Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘War’ Category

ARE WE AT WAR WITH IRAN YET?

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British_supply_convoy_in_Iran,_headed_by_Soviet_BA-10_armored_vehicle

OK, taking a break from my vacation to write two posts. First, about the Iran/Trump kerfuffle, because it is a scary situation that might blow up into an actual shooting war. Second, more on Russiagate, due to popular demand. (I never should have started that Facebook group.) Plus I like writing, I had fun with the new cat species post.

So, Iran. the US has been playing brinkmanship with Iran ever since they overthrew the US sponsored dictatorship that ruled Iran with an iron fist for decades. The nerve, if a nation’s government is good enough for the US, why, it’s good enough for the nation’s citizens! Yes, I’m being facetious. In any event, I will discuss several features of the current situation, primarily the drone shoot down, and Trump’s supposedly cancelled attack. I don’t know how long this article will remain current as the situation is rapidly evolving. Another reason for a quick break from my vacation. In any event the biggest codicil to keep in mind is no one in either administration can be trusted to tell the truth at times like this, so us worms can speculate endlessly and still not know what’s going on. Still, it’s fun to speculate. It’s what worms do.

So, Iran shot down a US drone. That’s about all we know for sure. Was it an unexpected shoot down? I’ve heard this type of drone was designed not to be shot down by the type of missile that hit it. Does this means the Iranians are more capable than expected? Or did the US point the drone at Iran, turn off its electronic countermeasures, and wait for them to shoot it down? Who knows. It wasn’t just any drone either, it was a $100 million plus spy drone, which would argue the drone shoot down was not part of US plans. The only thing that can be safely said is that this isn’t something to get excited about, let alone go to war over. Alas, I have seen a number of “Bomb the Mullahs!” posts and comments on Trump supporter web sites.

Then Trump’s claim that he authorised an attack and then called it off at the last moment. I can’t think of anything good about this one. If true, it’s sort of good news, but it’s also crazy. What if some military assets didn’t get the stand down order? Or maybe the Trump administration was just trying to scare Iran? Maybe, but it’s not like Iran is unaware of imminent US threats, and it’s not like the US has exercised restraint when it comes to bombing people.

Which leads to, why is Trump doing this? The idea that Iran is being aggressive or is behind the tanker incidents literally doesn’t pass the laugh test. Trump claims there will be new sanctions “to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.” Newsflash, Iran gave up their nuclear bomb program long ago, and their peaceful nuclear program is heavily monitored by the international community. That’s what the freaking treaty with Iran did, the treaty that Trump pulled out of!  So dunno, maybe Trump’s usual mindless hostility towards any Muslims not in America’s pocket. It’s the Saudis waging war on their neighbours and destabilizing the region, not Iran. Maybe Trump just wants to drive the price of oil up.

Or possibly this is all cover and distraction for “The deal of the century” in Palestine. That would be where Israel effectively annexes the West Bank, bypassing the Palestinian Authority, by signing a “treaty” with some Palestinian businessmen. In other words, Israel will buy off a few prominent Palestnians to legitimize the final elimination of any possibility for independence and justice for the Palestinian people. Occupation forever. Shades of American treaties with the American Indians. A big enough crisis in the Middle East could give Israel all the cover it needs.

The scary thing about all this is that no one knows how a war with Iran would play out. In the infamous Millenium Challenge 2002 wargame run by the Pentagon, Iran launched a preemptive attack, sinking over a dozen US warships with at least 20,000 dead. At that point the Pentagon halted the wargame, and then rewrote the rules so the US was guaranteed to win the rematch. Not the first time in history that a military leader has cancelled results he didn’t like in a wargame. In the wargame just linked, the Japanese proceeded with their plan despite the wargame outcome, and went on to suffer a crushing war-changing defeat at the Battle of Midway. Could Iran win a war with the USA? Not bloody likely. Could a US attack on Iran go catastrophically bad and lead to major losses to the US? Sure. I certainly don’t want to see the Russian theory that 70 cruise missiles fired at a US carrier would sink it put to the test.

