Five Hundred Yards

One afternoon over the December holidays while my young son and daughter were visiting for a week in Kerrville, together with my Mom and sister, Ethan and I settled into the living room couch and one of the recliners to begin watching the 10-part series by HBO called Band of Brothers. My daughter Tori (Victoria) and Ethan had gone in together to buy this incredibly excellent production and historically precise production as my gift as it had already won several awards.

My kids and family had known I had always been a history buff, especially military history buff, and more so a WW2 buff since my boyhood. They had heard on numerous occasions — actually tolerated — how much I praised the astonishing historical detail that HBO’s Executive Directors with historical-military consultants, utilized Stephen Ambrose’s bestselling book of the same name which went into the making of the final cut of Band of Brothers. Ethan had been looking forward to watching it with me. He knew well how passionate I was about personal authentic history. At that time, he was a bit of a military fan too. Where he may have got his interest I couldn’t say. But I would be lying, wouldn’t I?

When Mom and sister saw what we were about to watch, they rolled their eyes, a bit put out and both essentially griped, Dwain, why are you such a huge fan of war films, documentaries, graphic violence, and showing it to Ethan!? Do you love violence and war? Later that evening when he and I were done with parts 1-3, I hoped I had answered their question and deep concerns for my son.

But I’ll share that at the end of this post.

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Seventy-five years ago this morning at 5:50am Caen, France time, June 6, 1944 the Allied invasion of Normandy began. To this day, it is the largest amphibious military force ever assembled in history. The Allied invasion force consisted of around 346,700+ souls, comprising of almost 7,000 naval vessels crammed into a tiny French Bay (Seine) off the coast of northern France—about 900 sq. miles of sea and only about 50-miles of flat beach. A flat, sandy beach 3-5 football-fields long at low-tide, from waste-deep water to land, when the first wave of troops landed; meaning nothing to hide behind to protect yourself except narrow, German-landing obstacles (many booby-trapped) until the first natural or German-made obstacles… 500-yards ahead of you.

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Omaha beach, Normandy, today — low-tide

Of the five different landing zones that morning at Normandy, Omaha beach was a slaughtering section on the first wave of the V Corp., 29th Infantry Division, 116th Regiment with Companies A-D, each with 230 men. Dog Green Sector where Company A of the 116th landed was the most horrific scene any human being could ever witness.

Much of the Allied’s intricate, precisely planned timing of Operation Overlord went wrong on many levels. For Company A (first wave) their section of the beach was nothing like they had been told or trained for back in England. With up to 60-75 lbs of gear, weapons, and ammunition to name only three, they had not trained for disembarking into waist-high or neck-high water with 200-yards in front of them until sand. Then the additional 200-300 yards on open beach and sand bars was supposed to have hundreds of bomb-craters from air force and naval bombardments to shelter for seconds or minutes to rally and organize before rushing forward to their objectives against a severely weakened or destroyed German defensive emplacements. None of this had happened when they lowered the landing-ramp of their LCI’s (Landing Craft Infantry) into 4-6 feet of water.

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What lay ahead for these 230 young men of A-Company was a superbly designed defense by one of Hitler’s most brilliant combat Generals, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. His objective was to inflict upon the Allied landing forces as many casualties as possible by slowing down landing craft and infantry getting to the beach, and then across 200-300 yards of flat sand before arriving at his first-line of gun emplacements, trenches, bunkers, and pillboxes. Rommel had 7-months preparation to build and reinforce this Atlantic Wall. He believed the only way to have a chance of repelling the invasion was to drastically slow the Allied forces at the beach making the losses so unacceptable for Eisenhower and Bradley the invasion would be unsustainable and abandoned. It almost worked. Against the 116th’s A-Company it did work, to appalling results.

Two of Germany’s most lethal weapons of WW2 and during D-Day were their 88-millimeter artillery guns and the MG-42 machine guns. All Allied combat soldiers and their commanders feared these weapons. In any engagement Allied units had to quickly disable or destroy them or they would wipe out entire platoons or more.

The earlier air force bombardments were suppose to pummel these German weapon units days/weeks before. The early morning naval bombardments were also suppose to pummel these targets. On D-Day the 116th Regiment and A-Company did not know they were still operational and waiting for them, particularly the combat experienced German 352nd Division defending Omaha Beach. Typically, each of this division’s 200 companies had a minimum of one or two MG-42’s per company, or about 250 deployed at Omaha Beach. This is a formidable slew of this weapon pointed at the incoming LCI’s landing-ramps when it opens and attempts to unload 36 men packed inside.

To get a proper feel for what the MG-42 (nicknamed Bone-saw by the Germans) could inflict on unsuspecting infantry, listen to this 1-min video. It is not graphic, just demonstrates by audio:

The MG-42 Bone-saw fired 900 – 1,500 rounds per minute. That is about two cartridges per second for 60-seconds when the barrel wasn’t overheated, fairly cooled, or just replaced. The 2-man crews usually had 4-5 barrels at their disposal to keep switching out.

500 Yards badge-breaker

Of the 230 men assigned to A-Company first wave of the 116th Regiment, 7 survived. These seven soldier’s narratives below, collected shortly after the day ended, tell firsthand what happened to 223 men in less than eight minutes. When the German squads located A-Company’s surviving commanders that had reached the shoreline, they had all their experienced snipers take them out with one, maybe two shots in a matter of 7-10 seconds per American officer. The 88-mm gun’s fragmenting shells ripping to separate pieces human body parts along with the MG-42’s mowed down the rest of A-Company.

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On this historic day 75-years later we remember, salute, and thank the veterans of D-Day still alive, but more importantly those who made the ultimate sacrifice to achieve victory. A victory that was enormously costly, particularly to the one Regiment that paid the most and one town, Bedford, Virginia of about 4,000 residents at the time, who lost 19 of their boys, more than any other town in America that day per capita, June 6th, 1944. Four more lost their lives during the remainder of the Normandy campaign. Director Stephen Spielberg was inspired by a book called The Bedford Boys which chronicled these 23 men’s sacrifice and it resulted in his multi-award winning 1998 film Saving Private Ryan. As most movie-goers know, the opening scene of the D-Day landings have been confirmed by most survivors of that day as ‘precise as any screen-portrayal ever made about Omaha Beach, June 6th, 1944.’ Some could never watch the movie again.

