Geopolitics

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 27th, 2014

Politics 101

Twice in little over One Century an Enemy Invaded and Overran Russia/the Soviet Union

On June 24, 1812, Napoleon’s Grande Armée invaded Russia.  And made it all the way to Moscow.  Which they took.  But the Russian army didn’t want anything to do with Napoleon or his Grande Armée so they kept retreating in front of it.  Foiling Napoleon’s plans of engaging and defeating the Russian army.  While drawing them deeper and deeper into Russia.  In a scorched earth retreat.  Leaving nothing for the French.  Making it difficult to feed his massive army.  Then the bitter Russian winter came.  Having expected the Russians to have sued for peace by then they had no winter clothing.  Leaving Napoleon no choice but to retreat.

On June 22, 1941, Joseph Stalin’s ally, Adolf Hitler, broke the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  And invaded the Soviet Union.  About one month later than planned due to some trouble their Italian allies were having in the Balkans.  The Nazi armies advanced through the Soviet armies and reached Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad.  Then the bitter Russian winter came.  And like the French the Germans had no winter clothing.  Having expected a victory before the onset of winter.  They tried to hold their ground as they froze and starved.  But the Soviets pushed them back.  Eventually all the way to Berlin.  But not after some 20 million Soviets died.

Twice in little over one century an enemy invaded and overran Russia/the Soviet Union.  Never again vowed the Soviets.  So when they chased the Nazis back into Berlin they kept the territory they were on after the war.  Which is why Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Albania became Soviet satellites.  Countries behind the Iron Curtain.  To provide a buffer to slow down another invasion before it reached Soviet soil.

For the Latter Part of the 20th Century the Soviets tried to extend their Communist Revolution to other Nations

Of course, following World War II it was the Soviets that had an expansionist policy.  A little thing called the communist revolution.  The assault on capitalism.  Replacing it with socialism first.  Then communism.  And as revolutions go they are fought.  With guns.  So the communist revolution was a perpetual state of war interrupted with moments of peace.  A war the Soviets forced onto their neighbors to get them to join them in their socialist/communist utopia.  Something their neighbors didn’t want.  And something their other neighbors, the Western Powers, would try to help them avoid.

The German capital, Berlin, fell in East Germany.  Berlin, however, was a city divided between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.  The Western Allies supplied West Berlin via truck and rail transport.  Until the Soviets closed the borders.  In an effort to force West Berlin into the social utopia that was East Berlin.  Something the West Berliners wanted no part of.  So the Western Powers helped them by supplying the city via the Berlin Airlift.  Eventually the Soviets relented.  And opened the truck and rail transport into West Berlin.

The Soviets tried to spread their socialist utopia to other countries that didn’t want it.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iran.  South Korea.  The United States and the Western Powers helped these countries resist these Soviet advances.  Even fighting a shooting war on the Korean peninsula to push the Soviet and China backed North Korea out of South Korea.  So through the remainder of the 20th century the Soviets tried to extend the communist revolution to other nations.  While the United States tried to thwart their designs.  And stared each other down with their nuclear weapons in the Cold War.  Developing the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).  Meaning that any country that started a nuclear war was going to lose, too, in that nuclear exchange.  It was mutually assured but it really was a warning to the Soviets.  Who had designs on conquering other nations.  Including the United States.  Who had no designs on waging war with the Soviet Union.

Geopolitics is about the Balance of Power

To balance the threat of the Soviet Union the Western Powers formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  For Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, etc., had no chance by themselves against an attacking Soviet Union.  They did as a member of NATO, though.  Where an attack on one was an attack on all.  Which meant if the Soviets attacked the Low Countries they were also attacking France, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.  The Americans even deployed armor units in West Germany.  The Soviets replied with the Warsaw Pact.  A NATO-like organization between the Soviet Union and some of those countries in Eastern Europe they never left after the end of World War II.

And there was peace.  What we call the Pax Americana.  The American peace.  For it was the awesome might of the American military that gave NATO its teeth.  With troops deployed around the world.  Air forces stationed within striking distances of potential hotspots.  The mightiest navy ever to ply the oceans.  A huge nuclear arsenal.  And the greatest economy in the world that could pay for all of this while the American people still lived a happy and carefree life with all of the comforts a capitalist society could give.  Something the socialism/communism of the Soviet Union could not.  For the people in the Soviet sphere waited for apartments, cars and groceries.  Large extended families crowded into small apartments.  And people waited in lines at stores with empty shelves.  Which explains why the Soviets required a brutal secret police force.  The KGB.

People in the Soviet sphere who learned of how much better life was in the West tried to escape to the West.  This is why they built the Berlin Wall.  Not to keep West Berliners from sneaking into that socialist utopia inside East Berlin.  But to keep the East Berliners from escaping that socialist utopia.  For the only way you can get people to live in that socialist/communist utopia is by force.  And you have to spread the communist revolution not to make life better for people in capitalist societies.  But to destroy that better life across the border from communist societies.  To extinguish that beacon of liberty that keeps luring their people from their oppressive police state.  Something Russia is returning to.  As Vladimir Putin slowly but surely reassembles the Soviet Union.  Not to reconstitute the buffer to protect Russia from another invasion.  But simply because he wants to.  And can.  So far, at least.

Geopolitics is about the balance of power.  Some like to maintain a balance of power to keep the peace.  Like the Romans, the British and the Americans did with their Pax Romana, Pax Britannica and Pax Americana.  Where the prevailing superpower kept the peace.  While others are more interested in acquiring power than peace.  Like Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Putin.  Who didn’t have strong economies.  And used force to get what they wanted.  Raw materials.  Food.  Or a warm water port in the Crimea.  And they are always looking for a weakness in their enemies to alter the balance of power.  For they were/are masters of geopolitics.  And want to redraw the borders of the world.  To restore the former glory of a past empire.  Or to realize some glorious destiny they believe God has planned for the nation.

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LESSONS LEARNED #64: “National security can be a messy business. Especially when your enemies don’t play by the same rules.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2011

Stalin Contained in Europe and Asia

Following the defeat of Nazi Germany, Soviet communism filled the Nazi world conquest void.  The Soviets paid the highest price in blood in the war against Hitler.  And the way they looked at it, that gave them the deed to any land the Red Army found itself on after hostilities came to an end.  Those countries who once welcomed their Soviet liberators from Nazi oppression soon found themselves under Soviet oppression.  The Soviets weren’t going anywhere.  They stayed in Eastern Europe.  They tried to stay in Iran but the British and the Americans got them to pull out, thanks in large part to America’s nuclear status.  Communist guerillas in Greece that once harassed the Nazis were trying to ascend to power with the help of the Soviets.  The Truman Doctrine checked the Soviet influence and kept Greece independent and out of the Soviet camp.  Russia was once again trying to take Turkish lands to give them that elusive warm water port via the Bosporus and Dardanelles into the Mediterranean.  Again, the Truman Doctrine helped keep the Turks independent and out of the Soviet sphere.

The German capital, Berlin, was completely inside East Germany.  But it was partitioned between East and West.  This was a problem for the Soviets as the people in East Germany didn’t like them, the KGB or the East German Stasi (which formed in 1950).  East Berlin was a gateway to freedom via West Berlin.  The first attempt to shut this down was the Berlin Blockade.  Truman overcame the blockade with the Berlin Airlift.  Thwarted, the Soviets lifted their blockade.  But then built the Berlin Wall to keep the unhappy East Germans from fleeing Soviet oppression.  West Berlin remained free within un-free East Germany.  And was still the gateway to freedom.  Only attaining freedom was a lot more difficult, with many East Germans dying in the attempt.

