Military History

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rhubroma said:
My interest is in the history of conflict and its various causes and effects, not in glorifying war or its so called heros.

I think my above mentioned statement about heroism and patriotism in light of self-sacrifice, but within a greater spectrum of injustice, demonstrates that I can at most adopt a neutral position which neither ridicules nor glorifies.

You place total weight in your arguments on the courage and innocence of the Americans and the brutality of the Vietcong. This is at best a simplistic and distorted view of reality, at worst a manipulative analysis of fact. The truth is that the American's were not quite so innocent, whereas the brutality of torture was not limited to the Vietcong during this conflict. To say nothing of the evironmental tragedy caused by Agent Orange. In short, it was dirty business, through and through.
i say nothing of the american crimes because i am giving you a hypothetical situation where one american does all good, and ask if you do not think that this american, the elite of the elite, deserves a medal of honour.

Of course americans commited crimes, murders, like the bombings of cambodia, mai lai, but i am not asking that you give the medal of honour to the william calleys of this world, who massacred children, but to those who didnt commit murder, but saved others.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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rhubroma said:
I do not think that medals of honor were owed to US soldiers in the Vietnam and Iraq wars, simply because they were not honorable wars. I find nothing worth glorifying in these conflicts...The deaths of US troops during these wars, however heroic and patriotic in light of self-sacrifice, took place within a greater scheme of injustice and fraud.

Man, I typed more than one response to your post. Erased all of them and ultimately decided to go with a level and calm response. Below is a very basic definition of the criteria for one to be considered for the Medal of Honor.

"[Conspicuous] gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party."

As far as I can see, there is no mention of the amount of honor, or lack of honor, in a particular conflict as a basis for award of this medal.
 
The Hitch said:
i say nothing of the american crimes because i am giving you a hypothetical situation where one american does all good, and ask if you do not think that this american, the elite of the elite, deserves a medal of honour.

Of course americans commited crimes, murders, like the bombings of cambodia, mai lai, but i am not asking that you give the medal of honour to the william calleys of this world, who massacred children, but to those who didnt commit murder, but saved others.
War is always the business of murder and soldiers are the mercenary forces of such business. It is an ugly business, however honorable one's actions might be interpreted.

When that business is based on a manipulative and unjust cause, such as the Vietnam war, those mercenaries I have a difficult time recognizing with honors that they would have otherwise been due. For they were not freedom fighters, but pawns of a ruthless chess game much, much larger than their Mid-Western innocence had prepared them for. The only justifiable cause for such a murderous business is when it is the last resort to upholding liberty in the face of real, not propagandized, oppression. I thus find "heroic" those partigiani turtured by the Nazis on Via Tasso in Rome, less so actions of GIs who were sent off to "save" South Asia from the communist evil. The wider context must be taken into account. Because in the face of grave crisis, one always has a choice. Many young Americans expatriated themselves for their beliefs. Man others were too fragile to do otherwise (these being the real casualties of national pressure), others still were simply responding willfully to a patriotic call to duty. But we must refrain form over categorization.

Those who saved US lives in Vietnam can not be elevated to the heroes status of say, the Poles who faught off the Nazi assault with homemade devices. Their deaths were tragic, yes, but there is nothing "heroic" about them given the business they were set out to do. And I do not subscribe to their innocence as alibi, nor their lack of "choice."
 
flyor64 said:
Man, I typed more than one response to your post. Erased all of them and ultimately decided to go with a level and calm response. Below is a very basic definition of the criteria for one to be considered for the Medal of Honor.

"[Conspicuous] gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party."

As far as I can see, there is no mention of the amount of honor, or lack of honor, in a particular conflict as a basis for award of this medal.
Again we need new paradigms. The truly honorable act is not constrained by national identity or limited to perceptions of right or wrong, as it is here, and even transcends cause and reaction, aspects which can actually result in its very counter-negation.

