Monday, September 16, 2013

Clementine Churchill

Commander K. at Blenheim Palace Gardens
Site of Winston's proposal to Clemmie

Clementine Churchill (née Hozier) was the love of Winston Churchill's life.  She bore him five children and they were married for 56 years until his death in 1965.  She tolerated his "black dog" depressions.  A lifelong Liberal, she certainly did not always agree with him and once accused Winston of "rough-fisted, 'Hunnish' attitudes".   Yet she was the perfect partner for Winston.

In the summer of 1908 Winston proposed to Clemmie in the gardens of Blenheim Palace  (, see photo above).

One incident that particularly highlights Clemmie's tremendous value and importance to Winston took place just after the battle of Mers-el-Kébir.  On July 3, 1940 a British Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral James Somerville launched an attack on a French fleet that was stationed at that Algerian port.  The French had recently surrendered to the Nazi invaders, Churchill had come to power as prime minister that May and the British feared that the French fleet would be dragooned into the service of the Kriegsmarine.  Nearly 1,300 French sailors were killed and more than 350 wounded at Mers-el-Kébir.

De Gaulle, based in London, received word of the Mers-el-Kébir tragedy on the evening of July 3 "and erupted in both anger and anguish.  Churchill, at times a harsh political realist, understood the precarious position in which the action at Mers-el-Kébir had placed De Gaulle and invited the Frenchman to lunch at 10 Downing Street.  Together with Mrs. Churchill he conversed with De Gaulle, and inevitably the discussion turned to the unfortunate situation.  Fluent in French, Mrs. Churchill expressed a hope that the navies of the two countries might yet work together.  De Gaulle responded that the French Fleet might gain its greatest satisfaction by actually turning its guns on the British.
Clementine Churchill
1885 -1977
When Mrs. Churchill replied in perfect French that the remark was unbecoming for an ally or guest of Great Britain, the prime minister intervened and attempted to settle the conversation down.  However, Mrs. Churchill persisted and stated, "No Winston, it is because there are certain things that a woman can say to a man which a man cannot say, and I am saying them to you, General De Gaulle.'

Taken aback, De Gaulle, for one of the few times in his life, apologised to Mrs. Churchill and sent a large basket of flowers to her the following day.  The general and the lady remained friendly from that time on, and it was said that she was an advocate for him with her husband whenever possible."

(Source: De Gaulle: Lessons in leadership from the Defiant General, Michale E. Haskew, 2011,

Commander Kelly says, "Thank God for the strong women in our lives."

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Open Letter to Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin
Dear Vladimir,

I read with interest your recent letter in the New York Times to the American people (

I am not a politician or government employee.  Nor am I, in spite of the nom de guerre, in any sense a Commander; I am simply a patriotic American citizen who happens to enjoy history.

You are fortunate to be the leader of a nation that has been blessed by nature with beauty, rich natural resources and a spiritually re-awakened people.  The Russian people are a thoughtful soulful people that have given to the world creative giants such as Tolstoy, Gogol and Nabokov.  You preside over an educated and literate population that longs to advance their position in the world.

Commander  K. with Canon
Why is it, though, that Russia, throughout its  modern history, has been so reliably unreliable, so dependably undependable? (see earlier post  On March 24, 1801 Tsar Paul I was assassinated in Russia by his own courtiers with the contrivance of his son and heir who promptly became Tsar Alexander I.   Russian foreign policy immediately veered from being pro-French and pro-Napoleon to becoming pro-British and anti-Napoleon.

During the remaining years of the Napleonic era (to Waterloo in 1815) Russia would change sides two more times.  In 1807, after the French victor at the battle of Friedland, Emperor Napoleon I sought a "reset" with Russia.  He met Tsar Alexander I on a barge in the middle of the Neman river.  They agreed to the treaty of Tilsit that sought to divide the world between France and Russia.  This "reset" lasted 5 years until Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812.  Prior to the invasion Alexander had already turned on Napoleon by defying the embargo on trade with Britain.