As the Allied forces proceeded inward through western Europe and toward Germany and Hitler’s Nazi Third Reich the next 11-months, started by the victory in Normandy, we’d eventually learn the horrid truth about their concentration camps. So now I have reached the point in my story where I answered my Mom, sister, or anyone who asks or questions me: Why are you such a huge fan of war films, documentaries, graphic violence, and showing it to Ethan!? Do you love violence and war?

500 Yards badge-breaker

I tell them if that ever makes me an advocate of war, a warmonger rattling his sabers or shooting off his personal arsenal of weapons on weekends, then please… you have my permission to shoot me.

No, on the contrary it is precisely BECAUSE it is so horrific, so insane, so life-damaging, and the worst of humanity’s behaviors—witnessed by combat soldiers returning home with PTSD, Holocaust survivors scarred for life by what they lived through—that I am stubbornly anti-war! I remind myself and any others I can by watching, reading, and understanding profoundly what really goes on at the front lines. And hence, I emotionally remember the harsh reality of what slaughtering looks and sounds like in order NOT to use war rashly and foolishly like many of our politicians or aggressively hyper-patriotic citizens—with no combat experience themselves—seem too ready to fight and too frequently oblivious of its cost! Its real and long-term human costs. Therefore, do everything humanly and diplomatically possible to avoid war before sending our men and women to exact it and pay with their lives.

As one of the scenes and parts in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers impart, after they had liberated one of the many concentration camps, it’s why we fought. Let us never forget how precious life is before a violent conflict breaks out. It is never the same after… for any of the soldiers and their families.

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57 thoughts on “Five Hundred Yards

  1. Sorry, Monsieur, Generally don’t do the War Stuff. Disturbs my Karma.

    On Thu, Jun 6, 2019 at 10:17 AM Dwain the Professor’s Convatorium wrote:

    > Professor Taboo posted: “One afternoon over the December holidays while my > young son and daughter were visiting for a week in Kerrville, together with > my Mom and my sister, Ethan and I settled into the living room couch and > one of the recliners to begin watching the 10-part serie” >

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Really an emotional day, and for me the crux of all those dead and traumatized, maimed and medical/experimental butchery on our brothers and sisters was over beliefs. I’m more and more convinced that fervent, gullible belief gives humanity the ability to be horrible. The system is designed to divide people who we love. Followers of dogmas betray their own senses and decency. There have been some terrible leaders in history, but the bigger problem is humans so defined by herds that they follow them in frenzy. Imagine if they had won their ideal world?

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    • The world and certainly Europe would most definitely be quite different today had the Axis forces won. Fortunately, Nazi Germany had one of the most moronic supreme commanders in all of military history: Adolf Hitler.

      Imagine too what could’ve been had Field Marshall Erwin Rommel been in control of all German fighting forces. Furthermore, imagine if Rommel would have had just 50% – 60% more of war material production and supplies he was always demanding from German High Command when fighting the Allies! North Africa proved his cunning and tactical genius while always fighting at a significant disadvantage. 😮

      Yes, I am glad idiot Hitler was in charge.

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      • I had a huge interest in high school. I took three solid years of WWII history elective with a twist. My teacher, Mr Rommel, was German born (nonrelation) but had some interesting insights on the fervor of the führer. I think he got into history to try to make sense of how his people could be so frenzied into doing so much against their conscious. We see it today with factions fired up over rhetoric. To know the truth, turn off the news and go out and visit with your neighbors —but they have to do it too.

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        • Agreed. Simply to add to your points Jim, a quote from one of America’s greatest modern Generals (IMO) and one of my most admired military and political leaders we’ve been lucky to have…

          Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.
          — Four-star General Colin Powell

          A sure sign of an utterly shitty, childish Leader or Commander-in-Chief is one who is completely unable to control his emotions and rage then leashes out in Twitter warfare onto his own people. (face-palm) Shameful and embarrassing is this “leader” in title only. 😒

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  3. In passing, I thought I’d mention that I think there is a very personal correlation between religion and war in that the more you learn about the subject, the less likely you are to think it’s a good idea, a net gain, a solution to solving real world problems.

    That being said, and returning to the point of the OP, what is often lost in translation is that one best avoids war by being prepared for it. I know this sounds weird but it’s true. And this is where we run into the social problem about how to achieve this preparedness.

    Counter-intuitively, by reducing the ability to wage war effectively and conclusively, we increase its likelihood. I also know a lot of people don’t believe this and presume by getting rid of the tools of war we get rid of the possibility. This is exactly backwards. Quakers couldn’t be Quakers today if our previous generations didn’t make a principled stand against the rise of threatening totalitarianism. If only this generation were so principled.

    By deeper learning about the effects of war (or the effects of large scale imposition of any one religion), one can then be better motivated how to avoid its need. So the real question raised is how to accomplish this.

    The best way to avoid war is to learn all about it, to understand why we need to prepare for it, why we need to be equipped to wage it, why we need people to be trained to carry it out, why we need the means to be willing and able to cause mass casualties and mass destruction quickly and effectively and brutally enough so that this option has a foregone conclusive result if used. And this means we need to teach the social understanding necessary to support “a well armed militia” to quote the Constitution, to “defend against enemies foreign and domestic.” And we have to be willing to demonstrate exactly this when called upon, when we collectively face the next iteration of totalitarianism.

    This raises the issue that the vital element to achieving peace requires the important battle to be fought before the option becomes attractive. This is where such learning reveals the true costs of failing to be cognizant the rise of totalitarianism, failing to be willing to challenge it early, failing to be prepared, failing to act before the option becomes attractive.

