Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Half the battle

Richard Bernstein reviews a spate of books arguing that World War, rather than being the "Good War", was in fact unnecessary. Or worse, that the Allies were as bad as Hitler. What Bernstein calls a "morally relativistic" position.

The two principle arguments which these books bring forward are a) war is hell, ergo every one who wages it is a devil; and there is no distinction between devils. The second argument against fighting World War 2 is more subtle. Things would have taken care of themselves if they had been left alone; or that it was so badly fought the outcome was worse than if it had never been fought at all. Bernstein is not convinced that World War 2 was an unnecessary trip, but he manfully describes the new revisionism dispassionately so that the reader may judge for himself.

"Baker shows, step by step, how an alliance dominated by leaders who were bigoted, far more opposed to Communism than to fascism, obsessed with arms sales and itching for a fight coerced the world into war," Mark Kurlansky, whose own books include cultural histories of codfish and salt, wrote in a review of "Human Smoke" that appeared in the entirely mainstream Los Angeles Times Book Review.

Similarly, another novelist, Colm Toibin, writing in The New York Times Sunday Book Review, highly praised Baker's work, calling it "a serious and conscientious contribution to the debate on pacifism."

More is coming along the anti-Churchillian lines. Patrick Buchanan, the conservative commentator and two-time presidential candidate, launches a sustained attack on Churchill in a new, lengthy book, "Churchill, Hitler, and 'The Unnecessary War': How Britain Lost the Empire and the West Lost the World," which will be out later this month.

Caroline Glick, in a recent Jerusalem Post article described the strange lure of the argument that unless something can be done perfectly, or at least cleverly, it ought not to be done at all, as epitomized by the views of H.L. Mencken, who maintained until the last that going up against Hitler was a big mistake.

In many ways, Obama and his allies call to mind the influential American newspaperman H.L. Mencken. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Mencken was the most influential writer in the US. He was an anti-Christian and anti-Semitic agnostic, a supporter of Germany during World War I, and a fierce opponent of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. He also opposed American participation in World War II.

In his biography of Mencken, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken, Terry Teachout argues that the reason Mencken did not think it was worth fighting Hitler's Germany was because Mencken simply couldn't accept the existence of evil. He could see no moral distinction between Roosevelt, who he despised, and Adolf Hitler who he considered "a boob."

That's not to say that criticism of our received view of World War 2 is not without merit. It was the most brutal conflict in history and it was replete with blunders and incompetence. Taffy 3's crew being left to die in the water after fighting off Kurita's Central Force; the catastrophe at Slapton Sands; the tragic farce at Dieppe; the Army's irrational attachment to the Sherman tank; Peleilu; the surprise of the Battle of the Bulge. More men died at Iwo Jima than ... well, never mind.

These failures are very little in evidence in Steven Speilberg's productions, where World War 2 is raised in nobility (if it were possible to do so) in order to denigrate Vietnam and Iraq. The popular memory of the Second World War is a distorted one. The world yearly hangs its head in commemoration of Hiroshima. But it has forgotten Dresden or Manila, where civilians died in numbers almost as great or greater than in that doomed Japanese city.

But in the end, as Bernstein understands, that when the Best becomes the enemy of the Good it objectively becomes the ally of the Worst. Whatever Churchill and Roosevelt's shortcomings -- and they were many -- the alternatives were Hitler, Tojo and Stalin. History is always setting the world on fire and nailing our peckers to the floor. It always confronts us with hard decisions. It is an unfortunate fact that survival is purchased at a price. Everyone walks out the worse for wear.

Let's, in light of this trend, examine for a moment the idea that the United States should have stayed out of the European war. If that had happened, the Hitlerites surely would have conquered all of Europe, minus Britain. There would have been more mass murder of "inferior" peoples. There would also have been no morally tainted alliance with Stalin, no 40-year Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, no firebombings of German cities like Hamburg and Dresden, and no deaths among American soldiers.

Wellington expressed the idea forcefully in his dispatch from Waterloo. "Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won."

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger Unknown said...

"Richard Bernstein reviews a spate of books arguing that World War, rather than being the "Good War", was in fact unnecessary. Or worse, that the Allies were as bad as Hitler. What Bernstein calls a "morally relativistic" position."

