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  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In 1943, on the coast of Andalusia in southwest Spain, a dead man “washed ashore wearing a fake uniform and the underwear of a dead Oxford don, with a love letter from a girl he had never known pressed to his long-dead heart” (pp. 323–24). It was near the high point of the Third Reich's reign, with Europe effectively under Nazi control; but, owing in part to this dead man, Hitler's days were numbered. Ben Macintyre tells the story of this fantastic ruse in Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory. The book may read like fiction, but remarkably, the story is completely true. It begins during World War II when the Nazi war machine “was at last beginning to stutter and misfire.” The British Eighth Army under Montgomery had vanquished Rommel's invincible Afrika Korps at El Alamein. The Allied invasion of Morocco and Tunisia had fatally weakened Germany's grip, and with the liberation of Tunis, the Allies would control the coast of North Africa, its ports and airfields, from Casablanca to Alexandria. The time had come to lay siege to Hitler's Fortress [across Europe]. But where? Sicily was the logical place from which to deliver the gut punch into what Churchill famously called the soft “underbelly of the Axis.” The island at the toe of Italy's boot commanded the channel linking the two sides of the Mediterranean, just eighty miles from the Tunisian coast. . . . The British in Malta and Allied convoys had been pummeled by Luftwaffe bombers taking off from the island, and . . . “no major operation could be launched, maintained, or supplied until the enemy airfields and other bases in Sicily had been obliterated so as to allow free passage through the Mediterranean.” An invasion of Sicily would open the road to Rome . . . allow for preparations to invade France, and perhaps knock a tottering Italy out of the war. . . . [Thus]: Sicily would be the target, the precursor to the invasion of mainland Europe. (pp. 36–37) There was a major problem, however. Macintyre points out that the strategic importance of Sicily was as clear to the Nazis as it was to the Allies and that, if the Nazis were prepared for it, an invasion would be a bloodbath. So how could the Allies catch their enemy off guard? The solution was to launch what Macintyre calls one of the most extraordinary deception operations ever attempted. The British Secret Service would take a dead man and plant on him fake documents that suggested that the Allies were planning to bomb Sicily only as an initial feint preceding an attack on Nazi forces in Greece and Sardinia. They would then float their man near the Spanish coastline, making it appear as though he drowned at sea, and hope that one of the many Nazi spies in Spain discovered him and the documents and passed their content along to his superiors—convincing them to weaken Sicily by moving forces to Greece and Sardinia. . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Germany, Tunisia, Rome, Alexandria
  • Author: Doug Altner
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Over the past few years, Somali pirates have attacked numerous ships, hijacking more than forty in 2008, holding more than six hundred seafarers for ransom that same year,1 and extorting more than $150 million in ransom payments from December 2007 to November 2008.2 More troubling is that, as of September, reported pirate attacks for 2009 have already surpassed the total number reported in 2008-a strong indication that the problem of piracy is only worsening.3 Because of these attacks, shipping companies must choose between navigating dangerous waters and taking costly alternate routes in order to protect their crews and goods. In November 2008, Maersk, one of the world's largest container shipping companies, announced that, until there are more convoys to protect its ships from attacks, some of its fleet will avoid taking the most direct sea route to the East through the Suez Canal, which leads to pirate-infested waters.4 By taking the next best route from Europe to the East-around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope-shipping companies such as Maersk will add an average of 5.7 days and three thousand miles to each trip. The average annual cost of this route change to such a shipping company will range in millions of dollars for each of its ships that uses the alternate route,5 not to mention short- and long-term expenses from additional wear on its vessels. And, of course, given the integrated nature of the economy and the amount of goods shipped to and from the East, such route changes negatively affect all industries, directly or indirectly. Although the piracy threat has been well known to those in the shipping industry for a few years, it became manifest to most Americans in April 2009 when Somali pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama and captured twenty U.S. sailors. Although the sailors soon regained control of the ship,6 four pirates took Captain Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat. The three-day standoff that ensued ended when a team of navy SEAL snipers rescued the captain.7 Fortunately, neither the captain nor any sailors were seriously harmed during this attack-but it is disconcerting that a small gang of third-world pirates dared to attack an American ship and abduct its captain. Why were the pirates not afraid of a standoff with the most powerful navy on earth? To determine what is motivating these pirates and how the U.S. Navy should best combat their attacks, many policy analysts, historians, and defense experts are looking to the Barbary Wars-two wars the United States fought in the early 19th century to end North African piracy-for guidance. These experts are wise to look here, for the situation surrounding the Barbary pirates of the revolutionary era is similar in important respects to the situation surrounding the Somali pirates of today. Like the Somali pirates, the Barbary pirates attacked trade ships, stole goods, took prisoners, and demanded ransom from wealthy nations with strong militaries. And like the Somali pirates, the Barbary pirates got away with their thievery for some time. But unlike the Somali pirates, who continue their predations, after the Second Barbary War the Barbary pirates stopped assaulting U.S. ships-permanently. Toward establishing a policy that can bring about this same effect with regard to the Somali pirates, it is instructive to examine those aspects of late-18th- and early-19th-century U.S. foreign policy that were effective against Barbary piracy and those that were not. In particular, it is instructive to identify why the First Barbary War failed to end the pirate attacks but the second succeeded. Let us consider the key events surrounding these two wars. . . . To read the rest of this article, select one of the following options:Subscriber Login | Subscribe | Renew | Purchase a PDF of this article
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, South Africa, Somalia