I Will See God

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Job 19:25-27, Job says, "I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another..."

Job suffered greatly.  He lost his fortune; he lost his children; he lost his health.  Yet he had this hope, "I will see God!"  James 5:11 says, "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."  God rescued Job from his troubles and gave him twice as much as he previously had.

Things may not always go well for you in this life, but remember this, you will see God.  Live so that on the day you see Him, your heart will fill with joy.  Live so that He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  

In Romans 8:18, Paul says, "I reckon the the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."  Everything may not seem to go well; someday we may die, but we have a hope that is steadfast and sure: our Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.  Nothing on this earth can  be compared with His gift of eternal life.  Nothing on earth can separate us from His love.

My prayer for today is, "Lord Jesus, give us the strength to trust you fully and completely.  Give us the joy of your Holy Spirit, and help us to have the faith to know that someday we will see you in your glory."

I know I will see God.  The world may be hopeless and confused, but I will see Jesus and everything will be all right.

My Lamp

Monday, April 22, 2013

"Thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.  For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall."  --2 Samuel 22:29-30

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."  --Psalm 119:105

In Isaiah 42:16, God promises, "I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known:  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.  These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."  

2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."  Before I was saved, I was spiritually blind.  [But] "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

God wants to take our confusion, our fears, and the darkness of death that surrounds us, and fill our hearts with his glorious light, peace, and joy.  He is the good shepherd.  He wants to lead us in straight paths.  We must read His word, the Bible, the roadmap to life.  He is the light of the world.

Truth is often obfuscated in our time, but He is the way, the truth and the life.  Christ is omniscient and omnipotent.  And Jesus promised, "whosoever followeth after me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life."

Let us pray as the psalmist prayed, "O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles."  (Psalm 43:2)  

Jesus Christ is our Lamp and our Hope in a dark world.

What I Learned From Westerns: Gun Control

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Movies, shows, and books are created with a purpose.  The screenwriter/author wants to get a point across, and while you may be watching/reading just for entertainment, the screenwriter is trying to give you a message--perhaps good, perhaps bad.

One recurring message I've noticed in old Westerns is about the dangers of gun control.

The Rifleman: The Anvil Chorus
     This show demonstrates that although gun control may be first instituted with good intentions, people with bad intentions can quickly use the situation for their own good.

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."  --Cesare Beccaria (Crimes and Punishment)

Wanted Dead or Alive: The Tyrant

"One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms."  --Joseph Story, 1840

"To disarm the people... was the best and most effectual way to enslave them."  --George Mason

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined."  --Patrick Henry

 In most towns in the old Westerns where gun control was enforced, it was enforced because a gang was in power and they were afraid an armed populace would take away their power: see also Black Saddle: Client Travers and (Part 2)

Throughout history when wicked men who want to enslave the populace and enjoy complete power are in authority, they do institute gun control.  For example, Nazi Germany under Hitler instituted the 1938 German Weapons Act.  

I could go on about the importance of the Second Amendment and man's inherent right to self-defence, but this post is mainly for the benefit of those who already acknowledge these rights.  As we approach another anniversary of the "Shot heard Round the World" fired at Lexington green in resistance to the British attempt to confiscate arms from Americans, I thought it was great to see a few shows from back in the good old days when propaganda went the other way.

In closing, enjoy this Glock commercial.  With an armed populace, criminals don't appear to stand much of a chance.

"Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom."-- John F. Kennedy

Wilbur and Orville Wright

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible," Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society announced in 1895.  Charles Duell, Commissioner for the US Office of Patents, stated in 1899, "Everything that can be invented has been invented."  Perhaps he had forgotten that in the first century A.D. Julius Frontinus had said the same thing: "Inventions reached their limit long ago, and I see no hope for further development."

Even Wilbur Wright in 1908 admitted, "I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years...Ever since, I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions.".

Wilbur Wright was born 146 years ago today--on April 16, 1867--in Indiana.  Orville was born in 1871.  Neither received high school diplomas: Wilbur did not get his after 4 years of high school because of a sudden move, and Orville dropped out of school after his junior year to start a printing business in 1889.  He and Wilbur had designed and built their own printing press.  They started a weekly newspaper called The West Side News in Dayton, Ohio.  Orville was listed as the publisher and Wilbur as the editor.  In 1890 the paper became a daily, The Evening Item, but this lasted for only 4 months, and the Wrights shifted their focus toward commercial printing.

