August 6th was the 70th anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and there was a lot of the usual hand-wringing about the deed from the usual suspects – Arthur K over at Ace has a good round up of counter-arguments to that sentiment. Most notably the fact that those who complain about the bombing aren’t those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who would have had to invade Japan in November of 1945 if the Bomb hadn’t done the trick. I admit to a bias in this area as one of the Marines who would have had to hit the Japanese beaches was my father. There is a high probability that I wouldn’t exist if the Bomb hadn’t been dropped.
People also tend to just not know how savage the Pacific War was. I recently for the first time watched Flags of Our Fathers. It was a bit of a disjointed movie and I won’t put it down as one of Eastwood’s best efforts, but there is a scene in there which moved me nearly to tears. It is when the son of one of the Marines who raise the flag on Suribachi is talking to his aged, now-dying father in the hospital. It reminded me terribly of the last few days I had my father with me. As the story goes, that son never really knew what his father had done in World War Two – he only really found out by going through his father’s things after he died. I never even got that much.
My father never told me about the war. The only thing I ever got out of him was, “it smelled like blood and shit”. His battle was Saipan. Nearly 14,000 American casualties, including more than 3,400 dead – in less than a month of fighting. Japanese dead ran above 50,000, including around 20,000 civilian dead, many of whom committed suicide rather than fall into our hands, because the Japanese military told them we’d murder them all if captured. That is more than 53,000 dead in less than a month in an area less than 45 square miles. Just try, for a moment, to imagine what the place looked like on July 9th, 1944 when the island was declared secure. There must have been bodies just everywhere – and as it was war, the bodies would have been in quite a horrible state. Even if dad didn’t have to engage in hand-to-hand fighting, what his 17 year old eyes must have seen had to have been grim beyond description. Six months prior he was a high school boy living the sheltered life of the United States. And he carried that with him for 65 years. I wondered why he was so distant at times. But I think, now, I understand.
The people we sent off to fight the great World War Two were splendid people. They did things and put up with things which we just can’t understand. It was a terrible war, even on the level of understanding that war is bad. The Japanese and Germans were acting like blood crazed savages. They were killing people – often in quite nasty ways – for no valid reason. Just to be cruel and frighten people and lord it over them. Given the way they were conducting the war, there was no reproach that could be made to our military personnel in what they dished out in return. Yes, the fire bombings of Tokyo and Dresden were bad. But they didn’t even pay back a percent of what the Germans and Japanese had done – and had done simply because they could and they were convinced they’d win and never have to atone for their actions. And for all those Germans and Japanese who claimed after the war that they didn’t know what was going on all I can say is that they should have found out.
I can say that because of the example of Traudl Junge – one of Hitler’s secretaries. She had the guts after the war to admit to being ashamed of liking one of the most evil men who ever lived. But there’s more than that – upon a time after the war she saw a plaque placed in honor of a German woman who had been executed by the Nazis for anti-Nazi activities. The woman had been executed right around the time Ms. Junge was employed by Hitler. It hit her: that young woman had bothered to find out what was going on and paid for the knowledge with her life. There is no excuse. If you are an adult member of society in possession of your mental faculties, you are responsible to a degree with what goes on, even if you aren’t the person giving the orders. The Germans and the Japanese paid a high price – but, then again, a little less Banzai and Sieg Heil in the 30’s, a bit more questioning about where this was all leading, and the war might not have happened, and there would have been no price to pay.
And, so, I’m not terribly interested in retrospectives of the war which try to make out that we were the bad guys – or, at least, weren’t very good guys. It was our men and women who put a stop to Buchenwald and Bataan Death Marches, and there’s an end on it. But there still is the question we should ask ourselves: did we do the war right? That is, in exchange for all the blood and treasure – and people carrying around the war for the rest of their lives – did we get any sort of world we wanted to have?
We did get a short-lived absence of fighting. And thanks to the fact that we had blown to pieces our major economic competitors, we also got two decades of fabulous economic growth. But we didn’t get peace. Peace would have meant no Korea or Vietnam – and no building up a nuclear arsenal which could have incinerated civilization in 30 minutes. Peace would have meant complete and long-term demobilization. Perhaps a short period of occupation of Japan and Germany as we recast their political institutions in a manner which suited us, but by 1950, at the latest, all the boys home…and an army reduced to maybe a couple hundred thousand men engaged in peacetime routine. Instead, we had to garrison the whole world, lest the evil we set out to destroy in WWII take over the world…because that evil wasn’t just Hitler, it was the very idea that one nation or one ideology should dominate the world by force. With Stalin still ruling Russia, there was no peace…and could be no peace because two sides with exactly opposite ideas of what is good cannot coexist in peace.
The long and short of it is that after expending vast sums of blood and treasure – after our military performed feats of valor unequaled in history – we got nothing. We beat the Germans and the Japanese, but we lost the war. Fundamentally we lost the war because we decided to treat Stalin’s USSR as an ally, rather than as a co-beligerant, to be struck down at the earliest opportunity once Hitler was done. We could still have sent all the military aid we wanted to the USSR to keep them fighting and tying down German troops – but we didn’t have to make Stalin’s Russia into our “Red Russian Allies” and pretend that what Stalin wanted post-war was remotely what we wanted.
For anyone who wants to claim that without the USSR we could not have beaten the German I merely point out that such a view is not just wrong, but rather stupidly wrong. Between Britain and the United States we outnumbered the Germans by about 2 to 1 in population – and that doesn’t count the man power Britain could draw upon from their Empire. As for military material, we were producing more war material than all of the Axis powers, combined. Russia out of the war would have made the matter more difficult, but the end result would have in no ways been different…and if the war extended into 1946, then it would have been German cities being obliterated by atomic bombs (it is also useful to point out that without us, Russia could not have remained in the war – the USSR heavily downplayed it post-war, but the amount of material we provided the USSR made the difference…heck, just in food supplies our contribution to the USSR was decisive in allowing Russia to fight).
The troops were brave, but the way the war was conducted was absurd – and being allied with the USSR was just one of the more glaring aspects of Anglo-American shortsightedness. We landed an Army in Morocco, rather than Tunisia even though Tunisia was the place to be to drive the nail in the Afrika Corps coffin. We slugged our way up the boot of Italy starting from the toe – we only once tried a real amphibious end-run and then blew it, and never tried it again, in spite of absolute command of the seas and vastly more resources than the Germans. We invaded France at Normandy, even though the only thing you could do in Normandy is liberate Paris…and then have to drive hundreds of miles east to get to a place where you could put some real strategic pressure on Germany. And then after we did that drive, we paused just long enough to allow the Germans to put together a defense which held us up for months. Once we broke into Germany, we simply failed to take Berlin – leaving it to the Russians! We got to the Elbe 5 days before the Russians even started their assault on the Oder and there was pretty much nothing between us and Berlin, and not much German military force in Berlin, itself. We had an airborne op all ready to go which would have dropped three divisions on Berlin within 24 hours of “go”, and within 48 hours of the drop we could have had a full American Army in Berlin. War over. We didn’t do it. Bradley and Ike cooked up some post-war bull about not wanting to incur casualties (this from the men who got caught with their pants down in the Ardennes to the cost of 19,000 dead) to cover their mistake…and so the Russians got to take Berlin, at astounding cost in human life, both German and Russian. Stupid. The whole war went like that, especially in Europe…pounding away at the enemy’s strongest points, and then when we did get the opportunity to crush them, we let it pass.
The war against Japan was better run. Partially because no one had a political axe to grind in the Pacific War but mostly because America was blessed by commanders like MacArthur and Nimitz. But, even here, one wonders – why the demand for unconditional surrender? Why was Roosevelt’s plan to make China our partner in the post-war world? We can figure that FDR’s desire for the USSR to be a partner in the post-war world was one part blindness, the other part careful propaganda by the Soviet agents in his Administration…but why Chiang’s China? What could China do for us? Who in eastern Asia wanted a powerful China? A weak China not in control of its old imperial territories would be best. Sure, the Japanese puppet State in Manchuria had to go – but did anyone think to ask for a moment if the Manchurians wanted to exchange Japanese overlordship for Chinese? No on asked. We were just going to beat the Japanese to their knees…and then, what? Our proper goal in Asia and the Pacific was to make sure that no one nation could ever become overwhelmingly dominant in the region. Well, here we are in 2015, and China is rapidly becoming overwhelmingly dominant in the region. This is an improvement over Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in what strategic way?
In Europe, from Day One, the goal of the Anglo-American armies was Berlin, Vienna and Prague – and Warsaw, if things went very well. All four of those prime, strategic targets were left to the Russians…who had to slog their way across half of Europe, commanded by generals who wasted lives on a titanic scale because they lacked the strategic and tactical understanding of how to really break through an enemy defense (they really did just pour out the blood – their only help was Hitler’s insane “fight to the death” orders to his troops, which forced the Germans armies to hang on to untenable positions…even in 1945 when they went at Berlin, their main thrust was directed at the strongest German position on the eastern front; upwards of 30,000 Russians paid the full blood price for that bit of idiocy). To be sure, the landing in France may have been the result not just of American strategic folly, but the carefully orchestrated “Second Front” campaign inspired by the USSR…which really, really wanted us to land in France because then we’d tied down large Germans armies and yet be very far away from anywhere we needed to be. But even with all the mistakes, we still here just 40 miles or so from Berlin when the Germans surrendered and a crisp order from us, backed up by atomic bombs, could have got the Russians to the eastern side of the Curzon Line (ie, outside of Poland). Its not like Russia had much of an army left in 1945 – they were bled white. But, nothing doing – and even when Stalin committed and act of war over Berlin in 1948, we didn’t call him on it. Its almost as if we wanted to have nothing but trouble in the world.
In 1945, half of Europe fell to enemy powers. China fell in 1949. Indochina in 1975. Russia was around to create all kinds of havoc in the world. Forgotten in the crush of events is that the terrorism which plagues the world was largely a Russian creation…it has morphed now into a distinctly Islamist thing, of course, but the basic concept (and original funding and training) for it came from the bowels of the KGB. I was reading up on the former East German Stasi the other day – one thing which struck me was how the Stasi recorded the conversations of some West German politicians and then leaked them to German media…blaming American intelligence for gathering the information. Apparently, and understandably, the Germans people believed it – and had another reason to be anti-American. One wonders just how many crimes laid at our door were actually the concoction of the USSR and its cat’s paws? Think of all the bad things which have gone on and are going on and try to think of them happening in a world which ended World War Two not in 1945 with the surrender of Germany and Japan, but in 1947 with the surrender of the USSR.
No Korea. No Vietnam. No massive bloodletting in Africa for decades as Soviet pawns tried to take control. No Arab-Israeli war – or, at least, a lot fewer of them – because the Arabs wouldn’t have been armed with Soviet weapons. Don’t like Assad’s dictatorship in Syria? Keep in mind that his dad was a Soviet client. So was Saddam in Iraq.
Che Guevara and Fidel Castro? You would never have heard of them. Remember, a defeated USSR would have had its archives opened just as a defeated Nazi Germany had it’s exposed to the world. Also, GULAG would have been on film. The mass graves of Stalin’s NKVD would have been opened (as an aside, we wouldn’t have had the clown show at Nuremberg where the USSR was allowed to try to pin Stalin’s Katyn Massacre on the Nazis). In other words, we had “red diaper babies” to create the New Left in the 60’s because the left wasn’t utterly discredited. But where were the “brown diaper babies”…while there were only about 10,000 active member of the German-American Bund, that wasn’t too much smaller than the active membership of the Communist Party USA. Bottom line, there weren’t children of Bundists trying to revive Nazism in 1960 because it was utterly discredited and no one wanted anything to do with it…it would have been the same for communism in 1960 had the crimes of communism been fully exposed by the defeat of the USSR. In other words, had we won the war then the basic ideology of a totalitarian system, any totalitarian system, would have been discredited…it would have been seen that communist words about “rights” and “freedom” were masks for death camps and mass graves. It would have been over and done with – people of leftwing opinion would be as marginalized and kooky as neo-Nazis are today.
America is not the world’s policeman – we hear especially our Progressives say this. And it is actually true, but not in the sense that Progressives mean it. Progressives mean we’re not to stop things that Progressives want to happen. Progressives didn’t want us to, say, police communist aggression in Central America because the Progressives wanted a communist Central America…not caring a whit about the number of people who would be murdered by the communists, of course. That was just a bit of egg-breaking to get to the omelet, right? The proper sense of us not being a policeman is that we’re not supposed to go into nation and interfere with their purely internal affairs. But as long as there are ideologies out there which seek to impose their will on nations, then we’re not dealing with purely internal affairs. That a revolutionary movement wants to get rid of the local dictator is no concern of ours – that they want to get rid of him so they can impose a foreign-controlled, new dictatorship upon the nation, is. And, indeed, the concern of all people of good will. Post-World War Two, we had this all over the world – revolutionary movements which were funded and armed by the USSR (or their allies) and which sought not national self-determination and freedom, but to turn their nations into new satellites of the USSR and to crush all self-determination among their own people. We had to fight them – of course, what we really had to fight was the USSR. But we never got to that; because especially by 1960, taking out the USSR via war was too risky given nuclear realities.
We got Reagan and got lucky – the USSR was done away with. But the poison wasn’t. It is still with us. To a certain extent, it has re-infected Russia, and now we see Putin trying to re-create the Soviet Empire. China is still communist and now seeks to become the power in the world. Iran’s ideology spreads apace. Progressives in the West continually try to suppress free speech, free association, property rights…and don’t hold back at all in trying to impose the Western, Progressive vision on Third World nations. We still have a world where people are trying to impose their ideology upon others. The lesson we were supposed to have given the world in 1945 wasn’t actually given. All we did was convince people not to be Nazis. Heck, the recent rise in anti-Semitism shows we didn’t even teach people not to hate Jews. Really all we did was tell people not to use the Swastika as your emblem. Since the war wasn’t ended as it should have been, it really hasn’t been ended, at all. It could well be that 200 years from now, a historian writes a monumental work of history about the 150 Year’s War: 1914-2064. Because, of course, World War Two was really just World War One, Continued. I’ve gone on long enough here, so I won’t get into the bone-headry of the leaders of World War One. But suffice it to say, had we ended that war properly, we wouldn’t have got World War Two.
I read that Pope Francis said that the best way to win a war is to not fight it. Indeed; much wisdom in that. The war shouldn’t have ever started – and had just a few people exercised a bit of common sense in 1914, it wouldn’t have started (well, really, the period 1878 to 1914 was when the idiocy was built up, leading to World War One). But what are we to do with the war we’ve got? I think that it has to be fought out. We have to find out who wins and thus who gets to be around…those who just want to live and let live, or those who for a variety of reasons want to tell everyone how to live? It would be nice to end the war – it would be nice if World War Two was over. But it isn’t, and it won’t be until the forces of freedom face up to the fact that those who want slavery – be it gentle or cruel slavery – cannot be turned into friends. Eventually a time comes when the battle will have to be joined, and the truth told. Maybe it comes next year. Maybe in ten years. But the crunch time will come and the world will have it out.
Mark, I wasn’t quite sure where you were going with this, but you did bring it all together very well. I have always been unhappy about the Allies holding back until Russia invaded Berlin, thinking this created massive problems down the road, and only recently learned two things.
1. Eisenhower has always claimed that the pause at the Elbe was purely for military reasons, not the political reasons many have speculated, and
2. Berlin had already been divided into four zones long before the Allies crossed the Rhine, making the sequence of arrival in Berlin a moot point. (emphasis mine)
(“It is important to remember that before the first of April 1945-the time at which General Eisenhower decided to halt his forces when they reached the Elbe-the zones of occupation for Germany and the sectors of occupation for Berlin had been agreed upon by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. France had been invited to participate in the arrangements. The zones had been outlined, along general lines suggested by the British, by the European Advisory Commission (EAC) as early as January 1944. The United States and Great Britain had agreed on the main proposals at the Quebec Conference in September 1944 and had settled everything except the control of the Bremen-Bremerhaven enclave when their representatives met at Malta in January 1945 on their way to the Yalta Conference. The Soviet Union accepted the EAC recommendations at Yalta in early February 1945, and the fact that zones of occupation had been established was announced at the close of the meeting. As a result many people assumed that the zones were worked out at this time and some bargain made in regard to Berlin and Prague. Prime Minister Churchill, in writing of this question, has made the situation clear in his statement: “The Soviet armies were at this very moment swarming over the pre-war frontiers, and we wished them all success. … It was well understood by everyone that the agreed occupational zones must not hamper the operational movements of the armies. Berlin, Prague, and Vienna could be taken by whoever got there first.”)
I had not known that the war could probably have been won without allying with Russia, but I have known how that alliance led to ongoing misery throughout the world because, as you say, the evils of communism were not laid bare as were the evils of Nazism. Without the burden of alliance, the need to appear to be on the same side, we could have shown the two—communism and Nazism—to be basically the same political model. While the National Socialist Party of Germany chose to allow industry to be nominally held in private hands while being controlled by the government, and communists openly owned the means of production, the two offshoots of the same political philosophy of a massively powerful Central Authority and the concept of individuals being subject to the will of the collective were basically the same. They both represented brutal tyranny and the subjugation of the individual in the name of the common good.
True, Operation Eclipse had designated the occupation zones, but it was also more of a plan for “what to do if there’s a sudden enemy collapse, like there was in November 1918”. The allies were determined there be no repeat of post-WWI Germany – the whole nation was to be occupied and all the senior Nazi leadership rounded up and the entire German military dissolved. It was thought, though, that a German government would still retain domestic authority over the German population, subject to Occupation directives. This is why Doenitz’ government wasn’t actually dissolved until June 5th, 1945 – and the leaders of the government weren’t even taken into custody until May 23rd (and only one senior member of Hitler’s actual government – Albert Speer – was a member of the government). The Eclipse plan, also, was formulated at a time when we were a long, long way from Berlin and it was thought that sheer mileage would easily present Berlin to the Russians. Heck, at late as early March, 1945, we were hundreds of miles from Berlin while the Russians were merely 56 miles away. No one counted on the complete collapse of German resistance in the West once we got over the Rhine (this was caused mostly by Hitler’s decision to fight west of the Rhine…by doing that, he allowed us to destroy the armies which could have defended the Rhine barrier for quite a long time; there was also the desire by average Germans in March of 1945 that the Anglo-American armies go as far east as possible before the war ended; aside from a few pockets of fanatics, no one from mid-March was really interested in contesting our advance).
Ultimately, Eclipse was the result of the strategic error in thinking of the Russians as allies rather than as “the enemy to defeat after the Nazis”. In the final analysis, however, by March of 1945 we had plenty of evidence that Stalin wasn’t going to keep his end of the Yalta bargain and so, essentially, everything was up for grabs…and the British, especially, knew this. Churchill was determined that an Anglo-American army get to Berlin but he was hamstrung by the fact that he could only order Montgomery to press on via Eisenhower, who refused to give the order…and when the U.S. 9th army, in a brilliant dash, got to the Elbe and got a bridgehead over it with nothing in front of them all the way to Berlin, he directly ordered the army commander to stop his advance. When he gave that order, we could have been in Berlin in 72 hours or less…perhaps even in less than a day, depending on any pockets of fanatics and the drive of the troops (which was at a high pitch – they all thought they were going to Berlin to end the war). Even if one wanted to think of the Russians as allies, this was a terribly wrong decision…by not making the advance we ensured that the German troops on the Oder would fight to the bitter end, thus causing massive casualties to the Russians. Had we got to Berlin by, say, April 15th, Hitler would have shot himself then and the surrender which took place on May 8th would have happened weeks earlier. And once in Berlin we could have re-negotiated the occupation zones – if we had had any sense, at all.
So the decision was a political one, after all. In spite of all the verbiage about why the Allies did not march into Berlin first, it all came down to political decisions made long before the battles.
I look at this, and at many other things, as illustrations of the Unintended Consequences of bad decisions, which tend to be made in an effort to try to avoid something bad and instead have an unnerving tendency to result in something Even More Bad.
The Soviet Union accepted the EAC recommendations at Yalta in early February 1945,
What if there had been no “recommendations”? Would the Soviet Union have turned on us in the war effort? Would they just have quit fighting? Doubtful that Germany would just have given them a pass and walked away from their battles with them, if the Russians had just said “no mas, we’re ticked off at our allies so we are pulling out of this war”.
If there was some horrible outcome predicted, if the Soviets had not been promised a share of Berlin, I have no idea what it might have been.
Not to rehash history, but to try to learn from it………… And the first lesson is that there is never anything to be gained by appeasing evil. FDR hated and feared the Soviets. Churchill hated and feared them even more. They recognized the evil. They were politically astute enough to know that communism was kissin’ cousin to Nazism, they had seen the love fest between the two till Hitler turned on his old allies and Nazism had to be redefined as being on the Right to explain to all the good commies in the US, UK, etc why all of a sudden Russia was fighting them but they knew they both represented absolute tyranny.
But they gave the USSR part of Berlin anyway, and history has showed us how that turned out………..
Stalin already had tried to betray the Allies – round about mid-1943 various peace feelers started to emanate from the Kremlin…and Stalin’s opening negotiating gambit appears to have been a mere return to the status quo of June, 1941…in other words, he would have been willing to retreat from that in return for peace! My guess is he would have given up Lithuania and Moldovia to get out of the war. Hitler, being Hitler, refused, of course. But that shows you what sort of ally he was.
One of the stories put out was that we had to cave into Stalin in order to get Russia into the war against Japan. That made sense until mid-1943, at best. After that, it was clear to all that Japan was going to get soundly beaten without any help from anyone. Methinks the “we needed Russia in the war” talk was just post-war CYA.
But, you’re right – the prime lesson is to never shake hands with barbarians.
America is not the world’s policeman – we hear especially our Progressives say this. And it is actually true, but not in the sense that Progressives mean it. Progressives mean we’re not to stop things that Progressives want to happen. Progressives didn’t want us to, say, police communist aggression in Central America because the Progressives wanted a communist Central America…not caring a whit about the number of people who would be murdered by the communists, of course.
I finally have a few days off from guard duty at the recruiting center since my daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons are arriving sometime today for a short visit, so I had a chance to sit down and read this post this morning. I’ve gotta say, Mark, this is one of the best posts you’ve written in the 11-1/2 years I’ve been coming here. My dad would have also been one of those who would have been part of the final assault on the Japanese homeland, but since I was already born in January, 1945, the worse thing I would have encountered is not knowing my father.
My last history course in college was “Post WW2 Europe, which of course, at that time only covered a time span of 22 years (up to 1967), and IIRC, historians take at the time, at least the one I was exposed to in that course, was not as critical as what you outline in this post. One of the books in my parent’s personal library was “The Complete History of WW2″, which I read from cover to cover as a teenager, rather large dimensions and around 2 or 3” thick with lots of photos, but again, more a collection of campaigns and battles rather than a political analysis of what went on behind the scenes. So your post is a nice refresher course of what we did wrong. It’s amazing to me that we never seem to learn much from history, and I daresay, going forward we’re very likely to keep making the same mistakes over and over.
It’s hard to say where the world goes from here in the near future because there are so many possible scenarios, but the near future will almost surely dictate where it goes long term. Standing guard at the recruiting center in Fort Wayne has really opened my eyes to what average people think. I’ve been there a good portion of every day but two since July 22, including several 8 and 9 hour days. We’ve seldom had less than 4 people, and, more often than not, it’s been 6 or 7, allowing us to cover the front and back of the building and ingress and egress from 3 different entrances to the parking lot. Multiple times every day, ordinary people walk up and drive up, thank us for what we’re doing and express their concern for where the country is headed. To the best of my knowledge, not one single person has been critical or expressed disagreement with what we’re doing. An almost universal concern has been for children and grandchildren who will grow up in a less free, less prosperous world unless we turn this ship around.
Sort of unrelated, but The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas has a great interview with Charles Murray, author of the new book “By The People” (which I have downloaded to my Nook but haven’t read yet). Pay close attention to what he says starting at around the 4 min. and 20 second mark, and then think back to our discussion a couple posts back.
I had been pondering this for a long while – and what really held me back from writing it was the worry that it would be taken as a hit against World War Two veterans. Quite honestly, I wanted to wait until most of them were passed away before I wrote it. I hope I made it clear enough that the troops did well – but the leadership was just abysmal.
William Manchester, in his biography of MacArthur, reviewed MacArthur’s Korean campaign and wondered what would have happened had MacArthur and not Clark commanded in Italy during World War Two. You can be sure of it that MacArthur would not have slugged it out at Monte Casino for months. Among the excuses for the slog up the boot in Italy was that we lacked sufficient amphibious resources and didn’t dare stray out of immediate aerial fighter range…and so we were “forced”, as it were, to just battle it out against line after line of well-dug in German troops. Well, MacArthur was at the tail end of the allied supply line – he, too, was short on material…and yet he managed to move thousands of miles. It was a matter of vision and guts, which the ETO commanders all seemed to lack (with a few exceptions like Patton; but even Patton wound up battering his head against the defenses of Metz rather than just finding another route). MacArthur’s solution to keeping in range of one’s own air power was to find places to land where the enemy wasn’t but which could swiftly provide air fields…you simply had to build a field, if one wasn’t there…and if you are attacking the enemy where he isn’t, casualties tend to be lower. “Hit ’em where they ain’t”, was allegedly the old saw of Nathan Bedford Forest…we will have to dig up his body and move it because of modern political demands, but in that phrase is all any general ever needs to know. MacArthur knew this – hardly anyone in the ETO ever did; even Montgomery, who was smart and had guts, still saw war as a process whereby you built up overwhelming force and then just crushed the life out of your enemy…which does work, but it takes a lot of time and lives, and can get you hung up at crucial moments, as he was around Caen during the Normandy campaign. Better to go where the enemy isn’t – to a place which, once you’re there, the enemy has to either withdraw or attack you at a disadvantage (strategic advance resulting in a tactical defensive; because standing on the defensive during the actual fighting is always better than trying to break an enemy line, if you can manage it). The only really bad generalship in the Pacific War was Buckner’s decision to slug it out at Okinawa; MacArthur probably would have just sealed off the Japanese there and let them wither on the vine…but we excuse him because he did ultimately pay with his life for his tactics.
Ah, well – nothing to be done about that. The crucial aspect was the battle between those who generally don’t want to force anyone to do anything they’d rather not, and those who are determined to dictate every detail of human life. Call them what you will – socialists, Nazis, communists, Islamists – but they all share a desire to mold the human mind to a particular world view by coercion. The two sides will have it out.
Allow me to show my emotions a bit. I love this country, and hope that we can soon find our way back to unity, courage, strength and prosperity. As it is now, the grievance industry, the Fourth branch of government, and political correctness has a strangle hold on Mother Liberty.
One of the best renditions ever of America the Beautiful sung by the late Ray Charles at the 2001 World Series here in Phoenix just a little more than month after 9/11. There was not a dry eye in the stadium and the applause was thunderous. I will remember this for as long as I live. Enjoy.
My country, indeed. But, also, my civilization. I don’t know what is to happen, other than I know that someone who wants to dictate can’t forever live in peace with someone who doesn’t want to be dictated to.
Throw in the fact that the ones who want to dictate (at least in the U.S.) are also the ones who hate guns and war, and you’ve got an interesting conundrum. Is it possible that they will convince a significant percentage of the military and law enforcement to be their hit men? I wouldn’t bet on it, and that may be why even benign federal agencies like the Department of Education have their own SWAT teams.
To be sure – but I also wonder. That reading up on the Stasi I did opened my eyes. One of the things they’d do was try to convince people they were crazy. After a while, they realized that just beating and imprisoning people didn’t get the job done (in fact, it probably toughened up the best)…so they would do things like break into a person’s house and re-arrange things. Now, what would you do if you came home one day and found that, say, your dinner plates had been moved to another cabinet? Call the police? To report what? That someone broke into your house to move your plates? Do that to a person long enough and they’d probably start doubting their own sanity…and, at all events, while they are dealing with such an issue, they won’t have time for much else. Other things done were to discredit them – back then, it might be trying to frame up a married man for an affair…but these days, it could take all sorts of different tactics, and social media would probably be key. To me, we can already see this in the Twitter mobs which are always instantly called forth to ostracize the transgressor. It happens so fast – and I wonder if there are teams of people who start the hashtag so that others will notice it (if you don’t do Twitter, the ten most popular hashtags show up to the left of your Twitter feed…and if one interests you, you click on it and can see what everyone is saying about it…so, “#RepublicansHate” can show up there, all it takes is enough people to Tweet the hashtag…and I’ll bet it isn’t hard to create a program which does it for you).
Isolating people is key to imposing on them – when they feel alone, they either agree to go along, or at least go silent. How to prevent isolation is the key here – because if someone is hammered for expressing opinions out of line with the Progressives, it is hard to rise to their defense. Someone is accused of being a racist – who wants to defend that person? If you do, you’re a racist, too. But the larger effect isn’t just on that person, even if people do rise to their defense…the problem is that others who are in a similar position may fall silent, because they fear being accused, and are unsure if people would rise to their defense. Its one thing for a Donald Trump to shoot his mouth off – he’s got buckets of money and a team of lawyers looking after him. You and me? We just got our close friends and family…and even then, who knows who might shy away if we were accused of something? So, maybe better to just not get involved, right?
Except that is wrong – we still have to. I think what we need here is a Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund. The Progs have all sorts of things like that…we need a billion dollars and a team of lawyers just sitting there, waiting for false accusations to appear and then go after those who made it.
I think what we need here is a Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund.
“The Madison Fund” — that’s exactly what Charles Murray advocates in his book and the interview I posted. I would donate to such a fund in a heartbeat.