Category : Military / Armed Forces

(NPR: Storycorps) A Family Remembers The 1st U.S. Soldier Killed In The War In Afghanistan

The last conversation Keith Chapman had with his younger brother Nathan Chapman was on Christmas Day 2001. Nathan had called up his family from Afghanistan.

Although the 31-year-old, a sergeant first class with the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group, couldn’t disclose his location, his family put it together based on what time Nathan said it was where he was calling from.

“I don’t remember that we said very much,” Keith said during a StoryCorps interview in Frederick, Md., last week with their mother, Lynn Chapman.

That wasn’t so unusual. The brothers, just 2 1/2 years apart in age, had always had a complicated dynamic that was born from their two very different personalities.

A couple weeks after that phone call, Keith heard on his car radio that an American soldier had been killed in Afghanistan. He thought, “Well, yes, Nathan is there, but he’s one of who knows how many? So, I put it out of my mind.”

That is, until he got home that evening.

“My wife greets me at the door and says, ‘I have bad news,’ ” he said.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

([London] Times) Joe Biden to declare end of combat operations in Iraq

The United States will today declare an end to combat operations in Iraq, asserting that the fight against Islamic State can be led by local forces.

The announcement will be part of a deal signed with Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who is in Washington and will meet President Biden.

It will state formally that US combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq and the forces that remain will perform only training and advisory roles. Its aim is to help Kadhimi to argue that he is no longer beholden to western military interests, and that attacks by pro-Iran militias on US targets, often bases shared with Iraqi troops, are illegitimate.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism

(BBC) South Africa looting: Government to deploy 25,000 troops after unrest

The South African government plans to deploy 25,000 troops after days of widespread looting and violence.

The military deployment – to counter riots sparked by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma – would be the biggest since the end of apartheid.

At least 117 people have died and more than 2,000 have been arrested in South Africa’s worst unrest in years.

Hundreds of shops and businesses have been looted and the government says it is acting to prevent food shortages.

Citizens are arming themselves and forming vigilante groups to protect their property from the rampage.

Read it all.

Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, South Africa, Violence

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: It was the Flag of the Union

“Today we stand on an awful arena, where character which was the growth of centuries was tested and determined by the issues of a single day. We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses; not alone the shadowy ranks of those who wrestled here, but the greater parties of the action–they for whom these things were done. Forms of thought rise before us, as in an amphitheatre, circle beyond circle, rank above rank; The State, The Union, The People. And these are One. Let us–from the arena, contemplate them–the spiritual spectators.

“There is an aspect in which the question at issue might seem to be of forms, and not of substance. It was, on its face, a question of government. There was a boastful pretence that each State held in its hands the death-warrant of the Nation; that any State had a right, without show of justification outside of its own caprice, to violate the covenants of the constitution, to break away from the Union, and set up its own little sovereignty as sufficient for all human purposes and ends; thus leaving it to the mere will or whim of any member of our political system to destroy the body and dissolve the soul of the Great People. This was the political question submitted to the arbitrament of arms. But the victory was of great politics over small. It was the right reason, the moral consciousness and solemn resolve of the people rectifying its wavering exterior lines according to the life-lines of its organic being.

“There is a phrase abroad which obscures the legal and moral questions involved in the issue,–indeed, which falsifies history: “The War between the States”. There are here no States outside of the Union. Resolving themselves out of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union. Underneath this phrase and title,–“The War between the States”–lies the false assumption that our Union is but a compact of States. Were it so, neither party to it could renounce it at his own mere will or caprice. Even on this theory the States remaining true to the terms of their treaty, and loyal to its intent, would have the right to resist force by force, to take up the gage of battle thrown down by the rebellious States, and compel them to return to their duty and their allegiance. The Law of Nations would have accorded the loyal States this right and remedy.

“But this was not our theory, nor our justification. The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretence, from breaking up this common Country.