In 1892, they opened a bicycle repair and sales shop, and in 1896 they began manufacturing their own brand of bicycles. They used their earnings from these endeavors to fund their interest in flight.  They paid close attention to the research of Otto Lilienthal of Germany, who experimented with gliders until his death in a glider crash in August of 1896.  They read and studied all they could about the experiments of other inventors in the aeronautical field.  The death of another inventor, Percy Pilcher, in a hang-gliding crash reinforced their views that a reliable method of pilot control was the key to success.

In 1900, the brothers journeyed to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to begin their experiments.  Their first experiments focused on the glider.  They made wind-tunnel tests with over 200 types of wings, and gradually worked to improve glider design.  They also discovered the true purpose of a movable vertical rudder, and developed three-axis control with wing-warping for roll (lateral motion), forward elevation for pitch (up and down) and rear rudder for yaw (side to side).

In 1903, the powered Wright Flyer 1 was built with spruce, muslin for wing coverings, wooden propellers, and a gasoline engine developed in their bicycle shop.  The propeller drive chains were supplied by a manufacturer of heavy-duty automobile chain-drives.  The Flyer had a 40.3 foot wingspan and weighed 605 pounds; it's engine was 12 horsepower  and weighed 180 pounds.  In all, the Flyer cost less than a thousand dollars (in contrast with the more than $50,000 the U.S. Government gave to Samuel Langley to develop his unsuccessful man-carrying powered flight machine the "Great Aerodrome.")

The brothers suffered from delays because of broken propellers, the engine stalling, and various difficulties.  Finally, on December 17th, Orville made the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight of 120 feet in 12 seconds.  Two more flights were made the same day of 175 feet (Wilbur) and 300 feet (Orville) at about 10 feet above the ground.  In the last flight of the day, Wilbur covered 852 feet in about 59 seconds before the plane hit the ground with minor damage.  However, later in the day it was whipped severely by the wind, damaged, and never flew again.  Five men witnessed the flights, but the flights did not generate public excitement.  The Dayton Journal at first even refused to publish the story.  

In 1904, they built the second Wright Flyer and continued their experiments at an airfield they set up at Huffman Prairie, a cow pasture about 8 miles from Dayton.  The Wright brothers began withdrawing from their bicycle business to focus all the efforts on the improvement of their invention.   They built the third Flyer in 1905 with important design changes which improved stability and control and soon were able to make long flights ranging from 11 to 24 miles.

Since few people had seen their early flights, there was widespread skepticism.

In 1908 Wilbur flew demonstration flights in France and Orville in Washington D.C.  Flyers had been modified to include a passenger seat, so they were able to take a passenger with them.  They catapulted to world-wide fame overnight due to French enthusiasm, and former doubters issued apologies and praised their invention.  On September 9th, Orville made the first hour long flight.  However, on September 17th, Orville and his passenger Thomas Selfridge crashed.  Selfridge was killed, becoming the first airplane crash fatality,  and Orville was badly hurt, suffering a broken leg, 4 broken ribs, and 3 fractures in his hip.  Stunned by the accident, Wilbur redoubled his efforts in France and set new records for altitude and duration.  In 1909, Orville and their sister Katherine joined him in France and they became the three most famous people in the world for a time.  The kings of Spain, Italy, and England came to watch Wilbur fly.  When they returned to the U.S., they were invited to the White House and President Taft presented them with awards.  They sold an airplane to the U.S. Signal Corps for $30,000.  Wilbur flew in New York City's Hudson-Fulton Celebrations, circling the Statue of Liberty, making a 33 minute flight up and down the Hudson River, and solidly establishing the brothers' fame in the U.S.

However, the rest of the brothers' lives did not come without problems, they fought patent struggles and lawsuits, and their preoccupation with legal issues stifled their work on new designs.  

The Wright Company was incorporated in November of 1909.  The brothers sold their patents to the company for $100,000 and also received a third of the shares plus a royalty on every airplane sold.  The Wright Company flew the first commercial air cargo on November 7, 1910: 2 bolts of dress silk.  

Wilbur died of typhoid fever at the age of 45.  His father Milton wrote of Wilbur: "A short life, full of consequences.  An unfailing intellect, imperturbable temper, great self-reliance and as great modesty, seeing the right clearly, pursuing it steadfastly, he lived and died." 

Orville lived until January 30, 1948, when he died of an heart attack.

In 1965, the brothers were inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.

The Wright brothers are a great example of ingenuity.  They were not afraid to attempt the impossible.

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 8)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Battle of the Ardennes was the last German offensive of the war.  According to Churchill, it was won primarily by the "staunch fighting qualities of the American soldier."