Being rebuffed in Eastern Europe, Berlin, Greece, Turkey and Iran, Stalin looked next to the Korean peninsula.  President Truman had hastened the end of World War II with the atomic bombings in the Pacific for a couple of reasons.  One was to spare American lives resulting from an invasion of the Japanese homeland.  The body count had only increased as MacArthur island-hopped his way to Japan.  Another reason was to get the Japanese to surrender before the Soviet Union could get the Red Army on more territory in the Pacific.  Because Truman saw the writing on the wall.  The Soviets never willingly left land the Red Army occupied.  With the end of hostilities in the Pacific, and the Japanese out of the Korean peninsula, the Allies partitioned Korea into North and South.  The Soviets occupied the North.  The Americans the South.  The Soviet sponsored North Korea eventually invaded the American sponsored South Korea, inaugurating the first open conflict by proxy in the Cold War.  After three years of a seesaw war, North and South signed an armistice setting the border between the two where it was in the beginning.  At the 38th Parallel.  Though the Korean War was a draw, it was still another Soviet defeat.  Who began to realize this world domination was trickier than it looked.  Especially when there were do-gooders out their like the United States always mucking up the works.

Eisenhower to Kennedy, Regime Changes and near Nuclear Annihilation

So the Soviets changed gears.  No more wars of invasion and conquest.  They had a new idea.  Wars of liberation.  They would help foment dissent in countries under the boot of American Imperialism.  Or at least in countries closer to America than the Soviet Union.  With America being in the Western Hemisphere that, of course, led the Soviets to Central and South America.  With the close of hostilities on the Korean peninsula in 1953, the Americans were now suspect of any communist-like behavior, eager to avoid another bloody and costly proxy war with the Soviet Union.  And they saw some in 1954 Guatemala.  Where the newly elected Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán started seizing private property and instituted agrarian reforms.  Along communist lines.  With more public property.  And less private property.  The developments in Guatemala may not have been Soviet in origin.  But it looked enough like it for President Eisenhower to approve a CIA coup in Guatemala.

After going through World War II and the Korean War, Eisenhower wanted to fight future wars before they became wars.  Like in Guatemala.  And elsewhere.  As in Cuba.  Where Eisenhower approved planning for Regime change in this Caribbean nation following the Cuban Revolution that ousted Fulgencio Batista who had seized power in a coup.  Putting the revolutionaries Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in power.  Once in power, the new revolutionary government did some very ‘communist’ things.  Seized private property.  Nationalized public utilities.  Created a bit of a police state.  The usual things.  But it was worse than in Guatemala.  And closer.  So President Kennedy approved the Eisenhower plan of regime change.  And we call that CIA plan the Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Which, of course, failed.  Unlike Eisenhower, Kennedy did not support this black ops mission with the U.S. military to stave off defeat.  So Castro, his brother, Guevara, and others, defeated the CIA backed Cuban exiles.  Which empowered Castro.  And pushed him closer to the Soviet Union. 

You know what Nikita Khrushchev saw when he looked across the Black Sea?  American nuclear missiles in Turkey.  Figuratively, of course.  Not literally.  He couldn’t even see the Turkish coast let alone missile installations.  But he knew they were there.  And that really got in his craw.  And the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion with the young and apparently reluctant American president provided just the opportunity he needed.  He would install Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.  And try this young and inexperienced president.  Castro was all for it, fearing another U.S. invasion (he apparently thought far more of Kennedy than the Soviets).  Guevara, too.  Because he was just reckless.  And crazy, as it turned out.  Well, the secret deployment was discovered by a U-2 spy plane.  Caught the Soviets with their pants down.  We threw up a naval blockade.  Came to the brink of nuclear war.  But Kennedy stood his ground.  The Soviets backed down and removed their missiles.  And then the Americans removed the missiles that had so bothered Khrushchev.  This last was part of a secret agreement to keep the young American president from looking bad.  But the Soviets were a little glad to remove their missiles from Cuba.  Because Guevara wanted to nuke the United States.  And probably would have if he had control of those missiles.

From Iranian Coup to Iranian Revolution

Oil underground is useless.  It only has value when someone brings it up where it can be refined into something useful.  And that’s what the British did in Iran.  The Iranians did not like the split of profits (they were only getting 16% of the net profits which was greater than the 0% they were receiving before the British pumped the oil out of the ground).  Anytime there is huge money involved, there’s going to be trouble.  And after the oil infrastructure was set up the Iranians nationalized the oil industry.  Which didn’t make the British happy.  So they pulled their expertise from the Iranian oil industry and blockaded their oil exports.  The Iranians were not as good as the British and their production fell.  And what little they did produce they could not sell.  This led to unemployment, hunger, etc.  All the right conditions for a coup.

