Welcome to JoeBuff.Com,
the Cyberspace Home of author Joe Buff
Subscribe to
Joe Buff's
"Vision 2005"
Briefing & Update


Some of these readermails refer to one of Joe's recent essays on Military.com called "Why They Ain't Like Us," which can be found at the bottom of Joe's website HOME page.

[JB LOGO] Joe:

I'm a features reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper, Milwaukee, Wis. In this time of war, like most media outlets, we're looking at every possible angle to cover things. I've been asked to take a "fact-finding" look at the history and origins of military catch phrases and slogans and to explore how the powers that be come up with these names and titles. For example, who decided to call the "fat boy" bomb, "fat boy," how was it decided to coin the first Gulf War "Operation Desert Storm." Why do Navy personnel use the phrase "haze gray and under way" (or something close to it), when they're aboard ship. "Throughput." What's that all about? Who came up with it? "Bunker buster" bombs. We know what they do, but when it came down to coming up with a shortcut name for these things, is there really a method to it, or are they just decided randomly? "Shock and awe" combat attacks. Again, they're basically self-explanatory. But who coined it and why? Why are U.S. Marines called "jarheads" and "leathernecks?" Or better than why, how were those nicknames arrived at, and who coined them?

So those are examples of what I'm looking to explore in my article. A friend and colleague who's read your work suggested I contact you to see if I could quote you as an expert and you could share some insight for the story.

James Burnett

Note: The article appears HERE.

Dear Jim:

Thanks for writing to me! I'd be delighted to help out in your project and also you have my permission to quote me as you deem appropriate in your article. Let me tell you a few things here, and then perhaps we can continue the e-mail dialogue as time allows depending on your deadline.

There are really several interesting things I see behind your feature topic's investigation and background research:

  • 1. Why do people invent and use catch phrases in time of war?
  • 2. How do these catch phrases originate, i.e., who invents them and how do they spread?
  • 3. What exactly do they mean, and why are those particular phrases so popular for the thing they apply to?
  • Some of this, as I'm sure you already know, Jim, has to do with human psychology and sociology. Some of it has to do with linguistics and lexicography, where broader principles would apply in a specifically military contect.

    Item 3 is often the easiest to address. Let me give you some for instances, and then let me offer a couple of thoughts on items 1 and 2, and suggestions for other people you might want to contact for your feature.

    Actually it was "Fat Man" and "Little Boy." These were the code-names given to the two atomic bombs the US dropped on Japan. Originally they were going to be called "Fat Man" and "Thin Man" in honor of Winston Churchill and FDR. Also, Fat Man was the plutonium implosion-design weapon eventually dropped on Nagasaki, and since the basic "physics package" was a big fat sphere, the weaponized bomb looked fat. Thin Man was the uranium gun-bomb design used on Hiroshima, a long cylindrical mechanism that was comparatively thin. Then, when FDR died in office, Thin Man was renamed Little Boy.

    "Haze gray and underway" refers to the "battleship gray" of US Navy warships being at sea.

    Throughput I believe originated in the computer science community. In the early days of the 1960s, computer programmer "users" talked about input and output. The systems operators staff, who were more concerned about overall computer-center operational productivity/efficiency than about individual users' particular programs, invented the word Throughput to refer to the total mass of calculations than went through the computer in an hour or a day.

    Jarheads for marines comes from their haircut, which is very short on top and also involves being shaved bald around and behind the ears. This makes the human head resemble a jar, because what's left of your hair is sort of like the lid on top of a jar. Leathernecks refers to the weathered, sunburnt, calloused exposed skin on the back of a marine's neck, between his uniform collar and his helmet.

    Ok, now then, why do these phrases come up? I think some of them, like jarheads and leathernecks, or "haze gray and underway," become popular because they are picturesque, descriptive, and/or have a nice alliterative rhyme to them. I believe another factor is more social/psychological. In times of great danger and stress such as war, people need to feel bonding and good unit cohesion. Having a common expression as lingo to refer to themselves and each other that is at once distinctive, expressive, unique, ironic, and even a bit self-deprecating, helps the human beings to have higher morale and a stronger sense of group identity.

    Operational code names have gone through an interesting transition. It used to be they were intended as a quick and convenient reference to a classified project or war attack plan that enemy spies would be unable to figure out if they heard of it. For instance, the atom bomb project was called the Manhattan Engineering District, subsequently shortened in conversation to the Manhattan Project. Operation Overlord was the D-day invasion -- but Hitler wasn't supposed to know what "Overlord" referred to. In more modern times, with freedom of information and the importance of the media in communications between the White House and Pentagon and the general public, operational names have taken a very different form: catchphrases that have clear, open meaning. For instance, Operation Desert Shield was the name for the six-month buildup to the actual first Gulf War with Iraq. It defined the buildup as something specific and purposeful, hence making it sound more concrete and fathomable for laymen, while at the same time it expressed the Operation's purpose: to prevent Saddam's so-far victorious army from invading Saudia Arabia. Then, the actual fighting was called Operation Desert Storm. This was meant to express quick, decisive action, I suspect. Now we have Operation Liberty Shield to refer to heightened anti-terror security in the homeland during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    How these phrases and operational names arise, I'm less sure about but it could be a real interesting subject! I conjecture that some of the more formal things, such as Operation names, are developed by a committee in the Pentagon and or the White House that functions something like the "creatives" of Madison Avenue working together to invent a new advertising slogan. I don't know if this committee is very structured or in fact the process is much more ad hoc. I suspect a spokesperson for the White House, or a Public Information Officer from the Pentagon, could tell you more. I suspect that for things other than official operations names, many of the slang and lingo expressions originated with enlisted personnel facing the grit and deprivation in the trenches or in long deployments at sea -- such as "jarhead," or "haze gray and underway." Like natural selection, phrases that resonated well with folks caught on fast and spread "virally," to use a modern catchphrase for marketing to a populace that shares common, fast word-of-mouth. In fact the military community is known to be very "viral" in this sense of being communicating-interconnected. Also as in evolution, "parallel evolution" might occur and a phrase might originate in several places at once. And I expect that different people may have different theories as to the origination of a particular phrase. In fact, one person you might like to speak to about this is the individual who first introduced me to the terminology of the military community being "viral," i.e. the person who invited me to write my periodic column for http://www.Military.com. He is their President & CEO, Chris Michel (last name pronounced like "Michael") and his fone # in San Francisco is 415-433-0999. Use my name if that helps to reach him, as he and I are in frequent contact.

    Also, all of the branches of the armed forces have official history departments and professional historians on staff. It is quite possible that by networking through initial contacts in the Pentagon as I mention above, you can quickly reach someone who can tell you exactly when and where the "virus" of the word "jarhead" broke out, and even maybe exactly who "patient zero" was in the medical epidemic sense -- i.e., the first person to invent/ introduce the phrase.

    Nautical phrases entering the common vocabulary is especially common, and seems a very popular topic. There are some specific references you could look at if you haven't already and you have the time. One is A SEA OF WORDS, which looks at the vocabulary in Patrick O'Brian's famous Aubrey/Maturin novels from the Age of Fighting Sail. Also, the Naval Institute (Annapolis, MD) has a magazine I subscribe to, Naval History, which has a regular feature called "Salty Talk." It's written by retired US Navy Commander Tyrone G. Martin, and explains a particular naval expression and what it originally meant to sailors and how it came to enter popular speech. For instance, this month (April 2003) CDR Martin discusses the expression to "tide one over." He is someone you might want to try to interview for your article. The Naval Institute has a toll free # 800-233-8764.