Tsar Nicholas II led Russia into the Triple Entente that allied France, Britain and Russia against the Central powers in World War I.  When Russian military fortunes began to falter, the Germans shipped Lenin from Switzerland to Russia in a sealed train.  Promising "bread for the people, land to the peasant and peace to all peoples" Lenin led the Bolshevik Revolution that toppled the Tsar and signed a peace treaty with the Central powers.  When a force of White Russians and Czechs nearly liberated the Czar and his family at Ekaterinburg all members were killed by the Bolsheviks.

During the Spanish Civil war, Stalin supplied the Loyalist government with arms and advisers while the fascist powers lined up behind Franco.  The Loyalist government even entrusted yours with their national gold reserve and shipped it to the Soviet Union -- never to return (

You mentioned that "we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together."  This is true, but you neglected to mention that Hitler might never have invaded Poland in the first place, triggering the most catastrophic war in mankind's history, had it not been for his non-agression pact with Stalin.  Seventy-four years ago this month the Nazis invaded Poland from the west while Soviet tanks invaded from the east.  In the Spring of 1940, against all the rules of warfare, over 22,000 Poles were executed in the Katyn Forest massacre (  German-made Walther PPK pistols were used to carry out most of the executions -- no need for chemical weapons.  During the length of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement the Soviet Union annexed three tiny Democracies: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  In the winter of 1940 Stalin invaded tiny Finland.

You profess to have great respect for the mission of the United Nations.  You write, "Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defence or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression."

You neglect to mention that it was only the temporary Soviet boycott of the Security Counsel at the start of the Korean War that allowed the United Nations to act in a coordinated fashion against North Korean aggression that had been instigated by Stalin and his protege Mao.  Over 2 and 1/2 million civilians alone were killed in the "Police Action" in Korea.

Ronald Reagan statue (photo: James Hooper)
Grosvenor Square, London
Had Ronald Reagan listened only to the U.N. in 1983, the island of Grenada would have been ruled by the assassin of Maurice Bishop and the Caribbean island would have been transformed into an armed Soviet-Cuban camp.  Today the islanders celebrate October 25, the start of Reagan's Operation Urgent Fury as their national day of Thanksgiving.  I somehow doubt that, had the U.N. prevailed, the tourists disembarking from their cruse ships at St. George's today would be lined up to buy Che Guevara t-shirts.

I know that you were busy working for the KGB at the time of the Cold War.  Had Reagan not urged the Soviets to "tear down that wall" much of the world might still remain in the grip of a repressive totalitarian ideology.  You may have forgotten, but the Pope stood shoulder to shoulder with Reagan on that one.

Had George W. Bush been deterred by Russian and French obstructionism at the UN in 2003, a brutal dictator and war criminal, who launched a genocide against that Kurds killing more with poison gas than ALL casualties to date in Syria, might still be in power in Iraq today (see  It looks, by the way, like we finally found Saddam's missing WMD in Syria.

You rationalise your government's support of dictatorship in Syria by suggesting that Assad may not have used chemical weapons against his own people.  Meanwhile, you have been supplying Assad with millions of dollars worth of conventional weapons which have, in fact, been FAR more deadly in terms of killing Syrians.  This is the moral equivalent of Germany supplying the Stalin with Walther PPKs to slaughter Poles at Katyn and then having the Soviet Union attempt to coverup the truth of the massacre for decades.  Now we know the truth about the Katyn massacre and, someday, we will all know the truth about Assad's crimes.

Anna Politkovskaya, 1958 - 2006
You profess admiration for Democracy.  Yet the 2006 murder of journalist and author (Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy) Anna Politkovskaya remains curiously unsolved.

We Americans are, of course, far from perfect.  Our elected leaders are often venal and corrupt.  Our Democracy suffers from a bitter partisanship that discourages civility and reflection.  Our President should not, in my estimation, have cancelled his recent summit with you (

I applaud your stated concern for avoiding civilian casualties in Syria.  I also commend wholeheartedly your attempt to have the Syrian government "place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction."  I pray that you are successful in this effort.  This would truly be a beautiful thing for American and Russian people to accomplish together (see

Beyond the destruction of Assad's chemical arsenal, I would urge you also to join with the United States in banning ALL arms shipments to either side in the Syrian conflict.  This would require movement from both governments.  Both nation's navies could help enforce a total arms blockade of Syria.

