witness of the Bible from Cain and Abel in Genesis (4) to the warning against taking up the sword in Revelation (13:10) is against killing. But the situational peculiarities are constantly challenged by the reality of war. Some of these are waged in defence of honour, justice and liberty. But occasionally they are bloody struggles for economic supremacy.

As long as we have the Established Church, it is the task and function of its leaders to discern the ethics of government policy and to challenge motives. It is not the distinctive responsibility of Christian ethics to justify war - though there is a long and persuasive tradition stretching back to Augustine and Aquinas which does so - but to pronounce God's judgment upon it and to promote the conditions that are conducive to peace.

In extremis, God commands war as an option of last resort. Defence of liberty and justice, or to aid a weaker neighbour, are but a few such examples. As Karl Barth observes (no war-monger he), "There may well be bound up with the independent life of a nation responsibility for the whole physical, intellectual and spiritual life of the people comprising it, and therefore their relationship to God." In such cases, he says, Christians must fight and kill to protect the state.

And to do that we need an army. And to win we need a literally overpowering force. So, yes, Giles. It is right and moral to 'prefer cuts to other public services than to the military'. But few in the Church of England any longer have much comprehension of why. Thank God for Dr John Sentamu.


Blogger Brian West said...

The cuts to the numbers of the regular forces are to be partly compensated for by an increased reliance on territorials. Splendid though these soldiers are, they also have full-time jobs, so increased calls upon them will disrupt their work in business, public service, and the professions; an ‘unforeseen’ consequence that stares us in the face.


22 December 2012 at 11:43  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

The State's first duty is the defence it's people. Cuts to the armed services, alongside cuts to the police force, are dangerous in an increasingly unsettled world.

It is our duty to defend our lives, the lives of others and our property. This function rests principally with the government.

It is entirely consistent with Christianity to make rational choices between 'guns and butter'.

22 December 2012 at 11:47  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, your communicant is impressed by John Sentamu's version of muscular Christianity.

It would however be better if the Archbishop could recognise the risks to the UK posed by the near demise of the Royal Navy. Put simply, it takes relatively little time to raise an army, even from a depleted core such as that currently proposed.

What cannot be done overnight is the restoration of a powerful fleet with an integrated air arm that can keep open the sea-lanes upon which Britain depends for her trade, energy, raw materials and food.

Relying on the French to provide air support for our fleet is utter folly. What might have seemed feasible with Sarko in power looks completely improbable under Hollande. That Hollande has potential right of veto over the actions of the RN should be cause for serious concern.

22 December 2012 at 11:49  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

22 December 2012 at 12:33  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

We know of soldiers returned from 6 months in Afgan, their families have been without (usually) a father for 6 months, given redundancy notices on their return.

They are well trained but generally have skills that usually do not command a living wage to support a family outside of the army.

Do they feel let down? Absolutely.

The army is also experiencing a slow deterioration in their terms and conditions. (Especially for those with families). They do not really have representation (like a union) so they have to accept it or leave. Doesn't mean they like it or that the best will stay even if they keep their job.


22 December 2012 at 12:36  
Blogger Philip said...

Excellent Dr Sentamu!

22 December 2012 at 12:39  
Blogger TigerO said...

More realistically is not the case that the UK can no longer be regarded as one of the super powers with the resources available for international operations as a World Policeman.

The financial crisis have severely damaged the base and reputation of this country's once proud tradition of honesty and integrity. Daily we see more revelations of the immoral behaviour of our bankers and daily, the reputation of these institutions is wounded by the allegations.

Perhaps we need to rethink our military position in the World. The banksters, politicians and many of our most prominent citizens abandon their Christian principles for vanity, pride and the false God, money.

Perhaps our leaders should be concentrating our defense in the Navy as a primary deterrent rather than looking at our army as a system of attack.

Our leaders would do well to bring this country back in line with our long history of Christian beliefs and look long and hard at the foreign enemy within. Our greatest threat lies in the enveloping menace that is extreme Islamism and we have plenty of that thanks to years of Labour's Marxist enrichment of our islands.

22 December 2012 at 13:28  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Yet another reason to support UKIP.

22 December 2012 at 13:54  
Blogger Andy Field said...

Well done Dr Sentamu our young men and women place their lives and limbs on the line for our country and need to be looked after. Good though they are, reservists cannot effectively replace regulars.

22 December 2012 at 14:17  
Blogger Andy Field said...

Well done Dr Sentamu our young men and women place their lives and limbs on the line for our country and need to be looked after. Good though they are, reservists cannot effectively replace regulars.

22 December 2012 at 14:17  
Blogger michael north said...

The Archbishop of York seems to be the only high-up in the CofE who is capable of clear, unequivocal speech. He was the first that I heard denounce SSM, almost a year ago. It is only due to him (and Your Grace, of course) that I find it possible to take the CofE seriously at all.

22 December 2012 at 14:19  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Couldn't agree more. The two highest duties of the State are the defence of its citizens and the maintenance of the Rule of Law.

Both seem to have gone... er... the way of the dodo under successive governments.

22 December 2012 at 15:43  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...


Dodo's all over the world are still alive and well. Their day will come.

22 December 2012 at 16:00  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

One of the great fallacies revealed by the interwar period was that "Collective strength can be forged from individual weakness." Nations made alliances and each promptly cut its individual expenditure. The collective meant that each could let the other carry the weight. But three nations with 100 aircraft are not equivalent to one nation with 300 aircraft. Unity of command, and unity of doctrine, and unity of purpose act as force multipliers. Remember the extent to which Britain bet its survival on the French Army in 1939. Remember when the bet showed itself a busted flush in June 1940. A nation must be able to stand on its own to defend its vital interests.

That being said, a military force is properly sized according to the threat. So the questions that must be asked are:

1. Who are you going to fight?
2. Where are you going to fight?
3. What capabilities will you need to win?
4. How quickly can you develop or reconstitute those capabilities?

Who is Britain's potential adversary? Are you defending the home island from invasion? Are you seeking to project power into another area of the world? Are you seeking to act independent of NATO and the US? It is not sufficient to say "The world is a dangerous place." The danger must be quantified. So what is the present danger to the UK?

It would be ludicrous and wasteful for the UK to keep 1,000,000 soldiers in barracks in this day and age. It is quite reasonable to maintain a professional cadre sized to immediate threat and reconstitute a larger army in time of need. The surge size would determine the quantity of equipment that must be kept in stock for weapons (especially ships) cannot be developed quickly. How big must be that cadre? A prior question must first be answered. What is the immediate threat?

Giles Frazier doesn't see a threat. This is a consequence of European conceit about Europe being a continent that has evolved beyond war. He probably cannot conceive of any possible scenario that would involve a threat to British survival. He sees military power in terms of an international police force. So he wants to spend money on butter instead of guns because he sees no use for guns. Your task then is to convince him otherwise by presenting a specific case of threat.

What then is the threat?


22 December 2012 at 16:03  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Relying on the French to provide air support for our fleet is utter folly.

