The genocide against Middle-Eastern Christians approaches its endgame, while Western leaders look away as resolutely as they ignored the Holocaust when it was happening. In time, there will be crocodile tears and, perhaps, a museum designed by an in-demand architect.
This past week, we heard from multiple service chiefs that key components of our military, particularly our land forces, may not be ready for a “big war” of the sort we’d face with China or Russia—or for a combination-play conflict against two second-tier foes, such as Iran and North Korea.
As the Rio Olympics reach their mid-way point, it is instructive to reflect on the ancient martial origins of the games and how they have been used throughout history to reflect the power of cities and states through the lens of champion athletes.
On Wednesday, August 24, Turkish forces launched a major ground assault into Syria, spearheaded by a battalion of Leopard tanks and Special Forces troops and supported by U.S. airpower. The attack was aimed at the town of Jarablus, astride the Euphrates River. The town was speedily liberated from militants of the Islamic State, who had held it for nearly two and a half years.
In its degenerate grandeur, the Umayyad dynasty that had subdued the Iberian Peninsula found itself too weak of arms and will to fight its own battles. The caliph imported fellow Muslims as mercenaries, Berber warriors whose ferocity had not been dulled by civilization. Then the Cordoba caliphate imported still more Berber troops. And more. They were, after all, fellow Muslims.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic mischief reveals him to be an astute student of history. While every Russian knows something about the Red Army’s heroics in the “Great Patriotic War,” Putin, a former KGB man, studied the enemy.
As you read this, a ragged alliance of rival forces fights to wrest Mosul’s western half from the grip of the Islamic State. The besiegers represent different ethnic and religious factions jockeying for power in the ruins. The defenders are religious fanatics of an apocalyptic faith. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are captive in their midst.
Seventy-five years ago this week the U.S. Navy pulled off one of the all-time upsets in the history of military affairs when it defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway. Beginning on December 7, 1941, with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that crippled the U.S. Pacific fleet as it lay at anchor, the Imperial Japanese Navy put together an incredible run of victories.
Reports today have confirmed that a branch of the Islamic State has seized Tora Bora, once the stronghold of the iconic founder and leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. The terrorists of al-Qaeda used this remote and forbidding mountain fortress, honeycombed with caves and tunnels, as protection against airstrikes and ground assault in the weeks after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.”
Seven American sailors on the USS Fitzgerald died last Saturday after their destroyer was rammed by the Philippine-registered cargo ship ACX Crystal. The incident, now under investigation, occurred at 2:20 a.m. local time off the Japanese coast. Although the loss of life was tragic, heroic damage control efforts by the ship’s crew saved the vessel from sinking.
Seventy-five years ago this week, American and British forces stormed ashore on the beaches of Morocco and Algeria in the first major test of the Grand Alliance. The intent behind Operation Torch was to eliminate the Axis presence in Africa by placing Allied troops onto the continent behind Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Panzerarmee Afrika, at the time retreating westward through Libya after its defeat at the hands of General Bernard Montgomery’s Eighth British Army at the Battle of El Alamein two weeks earlier.
During World War II English-speaking female broadcasters taunted Allied soldiers, who nicknamed the anonymous radio personalities “Tokyo Rose” and “Axis Sally.” GIs would often listen to the broadcasts for the entertaining music, mostly ignoring the outlandish claims and overt propaganda directed their way.
On Wednesday, November 22, a United Nations tribunal convicted former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladić, the “butcher of Bosnia,” of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and sentenced him to life in prison. The charges stem from his role in the Srebenica massacre along with ethnic cleansing and deliberate targeting of civilians during the Bosnian civil war.
One hundred and seventy years ago, on February 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo expanded the territory of the United States by over 500,000 square miles, not only making it inevitable that we would become a Pacific power, but setting the stage for what may be the most complex border relationship between any two nations. The treaty formally ended our War with Mexico, but accelerated our headlong plunge toward the Civil War, intensifying the debate over the geographical expansion of slavery into our newly acquired territories.
Our military leaders have just proclaimed a renewed, more-effective policy for Afghanistan, which they assure us will turn around the decaying situation.
Following a meeting in the Oval office on September 18, President Donald Trump said he is considering a request from Polish President Andrzej Duda to permanently station American troops in his country. Duda even offered to name the military facility “Fort Trump” and to provide more than $2 billion to help finance it. Poland desires the protection and stability that a permanent U.S. presence on its soil offers. One can sympathize with the Polish desire for a superpower security umbrella.
One hundred years ago this week doughboys of the American Expeditionary Forces went over the top in the Meuse River–Argonne Forest region of France, marking the beginning of what would become the bloodiest battle in American history. More than 1.2 million American soldiers took part in the six-week battle, part of a larger Allied effort known as the Hundred Days Offensive. By the time the battle concluded with an armistice on November 11, 1918, more than 26,000 U.S. soldiers—half of American combat fatalities in the Great War—would lie dead on the blood-soaked fields of France, with another 100,000 wounded-in-action.
Fifty-two years ago, Israel vanquished its Arab opponents in the Six-Day War, waged from June 5-10, 1967. Israeli victory led to its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, and Golan Heights. The war and its outcome had significant implications for the future of the Middle East, and its repercussions echo to this day.
Today the world celebrates one of the final centenarian milestones of the Great War, the signing by the victorious Allied Powers and defeated Germany of the Treaty of Versailles, which brought to an end the First World War. Although U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had hoped to conclude a peace based on his “14 Points” speech to Congress delivered on January 8, 1918, the blood debt incurred by the allies made such an idealistic peace impossible. Allied politicians had to justify to their constituencies the slaughter of a generation of young men in the trenches. One way to do this, in their eyes, was to ensure German militarism would never rise again.
The Mediterranean abruptly separates Europe’s civilization from those of Africa and the Middle East. On one side, reaching North to Scandinavia and East to the Bering Strait, some seven hundred million mostly prosperous people live according to principles derived from Judeo-Christianity, Greek philosophy, and Roman law. Their number is shrinking.