    Hope this is helpful. Let me know if I can be of any further service.

    .......Best regards, Joe..

    Dear Joe,

    I am a 48 year old German/English teacher and have not studied history or politics but other social sciences.

    I regard myself as some prototype of my generation and I like to tell you the following:

    Our ruling politicians, especially Schröder and Fischer, have been extremely active during the 60s. They are, like me, although I am younger, and like most people currently in power regarded as the '68ers'.

    Those years gave a clean cut to the years before and certainly diminished the powers of those who used to be part of the system and had simply continued to rule in new positions. Those years liberated the young from the older ones whose values were no longer wanted.

    Today in West Germany there is no memory of thought police, maybe there is in the east but the east is somewhat politically powerless anyhow. We believe today that a McCarthy thought police is emerging or already existing in the U.S. where thanks to the Patriacts act I libraries and book stores have to disclose what somewhat reads without even being able to tell his lawyer that he had to do so. So, now we have these problems, you do.

    You are right that the wall traumatized us - not because it was there so much but because I grew up sitting on literally thousands of atomic warheads. How many were there? 8000 of yours and 6000 of the Soviets. Not for a day in my youth have I ever thought that your country was there for our protection or liberation. The general tenor was 'Better red than dead'. And I thought so too. In fact I was so frightened that I emigrated. It would have been ok just for me but I wanted to breed and decided never ever to do that here. So I looked at the map when I was 15 and decided on NZ. When I was 28 I had achieved that and moved with my ex-husband to NZ where I had two children.

    Have you any idea how it was for a young person to sit here on a volcano like that and listening to daily news which were building up tension day by day? I still remember how I begged my ex to leave earlier than we planned. We left in 1983 and the whole thing could have gone another way. No-one knew the system would implode. We saw these cynical U.S. war games with our real existing villages at the centre. We were merely pawns in your game. Perhaps our politicians felt bound to you or gratitude or a need to display gratefulness etc. Little of that had any impact on me or my generation. We regarded you and the Soviets as the same players and it would be on our ground, we just happened to be in the wrong place. And no, we never thought that your capitalist system was so desirable. We didn't like communism either since it promised to be just but wasn't. We had a middle view to both and happened to be in the middle too. That was all.

    My parents were thankful for the Care parcels and how Berlin was fed. To this day my dad is in awe about that although he never received any of that. He was 17 when drafted and actually spent a months or so in an American POW camp, a fact I only found out recently, when I discussed aspects of the series Band of Brothers with him which is not screened here but which I got out as a DVD. I never ever knew that. He said I was not interested and only just began to have some interest in wars and things. Maybe but our parental generation never ever talked about the war. They were too traumatized. My parents were 13 when the war started and 17 when it was over. My daughter is 17 now (and living in Australia) - I imagine her now going through what both of my parents were experiencing and only began to tell me over the last few years - when I began to ask precise and informed questions.

    How these mountains of rubble must have looked everywhere is something I only began to realise a couple of years ago when, for the first time, I saw air footage from your planes flying over Cologne, etc. Of course I had always known that our area here, Kiel and Hamburg, had been flattened. But born in 1955 I had never seen the rubble that even my father had been summoned to shovel away, as he told me now - in the absence of bulldozers.

    I grew up in an area where there were no old houses left but where there were no gaps either. Everything had been mended but the colossol effort of that really only dawned on me much later. We were a pampered generation, kept away from the trauma. But the harshness of it all was still manifest in the attitude of the people and their 'Prussian' correctness and cold routine.

    The street fights of the 60s and the very laizzer faire attitude towards protest and self-expression ever since were the determining factors in my life and that of my generation. We were certainly against war and do not believe that any war is ever 'just' since every war always and by definition hits the wrong ones - like the 50% populations of minors in Iraq. There is no 'surgical' war and carpet bombing has been used in Afghanistan and everywhere else. Landmines which hit children are not a weapon that makes war popular either.

    You are about to slaughter thousands of civilians and send millions fleeing their homes. How can that be justified - for economic reasons? And one more thing: Europe is secular with the exception of pockets of Ireland perhaps. Why does anyone think that we should follow someone who has the arrogance to claim to act out 'God's will'? How mightily absurd. Worse even if not a PR stunt but truly believed. People who go around talking this way would be in danger here to be put into an asylum. Please forgive me, if I am not impressed.

    I thank you for having tried to 'understand' this separate ethnic territory. Your observation that a nation who has carpet bombing in living memory may not be too keen to participate in such is an astute one. - On the other hand to think of nations in Europe now as 'surrounded' is absurd. The borders are open, the market is one, you can work anywhere and the currency is the same too. There is now little difference to your states who would also be 'surrounded'. You can drive through half a dozen states here in one day on your way to your holidays. They are no limit. What we lack is some Ceasar on top of that - instated by God.

    Hope that helps,

    Dear Sabine:

    Thanks very much for writing to me to express your viewpoint and your experiences. I want you to understand that I agree strongly with your horror of war. I am also 48, and grew up in New York City during the early Cold War. My youngest memories on world events are of the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the threat of a global thermonuclear holocaust. When I was young I was in the Boy Scouts, and in my residential neighborhood we went around door to door distributing to everybody government booklets about how to build a bomb shelter in your basement or your back yard. Can you imagine how this makes a ten or twelve year old boy feel? I know from your message that you can imagine it. When I was in seventh grade in school, my art teacher's son was killed in Viet Nam. She was my favorite teacher and this upset me horribly. It made a strong impression on me which I still remember.

    Also, many history books published in the U.S., most of them for serious readers and not "popular" for mass-market armchair hobbyists, say just what you have said: That Western Europe was held hostage in a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Anger and resentment of the U.S. for our part in this were, I know, at the forefront of many people's emotions in West Germany and elsewhere. I don't blame them for feeling this way. But it is, as I was trying to say in my essay, one reason why people in Europe don't see things the same way many Americans do. Or maybe I should rephrase it, some Americans don't see things the same way Europeans do.

    The U.S. found out recently, the hard way, what it's like to have a city or a part of a city be reduced to rubble and slaughter by an enemy attack. My wife and I saw the wreckage of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. I know people who were killed. I know people who lost relatives and friends. I have a former neighbor whose husband was killed -- 3 months later, in unbearable grief and depression, she, his spouse, took her own life. My wife and I knew this couple well, they had adopted two of the puppies that one of our dogs had, and then suddenly one and then the other of these people were dead. I have another friend who was going to go to a business conference on top of the World Trade Center at breakfast time on the morning of 9/11/01. At the last minute he decided to go to his office instead, in a different part of Manhattan, because he was too busy. No one who attended that conference survived. He went to 11 different funerals of colleagues who perished. I have another friend who is a volunteer firefighter outside NYC. He had many friends in the NYC Fire Department. Some of them died. Part of him died too, and he is my friend, and I still share his pain.

    I also agree with your concern about the question of someone invoking the name of God in the same breath as "war". It is in a way strange but indicative that American money says on it "In God we trust." Maybe it should say "In one or another God or Gods some of us trust." There are after all people of many faiths in the US, including polytheists and atheists! But I believe that if I went around telling people that we should change the saying on our money, they would put me in an asylum myself!