Meanwhile, trouble was fomenting in Greece.  The Liberation of Greece began in very early October when British commandos arrived.  On October 4th, British troops occupied Patras.  The Germans evacuated Athens on the 12th, and on the 14th, British paratroopers occupied the city.  Greece was in ruins; the Germans had destroyed roads and railways in their retreat.  The British were warmly welcomed, and British soldiers willingly went on half-rations to increase the food supply for the populace.  By the 11th of November, Greece was almost completely free.  Then the Communists started making trouble.  They were ordered out of Athens.  The new Greek government tried working on a guerilla disarmament agreement (with the Communists leading on the measure), but then the Communists ministers resigned.  The remaining ministers decreed to dissolve the guerilla forces.  The Communists tried to seize Athens, and the country was launched into a civil war.  They seized almost all police stations in the city, murdering the police officers.  Churchill ordered British troops to intervene.  Hand-to-hand fighting was the rule against a strong enemy.  Churchill left for Athens on Christmas eve to meet with the Archbishop.  The Archbishop became regent.  The insurgents were driven out, and by mid January the British troops were in control.  A truce with the communists was signed on January 11th.  

The Yalta Conference was held in February.  Churchill's main concern at this conference was about the Soviet domination of eastern Europe and the fate of Poland.  Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill interchanged nearly 18,000 words about Poland at Yalta.  After the three parted ways, Churchill saw his friend Roosevelt for the last time aboard the Quincy.

Churchill was with General Montgomery to watch the Rhine crossing.  All went well.  Churchill urged the Americans to get to Berlin before the Russians did, but the Americans were unconcerned about the Russians.  As the weeks passed after Yalta, it became apparent that the Soviets would not carry out the agreements on Poland.  The Communists also took over Rumania.

Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, and Truman replaced him. 

The Germans surrendered to the Western Allies wholesale in Italy.  Partisans shot and hanged Mussolini.  On April 13th, the Russians took Vienna.  The US Army came within 60 miles of Berlin on the 12th, but here they stopped.  Four days later, the Russians attacked Berlin and surrounded it on the 25th.  The US 1st Army met the Russians near Torgau, on the Elbe, and Germany was cut in two.  

On April 22nd, Hitler made the decision to remain in Berlin.  Goering assumed that Hitler's resolve to stay in Berlin meant he was abdicating.  He asked for confirmation of this and if he was to take over; he was promptly dismissed.  He and 100 Luftwaffe members were taken prisoner by the Americans.  On April 30th, Hitler shot himself.  Goebbels poisoned his own children, and then ordered SS guards to shoot him and his wife.  Bormann disappeared trying to sneak through the lines after sending a message to Admiral Doenitz telling him he had been appointed by the Fuhrer to take over.  Hitler's remaining staff fell into Russian hands. Himmler was arrested by the British on May 21st.  He bit a cyanide pill he had hidden in his mouth during interrogation on the 23rd. 

Admiral Friedeburg signed the surrender of all German Forces in Northwestern Germany, Holland, the Islands, Schleswig-Holstein, and Denmark.  The Germans played for time so as many troops as possible could hurry to the Western front to surrender to the Western Allies instead of to the Russians.  They even tried to surrender the Western front seperately, but failed.  On May 7th at 2:41, the Germans finally signed total unconditional surrender with hostilities to cease at midnight May 8th.

Once the Germans surrendered, in Churchill's words, "The main bond of common danger which had united the Great Allies had vanished overnight.  The Soviet menace, to my eyes, had already replaced the Nazi foe."  Churchill telegraphed to Truman, "An iron curtain is drawn down upon their front.  We do not know what is going on behind."

Churchill urged a conference between Truman, Stalin, and himself as soon as possible.  Truman and Stalin delayed the meeting till mid-July.  On July 17th, he learned from Truman that the atomic bomb was now a reality.  They made plans for the defeat of Japan and discussed the future boundaries of nations.  Unfortunately, "Frustration was the fate of this final Conference of 'the Three.'"  Churchill states that the boundaries that resulted after the peace were "never and would never have been agreed to by any Government of which I was the head.  Even at Potsdam the matter might perhaps have been recovered, but the destruction of the British National Government and my removal from the scene at the time when I still had much influence and power rendered it impossible for satisfactory solutions to be reached."

Yes, on July 26 was the British election.  His party lost.  He could have taken a few days to resign so he could be able to present the Japanese surrender to the people, but he realized Britain needed to be immediately represented by proper authority.  So at 7 o'clock he tendered his resignation to the King.  He thanked the British people for their support through all the long, hard years.