And I frankly find the nature of the "friend vs. foe" dialectic within the military culture, too subjective, primitive and distorting. Here I'm talking about the military establishment, which perpetuates its own myth through such medals. Civilization has urgent need to move on.
 

Barrus

BANNED
Apr 28, 2010
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The Hitch said:
Since we are making jokes about the DDR now, here is one you have no doubt heard before, but i love it so here it is anyway.
I really love that joke

But concerning the entire question which wars were honourable wars, lets all realize that each and every war has been made on the basis of political or economic reasons. Never did such a thing as honour come into the minds of those that instigated wars.

And to those who are talking about crimes, name me one conflict where not at least one side was guilty of committing some sort of crime, war is always dirty bussiness. And if you talk to soldiers (off the record) you'll get to know that each and every country either facilitates it, or condones it, and that soldiers won't hestitate to commit crimes. Although situations such as My Lai and the rape of Nan-King are nowadays, and thankfully were in general, not the general practice. Also do realise that My Lai was not solely the fault of the soldiers in the field, there were some strange forms of communications. But still, it wasn't as bad as Nan-King, or the actions of Police Batallion 101 in Poland
 
The problem is some of the greatest war heroes were never fighters; the military culture's medal and honour system clings to the pre-Boer War idea of battle, which is something which is clearly outdated in today's world, as technology has rendered war no longer something that encompasses battlegrounds but something that involves civilians, cities and guerrilla tactics. Oskar Schindler was a businessman, Raoul Wallenberg was a diplomat. Wallenberg didn't even have to be there in the first place, he asked to be sent to Hungary, whereupon he went about providing Schutzpassen for Jews making them citizens of Sweden (thus exempt from identifying themselves with the star of David badge), and renting buildings in Budapest he could make into Swedish-owned safehouses under the guise of libraries and research facilities for people to stay in while waiting for safe repatriation, saving tens of thousands of lives - he even went as far as walking up to deportation trains as the military were herding people onto them and handing the Jews on the trains passports before ordering them to get off and get into Swedish-marked cars. There's a war hero for you.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
The problem is some of the greatest war heroes were never fighters; the military culture's medal and honour system clings to the pre-Boer War idea of battle, which is something which is clearly outdated in today's world, as technology has rendered war no longer something that encompasses battlegrounds but something that involves civilians, cities and guerrilla tactics. Oskar Schindler was a businessman, Raoul Wallenberg was a diplomat. Wallenberg didn't even have to be there in the first place, he asked to be sent to Hungary, whereupon he went about providing Schutzpassen for Jews making them citizens of Sweden (thus exempt from identifying themselves with the star of David badge), and renting buildings in Budapest he could make into Swedish-owned safehouses under the guise of libraries and research facilities for people to stay in while waiting for safe repatriation, saving tens of thousands of lives - he even went as far as walking up to deportation trains as the military were herding people onto them and handing the Jews on the trains passports before ordering them to get off and get into Swedish-marked cars. There's a war hero for you.
Such a relativist view of cause and effect, of being on the side of justice even when behaving "unpatrioticly," allows us to go beyond the prejudices and biases of national "perspective" as a justification for martial action, what constitutes moral behavior and who, and why, must be viewed as the beholder of honor. Many Nazis were also awarded medals of honor by their military and state and they, from the point of view of the Nazi cause, were justifiable candidates. Never mind that Nazism itself was criminal. The bottom line is that the glory of the military establishment is a product of its own mythology and romanticism, which is rather useless and destructive in the world of today.

Civilization needs a new direction, which allows for a more intercultural and transnational perspective on the issues surrounding crisis and conflict resolution. We have become globalized but, at the same time, have not altered our provincial outlooks, nor the regional and sub-regional dichotomies. And this has led to the grave problems we face as a planet today and in the foreseeable future.

