Non European forces proving themselves Vs European military might
Good evening gentlemen, I've been thinking about posting a thread on this
subject for a while.
As a proud European, I of coouurrrse think that our armies have always been the best ;)
But I awlays have a sneaking admiration for those moments in history when the 'little guys' have given 'us' Europeans and our Imperialist expansionism a bloody nose!
Now obviously there are some rather famous examples where 'modern' European/western armies underestimated their oponents and came to a sticky end, but these are often more historical 'blips' than anything else.
What really interests me is where European armies have faced non-european opponents with different martial traditions and 'technology' and found it to be an equal.
I often wonder when looking at some of the marvelous ethnographic weapons on this site how they would fare in combat against European steel and tactics?
I can think of a few good examples of this, mostly from when the British Empire reached India and Afghanistan, but I wondered if anyone (as I'm sure those reading this are collectors of both Euro and Ethnographic weapons) have any great examples of their favourite ethnographic weapons proving themselves against European armies?
Interesting assumption, Atlantia....but in fact, europeans did not were a world power since roman times, and only under the romans and Alexander the Great had that edge. They were always stamped out by oriental-middle eastern powers, except when the the "little crusaders" won Jerusalen for a relative short period, in which the islam power learnt to not underestimate the "franks" and united in a common front. Even using the same type of weapons. But the romans never controled all Europe, as the Rhine was always an usurpassable frontier. And Hannibal teached them more than a few lessons in african strategy. Also, the empire of Alexander was not european, in the sense that Alexander had no dominion over Europe, or represented Europe, but only Greece, and itīs empire had more oriental characteristics.
Historically, Europe was a small populated area, dominated by barbarians since the fall of the roman empire and hence in a cultural regression in relation with the classic culture, in front of the vast armies of the chinese, mongols, hindus, arabs or japanese, some of them form antique and a very sophisticaded cultures. The tuks, instead, dominated part of Europe in their big empire until realatively recent times, and that is why they are still heated and misunderstood in the european history and in the common "knowledge", and so are the huns and mongols, to this day. The are the "hordes", the "barbarians", when in fact they had very disciplined armies, and were evidently more capable than europeans on the battlefield. And donīt forget the arab domination over Spain, or part of it. Only during 700 years.
The turks had even the whole control over the Mediterranean, and the genoese and venetian fleets had to pay tribute in cash to navigate in this sea. Berber corsairs attacked with impunity european ships ans enslaved europeans, to the scandal of the "white" people, which considered that only the rest of the world could be subject of enslavement or colonization.
When europeans were superior on the battlefield? Only when they developed the use of the fireweapons, AND adopted a new war doctrine, which included strategy and tactics according with the use of fireweapons. Other asiatic and african countries adopted fireweapons, but not the new war doctrine. Winning battles over them in this new situation, was like winning a battle over english armies of the 17th Century using modern machineguns. They used the fireweapons but in their traditional array of the army. Germans, for example, had about the same weaponry than France in the II WW, in quality and numbers, but France was stamped out very easily, because they used the war doctrine from the I WW, meanwhile germans developed a new doctrine based in a special way to use the armored cars and the close colaboration of the air force with the ground forces: the blitzkrieg.
But military superiority is not equivalent to cultural superiority, as many times the history has teached us. And the tables could reverse, given enough time.
We can talk, also, about Vietnam, or today Afghanistan, if that were not against the rules. But if that were possible for me to decide, I would send my officers to specialize, not to West Point, Sandhurst or Saint Cyr, but to Vietnam. They have stopped the chinese, the mongol, the european and the USA armies, now for centuries. The 19th Century contemplated the initial decline of the european military might in favour of the USA (just remember the Boer War, which was african). This is the vision of many non european, and a small contribution to this perspective, not meant to offend. Just to make some precisions. After all, there are more than a few non european forumites here.
Sorry I'm not meaning to offend, and my euro-snobbery is expresssed somewhat 'tounge-in-cheek'. ;)
I put this in the Euro forum as European armies are kinda the 'yardstick' of the part of history I was thinking of, they were similarly armed and used similar tactics etc.
I was thinking of. when the European empires colonised (or tried to) the rest of the world. Yes, as you say, its the beginning of the firearms age and into it, but before the gun was totally supreme.
I wasn't thinking back as far as the classical period. I wasn't really thinking further back than the 16thC.... But if people want to talk about earlier then thats fine of course.
Just meant to be a bit of fun :shrug:
Ming Dynasty and Ching Dynasty armies were extremely powerful. So were Japanese armies in that 1500s/1600s time period. The Moghuls, the Sikhs, the South Indians... the Moros, the Afghans, the Mayans... they were all people who could fight and adapt. Their reasons for NOT restructuring their war doctrine was that, for their own geographic location, they didn't necessarily need to. The Ming Dynasty had a military that ranged from crack cavalry battalions and musket regiments in the north, to 11-man squads in the south. They had a good navy and were all well-organized. Look at Zheng Cheng Gong (Koxinga), he had an appreciation for modernization and had he succeeded in creating a long lasting Ming state, you'd probably see a sea-faring, gun totin', modern military system guided by a regime interested in trade, modernization, and expansion - everything the Ching was not after they had conquered Tibet and Mongolia along with China. The Moghuls and Sikhs are a good example of folks who didn't update their war doctrine enough, but had very good troops and were on their way to modernizing their armies. I could explain the others, but I think the Moro resistance to the Spanish and Americans, and the Caste War of the Mayans speak for themselves.
It's not 'European' that made them powerful. It was 'adaptive' that made them great. China and India have had firearms for a LONG time. But eventually they were importing or copying European firearms. Why? They stagnated in their own technological evolution. Their rulers cared more for their large land-based countries and agriculture than sea-trade and dispersal of ideas. And many cultures were caught in a bad time, where-as the Europeans were at a peak. I don't blame the Europeans. Had the Chinese put their hearts to it, they could have conquered a lot of S.E. Asia, as well as Mongolia, Korea, Tibet, etc. But they never had a great incentive to (in their own eyes). Those who did not understand the need for evolution, may have been great warriors, but often could not face the better armed opponent. In-fact the Europeans faced MANY capable warriors in the peoples they conquered. Just for thought. Indian and Chinese histories from 0 to 1500 AD tell of a lot of conquest and supremacy. The stagnancy is a new thing for cultures that have been prosperous and progressive for a long time.
:shrug: just goes to show, if you don't get up and do stuff, the world will pass you by... and maybe take your land and make you labor for them.
I think KuKulzA28 comments on being 'adaptive' is very relevant. New colonies often meant new terrain and climatic differences.....something the locals were used to fighting in .....their martial traditions and tactics would have been 'moulded' by years of conflict.
One of the 'known' tactics employed by the colonialists would have been 'divide and rule'.....why directly fight the natives....when you could 'manipulate' tribes/factions/smaller kingdoms to fight each other.
I also believe that, naively, European invaders often under-estimated the indigenous people ....believing that they (Europeans) were superior in both technology and knowledge. Often a costly mistake ....Zulu springs to mind ;) ...often after such defeats....the colonialists retaliation was often brutal, often increasing their army's numbers, and arms to ensure victory.....to save 'face' and 're-establish' their supremacy.
Another consideration is the fact that the indigenous people would generally fight more 'fiercly' .....afterall they were fighting for their homes, their people and their way of life. I think there is a quote somewhere which basically says something like 'one man that is fighting for a belief....is worth ten that have been paid to fight'
:shrug: just goes to show, if you don't get up and do stuff, the world will pass you by... and maybe take your land and make you labor for them.[/QUOTE]
Quite true, just look at what happened to the British Empire. :eek: :D
Yes mate! Thats exactly what I was hoping to provoke a discussion of.
Not the Zulu wars in particular, but certainly the British empire was shown a few things during the wars in Nepal/Afghanistan and India.
I was hoping for of a discussion of how non-european weapons fared against a baseline of standardised european military equipment, and specific battles or wars where those lessons were taught and learned.
From our own UK POV clearly the Empire was extremely impressed with many 'ethnic' weapons, both in battle and in form.
From the adoption of Shamshirs as staff officers swords, the fact that the Sabre was adopted Europe wide as a standard Cavalry sword, to the Uks absorbtion of Ghurka regiments and allowing them to carry their own distinctive weapon.
And it is an interesting subject, indeed, Atlantia. You are not offending, I only wanted to be a little knotty with your asessment, as a friend. It seems that the destiny of societies is to conquer all the societies and terrritories which donīt belong to the same social grouping and territory. This open the possibility of creating great empires and cultures, and to unite progessively the world in a single humanity. Not bad if the local cultures and societies keep a space to survive with dignity meanwhile the adapt and developo trasitional links with a new order in a bigger and more rich context.
You all have bringed one important point: conquest and domination has been as a political enterprise, as a military one. Clausewitz said that the war was "the continuation of politics by other means". In other words, war is just another specific way to make politics. In the same line, the fights for the liberation of the subjugated colonies, has been also a political fight, and when they won, it has been more a political triumph than a military one.
Conquest is usually a very complex process, in which many times the characteristics of the conquerorīs weapons are not the only decisive element to explain the victory of the conqueror, but only when very unequal war technologies are used to fight, and the victims had not enough time to absorb the new weapons AND technologies of the conquerors. I belive this is the case with stone age peoples confronted by fireweapons. I donīt recall many battles in which the european conquerors were defeated, but there most be some few. Nepal also offered a good resistance to the english (in fact, they were never really conquered by the english), and I uderstand they defeated them in battle. I believe many of the weapons from the conquered peoples were a good ones, and many of their warriors fough valliantly. And those weapons are the ones which precisely bring us here in the sharing of this passion.
Stone-age peoples vs modern firearms?
How about the jungle tribes in Borneo during WWII? I understand that Thompson and Nambu-toting companies virtually disappeared within the green, victims of the natives. I seem to recall one case in which Japanese and American soldiers actually assisted each other, in order to survive...
Also, if I recall correctly, an English Major demonstrated in late 18th C that bows and arrows were better weapons than the period flintlocks.
Once the novelty of black powder wore off, Spanish Conquistadores in America learned that their best weapon was not the cumbersome and unwieldy arcabuces and cannons, but rather their Toledo blades, horses and war dogs.
But even more important than that was Politics. The development of alliances with the different American nations, against the hated Aztecs and Incas...
On a side note:
There was a time when being fair and blonde was usually the characteristic of a slave. In fact, when Romans came to Spain, they often carried away the Celtic peoples from Galicia and Asturias as servants. Greeks, Persians and Turks did similarly within their respective spheres of influence.
Here is anothere example of the importance of Politics: The Romans were unable to militarily defeat the Celtic warrior tribes in the NW corner of the peninsula, so instead they bought the services of some of those tribes as mercenaries, using them to fight the others and as auxiliaries.
Some of these Celt mercenaries were actually sent to Britain, where they often challenged the local Celts in traditional single combat, to the amazement of the Romans.
Other interesting confrontations occurred between the Spanish and the 1. Japanese in Nagasaki, 2. a Thai rebel faction in Cambodia, 3. the Moros in Filipinas.
That is correct, Manolo, but the conquest of the New Spain was not only circunscribed to Tenochtitlan and the meshica (the wrongly so-called "aztecs", by everbody including the actual mexicans), but ir was a long process which took much more time and battles, in the same mesure the spaniards and their indian allies (mainly tlaxcalan), advanced in all direction to colonize. The north was never completely conquered, as the coahuiteca, apache, kiowa, comanche, yaqui y otras yerbas were never subjugated by them. And the fireweapons were more useful in this process. But the spanish colonization was characterized always by the cross-breed of blood and culture with the indians since the beginning, and that was another political measure which gave them many adepts among the native population, and a very solid basis of military and political power.
Thank you my friend, I would hate to have offended you.
The British in Nepal is a great example. I can't think of any specific engagements but certainly The Brits were hugely impressed with the bravery and quality of the Neapalese fighters.
I remember reading of one officers experience of the Khukri in battle. He noted how many of the fallen after a battle had been beheaded. Apparently the technique was an upwards stab into the guts causing the victim to double over, then pull it out and a single chop! eeek!!
The Ghurkas of the British army are a source of pride for the British people.
Of course for every genuine tale of Ghurka bravery, their legendary status means there are many more 'ltale tales' about them.
That they would collect earlobes from dead opponents (although I have heard that did go on a bit, and noses, against the Japanese in WW2), that during WW2 when on night manouvers they would tell British from German by creeping up and checking how boots were laced in the dark, that the Khukri would have to draw blood if drawn from its scabbard.
Apparently they did use a lot of 'terror tactics' against both the German and Japanese forces in WW2.
I've never read any accounts by German or Japanese soldiers of how they viewed the Ghurkas. The Japanese certainly had plenty of dealings with them on Burma.
Anyway, back to subject!
I often wondered how Spanish and Portugese steel fared against Samurai Katanas?
I remember an old chap I once knew who was in the military out in the far east in Borneo, Malaya, Burma and a few other places back in the 40s/50s telling a funny story of how they used to have to constantly patrol the railway lines because the local tirbesmen had found that they could make great edges weapons out of the large 'pins' holding the tracks down. Cant remember where it was though! lol
Can't remember where it was? It was everywhere! :D
Chinese tore up rail-roads to make Da-dao, africans to make machetes, etc. Spring steel is and was used by a LOT of people all over the world. Recycling is key!
I think a perfect defensive counter to foreign invasion is guerrilla warfare. That is one military doctrine that had amazing results against invaders with superior technology. At the very least you give 'em hell before they can take your land and your people. At most you bleed them dry and retake what was yours. It's almost a modernized form of tribal warfare. Small bands of soldiers infiltrating enemy territory to inflict casualties and/or take prisoners, and stealing back into the wilderness. I can think of plenty of parallels in the traditional style of warfare of many native americans, africans, and southeast asian peoples. While many Indian armies, the Zulus, and the Orientals often met the enemy in the field of battle, that is where the out-dated military doctrine and technology showed itself...
some examples of locals adopting the counter tactic (guerilla) would be...
Whenever the Mayans charged the Spaniards with their nobles and richly attired warriors... they almost always got defeated, despite a valiant battle. They knew that they couldn't afford to make the same mistakes as their neighbors and they sought to exterminate the invader... and yet, they failed. Of course, they were charging cavalry, war dogs, swordsmen, pikemen, firearms, and Mexican auxiliaries. But why did it take the Spaniards so long to conquer the Maya DESPITE modern military tech. and newer military management? Well, the Mayans were divided into many different tribes, chiefdoms, and kingdoms. Take out one, you still have a bunch to conquer. The Mayans traditionally fought a hit-and-run forest warfare, resorting to field combat only for the decisive battles. They knew their jungles and how to hunt their prey with ambushes and traps... and there were times when they came damn close to driving out the Spanish. Even today the area is unstable.but despite all the credit I am giving to these native people... we need to recognize that the Europeans usually prevailed, or was able to recruit locals to fight locals and find a favorable political situation. The Mayans are a marginalized large minority in a land ruled by the descendants of the Spaniards. The Chinese are now under a suffocatingly powerful Communist regime, and suffered the death of millions from the fall of the Ming, through the Taiping and Boxer rebellions and Opium Wars, and wars with modern powers... The Vietnamese have had a history of staunch defiance, and they succeeded, but at a terrible cost. The Philippines (and Moros) eventually came to accept and even prosper under American rule, though divisions and tensions are very strong even today. The Cherokees were eventually displaced, and Manco Inca was eventually defeated. The Afghani militants have been ;argely crushed in recent times or fled to Pakistan. The Germans did eventually conquer Rome, but it was not only due to arms - Rome was a declining empire. So yes, in recent times, the 'Western World' or its military capabilities kicked ass... and yes there was valiant resistance on the part of the conquerees, but could you expect any less?
Guerrilla is an uncivilized form of warfare, which removes any protection from the civilians the guerrilla hides behind. It justifies actions as we currently see in Gaza, and the actions taken by US Soldiers in the hamlets of Nam' as well as as in the German Towns during WWII. It also justifies the actions taken by German soldiers in WWII after partisan activity.
Things to ponder...
Fantastic topic Gene! and its great to see such an interesting discussion unfolding, especially without the sometimes empassioned altercations that can sometimes develop with such volatile topics.
I'm proud to be in the company of such gentlemanly discourse, and it is great to see history brought into perspective with internationally based views.
Outstanding talk guys!! Thank you!
All the best,
Guerrilla warfare IS uncivilized. But the use of superior firepower to blow up miles of land and bombard cities is pretty uncivilized... people use those paths, work those fields, inhabit those cities. The civilians use the land and infrastructure. Then the soldiers roll in, from the time of conquistadores to the modern day with state of the art weaponry and guns. Against such firepower and great odds it can't blame the guerrillas for using the countryside and the population to hide and time their retaliation. Ideally the population also supports the guerrillas. However often when the guerillas lose the support of or never had the full support of the people, they resort to violence and terrorism to coerce the locals and resupply. It's a desperate and draining form of warfare. Spiteful to say the least. But for the guerrilla fighter armed with a low quality gun or a machete, indoctrinated in some political or nationalistic ideal, and facing better armed foreigners... he does what he needs to do. :shrug: Not that it's civilized, but war isn't to begin with - doesn't mean we should make it worse than it has to be I guess.
I think we should also distinguish between guerrilla warfare and hit-and-run warfare... if an Amazonian tribe is ambushing some deforesting Brazilians, that's a hit-and-run... but rebels in Guatemala, terrorizing creoles and Mayans alike, that's guerrilla warfare... it can be hard to draw the line sometimes
The problem is that he "does what he needs to do", and then hides in the population, so the soldiers end up attacking the population.
In France, the Wehrmacht behaved very well, then the partisans began knifing the gemans in the back. Their officers reminded the town mayors that they had surrendered, and to hand over the culprits, which they did not. Thank God the Germans only lost their composture in a couple occasions, Oradour being one of them. Similar situations happened in Czechoslovakia, Russia and Pomerania
When Americans in Germany received fire from a surrendered village, even if it was from a lone Hitlerjugen, they simply rolled back out of the town, and erased same with artillery, wiping out children, old ladies, cats, dogs etc...
In Nam', the farmers were forced by the local VC to shoot at American positions at night, and eventually the Americans would respond by cleaning the area with 105s...
I would probably do the same if I were in Irak, and my soldiers were attacked by a civilian mob, or one guided by partisans hidden within their midst.
No, Guerrilas are bad business for those sides who use them...
On the contrary, Atlantia, I would hate to be wearisome. I apologize, because sometimes it seems that I writte in angry, but it is not so, even on the middle of a heavy discussion. I should use smiles to express better my feelings, as internet does not permit to see our mutual face expressions.
Manolo, you have a curios idea of warfare. There is not civilized warfare, and the population is massacred anyway on bombardments and cross fire, starvation and plagues. Dresde and all itīs civil population were completely destroyed in an aereal carpet bomardment by the allies because of a vengance for another bad action made by the germans. London was unmerciful bombarded, and it was not a military target, nor they were making guerrillas agains them. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were civil cites leveled to the ground and their inhabitants evaporated, blasted or died form cancer years after the war was finished. Better to die fighting. Guerrillas have many uses, and they have been used anywhere they have been useful. Wars are to be won, and civilians must take sides also. In case of foreign invassion, every person in the country is a soldier, and there is no neutrality. Vietnamites won the war, and so other countries or parties, throught the use of the guerrilla, as initial, or and ending mean subordinated to the political war. War cannot be made in terms of the invaders or attackers. Wars and lost of inocent lives could be avoided easily not invading weak countries in an unequal wars, just looking for profits, or because the political needs of powerful nations or economic elites. That would diminish guerrillas warfare and terrorism very drastically. Wars could also be avoided if the powerful nations did not use to fight over the imperial control of the world. Thatīs what is not civilized. There is no honor or civilization in making those wars. Better not making them.
KuKulzA28, it must be also said that the mayans from the period of the conquest were not the mayas from the great civilization, which was already destroyed and disappeared, and their cities lost. The mayan from the time of the conquest, were only peasants, fishermans and little merchants living scatered in small towns. The priests, warriors, astronomers, artists of the maya civilization existed no more. One maya group gave better fight to the spaniards. Their chief was a spaniard arrived from a shipwreck years before the disembarkment of spanish soldiers in the Yucatán Peninsula, which was enslaved by the maya, and latter liberated by itīs merits, married with the daughter of a chief and integrated in the mayan society. He was the man which initiated the cross-breeding among spaniards and indians. His name was Gonzalo Guerrero.
By the way, the apocaliptic and racist movie "Apocalypto" has no the slightiest historical trace of true. It is offensive and false, as false as "Bravehearth".
I think "hit and run" is a guerrilla tactic. Guerrilla in Colombia, Guatemala, Irak, Afghansitan or El Salvador are all guerrilla. The difference is their political orientation, the treatment given to the civil population and the use or absence of terrorist methods over this population to intimidate or to level the political pressure over the governments. Pure terrorism, as a sistematic "combat" method, is another thing, compltely different. Anarchists are given to this kind of tactics, so naughty and useless, and very painful for the innocents. But there is also government terrorism, applied by the national armies in their sistematic killig of some sectors of the population, because of diverse "reasons" (ideologic, ethnic, political and so on). In Guatemala, military and civil dictadors used the army to exterminate maya indians and eliminate ferociously and with extreme brutality the opposition, reaching numbers to 30,000 killings. Same can be said of many dictators in America or Europe in the 20th Century...but, in a second thought, they are not just terrorists: they are genocides.
One mans terrorist (guerilla) is another mans freedom fighter.
I agree on the general idea, but terrorism and guerrilla are completely diferent methods of fight, though some groups uses the combination of the two. Terrorism involved the killing of innocents, undiscriminatedly, and guerrilla are military operations against selected military targets, not to kill innocents, but to hit the military or police enemy, in order to take control of the government or/and expell an invader. Bombing civil airports is terrorism. Useless and uncessesary terrorism. Conducting military attacks and disapearing after the attack on a foreign invader, or government troops, is guerrilla. Very different strategies, tactics, means and purposes...and the ends does not justify the means, as the nature of the means always conditions the nature of the ends. Wrong means usually (or always) desvirtuates the ends. The reprisals of the germans or the allies over the civil population over a guerrilla attack, are pure terrorism, as innocent civilians are targeted to extermination, which does not stops necesarily further killings (it could provoke, instead, more rebellion), and damage the moral stature of an army. And moral stature usually is not taken on account by unsensible military men, but it means someting in a long term, even in a practical manner. Wars are lost due the discredit of the governments, or the heat against itīs armies. Governments can fall due the discredit of their wars and their intolerance. It is something terrorists can obtain, when, and if, imprudent governments overreact to their attacks. All is a complex game. But pure terrorism is revulsive.
Man is a glorified animal. In an ideal world, wars wouldn't happen. Ours is not one.
History repeatedly shows that when Man becomes too civilized, those who are less will take up his word, and give him a too-close shave.
Wars and man go hand-in-hand. It is to our own benefit that the victor should always be the most advanced civilization, or the least savage one, take your pick. Pol Pot and the Serbian conflics come to mind.
Can you imagine a world with Irak, Iran, China or Russia holding the trump-cards? I realize we are not perfect, but side-by-side , we downright look like Sisters-Of-Mercy by comparison.
International Conventions try to make wars, not good, but less bad...
Guerrillas ignore these kinds of arrangements. Just see what happened in Spain after the French invasion. Most of the guerrillas were in for their own profit, criminals with a "patent de corsair" against both French and "afrancesados", the latter being usually people of means.
Professional soldiers don't enjoy killing civilians, nor make them targets...usually. Civilian warriors, OTOH, are characterized for being extremely cruel, torturing, robbing and killing prisoners. Look at Uganda, Afghanistan, Spain, Somalia, Serbia-Bosnia, Irak, the French "Resistance", the Yugoslavian partisans, etc...
Dresden was an unforgivable crime-of-war, the city was already declared open and there were no German troops within. The attacks on London's Docks were not attacks against either population or city, albeit a damaged german fighter-bomber did release its bomb load over London unwittingly. This happened while being attacked, trying to gain manouvrability to shake off its pursuers, and its pilot was courtmartialed.
The British knew this, but nonetheless went on to begin the raids, the Germans responded in kind. This was actually good for the RAF, since it relieved german bombing pressure on their downright-beaten fighter aerodromes.
All in all, the amount of bombs dropped against British civilian targets by the Germans was the tiniest fraction of that dropped by of British and Americans. Studies done after the war proved that these actions actually helped the Nazis better control the German population, by putting them in a defensive mind mode.
To boot, industrially-wise, the german factories output at the end of the war was higher than it had ever been, proving strategic bombing didn't achieve what it was meant to do (that is, beyond massacring the city dwellers). I recall a survivor telling me how allied fighters (Jabos) would specifically target the civilian food lines, diving with the engine off to catch the people unaware.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki (The most pro-western city in Japan) were nuked, not only to prevent further allied invasion forces casualties, but also to scare off the soviets, which were conventionally-wise far more powerful than the combined allied forces at the end of WWII. The allies were aware of Russian plans to invade all Europe, and that their Tank divisions were already in place. So, they made the Russians believe they had more than two nukes, by using one after the other in rapid sucession. Stalin fell for it, and the invasion was postponed.
Myself, I believe that the US won the Vietnam War, then left South Vietnam fall afterwards simply because SV had become economically-unfeasible and politically untenable. The main reason it fell was simply because Nixon stopped the economic aid required to maintain its military forces. The war had left SV rotten to the core, without principles or common identity, unlike South Korea. SV Military was more like a group of independent Daimyos than anything else, often doing business with their own NV enemies...
Wars never end or accomplish what they are supossed to do, but as instruments of change, they are the fastest. And remember, they have always been an extension of economics. If its worthwhile, a suitable reason will always be found.
After Lidice and Oradour, partisans were not allowed to hide within the villages, and no support came from the french civilians.
The US tried good treatment and help given to the VC infiltrated villages in Nam', to no effect. The fear of getting killed by the guerrillas was always more powerful than any gratitude. At the end, fear always won the day.
One of the objectives of guerrillas is precisely to provoke attacks on civilians by the regular army. So, it's a tight rope that military commanders have to thread. Reprisals, when done, must be precise and exclusively to the civilian group involved, and this must be publicly advertised.
Follow Israeli troopers as they now use the very same basic tactics once used by their former nemesis, the Nazis.
Man can be more than a glorified animal. It is in our hand to change it. Civilization has anything to do with war. More supposedly civilized nation attacked less civilized nations, as in the colonization and conquest process begun by europeans in the 15-16th Century. Less civilized nations attacked more civilized nations, as in the arab and mongol conquest, or the barbarian invassion over Europe which ended the Roman Empire. It is a matter of reviewing history to see behind the myths.
Surely you think germans respected war conventions and made "civilized" wars, and guerrillas did not. I donīt know in the case of Spain, but in Mexico guerrillas were fought against french invaders very cleanly. But crime and disorder always born in the midst of wars, wherever there are areas not controlled by any side. Serbia was not a guerrilla war, and all civil wars are usually the more cruel. Uganda et al? That is the result and the fault of european colonization, which traced arbitrary frontiers engulfing in the same countries bitter tribal enemies and used to incite divisions among them to rule more easily. And at the end of the colonial domination, almost all the countries were left in the midst of civil wars. Just se what happened with Latin America when we were free from the spaniard domination: all the 19th Century passed among civil wars, in the emptiness of centralized power, political institutions of our own, and lack of national agreements. Thanks to the "civilized" colonization and domination made by the europeans.
The Middle East conflicts? All becomes to oil and the intervention of foreign powers. Irak NEVER taked sides with Iran. They were sweared enemies. In 1977, they begun a war wich lasted 10 years, and Saddam Hussein was used, supported and armed by the industrial powers, who wanted to regain the lost control over Iran since the deposition of the Sha Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. Just review that part of history. There is no such thing as goods against bads, friends and enemies: there are only interests. Plain, vulgar and pedestrian interests. Interests from the same secular imperlialistic elites in the world. Interest from the same local secular elites, allied with the former ones. To think otherwise is to live in the midst of the myths produced in the Cold War or the fascism. And to be naive...what civilization are we talking about?
As to the rest of the world, we donīt want wars, or imperialisms from any side, no matter if it comes from Russia, China, Europe, Mars or anywhere. Foreign intervention usually (but no always) only exacerbates conflicts. Do you have the slightiest idea what thinks the rest of the world outside of some few industrialied countries? I mean, outside of their interested economic or political elites? In Mexico, the president tried to send troops to Irak, and he was obliged to turn back by public pressure, in spite all the inmense power mexican presidents have....interesting, isnīt it?
Do you serious believe that south vietnamese villages supported VC by fear, and prefered to support the corrupt and opressive south vietnamese government and the foreign troops? Just read what the own USA historians wrotte about it. But VC came from the villages, and they were villagers, not professional soldiers from any government. And the war was lost because the use of the above said political means. War was politically untenable, and vietnamese knew it, and manipulate it. They did not have a military strategy: they had a whole strategy concept. And the war became a failure, anyway.
Surely you know that Lidice was not in France, and that french partisans were do allowed to make guerrilla warfare and to take control of the liberated country. As italian, yugoslavean and russian operated just to the end of the german occupation.
As for the jews, they use the same methods used by everybody. I can give you more recen samples, even more near of you. For one side you say the germans used to be better behaved when they could, and latter you say the jews are as bad as the germans...by the way, did you know that the greater cities of northern Mexico (I live in one of them) were founded by spanish jews, latter burn alive by common spaniards, which pretended those cities were never founded, and "refounded" them again, (symbollically, of course), and then proceed to make an "ethnical-religious cleansing"?.....just another off-topic.
As for the rest. it is only war progaganda not supported in facts. As false as the supposedly "amenian genocide", the "kurd genocide", the russian invassion of all Europe (as you know, Europe and Asia were parted by the allieds in established areas of influence, mutually agreed, despite of the reticence of Great Britain, and only in Berlin or to the respect of some of Japanīs few small islands was a little trouble), or another casus belli invented as a pretext or to discredit some enemy. But this is clear for many countries, with no interests in the game but their own, nor raised under communist or fascist dictadorships. Because it is not in our own benefit that more "civilized" countries won the wars (who decides which one is more "civilized"?), but to have no wars, as everybody looses in every war. Of course, exept those who make business with wars...and they do not send their sons to make them, but somebodyīs elses...
But I invite you to leave political discussion out of this forum, because there are interests which cannot be reconciliated, and everybody has his interest and his ideas, and this is not a political forum. War and politics should be no discussed here, because there is always a political and ideological interest, party, prejudice or presumption which is lesive in some way to other forumites, as I tried in some way to express it at the beginning of this thread, which I know in advance Atlantia begun in perfect good faith. I donīt like wars made against any party or country, only accept them as historical facts, or as an act of legitime defense against foreign invaders. My heros are Buddha, Jesus the Christ and Mahatma Ghandi. Those were men of value, who tried, against all odds and without weapons, to take the humanity to a superior level, making a living example of their pure beliefs. Sometimes at the omnious presence of a reat personal risk. Not strange many of this kind of man are killed by intolerant, glorified animals. From my side, I leave this discussion, and apologize if I offended anybody with my words. I will appreciate your understanding.
Gonzalo, take it easy, don't get emotionally invested in a subject that only deserves unemotional discussion.
We are all here a bunch of friends and arm-chair historians. We should be able to discuss any and all military history subjects coolly. Our interest is in weapon collecting, and we need to be able to discuss history dispassionately in order to understand the origins and natures of the items we collect.
I haven't brought politics to this discussion. If you check, what I'm arguing is the universality of war itself, and the different excuses used to justify same, when in truth the main reason is economics, disguised
as religion or nationalism.
The basic conduct that we characterize as war has even bee been observed in apes, where they make concerted efforts to attack competing, or merely weaker adjacent ape groups. To deny its existence doesn't change the facts.
Regarding Lidice, that was a cheap shot. If you check my comments yesterday, I clearly state "...Czechoslovakia, Russia and Pomerania". Yet those are not the only places where such things happened, only the more widely known. And even if I were geographically confused, it wouldn't add anything to the subject, so that point is moot.
The French "resistance" was utterly ineffective, it was widely held to be _mostly_ a bunch of thieves using the excuse of patriotism to steal and kill people against which they had personal issues. The "resistance"
basically filled the vacuum left by the german forces on their retreat, here and there killing an isolated german soldier trying to get away, or surrendered prisoners, very brave indeed. They mostly victimized their own country men, or more exactly, country-women. Just watch the movie reels of that era, their behavior was sickening even to the newly arrived allied forces.
Regarding the burnings of jewish conquistadores. No, I don't know anything about it, but certainly would like to learn more.
Colon/Columbus himself was a Catalonian Jew, as were many members of his crew. America was intended to be the new Israel, which explains the economical backing obtained from Jewish Bankers, both converts and practicing. The Spanish Crown evicted Jews from their territories unless they converted to Christianity. As such, they were forbidden to colonize America, although many came over as converts. In those
days, if a forbidden colony was found, they were usually razed to the ground. All european powers did the same.
If you intended that as some sort of attack on Spain, let me remind you that Inquisition burnings after _two centuries_ numbered about 2000 (They kept inmaculate records). In only one year, medieval germans burned more that 100,000 witches at the stake. So you see, it's all a matter of perspective. All european powers behaved quite savagely according to modern standards, but comparatively speaking, Spain was a little kid.
In America, Mexican chichimecas engaged in the continuous "Wars Of The Flowers", where they would attack even friendly american nations just to get prisoners, this for continuous sacrifices in honor of the sun-god. Millions of americans were assasinated because of that horrible custom. That places the Aztecs on the same playing ground as the Nazis, the Turks and Stalinist Russia.
To gain proper perspective: Compare the Inquisition burnings _four centuries ago_ to modern Mexico. Just in the city of Nuevo Laredo, the "business" between Zetas, Sinaloas and the corrupt Federales kills more than that in a single year. They actually _burn their victims alive_ in drums filled with fuel. This practice is known as "el asado". At least the Inquisition (Spanish version, not the German or Italian, which were far more sanguine) usually executed their victims before burning them.
And that's _only one_ city of 21st Century Mexico. You see Gonzalo, I am very familiar with your country and its history, including the "Cristeros" and late 20th C. "Indiadas". Let's keep things civil, shall we?
The problem with Central and South America is that after the "Spaniards" "yoke was removed, they placed on themselves the Maya, the Inca, and the Chichimeca-Aztec yokes, which were far, far heavier than that of the Spanish.
The original American societies were extremely power-centered, very authoritarian regimes where european individuality had no place, which is exactly what the new creole rulers like Bolivar, Iturbide and Santa-Ana
wanted. As a result, these societies reverted to type (after all, most of their populations were and are ethnic-american), while European Spain, with a thousandth of the means and population of the New Spain, went on to become a First World Power again. So, perhaps the only thing evident is that European civilization is more effective that the Latinoamerican version, with its caciqueal undertones.
I didn't judge either Germans nor Israel's militaries, they did and do as they are forced to do, as did the Spanish in 39'. My point is that regular military forces are less brutal, less criminal if you will, than the motley groups that characterize guerrillas. Not perfect, mind you, just less evil.
Empires come and go, and their rulers don't care whether the rest of the world likes them or not. That's a fact. Propaganda? I have no reason to preach any, and no interest either. I'm deeply offended that you suggest so.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 83?, many documents surfaced, proving among other things the plans for an inmediate subsequent invasion of Europe with Tank Regiments in 1945'. In fact, the fighting between Allies and Russians had already started, including air-to-air open combat, inprisonment of allied military advisers within Russia, as well as of allied prisoners "liberated" from German camps within the Russian zones. The Russians became so bold as to even snatch allied soldiers in broad daylight from allied held zones.
Other documents reveal that part of the terrible acts committed during the Spanish civil war by both sides were in fact provoked by Russian agents in Spain. Some nights they would capture and kill notable members from the Nationalist side while dressed and acting as Republicans, the next they'd do the same to the Republicans but dressed and acting as Nationalists, that's what set the bloody ball rolling. These documents proved without a shadow of a doubt that the Russian assistance was part of a plan to make Spain a communist satellite country, and that Russia had no interest in preserving the Republic at all. These are not "Propaganda", just verifiable facts.
You don't believe in the "Armenian Genocide"? What about the more modern "Jewish Holocaust"? Of the former, you can find significant amounts of literature, specially interesting if it's true it did never happened. Just check http://www.umd.umich.edu/dept/armen...s/gen_bib1.html.
Please understand that these subjects hold no particularly relevance to me, and the arguments posited do not directly affect me, nor I do I have any vested interests or views on any of them. Neither do I claim to be the holder of the ultimate truths about anything. Heck, I might be wrong about everything! But by entertaining other views, we grow as thinking, reasoning beings.
Lastly, I don't want to create further polemics, we share our thoughts and beliefs on this forum out of sheer fun. I think this discussion has ceased to be a pleasant exchange of ideas. So, let's simply agree to disagree on some of the posted issues. I will not write further comments on this issue, for me the matter is closed.
After all, we are all friends here.
BTW: In combat, European fencing and stabbing usually trounces slashing Katanas. : )
You guys have an amazing command of geopolitical and military history, and philosophical discussions can easily get out of control, lets keep the discussion worthwhile .Its like armchair history 101, and great learnimg stuff. While our focus here is on arms and armour, the perspective here is certainly interesting as I have noted.
Caution OK! :)
All the best,
Sorry, Manolo, but Iīm not emotionally invested. It is not the subject of the discussion what bothers me, but the lack of references to valid sources, the repetition of common already discredited myths, the confussion of concepts, and the fact that I would feel disrespectful mentioning some subjects here, as we are only guests in a forum where there are people from diverse countries, and sombody could feel disturbed. This is the reason I pointed that the subject of the jews was gratuitous and off-topic, and only mentioned the role of the jews and spaniards in the conquest and colonization of Mexico just to show it.
No, I was not intending to "attack" something as abstract as "Spain". I can analyse the spanish conquerors, the spanish church or the spanish monarchy, but I can put in the same bag something as complex as spain in the beginning of the 15th Century, when Spain was only beginnig their fragmentary existence as a country. Because before that, there were only kingdoms, and their territorial extension was not the same and the actual territory of Spain, and it was occupied by peoples from a very diverse ways of thinking, loyalties and languajes.
I am perfecty aware that the Cardinals Pedro Gonzalez Mendoza and Francisco Jiménez Cisneros limited the intervention of the Inquisition in Spain. More aware than you, about the chichimeca, since they never made human sacrifices....You know, the chichimeca were the nomads of northern Mexico, and you are confusing them with the high neolithic cultures of Mesoamerica, as the meshica (or aztec, if you prefer), maya, tlaxcala, mixtec and others. which do practisized human sacrifices...like confussing a spaniard with a french.
Neverthless, your reference to this point as a venguance of a supposed attack against spaniards does not seems like a "bunch of friends and arm-chair historians". But let me explain this point, which is another of the great myths created by the european colonizators and conquerors to justify what was only the the ivasion of otherīs teritories for their pillage. In all world, peoples from the same historic horizon (I donīt mean "timeline"), practiced humnan sacrifices. In Mesoamérica (since Mexico already had yet no existence), their common-shared belief was that the universe should be renovated to keep it alive. Blood was the supreme sacrifice. And not only the war prisioners were sacrificed, but also all the ruling class and the rest of the population made self-sacrices in blood. There are many representations of maya kings passing a thorned cord throught a hole in their tongs to make self-sacrifice. The practice of making previously agreed wars to take prisoners alive to sacrifice, was not as attacking indefense neighbors. I must point you that the more celebrated "Guerras Floridas" (Florid Wars) to take this prisioners, as they called them, were mainly among the meshica (aztec) and the tlaxcalan, a nation the meshica never could subjugate, and latter were allies of the spaniards.
I can make parallels with european practices, as the human sacrifices practiced by the druids well after the Roman Empire, the gladiatorial sacrifices practiced by etruscans and latter by romans, which were originally funeral sacrifices, and after that only an amusement. There were many other cultures in the world practicing human sacrifices in the diverse periods of their history, and you can make a review of it. This practices continued latter as sacrifices on the tombs of kings, to ensure they have company in the afterlife.
And you speak about millions of sacrificed victims!! There is not a single prmimary and valid source in which you can obtain this information. In fact, there is only one refernce to a number of sacrificed persons in the very special occasion of the inaguration of the Main Temple in Tenochtitlan, and no more. You have not the slightiest idea of the demography of Mesoamerica, as far I can see. But let me tell you one thing: the only people who practiced genocide to a scale of millions, were the europeans. And not only in their neolithic stage, but as latter as the 20th Century. The Inquisition was only a stage....But there is a big difference with the sacrifices practiced by mesoamericans. Meanwhile mesoamericans sacrificed and self-sacrificed because a shared belief, which involved personal renounce and penitenty, europeans killed people for greed or intolerance, against their own adopted religion, agains the christian gospell, against a well known ethic code, widely diffused. There is no guilt were is no knowledge and intention, and so there is the other way around.
No, I did not tried to make a cheap shot about Lidice, I only thought there were a confussion, as I was answering to your last post, and not other posts at the same time.
The Resistance was utterly ineffective? The allied command did not thought so. Surely you did not expect they expelled by theirselves the germans, when the french army didnīt. They had a modest, but necessary specific role, and because of it, they had the support of the allied command. But I can refer many other guerrilla that had success and take command of their countries. To begin with, in China. But maybe we are taling about different things. Guerrilla is an irregular army making an irregular war, not a conventional war. The killing of Heydrich in Czechoslovakia was a useless isolated act of terrorism, and does not represents a usual tactic of a guerrilla group, but from a terrorist group. Maybe we are not talking about the same thing, as the media has confused this concepts and made then synonyms. Guerrilla warfare was made even by USA americans in their fight for their independence, and it should not be confused with organized gangs dedicated to bandiditry and pillage, though it can be some resemblance in their methods of combat. Nor it should be confused with terrorism. There are elemental military and political differences among them. I am talking about true guerrillas, motivated on political ends and using the support of the population. Pepoples uses this kind of resource when they donīt yet have enough strenght to form a regular army, or when fight behind enemy lines. Again, we have an example in the War of Independence of USA, or in the independece wars in the american continent against spanish domination...And we won.
Another "conspiration" of the jews, this time to appropiate America for the pople of Israel? My godness!!! Well, this is new for me. Colon never knew that he was travelling to another continent, and he tough he was going to China. Do you think the few jews that went with him in itīs travels (if there were any), calculated to overcome the chinese empire? Or they knew where they are going to? Also, I understand the banking support came directly from Elizabeth the Catolic (Isabel la Católica), accordig with all sources. You know the story about how she used her jewlery as garantee to pay for the trip. That garantee was given to jewish bankers? Is it a proof that this trip was a jewish enterprise? What primary source do you have of this...unusual statement? Do you think the spanish crown would candidly permit it? Or that the jews were so candid to believe it?...It sounds more like another fascist invention.
The turks taking sides with germans and Stalin? To my knowledge, they used the same methods used by the european armies, with little differences. Yu should revew the history of the Crusades. And they never made something like genocide, nor the indian american did, so there is no point in comparing the sistematic extermination of a determined population, or sector of the population, made by contemporary dictadorships, in the civilized and christian Europe, with perfect knowledge about the meaning of their behavior in the context of their own civilization, with the conquest behavior of the turks or the meshica, specially when the meshica belonged to the cultuiral horizon of the stone age, in the neolithic stage!
But letīs say no more. Your arguments are the same arguments used to justify something which has not justification. The resource to "naturalist" arguments to justify conquest, are not valid, because if we take this arguments to their logical implications and consecuences, then all moral, all ethics, does not have validity, and nobody can be condemned for what he does, and so there is no valid responsability, crime or punishent: we are just poor animals. On this basis even the senseless acts of terrorism canīt be condemned. But the fact is that we are not animals. Animals are not greedy, they figh over territory or females when necessary; they donīt accumulate; they donīt have ethics, moral or culture; they not destroy their natural habitat; they not torture or kill for pleasure; they donīt produce a civilization or can evolve to a superior stage. The fact is that people and nations behave like that because they have the power and the intention to do it. Power has been the basis of the whole thing, and the intention comes from greed and intolerance. But there is an incovenient in accepting this kind of "moral status": anything made on the basis of power, is justified, and all situations can be reversed against the victimary, in an endless spiral of violence. And all condemnations against it, based on moral or ethical grounds would become a hypocrisy. And I cannot accept that. Nor I think we should, if we want to survive as a species.
Instead, I believe, and naturalists sees to confirm (actual naturalists, not the old "imperial" 19th Century naturalists and their followers), man evolved from mutual cooperation, not from competence. Languaje, society, thinking, develops in the same measure of the cooperation. Thatīs what make us different from the animals. The more intelligent animal species are those who cooperates on a more complex ways, conforming elemental societies. We must expand this to another level. Civilization implies a level of superior values, the higer the more inclusive and tolerant, meanwhile culture reflects technogies, traditions and beliefs. There were cultures with superior war technologies, but not superior civilization. And civilization does not implies out of necessity weaknes.
Well my friends! :(
I am genuinely sorry to have started a discussion which has led down such a painful path.
I have composed several long replies to points raised, only to delete them before posting.
I had wanted to discuss the performance of non-european weapons against standardised or 'recognised' European types 'in combat'.
I was thinking pre 20thC, in fact the further back the better, before the gun became dominant.
I had hoped that specific battles could be discussed and we could analyse and conjecture upon the relative performance of the weapons involved and the different techniques for using them.
Katana Vs Broadsword?
Shamshir & Tulwar Vs Military Sabre etc?
Are there instances where European standardisation meant that the lack of variety and expectation (arrogant presumption) that European weapons were superior to all left the European forces at a disadvantage when they found themselves facing 'Ethnographic' weapons that were heavier/lighter etc or fighting techniques (fencing styles) that were unexpected?
I had no intention of starting a discussion of the morality of warfare, especially modern warfare, or wars within living memory or where forumites families or relatives might have been involved.
All of our nations have fought many wars in their history, and I doubt any nation could claim that all wars in its history were 'just' and fought completely with Honour.
But however we view, with the benefit of hindsight the actions of our nations and others, whether we can justify actions taken, tactics employed, weapons used or whether we cannot, I am sure that we all abhor the horrors of war and the terrible stain that it has left in the souls of all of our great nations.
My friends, please accept my apologies, as the fault here is mine.
I should have been clearer and more specific in the intent of this thread.
I sincerely hope that you can both accept my apology, and will still feel able to add to this discussion within the parameters of 'combat worthiness of worldwide antique weapons' as I have the greatest respect for your opinions.
Very well said Gene, and I very much understood the intent when you posted this, considering it a viable topic worthy of discussion even with its potential volatility. With the notably gentlemanly demeanor that I think characterizes everyone here I thought perhaps this would be possible. I think it is an interesting discussion, but rather than wandering off into a lot of overly deep geopolitical philosophy and not unsurprisingly emotionally charged misunderstanding, I'd like to see if those engaged here would like to get this thread out of its tailspin focusing on the perspective intended. Lets leave the editorials behind ,OK everybody ? :)
In hopes this will be read and understood,
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