We Americans are not more "exceptional" in the sense that we are "better," "smarter," more "virtuous",  "more godly" or "better-looking" than other people.  We are "exceptional" in the sense that we live in a Constitutionally founded Republic which expressly limits the scope and power of its government in favor of individual liberty.  We are "exceptional" in our long history of free expression.  We are "exceptional" in terms of the opportunity that we represent to all races, creeds, genders and sexual preferences.  We are "exceptional" in the sense that we have, in the course of our history, lit the torch of freedom in many dark places of the world. At our founding, Thomas Jefferson enjoined us to spread the "Empire of Liberty" throughout the world*.  Abraham Lincoln called our country, "the last best hope of earth".  President Reagan invoked the image of "a shining city on a hill" to describe America's exceptional mission of service in this deeply troubled world.

We Americans have been fighting tyrants from our very birth. Through our history, too often forgotten and too often maligned, we have fought George III, the Barbary pirates, Santa Anna, the Kaiser, Hitler, Mussolini, Imperial Japan, Stalin, Mao, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and many more.  And when the battles have ended, we have reached out with generous economic and humanitarian aid to our defeated enemies and their victims.  That is an "exceptional" record that all Americans can be proud of.

Russia is "exceptional" too.  Pro-French / Pro-British, Allied / Neutral, Isolationist / Imperialist, Tsarist / Communist, Mystic / Scientific, Anti-fascist / In bed with Hitler, Orthodox / Atheist, White / Red / White again, Invaded by Napoleon and Hitler / Invades Finland and Afghanistan, American Ally / American rival, St. Petersburg / Petrograd / Leningrad / St. Petersburg, Socialist / Capitalist, and, now, Chief arms supplier to Assad / Willing to strip Assad of Chemical weapons; it is impossible to miss the "exceptionally" Protean nature of the Russian government.  The only historical continuity, apart from language, is the presence of a heavy-handed police state that fears and mistrusts its own people. The Russian bear has demonstrated an "exceptional" talent for shape-shifting.

At the close of World War II, American GI's and Soviet troops worked together helped to liberate Hitler's diabolical concentration camps.  Let's hope we will work together now in that same spirit to remove chemical and other weapons from Syria (CRK update: These hopes today seem to me a bit naive...

As Bogie said in Casablanca after receiving a bear hug from his Russian waiter, "Get outta here, you crazy Russian!"

God Bless the Russian people and God Bless America!


Christopher R. Kelly

Will the Russian and American bosses do a "beautiful thing" in Syria?

* In a 1780 letter written during the American Revolution, Jefferson wrote, “We shall form to the American union a barrier against the dangerous extension of the British Province of Canada and add to the Empire of liberty an extensive and fertile Country thereby converting dangerous Enemies into valuable friends.”

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Peace-Making, Horatio Nelson-style!

Commander K. at Nelson's Column
Trafalgar Square, London
Just how did Lord Nelson manage to win a peace with Denmark after the battle of Copenhagen?

An alliance misnamed "The Armed Neutrality of the North" combined the forces of Russia (led by the half-mad Tsar Paul I), Prussia, Sweden and Denmark.  This group was allied with Napoleonic France against Britain and placed an embargo to British shipping throughout the Baltic ports.  This alliance represented a mortal threat to British power as Scandinavia was the principal source of timber and hemp for rope and canvas -- critical components of the Royal Navy.

Commander K. + Nelson
Malta Maritime Museum, Malta
On April 2, 1801 Vice Admiral Lord Nelson led a fleet of twelve ships of the line of the Royal Navy in action against the Danes at the battle of Copenhagen.  He was second-in-command to Admiral Lord Hyde Parker.  Nelson violated the conventional naval tactics of the day by leading his ships against the Danish ships AND the battery of a fixed fortification (Tre Kroner).  At one stage of the battle, it appeared that the British were taking heavy damage from the tenacious Danish forces when Lord Parker sent a signal ordering Nelson to make a tactical withdrawal. Lord Nelson raised a telescope to his blind eye and declared, "I really do not see the signal."

At a critical moment that afternoon Lord Nelson penned a note to the Danes seeking a temporary truce:

"To the Brothers of Englishmen, the Danes

'Lord Nelson has directions to spare Denmark when she is no longer resisting, but if firing is continued on the part of Denmark, Lord Nelson will be obliged to set on fire the floating batteries he has taken, without having the power of saving the brave Danes who have defended them."

After being pounded with broadsides from the British 74-gun ships of the line, the Danes agreed to a temporary truce and the crisis passed.  In spite of Parker's caution, Lord Nelson and the Royal Navy prevailed that day capturing 12 Danish ships, sinking two, blowing up another and setting much of Copenhagen ablaze.  The butcher's bill for the battle of Copenhagen was 350 British dead, about 1,600 Danes killed and 2,000 captured.

Lord Horatio Nelson, Trafalgar Square
Photo: Courtesy Jim Hooper
Lord Nelson came "ashore to deliver the ultimatum to Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark in person.  His deep-lined face and spare, one-armed figure, hung with stars and orders, attracted curious stares when he accompanied his host to the banqueting hall.  As he climbed the wide, wooden staircase Nelson turned to a British officer beside him and, in the hearing of the Crown Prince, say, 'Though I have only one eye, I see all this will burn very well.'  In the negotiations that followed dinner, the Crown Prince agreed to Nelson's initial terms: a truce of fourteen weeks."  Source: The Terror Before Trafalgar, Tom Pockock, 2002.

Commander K. and Nelson, Crypt St. Paul's, London
"Though I have only one eye, I see all this will burn very well."
Unbeknownst to Nelson or the Danes, on March 24 (before the battle of Copenhagen was fought) Tsar Paul I had been assassinated in Russia by his own courtiers with the contrivance of his son and heir who promptly became Tsar Alexander I.   Russian foreign policy immediately veered from being pro-French to becoming pro-British. Why is it that the Russians are so reliably unreliable, so dependably undependable?  This regime change and Nelson's victory at Copenhagen led to the collapse of The Armed Neutrality of the North.  Nelson's combination of force, flattery, credible threats and raw courage had won the peace for Britain.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rick's Dilemma -- The USA and its Syrian Decision


"You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss..."

Rick Blaine runs the Café Americain in Casablanca.  He has escaped from Nazi-occupied France to Vichy-controlled Morocco which is a hotbed of intrigue.  He now poses as a friendly publican, a simple man of business.

At first it seems that Rick, reflecting the views of most Americans prior to December 7, 1941, is a committed isolationist.  He seems to be a selfish man who repeatedly says "I stick my neck out for nobody." When the authorities inquire about his nationality he replies, "I'm a drunkard."

"Here's Looking at You Kid."
Ilsa, played by the luminous Bergman, and her noble husband Victor Laszlo, both anxious to flee to the United States, arrive in Casablanca disrupting Rick's slow self-destruction.  "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."

We ultimately learn that there is much more to Rick than what first appears.  He has run guns to the Ethiopian rebels who were resisting Mussolini's invasion of their homeland.  In 1935-36 Mussolini, perhaps much like Syria's Assad today, did not hesitate to use several hundred tons of mustard gas on the Ethiopians.  Italian General Graziani said, "The Duce will have Ethiopia, with or without the Ethiopians."

Rick has also volunteered to fight on the Loyalist side in the Spanish Civil war.  Was he perhaps in the Abraham Lincoln brigade?  Did he meet Hemingway, Orwell, or even Errol Flynn ( while in Spain fighting against Franco?  The screenplay does not tell us.

In spite of his personal heartbreak, it turns out that Rick has a heart after all; he is a humanitarian.  He rescues a Bulgarian beauty who is considering selling herself to the lecherous Captain Renault by letting her husband win at roulette. "Boss, you've done a beautiful thing."

Rick's response is, "Get outta here, you crazy Russian!"  Was he thinking of Putin?

The Bulgarian newlyweds had fled their country in 1942 hoping to make their way to America.  She explains to Rick that in her country, "Things are very bad there.  The devil has the people by the throat...We do not want our children to grow up in such a country."  Today about 2 million people, including many children, have fled Syria looking for safety from their civil war.  The devil surely has Syria by the throat today; such a pity that the Syrian rebels do not seem to be led by Victor Laszlo!

