George Washington’s birthday?🎁February 22, 1732.🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic: R.T.
By Steven R. Maher
This coming Monday (February 20, 2017) Americans will celebrate Presidents’ Day. This writer thinks that the holiday should revert to the celebration of the United States’ two greatest Presidents, George Washington (born February 22, 1732) and Abraham Lincoln (born February 12, 1809).
My reasons for advocating this is that there are some Presidencies I don’t want to celebrate. Most Americans probably feel the same way. For example, if you’re a Republican, do you want to celebrate the Presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama? Chances are, probably not. If you’re a Democrat, do you want to celebrate the Presidencies of Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush and Donald Trump? Chances are, probably not.
I think you see the point.
1971 Change in Law
In 1879 Congress passed a statute declaring Washington’s birthday a federal holiday for government offices in Washington DC. This was expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices. “As the first federal holiday to honor an American president, the holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22,” according to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
In 1971 Congress enacted the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act,” the name of which explains why the holiday schedules were changed. Washington’s Birthday is now celebrated the third Monday in February. But “Washington’s Birthday” remains the official name of the federal holiday. Wikipedia noted: “Various theories exist for this, when reviewing the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill debate of 1968 in the Congressional Record, one notes that supporters of the bill were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business.” Alexander Hamilton would have undoubtedly approved.
Historians’ Rankings of our Presidents
Presidential rankings have been a small American cottage industry since Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. conducted a poll of historians ranking U.S. Presidents in 1948. Wikipedia has summarized many of these studies, and it seems that three Presidents are perennial favorites for greatest President: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, listed in this paragraph in chronological order. Usually, historians pick Lincoln as the greatest President, Washington as the second greatest and Roosevelt as third. My expectation is that Reagan will likely enter this top tier as our fourth greatest President. Reagan shifted the “correlation of forces” and momentum in the Cold War to favor the U.S., and the Soviet Union collapsed not long after Reagan left office.
The worst President, by consensus, was James Buchanan, who left office as southern states were abandoning the union because of Lincoln’s election. As Wikipedia puts it: “The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership consists of rankings from a group of presidential historians and ‘professional observers of the presidency’ who ranked presidents in a number of categories initially in 2000 and more recently in 2009. With some minor variation, both surveys found that historians consider Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt the three best presidents by a wide margin and William Henry Harrison (to a lesser extent), Warren G. Harding, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, George W. Bush and James Buchanan the worst.”
Bill Clinton once famously said a statement of his could be interpreted differently depending on how one defined the word “is.” To a large extent, the same can be said of Presidential “greatness.” One conservative Presidential historian ranked Presidents based on “whether their policies promoted prosperity, liberty and non-intervention, as well as modest executive roles for themselves.” As Wikipedia put it, “his final rankings varied significantly from those of most scholars.” If one ranked post World War II Presidents based on prosperity, balanced budgets and keeping the country out of war, Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton would be ranked at the top.
The states do not have to blindly follow the federal government in naming holidays. Massachusetts joins eight other states in celebrating “Presidents’ Day.” Five states celebrate Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays: Montana, Colorado, Ohio, Utah and Minnesota. Ohio and Colorado celebrate “Washington-Lincoln Day.”
Massachusetts should join in with the latter two in celebrating Washington and Lincoln – and not non-entities like Chester Arthur and Millard Fillmore on a generic “Presidents Day.”
The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World
By Derek Chollet, (2016, Perseus Books, 262 Pages)
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
Journalism has often been called the first draft of history. With that in mind, former Obama administration official Derek Chollet has evaluated President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Chollett covers an enormous number of issues, personalities, and events in a short 262 pages, a concisely written book and that will be a valuable resource for future historians.
Unexpected foreign events often arise during a Presidency. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the U.S. into World War II, and changing the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Soviet Union installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, leading to the missile crisis and John F. Kennedy’s finest hour. 9/11 pushed George W. Bush into being a different President than the one he campaigned as. While Bush’s unexpected event was in his first year in office, two of Obama’s problems came late in his second term: the catastrophic insurgency of ISIS, and the ominous resurgence of Putin’s Russia.