“It was the country of the South as well as of the North. The men who sought to dismember it, belonged to it. Its was a larger life, aloof from the dominance of self-surroundings; but in it their truest interests were interwoven. They suffered themselves to be drawn down from the spiritual ideal by influences of the physical world. There is in man that peril of the double nature. “But I see another law”, says St. Paul. “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.”

–Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914). The remarks here are from Chamberlain’s address at the general dedicatory exercises in the evening in the court house in Gettsyburg on the occasion of the dedication of the Maine monuments. It took place on October 3, 1889. For those who are history buffs you can see an actual program of the events there (on page 545)–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

The Full Text of America’s National Anthem

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

–Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Music

Today in History

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

(NPR) Since 9/11, Military Suicides Are 4 Times Higher Than Deaths In War Operations

A new report on U.S. military deaths contains a stark statistic: An estimated 7,057 service members have died during military operations since 9/11, while suicides among active duty personnel and veterans of those conflicts have reached 30,177 — that’s more than four times as many.

The data highlights the divide between the dangers posed by war and the persistent mental health crisis in not only the military but the country at large.

“Even the very conservative estimate that I came up with, it’s horrifying,” Thomas Suitt, who wrote the paper for Brown University’s Cost of War Project, said in an interview with NPR. “We should really, really care.”

As administration after presidential administration attempts to get a handle on the ongoing suicides by members of the military, the paper highlights some of the reasons why people in the armed forces appear to be taking their lives at higher rates, though experts say the root causes of the crisis remain elusive.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Suicide

Remembering D-Day–Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer on June 6, 1944

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.

“Amen.”

You can listen to the actual audio if you want here and today of all days is the day to do that. Also, there is more on background and another audio link there.–KSH.

Posted in France, History, Military / Armed Forces

(US Navy) A Ceremony to Remember – USS Ross Sailor Reaffirms his Baptism in the Faroe Islands

Chaplain Johnson also explained that as baptism is a way of showing faith is a part of your life, doing so in the ship’s bell is also a way of showing you are part of the crew. He saw this desire from Scripp as an opportunity he was seizing to take ownership of his faith in conjunction with his commitment to the ship and crew.

Not only was the bell significant, but the place was also unique. The significance was not lost on Chaplain Johnson. “To my knowledge,” he said, “Scripp is the only U.S. Sailor to ever reaffirm their baptism in the Faroe Islands.”

Since it is a reaffirmation and not an original baptism, Chaplain Johnson said Scripp’s name will not be inscribed in the bell. However, the significance remains. On May 15, aboard USS Ross in port in the Faroe Islands and with a few close friends as witnesses, Chaplain Johnson re-baptized Scripp in a ceremony following the tradition of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America using the ship’s bell. After the baptism, he prayed over Scripp and gave him a small bottle of water from the bell as a memento.

Scripp said reaffirming his baptism in the Faroes, a place he had hardly heard of before arriving there, was unique and memorable. Though the significance of the bell and the location made Scripp’s reaffirmation unique, the tradition also has a long history connected to it.

“The bell is a way of connecting faith with life and history,” said Chaplain Johnson, “We’re connected with this long history that’s larger than ourselves.”

Read it all.

Posted in Baptism, History, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology

(NBC) Annual Memorial Day Run Supports Fallen Service Members

‘The children of fallen service members run in a 5k race every year to honor their parents, who gave their lives in service to this country. Military members are paired up as training mentors with the runners in the annual Memorial Day race just outside of Seattle, Washington.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Sports

(CNN) in Pictures–Memorial Day 2021 in the USA

Look through them all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Photos/Photography

VA Secretary Denis McDonough–We must say the names of the heroes who gave all in defense of freedom

We can’t lose sight of what Memorial Day means for our nation and families who continue to grieve the loss of a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman.

For these Americans, Memorial Day may not be a day of celebration. It may be a deeply personal and somber day. Remember them in your prayers and recognize that we are free because of their sacrifices.