Them books reviewed by Bernstein don't by chance happen to be those scribed by Adolf Pat Puke'kaken?

5/21/2008 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

If Britain and France had stood aside over Poland in 1939 -- just let Hitler and Stalin partition it, I tend to think that would just be moving the disaster to another time and place. But Hitler had shown repeatedly that his "last territorial demand in Europe" just set up the next one.

Whether it was in the long term interest of Britain, France or America to allow Hitler to build an Empire in the east (eventually, I think the war with Russia was certainly going to happen); and whether Hitler would leave the west alone indefinitely is certainly doubtful, but the allies had no grounds in 1939 for assuming they would be immune if they stood aside from what Hitler was doing in the East. But if Hitler DID ever look westward, then Britain and France would still have the confrontation they might have missed in Sept. 39, under arguibly less favorable circumstances (the French and British could not be expected to foresee the French collapse in 1940).

As for the Americans -- Hitler started that war, and by so doing got the allies out of a pickle. Had he waited for the Americans to declare war on him -- or done something like declare war on Japan after Pearl Harbor, it's hard to see how President Roosevelt could have mobilized American opinion to get behind war with Germany on Britain's side.

I tend to think it's six of one, half dozen of the other. I don't think the British and French could put off a showdown with Hitler forever. But the issue of when they should have thrown down the gauntlet is more debatable.

Confronting Hitler in September 39 over Poland was a lot harder to explain or justify, and more dangerous, than confronting him in September 1938 over Czechslovakia. Munich seems like the last really good chance to stop Hitler without wrecking Europe. Yes, the British had a chance to build up the RAF, but the Germans had a chance to build up their Army and Luftwaffe also, and the relative gain there was greater. The Germans were ready for a war in 39, more ready anyway than in 38. Once the British swallowed Munich, it's harder to explain why they didn't swallow Danzig.

The more interesting question to me has always been the necessity of the First World War. Put me in the column of thinking that one was a terrible mistake, and wondering, as an American, if it would have been better had we stayed out. Whatever Wilhelmine Germany and Habsburg Austria were, they were not Nazis or Communists, or the font of evil on earth. Personally, I think the trade of Christian kingdoms for a bunch of weak Republics, along with Fascists, and Marxist-Leninists was a bad bargain. The whole horrible thing was a criminal mistake that everyone but the lunatics lost.

5/21/2008 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Arkadiy said...

I am a firm supporter of Viktor Suvorov's thesis that Stalin was a couple weeks away from striking across Poland into the heart of Europe, occupying Germany and may be taking over the entire empire or Hitler's. If that were to happen, the world history would have been pure hell, beyond anything Orwell imagined.

5/21/2008 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Arkadiy said...

I am a firm supporter of Viktor Suvorov's thesis that Stalin was a couple weeks away from striking across Poland into the heart of Europe, occupying Germany and may be taking over the entire empire or Hitler's. If that were to happen, the world history would have been pure hell, beyond anything Orwell imagined.

5/21/2008 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger peterike said...

"History is always setting the world on fire and nailing our peckers to the floor."

Hah. Sounds like the upcoming election.

"It always confronts us with hard decisions. It is an unfortunate fact that survival is purchased at a price."

It seems to me that liberals are genetically incapable of understanding this. They simply don't get that the world often hands you a choice between bad and worse. And the worse is often much, much worse. They seem to feel there's always a rabbit to be pulled out of the hat, and the rabbit will appear if we're good enough and nice enough and if -- dog gone it -- if people like us.

I don't think O-blarney is that kind of a liberal though. He strikes me as a much purer Leftist, a very sinister man (am I the only person in America that sees a deeply sinister gleam in his eye, and in the cut of his lip?). In the wars to come, O'blarney will side with whatever side is agin' us. Historians of the future (probably Chinese historians, but whatever...) will wonder about how a civilization so properous and successful nevertheless readily decided to consume itself.

The worst result of WWII, I think, was that its raised to life a culture of death, of suicide, that has never gone away. Talk about the fire next time....

And what if the US had decided to throw in its lot with the Germans? Clearly, those two powers would have ruled the world. Who could have stopped them? An interesting what if.

5/21/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Arkadiy, I think I read that book many, many moons ago. It explained why the Russian army was massed near the frontier (they were gathering for an attack into the new German empire) rather than deployed for a defense in depth. The German offensive cut these formations off from their lines of supply and annihilated them.

Personally, I think it is in the nature of tyrants in a position of strength to keep pushing until they meet stout resistance. The very act of giving them space encourages them to fill it. Give them more space and they will grab it and, thinking you weak rather than reasonable, grab some more. At Munich Hitler got a part of Czechoslovakia and a few months later seized the rest.

"Baker shows, step by step, how an alliance dominated by leaders who were bigoted, far more opposed to Communism than to fascism, obsessed with arms sales and itching for a fight coerced the world into war,"

These sorts of theories have been kicking around for a long time. At the time Hitler seized the rest of Czechoslovakia it was said by many on the left that Great Britain hoped he would march on into the Soviet Union. Instead Stalin foxed "International Capital" with the Hitler-Stalin Pact. And so on. The original source material for these books was published as mimeographed Pamphlets, with all the intellectual rigor of one of my Belmont Club comments. Less, come to think of it. Much, much less, now that I've thought some more.

There are those who believe that nothing we have done since 9/11 has prevented another 9/11. And that 9/11 was caused by our unbalanced foreign policy (i.e. support for Israel). It would not surprise me if the people writing these books share that view. It is the latest intellectual fad, and sounds like all of one piece to me. I blame George Bush.

5/21/2008 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew X said...

"The man must be an intellectual to believe such nonsense. no ordinary man could ever be such a fool."

George Orwell

5/21/2008 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

Two books by Max Hastings, Armageddon and Retribution, are good revisionist histories of the war.

Each points out the many mistakes of the Allies without losing perspective about what they were fighting for.

5/21/2008 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

Count me in the camp of WW2 being of long term existential necessity, but WW1 (which set the stage for the worse encore) as being a huge mistake on the US's part.

As far as Best as the enemy of the Good... that is relevant to discussion of the Iraqi Army.

I have never been willing to grant, as so many other war supporters have done (in order to seem "reasonable"?), that disbanding Hussein's army was obviously a huge "mistake."

Just because the path we took was not easy, does not mean that in the end it was wrong. I think the "stupid mistake" proponents have a pretty damned big hurdle in proving that an un-radically-de-Baathified Army would *now* be better than the genuine national army that has been developed from scratch(however painful that process has been.)

I just do not see it.

5/21/2008 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This posting includes some of the most obnoxious ideas Wretchard has chosen to address. Almost I am moved to say mean things.

First, Moral Relativism is the easy refuge of Moral Cowards. "Whoever wins, I was always on that side!" If you can't differentiate between a bully and the bully's victim, you are destined to BE the bully's victim. Will you still argue for moral equivalence when you are the one being aggressed upon? (If you do, then God Bless You!)

Next, H.L. Mencken was funny. He was clever. He could even be funny and clever and witty in real time, devastating his companions at table with his clever and funny wit, leaving challengers in the dust groping for an appropriate comeback, but only just able to croak, "Oh, yeah? Well, just... OH, YEAH!?"

Unfortunately, this merely underscores the truth that one can be clever and witty and still be a stupid bastard. Or worse.

It is the same trick the Democrats have pulled repeatedly in elevating clever and slick moral lepers to the leadership of their party. It is the same lie that Hollywood writers have been trying to fob off on the viewers of cheap little TV dramas and big budget movies for most of the last six decades.

We are subjected with stupefying repetition to the idea of moral equivalence between any two parties resorting to violence. It is a nail that Hollywood keeps hammering relentlessly into our foreheads, no matter how much we try to worry it back out.

These are the same pathetickers who have anaesthetized several generations of viewers into believing with all their hearts and minds that a police officer confronted by an armed bad guy should shoot the weapon out of the bad guy's hand.

Cards that vary only slightly among several shades of gray may provoke alternative judgments and disagreement between different observers. But when a person cannot distinguish between two cards, one black the other white, it's okay to say that person is BLIND!

5/21/2008 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

I have been infuriated in several arguments about politicians in the last year or so -- my opponent would try to deflect a criticism of an outrage by a particular candidate on the basis that "well *all* politicians are scoundrels."