Relying on France for anything is utter folly. The last time you relied of France, you had to sink the French fleet lest the enemy acquire it. France was the nation that made a separate peace after it swore it would never do so. It was the nation whose martial battle cry was "Tanks in Arras! We are betrayed!" It was the nation whose citizens demanded French soldiers not fight in their cities lest the cities be destroyed. It was the nation that build a myth of resistance over the fact of collaboration. It was the nation that expiated its collective guilt by shaving the heads of helpless women. France is a slender reed. France is Marshall Petain.


22 December 2012 at 16:17  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

The specific threats:

Western Europe;
International trade routes; and
Internal chaos.

22 December 2012 at 16:24  
Blogger Michael said...

Sir, there are a growing number of threats currrently facing the UK and “It is upon the Navy under the good Providence of God that the safety, honour, and welfare of this realm do chiefly depend”. The Nation is fundamentally a seagoing nation and whenever we have cast our lot away from the sea and free trade into the siren arms of the Continent we have ever found the result to our disadvantage. A restoration of the strength of the Fleet will bring dividends as our trading influence is restored. Britain can survive without the Army, it could be decades before anybody noticed the RAF had gone but within weeks would face ruin without the Royal Navy.

22 December 2012 at 16:53  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Let's look specifically at each case you listed.

1. Western Europe. Are you saying that Western Europe is under threat? If so, from whom? Are you saying Western Europe is itself a threat to the UK? This isn't complete.

2. Russia This would seem to be a duplicate of your first point. Do you see imminent threat of a Russian attack on Western Europe?

3. Turkey/Islam Turkey is a NATO ally. How does it become a threat? Islam is in one sense an internal threat, and internal threats are not properly addressed by the Army. What is the external Islamic threat that must be faced, and how will the military be deployed to confront it?

4. International trade routes. Yes, this is a legitimate threat, and one Britain must face. Who threatens those routes and what kind of blue-water ships must be constructed to face this threat?

5. Internal chaos What exactly does this envision? You are effectively calling for the ability to impose martial law. Is that what you intend? Would you prepare the army for the complete collapse of civil law enforcement?

In each case, you have stated a potential threat source, but you haven't given enough information to describe the threat let alone size the force.


22 December 2012 at 17:14  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

So, we can’t afford to maintain a standing army any more. Well that is good news because at long last something might be done about it. Other services that have ‘peaked’ include the police, a couple of years back, and education and the NHS.

We are the victims of mass unwanted immigration that the socialists championed and the conservatives are doing little to redress. Go to any town, and there they are. Huddled in a group or slowly walking. Slowly, because they have no where go. Yapping in their own language, they pass the time of day before returning home. Home that is paid for by us in the form of housing benefit and money for food, clothes and heating. You didn’t think these people lived off nothing did you ?

Gentlemen, our governments have allowed in the rubbish of humanity to leach off us. Chancers, criminals, economic migrants, trouble makers who face jail if they stayed in their own country. European sick people who clog our doctor’s surgery's expecting free medical care that is far from free. We pay for it. And don’t forget the lazy, who have never worked a day since arriving here with their extended family and don’t expect to.

And it will get worse. In a year or two time, we can expect 1,000,000 Bulgarian gypsies beating a path to our Island. They are hated by the Bulgars because they have proved time and again they are a race of thieves and unsociable. That means they can claim asylum here under daft EU rules. Still, never mind, another 20p on a litre of petrol will pay for that no doubt...

We are being eaten alive by foreign human parasites. A part time army is a symptom of it...

22 December 2012 at 18:00  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Well done for the Archbishop of York for saying these things! Her Majesty's Defence forces are just that- loyal to our Queen AND Country, but doubtless this Condem government will probably privatise the Armed Forces because the private sector is more 'efficient'. "Bundesweir Big McStarbuks Defence forces" anyone?

22 December 2012 at 18:07  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Yup - even I can say Jonno speaks for me too.

22 December 2012 at 18:22  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Carl. For an ex military man, you do show some naivety...

Western Europe. Angela promised us war if the EU failed.

Internal chaos. Look no further than Northern Ireland.

But then, the Inspector never has rated you with leadership qualities. Just an advisor, who would probably cite more problems than the solutions you would be entrusted to find...

22 December 2012 at 18:23  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


As an example. One of the problems with the Italian Army during the 20s and 30s was that it invested too heavily in Infantry. Force mix is important. You shouldn't spend money on things you don't need. It prevents you from buying things you do need. I don't have any trouble with military expenditure, but it has to be related to something. And vague references to a dangerous world don't constitute an adequate relation. All I am asking you to do is make the case. Who is your adversary? What do you need to fight him?


22 December 2012 at 18:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blue Dog,

Agree with you regarding the Frogs. And I would add the Hun to that as well. Don't forget we fought two world wars thanks to the war mongers of the Second Reich and the genocidal Third Reich, both of which were about conquest, slaughter and villainous empire-building!

Whilst it is important that as an Island State, Britain have a massive navy and a small army, I am not sure we can revert to the two power standard of old.

I think though it is now about quality and not quantity- a Type 45 battleship gave the Argies pause for thought.

British armed forces are amongst the best in the world and do a bloody good job! Unfortunately the politicians let them down. Bad show.

As we've alluded to before, we need to strengthen our ties with the Dominions (Canada, Australia and New Zealand)and America.

Although according to the Telegraph Obama is outraged at the thought of the UK withdrawing from Europe as it isn't in America's interests.

Newsflash- a nation state should act in its own interests and not that of anyone else.

22 December 2012 at 18:33  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Carl. It is a matter of some regret that ‘our adversary’ for a number of years now is whomever the President of the United States says it is. Do dwell on that...

22 December 2012 at 18:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspector General,

Good posts.

Hit the nail on the head there sir!

How many other wars must British soldiers die for, because America has said jump and we ask how high?

Carl mocks collective security yet this is the purpose of NATO. I am mulling over his other posts as they do make one think.

22 December 2012 at 18:49  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Indeed Lavendon, the present occupation in Afghanistan is nothing more than a police action for Uncle Sam’s benefit as he seeks to revenge 9/11. The British Government spins us the line that it stops car bombs in London. What damn rot. If you want to stop car bombs in London, you deport Islamic troublemakers from these Islands – All of them including second and subsequent generation types born here. What you don’t do is to interfere in the lives of a backward people who choose to live like semi savages. That’s their business and good luck to them...

22 December 2012 at 19:06  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Perhaps a good place to start would be the appalling conditions endured by many military families in the bases.

I've no experience of war, but I'd imagine that looking after your soldiers is probably quite important, if not for their efficiency, then certainly their morale.

22 December 2012 at 19:07  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Also - despite the persistent references to the French being untrustworthy, the French were far more helpful to our military efforts in the Falklands than the US.

22 December 2012 at 19:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dash it all Belfast,

How can you let facts get in the way of a good polemic?

22 December 2012 at 19:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl Jacobs ,

The Answers to your questions are :

1. Who are you going to fight?

Answer : Whoever our Monarch commands us to!

2. Where are you going to fight?
Answer : Wherever we need to!

3. What capabilities will you need to win?

Answer :See 1 and 2 above

4. How quickly can you develop or reconstitute those capabilities?

Answer :
"We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do,
We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too,
We've fought the Bear before, and while we're Britons true!"

And the fifth, unasked question. Who are our allies?