President Biden told me that my job as VA secretary is to “fight like hell” for veterans. He also said that there is no more sacred duty than to care for our nation’s Vets who have given us so much.

As our caring colleagues in the National Cemetery Administration maintain their solemn mission to watch over those no longer with us, we know many more Veterans came home with wounds both visible and invisible. My promise is that all of us in VA will selflessly serve those men and women who served and sacrificed so much for all of us.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces

Music for Memorial Day–Eternal Father, Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn)

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Military / Armed Forces

Local Paper Editorial: Memorial Day, deeply rooted in Charleston, unites us as a nation

Memorial Day always presents those of us fortunate enough to live in (or visit) Charleston with a host of great options. Warm weather’s arrival makes beach trips appealing. Spoleto Festival USA cranks up with a host of concerts and shows. And of course, there are too many sales, special events and cookouts to mention.

But amid all the fun, we should remain mindful of this holiday’s somber roots. We should fly our flags — at half staff from dawn to noon, then high until sunset — and pause for a moment of silence at 3 p.m. to honor the sacrifices of those who have fought and died for the freedoms our nation enjoys.

One special opportunity this year will unfold at Hampton Park. After the 3 p.m. moment of silence, the Memorial Day Band Concert for Piccolo Spoleto will follow. But this Memorial Day event isn’t being held there simply because it’s a spacious, attractive park that can handle a crowd, though it certainly is. The location was chosen to emphasize a long-overlooked but recently resurrected chapter of Charleston’s history.

In essence, the park is arguably where the nation’s first Memorial Day event was held on May 1, 1865, just a few weeks after the grueling, costly American Civil War finally came to an end.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

More Poetry for Memorial Day: Tomas Tranströmer’s The Half-Finished Heaven

From here:

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.
Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

(Local Paper) South Carolina veterans and families reflect on those who died as America withdraws from Afghanistan

Curt Austin doesn’t like to stay in his hometown on Memorial Day weekend.

It has been eight years since his son, Pfc. Barrett Austin, took his last breath at a hospital in Germany after being wounded by a roadside bomb in the Maidan Wardak Province of Afghanistan.

The 20-year-old was the only soldier in the four-person Army vehicle convoy who died in the attack.

Since his death in 2013, Curt and his wife Yolanda continue to receive an outpouring of support from the community. It’s appreciated, but it’s also what makes Memorial Day difficult each year. It’s that buildup of seemingly constant reminders from the media, politicians, radio ads, furniture stores and even strangers on the street that create a storm of painful memories around the solemn holiday.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

More Poetry for Memorial Day–Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

Exploring the Connection Between the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Memorial Day

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

In Flanders Fields for Memorial Day 2021

Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In thanksgiving for all those who gave their lives for this country in years past, and for those who continue to serve; KSH.

P.S. The circumstances which led to this remarkable poem are well worth remembering:

It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915 and to the war in general. McCrea had spent seventeen days treating injured men — Canadians, British, French, and Germans in the Ypres salient. McCrae later wrote: “I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days… Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done.” The next day McCrae witnessed the burial of a good friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer. Later that day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the field dressing station, McCrea composed the poem. A young NCO, delivering mail, watched him write it. When McCrae finished writing, he took his mail from the soldier and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the Sergeant-major. Cyril Allinson was moved by what he read: “The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene.” Colonel McCrae was dissatisfied with the poem, and tossed it away. A fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915. For his contributions as a surgeon, the main street in Wimereaux is named “Rue McCrae”.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Spirituality/Prayer

(Premium Times) Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Isaac Nwobia calls for national dialogue to address issues of insecurity throughout the country

An Anglican Archbishop, Isaac Nwobia, has urged the federal government to convene a national dialogue to address issues of insecurity in the country

Mr Nwobia, who is the Archbishop/Bishop of Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South (Aba Province), made the call during the 4th Synod of the diocese at St. Peter’s Cathedral Owerrinta, Abia State on Thursday.

