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The 5 Worst Military Blunders of the 20th Century

By Dave Madsen in Op-Ed
Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:01:56 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The worst military decisions of the 20th Century? What an immense treasury to choose from! In World War One, almost every military decision one can think of, from Tannenberg to the Marne, from Gallipoli to the Somme, from Verdun to the torpedoing of the Lusitania, from the very mobilization of the Great Powers to the calamitous Treaty of Versailles, was a colossal blunder on someone's part. The very war, consuming 10 million young lives and fought "for an eggshell" (Hamlet) still evokes the black-humor headline:

ARCHDUKE DISCOVERED ALIVE
GREAT WAR FOUGHT IN VAIN


My choice for '14-'18 remains, however, Verdun, where both sides blundered, the Germans in attacking and the French in defending ("at any cost," the age-old formula for military stupidity), and the consequences were so historically immense. Let us, however, take this list in chronological order.

Tsushima, 1905. By the end of the 19th century, Japan, awakened from a centuries-long slumber, was expanding into Manchuria and Korea. Inevitably, she encountered Tsarist Russia, pushing southward from Vladivostok. Equipped by the British, Japan's navy was probably the best trained and most efficient in the world -- moreso, even, than the Royal Navy of that time. In February 1904, the Japanese -- in a mini-Pearl Harbor -- inflicted a stinging defeat on the Russian fleet, at her key base of Port Arthur, knocking out seven battleships at a cost of two of her own.

Outraged at this humiliation by a tiny country of paper parasols and Madame Butterfly, the Tsar decided to send a fleet round the world to reinforce Vladivostok and avenge Port Arthur. Its commander, an irritable 53-year-old aristocrat, Admiral Zinovy Petrovich Rozhdestvensky, seemed to have reckoned that it was doomed from the start. His ships were "untested or badly built" and he had "not the slightest prospect of success."

It began badly. In the North Sea, the Russians ran into some British fishing trawlers, taking them to be Japanese and sinking one at 100-yard range, killing two British fishermen. Public opinion clamored for war with Russia; in consequence, all British coaling stations along the 5,000 mile route were denied to the Russians. After nearly eight months at sea, his 42 ships had reached 50-mile wide Straits of Tsushima (meaning "Island of the Donkey's Ears" in Japanese) between Japan and Korea. Neither ships nor crews were in any condition to fight.

Early in the afternoon of May 27th, 1905, Admiral Togo was waiting, and in a classic naval maneuver, he twice "crossed the T" of Rozhdestvensky's column. Within minutes, the leading three of Russia's battleships were wrecks; Rozhdestvensky was so wounded that he had to hand over command. At 1130 hours on the following day, the Russians ran up the white flag, to the surprise of the Japanese, steeped in the samurai traditions of no-surrender. Only two Russian destroyers and a light-cruiser limped into Vladivostok. There were 4,830 Russians killed, at a cost of 700 Japanese.

It was the most complete naval victory in history. In Russia, news of the defeat provoked the 1905 Revolution, opening the door to Lenin 12 years later. Japan, filled with a sense of invincible Imperial destiny, became a major power, with dire consequences down the line.

Verdun, 1916. After the Battle of the Marne in 1914, when the Kaiser's armies failed to defeat France, the Germans stood on the defensive in the West while they attacked in the East. Only once, until 1918, did they deviate from this strategy -- at the beginning of 1916. The Chief of the German General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, a withdrawn, unpopular figure with a curious mix of ruthlessness and indecision, came up with a novel concept in the history of warfare.

Instead of trying to defeat the French outright, he would bait it into defending a point in the line it could not afford to abandon. There he would "bleed it white", the very terminology of a war which, more than any other, treated soldiers' lives as little more than corpuscles.

He selected Verdun, rated the world's strongest fortress, with a centuries-long tradition in la défense de France, and only 150 miles east of Paris. The 1914 campaign had left it in a narrow salient, vulnerable on three sides to overwhelming German superiority in heavy artillery.

On the 21st of February, 1,220 German guns opened up on a frontage of barely 8 miles, launching the most savage artillery barrage in history. The French lines sagged but held, at tremendous cost. The immortal slogan "They shall not pass" was coined. In what became an affair of national honor, France rose to the bait. For ten hideous months history's longest battle raged.

The tragic irony was that Verdun also bled the attacking Germans almost equally. What began as a small affair resulted in combined casualties of over 800,000 men -- most of them inflicted in an area not much bigger than New York's Central Park.

Verdun cost Germany her last chance at defeating the Allies in the West, but the impact on France, elevating the defeatist Marshal Pétain as its hero, went far deeper. French losses led to the demoralization that defeated her in 1940. The Pyrrhic victory par excellence, Verdun was a murderous blunder for both sides.

Hitler declares war on the United States, 1941. Most historians rate Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, to have been his worst military blunder (from five possible candidates) of the entire war. I, however, disagree. I think that his almost casual declaration of war against the United States on December 11, 1941, proved to be even more decisively disastrous.

It wasn't necessary. Four days after Pearl Harbor, the US had made no moves against Hitler. Consider the state of the war from the German point of view: it clearly made sense to keep America out of the war. Despite the huge support ("all short of war") that the US had been providing Britain since 1940, the U-Boat campaign was going extremely well. By 1941, sinkings had reached a peak, at which rate Britain would have lost fully one-fourth of her merchant fleet within the coming year.

In the US, the "America First" movement still had considerable support. A Gallup Poll of October 22, 1941, reported that only 17% of Americans actually favored war with Germany, and as late as the summer of 1942, polls showed that nearly one-third favored a compromise peace with Germany. "I can see why we're fighting the Japs," commented one respondent, "but I can't see why we're fighting the Krauts."

After Pearl Harbor, it was only natural that the powerful "Pacific First" lobby, headed by the redoubtable Admiral Ernest J. King, then CinC US Atlantic Fleet and subsequently Chief of Naval Operations, would urge Roosevelt to attack Japan, then Germany.

If Admiral King and the "Pacific Firsters" had had their way, Britain and an almost mortally wounded Russia would have been left to fight Hitler alone. Had Russia been smashed in '42, as was all too likely, a subsequent Anglo-American victory in Europe using conventional weapons would have been inconceivable.

Why, then, did Hitler take this fateful decision? Like Saddam Hussein half-a-century later, he fell prey to his own propaganda, accepting poor intelligence, coupled with his own parochial ignorance, into grossly underestimating US military potential. Secondly, he was convinced that the war in Russia was as good as won. Information available in Moscow since glasnost now confirms that as of December, 1941, Hitler had good reason to judge Stalin to be in the market for a separate peace.

His miscalculation was the West's salvation.

Singapore, 1942. On Sunday, February 15, 1942, British Lieutenant General A.E. Percival, with moustache and rabbit teeth, surrendered Singapore, reputedly the world's most impregnable bastion, and over 100,000 troops to a motley force of Japanese of little more than half that number (62,200) under General Yamashita. A heavy share of responsibility fell on Churchill, who wrote years later that it was "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history."

Churchill's eyes were riveted on Hitler -- on Europe and North Africa. His policy on the Far East was to rely on the Americans and "hope for the best." But America had her hands more than full after Pearl Harbor. The legendary 15-inch guns of Singapore faced out to sea, not towards the narrow strip of water called the Johore Strait, only a few hundred yards separating Singapore Island from the supposedly impenetrable jungle of Malaya to the north. No effort had been made to form a Malaya defense force.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese landed at Khota Bharu in the north of Malaya, and began working their way down through the jungle. The following day, two of the most powerful ships in Southeast Asia, the Repulse and the almost new Prince of Wales (which had taken part in sinking the mighty Bismarck the previous year), headed north to intercept the landings. But as his escorting aircraft carrier, Indomitable had run aground off of Jamaica, the commander, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, was dependent on local airfields for air cover.

So Phillips decided to head back to Singapore, but not wanting to break radio cover, he failed to request air cover. He was spotted by Japanese planes on December 10, and within minutes, the two great ships were sunk. Phillips and 700 men went down with them.

Abruptly, the balance of the whole campaign shifted. Malaya lay virtually unprotected from the sea. The back door to Singapore was now open, its British, Australian, and Indian defenders demoralized by the loss of its two capital ships. A month later, Yamashita captured Kuala Lumpur, with vast military stores. By the end of January, Percival had withdrawn to Singapore Island, but he still had a force far superior to the attackers, who were exhausted and nearly out of ammunition.

On February 8, Yamashita's men crossed the Straits. A week later, the "impregnable" fortress surrendered, without much fight, and despite Churchill's order for "every inch of ground to be defended." One of Yamashita's senior officers wrote later, "If the British had held out a few more days, they would have defeated us."

At a cost of 3,500 killed, the Japanese had smashed forever the British Empire in the East, and with it the myth of White Superiority. Had the defenders foreseen that three-and-a-half years of captivity in the most atrocious conditions lay ahead -- many of them were among the 12,000 POW's who died on the Burma Railway -- they might well have fought on.

Advance on the Yalu River, 1950. On September 15, 1950, the troops under the command of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, CinC of the UN Command since July 10, landed at Inchon. The landing followed a surprise attack by Kim Il Sung's Communist North on June 25, which had all but defeated the South Koreans, and the handful of Americans rushed from Japan to support them.

One of warfare's most inspired amphibious operations, Inchon caught the North Koreans completely off-balance and changed the course of the Korean War. By the beginning of October, MacArthur's victorious forces were pursuing a broken enemy across the 38th parallel. Brimming over with hubris and determined to smash the Communist forces once and for all, MacArthur convinced President Harry S Truman to allow him to proceed to the Yalu River, the sensitive border with both the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union. This despite intelligence from Delhi that China would intervene.

Undetected by Western Intelligence, hundreds of thousands of Chinese "volunteers" began infiltrating by night, with great skill, across the Yalu. As the UN forces moved north from Pyongyang, MacArthur's commander, General Walker, found himself heading with a mixed force of 100,000 men into rugged, wintry country, and covering a front several times wider than the much more defensible 38th parallel.

Inevitably, the force became divided. On November 25, as Walker was preparing his final blow, the Chinese struck with devastating force along the Chongchon Valley, with eight armies of thirty divisions, totalling more than 300,000 men, several times the available strength of the UN forces. It was a great ambush.

Walker's right wing crumpled. Swiftly, the line buckled, and MacArthur's troops, in an unparalleled reversal of fortune, reeled back to the 38th parallel. For the US forces caught up in the "bug-out" in appalling winter conditions, it was one of the worst defeats in American history.

Thirteen thousand casualties were suffered in withdrawal, and the legendary, untouchable, invincible MacArthur was sacked a few months later. But the longer-term consequences were far greater. The Korean War could no longer be won, by either side, and would drag on for another two-and-a-half bitter years, costing 54,000 American lives and many more Koreans and Chinese. The PRC became a major power.

As a decisive defeat of the West by the East, it stood in line with Tsushima and Singapore, and led to Vietnam.

Links

NOTE

I have not included any blunders post-1950, for a variety of reasons, chief among them being a lack of blunders on the scale of the above. The only candidate that I see possibly emerging is the Coalition's decision not to remove Saddam Hussein from power in 1991, though it remains to be seen how much of a blunder that was.

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Poll
Which one is the biggest blunder?
o Tsushima 7%
o Verdun 25%
o Hitler's Declaration of War 25%
o Singapore 8%
o Yalu River 5%
o Other (please comment) 28%

Votes: 56
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Korean-War .com
o CNN interview with a Chinese soldier
o US Army's 50th Anniversary Retrospective on Korea
o Also by Dave Madsen


Display: Sort:
The 5 Worst Military Blunders of the 20th Century | 408 comments (361 topical, 47 editorial, 1 hidden)
on Operation Barbarossa... (4.12 / 8) (#13)
by ianweeks on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:09:54 PM EST

Most historians rate Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, to have been his worst military blunder (from five possible candidates) of the entire war. I, however, disagree. I think that his almost casual declaration of war against the United States on December 11, 1941, proved to be even more decisively disastrous.

I disagree. Operation Barbarossa basicly divided Hitlers army in two. He faced England and its allies in the west, and Russia in the east. This created the opportunity for the Allies to invade France. And because of Hitlers gigantic losses in Russia, his army was weakened significantly. If Hitler never attacked Russia, his Atlantikwall would have been much stronger, and the invasion (with or without the US) would have never been a success.