    The problem of "though police" emerging in the US is also very serious. So far, there has been strong resistance to some of the measures of proposed surveillance of the general public. The Senate totally rejected a proposed plan by the Pentagon called Total Situational Awareness. At least so far, the government cannot freely spy on people to know what books they are reading -- though the danger of that is still high. It would be interesting if everyone in the US as a protest bought copies or borrowed library copies of "1984," George Orwell's brilliant and scary picture of a world with Big Brother spying on every home and every person. This could send a message to our own government to be very careful. I think that the new "experimental" airline passenger computerized profiling system being tested, which studies a person's financial history and their criminal record, is abhorrant, and also more to the point badly misguided. Does the fact that someone had to declare personal bankruptcy make them a terrorist? Does the fact that they were once arrest for shoplifting or possessing marajuana make them a terrorist?

    I read in the New York Times just the other day that there is a new book just published in Germany which is very controversial, about the carpet bombing in World War II. But the Luftwaffe did the best it could to carpet bomb England. Thank God (oops, sorry!) that Herman Goering was so incompetent. My point in the essay was that the US never faced the same dangers of a "Blitz" like the UK did, was never firebombed like Dresden was, nor would the US homeland have been a battlefield if the Group of Soviet Forces Germany had attacked westward toward the Atlantic Coast after 1945.

    Also, just for clarity, my references to being "surrounded" were meant to apply primarily to the Soviet Union/Russia. They have always been very aware and sensitive that they have very few routes of access to the oceans. Also, it was the official strategy of the US in the later part of the Cold War to "surround" the USSR with allies such as NATO, and Japan, and also Australia and New Zealand.

    Everyone who lived through World War II in France or Germany or western Russia who is still alive remembers the Gestapo and the SS, at least unconsciously. Everyone in Russia remembers the KGB. Half of united Germany did live under harsh Russian occupation and the Stasi until pretty recently on a historical timescale. Americans have no idea what that was like, unless they are people who moved here to the US from those other countries. That is what I meant to say. I was trying in my essay to point out these things to other Amercians, who I think don't take much of this into account.

    One thing I would like to note to you though is also this: that in general in human behavior and psychology, I think, by rejecting or rebelling against a previous regime or event, a younger generation is in fact still mentally influenced by what it has rejected or rebelled against. Thus perhaps in the sense of scientific sociology, younger people in European countries are more influenced by previous history that you might believe. The only place where I know of that is a "democracy" where this isn't true is Japan. In Japan they do not teach children the true history of World War Two at all.

    The awful paradox of peace and war is that sometimes to hate war makes you be vulnerable to being attacked. Personally, I think that Saddam Hussein is very evil and will do everything he can to extrerminate his own citizens and attack Israel and destabilize the Middle East and also help terrorists attack America and other places like Bali, where so many Australians were horribly killed. What can we do? I still hope that diplomacy can work. But I am convinced that if we do not depose Saddam one way or another, he will use his powers and influence to cost many, many lives in many countries. This is the unforgiving calculus of life and death in war. Do we attack first and try to be as humane as possible to civilians caught in the middle, or do we wait to be attacked and have Saddam and his minions target as many as possible of our own innocent civilians as he possible can?

    Finally, I totally agree with you that there is really no such thing as a purely surgical strike that kills only "the enemy" but spares civilians. Smart bomb weapons, like all mechanical and electronic devices, sometimes fail to work properly. The US has seen this in Afghanistan, where the simple act of changing a battery in a GPS radio device caused a 2000-pound bomb to home on an American unit's own position instead of on the enemy Taliban bunker -- I think two dozen US soldiers and Afghanistan freedom fighters were killed. But Saddam Hussein has used poison gas against his own citizens, the Kurds, killing and maiming many thousands. Which is worse? We also saw the imperfections of precision bombing in Kosovo, where because of faulty intelligence, the US bombed the Chinese embassy by accident. Recently, a dozen soldiers were killed near where I live now in upstate New York, in a helicopter on a training mission, when the helicopter crashed. This is horrible and should never have happened, but nothing will bring those soldiers back to life or console their families. And this was just in training, not even in an actual battle. Land mines are an abomination, but it is a fact that many of the mines in the Third World that are hurting and killing children as they play were manufactured in France or Russia or Germany as well as in the US, and were implanted not by those countries but by countries or factions in the Third World. No one single country is to blame.

    I believe the next few weeks and months will be very tricky and tense for the world. We will just have to see what happens, and each person should express their views to their friends and to their governments as best as they can.

    So, Sabine, I hope that this response helps you understand my perspective better, and that I agree strongly with you on many things, and that my essay was directed mostly to Americans who, alas, sometimes have a poor sense of history and are not always the best at listening to the points of view of other peoples and nations.

    Thank you again for taking the time to write such an expressive and detailed message to me.

    ....Best regards, Joe.

    Dear Joe,

    Thanks a lot for taking all that time to answer me.

    I have not mentioned two other valid reasons why we ain't deciding like you. One is that this country is deeply into a recession and has already committed all available soldiers outside of Germany and the rest within the country to mind your deserted bases. We have so few soldiers left that the inner security is suffering since the police has been assigned in large numbers to mind American and Israeli buildings etc. - without help from the military. There is no way we could, this time, pick up the bill for that war like we did to a large degree for GW1. How your country wants to pay for this is something I keep wondering about as well - it would take quite some time until the oil flows.

    The other reason is that according to our basic law we are not allowed to take part in pre-emptive strikes and while I have been told by some Anglo friend that our laws were drawn up by the allies at the time, I have never managed to verify that. True is that your government and the other allies wanted to make sure for years to come that Germany could not develop military power and set clear rules for any participation and it happened only very recently that we actually did take part in any fighting - on the Balkan and since then. All my childhood and youth I was told that we could only defend ourselves - and barely.

    Why Europe was not able to deal with Milosevic without the help of the Americans is something I never understood either at the time. I could not believe what was happening in Europe (I was in NZ) without anybody interfering. I can see here that the Americans say we are unfit to look after ourselves.

    You are describing the World Trade Centre disaster and I feel for you personally and for all the others who now have live with that loss. Since we saw that all on CNN here, I was in shock for days. My kids took that a lot more stoically and continued with their everyday things. I was unable to do anything for days. I had that box running day and night with different channels in different rooms and even the radio in another. I knew this was only the beginning of a new area and I felt like nothing would be the same, some dimension my kids then could not anticipate. For them it was like an airplane having crashed. Nothing much follows after that. Anyway, I can see your grief but you seem to be an informed person and you read at least the U.S. papers I read. Then you must know that the CIA, Mr Tenet, clearly stated in November that a) Saddam is no risk for the U.S. and b) not necessarily at the same occasion that there is no connection whatsoever between Saddam and islamistic terrorists as in bin Laden. And it would be surprising too since they have got absolutely nothing in common with Saddam being a secular leader.

    The logical source would be Iran for terrorists to buy, not perhaps with Chatami being influential. But if he and his reforms were dead or no longer progressing there would be real danger. However, the obvious source for arms in of course North Korea and it is hard to understand why he is allowed to play up like that. Why not simply redeploy the troops now in Korea and let the the inspectors deal with Saddam until the summer heat is over and a desert war can be fought again. It just seems to be the wrong front and therefore the arguments seem so constructed. And at least 90% of Europe believes that the only reason for this Middle East war is oil and nothing but and we all know about the connections of each one of the government to the oil industry etc. People simply do not believe in the official motives whatsoever.

