Quotulatiousness

January 15, 2018

The postwar “international order”

Filed under: Britain, Economics, History, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Niall Ferguson on the notion of a post-1945 international liberal order:

The phrase international order reminds me of the phrase Western civilization. As Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi wittily replied when asked about Western civilization, “It would be a good idea.” The notion that international order exists or has ever existed seems highly questionable to me. The notion of a liberal international order is even more questionable because it is neither liberal, nor international, nor very orderly.

It is often claimed by political scientists that the liberal international order came into existence in 1945. The argument goes that American and British statesmen, having learned from the terrible mistakes of the 1930s and 1940s, decided to make the world anew by creating a series of remarkable international institutions: the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and later the World Bank. According to this narrative, Donald Trump’s election as US president in 2016 was a wrecking ball directed at the liberal international order created by the generation of 1945.

Yet this is a fairy tale. For one thing, there was nothing very liberal about the economic order that was established in 1945. It was devised by people – notably John Maynard Keynes – who had repudiated classical liberal economics and believed that international trade should be limited and capital movements controlled.

It was also not a truly international order. After 1945, it very quickly became a bipolar order that divided the world. There was nothing international about the Cold War. It was a battle between two empires and two ideologies, and the rest of the world’s nations had to choose sides.

In short, the notion of a liberal international order, born in 1945, is a historical fantasy. The reality is that it was only in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended that it was possible to create a liberal international order. The era of truly free trade, truly free capital flows and large-scale migration across borders did not begin until the 1990s.

January 14, 2018

Prologue 2 Cuban Missile Crisis – The Cold War Heats Up

Filed under: Americas, History, Military, Russia, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

TimeGhost
Published on 19 Oct 2017

For 13 days in October 1962 the world came closer to nuclear holocaust than ever before, but the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t start in Cuba – it had its roots in Berlin, Italy and Turkey, the domestic political situation in the US facing the newly elected President John F Kennedy, and in the USSR, where Premier Nikita Khrushchev had taken leadership of the Soviet through a harsh four year power struggle after Stalin’s death in 1953.

Hosted by: Indy Neidell
Written by: Spartacus Olsson
Produced and Directed by: Astrid Deinhard
Executive Producers: Bodo Rittenauer, Astrid Deinhard, Indy Neidell, Spartacus Olsson
Camera and editing by: Jonas Klein

A TimeGhost chronological documentary produced by OnLion Entertainment GmbH

January 13, 2018

Prologue 1 Cuban Missile Crisis – The Cold War Begins

Filed under: Americas, Military, Russia, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

TimeGhost
Published on 17 Oct 2017

This series follows the Cuban Missile Crisis day, by day. In this initial prologue we explore some of the background to the crisis. During the 1950s the ideological divide between totalitarian Communism and democratic capitalism pits the USSR against the US as both super powers try to expand their sphere of influence. In parallel a series of misunderstandings and false assumptions heats up the nuclear arms race and sees the US pull further ahead of the USSR in military dominance. The increasing pressure on both sides eventually brings them head to head during several covert operations, proxy wars and, direct confrontations including the Berlin Crisis and eventually the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Fast Food – Would You Like Capitalism With That? I THE COLD WAR

Filed under: Business, Economics, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

IT’S HISTORY
Published on 8 Jul 2015

A city that is not plastered with branches of US Fast Food chains is a rare sight nowadays. That wasn’t always the case. Fast Food, as we know it today, is a child of the economic boom after World War 2. Taking your new car for a ride to the Drive-In restaurant and getting a fresh burger; that’s the American Dream right there. Ultimately the concept of identical taste and identical manufacturing steps is one thing: pure capitalism. Food chains keep wages and costs as low as possible and that is why Fast Food is not nearly as glamorous today as it once was. So put down that Hamburger and find out all about the history of Fast Food with Guy on IT’S HISTORY.

Big Mac Index: http://bit.ly/TheBIGMACIndex

December 9, 2017

Berlin Airlift: The Cold War Begins – Extra History

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Germany, History, Military, Russia, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 7 Dec 2017

Tension between the Soviet Union and their former World War 2 Allies escalated into a hostile blockade of Berlin. All sides wanted to avoid another war, but the United States, Great Britain, and France refused to bend to Stalin’s pressure. They came up with a daring plan to supply Berlin by air.

