Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fourth of July 2016

The author with Minuteman statue
Concord, MA

As we pause to celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence it seems appropriate to consider the vital role played by the American military in the creation of our nation and its transformation of our world.

We are not a militaristic nation but we are a nation that is deeply proud of our military.  We are not a perfect people.  We have made many mistakes.  We have not always lived up to our noble ideals.  It is important to remember what happened at Wounded Knee, My Lai and Abu Graib.  But it is also important to remember the amazing things that the US military has done in our world.

Lexington Green, MA
On April 19, 1775 British soldiers marched from Boston to Lexington and Concord to seize a cache of arms.  They were confronted on Lexington green by citizen soldiers who were farmers, merchants and tradesmen.  The “shot heard round the world” was fired that day on Concord bridge.  Liberty was not a gift of the English crown; she had to be taken by force by an armed rebel populace.

Later that year American forces invaded British Canada.  My own ancestor, James Van Rensselaer, was a citizen soldier in the siege of Quebec and his commanding officer was Benedict Arnold.

The American Revolution is often portrayed in rosy-hued colors due to its remoteness and patriotic outcome.  It was, in fact, a horrendously bloody conflict.   Recent scholarship has placed the total number of Americans killed in the American Revolution at around 25,000 which compares to a total US population of the thirteen colonies in 1775 of 2.4 million.  Thus over one percent of the total population of the thirteen colonies were killed over the course the nearly eight and half years of the war’s duration.

After the American Revolution we would fight Britain again in the War of 1812.  We fought our way westward across the continent in many brutal wars against the Native Americans.

Polk Campaign Flag
Smithsonian Museum
In 1846 president Polk launched a war against Mexico.  This was and remains a controversial chapter in American history.  Congressman Abraham Lincoln opposed the war.  Thoreau refused to pay taxes to support the war and was briefly jailed.  Even Ulysses Grant, who fought in the war, condemned its prosecution in his Memoirs.    But without the Mexican American war the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico would never have been added to the Union.  Without the Mexican American war the United States might never have become a coast to coast superpower.
Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, HI
Imagine for a moment what World War II might have been like had Polk not fought the Mexican American war.  The Japanese would never have sunk the Arizona at Pearl Harbor to start the war because Arizona would have belonged to Mexico.  It is unlikely that an American naval base at Pearl Harbor would have been built without Polk.  The atomic bomb would never have been dropped on Hiroshima to finish the war as it could not have been tested at Alamogordo in New Mexico.

Nearly a hundred years ago in 1917 America Citizen soldiers went “over there” with the American Expeditionary Force to fight the Central Powers in World War I.  By 1918 the Kaiser would abdicate.  In 1941 they would get the call to combat Hitler and Imperial Japan.  Just over 71 years ago American soldiers would be liberating the Nazi concentration camps like Buchenwald and Dachau thereby helping to end the Holocaust.  Without American invasions at places like the beaches of Omaha and Anzio the world would undoubtedly be a darker place.

After World War II American forces remained engaged with Europe garrisoning the nations of former adversaries during the Cold War.  NATO was founded and the Cold War was won without a shot being fired.

Today we face the threat of global terror networks that have perpetrated horrors in Brussels, Paris, San Bernardino and, most recently, Orlando.

Our enemies must know that Americans do not love war for war’s sake.  To do so is the definition of fascism.  We are and always have been reluctant warriors.  But, when provoked, we know how to fight and will endure until victory and a lasting peace is won.

Thanks to the courage and sacrifice of those American patriots who have served in our military and those that serve today we are able to celebrate the 4th of July and to confront the challenges that face us around the world.

Signed copies of America Invades can be found here...www.americainvades.com
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit's Meaning

Brexit: Farewell to all that

Britain has voted for Brexit -- to leave the European Union.  They did so in spite of the united opposition of the political class across the spectrum of British politics.  Blair supported remain as did Labour's current leader Jeremy Corbyn.  The Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, supported remain and now, having lost, he will be exiting.  Even the tragic assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox, a remain supporter, did not tip the scales towards the remain side.

Americans might appreciate the enormous historic implications of Brexit better if they thought of it in these terms:  Imagine a US referendum on some topic where President Obama and Donald Trump held exactly the same position...and a majority of American voters rejected it anyway.  That is what just happened with Brexit.

Business elites, fearful of change, overwhelmingly supported the remain position.  Londoners voted to remain but were swamped by opposition outside of the metropolis.

President Obama weighed in on the Brexit debate in a particularly ham-fisted manner telling Brits that our allies in two World Wars would need to get to the "back of the queue" if they opted for Brexit.  Most Americans would not use the term "queue" so it was clear that Obama was simply parroting talking points supplied to him by Cameron.  Will foreign leaders be less keen on an Obama endorsement / meddling going forward?