Answer :

1. USA
2.The Dominions :

a) Canada
b). Australia
c). New Zealand
d). India
e). South Africa

3. Israel
4. Japan
5.Portugal (allies since 1386!)

22 December 2012 at 19:49  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Ummm ... Carl I am not a tactical or military expert. If we want to know the threats of the future look to our past.

Yes, I think Germany could be a problem again and Russia too. As for Turkey being in NATO, well, they could withdraw and I'm sure they have ambitions to re-establish influence in the Balkans and Middle East if the situation ever presents itself.

Keeping open trade routes and Britain's energy supplies, in particular, is the most immediate threat posed by radical Islam. This probably calls for naval and air power rather than troops.

As for internal disorder, well it could be nearer than we think. No, I'm not talking about military control but assistance from them. Our Police Force can hardly defend the realm given they are riddled with a lack of discipline, physical prowess or honour. We rely on the Armed Services during industrial action and natural emergencies. Civil disorder may not be too far away.

Unlike others, I believe we do have common interests with USA and should remain allies with her - just not underdogs.


It is our demographics pulling us down. Increasing over 80's and decreasing working population.

For example, the current welfare bill of £200 billion sees £100 billion going to pensioners.

Add NHS and social care (of £10 billion for those over 65 years - expected to steadily rise - and it's no wonder we have a problem.

Its not ethnic minorities. Its our failure to reproduce our population and to encourage business and opportunities for the young.

22 December 2012 at 19:52  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr AIB @ 19.11,your comments regarding the Falklands are correct. As a former imperial power there is a part of France that is sympathetic to the UK's similar position. However the French national interest is very different to that of the UK, because France can feed itself.

The UK can probably feed 50% of its population from its own resources with a reasonable level of calories per day. It is often said that the difference between civil society and bloody anarchy is seven square meals. So what if the ships carrying food were ever to stop? Rudyard Kipling had it right in his poem Big Steamers.

Fifty years ago, before the decision to join the EU and sacrifice the old dominions, the UK obtained strategic depth and food security from thousands of farms managed by families of British stock in Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was the stupidity and treachery of the political class to surrender that ancient security blanket for the chimera of prosperity in Europe. Now Britain faces the possible collapse of the EU and in any event, the British people want out, and rightly so. In their infinite wisdom the British people have seen through the EU mirage and their race memory calls for a return to ancient verities.

It is important to understand how much EU collapse/departure will change the strategic position of the UK. In a sense it is an unconscious choice to return to the ancient model by which Britain has lived and prospered for centuries. But as yet there seems no parallel recognition of the costs involved in securing that return to the old way of living. One of the costs is a navy that can guarantee access to food and raw materials where ever they may be found.

So, Mr Carl Jacobs, do these comments go some way to answering your questions?

Bear in mind too that as the US approaches the fiscal cliff and continues to run a budget deficit of 8% of GDP the US military is under great threat. The days when the USN could plan for 12 carrier battle groups and countless Marine expeditionaries seem long gone.

One can expect a dramatic reduction in US power projection just at the time that China is making an unprecedented challenge to the US power structure that has guaranteed freedom of the seas since 1945. The UK would be foolish indeed to ignore these trends and act to insure itself against the return of a multi-polar world. A powerful RN is the antidote to an unstable multi-polar world.

But you may not find this line of thinking in the FCO. They are still neutered by the Euro-dream.

22 December 2012 at 20:14  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

It's the soldiers of the Queen, my lads
Who've been, my lads, who've seen, my lads
In the fight for England's glory lads
When we've had to show them what we mean:
And when we say we've always won
And when they ask us how it's done
We'll proudly point to every one
Of England's soldiers of the Queen.

22 December 2012 at 20:28  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


I'd agree with many of the sentiments you express. One of the things I'll be closely watching for in the next election is the various parties' positions on manufacturing, energy production (aka fracking Blackpool, if you'll forgive my language), and food production.

It's not, I think, an apocalyptic choice between survival or utter ruin - yet. But it is a choice. Personally, I'd prefer to see a more self-reliant UK, not wholly dependent upon a service economy which is only decades away from shifting to graduate-heavy Tiger nations. If we carry on economically as we are, we accept the diminishment - likely permanent - of our power.

But regardless of economic plans, I think the days when we could single-handedly intervene have long ago passed (if I had to choose a date, I'd say Suez, though I think the writing on the wall was being written even by the end of WWII). We're not going to be leading the charge militarily ever again, I suspect. We barely held on in Helmand, by all accounts - and a large part of that seems to have been our ability not merely to offer professional soldiers (which we remain deeply blessed by having), but the whole remainder of organisation and logistics (which we simply do not possess).

War is so much more than combat these days, and we simply don't have the capacity to engage in it alone.

So I'd see our obligations towards the military in terms of defence (including overseas interests - especially Argentina), and the age-old notion of the concord with our soldiers, that we support them, outfit them, and in their injury and retirement care for them on account of their willingness to lay down their lives to keep us safe.

We're stronger when we are a nation state with alliances. Presently, we comport ourselves as a client state, either of Europe or the US.

22 December 2012 at 20:33  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Good to see you sir, - hope you and your family will have a peaceful and enriching Christmas.

Never let facts stand in the way of a polemic - I certainly don't :)

22 December 2012 at 20:36  
Blogger IanCad said...

As the defender of our liberties and security the Royal comes second only to our "Moate."
However, we live in a different age. Technology has rendered our ships --both current and planned-- obsolete. They simply will not survive when faced with the latest missiles.
When the expenditure on the defense of a weapons system approaches 80% of its cost, it is, by definition, obsolete.
New thinking is needed by our military planners.


Although a great admirer of Kipling I think that most of our bread, biscuits and butter are now produced here.
I also was of the impression that we produced over 70% of our own food. Given that we waste about 30% I don't think that the caloric shortfall would be too difficult to make up.

BTW YG while in no wise considered a prude I must say that your ad for "Bad Idea T-Shirts" is tasteless, crass and demeaning to your august blog.

22 December 2012 at 20:48  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"bread, biscuits and butter"

Well Northern Ireland should be fine then.

22 December 2012 at 20:52  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr AIB @ says 20.33, 'But regardless of economic plans, I think the days when we could single-handedly intervene have long ago passed.'

Actually not, everything old is new again. The Suez operation was a military success, all objectives were achieved, let's not forget that. Following WW2 during which the UK had had no manufactured exports for five years, the national indebtedness was some 290% of GDP. In 1956 the figure had reduced somewhat but the UK Treasury was still dependent on support from the US. This enabled the US to threaten to destroy Sterling and our ally did just that.

Consider the situation today. For the first time since the end of the Revolutionary War the US is effectively bankrupt. The roles are reversed and even though Britain is heavily indebted, the Conservative government is not making unfunded promises to the British electorate in the way that Obama does in the US. This is not say that the US can not recover its strength, it will. But in a relative sense the British position vis-a-vis the USA is vastly better today than it was in 1956.

Given the chest-beating announcement of Queen Elizabeth Land in the Antarctic, it would be wrong to assume that Britain will never again intervene alone.

The ante has just been upped.

22 December 2012 at 20:57  
Blogger IanCad said...


I know the diet over there is bad; but not that bad surely?