Just because things may not be absolutely black and white in a particular situation in no way means we don't still have an obligation to distinguish between the shades of gray.

5/21/2008 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Norris said...

I don't have much analysis to add, just an anecdote.

I remember a few years ago riding on the subway in New York, the 6 train, next to an elderly man, in his late 70s. It was a Sunday afternoon. It was drizzling over Manhattan. The car was very crowded, everyone was damp, and hot, and everyone was jammed in very tightly together.

He and I both happened to be standing. When he raised his arm to hold on to the pole and steady himself, his shirt cuff slid back, revealing a very distinctive, six digit cobalt blue tattoo on his pale wrist.

I have no idea what his name was. I can't remember his number either. If the car had not been so crowded I would have written it down. If I had his number, I am sure I could look him up somewhere. He was just another one of those anonymous persons one winds up sharing a tiny piece of time and space with for a while.

How ordinary the whole event seemed. A crush of people, a rainy Sunday, a crowded train bound for Brooklyn Bridge: it was an event almost entirely devoid of meaning.

Except for that tattoo.


Here war is simple like a monument:
A telephone is speaking to a man;
Flags on a map assert that troops were sent;
A boy brings milk in bowls. There is a plan

For living men in terror of their lives,
Who thirst at nine who were to thirst at noon,
And can be lost and are, and miss their wives,
And, unlike an idea, can die too soon.

But ideas can be true although men die,
And we can watch a thousand faces
Made active by one lie:

And maps can really point to places
Where life is evil now:
Nanking. Dachau.

W.H. Auden

5/21/2008 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Andrewdb said...

This is a reaction to the "Greatest Generation" stuff we have seen recently. No one gets tenure in academia by writing something supporting the "conventional wisdom," even if the CV is correct.

Just don't confuse this most recent stuff with wisdom.

5/21/2008 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Pat Buchanan has written a book protesting US participation in WWII? Nicholson Baker is a leftard of the first water. His last book, published in fall of 04 was a fantasy about assassinating George Bush. Buchanan is a paleo conservative anti-Semite whom I have long suspected of neo-nazi tendencies. Truly, we are witnessing the Moronic Convergence.

5/21/2008 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Pardon me, but there seems to be a conspiracy going on. I daresay it correct to label things a Luciferian Conspiracy.

All those people and actions that have contributed to species survival are said to be no different than those whose actions, if left unchecked, would have resulted in species extinction.

C. S. Lewis had Screwtape explain all this to Wormwood on behalf of
"Our Father Below" vs "The Enemy Above".

5/21/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

The real low down on Churchill and Hitler:

Franz Leibkind's glowing, nostalgic memories of Adolf Hitler and his scorn for Winston Churchill:

LIEBKIND With the Fuhrer, of course. He liked me. Out of all the household staff at Berchtesgarten, I was his favorite. I was the only one allowed into his chambers at bedtime.

BIALYSTOCK No kidding?

LIEBKIND Oh, sure. I used to take him his hot milk and his opium.

Achhh, those were the days. What good times we had. Dinner parties with lovely ladies and gentlemen, singing and dancing. You know, not many people knew about it, but the Fuhrer was a terrific dancer.

BIALYSTOCK Really, I never dreamed ...


(flies into an indignant rage)

That's because you were taken in by that verdampter Allied propaganda.

Such filthy lies. But nobody said a bad word about Winston Churchill, did they? Oh no, Vin Vit Vinnie! (he gestures V for victory) Churchill, with his cigars and his brandy and his rotten paintings. Couldn't even say Nazi. He would say Narzis, Narzis.

We were not Narzies, we were Nazis. But let me tell this, and you're getting it straight from the horse, Hitler vas better looking than Churchill, he vas a better dresser than Churchill, had more hair, told funnier jokes, and could dance the pants off Churchill!

5/21/2008 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

In some earlier comments I mentioned the "Moonbat Shahada":

"War is terrorism. The United States is involved in war. Therefore the United States practices terrorism and is no more moral than any other terrorist."