Truman was not interested.  He had his hands full with the Korean War.  But Eisenhower saw things differently.  Especially when the British told him Iran may fall into the Soviet sphere.  And with her would go all of that oil.  Eisenhower believed this.  For there was nothing more the Soviets would have wanted.  They’d still be in Iran if the British and the U.S. (backed by the United States’ nuclear monopoly) didn’t persuade them to leave following World War II.  So Eisenhower joined the British in the coup that placed Mohammad Reza Shah (aka, the Shah of Iran) on the throne in 1953.  And placed Iran into the American sphere.  And everyone lived happily ever after.  The West got Iranian oil on more favorable terms.  And the Middle East got a burning white hatred for the United States and the West in general.  Who apparently would do anything to steal their oil.  So that ‘happily ever after’ was more tongue in cheek.  It ended well in terms of the Cold War.  But not in terms of the nationalism or geopolitics of the Middle East.  For it turns some people can hold a grudge for a real long time.

Shah-rule proved at times to be rather oppressive.  And highly Western.  Democratic, anti-Shah protests began in 1977.  First by Islamists.  Who didn’t really like Western influence.   Then eventually well-educated and unemployed college students (men and women).  Who wanted more freedoms.  And jobs.  Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in 1979.  As the democratic revolution grew in fervor, Khomeini consolidated his power behind the scenes.  There were no public statements about creating a theocracy.  Because the people didn’t want a theocracy.  Especially the women who had graduated from college with great hopes and dreams.  Because in a theocracy, women become second-class citizens with fewer rights.  And fewer hopes and dreams.

There was then a referendum asking if Iran should be an Islamic Republic.  It passed with near unanimity.  A draft constitution was put up to vote on.  It passed, too.  Some complained about voting irregularities.  Which became moot when Khomeini stated Iran would be based on Shari Law.  With no republic parts.  Then the Shah (now in exile) went to the United States for medical treatment.  Complications extended his stay, infuriating the Iranian protesters (who wanted him back to try and execute) and ratcheting up the American hate (who recalled the 1953 coup).  Young Islamists stormed the U.S. Embassy taking 52 hostages, holding them for 444 days.  Sunni Iraq then invaded Iran, fueling the Islamist furor.  The Islamists suppressed political opposition.  Shut down the free press.  Made women second-class citizens.  And, well, the rest is hardcore Islamist theocratic history.

Conquerors Lie and Exploit Political Instability

The world is a big place.  Sometimes events are interrelated.  Sometimes they’re not.  Sometimes we pay a price for acting too late.  And sometimes we pay a price for acting too soon.  Sometimes our actions prevent a bad situation from getting worse.  Sometimes our actions make a bad situation worse.  Or even makes a not necessarily bad situation a complete and utter disaster.  You never can be certain.  For one thing, everyone has some ulterior motive.  Sometimes those motives align with your national security interests.  Sometimes they don’t.  Unfortunately, we can never know for certain at the time we need to make a decision.  We can only base it on our current intelligence.  And history.

One thing we do know, though, is that there are people who want to conquer other people.  Hitler wanted to conquer the world and spread Nazi rule.  Stalin wanted to conquer the world and spread communist rule.  And now Islamist fundamentalists want to conquer the world and spread Islamist rule.  How do we know this?  They told us.  And demonstrated this by their actions.

Two other key points we can learn from history.  Those who want to conquer lie.  And they exploit political instability.  Hitler lied about his intentions in Czechoslovakia and took advantage of a war-weary Europe still recovering from the Great Depression.  Khrushchev lied about placing missiles in Cuba.  Which he placed in Cuba by taking advantage of the political instability following the failed Bay of Pig Invasion.  And Khomeini lied about his intentions in Iran knowing the people didn’t want a theocracy.  And he took advantage of the chaos of the democracy uprisings and other events to steer the nation where he wanted it to go.  Islamic theocracy.