....hmm (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by Einzelgaenger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:20:20 PM EST

A very strong argument can be made that if Hitler did not attack Russia, then Russia within the next year would attack Germany.

It was Hitler's plan to attack Russia before their tank manufactoring capabilities came fully online.

The Russian campaign was put together very hastily .... if Hitler would have waited one or two more months and given his army a chance to equip for cold weather fighting, then Russia would have fallen.



Some people are too stupid to ever be free.

[ Parent ]

Doubtful (4.33 / 3) (#31)
by Eater on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:10:20 PM EST

First of all, it's doubtful that Russia would attack Germany "within the next year". Even when the Germans did attack, even the usually paranoid Stalin had a hard time understanding what happened. War would come eventually, but probably not so soon. Second, I also think that the invasion of Russia was a bigger mistake, simply because Russia dealt a much bigger blow to Germany than the US by itself (when it came to actual fighting - the US was supplying the Allies war or no war).

Eater.

[ Parent ]
Especially after the purges of the Army. (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by jw32767 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:51:38 PM EST

It took the Russians til almost '44 to develop solid deep operational pratices, and that was after several disasterous offensives.  The Russains would have been in no shape to be doing any surpirse attacking in '42, or '43, or '44, etc..

--
Krups, not only can they shell Paris from the Alsace, they make good coffee. - georgeha

These views are my own and may or may not reflect the views of my employer.
[ Parent ]
... records. (4.00 / 2) (#77)
by Einzelgaenger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:16:47 PM EST

Examine the troop buildup of the soviets pre-invasion. Look at their aggressive stance to take the oil in the Balkans. That is what Hilter mainly was concerned about -- the oil.

Some people are too stupid to ever be free.

[ Parent ]
re: ....hmmm (4.00 / 1) (#112)
by Maserati on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:12:32 PM EST

The big killer in 1941 was the weather. First mud stalled the advance, then winter cold started killing Germans. If anything, the invason should have been launched earlier and with better logistical support. I've seen argumants (Keegan I think) that the delay for the Greek campaign didn't make much of a difference, but I'm not too sure about that.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

Not true (4.00 / 5) (#90)
by trhurler on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:03:46 PM EST

Once Hitler's allies brought the US directly into the war, there was no hope. Even if Hitler hadn't attacked Russia at any point, and even if Russia hadn't decided to get involved anyway, we would have defeated Japan, and once that happened, we would most likely have focussed all our military power on Europe. That means the world's most powerful navy, complete with enough carrier based bombing capability to make rubble out of the fortifications Hitler was so fond of, the world's best amphibious landing troops(ie, the only ones that had any experience and were still alive,) and enough regular grunts, armor, and artillery to easily shore up a beachhead and push forward.

The truth is, in order to win, Hitler had to keep both Russia AND the US out of Europe, and he did neither.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Well. (4.33 / 3) (#98)
by valeko on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:43:39 PM EST

Once Hitler's allies brought the US directly into the war, there was no hope.

It was when Hitler brought the USSR into the war that there really was no hope (for him). I will say nothing of Japan.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

spare us the chest-beating, Comrade (1.66 / 3) (#174)
by adequate nathan on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:13:38 AM EST

The USSR was good at beating up on Hungary ca 1956; Czechoslovakia ca 1968; and the eastern half of Poland, during a German invasion, in 1939. Without American military aid by the bastard-sized bucketful, Stalingrad and Moscow would have tipped over like Stalin after a vodka binge. See, it doesn't count as the "USSR" if there's no country left.

The Soviets fought like hell in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945, but you can't win a war on guts alone. Just ask the Poles - in 1939.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Please read a bit on the subject.. (3.00 / 1) (#185)
by ajduk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:18:13 AM EST

The German Armies were stopped in front of Moscow before the US entered the war, and certainly before US aid had much effect.  

US aid did provide a huge help later on - mostly in the form of food (which freed men for the front from the farms), and trucks and jeeps.  On the other hand, most of the tanks were USSR-produced, and they made a LOT.  

[ Parent ]

Not really... (4.00 / 2) (#241)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:16:47 PM EST

American lend lease aid went to Russia almost from the beginning, from before we entered the war.

The US contributed enough food to Russia to feed the entire Russian army, and supplied almost all trucks used by the Russian army. That is not insignificant. Trucks are very underrated as a military weapon...trucks mean mobility for infantry and mobility wins wars.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Lend-Lease Trucks (4.00 / 1) (#286)
by los on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:41:36 PM EST

Also meant that the USSR could build more tanks, since they didn't need to devote factory capacity to trucks.

[ Parent ]
I also suspect that Stalin (4.00 / 3) (#99)
by leviramsey on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:45:32 PM EST

...was contemplating a separate peace with Hitler, giving good ol' Adolf major chunks of Soviet territory (and possibly free use of the Trans-Siberian Railway to ship goods to Japan). The situation in December 1941 was dire for Russia. The UK was doing little more that try to survive the Luftwaffe and engaging Rommel in the desert.

As it stood then, I would say that the most likely result, had Russia not negotiated a separate peace, was annihilation. The US might have come to the UK's aid once Hitler put Sea Lion (or a successor operation) into motion, but even that's debatable (there was a substantial movement, supported by Nazis and Anglophobes like the Kennedys that openly advocated us joining the Germans). Additionally, FDR's general attitude towards Europe was "fuck 'em... let them exterminate each other." He essentially treated Lend-Lease and such as more of a business opportunity and as a way to get a Pacific Fleet that consisted of nothing but new ships.

However, Hitler brought the US into the war in Europe with his declaration. Soon after, the Allies became that, with an agreement that there would be no separate peace.

While Russia's pushing back of the Wehrmacht was what ended up winning the war, that was far from guaranteed. The US entry essentially sealed the fate of Germany.

I'm getting very hypothetical here, but imo, the better thing for Hitler may well have been to hold off on getting the US involved for six months.



[ Parent ]
Not so. (3.50 / 2) (#305)
by tftp on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:09:40 AM EST

I also suspect that Stalin was contemplating a separate peace with Hitler, giving good ol' Adolf major chunks of Soviet territory (and possibly free use of the Trans-Siberian Railway to ship goods to Japan).

Good that Stalin didn't know about that :-) After the invasion, no peace was possible - simply because advancing nazis destroyed everything in sight and were extremely ruthless. Your guesses here are wrong.

While Russia's pushing back of the Wehrmacht was what ended up winning the war, that was far from guaranteed. The US entry essentially sealed the fate of Germany.

The german fighting machine was damaged in 1942 and seriously broken in summer of 1943. From that point on, Hitler had no chance of winning - and, in fact, he had no major military successes any more, while Soviet Army had many. US military actions in Europe were of little importance, and came too late to be of any decisive value. They were a distraction at best, and probably helped to end the war few months earlier. I don't say that about other battlefields, of course.

[ Parent ]

nuclear weapons (4.00 / 1) (#109)
by speek on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:36:21 PM EST

But, if Germany had not attacked Russia and had not DOW'd the US, the US would not have been in a hurry to assault Europe for the purpose of freeing France and Poland. With the extra time, it seems likely to me that both the US and Germany would have had nuclear weapons, and at that point, neither side would want to continue.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

Why not? (4.00 / 1) (#113)
by Verminator on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:18:38 PM EST

I don't think a small scale nuclear exchange near the end of the war would be all that implausible if both sides had developed nukes. Not having huge stockpiles of arms and ICBMs capable of launching them, the concept of mutually assured destruction didn't yet exist. Of course, the end result would be major destruction in Germany and Great Britain, I doubt the U.S. would have been touched.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to misery, misery links to Satanosphere.
[ Parent ]

ICBMs (4.00 / 1) (#186)
by PenguinWrangler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:35:36 AM EST

I suspect had Hitler had nukes, and the war had gone on longer, he would have had ICBMs capable of launching them. the V1 was the first cruise missile, the V2 the first ballistic missile, and had they developed the V3, they would have had Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, capable of bombing the US.
They also had a prototype flying wing bomber capable of flying to the US and back - the design of which made it virtually invisible to radar.

Many of the scientists behind such developments would up in America...
"Information wants to be paid"
[ Parent ]

V3 (5.00 / 1) (#227)
by Caton on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:32:29 AM EST

The V3 was an underground cannon supposed to be able to shell London from France.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
not so (2.00 / 1) (#166)
by florin on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:45:33 AM EST

I actually think everyone would have been quite willing to use the nuclear bombs at that time. They couldn't simply realise how dangerous those things are.
It is actually a very curious (and fortunate) timing that the WWII developed right before the invention of the nuclear technology. Hitler + nuclear bombs would have meant the end of civlisation and, possibly, of life on Earth.

[ Parent ]
Nah (4.00 / 2) (#237)
by trhurler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:09:41 PM EST

Yes, they would have used them, but remember that the German program was years away from usable weapons, as it was following the wrong track, and that even the most destructive WWII era designs(never built until much later,) were not that big as nukes go. Add that to the difficulty of mass producing them using the techniques available them(it took the US a good ten or fifteen years to get good at this while making it a top priority,) and you see that neither the world nor civilization would have ended. Just a few cities, probably all or mostly all in Europe. Still horrible, but not what you're saying.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Germany and Nukes (4.66 / 3) (#231)
by Merk00 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:50:10 AM EST

The Germans simply didn't have the industrial ability to create a nuclear weapon. It's important to remember that the Manhattan Project is and was the largest industrial project ever undertaken. The project was just amazingly huge and expensive. It involved the building of three cities alone. The Germans didn't have enough industrial strength to be able to build the atomic bomb during a war. It simply couldn't have happened.

The German atomic bomb project was also fairly marginalized early on in the war because Hitler didn't feel that it would produce a usable device in the time span of the work (after all, Hitler thought that the war was going to be over much sooner than it actually was).

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Nah (4.66 / 3) (#239)
by trhurler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:14:10 PM EST

The US obtained viable nuclear bombs relatively early; the Germans were still messing around with heavy water designs that simply were not going to work no matter what they did. Remember, Germany's top physicists mostly left the country before the war or during it; Germany was very good at developing technology based on its existing science, but not so good at doing new science.

Odds are Germany was 5 years away from a real usable bomb, at least. In that time, we could have pounded them senseless.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Well, it depends... (4.00 / 1) (#133)
by Eater on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:02:22 AM EST

It depends on what would happen in Britain. If Hitler didn't attack the USSR, it may have been possible for him to do something horrid to Britain, so that by the time the US got there they would have to liberate both Britain and mainland Europe (or at least defend Britain from attacks before any sort of invasion). Plus, Germany DID have a very substantial air force which could counter "carrier based bombing capability". Also, remember that any sort of serious bombing requires an airfield - B-17s can't take off from carriers, and although an attack was launched on Japan by carrier-based B-24s (I believe that's what they are... correct me if I'm wrong), those could barely be loaded onto to the carriers and certainly couldn't land on them. If Britain had fallen, there would be a lack of good airfields to launch those nice bombers from.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
Nah (4.00 / 1) (#235)
by trhurler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:04:14 PM EST

Actually, we already had plans in the works for dedicated carrier based bombers(I believe they were probably just slightly scaled down B-24s, but I'm not sure,) and had perfected techniques for getting very heavy aircraft off a deck. The main thing was landing, and that's what the newer aircraft would have given us. Problem being, we ran out of reasons to build them before we got to building them - but had Germany not invaded Russia, that wouldn't have been true.

As for Germany's air force, you should probably look up force strengths in air power at the end of WWII. They started out doing really well, but British bombing of industrial infrastructure and the constant air battles with UK forces left them constantly short of spare parts, good pilots, and even fuel in some cases, to say nothing of ammunition. (The same happened to British air power.) We, on the other hand, were consistently sending out new aircraft, lots of spares, all the ammo troops could throw at an enemy, and pilots galore(that was the heroic thing to be at the time:) Had they gone toe to toe with the Luftwaffe in a serious and sustained manner, the US airmen would have ripped them a new one.

