Saturday, September 28, 2013

War Words

All my life the words "appeasement" and "Munich" meant cowering before the totalitarian bully, a metaphor that encouraged war sooner rather than later.  I heard it about the Soviet Union.  I heard it about Vietnam.  Fortunately, we avoided war with the Soviets but went to war with the latter and took  me personally to the farthest edge of that dark national experience for no good reason.  So I've always discounted the bias against negotiating with adversaries.  For me "appeasement" and "Munich" are catchphrases meant to avoid serious discussion and debate. 

Now it turns out that recent scholarship shows those canards to be as empty as I thought.  With greater access to wartime records, researchers are able to paint a more nuanced picture of the difficult choices facing Great Britain as Germany re-armed under the Nazis.  Instead of the cowering democracy afraid to confront the threatening Nazi bully, Neville Chamberlain played a weak hand as best he could.  In return Britain got one more year to prepare for a war it was in no position to win in 1938. 

Chamberlain's biggest mistake was declaring that he had secured "peace for our time" when all he'd done was buy time.  At least he got that much--time--of his grandiose statement.  A more useful result than a more recent grandiosely stated accomplishment.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Watchtower

Posting my recent piece about Jimi Hendrix's death and the video of his version of "All Along the Watchtower" led me to look up a version by Barbara Keith that I remember hearing in the 70'swhen I lived in Richmond, Virginia.  I recall being blown away by her voice but never could locate the album.  The announcer who played it on WGOE said it was hard to come by and after exhausting the options available to me then, I gave up.

Since just about everything is available in some form on the internet, I found it in about 30 seconds.  Listening to Barbara Keith after four decades brought back some memories, certainly enjoyable, even if isn't as dramatically overpowering as I remembered. 

The video lacks much in the way of drama but no one was thinking video in the early 70's.  Besides, I kind of like the soothing revolutions of vinyl on a good turntable.

Once I found Barbara Keith I looked up WGOE which was a progressive rock daylight only radio station for much of the time I lived in Richmond.  Since I had only an AM radio in my car for most of those years, it was a welcome alternative to the Top 40 format that dominated AM radio in those days.  It wasn't quite up to par with WHFS-FM which I could hear when visiting friends in DC but it sure made Richmond that much more enjoyable.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Almost Nuked

The Guardian reports that, but for one last fail-safe device, a four megaton hydrogen bomb would have detonated over Goldsboro, North Carolina in January 1961 after being released by a disintegrating B-52 bomber.  The article does not discuss why a B-52 disintegrated in mid-air which is somewhat of a side story to the much larger one of losing an American city and unleashing lethal fallout as far north as New York city. The article clearly notes that only one of four safety devices worked as intended.  A copy of the classified report adds a certain amount of black humor to the affair.  Humor which is only possible well after the fact that a nuclear weapon almost exploded here in the Homeland.  Of course, the US wasn't the Homeland back then but was definitely home and that was definitely an all-too-near nuclear miss.

The whole affair was awfully close to home for me.  Goldsboro is less than 150 miles from where I was living at the time.  I imagine I would have gotten a hefty dose of that radiation in my early teens.  It would have been pretty ugly. 

Or maybe duck and cover would have saved me.