The Nazi threat gave way to the Communist threat.  Which gave way to the Islamist threat.  So we should pay close attention to any country with political instability/democracy movements.  That has any Islamist elements.  Especially one that feels they’ve been wronged by the United States.  For that would be the perfect storm in the Islamic world.

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North Korea Speaks Loudly but Hits with a Small Stick. So Far.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 23rd, 2010

FDR Gave Joseph Stalin Eastern Europe

How did we get this North Korean problem?

After World War II, the Soviets tried to spread communism.  And Roosevelt helped.  He gave Joseph Stalin Eastern Europe.  The German capital, Berlin, was inside East Germany.  The Allies partitioned it.  The United States, Great Britain and France split the West side.  The Soviets took the East.  And West Berlin was a thorn in Stalin’s side.  It was a gateway to the West for those oppressed under Soviet Communism in the East.

FDR liked Uncle Joe Stalin.  Both were Progressives.  And Stalin did Progressivism in a grand way.  The only problem was that the people didn’t want it.  They tried to escape from the heavy hand of Soviet rule.  So Stalin built a wall in Berlin.

Then, to seal the deal, he cut the rail lines into West Berlin.  He was going to starve the West Berliners into submission.  The West initiated the Berlin Airlift to relieve the besieged Berliners.  Stalin relented.  He restored rail service.  And the West checked the spread of communism in Europe.

The Soviets tried to expand into Greece, Turkey and Iran

The Soviets changed tactics.  They tried to entice Western nations into the Soviet Sphere.  To check the spread of Communism into Greece and Turkey, President Truman kept them into the Western sphere with generous U.S. aid.

During World War II, American aid for the Soviets fighting the Nazis came through Iran.  When the war ended, the Soviets didn’t want to leave Iran.  They wanted those warm water ports.  And that land in between those ports and the Soviet Union.  American support and aid to Iran eventually forced the Soviets to leave Iran.

Rebuffed in Iran, the Soviets found success in China.  And North Korea.  Truman implemented his Truman Doctrine to contain any further Soviet/communist expansion.  And, in 1950, this turned into a shooting war on the Korean peninsula.

The Cold War Heats Up

We call the standoff between East and West the Cold War.  The Soviet Union tried to spread communism.  The West tried to contain communism.  And the Cold War heated up on the Korean Peninsula.

The North Koreans invaded South Korea.  The United Nations fought back.  With General MacArthur in command, he pushed the North Koreans out of South Korea.  And he kept on going.  Pushed them all the way back to the Yalu River (the border with China).

And then the Chinese entered the war.  They poured over the border and pushed the U.N. force back.  Eventually, the front ended up about where it started.  At the 38th parallel, the military demarcation line to this day between the North and South.  There was an armistice to halt combat operations.  But no formal peace treaty.

The North Korean Ruling Elite Didn’t Lose, but their People Did

South Korea remained in the Western Sphere and prospered.  North Korea remained in the Soviet Sphere and stagnated.  With the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea suffered from energy shortages and recurring famine.  The country is a mess.  The ruling elite have food.  But millions of North Koreans have starved to death over the years.

North Korea is a closed and isolated nation.  With a strict censorship of all media, the people know only the ruling party propaganda.  The ruling elite told great lies to the people to keep them from rising up.  They flipped the truth.  North Korea was rich and prosperous.  The United States was oppressing her people, starving them, invading other countries, etc.  A lot of North Koreans fear the United States.  And will suffer great deprivations to support their leader.

Which brings us to today.  With no one to turn to and being incapable of providing for their own people, they need Western aid.  But that often comes with conditions.  Such as lightening up on the human rights violations.  Which they are none too keen on.  If the people in North Korea do not live in fear and intimidation, they may threaten the ruling elite’s power hold.  So they have to find ingenious ways of getting the West to provide aid with fewer conditions.

North Korea Speaks Loudly but Hits with a Small Stick

North Korea likes to cause trouble.  Be provocative.  Threaten the West with annihilation.  Shoot people.  Blow things up.  Anything to get the attention of the West.  So the West will give them stuff to calm them down.  The latest provocative action involved the shelling of a South Korean island (see North Korea fires artillery barrage on South by Jung Ha-Won, Agence France Presse, posted 11/23/2010 on Yahoo! News).

