Quotulatiousness

August 28, 2017

Great Northern War – II: A Good Plan – Extra History

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

Published on 26 Aug 2017

The wrath of Charles XII was now aimed directly at Poland-Lithuania. But their leader had a plan! ..A terrible plan.

Augustus the Strong was determined to prove his might by defeated Charles XII on the battlefield. He gathered his Polish-Lithuanian forces, met the Swedes, and proceded to… lose. And lose. And lose. Then he got deposed and started a civil war which of course he also lost.

August 25, 2017

Great Northern War – I: When Sweden Ruled the World – Extra History

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

Published on 19 Aug 2017

A young boy king had inherited the crown of the Swedish Empire, and his neighbors saw an opportunity to attack. To their surprise, young Charles XII of Sweden turned out to be a fearsome opponent who quickly repelled their assaults – and then sought revenge.

August 8, 2017

The Baltic States in World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR SPECIAL

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

Published on 7 Aug 2017

Before the First World War, what are today Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were part of the Russian Empire. As that empire fought and fell, so to fought the soldiers of the Baltic States, first during the war, and then in their struggles for eventual independence.

April 13, 2016

The bureaucracy will always be with us

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Europe, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Strategy Page recounts some of the recent the bureaucratic snags between NATO countries in eastern Europe when troops need to cross inter-alliance borders:

In early 2015 Operation Dragoon Ride rolled through Central Europe to send a message to Russians. From March 20th to April 1st, an US Army squadron returning from Atlantic Resolve NATO exercises took an unusual route back to its base in Germany, after spending three months in training facilities in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia. The unit involved was the 3rd Squadron (battalion) of the 2nd American Cavalry Regiment. This unit refers to itself as dragoons (an ancient term for horse mounted infantry) and the movement operation was called Dragoon Ride and the apparent reason for it was to demonstrate to the locals as well as the Russians that American armored units could reach the East European NATO nations by road, as well as by ship, aircraft or rail. Dragoon Ride purposely rode close to the Russian border, often in full view of Russians and Russian media. The American troops frequently stopped in towns and villages so the locals could meet their allies, take pictures and quietly enjoy the pain this demonstration was causing the increasingly aggressive Russians.

But what was not publicized, and what the Russian government knew full well, was that this road movement took the efforts of hundreds of unseen troops and bureaucrats to deal with the paperwork. For all of 2015 it required nearly 6,000 travel documents to be prepared, filed and approved to get foreign military vehicles across East European borders. Some of these documents take several weeks to get approved and operations like Dragoon Ride required hundreds of them and nearly as many NATO local government personnel were involved with this paperwork as were actually participating (500 troops) in the actual Dragoon Ride (of 120 vehicles). While all these rules and approvals would not stop invading Russians they would, in theory, slow down reinforces from the West.

The pile of paperwork and weeks required to handle it were used as very concrete evidence to persuade the East European nations to streamline the process, a lot, or have themselves to blame if reinforcements did not arrive in a timely fashion. As usual a compromise was worked out. Thus eight NFIUs (NATO Force Integration Units) were organized, each consisting of 40 troops trained and equipped to handle the paperwork and traffic control measures required to get military convoys across eastern borders as quickly as possible. The NFIU work out of embassies and stay in constant touch with the border control bureaucracies of the East European nations involved. NFIUs also arrange for rest areas and resupply for the convoys.

November 30, 2015

Why Don’t You Use Modern Names For Cities? Who Was A Capable Commander in WW1? I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

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

Published on 28 Nov 2015

Indy sits in the chair of wisdom again and this time answers two questions that you were asking a lot. He explains his policy for naming places in a historical context and if there were any good commanders actually.

September 25, 2015

The German Occupation of Lithuania – Unrest in Russia I THE GREAT WAR – Week 61

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 24 Sep 2015

When the Germans take Vilnius, they set their plans of “germanizing” the whole area into motion. Erich Ludendorff believes that Courland and other areas near East Prussia are culturally German and that he’s returning them to the Fatherland. While the Russian Army is now in a much better defensive position after their Great Retreat, civil unrest across the country is becoming a problem. Huge losses and the difficult supply situation are making it difficult to maintain order. At the same time, Bulgaria is mobilizing her troops, foreshadowing yet another front in this World War.

