Skip to content

Archive for

Covert Ops in Iran

By Taylor Marvin

Another Iranian nuclear scientists was assassinated this morning. From the Washington Post:

“An Iranian scientist involved in purchasing equipment for the Islamic Republic’s main uranium-enrichment facility was assassinated Wednesday when a magnetic bomb attached to his car exploded in morning rush-hour traffic, Iranian media reported.

Iranian officials accused the United States and Israel of orchestrating the attack, which also killed the scientist’s driver.”

The Telegraph has video from the scene:

It’s unclear how the US is involved in these operations. Secretary of State Clinton categorically denied any US role in today’s killing, but since this denial comes from the State Department rather than CIA it’s less than entirely credible.* Even if these targeted killings are being run by Israel — the most likely possibility — US intelligence services could play major intelligence gathering and support roles. Despite the protests of many liberal commentators, these operations are probably legal under US law: as Dan Trombly pointed out this morning, the broad jurisdiction of past US AUMFs likely cover assassinating Iranian civilians.

Whatever agency is actual responsibility, these killings are bad policy. Leaving aside the dubious morality of gunning down civilians in front of their wives, covert action within Iran is not in the long term interests of the US and Israel. Once a nuclear program has been established they are extremely difficult to destroy — Iran’s nuclear facilities are too protected and widespread for US or Israeli airstrikes to stand a reasonable chance of destroying them. Killing nuclear scientists appears to have had some success delaying Iranian progress towards a bomb, but it’s unlikely that American and Israeli covert action could counter accelerated Iranian bomb development. It’s unclear how serious the Iranian nuclear program actually is, and targeted killings within Iran create a strong incentive for devoting more resources to successfully testing a nuclear device. Past countries to have abandoned nuclear weapons programs did so out of choice, not coercion. Action against Iran makes a nuclear deterrent a defensible choice and weakens the (admittedly weak) chances of a successful diplomatic solution.

The United State’s long-term Iran strategy aims to encourage liberal reform within Iran. Killing Iranian citizens directly conflicts with this goal by enfranchising authoritarian forces within Iranian society. Every time an Iranian civilian is killed, the narrative of an Iran under siege pushed by conservatives within the Iranian government becomes stronger, and the legitimate justification for a nuclear deterrent greater. Given that there’s no reason to believe that a nuclear armed Iran could not be deterred by US and Israeli nuclear deterrents, weakening moderates within the Iranian government for the sake of transient delays in the Iranian nuclear program is simply bad policy. While is no real prospect of democratic reform in Iran anytime soon, continued attacks against Iranian civilians legitimately antagonize Iranian society for no real reason.

But it’s also worth remembering that assassinating nuclear scientists is less disruptive to Iranian society than liberals’ weapon of choice, sanctions. Direct action against the Iranian nuclear program — like covert assassinations and Stuxnet — harm only the programs and individuals targeted, as well as folks unlucky enough to be in the path of assassins bullets. Sanctions hurt all Iranians, especially those outside the elite. The tougher sanctions authorized in the 2012 US National Defense Authorization Act have already had severe effects on the Iranian economy, forcing down the value of its currency and driving up the price of basic commodities. These new sanctions are much tougher than any imposed in the past, and may successfully force the Iranian leadership to the bargaining table. It’s also possible that popular anger over rising prices could be directed at the autocratic Iranian government, rather than the United States, destabilizing the regime. But it’s unlikely any of these hopeful scenarios will occur: Iran’s leaders know they have public opinion behind them on the nuclear issue, the world appetite for sanctions is weakening, and there appears to be little popular appetite for another Iranian revolution.

Even if sanctions aren’t likely to force an end to Iran’s nuclear program, they are costly. It’s senseless to pretend that sanctions don’t hurt ordinary Iranians more than the military and nuclear programs they’re designed to target. Of course, the economy-wide effects of sanctions are often a feature, not a bug — after all, sanctions without economic bite are unlikely to coerce defiant leaders. But sanctions have a poor track record as a coercive tool, and it’s more likely that the NDAA’s tougher sanctions on the Iranian financial sector will just stir up further anti-foreign sentiment in Iran and enfranchisement conservative factions than catalyze diplomatic progress. The majority of Iranians appear to support the nuclear program, and US-led sanctions’ obvious damage to the Iranian economy is likely to reinforce the perception that nuclear status is a legitimate national prestige project and deterrent.

Killing scientists is bad for ordinary Iranians, but sanctions are worse. While complaints among American liberals that assassinating Iranian civilians fits the definition of ‘terrorism’ are valid, it’s also worth noting that Iranian scientists involved in their countries nuclear program are acutely aware of the risks of their involvement, making them arguably legitimate military targets. Semantics aside, sanctions hurt all Iranians, and are if anything more harmful to the long-term prospects of liberal reform in Iran than assassinating scientists and military officers. That doesn’t make covert action in Iran a wise policy, but advocates of sanctions over targeted killings should remember it.

*Update: Spokespersons for other US government agencies have also denied US involvement and denounced the attack.
Updated to add video.

Rick Santorum Is Not An Iran Expert

By Taylor Marvin

Paul Krugman once quipped that Newt Gingrich is ‘a dumb person’s idea of a smart person’. This may just be an unintentional byproduct of Gingrich’s hyperactive intellectual bluster, but the “dumb person’s idea of an intellectual” persona is an electoral strategy that Rick Santorum carefully cultivates.

Take this exchange from the recent New Hampshire debate (via Daniel Larison):

GREGORY: “Senator Santorum, I want to ask you about Iran. It’s been a big issue in the course of this campaign so far.

I wonder why it is, if America has lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we have come to live with a nuclear North Korea, why is it that we cannot live with a nuclear Iran?

And if we can’t, are you prepared to take the country to war to disarm that country?”

SANTORUM: “They’re a — they’re a theocracy. They’re a theocracy that has deeply embedded beliefs that — that the afterlife is better than this life. President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said the principle virtue of the Islamic Republic of Iran is martyrdom.

So when your principle virtue is to die for your — for Allah, then it’s not a deterrent to have a nuclear threat, if they would use a nuclear weapon. It is, in fact, an encouragement for them to use their nuclear weapon. And that’s why there’s a difference between the Soviet Union and China and others and Iran.”

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

See what Santorum’s doing here? This argument is ridiculous on its face — just because Iran’s governed by a Shi’a theocracy doesn’t mean that a nuclear armed Iran can’t be deterred, because there’s a psychological huge leap between ideologically valuing ideals of martyrdom and mass suicide. Santorum doesn’t bother to support this assertion at all. In his argument, there’s no daylight between the Iranian leadership’s “deeply embedded beliefs” and a suicidal mass psychosis. Santorum can’t just come out and argue that because Iran is run by a Muslim theocracy its leaders are necessarily crazy; even poorly informed Republican primary voters would have a hard time accepting this logic. Instead, he cloaks his argument behind a discussion of obscure Shi’a religious values, values that the average American has only a passing familiarity with. To the uninformed, this intellectual name dropping is impressive. That doesn’t change the fact that these religious values are irrelevant to deterrence logic — after all, many cultures place an emphasis on personal sacrifice, and the Iranian leadership’s historic behavior is much more in the mold of a rational actor striving for subregional hegemony rather than an irrational fanatic — but primary voters come away with the impression that a man who claims with a straight face that Iranians were free before 1979 is a foreign policy expert.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Van Gogh, Self-Portrait, 1887.

Van Gogh, 'Self-Portrait', 1887.

The best links of the week:

Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe.

Cities on the Ocean.

How Rick Santorum is making his “Google problem” worse (via The Economist’s Johnson).

Unaccountable killing machines: The true cost of US drones.

In Montana, corporations aren’t people.

Letters to a dictator.

What’s happening in the Persian Gulf explained.

Chinese are up to speed with life in the fast lane.

Al Qaeda on the ropes: One fighter’s story.

Syria wages war against dissidents in Europe.

M. Ward -Duet for Guitars #1

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the Middle Ages

By Taylor Marvin

Last month Andrew Sullivan flagged a very interesting story on posttraumatic stress disorder among medieval knights. There is strong documentary evidence that medieval soldiers suffered from severe psychological problems, according to Thomas Heebøll-Holm of the SAXO Institute at the University of Copenhagen:

“Previously, medieval texts were read as worshiping heroes and glorifying violence. But in the light of modern military psychology we can see the mental cost to the knights of their participation in the gruesome and extremely violent wars in the Middle Ages.”

Warfare in the Middle Ages was truly horrific. Medieval single-handed arming swords were heavy (averaging roughly two to three pounds) and able to traumatically amputate limbs in a single cut. Blows to unarmored heads or torsos could be instantly fatal. Injuries that did not kill soliders on the battlefields would often become infected and, in the absence of antibiotics and sanitization techniques, turn gangrenous and end in horrible lingering deaths. Like modern combatants, knights and other medieval professional soldiers were not immune to psychological problems rooted in stress and horrible conditions of grinding warfare.

Medieval combat, 1415.

Medieval combat, 1415.

While the popular perception of the Middle Ages of period of endless warfare is inaccurate, it was a era of casual violence and widespread, horrific suffering far outside most modern humans’ ability to realistically comprehend. Of course, this is something we’re all aware of in the abstract: everyone knows that the Middle Ages were violent, and the entire epoch is best remembered the popular imagination as little more than a history of wars. But I think that few people actually appreciate just how violent mediaeval warfare was, and how horrific the injuries caused swords and other medieval weapons really were. Media is partially to blame: most of us get our knowledge of life in the Middle Ages from film, and movies often present a sanitized view of medieval combat. Think about, say, The Lord of the Rings: while Peter Jackson’s enormously popular trilogy doesn’t shy away from showing medieval combat, the necessity of a PG-13 rating means that Orc’s blood is black and the vast majority of sword strokes leave no visible injury and kill instantly instead of leaving a trail of screaming, slowly dying soldiers. While other films –Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven is a good example — do a better job depicting realistic traumatic injuries, most films about medieval warfare approach it from an adventure or fantasy perspective, meaning there’s less appetite for gritty, disturbingly realistic films about medieval rather than modern conflicts. This colors our modern perception of medieval warfare, and obscures the stresses knights faced and its effect on their psychologies.

15th century depiction of the Battle of Formigny.

15th century depiction of the Battle of Formigny.

The horrors medieval Europeans faced were not limited to casual violence — disease inflicted mass suffering modern humans outside regions affected by the AIDS epidemic have no real conception of. Medieval author Boccaccio describes the effects of the Black Death in the introduction to his 1353 allegory The Decameron:

Michael Wolgemuts allegorical depiction of the Black Death. The Dance of Death, 1493.

Michael Wolgemut's allegorical depiction of the Black Death. 'The Dance of Death', 1493.

And it did not behave as it did in the Orient, where if blood began to rush out the nose it was a manifest sign of inevitable death; but rather it began with swellings in the groin and armpit, in both men and women, some of which were as big as apples and some of which were shaped like eggs, some were small and others were large; the common people called these swellings gavoccioli. From these two parts of the body, the fatal gavaccioli would begin to spread and within a short while would appear over the entire body in various spots; the disease at this point began to take on the qualities of a deadly sickness, and the body would be covered with dark and livid spots, which would appear in great numbers on the arms, the thighs, and other parts of the body; some were large and widely spaced while some were small and bunched together. And just like the gavaciolli earlier, these were certain indications of coming death.”

It’s estimated that the Black Death killed up to 50 percent of the European population in four years. Proportionately, that is comparable to over 150 million deaths in the modern United States. Some local death rate in the most severely affected parts of Europe — southern France and Italy — reached 80 percent, and many individual towns were completely depopulated. Modern inhabitants of the developed world have no conception of a disaster of this magnitude.

The scale of the Black Death’s destruction had a profound impact on the societies it affected. Again from Boccaccio:

“Because of all these things, and many others that were similar or even worse, diverse fears and imaginings were born in those left alive, and all of them took recourse to the most cruel precaution: to avoid and run away from the sick and their things; by doing this, each person believed they could preserve their health. Others were of the opinion that they should live moderately and guard against all excess; by this means they would avoid infection. Having withdrawn, living separate from everybody else, they settled down and locked themselves in, where no sick person or any other living person could come, they ate small amounts of food and drank the most delicate wines and avoided all luxury, refraining from speech with outsiders, refusing news of the dead or the sick or anything else, and diverting themselves with music or whatever else was pleasant. Others, who disagreed with this, affirmed that drinking beer, enjoying oneself, and going around singing and ruckus-raising and satisfying all one’s appetites whenever possible and laughing at the whole bloody thing was the best medicine; and these people put into practice what they heartily advised to others: day and night, going from tavern to tavern, drinking without moderation or measure, and many times going from house to house drinking up a storm and only listening to and talking about pleasing things. These parties were easy to find because everyone behaved as if they were going to die soon, so they cared nothing about themselves nor their belongings; as a result, most houses became common property, and any stranger passing by could enter and use the house as if he were its master. But for all their bestial living, these people always ran away from the sick. With so much affliction and misery, all reverence for the laws, both of God and of man, fell apart and dissolved, because the ministers and executors of the laws were either dead or ill like everyone else, or were left with so few officials that they were unable to do their duties; as a result, everyone was free to do whatever they pleased.”

While the Black Death was the most destructive of medieval pandemics, other diseases were also extremely destructive. Like victims of medieval warfare, survivors were unlikely to ever fully recover from the stress of pandemics that decimated their societies.

Tintin and the Uncanny Valley

By Taylor Marvin

Kevin Kelly (via Torie Bosch) is excited that the new film The Adventures of Tintin avoids the pitfall of the uncanny valley, or the tendency of almost realistically animated human characters to come off as deeply creepy — or what’s also referred to as the “Polar Express soulless corpse eyes effect”.

“In the first few minutes of the Tin Tin, there is a momentary hesitation when you first see the face of the characters; a feeling they are just a bit shy of something. But that moment passes quickly and thereafter the humans (and animals) seem totally real. Their movements, skin texture, hair, expressions, eyes, everything says they are real — even thought they are only simulations. It helps that the environments are also 100% believable, including the elements of water, weather, atmosphere, sand, and city.”

Dana Stevens at Slate largely agrees, but notes that the more realistically proportioned Tintin “teeters on the brink of that dreaded valley” while the more cartonish characters are more acceptable. Why? Stevens proposes that Tintin’s realisitic character design hurts his acceptability to audiences, suggesting that “realistically proportioned, conventionally ‘attractive’ characters tend to come off worse in digital animation than their more exaggerated comic sidekicks.”

I saw the film last week, and thought it did an amazing job of avoided the lifelessness and repulsion of the uncanny valley: Tintin and the rest of the film’s animated characters are realistically designed, but come off as characters rather than lifeless puppets or caricatures. This is a major technological achievement. Previous computer animated films have been forced to avoid realistic human character design in favor of cartoonish ones, and even the wizards at Pixar have stayed carefully away from realistically animated human characters:

Up (2009)

Up (2009)

Wall-E (2008)

Wall-E (2008)

The Incredibles (2004)

The Incredibles (2004)

Of course, Pixar creates a fundamentally different type of movie than Tintin, and aims for a much lower level of visual realism. However, Tintin’s realistic character design extends beyond less cartoonishly proportioned character design — The Adventures of Tintin’s characters’ show detailed skin textures and eye designs, two traits that when done wrong are most responsible for the creepiness of the uncanny valley.

Animators depicting non-human characters have had an easier time avoiding the uncanny valley. It’s easy to forget that The Two Towers premiered a decade ago this year: even today, Gollum (played by Andy Serkis, who ably portrays Captain Haddock in Tintin) is expressive and perfectly real.

The Adventures of Tintin is an excellent chase movie, especially in its humor and lovely dedication to the details of its exotic settings. But it’s real impact is perfecting lifelike animation of realistic human characters. Get ready for more.

Obama the Alien

By Taylor Marvin

Dave Weigel, reporting from Iowa, talks to a Rick Santorum fan: retired insurance salesman Ron Wilson. Wilson understands Romney will almost certainly win the nomination, but identifies more closely with Santorum:

“‘If you guys did some digging, you’d realize we don’t know anything about Obama,’ said Wilson. ‘We don’t have his college records; we don’t know who he dated in college. I think that birth certificate stuff was pretty stupid, but there are aspects of his career that no [sic] has looked at. Look into Jeremiah Wright’s church, and Black Liberation Theology. It’s a racist church, fundamentally.’ Contrast all that with Santorum. ‘He’s one of us,’ says Wilson.”

It shouldn’t take any great insight to understand the narrative lurking behind Mr. Wilson’s complaints. Of course it doesn’t matter who Barack Obama dated in college — for any other candidate forgotten records of youthful romances would be of concern only as amusing campaign trail anecdotes, not as suspicious unknowns. But for Barack Obama it’s different; because of his color and foreign name Barack Obama’s college records aren’t trivial, but a worrying absence that becomes part of a larger narrative of alien difference. Why else would the GOP’s meme of Obama’s “appeasement” have proved so durable? After all, as Ted Galen Carpenter argues in The National Interest, this isn’t exactly a claim based in fact:

“But even by that dubious standard, the Republican appeasement charge is misguided. The current bastardized definition of appeasement implies a weak-kneed willingness to make far-reaching, unwise concessions to aggressors. That certainly does not describe the current occupant of the Oval Office. After all, Obama sharply escalated the war in Afghanistan, has led efforts to impose harsher economic sanctions on Iran, adopted a hostile stance regarding China’s ambitions territorial claims in the South China Sea and served as the godfather of NATO’s military campaign to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. That’s not exactly a record reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain.”