22 December 2012 at 20:59  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


I'm one of the Faramirs of the world (apologies if you're not a fan of Lord of the Rings):

"For myself, I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens; not as a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor, and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise."

Enjoy the chest-beating by all means, but I really do think our time as the solitary banner bearer has passed. The lynchpin of international alliances, the banner bearer for sovereign nations united to a specific purpose and to meet a specific threat - yes. But a power to hark after our Imperial days? Probably not.

22 December 2012 at 21:06  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Well, we do have potatoes in abundance as well :D

22 December 2012 at 21:07  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I watched Al Jazeera to see what all the fuss is about. :)

22 December 2012 at 21:07  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


Nobody would have guessed who our enemies would be 10 years or so before they became enemies.

e.g. Would we have guessed in 1929 we would be fighting Germany 1940 Korea, 1972 Argentina and 1981 Iraq?

My view is that you have to treat the Forces decently, if not because you might want them to willingly do things that you would never want to do yourself. But more crucially, you want to deter others from thinking that they can do things to you because you are not in any position to retaliate. (Falklands)

This is where the real danger lies.

On other scenario not on any list above. The EU collapses completely, Greece style problems become the norm. I am not sure what might happen then.


22 December 2012 at 23:27  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

23 December 2012 at 04:36  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


the French were far more helpful to our military efforts in the Falklands than the US.

I realize there is nothing sexy about a logistics trail, but an army is only as effective as its supply system. Perhaps you should investigate whose aviation fuel those Harriers were burning, and whose Sidewinder missiles those Harriers were firing, and whose fuel oil those ships were consuming, and whose base (*cough* Ascension Island *cough*) was used to stage the whole operation. You might ask whose Satellite was positioned over the theater to provide intelligence. You might ask who provided the intelligence of Argentine troop deployments for the initial invasion. You don't just sail a fleet 8000 miles to the other side of the world. You have to sustain that fleet once it gets there.

Did the French do all that? No, they didn't.


23 December 2012 at 04:38  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

The original post somewhat annoyed me because it was based upon a flawed assumption. A change from 100,000 to 80,000 soldiers does not automatically translate to "less safe." The right answer might be 80,000 or 100,000 or 150,000 or some other number. But "more" does not necessarily equal "more safe." "More" can equal "less safe" if you purchase too much of the wrong thing. Purchasing cavalry didn't help the Poles much against the Wehrmacht. Battleships weren't so very useful in the fight against the Japanese.


1. Who are you going to fight?
Answer : Whoever our Monarch commands us to!

Except you can't. You don't have the capability to fight anywhere you might be commanded. You have to purchase that capability first. Do you have the heavy lift capability to move an army anywhere? Can you sustain that army once it arrives? It's not enough to say "Anywhere commanded." That command has necessary prior implications for planning and preparation. Without the former, the later becomes impossible. Are you therefore "more safe" if you possess an army of 500,000 men that cannot be moved beyond the cliffs of Dover?

Everything I have written btw is generic. None of it has anything to do with specific nations. Every nation must plan according to its perceived adversaries. So it's entirely beside the point to say things like "‘our adversary’ for a number of years now is whomever the President of the United States says it is." I wasn't making a point about the US or the UK. I was applying a general principle of planning to the specific case of the UK. I am not making any assertions about what the right answer would be. I am saying that the right answer is a product of planning, and planning is founded on the capability needed to defeat the expected enemy. So when the UK does its planning, who is the enemy envisioned? What is the war scenario envisioned? What are the objectives envisioned? You won't be able to prove 80,000 is less safe than 100,000 until you can answer those questions.


23 December 2012 at 05:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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23 December 2012 at 09:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Phil Roberts hints at the answer; Britain does not actively go looking for enemies with which to fight. Therefore one must take a flexible approach to statescraft.

Look up the phrase "Perfidious Albion" and you will see what I mean.

I fail to see see how you can plan for every possible event and then spend money to do so. This seems to be what the US wants to do, but Britain can't, because we would go bankrupt.

Also, two things you also need to address is the quality of the leadership /generalship and the morale of the armed forces. There are many examples of this throughout history where an apparently weaker opponent by your criteria has either prevailed and or dragged a conflict out for a far longer period than one would have expected if one simply looked at a list a stats or logistical capabilities.

23 December 2012 at 09:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The greatest danger to an army is when it has to retreat. This is when the enemy will seize its moment and attack.

Scaling down the army will have a similar affect.

It might also be a good time for the authorities in the UK to ponder whether whether they have allowed the UK to become a recruitment centre for potential terrorists?.

(1834 people were arrested in the United Kingdom from September 2001 to December 2009 in connection with terrorism, of which 422 were charged with terrorism-related offences and 237 were convicted.)

23 December 2012 at 09:52  
Blogger Tommy said...

John, you are a rareity in the dying ichabod church, a man whom preaches the Gospel and believes it, but this does not endanger our nation, what endangers our nation is a church that does not preach Christ crucified and repentance, that does not openly condemn the sins of the nation, a church that does not interpret the prophecy being fullfilled as we watch the news all pointing to the tribulation and return of Jesus in judgement, where is the call for repentance? Do not fear our enemies, fear the Lord.

23 December 2012 at 12:42  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Being primarily a historian, I rely on the written words of others, and so reflect the opinions of our officials, including to the extent that they were misguided and even wrong in their analysis.

I perhaps show something of my own ignorance if I say that I was under the impression that the US aid was very much reliant on the good will of several key senior staff including Weinburger acting on the spirit, if not the precise orders of Reagan's general Atlanticist attitude towards the conflict. There's probably something to be said for the way that the US was publically neutral with support given by key individuals with hindrances from others, whilst France maintained a strict embargo on aiding Argentina, which naturally French nationals disobeyed. One thing's for sure: diplomats in all nations (including Argentina) would have sold their own mothers, and more pertinently the Falkland Islands, to prevent war. But that is, I suppose, why they are diplomats.

Public perceptions rely very much on how countries are seen to behave on the surface - and for many, the perceived failure by the US to "come to our aid" was a stab in the back when played out against diplomatic shenanigans in the UN. Naturally, this view requires the perception that there is something owed between the UK and the US - a perception largely restricted to the former, which persists in spite of evidence to the contrary, not least the more recent treatment of Northern Ireland by the Clinton administration as "just another Serbia" in which the US could get involved. Mind you, it's worth noting that a similar perceptional "disappointment" was experienced by the Argentines.

However, as you have pointed out many times, the US does not go about screwing over its allies - it goes about securing its national interests, and acts in accordance with them above all else. It is this shared understanding of national sovereignty that has seen us on the same side for so long - a shared patrimony of political thought, but one which is only activated when there are shared objectives.

Ironically, the "failure" of the US to provide more direct support in Falklands, ensured that we remembered just what sovereignty meant, and why it was worth defending an island which though so far geographically removed was spiritually and culturally proximate. While the US and the USSR thought the world was divided only between Great Powers, Thatcher reminded us of our sovereignty, and precisely what sovereignty costs.

Which is really my argument: we are not a Great Power, but we are a sovereign nation.

23 December 2012 at 13:49  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


"There are many examples of this throughout history where an apparently weaker opponent by your criteria has either prevailed and or dragged a conflict out for a far longer period than one would have expected if one simply looked at a list a stats or logistical capabilities."

