Solidarity Forever

Twenty-five years ago today (August 31), Lech Walesa climbed the wall to join a strike at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk leading to the creation the Solidarity movement in Poland and loosening one of the first pebbles that grew into the landslide that destroyed the Soviet Empire.

Who would have believed it? Lech Walesa was an ordinary workingman, the shipyards so unremarkable and Gdansk so prosaic. Look what he was up against. In 1980 the Soviet Union seemed on top. Their war in Afghanistan was going well. Communist governments had been recently installed in Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia. It looked like the dominoes were about to fall even in America's Central American backyard, while U.S. suffered what could have been a terminal malaise.

Nine years later, communism was on the ash heap of history. I would like to concentrate on the heroism of the Polish people who stood up to empires, fascists and communists in a nearly two hundred year struggle for their freedom. If ever a people earned their freedom, it is the Poles. But this is a blog for Americans, so this is all I will say about it.

Americans can find lessons about how to fight tyranny. The first lesson is never give up. The communists held all the cards and intellectuals said that the historical triumph of communism was inevitable. But sometimes individuals can turn the historical tide. The second lesson is that even passionate partisans can put aside their differences for a greater good. The American heroes include Ronald Reagan and Bill Casey, but also Lane Kirkland and the American labor movement and Jimmy Carter's NSA Zbigniew Brzezinski. (The Polish heroes are an equally diverse group: intellectuals, workers and students.) These people rarely agree, but they agreed enough to do the right thing. Finally, we can learn from a story worthy of the best spy novels. Many of you have never heard of Ryszard Kuklinski, but he almost certainly prevented the Soviets from doing to Poland what they did to Czechoslovakia and may have helped head off a superpower conflict. Follow this link to learn more about this fascinating story.

I am sorry that this post is unlikely to provoke a partisan debate. My heroes come from both left and right. Even Jimmy Carter does well in my story. It was Carter who warned the Soviets off their invasion plans. He still doesn't get credit for that backbone. This was a triumph of humanity against tyranny. We all can find someone to admire.

Posted by Jack at August 30, 2005 11:26 PM | TrackBack (2)
Comments
Comment #76456

Jack,

Having a Pope that the Poles could be proud of didn’t hurt either.

Posted by: Rocky at August 31, 2005 12:15 AM
Comment #76457

I mentioned the Pope in a posting some months ago. Many people contributed. As I wrote, since we are an American blog, I concentrated on Americans.

The Poles are very heroic. You could - and people have - filled whole books with that. I like to keep it to a couple hundred words.

Posted by: jack at August 31, 2005 12:21 AM
Comment #76469

Just for the sake of partisan debate —
Are you suggesting that we are struggling under a tyrranical government here in America? While I don’t think that’s true I do think we should be struggling against a government that’s moving towards tyranny.

Posted by: Alejo at August 31, 2005 1:41 AM
Comment #76473

jack,

I must admit, while this is a nice history lesson, I must have missed the point.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 31, 2005 2:31 AM
Comment #76474

So, Jack,

We outspent the Soviets and they collapsed under the weight of their own mismanagement.

Afganistan ended up not going well for them, despite the early success, they had mini revolts all over their empire becaused they streched themselves too thin, and they gave up.

I think that this is a lesson that we all should pay attention to.

Posted by: Rocky at August 31, 2005 2:37 AM
Comment #76475

Or maybe the lesson being taught is that people like me shouldn’t have so little hope that China seems so darned good at suppressing their revolts, because eventually they’ll make a difference and maybe eventually the world body will actually step in and help.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 31, 2005 2:45 AM
Comment #76476

President Jimmy Carter said:

“We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.

Perhaps the point of this is we took the wrong path.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 31, 2005 3:04 AM
Comment #76485

Plus, Poland has great and cheap plumbers ;-)
Just kidding.

(For those who not in the know, which I fully understand, Cheap Poles Plumbers Syndrom (CCPS) fear was used by parties against EU Constitution all over Europa during last Spring. That was ridiculous. Really.)

Jack, thanks for your links. Great reading.

Except maby from exact lessons we all should learn from their history, I think there no real debate, indeed.

Rocky, Stephanie,

Agreed. It’s never too late for changing course. It’s just often far more costly.