The great powers of today, who have the leading responsibility in society's direction, beginning with the US, but also Russia, the EU and China (who, not surprisingly, are at once the world's leading arms traders) must begin to seek new paradigms of transnational economic and cultural exchange. For the old model of cultivating power to realize prosperity based upon self-interest, political alliance vs. antagonism (yin and yang), and the inevitable confrontation of crisis and conflict resolution that this causes, needs to be replaced with military devolution, political cooperation and market reforms on a wide range of issues and frontiers; which are targeted at addressing the real problems of this world: namely, poverty, resource depletion and the environmental disasters caused by industry.

In this model military medals of honor have no place: at best they seem insignificantly trivial to the problems we face, at worst anachronisms of a brutality that has always represented the worst side of humanity (the only species that practices it) . The motto STOP WAR must thus not be seen as the idealist fantasy, but a common civilized goal to put an end to the grave imbalances and abuses of power which afflicts the world of today; when, in reality, we have the capacity to end poverty while live comfortably within a balanced lifestyle. But old habit prevents us from doing so. To those who continue to argue that in the face of terrorism or oppressive regimes only realpolitk is the solution and, thus, the military will continue to have a decisive role as a deterrent or stabilizing force within the spectrum of international regulation and its checks and balances, well, this is certainly true. Though only within the old model of regional dis-integration before globalization; yet ultimately is not only the less useful of the possible paradigms, but potentially by far the most destructive.
 
Aug 16, 2009
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I have been stewing for 24hrs on whether to post on this thread.

My Dad was a shepherd in Sutherland shire (look it up) when WW2 broke out. He joined up to fight Hitler and a perceived threat to his way of life, that and the recklessness of youth. It had nothing to do with anything other than he felt complelled to protect what he knew and loved.

I find millitary history and war a fasinating study but find it hard to look at things without emotion or linking it to my family so I have taken to studying the American Civil War - I can read first hand accounts without feeling personally involved - and it is endlessly interesting once you get past all the myths that have grown up around it.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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I think this thread has lost the plot some...and I'm as guilty for going OT.

Someone mentioned a desire to see Normandy, and I would wholeheartedly recommend that. From any of the beaches going inland through the layered defense of the Germans paints a strong picture. Alot of the terrain is ontouched other than what nature has done these past years. Specifically coming to mind is Point du Hoc, where the craters and fortifications are still there. A sobering experience.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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joe_papp said:
<snip>
I'm interested in everything from the broader strategic themes and the economic and social components of global war<snip>
did you read overy's works ? imo probably the most objective and meticulous author of ww2 studies.

i consider myself a life-long student of military history particularly ww2 and napoleonic wars.

nothing helps understanding human nature better than when we act under the ultimate stress of living or dieing.
 
Sep 2, 2010
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I have an interest in both the First and Second World Wars. While I am Canadian, both my grandfathers were American. One fought in the Pacific in the Navy while my other grandfather fought in with the British First Airborne. He was a radio operator during Operation Market-Garden and landed in Arnhem.
 
Some of it can be rather funny. We saw this hilarious video about the assasination of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand in my History class.
When the chariot drove past one of the assasins he threw this granade thing, (which, didn't hit) then he drank poison (they'd decided they'd rather die than be captured) and also jumped into a nearby river to make sure he'd die. But! The poison was too old and only caused him to vomit, and the river was no more than a few inches deep...
 
jon_anders said:
I have an interest in both the First and Second World Wars. While I am Canadian, both my grandfathers were American. One fought in the Pacific in the Navy while my other grandfather fought in with the British First Airborne. He was a radio operator during Operation Market-Garden and landed in Arnhem.
My father was with the Allied troops in North African, chasing Rommel. My father-in-law was with German troops in the Russia invasion.

Susan
 
May 6, 2009
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Susan Westemeyer said:
My father was with the Allied troops in North African, chasing Rommel. My father-in-law was with German troops in the Russia invasion.

Susan
Funny that, my grandfather was with the British Navy trying to keep the Germans at bay during WWII.
 
Jan 4, 2010
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I also find military history interesting. I just finished my masters on Military airpower.
 
RedheadDane said:
Some of it can be rather funny. We saw this hilarious video about the assasination of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand in my History class.
When the chariot drove past one of the assasins he threw this granade thing, (which, didn't hit) then he drank poison (they'd decided they'd rather die than be captured) and also jumped into a nearby river to make sure he'd die. But! The poison was too old and only caused him to vomit, and the river was no more than a few inches deep...
We probabluy shouldnt laugh too much considering how many people were hurt as a result of this but I guess another funny bit was as i recall that they had failed their assasination and went to buy a sandwhich. The Duke told the driver to go to the hospital but the driver didnt hear. As a result he had to take a right turn later in the route. Standing on that road was a very bemused Garvilo Princip. THe car went right by them. What a fluke.
 
To be fair though, while the assassination by the Serbian nationalists of Franz Ferdinand was a complete fluke and caused an enormous war, war was almost inevitable in the climate of 1914, with all of the intertwining treaties and the power struggle in Europe. A relatively small, internal issue for the Austro-Hungarian Empire with its Slavic subjects could have realistically been sorted out completely within the boundaries of the Habsburg lands, but the number of commitments of support and assistance that had been signed between various countries meant that any similar incident was destined to create that conflict. The countries involved felt they had too much to lose to renege on their commitments, but as soon as one power threw their hat in the ring (the Russians supporting their Slavic brethren in Austria-Hungary, for example) it would set off a domino effect as each country could call in the support of others according to the treaties.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
To be fair though, while the assassination by the Serbian nationalists of Franz Ferdinand was a complete fluke and caused an enormous war, war was almost inevitable in the climate of 1914, with all of the intertwining treaties and the power struggle in Europe. A relatively small, internal issue for the Austro-Hungarian Empire with its Slavic subjects could have realistically been sorted out completely within the boundaries of the Habsburg lands, but the number of commitments of support and assistance that had been signed between various countries meant that any similar incident was destined to create that conflict. The countries involved felt they had too much to lose to renege on their commitments, but as soon as one power threw their hat in the ring (the Russians supporting their Slavic brethren in Austria-Hungary, for example) it would set off a domino effect as each country could call in the support of others according to the treaties.
When i said we shouldnt laugh at an incident where so many people were hurt, i meant the people who got hit by the grenade, the car driver, the duke, his wife, Bosnian national assasin A who was arrested and tortured, and young Garvillo for whom life became very painful very quickly - he had his arm amputated after a disease, a procedure which can be very painful to people in hospital yet alone in a very small prison cell.

The reason i didnt mention any dead is precisely because i agree with you that the war was inveitable, hence i dont blame his incident for starting the war, just for causing hurt to a lot of people, particularly Garvillo and assasin A whos attempts at suicide were to weak to kill him and hence caused a lot of pain as well.
 
Sep 2, 2010
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Libertine Seguros said:
To be fair though, while the assassination by the Serbian nationalists of Franz Ferdinand was a complete fluke and caused an enormous war, war was almost inevitable in the climate of 1914, with all of the intertwining treaties and the power struggle in Europe. A relatively small, internal issue for the Austro-Hungarian Empire with its Slavic subjects could have realistically been sorted out completely within the boundaries of the Habsburg lands, but the number of commitments of support and assistance that had been signed between various countries meant that any similar incident was destined to create that conflict. The countries involved felt they had too much to lose to renege on their commitments, but as soon as one power threw their hat in the ring (the Russians supporting their Slavic brethren in Austria-Hungary, for example) it would set off a domino effect as each country could call in the support of others according to the treaties.
Exactly. I mobilize, you mobilize, my friend mobilizes, etc. I still find the Schlieffen Plan very interesting and how Schlieffen stressed the importance of keeping the right "side" strong. It wasn't until his successor started to pull troops away from the right (coinciding with troops moving too fast for supplies to keep up) that things started to south for the German armies.
 
Air War - including BBC Documentary links

Can someone recommend a "good"/enjoyable documentary on the Battle of Britain? Likewise, if anyone has links to torrents or downloads for German-produced documentaries on the air war in the European theater, please lemme know! Thanks!

I found THIS ONE dealing with the experiences of a Polish squadron in the Battle of Britain. Check it out, here on youtube. Really low view count so it's not been seen by many folks yet...

"The story of 303 Squadron: 34 Polish fighter pilots who overturned RAF prejudices to earn their chance to fight in the Battle of Britain, in which they shot down 126 Luftwaffe aircraft"

(Sorry if I mess-up links or something...it's late, I should hit the rack instead of farting around with this stuff but I'm so excited at having found new viewing material and want to share it all with you so that those who also enjoy this subject can partake. Cheers!)
 
Sep 9, 2010
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I'm not a war history afficionado per se, but as a newb here only finding this place a couple of days ago, I must say it's nice to browse through a thread of such nature that could easily be in some forums inflammatory, yet here is civil and interesting to read.

My "war history" interests (be that they are) include the Tuskegee Airmen history, Normandy, Bataan Death March and Cabanatuan, and as of late stemming from a discussion with mom, the Korean War and MacArthur.
 
Sep 9, 2010
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Father Jack said:
I have been stewing for 24hrs on whether to post on this thread.

My Dad was a shepherd in Sutherland shire (look it up) when WW2 broke out. He joined up to fight Hitler and a perceived threat to his way of life, that and the recklessness of youth. It had nothing to do with anything other than he felt complelled to protect what he knew and loved.
Thanks for posting this. And I will.
 
BBC Documentary on Battle of Britain - new - help please

Came across what looks like it could be an AMAZING documentary on one of my favorite subjects to read about: the Battle of Britain. I'll post details below, but what I really want to know is if there is a UK resident who can arrange for the sharing of these episodes via some digital means...


The Battle Of Britain


McGregor and his RAF pilot brother, Colin, relive the experiences of young airmen in a bid to find out what it was like to live and fight through the most significant air battle in British history, in The Battle Of Britain. The one-off documentary will be shown on BBC One this September as part of a wider season to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Second World War air campaign.



Flying across the skies of England, the brothers will get hands on experience of the fighter aircraft of the time; experiencing the excitement, pressures and strains of air combat. For Colin, it's a chance to see if his modern jet fighter training compares to the seat-of-the-pants skills needed to master a Spitfire. Along the way they will meet some of the heroes who fought in the battle some 70 years before. Real pilots, radar operators and ground-crew will instruct and guide them through their own Battle Of Britain.

---------

Here's another one I'd like to see (torrents, please):

First Light

This is the story of one of the R.A.F’s youngest Spitfire pilots who fought and survived the Battle of Britain with one of the most famous fighting Squadrons in the world – the legendary 92 Squadron.

Geoffrey Wellum survived because he became the best at what he did – flying a Spitfire and stopping the enemy - but the price was high... 'Boy' Wellum lost his youth in the most violent and immediate way possible, living a lifetime by the age of 19.

Rarely does a young man’s rite of passage mean as much to so many. In July 1940 as the Battle raged in the skies above, a kid, fresh out of school, with a dream to fly, walked into the world of ‘the few’ during a defining moment in World History and the turning point of the Second World War.
 
The Hitch said:
We probabluy shouldnt laugh too much considering how many people were hurt as a result of this but I guess another funny bit was as i recall that they had failed their assasination and went to buy a sandwhich. The Duke told the driver to go to the hospital but the driver didnt hear. As a result he had to take a right turn later in the route. Standing on that road was a very bemused Garvilo Princip. THe car went right by them. What a fluke.
Yeah. We saw that too. But that was the tragic part of it... (Well... maybe somewhat tragicomic...)

Also funny was how the Duke adorned himself with all those silly (and rather useless) amulets...
 

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