I misread this at first

Daily Times

Taliban Hit Shiite Mosque in Pakistan, Killing 19

Architectural criticism is getting well out of hand was my first thought.

19 thoughts on “I misread this at first”

  1. I’m trapped in the waiting area of a doctor’s surgery and the TV is stuck on a bunch of geriatric Krauts crying over the Dresden firebombing while some old fart goes on and on about the evils of nationalism.

    Can we bomb them again to see if they regrow their balls?

  2. Funny how not handling a Koran with sufficient reverence generates a million times more public disorder than Muslims bombing a mosque and killing 19 Muslims.

    I suppose it’s ok when they do it.

  3. IIRC a muslim at prayer goes straight to heaven. (Maybe not with the full complement of grapes, but hey.)
    So bombing mosques on Friday rather defeats the object of the exercise.
    Or maybe they deliberately relax security?
    And maybe there’s “nice” mass murder in Islam.
    Can anyone with more theology than me answer these questions?

  4. Bloke in Costa Rica

    That tiresome old nutter Kurt Vonnegut has a lot to answer for when it comes to the perception of the Dresden bombing. For one thing, his account of the death toll is about five times higher than reality. I’m never quite sure what distinguishes Dresden from, say, Darmstadt or Dusseldorf when it comes to public shroud-waving about the horrors of area bombing. Was it the pottery shepherdesses? I’m pretty confident it was as full of Nazis as anywhere else in Germany and if the general populace wasn’t quite as gung-ho for the Thousand Year Reich in 1945 as it was in 1939 that was only because they were getting their arses handed to them in a bag and not because they had come to the realisation that invading Poland and killing six million Jews was wrong. So fuck ’em.

  5. Unfortunately, Dresden unwittingly created a neo-nazi cause celebre 70 years after the event. Being in the east, the locals were all taught that the war was the evil capitalo-fascist west’s fault (Dresden was also the only place in the east that couldn’t get the west’s propaganda broadcasts during partition), and, under communist rule, the place never got rebuilt, unlike Düsseldorf and Darmstadt (both of which would frankly benefit from being used as nuclear target practice). I don’t think Vonnegut was widely read in East Germany, even if his translations got past the censors.

    Just one of those accidents of history. It could have turned out a whole lot worse.

  6. Say what you like about Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron is still great.

    I was wondering why I was so cheesed off earlier on. Turned out I had forgotten my daily dose of sertraline. Makes me a tad grumpy when I do that.

    Oops.

    Bloke in Costa Rica – I’m in two minds about the firebombing of Dresden. For sure, it was a horrible crime.

    But war itself is a crime. Man has known this for millenia. Thou shalt not kill and all that.

    Equally, if we were at war with Germany tomorrow, I’d say firebomb them again. The only humane way to fight a war is with maximum possible aggression to bring about your enemy’s defeat as swiftly and decisively as possible.

    So we were right to destroy Dresden. The Yanks were right to nuke the Japs. The Germans are right to remember their dead.

    But I think they could’ve managed it without a pious sermon on the evils of nationalism. The EU they insist on dissolving Europe into makes violence and hatred more, not less, likely.

    So it sticks in my craw to hear a German pol warn against nationalism. I’m tired of pseudointellectual teutonics passively-aggressively lecturing the rest of Europe.

    The Germans seem to have a conceit of themselves as being the rational adults of Europe. But this is the same country that shat its lederhosen over Fukushima and made David Hasselhoff a pop star. They’re not all that bright.

    Bloke in Germany – Dresden was also the only place in the east that couldn’t get the west’s propaganda broadcasts during partition

    So they missed “Boys from the Blackstuff” and “Bread”.

    Lucky bastards.

  7. So Much for Subtlety

    Steve – “But war itself is a crime. Man has known this for millenia. Thou shalt not kill and all that.”

    I am unconvinced by that but it is also irrelevant. War is a feature of human society. It always has been. It always will be. The question is about mitigation. In the Western tradition, we do not usually burn women and children to death. Yes, we probably had to try it to see if it worked. But it didn’t and so we should admit it was probably not a good idea.

    “Equally, if we were at war with Germany tomorrow, I’d say firebomb them again. The only humane way to fight a war is with maximum possible aggression to bring about your enemy’s defeat as swiftly and decisively as possible.”