February 25, 2015

How worried are Russia’s neighbours? Lithuania just re-introduced conscription

Filed under: Europe, Military — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

A report from the Lithuania Tribune details a change in Lithuanian defence policy:

The State Defence Council, comprising of the Lithuanian president, prime minister, parliament speaker, defence minister and army chief, decided on Tuesday to reintroduce military conscription in Lithuania.

The conscription, which was suspended several years ago as Lithuania opted for the professional army, should be reintroduced in light of the changes in geopolitical situation, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said after the meeting.

“We must reinforce the country’s defence capacities. Under new geopolitical circumstances, the army must be properly prepared for the country’s armed defence even in times of peace. Today’s geopolitical situation requires that we strengthen and speed up the manning of our army. Therefore the State Defence Council has decided that it is necessary to temporarily, for five years, reintroduce compulsory military draft,” President Grybauskaitė said.

Under the proposal, compulsory military service would apply to men between the ages of 19 and 26. The plan is to draft between 3,000 and 3,500 men each year. Exemptions would apply to university students, single fathers, men with health issues or otherwise unsuitable for military service.

In Newsweek, Damien Sharkov reports on the high tempo of Russian “training” missions near the Baltic states:

Increasingly frequent snap military drills being carried out by Russia near its eastern European neighbours could be part of a strategy that will open the door for a Russian offensive on the Baltic states according to defence expert Martin Hurt, deputy director at Estonia’s International Centre for Defence and Security.

The Lithuanian and Estonian defence ministries have expressed alarm at the increased military activity, and drawn comparisons with moves prior to the Russian invasion of Crimea.

Commenting on Russia’s announcement last week that its armed forces will not cease holding snap military exercises, Hurt, who has previously worked for Estonia’s Ministry of Defence as well as for the armed forces of both Estonia and Sweden, warned against taking this news lightly.

“My take would be that the Russian authorities want to raise the readiness of their forces and also make European nations more relaxed to a new norm where the Russian Armed Force often conduct snap exercises,” Hurt says.

According to him, a relaxed European attitude about increased Russian military activity would be “extremely dangerous” for the democratic governments of Europe and particularly for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“A realistic scenario against the Baltics would be a ‘normal’ Russian snap exercise that without notice turns into a quick assault on one or several of the Baltic states’ capitals. Such an attack would have greater probability of success than the hybrid scenario we saw in Crimea,” Hurt adds.

“A decisive move by Putin assuming that the weak leaders of Europe will not react quickly and ‘avoid escalation’ is a possible scenario,” Hurt adds, highlighting that “the higher readiness NATO forces have, the better it is for the democratic part of Europe.”

July 21, 2014

QotD: Algis Budrys on Hitler’s impact on audiences

Filed under: Europe, History, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:56

Algirdas Jonas Budrys was born in 1931 in Lithuania, but he didn’t stay there long. His father was an official in Lithuania’s diplomatic corps and while A J was still small the family was posted to Konigsberg in the German province of East Prussia. A J, who had just about got a good handle on the Lithuanian language, began to learn German. His adult memories of East Prussia — which, like the rest of Germany, had been Nazified with the accession of Adolf Hitler a few years earlier — were troublesome.

He particularly recalled Hitler himself parading right past the Budrys apartment when he was five, he told Mark Williams in an interview shortly before he died. “After the Hitlerjugend walked through, Hitler came by in an open black Mercedes with his arm propped up.” The crowds made “indescribable” sounds. Men lost control of their bowels and had to race for the bushes or writhed and rolled on the ground.

Fred Pohl, “A J”, The Way The Future Blogs, 2010-07-26

June 7, 2014

Europe should bear more of the costs of their own defence

Filed under: Europe, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:40

The American government is being called upon to re-assure NATO allies with suddenly volatile borders (that is, those near Russia and Ukraine). That re-assurance is to take the form of greater US military involvement in the Eastern European sector of NATO. The Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow says that this is actually an opportunity for those NATO countries to start living up to their own obligations to maintain viable defensive forces:

The Baltic States are screaming for enhanced military protection. Yet Estonia devotes just two percent of its GDP to defense. Latvia spends .9 percent of its GDP on the military. Lithuania commits .8 percent of its GDP on defense.

Poland may be the country most insistent about the necessity of American troops on along its border with Russia. To its credit, Poland has been increasing military outlays, but it still falls short of NATO’s two percent objective. Warsaw spent 1.8 percent last year.

Only Great Britain and Greece joined Estonia in hitting the two percent benchmark. France and Turkey fall short. Germany comes in at 1.3 percent. Overall NATO hit 1.6 percent last year. America was 4.1 percent.

Per capita military spending is even more striking. My Cato Institute colleague Chris Preble figured that to be $1896 for Americans. And $399 for Europeans. A disparity of nearly five to one.

Unfortunately, President Barack Obama doesn’t appear to recognize the dependency problem. At West Point he merely indicated that “we are now working with NATO allies” to reassure the Eastern Europeans. “We”?

Poland expects to hit 1.95 percent of GDP this year. Latvia and Lithuania promised to up outlays to meet the two percent standard — in a few years. No one else is talking about big spending increases. Absent is any commitment to move European troops to NATO’s eastern borders.

Nothing will change as long as Washington uses the defense budget as a form of international welfare. The more the president “reassures” U.S. allies, the less likely they are to do anything serious on behalf of their own defense.

Canada is also a military freeloader on US resources. While our NATO commitments imply we’ll spend 2% of GDP on our defences, we spend 1.3% in 2012, and the Department of National Defence is struggling to reduce spending below previous years’ outlays to meet the federal government’s overall budget balancing plans.

Update, 8 June: Stephen Gordon posted a Twitter update that puts Canadian military spending into a bit of perspective

April 23, 2012

Shakespeare’s plays as Soviet samizdat

Filed under: History, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:58

An interesting bit of Soviet history in the BBC’s post on Shakespeare in the former Soviet Union:

In Soviet-era Lithuania, there were productions of Shakespeare for which people queued through the night for tickets. Shakespeare was culture with official approval, but as one of the few alternatives to tales about earnest Soviet heroes, it was also a way for theatre directors to symbolically address forbidden issues. Going to the theatre had an excitement it perhaps lacks nowadays, says Mamontovas.

“I miss those secret messages… there were always little secret messages from the artist to the audience. But there’s no need for that now because you can say what you want openly — it’s more entertainment now.”

[. . .]

Then there is the history of Hamlet in the Soviet Union. An early landmark of Lithuania’s professional theatre was a production of Hamlet by Mikhail Chekhov, nephew of the playwright Anton.

But Hamlet then fell out of favour. Stalin, it was understood, had turned against the indecisive Prince of Denmark. The uncomfortable comparisons between the setting of Hamlet, the dark world of Elsinore and the Kremlin, was perhaps too close.

Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius, had usurped the throne, depriving the young Hamlet himself, and there were parallels — for those who wished to see them — in Stalin’s seizure of Lenin’s leading role and his demolition of rivals such as Trotsky.

There was also another layer of symbolism. Stalin, a keen theatregoer, took against the renowned director Vsevolod Meyerhold and had him arrested and tortured, and executed.

Meyerhold dreamed all his life of staging Hamlet, his favourite play, but somehow never managed it. He was renowned for having said, with bitter irony, that he wanted his tombstone to read: “Here lies a man who never played or directed Hamlet“. From the day he was killed in 1940, Hamlet and the death of Meyerhold became intertwined in the public imagination.

Stalin’s death in 1953 prompted a series of new Hamlet productions that tested the boundaries of how far the post-Stalin thaw had gone, and so the play gained a symbolic status of freedom of expression.

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