(Don't even bring up German jets and rocketplanes and so on. They were intimidating, but they were neither mass produced nor practical. They were underarmed, hard to control, had poor range and duration, and while perhaps dangerous one on one, would have been outright slaughtered at the odds they would in fact have faced.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Erm... (4.00 / 1) (#245)
by Eater on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:27:35 PM EST

Well, the reason Germans had a smaller airforce towards the end of the war was because guess what: the Eastern front ate up some of the German air power as well. That and if Germany did invade Britain, they would no longer have to suffer such casualties in the air (they would instead be suffering them on the ground). And I will bring up German rocket planes, not so much because they were rocket planes, but because they are evidence that German aircraft technology was advancing faster than Allied aircraft technology. If there was no Eastern front, Germans would likely also have the opportunity to actually develop that technology, which would mean jet aircraft and, very possibly, nuclear weapons. As for that heavy carrier based bomber, I find that very unlikely. Even today carrier based bombers are basically fighter-bombers. If a large carrier based bomber was created, it would probably have to be stored on the deck because it would too large to lift onto it, and there would be no way to land it without it hitting other such aircraft parked on the same deck. So the most that would be possible would be a "disposable" bomber that would be launched and would then land somewhere in Africa or the Middle East (if it wasn't shot down by the Germans).

Eater.

[ Parent ]
ME-262 was developed in 1944 (5.00 / 1) (#306)
by tftp on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:17:51 AM EST

If there was no Eastern front, Germans would likely also have the opportunity to actually develop that technology, which would mean jet aircraft

Germany developed a jet fighter ME-262; it was manufactured and deployed in 1944 on Eastern front. It was so fast that it was almost impossible to chase, except employing most sneaky approach.

[ Parent ]

I meant... (4.00 / 1) (#308)
by Eater on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:49:01 AM EST

I meant to say "substantial numbers of jet aircraft"... no, really.
The ME-262s produced at the end of the war were way too little and way too late, however fast they were and however much they scared the allied pilots that came across them.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
1941-42 (4.00 / 1) (#320)
by Caton on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 03:10:11 AM EST

The page you link to states the first flight of a Me-262 was in 1943. It was developed before flying.

The Me-262 was not too fast to chase. Tempests, P-51s and Meteors were fast enough to chase and kill them - and did. The problem was that in 1944, the rotation speed of Allied radars was too slow to allow tracking of any of these planes. This was corrected real fast. Source: Le Grand Cirque, by Pierre Clostermann.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

What? (4.00 / 1) (#339)
by ucblockhead on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 11:51:47 AM EST

The top speed of the Me-262 was more than 100 mph faster than that of any allied aircraft. More importantly, it's climb rate was something like three times that of best prop-driven fighters.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Just this (4.00 / 1) (#351)
by Caton on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 03:46:13 PM EST

The top speed of the Me-262 was more than 100 mph faster than that of any allied aircraft. More importantly, it's climb rate was something like three times that of best prop-driven fighters.
From your links:

Maximum speed:
Me 262A-1a: 540 mph (870km/h)
Me 262A-2a: 470 mph (755km/h)
Me 262B-1a: 497 mph (800km/h)
and

the P-51H which had a cleaner shape and was the fastest of the series at 487 mph.
That's 17 mph faster than the Me-262 Jabo model. And the RM4 rocket racks slowed down the ME-262 significantly anyway. Here is a Sqr. 315 (Polish) pilot story of how he shot a Me-262. That day Sqr. 315 shot down 4 Me-262 in combat.

In addition, in May 1945 a Gloster Meteor Mk.4 set the speed record at 606 mph. 66 mph faster than the fastest Me-262 model. But that was May 10th...

The Me-262 was a remarkable achievement. The design and performance of the aircraft were advanced for the time. But the Me-262 was far from perfect. As the operational record shows, it was not quite a fully developed weapon of war. It suffered from a number of teething problems, especially engines problems. And it was used in desperate times for missions it wasn't designed for.

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As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

B-24 (4.00 / 1) (#307)
by gsl on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:43:05 AM EST

an attack was launched on Japan by carrier-based B-24s (I believe that's what they are... correct me if I'm wrong)

Close. The Doolittle raid was done using North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers. The B-24 was the Consolidated Liberator. It was a heavy bomber -- no way you'd get that off a carrier.

Geoff.
--
NP: Eloy - Power And The Passion [Journey Into 1358]



[ Parent ]
Probably not (4.00 / 2) (#136)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:14:55 AM EST

Sorry, but the US infantry strength was simply not large enough. You have to realize that the Germans outnumbered the American infantry by easily a factor of four to one, and the German infantry was generally higher quality. They also had better quality equipment. The Russians were only able to win because they were able to mass absolutely huge forces. The Russians suffered twelve million military deaths. The Germans suffered five million military deaths. The Americans suffered five hundred thousand military deaths. That gives you an idea about the differences in scale in the war in the East vs. the war in the West.

Look at the casualties in Normandy and then realize that Normandy was lightly defended compared to where the Germans thought the attack was coming, and realize that all of the best German troops were in Russian. Had the Nazis not fought Russian, there'd have been four times the number of troops waiting. The American and British forces would have been outnumbered by superior quality forces.

Yes, the Americans had the best amphibious forces in the world, but they simply did not have the numbers to invade Europe without a two-front war.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

The neat thing about that (4.50 / 2) (#232)
by trhurler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:55:35 AM EST

Basically, yes, we were outnumbered at the time the events went down, but given a few years more time, Germany wasn't really going to accomplish much aside from consolidating their gains or embarking on misguided adventures into Asia(nobody, including Asians, should fight wars in Asia. It is just fucking stupid), and had nowhere near our industrial capacity or population. (Remember, those conquered subjects aren't likely to be particularly loyal, so you can't really call them "your population.")

Why does industrial capacity matter? Simple. If we could dominate the Luftwaffe(it wouldn't have been hard, if we could free up our Pacific forces and consolidate them,) then ten million troops in bunkers and trenches would rapidly turn into ten million charred corpses tainted by the smell of incendiaries. The stronger bunkers might have protected their occupants, but you couldn't fit enough troops into those to oppose a serious invasion for long. (Incidentally, firebombing and gassing in a fashion similar to this are supposed to have been key parts of the plan for reducing American casualties in the event of an invasion of Japan, so our planners did in fact forsee the possibility.)

And the ones it wouldn't kill, it would horribly demoralize:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
air power (4.00 / 1) (#242)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:21:47 PM EST

You overrate air power. On D-Day, the Allies had complete air-superiority, and yet D-Day was no easy walk in the park.

Also, for every plane the Americans could bring from the Pacific, the Germans would have two freed because of a lack of Russian front.

Finally, if you are assuming that this all happens after Japan falls (as you seem to be) in 1946, you have to deal with the fact that the Luftwaffe now has jet fighters, and the allies don't. Good bye, air superiority. The Me-262 was nasty, and the allies were damn lucky the Germans didn't get production ramped up. By 1946...
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

I don't think it would have worked that way (4.00 / 1) (#250)
by trhurler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:00:12 PM EST

First of all, for every plane we could free from the Pacific, we could also build probably three more. Our industrial capacity was staggering(in fact, industrial capacity is probably what made the US and the USSR the dominant powers, more than any other single factor including nuclear weapons.)

Second, Germany wasn't going to be able to ramp up production of new aircraft anytime soon; their industrial capacity was thoroughly firebombed, and the Me-262 was hard to produce anyway. Even under ideal conditions, it was vastly more time consuming and expensive than producing regular fighters, and the Germans weren't exactly operating under ideal conditions.

Third, the Me-262 was overrated. It terrified people because of its speed, but it couldn't stay up for long, was undergunned, lacked the automated target management gear that makes fighting at jet aircraft speeds practical, and burned fuel at a rate the Germans probably could not have sustained had they tried to make it a mainstay of their air force. It was more technological tour de force than practical weapon.

Finally, the problem with D-Day was that the invasion went on while the planes flew over. You have to bomb first, then invade:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
amen to that brother (4.00 / 1) (#271)
by el_guapo on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:35:30 PM EST

from here, we made almost 50,000 shermans - 50 freegan thousand. sure, they sucked (ok, they were great at what they were designed for - infantry support - but that's not what we needed them for), but we could make them faster than they could knock them out. and that's just tanks (and the medium one at that), p47's, p38's, p51's, jeeps, trucks ad nauseum. i'm not pounding my patriotic chest here (making a crappy tank faster than the bad guys can knock them out is an odd thing to be proud of) - just pointing out that the US was (is?) an industrial behemoth. also, not to pick at nits - why you say the me-262 was undergunned? it was everything else you said, but 4 x 30mm nose mounted cannon seems very much not undergunned. they didn't hold a lot of ammo though, is that what you mean?
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
Yes (4.50 / 2) (#278)
by trhurler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:11:32 PM EST

The ammunition supply was not considered a problem, but only because the planes didn't have much time before they had to land anyway. They were impressive as high speed interceptors, and could have torn a force of bombers unescorted into pieces, but with escorts, by the time they dealt with the escorts, the bombers would already have done their job because the jets would be headed off for resupply. Of course, this is mostly hypothetical, but it isn't hard to see the problems.

Trying to develop new military technologies at such a rapid pace always leads to severe problems. Our atomic bombs, while impressive, were not really practical weapons until well after WWII. The German rockets were less accurate than Scuds. And so on...

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Escorts (4.00 / 1) (#285)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:39:45 PM EST

They wouldn't particular have to deal with escorts because they were fast enough to come storming in, shoot the shit out of the bombers in front of them and then zoom off. Escorts had real troubles with Me-262s because it was impossible to engage them if they didn't want to be engaged. They just rocketed in at high speed, firing and then rocketed off, secure that nothing was fast enough to get on their tail.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
One minor problem. (none / 0) (#294)
by trhurler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:19:11 PM EST

All you have to do to render that tactic useless is attack the air bases the Me-262s operate from. Running away in air combat is not viable unless your bases are secure; if you are being attacked by bombers, then your bases are not secure.

This problem is compounded by the fact that airfields for jet aircraft are a bit more substantial than airfields for rough well built military prop aircraft; there will of necessity be fewer such airfields, and if you time it right with a "sacrifice run" on some other target(so that the jets return to base and then your attack occurs before they can get airborne again,) you have a real chance of taking out a lot of expensive jet aircraft on the ground. Granted, that's sick and wrong, but do you think a military commander wouldn't DO it?

Really making jet aircraft practical requires giving them greater endurance and more firepower, not to mention being able to afford and produce a lot of them. The history of the adoption of the jet engine into the air forces of the world as a practical tool is a timeline of aircraft design milestones needed to achieve the goals of endurance and firepower. Notably, defense has become a (very) secondary consideration, almost entirely electronic and/or procedural in nature in modern aircraft.

By the way, it isn't quite as easy to do what you describe as you might think. Roaring in at several hundred miles an hour, keeping most of that speed(so that you can be assured of getting away,) while strafing bombers heavily enough to take them out(remember, flying fortresses and similar large several-engine WWII bombers were not the sort of thing you'd knock out of the sky without some sustained gunfire except purely by luck,) and roaring back out before anyone could line up a shot on you is a hell of a trick. It isn't like making one strafing pass is going to do much besides scare the crew in one of those bombers.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Erm yet again... (none / 0) (#309)
by Eater on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 01:03:44 AM EST

OK, first of all, your logic with bombing airfields doesn't really make as much sense as you would like it to, because in order to bomb an airfield, the bombers have to make it to that airfield first. Sure, the bigger airfields WOULD be easier to find and bomb (because there would be less of them), but the bombers would still somehow have to get through the fighter cover. The reason the allies were able to bomb these planes before they took off is because there weren't enough of them to establish effective fighter cover (and a lack of pilots as well). As for the difficulty of hitting B-17s at 500+ knots, remember that these things were armed with four cannons JUST FOR THAT REASON. I would think even a B-17 (which, by the way, makes a huge target) would have a hard time surviving that much firepower. You may have heard of some B-17s coming back with huge holes in the wings and tail, but I would think that was the exception rather than the rule.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
rockets (none / 0) (#338)
by ucblockhead on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 11:49:14 AM EST

Not to mention that the Me-262 eventually came with rockets.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Nice, but... (none / 0) (#342)
by trhurler on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:30:11 PM EST

Frankly, while I bet those were a real terror to fighters, I suspect cannon were more effective against big multiengined bombers. Hitting a moving target with an unguided rocket of at best questionable accuracy is possible at short ranges where you can choose the relative speed, so hitting the bombers isn't unreasonable, but even if you do, a pound of high explosive, while it has the potential to destroy the aircraft, also has the potential to just tear a big hole in it and scare the crew really badly. And remember, you can't just hang out behind one of those things; they had tail guns, and an Me-262 is not going to last long against a cannon fired towards the front end, where the pilot sits:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Nope (5.00 / 1) (#341)
by trhurler on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:25:22 PM EST

B-17s and other WWII era US bombers were built like brick shithouses. They routinely came back so shot up nobody could figure out how they still flew. About the only way to take one out with certainty was to kill all of its engines or blow it up, or kill the pilot. Structural damage was almost irrelevant, unless you could remove enough surface area to kill lift, because the things were built on spaceframes; putting a few holes in it would not cause enough stress on that sort of a frame to actually cause major structural failure, which is what made pre-WWII aircraft so fragile.