So, the situation continues to unfold. The US is now claiming they launched a cyber attack on Iranian weapons systems. Which would be an act of war of course, but the US has no qualms about waging war and claiming it was justified somehow. In this case it’s especially ludicrous since none of the accusations of Iranian “aggression” are particularly well founded. Our aggression, we brag about it but call it anything but aggression. In any event who the hell knows what is really going on, “The first casualty of war is truth.” Trump is playing with fire though, I can only hope it ends with a whimper, not a bang.

Mostly just another manufactured crisis to distract us while our pockets are picked. It saddens me how over the past few years we’ve been trained to think of the world as being primarily made of threats. It’s not a healthy outlook, but it sure sells weapons. One last link that seems to have a decent overview of the situation. And, you know, should nuclear war breaks out, this is what to do.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: British supply convoy with Soviet escorts in Iran, part of the 1941 Anglo-Russian occupation of Iran. September 1941 The west has been invading and meddling in Iran for a century, this is just one of the more egregious instances. Credit: Unknown. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

June 25, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Posted in current events, Iran, Trump, War

THE GULF OF TONKIN INCIDENT

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TonkingunboatsThe Gulf of Tonkin Incident, 2 August 1964. I thought I’d write about it because it is one of the formative incidents that led to our current national situation. Or more accurately, the incident led to Congress passing the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which basically gave the US government a blank check to go to war without congressional approval. Presidents Johnson and Nixon used the resolution to wage the Vietnam War against three nations.

Getting ahead of myself though. The incident in question, the destroyer USS Maddox was cruising up the coast of North Vietnam hugging the 12 mile limit, sometimes crossing it. This is where we have the first problem. This was not a routine cruise, this was a spying cruise and a deliberate act of provocation. Especially since it was not unusual for these cruises to be followed by South Vietnamese gunboat raids on the North Vietnamese coast. In other words, the USS Maddox was not peacefully minding its own business in international waters.

On the day in question, three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats set out to confront the Maddox. (Image above.) We have no idea what their intentions were, but they were the ones defending their territorial waters. The Maddox fled, the patrol boats pursued, the Maddox opened fire. Ostensibly to fire “warning shots,” but there’s no such thing as warning shots under international law. The motor torpedo boats started firing in response, though at the time the Johnson administration neglected to mention the warning shots, and simply claimed the North Vietnamese had fired first. The patrol boats did launch torpedos, but none hit their target. The Maddox was hit by one 14mm machine gun bullet. Navy planes arrived, and the patrol boats were destroyed or driven off.

Two days later, the Maddox and another destroyer, the USS Turner Joy, started another “patrol.” During the night they were apparently attacked again. The attack consisted of both ships making sporadic radar contact with unknown bogies, opening fire on them, and making evasive maneuvers for four hours. Some visual contacts were claimed, and the ships claimed two torpedo boats were sunk. No wreckage was found, and even at the time there was a strong suspicion that no attack had occurred, it was just jumpy sailors shooting at ghosts. And since then all evidence has confirmed no actual second attack took place.

Didn’t stop Johnson. He promptly interrupted US television to give a speech claiming the US had been attacked in international waters. And asking Congress for authority to defend the US against Ho Chi Minh and his communist aggression. The speech was a masterpiece of omission and deception, and sadly the American mainstream media wildly exaggerated the attacks. Many politicians were already calling for war, and the incident gave them and Johnson all the excuse they needed to pass The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This gave the president the authority to wage war without Congress actually declaring war as the constitution stipulates.

And the Vietnam War was off. Ultimately hundreds of thousands of US troops deployed, three countries in ruins, worst chemical weapons atrocity in history, and more bombs dropped than were dropped by all of the participants in all of World War Two. Plus the US played an instrumental role in dragging Cambodia into the war, leading to the rise of Pol Pot and the eventual Killing Fields genocide, one of the worst in history. And nearly 60,000 dead Americans and as many as a million or more dead Vietnamese. All to prop up a wildly corrupt and unpopular rump state in South Vietnam for a few decades before the reunification of Vietnam in 1975.