BTW, what’s your position about America Energy policy in short future? Are you for more nuclear power plants? Focus only on alternative (bio-)energies?
Both?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at August 31, 2005 5:23 AM
Comment #76487

Philippe, the polish nurses are pretty good, too. I don’t know what you guys were thinking when you voted down the EU constitution. ;)

Americans can find lessons about how to fight tyranny.

Jack, that reminds me of Gen. Wes Clark’s essay, “Broken Engagement: The strategy that won the Cold War could help bring democracy to the Middle East— if only the Bush hawks understood it.”

…the neoconservatives misunderstood how and why the Soviet Union fell and what the West did to contribute to that fall. They radically overestimated the role of military assertiveness while underestimating the value of other, subtler measures. They then applied those theories to the Middle East, a region with very different political and cultural conditions.

The truth is this: It took four decades of patient engagement to bring down the Iron Curtain, and 10 years of deft diplomacy to turn chaotic, post-Soviet states into stable, pro-Western democracies. To achieve the same in the Middle East will require similar engagement, patience, and luck.

…We can’t know precisely how the desire for freedom among the peoples of the Middle East will grow and evolve into movements that result in stable democratic governments… But if the events of the last year tell us anything, it is that democracy in the Middle East is unlikely to come at the point of our gun. And Ronald Reagan would have known better than to try.

I think Lech Walesa would agree.

Posted by: American Pundit at August 31, 2005 7:53 AM
Comment #76492

Re general point of this post. Those of you who know, might not need a history lesson, but I bet that most people outside Poland could not tell you very much about Solidarity (or they might tell you Gorbachev did it) and they almost certainly would not know the extent to which people like Reagan or Kirkland helped produce the happy outcome. And – tell the truth – how many of you could have picked out Kuklinski on a multiple-choice test.

Even people who know, need to be reminded and this anniversary is a good occasion.


Alejo

No, I don’t think America is headed toward tyranny or is anywhere near it. By 1980, Poland didn’t even play in the big tyranny league.

I think the hope is for a place like Iran, which is definitely oppressive but has the possibility of an opposition. Of course, Iran is a much greater threat to world peace than Poland was.

Another “lesson” is that even heroic people need help. Solidarity rose for local reasons, but without outside help and attention the authorities could have quietly destroyed it.

And not giving up hope is important. During the 1980s, many intellectuals in the U.S. and Europe dismissed Poland’s fight for freedom. They said things like that part of the world was not ready for democracy or that the people there didn’t really want it. We should see by now that freedom is a universal concept.

Rocky

The Soviets would probably subdued Afghanistan if not for the U.S. arms, especially the stinger missiles, which deprived them of control of the air. The U.S. defended Islam in that case and evidently got no credit at all among the extreme believers.

Phillipe

Re energy both. I think France generates 78% of its electricity from nuclear power. If we did that, we would have a better energy future, produce less greenhouse gas and lower the price of energy. Our non-decision not to pursue nuclear power back about 1980 was a serious mistake.

Alternative energy and conservation is also valid. At some price (people used to say around $60 a barrel, so we’ll see) many alternative become viable. The thing to remember is that when the price makes it worth doing, somebody will do it but sometimes past investments hinder the development of alternatives. In other words, we like to use what we already have.

While I believe in alternatives, I get annoyed at the kind of counter culture thing that someone we could run our whole economy on goat piss if only the big companies would not stop it. Any energy solution, at least for our generation, has to involve a lot of nuclear power and still a lot of coal and oil.

Posted by: jack at August 31, 2005 8:03 AM
Comment #76502

American Pundit,

Philippe, the polish nurses are pretty good, too. I don’t know what you guys were thinking when you voted down the EU constitution. ;)

Thanks, I now hate myself for voting no!
;-)

Great to see Polish Tourism well exploiting with humour this ridiculous french euro-skeptics argument.

Jack,

Re energy both. I think France generates 78% of its electricity from nuclear power. If we did that, we would have a better energy future, produce less greenhouse gas and lower the price of energy. Our non-decision not to pursue nuclear power back about 1980 was a serious mistake.

We enjoy now doing that move at time, indeed.

But iraniun resources are not limitless too. Nor cheap, and I bet price will climb in the future…
Plus, there’s the issues of nuclear waste and risk (tactical targets and aging plants), which have no good and secure solutions yet.

I really consider our current nuclear energy policy as a good one for short-term/intermediate solution. We should have pushed harder ITER (civil nuclear fusion plant) project and industrial steps long time ago. And we should have already multiplied alternatives sources.