Imagine you're about to be interviewed on CNN. The interviewer and cameraman are typical MSM journalists. The CNN journalists are currently interviewing some college student wearing a Che Guevara beret and an "Obama for President" t-shirt. The college student has just parroted the Moonbat Shahada on live television. It's now your turn to speak. You are allowed only 30 seconds to respond. If you talk too long, you'll be cut-off in mid-sentence. If you use any weasel words or ad hominem comments, your microphone will be turned off and you'll be verbally smacked down by the interviewer (The interviewer wants you to look like a fascist bozo).

How will you respond?

5/21/2008 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

eggplant: try this:

" I have listened to and considered the contents of (previous
statements). I consider them to be false in more ways than I can
easily enumerate.

Since I am a free man, I do not choose to cooperate with (whatever the moonbat wants.) He therefore has to decide whether he wishes to recognize my lawful dissent or try to forcibly silence same.
That choice is his. I though am hopeful that he will be foolish enough to make my day."

This sort of approach will usually leave them gasping.

5/21/2008 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"Buchanan is a paleo conservative anti-Semite whom I have long suspected of neo-nazi tendencies."

*Tendencies*?!?! In a column this week Buchanan blamed *Poland* for starting WWII!!! This is like saying Hitler had antisemitic "tendencies". Or Buchanan, for that matter.

5/21/2008 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

I'm paraphrasing someone - I forget who - when I say that the important thing is not what you do during the war - the whole enterprise being shot through with brutality and nastiness - but what you do with the peace when you put down the rifle.

5/21/2008 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Pat Buchanan has written a book protesting US participation in WWII?"

Adolf Pat Puke'kaken:

5/22/2008 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger varangianguard said...

Clinging to the field usage of the Sherman wasn't an "irrational" decision, but more a decision based upon political and industrial variables. If the USA had to make some military moves to keep Stalin in the Allied fold, then the US Army ahd to go with what was just then being produced in large numbers. Plus, for some (like Patton), the Sherman better fit the operational model for armor developed by the US Army just prior to WW2(which didn't included tank vs. tank superiority).

Pat Buchanan is what he is. It's just that I would have to use naughty words to describe him in my opinion.

5/22/2008 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Insufficiently Sensitive said...

In response to all the morally superior sorts who wish to criminalize their fellow citizens for preferring a war as superior to some other evil, let them face this bumper sticker:


and then let them live happily under the domination of whichever thug seizes control of their oh-so-sensitive lives.

5/22/2008 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would have to strongly disagree wit h Arkady's claim, based on Suvorov's books, that the Soviet Union was about to attack Germany. Suvorov's claims are completely meritless and are not supported by any legitimate historians, either in Russia or in the West. The Soviet Union was in the middle of reorganizing and reequipping its armed forced, it still did not fully integrate its gains from the division of Poland, and it clearly was doing everything to avoid the war. By the way, I have read Suvorov's books in russian. I have also read a number of books debunking him, also in russian. His books are nothing more than revisionist fantasies.

5/22/2008 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Seems to me that the whole point of the non-aggression pact signed by Molotov and von Ribbentrop was (in Stalin's mind) to forestall attack by Hitler which Stalin sensed was coming. He was trying to buy time, and avoid provoking Hitler into attacking before Stalin was ready. Remember, please, that the NAZI party had since WWII been waging murderous battles with and attacks on communists in Germany.

Remember, Hitler at that time was just finishing up the purge ("murder") of some thirty thousand of his top military officers, in a vast spasm some call paranoia, but others analyze as plain canny intimidation of the survivors. Show'em who's boss.

As a matter of simple historical fact, Stalin was sending TRAINLOADS of grain and staples trundling off to Hitler's Germany right up to the day the Germans began pouring across the Russian border in operation "Barbarossa."

5/22/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"I have never been willing to grant, as so many other war supporters have done (in order to seem "reasonable"?), that disbanding Hussein's army was obviously a huge "mistake.""

I'm right there with you. I keep hearing people, including war supporters, talk about what "huge blunders" there have been, and how rotten our initial handling of the war was.

Excuse me?

We've lost 4,000 and change, in 5 YEARS of this thing. That figure wouldn't have been considered a respectable couple-days BATTLE in WWII.

I have not seen a SINGLE action the US has taken militarily since the very start of this thing that didn't seem at least somewhat reasonable to me at the time. Moreover, I never heard any complaints even from today's skeptics until well after the fact when something didn't work out to be ISO 9000 compliant.