An interesting snippet from the US perspective on Thatcher in the run-up to the Falklands:

"However the situation turns out, it will clearly be a 'close run thing' – In fact Mrs. Thatcher herself may have recognized when she pointedly showed us portraits in Number 10 not only of Nelson but also Wellington."

It is not mere jingoism to recite the Blitz, Trafalgar and Waterloo, and even further back to the Armada. The UK has always been more perilously situated than our bravado permits us to acknowledge: much of our history has been a "close-run thing". One hopes that future generations will be willing to risk such odds for the continued safety of these isles in the unhappy instance that it is necessary to do so.

Can't much imagine any of our present leaders and alternatives managing though. All trained by diplomats :)

23 December 2012 at 13:55  
Blogger John Magee said...

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23 December 2012 at 14:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah Belfast,

I didn't see your previous post. Yes I am keeping well; the family are just arriving for our Christmas bash (it is weather like this that I can see why our American friends like their humves and 4 by 4s!).

I can confirm to Avi, that despite his fears of several weeks ago, I haven't been wondering around in the study for the past few months. Merely reflecting on this advent season.

Well the brandy is prepared, the tree is up and the fire places are all roaring.

23 December 2012 at 15:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree with your splendid examples of close run conflicts from a British perspective .

Indeed the foes Britain had- Spain, France and Germany we all the mega powers of the day and were by mere statistical analysis far larger than Britain (in terms of military, population, economic).

Britain did,however, have two advantages :

1. The British stiff up lip,character and pluck, manifest in us being a proud and stubborn nation in terms of being willing to conduct war against far larger powers for the sake of being a free power (which is why no-one has conquered this isle since 1066!).

2. The constitution- as show in our desire for a free press, a liberal economic model which lead to the industrial revolution, a national assembly, partly elected, partly hereditary, which allowed taxes to be collected efficiently and stopped the French Revolution from happening here.

3. Statecraft- that we have been fortunate in the past to have had excellent servants of our country, as seen statecraft of Elizabeth I , Pitt the elder, Pitt the Younger, Palmerston, Disraeli, Lord Salisbury and then in this century Churchill.

23 December 2012 at 15:30  
Blogger Michael Bartlett said...

I trust Welby is up to the Cantuar job. As Ralph Waldo Emerson ironically noted in English Traits the Holy Spirit always agreed with the Government's recommended candidiate. I think this time the Holy Spirit agreed with me in actually wanting either Michael Nazir-Ali or John Sentamu.
Of course one Old Etonian being a piss-poor prime minister does not mean that another will be a wate of archepiscopal space.

23 December 2012 at 16:07  
Blogger John Magee said...

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23 December 2012 at 16:50  
Blogger John Magee said...

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23 December 2012 at 16:57  
Blogger John Magee said...

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23 December 2012 at 18:56  
Blogger DocRichard said...

And what of our WMD? Will God command us to use them at some point, to crush, tear apart, burn, dehydrate, starve those wicked people who are not of our nation, for which we will receive the same in return? Does it worry you that foetuses will die along with their mothers?

Or will God see to it that the human systems of detection, command and control and deterrence politiciking will forever work together perfectly and infallibly so that war, although an integral and inevitable part of human nature and human history, will not be fought between governments that possess nuclear weapons?

23 December 2012 at 19:04  
Blogger John Magee said...

carl jacobs

As Christians we should be extremely concerned about the survival of Western Christian Civilization and everthing it stands for including our culture, religion, and our freedoms which have evolved and been carefully nourished and preserved by many generations in Europe over the past almost 2,000 years and in the European Christian diaspora since 1492.

If and when our Civilization collapses or is destroyed it can never be replaced or rebuilt. It is a diamond which, when smashed to smitherines by some of it's own self loathing people, becomes what the multiculturalists always wanted it to become. Tiny fragments never to be reassembled again. The world will become a very dark place indeed.

Wasn't the reason we fought WW II and did our collective best to save Western Christian Civilization from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan was to preserve it and pass it on, intact, to future generations? We all owe an enormous thanks to our parents and grandparents generation who literally save the world during that era.

This also applies to our collective struggle to defeat the USSR during the Cold War which was won in Europe, when the USSR imploded in 1991, without firing a shot by NATO. But at an enormous cost in monetary terms our nations could have all put to far better use. DEO GRATIAS!

The West defeated Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the USSR but proceeded to self destruct from within during the late 1960's by it's moral decay and self loathing created by the far left who fanned the flames of hedonism and total moral cynicism which has destroyed the character of a large portion of the past two generations and their ability to understand just how valuable their own Civilization was and is.

We see this in the supposed"conservative" politicians today under age 70 we counted on to represent us who look nice in their suits and ties with their fancy educational backgrounds who told us what we wanted to hear then and turned out to be traitors now that we need them most.

Almost one hundred years ago, in 1913, a peaceful Europe which had't had a major war since Napoleon a hundred years earlier, could have never imagined a World War on their continent lay one year in the future. Or that an even worse one would start 26 years later in 1939.

There were voices in the darkness before both those World Wars. They were either mocked or ignored.

The same applies to those people today trying to warn the West about the intentions of modern Islamic Jihad and are once again ignored or are insulted and their warnings called wrongly called "hate".

23 December 2012 at 21:11  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr AIB @ 21.06 says, 'but I really do think our time as the solitary banner bearer has passed.'

And again at 13.49, 'Thatcher reminded us of our sovereignty, and precisely what sovereignty costs.'

Can you see the inherent contradiction in your comments? Isn't the exercise of sovereignty the ultimate instance of being a solitary banner bearer?

Alliances are fine, but any nation that depends on the enduring support of another for it's independence will ultimately be placed at mortal risk. Priorities change, leaders change. A relationship which may seem safe can suddenly be found wanting at the hour of need because a guarantor has other committments or is tardy in responding to the call. This is the dilemma that faces Israel, for example.

But back to the UK. You use the word 'Imperial' in a somewhat pejorative sense in your post of 21.06. The legacy of Empire is still scattered around the globe in the context of the UK, just as it is for France. French support for the UK in the Falklands was almost certainly motivated by a sense of 'There, but for the Grace of God, go we'.

The Falklands War was more significant in terms of Britain's global posture than our politicians are prepared to admit. From the perspective of this communicant it could only be seen as an exercise in Imperial defence. The UK will always be a North Atlantic power with a geographic position that potentially denies access to the North Sea, the Baltic and the ports of the Rhine mouth. We therefore have potential right of veto over almost all north European trade.

By fighting for the Falklands and by our continued our defence of that position the UK announces that it is also a South Atlantic power. A naval force based in the Falklands can control the approaches to both the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Indian Ocean to the East. Most importantly, the owner of the Falklands can control Atlantic access to the Antarctic to the south. As yet the resources of the Antarctic are embargoed by treaty, but improving technology and the contentious possibility of improved access through a warmer climate may lead to re-appraisal. Which brings us back to the chest beating announcement of QE Land. Maybe the FCO aren't so wimpish after all.

