'Nuts!' How Two Twitter Followers Thwarted Raf Casert's Snarky and Unnecessary Comment
By Michael W. Pocock (MaritimeQuest)
Dec. 13, 2019
This morning while I was perusing the various news sites, which is a habit of mine, I came across a story which caught my eye. It was about a U.S. Army Private who fought at Bastogne in World War II by Raf Casert (Associated Press News Editor, Benelux, Belgium.) The overall battle is well known, but a story of an individual who was there is always appreciated. While reading the story, in the fourth paragraph, I found a line which seemed out of place in the story. It was about President Trump.
"And at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is fanning the flames of trans-Atlantic discord"
While this type of snarky comment is nothing new from the press it did not seem to belong in such a story. I was so torqued off about this that I even told my wife about it. (She gets tired of all this, but even she thought this was bad form.) A few hours later I decided to copy the story on to my computer for later reference. When I went to the page I found that the line had been "scrubbed" from the story without comment from the AP or the author. This is also nothing new from the press. Normally I would just go on my way and make a mental note that this writer and the AP in general are pushing a one sided anti-Trump view. However, it grated on me so much that I decided to contact the author and send him a note about scrubbing his story, but also to ask him why he felt it was important to make such an out of place comment about the president of another country in a story which had nothing to do with him (the President.)
I was not able to contact him directly, but I was able to find his twitter page. I don't have twitter, but he does and this story was the first one listed on his feed. It was of course the scrubbed version of the story. I scrolled down and noticed two responses to his story (and at the time the only two, now three) and all three had mentioned the unnecessary comment about President Trump.
Replying to @rcasert @AP_Europe
Perfectly great story except when you just had to insult the president. Why? The only possible answer is you are simply another biased fake news hack that can't resist sticking to the Democratic narrative. Please learn how to be non biased like you people claim to be."
Replying to @rcasert @AP_Europe Was it really necessary to even mention Trump with an event that happened 75 years ago? The anwser is no. But, I guess it's SOP for the liberal media these days. You would find a way to blame Trump for conspiring to kill Kennedy if you could."
(The tweet below was added to this page Dec. 15, 2019)
Replying to @rcasert @AP_Europe A good article except for the totally unnecessary false comment claiming Trump fanning flames of discord across the Atlantic. The leaders of Europe today are as weak, liberal and spineless today as they were 80 years ago. Except the UK seems to have awakened and grown a pair."
Apparently I was not the only person who had noticed this. Since I was not able to ask Mr. Casert directly I can only assume that these two comments caused him to edit his comment out of the story. At the time I read these comments, he had not responded to either of them.
(You need to remember that AP is a wire service and hundreds of other publications pick up their stories, so his comment is still showing in these other versions.)
Had I been able to contact him, my questions would have been as follows. Mr. Casert, why did you find it necessary to add that comment to an otherwise good story? And what exactly to you mean by it? What is President Trump doing to "fan the flames of trans-Atlantic discord? (If you can contact Mr. Casert he is more than welcome to contact me (michael@maritimeQuest.com) as I would like to know his side of the story. Maybe someone with a twitter account could alert him to this page.)
I can only assume that he was referring to President Trump's comments about NATO. Mr. Casert would be well aware of the President's feelings about the subject considering NATO's headquarters are in Brussels. If this is the problem, perhaps Mr. Casert should take a closer look at what President Trump is saying, it appears Trump is correct.
We must remember that he lives in a country which could not defend itself against the Kaiser's Germany, it could not defend itself against Hitler's Germany and I doubt they could defend themselves from a nation such as Russia. In both World Wars other nations came to the defense of Belgium at the cost of tens of thousands of lives. People from other nations liberated his country twice and the majority of Belgians are very grateful to the Allied forces who came to free their country. To this day there are still solemn ceremonies held in Belgium in remembrance of the Allies who liberated their country. Yet Mr. Casert seems to forget this.
I would like to point out that NATO is an organization in which countries agree to help defend themselves against attack by tyrannical enemy. The cost of this is for the nation to use its own money to fund its own military. Each country agrees to allocate 2% of their GDP (gross domestic product) to fund its own defense.
(There is of course much more to this, but for the purpose of this article I have tried to make this as easy to understand as possible.) Most countries in NATO could not stand up against a large enemy so the other countries agree that we will protect you and stand on your site in case of attack.
I found an article from July 12, 2018 in the Sun newspaper. It contained the graph below provided by NATO in 2017. This graph shows that President Trump's country spent $685 billion on defense while Mr. Casert's country spent $4.4 billion on its defense. As you can see Mr. Casert's country is not living up to its obligations and only allocates .9% to its own defense. That is less than half of what they agreed to spend on their own defense. In fact the graph shows that only the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Greece and Estonia are actually in compliance with the NATO agreement. France comes close and all the other nations spend about half of what they agreed to. It also shows that the United States (President Trump's country) pays more than double what all other NATO countries COMBINED pay. (U.S.A. $685 billion, all other NATO countries $415 billion.) You can be sure that if attacked, these countries would come knocking on President Trump's door asking for help.
In the article it states "Belgium and Spain are the second and third worst offenders."
(Sun article PDF) (Sun article link: Nato contributions by country.)
So I ask you Mr. Casert, what are you so upset about? If it is President Trump's comments about NATO, perhaps you should take a better look at history and and ask why your government is not living up to its commitments. Perhaps you could make a snarky comment about your own government not living up to its obligations and leave the remarks about the leader of the country, who pays by far the most and whose country saved yours twice, out of your stories in the future. Other than that, his was a very good story and it is showing below.
'Nuts!' U.S. troops thwarted Hitler's last gamble 75 years ago
Associated Press story by Raf Casert (Associated Press News Editor Benelux. Belgium)
Dec. 13, 2019
BASTOGNE, Belgium (AP) - Pvt. Arthur Jacobson was seeking cover in the snow behind a tank moving slowly through the wooded hills of Belgium's Ardennes, German bullets whizzing by.
That was when he lost his best friend and Bazooka team partner to sniper fire. "They couldn't hit him, he shouted," Jacobson said wistfully. "Those were his last words."
The recollection of his worst day in the Battle of the Bulge still haunts him, three quarters of a century later during the first return of the 95-year-old to the battlefield.
And at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is fanning the flames of trans-Atlantic discord, the pristine-white rows of thousands of grave markers over the remains of U.S. soldiers in cemeteries on the former front line hark back to the days when Americans made the ultimate sacrifice for a cause across the ocean.
The fighting in the bitterly cold winter of 1944 was unforgiving to the extreme.
What Jacobson didn't know then was that he was part of the battle to contain Nazi Germany's desperate last offensive that Adolf Hitler hoped would become his version of the Allies' D-Day: A momentous thrust that would change the course of World War II by forcing U.S. and British troops to sue for peace, thus freeing Germany to focus on rapidly advancing Soviet armies in the east.
"WE WERE THERE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT"
The Battle of the Bulge "is arguably the greatest battle in American military history," according to the U.S. army historical center. Such perspective came only later to Jacobson, who was barely 20 at the time.
"They really didn't tell us anything," he said . "The Germans had attacked through Belgium, and we were there to do something about it."
Out of the blue at dawn on Dec. 16, 1944, over 200,000 German troops counter-attacked across the front line in Belgium and Luxembourg, smashing into battle-weary US soldiers positioned in terrain as foreign to them as it was familiar to the Germans.
Yet somehow, the Americans blunted the advance and started turning back the enemy for good, setting allied troops on a roll that would end the war in Europe less than five months later.
This battle gained fame not so much for the commanders' tactics as for the resilience of small units hampered by poor communications that stood shoulder to shoulder to deny Hitler the quick breakthrough he desperately needed. Even though the Americans were often pushed back, they were able to delay the German advance in its crucial initial stages. The tipping point was to come later.
All weekend, a handful of returning veterans like Jacobson will be feted by an ever grateful local population for their bravery. Royalty, dignitaries and some government leaders will gather in Bastogne, Belgium and Hamm, Luxembourg, on Monday to remember the battle itself. "It will be a great day,"? said Belgian Vice Premier Koen Geens. Remembering both the German forces, driven on by Hitler's hated SS troops, and the allied soldiers, he said: ""We are capable of the worst and of the best."?
"I DON'T NEED A NECKTIE"
Overall, deaths in the month-long battle are estimated in the five digits. The Americans suffered at least 80,000 casualties including more than 10,000 dead, while up to 12,000 were listed killed among some 100,000 German casualties.
Among the fallen was Albert W. Duffer, Jacobson's Bazooka team partner, shot in the neck by a German sniper on Jan. 6, 1945. Last Tuesday Jacobson went to greet Duffer for the first time in 75 years - at the Henri Chapelle U.S. cemetery in the northern part of the battle zone, where 7,987 U.S. soldiers lie buried. At dusk, Jacobson watched the U.S. flag being lowered and was presented with it in recognition of his valor.
The Battle of the Bulge was one of the war's least predictable campaigns. After D-Day and the draining Normandy drive, allied troops sweeping across the continent believed the worst was behind them.
Paris had been liberated, Gen. George Patton was moving eastwards toward Germany, and Hitler had to keep an increasingly bleary eye on Stalin's Soviet armies advancing on the Eastern Front.
"The thought was that Germany was on its knees and could no longer raise a big army,"said Mathieu Billa, director of the Bastogne War Museum.
Still, Hitler believed Germany could turn the tide, and centered on regaining the northern Belgian port of Antwerp with a push through the sparsely populated Ardennes.
The 120-mile (170 kilometer) dash seemed so fanciful that few of Hitler's own generals believed in it, let alone the allied command. Allied intelligence heard something might be afoot, but even on the eve of the attack the U.S. VIII Corps daily note said that "There is nothing to report."
For days to follow, the only reports would be bad for U.S. troops retreating amid word that SS troops were executing their prisoners - like at Malmedy, where 80 surrendered soldiers were murdered in a frozen field.
When Jacobson moved into the Ardennes, night temperatures outdoors dropped as low as -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit). ""You had to dance around not to freeze to death," he said. Daytime saw the constant fear of sniper fire.
Back home in the States, some were oblivious to the soldiers' plight. "My family sent me a necktie," Jacobson chuckled. "I sent a letter back: 'I don't need a necktie'."
Soon though, the German effort pushed its limits as Antwerp remained well out of reach and troops ran out of ammunition, morale and, crucially, fuel. Even the weather turned against the Germans, as the skies finally cleared, allowing the all-powerful allied air force to pound the enemy.
Nowhere was that tipping point more visible than in the southern Ardennes town of Bastogne, where surrounded U.S. troops were cut off for days with little ammunition or food.
When Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne received a Dec. 22 ultimatum to surrender or face total destruction, he offered one of the most famous - and brief - replies in military history: ""Nuts."?
Four days later, Patton's troops broke the encirclement. And so it went with the Battle of the Bulge too, with the U.S. troops gaining momentum after Christmas.
After the fighting ended on 28 January 1945, Allied forces invaded Germany, eventually leading to the Nazi surrender and the end of the war in Europe.
Jacobson, who lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida, also entered Germany. But his war was ended by a March 2 mortar blast, which seriously injured his leg and killed three other soldiers.
After eight months of front-line horror, hospital offered him a kind of deliverance despite the pain. "I used to wake up at night in the hospital. I'd dream about having to move out at night," he said. "Orders would come down, 'let's move out to another position.' And I'd wake.
- AP photojournalist Virginia Mayo and videojournalist Mark Carlson contributed to this story.
Raf Casert Strikes Again.
In his latest story, 75 Years on, Battle of the Bulge memories bond people, Casert, who apparently can't help himself, inserted two sentences which, once again, attempt to get his opinion across that there is a problem with the U.S.A. and Europe. At least this time he did not mention President Trump by name, but his insinuation is of course well made.
Page published Dec. 13, 2019