Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Neville Chamberlain in Context

In response to my reference to Neville Chamberlain in my previous post, my friend Melvin offers the following thought-provoking analyses:
"Interesting thought about your comment that makes it sound as if Neville Chamberlain was responsible for bringing in a predicament to Britain prior to World War Two.

I am of the opinion that Chamberlain was trying to obtain 'peace in [their] time'. He probably could have been aware that British forces were not (yet) ready to face a suddenly and surprisingly resurgent Germany (whose capabilities should have been made in check by the burden of war reparations that was imposed on it as a loser of the previous Great War). It was the depression-hit 1930s after all. Britain, France, and other countries were struggling with the economic crisis at that time (which is probably the reason why a desperate Germany even considered being aggressors, spurred on by a feeling that they were unjustly punished for the Great War).

The isolationist stance of the new world power United States was not comforting -- and it showed during the Manchurian and Ethiopian invasions and the Austrian annexation. The pariah Soviet Union looked very menacing, as she was intent on exporting her revolution outside her borders and undermining the capitalist empires. Winston Churchill could probably have done exactly what Chamberlain did in 1938."
He adds...
"About the situations in the late 1930s. I don't think anyone could be sure whether Hitler will no longer be making more land grabs. Up to that time, Hitler's annexations were territories where Germans lived.

As for Chamberlain's credibility [to lead in World War 2], how similar would his situation be with Woodrow Wilson, who won the 1916 election with the slogan 'He kept us out of the war'...

...Could Chamberlain just have been echoing the sentiments of the British in 1938? The British fought a grueling 4-year war just 20 years before, where she lost many of her citizens and badly dented the mighty British Empire.

I am really wondering whether Britain and France were really ready to fight Germany at that point. World War II was won largely because of two other countries -- the menace Soviet Union fighting on their side and the United States joining in more than 2 years after the war started.

It is hard to imagine Germany allying themselves with the Soviets. Hitler was also strongly anti-Communist and thinks the Slav peoples do not belong to the Aryan race. The Nazis and the Communists were (indirectly) fighting each other in the very bloody Spanish Civil War that was happening at that time. Maybe Chamberlain thought Germany could be exhausted by that war, and he could really trade peace in their time?"
Neville Chamberlain's name is often mentioned in the context of Appeasement, but Melvin's description of the factors that Chamberlain had to consider gives us an idea that reality is never that clear-cut.

Update Sept-07-2008: Commenter Karl adds...
"Maybe another reason for Chamberlain not to go to war aside from war fatigue is that he was dying at that time. After he resigned as PM, he was assigned as an adviser to Churchill for the war but, unfortunately, he had to resign again because he was terminally ill. He died of cancer in 1940."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Swissy - How It All Started

Cool OPM from Swissy*.

*The above and other similarly good songs are available in her album, She Smiles. Also available on iTunes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Day Ninoy Died

I remember it was a weekend, when i heard the news (either on TV or on radio - i no longer remember), i immediately went upstairs and told my Dad. As a fifteen year old high school senior, i really didn't know and care much about politics so i was surprised at the reaction that was etched in his face, as if some part of the world crumbled.

The coming days and months would make it clear to me how much things have changed for the worse and my reaction, along with that of my fellow La Sallites, was anger - at Ninoy, as well as ambivalence. (You can get a flavor of what the prevailing sentiment among the student body at that period, from this contemporary post by fellow blogger Rom. We were such a reactionary bunch.) I was thinking to myself, how dare he come home and ruin the best years of my life? High school was supposed to be a fun time when i was supposed to finally meet girls. Now all i have to look forward to are brownouts, bombings and NPA attacks which means i wouldn't be able to get out of the house that much.

Somehow, we adapted and high school still turned out to be among the best years, and eventually, i came around to realize that Ninoy's coming home was a good idea, if not for him, for the Filipinos in general.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If it has to be war...

...let's go about it the right way.
  1. Those responsible for getting us into this predicament cannot be the same ones to lead us out of it. At the very least, no one deserves to die just to further their agenda. In the UK, for example, Neville Chamberlain had to be replaced by Winston Churchill.
  2. Related to this, we need to strengthen the Philippine Military by purging it of officers who acted as hired bodyguards of the present leadership and reinstate those who embody its true ideals and know how to fight.
  3. Instead of relying on private armies, vigilante groups, all those fighting on the government side should be regularized. This is to prevent the problem of having to deal with private warlord armies in the aftermath.
  4. Any conflict would not be isolated to Mindanao, so prepare for a general mobilization. Consider conscription.
  5. My fellow bloggers seem to be confident that the MILF does not represent the Muslim people and are no more than bandits. I'm not so sure but even granting that premise, the conduct of the war should be such that we take care not to make this a generalized Christian vs. Muslim conflict. It will be difficult to do this once bombs start going off in Manila, but the Government, Media and Civil Society groups (Secular, Christian and Muslim) should prepare for this. If necessary, laws against Hate Speech must be promulgated.
I'll add to the list if i think of anything else. Feel free to contribute in the comments section.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cuban Missile Crisis Redux...

...that's what we could be in for if the United States and Russia miscalculate in their respective acts of brinkmanship in and around Georgia.

Source: BBC

The BBC reports that the US Military is going to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia. While this is consistent with their past actions in Burma after Cyclone Nargis and in the Philippines after Typhoon Fengshen(Frank) where the Americans deployed their Navy for this purpose, doing the same thing in a situation where Russia is one of the belligerents has the potential to further destabilize the situation.

If matters deteriorate further, this time around, Fidel Castro's role* could be reprised by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Update August 17, 2008: US TV Network Fox News interviews Amanda Kokoeva, a 12-year old American girl visiting relatives in South Ossetia when the Georgian-South Ossetian war started. She clarified...
"...i just wanna say that i was running from Georgian troops bombing our city, not Russian troops. I wanna say 'thank you' to the Russian troops that were helping us out.".

(Hat tip: Antiwar.com.)

*As per Wikipedia, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, "In a personal letter to Khrushchev dated October 27, 1962, Castro urged him to launch a nuclear first strike against the United States if Cuba were invaded, but Khrushchev rejected any first strike response."

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Framework for Making Food Subsidies, Land Reform & Victory Gardens Work

In my previous blog entry, along with the flat tax, i proposed 20 pesos per day food stamps that every Filipino adult (ages 18 to 64) can avail of if he/she chooses to. Since then, i have thought out further details on how this arrangement might work while at the same time help in implementing land reform as well as increase local food production. This approach is summarized in the following diagram:

Figure 1: Framework for Food Subsidies, Land Reform & Victory Gardens
(click on image to enlarge)


(to be continued)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Middle Class Way of Life...

...is fragile, and can only be preserved by choosing the right set of values and collectively defending them.

Saturday, August 02, 2008