Thursday, January 22, 2015

Field Marshal Luigi Cadorna - a one man disaster for Italy

Field Marshal Luigi Cadorna (1850 - 1928)
image wikimedia
Talking about wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Luigi Cadorna was a career soldier at the footsteps of his father from the age of fifteen. Two fatal traits were visible early on in his career:
  • "As Colonel commanding the 10th Regiment of Bersaglieri from 1892 Cadorna acquired a reputation for strict discipline and harsh punishment."  
  • "He wrote a manual of infantry tactics which laid stress on the doctrine of the offensive."
After he was dismissed the Italians began to understand that you cannot run an army by fear. More is needed to motivate the soldiers. And if you are only interested in offensives at least you should have the sense to prepare them properly and to have mobile reserves, don't you think? Cadorna did not think so and it shows in his horrendous military record.

The responsibility of the catastrophe lies with the Italian government that chose this man July 1914 to be the commander of the entire Italian army. Cadorna was already near retirement age and should have been allowed to step aside. Instead, the fate of the nation was given in to his inept hand at the dawn of the worst war humanity had ever seen with disastrous consequences to Italy.

"Cadorna fielded thirty-six infantry divisions composed of 875,000 men, but with only 120 modern artillery pieces."

Well, even without artillery these young Italian men certainly looked handsome and impressive while marching past the highly decorated Field Marshal in a military parade. Few realized in 1914 that these people, 300.000 of them, were soon to be literally cannon fodder. The survivors of the last battle would be so deadly afraid of their highest commander that they eagerly surrendered to the Central Powers whenever opportunity allowed, 275.000 men.

Field Marshal Luigi Cadorna wasted the life of over 300.000 Italia's best on useless and ill-deceived military campaigns to occupy Slovenia and lost 275.000 men as prisoners of war trying to do that. Over half a million Italian people. Plus all those Slovenian casualties and others. The government finally came to its senses and fired this man from the position of the country's highest ranking commander - but that was way too late.

The killing fields of Isonzo River
Italian Austro-Hungarian front 1915 - 1917
map wikimedia
The world was in fire and why not to take advantage of this and enlarge the territory of Italy a bit? The Isonzo river seemed like a gateway through the mountains to the Slovenian plains and also to taken the historical town of Trieste to Italian rule. He had enough men for the expedition didn't he? So Field Marshal Luigi Cadorna launched with the support of his government his beloved infantry offensives against Austro-Hungarian defensive lines, Four of them in 1915. Avanti popolo!

Cadorna was at best a mediocre soldier. Any general would have realized that going from the plains of Northern Italy up to the Julian Alps and other mountain ridges would not be wise without extensive artillery support and careful planning. Even so it would be risky business because of the terrain favoring the defenders. But not so Cardono - attack! All four offensives ended in total failures with the loss of 275.000 Italian soldiers.

So what! La vittoria sarà nostra, victory will be ours. Those officers who opposed his madness were dismissed from their positions, 217 in all. Soldiers who escaped from their posts were summarily executed, 750 by orders of military courts - "the highest number in any army during Word War I". Even the ancient practice of decimating military units, killing randomly picked officers and soldiers from a unit that failed in its task, was used under his personal command.

Germans are military geniuses as Emperor Julius Caesar already had learned to his dismay. They gave the Austro-Hungarians troops helping hand against Italy at Isonzo river plain on October 24 1917. The German attack was planned by young Erich Rommel and Italians simply had no chance at all. The entire Second Army fled in total disarray. The catastrophe of the Battle of Caporetto has not been forgoteen and is today a proverbial term for utter disaster in Italian language.

Slovenian suffering
Luigi Cadorna's intention to attach Slovenia into Italia eventually came to realization with the help of Allied forces, Britain and France and the victors at Versaille's did this crime against the nations also. Italian rule over Slovenia did not last for long, however, and seems today an utterly stupid idea even without considering the price in human blood and suffering.

Austro-Hungarian army forced Slovanian men to the battle against Italy while the civilians living under Italian occupied areas were sent to prison camps and treated as enemies.

Anything good?
Well. The son of Field Marshall Luigi Cadorna, General Raffaele Cadorna (1889 - 1973) was a genuine war hero, fearless fighter and partisan, leader of Italian resistance against the Nazis. Highly decorated soldier who to his credit had the sense to resign after disagreement with the post-WW 2 political establishment.

quotes are taken from wikipedia articles
about visiting the areas in Slovania see also
Daily Telegraph
BBC Travel

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jokingly about Jewish heaven and hell

"There's a Jewish joke that says there's no Heaven or Hell: we all go to the same place when we die, where Moses and Rabbi Akiva give constant and everlasting classes on the Bible and the Talmud. For the righteous this is eternal bliss, while for the wicked this is eternal suffering."

In a way this joke with ring of truth in it could also be applied to the continuous praise of God in the Book of Revelation...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Brian Cox and John Hartnett

As a theologian I am in a curious situation with the juxtaposition of professor Brian Cox and physicist John Hartnett. Both write and teach about the fundamental matters of Universe.

Curious, because Cox describes himself as a student of Carl Sagan. BBC offered him a dream opportunity to use modern media in a kind of second edition of Cosmos which shares Sagan's original brilliance, width and depth of vision and youthful enthusiasm about the wonders of Universe. The underlying scientific discussion is repeatedly defined by Cox as wonder of the Laws of Nature that create such variety and the magic word "chance". In other words, explanation of everything without referring to any kind of divinities or religious beliefs, practical atheism.

Curious, because Hartnett makes an intensive effort to bring the Bible into cosmology providing modern scientific sounding theories that would translate the old biblical sentences into descriptions of physical reality. He is genuinely a man of religion and loves the Bible and wishes to let everyone believe in the Creator demolishing ideas that are against true faith.

So why I feel as a man of religion recommending from all my heart the BBC documentaries and publications by Brian Cox, the practical atheist, and vehemently oppose the approach, hermeneutics and interpretations of John Hartnett warning everybody to stay far from his writings? Curious indeed.

The brilliant popular BBC documentaries with Brian Cox have this unbearable lightness of moving around planet Earth and in space as if it is nothing - now in arid desert high in Chilean mountains, now in deep see probe Alvin in unfathomable depths and atmospheric pressure. In all this he is humble concentrating on the facts and eager to learn from the experts he meets listening to what they have learned from the nature. The presentations are up-to-date and packed with information and yet the story is easy and pleasant to follow.

The brilliant ESA scientist and physicist John Hartnett establishes his authority pointing to scholars who listen to him and telling about his achievements in science. He is out there not asking questions, not doubting like every scientist doubts and questions, but telling how things are because the Bible says so. Not all creationists accept his views but many do as they are unable to evaluate independently his mathematical formulas and expert statements of time-space continuum. He is a true believer, shows that Bible is true, that is enough for another believer to adopt his authority.

These things, personality, approach towards exploration and research, questioning or already knowing the answers from divine sources, are all aspects in this comparison. But they are not decisive.

The decisive matter can be put in a single word: truth.

Curiously, from Brian Cox a Christian or non-Christian can learn in short time a fascinating array of truthful statements about the Creation. They waken curiosity, interest in the scientific exploration of the planetary system, deep space, origins of life and other questions that used to be the monopoly of religion. And a Christian listening to him can complete the picture by praising in his heart the Lord and His Majesty that is missing from professor Cox's presentations.

Curiously, the approach of the Christian John Hartnett does violence to truth, disfigures Bible and Nature alike into some rational shape he can figure out and stops all healthy questioning and curiosity towards God's works.

But that's how it is - love of truth is so precious and more often than not characterizes scientific work by believers and unbelievers alike while being scary and objectionable to many true believers.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

BBC Earth: recommended by God of Israel

Defending His role as the Creator, the God of Israel tells Job to look at nature and animals, in this section to admire hippopotamus (behemot)

“Look at Behemoth,
    which I made along with you
    and which feeds on grass like an ox.
What strength it has in its loins,
    what power in the muscles of its belly!
Its tail sways like a cedar;
    the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
Its bones are tubes of bronze,
    its limbs like rods of iron.
It ranks first among the works of God,
    yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
The hills bring it their produce,
    and all the wild animals play nearby.
Under the lotus plants it lies,
    hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;
    the poplars by the stream surround it.
A raging river does not alarm it;
    it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
Can anyone capture it by the eyes,
    or trap it and pierce its nose?"
Job 40:15 - 24 NIV
Today, hippos are extinct in Levant but we can, of course, travel to Africa to see them in nature. It is also possible to see some lazy ones well fed in a zoo.

But if you really want to face what God of Israel is talking about - watch BBC Earth.

Not only the legendary voice of Sir David Attenborough, the exquisite photography and fabulous editing make it worth your time. For where else can you look at hippos and other animals and plants in this way that simply leaves us speechless...

the way much suffering Job closed his mouth and stopped complaining against God when he looked at the magnificence of creation.

Then Job answered the Lord:
“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”
Job 40:3 - 5