Barack Obama inherited an America facing the abyss. As Wikipedia put it: “The bursting of the US housing bubble, which peaked at the end of 2006, caused the values of securities tied to US real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally. The financial crisis was triggered by a complex interplay of policies that encouraged home ownership, providing easier access to loans for subprime borrowers, overvaluation of bundled subprime mortgages based on the theory that housing prices would continue to escalate, questionable trading practices on behalf of both buyers and sellers, compensation structures that prioritize short-term deal flow over long-term value creation, and a lack of adequate capital holdings from banks and insurance companies to back the financial commitments they were making.”
America hovered on the edge of another Great Depression:
• By January 2009 the economy was shedding 800,000 jobs a month.
• American families were losing 100,000 homes a week as home values plummeted and entire neighborhoods, particularly in the inner cities, were devastated.
• The banking system seemed ready to implode, with major financial institutions like the Lehman brothers going bankrupt. Hard core conservatives urged the U.S. government to stay out.
• The automotive industry ran out of money. Cash burn was so bad that General Motors told the White House it had on hand only two weeks of money left to operate. The potential loss of jobs from this one problem alone could be counted in the millions.
Mitt Romney wrote a tome in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”, saying the U.S. should not save the auto industry. That the “supply chain” – the subcontractors and factories manufacturing components for the auto industry, located mainly in the “Rust Belt” states that voted in 2016 for Donald Trump – would die and could not be revived, did not worry Romney.
The Long Game
It should be borne in mind that these were just the domestic issues Obama faced. It says nothing about the foreign affairs calamities facing the U.S., including ongoing wars tying up 175,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It is hard to think of a president who entered office facing more challenges of historic magnitude,” commented Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Obama set out to play the “Long Game.”
“The defining element of Obama’s grand strategy is that it reflects the totality of American interests – foreign and domestic – to project global leadership in an era of seemingly infinite demands and finite resources,” writes Chollet. “This is playing the ‘Long Game.’”
Chollet describes Obama as a political version of Warren Buffett, who became a billionaire by buying up companies with a strong market base but which were financially weak. When the economy got better, the values of these investments skyrocketed. Buffett made his billions by looking not at these companies’ value at the time he bought them, but what he expected these entities to be worth over time.
“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard,” observed Buffett.
Obama believed the U.S. overextended itself by pouring so much manpower, equipment, and money into Iraq, instead of hunting down Al-Qaeda and its leaders. Obama thought the U.S. should shift America’s focus from the Middle East to the Pacific Basin; rebalance America’s projection of power, putting as much emphasis on diplomacy and economic sanctions/assistance as Bush did on the use of military force; and reset America’s alliances with NATO and Russia.
To go into every topic Obama’s administration dealt with would fill up this entire newspaper. We’re going to look at some of Obama’s foreign policy successes, his failures, and draw some conclusions.
Historians are likely to regard the Iran nuclear treaty as a hallmark of Obama’s administration. When Bush left office, Iran was moving full speed ahead on its
nuclear program. Obama convinced the Russians, Chinese, British, and French to impose sanctions that devastated the Iranian economy. Since the July 2015 signing of the treaty, Iran has removed weapons grade uranium, reduced the number of centrifuges by two thirds, and removed the heavy water reactor at Arak and filled it with concrete. For the moment, Iran has been disarmed. That is no small achievement, and may be one a bellicose Trump could build upon.
In August 2013 Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons against opposition held territory, killing 1,400 civilians, including women and children. Obama had warned Assad in 2012 that doing this would be crossing a red line. The only nation willing to back the U.S. in using military force was France (derided as the seller of “freedom fries” during the Bush era). Britain’s parliament voted against participation, and the American people overwhelmingly opposed involvement in a third Middle East conflict. Congress refused to authorize military action by Obama. The Republican Congressional war dogs made macho denunciations of Assad, but wouldn’t vote to authorize U.S. military action against the Syrian tyrant.
Chollet cited other problems related to using military force to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons. There were 50 sites containing 1,300 pounds of chemical weapons, dispersed around Syria. Neutralizing these would require heavy air and naval attacks along with 75,000 ground troops. There was a danger Assad’s military would collapse under such an assault, and hundreds of tons of chemical weapons fall into the hands of ISIS/Al-Qaeda. After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that the matter could be resolved by Assad giving up his weapons, the crisis was resolved diplomatically.
Chollet writes: “Without a bomb being dropped, Syria admitted to having a massive chemical weapons program it had never before acknowledged, agreed to give it up, and submitted to a multinational coalition that removed the weapons and destroyed them in a way that had never been tried before.”
Obama lost face because he drew the red line and didn’t take military action against Syria. But he achieved the maximalist objective of disarming Syria. Reagan faced a similar situation when 250 Marines were massacred in Lebanon by terrorists in 1982. Instead of doubling down, Reagan prevented America from getting dragged into a quagmire by “redeploying” the surviving Marines to ships offshore. Both Presidents did what was best for their country, even if it meant a personal loss of face.
Bin Laden and the drones
Obama’s Presidency reached its pinnacle in May 2011 when Seal Team Six descended upon Osama bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed the Al-Qaeda leader. Few Americans knew that Obama had played a key role in planning the mission. The plan originally call for the Seals to go in without helicopter backups. Obama insisted that backup helicopters be situated in reserve not far from Abbottabad. These proved crucial when one of the Seal helicopters crashed while landing.
Obama used the same strategic approach to get America out of Iraq and Afghanistan that Richard Nixon used to get the U.S. out of Vietnam: advance the air power while withdrawing the troops. Nixon used B-52s and laser guided ordinance to bomb North Vietnam into signing a peace treaty. Obama sent American drones on hundreds of missions to kill Al-Qaeda and associated terrorist leaders. Some criticized this because of the civilians killed in the drone strikes. However, by and large, it did disrupt Al-Qaeda’s ability to launch mass casualty attacks on the U.S. homeland.
The Russian Reset, Part I
With all the noise being generated over Trump and Vladimir Putin, Obama’s “reset” with Russia has been widely viewed as a failure. However, when the policy was first implemented in 2009, it did lead to some successes. This was due to the fact that Putin was not the Russian President; Dimitri Medvedev was, and he wanted to work with the United States. With Medvedev’s help, the U.S. organized the sanctions against Iran; agreed to destroy one third of Russia’s nuclear arsenal; supported setting up supply lines to Afghanistan that avoided a volatile Pakistan; and voted with the U.S. during the U.N. debate authorizing the use of military force against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Now, let’s look at some of shortcomings of Obama’s Presidency.
According to the mainstream media, upwards of 500,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war and millions have fled to Europe. Obama appears to have done what he could diplomatically to stop the carnage. But faced with the obduracy of Syrian President Assad, the lack of allies who supported intervening in Syria, the U.S. had no good choices. If it supported Assad, the U.S. would be siding with a blood thirsty dictator. If Obama opposed Assad, ISIS and Al Qaeda might take control of the country. His critics charged that he could have supported moderate Syrians earlier, but there was a problem with vetting these groups.
What Obama should have done is establish no fly zones in Syria where Syrians fleeing the conflict could be protected. This would also have stopped large masses of Syrians from fleeing to Europe.
When America troops left in 2011, Iraq by and large was peaceful. The emergence of ISIS could not have been foreseen by any American President. It was with a few thousand guerillas that ISIS attacked and conquered huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, with its million residents, stated Wikipedia, “the Iraqi army had 30,000 soldiers stationed in the city, facing a 1,500-member attacking force.” With such favorable odds, the ISIS force should have been smashed. Instead, the 30,000 Iraqi soldiers abandoned their U.S. equipment and fled.