Three points I think are good takeaways from this. The first is that even if the attacks had been unsullied North Vietnamese attacks on innocent Americans, this was not Pearl Harbor or anything like it. It was a border incident or border clash at worst, not some all out North Vietnamese attack on the US. And our response to it was disproportionate at best. One kid shoves another on the playground doesn’t give the hit kid justification to start bashing the first kid in the head with a rock.

The second more grotesque point is that the US portrayed itself as the victim and the defender in the whole mess, and indeed the whole war was characterised as defence against global communism. Even at the time people pointed out that this was nonsense. All the Vietnamese wanted after World War Two was independence, the fact that the independence fighters in Vietnam were “communist” was not part of some global plot. In fact after World War Two the Vietnamese were shocked that the US sided with French efforts to recolonise Vietnam instead of supporting their desire for independence.

Which brings us to the third point. Vietnam is another great example of how America has betrayed its founding principles, and instead uses them as window dressing for what is simply colonialism and imperialism in any real sense of the words. America is all about self determination and democracy, so long as the country in question chooses our chosen government.  I’d say more, but still don’t really know how to explain to people that the US is not really a force for freedom in the world. Maybe a list of all the times America has thwarted the will of the people of foreign lands? Future post I guess.

Yes, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was roundly criticised and pushback mounted until it was repealed in 1973 and replaced with the War Powers Resolution. Which basically just said the president can wage any war they want, as long as they send Congress a memo or two. It still is basically giving up Congress’s Constitutional mandate to decide with who the US goes to war with.

On the plus side, Senator Wayne Morse did his best to raise awareness of the deceptions the Johnson Administration was using to rush the Tonkin Gulf Resolution through Congress. There’s always a few people standing up for what is right. Came across a wonderful story along those lines the other day. Next post.

Comments, suggestions, shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The three motor torpedo boats in the first incident. Credit: Official U.S. Navy photo NH 95611 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage. Some of the people in this image did not live out the day.)

Written by unitedcats

May 29, 2019 at 7:24 am

Posted in History, Propaganda, Vietnam, War

“IT WAS SOMETHING HE HAD TO DO.”

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Wrisberg, John

Another Memorial Day. Today is the day America remembers its war dead. The holiday more or less started during the Civil War, though exactly how and where isn’t settled. And may never be,  historians are still arguing about it. Doesn’t matter though, it’s an official holiday now, and unofficial start of summer. Picnic, beer, family, and friends.

And memories. There’s a fair number of war dead in Clear Lake. The Civil War, the World Wars, they have their graves and monuments. Lots of flags in the Clear Lake cemetery today. And aside from the cemetery, there is a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Flagpole just a few blocks from where I am living. Only one Clear Lake boy died in Vietnam, he is remembered on the Flagpole. John H Wrisberg III. I only say boy because he died before he was 21, just to emphasize the tragedy of a man dying so young.

I was just a kid during most of the Vietnam War. Certainly in 1968 when Mr Wrisberg fell. Most of the people who remember him were also children at the time. The Vietnam War was over half a century ago, like the wars before, it is rapidly fading into history and out of memory. Some remember John still though. Turns out he lived just a few houses away from where I live now. These posts are always hard to write, but discovering that floored me. As I sit here typing I look out on the neighborhood he grew up in.

I did solicit my fellow Clear Lakers for memories. I shared them below. One fellow remembers as a little kid getting piggyback rides from John as a kid. Another remembers getting in the way of John and a friend playing pool, so John placed her sitting on a shelf that was five feet from the ground. Others remember him and his family. His younger brother died a few years later in a motorcycle accident. His father was an Air Force pilot, died in a crash in 1960. A lot of tragedy for one family.

John was a real person. With hopes and dreams and and fears and plans. A good person whose life was cut short in a war on the other side of the planet. “It was something he had to do.” I honor his sacrifice, I am glad his memory lives on in those who knew him. As long our departed live on in our memories, they are still with us.