As an aside, the UK is currently building an airfield on the island of St Helena at considerable cost. The runway lehgth is 1500m, which is described in terms of the distance requied for a Boeing 737 commercial jet. This communicant notes that a C17 Globemaster requires just 1064 metres to land. Isn't the St Helena airstrip just an alternate for Ascension Island, should that be seized by a hostile power? St Helena is not that far from Sierra Leone where the UK has a small foothold, still. Maintaining the airbridge to Mount Pleasant is critical to defence of the Falklands.

The French would understand!

23 December 2012 at 21:21  
Blogger bluedog said...

Great post @ 21.11, Mr Magee, so very true.

23 December 2012 at 21:25  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

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23 December 2012 at 22:02  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

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23 December 2012 at 22:04  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

DocRichard said, And what of our WMD?

I'd say, Sir, you folks better check that you have enough of them, that they all work and perhaps do a bit of maintenace and upgrading, because it's getting nasty out there.

"...will God see to it that the human systems of detection, command and control and deterrence politiciking will forever work together perfectly and infallibly..."

Probably not, I'd say. We all folded on the first challenge, North Korea, and are about to flunk the Iran one. Weakness begets more challenges. Funny, how lofty pacifist dreams of domestic nuclear disarmament and gentle times are invariably interpreted as lack of bullocks and a green light to arm and misbehave by the primitives out there. Not that I expect you to appreciate the humour in that.

23 December 2012 at 22:22  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Bluedog, I was a young lad when I watched, on the nightly news as the British flotilla steamed towards the Falklands. I anticipated our Canadian government to lend a hand, for the US to openly offer at least intelligence and reconnaissance with all the air and naval assets they have, for NATO to back up one of its key member states. Nothing. Nada. Our lib-left press here wrung its hands and pontificated on the evils of colonialism and the British response to its fickle allies seemed to be, "Don't worry about us, we're fine; it's just a flesh wound." I wondered then whether along with the incomprehensible "palestinianism" we were witnessing the beginning of the West's unravelling.

PS, The two "comment deleteds" above are mine. Can't seem to do nuttin' right today.

23 December 2012 at 22:38  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


The former comment really refers to our international exploits, the latter in defending our perogatives as an independent nation. When there was a British Empire, there was some justifiable conflation of the two, but it is very difficult now to see how we could justify foreign intervention in a solitary capacity (say, against Robert Mugabe), and even harder to see how we could achieve it practically.

On the other hand, at least some of our decision-making regarding defence should factor in how we maintain the sovereignty of regions under our protection and under our control. The funny thing is, though, if you look through the debates on defence, whenever the Falklands are brought up, there is a sizeable number of Labour politicians who rattle the sabre.

I am glad to hear that we are reinforcing our ability to supply the Falklands though. However, I think the claim to being a "power" in the region would probably be a matter for derision by many of our Latin "neighbours". As to whether we are an Imperial Power? I'd say on balance that I hope not - a large and very important part of our control of the Falklands rests on the fact that the islanders themselves are strongly in favour of British alleigance. Were they overwhelmingly pro-Argentine, I find it very difficult to imagine what legitimate reasons we should make to endorse our claim on the islands. Indeed, I'd say that's the difference between sovereignty and empire: the former defends the right of people to self-determination, the latter insists on the determination of a nation against that of a self-determining people.

I quite agree with your comments regarding alliances - and in my reply to Carl essentially made the same point: they are instances where interests align, not cast-iron guarantees that someone else will do one's dirty work.

If the FCO have become hawkish, I'll eat not only my hat but yours :D

23 December 2012 at 23:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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24 December 2012 at 01:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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24 December 2012 at 01:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone thinks, be they a genocidal maniac or not, that they can conquer the Sceptred and Emerald Isles, then they should recall the message of the last great war, in which Britain fought alone for 2 years against the Nazi Fascist, ANYONE trying to conquer Britain will get a bloody nose (as we say in Albion) :

"Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler?
If you think we're on the run,
We are the boys who will stop your little game!

We are the boys who will make you think again.
'Cus who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler?
If you think old England's done?

Mr. Barzel goes off to town
On the 8:21.
But he comes home each evening
And he's ready with his gun!

So watch out Mr. Hitler
You have met your match in us.
If you think you can crush us
We're afraid you've missed the bus!

so who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler?
If you think old England's done!"

24 December 2012 at 01:10  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Lord Lavendon

Mr. Barzel goes off to town
On the 8:21.
But he comes home each evening
And he's ready with his gun!

Well, perhaps if he was British. But Avi is Canadian, and Canadians aren't allowed to have guns. There was a UN investigation and everything.


24 December 2012 at 01:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl Jacobs,

Ah well, in some ways I live in the past. I am only becoming accustomed to the fact that my wife isn't a British colonial (although the 'Commonwealth of Virginia' has a nice ring to it, no?). And if I had it my way Avi would be both a Canadian subject and a British one as well...

But alas one cannot turn the clock back, eh?

24 December 2012 at 01:34  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Now, now, Carl, Canada's no Texas, but I've had several rifles for years, including a treasure, a heavy, beatifully machined 1890s sniper's Mauser that can still drill a hole through a stump nearly a kilometre away. We can't have hand-guns easily and had to register long guns at one time before they cancelled the long gun registry...that's if we remembered to bother.

24 December 2012 at 01:47  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ah, greetings, Lord Lavendon, thank you for your sentiments. Alas, I'm a citizen of Canada, but while subject to Her Majesty, to whom I proudly swore my alegiance on the day of my citizenship ceremony, I regretfully cannot vote for her government in Britain. I vote Conservative here, but if I could live and vote in the UK, I'm certain now that I'd vote for UKIP, if anyone cares to know.

24 December 2012 at 01:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never quite understood the american fetish for guns. Now sword fighting or a duel is much more civilised.

24 December 2012 at 01:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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24 December 2012 at 02:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Indeed Sir, indeed.

On a slightly different note,I have visited Canada on several occasions, as an in law of mine is from Nova Scotia, specifically -other than Nova Scotia - Niagra on the Lake, Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec and Montreal. I had to admit tis a beautiful and vast country you have.

24 December 2012 at 02:05  
Blogger John Magee said...

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24 December 2012 at 02:39  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Thank you, Lord L, it is beautiful and vast indeed; I cannot tire of any of it, no matter how often I ply the same routes. I've been to Nova Scotia a few times and I think it's the most attractive province, with its soft, rolling hills and the many lakes. Far more appealing to me than the over-rated British Columbia, even its spectcular Gulf Islands, where some of my wife's relatives reside. I happen to prefer the more "European" landscapes with plenty of human imprint, such as walking trails, fields, farms and abandoned quarries and barns to just raw, untouched nature. I make my home in Toronto, although in terms of appearance, the Ottawa area, with its grey stone houses and buildings built by the Scots is far more to my aesthetic tastes.

24 December 2012 at 02:42  
Blogger John Magee said...

Lord Lavendon

Pennsylvania is also a "Commonwealth". Founded in 1682 by the most tolerant Englishman of his time, the Quaker, William Penn. He granted total religious freedom here for all religions long before this concept existed in Europe or anywhere else so far as I know.

He founded the city of Philadelphia (Greek for "city of brotherly love")which at the time of our Revolution was the second largest seaport in the British Empire.