Few were clairvoyant enough to anticipate the total ineffectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, equipped with billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment. From a few thousand fighters, ISIS grew to an armed force of 30,000 men as wannabe Jihadists from Europe and the Middle East swelled their ranks. They were armed with the American weapons left behind by the fleeing Iraqi army.
In 2011 there was yet another U.S. intervention on “humanitarian” grounds in Libya that turned into a mission to overthrow Gaddafi. After Gaddafi was killed, Libya descended into anarchy as warring factions fought each other. The U.S. was prodded into action on Libya by its European allies; Obama should have insisted on a post-war NATO occupation force from these allies to assist Libyans in setting up a stable government.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposed intervening in Libya, saying: “Can I just finish the two wars we’re already in before you go looking for new ones?”
The Russian Reset, Part II
In 2012 Vladimir Putin took back his old job of Russian President. Putin’s animus against Hillary Clinton stems from this episode; Putin apparently believes that Clinton ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to clandestinely block his return to the Russian Presidency. In any event, Obama’s measures to persuade Putin to stay out of Syria and the Ukraine were unsuccessful, and this must be regarded as another Obama shortcoming.
History will give a much fuller judgment on Obama when the facts become available. Since Obama’s foreign policy was set up with the intention of yielding long term benefits, a historical perspective will be necessary to evaluate Obama. The failures he had, particularly in the Middle East, rose from his fervent desire to keep the U.S. out of another war.
Obama may well be remembered by historians for two things that didn’t happen on his watch. First, he kept the economy from imploding. The car industry was saved, the banking system made solvent, and a slow but painful process of economic revival took place. Second, he didn’t get sucked into another quagmire like Iraq. The 175,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been reduced to 15,000. Yes, it wasn’t a perfect Presidency. But considering the near collapse of the economy in 2008, Obama did well in keeping America from falling into the abyss of a second Great Depression, and from being drawn into another grinding war. History is likely to view Barack Obama very kindly.
Rose’s kitchen window: more flowers, fewer fascist dictators!!!! pic:R.T.
The First Nazi: Erich Ludendorff, the Man Who Made Hitler Possible
By Will and Denise Brownell (Counterpoint Press, 2016; 277 pages)
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
If there ever was a human being who richly deserved to spend eternity burning in the fires of hell, it would be German Field Marshall Erich Ludendorff. This man prolonged the agonizing bloodshed of World War I at a cost of millions of lives, brought Lenin’s Communists to power in what became the Soviet Union, and smoothed the way for Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Ludendorff was an epicenter of evil a century ago, a man who fostered the greatest mass murderers of the 20th century.
A scholarly study of Ludendorff is long overdue, given his enormously destructive impact on human history. Unfortunately, this book isn’t it. The authors, as they were writing, let their emotions get away from them and used inflammatory language throughout this book, expressing opinions about Ludendorff and Germans in general.
A good example:
“World leaders now saw Ludendorff as a megalomaniac, and they regarded Germany as what Romans used to call an ‘enemy of the human race.’ Germany was indeed becoming the enemy of the world. It was a country that enslaved its neighbors and its own people at the same time. It sent torpedoes into any ships it pleased, spewed poison on the battlefield, and practiced something similar to genocide in both Africa and Europe.”
Depending on the era, the same things could be said about the United States: the pre-civil war era when slavery was an institution, Mexico invaded and deprived of half its national territory, the genocide of native Americans, and Agent Orange in Vietnam.
After reading this diatribe, one could not help but thinking that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
Usually historians “source” their reference material with footnotes or endnotes. Instead, the authors here cited for each chapter half a dozen sources, with no statements identifying the text verified. In going through a book which is heavily laced with opinion, readers are left to wonder whether he/she is reading a fact, or the authors’ opinion.
Focus on World War I
Much of this book dwells on the carnage of World War I. There is little background on Ludendorff’s upbringing, which the authors attribute to a lack of source material. They review at length the agony of trench warfare, the battles with million man casualties (Verdun and the Somme), the entry of the United States into the war, and the 1918 collapse of the German army.
The book devotes several chapters to how Ludendorff sent Lenin in a sealed train to Russia in 1917 in the hopes Lenin would lead a second revolution that would take Russia out of the war. In this Ludendorff was successful, and so the catastrophe that was Russian 20th century history followed.
Post World War I, Ludendorff is best known for being present at the “Beer Hall putsch” in 1923 when Hitler attempted to seize power. While Hitler and the other Nazis flopped to the pavement on their bellies after the state police opened fire, Ludendorff bravely marched forward towards the gunfire. This was left out of the book’s account of the episode.
Ludendorff was the main propagator of the so-called “stab in the back” theory, in which Germany was not defeated on the World War I battlefields but undermined by a Jewish cable. This theory gained considerable acceptance in Germany and created an atmosphere which enabled Hitler to rise to power.
An impartial assessment of Ludendorff’s life would be difficult given his great crimes. The authors seemed talented at the writing aspect of this book. But they could have at the least made an attempt to be impartial. By allowing their emotions to flow into this book, and not sourcing their accusations, they undermine their contention that Ludendorff was one of the worst monsters in human history. These guys brought Hitler to his knees! Worcester honors them – City Hall. pic:R.T.
Q: As a progressive who’s strongly supported Hillary Clinton, how would you bring more Bernie supporters into the fold?
A: What I tried to say today is that our work is not done and certainly the people who support Bernie Sanders know the work is not done. We have this incredibly progressive platform, thanks in large part to Bernie Sanders supporters.
In the past, platforms at Democratic conventions haven’t mattered much. We need to make sure that this means something. And that means getting your representatives to sign on the dotted line and say that when these issues come up before Congress, you’re going to vote for them.
I think if it wasn’t for Bernie’s campaign, I don’t think that Hillary Clinton’s positions on some issues would be as progressive as they are. She’s publicly against the TPP. You know what, we need to make sure that in the lame duck session of Congress there’s not an attempt to bring it up.
We need to work together to make sure that all these values that we talked about here today, that we actually abide by them.
I talked about my first political experience with George McGovern. How he’s my gold standard. I think for a lot of people, Bernie Sanders is their gold standard. I think there are a number of Bernie Sanders supporters we’ll still need to persuade. We can’t just assume that everybody’s going to come on board.
I think that in the end we’re going to be successful because I think the choice in this election is so clear. I think we have to focus on issues that matter to people and we can’t ignore these voices.
Just because Hillary is the nominee doesn’t mean that we don’t have to deal with Bernie or Bernie supporters. If we talk about being united, that means it’s a two-way street. I need you and you need me and we’re going to have to work together.
I’m optimistic. As I said this morning, there are days when I wake up with a cold sweat and think about the possibility that a bigot like Donald Trump might be president. But I believe in the goodness of this country. That people won’t embrace that kind of bigotry. I really do believe that love trumps hate. I’m not going to take that for granted and I’m going to work like hell in the next few months.
Q: What did you see in Hillary early on that others may have missed?
A: I’ve known Hillary for 20 years and I’ve always thought of her as a trailblazer.
When I first got elected to Congress 20 years ago, I thought of her not only as the first First Lady I’ve worked with, but she was also one of the first major figures in Washington recognize the importance of early childcare.
She held the first White House conference on early childhood development. We’re so far behind so many other places in the world in terms of understanding that education begins at birth, not when you’re in kindergarten.
She was the first person to come out for universal healthcare. Before Obamacare there was Hillarycare. I think she laid the groundwork and I think she’s committed to universal healthcare. In the platform is this embrace of a public option and we gotta make sure we fight for that.
I also do a lot of work on hunger and food insecurity in the United States and around the world. When she was Secretary of State, right before she was sworn in, I met with her. What I thought was going to be a 10-minute meeting ended up being an hour-plus meeting in which I felt that she really cared and wanted to do something and she did.
She initiated this program called Feed the Future which is now feeding millions of people around the world and empowering small farmers and particularly women farmers in some of the poorest countries in the world, really making a difference. And to me, that’s America at it’s greatest.
