Monday, July 28, 2014

100 Years Ago:Franz Joseph Declares War On Serbia

July 28, 1914, Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, responding to Serbia's answer to Austro-Hungary's ultimatum concerning the assassination of the heir to the throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Even at the time, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany thought the Serbian response had "removed all pretext for war." By the standards of the day, the assassination plausibly served as a causus belli, but even so, there were dangers.

Justified or not, the Austrian declaration of war comes down as one of the most disastrous decisions of all time by a major state.

Here is the declaration:

"To my peoples! It was my fervent wish to consecrate the years which, by the grace of God, still remain to me, to the works of peace and to protect my peoples from the heavy sacrifices and burdens of war. Providence, in its wisdom, has otherwise decreed. The intrigues of a malevolent opponent compel me, in the defense of the honor of my Monarchy, for the protection of its dignity and its position as a power, for the security of its possessions, to grasp the sword after long years.

"With a quickly forgetful ingratitude, the Kingdom of Serbia, which, from the first beginnings of its independence as a State until quite recently, had been supported and assisted by my ancestors, has for years trodden the path of open hostility to Austria-Hungary.

"When, after three decades of fruitful work for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I extended my Sovereign rights to those lands, my decree called forth in the Kingdom of Serbia, whose rights were in nowise injured, outbreaks of unrestrained passion and the bitterest hate.

"My Government at that time employed the handsome privileges of the stronger, and with extreme consideration and leniency only requested Serbia to reduce her army to a peace footing and to promise that, for the future, she would tread the path of peace and friendship. Guided by the same spirit of moderation, my Government, when Serbia, two years ago, was embroiled in a struggle with the Turkish Empire, restricted its action to the defense of the most serious and vital interests of the Monarchy. It was to this attitude that Serbia primarily owed the attainment of the objects of that war.

"The hope that the Serbian Kingdom would appreciate the patience and love of peace of my Government and would keep its word has not been fulfilled. The flame of its hatred for myself and my house has blazed always higher; the design to tear from us by force inseparable portions of Austria-Hungary has been made manifest with less and less disguise.

"A criminal propaganda has extended over the frontier with the object of destroying the foundations of State order in the southeastern part of the monarchy; of making the people, to whom I, in my paternal affection, extended my full confidence, waver in its loyalty to the ruling house and to the Fatherland; of leading astray its growing youth and inciting it to mischievous deeds of madness and high treason.

"A series of murderous attacks, an organized, carefully prepared, and well carried out conspiracy, whose fruitful success wounded me and my loyal peoples to the heart, forms a visible bloody track of those secret machinations which were operated and directed in Serbia.

"A halt must be called to these intolerable proceedings and an end must be put to the incessant provocations of Serbia. The honor and dignity of my monarchy must be preserved unimpaired, and its political, economic, and military development must be guarded from these continual shocks. In vain did my Government make a last attempt to accomplish this object by peaceful means and to induce Serbia, by means of a serious warning, to desist.

"Serbia has rejected the just and moderate demands of my Government and refused to conform to those obligations the fulfillment of which forms the natural and necessary foundation of peace in the life of peoples and States. I must therefore proceed by force of arms to secure those indispensable pledges which alone can insure tranquillity to my States within and lasting peace without.

"In this solemn hour I am fully conscious of the whole significance of my resolve and my responsibility before the Almighty. I have examined and weighed everything, and with a serene conscience I set out on the path to which my duty points. I trust in my peoples, who, throughout every storm, have always rallied in unity and loyalty around my throne, and have always been prepared for the severest sacrifices for the honor, the greatness, and the might of the Fatherland. I trust in Austria-Hungary's brave and devoted forces, and I trust in the Almighty to give the victory to my arms."


Thus with flowery language of the nineteenth cenury did the Emperor Franz Joseph initiate the destruction of his own empire and that of his allies, Germany and the Ottomans. The war also destroyed the Tsarist Empire and seriously damaged the British and French Empires. On the whole, it was a disastrous introduction to the Twentieth Century.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia: Fools Act And People Die

I just listened to the tapes released by Ukraine of separatist militiamen talking to Russian military officers about the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner. It helped that Ukraine provided a transcription in Russian, but the Russian was clear and not hard to understand. I didn't get a hint of remorse or even much excitement when they reported it was a civilian passenger liner.

Here is a link. It is worth listening to, even if you don't understand Russian. Pretty cold-blooded.

The missile used was apparently a Russian SA-11 GADFLY, a medium-range, semi-active, radar-guided missile using solid-rocket propulsion that provides defense against high-performance aircraft and cruise missiles. The SA-11 represents a considerable improvement over the earlier SA-6 GAINFUL system, and can engage six separate targets simultaneously, rather than the single target capability of the SA-6. Single-shot kill probability are claimed to be 60-90% against aircraft, 30-70% against helicopters, and 40% against cruise missiles, a significant improvement over the SA-6. The system is more mobile, taking only about 5 minutes to move from road march to engagement. The new system also offers significantly greater resistance to ECM than previous systems. The SA-11 system is comprised of the TELAR (9A310M1), Loader/Launcher (9A39M1), SNOW DRIFT Surveillance Radar (9S18M1), and Command and Control vehicle (9S470M1).

The Mach 3 semi-active homing 9M28M1 missile has a maximum slant range of 28 km and a minimum range of 3 km. It is capable of engaging targets between altitudes of 30 and 14000 m and can sustain 23 g maneuvers. The solid fuel missile is 5.6 meters long with a diameter is 0.4 m and a wing span is 1.2 m. The launch weight is 650 kg, which includes a 70 kg HE warhead with a 17 meter lethal radius.

More than enough to destroy a civilian airliner flying under civilian air traffic control using ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) procedures at normal operating altitude flying straight and level.

Ultimately, Russia is responsible for this shoot-down.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Friday The Thirteenth

Friday the thirteenth comes on Sunday this month.

I am indebted to the late Walt Kelly for this insight into the calendar.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cox v. Town of Oriental: Bad News

Nearly a week ago, I checked the NC Court of Appeals web site and read the bad news. The Court of Appeals upheld the decision of Pamlico County Superior Court to dismiss my case. The Court's reason: I lack standing.

It isn't bad news because I have lost. It is bad news because the public has lost control of a public asset. This is about the future of the Town of Oriental. And the rule of law.

The case isn't necessarily over. I have almost a month in which to petition the NC Supreme Court for a hearing.

I will consult with my attorney and others to help me decide.

Stay tuned.

Seventy Years Ago: July 6, 1944 - Saipan

The Navy aviators had decimated Japanese Naval Air in the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" and sunk three of Japan's remaining carriers. The Marines and Army troops were still slugging it out against surviving Japanese on the Island of Saipan. At stake: an airfield within range of Japan's home islands. At least within range for the Army Air Foce's new B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers.

Japan determined to fight to the last man and the last civilian. The battle was brutal, the ultimete outcome certain.

Here is the story.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Independence Day, 2014 - Croaker Fest inOriental

It was a glorious day in the Town of Oriental yesterday - the morning after Hurricane Arthur swept through. A bit of debris on the ground, mostly cleaned up by noon. The festival was on!

Once upon a time in America, in small towns and large, all across the land, citizens would gather each year for a public reading of the Declaration of Independence. In classrooms, students memorized and recited the preamble. The words were familiar to everyone:

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." When I was in grade school, I was required to memorize the preamble. I can still recite it.

Some of us memorized the next passage: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...."

How does government demonstrate the consent of the governed? By holding elections.

Independence Day is about elections.