This is a shorter post than usual. I said what I had to say. God bless all who died in the service of our nation. God grant peace to their their surviving friends and loved ones. God give us the wisdom to value peace more than war. When I was a young man peace was considered a laudable national goal. I miss that.

Have a good Memorial Day everyone.

“He was my next door neighbor, he lived at 200 N Shore Dr, I was just a little one back then still remember him giving me piggy back rides, and the sad part….first time I ever went to a funeral home and seem someone in a casket, I still remember that vision, so sad … “

— Todd V Humberg

“John was a year ahead of me in high school, remember him well. I look up his name on the wall in DC when I visit . RIP” 

— Ed Kotz

“His little brother, Mike, who I remember from Clear Lake High School, died three years after John in a motorcycle accident. His father, also named John, was a captain in the Air Force who died in 1960 in a plane crash during a routine mission as a test pilot. Lots of tragedy struck this family.”

— Peggy Ward Kerr

“Rest in Peace, sir.”

— Linda Reid

“I lived across the street. I was good friends with Mike and remember the shock. So sad.”

— Terri Masteller

“He was my oldest brother’s best friend. I was probably 5 y.o. and they were shooting pool in our basement. Apparently I was in the way, he picked me up and sat me on a shelf that was 5ft off the floor.”

— Sheila Sherman

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image copyright unknown. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

May 27, 2019 at 7:20 am

Posted in History, Peace, War, World

78 YEARS AGO TODAY, THE BATTLE OF THE DENMARK STRAIT

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hood

24 May 1941. Big event today in history, so I will write about it instead of ranting about nonsense in the news. On this day in 1941 was The Battle of the Denmark Strait. This was the only daytime engagement between battleships during World War Two. Shows just how important and deadly air power had become even early in the war. And how modern war is global, this took place between Greenland and Iceland, about as remote as it gets.

So, the battle. This was in the first year of World War Two in Europe. Germany had already conquered Poland, Denmark, and Norway. And the German blitzkrieg was rapidly advancing through France and the low countries. In the North Atlantic the British were having a hard time of it, German submarines were sinking British ships left and right. And Britain had already lost two aircraft carriers. The Courageous, the first British warship sunk during World War Two, was sunk by a U-boat in the first few weeks of the war. After being torpedoed twice, she capsized and sank in 20 minutes, with the loss of over 500 crewmen and her captain. The Germans were elated and the crew of the U-boat were all decorated. And the British stopped using their fleet aircraft carriers in anti-submarine duties.

The second aircraft carrier loss was even uglier, the HMS Glorious was sunk in the North Sea by the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Wait, how did two German battlecruisers get close enough to an aircraft carrier to sink it? Where was the rest of the mighty British fleet? Good question. Short version, the captain of the Glorious was unbelievably incompetent, sailing in the North Sea with only two destroyers as escorts, he had no scout planes launched, no planes ready to launch, and no one even on watch in the carrier’s crow’s nest! So when the two German battlecruisers appeared on the horizon, the Glorious was essentially helpless. She and her two escorts were quickly sunk with the loss of over 1500 lives, for unknown reasons they didn’t get an SOS out. So the British didn’t even know the Glorious had been sunk until it was announced on German radio news!

So as above, this early in the war the Germans were still risking surface warships in an attempt to destroy British shipping. And in our battle the German battleship Bismarck along with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen were trying to sneak into the North Atlantic, where they could have devastated British convoys. The Swedes spotted them though, and the British intercepted Swedish communications, so they knew they were coming. A pair of British cruisers spotted them trying to slip past Iceland. The cruisers shadowed them, and in the morning a British fleet consisting of two battleships and six destroyers intercepted them. The two battleships were the Hood and the Prince of Wales. Vs the German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen.