Once again, France was sleeping. Nuclear lobby helped here, no doubt.

Well, at least, french bio-fuels plants should receives big help from our government really soon, after being blocked by Petroleum lobby for half a century.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at August 31, 2005 9:51 AM
Comment #76508

Polish saugage is among the best in the world.

Posted by: steve smith at August 31, 2005 10:10 AM
Comment #76514
The U.S. defended Islam in that case and evidently got no credit at all among the extreme believers.

Ha! That’s a bit of a stretch, Jack. Afghanistan was the only place where we were killin commies. Islam had nothing to do with it. And the mujahadeen would have fought with or without US arms.

If you haven’t read it, “Charlie Wilson’s War” is an excellent account of our involvement. Hurray for Democrats! :)

Posted by: American Pundit at August 31, 2005 10:33 AM
Comment #76523

The communists held all the cards and intellectuals said that the historical triumph of communism was inevitable.

Actually, a little more history on Poland will reveal a different picture. Polish workers rose up against the Communist government on two occasions BEFORE Solidarity: 1956 and 1970.

Neither occasion was intended to bring down the communist government (the Poles weren’t stupid enough to invite Soviet tanks), but both occasions did result in significant changes to the leadership of the country. They were still Soviet puppets, absolutely, but the new governments were more conscious of the opinions and demands of the public.

Over the years, Poland became less oppressive and more open. Few people know that Poles (at least in the 70’s) were generally free to visit the west, something that cannot be said of the other communist governments in Eastern Europe.

Solidarity was a continuation of that process. Please don’t give the credit for Poles bringing down communism only to Solidarity. Poles have a long history in standing up to the communist government.

Posted by: steve at August 31, 2005 11:02 AM
Comment #76527

The American heroes include Ronald Reagan and Bill Casey, but also Lane Kirkland and the American labor movement and Jimmy Carter’s NSA Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Curious that you don’t give credit to Carter himself. Carter’s human rights policy help energize the Poles to push for human rights in their own country. I know this because I travelled to Poland back in the late 70’s and heard it from Poles directly.

I don’t claim that Carter’s human rights policy was the issue that did for them. Nothing was the issue. There were a lot of issues, things, events and people who helped Poland overcome the communist dictatorship.

Posted by: steve at August 31, 2005 11:10 AM
Comment #76528

We outspent the Soviets and they collapsed under the weight of their own mismanagement.

For what’s it’s worth, CIA estimates of Soviet military spending show that they spent pretty much the same percantage of their GDP on the military during their Afganistan adventure as before. The estimates of Soviet economic performance also show that their economy started to decline in the 1970’s, long before Afghanistan, Reagan and Gorbachev.

Posted by: steve at August 31, 2005 11:15 AM
Comment #76561

Jack,

This is from an article written about a BBC documentery called “The Power Of Nightmares”. The author is Thom Hartmann.

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1207-26.htm

“According to this carefully researched and well-vetted BBC documentary, Richard Nixon, following in the steps of his mentor and former boss Dwight D. Eisenhower, believed it was possible to end the Cold War and eliminate fear from the national psyche. The nation need no longer be afraid of communism or the Soviet Union. Nixon worked out a truce with the Soviets, meeting their demands for safety as well as the US needs for security, and then announced to Americans that they need no longer be afraid.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon returned from the Soviet Union with a treaty worked out by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the beginning of a process Kissinger called “detente.” On June 1, 1972, Nixon gave a speech in which he said, “Last Friday, in Moscow, we witnessed the beginning of the end of that era which began in 1945. With this step, we have enhanced the security of both nations. We have begun to reduce the level of fear, by reducing the causes of fear for our two peoples, and for all peoples in the world.”

But Nixon left amid scandal and Ford came in, and Ford’s Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) and Chief of Staff (Dick Cheney) believed it was intolerable that Americans might no longer be bound by fear. Without fear, how could Americans be manipulated?

Rumsfeld and Cheney began a concerted effort - first secretly and then openly - to undermine Nixon’s treaty for peace and to rebuild the state of fear and, thus, reinstate the Cold War.

And these two men - 1974 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Ford Chief of Staff Dick Cheney - did this by claiming that the Soviets had secret weapons of mass destruction that the president didn’t know about, that the CIA didn’t know about, that nobody but them knew about. And, they said, because of those weapons, the US must redirect billions of dollars away from domestic programs and instead give the money to defense contractors for whom these two men would one day work.”