    Strong militaries reduce the potential, the size, and the duration of armed conflict. These are the facts. Although we are bombarded with armed conflict stories through media on a daily basis, this presentation distorts the reality. What we find has happened over the past 500 years generally and since WWII specifically is that wars are smaller, they are more local, and they occur less frequently because we know now what happens when the major powers unleash their militaries on a larger scale: everyone loses. It’s just a question to what extent. But the guarantee that this loss will be the result has to be legitimate enough, well known enough, demonstrated from time to time in order to act as an assurance that the option will produce these results. That guarantee is what produces more peace because the option is so unattractive to all parties considering it. As soon as there is a large enough imbalance in military power, however, one party will see war as non zero sum game where gains and goals can be achieved by its use. This is exactly how proxy wars are handled and reveals why alliances with great powers are a necessary tool to use, to seek out, to uphold, to enforce in order to reduce the regional use of some proxy conflict. And this all starts with learning history and learning from its lessons

    Just to make this comment even longer, Band of Brothers set in the Pacific theater I think opens the eyes of people who have presumed the use of nuclear weapons by the US against Japan was immoral and unethical. Bullshit. I dare anyone who understands how horrendous this war was in this theater of operations to argue that it would have been only right and proper for the US and its Pacific allies to suffer certainly hundreds of thousands of additional casualties forcing Japan into an unconditional surrender by the eventual invasion of its home islands rather than choose to unleash the horror of the nuclear age with two bombs that in fact and deed not only put an end to this bloodbath but demonstrated the willingness of a secular democracy to use this tool. It’s never been used since because it hasn’t needed to be used. But its use has to be more than hypothetical. So I dare anyone to put themselves in the place of Truman who had this terrible decision to make and think it much better, much more moral and ethical to have him explain to hundreds of thousands of US citizens why their sons had to be sacrificed to achieve a necessary end to the war rather than have Japanese civilians make that sacrifice in equivalent numbers to achieve the same goal.

    Perhaps we should rewrite Pope’s point, to understand that ‘To war is human.’ What we then do with this fact and how we respond to it is the important part. Watching such a series cannot help but better inform the response.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In passing, I thought I’d mention that I think there is a very personal correlation between religion and war in that the more you learn about the subject, the less likely you are to think it’s a good idea, a net gain, a solution to solving real world problems.

      Thank you Tildeb for that. I am one to demand the hard facts of a volatile situation like precursors to war. There’s no point in risking thousands of lives based on sketchy unknown possibilities/probabilities of an adversary, particularly if your country’s people and civil leaders demand nothing less than total victory. A few of our military commanders in history who did not achieve that status buckled under some ferocious bitterness at home from parents and families who lost their sons, brothers, or fathers that they committed suicide.

      I agree with you 100% Tildeb about avoid war by deterring it. Do not let a bully believe he can bully everyone without proportionate consequences. Humbling a megalomaniac that way works for peace.

      Your well-considered comments are fantastic. I find that I am in agreement with your points 98% of the time. Personally, I so do enjoy the effort and time you put in commenting here. Thank you. They are always provocative and stimulate quality discussion. As a former teacher, you are an Educator’s dream student Tildeb. 😉

      Later I will reply to your 2nd comment after I read it thoroughly, discern and digest it all before responding. It (they) deserves nothing less from me. ❤

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        • If I’m understanding your one-word question Ark, or cryptic one-word clever riddle with multiple implications, 😉 I am assuming you are challenging the theoretical position of deterrence to affect stability/peace versus our involvement in Vietnam (1950 – 1975), particularly 1960 – 75 with military force? Those events there during the Cold War do not align with what Tildeb and I are discussing. It doesn’t add up or reflect this philosophy, ESPECIALLY when a historian includes the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 arguably making the same mistake again given Iraq’s condition now in 2019! Is that right?

          Or is it something else you are asking/riddling? 😄

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        • ”If I’m understanding your one-word question ….”

          Pretty much, yes.,

          And while I concur with the ethical /moral expediency reasons for dropping the H Bomb/s it might also be prudent to examine the reason or motivation for WWII in the first place?

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        • Abso-FREAKING-lutely Ark!!!! You nail it!

          Sadly, too many Americans over 2-decades have not seen the value in such an exhaustive, extensive examination of the past precursors to armed conflicts. Other ‘more important’ priorities this very second demand our full attention. I mean, COME ON ARK!!! We must go see the 30-50 new releases of Marvel/DC Comic films in theaters just to keep up with those 30-50 released last year and the year before those! When we are not doing that we MUST keep up with what is happening on our 8-10 social apps on our phones!

          You see, way too many other more important priorities Ark than to examine 1930’s – 1940’s Europe. 🙄 (face-palm)

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        • One last arrow to shoot into the mix…

          As human byproducts of hyper-consumerism and wealth accumulation Ark, over the last two generations, we just don’t have the time or desire to avoid repeating history by recognizing the first symptoms of social cancer. We MUST keep up with the Joneses, if you’re familiar with that idiom.

          Alright, I’m done. Maybe. 😛

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        • We are building the world of tomorrow today… by both our actions and inaction. I see nearly half of Americans under the age of 30 see China as a ‘partner’ rather than as an adversary and I wonder, how on earth could this ever come to be when the fundamental principles of each country’s social and legal systems are diametrically opposed and are guaranteed to be in conflict… eventually an armed conflict when push comes to shove?

          So, the question I think worth asking, is whether one wishes to negotiate with and have deep trade relationships with strong nation states that are A) aligned by similar social and legal values or B) opposite based on a totalitarian model? Which do you think builds a better world? This should be a far more serious question than most of pay any heed to.

          This notion that the Evil Empire that is the United States can’t wait to play with its military toys and so will go out of its way to create the right situation to employ them is contrary to reality. The US responds militarily only a small fraction of the time and usually with very great restraint. In fact, when a local dispute erupts into violence, one of the very first calls usually made is for the combatants to seek help and aid from the United States. In fact, the United States is usually seen by civilians from around the world as the most trustworthy police force of all the major powers. It is the United States that has historically funded the UN and NATO far, far beyond its portion, that demonstrates more care and concern for civilian populations than any other. But none of this matters to those who wish to believe in the Evil Empire.