Merry Christmas

24 December 2012 at 18:58  
Blogger Pedant said...

Load of "bullocks"? Bollocks, I'd say. Or pretty far up Bathurst St.

25 December 2012 at 02:41  
Blogger John Magee said...

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25 December 2012 at 03:50  
Blogger John Magee said...

The USA didn't help Britain during the Falkland War?

Where did this myth come from?

My country was very concerned Argentina would turn to the USSR for help and tried to mediate the conflict. Argentina refused our peace overtures so our Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that the United States would halt arms sales to Argentina and provide material support for British operations.

It's important to not forget that both Houses of the U.S. Congress passed resolutions supporting the U.S. action siding with the United Kingdom.

The U.S. provided the United Kingdom with military equipment ranging from submarine detectors to the latest missiles and President Ronald Reagan approved the Royal Navy's request to borrow the Sea Harrier-capable amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) if the British lost an aircraft carrier. The United States Navy developed a plan to help the British man the ship with American military contractors most likely retired sailors with knowledge of the Iwo Jima's systems.

@ Lord Lavendon

How many people realize today that from late August 1939 until June 21, 1941 Nazi Germany and the USSR were allies. Two weeks after Nazi Germany invaded Poland on Sept 1, 1939 the USSR Red Army on Sept 17 invaded Poland from the east and met the Germans in the middle of Poland and were back slapping each other over their butchering Poland together.The USSR sold Nazi Germany food, oil, and other natural resources which fed German civilians and their Army. Gas and oil from the USSR enabled Luftwaffe bombers to bomb Britain during the Blitz from Sept. 1940 until the early summer of 1941.

At the Yalta Conference in early 1945 when the USA and UK sold out the people of Eastern Europe to Stalin the Soviets had the temerity to demand, and got, the land in Poland that they had conquered as allies of Nazi Germany in 1939.

Of course after Germany attacked Nazi Germany in June 1941 the UK and the USA quickly became great pals with Uncle Joe Stalin.

Stalin whined to FDR and Churchill constantly asking when they were going to invade Nazi occupied Europe while his Red Army fought the Nazi's in Russia. To be fair this was a valid concern from Stalin's point of view. Meanwhile he signed a neutrality treaty with Japan so the USSR didn't have to fight a two front war with Germany in the west and Japan in Siberia. He admitted he loved seeing the British, Americans, Aussies, and Kiwi's drain their blood fighting the Japs in the Pacific Theater of Operation.

After the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945 Stalin suddenly declares war on Japan and when Japan surrendered 7 days later the USSR occupied and got permanent control of Japan's nothern islands.

Our foolish leaders trusted that rat Stalin. Patton wanted to go all the way from Western Czechoslovakia where his 8th Army was ordered to halt in May 1945 (they could have taken Prague easily) and march all the way to Moscow...

My mother was working in Pilsen in the spring of 1945, she was 28 then, and remembers seeing General Patton in the city square along with the Americans who liberated the city. It was pure joy for the Czechs crowds. Her knowledge of languages and being Czech got her a job for the American Army and she left with them when they had to leave western Bohemia in the fall of 1945. The rest of the country was "liberated" by the Red Army...

25 December 2012 at 03:56  
Blogger Pedant said...

John Magee,

"After the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945"

In fact there were two bombs dropped some days apart. Whatever justification may have been there for dropping the first, there was none whatsoever for dropping the second when and where it was dropped. It was bloody-minded in the extreme and morally odious. And what took the Americans so long to join the good fight in WWII?

25 December 2012 at 06:03  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


And what took the Americans so long to join the good fight in WWII?

Most Americans didn't want to fight in yet another European war to make the world safe for the British Empire by preventing German domination of the European continent. Joe Six-pack didn't see it as our fight. His mistake was in failing to understand the lethal nature of the threat. FDR understood. The average citizen didn't.

A better question however is "Where the hell were the major European powers in 1936-1938 when a short sharp response would have gotten Hitler stood up against a wall and shot by his own Army?" Oh yes. They were too busy avoiding war and throwing little nations at Hitler like so much meat to appease a beast. The fact of the matter is that WWII was the direct result of Britain and (especially) France refusing to act when action was still possible. You have little standing to accuse the US of not entering a war in 1940 when you could have pre-empted that war in 1938. Hitler was after all on the other side of the English channel. He wasn't in the Western hemisphere.

Whatever justification may have been there for dropping the first, there was none whatsoever for dropping the second when and where it was dropped.

If the first bomb was justified, then the second bomb was justified. There is no "You can only do it once in war" rule. If the usage of the first weapon was justified by military necessity than all subsequent usage is justified by the same measure.

In any case, the US didn't drop the first bomb as a demonstration strike. The purpose was not "Let's drop one and hope we scare the Japanese into surrendering." The US escalated the war effort. The second bomb indicated to the Japanese that the US was serious about the escalation. Two indicated that three, four, and five would follow. That's why the Emperor decided to surrender. The entire Japanese end-game depended upon American invasion. The atomic bombings convinced the Emperor that the US could end the war without invading. And even after the second bombing, the army still tried to stage a coup to prevent the Emperor's broadcast. The Army only quit because the Emperor commanded them to do so. Those two bombs didn't influence the Army at all.


25 December 2012 at 06:50  
Blogger John Magee said...

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25 December 2012 at 08:29  
Blogger John Magee said...

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25 December 2012 at 08:42  
Blogger John Magee said...

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25 December 2012 at 08:51  
Blogger John Magee said...


Was the planned carpet bombing of German cities by the RAF, RCAF, and the American Army Air Force killing almost 1 million German and Austrian civilians during WW II "morally odious" too?

Allied air forces killed over 55,000 civilians in Hamburg in late July 1943. Ever hear of this? In 5 days of bombing the Americans and British killed more German civilians in Hamburg than the total number of civilians killed in Britain during all of WW II by German bombers... Are you familiar with the events in Dresden on the night of February 13, 1945?

Of course there were two bombs dropped on Japan in early August 1945. Here is what I said:

"After the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945."

I assumed since I mentioned both cities it was understood that one bomb was dropped on each city.

Look up the "rape of Nanking 1937" and read about the 300,000 Chinese civilians the Japanese Army killed in that city.

The reason the USA kept out of WW II until Japan attacked us on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Germany declared war on us three days later is very simple. The vast majority of the American people did not want involved in another war in European after we were lied to by President Wilson in 1917. He ran a Presidential campaign promising he would not get us involved in a war in Europe which was none of our buisness and which neither side was a threat to the USA. He does a flip flop after he was elected in November 1916 when he asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany in April 1917.

Why should the USA have broken it's neutrality in 1939 and become involved in another European war we had no reason to join? That was the attitude of 80% of the American people in 1939. Hitler was evil but most people here did not us drawn into another war not of our making. Of course that was the wrong attitude because the Nazi's were evil and a war between the USA and Nazi Germany was inevitable.

Even as a neutral you can't say we didn't help Britain after 1940. We shipped all kinds of war material to help Britain fight. We did our very best after Germany declared war on us in 1941. You can't dispute that fact.

Dropping the nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities ended the war in the Pacific immediately and saved the lives of possibly 1 million American, British, Aussie, and Kiwi soldiers and sailors if we had to invade the Japanese Islands and fight a long war. Such an invasion would also have killed many many more Japanese civilians than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We did what was right to save the lives of our soldiers in a war neither your country nor mine wanted.