Why do these names keep popping up?

I would suggest that you read the article and make your own conclusions.

Posted by: Rocky at August 31, 2005 12:47 PM
Comment #76562

Jack,

Unlike Kerry, you remembered Poland!
President Bush would be impressed. He doesn’t like it when people forget Poland!

Posted by: TheTraveler at August 31, 2005 12:47 PM
Comment #76563

Philippe,

“BTW, what’s your position about America Energy policy in short future? Are you for more nuclear power plants? Focus only on alternative (bio-)energies? Both?”

I prefer green energies (bio-energies?). Solar, wind and water. I’m not a physicist, though, so I don’t know how practical they are or what’s holding us back.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 31, 2005 12:51 PM
Comment #76576

Phillipe:
“Well, at least, french bio-fuels plants should receives big help from our government really soon, after being blocked by Petroleum lobby for half a century.”

Yes, that’s the way of the future. Bio-diesel is the way America should be going too, in my opinion.
It won’t completely eliminate the need for oil for awhile, but it could reduce it drastically, and might eventually eliminate it completely.

Stephanie:
“I prefer green energies (bio-energies?).”

I absolutely agree. America needs to begin heavily investing in all kinds of green energy development, but we are also sure to get a lot of resistance from the oil companies.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 31, 2005 1:31 PM
Comment #76578

Adrienne,

“I absolutely agree. America needs to begin heavily investing in all kinds of green energy development, but we are also sure to get a lot of resistance from the oil companies.”

That would be because there is no money in it for them.

Jack,

The reason that I brought the article up was it tied in with what steve smith was saying about the impending Soviet collapse in the 70s. They may have already realized that they couldn’t sustain their military even then. Their war in Afghanistan was just one of the final nails in the coffin.
Our help asside, what do the Afghanis have that anyone would want.

Nothing. And lots of it.

I can’t begin to comprehend what the Soviets stood to gain by taking over a country that had never been taken over before. This had to a major factor in their downfall.

By the early eighties the Soviets had to be running on empty.

All this is not to denegrate what the Poles acomplished, peacefully.

Posted by: Rocky at August 31, 2005 2:02 PM
Comment #76580

Jack,

Although some here have criticized you for mentioning Carter, I want to express my appreciation that you mentioned the American labor movement in a positive light. It’s something that I really didn’t expect to see in the Red column, and it’s an example of evenhandedness that our discourse needs.

Thanks.

Posted by: LawnBoy at August 31, 2005 2:17 PM
Comment #76581

That should have been “…for not mentioning Carter…”

Posted by: LawnBoy at August 31, 2005 2:18 PM
Comment #76587

Rocky:
“Why do these names keep popping up?”

A very good question.
I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I also find it amazing the number of Iran-Contra names that have also resurfaced with this administration:
Negroponte, Powell, Armitage, Abrams, Secord.

Mere coincidence? Seems rather fishy to me…

Posted by: Adrienne at August 31, 2005 2:29 PM
Comment #76596

Adrienne,

Google “Team B” if your interested in a curious story.

Posted by: Rocky at August 31, 2005 2:46 PM
Comment #76615

Adrienne,

I’m no conspiracy theorist

Except when it comes to Ohio election results.
C’mon, that one was way too easy!

Posted by: TheTraveler at August 31, 2005 3:15 PM
Comment #76628

Traveler:
“Except when it comes to Ohio election results.”

Oh, it wasn’t just Ohio — twenty-six state exit polls incorectly predicted that Kerry would win. A statistical anomaly so gigantic and unprecedented that The National Election Archive Project considers the odds to be one in 1,240 to one in 16.5 million.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 31, 2005 3:40 PM
Comment #76629

Lawnboy

I did mention Carter. I wrote that “Even Jimmy Carter does well in my story. It was Carter who warned the Soviets off their invasion plans. He still doesn’t get credit for that backbone. This was a triumph of humanity against tyranny.”

AP

Although we did not go to Afghanistan to defend Islam, that is what we did. And without U.S. help, I believe the Soviets would have subdued the place. (Given the subsequent history, I am not sure that would have been such a bad thing, but we don’t know what other problems – such as the survival of Soviet Union – that might have come of it.) We stood clearly for the rights of Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, where there was no obvious American interest beyond the humanitarian ones. I have read that Osama’s propaganda boys use footage of Serbs oppressing Kosovars to trash the U.S. Clearly, they are not about to let the truth stand in the way of their hatred.

Adrienne, Philippe and others

I really would like us to go into more renewables and I think we will. We are already making good progress in solar, wind etc. But we are not there yet.

Big energy companies are investing heavily in renewable energy. It is just not paying off yet. Yes, that means there is no money in it. It also means the obvious – that it costs more to use the alternatives. I looked into solar for my house. I would have to invest $51,000. My total electric bill is less than $2000 a year. Even if the solar cells take care of all my needs and they never wear out, it would take me more time to break even than I have left to walk the earth. I am willing to pay a little more to be green. As I mentioned, I ride my bike or metro to work and I own a Honda Civic hybrid, but I just can’t come up with that 51K and wait forty or fifty years for the payback.

But the prices are coming down fast. The only energy conspiracy I have encountered is the one to keep the price of oil low (which discourages alternatives.) We will be there someday, but not today. And BTW, when we reach that clean energy nirvana, it will be the business and techno folks who get us there, not the counterculture guys trying to turn goat piss into gasoline.

Posted by: jack at August 31, 2005 3:41 PM
Comment #76632

jack,

Good point. I missed that, and I guess steve did, too.

My appreciation grows :)

Posted by: LawnBoy at August 31, 2005 3:46 PM
Comment #76638

My pointing out the exclusion of Carter was because of the mention of Reagan and Brzezinski in the same breath, but not Carter. Remember that Carter — not Reagan — was president when Solidarity got started and made its first victories. And Reagan, despite all his tough talk, couldn’t stop the Polish military from crushing Solidarity in December of 1981.

Finally, I never had a fondness for Brzezinski’s approach to foreign policy. Though it’s been so long I can’t remember why :-)

Posted by: steve at August 31, 2005 4:00 PM
Comment #76639
I really would like us to go into more renewables and I think we will. We are already making good progress in solar, wind etc. But we are not there yet.

Living in Germany gives me a better appreciation for how far we have to go in this. On almost every train or road trip I take, I look out at some point and see a wind farm with dozens of windmills operating. Here’s a picture of them my wife took this past weekend.

Also, a few years ago I stayed with a family on their farm in Denmark. They had almost no energy costs because they were in a small co-op that owned its own windmill. They even made money at times by selling their electricity to the main grid.

There are significant steps towards energy independence that we can make, but we don’t have the political and social will to do it.

It’s things like the hypocrisy of the residents of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard that really frustrates me at times.

Posted by: LawnBoy at August 31, 2005 4:01 PM
Comment #76640
The only energy conspiracy I have encountered is the one to keep the price of oil low (which discourages alternatives.)

There was an interesting (and long) article in the New York Times Magazine last week that touched on this, in terms of the price balance that Saudi Arabia has to keep. Too low; they don’t make money. Too high; alternatives are sought that reduce demand, and they don’t make money.

Posted by: LawnBoy at August 31, 2005 4:05 PM
Comment #76657

Jack:
“I looked into solar for my house. I would have to invest $51,000.”

Yeah, it’s the initial outlay that’s the real killer. Currently it’s too much for us to spend the money on too. But my neighbor around the corner just went solar last year, and he makes me jealous because he says it’s going to pay itself off in about four years — and he’s already selling excess power back to the grid.

“We will be there someday, but not today.”

But the information we are getting about bio-diesel and other alternatives is just too good to ignore. I think we should be going for it.

“And BTW, when we reach that clean energy nirvana, it will be the business and techno folks who get us there, not the counterculture guys trying to turn goat piss into gasoline.”

Well, I don’t know anything about goat-piss-power, but some average joes are already beating the business and techno folks, from
East to West when it comes to a cleaner alternative fuel for our cars.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 31, 2005 4:26 PM
Comment #76660

Rocky,

“Our help asside, what do the Afghanis have that anyone would want.”

Well, there are those poppy fields.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 31, 2005 4:30 PM
Comment #76665

Stephanie,

“Well, there are those poppy fields”

Which, BTW, are producing a bumper crop since we took over.
They don’t have anything else to sell on the world market, except for guns.
Appearantly they are very skilled gunsmiths, but with the lack of major exploitable natural resources to make it a growing businessl.

Posted by: Rocky at August 31, 2005 4:47 PM
Comment #76731

Rocky,

“Which, BTW, are producing a bumper crop since we took over.”