The historically astute reader already knows how this ends. A little bit of background. The Prinz Eugen and the Bismarck were both modern warships built in the 1930s. The prince of Wales was also brand new, so new that construction crews were still aboard her during the battle. Then there was the Hood. The pride of the British fleet, and for much of her career the largest battleship in the world. The Hood however had been built during World War One. And as such was primarily armored  against shells fired directly towards it. What the Hood was not armored against was plunging fire, as such wasn’t yet a thing in World War One. This is long range fire that goes very high and then plunges downward hitting its target on the deck. The Hood only had very minor armor on her deck, just enough to stop shrapnel and shell splinters. There were plans to upgrade her deck armor, but she was rushed into service in the desperate early part of the war.

The plan was when the British spotted the Germans, they would head straight towards them until they were close enough that plunging fire wouldn’t be an issue. It meant they could only use their forward guns initially, but once they got close enough they would turn and be able to use their forward and aft guns. It wasn’t the best of plans, but the British had to work with what they had. And it almost worked. They had closed to about half a mile and were beginning their turn when a salvo from the Bismarck’s 15 inch guns bracketed the Hood. One of them must of hit dead center, because a huge column of explosive flame like a blowtorch shot up from the Hood. Moments later there was a huge explosion that basically destroyed the ship. It broke in half and sank in minutes, there were exactly 3 survivors.

At this, the captain of the Prince of Wales decided that cowardice was the better part of discretion, and he turned and fled. Some criticized his decision, but it was likely the right move. The Prince of Wales had already been hit twice by 15 inch shells from the Bismarck, but as luck would have it neither had detonated. So the Prince of Wales lived to fight another day. In fact lived for less than a year, and went on to be the second battleship to be sunk in the open sea by enemy aircraft. The Repulse being first, sunk less than an hour earlier by the waves of Japanese bombers that sank both ships.

The loss of the Hood was a huge blow to the British. And they wasted no time mustering every available ship and plane to hunt down the Bismarck. The Bismarck didn’t get to bask in glory long, three days later the British exacted their revenge and sank the Bismarck. The Prinz Eugen however made it to Brest in occupied France. Then in 1942, in the infamous Channel Dash, the Prinz Eugen and two German battleships fled occupied France through the English Channel right in front of the British and made it to safe waters in the Baltic Sea. Where the Prinz Eugen served until the end of the war, and was one of only two German heavy warships to survive the war. She was turned over to the Americans, who ingloriously used her as a target in atomic bomb tests in the Pacific.

78 years ago today. God rest the souls of those who died that day. The only other lesson here is that it’s been a long time since westerners had to cope with death tolls like this during wars. With over 5,000 crew on some modern ships, another good reason not to get into wars lightly. Video of the Bismarck firing can be seen here, one of those flashes killed over 1,500 British sailors. Ain’t technology grand? Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The last known picture of the Hood before she blew up, taken from the Prince of Wales. Credit: IWM, which I am guessing means Imperial War Museum. It was from Wikipedia, so is being used legally.)

Written by unitedcats

May 24, 2019 at 7:53 am

Posted in History, War, World War Two

SABRE RATTLING

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MersadScene during the Iran/Iraq War. Photographer unknown, public domain image.

I was writing a lovely post involving tanks and Hitler, can’t go wrong with that combination, but realized there is a topic in the news I have been sidestepping around. Two intertwined topics really. This would be Venezuela and Iran. intertwined in that in both cases the sabre rattling coming out of Washington and the Pentagon is reaching unhealthy proportions. Several small species have already been driven to extinction by it. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but with headlines like “US Warns Iran Might Attack Commercial Ships as US Military Buildup Continues” and “Guaido ‘Open’ to Accepting a US Offer to Invade Venezuela” there is room for concern.

Sigh. I sigh a lot lately. Beats rage. Well, so much for Trump backing down on our overstretched imperial ambitions. At least he’s consistent, he’s broken all his populist promises and then some. So here we are threatening two countries that essentially pose zero threat to the USA. I’d say it makes no sense, but alas it makes perfect sense.

Let’s break this down. First, there is the Washington version. These countries are undemocratic dictatorships, being ruined by their respective governments. Socialist on one hand, Muslim theocracy on the other. Their people yearn for democracy, and to boot, Iran is a big regional threat and cause of regional instability! In both cases US military action may be required. In Venezuela to restore democracy, and in Iran to prevent them from attacking US allies and interests in the region. Yes, we’re the good guys defending the world against evil.

