Tag Archives: World War II

How does Ukraine persist?

When the Russians invaded Ukraine I was skeptical that the Ukrainians would be able to declare victory on the battlefield. The Russian army was numerically and technically superior to Ukraine.

Then the Russians discovered something in real time on the field of battle. The first thing, apparently, was that they weren’t as fearsome a fighting force as they — or many of the rest of us — thought they were. The second thing is that they likely underestimated the Ukrainians’ will to fight to protect their homeland against a foreign invader.

What astounds me is that the Russians’ misjudgment of Ukraine’s will to fight would exist at all, given their own country’s military history.

In June 1941, Adolf Hitler launched the invasion of the Soviet Union. He likely didn’t think the Russians would fight to the death in the manner that they did. The Red Army then turned the tide against Hitler’s forces in a city once known as Stalingrad. Let us not forget that Ukrainians were fighting alongside Russians in their struggle against the Nazi invaders. Oh … the irony.

This is what happens when a nation invades another sovereign state. They learn that their adversary is committed to the struggle to survive and their commitment well could carry them forward against a supposedly superior military force.

We hear now several things are going badly for the Russians. They have lost several field generals in the battle; the Russian troops are suffering from low morale; Russian soldiers aren’t obeying officers’ orders; Ukraine is getting plenty of help from allied nations — such as the United States; the Ukrainians are putting their military hardware to good use.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not about to declare that Ukraine will declare victory and that Russia is going to skulk off the battlefield. There likely will be much more struggle to take place.

It does make me wonder how much more humiliation Russian despot Vladimir Putin can take. Moreover, I will stand on my belief that Putin is not stupid enough to launch a nuclear strike, given his knowledge of how “mutually assured destruction” would play out.

If there is an exit to be found, my strongest hope is that Putin can look for it and get the hell out of Ukraine. I wouldn’t even mind if he decides to declare victory. Let him crow all he wants. The world will know better.


Ukrainians fight back

Fox News’s Stuart Varney has a theory about why Russian soldiers are bogging down in their advance on Kyiv. It has to do with Ukrainian citizens taking up arms and killing the invaders with grenades, rockets and assorted high-tech weaponry.

Varney notes that the Russians are poorly trained and have “low morale” among the troops.

You know, it sort of reminds of me another military action many decades ago.

In 1941, not long after they conquered Greece during World War II, Nazi Germany decided to invade the Greek island of Crete in the world’s first airborne assault operation. Paratroopers bailed out of aircraft and landed by the thousands on Crete.

They were met by rampaging Greek citizens who stormed onto the landing fields with shovels, pitchforks, rifles and pistols and slaughtered many of the invaders; in some instances, they beat the paratroopers to death with their bare hands. The Greeks couldn’t stave off the invaders over time, but they fought literally like their lives depended on their success.

This is the kind of reaction Russian thug Vladimir Putin should have anticipated as he launched his unprovoked and shameful assault on Ukraine. For all I know, maybe he did anticipate stern resistance, but placed too much faith in his troops’ ability to subdue the Ukrainians.

Well, you know what they say when one assumes too much.


Trying to figure Putin out

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

It’s a challenge in the extreme to put oneself into Vladimir Putin’s skull or into what passes for the Russian dictator’s heart. I have sought to inject myself into both places, but I cannot find my way into or out of either of them.

So … I am left only to wonder what goes through his noggin or that thing he calls a heart.

Putin is now a worldwide pariah. At least in most of the world. He’s got his friends in China, Belarus, Syria, Iran and North Korea. The remainder of Earth’s civilized world is aghast, appalled and astonished at the invasion he launched against Ukraine.

The madman is bombing cities and inflicting deliberate harm to civilians. When was the last time that happened in open warfare? World War II? The Germans and Japanese started that fight, but the rest of the world finished it. I concede openly that our side brought terrible suffering to civilians, too. And, yes, terrorist organizations around the world have done the same thing in the decades since the end of WWII.

The flashback has returned in real time in Ukraine.

What does someone such as Putin think when he reads that his standing among world leaders has sunk to such depths? Does it bother him? Does it inject in him any sense of reason, or any sort of shame that he has done this to innocent victims while bringing shame to himself and his country?

I suppose it’s becoming clear that Putin wants to swallow up Ukraine. French President Emanuel Macron reportedly has said that is Putin’s precise goal, to conquer the whole country and bring it back into the Russian fold or, at the very least, install a puppet government in Kyiv to do his bidding.

The rest of us are left to offer prayers for Ukrainians and their leaders while also sending intensely bad karma to Putin and his thugs.

That’s all I — as an old man sitting far away in my comfortable home — can offer.


No word games, Vlad

Vladimir Putin is playing word games with the rest of the world about what is transpiring in Ukraine. Putin calls the Russian military move on the sovereign nation a “military action.” Umm, no, Vlad. It is nothing less than an invasion.

One country’s military machine is moving against another one. The intent is to bring the population of the attacked nation under control of the attackers.

NBC News reports: “Putin is going to seize the entire country,” retired U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey told NBC News. “This is an air, ground, sea military campaign” and the goal is seizing all of Ukraine “to the Polish border.”

Putin is fabricating a scenario he said justifies the Russian invasion. He is lying through his teeth about Ukraine posing some sort of military threat to its gigantic neighboring nation. If there ever was a David vs. Goliath battle occurring, this one is it.

Ukraine isn’t totally defenseless, to be sure. However, for the Russian dictator to suggest that Ukraine presents a serious threat to Russia is reprehensible on its face.

He appears to U.S. and allied intelligence officials set to seek a “regime change” in Ukraine. Putin wants a puppet government in Kyiv. There are fears being expressed that Putin might want to capture or even execute Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. That’s the act of a “military action?” Hardly. It is the act of a dictator who leads an invading nation that seeks to overthrow a duly seated sovereign head of state.

The blathering of a tinhorn strongman cannot be allowed to stand.


War is pure hell

If only there were enough people alive today who remember the horrifying cost of a global land war, which has broken out once again in eastern Europe. Those who might have been alive as children the last time total war broke out in Europe might be able to recall the horror of it all.

It was more than 80 years ago when Europe became engulfed in war. Virtually the entire continent was involved and the death count was incalculable.

Now, what does this mean to Russians and Ukrainians? It means that because of Vladimir Putin’s political ambition the two countries are likely to revisit the horror of that terrible long-ago era.

I should point out that Putin is too young to remember what his own country suffered when it fought against the invaders who sought to conquer what was known then as the Soviet Union. Perhaps it is possible he might have thought differently about seeking to re-take Ukraine had he any real-time knowledge of what his parents and grandparents endured during that global conflict.

U.S. Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman told us that “War is hell.” Indeed, there is nothing that compares to hell, but war comes as close as anything we humans can experience in our worldly lives.

We are watching a new war break out. Those who have experienced war up close are shuddering at the thought of Russians and Ukrainians fighting each other.

If only there were enough human beings alive today who remember the destruction that all-out war produces … then, we might have people in power who simply refuse to take us down that dangerous road to ruin.

If only …


Apology accepted, RFK Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has just learned a lesson that I think should be spread throughout the world as it grapples with the issues of the day.

It is that no one ever should compare whatever discomfort one is enduring in the moment to what occurred during the dark, horrible era of The Holocaust. RFK Jr. uttered a most despicable comparison the other day at an anti-COVID 19 vaccine rally in which he bellowed that people who are forced to be vaccinated against a killer virus are enduring trauma similar to what Anne Frank suffered while she was hiding out in her apartment in Amsterdam during World War II.

Kennedy has apologized for his remarks. I accept his apology. I also hope he — nor any other public figure — makes the same hideous analogy ever again.

Anne Frank died at the age of 15 at the hands of her Nazi captors after she and her family were taken from that apartment and sent to a death camp. She was one of about 6 million European Jews who died during The Holocaust, which was the most unspeakable act committed during the 20th century … or perhaps in all of human history.

Kennedy sought to make some odious comparison between what governments are doing now in ordering vaccines to what the Nazis did to Europeans. Good God in Almighty heaven!

I want to add a personal point of privilege. My wife and I saw the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam in 2016 and were moved to tears at the tale of horror it told of the suffering she and her family endured while they hid from their Nazi captors.

The Holocaust stands alone and should never — not ever! — be held up as something to which one can compare other controversial acts.

Lesson learned, RFK Jr.? I damn sure hope so.


Pearl Harbor changed the world

Eighty years ago, the world changed forever. It changed because squadrons of Japanese fighter planes swooped in over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and sank several U.S. warships.

The act brought the United States into World War II.

It also changed the life of my favorite veteran. Forever.

My dad, Pete Kanelis, was a 20-year-old student at the University of Portland (Ore.). The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. My grandparents, Dad and his six siblings were listening to news reports that were broadcast over the radio in their Portland home. Dad left the house, went downtown and on that day enlisted in the Navy. He wanted to get immediately into the fight.

He got there eventually in early 1942.

Dad was one of 16 million Americans who suited up to defend the world against tyranny. Fewer than 500,000 of them are alive today. Dad has been gone for 41 years. I honor his service every day that think of them. And I do think about him every single day. I will do so for as long as I take breath.

The world changed that day. The United States would emerge from World War II as the planet’s pre-eminent military and economic power. The Greatest Generation built the nation after it came home from the battlefields around the world. Dad was one of them.

He went back to school. He married my mother in the summer of 1946. I came along three years later; my two sisters arrived after I did. Mom and Dad both worked to build good lives for us all.

They were among the generation who defeated the tyrants.

The world changed forever 80 years ago. Count me as one American who relishes my good fortune to be born in what I believe is the world’s greatest nation built by its greatest generation.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.


Elect a Nazi? Really?

Ponder this image for just a moment and then ask yourself: Would you want this individual representing you at any level of government?

The picture you see is of Chester Doles, a former Ku Klux Klansman. He is running for a county commissioner’s seat in Georgia. That gesture he is making is a Nazi salute, you know, the “heil Hitler!” thing we see on occasion at Klan rallies or gatherings of assorted white supremacist hate groups.

Doles is running as a Republican. Big surprise, eh?

I am thinking at this very moment of my father, who 80 years ago on Dec. 7 went to the armed forces recruitment center in downtown Portland, Ore., to sign up to fight the tyrants who (a) were trying to take over the world and (b) earlier that day attacked us at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Dad would be enraged at the thought of a dipsh** who flung out a Nazi salute running for any public office in the United States of America.

So should any conscientious American who knows what that salute represents. I get that the idiot ex-KKK’er has every right to express himself that way. It is prescribed in the Constitution that Dad and other patriots fought to protect during World War II.

Still, the expression shown here is as revolting and repulsive as any I can ever imagine.


Fauci is no Mengele


That’s how I’ll start with this brief post about something I heard on — where else? — Fox News.

Lara Logan, a supposed journalist, compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to the notorious Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele, who during World War II conducted hideous experiments on Jews. Mengele’s aim was to perfect ghastly treatments and he used Jews as experimental patients. Many of those patients died from the experiments.

Logan somehow, in some fashion, conflated the mask and vaccine mandates enacted to fight to COVID-19 pandemic with what Mengele did during the Second World War.

What makes this idiocy even worse is that the Fox News anchors allowed her to continue that trash rant of hers without challenging what in the name of human decency she was alleging.


You can see it on the link I just attached to this post.

Good Almighty God in heaven! What in the world is it going to take to shut down these hate mongers who do nothing but slander and defame the reputations of learned professionals who are trying to help this nation get through a medical crisis?


He was my favorite veteran

My favorite veteran would have turned 100 this past May. He never saw his 60th birthday … and I remember him with great fondness.

That is him in the picture. He is the sailor standing at the door, guarding it with a British Royal Marine. I should tell you that the room on the other side of the door contained the Allied naval commander in the Mediterranean and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

My favorite veteran, of course, is my dad Pete Kanelis.

Dad imbued in me a love of country. He was a true-blue patriot. It was his country, right or wrong. He went to war for the nation that welcomed his parents to its shores at the turn of the 20th century. My grandparents came to America not knowing a word of English; they spoke Greek in the home. Dad didn’t learn English until he went to school in Pittsburgh, Pa.; he told me his first day ended when he ran home crying because he couldn’t understand what anyone was saying.

He learned the language.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Dad was sitting at home in Portland, Ore., listening on the radio to reports of what happened that morning in Hawaii. He was a 20-year-old college student. Dad left the house, took a bus downtown and went to the armed forces recruiting station intending to enlist in the Marine Corps; the USMC office was closed. He walked across the hall to join the Navy … on the very day we were attacked by Japanese forces.

My favorite veteran reported for duty several weeks later as the nation mobilized to fight the tyrants in Europe and Asia. He went to Navy boot camp for three weeks and then shipped out to England.

Dad saw combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He swam for his life after an Italian dive bomber sank his ship in the Med. Dad participated in the invasions of Sicily and Italy, landing at Salerno in 1943.

His Navy career ended in the Philippines, where he was staging for an invasion of Japan. President Truman then decided to drop The Bomb on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. The war ended. Dad came home. He married my mother. He welcome me into the world in late 1949; the first of my two sisters came along in March 1951, while the youngest of us arrived in April 1957.

He didn’t volunteer much about what he did during The War. However, he would talk about it when someone asked.

He was part of what they call The Greatest Generation. He answered the call to duty, he did his duty, then he came home and got on with the rest of his life. If only it hadn’t ended so early.

He is my favorite veteran and I honor his service to the nation he loved beyond measure … while honoring as well all of those who wore the nation’s uniform.