Posts Tagged ‘Stalin’

Letter From New York 11 14 15 The Real Great War to end all wars…

November 15, 2015

Paris. Hollande. IS. Daesh. Bruce Thiesen. Christopher Hitchens. Hitler. Stalin. Mussolini. Afghanistan.  Alexander the Great. Russia. Viet Nam. Democratic Debate. Jihadi John. Marco Rubio.  Fox News. Libya. Pope Francis.  World War III. Genghis Khan. Fred and Ginger.  The Great Depression. The War to end all wars.

When I finished blogging yesterday, the body count in Paris was below thirty.  Today, when I woke and reached for my iPhone to check the news, 129 were dead, 350+ injured with 99 of them in critical condition.

Friends of mine, Chuck and Lois, have an apartment in Paris and spend a good part of every year there; thankfully they were not in Paris yesterday. 

All morning I felt grim, unbelieving and so very deeply saddened.

Last night’s event has touched the world in a way nothing has since 9/11.

Hollande has all but declared war on IS or Daesh, using the Arabic acronym for the organization.  Countries around the world have lit their most important buildings in the red, white and blue colors of the French flag.

There is the weight of tragedy in the air.  The events were on the mind of ever thinking person I know.

Bruce Thiesen, a fellow blogger, posted this quote from Christopher Hitchens:  This is an enemy for life as well as an enemy of life.

Truer words were never spoken.  It all harkens back to the horrors of World War II, of men like Hitler and Mussolini and Stalin. 

The events of last night have infected my day as they have for everyone I know.  It came to me as I was shopping, for tomorrow is my day to do coffee hour after the 10:30 service, that Hollande is correct; we are at war.

I’ve felt that since 2003, when we invaded Iraq. We are at war. We have participated in wars without really involving the American public.  We fought but the public was to go on with their normal lives, shopping and eating at restaurants and not think about war.

I think that was a mistake.  In some way, shape or form, we should all be engaged if our men and women are fighting.

We should be actively supporting them in some way. 

It’s a favorite rant of mine.  I wanted to be asked to sacrifice if they were being asked to potentially make the ultimate sacrifice.

Now, we are years into this.  Afghanistan is our longest war ever, a place that has bedeviled military leaders since Alexander the Great, the place that was Russia’s Viet Nam, a place the British couldn’t hold at the height of their power.

Tomorrow there will be another Democratic Debate.  Really?  I’m exhausted already and can’t imagine all the campaigning yet to come.  But because of Paris, the debate will be focused more on terrorism and how the candidates would respond.

Jihadi John, the British terrorist who beheaded a number of men, is apparently dead in a drone attack.  On Friday, the head of IS in Libya is believed to have died in an air attack.

At the gym today, the TV at my treadmill was turned to Fox News and I actually didn’t change the channel.  I wanted to know what they were saying.  They brought on Marco Rubio who decried events and blamed them on Obama and said as President he would take the fight to them.

Yes, I do think that will happen.  Probably right now we’ll be led by France which, in righteous anger, will attack Daesh in every way it can.

More war.  Pope Francis suggested we are fighting World War III now, in bits and pieces.  He may be right.

Rubio said it was a “civilizational war” and he is not wrong. 

IS wants to destroy the West.  It hates our civilization with a passion and a fervor not seen, I suspect, since Genghis Khan who swept all before him before he and his Empire became dust in the wind.

It is dark.  Floodlights illuminate my beloved creek.  I am going to make myself a martini and watch a movie that, I hope, will transport me beyond the ugly realities of the day, the way Fred and Ginger lifted the hearts of Americans during the Great Depression.

We may well be now fighting the real Great War, the war to end all wars.

Letter From New York August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

Or, as it seems to me…

The sun is playing hide and seek, darting in and out from behind clouds, a day that is both dark and bright, mood changing by the minute. The creek flows by, clear and steady; in a southeasterly direction, which I was informed yesterday, was very good feng shui. I’m pleased to hear that; we all need as much good feng shui as we can manage to find.

I didn’t realize it until I was scanning the headlines from the New York Times on my iPhone while having my first cup of coffee but yesterday was the 100th anniversary of World War I, the war that was to end all wars. Which, of course, it didn’t. It was merely a prelude to that greater catastrophe, World War II.

A century ago and we are still reaping the effects of that whirlwind.

The Russian Tsar was toppled in 1917 and, with his family, assassinated in 1918. Out of the ashes of the Russian Empire grew a very brief democratic government that gave way to the Soviet Empire. The German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, rolled into exile in the Netherlands on a private train where he remained for the rest of his life. The last Austrian-Hungarian Emperor abdicated. The last Ottoman Sultan got the boot in 1922.

Borders were remade.

The Ottoman Sultan decided to side with Germany and Austria-Hungary, which was not a wise decision. When the war ended, his Empire was carved away. The British chopped up the Ottoman Empire for their own purposes. The British did a lot of that, doing things for their own purposes. The sun had not yet set on the British Empire. It took World War II to finish that off.

Iraq was not Iraq before the end of World War I; it was a province of the Ottoman Empire. Jordan was born out of the great carve up of the old Ottoman Empire as was Syria.

Germany lost territory and a swath of Poland cut the country into East and West. The Austrian-Hungarian Empire was no longer an empire. Austria and Hungary became separate countries. A new country called Yugoslavia was created, as was Czechoslovakia.

The new Soviet Empire was diminished from what the old Russian Empire had been; new countries arose out of the demise of the old Tsarist domain. The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were no longer subservient to Russia. Finland was no longer a Russian Grand Duchy, declaring its independence.

After the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine, America began to lean toward the Allies, entering the war in 1917. Its role in helping win the war established America as a global power and manufacturing powerhouse. It was the beginning of the American century.

Many of the best and the brightest of a generation of Europeans died during that war. The ones who survived wrote some of the greatest war stories ever told. Hemingway gave us A FAREWELL TO ARMS and Erich Maria Remarque gave us ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. F. Scott Fitzgerald became the chronicler of “The Lost Generation.” The war years were followed by the Roaring 20’s, a grand party partly fueled by a need to find distance from the horrors that had been.

World War I gave us modern warfare: tanks, gas, war planes. It wasn’t the War to End All Wars but it set the tone for all wars to follow. It gave new meaning to the horror of war. The great players in the Second World War all were present during the First War. Hitler was formed in the trenches of World War I. Churchill’s role in the catastrophe of Gallipoli marred his reputation, only fully redeemed by World War II. Stalin was formed in the crucible of the war and the subsequent Russian Revolution. Roosevelt had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy and itched to have a military command, a hope blunted by Armistice.

It was a century ago. But it seems so much of now started there, a remaking of the world order that we are still sorting out.