What makes modern aircraft fragile is that they're being hit with missiles, not guns, and the fact that they've got their engines in the back, where they're going to get hit if someone is tailing them with cannons.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Then explain to me... (5.00 / 1) (#349)
by Eater on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:36:41 PM EST

How any bombers at all were shot down during the second world war? They were shot down somehow, therefore it is possible, so how is a jet aircraft any less capable of it than a conventional fighter?

Eater.

[ Parent ]
Three ways (5.00 / 1) (#353)
by trhurler on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 04:14:42 PM EST

First off, catch a flight of bombers unescorted. This works really well. They're slower and less maneuverable than a fighter, and if you have a modern jet or a prop fighter, you have the endurance to stay with them for awhile and pick them off over time. You don't directly tail them except from above, and you know you can overtake them. Aim for glass, because behind it there are people. Or, make runs across the plane from left to right trying to hit engines from above or below.

Second, catch them with escorts, but have superior numbers. Same drill, except first kill or drive off the escorts.

Third, get lucky and/or hit them with ground based weapons. In fact, most bombers shot down were victims of very large(compared to air-based guns of the day,) ground based AA installations; these had trouble hitting fighters, but a bomber with a predictable bombing run path, big, relatively slow, and lacking the capability for rapid evasion, is a great target.

The problem the Me-262 faced was not so much firepower as endurance. It couldn't stay with a flight of bombers and slowly cripple and kill them as needed; it had neither the fuel nor the ammunition to do so.

Sure, a modern jet, with guided air to air missiles, would rip WWII bombers apart, escorts and all - but the Me-262 is not such a beast.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Limited fuel (none / 0) (#357)
by Eater on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 06:12:04 PM EST

Limited fuel is not as big a deal as you make it. Aircraft used up most of their fuel flying to and from the destination, not actually fighting, because the time spent flying to and fro was so much greater. As for ammunition, I strongly doubt that would be an issue, because if British Spitfires were able to shoot down bombers, ME-262s could too. As for multiple runs, an ME-262s produced enough thrust to be able to make multiple runs at escorted bombers if the pilot knew what he was doing. (if you don't believe me, a few seconds of googling produced this site)
Really, right now you're just trying to prove to me that air cover can't stop bombers, and are basing that conclusion on the Allies' ability to bomb the Germans at the end of the war, when their air force lay in ruins and Allied ground forces were advancing on them from all sides. This is very different from a situation where the German air force is well organized, supplied, and, most importantly, not half-destroyed by another war in the east.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
Tanks (4.00 / 1) (#284)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:37:36 PM EST

Tanks are useless until you get them on the beach. The real problem would have been getting a beachhead with a vastly increased German defensive network.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Couldn't Happen (3.00 / 1) (#212)
by yooden on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:58:40 AM EST

Not attacking Russia was simply no option. It was the main objective of the war.

[ Parent ]
Barbarrosa had to be, the timing was the blunder (4.00 / 1) (#289)
by nbaxley on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:55:15 PM EST

There was no way that Germany could have survived the war without the resources of Russia. The blunder on Hitler's part was that he attacked Russia before defeating England. That and he underestimated the Russian winters, just as Napolean had. If you want to take another step back, you could say that Hitlers lack of preperation for amphibious assault on England was a contributing factor. Had he been able to press the advantage after taking France, we would have had little problem defeating a battered British army with few supplies due to the blockade. The thing he lacked was amphibious craft. If those were available, he could have made the channel crossing as soon as France was secured. After that timetable slipped, he needed too many resources to continue the widening war and was left with no choice but to invade Russia. Hitler's stupidity is a real tragedy in the sense of lost military opportunity, but I'm certainly glad it was so pronounced.

[ Parent ]
He may have been able to get Britain to make peace (4.00 / 1) (#311)
by skim123 on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 01:16:58 AM EST

had he let his tanks finish off the British troops at Dunkirk. I don't recall the exact numbers off the top of my head, but only a tiny percentage of the total British troops at Dunkirk died or were captured (perhaps tens of thousands out of the half million or so?). In any case, they really could have finished off nearly all of the British Expeditionary Force (and some of the remnants of the French army) had Hitler not insisted that Goring and his air force got dibs. Such a decisive blow to the English may have prompted a "peace" with England. In any event, it would have made Hitler's amphibious attack (had he had the crafts) much easier. :-)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Task Force Smith (4.33 / 6) (#15)
by edremy on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:18:31 PM EST

Although nowhere near the scale of the blunders you list, I have to throw out Task Force Smith in the first days of the American involvement in Korea. Here a bunch of ill-equipped, ill-trained and undermanned units got stuck with defending against a major NK push and ended up routed.

Here's the US Army's take on the whole thing. When even your own propoganda admits it was a serious defeat, you know you screwed up. I did a presentation on this battle at Ft. Knox during OBC: I always thought it was fun to pick something where we lost big.

Nice. (3.80 / 5) (#17)
by Einzelgaenger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:29:03 PM EST

I liked this article.

Although some things I could argue about, i still liked it.

I am a self-proclaimed WWII Germany fanatic. I could argue with you for days that attacking Russia wasn't the mistake ... presuming Russia would fall in a few months was the mistake made.

And that presumption fell almost squarely on Hilter's (and a few of his closest cronies) shoulders.

The German's had the talent, the men, the technology, and the equipment to take out the Russians ..... they just forgot to bring their jackets. Never attack Russia without a warm jacket. lol.



Some people are too stupid to ever be free.

... oh ya ... (3.66 / 3) (#18)
by Einzelgaenger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:34:14 PM EST

America was already very involved in the war before Germany declared war on them. From shipping the British supplies, to giving the Russians technology and equipment ... the US was in the War in all but name.

But, that being said ... I do believe that Hitler made a serious mistake in declaring war on the US. He should have tossed the pact with japan out the window, just as Japan tossed the pact with Hilter out the window by not pressing Russia in the east.

I believe that much could have been accomplished in the US thorugh diplomacy. The problem was that Germany would have had to stop war with the British to stop pissing off the Americans.

The theories that Germany made attempts to make peace with Britian that Churchhill would not allow could be a entire new thread .....



Some people are too stupid to ever be free.

[ Parent ]

German Blunders (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by Dave Madsen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:50:29 PM EST

The first blunder made by Germany was, imo, shifting attention to Russia from Britain. This was recoverable, though. Bringing in the US magnified the mistake.

Had Germany mounted an amphibious assault on Britain, the US would probably have gotten involved. But this would have been well after Russia had been taken out of the war (either diplomatically or through conquest).



Writer, Kuro5hin.org
[ Parent ]
no winter coats (4.66 / 3) (#85)
by stipe42 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:46:52 PM EST

Try reading Stalin by Radzinsky. Stalin and Hitler were both preparing for the war that both of them knew was coming. The Russians planned to attack in the spring of 1942. The Germans knew this, and wanted to attack first, which meant hitting Russia in 1941.

However, adequately provisioning the German Army for winter warfare in Russia would have required so much wool that the Germans would have seized the entire Eastern European crop of wool for that purpose. Knowing this, the Russians kept a careful eye on the wool market in Eastern Europe. If the bottom fell out of it, then the Germans were preparing to invade.

In a twist, since the Germans knew that the Russians knew this, they did not prepare for winter fighting in order to gain surprise. They hedged their bets on being able to win before winter since preparing for winter would have destroyed the surprise.

Of course there can and has been endless debate over whether the Russians actually were planning to attack, and whether the Germans were actually just overconfident dolts. The reason I tend to side with this interpretation of the evidence is that it is the only one that assumes both Stalin and Hitler knew exactly what they were doing. Those two men were the most brilliant politicians of the twentieth century, albeit depraved and evil ones. A scenario in which two geniuses act intelligently is more believable to me than one in which they act like boneheads.

stipe42

[ Parent ]

I'm reading The Mitrokhin Archives. (none / 0) (#104)
by haflinger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:06:11 PM EST

Great book, BTW. Buy it if you like. Anyway, Mitrokhin's notes from the WWII section indicate that Stalin really was caught off guard by Hitler. Stalin was paranoid, and he spent much of the '30s preparing for an attack, not by the Germans, but by the British. He thought that once the British wanted to manipulate him into attacking the Germans, to wipe out both countries, and then the British would get to rule all of Eastern Europe.

That's the problem with insane leaders. They do strange things.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

Huh? (4.00 / 1) (#215)
by yooden on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:11:02 AM EST

[Hitler and Stalin] were the most brilliant politicians of the twentieth century.

Please explain what is brilliant about destroying your own country in a war you cannot win.

[ Parent ]
If Losing = Not Brilliant Then Winning = Brilliant (3.00 / 1) (#276)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:06:40 PM EST

  ...and Stalin DID win, and Hitler may have had a chance at winning.

  He suggested Hitler and Stalin were brilliant politicians (controlling and excerting power), not brilliant saints and economic architects (creating utopias).

  Even if the goal was to build an empire, to the victor goes the spoils!  Hence why many of the victorious countries thrived during thier rebuilding periods (Yes, There are exceptions).

  Call them evil or crazy all you want, but they were brilliant men.  If you can't register that, than you're living in a hopelessly naive world where only good people are brilliant.

[ Parent ]

Unbrilliance (none / 0) (#371)
by yooden on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 04:03:35 AM EST

Hitler may have had a chance at winning.

How utterly brilliant. If I would jump from the roof, I may have a chance at landing unhurt only to discover the long-lost pirate treasure. So jumping off the roof is brilliant?

Hitler was quite good at gaining power, I can see that. However, the same qualities which made this possible inevitably lead to the destruction of the country.


[ Parent ]

A Desperate Analogy? (none / 0) (#396)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 10:59:04 AM EST

  I can understand that some people don't like to "lose" an argument, but don't you think deluding yourself to "win" an argument is even worse?

  Look back at your arguments, you may find a couple of instances where you've managed to suspend factors of reality to make a point.

  Let's look at your analogy for case and point.

The Analogy - Jumping off Roofs

  The Risk - Almost definite (falling off a tall enough roof almost guarantees injury).  
  The Reward - Almost nill (There are very little pirate treasure in the world, let alone treasure found under roofs, vulnerable to being revealed after being subjected to 200-400 lbs of pressure).  This is obviously, blatently and redudantly stupid.

The Analogy's Target - Waging War in Europe

  The Risk - Hitler's risk of losing the war was questionable.  
  The Reward - His reward for winning would have been a vast and powerful empire.  To him, the war was breaking a few eggs to make an omelette.

Conclusion:  A VERY DESPERATE ANALOGY

  What point are you trying to make anyways?  You really seem entrenched in not being able to acknowedge Hitler's brilliance.  I understand that most Germans feel morally obligated to denounce Hitler, but should you do it to the point where you can't recognize the brilliance of an evil man?  How will you prepare to take on the next Hitler if you can't recognize the brilliance of the last Hitler.

 

[ Parent ]

Back to Business (none / 0) (#398)
by yooden on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 09:26:20 AM EST

Ok, the analogy was stupid. Rate it down and let's assume I didn't make it.

Look back at your arguments, you may find a couple of instances where you've managed to suspend factors of reality to make a point.

I was going to say a very similar thing. The one factor you fail to address is that through his actions, he not only made himself the proverbial evil dictator, he also managed to destroy the country he supposedly valued so high, staining its reputation for decades, if not centuries. Yes, if circumstances had been different, he may have won, but they weren't and he very unbrilliantly failed to notice. He screwed up utterly. He got his ass kicked completely.

What point are you trying to make anyways?

That shouldn't be so hard to see: Hitler was not brilliant.

You really seem entrenched in not being able to acknowedge Hitler's brilliance. I understand that most Germans feel morally obligated to denounce Hitler, but should you do it to the point where you can't recognize the brilliance of an evil man?

So you think you can judge my character from my nationality? That really proves how much better you are at ignoring preconceptions.

Hitler was very talented at influencing the masses (so I guess you could say he was a brilliant demagogue). He proved at various points that he failed miserably at other things he took an interest in.

There are at least two Nazi bigwigs, Goebbels and Speer, who you could call brilliant (ethical considerations and Goebbels cringing devotion to Hitler aside). Both excelled at their jobs, one declaring total war ("Nun Volk steh auf und Sturm brich los!"), one making it possible (German production capability peaked 1944, the same year as Allied bombing tonnage), and only failed through events outside their sphere of influence.
So there. A German calling Nazis brilliant.


[ Parent ]

Point Taken (none / 0) (#399)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 04:54:10 PM EST

Correction

  You really seem entrenched in not being able to acknowedge Hitler's brilliance. I understand that most Germans feel morally obligated to denounce Hitler, but should one* do it to the point where you can't recognize the brilliance of an evil man?

*  Bad habit of using "one" and "you" interchangibly (Bugged Fiance because she assumed I was always talking about her instead of the hypothetical)

So you think you can judge my character from my nationality? That really proves how much better you are at ignoring preconceptions.

  I'm not that obtuse.  All of my conclusions tend to include mental statistical error bars, meaning I tend to conclude with probabilities rather than true/false.  

  I don't ignore cultural patterns, architype patterns, and other patterns that are often translated into stereotypes.  Most people rip off thier ideas from people who vindicate themselves and sometimes for just being able to identify the person with themselves.  Most people are complex composites of commodity ideas with truely unique  insight in a few areas.  

  Unlike other people who are afraid to leverage stereotypes, let alone assume stereotypes, I try to find insight in stereotypes, especially when people emulate stereotypes to a tee.  It says a lot about how ideas are propigating.

[ Parent ]

Still? (none / 0) (#403)
by yooden on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:29:26 PM EST

You really seem entrenched in not being able to acknowedge Hitler's brilliance.

No.

Please tell us why he is brilliant. Please tell us why a complete fuck-up is no reason to doubt his brilliancy.

[ Parent ]

Nope, I conceeded (none / 0) (#405)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 04:28:22 PM EST

  I conceeded on this whole brilliant ordeal (hence the subject line: Point Taken), I was quoting myself from a prior post to clarify another point.

[ Parent ]
Doubtful (none / 0) (#388)
by los on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 11:58:52 PM EST

The Germans actually had a significant supply of winter coats, but didn't get them to the troops. In late Oct/early Nov, they had the choice of moving up more gas and ammo to the troops, or moving up the winter supplies...they elected to move the supplies, figuring that Moscow would fall.

See van Creveld's Supplying War chapter on Barbarossa.

[ Parent ]

Guerilla warfare (3.33 / 3) (#126)
by MeanGene on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:42:03 PM EST

Another huge mistake was expecting a second France in Russia.

If you listen to beret-wearing French people, everyone was "la Resistance" - while in truth German troops were rotated to France for R&R vacation after a stint on the Eastern Front.

Meanwhile, inside occupied part of Soviet Union there were territories controlled by guerillas.

[ Parent ]

Barbarossa (5.00 / 1) (#334)
by gleesona on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 10:05:57 AM EST

The German's had the talent, the men, the technology, and the equipment to take out the Russians

The problem was they fought this war on racial grounds instead of political grounds. The Nazis regarded the 'Slavic Hordes' as 'untermenschen' and this really cost then dear. If they had invaded the USSR with the express intention to get rid of communism and tried to persuade the people there to help them they would have probably been successful. Let us not forget that the Ukraine, for example,fought for 6 years against the communists (1917-23). Given the chance they would have fought with the Germans to get rid of the communists.
______________________________________________

In short, a German spy is giving away every one of our battle plans.
You look surprised, Blackadder.
I certainly am, sir. I didn't realise we had any battle plans.[ Parent ]
Biased links (3.00 / 3) (#24)
by Dave Madsen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:59:25 PM EST

I do apologize for the tendency of these links to be one-sided. Links from the Japanese and German sides are difficult to find, partially because of the efforts both nations have made to eliminate the attitudes that fed militarism. The US, UK, France, and Russia, being, except in the Russo-Japanese War, victors, have not made such efforts. In addition, language difficulties makes the Japanese and Korean perspectives difficult to find on the net.

If anyone has links to perspectives not covered, feel free to submit them. If possible, I will try to include them in the main article (since this will leave edit queue in a short period of time, I may need to enlist an admin for that purpose).

I am classing this as topical, because I do want it to stay around longer.



Writer, Kuro5hin.org
Wait... (none / 0) (#30)
by Dave Madsen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:08:43 PM EST

WTF happened to the links!???!!!!???



Writer, Kuro5hin.org
[ Parent ]
Think I figured it out... (none / 0) (#33)
by Dave Madsen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:14:24 PM EST

Damn Konqueror and it's caching. Damn it to hell!



Writer, Kuro5hin.org
[ Parent ]
Linkage (2.50 / 2) (#38)
by Dave Madsen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:21:32 PM EST

If you feel that this story needs the links, vote -1. I'll repost it later, with the links, once I get Konqueror's cache issues cleared up.



Writer, Kuro5hin.org
[ Parent ]
Editorial comments can be retrieved later. (none / 0) (#40)
by haflinger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:25:16 PM EST

After the story posts, they can still be seen. They're hidden by default, but if you select Editorial Only from the View drop-down, they reappear.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
I've always wondered about that... (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by KOTHP on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:44:41 PM EST

What - if any - are the differences between "Mixed(default)" and "Topical only"?

[ Parent ]
They're different before the story is posted [n/t] (3.00 / 2) (#86)
by haflinger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:49:26 PM EST



Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Never mind (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by KOTHP on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:49:42 PM EST

If anyone else was wondering the same thing : there is only a difference when you choose to moderate submissions.

"Topical only" is what it claims to be. Mixed(default) shows (as far as I can tell) all comments for submission queue stories, and only topical ones for posted stories.

Sorry for any distraction, please resume your k5ing.

[ Parent ]

Hahaha! (1.87 / 24) (#32)
by valeko on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:10:35 PM EST

There's my hysterical laugh for the week!

Most historians rate Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, to have been his worst military blunder (from five possible candidates) of the entire war. I, however, disagree. I think that his almost casual declaration of war against the United States on December 11, 1941, proved to be even more decisively disastrous.

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

-1, nonsense.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

Well... (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by KOTHP on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:53:31 PM EST

I agree, but this has already been said, and actually supported, in an earlier comment.

[ Parent ]
a few sugestions - some obscure events some not (2.80 / 5) (#35)
by dinu on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:17:44 PM EST

1913 - Second balkan war 1915 - The landing at Galipolli 1919 - The atempted Hungarian invasion of Transylvania 1938 - France and England fail to stop Hitler in aquiering Austria and Thechia 1940 - Soviet invasion of Finland 1940 - Romania's retreat from Basarabia 1942 - Stalingrad 1942 - Dieppe landing 1943 - Kursk 1944 - Operation Market Garden 1964 - Vietnam war 1980 - Russian invasion of Afganistan 1991 - Sadams invasion of Kuweit 2002 - America's war on terror

Don't forget (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by Rand Race on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:25:24 PM EST

1954 - Dien Bien Phu.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

yep (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by dinu on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:28:34 PM EST

And speaking of french blunders let's not forget Twilight war and the war in Algeria

[ Parent ]
or the whole "maginot line" (nt) (3.66 / 3) (#48)
by Run4YourLives on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:33:17 PM EST



It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
how about... (4.00 / 4) (#74)
by ceejayoz on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:41:38 PM EST

How about we just consider any French military action to be a failure and group them into one big category?

They don't have a very impressive record, that's for sure...

[ Parent ]

Well, not in the modern era. (none / 0) (#101)
by haflinger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:52:07 PM EST

Charlemagne did alright :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Not really French (4.00 / 1) (#188)
by BadDoggie on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:57:35 AM EST

That was the Holy Roman Empire, which was basically Germany and lots of land nearby, including France. Sure, most of the English-speaking world calls him "Charlemagne", but in German, he's called "Karl der Große" ("Charles the Great", or, as I like to say, "Big Chuck").

Anyway, he called himself the name that Big Daddy Pepin gave him: Carolus. His contemporaries did the same.

He was a Frank, but it wasn't France.

woof.

Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.
[ Parent ]

Well, sort of. (none / 0) (#207)
by haflinger on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:10:36 AM EST

He was responsible for a lot of what France became. And yes, his empire stretched around a lot of Europe, and even into a bit of what is now Spain.

Odds are, BTW, that he called himself whatever was convenient at the time. Carolus was his Latin name, which he used because he was trying to recreate the Roman Empire, and Latin was the appropriate language for that.

But OK. There's still Louis XIV.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

I think you omit (4.50 / 2) (#192)
by streetlawyer on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:40:04 AM EST

those adventures associated with a short Corsican corporal called Buonaparte?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Hmmm (3.60 / 5) (#47)
by jmzero on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:33:07 PM EST

2002 - America's war on terror

I think this is one of the reasons the author stopped at 1950.  It's pretty hard right now to say whether the WOT is a huge mistake, simply because we don't know how it's going to turn out.  Dumber things have happened.

And besides, not every story needs to be flambéed.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

ok you're right (4.50 / 2) (#51)
by dinu on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:36:01 PM EST

and it is not part of the last century :)

[ Parent ]
where? (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by aphrael on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:00:33 PM EST

Thechia

Where? I assume you mean Czechoslovakia/Bohemia, but i've never seen it written this way. What language is this from?

[ Parent ]

Sorry (4.50 / 2) (#288)
by dinu on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:51:05 PM EST

I am Romanian, therefore I sould have spell it Cehia but I was trying to spell it in English and missed :)

[ Parent ]
Market Garden? (4.50 / 2) (#89)
by KOTHP on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:03:03 PM EST

There is a subtle difference between a failure - even a disaster - and a blunder. A blunder implies a failure on account of poor planning and/or incompetence. I submit that Market Garden was more a failure due to outclassed equipment, unfamiliar territory, and a lack of intelligence (the know-what-your-enemy-is-doing kind, not the smart-or-stupid kind) than being a foolish notion from the get-go.

Perhaps some of the other examples in the article fall into the same category, but the ones I know anything about seem to be what I would consider 'blunders'.

[ Parent ]

Please see my earlier comment (4.00 / 1) (#280)
by hughk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:17:05 PM EST

On the subject of Market Garden, there wouldn't have been a problem if Monty didn't have Ultra, because that SS Panzer general was lying through his teeth about his battle readiness to stop him from being sent to the Russian front. If they had the photography alone, that would have done it.

[ Parent ]
poor planning & incompetence (4.00 / 1) (#290)
by dinu on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:57:42 PM EST

Market Garden was deffinitivelly the result of poor planning and incompetence. Let's face it a breakthrough of one tank width at that depth was pretty dumb ideea. A simple terrestrial offensice would have got those 2 bridges without having so many paratroopers slaughtered. Personaly I am not very impressed with Monty. In North Africa he prooved he cannot be overun by Rommel if he had twice the equipment and he can even beat Rommel when he have 5 times over the equipment and Paton had landed behin him.

[ Parent ]
Finland (4.50 / 2) (#198)
by bil on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:29:56 AM EST

> 1940 - Soviet invasion of Finland

A military humiliation which taught the Red army many things including the value of submachine guns. This lead to the production of the PPsh40 (the archetypal Russian smg with a drum magazine taht appears in the movies) that became the main armament of the USSR due to its ease of production and ability to work in any conditions (e.g. temperatures cold enough to freeze other guns solid). Without it the vast manpower that was Russias main advantage in WWII would have remained unarmed. Think of it as the spititual forefather of the AK-47 (actually some PPsh guns appeared in TV coverage of the Bosnia war)

It also demonstrated to them first hand the importance of winter warfare, a lesson the Germans would have done well to learn. A tank is impressive but in -20C it is far less usefull then a man on skis.

Just goes to show that sayings about clouds andsilver linings aren't alway rubbish.

bil

PS. Operation Market Garden captured two out of the three bridges it targeted. A disaster but not a complete one.


bil
Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

teachings (4.00 / 1) (#291)
by dinu on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:01:55 PM EST

The fact that they took their lessons from their bllunder does not change the fact that it was a blunnder. If you learn what a machine gun can do while charging it without smoke cover is no escuse that you were charging it in the first place. :) Anyway if it was not for thr Finish campaign the Russian army woud have been in a much worse situation in 1941.

[ Parent ]
One man's blunder is another mans stunning victory (4.90 / 11) (#45)
by thelizman on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:31:17 PM EST

In the case of the Japanese attacks on Malaysia, Singapor, and Hawaii, I think these should be viewed as less of a screwup on the part of the British and more of a stunning move on the part of the Imperial Japanes. Fifty years before War-College egg-heads were muttering the words "asymentric warfare", Japan laid some of the groundwork for special operations style asymetric warfar and displayed expert timing in pulling off these three operations so stunningly close to each other than news hardly had time to travel about new incidences of Japanese aggression.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
Hitler declares war on the United States, 1941 (3.00 / 5) (#46)
by WildDonkey on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:31:20 PM EST

Very very very wrong.
German forces had already ground to a halt in Russia, and half its airforce had been wiped out in the battle of Britain forcing them to call off their invasion.

After that the final result was never in doubt. Just the timescale.

Well, I doubt it... (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by ScuzzMonkey on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:55:36 PM EST

While those things may have combined to prevent Germany from successfully winning the war, I don't think they added up to a loss, either. Without the intervention of the United States, there was every possibility that the best outcome for Britain and Russia would have been a negotiated peace. In fact, even after the US joined the war, this remained a very real possibility had the Normandy invasion not been successful. Had the Allied forces been decimated on the beaches and forced to withdraw, it's unlikely another invasion of that scale would have been attempted--the losses would have been too great. From there, a negotiated peace settlement leaving Hitler with most of France and a large chunk of Poland and maybe some of Russia would have been quite likely.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

D-Day (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by ucblockhead on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:05:52 PM EST

By the time D-Day happened, the Red Army was steadily advancing towards Germany. At this time, about 3/4s of the German forces were in the East. (The US and British only faced about a quarter of the German army in France.)
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Numbers aren't the entirety of the argument (4.00 / 1) (#240)
by ScuzzMonkey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:16:34 PM EST

Even given the number of troops that would have been freed up by virtue of an unthreatened Western Front, that's not really the whole argument. Germany continued to increase its production capacity even under enormous pressure from US and British air bombardment. Refineries and other fuel stocks were decimated. Some of the finest manuever warfare generals were tied down in France. I'm not saying that 25% more troops would have made the difference in Russia; I'm saying that the entirety of the resources that would have been freed up, in men, material, and leadership, would very likely have made winning in the East painful enough for Russia that a negotiated settlement would have been more attractive.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Check the dates (3.00 / 1) (#248)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:40:16 PM EST

Again, that's stuff that mostly happened after Stalingrad, the widely regarded turning point in the war in the East.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Not so (4.00 / 1) (#254)
by ScuzzMonkey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:27:11 PM EST

The Allied air campaign against Germany began in earnest with American involvement in July 1942 and continued to increase in tempo throughout the war. Many of the heaviest raids occured while Stalingrad was still in progress.

But even if that were not the case, you're presuming that defeat at Stalingrad would still have been the turning point in the East... I don't see how that assumption can hold if you factor in additional strengths that Germany may have come into even after that battle was completed. We know it was the turning point only because we're looking back on it; given more resources, it may not have been.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

The air campaign (4.00 / 1) (#256)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:40:10 PM EST

The air campaign was much less successful in 1942, because of the lack of a long-range escort fighter. German industrial production was only marginally effected before 1943.

One of the resources the Germans wouldn't have had, regardless: oil.

Also, the second most important battle on that front, the one that broke the back of the Wehrmacht for good, was the Battle of Kursk. This occurred one month before the first of the Ploesti raids, so before the allied air campaign had any effect on oil resources.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Timelines (4.00 / 2) (#277)
by ScuzzMonkey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:08:12 PM EST

I have difficulty crediting that the Germans were completely broken to the point that their production capacity could not have dragged them out of it, when history indicates that even fighting a two-front war they managed to keep the Russians out of Berlin until '45. Make that three... no, four fronts (Italy, and the air war). We're talking about removing three of those. If they were truly decimated beyond recovery in mid-summer of 1943, how is it that they hung on to the Eastern front for another two years, even under intense pressure from the West simultaneously?

I think they had the time and space that, had the battles in the West been removed from the agenda for those years, they could well have recovered in the East. I mean, it took the Germans basically a year to get to their 'high-water' mark... and took the Soviets three to drive them out across the same terrain. There are a variety of reasons for that, and I don't mean to over-simplify, but I think that indicates that the margins of victory were not huge in the East. Just because the casualty counts were high, does not necessarily make the margins greater.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

size of the forces (4.00 / 1) (#287)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:50:21 PM EST

The size of the German force on the Eastern front outnumbered all other German forces by a factor of three to one, and they were generally of higher quality.

Actually, the Russian drive back to Berlin was about twice the distance as the German drive into Russia, because they had to take all of that Polish territory that German took in 1939 and then drive into Germany.

They weren't decimated beyond recovery in 1943, but in 1943, the Russian production capacity exceeded the German production capacity, the Germans had troubles getting enough oil to fuel their tanks, and the Russians outnumbered the total German forces by a wide margin. D-Day would have not changed these things. It would have meant more forces arrayed against the Russians, but their higher production capacity would have made the end result inevitable barring strategic surprises on the part of the Germans. But in general, mostly because of Hitler's interference, the Russians had simply better strategy in the campaign, making surprises unlikely.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

The Quality of the Leaders (none / 0) (#292)
by ScuzzMonkey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:03:18 PM EST

I'm not sure how the size of the German forces there pertains to the argument... I wasn't saying they didn't have enough, or did have enough, or anything of that sort--I'm saying that whatever they had, it was a lot closer to being enough (figuring all the factors) to stop the Russians than vice versa.

That's also where the leadership comes into it. No question that Hitler's fiddling caused some great setbacks on all fronts... but when things were going well or when a leader he trusted was in charge, he tended to not fiddle as much. And a number of those leaders would have been freed up without being tied down along the Western front in defensive positions. If there was any master of fighting a withdrawl at a disadvantage, it was Rommel.

And also, it would not have been necessary at any point to out-produce the Russians to force a stalemate outcome. In 1943 and beyond, Germany's oil production problems were largely due to strategic bombing campaigns in the West--they still would not have outproduced the Russians, no question, but then they were fighting defensively and didn't need to. All they needed to do was make winning enough of a problem for Stalin that he would strike a deal. I can sense we're beginning to go in circles on this, so I won't continue to try to persuade you--but I feel, personally, that the advantages the Germans would have gained from not having to fight on three additional fronts during the later period of the war would have been sufficient to force a draw in the East. Not just supplies, not just production, not just troops, not just generals... but the sum of the advantages in synergy.

Thanks.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Kursk (5.00 / 1) (#293)
by WildDonkey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:16:14 PM EST

Also, the second most important battle on that front, the one that broke the back of the Wehrmacht for good, was the Battle of Kursk.

Yup. IIRC Kursk alone destroyed upwards of 50% of the remaining German armour. Due to the fact that Britain had cracked the enigma code, the Russians knew when and where the big offensive was coming and had set up all their kill zones and defenses. The Germans walked right into it with their best armour and it was still more or less a stalemate (albeit one that the Germans couldnt afford and that the Russians could).

[ Parent ]

Well, also... (none / 0) (#360)
by haflinger on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 06:44:11 PM EST

It wasn't just that the Brits had cracked Enigma. It was also the fact that the KGB had penetrated Bletchley Park.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Actually the British told the USSR (none / 0) (#380)
by WildDonkey on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 06:36:21 PM EST

The British made quite a lot of top level relevant cracked info available to the USSR - whether or not Bletchley park was penetrated is a moot point.

[ Parent ]
the western front puny compared to eastern front (4.75 / 4) (#64)
by speek on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:10:57 PM EST

The scale of forces that fought on the eastern front dwarfed the forces involved on the western front. Had the US never invaded at all, the amount of troops and resources Germany could have shifted against Russia would have amounted to diddly. Once Germany's advance failed and the Russian war machine got in gear, Berlin had no chance. Even the timescale would hardly have changed much.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

Yep. (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by valeko on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:20:15 PM EST

It is good that you make this realisation. Very few people, indoctrinated with their "the US won WWII! and "D-Day was the greatest battle in human history!" bullshit realise that compared to the vast dimensions of the conflict on the Russian front, the sheer tens of millions that died ... their D-Days amounts to much less than it's made out to be.

It may have been significant in the outcome of the war, but hardly amounts to "winning the war", "turning the tide", or whatever. Few people appreciate the USSR's 27 million casualties (although the accepted figure in the West is much lower - perhaps around 20 million) and its indispensable role in defeating the Germans. By comparison, American/British campaign in France, etc, and essentially all their activity in Europe, was quite small stuff.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Eastern Front (5.00 / 2) (#82)
by Bad Harmony on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:43:40 PM EST

Few people appreciate the USSR's 27 million casualties (although the accepted figure in the West is much lower - perhaps around 20 million) and its indispensable role in defeating the Germans.

To me, one of the tragedies of the Eastern Front has always been how many of these casualties were self-inflicted. Stalin's purges destroyed the officer corps in the Red Army. Millions of ordinary soldiers paid with their lives for that and other decisions by Stalin and the leadership of the Soviet Union.

54º40' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

Yes. (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by valeko on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:42:15 PM EST

Those were tragedies as well.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

although (4.00 / 1) (#105)
by speek on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:15:42 PM EST

I think the British bombing of Germany was significant, and Russia might have had an impossible task without that.

One thing I've always wondered is how Russia could manufacture tanks that were so much superior to the Germans at that time. First, how did Russia get the technology and know how, and second, why did Germany fail to improve their tanks? Certainly they had the engineering capability to design better stuff than the Russians.

I don't know, but my guess is the Germans might have been able to design superior tanks all day and all night, but their ability to manufacture them was destroyed - by the Brits. I'm no historian, but it makes sense to me, till someone explains otherwise.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

Russian tanks were worse. (none / 0) (#114)
by haflinger on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:37:53 PM EST

Their tanks were nowhere near as effective as the Panzers, generally speaking.

There was one major edge the Russians had, though. German tanks had not been designed for the cold. In the Russian winter, there were a large number of cases of frozen tank parts, including frozen tanks, resulting in pillboxes.

Russian tanks were designed in the cold, and did not freeze up. This was an advantage in Russia, and by the time the Russians pushed back to Berlin, there weren't enough nice, warm-weather Panzers left to stop them.

Also, the Russians took anti-tank rifles seriously. Nobody else did. But the Russians handed rifles with enormous calibers to their infantry, and sent them out to take pot-shots at the enemy tanks. Many of them were killed. But infantry's cheaper than tanks.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

Also... (5.00 / 2) (#118)
by gsl on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:07:06 PM EST

The Russians had a much simpler tank repair process.

The Russian tanks used only two chassis -- the T34-type (which was also used for the SU tank destroyers) and the KV heavy tank. (I think I have those the right way around.) The Germans had two Tiger chassis (Porsche and Henchsel), the Panther, PzIV and at least a couple of others. Each tank type needed its own spares which made it a lot harder for the Germans to repair battle-damaged tanks, no matter how superior they were.