November 22, 2017

The Canadian version of the Sterling submachine gun

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The Canadian army kept the Sten as their standard SMG for several years after the war, but eventually had to come up with a replacement weapon. The selection committee eventually settled on Sterling SMG, which the British army had been using, with a few modifications. Historical Firearms has the details:

…in November 1956, the first Anglo-Canadian Submachine Gun Steering Committee meeting was held. The Canadians liked the Sterling and requested a manufacturing license. They did, however, wish to make some changes to the weapon before they adopted it.
These changes included a small bayonet boss and redesigned lug reinforcement for the L1A1 rifle bayonet, a simpler trigger mechanism designed by Sterling engineer Les Ruffell, a height adjustable front sight taken from the L1A1, an adjustable rear sight with wider sight protectors. In early 1957, these changes were encapsulated in a sample model assembled from Fazakerly-made L2A3s, these were re-designated the L2A4. Later changes were also made to simplify the Canadian Sterling’s end cap and a squarer brass deflector and hand stop.

The primary internal departures from Patchett’s original design were the decision to have a single rather than double return spring and to use a non-helically grooved bolt. Instead using an improved Sten breech block, this had a number of advantages including being able to use existing tooling, avoiding paying royalties for Patchett’s bolt and simplifying production. Compared to the Sterling-made guns the C1 was certainly simpler using stampings and spot-welding.

However, the C1 retained a surprising level of parts commonality with many parts interchangeable between both Canadian and British weapons. This commonality included magazines, however, the Canadians also simplified the magazine’s design. They dispensed with Patchett’s roller system and designed their own magazine which held 30, rather than 34 rounds, but could be used in all Sterling-pattern guns.

Two experimental suppressed C1s were made by Long Branch to replace the Sten MkII(s) and the MkVI, but the Sterling-Patchett L34A1/Mk5 was adopted instead. Canada purchased at least 5 L34A1s.

The Long Branch Arsenal was just west of Toronto along Lakeshore Road in what is now Mississauga (my cadet hall was adjacent to the former factory site):

I didn’t realize the site had been active that late … I’d assumed it was demolished shortly after the Korean War.

October 27, 2017

QotD: Russian meddling in US politics

Filed under: History, Politics, Quotations, Russia, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

In last week’s decidedly un-jocular “news”letter, I wrote about how the hypocrisy of the Left’s newfound outrage at Russia’s meddling in our politics can’t be summarized by saying “Romney was right!” when he said Russia was our biggest geopolitical foe in a debate with Barack Obama. Starting with George Kennan’s Long Telegram [link], conservatives spent the entirety of the Cold War pointing out that the Russians were undermining American life, and we got mocked and ridiculed for it by self-styled sophisticates who thought such concerns were little more than paranoia.

The ridicule didn’t end with the Cold War (when, by the way, the extent and danger of Russian meddling were much greater than they are now). Liberals were so invested in the idea that the political Right made too big a deal about Soviet Communism and that we used our hawkishness as an unfair wedge issue against Democrats that when Mitt Romney said an incandescently true thing about Putin’s Russia, liberals rolled their eyes and then laughed uproariously at Obama’s “the 1980s called” quip. In other words, they were so married to the myth of their moral and intellectual superiority, liberals preferred to stick with the punch-line than even imagine that reality wasn’t on their side.

Jonah Goldberg, “Binders Full of Asininity”, National Review, 2017-10-13.

September 26, 2017

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution … sorta #TheDeathOfStalin

Filed under: History, Humour, Media, Russia — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Entertainment One UK
Published on 11 Aug 2017

In Cinemas Oct 20.

The internal political landscape of 1950’s Soviet Russia takes on darkly comic form in a new film by Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated writer/director Armando Iannucci.

In the days following Stalin’s collapse, his core team of ministers tussle for control; some want positive change in the Soviet Union, others have more sinister motives. Their one common trait? They’re all just desperately trying to remain alive.

A film that combines comedy, drama, pathos and political manoeuvring, The Death of Stalin is a Quad and Main Journey production, directed by Armando Iannucci, and produced by Yann Zenou, Kevin Loader, Nicolas Duval Assakovsky, and Laurent Zeitoun. The script is written by Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin, with additional material by Peter Fellows.

#TheDeathOfStalin
www.deathofstalin.co.uk

September 24, 2017

Brilliant job on the Kalashnikov statue, Tovarisch, but what’s that weapon right there?

Filed under: History, Russia, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Guardian reports on some emergency fix-ups required to a brand new statue honouring Mikhail Kalashnikov:

Workers have removed part of a new monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the Soviet Union’s AK-47 assault rifle, after eagle-eyed Russians noticed that it mistakenly depicted a German second world war weapon.

The monument to the creator of one of Russia’s best known export brands was unveiled in central Moscow three days ago to much fanfare.

A metal bas-relief behind a statue of Kalashnikov depicts the AK-47 and other weapons all supposedly designed by the engineer, who died in 2013.

But embarrassed sculptor Salavat Shcherbakov had to admit that among them was the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44) assault rifle used by Nazi troops.

“We will rectify this,” Shcherbakov said in comments broadcast by state-run Rossiya 24 channel. “It looks like this [mistake] sneaked in from the internet.”

