Bombs and rockets

There were large expanses of the globe where spying, or even a pretence of it, seemed an unproductive activity because they were strategically irrelevant. When a question was raised in London about running some double agents out of Canada, the responsible MI5 officer — Cyril Mills, of the well-known British circus-owning family — demurred. Even […]

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Spring brought an increasing flow of decrypts about Wehrmacht operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Senior officers strove to streamline the transfer of information from Bletchley to battlefields, so that material reached commanders in real time. One of the most significant intercepts, detailing German plans for the May 1941 invasion of Crete, reported ‘probable date of […]

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Hut 8 [of Bletchley Park] now had enough information to read some U-boat signals, but the seizure which opened the traffic to fluent decryption was the fruit of chance and high courage, rather than of design. On 9 May 1941 a convoy escort group attacked and forced to the surface Julius Lempe’s U-110. A boarding […]

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Donald McLachlan, a journalist who served under Godfrey [head of British naval intelligence] at the Admiralty, afterwards argued that all wartime intelligence departments should be run by civilians in uniform, because they are unburdened by the lifetime prejudices of career soldiers, sailors and airmen: ‘It is the lawyer, the scholar, the traveller, the banker, even […]

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In Massey College’s Upper Library today, Ramesh Thakur gave an interesting presentation on changing international ideas about the use of military force in response to human rights violations, emphasizing the distinction between the concept of humanitarian intervention and the idea of the responsibility to protect (R2P). I got photos of the event. During the question […]

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The Atlantic has a long and interesting article about Barack Obama’s foreign policy. It discusses the use of chemical weapons in Syria; Obama’s take on Churchillian rhetoric; Obama’s appreciation for elements of the George H. W. Bush foreign policy; disagreements within the Obama foreign policy team; Obama’s views on Israeli security; Obama’s “secret disdain” for […]

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I left the Corps because I had become a reluctant warrior. Many Marines reminded me of gladiators. They had that mysterious quality that allows some men to strap on greaves and a breastplate and wade into the gore. I respected, admired, and emulated them, but I could never be like them. I could kill when […]

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“Sir, what the fuck were the commanders thinking, sending us in there with no armor to clear a fucking town? We could have all been killed, and for what? We’re sitting in the same goddamn field we were in last night, as if nothing had happened, except we got the shit shot out of us […]

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At company headquarters the captain had no further instructions for me — just settle in for the night and be ready to move in the morning — so I returned to the platoon. By now, the Marines had hacked sleeping holes from the soft dirt and had begun the daily routine of security, cleaning weapons, […]

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The general stood on top of an amtrac, backed by the U.S. and Marine Corps flags. His voice boomed through a microphone to the hundred or so men standing beneath him. The theme was rules of engagement, and he wanted to make four points very clear. First, commanders had an inherent obligation — not merely […]

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