    I think too, like everyone else, that Saddam is a brother of Stalin and Hitler and presumably has them as his idols but the worry is that everyone else gets killed but Saddam. In one of other articles in Military.com was mentioned the image of a farmer who goes after a rattle snake in the yard when his kitchen is under fire. I think that is a very good image of how people feel about the situation. One cannot deal with the really dangerous bad guys, so one goes after this old man whose days are counted anyway. Your president has got his priorities wrong. Or he still has to pay back what he owes the ones who put him into power.

    I have not commented much on his personality before. I only like to say that he is not half as unpopular here as he would be if people understood English better. The Brits really cover their papers in Bush-speak, they write whole books about that. My problem is not that I wouldn't know how to gauge someones brightness by the info I have. Maybe a president doesn't have to be bright anyway since he is being told by enough others what to do. It might be more important what they decide. And even with a simple process of decision making, the right decisions can be made to some degree. But from what I have been reading all over the papers including here in our Spiegel magazine in a cover story translated into English about the apocalyptic religiousness of the leader is something I cannot digest. I think it is totally alarming that someone is such a position to be irrational to that degree. So his voters want to see the apocalypse, armageddon and the rest progress. They decide the Middle East policies concerning Israel because they have these cultist, sectarian latter days ideas? Your popular culture is satuated in these ideas as in this 'Left Behind' series? These things are all not known here at all. The Spiegelartikel was possibly the only one published here to this extent and dealt more with praying rituals in the White House than with the actual images of these miguided 'beliefs'. Pardon me for saying that, but I have often thought, ever since I lived in NZ, and with a view to Oz as well that the evidence is still there of all these mad sectarians that were forced out of Europe hundreds of years ago for their extreme attitudes. Only I never thought that these nutters would ever get into the position of making world politics. That is something I cannot yet deal with, I am still in denial that that could be possible. An article in The Atlantic ( http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2003/03/brooks.htm) made me think. My world view of secularism being the future was challenged there. It is satirical but scary.

    Well, this discussion is not anything that has arrived here. The extent by which America is ruled and guided by religious ideas is something the average European cannot comprehend. Who goes to church here other than old people? And our churches do not support this war, neither do the Methodists who are Mr Bush's community. I believe that any fundamentalists, no matter where and who they are, are bad news. Of course, I personally would go much further, I am an atheist, I have no use for gods and that is the general climate. But the European churches are no warmongers - these days. And I feel no need to fight them, they are largely irrelevant politically and so they should be in a secular state.

    I studied Anthropology once in NZ and have got a degree in Social Anthro mainly but I also studied Bio Anthro, Sociology, Archeaology... My focus has been recently on 'the Americans'. I not only read the Washington Post or CNN or The New York Times but I began to go after every link I found towards that what would be regarded as subversive and leftish. Now I really want to delve into the scene - or ethnic group - which is the base of voters of your president. Who are these people? What determines their consciousness and understanding of the world? How is that socialised into them? How does their apokalyptic world view affect their everyday lives and expectations? How do you tell them from others? Apparently they talk of themselves as being saved, twice-born and the like. And your president incorporates messages into his speeches to appeal to these people?? We have always wondered about this strange way of putting things and the religious connotations but never thought of them as hidden messages. It is bizarre. Between the fanatics of the east and these characters in the west the world goes down. Haven't they found each other?

    Sorry for going on about all this. I don't want to waste your time and I don't expect answers - at least no lenghty ones. Anything I read, you read too or could easily find if it interests you. I am someone with relatively little knowledge about all that's happening. I really only try to understand what is happening around me and to stay free of all the disinformation that we are bombarded with much less than you for that matter. Incredible the list of details we have been fed recently to justify this war. More and more sites spring up to deal specifically with the disinformation that is launched upon us. And we even have your CIA agents being interviewed on TV about how they were being pushed to come up with some link between bin Laden and Saddam and they refused to make it up (is that because Tenet is a Democrat, for some inexplicable reason left over from the last government?).

    I would say though that I know more than the average German about these things, simply because I do read English papers, and such proficiency is unfortunately not widely spread in this country. While most know enough English to ask their way on a holiday trip few, even my best students, would understand CNN, for example. They may understand articles if they could be bothered to read them and knew where online dictionaries can be found.

    I did write to you because you seemed to try genuinely to demonstrate some little mentioned viewpoint - the one about the bombing in living memory - a point I have made towards an American friend of mine before. And because your article was so out of place in Military.com. I don't know wherelse you publish but there it is really hard to make anybody understand those ungrateful Europeans who would be either speaking German today (in the case of the French) or Soviet citizens (in the case of Germany) if it wasn't for the Amis. I like to ask - and why should that have been your business then? The French would never speak another language than their own, everyone in Europe knows that and we? It would have been our problem. I wonder how that would have been but it was your decision to not let that happen. You fought in way more exotic places to not let that happen either, because it was your problem. And even if you saved us from all that, then why should that mean that we should follow now into something else. Every war has to be weighed for its own 'merit'.

    Europeans are anti-American? No, they are anti-Bush as amply documented. Not that Clinton really did that much for international relations either, or what he did, he did just before he left his office. But he spoke as if he did. We believed him and didn't really know any better. He was a liar, okay, all politicians are liars. But they should make the right impressions. No-one wants to cooperate with someone who broke every international agreement or failed to sign it or blocked it. How much more imperialist can anyone appear? Who is to trust such an 'ally'? I think we are proud these days that we hold our own and the magazines show Schröder as David against Goliath. That is how we feel, squashed, 'irrelevant', 'old' but stern. Someone has to say no.

    Finally, do you realise how large the Muslim populations in Germany and France are? The last thing we would like to see is a radicalisation of these substantial numbers of immigrants.

    Okay, I won't read this now either, and it is presumably full of errors like the other one was I noticed later, but it is getting late and I didn't really have the time to write all this. I am not sure why I did. I guess I have no-one to discuss the many aspects of it all here either. I overheard a male conversation at a round table in the teacher's room at our school. The congregation of male teachers did not impress me with their half-knowledge and standard statements. I went to a party last week and thought since some of these guys were politically active (locally) I would hear some interesting view points but they weren't willing to spoil the party with war talk. I turn to the net to deal with my growing anxiety. I cannot brush that off and say it is not happening, it is not my problem. It is everyone's problem and the effects will be felt widely. Here I sit on one of the last evenings before it is all going to start, before your soldiers are moving through a poisoned desert (I read David Hackworth regularly), GW1 sickness is also a discussion point that few in this country would be aware of. Anyway, I am glad to know that so many of you try to look beyond their own fence and even share their ideas with those who are not keen to learn about other viewpoints.

    I hope you will reach many more readers, especially there where they are hard to find, and succeed further in creating insight and understanding in these poisoned times. I would have thought it is essential that what used to be called the Western world stands together and guides towards a fair and better and non-superstitious world, one with common goals, laws, institutions. It is what we still think here is necessary - how could we otherwise live together in Europe? But we are only the vasals and tribes surrounding Rome, some get intimidated, others get bribed, some get both, and we are not up to deal with that.