Japan atatcked us in 1941. We gave them everything they deserved and ended that war after almost four years of bloody island to island fighting in the Pacific.

@ carl jacobs

We now know that the German general Staff was prepared to arrest Hitler had invade Cechoslovakia in 1938. They had the plans set in place to have him arrested along with Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler. Hitler was to be arrested and taken to a mental asylum and examined by the most famous psychiatrist in germany, Karl Bonhoeffer, the father of the Protestant minister and anti Hitler plotter Deitrich Bonhoeffer. The arrest did not happen because the UK and France sacraficed the Czechs and Hitler got the Sudetenland was given to Hitler. The German Generals were stunned. They couldn't arrest Hitler at the peak of his power and fame after the appeasement of Munich in 1938.

We came that close to not having WW II. Appeasment gave us WW II.

25 December 2012 at 16:49  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Pedant said, Avi,
Load of "bullocks"? Bollocks, I'd say. Or pretty far up Bathurst St.

O, looky here, I missed one. You must be Kinderling's big brother, right? The five seconds I generously allocated to trying to understand your blurb failed to yield anything that made sense. Is the Bathurst Street thing supposed to creep me out? I'm just about to take a slow walk north, on the east side sidewalk up to Hermes Bakery for some Jew-food if you'd like to pet my new steel-toed boots with your face.

25 December 2012 at 18:20  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Pedant.It was bloody-minded in the extreme and morally odious.

One suspects that if you were crouched in a landing craft in the first invasion wave heading for the shore of Japan in 1945 (...estimated allied casualties for such an adventure, around the 2 million mark...) you would be of totally the opposite opinion, what !

25 December 2012 at 18:44  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

One suspects that if [Pedant] were crouched in a landing craft in the first invasion wave heading for the shore of Japan in 1945...

On suspects he'd be grabbing Japanese kids to build a bunker with and screaming for the whole of Japan to be turned into a big glass ashtray.

25 December 2012 at 21:30  
Blogger John Magee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

26 December 2012 at 03:02  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...


Explain this hostility! I know you took offense at a reference to some street or other but to what did his metaphor refer?

26 December 2012 at 14:37  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...


Ignore the above. I researched the street and appreciate your reaction.

I wonder if Pendant now does.

27 December 2012 at 00:27  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Hi Dodo, I don't react over the street I live near...I like it, I'm proud of it, it's the centre of the Jewish community in Toronto... but the implied threat that they know where I live or what my area is. From time to time people figure out my identity and I get threats, mostly from other blogs or by email. Most are from little weenies who think they're being clever, but we log and report all of them so they can pish their panties if they are of interest enough to get The Call, or the The Knock on the Door. Not smart to threaten truckers and Teamsters. Especially those who ship security, gov't or military stuff.

27 December 2012 at 02:23  
Blogger Pedant said...

My goodness, but don't some people just love the whole victim thing?
I live on Bathurst, you ass. But on the southerly end, the less uptight, less orthodox end, where people know the difference between gelded bulls and gilded balls. Get a life.

29 December 2012 at 04:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dash it all Pedant,

Avi Barzel is one of His Grace's most popular and erudite commentators, and I think acts as an informal Rabbi to the Jewish communicants who post here; a witty, intelligent gentleman, or as my nieces would say 'one cool dude'.

29 December 2012 at 17:35  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Avi,

Take no notice of the horrid fiend Pendant! You don't need to get a life as you clearly already have one... keep on trucking, painting and stuff!

29 December 2012 at 21:53  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Heh. Avi has a life alright. He is a connoisseur of Avant Garde Theatre. Why, he can't get enough of it. It's his life's passion. I bet right now he is sitting in his kitchen waiting for Godot.


29 December 2012 at 22:25  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


Chin up my friend and do not let people like Pedant get on your wick (so to speak). I have found your musings helpful and erudite.

29 December 2012 at 23:15  
Blogger Pedant said...

Lord L.,
What's a Jewish communicant?
What's and stuff?
In his kitsch waiting for whom? 
May I just say that on the whole the very first act of the apostles after the Ascension demonstrates quite clearly, to use a word favoured by Hannah, that there is development within the Church and consequently in the record of explication of truth to which the Church attests and to which Jews and Protestants no longer dare face for selfish reasons.

29 December 2012 at 23:16  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Pendant

Avi is a respected and intelligent Orthodox Jewish member of His Grace's blog or as everyone else says a 'communicant'.

I have to admit, his postings here were one of the influences that help me back towards the fold of Judaism.

As for me I am Gay, proud, loud and Orthodoxly Jewish!

Grrrrr to you......

29 December 2012 at 23:52  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


In his kitsch waiting for whom?

Godot. It's a rhinoceros thing. We wouldn't understand.

there is development within the Church [etc etc etc]

I am not sure I would agree with the content of the Book of Acts being described as 'development' but no matter. The problem with the RCC is that all its "development" is extra-Scriptural. And I am supposed to accept it just because. Last I saw, the Book of Acts was part of Scripture. Unam Sanctam, the Fourth Lateran Council, the Canons of Trent, the various ex Cathedra utterings of various Popes, and all the rest of the accumulated flotsam and jetsam of the RCC - they aren't.


30 December 2012 at 01:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah Pedant,

His Grace refers to his readers as his 'communicants'. There are Jewish people who write on this blog. Ergo "Jewish communicants".

30 December 2012 at 10:27  
Blogger Pedant said...

Of course it is extra scriptural. Scripture itself is just one expression of the Church's witness. The Scriptural canon derives her authority from the Church, not the other way around. We accept the Church and her teachings because we believe that Jesus Christ founded her and charged her with a sacramental mission. Hardly a "just because" reason, like the Protestant Scripture alone  "just because" we say so. Who are you again? Do you believe that if Justus, after the election of Matthias, had walked down the street and established his own Church in the name of Jesus Christ with teachings that opposed those of the Church that Peter and Matthias were leaders of, that  his Church would properly have claim to be the Church founded on Earth by Jesus Christ? 
The trouble with Protestantism is that it is plainly in the wrong and Protestants spend most of their energy avoiding facing up to this fact.

Lord L.,
Thank you.

30 December 2012 at 15:02  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Many thanks Kavanagh/Lavendon Clan, for your kind words. Miss Hannah, I had no idea my ramblings have influenced you in the slightest; I'm flattered and duly humbled and hope you'll take counsel from much better and far more learned Jews than this still-struggling ba'al teshuva.

O, Carl, you care! You remembered my dark night of the Waiting for Godot. My pitiful tale of suffering in the Hard Chair and the horrors of Involuntary Abstinence must have made a traumatizing impression on you. May you be spared this or similar tribulations.

Pedant, you silly fruit, I assumed you were a local. Cheered to know you're down there in the "southern end" of Bathurst Street with the grafitti, the skanks and tattoo parlours, rather than up here in our Upper Village, frightening the children and depressing our property values.

31 December 2012 at 01:20  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Mr B,

Don't worry old chap. Keep on posting, trucking, painting and rocking!

31 December 2012 at 20:37  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 January 2013 at 01:07  

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