What about any war in the history of any nation has been executed perfectly? What action has any war leader of any nation taken that is immune to second-guessing by people who weren't even in the theater?

This war, INCLUDING THE OCCUPATION, has been managed VERY well by any relevant historical standard. Petraeus is a great leader, but he was handed a situation that was shaped by the likes of Rumsfeld and friends. The only qualification I'd make is that I didn't see the sense of a few of the things that Bremer did. But I REFUSE to condemn him for those, because I wasn't there and didn't know what he knew at the time.

I just can't believe that people criticize the conduct of a war that was won in three weeks so harshly. It's unfathomable to me that we've already listened for YEARS now to rabid criticism of a counterinsurgency campaign that already gives every appearance of starting to wind up successfully and has another 5 or 10 years to go before it even reaches the AVERAGE of what successful counterinsurgencies have taken historically.

More people should just think what they're saying before opening their mouths.

Okay. Sorry. I'm better now.

5/22/2008 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

" 5 YEARS of this thing.."

That's the point, Dan. We've lost 5 years, a trillion dollars, 4000 dead, and the momentum to go and knock out Iran and Syria, because of this mistake. The great genius of General David Petraeus is in recognizing this fact, and then switching the marketing terms as it relates to the combatants. (Hence the great Anbar "awakening").

There was no need to reinvent the wheel. As Fiddler points out, you simply purge the top commanders (aka operation Stalinist Paranoia) and the rest will fall into line.

5/22/2008 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Btw, this "mistake", in my estimation, was a deliberate trap, set up and implemented by the DOS. If you study the chain of events and the people responsible for those events, this conclusion becomes unavoidable. This is why I say, knowing the enemy on the Iraqi battlefield is important, but knowing the enemy at the DOS and the Pentagon is even more important.

5/22/2008 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Remember, Hitler at that time was just finishing up the purge ("murder") of some thirty thousand of his top military officers

Mr. Fiddler, might you have meant 'Stalin' instead of Hitler?

5/22/2008 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"That's the point, Dan. We've lost 5 years, a trillion dollars, 4000 dead, and the momentum to go and knock out Iran and Syria, because of this mistake."

But my point is that 4000 is a drop in the bucket, historically speaking. Granted, the expense has been large...but our military is now without a doubt not only the most advanced and powerful on the planet, but also the most effective man-for-man. Those guys are damned good right now, and they have the guts to turn that into a lot of dead enemy.

I believe with my whole heart that if McCain should pull this thing out, Iran and Syria will understand that not only can we do the same to them as we did to Hussein, but we can do it quicker, smarter, and in their case we'd probably skip a lot of the occupation/reconstruction, which is the most expensive component of the current dust-up.

We'll already HAVE a base of operations in the area secured in Iraq. We don't need the same next door in Syria or Iran. And they know that, too. Combined with all the other military bases we've been encircling Iran with over the last few years, I'd predict that a non-nuclear war with Iran would be executed in about a week, meet our objectives plus a little bit, and cost no more than the initial invasion phase of the Iraq war.

McCain will be looking at them like Dirty Harry. "Go ahead. Make our day. Punks." And, after having arranged things properly and spoken to the mullahs in the only language they seem to understand, I'm guessing they'll finally play nice, or at least keep their nastiness amongst themselves a little more than they have since 1979.

Now if we can just find a way to get a little payback for that 1979-1981 hostage thing and the 1983 bombings, I'd be happy if we never had to mess them up.

5/22/2008 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Whitehall said...

re Dan's predictions of the outcomes of wars with Syria and Iran.

I'm about 150 pages into Feith's "War and Decision." How well a post-liberation period of reconstruction would go in future conflicts would depend in large part on who McCain's Secretary of State was and how effective that person was in reforming the department.

Congress, as usual, could still screw it up.

I'd be interested in a case study of the differences between Afghanistan and Iraq after American interventions.

5/22/2008 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger steveH said...

In a column this week Buchanan blamed *Poland* for starting WWII!!!

Where did he find then Charcharadon megalodo?

You'd have to go back in the fossil record to find a shark as big as the one he just jumped.

5/22/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

: I am sorry. I was trying to be polite. Probably a mistake on the internet.

5/22/2008 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I do not believe Stalin's USSR was about to attack Germany nor do I sense Stalin sensed it was coming. In fact, after Barbarossa kicked off (if memory serves correctly, the book I seem to recall reading this from is packed away) Stalin still could not believe Hitler turned on him. It took him a bit to come out of it.

One of the reasons the Red Army fared so badly early on was due to Stalin's purges of his officer corps. Anyone who had leadership skills and abilities was six feet under.

As far as Buchanan goes, yeah he talks about WWII the same way Wright, Churchill (the idiot one), and Barret talk of 9/11. The problem is too many people do act like we are/were just standing around whistling and bothering no one, when in fact we are.

Buchanan is not too far off of the mark. Japan attacked us because of sanctions we put on them when they were raping Nanking and being brutes. If we allowed them the stuff they needed they would not have attacked. Buchanan's assumption is what we had/have no business telling others to be just. I disagree.

It is like the judge who gets killed by the mob. He had it coming, right? He sentenced Don Ferrini to 20 years in Leavenworth. So do we let the mob get its way because they may push back?

Doing the right thing is never easy one reason among many is because those who don't do right don't like it and will push back.

5/22/2008 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/23/2008 02:15:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Thanks for the correction Insufficiently; you are correct, and I grovel for my error. It was STALIN, NOT HITLER, who spent the last half of the 1930's putting his officer corps on trial for trumped up charges.

I've read that one of his best generals --- Konstantin Rokossovsky --- spent a number of years being tortured and imprisoned just before Germany's attack. He was released, fitted with steel dentures to replace the teeth his interrogators had mislaid, and assigned an army korps to command, in time to be of great service in the defense of Moscow in 1942.

He eventually was elevated to Marshal of the Soviet Union.

Gotta love that Uncle Joe.

5/23/2008 02:18:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"..but also the most effective man-for-man.."

What it proves, Dan, is that the US military/political command (and the US military industrial complex which enjoys an incestuous relationship with US military planers), is the most corrupt of such organization on this here planet.

There is absolutely no reason why this "war" should have lasted this long, produced so little political gain, and chewed thru as much US dollars and military equipment as it has, other than for reasons of deliberate planned malfeasance at the highest levels.

So, no Dan, I wouldn't be patting the US military on the back. Not unless you enjoy seeing deliberate incompetence and corruption at the highest levels.

My criticism is not meant to disparage the average grunt and low level commander serving in Iraq. These soldiers are often tasked with impossible tasks and have been performing miracles on a daily basis. My criticism is aimed at the system and top level personnel which managed to morph a $25 billion operation to this trillion dollar "war", and the blind fools that think that's just fine.

5/23/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

..most corrupt of such organizations..

5/23/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger MKSheppard said...

The Sherman wasn't the death trap it's made out to be. It had slightly better armor and was more mechanically reliable than the Panzer IV; the workhorse of the German Army -- and the majority of the rounds fired by Shermans in WWII were 75mm HE rounds against dug in german infantry. In fact, there was much resistance by the tank units themselves against the new 76mm Shermans, because the 76mm gun did not throw as big an explosive shell as the old 75.

However, by roughly the time period of the Battle of the Bulge; the Army was preferring the 76mm armed Sherman over the 75mm one, due to going up against more German "heavies" as they got closer to Germany itself.

5/25/2008 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger MKSheppard said...

There was also a sound logistical reason to stay with the Sherman.

It could fit on existing landing craft and could be handled by existing ship cranes -- 30 tons is about the limit for most ship cranes.

The big reason for having to fit on existing landing craft, is that you can make a ship or landing craft to carry a 30 ton tank out of non-strategic materials like cheap steel and perhaps some wood; but if you move up to 40-50 tons, then you have to build your landing craft from high quality shipbuilding steel; which is in heavy demand by the USN for it's own warships.

5/25/2008 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

5/26/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

mks is right about the Sherman. In addition to the landing craft and ship-crane arguments, there was also the related issue of the shipping for getting the things across the Atlantic.

Having to redesign the LSTs would have been a strategic disaster. IF memory serves, the couplings and fittings for the landing craft program were a big production bottleneck in 1942-43.

5/27/2008 07:49:00 AM  

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