I know there is a very limited audience for this: a long video by a professor who could stand a haircut talking about a table game. But I find this all heartening. It is heartening that someone designed this game, The Grizzled, which is a cooperative card-based game about six WWI soldiers trying to help each other survive. It’s heartening that a professor — Marco Arnaudo, who teaches in Indiana — would make such an in-depth video about it. It is heartening that there is enough of an audience, at least, to provide several thoughtful comments about the video.
This also may be interesting if you were not aware that there is a community of gamers who are proud to be “unplugged” and who look for face-to-face table games. I found this video on the site Board Game Geek, which is all about this attitude.
Donald Trump dredged up a myth about John Pershing a few days ago, but there were actual war crimes from the long U.S. wars in the Philippines.
Example: Major Littleton Waller had eleven of his Filipino porters executed in 1902 in retaliation for a loss of eleven Marines (although they had nothing to do with those combat deaths).
The good news is, Waller may have largely ignored an order from his superior, General Jacob Smith, to kill Filipino males over age 10 in the area of Samar where he was operating.
If Trump fans want to embrace war crimes, they should cite things like this.
A Gallup poll shows that more Americans think we are spending too little on our military than at any time since 2002 (i.e. right after 9/11):
It’s a minority of Americans, 37%, but this is still a plurality compared to those who say we spend too much, or “the right” amount. And the number has been a fairly steep climb for the past two years or so.
The National Priorities Project puts U.S. military spending at $598.5 billion for FY 2015. This is about 37% of the world total:
SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, put it at $609 billion for 2014 on their downloadable spreadsheet here:
SIPRI lists total world military spending as $1.77 trillion, so the US share in that case would be about 35%.
The Center for Defense Information calls it $573 billion, although they write about budget “gimmicks” that conceal a larger total:
The National Priorities Project pegs our spending at more than the next 9 nations combined:
Not bad for a nation with less than 5% of the world population.
Do Gallup polls matter? Do these people vote? Does it have any bearing on eventual spending? Who knows . . .
Tags: bloggers for peace
The Burning of the World is a recently-published memoir of World War I, written by a Hungarian who served in its first few weeks (although he was at the front for only two days). I picked up the book from our library in part because my father’s family is from Hungary, and in fact his father also fought in WWI for the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. I knew my grandfather — he lived until I was 17 — so this book feels very alive to me.
Let the spoilers begin: This is a sadly-great war tale, I think, because it is such a tragic mess. The soldier’s story (his name is Bela Zombory-Moldovan) would be comic if not for the thousands of people who were killed around him in September 1914. His time in combat consisted of:
His unit is moved to the front lines. They dig foxholes. They shoot at guys in front of them who turn out to be other Hungarians. They are then bombarded by Russians. Having too few artillery pieces, they try to shoot back with their rifles; but the sandy soil they are in jams their guns. The unit, having suffered severe losses in the bombardment, retreats. Bela spends the night in another hole somewhat behind the lines.
While the devastated unit tries to regroup into new squads, another bombardment kills four more young officers, and then shortly thereafter yet another bomb injures Bela. He heads to a field hospital.
That’s it — that’s his combat action. He is evacuated by train and then spends 6 months recovering from his wounds. He did not serve in combat again.
So we have here a fine book which demonstrates the misery of war, like so many others written over the years. People never seem to pay attention to them, but I can’t help mentioning them.
It also has an amusing description of a Hungarian dinner in which the proud host tries to stuff Bela to the point of illness, something which again is very alive for me, having visited Hungary twice. Also there’s a few interesting veiled comments about lonely women left behind in Budapest who apparently were willing to, ah, set aside usual social norms about fidelity during the war — but this was just in OCTOBER 1914 for crying out loud!! How long have the guys been gone for — four weeks?!? Maybe this little observation would do more to put men off warmongering than Bela’s description of his combat and wounds.
I always enjoy reading about ancient remains; last week we were given details about Kennewick Man from Smithsonian magazine. He was a traveler who died about 9,000 years ago in what is now southern Washington state.
I enjoy reading these stories, but they can be depressing because they demonstrate that people’s lives back then were indeed often nasty, brutish, and short.
Otzi the Iceman from northern Italy is a fine example. When he was first found, I remember that no one knew the cause of death. I read conjectures that he died of a heart attack, fell face down in the snow, and then a bird came and pecked his head. Not a very glorious or solemn end, but hey, there are worse ways to go.
THEN it turned out that he had an arrow lodged in his back . . . so he was likely shot from behind, and then he fell down into the snow and after he was dead a bird came and pecked his head.
THEN it was discovered that he was covered with the blood of two or three other people, and he had a skull fracture, plus defensive wounds on his hands, plus the arrow in the back. Jeez, the bird pecking a hole in his scalp was an improvement for this guy compared to what he’d been through.
Who cares? Why mention this on a peace blog? Because, for me, it seems more unlikely we will ever live in a peaceful world if humans seem hardwired for violence — and so many old skeletons we find do indeed betray spectacular violence. I feel like just throwing in the towel when I read about how hard humans have tried to destroy one another for so long.
And Kennewick Man’s contribution to this? Well, scientists don’t know what killed him, but they do know that he had two small skull fractures, which he survived; and six broken ribs, which he also survived and which never healed properly; and he also had a spear tip lodged in his pelvis.
Furthermore, the Smithsonian article states that about half of ancient skulls in America have fractures similar to his. The most likely explanation is that people threw a lot of rocks at each other. Half of ancient American skulls.
So this is the raw material we are working with, from which we hope to come up with a peaceful society.
Maybe we should just be encouraged that we have lowered the incidence of skull fractures and spearing so drastically. Perhaps we are more than halfway home.
This is a column from Mike Royko from early 1991. Royko was a newspaper columnist in Chicago. Several “best of” collections of his essays have been published, but I don’t know if this one is in any of them. I’ve saved a clipping of it all these years.
Working up a great big healthy hate
By Mike Royko
Although the shooting hasn’t begun yet, I’ve been trying to work up a healthy hatred for Iraq. It seems like the patriotic thing to do. And I’ve always believed that if people go through the bother of killing each other, they shouldn’t be impersonal about it. After all, it is a very intimate act.
Although I haven’t reached the point of gnashing my teeth at the thought of an Iraqi, I’m sure it will come because I’ve had so much experience at this sort of thing.
The first time I developed a patriotic hatred was in 1939, when newsboys came through the neighborhood at night, waving special editions and shouting, “Extra, extra, Germany invades Poland.”
Although I was just a kid, within a couple years I dutifully hated Germans, Japanese, and Italians. (I didn’t hate Italians very long, though, because they surrendered as soon as it was convenient.)
At the same time, I loved and admired the brave Russians and Chinese because they had joined us in hating the evil Germans, Japanese and Italians.
But as soon as World War II ended, and I could stop hating the Germans and Japanese because they weren’t evil anymore, I had to start hating the brave Russians and Chinese, because they weren’t brave anymore, but had become evil.
While I was adjusting to that, along came the North Koreans. Even though I didn’t know a North Korean from a South Korean, or any Korean from a chipmunk, I went along and hated them. The North Koreans.
Not long after that, I discovered that I could still hate some Germans. Not West Germans, because they had become good and even gave us some of their ex-Nazi scientists to help us build rockets. But East Germans had become evil commies, and were to be hated.
But this created some confusion, since Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other countries had become commies, too, so I felt a responsibility to hate them. But I was told that they didn’t really want to be commies: the Russians made them do it. So I didn’t have to hate them as much as I hated the Russians and Chinese.
Then came Cuba. I had never paid much attention to Cuba because I didn’t smoke cigars. But when a heroic Fidel Castro overthrew an evil, corrupt regime, I was urged to admire the heroic Castro, which I did, although he looked like he needed a bath. Then, almost overnight, Castro became an evil commie and I had to start hating Cuba. My hatred reached the boiling point when we had the Cuban missile crisis. But in recent years, it’s been reduced to a simmer.
Naturally, I joined in really hating North Vietnam. And some Cambodians, although I’m still not certain which Cambodians I was supposed to hate. It’s possible that in the confusion I was hating Cambodians that I should have been liking, in which case I apologize.
The 1960s may have been one of my hate-peaks, second only to the 1940s. I found myself hating the Russians, Chinese, North Vietnam and Cuba, while still nursing an intense dislike for North Korea, and not thinking highly of Albania. There were a few other countries I occasionally cursed, but their names slip my mind.
Shortly thereafter, though, President Nixon said I didn’t have to hate the Chinese anymore, although I wasn’t expected to hug them. And I haven’t hated them since, except for that recent month or two when I could again hate them because of the way they kicked around their students. But that seems to have calmed down and President Bush says it’s OK not to hate them, so I don’t.
In fact, I don’t have to hate the Russians, or hardly anyone in Europe because we’ve become pals and they’re all eager to eat quarter pounders with cheese like decent folk do.
And it couldn’t have happened at a better time, because of the need to hate Iraq. I can be vicious, but I have only so much hatred to spread around.
Actually, it isn’t that hard to hate Iraq. It’s simply a matter of shifting my hatred a few miles. Until recently, I hated Iran and kind of liked Iraq because it was fighting against Iran. But now that it’s time to hate Iraq, it’s not necessary to hate Iran. Unless Iran cuts a friendly deal with Iraq, in which case I’ll have to hate it again. Iran, I mean.
Fortunately, there is less pressure to hate some of the other Arab nations, which I formerly hated because they went in for terrorism. But now they say they hate Iraq, too, which means that I can like them. At least for the time being. Things can change quickly and I might have to start hating them once more, so I’m not going to like them a lot just in case.
I wonder if there will come a time when there isn’t anyone I have to hate. Nah. Not as long as there are New York Mets.
Um, you know what, Hollywood? Scarlett is one actor we will watch, at least half of us, even if she is not holding a gun.
But we can never forget Michael Scott’s famous teaching:
The first, let’s say, 200 things I might blog about are all painfully obvious and would be dull to write about for all concerned, so let me work my way down the list until I get to a connection which is maybe not too unoriginal:
The calm Ukrainians. An article by William Booth in the Washington Post very early on in the Ukraine fiasco struck me. He wrote about the crowds of Ukrainians who were touring the abandoned estate of former President Viktor Yanukovych, and how orderly they were:
“I have never experienced a more orderly and polite mob than the one that surged through the gates at ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s vast compound. I have seen more unruly gangs at Epcot Center. . . . The people gawked, they gaped, they stared, but nobody touched a thing. I saw a young teacher stoop to police the cigarette butts carelessly discarded by others on the brick walkway to the ostrich farm. Blue trash bags, not hated security ministers, were hung from lamp posts.”
I read this and thought to myself: Holy cow, we may have a peaceful transfer of power, here. What a nice break from what we’ve seen in Egypt, Syria, etc.
But of course, it was not to be. One friend of my mine blames the Russians for this. Whatever the explanation, these horrible months in Ukraine seem all the worse because we had a glimpse of what might have been.
Tags: UDRI, University of Dayton
**Update May 2014: I am re-posting this one because the A-10 has been in the news again, this time as the subject of potential budget cuts for the Pentagon. The current debate is: (1) Keep the A-10 because it saves lives, or (2) eliminate it because it is expensive. Another angle on the A-10, however, is that it was singled out as a problem by Human Rights Watch, a few years ago, because it was killing so many civilians.
Great news released March 30  by the University of Dayton – UD’s research is keeping the A-10 flying! Biofuels!
Keep in mind that Human Rights Watch has specifically criticized the A-10 for killing civilians:
“NATO forces have reported using . . . anti-tank aircraft like the A-10 ‘Warthog.’ Human Rights Watch expressed particular concern over repeated reports about the use of A-10s in civilian areas. Warthogs are primarily designed to serve as anti-tank attack planes, but also use high-speed machine guns and exploding shells to strafe infantry.
“ ‘ NATO should reconsider the use of highly destructive but hard-to-target weaponry in areas where there is clear risk of considerable civilian casualties,’ Zarifi said.”
(The A-10 Thunderbolt II is the official name for the Warthog:
Part of UD’s usual justification for its robust military contracting is that its inventions will eventually have civilian applications, some decades down the line – but this article mentions only other military aircraft which may use the Barley-O-Hol fuel or whatever they call it.
(Apologies to George Orwell for the title on this post.) [Because Orwell wrote a novel titled Keep the Aspidistra Flying]
You can’t argue with Michael Scott.