Fundamentally, British voters recognized that the EU has turned into a pretty rotten deal.  The membership dues to this club no longer justify the expense.

We know the short term results of Brexit.  Global markets tanked.  The Pound weakened.  Hand wringing ensued.  401ks were diminished this past week.  The media had a field day with dire predictions.
British Pride still sparkles
We do not, of course, know what the longer term consequences of Brexit will be.  We do know, however, that nothing will really change for two years.  Most likely the current market swoon will be followed by an eventual recovery.  Britain will remain an important trading partner with Europe and the world.  EU member states will still want to trade with the world's fifth largest economy.  Tourists will still visit the Tower of London to see the Queen's jewels.  Britain's exit from the EU is unlikely to destabilize the European peace which has endured now for over 71 years since the end of World War II.

There could be a Corbyn government which would likely be disastrous for Britain.  Corbyn is Bernie Sanders without the chutzpah.  Brexit will also likely force another Scottish referendum which would pose a challenge for the UK government.

But Brexit is far from the end of the world.  We ought to remember Monty Python's advice to "always look on the bright side of life".
Boris Johnson: Brexit Winner
More likely, however, this is a huge victory for the leadership of Boris Johnson.  Johnson was a successful charismatic Mayor of London.  He is bright, cosmopolitan and in touch with British sentiment.  He has more than a touch of Churchill about him.  His book, The Churchill Factor, was outstanding (See my review...http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.com/2014/12/boriss-new-book-this-is-outstanding.html).

The Brexit vote dealt an enormous blow to the reigning political establishment worldwide.  It is a clear vote against open borders and unlimited immigration.  It is a vote for local over transnational.  It is a vote against bloated bureaucratic meddling which is despised around the world.  It is a vote in favor of national identity but it is not really a vote for a more bellicose foreign policy.  For better of for worse, this vote should cause major shockwaves in the Hillary campaign which is the embodiment of establishment politics.

For more on Brexit see...http://madmonarchist.blogspot.com/2016/06/royal-news-special-report-thoughts-on.html

America Invades is available here...www.americainvades.com
Signed copies of Italy Invades can be found here...www.italyinvades.com

Thursday, June 2, 2016

D-Day Plus 72

Omaha Beach, France
Seventy-two years ago, on June 6, 1944, Allied troops waded ashore on the beaches of Normandy to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe. The night before, on June 5, American airborne forces had landed on the western flank of the invasion area near Sainte-Mère-Église, while British airborne forces secured the eastern flank and Pegasus Bridge. They jumped out of C-47 Dakota transport planes, through darkness and into glory. Some arrived by glider. Private John Steele of the 82nd Airborne landed on the steeple of the church at Sainte-Mère-Église. He managed to survive by playing dead.

John Steele Mannequin, St. Mere Eglise, France
Today a visitor to Sainte-Mère-Église can observe a mannequin representing Steele hanging from the church tower. Inside the church is a stained glass window of the Virgin Mary surrounded by American paratroopers.
Pointe du Hoc, France
On Utah Beach—all of the landing sites had code names—fifty-six-year-old Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (the oldest son of former president Teddy Roosevelt) landed about a mile away from his intended target. When asked whether to re-embark the 4th Infantry Division, he simply said, “We’ll start the war from right here!” Prior to the landing, Omaha Beach, also known as Bloody Omaha, had received an abbreviated naval bombardment from ships such as the battleship Texas lasting only thirty-five minutes. The bare stretches of beach offered no cover for the American invaders as German machine guns from fortified gun emplacements swept the beaches. The US Rangers, who had trained earlier on the cliffs of Dorset, scaled the sheer cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc while being shot at by German soldiers. Their mission was to destroy artillery pieces targeted on the landing zones. Their commander was Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder. Unknown to Rudder’s Rangers, most of the artillery had already been moved by the Germans. They held their position for two days in the face of fierce counterattacks by the German’s 916th Grenadiers. At the Ranger memorial at Pointe du Hoc, one can still see massive craters created by the Allied naval bombardment.
Normandy American Cemetery
The Canadians stormed ashore on Juno Beach. James Doohan, who later played Scotty on Star Trek, was among the Canadian soldiers that day. Sword and Gold Beaches were reserved for the British forces. A small contingent of French commandos joined the British on Sword and helped capture Ouistreham, destroying the casino there. One French officer who had previously lost at the tables was not sorry to see the casino in ruins that day.

With the D-Day landing, the Allies, in spite of the vast size of their armada and the relative openness of their societies, achieved a remarkable strategic surprise over the Germans. On June 6, Rommel was in Germany celebrating his wife's fiftieth birthday. Hitler was persisting in the mistaken belief that the Normandy invasion was a feint and that the real blow would be struck at Pas de Calais.