North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing one person, setting homes ablaze and triggering an exchange of fire as the South’s military went on top alert.

Which was more bad news upon previous bad news.

The firing came after North Korea’s disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment programme — a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb — which is causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.

Which was upon previous bad news.

Tensions have been acute since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which Seoul says was the result of a North Korean torpedo attack. Pyongyang has rejected the charge.

Russia and China Grow Uneasy with North Korea’s Provocations

Even past Cold War allies are not happy with this latest action (see World edgy on Korea, Russia sees “colossal danger” by Peter Apps, London, posted 11/23/2010 on Reuters).

“It is necessary to immediately end all strikes,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a visit to the Belarusian capital Minsk. “There is a colossal danger which must be avoided. Tensions in the region are growing.”

China, the impoverished North’s only powerful ally, was careful to avoid taking sides, calling on both Koreas to “do more to contribute to peace.

And why is China being so careful (see The Next Korean War? by Leslie H. Gelb posted 11/23/201 on The Daily Beast).

Beijing simply won’t take a stance against the North, no matter what it does, for fear that this Communist regime will collapse and leave China to pick up the pieces.

The North Korean Problem

North Korea is a problem.  It’s a little like slavery in 19th century America.  There’s tragic human suffering.  And no easy solution to the problem.  If the current regime falls, some nation (or nations) will have to absorb the huge costs of reincorporating the North Korean people into an open society.  Feed them.  Deprogram them.  Prevent them from devolving into civil war (the oppressed versus the ruling elite and their huge standing army). 

The costs will be staggering.  So great that maintaining the status quo is the easy option.  Even though it condemns the North Korean people.  And leaves a ruling elite in power that may go rogue and do something nuclear.

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LESSONS LEARNED #31: “Islam and guns are a lot alike. And yet when something bad happens, we try to ban one and forgive the other.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 16th, 2010

PEACE IN OUR TIME

What do you know about the Goths?  The Visigoths?  The Ostrogoths?  The Vandals?  The Franks.  Do you even know who these people are?  The Romans did.  And they were a pain in their ass.

The Great Migration of Huns from Asia into Europe displaced these European Germanic tribes.  Which brought them into contact with the Roman Empire.  The Romans then brought some into the empire.  First into the legions that were protecting the frontier against these displaced Germanic tribes.  Then some Germans commanded these legions.  Then the Romans built entire legions from these Germanic people.  Germans faced Germans on the frontier.  Loyalties tugged between empire and blood.  When the empire began to crumble, blood often won out.  And when the Western Roman Empire fell, these Germanic tribes stepped into the void.  Picked up the Roman banner and became the Holy Roman Empire.  Some of the Germanic tribes founded nations.  Spain, France and England.  But not Germany.  Not yet.

 It took the Franco-Prussian War (1870) to unite the German people into a nation.  And into the dominate Central European power at that.  That dominance ended in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles.  Germany lost Alsace-Lorraine (which they took during the Franco-Prussian War).  She lost territory that became a reconstituted Poland (which separated her from East Prussia).  She had to take sole responsibility for causing World War I (which was unfair to say the least).  And pay reparations to the victors that would take forever and a day to pay.  The German people were not happy.  As was a decorated army corporal.  Adolf Hitler.

Hitler made it clear that he was going to restore the German empire.  The third in the line of empires.  A Third Reich.  Successor to the Holy Roman Empire.  And it would last a thousand years.  He established the official Nazi ideology (racial purity and the Master Race).  He renounced portions of the Versailles Treaty.  Began to rearm.  These actions worried the Allies.  But Hitler assuaged their worries in a speech given 5/21/1935.  He said Germany wanted peace.  And only peace.  The Allies breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Then he remilitarized the Rhineland.  Annexed Austria.  Then came Munich.  Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, met with Hitler, concerned.  Hitler assured Chamberlain that this was his last territorial grab.  After all, Germany wanted peace.  And only peace.  So those at Munich gave the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland to Germany.  (Incidentally, the Czechs weren’t at Munich).  Chamberlain returned to England announcing they had attained “peace for our time.”  Soon thereafter, Germany took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  And one non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union to partition Poland later, Hitler invaded Poland, starting World War II.  So, no, they did not have peace in for their time.

FROM STETTIN IN THE BALTIC TO TRIESTE IN THE ADRIATIC AN IRON CURTAIN HAS DESCENDED ACROSS THE CONTINENT

Franklin Delano Roosevelt loved Joseph Stalin.  He liked what he was doing in the Soviet Union.  Now there was some Big Government doing big things.  Just like he was doing.  Only on a grander scale.  Then that non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany just broke his heart.  But the gods were smiling down on FDR.  Hitler turned on Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union.  Killed some 20 million Soviets.  FDR was elated.  He could embrace Uncle Joe again.

FDR said he could talk to Stalin.  Turn on the old FDR charm.  So he tried.  At the Yalta Conference where the Big Three (FDR, Churchill and Stalin) discussed the post-war world.  His plan was bold.  Give Stalin everything.  Ask for nothing.  And then Uncle Joe will work with him in establishing world peace and democracy.  He had a hunch it would work.  I mean, once he turned on that FDR charm, well, FDR got what FDR wanted.

But his administration was full of Soviet spies.  He stayed in the Soviet embassy (to show his trust of Stalin).  They bugged it.  The Soviets knew everything.  Not a strong negotiating position.  For FDR and Churchill, that is.  It was a very strong position for Stalin.  He could whisper whatever sweet nothings FDR wanted to hear.  Lie through his teeth.  In the end, he got Eastern Europe.  Instead of a Nazi occupation, it would now be a Soviet occupation.  Some saw Stalin for who he was.  Winston Churchill, for one.  Later, in 1946, he tried to warn us about Stalin.  He came to America and spoke at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.  He said:

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

The old warhorse was right.  Stalin had no visions of democracy.  He wanted to conquer.  To spread communism.  And he did.  In Eastern Europe.  Wherever the Red Army was at the end of World War II the Red Army stayed.  Where they weren’t he tried to use the local communist parties (i.e., the Fifth Columns) in their stead.  To stir up trouble.  Eat away the nations from within.  To gradually convert them to communism.  Sometimes he used blunt force.  As in the coup d’état in Czechoslovakia.   American aid helped Western Europe, Greece and Turkey to rebuff Stalin’s advances there.  West Berlin, inside of East Germany behind the Iron Curtain, was a thorn in his side.  So he tried to blockade it.  Which we relieved with the Berlin Airlift.  Our guy in China (Chiang Kai-shek) lost to Mao Tse-tung in the Chinese Civil War making most of Asia communist.  This was the Cold War.  East vs. West.  Communism vs. Democracy.  The Soviet Union vs. the United States.  The Cold War at times got hot.  As the two superpowers fought each other by proxy.  In Korea.  Cuba (the Bay of Pigs was the hot part.  The more dangerous part was the cold part, playing nuclear chicken).  Vietnam.  The Iran-Iraq War.  Nicaragua.  And in a place called Afghanistan.

MR. GORBACHEV, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL

The Soviet Union supplied a lot of military hardware that killed a lot of Americans in the Vietnam War.  We returned the favor in Afghanistan.  And helped liberate the Afghanis from the Soviet Occupation.  The Soviet mechanized army and their Hind attack helicopters fought an impoverished and ill-equipped force.  The Mujahedeen.  Who soon got international support.  And U.S. antiaircraft Stinger missiles.  And the Soviet Union had their Vietnam.

Ronald Reagan grew weary of the Cold War.  He wanted to end it.  He understood collectivism.  And he knew history.  Capitalism worked.  Collectivism didn’t.  So he would turn up the pressure.  While the Soviets bled money in Afghanistan, he modernized our nuclear forces.  Proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative.  Spent money on defense.  And gave America an unprecedented decade of prosperity.  The Soviets tried to keep pace.  But couldn’t.  They couldn’t even feed their own people.  On June 12, 1987, in front of the Berlin Wall, at the Brandenburg Gate, Reagan said:

“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

In time he did.  Or, rather, stopped trying to prevent it from happening.  And Reagan consigned the Evil Empire to the “ash heap of history.”  Which left the Mujahedeen well armed, well financed and without a fight.

TO THE VICTORS GO THE SPOILS

The Western Roman Empire fell to the Germanic tribes but the Eastern Empire held on for a few more centuries.  It wouldn’t be the Germans causing her ultimate demise.  No.  The Eastern Empire fall to the Arabs.  Islam spread west from the Arabian desert into Egypt and across North Africa and up into Spain.  Saladin (revered Islamic hero) wrested the Holy Land from the Christians and then fought off the Christian Crusades when they tried to take it back.  Islam advanced across the Bosporus and into the Balkans before the European Christians finally stopped them.  A good chunk of the Christian Roman Empire was now Muslim.  And remained so for centuries.  Until World War I.  When Ottoman Turkey was on the losing side of the Great War.

After the war, Great Britain occupied some of the former Muslim lands.  Protected the Suez Canal for her shipping lanes to India and the Far East.  And to her oil interests.  Also, the League of Nations designated that Great Britain should administer the territory comprised of Palestine and Transjordan.  This British Mandate also included a provision for a future Jewish homeland in the Palestine territory.  Long story short, that happened in 1947 when the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition these territories into Jewish and Arab states.  The following year, May 14, the day before the British Mandate expired, the state of Israel came into existence. 

The Arabs didn’t agree to that deal.  Of course, the Jews didn’t like the Roman occupation.  And the Christians didn’t like the Muslim occupation of the Holy Land.  But to the victors go the spoils.  Not enjoying being on the loser’s side, they wanted Palestine back.  In fact, they want all of the land that used to be Muslim back.  Lands they gained by military conquest but later lost to military conquest.  They want to re-conquer lost land.  And conquer new.  One man in particular.  A Saudi who joined the Mujahedeen.  Osama bin Laden.  Who would lead his unemployed freedom fighters into a new line of work.  In a new organization.  Al Qaeda.

WORLD CONQUEST ISN’T NEW

The Romans conquered the known world.  Hitler had ambitious plans to do the same.  Ditto for Stalin.  (Even Mussolini wanted to restore the Roman Empire.)  And on 9/11/2001, that’s what Osama bin Laden was trying to do.  His devastating attack on the U.S. was to cause a spontaneous uprising by Muslims throughout the world.  There was none.  He failed.  He would be no Saladin.  He would rule little more than a network of caves on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.  And be remembered as just another terrorist.  But his dream is shared by others.  And they’ve no doubt learned a lot from the Nazis.  And the Communists. 

There are elements within Islam, the so-called few who pervert this great religion of peace, that want to see bin Laden’s vision realized.  They’re using force.  Lying.  Trying to convert from within.  And turn to our constitution whenever anyone confronts them.  But these ambassadors of peace won’t condemn terrorist organizations or recognize the state of Israel.  They demand that everyone accommodate Islam while Islam accommodates only Islam.  They say that the U.S. was responsible for 9/11.  Even that the U.S. orchestrated 9/11 and blamed it on the Muslim world.  There is cause for concern.

A FEW IS ENOUGH

Not all Germans were Nazis but we still fought Nazi ideology.  We fought the communist ideology because it called for the conquest of western capitalism.  Ideology counts.  Not all Muslims are ‘the few who pervert’ but we should, at least, be on our guard against Islam.  Because how do we know who is lying?  If we err on the side of caution, all Americans (including Muslim Americans) are safe.  If we don’t, Americans can die.  Including Muslim Americans.

History has shown that the descendents of empire want to restore empire.  That people who lost land want to get that land back.  And ideological purity kills people.  That tells me we should be wary of a highly ideological people who once had an empire and desperately covets land.  And if we can’t know who those few are, it would be irresponsible not to be on our guard against anyone who might be one of those few. 

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