    So ….. if we capture the odd German pilot we ought to put them in a cage and burn them to death? We have tried this and the Western tradition says we do not use maximum possible aggression. There are rules and norms. Which as it happens, also means that wars are usually over faster and with less bloodshed. The Soviets copied your methods and they lost over 80,000 soldiers fighting in Berlin alone – notice that this was long after it was obvious the war was lost – with another 280,000 wounded. Which is about the same as the death toll for the Allies as they crossed the whole of France.

    The Germans knew that they would be treated well by the West and so let them in. Surrendering without too much trouble after Paris fell, whenever it was safe. They did not do that with the Soviet. If we hadn’t been burning so many of their wives and children to death, they might have surrendered sooner.

    Remember that most soldiers surrender. The number killed is always a minority and often a small minority. We benefit enormously that, for instance, the Argies were miserable and quite happy to surrender in the Falklands. Let’s not change that tradition. Ever.

    “So we were right to destroy Dresden. The Yanks were right to nuke the Japs. The Germans are right to remember their dead.”

    The nuclear bomb is more defensible. At least that worked.

    “So it sticks in my craw to hear a German pol warn against nationalism. I’m tired of pseudointellectual teutonics passively-aggressively lecturing the rest of Europe.”

    Too right.

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    Bloke in Costa Rica – “Was it the pottery shepherdesses?”

    Probably.

    “I’m pretty confident it was as full of Nazis as anywhere else in Germany and if the general populace wasn’t quite as gung-ho for the Thousand Year Reich in 1945 as it was in 1939 that was only because they were getting their arses handed to them in a bag and not because they had come to the realisation that invading Poland and killing six million Jews was wrong. So fuck ‘em.”

    Which is to say, it probably was not very full of Nazis. They didn’t actually win an election you know. I don’t think it is fair to punish Britain for Blair. Nor is there any reason to think that they knew Jews were being killed.

    But even if everything you say is true, we are not Nazis. Therefore we should not burn women and children to death. We should fight their sons and husbands, face to face, fairly, wearing uniforms. Nothing else.

  9. SMFS – So ….. if we capture the odd German pilot we ought to put them in a cage and burn them to death

    Nah, you’ve picked me up wrong, or I’ve been clumsy in my phrasing.

    I’m not saying be cruel for cruelty’s sake, or deliberately set out to burn women and children, or rape the survivors like the Red Army did, or starve the defeated to death like the Morgenthau Plan called for, or anything like that.

    I’ve never wanted to kill anybody in my life, even when I was a young man in the army. My homicidal impulses are usually brief flashes of annoyance caused by “UNEXPECTED ITEM IN BAGGAGE AREA!”, but nobody’s died yet.

    I’m saying:

    a) war is a crime, because it requires us to kill, which every religion and moral code agrees is wrong; and

    b) wars are best fought with maximum ferocity – directed towards making your enemy capitulate asap. So don’t give the enemy love taps – beat the shit out of them.

    and possibly also

    c) Marquess of Queensberry rules don’t apply to war. We have rules and norms and St. Thomas Aquinas, but those are guidelines – the highest moral choice in war is winning, as swiftly as possible and at minimal expenditure of lives on our side.

    So if it’s a choice between getting loads of our boys killed attacking a dug-in enemy, or causing loads of collateral damage on the enemy’s side by bombing them to Hell, then bombs away – and may God have mercy on our souls.

    I think it was Goebbels who asked the Germans “do you want total war?”. Well, they got total war. As a human being I’m not entirely unmoved by the terrible losses Dresdenites suffered. As a British man I’m glad it was them and not us.

    If the Jerries had won, my grandmother would have been sent to the gas chamber and I wouldn’t be here to enjoy chewing the fat with you.

  10. So Much for Subtlety

    Steve – “I’m not saying be cruel for cruelty’s sake, or deliberately set out to burn women and children, or rape the survivors like the Red Army did, or starve the defeated to death like the Morgenthau Plan called for, or anything like that.”

    But you are saying that if any of this shortens the war, we ought to do it? I mean, it was and perhaps is our nuclear weapons policy and it probably would have worked.