          Perhaps the right maxim to draw for the US is that, “No good deed goes unpunished,” or, “The road to hell…” or “familiarity breeds contempt.” These are far more apt when applied to how people think of the US than this notion that the US is a chronic source of exported violence for violence’s sake. And few things enhance adversaries who believe with good reason that democracies are inherently weak and whose power and influence can be displaced than fostering a growing civilian sense that the real enemy of the people is this government of the people, by the people, for the people. And that takes some rather remarkable rationalizations and anti-historical mental gymnastics to justify by those who benefit most from its military protection.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Perhaps you are right …. After all, many of those same bastions that would eventually become democracies conquered much of the known the world at one time, annihilated indigenous populations, stole the land, plundered the natural resources, stuck a flag in the dirt and said ”Mine!”

          Yeah, there are numerous mental gymnastics and colonialism and all is encompasses and the legacies it leaves is one area that needs to be taken into careful consideration when espousing high and mighty virtuous claims.

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        • Since when was Vietnam a major power? It was another regional proxy war.

          In the same way the Korea conflict became a stalemate for until spheres of influence were established, so too was Vietnam treated as a divided country with two governments. In both cases, the northern part was considered a suzerain nation to China and the southern supported by the US. Note that after reunification, Vietnam was invaded by China (presumably for its expansion into Cambodia without Chinese permission by making a hundred mile incursion along the shared border and sitting there for months until the point of what being a suzerain nation meant was driven home. Vietnam withdrew its forces from Cambodia and the Chinese forces returned home.

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        • South Africa had its own regional war.

          Now we have Namibia.

          As war is generally seen as an extension of failed negotiations and when the smoke has cleared negotiations will reconvene I am struggling to see what point you are trying to make.

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        • War – in the OP’s context of understanding the importance of D-Day – is best deterred by being prepared for it and not by disarmament. Vietnam does not refute this point.

          The idea that the US historically exports war in order to feed the appetite of the military-industrial complex with Vietnam as an example is also bogus when one understands the global diplomacy for a great power like the US to get involved in it.

          There was an internationally understood suzerain line separating spheres of influence between the Great Powers across that when tested by military incursions by one proxy would bring about a military response through the other proxy. In other words, the same reasons for US involvement in Korea also were used to argue for intervention in Vietnam, which is why Kennedy first sent US troops into South Vietnam. This is now and has been SOP since… forever as far as I can tell.

          But closer to the OP’s point about understanding the importance of D-Day and your point that we need to better understand the reasons that brought about the conditions for a global war, the historical fact is that the US has long tried and failed to stray out of war that involved other major powers. The fact is that the US didn’t enter WWI at its opening but ‘waited’ until 1917 has reasons, that the US didn’t enter WWII at its opening but ‘waited’ until 1941 has reasons. And these reasons demonstrate the historical fact that the US military industrial complex is itself a response to global pressures and not a root cause for involvement in war.

          Lest we forget depends on understanding the lessons of how to avoid war that history offers us and is not a call for disarmament.

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        • Lest we forget depends on understanding the lessons of how to avoid war that history offers us and is not a call for disarmament.

          And yet we as a species seem engulfed by conflict, so one could quite easily argue that we do tend to forget.
          Syria?
          The becomes much like the gun debate.
          At some point such issues need to be reevaluated or we refuse to look and accept that we will always be one incident away from another conflict, small medium or large.

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        • If, “by such issues” you mean someone wants what someone else has and is willing to try to take it, then how we address this human urge on a scale of war does need to be re-evaluated in light of thwarting the desire. Demonstrating an unwillingness and/or inability to defend one’s self when faced with this motivation by someone willing and able to act on it has never proven to be a successful one deterring the ensuing conflict. What does work – and always has worked – is making sure that acting on this urge costs more and loses more than not.

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        • If I said vehicle safety improvements historically reduces automobile deaths, then it is not a counter-argument to point to large multi-vehicle crashes where death tolls are high in spite of safety improvements. Nor is it reasonable to then argue that the key to traffic safety is to eliminate traffic.

          This is the analogous issue of reducing the chances of engaging in war by being prepared to wage war successfully (building in the best available safety features), by training and equipping experts to cause mass death and destruction. Because conflict is inevitable between people (like engaging in transportation), the urge to turn to such violence as if it solved problems has to be countered… not by eliminating one’s willingness or ability to engage in conflict (which in fact promotes the risk) but by building in as many safety features as possible, by making the option as unattractive and costly as possible.

          The historical fact is that the number of years the great powers engage each other in conflict has declined to about 1% of what is was 500 years ago. The historical fact is that the number of battle deaths per 100000 people since the end of WWII is about an 80% drop. The historical fact of the matter is that the number of civil wars in the past 30 years has dropped from 14 to 4. 11 of those have a radical Islamist groups on one side. 2 of those conflicts are fueled by counter-Enlightenment ideology (namely, Russia). Most of the recent uptick in battle deaths come from the Syrian civil war. And compared to casualties from older wars, this tragedy in Syria is merely an uptick, as is Oman.

          The historical fact of the matter is that if you want to make the world a safer more peaceful place, supporting secular democracies and the militaries that ensure their survival over and above any other ideology – be it religious or political totalitarianism no matter how ‘woke’ it may appear to unfettered nationalism, is the cost. Additionally, casting the US as if it were a comparable war monger and danger to the peace and prosperity of the future world as the other great powers today, casting aside the fundamental Enlightenment values – as if equivalently ideological upon which secular democracies have been erected – erected only by the blood and sacrifice of previous generations as if comparable to any other ideology active in the world today, is historical revisionism at its worst. This is why I say we should not go along with the dangerously false narrative that we serve people best by vilifying more than any other government of the people, by the people, for the people.To do so detracts directly from the sacrifice made by previous generations and is what is meant by the warning Lest We Forget. Those who follow this false narrative have done exactly that: they have forgotten.