Sigh. (see?) Pernicious nonsense. The reality is both far more nuanced, and not nearly as flattering to Washington. Basically Washington’s function is to defend the petrodollar as the world’s reserve currency, and American business interests. Fossil fuels and weapons sales being the number one and two. It doesn’t mean there isn’t some concern for democracy, human rights, and defending America in some Washington quarters either. And I’m not advocating Illuminati conspiracies or 9/11 truther nonsense, just pointing out that the function of national governments is to protect the wealth and property of the rich. Has always been the case, likely always will. Washington is no different, shining light on hill nonsense to the contrary.

How do I convince people of that when I can’t sway flat earthers or anti-vaxxers? Just to name two widely held beliefs despite mountains of evidence and logic showing them to be, well, in error. Reminds me of when a University did a study, they wanted to study people who believed stuff that just wasn’t so. And as one of their study cohorts they chose people who believed they had been abducted by aliens. To their amazement, a lot of people got very upset at this, because alien abductions were very real!

So, I won’t. Not my job to change people’s minds. Not directly at least. All I can do is present info and let the discerning reader decide. In Venezuela, we have a country that broke from the US orbit, and did quite well with their “socialist” policies for a decade or longer. Then a collapse of world oil prices, corruption, and mismanagement destroyed their economy. Encouraged subtly and not so subtly by the US. And now the US is backing an opposition leader, wildly exaggerating his legitimacy, and threatening to install him by force. The US has also been encouraging a military coup, because that’s a tried and true method of getting rid of inconvenient governments with a thin veneer of legitimacy. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I will point out that “humanitarian interventions” have like a ten percent “success” rate, so this path we are on likely leads nowhere good.

In Iran in many ways it’s worse. Iran is a major regional power with 80 million people. And a country the US has a shameful history with. In 1953 the USA had the democratically elected government of Iran overthrown and installed the Shah, who ruled as a brutal dictator until the Iranian revolution in 1979. And then from 1980 to 1988 the west blatantly supported Saddam’s invasion of Iran. Let’s see, decades of US supported dictatorship, followed by a US sponsored war that killed hundreds of thousands. Just maybe they might have some ill feelings towards America in Iran? In any event since about two minutes after the Iranian revolution the US and Israel have blamed Iran for every problem in the Middle East, plus claimed Iran is “about to get” nuclear weapons.

Then of course the US sanctions against Iran, effectively an act of war. American has surrounded Iran with military bases, endlessly threatened Iran, and done their best to scuttle the nuclear deal that was painfully worked out between Iran and the west. Frankly the Iranians have been remarkably patient despite these endless provocations. I’m not exactly even sure what the goal of all Trump’s sabre rattling is. The chances the Iranian people will rise up, depose their government, and install a US friendly one is about as likely as Charlie Manson being elected president of the US. And the chances the US could do the same via invasion are even slimmer.

So I guess the whole point is to justify the US military presence in the Middle East while giving Israel a free hand. I find it hard to believe that in either country the US is seriously contemplating war. Hopefully it’s all just sabre rattling. Sabre rattling sometimes leads to wars. Wars are a bad thing. That’s the point of the illustration, wars destroy things and kill people. Point of the post really. Calling for peace and restraint, not war.

Have a good week everyone!

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All Rights  Reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

May 13, 2019 at 8:09 am

Posted in current events, Iran, War, World

Jet Powered Boy Scouts Save Nazi Germany!

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Heinkel,_He_162Image credit and copyright: SDASM Archives, Public Domain under US copyright law.

By summer 1944 Hitler’s Nazi Germany was in trouble. Big trouble. The Western Allies had landed in France, the Russians were rolling inexorably towards Berlin, and thousands of Allied bombers ranged over Germany day and night. Something radical needed to be done to turn the tide back in Germany’s favor, but what? The Luftwaffe had some ideas, and the Emergency Fighter Program was one of them. The idea was to build a lightweight, cheap, easily manufactured and easy to fly jet fighter. A fighter that could be mass produced and flown by hastily trained teenagers.

A number of designs were considered, but the Luftwaffe quickly settled on the Heinkel 162, above. A beautiful streamlined plane that as a jet fighter easily outperformed the best Allied prop fighters of its day.* It went from design to first flight in under 90 days, a remarkable achievement. And its performance if anything was more than promised, Göring and Hitler were ecstatic and the HE-162 Salamander was rushed into mass production in late 1944.

In December the HE-162 was used at the Battle of the Bulge, catching the Allies completely by surprise. With air superiority achieved the German offensive achieved all its objectives and more, crippling the Allied drive on Germany. By early 1944 the skies above Germany had been swept clear of Allied bombers, and in conjunction with the w AR-234, the world’s first jet bomber, the Russians had been stopped in their tracks. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, pretty sure my more astute readers realize the above paragraph stretches the truth a bit. OK, completely breaks it. No swarms of HE-162s flew over The Battle of the Bulge or anywhere. In fact only a handful of them ever saw action in the waning weeks of the war. It was such a great idea, what happened?

First of all, it was a crazy idea, not a great idea. By mid 1944 the war was over for all practical purposes. The Germans came up with all sorts of crazy ideas as the war’s end approached, all of which were unrealistic at best. Only about 300 HE-162s had been built by the war’s end, hardly enough to alter the outcome of the war. What really sealed its fate was its flying capabilities. The plan had been for a simple plane that a teenager could fly with minimal training. In actuality the HE-162 while an amazing plane, was also a very tricky to fly plane, requiring a highly trained pilot to safely operate. By late 1944 those were in very short supply in Germany, and no secret plan could magically change that.

Alternate history is fun though, this is not the first time I have written same. It is of course as reliable as predicting the future, IE it’s pretty much pure speculation. Still, fun to think about, and it encourages research and analysis. There were all sorts of Nazi superweapons in the pipeline as the war went into its last year, all of which were a day late and a dollar short, none came close to altering the outcome of the war. Even if Hitler had gotten the atomic bomb, it wouldn’t have changed the end result, by the end of 1943, arguably 1942, the war was over, Allied victory was inevitable.

Really? Is there no way Hitler could have won World War Two? Assuming free will is possible, sure, why not? If he hadn’t cancelled Germany’s advanced weapons programs in the early war, jet aircraft and guided missiles might have kept the blitzkrieg going until victory. Or if Hitler hadn’t botched the invasion of Russia, it was a bad idea poorly executed. Those are the big two “What ifs?” that might have led to a Hitlerian victory in World War Two.

And I’d be typing this in German now. Snort. No. Honestly, even if Hitler had defeated Russia and conquered Europe, I don’t think he had a chance of conquering the United States, let alone the world. In fact, I suspect that even if Hitler achieved his goal, rule of Europe, it would have fallen apart quickly after his death, if not before. By mid war large parts of Nazi occupied Europe were already in open insurgency, and the problem would just have grown worse. Hitler’s Nazis were wildly unpopular occupiers, and even among Germans Hitler had a growing body of enemies. We’d certainly live in a different world today, but not that different.

My point being, alternate history is fun, but if someone tries to use it as a debate tactic, it’s simply an ordinary false argument. That’s because someone can make up whatever alternate history they want to support their argument. “If the western powers had attacked Hitler in the 1930s, the war and holocaust would have been prevented.” Maybe. Or maybe launching a wildly unpopular war would have strengthened Hitler’s hand and resulted in an even worse war. No one has a crystal ball.

Coming up Friday, I dunno. Something will catch my interest, or maybe the long awaited global warming post.

*I worked with a fellow who flew bombers over Germany. They had no advance warning about German jets. One day they were flying along, and suddenly there were “tracers everywhere” and a German plane flew by going so much faster than the bomber my friend wanted to walk out on the wing and see why the engines had stopped.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

May 8, 2019 at 7:13 am

“Will the Last American Leaving Saigon Please Turn Off the Light at the End of the Tunnel”

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Frequent Wind

A history post, the first week of May, 1975. Saigon actually fell to the North Vietnamese on 30 April, the Americans having evacuated about 7,000 people by helicopter in Operation Frequent Wind. Image above from same. It was pretty traumatic for a lot of Americans, though not comparable to the decades of trauma Vietnam suffered. So, what happened that week:

May 1st, 1975, a Thursday. Not much happened today. Nothing important ever happens on Thursday. One of the great mysteries of history.

May 2nd. The last South Vietnamese soldiers surrendered at the Battle of Long Xuyên. Google failed me, was unable to find out anything about this purported battle.

May 3rd. USS Nimitz commissioned, the first supercarrier. The first of ten. And with these billion dollar bad boys at their disposal, the US never lost a war again.

May 4th. Moe Howard dies. The last surviving member of The Three Stooges. His brother had died a few months previously. Their story is really interesting, another topic for a blog post someday. Cambodia, recently taken over by the Khmer Rouge, invaded Phú Quốc island, disputed territory with Vietnam. It was the first of a series of provocations which would eventually lead to Vietnam invading Cambodia and overthrowing the Khmer Rouge regime. The Khmer Rouge were kinda crazy, they seized a US ship, the Mayaguez, later in this month.

May 5th. Another quiet day. I think all sorts of sportsball records were broken this week, millions of baseballs thrown, something like that. Doug’s Darkworld is not the place for such.

May 6th. The first Moon Tree planted. One of the Apollo astronauts brought a package of tree seeds to the moon in 1971, though they only orbited the moon, they didn’t land on it. Then they were planted all over the USA, and in a few foreign countries. I’ve seen the ones planted in Tilden Park above Berkeley. I thought they were cool, but to some I’m sure they just look like regular trees. Philistines.

May 7th. President Ford announced the end of the Vietnam War officially as far as veterans benefits and such. It was essentially the first time in more than two decades where the US wasn’t involved in Vietnam. The US fully supported the artificial state of South Vietnam that was created in 1955 after the French defeat in the First Vietnamese War. And the US was neck deep in supporting the French during the first war, even offering them the use of nuclear weapons during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. So basically the American “experience” in Vietnam lasted from 1945 until 1975.

So yes, odds and ends happened that week, the major events in Vietnam transpired the previous week. And Americans are arguing about the US war in Vietnam still. If some people refusing to accept we lost the war or blaming the loss on hippies and the media can be called arguing. When nations lose wars, myths explaining away the loss become popular. And a case can be made that Americans are particularly prone to refusing to accept defeat gracefully. I guess it’s human nature, but still, it’s getting old. If we had learned anything from Vietnam, we wouldn’t have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan etc.

It’s not really a debate because the people believing in same are no different than anti-vaxxers for the most part, they can’t even admit the possibility they might be wrong. Argued with one who trotted out a fake quote by General Giap, the architect of France and America’s defeat in Vietnam. The fake quote had Giap saying “Just one more bombing raid and we would have surrendered.” Yes, after enduring more bombs than were dropped by all of the participants in all of World War Two, one more raid would have done the trick. Insert rolled eyes.

In any event, America’s Vietnam war was an ill considered war against a determined enemy who had numerous advantages. And despite massive application of US troops and firepower, we were never really close to achieving our goal. Which was to establish South Vietnam as an independent American ally in the region. The corrupt South Vietnamese government was never able to inspire confidence and loyalty in its troops. No amount of money, bombs, or Agent Orange could fix that. Here it all is in one article, with plenty of footnotes.

Next week, who knows. I have a global warming post written. Maybe more history. There’s always some science news. Have a great weekend everyone.

(Helicopter being pushed off the deck of an aircraft carrier to make room for more during the American evacuation of Saigon. Photo credit: U.S. Marines, Official Marine Corps Photo.)

Written by unitedcats

May 3, 2019 at 6:39 am

Posted in History, War, World