Geoff.
--
NP: Mostly Autumn - The Last Bright Light [Helms Deep]



[ Parent ]
Tanks (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:03:24 AM EST

Yes, individually, the Russian T-34 was no match for a Panther or even a PZKW-IV. But the important thing is that for what it cost to build your average Panther, you could build five T-34s. They were also far easier to mantain in the field. Because of this, the Russians always outnumbered the Germans in tanks, and won many, many tank battles.

The Russian genius was in learning to mass-produce decent tanks cheaply rather than trying to build the perfect tank.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

JS 2s (none / 0) (#143)
by bewa on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:08:03 AM EST

True in the early war the german tanks were superior but the JS2 matched even the king tiger.

[ Parent ]
tanks (4.00 / 1) (#200)
by bil on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:50:26 AM EST

The T-34 was no match for the Panther or Tiger because they were specifically designed to be better then it. The advantage shifted back and forth with the German tanks (Pz-II and III etc) being better at the start of the war then the T-34 gave the Russians the advantage for a couple of years and caused the Germans to produce the Panther etc which gave them back the edge but cost so much to produce that they were always outnumbered by the enemy.

The Story of the Sherman on the western front is similar, I remember hearing that the standard calculation was it took 3-4 Shermans to destroy one German tank, but again they were so much cheaper to produce that the allies could well aford the price

bil


bil
Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

Sherman Tanks (5.00 / 1) (#228)
by Merk00 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:42:19 AM EST

The one thing that is frequently forgotten when comparing American tanks and German tanks is that American tanks were never designed to take out other tanks. Instead, American tanks were designed to move swiftly around the flanks of an enemy, attacking from the side and the rear. That's why they were so successful in the breakout from Normandy. The American idea was to use tank-destroyers (and anti-tank guns) against tanks.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Maintenance (5.00 / 1) (#244)
by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:27:22 PM EST

Another thing that is often missed is that both the Sherman and the T-34 (especially the T-34) were much easier to maintain in the field than the German tanks. T-34s were designed to be repaired by illiterate peasants. A Panther doesn't do you much good of it is broken down by the side of the road.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Maintenance in the Field is a Russian Philosophy (5.00 / 2) (#279)
by hughk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:12:25 PM EST

You can say that to build machines that are easily field maintainable is a Russian philosophy. This goes from agricultural appliances through to space stations.

The Soviet Union already had experience producing tractors for all parts of the country which vary from tundra through to desert. The only thing they lacked was jungle. The same expertise was brought to bear on military production, the KISS principle.

They ended up with stuff that may not be the best, but as you observed is easily maintained and produced. The quality issue that came in later was due to the targets forced by central planning which meant that stuff was delivered (for example, submarines) before they were ready.

The other issue is that life in Stalinist times was not very good if you lived outside the major cities. In the thirties, there had been mass starvation due to farm collectivisation. The ordinary Russian soldier would have barely noticed the privations of war.

[ Parent ]

T-24 vs Panzer III (3.00 / 1) (#196)
by speek on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:18:16 AM EST

Their tanks were nowhere near as effective as the Panzers, generally speaking.

From what I've heard and read, the T-34's could take a hit better than Panzer-III's, and were better tanks all around - bigger, tougher. My understanding, however, is that the Germans were much better at tank tactics, thus making each German tank more effective than one Russian tank. But, that was due to tactics and skill, not their equipment.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

re: although (5.00 / 2) (#115)
by Maserati on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:39:05 PM EST

The Allied bombing campaign against Germany tied up large portions of the Luftwaffe, forced them to evolve their fighters (109 & 190) into high-altitude interceptors (which wouldn't help in Russia, and never mind Hitler wanting the 262 as a bomber), and tied up a lot of men in air defense roles.

The Germans had a bad habit of overengineering things. Machine guns need to be made to fine tolerances, but not so fine that a grain of sand can jam it up. Their tanks were highly complex and very advanced designs. They were also hard to maintain, prone to breakdowns, and impossible to produce in the numbers needed. Too much good engineering, not enough good design.

Total production of all models of the Tiger was under 2000 from 1942-1945, and under 6000 Panthers were produced. The USSR produced 35,000 T-34/76 tanks and 29,000 T-34/85s. They could do that because those tanks were designed to be simple to build, fix and operate. Adequate engineering and excellent design.

Ever compared an AK47 and an M-16 ? The AK-47 is extremely simple mechanically. It's also designed so that you have to cake it with mud and let it dry to jam the thing. You have to take someone seriously whichever weapon they have and the AK47 has some real advantages as a field weapon.

The Russians could literally afford to trade 10:1 in tanks and win the war. And they were getting the edge tactically and in the air. Ten times the number of Panthers would have helped a lot.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

Hitler was stupid (4.00 / 1) (#226)
by yooden on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:31:08 AM EST

I don't know, but my guess is the Germans might have been able to design superior tanks all day and all night, but their ability to manufacture them was destroyed - by the Brits.

The German invented all kind of useful things, like long-range all-weather anti-aircraft missiles or jet fighters, but Hitler wanted to drop toys on London and Schnellbomber.

Note also that German production capability peaked 1944, the same year as Allied bomb tonnage.


[ Parent ]

Dead People = Victory? (4.00 / 1) (#243)
by ScuzzMonkey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:25:38 PM EST

I don't think that casualty rates necessarily tell the entire story of the conflict. In fact, in some ways that reinforces my point. It was already tremendously painful for the Russians to advance on that front--with the complete resources freed up from the West, with the huge increase in production capacity Germany would have been able to achieve without the constant air raids, with the freedom to go all out for Moscow instead of the oil fields, with commanders like Rommel in the field instead of planting asparagus in France... I think it would have become painful enough to push for a negotiated settlement.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Well, yeah. (3.00 / 1) (#273)
by EriKZ on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:43:57 PM EST


Sure I don't appreciate Russia's 27 (or so) million casualities. Because they treated human life as disposable garbage.

According to the end credits of "BlackHawk Down", 19 Americans died, versus 1000 Somalians. Does that sound like a victory to you? If they gave the Americans a way out, they would of hauled ass out of that city.

End result: The same, but less Somali deaths.

[ Parent ]

Not to be sniffed at (none / 0) (#407)
by mdhome on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 09:02:13 AM EST

I was always led to believe that Russia did much of the hard fighting during WWII- The TV series "The world at war" saw to that. However, the estimated 1,000,000 German casualties that occurred after DDay on the western front isnt something to be sniffed at.

[ Parent ]
Battle of Britain (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by gsl on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:27:42 PM EST

half its airforce had been wiped out in the battle of Britain forcing them to call off their invasion.

Had Germany gone ahead with Sealion, that would have been the biggest mistake off all, but I doubt it was ever seriously intended. The purpose of the Battle of Britain was to compel Britain to capitulate (or at least negotiate a peace) without needing to invade. It was Goering's day in the sun.

Geoff.
--
NP: Mostly Autumn - The Last Bright Light [Mother Nature]



[ Parent ]
The abandonment of the British Empire (3.80 / 5) (#52)
by IHCOYC on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:36:35 PM EST

I would have thought that the general weariness exhaustion --- financial exhaustion, if not any other kind --- of Great Britain at the end of World War II has as much to do with the mostly peaceful abandonment of the British Empire as the loss of the battle for Singapore. My understanding is that the British people were no longer willing, and perhaps no longer able, to endure what would have to be endured to keep the Empire against the wishes of a substantial number of Imperial subjects who wanted them out.

The abandonment of India provoked bloodshed that, in a sense, still continues there; but it was not British blood that was shed. The colonial government understood better than Gandhi what would happen when the British left. Come 1947, they could not bring themselves to care any more.

Heus, nunc, mihi cantate hanc æruginem.

I agree (5.00 / 1) (#176)
by andymurd on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:21:41 AM EST

There's also the fact that many Britons had been fighting alongside colonial troops, getting to know them and their cultures. After that, the political dogma that the colonies "need" British rule to prevent them reverting to savagery wouldn't wash with the voting public.

[ Parent ]
WWI - Alliances (3.33 / 3) (#57)
by duxup on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:53:22 PM EST

Being someone who enjoys WWI history a great deal I'd have to go with the system of alliances and decision to go to war by Germany and Russia just before WWI.  I think I can safely say that it was in no nations best interests to go to war over in WWI over Serbia.  Even after war was declared between Germany and Russia they tried to back away, but it was too late.

While I won't say that WWI and WWII were the same war.  I will say that WWI did set the stage for WWII and a great deal of the 20th centuries later conflicts.

No nation's inrerest? (3.50 / 2) (#63)
by jw32767 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:10:13 PM EST

I agree that after the Serbian's had accepted most of the Austrian demands, war was futile.  However, at some point Austria had to deal with the Pan-Slavic threat to its integraty by smacking Serbia (and just Serbia) around some.  If it didn't, the balkans would have erupted in another general war and the Austrians would have most come out of it much worse.

--
Krups, not only can they shell Paris from the Alsace, they make good coffee. - georgeha

These views are my own and may or may not reflect the views of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Re: WWI - Alliances (2.33 / 3) (#131)
by MeanGene on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:53:01 PM EST

Germany was certainly itching for a fight (just like 25 years later).  Austro-Hungary had no choice - it was their prince that was killed after all.  Britain just wanted to weaken Germany - preferably at somebody else's expense.  The rest, I think, went to WWI for the oh-so-XIXth-century notions of honor and duty.

Realpolitik has not yet been widely practiced in 1914...

[ Parent ]

Bismarck (4.00 / 1) (#138)
by leviramsey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:34:35 AM EST

Otto von Bismarck practicaly invented realpolitik.



[ Parent ]
Practiced? Yes. Invented? No. (5.00 / 1) (#148)
by haflinger on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:56:46 AM EST

The Iron Duke was very, very good at realpolitik.

The idea goes back at least to the Treaty of Westphalia, though. 1648. It probably really goes back to Machiavelli's The Prince, in the Renaissance. And you can find medievals who practiced it: William Marshal's the famous one (he managed to swear fealty to several of the kings of Europe, and fulfill his vows to all of them even when said kings were at war with each other - no small feat)…

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

I said "widely practiced" (4.00 / 1) (#190)
by MeanGene on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:30:57 AM EST

Bismarck was certainly very hardcore.  But most of the Europe at the time was ruled by the interbred degenerating monarchies.

Nicholas II of Russia, for example, caused himself a lot of trouble by getting caught in the dynastic ties with Germany.  First, before WWI, he refused to believe his relatives are out to get him.  Then, during WWI, he refused to talk peace with Germany (his wife was a German princess, btw) because he might be misunderstood.


[ Parent ]

Alliances would have changed everything. (none / 0) (#203)
by Stalke on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 09:00:11 AM EST

The system of alliances that Bismarck would have prefered would have totally changed the landscape of world war II. When he was originally setting them up, he wanted germany to be allied with England since it was still a great power. He also also tried to avoid having Russia and France create an alliance because that would mean that germany would be stuck in the center. He also didn't forsee Britain and France creating an alliance since they were traditionally enemies. It was only after England allied with Russia didn't Bismarck setup an alliance with Italy (basically picking the last remaining kid to be on his team).

[ Parent ]
Couple more (4.66 / 3) (#67)
by strlen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:12:35 PM EST

Stalin's attack on Finland in 1939 (or 1940, don't know which). Exhausted Soviet forces, at the time when it was known that a war with Germany would be inevitable. For every Finish soldier killed, there were somewhere close to 10 Russian soldiers killed.

America's failure to attack the Japanese bases on Formosa (Taiwan) from their Philipine bases -- before the Phillipine bases were overrun is also another one. Formosa was highly inadequately defended (there was no adequate radar system installed, in fact).

In the Italian World War II campaign, it's the bombing of Monte Cassino (a Franciscan Monastery), which created environment (ruins) that the Germans used to their advantage against the Americans, creating a severe barrier to further advances in the Italian campaign (which later became utterly insignificant when the Allies landed at Normdany.



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
The Fins (3.66 / 3) (#68)
by HABIB on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:17:47 PM EST

Also, the Soviet Army's troubles in Finland demonstrated their gross indequacy. This was not lost on Hitler.