We all talk about national security and I believe that championing issues like ending hunger and extreme poverty will do more to enhance national security than all the drones and all the bombs and military hardware that we send all over the world.
I like her. I respect her. I think she’s a good person. In elections, you gotta make choices. I’ve never been against Bernie, I’m just for Hillary. But I’m glad Bernie ran and I think that it not only moved our party in the direction it needs to go, I also think he energized a lot of young voters and made her a better candidate. I think she has a better chance of winning having gone through this primary.
Q: Is there any hope for the House?
A: I think we have a lot of seats in play in the House. Winning the House back is gone from an impossibility to a possibility. It’s still an uphill climb, but it’s possible and you’re hearing a lot of pundits say that. And I think we can win the Senate back. If we win the House and Senate back and we get Hillary as president, we’re going to be able to actually do some things. Not just in small, incremental ways, but in bigger ways.
This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
There is a famous saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Like Syria earlier this decade, Turkey is finding out the hard way that the enemy of their enemy can quickly turn into their enemy.
The United States invaded Iraq in 2003. Shortly thereafter, foreign fighters began to flood the country.
“Senior Iraqi intelligence officers believe an Islamic militant group which has claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Irbil and a spate of deadly attacks in Baghdad, Falluja and Mosul is receiving significant help from Syria and Iran,” the Guardian, a respected British newspaper, reported on February 19, 2004. The Guardian recounted that Iraqi insurgents were “given shelter by Syrian and Iranian security agencies and have been able to enter Iraq with ease” and were “suspected of training suicide bombers and deploying them against US forces in Iraq and Iraqis considered to be collaborating with the US-led authorities.”
At the time, Syrian President Bashir al-Assad was backing the Iraqi insurgents to drive the United States out of the Middle East. When the Arab spring unfolded in 2011, the Jihadists began using Turkey as an infiltration route to unseat Assad. Their efforts were made easier by the knowledge – and the networks set up – to use Syria to infiltrate Iraq.
Turkey’s Prime Minister wanted to see Assad toppled. As the Wall Street Journal reported on September 4, 2014, Turkey allowed the setting up of a “jihadist highway” that “let foreign militants slip across its border into Syria.” ISIS terrorists were allowed to use Turkey’s territory to rest, recuperate, and launch attacks against Syrian forces.
The chickens came to roost with this week’s bloody suicide bombing on Turkey’s main airport, the same airport used by foreign Jihadists to enter Turkey on their way to fight in Syria.
One lesson to be learned from this is the danger of “blowback.” This was a term America became familiar with after 9/11, when it was used to describe the U.S. supplying arms to Afghans fighting the Soviet Union, who then created Al-Qaeda to war against the U.S. The Syrians saw their country destroyed by the blowback of their government’s support of terrorists to attack U.S. forces in Syria, and Turkey is now facing a very bloody blowback from their government’s decision to set up the “Jihadist highway.”
Another lesson to be learned is that the United States cannot put boots on the ground in the Middle East and engage in direct combat with ISIS.
That will only inflame the Middle East further, unite warring Jihadist factions against the U.S., and motivate some of America’s enemies to befriend each other. The U.S. should stick to its current strategy of using Special Forces, drones and air power to degrade ISIS.
We invaded Iraq because most Americans — including good liberals like Al Franken, Nicholas Kristof & Bill Keller of the New York Times, David Remnick of the New Yorker, the editors of the Atlantic and the New Republic, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and John Kerry — wanted to.
Of course the actual blame for the war goes to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz because they ordered the “precision” bombing, the invasion, the occupation, and the theft of our national treasury. I have no doubt that history will record that they committed the undisputed Crime of the (young) Century.
But how did they get away with it, considering they’d lost the presidential election by 543,895 votes? They also knew that the majority of the country probably wouldn’t back them in such a war (a Newsweek poll in October 2002 showed 61% thought it was “very important” for Bush to get formal approval from the United Nations for war — but that never happened). So how did they pull it off?