Eisenhower planned the invasion from his offices at 20 Grosvenor Square in London. Number 1 Grosvenor Square was the wartime location of the American embassy. Averell Harriman presided over lend-lease aid from 3 Grosvenor Square, helping to fund our wartime Allies. The OSS (Office of Strategic Services), forerunner of the CIA, had its offices at 70 Grosvenor Square. Small wonder that this neighborhood was known as Little America at the time. Some wags even referred to Grosvenor Square as Eisenhowerplatz.

Imagine if an operation like the Normandy landing were to occur today in 2016, in the age of social media! Interactive polls would ask: “Which beach do you prefer, Normandy or Pas de Calais?” Could all the members of the 101st Screaming Eagles, painted in Indian war paint with Mohawk haircuts, be counted upon not to post their pictures on Facebook? That seems doubtful.

The author at Grosvenor Square, London, UK
This June 6, raise a glass and toast the heroism of all those young men who fought to liberate America’s oldest ally from Nazi occupation. Without their service and sacrifice, our world might be a darker place.

Thanks Military Times...http://www.militarytimes.com/story/opinion/2016/06/05/remembering-d-day-then-and-now/85199070/

Thanks Real Clear History...http://www.realclearhistory.com/articles/2016/06/06/remembering_d-day_then_and_now_237.html

Thanks Deseret News...http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865655673/Remembering-D-Day-then-and-now.html

Thanks Detroit News...http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2016/06/06/raise-glass-boys-pointe-du-hoc/85456098/

Thanks Modesto Bee...http://www.modbee.com/opinion/article81586817.html

Thanks Dayton Daily News...http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/news/opinion/remembering-d-day-then-and-now/nrYjg/?icmp=daytondaily_internallink_textlink_apr2013_daytondailystubtomydaytondaily_launch

Thanks Charleston Gazette Mail...http://www.wvgazettemail.com/daily-mail-commentary/20160606/christopher-kelly-remembering-the-d-day-invasion-daily-mail

Thanks Pittsburgh's TrbiLive.com...http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/10557736-74/landing-beach-normandy

Thanks Utah Policy...http://utahpolicy.com/index.php/features/today-at-utah-policy/9712-remembering-d-day-the-great-allied-invasion

Thanks Burlington County Times...http://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/opinion/guest/remembering-d-day-then-and-now/article_a0cd2ae0-483b-5d0a-8331-8986dc1c0602.html

Thanks Florida Times Union...http://jacksonville.com/business/columnists/2016-06-03/story/guest-column-d-day-deserves-be-remembered#
You can purchase your signed copy of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
Or you can find a regular copy on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427/

Kindle version available here...www.amzn.com/B00R1ZXKMW

My interview with Marc Bernier...http://www.marcberniershow.com/audio_archive.cfm

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Have Italians Invaded Spain?

Church Door, Haro, Spain

I was delighted to "invade" Spain recently on a Duvine bicycle tour through the Riojo wine region (highly recommended!).  The Italians, of course, got there long before me.  Here is the Spain chapter of Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World...
Me and Stuart Laycock with Trajan -- A Spanish-born Emperor
"The Roman invasion of what is now Spain took place over a long time and involved a number of campaigns and numerous clashes. The emperors that ruled Rome at the apex of its power, Trajan and Hadrian, both grew up in what is now Spain.

The Romans first arrived in Spain during the Second Punic War. With Hannibal off to invade Italy, the Romans took the opportunity to attack the Carthaginian Empire that Hannibal’s family had built up on the Iberian Peninsula.

After a long series of campaigns involving multiple armies and commanders, the Romans eventually defeated the Carthaginian forces in Spain and took control of areas previously controlled by Carthage, mainly along the southern and eastern coasts of Spain.
Trajan's Column, Rome, Italy
And Rome’s campaigns in Spain had only just begun. The first decades of the second century BC saw assorted rebellions and clashes; and then in 181 BC, the First Celtiberian War broke out after more tribes rebelled. The result was a Roman victory, and the war ground to a halt in 179 BC.
Then in 155 BC, the Lusitanian War broke out, involving much action on what is now Spanish soil. A massacre by Roman troops ended that war in 150 BC; but war erupted again in 146 BC as a man who would become legendary, Viriathus, led the Lusitanians against the Romans. This bitter war, fought both on territory that is now Portuguese and on territory that is now Spanish, dragged on until 139 BC, when Viriathus was assassinated by three of his own men.

Meanwhile, to the north, the Romans had become engaged in a titanic struggle against the city of Numantia. The war finally ended in 134 BC when Numantia fell to besieging Roman forces.
In 132 BC, the Romans took the Balearic Islands.
Roman columns in Barcelona, Spain
Temple of Augustus (http://www.barcelonalowdown.com/the-roman-temple-of-augustus/)
War broke out in Spain in 80 BC, in which Roman commander Sertorius allied with local rebels to take on pro-Sulla Roman forces. Sertorius was eventually assassinated by his own side.
Plenty more fighting linked to Rome’s civil wars followed in Spain. Then in 29 BC, Augustus launched the Cantabrian Wars to take control of an area in northern Spain that remained outside Roman control. Within ten years, the war was mainly finished. More minor clashes would ensue, but after a process of conquest taking about two hundred years, the Roman occupation of Spain was finally finished.

In the early fifth century, invaders who had crossed the Rhine and then crossed Gaul arrived in Spain, producing yet more fighting.

15th Century Castle (Castillo), Spain
And Italians were fighting again in Spain during the Middle Ages. For instance, Benedetto Zaccaria commanded Castilian forces in the late thirteenth century; and Spain became deeply involved in wars in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

During the Renaissance, the Spanish Borgia family would rise to the height of the papacy with the ascension of Pope Alexander VI. His bastard son, Cesare Borgia, would launch many an invasion in Romagna before his ultimate exile and imprisonment in Spain.
Lord Nelson, Trafalgar Square, London
And more Italians fought in Spain after the Renaissance too. (More Spanish troops fought in Italy as well.) For example, during the Napoleonic Wars, Italians could be found fighting on both sides. Significant numbers of Italians troops were in Napoleon’s forces in Spain, but the British commanders also had Italians on their side. For example, at the Battle of Castalla in Spain in 1813, two Anglo-Italian divisions were among the forces that repelled desperate French assaults on their defensive position near Alicante. And about 115 Italians were among those serving on Admiral Nelson’s ships at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Italians again fought in the Carlist Wars in Spain in the nineteenth century; and in 1870, an Italian, Amadeo of Savoy, a son of King Victor Emmanuel II, was selected to be King of Spain. He found the job impossible, and in 1873, he had had enough and gave it up.

In the twentieth century, Italian troops played a central role in ensuring victory for Franco’s Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. This Italian-assisted victory had long-term consequences on the development of Spain that were felt into the Cold War.

The Italian effort during the Spanish Civil War started with air power, as Italian aircraft attacked the Republican fleet in the Straits of Gibraltar. They then airlifted Nationalist troops from Africa to Spain, a crucial step in giving Franco the ability to challenge the Republican government on the Spanish mainland.
Corpo Truppe Volontarie, Spanish Civil War
Soon Italy was also sending tanks and trainers to help the Nationalist side; and then it was sending troops to fight the CTV, Corpo Truppe Volontarie (Corps of Voluntary Troops), supported by heavy artillery and aircraft.

An Italian offensive in March 1937 against Madrid— the Battle of Guadalajara—achieved only limited gains against determined Republican opposition, and Mussolini gave orders to increase Italian efforts. In October of that year, the Italian presence was openly and officially admitted.
Italian troops fought on all fronts in the war and in a large number of clashes. Italian aircraft also saw extensive action, and 175 pilots died in action. Three Italian planes participated in the bombing of Guernica. At sea, Italian Navy surface ships and submarines also sank Republican vessels and merchant ships.
Church Door, Ezcaray, Spain
Italian troops played a decisive role in some of the key actions of the war. In the north in August 1937, they were heavily involved in the capture of Santander. In the spring of 1938, they took part in the Aragon Offensive, which struck a decisive blow against the Republican forces in that part of northeastern Spain. And in early 1939, they played a leading role in an offensive in Catalonia that eventually reached the sea and cut the Republic in half. In April 1939, the Nationalist victory was complete.

Over three thousand Italians, however, fought on the Republican side in Spain, joining units such as the Garibaldi Battalion of the International Brigade.

During World War II, Spain remained neutral, though it was friendly to the Axis cause. The Italian Navy took advantage of a derelict tanker, the 4,900 ton Olterra moored in the waters near Algericas, by installing members of the X Flottiglia MAS inside its hull. From this base in Spanish waters, they launched a series of attacks against shipping in the Bay of Gibraltar with two-man minisubmarines called Maiale (pig).

Spain joined NATO in 1982."

Travel Notes: Special thanks to Jimmy and Alex of Duvine...www.duvine.com

You can buy signed copies of Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World
You can find regular copies here on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598729
The Complete Italy Invades Gift Package can only be found here...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Have Americans Invaded Spain?

Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain
Have Americans ever invaded or fought in Spain?  You might be surprised by our answer from the Spain chapter of America Invades...

"Fantastic place to visit with loads and loads of amazing sights and history, Spain is a big country by European standards.