By Friday evening a square hole gaped where the German rifle had been depicted in the bas-relief.

Kalashnikov’s weapon, created in 1947, does have a striking resemblance to German arms designer Hugo Schmeisser’s StG 44 rifle, created in 1942, although they have major design differences.

MP44 (Sturmgewehr 44), Germany. Caliber 8x33mm Kurz- From the collections of Armémuseum (Swedish Army Museum), Stockholm. (via Wikimedia)


Kalashnikov АК-47 with bayonet attached (via Wikimedia)

August 9, 2017

The Falklands War – A War for Lost Glory I THE COLD WAR

Filed under: Americas, Britain, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 1 Jul 2015

The Falklands War was based on an old colonial struggle between two former world powers. When the military Junta in Argentina decided to claim the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic they didn’t reckon with Great Britain’s Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher. The British Prime Minister unleashed full scale invasion. The Royal Navy and the British Army landed and ultimately took the capital Port Stanley. The Argentine Army surrendered shortly after that.

August 8, 2017

Tank Chats #15 Tortoise

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology, WW2 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 25 Feb 2016

Tank Museum Historian, David Fletcher is currently unavailable, so rather than make you all wait, Curator David Willey is here to present Tortoise!

The A39 Tortoise is the ultimate manifestation of the British concept of the heavily armoured, but slow, ‘Infantry’ tank.

It was built in 1947, making it a contemporary of the highly successful Centurion tank. The Tortoise proved to be too slow and unwieldy for the conditions of modern warfare and was a nightmare to transport.

The only service that the Tortoise had was when two tanks took part in trials in Germany in 1948. The Tank Museum’s Tortoise is now the only surviving example.

July 10, 2017

A Canadian Cold War innovation – “floppy” magnets as submarine detection tools

Filed under: Cancon, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Steve Weintz on an experimental Canadian submarine detection device that was simple, effective, and too difficult to train with:

Desperate planners sought ways of making Soviet subs easier to hunt. Any technology that could speed up an undersea search was worth considering. “A submarine’s best defense is of course stealth, remaining quiet and undetected in the ocean deep,” Ballantyne notes. “Something that could rob the Soviets of that cloak of silence must have seemed irresistible and, at least initially, a stroke of genius.”

A Canadian scientist figured some kind of sticky undersea noisemaker would make a Soviet sub more detectable. He designed a simple hinged cluster of magnets that could attach to a submarine’s metal hull.

Movement would cause the flopping magnets to bang against the hull like a loose screen door, giving away the sub’s location to anyone listening. The simple devices would take time and effort to remove, thus also impairing the Soviet undersea fleet’s readiness.

At least that was the idea.

HMS Auriga against the New York City skyline in 1963. U.S. Navy photo.

In late 1962, the British Admiralty dispatched the A-class diesel submarine HMS Auriga to Nova Scotia for joint anti-submarine training with the Canadian navy. The British were helping Canada establish a submarine force, so Royal Navy subs routinely exercised with Canadian vessels.

Auriga had just returned to the submarine base at Faslane, Scotland after a combat patrol as part of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Other subs of the joint Canadian-British Submarine Squadron Six at Halifax had seen action during the crisis.

Did the device work? All too well:

As Auriga surfaced at the end of the exercise, the magnets made their way into holes and slots in the sub’s outer hull designed to let water flow. “They basically slid down the hull,” Ballantyne says of the magnets, “and remained firmly fixed inside the casing, on top of the ballast tanks, in various nooks and crannies.”

The floppy-magnets couldn’t be removed at sea. In fact, they couldn’t be removed at all until the submarine dry-docked back in Halifax weeks later.

In the meantime, one of Her Majesty’s submarines was about as stealthy as a mariachi band. No fighting, no training, no nothing until all those floppy little magnets were dug out of her skin at a cost of time, money and frustration.

The magnets worked on the Soviets with the same maddening results. The crews of several Foxtrots were driven bonkers by the noise and returned to port rather than complete their cruises.

July 9, 2017

Historical ignorance

Filed under: Education, History, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Jonah Goldberg laments the constant displays of historical ignorance in the media and on social media:

Ideological and political polarization is a big concern these days, and commentators on the right and left have chewed the topic to masticated pulp. But it occurs to me that one unappreciated factor is widespread historical ignorance, and the arrogant impatience of reaching conclusions before thinking. The instantaneity of TV and Twitter only amplifies the problem.

For instance, on the Fourth of July, NPR’s Morning Edition tweeted out the text of the Declaration of Independence, 140 characters at a time. The angry responses, from left and right, were a thing to behold. “Are you drunk?” “So, NPR is calling for revolution,” “Glad you’re being defunded, your show was never balanced,” and so on.

