Posted in history, war, tagged Benny Thomas, England, First World War, gas warfare, Germany, HH Asquith, international politics, Liberal, President Wilson on August 4, 2014|
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This day the Mother of all Wars was born. Britain declared war on Germany which wanted a war, not out of any solid reasons than spite. Sheer spite. This War was an unwanted baby that would show how wars in future shall be fought. Not for glory as in the times of Alexander of Macedon but for the sheer perverseness of peoples coalescing into the hands of a few. The Military Class in Germany and the Kaiser’s wilfulness closed ranks to make a war necessary. The English nobs that called the shots wanted to cut the Hohenzollern to size.
‘On July 24 1914 the British cabinet met to discuss the diplomatic situation in Europe, which had deteriorated rapidly since the assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, a month before. An Austrian invasion of Serbia now appeared imminent, threatening to spark a regional military crisis that might easily escalate into a general war between the Great Powers.
The sense of foreboding in London was captured in a letter sent by the prime minister, Herbert Asquith, to his confidante Venetia Stanley. The situation was “about as bad as it can possibly be”, he wrote, and Europe now stood on the brink of “a real Armageddon”. Nevertheless, Asquith felt able to reassure Stanley. “Happily there seems to be no reason why we should be anything more than spectators.”
Eleven days later, on August 4, Britain declared war on Germany.
In retrospect, Asquith’s words seem strangely complacent. At the time, however, his assumption that Britain might stand aside from the looming European conflagration reflected the hopes and beliefs of a majority of his political colleagues and supporters. This, after all, was a Liberal government which had won a landslide general election victory in 1906 under the slogan of: “Peace, Retrenchment and Reform” ‘.
By the same light we can see the sanctimonious approach to International politics by statesmen especially President Wilson who expressed the wish after the war was won that it was ‘a war to end all wars’.
(quoted from Mathew Johnson article /the Conversation/Aug.4,2014)
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Posted in illustrations, war, tagged caricature, Ferdinand Foch, German offensive, Joseph Joffre, Mxime Weygand, pen portraits, Plan XVII, portraits, the Battle of the Marne, Verdun, watercolor on May 27, 2014|
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Maréchal Ferdinand Foch’s (1851-1929) rise to fame is firmly embedded in the popular consciousness of France as a symbol of Gallic spirit and determination to resist the invader at any cost. It was as the commander of the Ninth Army during the first battle of the Marne he displayed decisiveness that would turn the tide of the battle. Only a week after taking command, with the whole French Army in full retreat, he was forced to fight a series of defensive actions to prevent a German breakthrough. During the advance at the marshes in St.-Gond he is said to have declared: “My center is yielding. My right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking.” These words were seen as a symbol both of Foch’s leadership which seems was, however lost on Maxime Weygand, his chief of staff .
Foch influenced General Joseph Joffre (chief of general staff, July 28, 1911 – Dec. 12,1916) when he drafted the French plan of campaign (Plan 17) in 1913.
Papa Joffre (as he was called) took charge as Chief of the French General Staff in 1911.
In this capacity Joffre was responsible for the development of the deeply flawed Plan XVII blueprint for the invasion of Germany, which did not take account of the likelihood of a German invasion of France through Belgium.
Responsible for the French war effort, Joffre’s remarkable qualities of magisterial calm and an absolute refusal to admit defeat proved vital during the early days of the war, particularly during the First Battle of the Marne, after which he was declared the saviour of France, although others since claimed credit for saving France at the Marne, including Gallieni.
After two and a half years as Chief of Staff, Joffre was effectively dismissed on 13 December 1916 following the initial success of the German offensive at Verdun and other failures. He was made Marshal of France on the same day.
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Posted in war, tagged abstraction, Benny Thomas, Cluster principle, collateral damage, economic sanctions, low tech vs hi-tech, Russia, technology, Ukraine on May 6, 2014|
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Some 70,000 Iraqis died as an indirect consequence of the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf and a Harvard University study determined that another 100,000 people, mostly children died in the following year.This high incidence of infant mortality was caused by economic blockade against Iraq.
When questioned about civilian casualties General Tommy Franks seems to have said, “We don’t do body counts.” When war goes hi-tech civilian death becomes an abstraction. In the evolution of war we see in Ancient Greece the concept of glory held certain personal ability, courage and character essential for challenging man in eyeball to eyeball confrontation. In this combat dying constituted glory for soldiers. No wonder we read of Alexander of Macedon hurling himself into the thick of battle to set an example for his men.
In the First World War heavy casualties of men in the trenches was so high both Germany and France shrank from such a strategy. Technology of co-ordinated attacks using armored tanks and infantry moving quickly with air power to pulverize anything that stood in the way. Blitzkreig showed technology very useful.
In our century technology of warfare is such it is more hi-tech versus low tech. It is same story of rifles against bow and arrows that determined in the Americas. Colonialism was ushered in with the help of technology. In these days war would mean imposition of a culture with claims to ‘liberal and democratic’ values over another less endowed culture and belief-systems. For this purpose human casualties are merely an abstraction.
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‘The war in Afghanistan is in danger of becoming a forgotten conflict because of events in Libya and across the Middle East, David Miliband has warned.
The former foreign secretary told the BBC more effort was needed to find a political solution before British and US troops are withdrawn in 2014’.(April,13-BBC news.uk)
How forgotten a war could be? I wanted to find out answer to this myself. So I unearthed the address of my schoolmates, the Ghazni brothers, who came in the eighties to do Engineering. They had scholarship and were in affluent circumstances. Their bulging wallet made all the boys root for them. Moe the Gregarious never lacked friends. Unlike Mohammed, his twin brother Ummer the Moaner just brought motherly instincts out of any girl. Ummer had his harem of weepers who comforted the fatherless boy while Moe threw money around despite a terrible tragedy.
Under occupation he lost many of his relatives. His father and his grandfather were lined up against a mud wall by the Soviet Army for retaliation. They were picked at random and shot. As sop to the outrage the Americans sent many helter-skelter on special grants to study. The twins were beneficiaries of that impersonal windfall. Moe celebrated life in honor of the dead. Ummer felt the loss of his dear ones with all the intensity his sensitive nature could bear. They both felt their loss last time I met them at the turnstile of our adult lives. Ten years ago they had moved over to their hometown in order to add their expertise for the village once again under seige. Five years ago Moe was killed by Taliban because he refused to be cowed down. He despite threats sent his daughter to College and for it he was executed with a bullet at close range. Ummer lost his family impersonally by a drone attack. They were on their way to attend a wedding. It was all a mistake, the news said so. I could get Ummer and asked if the Afghan War was a forgotten war. ‘How can I ever forget the death of my brother, my right hand? How can I forget loss of my wife. My heart is ripped apart?’ Later he said,’ I am part of a growing army of dead,-and the dead never changes opinions’.
For once he was dry eyed and said in the end,’The dead can only think of what made them dead’. No war can be forgotten by those who are in the line of fire. Thinking it over Ummer had run out of tears and it must yet rankle deep within.
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