With Spain at the very western end of Europe (along with Portugal, of course) and the Spanish a major naval power for much of their history, it’s hardly surprising that they played such a big role in the European exploration and settlement of both North and South America. The Brits, of course, were not far behind them, and with a long history of hostility between the two countries, there was bound to be trouble.
Ezcaray, Spain
So interestingly, among the first Americans fighting in Spanish regions is one from before the Revolution on behalf of the Brits—although fighting may not be quite the right word since John Halsey, born in Boston, was a privateer, a sort of pirate with official government permission to be a pirate but only attacking enemy ships. In 1704, with Britain at war with the Spanish (or at least some of them since confusingly there were Spanish on both sides), Halsey arrived in the Spanish Canary Islands (popular holiday destination and part of Spain, even though they’re stuck out in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa) and attacked assorted Spanish ships.

After all the wars between Spain and Britain, Spain was only too delighted when we rebelled against English rule, and the Spanish crown supplied the rebel colonies with food, ammunition, and intelligence during the American Revolution. King Charles III of Spain even sent livestock to George Washington’s farm at Mount Vernon. Very friendly.

22 Americans fought on board HMS Victory at Trafalgar
However, on October 21, 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson led the Royal Navy to one of the most decisive victories in its history off the coast of Spain at the battle of Trafalgar. Twenty-two Americans served aboard Nelson’s flagship, the Victory, with many more throughout his fleet. A percentage of these were, no doubt, pressed men, those forced to serve in the fleet. Serve, though, they did with honor and shared in the victor’s prize money, as was their right.

In 1815, we again ventured into Spanish waters when, during the Second Barbary War, Commodore Stephen Decatur scored naval victories over Barbary pirates based in Algiers at Cape Gata and Cape Palos off the coast of Spain. On that occasion, even though we were in Spanish waters, we were actually fighting the Barbary pirates rather than the Spanish.
Virgin Mary, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain
But things were getting distinctly less friendly between the United States and Spain. In 1818, Andrew Jackson led a successful invasion of Florida during the First Seminole War, and the Spanish ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, which is how Jacksonville, Florida, got its name.
In 1898, the United States, led by President William McKinley, went into a full-scale war with Spain. In the Spanish-American War, however, despite occasional plans for us to do things, like attack the Canary Islands (again), in the end, there was no actual fighting in Spain. Therefore, we cover that war in the Cuba and Philippines chapters.

In 1936, the Spanish Civil War, as sort of a pre-game warm up for World War II, broke out. It’s a fascinating and important war and deserves to be better known. When General Franco mounted a right-wing military coup against the left-wing Spanish government, foreign volunteers flooded in from across the world to defend the republic, and among them were plenty of Americans. The Soviet Union supported the republic. Hitler and Mussolini supported Franco.
Oliver Law, First African American to Command American forces
The best-known American unit sent to aid the floundering republic was the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, or Battalion, many of its volunteers being members of the Communist Party United States, but there was also a George Washington Battalion, later amalgamated with the Abraham Lincoln unit. The fighting was ferocious, and Americans were in the thick of it in bitter struggles battles, like the Battle of Jarama and the Brunete and Aragon offensives, with horrifying casualty rates to match. Something like eight hundred of the approximately twenty-eight hundred Americans who served in the Spanish Civil War were killed. Oliver Law was a US Army veteran, a Chicago taxicab driver, and a Communist party member; during the Spanish Civil War, he became the first African-American officer to lead an American military unit. Many US veterans of the Spanish Civil War would go on to serve in the OSS during World War II.
The Moment of Death, Robert Capa
Ernest Hemingway and the woman who would later become his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, went to Spain to report on the war. Robert Capa, a friend of Hemingway’s, took his famous dying soldier photograph in the Spanish Civil War (see...http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.com.es/2014/03/capa-hitchcock-rear-window.h).

Even Errol Flynn, a naturalized American citizen, went to Spain as a war correspondent. The Loyalist side attempted to recruit Errol to their side in the conflict and gave him a machine gun, but he decided that killing people for politics in somebody else’s war wasn’t really his cup of tea.
Not all our military involvement with the Spanish Civil War was unofficial, For instance, in August 1936, the destroyer USS Kane was sent to Bilbao in Spain to rescue American citizens. On the way into Bilbao, a three-engine monoplane dropped bombs within a hundred yards, and the ship’s crew had to open fire three times to drive it away. Kane then joined up with USN Squadron 40-T under the command of Arthur P. Fairfield, which during its time in the area rescued hundreds of Americans and others from the war.
Church Door, Ezcaray, Spain
With German assistance, Franco eventually led the Nationalists to victory in the bitter civil war.
Spain officially remained neutral during World War II, though it did send the so-called Blue Division to fight alongside the Germans in Russia, and German U-boats were able to utilize the “neutral” ports of Spain to resupply. Amidst fears that Franco might still join the Axis cause “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the OSS, visited Madrid, and an OSS detachment was established in Spanish Morocco. The OSS made contact with the remnants of the Republican underground and exiled Spanish government to explore the possibility of subverting Franco’s regime, but that was about as far as it got.
Pub / Cafe in Logrono, Spain
"The Wayne in Spain is not to be disdained!"
After the war, fascist Spain was a political pariah for a time, but today Spain is a constitutional monarchy and a member of NATO and the EU.