    “a) war is a crime, because it requires us to kill, which every religion and moral code agrees is wrong; and”

    No religion or moral code has a problem with fighting a just war – not even Buddhism.

    “b) wars are best fought with maximum ferocity – directed towards making your enemy capitulate asap. So don’t give the enemy love taps – beat the shit out of them.”

    So burn their pilots to death?

    “c) Marquess of Queensberry rules don’t apply to war. We have rules and norms and St. Thomas Aquinas, but those are guidelines – the highest moral choice in war is winning, as swiftly as possible and at minimal expenditure of lives on our side.”

    That is not a moral choice. It is worse than that really. Rules do apply in war. We do not normally burn women and children to death, or execute captured pilots by fire. Rightly. Again, the minimum expenditure of lives usually results from the most humane fighting. We want people to surrender. Not to fight to the last man. We do that by following rules of decent behaivour in war.

    “So if it’s a choice between getting loads of our boys killed attacking a dug-in enemy, or causing loads of collateral damage on the enemy’s side by bombing them to Hell, then bombs away – and may God have mercy on our souls.”

    Collateral damage is fine – if we are attacking Panzers and French railway workers happen to live near by, tough luck for them. But Bomber Command was aiming to burn people in their homes. That is not collateral damage.

    Again our experience is that the way to make sure few of our soldiers are killed is to fight decently. Even if it wasn’t we should still do it. Because we are not Them.

    “As a British man I’m glad it was them and not us.”

    Even though Dresden probably prolonged the war and got more soldiers killed?

  11. I don’t buy the “most Germans didn’t vote for Hitler” shtick. He was popular up until they started losing, and then he became less popular. As for the idea they didn’t know Jews were being exterminated: nonsense. Where did they think their Jewish neighbours had gone? Off to some Nazi version of Butlins in Moldova? It is a matter of record that we (i.e. the Western Allies) knew by 1943 that over a million Jews had already been killed.

    And how the hell did the bombing of Dresden prolong the war? At that point the Allies weren’t even in Germany. The Remagen bridgehead was captured on March 9th. The Soviets were still in Poland. That German cities were firebombed was not because we liked firebombing Germans. The technology of the era did not allow delivery of munitions with enough accuracy to avoid area bombing, There might have been pious lip service given to the idea that we were attacking military targets and civilian deaths were “collateral damage” but they weren’t. If the 1943 destruction of Hamburg could have been reliably repeated a couple of dozen times in quick succession immediately afterwards, the Germans might even have capitulated. As it was, they spun the war out long after it was obvious even to them they were beaten, and suffered the bulk of their fatalities in the nine months prior to VE Day. The Soviets suffered the prodigious casualties they did because a) they did not have the Western Allies’ industrial capacity which allowed them to substitute explosives for soldiers’ lives and b) they didn’t put the same emphasis on casualty avoidance anyway. Even so, the Battle of Normandy cost the Allies a quarter of a million casualties.

    Any of several potential setbacks could have thrown the Normandy breakout back by a few months. The Germans came within a hair’s breadth of being the first country to get nuked. Only 69 days separated the end of the European war and the Trinity test. You can argue that the doctrine of unconditional surrender caused the war to go on longer than it might otherwise, but you can also argue it was necessary to forestall a repeat of the ‘stab-in-the-back’ mentality. The onus was not on us to minimise German suffering. The emphasis on city-busting instead of petroleum production by Bomber Command may have been tactically unsound, but that doesn’t make the Allies culpable.

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    Bloke in Costa Rica – “I don’t buy the “most Germans didn’t vote for Hitler” shtick.”

    OK. But they still didn’t.

    “As for the idea they didn’t know Jews were being exterminated: nonsense. Where did they think their Jewish neighbours had gone? Off to some Nazi version of Butlins in Moldova?”

    Yeah pretty much. The Holocaust is almost unbelievable. It is an exceptional event in world history. At the time, who would have believed it? Butlins on the Dniester would have seemed much more reasonable.

    “It is a matter of record that we (i.e. the Western Allies) knew by 1943 that over a million Jews had already been killed.”

    And yet our leadership either did not believe or did not grasp what was going on. Reasonably given that what was going on was so unbelievable.

