My most splendid campaign was that of March 20; not a single shot was fired.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
De Gaulle had a totally Franco-centric view of everything. This included a supreme disdain for inconvenient facts, especially anything which might undermine the glory of France. Only de Gaulle could have written a history of the French army and manage to make no mention of the Battle of Waterloo.
Antony Beevor, D-Day.
Though he was a complete pain in the ass, De Gaulle was the man France needed. And he knew it.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
Confederate dead at the stonewall outside Fredricksburg, May 1863. This was the same stonewall so bitterly contested in December 1982 during the battle of Fredricksburg.
In the first week of May, 1863, Robert E. Lee disregarded some basic rules of warfare to inflict a stunning defeat on the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville. While the win was triumphant, it led to several bad things for Lee. First was the loss of Stonewall Jackson, who died 150 years ago today on May 10, 1863. Second was the confirmation to Lee that the Army of the Potomac was so inept that he could defeat them on any field at any time. This attitude led to Pickett's charge at Gettysburg in July.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Today the Israeli Air Force carried out a series of air strikes against Syrian military targets around Damascus. The proximate reason was the impending transfer of new, better missiles from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. They have done this twice before, on Friday they hit some targets around Damascus, and in January they hit a convoy near the Lebanese border carrying missiles to Hezbollah. However, the target list (including a chemical weapons research facility) suggest the Israelis are trying to send a more complex message than simply no new weapons for Hezbollah.
Remember that Israel has only ever lost one war, and that was to Hezbollah in 2006. Hezbollah remains the only nearby threat capable of inflicting politically significant damage on Israeli civilians. Right now, the worst case scenario for Israeli security is Hezbollah getting Syrian chemical weapons and the missile systems to deliver them.
The Israelis would probably like to stay out of the Syrian conflict entirely. There is no military action they can take to ensure a palatable outcome. Obviously, there are no political or diplomatic tools they can use either. That leaves Israel in a bind. They can handle Assad, but he is an enabler of the Iran - Hezbollah alliance. What would follow Assad is unknowable at this time. Could be worse, could be better, will certainly be Islamist. But won't be in Iran's pocket and probably won't facilitate Hezbollah.
All in, it looks like a new regime would suit the Israelis. But of course they cannot take sides. Israeli support of the rebels would be the kiss of death and the rebels would reject Israeli help. On the other hand, strategic developments have taken an unusual turn. As far as Syria is concerned, Israeli and Saudi interests are starting to converge. Both are lined up against Iranian influence in Syria and Lebanon. Both would be better off with a Sunni ruled Syria. Both would be happy with a severely crippled Hezbollah. Neither is a military threat to the other. Both are American allies. I'm not expecting a nice meeting between King Abdullah and Netanyahu in East Jerusalem with lots of hugs and kisses. But I wouldn't be surprised to find out they are cooperating under the table.
Finally, the chemical weapons are a wild card. Its hard to divine the truth, but it looks like Assad has been using them in a limited fashion. Trying to gain a tactical advantage without provoking international response. This is one area where Israel gets a free pass. They can bomb the shit out of Assad's chemical weapons capabilities and nobody will blame them.
Its also worth noting that the Israeli raid shows yet again that the Syrian Air Force is utterly incapable of defending Syrian airspace.