Thursday 29 November 2018

IICC Shooting Stars 4-1 Tonnerre Kalala, November 28th 1976

Muda Lawal (holding the cup) and Segun Odegbami (second from right) celebrate winning the African Cup Winners Cup on December 12th 1976.

The Nigerian team IICC “Shooting Stars” of Ibadan beat the Cameroonian side Tonnerre Kalala 4-1 in the first leg of the African Cup Winners Cup held on November 28th 1976.

While Tonnerre were the defending champions, the semi-final between “Shooting Stars” and the Egyptian side Zamalek, was arguably the final before the final. Each side won their home leg 2-0, but the Nigerians won 5-3 in a penalty shoot out.

“Shooting Stars” boasted a number of players who were regulars for the national team: the Captain Samuel Ojebode, Segun Odegbami, and Muda Lawal. The goalkeeper Best Ogedengbe would soon displace Emmanuel Okala as the first choice for the national team, then known as the “Green Eagles”. But surpassing them all, at least in later years, would be Cameroon’s future World Cup hero, Roger Milla.

“Shooting Stars’” lead proved unassailable in the second leg which Tonnerre won by a single goal at home in Yaounde.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Friday 23 November 2018

Operation Uranus - Encirclement of the German Sixth Army in Stalingrad

Map depicting Operation Uranus, the Soviet counter-offensive, and German movements, 19th November-24th December 1942

The Red Army completed its encirclement of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad on November 23rd 1942, roughly mid-way through the five-month long battle. Code-named Operatsiya Uran, the generals of the Soviet Union had in mind nothing short of the annihilation of the Sixth Army, the Third and Fourth Romanian armies and parts of the German Fourth Army. They had conducted the relevant intelligence before launching two massive pincers from the north and south that was intended to trap over 270,000 axis soldiers.

On November 19th, Soviet forces attacked and quickly destroyed the Romanian Third Army which was nominally protecting the flanks of the Sixth Army. The Germans and their allies who were lacking in fuel, ammunition and rations, could only muster a chaotic defence, and the battle objective was achieved much quicker than the Soviets had expected.

It was the beginning of the end of a fighting force which Hitler had once told Friedrich Paulus “could storm the heavens themselves”. Hitler ignored the advice of German military commanders to break out of the encirclement and opted to hold the position on the guarantee given by Herman Goering that the Sixth Army could be resupplied by the Luftwaffe. This operation would be an abysmal failure.

The German High Command entrusted Field Marshal Erich Manstein with a last-ditched effort to rescue the trapped army. Manstein, the deus-ex machina of the German Wehrmacht, who had overseen the blitzkrieg victories over Poland and France, as well as a string of successes on the eastern front which culminated in the capture of Sevastopol, was given command of the German 4th Panzer Army.

On December 12th, the Sixth Army heard the distant sounds of Manstein’s operation, Unternehmen Wintergewitter, but he could not break through the Soviet ring and the fading noise of gun fire and artillery shelling signalled the Sixth’s Army’s doom.

This is a German-language report by the British Broadcasting Corporation some weeks later in December 1942:

Dankbarkeit und Bewunderung erfullt uns vor allem gegenuber unseren russischen Verbundeten. Die Methodik und Kaltblutigkeit des russischen Oberkommandos bei der Durchfuhrung der militarischen Operationen steht in krassem Gegensatz zu der Abenteuerlichkeit der Hitlerschen Strategie. Das russische Oberkommando sagt daruber in einer Bilanz uber die Ergebnisse der russischen Winteroffensive:

“Der Plan Hitler’s war, Stalingrad zu nehmen das europaische Russland von der Wolga abzuschen Reserven in Betracht. Der strategische Plan des russischen Oberkommandos dagegen lief darauf hinaus, die deutschen Truppen bei Stalingrad zu umzingeln und zu schlagen.”

Die Rote Armee hat im November und Dezember dieses Jahres diese Aufgabe erfullt. Nordwestlich und sudwestlich von Stalingrad sind die Russen 70 bis 150 km vorgeruckt. Der russische Vormarsch sudlich von Stalingrad umfasste 110 bis 150 km. Am mittleren Don sind die Russen 1.50 bis 200 km vorgerruckt. Im Ganzen sind 20 deutsche und 2 rumanische Divisionen bei Stalingradfronten betrugen im November und Dezember allien 170.000 Tote und 137,000 Gefangene. Dort allein hat Hitler in diesen 6 Wochen 312.000 Mann verloren. Die Russen erbeuteten und zerstorten ungerheure Mengen an deutschem Kriegsmaterial. Darunter mehr als 400 Flugzeuge und mehr al 5000 Panzer. Mit grosser Genugtuung konnen wir feststellen, das amerikanisches und britisches Kreigsmaterial am Erfolg der Russen einen wichtigen Anteil hatte.

English-language translation:

Gratitude and admiration are due from us to our Russian allies. The methodology and cold-bloodedness of the Russian High Command in the execution of military operations stands in sharp contrast to the adventitiousness of Hitler’s strategy. The Russian commander said in a statement about the results of the Russian winter offensive:

“The plan of Hitler was to take Stalingrad and to cut off European Russia from the Volga. Hitler, however, did not consider his actual forces or the Russian reserves in this plan. The strategic plan of the Russian command, on the other hand, was to encircle German troops at Stalingrad.”

The Red Army has accomplished this task in November and December this year. To the north-west and south-west of Stalingrad, the Russians advanced 70 to 150 km. The Russian advance south of Stalingrad covered 110 to 150 km. On the middle Don, the Russians advanced 150 to 200 km. On the whole, 20 German and 2 Romanian divisions are surrounded at Stalingrad. The German losses on the Don and Stalingrad amounted to 175,000 dead and 137,000 prisoners in November and December alone. Hitler lost 312,000 men during these six weeks. The Russians captured and destroyed immense quantities of German war material, including more than 400 aircraft and more than 5,000 tanks. We are very pleased to note that the American and British materials played an important role in the success of the Russians.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Thursday 22 November 2018

Boston Symphony announcement of JFK's death

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)

This is a captivating audio clip capturing the moment when on Friday, November 22nd 1963, the murder of John Kennedy was announced during a concert performance of the Boston Symphony. The gasps from the audience after the following words of the conductor, Erich Leinsdorf, are palpable:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a press report over the wireless. We hope that it is unconfirmed, but we have to doubt it. The president of the United States has been the victim of an assassination.

Then Leinsdorf announces that the orchestra will play the Funeral March (Marcia funebre: Adagio assai), the second movement of Beethoven’s third symphony, Eroica.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Friday 16 November 2018

The Cost of American Militarism and an Absence of Debate

A recent report by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs on the cost of America’s wars in the aftermath of 9/11 estimates a sum totalling $5.9 Trillion. It is a figure virtually identical to the $6 Trillion figure projected by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2013 to be the eventual cost of waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, as with the case of the increased danger of a nuclear war that could be the fruit of strained relations developed over the past decade with the Russian Federation, there has been no public debate in the United States about why America embarked on a programme of militarism predicated on the waging of a so-called War on Terror.

Such debate would necessarily have to centre on the three following areas:

1. The “hijacking” (to use the term chosen by retired US Four Star General Wesley Clark) of American foreign policy in the aftermath of the September attacks by a group of neoconservatives operating within the administration of President George W. Bush who drew up a ‘hit-list’ of seven countries intended to be destroyed over a five year period.

It would have been expected that all such countries earmarked for destruction would have had a connection to the planning of the September attacks, or, at least, have been sympathetic to the values guiding the alleged perpetrators of the deadliest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor in 1941. Yet Iraq, Libya and Syria were all secular Arab states implacably opposed to the Sunni Islamist ideology of al-Qaeda, and Iran is a Shia nation. The common denominator among these states including Lebanon, or more accurately, Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shia militia, was an enmity with the State of Israel.

As Clark stated during a speech given in October 2007 at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, there was never a public debate on a policy which commenced with the invasion of Iraq and was intended to be completed with an attack on Iran.

2. The unchanging policy from the administrations led by Bush Jr to Barack Obama and now Donald Trump due to ‘Deep State’ actors wielding power outside of the separated organs of government. In a scholarly paper-turned-book entitled National Security and Double Government,  Michael J. Glennon, a professor of international law at Tufts University, has referred to the power usurping “Trumanite” institutions in contrast to the troika of “Madisonian” institutions of state, which he persuasively argues are no longer accountable in the way people think they are.

3. The corporate welfare culture surrounding the military industry as composed of the Pentagon and corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and others. The exorbitant costs involved with the development of the F-35 fighter plane which according to a number of US generals is pretty much “useless”, is emblematic of the inefficient weapons development regime that is more concerned with lining the pockets of corporations than with efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The aforementioned, of course, do not mention the human cost: that of innocent civilian lives destroyed by military invasions, drone attacks and covert wars initiated by the United States. It also does not include the number of US service personnel killed, maimed and suffering from mental traumas.

All need to be factored into a comprehensive debate on why America’s sovereign debt has spiralled to uncontrollable levels, and also, why the moral standing of the United States among the international community of nations has been brought down to an all-time low.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.