And we can all feel warm & fuzzy knowing there will be plenty of poppy seeds for our bagels, ‘cause you know that’s what that bumper crop’s going to be used for.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 31, 2005 8:08 PM
Comment #76752

Hey Traveler,
Strange coincidence — you bringing up Ohio. This just in today:
Two Ohio Election Officials Indicted for 2004 Election Recount Conduct!
Charged for Violating State Law in Attempt to Assure Hand Recount Wouldn’t Occur
Each Face Six Counts, 18 Months in Prison

Posted by: Adrienne at August 31, 2005 9:07 PM
Comment #76806

Just a couple of lessons from history about the Poles and the Iron Curtain:
1. The Allies are wholly responsible for the events leading up to the devision of Europe. We fought to free Europe from an EVIL dictator, only to condemn 10’s of millions of people to the rule of another.
2. Whatever the reason you want to believe that the Soviet Union fell, it would not have happened unless we confronted them. If you feel that it would have fell any way, how many more millions of people would have died without knowing freedom. It took courage both from within and outside of the Eastern Bloc.
3. We talk about a “tyrannical” government here. I’m sorry folks, but very few of us Americans can even immagine what a loss of freedom is. People want to play the victim and say how bad it is here and how the Patriot Act has allowed “Big Brother” take over our freedoms, but can state right now who the most oppressed peoples in America are? please think hard…the answer might fool you. I’ll tell you in a minute.
4. The American Indian? The African-American? Hispanics? Jews? The poor? No not yet. The illegal immigrant? No. I hope you dont mind the pause for affect, because the people I am talking about cant speak freely. They cant post signs for their choice for elected office at their job. They cant form a union and negotiate for better wages and benefits…Got it yet? they cant travel over 50 miles without written permission. Are you oppressed like this?
5. Its the American Soldier, Sailor and Airman. Like the Lech Walesa, Ryszard Kuklinski and the Poles in Solidarity, these people are putting a lot more at risk than “oppressed”. And they are doing it for others, not theirselves. And like our service members, the Poles were standing up when it a lot of people didnt understand why.

People, freedom isnt free. And the people with all of the answers are rarely comprehend the question. If you still think that you could do what Ryszard Kuklinski did, sleep well. If you think you can immagine what decisions he made every day, putting not only his life on the line, but the lives of his family, You are a better person than I. I dont think that military service is a qualifier for an informed opinion on the subject, but even with 2 years total underwater in the Cold War, I cant even begin to think what he went through.

Thanks All

Posted by: Submarinesforever at August 31, 2005 11:49 PM
Comment #76832

Submarinesforever,

Thank you for your service and thank you for putting things into perspective!

Posted by: Stephanie at September 1, 2005 2:23 AM
Comment #76969

I just want to mention that poppy production in Afghanistan this year declined for the first time since the war. I think we’re actually doing a very good job in Afghanistan, and I wish we could commit more resources there.

The ISAF is doing a great job with what they have. The PRTs, where they have the resources to deploy them, are doing really good work.

Let’s stop hammering Afghanistan. Compared to Iraq, it’s a dazzling success.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 1, 2005 1:41 PM
Comment #76980

AP,

I was not hammering Afghanistan. The poppy fields are the one resource I know the Afghanis have (besides making really artistic blankets, but that’s another matter entirely) and I could understand why many governments would want to control that, especially ours. If we can shut those down completely much good will come of it.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 1, 2005 2:10 PM
Comment #76993

Just a couple of lessons from history about the Poles and the Iron Curtain:
1. The Allies are wholly responsible for the events leading up to the division of Europe. We fought to free Europe from an EVIL dictator, only to condemn 10’s of millions of people to the rule of another.

The presence of millions of Soviet soldiers had a lot to do with the reality of the situation. The Soviet Union had a much bigger army on the ground at the end of the war than the allies did.

Posted by: steve at September 1, 2005 2:38 PM
Comment #77149

The presence of millions of Soviet soldiers had a lot to do with the reality of the situation. The Soviet Union had a much bigger army on the ground at the end of the war than the allies did.