The archbishop, while speaking with reporters during the opening session of the Synod, said that national dialogue was important, as the communication gap could be responsible for some of the present security challenges in Nigeria.

“The president should summon us, either as a meeting or a confab, so that people can say why they are annoyed.

“The solution should be that we need to sit down, dialogue and sort things out,” he said.

The cleric condemned the destruction of some of the nation’s security facilities.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Reuters) “Nation is on fire”: Nigerian lawmakers demand action on security crisis

Nigeria’s parliament called on the presidency, armed forces and police to address the country’s mounting security crisis on Tuesday, with the lower house urging President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency.

The resolutions come as a wave of violence and lawlessness sweeps across Africa’s largest economy. Security forces, including the military deployed across most of Nigeria’s states, have shown little ability to stem the tide.

“The president should immediately declare a state of emergency on security so as to fast track all measures to ensure the restoration of peace in the country,” said a resolution passed by the lower house.

In the northwest, gunmen have kidnapped more than 700 schoolchildren since December, as militants pillage communities in the region.

Read it all.

Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism

(NYT front page) Taliban Believe The War’s Over And They Won

The Taliban’s swagger is unmistakable. From the recent bellicose speech of their deputy leader, boasting of “conquests,” to sneering references to the “foreign masters” of the “illegitimate” Kabul government, to the Taliban’s own website tally of “puppets” killed — Afghan soldiers — they are promoting a bold message:

We have already won the war.

And that belief, grounded in military and political reality, is shaping Afghanistan’s volatile present. On the eve of talks in Turkey next month over the country’s future, it is the elephant in the room: the half-acknowledged truth that the Taliban have the upper hand and are thus showing little outward interest in compromise, or of going along with the dominant American idea, power-sharing.

While the Taliban’s current rhetoric is also propaganda, the grim sense of Taliban supremacy is dictating the response of a desperate Afghan government and influencing Afghanistan’s anxious foreign interlocutors. It contributes to the abandonment of dozens of checkpoints and falling morale among the Afghan security forces, already hammered by a “not sustainable” casualty rate of perhaps 3,000 a month, a senior Western diplomat in Kabul said.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

(JEC) Michael Snape–‘Anglicanism and interventionism : Bishop Brent, the United States, and the British Empire in the First World War’

Brent himself stands as perhaps the ultimate example of these successful clerical migrants to the United States. Born in Newcastle, Ontario, in April 1862, Brent’s father was an Anglican
clergyman and a first-generation immigrant from England, his mother a descendant of Loyalist refugees from New York.20 Although the infusion of immigrants from Canada was smaller than the stream from Great Britain around the turn of the twentieth century, it was still considerable, as around 450,000 Canadians entered the United States in the quarter century prior to the First World War.21 While Anglicans represented a smaller proportion of the Canadian population, comprising around 15 per cent of all Canadians in 1914 as opposed to two-thirds of all Britons,22 there was already a well-established tradition of Anglican clergymen moving across the porous border between Canada and the United States in search of employment,23 a situation that brought Brent to the State of New York in 1886 while still in deacon’s orders. As Alexander C. Zabriskie emphasised in his concise biography of 1947, Brent’s move to St. Paul’s Church, Buffalo, was entirely pragmatic: with no opportunities available in the diocese of Toronto, ‘it was circumstance rather than conscience or preference that sent [Brent] there. He had not the least intention of remaining permanently under the American flag; rather he looked forward to returning to a Canadian country parish within a few years.’24 In fact, it took a further appointment, as associate rector of St. Stephen’s Mission in the slums of Boston, to persuade Brent to take out his naturalisation papers in 1891, and even then he
appears to have maintained dual citizenship.25 In the event, his years in Boston served to reinforce Brent’s links with Great Britain, for there he developed a formative relationship with the Society of St. John the Evangelist, or Cowley Fathers, a connection that would take him to England on his very first overseas trip in November 1891.26

Read it all (numbers are to footnotes in the original).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, Church History, History, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops

(War on the Rocks) Robert D. Blackwill+Philip Zelikow: Can The United States Prevent A War Over Taiwan?

