Monday, February 13, 2017

My Great Grandfather, Queen Marie and the Maryhill Museum



It is Valentine's Day 2017.  Love is in the air.   It is only fitting to write about romance.

Thomas Tileston Wells 1865-1946
Queen Marie of Romania 1875 - 1938

My great-grandfather, Thomas Tileston Wells, may have had an affair with Queen Marie of Romania.*  What is the evidence for this assertion?

Queen Marie's Chair
Maryhill Museum
Goldendale WA
1) My own grandmother, Georgina Van Rensselaer (Wells' only daughter), believed that her father had an affair with Queen Marie.
Queen Marie Bust
Maryhill Museum, Goldendale WA

2) Queen Marie had an "open" marriage with King Ferdinand of Romania.  She had many affairs with a number of men including at least one other American  -- William Waldorf Astor.  Queen Marie was a spirited woman and the granddaughter of Queen Victoria.



3) Wells, an American, served in New York City as Honorary Consul from Romania from 1918 until 1941.  Queen Marie, who died in 1938, was, in a sense, Wells' boss.  It must have been unusual and somewhat irregular for an American to serve as a Romanian diplomat.


In 1926 Wells helped to organize Queen Marie's visit to the United States.  Marie had led her nation into war on the Allied side during World War I and was a hero to many Americans.  She was widely accounted to be a fearless Amazonian leader with a much stronger character than her feckless husband.  Queen Marie visited spots such as Niagara Falls.  She also went out west to Washington State where she dedicated the building that became known as the Maryhill Museum in Goldendale on the banks of the Columbia River.

Queen Marie's 1926 Visit to the USA

The Maryhill Museum (http://www.maryhillmuseum.org/) is one of America's most extraordinary museums.  Far from any major city, it is open seasonally each year from March to November.

Native American Gloves
Maryhill Museum
It offers an eclectic combination of Rodin sculptures, Native American art and artifacts from the reign of Queen Marie.  The structure for the museum was built by Sam Hill (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Hill) an entrepreneur who was a pioneer in road and highway construction in the west.  This museum is well worth a visit when you are in the northwest.

Maryhill Museum
Goldendale WA
Rodin Thinker
Maryhill Museum of Art

You will learn much more about Wells' adventures and misadventures in An Adventure in 1914!


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* Who was Queen Marie of Romania?  In America Invades we wrote this about Queen Marie of Romania...

Mrs Cortlandt Schuyler Van Rensselaer
Née Georgina Wells
"My grandmother, Georgina Wells (1902-1997), had visited Romania twenty-one times by her twenty- first birthday, becoming acquainted with Romania’s Queen Marie, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and daughter of Prince Alfred, brother of the future King Edward VII.

Queen Marie of Romania
During World War I, Romania, like us, initially remained neutral but later, influenced by Queen Marie, joined the Allied side. As a result, most of Romania ended up being occupied by enemy troops in the ensuing conflict. However, Queen Marie, with the assistance of her friend the American dance pioneer Loie Fuller, got hold of a major American loan that helped the Romanians to resist.
When the Russian Revolution took Russia out of the war, Romania found it could not fight on alone, and it was forced to seek peace with the enemy. It only re-entered the war (on the Allied side) on November 10, a day before the armistice.
Loie Fuller Poster
Maryhill Museum of Art
Goldendale WA
After the Allied victory in 1919, Romania received some compensation for all its suffering. Thanks largely, once again, to the energetic efforts of Queen Marie, a woman to some extent in her grandmother’s mold, Romania acquired large tracts of territory that had previously been part of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires.

Queen Marie's Crown
Maryhill Museum
In 1926, this soldier queen made a triumphant visit to the United States facilitated by Thomas Tileston Wells. Despite having played such a significant role in World War I, she was not, however, to play any part in World War II. She died in 1938."



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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Trajan and the Dacian Invasion

Trajan's Column Rome. Italy

Trajan's Column looms about 13 stories above street level in Rome.  The famous column depicts the Roman invasion of Dacia from the 2nd Century.

The Palazzo Valentini in Rome affords an amazing glimpse into life in a villa in the heart of Rome (http://www.palazzovalentini.it/en/).  The multi-media tour of the Domus Romane is available in several languages including English and Russian.  Sadly though understandably, photography is not allowed (see video below).  The tour ends with film that offers a detailed explanation of Trajan's Column.

Base of Trajan's Column, Rome Italy
Taken from Palazzo Valentini, Rome
Here is what we had to say about the Dacian invasion in the Romania chapter of Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World...

"The Romans, however, had eyes on the land to the north, the territory of the Dacians. They’d already had problems with the Dacians in the first century BC, when the Dacian king Burebista had taken an unwelcome (to Caesar) interest in Roman civil wars. Caesar apparently had plans to attack Burebista, but Caesar’s assassins saved Burebista for a while. Until (different) assassins dispatched him as well.

The relationship between Rome and the Dacians wasn’t always a smooth one in the first century AD either. For example, during the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian, a Dacian army rampaged south into Roman territory. The governor of Moesia, Oppius Sabinus, was killed. The Roman forces pushed the Dacians back, but then they suffered a defeat by the Dacians at Tapae inside what is now Romania. A subsequent Roman victory did not crush the Dacians; and eventually, Domitian, facing a variety of crises elsewhere in the empire, pulled out after agreeing to a humiliating (to the Romans) peace treaty with the Dacian king, Decebalus.


Christopher Kelly & Stuart Laycock
Emperor Trajan, Tower Hill, London
However, Decebalus was not to enjoy his victory for long. In 101, the emperor Trajan led his army north into Dacia. After another clash at Tapae and one at Adamclisi, the Dacians accepted defeat and agreed to peace terms. But Trajan had not seen the last of Decebalus and his Dacians. In 105, Decebalus attacked. Trajan struck back and captured the Dacian capital of Sarmizegetusa after vicious fighting. Decebalus killed himself rather than be captured, and Dacia became a Roman province.

But it would not stay Roman until the end of the empire. The area remained vulnerable to attack from outside the empire; for instance, during the Marcomannic invasions of the second century. And increasingly in the third century, the Goths threatened the area. However, in the 270s, Emperor Aurelian finally decided that crises elsewhere in the empire meant he could no longer hold onto Dacia, and he withdrew from most of the territory that had been taken by Trajan."




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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Espionage in World War I



"Thomas Tileston Wells, my great grandfather, was falsely accused by Austrian authorities in Riva of being a Russian spy and threatened with immediate execution. There is no evidence that the threatened execution of the “other two” spies referenced in Wells’s manuscript (See...www.anadventurein1914.com) ever took place. It was most likely a bluff used in an attempt to make Wells talk.  Many World War I spies were, however, executed.

Mata Hari: World War I Spy
Much of the “surveillance society” in which we live today has its origins in World War I espionage. For example, the British built a sophisticated signals intelligence network designed to monitor German radio traffic during the war. The SIS (Secret Intelligence Service and forerunner to MI6) established monitoring stations from Folkestone to London.
President Wilson
Room 40 was a decryption service of the British Admiralty that would later inspire the codebreakers of Bletchley Park in World War II. Their greatest coup of the war was the interception and decryption of the famous Zimmermann Telegram in 1917. This message, sent by the German minister of foreign affairs to the Mexican government, proposed an alliance with Mexico in the event of America’s entry into the war. Its disclosure enraged many Americans, and was one of the catalysts (along with unrestricted submarine warfare and the violation of Belgian neutrality) for the American declaration of war by the United States Congress on April 6, 1917.
Mata Hari statue
Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Room 40 also decrypted messages that identified Mata Hari, a Dutch courtesan and exotic dancer in Paris who was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, in 1876, as H-21, a German spy. The information was passed to French intelligence, and the femme fatale was arrested, convicted, and executed by firing squad in 1917.

Edith Cavell: British spy
London, UK
In the dawn hours of October 12, 1915, a very different woman, Edith Cavell, was executed in Brussels by a German firing squad. She was an unmarried clergyman’s daughter who was working as a Red Cross nurse in occupied Belgium. Her tragic fate aroused great sympathy in the American public. James Beck, another New York lawyer, declared that “the murder of Miss Cavell was one of exceptional brutality and stupidity.” Both the Germans and the Allies acknowledged that Cavell aided Allied servicemen in escaping to neutral Holland. Only long after the war ended was it revealed, by military historian M. R. D. Foot, that she had, in fact, been an agent of British intelligence. Her life was commemorated with a statue in London that stands near Trafalgar Square, and a mountain peak in Canada was named in her honor. The famous French singer, Edith Piaf, was named after her.
The Germans managed to infiltrate a spy of their own into Benedict XV’s Vatican. Rudolph Gerlach, a Bavarian, became the Pope’s chancellor while betraying Italian military secrets to the Central Powers.
V.I. Lenin: A German Plot?
But the greatest German intelligence coup of the war was arguably the smuggling of Lenin from Zurich to Petrograd on board a “sealed train.” Indisputably, the Germans helped to finance the start of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham worked for British intelligence in Switzerland, whose neutral status made it a hotbed of espionage intrigue during World War I. He would later transform his wartime experiences into the Ashenden spy novels.

Buchan's 39 Steps
The popularity of espionage fiction was boosted by the war. John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps pits Scotsman Richard Hannay against a nefarious ring of German spies in England in the lead up to World War I. This novel, published in 1915, was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935 and dramatized on the London stage, to great acclaim.

Ian Fleming
On May 20, 1917, Major Valentine Fleming of the British Army was killed by artillery on the Western Front. His obituary was written by Winston Churchill. One of his two sons became the assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence in World War II, but he is better known as Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond."

This blog was adapted from An Adventure in 1914.  Published by History Invasions Press in 2016.


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Sunday, January 29, 2017

2017 in American Military History

James Monroe

MONROE BICENTENNIAL, 1817-2017
Two hundred years ago in January 1817 James Monroe was being inaugurated President of the United States.  Monroe is chiefly remembered for the Monroe Doctrine which shaped American foreign policy for the hemisphere.  By 1817 America had grown in terms of strength and independence to the point that it would begin demanding that European powers stay out of the Western hemisphere.  Monroe's Doctrine would have an enormous impact on future American involvements in Central and South America.

First Seminole War
SEMINOLE WAR BICENTENNIAL, 1817
In our upcoming work, America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil we note "In 1817, in what came to be known as the First Seminole War General Andrew Jackson invaded Spanish Florida and pushed the Seminoles further south."  The Spaniards had been our allies against the British during the American Revolution.   But two hundred years ago we Americans were fighting the Dons for control of Florida.
US World War I Uniform and Flag
Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA
WORLD WAR I, Centennial of American Involvement 1917-2017
One hundred years ago in April 1917 President Wilson led America into the War to end all Wars.  Americans were incensed by the Germans' use of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare against merchant vessels.  One hundred and twenty eight American were killed, for example, on board the Lusitania when it was sunk by German U-boat torpedoes off the Irish coast in 1915.  Thomas Wells, my own great-grandfather and the author of An Adventure in 1914 www.anadventurein1914.com, had traveled aboard the Lusitania in 1909.  German plots with Mexico, exposed in the Zimmerman telegram, were the catalyst that swept the nation into war.  The American experience in World War I was short but sharp.  America was involved in the war from April 1917 until the war ended on November 11, 1918 -- less than two years.  Yet World War I would claim over 110,000 American lives -- more than the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.  The Doughboys who went "Over There" paid a steep price.
American Recruitment Poster WWI
Museum of Flight, Seattle WA

WORLD WAR II, 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF DOOLITTLE RAID AND BATTLE OF MIDWAY
The year 1942 was in many ways the most interesting year of the entire war.  1942 was the turning point of the war.  Before 1942 the Axis had been successful everywhere from Poland to France to Pearl Harbor.  In 1942 the tide turned decisively against the Axis.  In April of 1942, 75 years ago, Jimmy Doolittle launched his famous Raid on Tokyo. 


In America Invades we noted, "The American riposte to Pearl Harbor was the spectacular and very daring Doolittle Raid, which took place on April 18, 1942. Sixteen B-25B Mitchell aircraft were launched from the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo and proceed to China afterwards. The raiders inflicted minimal physical damage, but the psychological impact was enormous as the Japanese felt compelled to initiate the disastrous (for the Japanese) Midway campaign to prevent future American air attacks on their homeland."

On June 6 and 7, 1942 the Battle of Midway was fought between American and Japanese naval forces in the Pacific.  The Japanese lost four precious and irreplaceable aircraft carriers against a lost of only one on the American side.  The 1942 Rose Bowl featuring Oregon State and Duke was played in Chapel Hill, North Carolina due to fears of imminent Japanese invasion.  After Midway, the Rose Bowl would return to Pasadena.  Japan would never again be in a position to win naval superiority in the Pacific.

1942 was also notable for the triumph of Commonwealth forces at El Alamein in Egypt and the Soviet Red Army at Stalingrad.
Vietnam Memorial
Spokane, WA
1967, VIETNAM, Fifty Years Ago
Fifty years ago the USA was fully engaged in fighting the Vietnam War.  LBJ was micromanaging the war from the White House to the consternation of his generals in the field.  The agony of the Tet offensive would follow in 1968.

In America Invades we wrote, "From 1964 to 1968, LBJ dramatically escalated the US military presence deploying over five hundred thousand troops in Vietnam. American bombers struck North Vietnam while American ground forces fought a counterinsurgency against the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. General William Westmoreland was in command, but LBJ was in the driver’s seat. LBJ, who with his team loved to micromanage the war, famously said, 'Those boys can’t hit an outhouse without my permission.'"

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

What they got Wrong in 8 Years



John Kerry, the US Secretary of State recently penned an article defending Obama foreign policy of the past with years titled "What we got right in 8 years".  In case you missed here it is...www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/opinion/john-kerry-what-we-got-right.html?smid=fb-nytopinion&smtyp=cur.

Since 1945 the first imperative of American Foreign Policy has been "NOT TO BLOW THE WORLD UP".  Measured by that ultra-low bar, Obama did succeed in his foreign policy.   And he did manage, after following up on leads generated in the Bush administration, to kill Osama Bin Laden.  On these two scores Obama did succeed.

Kerry assures us that "most global trends remain in our favor and that America's leadership and engagement area as essential and effective today as ever."  Naturally Kerry seems to have left out what the Obama administration got wrong over the past eight years.  Here is a bit of what Kerry left out...

Tragedy in Syria
1) THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR.
The latest estimates reveal a death toll in the Syrian Civil War of 470,000.  In addition around 1.9 million have been wounded in the conflict.  By those totals nearly 11.5% of the entire Syrian population has been either killed or wounded in the struggle which erupted in October of 2011 and continues unabated.

Obama famously drew a rhetorical "red line" in the sand over the use of chemical weapons.  After Assad crossed this line, Obama erased his line in the sand badly damaging American credibility.

Kerry congratulates himself and the administration on not creating a new "quagmire" for America by inserting ground troops into Syria.  But this ignores the fact that there is an enormous range of possible action between doing nothing and inserting the 82nd Airborne into Aleppo.  America Special forces have, of course, been engaged in Syria for some time now.  With little effect.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Syria is not simply Obama's fault.  It is much worse than that.  It is a failure by the entire West to deal with anarchic tendencies in the world.   Obama's failure to provide Western leadership on Syria has, however, been a catastrophic blunder.  "All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand" or erase Obama's guilt in this matter.

Tyrant Disrespected
2) THE RUSSIAN RESET
Obama promised a Reset in relations with Russia.  In a 2012 Presidential debate he contemptuously dismissed Romney's concerns about Russia by sneering, "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years."

The recent attempts by Russia to hack the US election process are a pointed reminder of the abject failure of Obama to get Russian policy right.  Clearly Putin was acting in a desperate manner.  Why?

American Russian relations now teeter at their lowest ebb in decades.  In 2010 Obama was a no-show at the 65th anniversary of the end of WW2 (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/moscows-65th-anniversary-victory-day.html).  The Russians lost over 23 million people in World War II so they are a bit touchy on the subject.  We Americans are accustomed to hearing a great deal of sentimental twaddle about the "Greatest Generation".  There might have been no surviving "Greatest Generation" of Americans had it not been for the enormous sacrifice of the Russian people.  No American President has EVER expressed proper appreciation for this fact of military history.  It is about time that Trump do so.

Winston Churchill
His bust is back in the White House!
In 2013 Obama became the first American President to EVER cancel a US / Russia summit (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/obama-putin-andnapoleon.html).  The first rule of diplomacy, as formulated by Winston Churchill, is that "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."  Obama violated, therefore, the cardinal rule of diplomacy.  Does anyone seriously believe that the rights of the LGBT community in Russia are served by the American and Russian Presidents NOT talking to each other?  Or the straight community for that matter.

Obama was, of course, a no show for the Sochi Olympics.

There is a reason why the "hot line" was established between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War.  The Russians and the Americans are nuclear armed countries that, no matter their differences, need to talk to each other.

Napoleon's fatal mistake was to invade Russia.  Hitler's fatal mistake was to invade Russia.  Obama's fatal mistake was to believe that he could scold Russia into compliance.  Putin really does not care about Op-Eds in NY Times.

Putin is the dictator of a kleptocracy.  He is a former KGB officer.  Putin has completely befuddled Obama.  He is not a Marxist college professor hanging out in the faculty lounge bloviating about his concern for the working class.  He is NOT and ideological Marxist.  Above all, he craves respect for Russia.  He seeks to advance the economic welfare of the Russian people.

Putin is, of course, a tyrant.  All tyrants have the same achilles heel.  From Julius Caesar to Mussolini to Czar Nicholas II they all fear being assassinated by their own people. They are never assured a peaceful transition of power.  They can never trust anyone completely.

American Presidents, on the other hand, can look forward to a future of  spending a comfortable retirement with golfing, lucrative book deals, Presidential libraries and high priced speaking engagements.


American Presidents have engaged successfully with Russian dictators.  In America Invades we wrote about the Teheran summit during World War II, "FDR mixed martinis for Churchill and Stalin. FDR asked Stalin how he liked his drink. Stalin answered that it was OK but cold on his stomach."   FDR engaged with Stalin who is, quite frankly, a much greater monster than Putin.  America sent lend lease to Russia and four out of five German soldiers in World War II were killed on the Eastern front.  Excellent deal making there!

Putin must be engaged with and he must be engaged with forcefully.  He understands best the language of economic and military power.  Obama, to his credit, was right to station American Marines in Norway (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/american-troops-in-norway.html) and to forces to Poland and the Baltic Republics (www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4122629330054677829#editor/target=post;postID=7092829463494283693;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=9;src=postname).

Putin's goal for Russia has become the destruction of NATO.  He claims that Russia is surrounded.  Putin has increased the strength of his military.  In 2014 he invaded and annexed the Crimea.

American policy has, meanwhile, lacked direction and focus.  The new American policy must be to strengthen NATO which has been the most successful alliance in history.  NATO is "obsolete" in the sense that it could do a better job combatting terrorism and having all its members pay 2% of GDP on defence.  It is NOT obsolete in the sense that it must be scrapped.

Putin must learn that NATO works for its members preserving their self-determination.  The long term goal for NATO should be the incorporation of Russia into NATO as a full member.

The solution to the Syrian crisis runs through Moscow.  Who has greater leverage with Assad America or Russia?  The answer is clear.

Trump must now engage with Putin and attempt to enlist his aid in defeating ISIS.  Once ISIS has been destroyed Trump must make it clear that Assad must, after a decent interval, go into exile.  Perhaps with his family to a Dacha on the Black Sea?
Not the Louisiana Purchase
3) THE IRAN DEAL
Kerry claims credit for arresting the progress of nuclear weapons in Iran.  The US has now given billions to a regime that has a long standing record of support for terrorism.  $400 million in cash was delivered in the dead of night on the same day that American hostages were released undercutting Americas policy of not paying for the release of hostages (http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/03/politics/us-sends-plane-iran-400-million-cash/).  Israel, our only Middle East ally, remains highly skeptical of the Iran deal.  Only time will tell whether the Iran deal was worthwhile in spite of its enormous cost in treasure and American credibility.
Bad Hair Decade in N. Korea
4) NORTH KOREA
North Korea conducted four successful nuclear underground tests during the Obama years.  Kim Jong Un has tested missiles that can reach Japan and Guam (http://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/28/asia/north-korea-kim-jong-un-year-end-lookahead/).  He remains an unpredictable source of tension in the years to come and the Obama administration made no progress with regard to North Korea.

5) GITMO
Obama was highly critical of the policy of keeping Prisoners of the War on Terrorism in Gitmo.  But he never actually closed it.  He never seemed to realize or appreciate that Gitmo is useful in precisely the same way that St. Helena was useful to the British after the Battle of Waterloo.  Napoleon, after his second abdication was never tried.  His case would have become a circus.  Nor was he executed as this would have transformed him into a martyr.  He was imprisoned uncomfortably on St. Helena as he was a danger to the peace of the world.  America should apologize for Gitmo just as soon as the British apologize for St. Helena.

6) AFGHANISTAN
Obama conceived of the war in Afghanistan as the "good war" as opposed to the "mistake" in Iraq.  Obama, recognizing the surprising success of Bush's surge in Iraq implemented a similar surge in Afghanistan.  For a variety of reasons it did not really work.  America has now had troops fighting in Afghanistan for over 15 years.  It is now the longest war in American history.  There are men and women serving in Afghanistan who were toddlers at the time of 9/11 in 2001.

As we noted in the Afghanistan chapter of America Invades..."The attitude towards warfare in Afghanistan is very different from that in the technologically focused West. “Our enemies have the watches,” some Afghans used to say, “but we have the time.” It appears the Western presence may have run out of time in Afghanistan."  (www.americainvades.com)

Perhaps now, after thousands of lives have been lost and trillions have been squandered and siphoned off to corrupt Afghan leaders, it is time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan and send the drug companies in?
Gaddafi: Shot with own Golden gun
7) LIBYA
Obama, the professed non-interventionist, intervened in Libya.  At the urging of HRC and others, he actively supported the removal of Gaddafi.  The Libyan dictator was a tyrant who feared a violent death and realized the sum of his fears in 2011.

In 2012 four Americans, including my UC Berkeley classmate Christopher Stevens, were killed at the embassy compound in Benghazi.  The coverup which followed (who pushed the video) remains a scandal for the Obama administration.

Libya is a failed state and remains an ISIS stronghold today.  Even Obama has admitted that Libya was perhaps his greatest blunder telling Chris Wallace in a 2016 interview, "Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya."



CONCLUSION

The Obama administration got many things wrong on foreign policy.  The Trump administration has inherited a tornado of s*@tstorms around the globe.

Finally, let's remember rule one of American Foreign Policy...DON'T BLOW UP THE WORLD!  Trump must begin to repair the broken relationship with Russia.  This is possible.  And far more so than had HRC (AKA Circe) been elected this fall.  America has not had a territorial dispute with Russia since purchasing Alaska from Czar Alexander II in 1867.  "Seward's folly" is a historic reminder that it is possible for the US to do productive and mutually beneficial deals with the Russians.

In order to avoid BLOWING UP THE WORLD it is necessary to keep talking the the Russians.  It is better to jaw jaw than to war war!

Signing copies of America Invades
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Congratulations "Mad Dog" Mattis!

"Mad Dog" Mattis
A Proud Bomber!

Congratulations to General "Mad Dog" Mattis on his confirmation to become the next Defence Secretary of the United States!  An astonishing bipartisan vote of 98 to 1 in the US Senate has recently confirmed the appointment of Mattis to the top Pentagon job.

Mattis has a long and distinguished service record.  But here is something that you might not know about Mattis...
Go Bombers!
Mattis is a native of my adopted home state of Washington.  Moreover, Mattis is a graduate of Richland High School (also known as Columbia High School).  The mascot of Richland High is "the Bombers".  Richland is only a few miles from Hanford where the Plutonium used to make the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was manufactured.  Jackets from Richland High still proudly display a mushroom cloud.  Mattis went on to earn an History degree from Central Washington University while serving in the US Marine Corps.

I wrote earlier about Hanford after touring it last summer.  See my blog Hanford, the Bomb and Madagascar.../americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/hanford-bomb-andmadagascar.html.

Mattis is a staunch supporter of the NATO alliance in spite of Trump's wobbly campaign rhetoric about the obsolescence of the Alliance.

Congratulations to "Mad Dog" Mattis and "Go Bombers!"

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

American Troops in Norway

Obama's Farewell to Putin
The Obama administration in its final days chose to deploy USA Marines to Norway (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-norway-usa-military-idUSKBN1501CD).   Some Jarheads will soon be improving their skiing abilities.  What else does this move signify?

Clearly the outgoing US administration is sending a message to Putin's Russia.  The deployment seems to be a response to Russian attempts to hack the American election.  Norway shares a small border with Russia.  The outgoing administration is making the argument, quite properly in my view, that NATO is not only not "obsolete" -- it remains highly relevant for those interested in deterring Russian aggression and preserving the peace in Europe.  By such means TV fictions such as 2015's Occupied will remain fictional (see video below).  The self-determination of small nations that border much larger and more powerful neighbors must be protected.


The US military has not deployed ground troops to Norway since World War II.  As noted below, the US Air Force has had a long standing presence in Norway.



We related the story of America's earlier involvement in Norway during World War II in the Norway chapter of America Invades...

"The Nazis invaded Norway in April 1940 and occupied it for the remainder of the war in Europe. Haakon VII, king of Norway, fled with a government in exile to England. The king and his government landed in Rotherhithe on the Thames in southeast London—the same spot the Mayflower left from with the Pilgrims in 1620. King Haakon VII would worship with his family at St. Olav’s Church in Rotherhithe and would also give wartime broadcasts to the Norwegian people from this church.

In Norway, with German support, Vidkun Quisling formed a collaborationist government.
Not surprisingly, since we weren’t actually in the war at the time, we didn’t have anything much to do with the fighting in Norway in 1940. However, two incidents do stand out.

On April 21, 1940, Captain Robert Moffat Losey, serving as US military attaché in Norway, while trying to ensure the safe evacuation to Sweden of American diplomats, was killed by Luftwaffe bombs.
FDR Statue
Grosvenor Square, London
And in the summer of 1940, President Roosevelt sent a troopship, the USS American Legion on a special mission to Petsamo in what was then northern Finland (it’s now, after border changes, in Russia). Its main mission was to evacuate Crown Princess Martha of Norway, plus hundreds of other assorted civilians, including one Dane then called Børge Rosenbaum. This it successfully did, being the last neutral ship out of Petsamo. On arrival in the United States, Princess Martha went on to become close (very, very close, some suggest) to President Roosevelt while Børge Rosenbaum went on to become Victor Borge. However, it wasn’t just people that the USS American Legion rescued from Petsamo that day; it also carried away something that would make a huge contribution to the US war effort. Taken on board at Petsamo was a Swedish-made 40 mm twin-mount Bofors anti-aircraft gun. In America, the USN would adopt the type, order its domestic production, and fit it on its ships.
After the launch of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the Axis occupation of Norway became a particular thorn in the Allies’ side as Norwegian air and sea bases were used to prey on the arctic convoys that were bringing lend-lease supplies to the Soviet Union. Film star Douglas Fairbanks Junior was a naval lieutenant aboard the USS Wichita in the summer of 1942 and witnessed the disastrous PQ 17 convoy that was almost wiped out by German attacks. Plenty of supplies did, however, get through on convoys.

In addition, the German presence in Norway helped assure the transportation of vital Swedish iron ore for use in building the Wehrmacht war machine. Consequently, Churchill repeatedly advocated Operation Anvil, a projected Allied invasion of Norway, to address these concerns. Eisenhower and others in the Allied staff, however, believed that Operation Anvil would be a distraction from the cross-channel invasion of France through Normandy; they prevailed in Allied strategy sessions.
As a result, most of the opposition to German forces in Norway came from brave Norwegians in the resistance. But not all of it.

We conducted assorted air operations over occupied Norway. For example, we were part of the campaign to prevent a Nazi atomic bomb. The Germans were attempting to make heavy water for their nascent nuclear program and using a hydroelectric plant in Vermork, Norway, to do so. In 1943, this plant was hit by a 143-plane raid of USAAF B-17s that did extensive damage.

William Colby of the OSS

But not all US operations in Norway during World War II were to be in the air. On March 24, 1945, a squadron of B-24 Liberators launched Operation RYPE (Norwegian for “grouse”) dropping a team of specially trained OSS forces near Jarlsbad in central Norway. The thirty-six-man group immediately linked up with Norwegian resistance forces. The 99th Battalion, who were proficient skiers and demolition experts, managed to destroy the Tangen bridge near Jorstad. On May 12, 1945, they took over Steinkjer from German forces. Major William Colby, who was later appointed head of the CIA by President Nixon, was the leader of the OSS team in Norway.

On June 10, 1945, the 99th Infantry Battalion would form the honor guard for Crown Prince Olaf’s triumphant parade through Trondheim.

Norway was a founding member of NATO in 1949. Norway’s strategic location on the northern approaches to the Soviet Union made it an important area for bases for the USAAF and USN during the Cold War.

Even after the end of the Cold War, tensions could still occur in the area. For example, on January 25, 1995, Norway launched a rocket to gather scientific data on the Northern Lights near Svalbard. The launch had not been publicly disclosed in advance, and its trajectory was near Russian territory, which caused a minor crisis with the Russians who briefly panicked, fearing that it was a US submarine-launched missile. Thus, Norwegian scientists nearly started World War III after the Cold War had ended.

And we still have strong military links with Norway. For instance, the USAF’s 501st Combat Support Wing remains based in Stavanger to this day. Norway is a NATO member. The Norwegians sent troops to fight alongside our own in the coalition forces in Afghanistan, and Norwegian jets played a major role in the operations in Libya in 2011."

With the dawn of the new Trump administration, one can only hope that the NATO will be strengthened rather than junking the system that has preserved peace in Europe since in 1948 (pace Yugoslavia).



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