World War II and the Cold War, particularly Vietnam, used to define the intellectual framework for how we understood many events. For people in their 30s, that framework changed to the Iraq War and the War on Terror. In my more curmudgeonly moments, it seems like the new paradigm for millennials (and the journalists and politicians who pander to them) isn’t some major geopolitical test or moment but the adventures of Harry Potter. Having never read the series, I also don’t read the countless articles using the books to explain the political climate, but I do marvel at their ubiquity.

It should go without saying that a children’s book about a magical boarding school for wizards is of limited utility in understanding, well, just about anything in a world without wizards.

I once heard a story second-hand of a general who was talking to an audience full of 20-somethings. He was explaining how the War on Terror challenged his generation’s mindset. “I spent most of my career worrying about the Fulda Gap,” he said. To which one “educated” fellow reportedly replied, “I know that Gap! It’s in a mall near my house.”

The Fulda Gap is the location in the German lowlands where the Soviets were most likely to launch an invasion of Europe.

Today, we face a multitude of challenges, at home and abroad, that can only be met by people with a modicum of historical literacy. If only Harry Potter could cast a spell to give it to us.

June 10, 2017

QotD: Quoting and mis-quoting Orwell

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The interpretation of George Orwell could be a paradigm for how dead literary figures get knocked from pillar to post by the winds of political interpretation. During his lifetime, the author of 1984 and Animal Farm went from darling of the left to exile for having been willing to write the truth about Communist totalitarianism in allegories too pointed to ignore.

With the end of the Cold War, forty-two years after Orwell’s death, the poisonous fog breathed on Western intellectual life by Soviet agents of influence slowly began to lift. It became possible to say that Communist totalitarianism was evil and had always been evil, without being dismissed as a McCarthyite or reactionary not merely by those agents but by a lot of “no enemy to the left” liberal patsies who should have known better. In this climate, Orwell’s uncompromising truth-telling shone even more brightly than before. For some on the left, belated shame at their own complicity with evil transmuted itself into more adulation for Orwell, and more attempted identification with Orwell’s positions, than at any time in the previous fifty years.

Then came 9/11. Orwell’s sturdy common sense about the war against the fascisms of his day made him a model for a few thinkers of the left who realized they had arrived at another of Marx’s “world-historical moments”, another pivot point at which everything changed. Foremost among these was Christopher Hitchens, who would use Orwell to good effect in taking an eloquent and forceful line in favor of the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq. For this, he was rewarded with the same vituperation and shunning by the Left that had greeted the publication of Orwell’s anti-totalitarian allegories fifty years before.

Eric S. Raymond, “Getting Orwell Wrong”, Armed and Dangerous, 2005-08-29.

June 9, 2017

QotD: The post-war world and (relative) peace

Filed under: History, Military, Quotations, Russia, Technology, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Between 1945 and about 1965, atom bombs and then hydrogen bombs were devised and demonstrated by the two biggest Great Powers, and then manufactured and attached to rockets in sufficient numbers to cause any all-out war between these two superpowers very probably to be a catastrophic defeat for both, to say nothing of being a similar catastrophe for all other humans, within a few hours. This new kind of destructive power also spread to a small club of lesser Great Powers.

This did not happen overnight. It didn’t all come about in 1945. But it happened pretty quickly, historically in the blink of an eye. It changed the world from a place in which Great Wars between Great Powers had to be prepared for, at all costs, to a place in which Great Wars between Great Powers had to be avoided, again, at all costs. That is a very big change.

I do not assert that all wars have ended. Clearly they have not, as one glance through a newspaper or news website will tell you. Small powers still have small wars, and Great Powers regularly join in, in small ways. Sometimes, Great Powers start small wars, like the one in the Ukraine now. But even these small wars have been getting less numerous and smaller in recent decades. Small wars can get big, so even small wars are now discouraged by Great Powers.

Nor do I assert that all preparations for war by Great Powers have ceased, or that they should. But more than ever, the purpose of such preparations is to enable mere confrontations to be emerged from victoriously or failing that satisfactorily, rather than for such preparations — such weapons — constantly to be “used”, in the sense of being fired, fought with, and so on. The purpose of weapons is to scare, as well as to win fights, and they are being “used” whenever anyone is scared by them. Great Powers will still spend lots of money on weaponry.

But what has not happened, for many decades now, and what still shows no sign of happening despite all kinds of diplomatic, ideological and financial turbulence, is an all-out fire-every-weapon-we-have war involving two or more Great — by which I of course mean nuclear — Powers. In this sense, countries like mine, and almost certainly yours too given that you are reading this, have become peaceful in a way that they have never experienced before in all of human history before 1945.

Brian Micklethwait, “From the Great Peace … to the ordeal of Adam Lyth at the Oval cricket ground”, Samizdata, 2015-08-20.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress