Saturday, August 12, 2023

Denmark may have free universities and a national health system, but what is its free education and health care actually worth?

[With] a reputation for being peaceful, egalitarian, progressive, liberal and educated, [besides] having excellent furniture and crime novels, too … Scandinavia countries just seem to do it better — an idea that supporters and critics label "Nordic exceptionalism."
The Independent's Ana Swanson explores the idea of the utopian fantasy that Denmark and its sister nations are made out to be:
But how much truth is there in the popular idea of Nordic exceptionalism? Michael Booth, a British journalist, examines this question in detail in a recent book, "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia." Booth, a U.K. native who has lived in Scandinavia for over a decade, plays the part of a cultural interpreter, examining, poking and prodding the reality of life in Nordic countries from every angle. Booth finds plenty to question in the rest of the world's assumptions about the Nordic miracle, but also lots that we can learn from them.

Why is it that the Nordic model has attracted so many fans, but relatively few visitors?

Denmark is a pretty good place to live but it is by no stretch of the imagination the utopia many in politics and the media in the U.S. claim it to be.

We all like to have a "happy place" — somewhere over the rainbow where we imagine life to be perfect — don’t we? For many, that place used to be the Mediterranean: we all dreamed of a stone house among the vines. After the economic crash, I think a lot of people started to look towards Scandinavia for what they believed to be a less rampantly capitalistic form of society.

The difference is, few actually actively seek to move to Scandinavia, for obvious reasons: the weather is appalling, the taxes are the highest in the world, the cost of living is similarly ridiculous, the languages are impenetrable, the food is (still) awful for the most part and, increasingly, these countries are making it very clear they would prefer foreigners to stay away.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions that you find in how the rest of the world understands the Nordic countries?

Again, I think we've all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on them. … Denmark … promotes itself as a "green pioneer" and finger wags at the world about CO2 emissions, and yet it regularly beats the U.S. and virtually every other country on earth in terms of its per capita ecological footprint. For all their wind turbines, the Danes still burn a lot of coal and drive a lot of cars, their country is home to the world’s largest shipping company (Mærsk), and the region’s largest air hub.
Sweden is supposedly "neutral" (it’s not, and has not been for decades), yet since the days when it sold iron ore to Hitler, its economy has always benefited from its arms industry, which is one of the world’s largest.

The Norwegians have fallen prey to precisely the same kind of problems as other oil-rich states: their economy depends far too much on one industry (oil), they’ve taken their foot off the gas in terms of their work ethic, and now all young Norwegians want to do is be "something in the media" or open a cupcake place.

Politicians in the U.S. like Bernie Sanders praise Denmark for its relative income equality, its free universities, parental leave, subsidized childcare, and national health system. That all sounds pretty good, right?

It is fantastic in theory, except that, in Denmark, the quality of the free education and health care is substandard: They are way down on the PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] educational rankings, have the lowest life expectancy in the region, and the highest rates of death from cancer. And there is broad consensus that the economic model of a public sector and welfare state on this scale is unsustainable. The Danes’ dirty secret is that its public sector has been propped up by — now dwindling — oil revenues. In Norway’s case, of course, it’s no secret.

You describe the Danes as having a strong sense of work-life balance – specifically, being much more focused on life than work. What are the positives and negatives of that attitude?

Positives: Danes spend more time with their families. Negatives: Danes spend more times with their families. Plus, they have run up huge private debt levels, and no one answers the phone on a Friday afternoon.

 … One thing that’s often glossed over among outsiders is the extraordinarily high tax level, which is high for the middle class as well as the wealthy. Do Danes think that they get their money’s worth in social services? Do you?

Denmark has the highest direct and indirect taxes in the world, and you don’t need to be a high earner to make it into the top tax bracket of 56% (to which you must add 25% value-added tax, the highest energy taxes in the world, car import duty of 180%, and so on). How the money is spent is kept deliberately opaque by the authorities. Danes do tend to feel that they get value for money, but we should not overlook the fact that the majority of Danes either work for, or receive benefits from, the welfare state.

Greater numbers of immigrants have been leading to rising xenophobia in some Nordic countries, as well as higher income inequality. Do you think these trends say anything about the strength of the Nordic model?

All of Europe is dealing with this issue, but of course smaller populations feel more threatened, and cynical right wing politicians (if you’ll forgive the tautology) take advantage of that fear. Also, there is no "Nordic model" when it comes to immigration and integration: there is the Swedish model (open door) and the Danish model (close the door and put up a "Go Away" sign), which the Norwegians and Finns are copying.

Denmark has won almost every happiness survey since 1973, but you describe them in the book as a “frosty, solemn bunch” who take a lot of anti-depressants. Do they really deserve to be consistently ranked as the world’s happiest country?

No, it’s a nonsense and, in fact, they have dropped from the top spot in recent surveys, mostly because they are not as rich as they once were. The sad take-away from that is, money does, in fact, make you happy. I don’t think they ever were the "happiest" people in the world, but you could argue they have been the most "satisfied." They are good at appreciating the small things in life and making the most of what they have — a legacy, I think, of experiencing the rough hand of geopolitics in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Related: 52% of the Norwegian population receives government financial aid; A health care worker in Norway is "not hired as a guard dog but trained to see suffering"

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Hiroshima 1945: Didn't the Atomic Bombs Prevent the Red Army from Sweeping through Western Europe and the Entire Continent from Falling Under Stalin's Iron Fist?

When he planned to go see the Christopher Nolan movie Oppenheimer, Steve Byrne was shocked to learn from his mother that, when she was an infant in the 1940s, her family had been living in Hiroshima. Echoing Bill Whittle's post that Over one million warning leaflets were dropped over Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and 33 other Japanese cities 5 days before the Hiroshima bombing, the conservative-leaning comedian (who is of Korean, not Japanese, heritage) intoned: "Some real perspective. If not for the leaflets dropped by US Armed Forces… I absolutely would not be here today." Upon reading those leaflets, her parents had fled the city, into a tunnel or a shelter in the mountains, and were outside the city on the day the atomic bomb was dropped…

For almost 20 years, this blog (which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year) has regularly brought stories about little-known facts and quotes regarding the atomic bombings over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 1945. The present post is certainly one of the most important of them all.

For once, indeed, the crux will not be on the Japanese and the Americans, but on the Soviets and the Europeans.

The main gist of this story starts below photos taken by my father at the age of 12 of the British forces build-up during the Summer of 1945 after the Nazi defeat on V-E Day.

Montgomery's British forces rushed to the North of Germany, beating the Red Army in forcing the surrender of the German forces in Northern Germany and occupied Denmark (that will be the content of a future post), and thus avoiding the fate of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and all the other Eastern countries — for 40-something years.

Many praise the Russians for winning World War II. If it hadn't been for the Anglo-Americans, wouldn't the Russians, wouldn't 
Stalin, have continued all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, taking all of Western Europe (or at least the mainland) as well?
Following the Nazi surrender, Marshall Montgomery paid a visit to Copenhagen and drove through its streets. From May to July 1945, British ships accosted and RAF planes landed in droves. Normally, with a disciplined army having surrendered, such a show of force would be unnecessary. But they weren't there for the surrendering German prisoners; they were there to guard against the Red Army

Accompanied by his uncle, my father went to Copenhagen and visited the city's harbor and airfields to see the British armada at the harbor and the planes landing in the airfields. He was all of 12 years old. (Update: Spasiba for the Instalink, Ed Driscoll of Instapundit.)
Montgomery driving through Copenhagen on May 12, 1945 (my father's photo at age 12)
HMS Birmingham docks on May 10, 1945 (photo by Eskil Svane, 12)
HMS Birmingham in København Harbor on May 10

HMS Birmingham was quite popular with the Danish people

Mosquitoes at Kastrup airfield, July1, 1945

A Spitfire on Kastrup airfield as the RAF holds on airshow (and
probably not just for the Danes, but for any Soviet diplomat present)

Douglas Dakota DC3s on show at Denmark's largest airfield

The Soviet Union's (secret) intentions and plans were confirmed after Antony Beevor spent time in Moscow, unearthing many a previously top secret document in the archives, and leading to his writing in his history of The Second World War about "the two pitiless totalitarian systems which fed off each other."

In the penultimate chapter, Cities of the Dead, Beevor writes that after the German capital fell in May 1945, the American ambassador to Moscow paid a visit to the Kremlin:

'It must be very pleasant for you', [Averell] Harriman said, making conversation, … 'to be in Berlin after all your country has suffered.'  The Soviet leader eyed him. … 'Tsar Alexander went all the way to Paris,' he replied.

That was not entirely a joke.  Well before Churchill's [notion of a war erupting between the Western allies and their USSR ally], a meeting of the Politburo in 1944 had decided to order the Stavka to plan for the invasion of France and Italy, a General Shtemenko later told Beria's son.  The Red Army offensive was to be combined with a seizure of power by the local Communist Parties.  In addition, Shtemenko explained, 'a landing in Norway was provided for, as well as the seizure of the straits [with Denmark].  A substantial budget was allocated for the realization of these plans.  It was expected that the Americans would abandon a Europe fallen into chaos, while Britain and France would be paralysed by their colonial problems.  The Soviet Union possessed 400 experienced divisions, ready to bound forward like tigers.  It was calculated that the whole operation would take no more than a month 

 … All these plans were aborted when Stalin learned from [Beria] that the Americans had the atom bomb and were putting it into mass production.'  Stalin apparently told Beria 'that if Roosevelt had still been alive, we would have succeeded'.  This, it seems, was the main reason why Stalin suspected that Roosevelt had been secretly assassinated

… Stalin had achieved everything he wanted at Potsdam, even though he had been forced to cancel the invasion of western Europe out of fear of the atom bomb

"The western Allies were finding that they could liberate half of Europe only at the cost of enslaving the other half." As it happened, explains Antony Beevor in the final pages of his 900-page book, "one half of Europe had to be sacrificed to the Stalinist maw to save the other half."

(Indeed, in "Northern Germany the British 7th Armored Division was approaching Hamburg, while the 11th Armoured Division advanced rapidly ahead towards Lübeck on the Baltic. This followed Churchill's secret instruction to Field Marshall Montgomery … to prevent the Red Army from seizing Denmark")

Astounding News

This is astounding news. Nothing less. What does it say about the use of the atomic bombs — not to mention, for that matter, McCarthyism along with the alleged paranoia regarding the later Red "Scare" as well as the alleged daftness of the American people?

When unhappy Western elites — quite a number of them from Europe, especially Western Europe — criticize Uncle Sam's atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as evil and useless war crimes and no more than a(n outright hateful?) warning to the USSR, they usually mean it to mean that tens of thousands of Japanese citizens were sacrificed simply to prevent nothing more harmless than a few handfuls of (gallant soldiers in) Koba's Red Army joining in some little way in the victory over the Japanese Empire. 

But as we can see, the revisionists and Post-facto critics not to mention communism admirers — quite a number of them, again, from Western Europe — who claim that Hiroshima had little military value but instead was a strategic ploy to impress Stalin do not realize that the Manhattan Project's atomic bomb did more, far more, and not in Asia and on the Pacific front but on the European front half a world away.

It was indeed a sign to the Red Army, and it did prevent Stalin from prolonging the war mercilessly after the Nazis' defeat and achieving his project to take over all of European continent.

To recap: 

In Modern Times (The World From the Twenties to the Nineties), Paul Johnson writes that

There was scarcely a crime the Nazis or the knights of Bushido had committed, or even imagined, which the Soviet regime hand not also perpetrated, usually on an even larger scale.  It ran precisely the type of system which had produced the war and its horrors.  More specifically, the Nazi-Soviet Pact of September 1939 and the Japanese-Soviet Pact of April 1941 had made the Axis aggressions possible.

Indeed, Hitler and Stalin started the WWII together. As Jeff Jacoby points out, For the first two years of World War II, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were allies, with the Führer and the Vozhd secretly planning and jointly beginning the war that inflicted such horror and destruction 

There is no denying that a vast number of Soviet citizens lost their lives in World War II. Without the Russian people’s appalling suffering and sacrifice, the Allies might not have triumphed in the end.

But there is also no denying that Moscow was Nazi Germany’s partner in unleashing the war, the deadliest in human history, in the first place. Victory Day is a good opportunity to review the record of Russian culpability in plunging the world into war — a record the Kremlin’s propagandists have been trying to obscure for decades.

 … for the first two years of World War II, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were allies. They secretly planned and jointly began the war that inflicted such horror and destruction. 

In the months that followed the Nazi-Soviet takeover of Poland, as Hitler’s troops conquered Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, and France and bombed much of London into rubble, Stalin’s forces continued their illegal war of aggression and conquest. [the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the formerly Romanian territories of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, Finland…]

 … In short, for the first two years of World War II, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were allies. They secretly planned and jointly began the war that inflicted such horror and destruction.  

As Timothy Snyder’s book “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” points out, the dictators vied with each other in the bloodbaths and the destruction of the conquered territories.

Moreover, a Lithuanian testified that his father had said if he had the choice, he would rather live under 10 years of Nazi occupation than under one single year of communist occupation.

Certainly after Hitler's betrayal and his invasion of the USSR, but possibly even before, Stalin's goal was to defeat the Axis powers but his ultimate goal was to turn thereafter against his allies and sic his divisions against those who had supported him all these years and take over the entire continent, and this he ordered the Politburo and the NKVD to plan.

The only thing that aborted the plan of 400 Soviet divisions launching a brutal, a traitorous, and a bloody attack on his erstwhile allies was the news of the atomic bombs and their use over two Japanese cities.

Post-War History

Is there ever anyone who jokes or sighs or rolls his eyes about paranoia or witch hunts regarding Nazism or fascism? No, and with good reason. (Indeed, after ranting and giggling for years and years about Godwin's Law, the left has dropped all pretenses and shows its usual double standards as it has been using the fascism/Nazism/Hitler charge ceaselessly against conservatives and members of the — anti-government (!) — Republican Party.) 

Why, then, should anyone (Joseph McCarthy first among them) be described as paranoid about a régime that, on the internal front, murders millions of its citizens and, on the external front, was indeed planning an invasion of Europe and the West (with the aid of those countries' domestic — i.e., traitorous — communist parties) — submitting all conquered territories and countries to the same bloody internal policies as had occurred in Eastern Europe's Bloodlands?

This brings up the so-called "paranoid" "witch hunts" against communists in post-war America. Here is a question that is seldom brought up: Who was head of the Kremlin when the term "McCarthyism" was coined? A fellow by the name of Stalin. As for the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), another question is, how many people are aware that the maligned council was not solely involved with communists? Indeed, wasn't it formed the year prior to the Nazi/Soviet non-aggression treaty, in 1938, to investigate disloyalty by subversive organizations tied to either pro-Soviet communists or — yes — pro-German fascists?

It is certainly time for two things: for Hiroshima to cease being an excuse for anti-Americanism and for "McCarthyism" to cease to be used as an allegedly neutral and objective expression.
This post could end here. 

But as a sort of addendum to this post, let me briefly refer to my revelation regarding the movie Oppenheimer, where, in their unanimous praise, members of the MSM have carefully glossed over the fact that The 2 Authors of the Book Behind the Movie Were Both Editors and Writers at "The Nation".

Over ten years after Antony Beevor came out with astonishing revelations from the Kremlin's archives mentioned above (The Second World War was published in 2012), the historian's conclusions are still not accepted by the élites (they are not challenged — with arguments good or otherwise — they are simply ignored), leading them to call opposition to communism and to the USSR "a political movement characterized by rank know-nothing, anti-intellectual, xenophobic demagogues."

Let this sink in: Both of the authors of the book behind what the New York Times calls "Christopher Nolan’s complex, vivid portrait of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the 'father of the atomic bomb'” — "a brilliant achievement in formal and conceptual terms" — worked at The Nation and were therefore, in some capacity or other, close to communism and invariably doubling as experts in spewing anti-Americanism.

Full details here: Hollywood Shocker — The Authors of the Book Behind Nolan's "Oppenheimer" Were Both Editors and Writers at "The Nation"

Related: • For the first two years of World War II, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were allies; Hitler and Stalin secretly planned and jointly began the war that inflicted such horror and destruction
• Stalin's Death at 70: Some Mind-Boggling Revelations About Stalin, World War II, and a Century of Russian History

Also related:
• Hiroshima 15: Examining the Issues Surrounding the Dropping of Atomic Bombs on Japan (Erik Svane) 

• Hiroshima 17: During WWII, Japan Killed 7 Times More People (Most of Them Civilians) than They Lost (Victor Davis Hanson) 

• Hiroshima 18: The Imperial Japanese Army was every bit as evil as the Nazi SS, and more lethal (Trent Telenko)

• Hiroshima 19: The Horrific Treatment of Civilians During Japan's "Reign of Terror"

• Hiroshima 14: "I regard Hiroshima revisionism as the greatest hoax in American history" (Robert Maddox)

• Hiroshima 13: Although It Is Not Said Openly, Hiroshima Also Played a Purifying Role, IE the Baptism of a New Japan, the Event that Put an End to 50 Years of Crimes (Le Monde)

• Hiroshima 20: The Day the Pilot Who Led the Attack on Pearl Harbour Met the Pilot of the Enola Gay

• Hiroshima 12: Political Correctness in Japan: The comment "tramples on the feelings of victims", so… Shut the F**k Up and Lose Your Job! (re the forced resignation of Japan's defense (!) minister)

• Hiroshima 11: If Western elites cannot find perfection in history, they see no good at all; most never learned the narrative of WWII, only what was wrong about it (Victor Davis Hanson)

• Hiroshima 10: If Not for the Atom Bombs, Japan, as we know it today, would not exist (S L Sanger, author of “Working on the Bomb”)

• Hiroshima 9: Over one million warning leaflets were dropped over Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and 33 other Japanese cities 5 days before the Hiroshima bombing (Bill Whittle)

• Hiroshima 8: Was It Wrong to Use the Atom Bomb on Japan? (Father Wilson Miscamble)

• Hiroshima 7: Some Facts About Hiroshima and World War II That You Hear Neither From America's MSM, University Élites, and History Books, Nor From Japan's (New York Times)

• Hiroshima 16: Did Japan's top officers know a bomber was approaching Nagasaki, 5 hours beforehand, and do nothing?

• Hiroshima 6: "Lance or spear practice was a regular women's exercise to practice for the anticipated U.S. landing" (a Japanese American)

• Hiroshima 5: Japan's plans for defense involved mobilizing the civilian population, including women and children, for the customary suicidal battle tactics (Thomas Sowell)

• Hiroshima 4: "Les 300 000 morts d'Hiroshima ont épargné bien davantage de Japonais, qui auraient été écrasés sous des bombes ordinaires" (Charles de Gaulle)

• Hiroshima 3: A mainland invasion could have resulted in millions of Japanese deaths—and that's not counting civilians (Wall Street Journal)

• Hiroshima 2: Hand-wringing over Hiroshima is just virtue-signaling by people who never said a bad word about Stalin or Mao’s mass murders (Glenn Reynolds)

• Hiroshima 1: Unlike the ends of the majority of conflicts, World War II in the Pacific grew increasingly bloody as U.S. forces approached the Japanese homeland (Erik Svane)