Churchill tells in the epilogue of his time after the war, the speeches he delivered warning of the terrible iron curtain, the time he spent painting, the origins of NATO, and various other world events: the communist takeover of China, Indian independence, the Korean war, Israeli/Palestinian and Arab conflicts, etc.

I better stop writing or else my book review is going to be a book itself!  Memoirs of the Second World War is an excellent book, and I definitely recommend it to every student of history.

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 7)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The landing on the beaches of Normandy met with less opposition than was expected and the casualties were much lower than had been feared.  By June 10th, General Montgomery reported that he was sufficiently established ashore to receive a visit.  Churchill, along with General Marshall and others, crossed the channel to lunch with him in France.  Within the first 6 days, 326,000 men; 54,000 vehicles; and 104,000 tons of stores had been landed.

The Germans had been thoroughly confused by British deceptions.  They even suspected that there might be another major landing and that Normandy might only be a preliminary and subsidiary one, so they avoided sending all their forces to meet the invasion.  The Allies advanced, and the French Resistance was a great help.  There was, however, fierce fighting.  

On the night of June 12-13, the first flying bombs fell on London.

On August 7th, the Germans launched a counterattack.  They failed with extraordinary losses.  Soon, the Germans evacuated all they could across the Seine.  On August 20th, Patton crossed the Seine near Mantes; the French Underground revolted and the police went on strike.  There was street fighting in Paris.  On August 23rd, the French 2nd Armoured Division under General Leclerc was ordered to take Paris.  The Germans capitulated and the city was swept into rapturous demonstrations.

Alexander's armies in Italy were pressing toward the river Po.  The British wanted to put all their effort into the struggle in Italy, deliver a most formidable blow there, and perhaps even reach Vienna before the Russians.  The Americans, however, wished for a landing in the French Riviera.  The American plan prevailed.

In the east, the Russians were flooding into Poland and the Balkans.  On July 22nd, they had crossed the river Vistula and broken into German defences east of Warsaw.  At 5 pm on August 1st, the Warsaw Uprising began.  In spite of British and Polish pleas, the Soviets did not give any significant help to the rebels.  The British flew air drops of supplies over many miles (however insufficient), but the Soviets would not even give the British planes engaged in this task landing fields.  The city was ruined and the heroic Poles finally surrendered to the Germans on October 2nd.  Of the Polish Underground Army's 40,000 men and women, 15,000 were dead.  As Churchill aptly put it, "When the Russians entered the city 3 months later, they found little but shattered streets and the unburied dead.  Such was their liberation of Poland."

Churchill recounts the struggle in Burma and the Battle of the Leyte Gulf.

The liberation of Europe continued, with General Eisenhower assuming direct command of the land forces in Northern France on September 1st.  The Germans were retreating in bad order, and the biggest problem proved to be keeping the Allied Army supplied.  The Allies entered Brussels on September 3rd.  Everywhere in Belgium they received a splendid welcome and help from well-organized resistance.  On September 4th, they entered Antwerp.

  By the 9th, Pas de Calais, with its flying-bomb launching sites had been cleared.  The 12th American Army Group took Charleroi, Mons, and Liege.  In a fortnight they had freed all Luxembourg and Southern Belgium.  By the 12th of September, they had closed up to the German frontier on a sixty-mile front and pierced the Siegfried Line in one place.  Next, they won a couple bridgeheads over the Moselle.

  But then enemy resistance stiffened.  Supplies were stretched to a limit, and a pause was necessary.

See Part 8 tomorrow.

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 6)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Operation Torch was the Allied operation to capture French North Africa.  On November 8th, over 650 British and American ships were massed in this region.  Many landings in Algiers proved to be a surprise and encountered no serious opposition.  The Fleet Air Arm saw friendly signals from the ground and landed at Blida airfield, holding it with cooperation of the local French commander till Allied troops arrive.  But there was opposition in the port of Algiers and Oran.  Oran did not surrender until the 10th.  The attack on the Moroccan coast near Casablanca also was difficult, and there was severe fighting for a time.  On November 11th, however,  the French in North Africa surrendered and 100,000 French troops were now on the Allies' side.  
On January 12th, Churchill and Roosevelt as well as Giraud and De Gaulle were present at the Casablanca conference.    

Tripoli was taken by the 8th Army on January 23rd.  General Alexander reported to Churchill, "Sir, the orders you gave me on August [10], 1942, have been fulfilled.  His Majesty's enemies, together with their impedimenta, have been completely eliminated from Egypt, Cyrenaica, Libya, and Tripolitania.  I now await your further instructions."

