Blue Force

by Ted on January 26, 2006

Please welcome Blue Force, a blog dedicated to progressive discussions of military and national security issues, with a special interest in electing military veterans.

This ought to hotten up the blood:

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Tim Russert, Peggy Noonan, or Fred Barnes?

I’ll be in a conference with all three next week. I’m not sure how much face time I’ll have with any of them, but there is a good chance I’ll be able to ask at least one question each.

So: what is the question you’d most like to ask each of those folks?

I’m looking for insightful questions that might set them back on their heels. They’ve thought of all the obvious ones and have their formulaic answers well rehearsed.

Let’s shake them up!

Comment over there, not here.

The Internationale

by Chris Bertram on January 26, 2006

Oh dear oh dear. The last person who ought to be educating the world on the Internationale is Jane Galt who gives “a rather literal translation of the French words over at Asymmetrical Information”: . The first time I sang the Internationale was on Mayday 1978 in Paris when I joined the UNEF contingent on the traditional march. The last time I heard it was when a colleague’s mobile phone rang. She told me, embarrassed, that she’d spent hours programming the tune in and that it had then gone off during a meeting with top university administrators, none of whom would have recognized it but for a BBC documentary about the end of the Soviet Union on the box the night before.

One important thing to get across to an Anglophone audience is that the British and American words are different (what do Australians and Canadians sing, btw?). “Wikipedia”: has a reasonably accurate version of the British words but starts:

bq. Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
Arise, ye prisoners of want.

The version I learnt had “starvelings” for “workers”, “criminals” for “prisoners” (though I remember that being controversial) and, later in the verse, “conditions” for “tradition”.

Having picked up the the anthem by listening to my comrades, I also misunderstood the next two lines for my first year or so of singing it in English. These are are:

bq. For reason in revolt now thunders,
and at last ends the age of cant!

Yes, you’ve guessed it … I imagined this was a reference to the supersession of Kantianism by the Hegelian dialectic. “… at last ends the age of Kant!” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The Army and Vietnam, part 4

by Ted on January 26, 2006

Last post from The Army and Vietnam by Andrew F. Krepinevich. This section describes both the Iraqification and the “oil spot” strategy, in which local forces take over security duty, and pacificed areas spread out and undercut the ability of the insurgents to draw strength from the local population. Eventually, this forces the insurgents back toward the borders and back into low-level harassment. It sounds as good as anything I could come up with. However, a strategy that heavily employs many small, light infantry units is inevitably in conflict with the goal of force protection, as these small units are vulnerable to IEDs and hit and run attacks.

It’s also interesting to note how the analogy with the Vietnam war breaks down with regards to Iraq. Iraqification is probably more difficult than Vietnamization because of the threat of ethnic civil war, and I don’t think that it’s accurate to talk about “guerilla bands that lie in wait just outside the populated areas” in Iraq. But, as always, I might be wrong.

(Comments on the last excerpt were especially good.)

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