Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wednesday Would Appear to be War Day at STHH

A quick round-up of war-history news from various sources:

The American Civil War

Ta-Nehisi Coates explains, in response to the Sons of Confederate Veterans' plans to celebrate the sesquicentennial of secession, the motives that impelled the secessionists to act (hint: it wasn't to protest high tariffs). Coates updates his post here, noting that the state historians of Georgia, at least, are taking pains to explain that secessionism was all about protecting slavery. His closing two paragraphs, though, make it clear that he regards the Lost Cause as pure evil, and I think he's right to do so.

World War Two:

Richard Evans trashes Timothy Snyder's new book, Bloodlands (a preview of which I critiqued on this here website last November). The review is subscription-only, but the letters critiquing the review are worth reading. A summary of Evans' review can be found here. Of Snyder's book, which I recently finished, I can say that it is well written, richly detailed, and almost unbearably grim. Snyder's description of the 1932-34 famine in Ukraine, to take one example, reminded me of nothing so much as Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

World War Three:

Newly-released papers from the National Security Archives at George Washington University reveal the U.S. Air Force's secret strategy for defending the United States from Russian aircraft: blowing them up in the air with small nuclear bombs. If I read the article correctly, the Air Force in the 1950s and '60s deployed 3000-4000 air-to-air missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, to be fired at Soviet bombers by U.S.-based interceptors. The Army and Air Force also deployed 3000 surface-to-air missiles carrying nukes with up to 22 kilotons' yield. Thus, in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack, the United States' own armed forces were authorized to explode more than 6,000 nuclear warheads in the skies over North America. Sweet.

(The photo above, incidentally, is of "Miss BOMARC," a 1958 beauty contest winner, from the National Museum of the American Air Force. She's pictured next to the Air Force's BOMARC surface-to-air missile, of which she appears justly proud.)

World War Whatever:

In Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has just deployed an infantry weapon, the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, that can hit people hiding behind walls. The phrase "Take cover!" may soon become obsolete.

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