We have major bases in Spain. Rota, once a sleepy fishing village near Cadiz, has served as a US naval base from 1953 to the present. It is referred to as the “Gateway to the Med” for the US 6th Fleet and other NATO forces since it’s very close to the straits that lead from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The USAF also maintains Morón Air Base in Andalucia."

Travel Notes: Special thanks to Jimmy and Alex of Duvine for guiding me and our group through Spain.  See...www.duvine.com

You can purchase your own signed copy of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
Or you can find regular copies here on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427/

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Sea
Omaha Beach cemetery, Normandy, France

Memorial Day 2016 calls on all Americans this year with particular significance,.  It calls on us to look backward at our past and forward to our future as our nations makes its selection about its next Commander in Chief.

Just last year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end World War II, the worst war in human history.  Americans like lieutenant Dick Winters of the 101st Airborne parachuted into Normandy over seventy years ago in Operation Overlord.  In the Spring of 1945 American soldiers would be discovering the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.  After Eisenhower visited Ohrdruf Concentration Camp that had been liberated by American troops on April 4, he declared: “We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now at least he will know what he is fighting against.”

Eisenhower Statue, Grosvenor Square, London, UK
Over the course of just under four years over 16 million American men and women had served in some capacity in the war.  Today in 2015, less than one million WW2 service vets are still alive.

Just over 400,00 mostly young Americans would never return from their duties in the Second World War.  Some Americans will pay a visit to cemeteries such as Arlington in Virginia and many more around the nation.  Many who paid the ultimate price are, however, buried overseas in twenty-four different overseas cemeteries in eleven different countries.

Throughout its history Europe has been a blood-soaked continent.  Two World Wars scarred the 20th century.  The Napoleonic Wars raged on and off for over 15 years.  The Hundred Years War between France and England actually lasted for 116 years.

After World War II ended the Americans stayed in bases across Europe.  The Marshall Plan helped to rebuild the shattered economies of post war Europe. In 1946 Winston Churchill warned of an “Iron Curtain” that had descended on Eastern Europe.  NATO was founded in 1949 to confront the challenge of Communism.

In 1989 the Cold War finally ended and the Berlin Wall came down.  The defeat of Fascism and Communism was only possible because of the sacrifice of American servicemen and women.

Since 1945 Europe has enjoyed a period of peace, interrupted only by the breakup of Yugoslavia, that is unprecedented in its history.  This long peace was only possible because of the sacrifice of those servicemen and women that we honor on Memorial Day.   Europe and America has benefitted from a historically unprecedented peace.
9/11 Memorial, NY, NY
Simultaneously, Americans have been fighting a war of unprecedented duration. On September 11, 2001 our world suddenly changed.  Since the Fall of 2001 American troops have been engaged in Afghanistan fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  There are soldiers serving today in Afghanistan who were only toddlers when the twin towers in New York were struck by hijacked commercial airliners on that fateful day.

Americans in 2016 confront many dangers. In the middle east we must face the challenge posed by ruthless ISIS operatives who have waged a war against people and even against history itself.  The Syrian Civil war has claimed over 100,000 lives and created the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Recent attacks in Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino remind us that terrorism remains a threat around the world.

This year we Americans will select a new Commander in Chief.  As we go to the polls this November we should reflect upon the need for sound mature judgment in all of our leaders and particularly in our president.  Americans must consider that they are choosing an individual who controls the most powerful military in the world and has the power to end life as we know it.

Memorial Day imposes a duty on all Americans to remember the sacrifice of our fallen heroes and to reflect prayerfully on how best we should steer a course through our dangerous and turbulent world.

Thanks San Francisco Chronicle...http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/This-Memorial-Day-is-particularly-significant-7951760.php?t=542af3388e7d4f3860&cmpid=twitter-premium

Thanks Real Clear History...http://www.realclearhistory.com/articles/2016/05/27/why_this_memorial_day_is_important_236.html

Thanks Investor's Business Daily...http://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/memorial-days-significance-this-election-year/

Thanks Rise News net...http://risenews.net/2016/05/heres-memorial-day-really-matters-election-year/

Thanks Arizona Republic...http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2016/05/27/memorial-day-commander-chief/84871794/

Thanks Palm Beach Post...http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/point-of-view-the-memorial-day-significance-this-e/nrWRM/

Thanks Herald and News...http://www.heraldandnews.com/members/forum/wire_commentary/the-significance-of-memorial-day-in-this-election-year/article_79726e6f-f819-5999-a414-86a444cf642b.html

Thanks Courier-Post...http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2016/05/29/commentary-reflect-past-look-future/85037796/

Thanks Military.com...http://www.military.com/memorial-day/the-significance-of-memorial-day-this-election-year.html

Thanks Lima News...http://limaohio.com/opinion/columns/184367/column-election-year-significance-of-memorial-day

Thanks Tribune Review...http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/10498655-74/war-americans-memorial

Thanks Las Cruces Sun News...http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/opinion/2016/05/29/significance-memorial-day-election-year/85145916/

Thanks Daily Globe...http://www.dglobe.com/opinion/columns/4042437-column-memorial-day-takes-significance-election-year

Thanks Times and Democrat...http://thetandd.com/news/opinion/editorial/memorial-day-significance-amid-election/article_07d9a5bc-ad54-51b3-b0b3-557d66ffd606.html

Thanks Florida Today...http://www.floridatoday.com/story/opinion/columnists/guest-columns/2016/05/30/memorial-days-significance-election-year/85056122/

Christopher Kelly is the co-author of America Invades and Italy Invades.  Signed copies of his books can be found here...

Or regular copies can be found here on Amazon...

Monday, May 16, 2016

No More Champagne

No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money

I know what you are thinking.  "Ye Gods, another book on Churchill?  What fresh insight can really be forthcoming on the well-chronicled life of Winston Spencer Churchill?"  But David Lough HAS managed to plough new ground by going deep into the weeds of Churchill's tortured relationship to money.
Winston Churchill, Parliament Square, London
Churchill was a lifelong risk-taker.  As a boy he injured himself by jumping off of a bridge rather than being caught in a game that resembled "tag" (described in Churchill's classic work My Early Life...www.amzn.com/0684823454)  He banged up his arm playing polo in India.  He participated in the last great cavalry charge at the battle of Omdurman in 1898.  He volunteered to cover the Spanish American War as a war correspondent.  He took up flying in the earliest and riskiest days of manned flight.  So it should really not come as any great surprise that he took risks with money.

David Lough's No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money (www.amzn.com/1250071267) documents Churchill's financial risk-taking behavior in exhaustive detail.  Churchill, despite his aristocratic background, was never a wealthy man.  True he was born in Blenheim Palace, but he never become Duke nor own a palace.  The son of Lord Randolph Churchill did, however, acquire extravagant tastes.  He famously once remarked, "My tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best."  Champagne, liquor and Cuban cigars consumed much of the Churchill household budget.
Clemmie and Winston, Kansas City, MO
Churchill, unlike many of his contemporaries, did not marry for money.  Clementine Hozier was from a good but not well to do family.  Churchill would work extremely hard to make a living and support his large family.   He lived by his wits, writing nearly all his long life.  He wrote journalism, he wrote autobiographies, and, most of all, he wrote history.  The Second World War was his six volume telling of his version of the war (www.amzn.com/039541685X).  It sold over 2 million copies and helped earn him a Nobel prize for literature and 12,000 pounds tax free in 1953.  Churchill prophesied, "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

Churchill was a lifelong inveterate gambler.  He gambled with his life.  He gambled with his cash often usually losing at the casinos of France and Monte Carlo.  This tended to drive Clemmie crazy as her own brother had committed suicide in a Paris hotel room after racking up gambling debts he could not pay.  Near the end of his life Churchill became a horse breeder.  He enjoyed surprising success with horses such as Colonist II who won 9,000 pounds of prize money in 1950.

Churchill was a "plunger" who loved to pick individual stocks when his purse could afford it.  He took investment advice from Bernard Baruch.  He also lost a fortune during the Wall Street Crash of 1929.  Churchill depended often on the kindness of strangers.  The desperate state of his finances was bailed out by generous interest-free loans from sympathetic men such as Sir Henry Strakosch, a mining baron who also owned an interest in The Economist.  He accepted the hospitality of Aristotle Onasis for the sunset of his life.
Original Churchill drawing
Dallas Museum of Art, TX
Churchill fought a lifelong battle with Inland Revenue (the British equivalent of the IRS).  During the 1940s the tax rate on higher income individuals soared to a whopping 98 and 1/2 percent.  This was a major disincentive to realize ordinary income for his writing and speaking activities.  He sought relief in a variety of complex tax dodges.  His home at Chartwell was donated to the National Trust.  He negotiated publishing payments as capital gains rather than ordinary income.  He disputed Inland Revenues contention that he was an artist after accepting a generous payment from Hallmark for use of his paintings.

