Sunday, 15 July 2018

Roosevelt/Stalin Trump/Putin

Remember when Joseph Stalin was familiarly known as "Uncle Joe" in the chief western allies  (the  United Kingdom and the United States).  Uncle Joe was on our side in the battle to defeat the Third Reich.  

Few will remember that the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic's military forces were supplied with huge amounts of American military materials for the fight.

Uncle Joe was on our side, but Joseph Stalin had grimmer and more devious plans for a   "Soviet Empire"  which in due course led to the economic and political slavery of such countries as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia etc, from 1945 - 1991.

Uncle Joe was wily.  Churchill and Roosevelt were naive. 

Churchill had an over abundance of confidence in his skills as a military strategist and a political negotiator.

Roosevelt was physically exhausted and weary.  By February 1945 he was close to death.

There were two major war time conferences between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt in the WW 2 era.

Tehran 1943 at which Churchill agreed to open a western front in the fight against Hitler leading to "Operation Overlord" in 1944.  The Russians invented a Nazi plot to assassinate  Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt in Tehran and persuaded FDR to move into their Embassy -  just where they could spy in him!)

Yalta Feb 1945 (ironically Yalta is in Crimea), where the sick and weary Roosevelt and the over confident and brash Churchill agreed to the post war division of Europe.  

Later in 1945 there was the Potsdam Conference. Stalin was the ever present Svengali .  Roosevelt had died, Harry Truman was now the USA President.  The U.K. was at first represented by Churchill bur following his defeat in the 1945 General Election his place was taken by the new U.K. Premier, Clement Attlee.  

Postdam led to the ultimate western betrayal of Poland (and that's a story in its own right).  Uncle Joe won.


Dear readers I am not a historian nor have I had advanced studies in history.   

Bear that in mind as I ask: "if Roosevelt and Churchill were so mistaken in their beliefs that a charm offensive would tame Uncle Joe what would lead us to believe that the willfully ill prepared Donald Trump will charm Putin in their one on one in Helsinki?"

If President Trump passively or actively accedes to the Russian annexation of the Crimea then the leaders of the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will have abundant reason to fear the Russian Bear.

Yalta 1945

Yalta revividus?

Here are some quotations from Wikipedia re Yalta etc

(1)       Roosevelt conceded that, in the words of Admiral William D. Leahy, the language of Yalta was so vague that the Soviets would be able to "stretch it all the way from Yalta to Washington without ever technically breaking it."

(2)       By March 21, Roosevelt's Ambassador to the USSR Averell Harriman cabled Roosevelt that "we must come clearly to realize that the Soviet program is the establishment of totalitarianism, ending personal liberty and democracy as we know it."[21] Two days later, Roosevelt began to admit that his view of Stalin had been excessively optimistic and that "Averell is right."

(3)       Roosevelt had brushed off warnings of a potential domination by a Stalin dictatorship in part of Europe. He explained that "I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man" and reasoned, "I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, 'noblesse oblige', he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Vive la France - Bastille Day

It's Bastille Day. Vive la France.

With that in mind I confess that I  am a great admirer of the French National Anthem "La Marseillaise".  Never mind the words,  it has a magnificently stirring tune.

Twenty five or more years ago I came across Hector Berlioz' superb and extended version.  It is thrilling!!

Back in my St. Stephen's, Pittsfield, MA days (1984-2000)I would tote my C.D. player into the office on or near Bastille Day to play the Berlioz version as recorded by the Baltimore Symphony and Chorus in about 1988.  

The late and great parish lay leader Phil Desch and I would go into rhapsodies as we listened to the  superb Berlioz  arrangement of La Marseillaise.

And (heaven forfend) I introduced the Berlioz version to my French friends Jean-Paul et Lizzie who had never before heard it.


Vive la France

R.I.P. Phil Desch

Blessings to Jean Paul et Lizzie.

And here is a recording of Berlioz'  great version:

Friday, 13 July 2018

Learning on the job: # 1 Awe

Zion and I were at work today at a local Memory Unit/Assisted Living facility.

We encountered a lovely gentleman on the assisted living floor.  He's met Zion previously and was happy to see us.

I noticed his cap.   It read "Jungle Air Force":  of which I had never heard.  It transpires that "Jungle Air Force" is the nickname for the U.S. 13th Air Force, formed for far eastern/pacific  service in World War II.

I asked the man about his service.  He'd seen service in such places as Guadalcanal and New Guinea.  I did not press him for details about his tours.  That may come if I get to know him better.

But I had a sense of awe.  Here I was talking to a man who truly knew what it meant to defend our freedoms in the face of Japan's Imperial might, (Remember Pearl Harbor)  He had been in the thick of it.

This man was at war before I was born.  What a truly awesome privilege to meet him.

Here is a bit about the 13th "Jungle" Air Force.


P.S. B 29 Super fortress taking off from Guadalcanal. 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

I can't disagree with this

As I walked out in Arlington Park, Sarasota this morning I encountered the two thirty something women  (probably friends and neighbours) who step out with energy and zeal each day.

As we drew close one of the women looked at Zion and said "Oh here's the model dog"

That's the truth!  Zion and I accepted the compliment.

He is a beautiful blessing.