    “And how the hell did the bombing of Dresden prolong the war?”

    Discouraging soldiers from surrendering.

    “That German cities were firebombed was not because we liked firebombing Germans. The technology of the era did not allow delivery of munitions with enough accuracy to avoid area bombing,”

    That is not true. For a start some targets, like petroleum plants, were city-sized. What you mean is that at night, from extreme heights, you couldn’t avoid area bombing. Except, you know, by not doing it. The cities were fire bombed because we liked the idea of fire bombing them. It was strategically pointless. It took resources away from fights that mattered – those four engined planes would have been useful against u-boats for instance, and Bomber Command got priority on things like radar which would have been even more useful.

    “If the 1943 destruction of Hamburg could have been reliably repeated a couple of dozen times in quick succession immediately afterwards, the Germans might even have capitulated.”

    Might? Come on. On what possible grounds can you claim Hitler was going to surrender? Maybe the Army would have over thrown him. In which case not burning those soldiers wives and children to death would have been a good idea. Might? Who can say? What we know is that it didn’t.

    “As it was, they spun the war out long after it was obvious even to them they were beaten, and suffered the bulk of their fatalities in the nine months prior to VE Day.”

    And the regime told them that due to the bombing and the Morgenthal plan they had no choice but to fight on.

    “The Soviets suffered the prodigious casualties they did because a) they did not have the Western Allies’ industrial capacity which allowed them to substitute explosives for soldiers’ lives and b) they didn’t put the same emphasis on casualty avoidance anyway.”

    Actually b. is true but the other bit is that they did not have the channel which meant they could wait until the Germans were beaten before getting involved in the fighting. The Soviets crossed the pre-War German border in the same month that the Allies landed in France.

    “You can argue that the doctrine of unconditional surrender caused the war to go on longer than it might otherwise, but you can also argue it was necessary to forestall a repeat of the ‘stab-in-the-back’ mentality.”

    Assuming that this was worth doing in the first place. Why would we care if they claimed again they were stabbed in the back?

    “The onus was not on us to minimise German suffering.”

    Well no. But the onus was on us to fight in an acceptable manner. Yes we probably had to try city bombing. But now we should be able to look back and say it was a mistake.

    “The emphasis on city-busting instead of petroleum production by Bomber Command may have been tactically unsound, but that doesn’t make the Allies culpable.”

    They are culpable for burning civilians to death in their homes. Intentionally.

  13. My grandmother knew what the Gestapo were doing. And she was a stage actress in London. Not exactly military intelligence.

    The purpose of fire-bombing is to provide visible targets for subsequent bombers. That it burns people to death is a side-effect. Surely the point is that we then developed infra-red cameras, GPS, laser guidance, etc, so that we will never need to firebomb again. There’s a trade-off between ethics and technology. The important distinction is between those who, now we have those options, prefer to use laser guidance to minimise civilian casualties and those who would still prefer fire-bombing, if only they had some planes.

  14. So Much for Subtlety

    Squander Two – “My grandmother knew what the Gestapo were doing. And she was a stage actress in London. Not exactly military intelligence.”

    She knew the SS, not the Gestapo, was sending Jews up the chimney? How?

    “The purpose of fire-bombing is to provide visible targets for subsequent bombers.”

    That is beside the point. We are not talking about that. We are talking about the people who come along after with incendiary bombs designed to burn people alive, and burn them alive. Intentionally.

    “That it burns people to death is a side-effect.”

    Bomber command did not burn people to death as a side effect. I don’t mind that. They said openly and often that their intent was to burn people in their homes. They fought tooth and nail to stop people re-tasking them to other targets like oil or electricity generation. Burning civilians was their purpose, not a side effect.

    “There’s a trade-off between ethics and technology.”

    I don’t think there is. We still need an ethical policy. However the modern technology makes bombing more accurate but even dumber. So we can take down the entire generation capacity of Iraq from the sky? Great. Why? Why do it? We are just going to have to rebuild everything we bomb. We paid for those bridges in Serbia. What was the point? Was there an immediate military purpose to it all? If so, good. That is fine. But it looks like it is beside the point really. We bomb because we have an RAF and that is what they do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *