Merci, soldat soviétique!

Dans le contexte actuel de confrontation entre l’Occident et le monde russe, il est facile de sombrer dans un sentiment anti-Moscou primaire et dénué d’une profondeur dépassant les grandes lignes du discours ambiant.

Mais éloignons-nous un instant des lignes éditoriales, des ateliers de rédaction de discours de chefs de gouvernement occidentaux ou des analyses des prétendus « experts » perchés dans leurs tours d’ivoire académiques à cent lieues de la réalité sur le terrain, pour nous pencher sur un fait indéniable.

Il y a de cela 70 ans, le monde était à la veille de vaincre le péril hitlérien. Sans les troupes soviétiques, nous n’aurions pu accomplir cette besogne.

Je prends à témoin l’historien militaire Jean Lopez qui, dans son excellent livre Opération Bagration : La revanche de Staline (été 1944) cite l’historien Rüdiger Overmans lorsqu’il évoque le fait suivant :

« Rappelons que, par année de guerre, les Occidentaux éliminent en moyenne 200 000 soldats allemands (tous fronts et toutes armes confondus), les Soviétiques presque 1 200 000. » (page 3).

Si les hordes nazies ont pu être stoppées, ce sont les soldats qui se battaient sous l’emblème du marteau et de la faucille qui en ont payé le plus lourd tribut.

Tâchons de ne pas l’oublier, alors que nous nous apprêtons à commémorer le 70e anniversaire de la victoire de 1945.

Si vous n’êtes pas familier avec la langue russe ou encore l’anglais, vous ne comprendrez peut-être pas les paroles de cette chanson dédiée aux anciens combattants soviétiques (russes), mais vous pourrez sans doute en deviner le sens, celui de la reconnaissance et du souvenir.

Heeding the Pope’s call

(photo credit: AP Photo/STR) Times of Israel
(photo credit: AP Photo/STR) Times of Israel

Let’s now venture into the Catholic world. Since I’m myself a practicing Catholic, it is a real pleasure of writing about Pope Francis. I don’t want to get too much into the nitty-gritty of the Catholic traditions, but some of you may find it informative. During the Easter season, the Regina Coeli prayer replaces the Angelus. Yesterday, Pope Francis took the opportunity presented to himself by the Regina Coeli prayer to call upon the international community to act, in a concrete way, against the murderous persecution of Christians around the world:

“They are our martyrs of today and there are many of them, we can say that there are more of them now than there were in other times. I hope that the International Community will not stand by, silent and inert, as we witness this unacceptable crime, which represents a worrying violation of the most basic human rights. I earnestly hope that the International Community will not turn a blind eye.”

The Pope is right. We must not stand idle while these atrocities are committed. Not standing idle means taking action. And the actions taken can only be conducted through military actions.

Some of my fellow Catholics might be tempted to agitate the white flags of blind pacifism, arguing that military actions diverge from the Catholic philosophy and traditions. But there’s a whole body of doctrine to support the actions that are now required, as St. Augustine – theoretician of the just war concept – demonstrates.

Si vis pacem para bellum

Major General Sami Turgeman, Commander of the IDF Southern Command. Photo Credit: jewishvoiceblog.org
Major General Sami Turgeman, Commander of the IDF Southern Command. Photo Credit: jewishvoiceblog.org

There is an unavoidable fact about Israel that is sometimes very difficult for many people, mainly those who have never visited the country outside the regular pre-digested touristic routes, to grasp or understand. Israel is a small country (From West to East, the distance between the Mediterranean Sea and the West Bank is only a 45 minutes drive) surrounded by enemies (Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad just to name a few) and its military need to be alert 24/7. They can’t let their guard down. Not a single minute.

For Israelis and their government, the famous Roman dictum Si vis pacem para bellum takes all its sense. If you want peace, prepare for war.

One of the very eloquent representation of this reality can be found in this Passover interview with the Commander of the IDF Southern Command, which is not only interesting for what it says about Operation Protective Edge initiated to respond to attacks perpetrated against Israel by Hamas in Gaza, but also for the fact that it reveals about the IDF high levels of competence and preparation for any possible military scenario.

No matter how hard they try, Israel’s enemies will always find people like Major General Turgeman to confront and vanquish them. A fascinating man to get to know, that’s for sure.

Netanyahu is right

Despite the very hostile tone of his interviewer, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives here an excellent summary of why the preliminary Iran nuclear deal is bad, not only for Israel but also for peace in the Middle East. Need we be reminded that the Tehran régime is now playing in the backyard of Saudi Arabia, in Yemen? You might not like Netanyahu, but you have got to give credit to the fact that his rationale is not fluffy nor superficial. It is grounded on hard facts. And contrary to many Western deciders, he does not live in the Alice in Wonderland of wishful thinking. He his the Prime Minister of a country that deals with threats sponsored by Iran on a daily basis.

Would Poland be abandoned?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I just came across this very preoccupying article, which attests that many people in Poland – and in other former Eastern European countries – are worried about the current situation in Ukraine.

I’m nevertheless particularly troubled by 2 specific excerpts:

“Poland is a member of NATO, but the defense alliance rejected requests from Warsaw to establish a substantial permanent presence on Polish soil. That has shaken Poles’ faith in NATO’s resolve, officials in Warsaw say.”

And:

“”Let’s be honest, at war we would likely be cannon fodder,” Przybyl said in an interview. But he said it was his duty to serve if war does break out.”

Despite the fact that Poland is left hanging dry by NATO, Poles are still ready to serve as “cannon fodder” and defend their homeland and values.

In the event that Poland was invaded and attacked, would we let it suffer the same fate as it endured in September 1939?

Let’s hope the answer is a resounding no.

Churchill and Gorbachev

Churchill_Gorbatchev
Photo credit: NBC News and Wikimedia. Montage: Pinso.

Coming from the man who made sure that Soviet soldiers fired no bullets when the Iron Curtain came down, it is worth heeding the lessons given by Mikhail Gorbachev about the current situation. Without this man and his interlocutor, US President Ronald Reagan, the world might be a much worse place today.

Gorbachev’s advice reminds me of what Winston Churchill said in the British House of Commons on May 2nd, 1935:

“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”

We might not agree with everything the former Soviet leader says. And I certainly don’t. But the more time we will spend listening to people like Gorbachev who were on the brink and who made sure we would not fall into the abyss, the less we will regret we did not.

Prince Harry in Australia

Photo credit: Bauer Griffin. Montage: Pinso.
Photo credit: Bauer Griffin. Montage: Pinso.

His Royal Highness Prince Harry will arrive in Australia next week for a four weeks long attachment to the ADF. If there is one trademark of Captain Wales, as he is know in the British Army, it’s that he puts his money where his mouth his. Far from shying away from grunting, he seems to relish those assignments. It will therefore be a real pleasure to follow him during his presence in Australia and also when he travels to Gallipoli for the 100th anniversary Remembrance ceremonies.

Source: http://www.army.gov.au/Our-work/News-and-media/Prince-Harry-will-begin-military-attachment-to-ADF-next-week