Image by Ari Levinson.

Image by Ari Levinson.

The narrative of Obama the appeaser thrives because it dovetails into the narrative of Obama the foreign outsider. It’s this meme of foreignness and inauthenticity as an American that allows elements of the American right to complain about Obama — who, let’s not forget, has actually governed as a moderate conservative — harboring a “Black Liberation Theology”, allowed Mitt Romney to constantly remind us of the President’s mythical “tour around the world to apologize for America“, and for Forbes to publish articles seriously claiming that President Obama, whose drone policies have torn the entire notion of Pakistani and Somali sovereignty to shreds, is driven by an “anticolonialist ideology” and views “America’s military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation.”

Of course, these talking points are motivated by concrete political tactics first and fears of a brown otherness second — columnist Daniel Larison is right to note that there’s so little light between Obama’s foreign policy and the Republican orthodoxy that Romney’s forced to invent a capitulating Obama for voters to see any difference between his policies and the president’s. But there’s no denying that the narrative of Obama the alien is enormously helpful politically: there’s a reason that contemporary Republican charges of President Clinton’s appeasement to Chinese autocrats never really stuck.

These claims remain perverse because Obama’s personal history is different, at least from the American mean, and however irrelevant that difference is from his actual policies. But it’s unclear that this narrative of Obama’s otherness will have any effect on his reelection prospects. While some Iowan primary voters’ affinity with Santorum may be expressed in racial and cultural code phrases (“one of us”), this attitude doesn’t appear to be widespread — most conservatives appear to dislike Obama for solid political reasons, and Obama’s approval ratings have actually remained fairly high for his term’s dismal economic record. That’s encouraging. But as America becomes less white, we can expect political narratives that cast nonwhite liberal politicians as outsiders or less-than-real Americans to be more prevalent, at least among some corners of the Republican (and, when Republicans nominate a serious nonwhite candidate, Democratic) primary electorate.

Remembering the Great War

By Taylor Marvin

I’m lucky enough to own a collection of vintage World War I history books, which I inherited from my great grandfather. All were published in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and offer a fascinating contemporary take on the First World War. Here are a few of the most interesting and striking photos from these volumes, which provide a fascinating look at the destruction of the Great War and the forward-looking but doomed optimism of its aftermath.

Around the World With a Camera: Special War Edition, Photographs from the Battle Fields”, 1919.

“Now for Prosperity!”

Evident in every contemporary history of the First World War is an optimism that this “Great War” was the last that humanity would ever fight, and that its survivors had lived through the climax of history. From the introduction to Around the World With a Camera:

“Around the world with a camera visiting every nation under the sun! Who would not like to make such a trip in safety and in ease? It is a journey but few of us could make during the Great War, when every country was thronged with spies, making the use of a camera forbidden except by official photographers.”

“‘The World’s Greatest War’ has terrible significant. It means the largest armies ever assembled, the fiercest battles ever fought, the most cruel atrocities ever committed and the most splendid valor ever shown.

It has been impossible to realize that millions of men have been fighting against each other to the very death. It seems incredible that war should have involved nearly all the civilized nations of the Europe, extending across the seas to Japan and even touch Canada in the Western Hemisphere, and the United States.

And the most rigid censorship was established against newspapers photographers and correspondents; yet they were able to secure photographs, sketched and information which the public so eagerly awaited.

For hundreds of years to come the world’s interest will be centered in the four years through which we have just passed. Art and literature, economic and social advancement, in fact every activity of human endeavor will be influenced by this greatest of all epochs to an extent which we are unable to appreciate today because of our inability to obtain a comprehensive perspective. Unborn generations will peruse ‘Around the World With a Camera’  with an interest far greater than our own.”

It’s easy to mockingly dismiss this optimism — after all, in 1920 World War II was less than two decades away. But it is important to remember that in 1914 Europe had been at peace for half a century, and the absolutely unprecedented scale and destruction of the Great War stunned the world. Around the World With a Camera’s forecast of a future of perpetual peace and prosperity is much harder to dismiss as hopeless naivety in its contemporary context of a world exhausted by the costliest war in history.

Around the World With a Camera showcases amazing illustrations and photography from all fronts of the war:

“The Grey Fighters of the Atlantic Fleet Reach Home: Ship for ship, man for man, and gun for gun, this long line of super-dreadnoughts and other battle craft is second to none in the world. This unusual photograph of the fleet as it entered New York harbor was made from an airplane flying over the ships. Admiral Henry T. Mayo, commander of the Atlantic Fleet, has been made commander-in-chief of the United States Fleet, thus giving him the command of the Pacific Fleet as well as that of the Atlantic.”

Sketches from the front.

“An Anxious Moment for One Boche: Coming out of his dugout the Hun prisoner wonders if Americans, French, British or Italians are waiting for him, and also what will be the attitude of his visitors upon meeting. Seldom does the camera record a more interesting study in facial expression than it caught as this German gave himself up to a Scotch soldier.”

An expressive sketch of a French and American soldier.

An expressive sketch of a French and American soldier.

French recruiting poster: “Come to the Aid of the Soldiers from Alsace-Lorraine’ — men from the ‘lost provinces.'”

French Propaganda: “Memories of 1776 blend with the hopes of 1917. France welcoming America as a participant in the war to save civilization. The arrival of American troops ‘Over There’ aroused the enthusiasm of the grateful French people and electrified their courage.”

“The Smile That Is On To Stay: The shell which made the hole damaged but didn’t break, the head. Through thick and thin the British Tommy has retained his good nature and certain confidence in the final victory. He has passed through many a dark day since his army began the memorable retreat from Mons, but his smile has never worn off.”

The narrative of World War I as the climax of history is especially evident when reporting on the treaty of Versailles that ended the war:

“The signing of the Peace Treaty at Versailles on June 28th formally ended the greatest war in the history of the world, and as the German delegates attached their signatures the thoughts of many turned back to the days of 1871 when Bismarck imposed his stern conditions on the French delegates in the same hall.”

“Justice at the Peace Table.”

“The President and Mrs Wilson at  Buckingham Palace. The Manchester (England) Guardian says: ‘President Wilson exercised a manifold attraction during his visit. Everybody has been charmed by his homely personality; some by his oratorical skill, others by his good humor, and still more by the high moral resolve by which his is animated. It was left, however, almost to the last moment of his stay for the most intimate revelation of his character. Who, looking on this group photograph, will doubt this? That the man who can stand between a king and a queen to be photographed with one trouser leg at full length while the other is turned up a couple of inches is above everything else — human!'”

Optimism for the future:

“Carving the Masterpiece” — the League of Nations.

“Peace.” Flags of the United Kingdom, United States, France, Italy, Russia, Japan, Poland, and Belgium.

U.S. Official Pictures of the World War: Showing America’s Participation, by Captain James C. Russell and Captain William E. Moore. 1920.

“And unextinguished laughter shakes the skies.” African-American infantryman during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Note the gas mask.

“How the Argonne was won. Like their Indian fighting ancestors the Americans fought from behind trees and bushes, digging a ‘fox hole’ fir cover whenever they paused. This photograph was taken by a Signal Corps operator during the advance of the 18th Inf., 1st Div., up the slopes of Hill 240, near Exermont, Oct. 11, 1918. These soldiers fought their way to the top in the face of heavy machine gun fire and drove the enemy from the position. The bullet-torn helmet in the foreground tells the story of a ‘buddy’ who lies ‘over yonder.'”

“While the ground soldier fought for days to gain a trench system of a patch of woods the airman sailed above viewing a reading the terrain like a map.”

“Yanks in Cochem smoking German pipes of peace.”

American soldiers at camp in France, 1918.

“Danger for gas attacks was impressed on our men by every means in order to enforce obedience to the army orders concerning the carrying and wearing of gas masks. This exhibition was staged for the benefit of soldiers by Maj. Evarts Tracy, C. E. In 1918 from 20 to 30 per cent of all our battle casualties were due to gas.”

The United States in the Great War, by Willis J. Abbot, 1919.

“The Italians in their mountain lines fought under appalling difficulties. The wounded men had to be lowered down precipices, often more than a thousand feet high, to emergency hospitals or waiting ambulances below. The American Red Cross played a large part in Italy.”

“General Pershing in a typical pose which suggests the force and poise of the man.”

“An arrested Arab sheik voluby protesting his innocence to his impassive captor, a British Tommy, who doesn’t understand a word of his language.”