    The first thing Hitler did when voted for 'democratically' - only a minority voted for him but there were so many parties and each one only got a few votes - was to put a system of control in that quickly scared everybody. From all I gathered, the Patriots Act I does indeed allow the spying of reader's habits which is why your book stores are deleting their client bases and make sure that credit card payments do not show the titles bought. Yes, big brother has come true in remarkable ways but there have always been police states and bureaucracies. Even Kafka described the feelings of the 'subjects' being treated in arbitrary ways in detailed manner. You know, I am surprised this guy Micheal Moore is still alive. I wonder how much longer he is going to make it. If I was him I'd quit visiting the home town Flint and stay in Paris - in hiding. I find the state of affairs alarming and have not felt this way since those times during the Cold War when I retreated to NZ. My young children are in Oz and if I could, I'd follow them. Maybe Australia happens to be one of the few countries to follow your government unquestioningly but it is a country with a low population and you can safely assume to live in a safe and boring place if you don't happen to be downtown in one of the major cities.

    Time to stop, really! Sorry for taking up your time. Hope you take something from it though - if not the intended. Should you be able to explain the apocalyptic phenomenon in any way or find some relevant link, I would very much appreciate that.

    Happy writing, at least you get paid for it. Thanks again for taking time to answer me in detail. We won't prevent anything but at least we shouldn't be contributing to the polarisation that divides us and others.

    Best regards,

    from near Kiel, North Germany

    Dear Sabine:

    It is very interesting that you are looking at American society as an anthropologist would study it from the outside. In my essay I was trying to help Americans see some differences within other countries. It is much harder for me and other Americans to know the differences that other nations see in us! Americans have always had a fascination with the occult, weird things like UFOs and alien abductions and such and that Elvis Presley isn't really dead. I am not sure how many people who read the Left Behind series (I'm not one of them, by the way) take it as "gospel" and believe or wish it were Truth, or instead just view it as some sort of escapist fantasy and science fiction relaxation reading which happens right now to be a popular fad. Probably some of both. The actual number of people in America who are "Born Again" or fundamentalist Christians is actually very small. They tend to get a disproportionate amount of coverage in the media partly because they're "news" while normal people going about plain daily life aren't news, and partly because they have a sense of missionary zeal while most Americans are not very religious in their practices. I think churches aren't any better attended in America than in most European countries. Most American Catholics for instance, though I don't know the statistics, go to church at most once a year -- on Easter.

    Some things that are happening in the US, it's not clear how to take. For instance, the way Congress changed their cafeteria menu to say Freedom Fries instead of French Fries. Is this just taking ten minutes to express frustration and is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, or is this serious and excessive overreacting? I thought it was funny, you know, a pun, or word play, to say "Shame on you France." But is it actually a sign of loss of focus by American legislators, of sulking while Rome burns, as it were? I don't think anybody really knows.

    Also, I have studied history as a hobby and then as my job as a writer since I was a child. I can tell you that national intelligence services are always highly politicized. So what is happening now with the CIA is unfortunate, but isn't at all unique to this year or this country. Historically, Britain, Japan, the USSR, France, Germany, Italy, and everybody else forced biased "intelligence" into their decision making processes, or had terrible blind spots or committed horrible blunders. I am for instance right now reading a biography of a great American admiral, David Dixon Porter, from America's Civil War. What that book makes very clear is that the Civil War started in an utterly disorganized and chaotic manner, at least in the North, and incompetent generals and confused politicians were everywhere, and it took years and terrible bloodshed to get things sorted out. Many people in the South to this day feel bitter resentment over the way the North used armed force to overcome states' rights. (And this resentment has nothing to do with slavery or racism per se, any more than our Civil War really began as any sort of effort to free the slaves.) Real history is ugly.

    A very popular TV show in the US now is "Crossing Over." In it this guy, the show host, has seances with dead relatives of people in the audience. The show is in fact just a standard combination of fake "mind-reading" tricks and mass hysteria, techniques which go back to traveling carnivals in the 1800s. Yet people are desperate for escapism, for a belief there is "something more" that just being born and then dying and that's all we get.

    There are major lawsuits in progress challenging the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, as far as I know. It remains to be seen how far that whole thing goes. I do know that the next presidential election in the US is in November of 2004, which is only 18 months away. Time will tell how people react at the voting booths to what they see going on now.

    The immediate effect of the first Gulf War was a bad recession in the US. Then under Clinton there was a long boom, but now it has come out that a lot of that boom was based on accounting fraud and investment banker hype, so the boom was actually more of a bubble, like Holland's great Tulip Bubble long ago. The American economy is really suffering right now, and that's before the cost of any wars in Iraq or elsewhere.

    I also wonder how much politicians talking about religious faith are doing it because they are fundamentalists and want to foment the Armageddon confrontation in the Middle East as prophesied in the Bible, or they're just going along because it's rude or unpopular not to. For instance, one regional court ruled that "One nation under God" should be deleted from the Pledge of Allegiance, because it violates church versus state separations in our Constitution. Yet it's been tradition in the American militrary for generations to have mandatory chapel attendance at the different academies like West Point, or Divine Worship aboard naval vessels on Sunday, and over those past generations, just like in the Royal Navy in the age of sailing ships, the captains and crew weren't all religious fundamentalists. Again, it's very hard to know what it all means.

    Personally I believe that regardless of what the CIA says and what reports are biased or unbiased, there is enough objective evidence to show that Saddam Hussein is doing everything he can to obtain weapons of mass destruction and would use them for attacks or international blackmail as soon as he could. He is sending special death squads to the southern parts of Iraq to have mass executions of any Iraqi civilians who revolt or who welcome the American invasion. Saddam Hussein has to go. To me, that's the most important reason to intervene before it's too late. The fact that much of the Bush administration has affiliations with the oil industry is not the decisive reason for use of armed force if diplomacy fails, though that might be the primary reason in the minds of some officials near the White House. If so, they and I have reached the same conclusion by different logical motivations -- which happens all the time in politics and history.

    Milosevic's long time in power mystifies me. How he was able to start five different regional wars (if I counted right) and commit genocide against tens of thousands of people is tragic. But perhaps he is useful as an analogy for why Saddam Hussein has to be toppled now after twenty years in power. Remember, before he invaded Kuwait Saddam started a war with Iran that went on for about eight years and had a death toll something like the First World War.

    Saddam is known to pay $25,000 to the family of every Palestinian suicide bomber, from things I've read. He hates Israel and would love to have atom bombs and missiles to blow Israel to smithereens. Saddam may not be religious, but he is still a fanatic as you say, like Hitler and Stalin. So to me Saddam is a threat to peace and freedom beyond Iraq's borders, and is a clear and present danger which demands pre-emptive action soon. I think the risk in delay for six months is that in six months he could have time to organize a Smallpox or Anthrax attack against Europe or the US. We can't afford to wait six months.

    Also, one of the problems with television is that it is by nature a two dimensional, passive, "flat" form of involvement for the viewers. Psychology studies have shown that people (in the US anyway) exposed repeatedly to violence on TV become deadened to it. So CNN and similar sources cannot effectively convey how truly horrible war violence and terrorism really are. It's again like you said, your kids see 9/11/01 as just a big plane crash and then life goes on. But it wasn't just a big plane crash. It was an act of war, like Pearl Harbor. Saddam might very well not be affiliated at all with al Qaeda, but that act of war emboldened him, just like it emboldened North Korea. I suspect that the US, assuming we do in fact attack Iraq and the major part of the fighting is over fairly quickly, will take the 6 aircraft carriers we have near Iraq and "swing" them (to use a military expression) across the Indian Ocean toward North Korea. The fact that the US sent a dozen B-52s and a dozen B-1 bombers to Guam was a message to North Korea. The B-52 and the B-1 were both originally designed specifically to penetrtate Soviet air space and deliver nuclear weapons. I think what North Korea wants from the US is money, foreign aid, which amounts to a glorified multi-billion dollar bribe. But that also is longstanding historical statecraft. In the 1700s, and the Napoleanic War, the UK kept some countries on the Continent of Europe neutral or allies basically by giving them 100,000 pounds, which was a huge fortune in those days. How cynical can you get? But it worked. The foreign kings took the bribes and stayed neutral or joined the UK against Napoleon.

    Finally, I think that I was invited by the president of Military.com to write for them after he read my novels because he saw that I had a sound knowledge of objective military science and a rationalist approach to analyzing world history. Perhaps I flatter myself unduly. It's interesting that you thought my essay out of place there. Their president told me he thought the essay was excellent. He sent me a "bravo zulu" e-mail about it, which as you may know is military talk for "Well done." Like my wife said, maybe Military.com wants to have as one of their columnists somebody who can discuss the military without being militaristic. I am apolitical. I vote in every election, for whoever i think is the best candidate, but i do not say who I voted for. The ballot in America is supposed to be confidential, so I practice that and do not declare myself a Democrat or a Republican. I do feel patriotic but i think i'm no more patriotic an American than many Germans are patriotic Germans or French people are patriotic to their country France. Also, by the way, I make a living by writing my novels. The columns for Military.com are not paid. The other contributors, like Colonel Hackworth (whom I like to read too) and Oliver North and the others aren't paid either.

    Since I am a professional writer, I basically read and write all the time. Receiving and answering e-mails is important to me so that I don't live and think in a vacuum. It is a nice opportunity for me to have a dialogue with you, Sabine, so feel free to write back again any time you like.

    ......Best regards, Joe.


    Glad to hear again about you. It’s good you’ve been able to find the Compton-Hall book so rapidly: I liked it and tried to analyse it thoroughly as it was quite thrilling and innovative even behalf the author’s point of view. I learnt a lot about submarines, submarines tactics and the way a former English submariner thinks about it… even if it’s 15 years old now it was set for a future and although it took me a long time I reckon I’ve now understood it, and learnt a lot on English/American submarine terms/vocabulary. About the question of flywheels, I also had the idea that this massive pieces of composite materials rotating could create a lot of noise, but if rotating at very high speeds, would the frequencies emitted not be quite different from anything known, if at all detectable by ennemy sonars? To come again to Sub vs. Sub, its author seems to have had a quite interesting career not at least of British X-crafts/midgets, and the yes-very-important sense of humor isn’t lacking too, especially in part 2.

    I’ve been very busy in the last few weeks and whenever I thought about a question we could have discussed my attention was diverted, not at least by pupils “waking up” at the approach of their exams, my own English courses increasing in size and difficulty, various exchanges with France and Germany (I lived a long time there so I speak German), and a try to understand what’s has been and is still going on in the Gulf… I hope your writing made good progress in the meantime... Good you’ve bought Mike’s COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE (and don't mean talking about it), I’ve seen it on USSDevilifish.com and read the first pages there, and what you told me is just a confirmation of what I expected it to be! Nevertheless, it’s only at place Two of my wished/projected buy-list of submarine books in English, after one of yours, that I definitely want to read in original version: I guess I’d be able to cope with the technical/operational stuff now, and if there’re still uncertainties I’d just send you a mail begging for clarifying.

    As you can guess, some here want me to play the scapegoat since all this started in Irak, I’m made responsible for every word spoken by Mr. Chirac or De Villepin, and the British are really convinced they’ll have a new Prime Minister soon…. Evidently after such a big deployment it’s impossible to send the Desert Rats or the US Army back home without losing face to Saddam, but perhaps he ought to have been removed on a more silent way, earlier. But don’t worry, I’m not angry at all on the US Congress, more on the British who claim loud that “French intransigence” causes war, although when You’ve deployed 3 months one fourth of your Army on a theatre its quite naïve to think they could come back without shooting a bullet… As a well-meant attachment I send you the “Hit” poster in France these last few days…. Meanwhile I’ve been eating fish, chips and beans for nearly 4 months now so don’t be surprised if I’m not in form at all, me too. By the way, I don’t know if it’s this strange new respiratory disease that is coming out of Asia: could you send me a few more details? The sarcastic Britons here have told me about the anti-French feelings in the US, but I’m convinced they’ll disappear as quickly as the anti-American feelings in France during the Suez-Crisis in 1952 (Yes, I know, you liberated us just before but peoples memory is just too short!), as soon as the crisis is over.

    But I’d like to come back to a military-operative-naval thema. I’ve read that you’ve know got 6 CV(N)s in the Gulf theatre (I just hope RoNK stays still while they are needed… IIRC you’ve “only” 5 operational CV(N) left, of which some must be in overhaul… But since I read “Nimitz” of Mr. P. Robinson I prefer submarines (It’s a joke, subs interested me well before !). Do you know how many SSNs there are officially to escort these carriers (those in the Gulf) my own estimate is at least one sub per Carrier Group, but there may be more doing other things than just escorting…

    I’ve been reflecting since our last messages on the ideal form of reactor/reactor core/propulsion plant for a future SSN, and It’s interesting that the American & British are going towards life-of-ship cores, while there is no sign of this in the near future for the French or (As far as I know) the Russian ones. It explains why the emphasis stays on HEU-cores in the US, which will provide 33 years of service life to the Virginia-class. But does this concept not lay severe constraints on submarine/reactor use? I mean, it could be that the Virginias are in no way technically behind in 2040; or are still needed to maintain an adequate force level; technically how will it be possible to measure the right amount of Uranium “burnt” during their service lives: couldn’t some of the units “run out of fuel” because they have been used longer at higher speeds? Will the Uranium stay “stable” (I hope, you see what I mean) after 30 years? How will the “big” maintenance needed, I reckon at least once at mid-life, be managed in the reactor compartment? I am sure all the technological-operative risks have been taken into consideration when the Virginias reactors have been designed, and that, from my point of view, represents a quite risky and interesting technical challenge. Can the shelf life of HEU-reactor cores be significantly higher than this of nuclear weapons, or perhaps am I underestimating modern nuclear weapons...

    I hope you can help me on this interesting technical/operational matters, but anyway, thanks again for writing to me.

    Your wife and you hopefully will soon be all right again, and the snow storms (I haven't received here, at least not with snow) should stop to let place to a new "Desert Storm"...

    Best regards

    Hugh (From France)


    About flywheels, the speeds at which they would rotate are actually at their highest still well within the hearing abillity of submarine passive sonars. For instance, something spinning even 60,000 times per minute (huge speed!) has a sound frequency of 10,000 Hertz, which is well within the range of normal human hearing, let alone sonar abililty to hear noises up to 100,000 Hertz or more.