Steve, it’s just interesting to me that the war ended with, in my opinion, a dictator that was worse than Hitler in control of a large part of Europe. The 3rd Army was slowed then halted to allow this to happen. We had the army in place to finnish the job, and the resources to do it also.
As far as the military leadership goes, the Soviets were lacking. The purges of the officier corps that Stalin institutedin 43-44(not sure which year) almost directly costed Russia the war. With the loss of 20 million soldiers in WWI AND WWII(40 Million total), Russia could not have sustained a front against the Allies. Military, economical and indusrtial advantages along with battlefield leadership belonged to the Allies.

The arguement may be made about the number of lives lost in this, but on balance how many could have been saved? Korea and Vietnam may have been avoided saving 100,000 American lives. Also factor in the lives lost that are not widely known about, the thousands lost in training accidents in Europe suffered by our military fighting the Cold War. Whatever you think of Patton the man, he was correct on the Russians.

My point is basically this: if our politicians were willing to risk their positions in power to do what is right, not only would lives be save and freedoms be restored to the masses, but people like Lech Walesa, Ryszard Kuklinski and the Poles in Solidarity would not have to risk so much in our stead.

And I think also that this same lesson could and should be learned today. Wars should never be “popular”, but they can be necessary.

Thanks again all

Posted by: submarinesforever at September 1, 2005 10:03 PM
Comment #77395

You’ll get no disagreement from me that Stalin was evil, but unlike Hitler he didn’t have a track record of taking over small countries by military force. (The clear exceptions being those which had previously been part of the old Russian Empire, or those allied with Germany.)

And I disagree that the U.S. would have been able “finish the job” to defeat the Red Army. The Red Army — not the U.S. Army — defeated the bulk of the Wehrmacht . At best it would have been a huge gamble.

Posted by: steve at September 2, 2005 2:56 PM
Comment #77501

Steve:

In their Non-Agression Pact, The Russians and Germans agreed to the division of Eastern Europe. Russia then won a revision to allow them absorb the Baltic States. From the outset, Russia had expansion into Europe in their plans.

And you are correct that Russia defeated the bulk of the Wehrmacht, if fact 80% of Germany’s casualities came from Russia, NOT from the American and English. But by winning the war with Germany, the costs were staggering. They lost 27,000,000 people and their major cities in the west were in ruins.

Russia’s saving throw was the T-3(please forgive me if I got the model number wrong), it was the perfect weapon at the perfect time and in the perfect place. This is so rare in history. But the fact remains that Russia was able to pay the price TWICE to keep the Germans at bay. In less than 20 years they lost almost 50,000,000 men and women of fighting age, and had their industrial base demolished TWICE.

If at worst it became a war of attrition, Russia could have not survived. I qualify this by pointing out that they barely survived just 2 years ealier. The German army was within sight of the Kremlin, had Lenningrad and Stalingrad surrounded and virtually demolished these cities.

The people in these cities were nothing short of genuine heroes, but the loss was great. There was no time in the 20th century that Russia was weaker than at the end of WWII. Serious..Yes….Gamble….Hardly.

I would like to say that I am in no way a “war lover”. I dont know many that have served that are. But I ask you to consider the possible changes in history if all of Europe had been free and democratic after WWII. Communism as we know it defeated 50 years ealier. No cold war. Probably no Korean or Vietnam wars(please no semantics here). A free Cuba.

Soviet backed communist governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America never happening. Right now, we would not have had the terrorist havens that exist. Dictators in that have led to civil war and genocide in Chad, Sudan the Yukoslav Republics(not even coming close to naming them all) would have not been supported by one of the SuperPowers just to try to gain a small advantage over the other.

I do not think that it would have been a cakewalk, but if you think that Russia was stronger than I believe it was, please explain why. I respect all opinions and tend to learn from those that disagree with mine.

But please think what could have been, and weigh the risks. I find the concept staggering(and unproveable), but I also believe the lessons apply to all times.

Not to taint the conservation, but generations to come will be armed with more information and will ponder the “what ifs” from our own wars both fought and unfought( I firmly believe that if we would have stood up to Afghanastan and Osama at some time after they attacked American soil the first three or four times, the eighth time at the twin Towers would not have happened).

We need to accept this axiom: EVIL IS. Therefore it must be confronted. The sooner Evil is confronted, the less the cost. It just takes courage.

Thanks Again

Posted by: submarinesforever at September 2, 2005 6:37 PM
Comment #105772

I’ve managed to save up roughly $82756 in my bank account, but I’m not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

Posted by: Courtney Gidts at December 21, 2005 9:47 PM
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