- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

The facts about World War I

One wonders what Ambassador Robert M. Smalley (“Four brutal years, a history of WWI,” Books, Aug. 13) can possibly mean by citing G.J. Meyer’s history of World War I as “the first genuine World War I history since Barbara Tuchman’s splendid epic, ‘The Guns of August,’” which was first published in 1962. Since then, British historians particularly, have produced excellent histories of the war that deal in all its facets, based largely on the mass of new scholarship that has become available in the interim.

Most notable in this regard is David Stevenson’s “Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy,” published in 2004, which received a deservedly very favorable review in The Washington Times. It was categorized as “the best single-volume history of the war ever published” by the Atlantic Monthly, and received equally glowing reviews in a wide variety of media.

John Keegan, for many years senior lecturer at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, also published a history of World War I in 1998, and Hew Strachan, Chichele professor of the History of War at Oxford, published a single-volume history of the war in 2003, which was really a precis of a projected three-volume definitive history but was still hailed for its comprehensiveness and insights.

Although Mrs. Tuchman’s book only deals with the first months of the war, it is superbly written and has deservedly remained in print for decades. Mr. Stevenson’s equally readable book trumps hers for its coverage of the full conflict, but, more importantly, because he has been able to take advantage of new materials that were beginning to be uncovered even as she wrote.

The German historian Fritz Fischer published “Griff nach der Weltmacht” (“Grab at World Power”) in 1961, translated into English, “Germany’s Aims in World War I,” in 1967, which showed conclusively that far from blundering into an unwanted cataclysm, Germany’s elites wanted war in July 1914 and deliberately encouraged Austria-Hungary to take advantage of the assassination of the Hapsburg heir, Franz Ferdinand, and attack Serbia.

Amid violent controversy in Germany because of the implications of actual German “war guilt,” subsequent scholarship has confirmed and even strengthened Mr. Fischer’s picture of events, including the chilling picture evoked of Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the General Staff, by a new biographer that shows that the general wanted war even if it might lead toward a lengthy conflict of such a character that European civilization as he knew it might perish.

The evocation of a war as a necessary showdown of “Teuton against Slav,” as well as other aspects of elite German thinking in the crisis, including the desire to colonize former Polish areas with German settlers brought from settlements in Imperial Russia and to reduce Belgium and most other European nations to vassal states of Imperial Germany, documented by Fischer, suggests perhaps why the Nazi programs resonated so strongly with German elites in the 1930s.

THOMAS A. JULIAN

Alexandria.

Adding insult to injury

The arrest and conviction of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos (prior nominee for “Border Patrol agent of the year”) and Jose Alfonso Compean boggles the mind (“Border Patrol agents’ conviction riles union chief,” Nation, Wednesday).

That we now arrest and convict Border Patrol agents who were doing their job and are so sorely needed and understaffed by our administration, while an individual such as Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila claims our Fourth Amendment rights to be free of illegal search and seizure is incomprehensible.

His being allowed to hide behind our constitutional rights irrespective of the more than 800 pounds of marijuana found in the vehicle from which he fled in order to run back to Mexico is in itself absurd, but his being given full immunity for testifying against our Border Patrol agents whose job it is to keep Illegal aliens like him out of our country is unforgivable. He is now suing the U.S. government for $5 million. Meanwhile the Probation Office recommended that the two agents serve 20 years in prison rather than the 10 years that is the normal punishment for this purported “crime.” That increase in jail time, it seems, was to send a message to all other Border Patrol agents: “Leave that border alone.”

But what would one expect? U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton was nominated by President Bush in October 2001 and has been a continuous lackey since 1995 when he was then-Gov. Bush’s Criminal Justice Policy Director as well as a close kindred spirit with Mr. Bush’s attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales. It appears he is still doing their bidding by continuing to support the policies of Messrs. Bush and Gonzales, which this time happens to be keeping the border unobstructed so as to facilitate the hordes of Illegal aliens crossing over daily. Corporate America should be pleased to see that their support of this administration is so nobly being rewarded. As for President Vicente Fox, a simple “thank you” would be in order.

And, finally, as if adding insult to injury, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Deborah Kanof on her interview on Larry King stated that the two Border Patrol agents deserve the punishment especially for shooting at their “own people.” If those illegal aliens crossing our borders are supposed to be the Border Patrol’s “own people,” whose people are we, the Americans on this side of the border?

NICHOLAS ZIZELIS

Bayside, N.Y.

Helping brain-injured veterans

I wish to thank The Washington Times for supporting the Defense and Veterans’ Brain Injury Center (“Brain-dead appropriations,” Editorial, Thursday) and, more importantly, our troops who suffer brain injuries on behalf of our country.

I am the co-founder of the Defense and Veterans’ Brain Injury Center and I wish to correct a statement made by a member of the staff of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee regarding appropriations.

First, I made the funding request in testimony and also visited the offices of Sens. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, and Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, as well as the staff director for defense appropriations. In addition, the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force had more than 33 members sign a letter requesting and supporting appropriations for the Defense and Veterans’ Brain Injury Center.

Finally, I provided information on the number of troops suffering brain injury as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan. I also spoke of brain injury as the signature injury of the war on terrorism. I spoke about the effect of blast injury on the brain and asked for a $12 million increase for a total of $19 million. Since there is no cure for a brain injury and since it impacts the entire family of the injured, our soldiers need specialized neuro-rehabilitation and support often for the rest of their lives. Supporting injured soldiers is not a partisan issue; it is our duty to treat injured soldiers.

DR. GEORGE A. ZITNAY

Co-Founder

Defense and Veterans’

Brain Injury Center

Washington

Crack down on illegals

I salute Hazleton, Pa., and its mayor, Lou Barletta. Enough is enough (“Hispanics sue city over alien crackdown,” Nation, Wednesday).

The federal government is not doing its job to enforce immigration laws and secure our borders. These laws are on the books and have been since 1986. If the ACLU should be going after anyone, it should be Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, and the federal government — not Hazleton.

The quality of life and the financial burdens of illegal aliens are burdens that American taxpayers should not have to bear. We are experiencing the same problems here on Long Island and there are initiatives in play to combat the illegal-alien problems that we have to deal with. Immigration is a good thing as long as it is controlled and legal.

JOHN D. FICKES

East Islip, NY

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