Winston bust & Author, Bletchley Park, UK
Churchill's financial affairs were occasionally conflicted by his ministerial duties but these were commonplace for the time.  Lough poses an intriguing question in his book's summation when he asks "whether Churchill would have survived scrutiny by the standards of his own day if the details of his finances had become public."  Lough concludes that the press was right to turn a blind eye as "there is no sign...that Churchill ever lined his own pocket while controlling large amounts of public expenditure."

Special thanks to my father in law, Dom Driano, for his kind gift of No More Champagne.

You can find signed copies of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
or regular copies on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427/

An Adventure in 1914 
is coming in the Fall of 2016...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Woodrow Wilson versus Donald Trump!

Woodrow Wilson

Nearly a hundred years ago President Woodrow Wilson led the United States into World War I. In April 1917 he spoke to a joint session of Congress asking for a Declaration of War on the Central Powers.  Americans were fed up with the Kaiser's Unrestricted submarine warfare and annoyed by the Zimmerman telegram -- a crude attempt to sign up Mexico as a Central power ally if the USA should intervene.  Congress soon approved the declaration of war.

Over one hundred thousand American servicemen would be killed over about 20 months from April 1917 until the war ended on Armistice day, November 11, 1918.  To put that in perspective, that sacrifice represents about 25X more than the TOTAL American deaths in the Iraq war from 2003 to 2011.  It also represented about 1/10th of the number of Commonwealth, less than 1/13th the number of French and 1/6th the number of Italian soldiers killed in World War I.  The French and British had been fighting the war since August 1914 and the Italians since April 1915.

If Americans were going to shed so much blood in the war then going "over there" had to make a difference.  It was widely hoped that World War I would be "the war to end all wars".

Woodrow Wilson came to the Paris peace conference with his famous Fourteen Points for setting the world right.  These included freedom of the seas, the restoration of Belgian Sovereignty, the return of Alsace and Loraine to France, the creation of a League of Nations, etc.  Clemenceau, the French premier wryly commented,  "The good Lord only had ten!" (Le bon Dieu n'en avait que dix!).  The former President of Princeton University and History Professor was ready to lecture the world.

Wilson can, perhaps, be accused of self-righteousness but he was articulating American values that were deeply felt at the time.  His touching faith in the League of Nations becoming the arbiter of future conflicts between nations may strike us today as hopelessly naive.  The League would not even be ratified by the US Senate and the US would never become a member.

We Americans did not always live up to our own values but we did have a set of values and a president's duty was to articulate these to the rest of world.  Wilson, imperfect though he was, led us through tragic times with a measure of dignity.  Finally, it was the bifurcation of the Republican party in the election of 1912 (sound familiar) that ushered Wilson into the White House (See...http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/election-of-1912.html).

The Donald
When we fast forward to 2016 the political landscape seems utterly different.  Donald Trump is a major party candidate who cynically seems to revel in his own lack of values http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/what-is-missing-from-trumps-foreign.html).  Everything is negotiable.  And everyone is subject to personal attack.  One can accuse Donald Trump of many things (bravado, arrogance, narcissism, etc.) but self-righteousness is not one of them.  His foreign policy is based on the premise that America has been getting screwed at the negotiating table and that his role would be to re-negotiate the terms.  And this is a message that resonates with many American voters.

He says, correctly, that NATO member countries should pay more for their defense.  He has, incorrectly, called NATO an "outdated" alliance.  He seems to be unaware of the vast sums that South Korea and Japan now pay to support the American garrisons in their respective countries.  He boasts of being "militaristic" but lacks any strategic or military experience (along with ALL current presidential aspirants).

He does not come to lecture but rather to rant.  He does not seek to inspire with lofty rhetoric but rather to bludgeon the other side into submission.  The Fourteen Points have been replaced by Fourteen Tweets a day -- minimum!

Trump really represents a whole new style of American politician.

The world used to look to America to protect itself from bullies; in 2016 we could elect a bully Commander in Chief.  Wilson, believing that America was a force for good in the world, sought American engagement with the world beyond our shores whereas Trump, fearing the duplicity and treachery of the outside world, seems to want to signal an American retreat into an imaginary walled fortress.

Woodrow Wilson, the Professor, wrote many books including one titled On Being Human.  Trump, the real estate billionaire, has written The Art of the Deal.  Wilson could be an insufferable bore.  Trump can be a unholy terror.

Wilson was a combination of knowledge and naïveté.  Trump is a combination of ignorance and boundless self love.  The former was dangerous while the later could be catastrophic.

You can find signed copies of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
or regular copies on Amazon..www.amzn.com/1940598427/

Coming in the Fall of 2016...