In the summer of 1941 most Americans had doubts about sending American boys to die in a "European" civil war.  Sending arms to Stalin who had made a pact with Hitler, invaded Poland in 1939 from the east, annexed the Baltic Republics, attacked neutral Finland in 1940 and slaughtered his own people seemed to be a crazy notion.  Hitler and Stalin seemed that summer to be like two scorpions in a bottle that America had no business touching.  FDR, with a generosity of spirit similar to Rick Blaine, supported Soviet Russia with lend lease anyway.

The question of the hour is, "Which way does the wind blow now in the Café Americain of 2013?"  Many Americans are weary of war.  Rick felt deceived by Ilsa in Paris, but viewers learn that it is a bit more complicated than that.  Many Americans, mistakenly in my view, believe that we were lied into intervention in the Iraq war (See...  Many Americans are, quite justifiably, sceptical about their own government.

Given our own frayed emotions over divisive issues of war and peace, "Who is going to do the thinking for us on this Syrian decision?"  The U.S. Congress?  It seems rather doubtful that the 535 Solons in Congress will match Humphrey Bogart's understated heroism?  Most members of Congress bear a greater resemblance to opportunists such as Sidney Greenstreet (Signor Ferrari) or Peter Lorre (Ugarte).  Do Americans really have a coherent plan to "do a beautiful thing" in Syria?  Is that, in any sense, even possible?

An answer begins, perhaps, to form.  If Obama and Putin, working together, could remove WMD from Syria without resort to violence that would indeed be a "beautiful thing."  One can only hope.

Will we follow Senator Rand Paul in our determination not to "stick our neck out for nobody"?  Or will we follow President Obama and risk taking a perilous action (shooting Major Strasser / launching cruise missiles) that could have dramatically negative consequences for us and the world?

Commander Kelly must ask, "Will the fundamental American things (love of freedom, compassion for suffering humanity and willingness to act) "still apply" in our decision over Syria next week?"

At the conclusion of Casablanca, Rick and Captain Renault walk off into the distance saying "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."  One of the few bits of good news to emerge from the Syrian conundrum is that the United States and her oldest ally, France, seem to have re-established a "beautiful friendship" that was sorely tested by Chirac's intransigence over Iraq.  Francois Hollande is now Obama's poodle and best friend.

Monday, September 2, 2013

WMD 10 Years On

Commander K. at GWB Library, SMU, Dallas, TX


An awful lot of nonsense has been written about WMD in Iraq.  Lets' take just a few recent examples.

Albert Hunt in a recent editorial wrote, "All this is being debated in the context of George W. Bush’s extraordinary duplicity a decade ago when the United States invaded Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction that proved to be a myth."  Source:

Or this from NY Times reporter Mark Landler, "Unlike Iraq in 2003, the triggering event in Syria a decade later is not a shaky argument that the government possesses weapons of mass destruction...." Source:

Tim Weiner in his jeremiad against the CIA writes, "The United States has squandered thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars on its misadventure in Iraq.  This is part of the price we pay in blood and treasure when the CIA gets it wrong.  To project force without good intelligence is folly: leaders mislead, generals blunder, soldiers die.  Great powers lose force, flounder and start to fail."  Source: Legacy of Ashes, Tim Weiner, 2007

Many people, operating on the theory that if it rhymes it must be true, accept the notion that "Bush lied, and people died."  In Britain Tony Blair takes the heat.

"Deluded Power", Patty Warashina, Bellevue Arts Museum
In popular culture many revile President George W. Bush as a warmonger who fought an unnecessary war in Iraq.  Vice President Dick Cheney is painted as a demonic fiend waging wars in the service of Haliburton and the big oil companies.  These attitudes are summed up visually by the Northwest artist Patty Warashina's 2006 work "Deluded Power". Why is it that unconventional artists often have such conventional politics?

So who is really more deluded about WMD?

"Let Freedom Reign."
George W. Bush Library

First, the Iraqi WMD WERE NOT A MYTH, THEY WERE REAL.  It is indisputable that Saddam DID in fact have weapons of mass destruction.  He used them in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's.  He also used them against his own people -- gassing and killing 3,000 people in one day in a single day in Kurdistan -- more than twice as many as allegedly used by Assad recently in Syria (Source: BBC documentary The Iraq War, see below).  More Kurds were killed by Saddam's chemical weapons than ALL those that have died in Syria's civil war up to this point -- about 138,000 (Source: Christopher Hitchens, see video below).

Second, Intelligence is frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted; it is not a science, but rather a dark art and always has been.  George Washington said, "The necessity of procuring good intelligence is apparent and need not be further argued."  Procuring good intelligence, however, has never been easy (think Little Big Horn, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, etc.).  Sixteen different national intelligence agencies around the world believed that WMD would be found in Iraq.  Expecting 100% certainty in these in the area of military intelligence is absurd.

Third, George Washington notwithstanding, the ultimate importance of Intelligence in war is also vastly over-rated.  Espionage stories sell lots of books and movies tickets, but ultimately it is the warriors who win victory.  The late John Keegan wrote, "Intelligence in war, however, good, does not point unerringly the path to victory.  Victory is an elusive prize, bought with blood rather than brains.  Intelligence is the handmaiden, not the mistress, of the warrior." Source: Intelligence in War, John Keegan, 2002,  The victory of liberty in Iraq, however flawed, has been purchased with much blood.

Fourth, on the point of invasion in 2003 The Iraqi Army itself was unsure whether or not they had chemical weapons.  "British intelligence famously believed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. It turns out that Iraq's own generals thought so too.
On the eve of war in March 2003, Lieutenant General Ra’ad al-Hamdani of the Republican Guard feared that Saddam would try to gas the Anglo-American invaders and end up poisoning Iraqi troops by mistake. He was worried enough to approach the dictator’s feared son, Qusay.
“Sir, tell me honestly, do we have Weapons of Mass Destruction?” asked the General. “If we use chemical weapons, they will blow back on to us. I’m worried our troops will be affected.”
But Qusay Hussein was able to offer reassurance. “Don’t worry,” he replied. “We don’t have WMD. Not even chemical weapons.”  The fascinating and often heart-breaking BBC documentary called The Iraq War is available below.

CK and Vincent Driano
George W. Bush Library
The real question is "What really happened to the Iraqi WMD stockpile?".  Was it destroyed by the regime because Saddam worried that 1) its use would be met with a swift and devastating retaliation and 2) it would blow back into their faces creating lots of friendly fire casualties?

Why did Saddam order the destruction and/or removal of WMD from Iraq?  Is some of Saddams's stockpile being used by Assad in Syria today?  Lots of questions and uncertainties remain, but it seems clear that the credible threat of Western intervention made tangible by the policies of President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair were exactly what compelled Saddam to destroy and/or dispose of his own stockpiles.

A very obvious point is all too often missed with regard to WMD in Iraq.  Is it not inarguable that the absence of WMD in Iraq was not just a very good thing, but our goal from the start?  It may have been an intelligence failure by the West, but it was firm leadership and the willingness to use Western power that drove Saddam to destroy and dispose of his own WMD.

As the late Christopher Hitchens pointed out in 2008, "We were never, if we are honest with ourselves, "lied into war".  We became steadily more aware that the option was continued collusion with Saddam or a decision to have done with him."

There were, in fact, many reasons OTHER than WMD, that justified an invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Here are some cited by Hitchens...

"A much-wanted war criminal was put on public trial. (He invaded two of his neighbouring countries, Kuwait and Iran -- CK)

The Kurdish and Shi'ite majority was rescued from the ever-present threat of a renewed genocide.

A huge, hideous military and party apparatus, directed at internal repression and external aggression was (perhaps overhastily) dismantled."

To these I would add the fact that Saddam Hussein was a clear supporter of terrorism throughout the Middle East, compensating the families of suicide bombers. B) Abu Nidal, whose ANO terrorist organisation, was responsible for the deaths sand or injuries of over 900 people, was living in Baghdad until his suspicious death in 2002. C)  Saddam had tried to send a terrorist team to kill George H.W. Bush in 1993 to which President Clinton responded with cruise missile strikes ( D) The West, led by the well-intentioned Bush Sr., had clearly erred by stopping short of regime change in the first Gulf war.

In spite of a devastating war and the many grave errors committed in the occupation, the economy of Iraq has grown dramatically over the past decade.  In 2001 Iraq had a GDP of $29 billion (Source:  By 2012 it had quadrupled to $130.6 billion (Source:  Last year Iraq's annual GDP growth rate was an enviable 10.2%.