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        • Firstly, I was not casting aspersions on the US specifically, and while you talk a good game, as the saying goes, having vast arsenals has not solved the issue of war, and you seem stuck on this aspect of the topic.

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        • Perhaps I misread the great power references you used regarding only the US (and the European ‘colonialism’ reference in its most negative light while ignoring any of its profoundly positive effects) and nary a peep about China or Russia or Iran… countries that endorse ideologies incompatible with Western secular democracy. This demonstrates to me a rather selective bias that neither compares/contrasts fairly or accurately makes references in a larger historical context nor addresses the incredible drop over the 500 year time frame the OP uses of war even though the weapons are progressively far more powerful. The world benefits today from what began on the beaches of Normandy. We think of this time we live in now that is in historical fact one of the most peaceful and prosperous times in which to live anywhere in the world – even though personal rights and freedoms are under sustained attack in their homeland here in the West – and yet think of today as one of the worst. I think it’s worth mentioning how the historical record is being rewritten to reflect a reality that isn’t true but fits a very particular ideology that is contrary when enacted to the fundamental enlightenment values upon which we cavalierly take for granted without ever having to go to war to protect. We are so spoiled here in the West having never had to fight for these rights and freedoms that we have forgotten what it takes to achieve them and now we’re letting them slip through our fingers one ‘woken’ policy at a time. We are not holding the torch we have been entrusted to hold high but dousing it bit by bit in case the fumes might bother anyone.

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        • We are not holding the torch we have been entrusted to hold high but dousing it bit by bit in case the fumes might bother anyone.

          Once again …. while not trying to ”rubbish” or denigrate in any way what every soldier did during these horrendous times and the numbers of soldiers who have unnecessarily died in all the other wars since), but you are the one ignoring the reason/s for WWII in the first place.
          And the subsequent arms race that ensued.
          You are the one ignoring the fact that Arms manufacture is one of the largest money makers .

          And you simply refuse to address the core issues.
          So excuse me if I don’t bow my head in shame for sounding ”spoiled”.

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        • I have a musical tribute of one of my all-time favorite Future-Synth-Pop Industrial bands that is perhaps appropriate to to this discussion you and Tildeb are having. 🙂 I’ll post it after Tildeb’s comment reply below.

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        • Well Ark, now we/Dallas are out of power until tommow afternoon or June 11th about 1am. A severe thunderstorm with hail & 60-80mph wind gusts have left over 300,000 people (in my area) without electrical power.

          Nevertheless, I see your excellent Black Sabbath and raise you with this 😉….

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        • Like the Korean Peninsula, Vietnam was a place of uncertainty about which Great Power held influence. The first point is that such diplomatic uncertainty is a major reason for regional wars to be waged. The second point is that an absence of commitment to wage war is also a major contributor to this uncertainty but on a larger scale.

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    • ”what is often lost in translation is that one best avoids war by being prepared for it”. Depends on who’s in charge. I read Schwarzkopf “It doesn’t take a hero” (excellent book BTW) We has so much arms and nothing to do. Investors and such, you know the drill. Bush asked Norman “if there were a potential threat to the USA in the Middle East, who would it be? He responded Iraq. Bush told him to form a battle plan. I’m sure this type of preparedness is necessary, but there’s a better way than pulling the trigger

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      • And George W. had no combat experience in his past and yet was SO trigger-happy to invade someone, especially if there was a perceived threat, even erroneous perceived threat (WMD’s)… it didn’t seem to matter to him and his war cabinet, excluding Powell of course.

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    • Very true. The Romans understood this well — Si vis pacem, para bellum, “if you want peace, prepare for war”. Arguably France and Britain could have aborted the European war if they had reacted more forcefully to Hitler early on — say, at the re-militarization of the Rhineland — when his military power was still inferior to theirs. And in a world where predatory gangster-states like China and Russia exist, weakness is potentially fatal.

      It’s because of this factor that I consider the H-bomb one of mankind’s great humanitarian inventions. By making wars between superpowers unwinnable (since the outcome would be mutual total extermination), it made such wars impossible. Without the H-bomb, superpower rivalries would probably have led to World War III, IV, and maybe V by now, each bloodier than the last. With it, mutual deterrence has kept the peace between the most powerful states.

      …..people who have presumed the use of nuclear weapons by the US against Japan was immoral and unethical. Bullshit.

      Back when I lived in California, I had a relationship with a Chinese woman for five years. I once asked her what she thought of the idea that the US use of the atom bombs on Japan in 1945 had been immoral. She said she thought that was the most insane thing she had ever heard, and told me I could search the whole of China and not find a single person who thought Truman was wrong to use the bombs. In addition to the issue of the horrendous casualties an invasion would have cost our military (Okinawa had just given our leaders a sense of what fighting through Tokyo against fanatical Japanese soldiers with the Emperor’s palace at their backs would have been like), the Japanese were still occupying much of East Asia, an occupation marked by horrific atrocities. If the bombs had not been used and the war had lasted a month or two longer, how many more Chinese and Korean civilians would the Japanese have butchered in that month or two?

      Liked by 1 person

      • And Infidel, you and Tildeb give accurate assessments of the Japanese soldier and their Generals and Admirals, and their infamous Samurai code: defeat and alive is never an option. How do you stop an enemy that won’t stop until you and YOUR people are annihilated? And how many modern cultures, nations, and religions (cults?) could we list today that are not much different than Imperial Japan of the 30’s and 40’s?

        Their treatment of the Chinese and Koreans, and then of course of Allied POW’s… left no doubt what Truman HAD to do to stop the continued mass genocides and massacres in The Pacific theater. It is why I own both of Spielberg’s HBO series as well as their source books.

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        • Do you think such a series would/could ever be made in today’s politically correct public forum and find an appreciative audience?

          I don’t.

          I think there is a very strong push – especially in Education but throughout the public forum and media – to both sanitize our history into a black and white false narrative as well as recast its role to be one that promotes an ideologically popular narrative of the West’s culpability and guilt and blame for the world’s woes. This acceptance of the GroupThink narrative by so many people in positions of historical gate-keeping defeats the very purpose and value of understanding history. I think it is vitally important to capture history and respect/understand it (in context) in order to find and use its lessons for the enlightenment of future generations.

          This is the gift history brings humanity – a teachable moment, so to speak, captured and paid forward. And we’re throwing this away in the kumba ya world of the woken.

          This notion of trying to understand history using primary source material that can be incredibly disturbing and brutal and violent (rather than this all too common tactic of turning away from the source material under the rationalization of judging it to be ‘inappropriate’, which is quickly justified with this weird “As a gate keeper I’m in a position of being judge and jury and I find this material too disturbing to be of any value because I’m in a moral position to make that call on your behalf). I think the very means to gain access to historical context and information itself is under sustained social attack as ‘inappropriate’… from the Academy to government and all venues of media. The justifications I hear from those who are best situated to pass this material along but who choose not to are accurately defined as a kind of self-appointed moral gatekeeper – but in the name of TruthSpeak, meaning in the name of promoting tolerance and respect and peace, of course. Where’s the trust that the next generation can handle the truth, can learn to appreciate the situational complexity and context that frames the actions undertaken by those who influence watershed history in the making? These self-appointed gate keepers are actually teaching people how not to be able to do this but seem oblivious to the fact that they themselves substitute an ideological narrative divorced from reality. Is it any wonder that our entertainment media can’t seem to move past magic and superpowers and supernatural story lines? That’s what the public audience seems to prefer, say the rationalizers. Golly gee whiz, when reality itself is rejected as inappropriate, as immoral, I wonder why?

          History is being replaced with a kind of social propaganda for an ideologically-driven narrative, one that casts real life, real history, real understanding, as a tool of the oppressor, of the victor, and classifies anyone who seeks to understand real life, real history, magically becomes by such a definition an oppressor themselves – you know, someone who wants public access and distribution of primary historical source material – and quickly finds one’s self to be defined and then disregarded as alt-right, as intolerant, bigoted, racist, and discriminatory… just for having the effrontery of confronting these Gatekeepers. This is the history I see unfolding before us today throughout the West and it is a vital confrontation, I think… not so much for us as for future generations. How do I know this?

          Orwell had something rather perceptive to say about going along with this tactic of respecting the Gatekeepers’ TruthSpeak, a necessary step he wrote to achieving the Big Brother totalitarian ideal… an ideal I shouldn’t have to point out that is diametrically opposed to the very values our predecessors went ashore on D-Day risking life and limb to try to protect and defend from those who would reject these values in the name of some other Totalitarian TruthSpeak. But perhaps one needs a better understanding of history to see this unfolding before us.

          If nothing else, irony is not a strong suit of today’s woken. It’s AWOL. Where’s Elroy when we need him?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Do you think such a series would/could ever be made in today’s politically correct public forum and find an appreciative audience?

          An excellent question Tildeb.

          As I watched several media interviews yesterday at many memorials across those five landing sectors with still living Normandy veterans regarding what took place on those beaches 75-years ago on PERSONAL levels, one question that was frequently asked of those survivors and young students also visiting was how can nations avoid this level of mass slaughter? The answers from those few living veterans of D-Day and those of the young students were quite remarkable and telling in many ways.

          Without elaborating in extensive detail what those answers showed, explicitly and implicitly, was that as more time takes away those survivors of WW2 and D-Day, what personal stories that haven’t been shared/documented along with the HUMAN IMPACT of those intense stories will be lost (forever?) in the ocean of absence. Unless present and future generations take very seriously (life or death?) the enormity of NOT REPEATING HISTORY, specifically wars, atrocities and useless waste, finding methods of education/awareness that go well beyond broad political precursors, diluted, generic stats or generalized impersonal battle tactics/strategies… then future generations (my son!) won’t find value in these critical lessons of history! When history doesn’t knock their hats off or bring a teardrop or two, that is when and why detestable history and human behavior repeats itself.

          One particular high school student interviewed said that his visit there to Normandy, D-Day, hearing and speaking with the survivors, and then being utterly shocked and overwhelmed by the endless white-marble crosses/Stars of David stretch far into the distance moved him so deeply he lost his breath. He almost couldn’t breathe. He admitted that you cannot learn this invaluable lesson strictly from classroom textbooks and standardized tests. Gratitude just oozed out of that boy.

          This is why productions like Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, The Pacific, etc, are SO VITAL as compliments to as many other impactful, immersing methodologies for students and our young adults as is possible.

          My answer to you Tildeb: not enough. Not to a level that stops or demolishes the nagging flywheel of human cannibalism since the beginning of our species. 😦

          Of course, as I see it your further elaborations of your disappointment and justified concerns of youth not adequately and deeply learning history so to not repeat its inhumanity is a foreboding alert. Deemphasizing the immense value of history/social studies in our primary and secondary curriculums as well as amputating it into as you say “black or white” to appease a blood-staining ideology is a guaranteed path off the same cliff every two, three generations.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. D-Day for Canadians means Juno Beach, one of the five landing zones. Unlike the Americans and, to a lesser extent the British, this operation was done properly (having learned the same lessons from the disastrous Dieppe raid in 1942 that the Americans would later learn on the Omaha landing). The Juno operation is the one beach that allowed for the breakout to occur, the one that achieved every major objective on the first three days, the one that first flanked and then threatened the remaining Atlantic wall resistance to encirclement and destruction. The Germans had to retreat and allow the Western Front to develop and then force them to divide their forces from the Russians in the East. This success is why the Canadians were then charged to clear out the Scheldt so that the British capture of Antwerp could be used as the central port of entry. Once again, the Americans and Brits tried and failed (Operation Market Garden) to accomplish this task, so the Canadians did it their way (which is one reason why the Engineering Corp is a central pillar of the Canadian Armed Forces, the development of amphibious heavy equipment, and expertise of flanking amphibious assaults relied upon from the Italian to the Rhineland campaigns) and succeeded.

    Canada – to most people’s surprised including, I am sad to say, most Canadians – has been forged from war – foreign and domestic. The success from France’s Vimy Ridge that broke the back of the Germans in WWI to Juno Beach that was beginning of the end of Nazi Germany in WWII is the outward success of a population that has had to learn that unity of purpose outweighs division of differences. The lessons and the steep cost from war is why Canada today is one the world’s oldest, most peaceful, diverse, and tolerant secular societies but one that takes war very seriously because war is local (sailors, soldiers, and airmen are our neighbours and friends and family) and so it is done well.

    But in spite of the cenotaphs we forget.

    Oh, we don’t forget war kills and maims and destroys. We forget how to choose otherwise. Doesn’t everyone have shooting ranges in the basements of Secondary Schools, Colleges, and Universities like historical Canada? Learning how to handle and operate firearms used to be a part of the public education curriculum (and was the main reason why the US veterans of the civil war grew concerned over regularly losing marksmanship contests with Canadian teams and so started a little organization called the National Rifle Association). Well, we’re getting rid of all these, too… in the name of peace, of course. And that’s what we’re forgetting: peace carries a steep price in being prepared. So we think we’re doing our part to promote peace by refusing to be prepared for war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tildeb, this was a good and justified addition of Canadian forces/veterans that played an equal or better part in the ultimate victory of the campaign. There is no replacement for experienced veterans — in this case Dieppe — to teach, train, and lead green recruits or replacements, no doubt! And as I often remind my fellow American friends or family, I am an Earthling first, family man second, and reserved patriot (as opposed to fanatical nationalist) way down the totem-pole. I’ve seen, lived, and experienced way too much of the world and its endless, beautiful diversity to be otherwise. I am quite fond of Canadians in general. 😉

      If you’ve ever seen and read Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s documentary and book, The Untold History of the United States it makes quite clear that the Soviet Union is essentially the one nation that paid FAR MORE in human life while bleeding out Nazi Germany through attrition and overwhelming mass production to be the most significant player in all of WW2. I found both did scholarly history justice. All things considered, there’s really no debate how HUGE the USSR’s role was, but sadly how many Americans learn this side of history here in “the greatest country in the world that won two world wars“… as self-proclaimed by us broad-minded, modest (humble?) Yanks. 😒

      Another excellent comment Tildeb. Many thanks.

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      • I can’t help but feel the Soviets were rather deserving of invasion after what they did to Poland and Finland and Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia (did you know a hyphenated Canadian was elected to the Presidency of Latvia as its 6th President a few years back? (Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga)). But I also understand the enemy of my enemy is my friend and so the USSR was an ‘ally’ we knew full well would be the primary adversary of Western secular values in Europe following WWII. Stalin killed more Russians in ‘peacetime’ than the Germans did in war, let us not forget.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Absolutely correct. Had Nazi High Command not been forced by their idiotic delusional Führer to open up a second front in the East just 8-months after giving up on invading Britain on their first front — this is just sheer lunacy of Germany’s war-machine capacity! — essentially pinning Germany between so many foes (in all directions?)… he signed their death warrant with the unwinnable Operation Barbarossa.

          …the USSR was an ‘ally’ we knew full well would be the primary adversary of Western secular values in Europe following WWII. Stalin killed more Russians in ‘peacetime’ than the Germans did in war, let us not forget.

          Spot on Tildeb. 🙂

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        • Oh! Sorry, meant to also say — before I was interrupted by family phone calls — that at least through the 17th to 20th centuries of armed conflicts between nation-states and their (elite) leaders/monarchies, etc, propaganda, particularly inflated propaganda of the likes of Jefferson Davis – Confederate States, George Custer’s widow with Teddy Roosevelt, Joseph Goebbels-Heinrich Himmler, and most recently Richard Nixon (re: Vietnam) and John Poindexter-Oliver North. All of whom demonstrate just how distorting one-sided propaganda will become if not kept in check by FULL FREEDOM of the press and speech. If left unchecked, what soon follows are police states ala Stalin’s USSR, Hitler’s Third Reich, Kim Jong-un’s North Korea, and others.

          A handful of U.S. Presidential administrations also have close resemblances to those three mentioned. A sure-fire red flag of a police state’s first rhetoric and signs is the leadership aggressively attacks independent news-casting and investigative journalism critiquing or opposing it.

          Amazingly, at least to me, far too many Americans can’t decipher what is propaganda and what is plausible or factual reporting of events. The latter cannot be obtained with only one source of recon-intelligence.

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  5. Professor, I’ve reached a stage in my life where I can no longer stomach to watch movies of war and violence (with the exception of our Marvel superheroes and other sci-fi war movies!) As a Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks fan, I went to see Saving Private Ryan. It’s not the kind of movie that I could watch again: The opening scene will forever be etched in my memory. After all, it’s what makes Spielberg so great.

    Like you, I’m anti-war. However, after reading your post, I will put my reservations aside and watch the HBO Series, Band of Brothers. Hopefully, it’s still available for viewing on HBO.

    Liked by 3 people

    • My my Rosaliene. I applaud your courage! There is nothing inherently wrong with being deeply moved, pushed to tears, and becoming MORE HUMAN! I wish more people would have the courage (as you do) to face those uncomfortable, gnawing under the skin reactions that can go to the bone and gut. I truly commend you! ❤

      Band of Brothers is definitely available; just Google it and you'll get a list of providers offering that outstanding series as well as the 2010 sequel to it The Pacific. As Tildeb mentioned above regarding The Pacific, it too holds nothing back to show the naive back home how utterly costly — on so many levels — it is to wage war and should never be taken lightly and foolishly! The experiences we assign our serving military personnel to enter WILL FOREVER CHANGE THEM and their families, should they come home alive, maimed, or dead. The healing for these soldiers and families have always been double or triple the time served and length of the conflict’s start-to-end. Think about that! Think about it long and hard before reacting to precursors!

      I won't sugar-coat it Rosaliene, both Spielberg series are gripping and punches in the gut. When I've watched them in the past, I must have a box of tissues handy. And the personal interviews they have with the men who were there are JUST as gripping and/or crippling… in my opinion. Again, I applaud you Ma'am. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Humanity – the best and worst of it – lives brilliantly and dies all too soon in war. But these are the stories, I think, that matter the most.

      For example, those who question the value and right of immigrants to the country should read, hear, or see the story of the 442 RTC (Regimental Combat Team) so that they can inform their opinions with facts. And the facts speak far more loudly, powerfully, and eloquently than anything any politician could ever say. I know a couple of movies have been made about them and if these movies were true to real life they would be far too bloody to release to a general audience. After all, this is the most highly decorated unit in the US armed services, and we as civilians should honour them, their sacrifices, by at least knowing their story.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “it is precisely BECAUSE it is so horrific, so insane, so life-damaging, and the worst of humanity’s behaviors—witnessed by combat soldiers returning home with PTSD, Holocaust survivors scarred for life by what they lived through—that I am stubbornly anti-war!” – Well said sir! There is a documentary series called ‘The World at War which I first watched in my teens and have seen again since and it most graphically shows exactly what went on and goes on during war. Much of it is heart-wrenching, all of it informative and vitally important for every generation to be aware of. They should show it schools, I truly believe it would make a difference to oncoming generations, for the song remains the same again and again,and as time passes the words ‘Lest We Forget’ have become more important than ever.

    – Esme Cloud x

    Liked by 5 people

    • Ah yes, ‘Lest We Forget.’ Three words that COULD avoid future wars, but all too often are forgotten and/or brushed over as weakness by the arrogant oblivious to war’s long, LONG costs of healing those scarred by it for decades and lifetimes to come. 😦

      As one WW1 veteran father said to his exuberant son enlisting immediately for WW2 with his buddies… ‘You have no idea what you are going into son. I promise you, you will never ever be the same again if you return home alive.’

      Liked by 4 people

  7. I find it ironic and hypocritical that the fascist Trump went to Normandy to “honor” the brave soldiers who fought and died to defeat fascism. Had Donald Trump been alive in the 30s and 40s, it’s likely he would’ve supported Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco just as he supports Putin, little Kim, and other dictators today.

    Liked by 3 people

    • All valid and true points Robert. But remember my wise friend, (severe sarcasm coming) tRump told the American public after the high school slaughter in Parkland, FL, had he been there at Stoneman Douglas H.S. with a pistol he would’ve bravely strolled right in and taken on that well-armed killer. 🤥

      Have you ever in your life heard such audacious bullshit… from a President who has never been in a combat situation!? It’s remarkable how easily and blatantly he lies, lies, and lies more to cover lies.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Not only has he never been in a combat situation, he used his wealth and privilege to avoid going into a combat situation (i.e. the Vietnam War). Trump is a coward in addition to being a blowhard, a fraud, a pathological liar, a racist, and psychologically unfit to be president.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Thought I’d pop back for a second read, and in light of what has been happening over Iran I wonder how this might influence/change some of the sentiments expressed on this post?

    I am also minded of the American Civil war where, apparently more Americans died than in any other conflict.
    Again, how does the way-to-achieve-peace-by-preparing-for-war philosophy expressed on this post make any sense in light of that particular war?

    Just a couple of thoughts …

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    • I am not up-to-date on the latest events with Iran so I’ll need to go catch-up.

      That said, I can comment this way. With the American Civil War, President Lincoln and the Union/North did not go looking for (provoking) a war or finding methods to directly agitate and incite Southern secession. Sadly the same CANNOT be said about two modern American Presidents, their cabinets, and their political ideologies: George W. Bush and Donald tRump.

      George W. had no proof or justification to invade and begin the Second Iraqi War. Many Middle Eastern political and military analysts strongly advised Bush’s Administration NOT to invade Iraq. Wiping out Saddam Hussein’s ability to keep waging war on Iran — granted an inhumane method of regional stabilization avoiding a world conflict — would in the long-term just empower Iran to fill the void, destabilizing the Middle East. Invading Iraq without a U.N. mandate or wide coalition of nations, including Muslim nations, was strongly opposed by most of the world. Did Bush and his warmongering cabinet listen? Of course not. And exactly what those experts predicted would happen in the region HAS HAPPENED — Iran now has more power to wield!

      Since our unsuccessful engagements in Iraq to bring peace and stability in the entire region, I have always favored (even well before Bush Jr. was Governor of Texas) Europe’s general posture of patient diplomacy, restraint from armed conflict, and the majority backing of U.N. nations. Have moderate excitable U.S. Republican Presidents heeded this wisdom? HAH! That’s a rhetorical question btw.

      Now we have a President who goes LOOKING for trouble just to stir the pot for megalomaniac points with his party-base, or popularity points with them, AND who disrespects the U.N. nations and mandates AND arrogantly flips his nose at the stabilizing 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement that was working! To me this doesn’t sound like the same contextual factors surrounding the start of our American Civil War and President Lincoln.

      Those are my initial thoughts Ark. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ark,

      Not to get too far off on a tangent here, but I’ve done a bit more research on current affairs/news between Iran & USA because earlier tonight I caught a PBS newscast “Amanpour & Company” regarding Iran’s involvement with Venezuela and their relationship since 2001. Ironically, this Iran/Venezuela connection involves indirectly to some degree the state of Israel. HAH! I found that utterly bizarre and suspicious!

      Intriguing how over the last dozen years these four specific nations and their political-economic ideologies diverge as well as clash, even more so since 2012 and our Republican-initiated bill Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act AND since 2015 when tRump flipped-off and abandoned the/broke-treaty of JCPOA with Iran, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States, plus Germany.

      And here is what I find terribly ironic.

      As is already known, Iran and oil-rich Venezuela essentially joined each other on the world stage as opposing “U.S. imperialism,” a subject and long established Pan-American history centered on the USA that I just finished posting about in my 5-part series Black Underground, Inc.

      Isn’t it hauntingly eery how history keeps repeating itself when world-powers don’t humbly learn from it? 🤔😩😖

      Like

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