    Long-life reactor cores are very different in their shelf-life problems from nuclear weapons. In nuclear weapons, sometimes the shelf-life problem has to do with the initiator which has a short life because of the isotopes used in it like tritium, or the deterioration of the special high-explosive implosion lenses, or in the case of H-bombs all the extra chemical and mechanical aspects of what makes a fusion bomb so much more complex than a fission bomb. Also because deliverable nuclear weapons have to be small and not heavy, it is much harder to make them last long, unlike a nuclear reactor which only achieves criticality, not a nuclear explosion, and is much bigger and heavier.

    But you are right that the further and faster a nuclear submarine goes, the shorter the actual life of the reactor core. The core life of the Virginias is probably an estimate based on assumptions that could be wrong for some of those ships, or for all of them if there was a big long war. But the Virginias are designed with special large "plugs" in openings in their hulls to make maintenance easier. In the past, when a sub was refuled, a hole had to be actually cut through the hull over the reactor compartment, and then welded back together and tested! I think that robotic and remote control tools and also people in radiation suits would be able to maintain the Virginia reactor machinery while the core was still in place. What really sets the useful life of a sub is the hull life, so it is possible some Virginias will for cost reasons be scrapped before 33 years if their reactors run out too soon, or else they will be refueled so as to make the most of their hull lives if some hulls will be useful for more than 35 or even 40 years. To a degree, it's guesswork on the practical side, and the people making the decisions now will be retired or even dead of old age 33 years from now(!). But on the nuclear physics side, the mathematics and physics of how long a core design will last and what wear will occur on the materials is pretty well understood, though much is highly classified. The US Navy has been working with nuclear reactors for 50 years now, and the behavior of a HEU pressurized water reactor is very well understood.

    The Virginia hulls are designed to be modular with all systems and wiring able to be removed and replaced by upgrades much more easily than earlier designs. Thus as technology improves over the next 30 years, the US Navy already plans for that and modifications and improvements in whole systems or compartments can be made much more easily than with the Los Angeles or even the Seawolf designs.

    Thank you Hugh also for your information on views in England and France about the Iraq situation. It is hard to get that point of view in the US because the US media doesn't really comment much on the European political scene. I agree with your analysis that some stresses on relationships are short-lived, and when a crisis passes often the enmities (which were mostly by the politicians making rhetoric for each other anyway) are quickly or conveniently forgotten. For instance just as you say the Suez Crisis, which most Americans never even heard of, or America's "Quasi War" with France about trade some time around 1800, which most Americans don't know ever took place. I have sometimes been suspicious that the UK's Official Secrets Act was designed more to cover up things that were embarrassing than things that were really important classified data. And I don't mean this to criticise the UK. It is just a way of showing that in all countries politics is an art of convenience and emotion rather than of fact and analysis.

    Let us hope that things go well and quickly in the Gulf War II and casualties can be kept low on all sides and the war succeeds in making the Iraqi people happier without Saddam Hussein as their dictator. Also hopefully there will be few acts of terrorism.

    Best regards and thanks for writing!



    Thanks again for answering and correcting me. The things you said about the flywheels were very instructive. I thought previously the atomic elements (U-235 and others) in themselves used in nuclear weapons and reactors had a limited life.

    I find it quite thrilling that the US have achieved the level of understanding of HEU reactors required to achieve these long core lives safely. To my limited knowledge all other nations (except perhaps the UK) are far behind. But that’s quite normal too, as you started developing nuclear reactors before everybody else.

    What you told about the American point of view on the Iraq crisis is very interesting. I understand that like so many (big or less big) nations, the news in the US do not really show what’s thought in other smaller countries. I must admit I didn’t even know precisely about America's "Quasi War" with France about trade some time around 1800.

    But let’s come to the really ‘hot’ news: the war seems to have started some 24 h ago. I hope there’ll be as few casualties and as much info given to the public as possible, the first being the priority thing. How long do you believe it’s going to be? My personal estimate is something between 10 & 12 days. Would you mind telling me which subs are involved? I know the SSN-773 Cheyenne is there: this is one of your very best subs, so does the Navy fear any ASW threat from the weak Iraqi navy, or has it been sent there just because it was available at the right moment on the right place ? The BBC just told 40 US ships and submarines had fired Tomahawks, but no RN SSN had been involved so far. Have you more details about US subs firing TLAMs?

    Well, if the war is gonna be as short as I think, I’m gonna to “miss” the most part of it, as I’ll be heading with a bus pupils to Northern England for a week “adventurous training” tomorrow, but never mind, at the moment I don’t see why there should be any novelty in submarine operations in the Gulf. So if you’re busy as I suspect don’t worry about answering that mail at the minute.

    I hope your writing is at tactical speed, and that nobody in the world will be hit by terrorist attacks in these troubled times.




    [IMAGE] I have thoroughly enjoyed your articles on Miltary.com and think you may be the right person to approach with this suggestion. Since your father was a WWII Seabee, you may be aware that the Seabees are basiclly well below the radar of perception in the general US population. My personal experience during 16 years as a Seabee reservist and since my retirement in 1995, is that very few people today know anything about the past and present accomplishments of this large and proud group of the nation's servants who "Build and Fight' in the uniform. This is so because no major motion picture since John Wayne in "The Fighting Seabees" or a more obscure "Gallant Bess" have featured the Seabees in a widely distributed public medium. Seabees are frequently confused in the public mind with Navy Seals who get frequent public exposure in major films, novels, magazines, and news accounts to the extent that any Navy member in camo uniform is assumed to be a Seal!

    Just as the hit film "M.A.S.H." followed by the successful television adaptation forever endeared Army medical units to the public and "A Few Good Men" followed by the successful "J.A.G." television series elevated Navy lawyers in public recognition and esteem, similar treatment of Seabee activities should yield similar results. There is enough material in the 60 years of Seabee history for countless books, films and other exposure as well as the Seabee involvment in the military operations now in the headlines which is not reported in the major media. Perhaps you would be interested in a Seabee related project yourself or have contacts that could lead to something like the examples I have cited. I'm sure you would do an excellent job with anything you care to undertake along these lines.

    Normand "Stormin' Normand" Dupuis
    Chief Equipment Operator USNR (ret.)

    Stormin' Normand:

    Thanks! I'm glad that I could be of some help. Good luck with the project of getting more public knowledge and awareness. I think harnessing a groundswell from your membership, and a step-by-step process of building interest and gaining publicity is the exact right way to define your basic strategy.

    Best wishes, and on to victory in Baghdad!!


    Note: When you visit the Seabees website, click on the History link on the left side of their home page!

    "Stormin' Normand" wrote:

    Thanks for your time and attention Joe. I will forward your suggestions to my Seabee mailing list and cast a net out for more suggestions and action on this matter. Your reply could be just the spark to start a groundswell of enthusiasm for this project. Certainly the major book, film, and television exposure could come someday from some of the small steps you suggested that could be taken right now. Thanks again and keep your eyes open for any other possibilities that might move us into the limelight. On behalf of Seabees everywhere,

    "Bravo Zulu"

    "Stormin' Normand"

    Good morning Joe, Just read your latest article on Military.com. Amen, brother! The self-serving political and economic motivations of nations are often hidden from public view behind various masks of loudly proclaimed moral righteousness. I like the way you expose the "rest of the story" to borrow a phrase from the great Paul Harvey. Our own politicians are not immune from these things either, yet our freedom of speech helps to expose such things wherever they may reside. Keep doing what you're doing. I forward your articles to my large list of Seabee contacts whom I can reasonably assume share your views and appreciate your ability to express them so well. Pressed for time now, more later.


    Dear Joe,

    Enjoyed your recent article, but you-all seem to be thinking like the Euro-trash who consistantly demand that Nazis, Facists and Monarchs are from the right. Hey, we are Americans! In our world it is a question of Liberty. Libertarians define the American right-wing better than any other political group, even if they do occasionally remind me of my crazy Uncle Ed. As my 17 year old daughter said, a libertarian has no problem with a pregnant, jewish, black woman carrying a concealed pistol for her personal protection. Think about it, the USA was derived from the righteous concept of Liberty. Ours was a right-wing revolution about Freedom and Liberty against the totalitarian repression of a Monarch. George the Third was a Lefty!!! One little note about 1933 in Germany. It marked the end of the German Agrarian Party, which was the party which had been interposed between the two most violent, radical, left-wing parties in the Riechstag, the Communists and the German National Socialist Party. During the election campaign, pictures of AP member with well known (and hated) Communists were circulated in areas where the Nazi's had a likely candidate, and in the Communist areas, AP members standing near well known (and hated) Nazis were posted. Talk about your dirty politics. The AP was wiped out and Hitler rose to power. The AP had been sitting on the right side before the Wiemar Gov. interposed them in a measure to avoid bloodshed on the floor of the Reichstag. Care to guess which batch of lefties got the seats on the right side of the aisle which had formerly been the AP members' seats? Yup, the Nazis.

    Good Luck,

    Dear Doc:

    Thanks for your message. You have good insights on history and politics! But I'm confused on what you say about me thinking like Euro-trash. Maybe it's my fault if the essay I wrote got you confused. Personally, I never meant or thought that Nazis, Fascists, and Monarchs are always from the right. I do think that Hitler rose to power on more "left" issues, like the name of his party including the word "socialism" and him getting a lot of support from workers and labor unions at first. But I think once in power he became much more in his policies and goals what Americans would think of as "right." I.e., cracked down on "diversity" and civil liberties, and put the State way above the Individual. Could be Hitler was so unique as an Evil Genius of politics that he's a one-time case and hard to really pin down. I think of Stalin as "leftist" because he professed communism, but much of how he ran the USSR was very similar to how Hitler ran Germany in the late 30s & early/med 40s: police state, purges, forced mass relocations of ethnic groups and huge forced labor camps, etc. I learned back in grade school that the extreme left and extreme right become indistinguishable from each other -- I guess maybe there's something to that after all.

    Also, I'm personally not sure I'd call George III a lefty in everything. He was extremely conservative, reactionary, even racist on giving any rights to the Irish. He treated them almost the way Hitler thought about Jews & Gypsies, i.e. as "untermenschen." In fact the prime minister Pitt has to resign because of differences with George on this. I might not have all those details exactly right, but it seems again that George III, to use your example, is also hard to classify as right or left. Maybe it depended on the issue.

    So, if you don't mind taking the time to write me again, maybe you could clarify what you mean by Right versus Left, Righteous versus Right-wing, and what you see as the specific differences between Liberty and Libertarianism. Honestly, Doc, I'm not much into politics, think of myself much more as knowing about military history and warfighting doctrine. I try to avoid labels, maybe 'cause I'm confused sometimes exactly what they mean. I thought libertarianism was an extreme form of leftism, if you had to classify it as left or right. Maybe I'm wrong?! If you could help edify me, I'd be much obliged. For instance, to pick another "big name" from the past, how would you classify Napoleon? Did he start as leftist as part of the French Revolution, and then evolve to rightist when he started invading other countries and crowned himself Emperor? Or what, exactly?

    Doc, I do appreciate your feedback and you've given me some good stuff to think about.

    Also, I will soon be starting a periodic e-Newsletter, associated with my new author website www.JoeBuff.com. Probably come out quarterly at first. Do you object to being included on the distribution list? Please let me know.

    Thanks again! Best regards, Joe.

    Dear Joe

    Thanks for your insight on the military aspects, I find them well founded or I wouldn't have emailed you in the first place.

    Much of my political and social philosophy comes from the writings of Eric Hoffer, the San Francisco longshoreman-philosopher and author of the best-selling book "The True Believer". During a series of televised interviews with Eric Severeid (back in 1962), when Hoffer's star ascended as a result of his popularity with JFK, Severeid reportedly asked Hoffer "What are the differences between Conmmunism and Nazism." Hoffer allegedly replied;

    "Black and Red. For the Nazis, it's black then red and for the Communists it's red then black."

    Hoffer's teaching is that you must analyse the actions and behaviors of politcal and social movements to catagorize them, meaning that through scientific-like observation you will understand them better than through listening to their self-aggrandizing propaganda, or the equally distorted counter propaganda of their critics.


    Where Americans tend to get confused, is that they think that which they have been indoctrinated to believe such as;

    "what Americans would think of as "right." I.e., cracked down on "diversity" and civil liberties, and put the State way above the Individual."

    Putting the 'State above the Individual' is exactly what American Right-Wing Libertatrians demand we correct. 'We the People' are the Soveriegns, the Soveriegn Citizenry, the state is the servant! When we consider what we've been taught, we have to remember who's doing the teaching, and in the case of Politics and the "Left-Right " definitions, the eastern establishment uses the European definitions.

    From the point of view of American Revolutionary principles, ALL EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS ARE VARIATIONS ON HARD LEFT WING POLITICS. They have no concept of the individual cirtizen as the source of soveriegnty, nor do they recognize the principles of inalienable rights granted by a Creator (hence my use of the word 'Righteous'). For them the State is a REAL THING (a tangible physical reality that you can touch, smell and see), while for Americans it is a "Covenant" in the same way the "Mayflower Compact" was a Covenant.

    Thus when you chart the left-right political spectrum using American principles of Freedom and Liberty as the measuring tool, Nazis, Satlinists and Marxist-Leninists line up with Napoleon, Gengis Khan, the Roman Catholic Church and Caligula, while Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, James Madison and George Washijngton are over on the other side.

    Think about it. Do you think that Sam Adams would have a problem with that law abiding "pregnant, jewish, black woman carrying a concealed pistol". I assure you Hilter, Stalin and the Roman Imperium most definitely would be very much against such a thing.

    Good Luck,



    Thanks! This is really very edifying. I agree with you that Americans have been and are being misled by propoganda about Right versus Left and Wrong versus Right. I also never thought about it before that the idea of right versus left is something inherited from European thinking. I think I see what you're saying now: For instance, the "eastern liberals" called Ronald Reagan very right-wing, as if this was bad and reactionary, when in fact he wanted to reduce the size of the central/federal government and also deregulate a lot, thus in fact enhancing local and individual autonomy and freedom of choice. It's the noisy "peacenik" left-leaning crowd who are always trying to tell everybody else what to think and do.

    .....Best regards, Joe.

    JoeBuff.Com / Joe Buff Inc.
    Joe Buff, President
    Dutchess County, New York

    E-Mail readermail@JoeBuff.Com

    [Joe Buff / JoeBuff.Com]

    The HTML Writers Guild
    Notepad only