If China’s window of advantage does shrink over time as the defense of Taiwan improves, what, then, is the right U.S. strategy in the meantime? If time is on the eventual side of those defending peace and freedom, our strategy is designed to buy more of it.

This option that we recommend supports the planning that we describe in the second approach, the status quo, in which the United States has contingency plans to share in the direct defense of Taiwan but will not commit in advance to do so. But in our view, that is not an adequate U.S. strategy to deter war. We believe the United States should, in addition, rehearse — at least with Japan and Taiwan — a parallel plan to challenge any Chinese denial of international access to Taiwan and prepare, including with pre-positioned U.S. supplies, including war reserve stocks, shipments of vitally needed supplies to help Taiwan defend itself.

The United States and its allies, like Japan, should plan to challenge a Chinese quarantine or siege of Taiwan enough to place the burden on China to decide whether to widen the conflict by attacking U.S. or allied forces that were endeavoring to deliver such supplies. If such plans exist now, they are not evident, either in exercises choreographed with allies, in pre-positioned supplies, or in the shipping capacity to carry them out. These plans would probably require significant changes in the character and deployment of U.S. and other allied forces. But these changes, oriented more to helping Taiwan defend itself and less reliant on a rapid build-up of U.S. striking power inside the first island chain, would not menace the People’s Republic of China as much as the strategy envisioned in the third approach.

In this fourth approach, if China did choose to widen the war, the United States and its allies would plan to defend themselves and continue to do what was possible to help Taiwan defend itself. But the United States would not assume that such a war needs to extend to the Chinese, Japanese, or American homelands.

Instead, in another revision to the second approach, the United States and its allies would credibly and visibly plan to react to the attack on their forces by breaking all financial relations with China, freezing or seizing Chinese assets, leading to a severe rupture of the world economy and a likely global financial crisis. Also, the United States and Japan would prepare, visibly and in advance, the massive remilitarization and mobilization measures that they, and perhaps others, would take as the logical consequence of the increased danger of general war. Some critics assert this already is U.S. strategy, but we have seen no such allied economic, political, and military plans on this scale, that would strengthen deterrence.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Taiwan

Robert Ellis’ OCMS lecture–Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy: The Pastor and the Suffering God

War broke out in August and in September 1914 Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy wrote these words in his parish magazine:

“I cannot say too strongly that I believe every able-bodied man ought to volunteer for service anywhere. Here ought to be no shirking of that duty.”

This from the man who would, before long be writing this, “Waste”:

“Waste of Muscle, waste of Brain,
Waste of Patience, waste of Pain,
Waste of Manhood, waste of Health,
Waste of Beauty, waste of Wealth,
Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears,
Waste of Youth’s most precious years,
Waste of ways the Saints have trod,
Waste of glory, Waste of God–War!”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Military / Armed Forces, Theodicy, Theology

(Mount Vernon) George Washington’s Remarkable life

In June 1775, Congress commissioned George Washington to take command of the Continental Army besieging the British in Boston. He wrote home to Martha that he expected to return safely to her in the fall. The command kept him away from Mount Vernon for more than 8 years (with only one very brief visit while en route to Yorktown).

It was a command for which his military background, although greater than that of any of the other available candidates, hardly prepared him. His knowledge lay in frontier warfare, involving relatively small numbers of soldiers. He had no practical experience maneuvering large formations, handling cavalry or artillery, or maintaining supply lines adequate to support thousands of men in the field. He learned on the job; and although his army reeled from one misfortune to another, he had the courage, determination, and mental agility to keep the American cause one step ahead of complete disintegration until he figured out how to win the unprecedented revolutionary struggle he was leading.