Iraqi males are no longer being forcibly dragooned into military service.  Many Iraqi females, far more than under Saddam, are getting an education.  The genocide of the Kurds has stopped.  Iraq still has plenty of very serious problems but they are, for the most part, learning to work out solutions without resorting to mass violence or invasions of their neighbours.  Severe Sectarian issues persist in Iraq, but these, of course, preceded and were not caused by the Iraq war.  (For much more on Iraq today see the lively discussion evidenced by Iraq Ten Years On in video below.)

Millions of purple fingers have made an historic difference.  The Iraqi experience with democracy, tentative and halting as it has been, was a driving factor in launching the Arab Spring that still continues to sweep the Arab world.

Adolph Hitler unquestionably possessed advanced weapons of destruction, revenge Weapons, with which he hoped to turn the tide of the war.  These were developed by scientists such as Werner Von Braun at the Wehrmacht's Peenemunde facilities in Northern Germany.

V-1 Rockets, Flying Heritage Collection
Everett, WA
"The V-1 rocket was a highly effective weapon, hated and rightly feared by Londoners and the residents of other British cities it reached...Deaths inflicted by flying bombs are estimated at 6,184, the severely injured at 17,987." Source: Intelligence in War, John Keegan, 2002,

The research at Peenemude began as an army establishment.  The V-1 was viewed as a new species of artillery.  The V-1 was potentially a war-winning invention that "was reliable and cheap, cost about 150 pounds in 1944 values."  If mass-produced in quantity these could have disrupted the Allies invasion plans by devastating British port facilities, transports, etc.

These were the Vergultung ("Retribution") weapons that wartime diarist Iris Origo dreaded after hearing German propaganda reports about the incineration of Southern England in 1944 (see...

V-2 Rocket, Flying Heitage Collection
Everett, WA
The V-2 was an even more terrifying -- the world's first long range missile that operated from mobile missile launching platforms, the Meillerwagen (the prototype of Iraqi SCUD missile launchers).  This 50 foot high behemoth weighed 28,557 pounds and carried a 1,630 pound warhead.  These rockets hit their targets at 3,000 miles per hour with no warning.  Many fell on London  On Palm Sunday 1945 the last V-2 to hit London devastated The American Church in London ( killing nine people.

Fortunately, the Allies gathered early intelligence on the  German weapons programs and responded by bombing Peenemunde.  Shortly after D-day, Allied ground forces over-ran many of the German V-1 launching platforms in the Pas de Calais.  V-2 rockets were too expensive to be produced in sufficient quantity to make any strategic difference in the war.

Japanese Seaplane
National Museum of the War in the Pacific
Fredericksburg, TX
The Japanese also employed WMD in World War II against the Chinese in the war they fought from 1937 to 1945.  It has been estimated that from 50,000 to as high as 500,000 Chinese were killed by the Japanese germ warfare program Unit 731 which conducted gruesome experiments and developed plague bombs  The Japanese also developed a class of 400 foot long Submarine aircraft carriers called I-401 that could have struck the U.S. West coast with conventional or biological ordinance (


What is the connection between World War II and Iraq's WMD?  Just this: Imagine a counterfactual history where Hitler and/or the Wehrmacht, convinced that the Allies are about to launch a cross channel invasion, order the destruction or disposal (exported to neutral Switzerland or Sweden) of the German rocket program.  Werner Von Braun is executed to prevent German secrets from leaking out.  How would this have altered the course of history?  Thousands of lives would have been spared and the Americans might not have succeeded in landing on the moon until the Reagan administration!

How would our current national debate over intervention in Syria have been affected if the Japanese had managed to attack San Francisco with a single biological weapon in 1945?

If your enemy is known to possess highly dangerous weapons, does it ultimately make any difference whether these are destroyed by military action or whether your enemy himself destroys/disposes of them?

In the case of Syria today, would it really make much difference whether Assad's chemical weapon stockpile were destroyed by American military action or by Assad himself, cowed by resolute and principled Western leadership?   Lord help us all!

Lots more rubbish, but I Love the woman from Kurdistan 
("Let's not waste that sacrifice that has been made" ) in the video below...

I miss Hitchens!

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades or on