The Allied troops in North Africa from the east met with those who had landed in the west.  Tunis was captured, and all enemies in Africa had surrendered by May 13th.   

The Russians also had enjoyed a great victory at Stalingrad.

The Americans and British agreed to attack Sicily next, and if that fell quickly, to invade Italy.  The air attack on Sicily began on July 3rd.  On July 10th, the invasion began, and on August 17th General Alexander reported, "By 10 AM this morning, August 17, 1943, the last German soldier was flung out of Sicily and the whole island is now in our hands."  

In Italy, Mussolini fell from power.  The Italians surrendered on September 3rd.  The Germans captured Rome.  The Allies won the Battle of Salerno against the Germans and entered Naples on October 1st.  The Germans formed a line [a "Winterstellung"] in Italy, and gains for the Allies were thenceforward slow.  

Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill met at Teheran for the first conference of the "Big Three."  They agreed on "Operation Overlord" with a Russian offensive to begin at about the same time.  They also agreed on the "Curzon Line" as a border for Poland.

Eisenhower was chosen to command "Overlord" with Montgomery commanding the actual cross-channel invasion force till Eisenhower could transfer to France and assume direct operational command.  

Churchill tells the story of the Chetniks and Partisans in Yugoslavia, and the continuing struggle in Italy.

On June 4th, the Allies entered the heart of Rome.  

Preparations for Overlord continued and deceptions were used effectively to make the Germans believe the Allies intended to land at Pas de Calais.  Bad weather delayed the attack on Normandy from the 5th to the 6th.  Because of the bad weather, the Germans did not believe the Allies would attempt a landing at all.  Thus, the landing at Normandy was a great success.
Stay tuned, Part 7 will be published soon!

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 5)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Churchill traveled to the United States for a meeting with President Roosevelt.  He addressed the US Congress and Canadian Parliament. The Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee was created.  Lord Beaverbrook helped the Americans get more efficient production going, and a United Nations Joint Declaration was issued.  

After Churchill returned to Britain, Singapore fell (February 15, 1942).  It's unconditional surrender to the Japanese was a major disaster.  During the first 6 months of 1942, everything went badly.  The U-boats were taking a very heavy toll.  In 7 months, losses to the U-boats in the Atlantic totalled over 3 million tons while only 14 U-boats were sunk.  However, methods were developed, an Anti-U-boat Committee was formed, and gradually the U-boat menace was lessened.  

Next, Churchill tells the stories of the American naval victories at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway Island.  

He returned to Washington DC to discuss atomic weapons with the Americans.  While at the White House, he learned that Tobruk in North Africa had surrendered and the Germans had taken 25,000 men prisoners. This was another great disaster.

Rommel crossed into Egypt on June 24th.  There was heavy fighting and General Auchinleck ordered counterattacks.  Rommel's communications were strained and his troops exhausted.  He tried again to break the British line, but his attack was checked.  By the end of July, fighting was at a standstill.

Churchill visited Cairo himself and replaced Auchinleck with General Alexander.  General Montgomery was to fight under him in charge of the 8th Army.  These changes were very well received.

On August 30th Rommel made his last thrust for Cairo.  He failed.  During October, the Allies sunk 40% of Axis shipping to North Africa, and on October 23rd, the British attack began.  The British won a magnificent victory at the Battle of Alamein.  This was a major turning point.  Churchill says, "Before Alamein we never had a victory.  After Alamein we never had a defeat."

Meanwhile, plans were made for "Operation Torch" to liberate French North Africa.  These plans were made with the Americans, and then agreed upon with Stalin.  
Part 6 is coming soon!

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 4)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The next place the Germans struck was Crete.  The geography of the island made its defence difficult.  German paratroopers, gliders, and troop-carriers made an all-out effort, and after heavy fighting, the Germans took the Island.  The British were forced to evacuate thousands of men, and a total of 16,500 were brought back to Egypt.  
General Wavell in North Africa desperately asked for tanks.  His forces were stretched to the limit.  The Iraqis revolted against the British.  But complete victory in that country was quickly gained.  The Australians next captured Damascus, and the Allies occupied Syria.  The battle of Crete, which had cost the British dearly, had ruined the striking power of the German airborne corps.

Nevertheless, Rommel pushed the British back and installed himself Halfaya.  The British operation "Battleaxe" against him failed miserably.  General Wavell was replaced with General Auchinleck.