His task was not overwhelming at first. The British position in Boston was untenable, and in March 1776 they withdrew from the city. But it was only a temporary respite. In June a new British army, under the command of Sir William Howe, arrived in the colonies with orders to take New York City. Howe commanded the largest expeditionary force Britain had ever sent overseas.

Defending New York was almost impossible. An island city, New York is surrounded by a maze of waterways that gave a substantial advantage to an attacker with naval superiority. Howe’s army was larger, better equipped, and far better trained than Washington’s. They defeated Washington’s army at Long Island in August and routed the Americans a few weeks later at Kip’s Bay, resulting in the loss of the city. Forced to retreat northward, Washington was defeated again at White Plains. The American defense of New York City came to a humiliating conclusion on November 16, 1776, with the surrender of Fort Washington and some 2,800 men. Washington ordered his army to retreat across New Jersey. The remains of his forces, mud-soaked and exhausted, crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania on December 7.

The British had good reason to believe that the American rebellion would be over in a few months and that Congress would seek peace rather than face complete subjugation of the colonies….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

The story behind the Longfellow poem that became a Hymn–I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, A Carol for the Despairing

Like we do every year, my parents took my brother and me to see “A Christmas Carol” on stage to get everyone into the Christmas spirit (which is no small feat at the end of November). The story is familiar and heartwarming, but the song they ended their production with struck me: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Set to music a few decades later, this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was written over Christmas of either 1863 or 1864, in the middle of the bloodiest war in American history.

The carol is not cotton candy; it is a beating heart, laid bare in seven stanzas with simple language. At the second-to-last verse, I noticed dimly that I had begun to cry; by the end of the song, my face was wet with tears.

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’”

It isn’t quite right to call this a cynic’s carol, but in this verse it is a desperate and bitter one. It’s a carol from a man who has had the nature of the world uncovered before him. It’s one of the only carols that still rings true to me in 2018.

Like all good poets, with “Christmas Bells” Longfellow reached out across almost 155 years of history to take my hand.

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Posted in Children, Christmas, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces

(Local Paper front page) More than 6,000 Fort Jackson soldiers are heading home for Christmas during the pandemic

Hundreds of green duffle bags were stacked in piles, like bags of mulch, at the ticket counters.

A sea of young trainees in camouflage masks and Army uniforms marched through the Columbia Metropolitan Airport ushered by drill sergeants through security. Some eager soldiers grabbed hot coffee and sugar cookies handed out by volunteers. A few of the privates moseyed to their terminal gate early, taking time to charge their cellphones or text loved ones.

It’s a stressful process filtering 6,000 soldiers and trainees out of Fort Jackson to points across the country during a pandemic. But it’s all for a good reason.

These service members were heading home for the holidays.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Christmas, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces

(WSJ) Nigerian Boys Taken in Kidnapping Claimed by Boko Haram Are Freed

More than 300 schoolboys kidnapped by gunmen from their boarding school in northwest Nigeria last week were handed over to security agencies late Thursday, Nigeria’s government said, prompting outpourings of relief and joy across Africa’s most populous nation after fears they would become long-term hostages of jihadist militants.

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aminu Bello Masari, the governor of Katsina state, announced in a televised interview that 344 of the boys had been handed over in the forest of neighboring Zamfara state and would be immediately driven to Katsina for medical treatment.

The release comes six days after the students were seized from their dormitories at the Kankara Government Science Secondary School in Katsina and driven into the nearby forest, marking one of the largest mass school kidnappings in history. President Muhammadu Buhari praised the military and security agencies in a statement that offered prayers for the full recovery of the victims. They “endured significant hardships in the course of their ordeal,” the statement said.

Local newspaper The Katsina Post tweeted images of dozens of schoolboys jammed onto the back of trucks, some looking dazed, but others sporting wide smiles for the camera as they headed toward home. Government officials said the boys would be given new clothes before an audience with the president on Friday.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism