Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Friday night movie: Decision Before Dawn (1951)

For Friday night, I thought I’d re-post a movie I like a lot.

IMDB rating: [7.5/10]

Description:

WWII is entering its last phase: Germany is in ruins, but does not yield. The US army lacks crucial knowledge about the German units operating on the opposite side of the Rhine, and decides to send two German prisoners to gather information. The scheme is risky: the Gestapo retains a terribly efficient network to identify and capture spies and deserters. Moreover, it is not clear that “Tiger”, who does not mind any dirty work as long as the price is right, and war-weary “Happy”, who might be easily betrayed by his feelings, are dependable agents. After Tiger and another American agent are successfully infiltrated, Happy is parachuted in Bavaria. His duty: find out the whereabouts of a powerful German armored unit moving towards the western front.

Happy Friday!

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After Obama’s retreat of U.S. armed forces, Iraq plunges into bloody civil war

In 2008 and 2012, Americans voted for a “fundamental transformation” of our peace through strength foreign policy. And we got it. What does it look like?

ABC News reports:

Hundreds of Iraqi men, women and children crammed into vehicles have fled their homes, fearing clashes, kidnapping and rape after Islamic militants seized large swaths of northern Iraq.

The families and fleeing soldiers who arrived Thursday at a checkpoint at the northern frontier of this largely autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq were among some half-million people who have fled their homes since Monday, according to a U.N. estimate.

Workers were busily extending the Khazer checkpoint in the frontier area known as Kalak, where displaced women hungrily munched on sandwiches distributed by aid workers and soldiers rushed to process people.

The exodus began after fighters of the al-Qaida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, seized the northern city of Mosul in a stunning assault Monday. Since then, the militants have moved southward toward the capital, Baghdad, in the biggest crisis to face Iraq in years.

“Masked men came to our house and they threatened us: ‘We will get to you.’ So we fled,” said Abed, a laborer who abandoned his home on the edge of Mosul Thursday. “They kidnapped other people. They took away some people for interrogation.”

The young man said rumors were quickly spreading that Islamic State fighters — as well as masked bandits taking advantage of the chaos — were seizing young women for rape or forced marriage.

It looks like a civil war.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

The Sunni insurgents’ lightning offensive in the past three days has sparked the biggest crisis Iraq has faced since it plunged into sectarian violence following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

ISIS overran Tikrit, the birthplace of former dictator Saddam Hussein, on Wednesday. But early Thursday government forces fought back, said Ali Muhammad, an official in Sunni-dominated Salah Al Din province, where the city is located.

[...]The group aims to set up a state in a continuous stretch of territory from Sunni-dominated Anbar province in Iraq to Raqqa province in northeast Syria. Since capturing Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, on Tuesday it has advanced south along the Tigris River toward Baghdad.

In another indication of the increasingly sectarian contours of Iraq’s turmoil, ISIS on Thursday issued a threat against Baghdad as well as Karbala and Najaf. The latter two cities, along with Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, are considered sacred to Shiites, who make up 60% of Iraq’s population.

[...]U.S.-armed and trained Iraqi security forces put up almost no fight throughout the militants’ rout, witnesses said.

Who is to blame for this? Did it all happen by accident?

The UK Telegraph explains:

The takeover of large swathes of Iraq by Islamist militants should be seen as a damning indictment of Obama’s ill-judged decision to abandon the country to its fate so early in his presidency.

Throughout his tenure at the White House Mr Obama has made much political capital out of his claim to be an anti-war president: the man who brought America’s decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan to an end.

But in his desperation to distance himself from the Bush administration, Mr Obama made no real effort to understand the implications of authorising a wholesale American withdrawal from Iraq three years ago.

There were many Americans – including many prominent Democrats – who took the view that, after the terrible cost that the US had paid for ridding the country of Saddam Hussein and establishing Iraq’s first democratic constitution, the White House owed it to the American people to make sure Iraq continued to develop as a functioning democratic state.

But for that to happen, Washington needed to make a commitment to maintain a residual military presence in Baghdad to ensure that Nouri al-Maliki’s government did not renege on his commitment to reconcile his political differences with the country’s Kurdish and Sunni minorities.

But after Mr Obama lost patience with Mr al-Maliki, and ordered a unilateral withdrawal of American forces three years ago, Mr al-Maliki felt he was no longer under any obligation to honour his commitments. Instead, he cultivated deeper ties with neighbouring Iran, thereby further inflaming Sunni tribal leaders who felt increasingly disfranchised in post-Saddam Iraq.

The result is the current crisis, which has seen the radical Islamist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), seize control of large areas of the country, including Mosul – the country’s second largest city – and Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit.

For a more pessimistic commentary on these events, see this Investors Business Daily editorial, which tries to predict where this will all end. It’s not a good prediction, if you like freedom and peace.

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Ronald Reagan’s 40th anniversary D-Day speech: the boys of Pointe du Hoc

June 6, 1944 D-Day Normandy Invasion Map

June 6, 1944 D-Day Normandy Invasion Map

It’s June 6th, today, and it’s the anniversary of D-Day: the Allied invasion of northern France – the beginning of the end of World War 2. One of the most pivotal events of that day was the assault on German gun emplacements by members of the Army Rangers at a fortified position called “Pointe du Hoc”.

President Ronald Reagan recognized the soldiers who attacked Pointe du Hoc back in 1984:

You can read the full transcript of that speech here.

Ronald Reagan also made the case for gratitude and vigilance:

Here’s the hymn that starts to play at the end:

The Boys of Pointe du Hoc

Here’s a summary of the Pointe du Hoc mission:

[Lt. Col. James Earl] Rudder took part in the D-Day landings as Commanding Officer of the United States Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion. His U.S. Army Rangers stormed the beach at Pointe du Hoc and, under constant enemy fire, scaled 100-foot (30 meter) cliffs to reach and destroy German gun batteries. The battalion’s casualty rate for this perilous mission was greater than 50 percent. Rudder himself was wounded twice during the course of the fighting. In spite of this, they dug in and fought off German counter-attacks for two days until relieved. He and his men helped to successfully establish a beachhead for the Allied forces.

You can watch a three-clip documentary on it, too: part 1, part 2, part 3.

Although initially, the Rangers did not find the guns where they had expected them, they did find them further back behind the cliffs and destroyed them there, removing a threat to the forces that would be landing later.

What does D-Day mean to Christians in particular?

A Christian friend asked me what she should be thinking about when I sent her one of the videos above, and so I wrote her this to explain why I sent her the video:

To make you close your eyes and think in a more practical way about what it means for someone to sacrifice their lives to save you, of course. What it means to look up cliffs at machine guns, barbed wire and mortars raining death on you and to take a rope in your hands and to climb up a sheer cliff, under heavy fire, in order to save generations yet unborn and freedom itself.

To think about a concrete example helps us to be able to appreciate what Christ did for us in giving his life for us so that we could be free of sin, as well.

This is the insight that drives my entire interest in war and military history, in fact.

What does this mean: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The more you know about D-Day, the more fearful what Jesus did appears, and the more you can be grateful.

Bullets and shrapnel are scary… and so are nails and lashes. Why on Earth would anyone endure either for me? And what should my response be to it?

I think it is helpful to explain Christianity to those who are not yet Christian, and for Christians to fully appreciate what Christianity is all about.

We were in peril. And now we have been saved. But at a cost.

I think that it’s important for Christians to look to history, art, poetry and music to help them to reflect and comprehend the sacrifice that Christ made for us in dying on the cross to protect us from peril. What must the cross have looked like to Jesus? It must have been something like what the Omaha beach looked like to the Americans landing in Normandy. Jesus saw whips, thorns and nails, and the heroes of Normandy saw 88 mm AT guns, 81 mm mortars and MG42 machine guns. How should you feel about people who face death on your behalf? Think about it.

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Obama to Ukraine: if you like your Crimea, you can keep your Crimea

Stephen F. Hayes explains (in the Weekly Standard) how screwed we really are with the Democrats running our foreign policy.

Excerpt:

On February 23, five days before Russia invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice appeared on Meet the Press and shrugged off suggestions that Russia was preparing any kind of military intervention: “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate.” A return to a “Cold War construct” isn’t necessary, Rice insisted, because such thinking “is long out of date” and “doesn’t reflect the realities of the 21st century.” Even if Vladimir Putin sees the world this way, Rice argued, it is “not in the United States’ interests” to do so.

Wow, I’m shocked that the Youtube video caused Benghazi liar didn’t see the invasion of Ukraine coming.

But it’s not just her:

On February 28, Russian troops poured into Ukraine. As they did, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart. Kerry briefed reporters after their talk, plainly unaware of the developments on the ground. Kerry said that Russia wants to help Ukraine with its economic problems. Lavrov had told him “that they are prepared to be engaged and be involved in helping to deal with the economic transition that needs to take place at this point.”

Hours later, television screens across the world displayed images of Russian soldiers infiltrating Crimea and Russian artillery rolling through Sevastopol. Obama administration officials told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the incursion was not “an invasion” but an “uncontested arrival” and that this distinction was “key” to understanding the new developments.

Oh yes! Just like Hitler was helping out Poland with their economic problems.

Why is this happening? Well, a better question would be, why didn’t it happen sooner:

For five years, the Obama administration has chosen to see the world as they wish it to be, not as it is. In this fantasy world, the attack in Fort Hood is “workplace violence.” The Christmas Day bomber is an “isolated extremist.” The attempted bombing in Times Square is a “one-off” attack. The attacks in Benghazi are a “spontaneous” reaction to a YouTube video. Al Qaeda is on the run. Bashar al-Assad is a “reformer.” The Iranian regime can be sweet-talked out of its nuclear weapons program. And Vladimir Putin is a new, post-Cold War Russian leader.

This foreign policy failure didn’t come from nowhere. There’s a whole list of failures that made Putin believe that the Democrats are weak on foreign policy.

Look:

Let me be clear. When Obama halted the scheduled missile defense shield in Europe, that was the end of Ukrainian sovereignty. We have to understand that Democrats are not just totally inept at fiscal policy and on social issues. They are also horrible at foreign policy. How many screw-ups must we witness before we understand that these people are not serious, and we shouldn’t be electing them?

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What should the United States do now to punish Russia for invading Ukraine?

 

FairTaxNancy tweeted this list of seven responses for Obama to choose from Fox News columnist K. T. McFarland.

Here are some:

First: I will reverse my decision to halt the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.  America will go ahead as originally planned and build the missile shield, but an accelerated basis.  That means U.S. military personal will be working alongside Polish and Czech military to construct and operate the systems. The missile shield is designed to protect Europe from Iranian missiles, but you get the point. Uniformed U.S. military will soon be stationed near the Russian border.

Second: I will reverse course on the defense budget.  Your defense minister just announced Russia is negotiating basing rights in seven nations around the world. He also said you were rebuilding old Soviet era military bases in central Asia.  Your parliament has just voted unanimously to invade Ukraine.  In light of that, this is no time for my Secretary of Defense to announce we’re gutting our military.

Fifth: I will send a trade delegation to Poland and other countries in Central Europe to explore ways of helping them use fracking technologies to develop their own gas reserves.  Chevron and Shell have already signed a $13 billion deal with Ukraine.  I expect others to follow.

At the same time I will throw roadblocks in front of any American energy company that seeks to develop your eastern Siberian fields.  Your existing oil fields in western Siberia have, maybe, a decade left.  You need our technology to develop new ones.  You’re not getting it.

Investors Business Daily had another list of seven energy policies that would deter Russia from aggression.

Here are some:

2. America should expand fracking. The U.S. is enjoying an energy renaissance, thanks to fracking, horizontal drilling and other technological advances.

But almost all of the gains in oil and natural gas production have been on private lands. Obama should move to open up public lands to energy exploration.

3. Promote LNG [Liquid Natural Gas] exports. LNG facilities are expensive to build. But the biggest obstacle is regulatory. The U.S. requires approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as an export license from the Energy Department. DOE licenses can take months, with the last four permits taking more than two years. It can take five years before an Energy Department OK turns into real exports. The Obama administration should work to streamline the regulatory process.

More LNG exports will bring down the price of natural gas worldwide. Many European LNG import facilities have been idle or running at low capacity. Exporters are sending shipments to Asia, where prices are even higher than Europe.

LNG exports will further reduce America’s trade deficit. Some argue that the U.S. should keep natural gas at home to give America an energy advantage. Chemical firms in particular want cheap natgas for fuel and as a raw material. But if domestic natgas prices rise, it should encourage more production. Shale output can be ramped up or down relatively quickly.

4. Allow U.S. petroleum exports. America has banned petroleum exports since the Arab oil boycotts of the 1970s. But with the U.S. poised to be the world’s No. 1 producer, whatever logic the prohibition once had is long gone.

The ban helps keep a wide gap between U.S. light sweet crude vs. London-based Brent — $6.28 a barrel as of Monday.

An export ban hurts U.S. producers and discourages output. It mostly benefits refineries, which are ramping up exports of refined fuels — at the global price.

Lifting the export ban in particular would have speedy impact on global crude prices, dealing a quick hit to Putin’s pocketbook.

5. OK Keystone XL pipeline. There are many reasons to back the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It would create thousands of jobs, lower oil prices and reduce the risk of crude-by-rail accidents. The oil is going to be produced anyway, which even the Obama administration admits.

That would hit Putin in his pocketbook, and show him that we are serious about deterring future aggression.

And finally, in yesterday’s post on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, I linked to an article with 8 responses, written by moderate Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

He had eight recommendations, and here are three of them:

Second, President Obama should dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Kiev to show U.S. support for Ukraine’s transitional government, and urge our allies in the European Union and NATO to send representatives there as well. The United States should convene an emergency meeting of NATO to develop a strong united response from the trans-Atlantic alliance. And we should send high-level delegations to our allies in Central and Eastern Europe to reinforce the fact that we are standing by them. As part of this work with our allies, we should develop a series of economic and security assurance measures to help the transitional government in Kiev remain stable and carry out a democratic transition.

[...]Seventh, the Obama administration should immediately add more Russian officials to the Magnitsky list, which places travel bans and other sanctions on them – something President Obama failed to do in December. Living in Miami, I have seen in recent years the wave of Russian tourists coming to our city and state to spend money and buy property. Many are government officials or allies whose wealth stems from allegiance to Putin, and we should limit their ability to travel here.

Finally, in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately halt his effort to force a Senate vote on Rose Gottemoeller next week to be under secretary of state for arms control and international security. As I, Sens. John Cornyn and Jim Risch said yesterday, we shouldn’t even be thinking about arms-control negotiations with Russia anytime soon. And especially not negotiations led by a State Department official, such as Ms. Gottemoeller, who has tried to play down and potentially kept information from Congress and our allies about Russian violations of arms-control agreements.

So there are three lists of things that we could do, if we as a nation were serious about protecting democracies from tyrants. In the 1991 Gulf War, America landed an entire army to kick Saddam Hussein out of peaceful Kuwait. But does Obama have the balls for that? I don’t even think he’ll do one thing from the three lists I presented above. He is not that kind of man. He just doesn’t care.

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