Hitler was massing troops against Russia, and at 4 AM on June 22nd, Germany declared war against Russia.  The Russian army near the frontier was taken by surprise and quickly overpowered and many Russian planes were caught before they could get into the air.  The Soviets begged Britain for supplies and a second front.  Within a month the Germans had pushed 300 miles into Russia.  But then Hitler and his army disagreed.  The army wanted to concentrate on Moscow, but Hitler determined to split the army into 3 groups to take three different objectives.  With their strength divided, they failed, and the cold Russian winter set in.

The British and Russians invaded Persia.  Theirs was a surprise attack with very few casualties.  A new, peaceful Shah was installed, and Persia was opened as a gateway for supplies to be delivered to the Russians.  

Fighting in North Africa swung in the balance with victories and losses for both sides until finally in December the enemy was in full retreat and there was relief and and rejoicing in the Desert War.  
On December 7th, Churchill heard on the radio that the Japanese had attacked the Americans.  He called President Roosevelt: "Mr. President, what's this about Japan?"  "It's quite true," Roosevelt replied, "they have attacked us at Pearl Harbour.  We are all in the same boat now."

Though sad to hear of the American losses, Churchill was happy to have the Americans on their side.  "Hitler's fate was sealed.  Mussolini's fate was sealed.  The Japanese, they would be ground to powder."  There was "no more doubt about the end."  The War Cabinet authorized a Declaration of War on Japan, and both Houses unanimously agreed on it.  Britain actually declared war on Japan before the U.S. Congress did.  

Part 5 is coming soon!

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 3)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Germans made plans for the invasion of Britain.  These plans were called "Operation Sea Lion;" however, due to difficulties, they were forced to postpone these plans indefinitely.  
The most decisive "difficulty" for the Germans was their failure to win the Battle of Britain. This battle raged from July 10th through October.  British convoys were harried, aerodrome installations were attacked, and London and centers of industrial production were indiscriminately bombed (from September 7th to November 3rd an average of 200 German bombers attacked London every night).  There were fires throughout London; homes, businesses, and even the House of Commons did not escape the unceasing bombing.  However, Goering made the mistake of switching from one target to the next, granting the first target relief just when it was needed most.  The Royal Air Force fought well and defended their homeland.  The British made small raids on Berlin in retaliation.  

The United States continued to help Great Britain with arms supplies.  But Britain faced a problem, how was she to pay for so many weapons?  The United States started the Lend-Lease policy.  As Churchill said, "There was no provision for repayment...What we had was lent or leased to us because our continued resistance to the Hitler tyranny was deemed to be of vital interest to the great Republic."

In North Africa, the over 300,000 Italians were preparing to attack Egypt.  As soon as war was declared, the British attacked Italian frontier posts and did well in many small, sharp encounters. On September 13, the Italian invasion began.  They invaded in a remarkable parade, and the British gave a fighting withdrawal, taking a heavy toll on the Italians who stopped their advance at Sidi Barrani and settled there for 3 months.

On December 6th, the British army started their advance, and on the 9th, the Battle of Sidi Barrani began.  By 10 o'clock on the 10th, a battalion headquarters reported that it was impossible to count prisoners on account of numbers, but "there were about 5 acres of officers, and 200 acres of other ranks."  Sidi Barrani was recaptured that afternoon and by December 15th, all enemy troops had been driven out of Egypt.  Next, Bardia was taken, then Tobruk.  The Desert Army in 6 weeks had advanced 200 miles and taken 2 seaports, 113,000 POWS, and more than 700 guns.  The great Italian army in North Africa now scarcely existed.  

The Battle of the Atlantic began, and U-boats boded a deadly peril to Great Britain, biting at her lifeline of supplies across the Atlantic.  Ships had to travel in convoys and had to be protected by an escort, but still, losses were great until effective means were developed for fighting the U-boats.

Yugoslavia and Greece fell in spite of Britain's efforts.

And then Rommel was appointed in early 1941 to command German troops sent to Libya.
Rommel believed in the offensive.  The Italians tried to hold him back, but he would not listen to them.  Rommel attacked and took Agheila and then Benghazi.  His attack was a surprise both to his superiors and Great Britain.  Churchill paid him credit by stating, "We have a very daring and skilful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general. "

Part 4 will be posted soon.

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 2)

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Winston is back" the British Admiralty telegrammed to the Fleet. As soon as war was declared, France and Britain mobilized and though land and air struggles did not begin at once, naval struggles began immediately.  

Poland fell quickly.  Next, Hitler invaded Norway.  The House of Commons was very angry with the British Government after the fall of Norway.  Chamberlain did not feel he could continue as Prime Minister; he resigned and advised the king to send for Winston Churchill.  The king asked Churchill to form a new government.  A national coalition government was formed, consisting of all parties working together.  On May 13, 1940, Churchill asked the House of Commons for a vote of confidence in the new Administration.  He told them, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat."  The House gave a unanimous vote of confidence.

Meanwhile, Germany invaded Holland and Belgium on May 10th.  By the 16th, the Germans had penetrated over 60 miles into France.  Britain supported France as long as she could.  But the defence of France was hopeless.  The 28th Belgian Army surrendered, and the British were forced to evacuate from Dunkirk.  The "Deliverance of Dunkirk" was miraculous and 338,000 British and Allied troops safely landed in England.  On June 10th, Italy declared war on the Allies and attacked France as well.  In the east, the Soviet Foreign Minister congratulated the Germans on their "splendid success."  Russia invaded Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia and annexed them to the Soviet Union.  

After Dunkirk, Britain faced a very bad weapons shortage.  The United States helped by sending weapons to both the British and French.  The British prepared for a possible German invasion by arming the populace with whatever guns could be found, as well as sporting rifles, clubs, and even spears.  A "Home Guard" was formed, anti-tank obstacles and ditches were made, and the beaches were mined.  

Paris fell on June 14th and three days later, Petain's government asked the Germans for an armistice.  High French military authorities advised, "In 3 weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken."

The French Admiral Darlan agreed to let the powerful French fleet come under German control,  so the British conducted "Operation Catapult"to seize, control, or destroy all of the accessible French Fleet.  Part of the fleet volunteered to join the British, but at other ports the British navy had to fight and destroy the French ships.

The British were now completely alone.  As Churchill puts it, "Certainly we had no lack of foes."

Part 3 is coming soon!

Book Review: Memoirs of the Second World War (Part 1)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Memoirs of the Second World War is an abridgment of Winston Churchill's six volumes of The Second World War, a work largely responsible for Churchill being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953.  The 1065 pages of this book include an epilogue created especially by Churchill for the abridged version.  This book is a must read for anyone who wants to acquire a thorough understanding of the Second World War in a limited amount of time.  Filled with exciting stories and keen insights, the Memoirs give the reader a view of the war through the eyes of one of its greatest protagonists.  Besides the inherent historical significance of this book, its educational value is enhanced by the author's great vocabulary and writing skills.

The first time I tried to read this book (a few years ago), I quit part of the way through.  Why?  Because it was so fascinating I could think of nothing but what I had read.  This year, I decided to try again, and my efforts were rewarded.  Memoirs of the Second World War proved to be a worthwhile and memorable read.

Churchill begins his account with the origins of the war, which he once called the "unnecessary war."  He recounts the mistakes made by the victors of World War I, and the many more errors which led to the rise of Hitler and the alienation of Mussolini from the Allied cause.  During the years before World War II, Churchill warned constantly of the approaching dangers.  His warnings were unheeded.  Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain followed a policy of diplomacy and appeasement with Hitler.  Hitler played along, promising that each European acquisition would be his last.  He did not want war with Great Britain, but he did want more "Lebensraum" (living space) in Europe.

 Hitler disregarded the treaties made after World War I and rearmed Germany.  The Nazis infiltrated and then took over Austria.  They invaded the Rhineland, and demanded the fortified Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia.  Chamberlain met with Hitler and agreed to give it to him.   Still Britain slept; the Prime Minister rested on the Munich Agreement, stating "I believe it is peace for our time."  Then German troops marched into Prague, and March 14th witnessed the dissolution of the Czechoslovak Republic.  Prime Minister Chamberlain had a change of heart.  He didn't like being lied to and cheated. Chamberlain and the House of Commons backed Poland and France with one accord.  All illusions about Hitler were dispelled.

The Soviets made offers to meet with the Allies,  but unfortunately their offers were received coldly.  Britain and France would not agree to a triple alliance with Russia.  So, the Soviets turned and signed an agreement with the Nazis on August 23rd--at the expense of Poland--agreeing to a 10 year peace.  Stalin toasted to the Fuhrer. 

The Polish attitude was, "With the Germans we risk losing our liberty; with the Russians, our soul."  August 25th, Britain proclaimed a formal treaty with Poland.  Hitler postponed his attack to September 1st to give Britain every chance to back down and avoid war.  But the British stood firm.  The German Panzers rolled in   to Poland early in the morning.  Britain was at war.

The time had come for Churchill, whose warnings had been disregarded, to return to the government.  Chamberlain offered him a position in the War Cabinet and the place of First Lord of the Admiralty (which he had held once before from 1911 to 1915). 

Part 2 of this review will be published tomorrow.  

Edit: Due to unforeseen commitments, the author will not be able to post Part 2 as soon as planned. 

Book Review: Economic Freedom and Representative Government

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Economic Freedom and Representative Government is a lecture delivered by F. A. Hayek at The Royal Society of the Arts on the 31st of October, 1973, about a year before Hayek was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.  This lecture highlights the dangers of unlimited government, points out flaws which lead to unlimited government, and offers a theoretical solution.  As always, Hayek's observations are very perspicacious, and though this lecture was written primarily for a British audience (they do not have a written Constitution), we in the United States today find ourselves facing many of the problems he wrote of 40 years ago.

To begin with, Hayek assumes that the majority of the people are in favor of a free market and against government direction; however, most of the groups would like an exception to be made in their favor.

 Take, for example, an Iowa farmer.  He is in favor of the free market, and though he may dislike the idea of giving welfare to thousands of lazy people in the inner city of Chicago, he may deem farm bills and agricultural subsidies fair and right.  The auto manufacturers couldn't care less about agricultural subsidies, but they want their bailouts, the folks in government housing want their handouts, the banks want a share when they're in trouble, and on and on...

 Any political party that wants to achieve and maintain power is forced to use its powers to buy the support of particular groups "not because the majority is interventionist, but because the ruling party would not retain a majority if it did not buy the support of particular groups by the promise of special advantages."  This is the problem.

Hayek explains that the problem is there because of majority rule.  Whatever the majority decides becomes law, and since it is law, it is believed to be just.  "A legislature is now not a body that makes laws; a law is whatever is resolved by a legislature."  Hence, "law is not dependent on justice but determines what is just."  This is a perversion of "law."  The old, real sense of the word is lost.  The legislature is not bound by committing themselves to general rules, and if they want to retain a majority they must "use coercion in the discriminatory manner that is required to assure benefits to particular people or groups."  

Here in the United States, I must note, we had a law which bound the legislatures to general rules...It was called the Constitution.  Davy Crockett understood this and said, "We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money [for special interests or charity]."  The legislatures were bound to specific duties outlined in the U.S. Constitution, but now they've freed themselves from a strict interpretation of the Constitution and make laws to try to control anything and everything, binding and fettering the people instead.  But, I digress...

According to Hayek, "The main subject of this lecture is what we have to do, if we ever again get a chance to stop those tendencies [outlined above] inherent in the existing political systems which drive us toward a totalitarian order"--an unlimited government.

To preserve individual freedom, Hayek says, coercion must be confined to the general rules of just conduct.  "An individual who is bound to obey only such rules of just conduct as I have called these rules of law in this narrow sense [lawyer's law--relating to the laws which apply equally to all and define the protected sphere of each person with which others are prohibited from interfering, made to "prevent conflicts between people who do not act under central direction but on their own initiative, pursuing their own ends..."] is free in the sense that he is not legally subject to anybody's commands, that within known limits he can choose the means and ends of his activities."  

But how?  How can legislatures, especially divided into political parties that only gain a majority by promising special benefits to some groups, resist these pervasive tendencies?  Hayek admits that there never has been a legislature limited to making laws in the narrow sense described in the last paragraph.  

Hayek proposed having two representative assemblies.  One would make laws in the narrow sense and its members, disinterested citizens, would be elected for very long terms and would not be eligible for re-election.  The other would be governed by the laws of the first assembly in directing government proper.

F.A. Hayek admitted that he did not believe his "utopian construction" of an idea for a government would not be realised in the foreseeable future.  However, he decided to promulgate the idea because as David Hume said, "In all cases, it must be advantageous to know what is the most perfect in the kind, that we may be able to bring any real constitution or form of government as near it as possible, by such gentle alterations and innovations as may not give too great a disturbance to society."

I enjoyed reading this lecture.  The problems presented by Hayek are pertinent today.  I think many of these problems would have been prevented in the United States if we had insisted on keeping Congress and the President bound by a strict interpretation of the Constitution.  

And now, my dear reader, I pose the question to you: what do you believe is the best way to face this problem caused by special interests?  What do you think is the most efficient way to preserve the classical meanings of law and justice?  Is a law whatever the legislature decides, and because a majority decides something should be a "law," is it necessarily just?  Think about it.