[ Parent ]
Re: The Fins (3.33 / 3) (#128)
by MeanGene on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:47:30 PM EST

Disastrous campaign.  Forced Stalin to promote the young generation of generals at the expense of his Civil War-era buddies.


[ Parent ]
Promotions (4.00 / 1) (#230)
by HABIB on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:48:57 AM EST

Stalin's well known paranoia also led him to purge many of the high ranking generals. Buddies or not, any threats to his hold on power were dealt with appropriately. All of this worked in Hitler's favor. Yay Stalin.

[ Parent ]
The Finish kicked Stalins ass... (2.66 / 3) (#163)
by Andy P on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:42:12 AM EST

And the Finish war brought us the Molitov Coctail, without which McGyver would have been stumped.

[ Parent ]
Ahh (2.00 / 2) (#164)
by strlen on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:43:22 AM EST

I guess the Soviets had no anti-tank weapon and that time and had to improvise.. and I always wonder what that cokctail had to do with that Soviet foreign minister.. now I know. Thanks for the info.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
no, you got it backwards (4.50 / 2) (#201)
by Ziller on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:55:57 AM EST

The name is a bit misleading, but the fact is that the molotov cocktail was named thus (and made famous) by the finns -- although it was probably invented during the spanish civil war. The name is thought to have arisen out of public opinion; molotov was widely considered to have been responsible for the Winter War.



--
One skilled at battle takes a stand in the ground of no defeat
And so does not lose the enemy's defeat."
[ Parent ]
Molotov (4.66 / 3) (#229)
by Merk00 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:46:35 AM EST

The story I heard started as follows: The Soviets were bombing the Finns during the Winter War. Molotov claimed to the press that the Soviets were dropping food onto the Finns and not bombs. Because of this, the Finns nicknamed the bombs "Molotov's Breadbaskets." From there is derived the "Molotov Cocktail" which was used against tanks.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

More on the winter war (4.00 / 3) (#168)
by hughk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:56:53 AM EST

The main failure of the Winter War was to try anything after the officer corps had been decimated (literally, I believe) by Stalin's purges.

Little known fact, a young Christoper Lee turned up in Finland volunteering his help against the Soviets. Yes, that one, from Dracula and Saruman fame!!!!!

[ Parent ]

And Count Dooku and The Man With the Golden Gun (4.00 / 1) (#249)
by leviramsey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:45:00 PM EST

(en tea)

[ Parent ]
Mannerheim line (4.50 / 2) (#182)
by Ziller on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:54:04 AM EST

The comments concerning the Maginot line brought to mind a story I've heard of some european reporters interviewing Field Marshall Mannerheim -- I believe this was between the Winter War and the following Continuation War.

Apparently all sorts of rumours had spread of this supposed line of impregnable defenses, complete with concrete bunkers and gun emplacements, facing Leningrad and the Karelian Isthmus. A reporter asked Mannerheim how deep the line was; the reply was something like "two meters when the men are lying down; one meter when they are standing."

There was some basis to these rumours: extensive fortifications had indeed been built. Their effect on the outcome could probably be debated ad infinitum.



--
One skilled at battle takes a stand in the ground of no defeat
And so does not lose the enemy's defeat."
[ Parent ]
The Maginot line (4.00 / 4) (#71)
by n8f8 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:40:10 PM EST

Prior to WWII France built a huge bunker extending across the entire valley seperating Gernamy and France. Such a huge waste of maney, manpower and resources. You would have been better off building a cobblestone road straight into Paris.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
the real problem with the ma ginot line (5.00 / 4) (#92)
by aphrael on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:26:37 PM EST

was that, for political reasons, it was not extended to cover the french border with belgium; that would have offended the belgians.

So the germans never even attacked the maginot line; they went around it, through Belgium. France had spent all of its resources building and maintaining this fully functional defensive line that left open a gaping hole into their countryside.

[ Parent ]

Cuba (3.42 / 7) (#78)
by chbm on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:16:49 PM EST

I'd rank the US  poor atempt to take back the cuban playground right up there with the best.

-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --
Bay of Pigs and other cold war fuckups (4.00 / 2) (#130)
by strlen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:51:02 PM EST

Well, the author specifically didnt mention any conflict after 1950, because of the controversy that would surround them, but the sheer briliancy of the Bay of Pigs invasion attempt definately ranks up there with Operation Barbarossa and the rest. Definately a classic miliatary blunder, with almost deadly political backfire (The missile crisis). Couple of other cold war fucksups are obviously Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (de-stabilized the country, cost countless lives of Russian soldiers), failure of the resque operation in Iran, overthrow of the parliament in Iran and restoration of the shah, quite a bit more, and probably tons more that we know nothing about :/

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
nod (4.00 / 1) (#170)
by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:58:08 AM EST

As I mention in this post, I consider the Bay of Pigs invasion and the USSR's smuggling of nuclear tipped missiles into Cuba to be among the top five blunders of the twentieth century. Think of it this way, why were we about to nuke each other over an island?

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Cuba (4.00 / 1) (#315)
by tftp on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:08:48 AM EST

USSR's smuggling of nuclear tipped missiles into Cuba to be among the top five blunders of the twentieth century

This was not a blunder. It was a reasonable political act, a gamble if you wish, and it resulted in removal of US missiles from Turkey, IIRC, as part of the resolution of the crisis. If anything, the US policy of encircling USSR with medium-range, short-flight missiles was the cause for the Cuban crisis.

[ Parent ]

Monroe (4.00 / 1) (#319)
by Caton on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 03:01:45 AM EST

The Cuba missiles crisis led to the US abandoning effectively the Monroe doctrine. So it can also be seen as a very effective Soviet political move and a big US political blunder.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan (4.00 / 1) (#314)
by tftp on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:00:55 AM EST

Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (de-stabilized the country

Not "destabilized" - the country was already well into civil war. The government of Karmal was too progressive and too revolutionary for the masses to understand. The new rulers were well-educated guys, they spoke languages and wore western suits, but they never understood what hit them until they were practically overran by thousands of moslem "believers". Their mistake was to push too many reforms too fast - more and faster than extremely backward population of the country could digest. Of course, it could not happen without the right sort of propaganda, that's where Osama was very useful.

After the war began, they screamed for help, and USSR's boss, Leonid Brezhnev, was assured by generals that the country can be "pacified" quickly and cheaply. That's the reasoning behind the "invasion". There was never any intent to hold the country; the only goal was to support the regime. Today, I'd say, we'd all be better off if USSR succeeded. CIA shot itself in the foot there.

[ Parent ]

Afghanistan (4.00 / 1) (#352)
by jnicholas on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 03:50:08 PM EST

Would we really be better off? The Afghanistan war was a key event in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. The threat of continual conflict with the USSR certainly had a larger "worst case scenario" than our current conflicts.A successful Soviet campaign would have made it easy for them to continue on into other area countries.

Of course, this really depends on whether 9/11 was the opening round of a Middle East/Western showdown or a desparate rear guard action of the failing islamic right against western culture.

[ Parent ]

Not quite so (none / 0) (#363)
by tftp on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 08:01:08 PM EST

The Afghanistan war was a key event in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

The afghan war had no effect whatsoever on the collapse of USSR. There was only one key reason for USSR's dissolution: Mikhail Gorbachev. If not him, the old gerontocrats of Central Comittee of CPSU would be still ruling strong. There were few minor reasons, such as lower oil prices, but they were not that important.

There was one serious threat to existence of USSR, and Gorbachev recognized it. The threat was in very low efficiency of labor. People worked just a little bit better than a striker at a workplace would do. Normally, salaries were very low, and in return for that workers did not overexert themselves. As they joked, "they pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work". Clearly, this could not continue - the country was slipping beyond self-sufficiency, and if you recall, in 1985-1990 there was not enough food in the country to feed its population. *That* was the problem - not some war somewhere. People of USSR knew very little about that war, and did not really care.

A successful Soviet campaign would have made it easy for them to continue on into other area countries.

Not really. Days of military conquest were gone even 10 or 20 years ago. Last time USSR tried to annex someone's territory it was Stalin and his Finnish campaign, in 1940 or so. From that point on, USSR conquered countries not with threats but with gifts. That was the standard operating procedure, and it worked quite well. It was just cheaper to send machines and weapons and engineers instead of soldiers, and quite more politically profitable too. Countries such as Angola or Cuba got lots of stuff for free or in long term credits, and the debts are not written off. Russia fully intends to claim its debt from Iraq, for example.

[ Parent ]

Barbarossa (4.38 / 13) (#79)
by ucblockhead on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:17:40 PM EST

(This post culled from a couple of editorial comments)

It is very, very likely that even had the US not entered the war, the Red Army would have still eventually entered Berlin. It is very true that US lend-lease aid to the Soviet Union helped them tremendously, however, this aid was flowing before Hitler declared war.

Your description is just plain wrong. The US certainly had made moves against Hitler. The US was arming Hitler's enemies. The germans had to ramp up the submarine warfare in the Atlantic anyway, and this meant attacking US shipping, so there is very little possibility of the US staying out of things.

The US entry into the war had almost no impact on the war in the east until at least 1943, at which point the Germans had essentially lost it. The critical battle of that war was Stalingrad, only a year after Pearl Harbor. At the point Stalingrad happened, the Americans had hardly any real presence in Europe.

The American contribution up until the invasion of Italy was mostly lend-lease, but lend-lease was already ramping up before Pearl Harbor. The actual declaration of war had little real impact on that as Roosevelt was determined to send Britain and Russia all material aid possible.

Because of all this, it is very doubtful that the war in the East would have gone much differently in 1942 had the Americans not entered. You still would have had the American material aid. You still would have had the Russian factories moved back behind the Urals, out of range of the Germans. You still would have had the bad decision on the part of the Germans to go for the oil fields instead of Moscow. You still would have had the Russian trap at Stalingrad which destroyed the cream of the Wehrmacht.

At best, no US entry, and no Anzio, Rome and D-Day, would have meant more Germans to die on the Eastern front, and a delayed (but not prevented) Russian march into Berlin. After all, even after D-Day, fully three quarters of German forces were fighting Russians.

This is the establishment line among military historians. A very good discussion of these issues can be found in Richard Overy's Why the Allies Won, especially in chapter 3.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

How did Hitlet declare war? (3.00 / 3) (#81)
by pgrote on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:19:58 PM EST

Was it a formal declaration or one of policy?

It was a formal declaration. <nt> (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by aphrael on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:27:50 PM EST



[ Parent ]
i disagree (2.10 / 10) (#84)
by turmeric on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 07:45:27 PM EST

1. us industrialists and government leaders like henry ford supporting nazi fascism and eugenic racial theory

without this support hitler would have had a much harder time coming to power.

2. mao zedong ruling during peacetime with the same mindset he had
while being chased through the wilderness by the kuomintang

sometimes a 'military blunder' is not knowing when to quit being militaristic

3. lenin deciding that a dictatorship of the proletariat could only be brought about by a centralized police state.

thanks, im sure the 50+ million workers killed in the world wars and cold wars
really appreciated your wonderful revolution.

4. the united states supporting various 3rd world dictators, religious fruitcakes,  and scoundrels during the cold war.

it has caused all sorts of headaches and stress and
september 11.

5. refinement of biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons

gosh, things like this give a bad name to violence.
war has such a public relations problem nowdays that
the pentagon has to spend tens of millions of dollars
making war palatable to a public that in general
gets in an uproar over animals getting hurt during
films.

6) Tumeric's complete disregard for the Shift key (3.33 / 3) (#121)
by RyoCokey on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:27:23 PM EST

[n/t]

The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
[ Parent ]
nonsense (4.00 / 1) (#155)
by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:56:32 AM EST

1. us industrialists and government leaders like henry ford supporting nazi fascism and eugenic racial theory

I find your choice of what are considered to be greatest blunders interesting. FWIW, Hitler didn't rely on US aid to gain power. Further, he was an effective and persuasive demogogue. So it's not surprising that influential people in the US supported Nazi ideas in the 30's.

2. mao zedong ruling during peacetime with the same mindset he had while being chased through the wilderness by the kuomintang

Show me where it hurt Mao.

3. lenin deciding that a dictatorship of the proletariat could only be brought about by a centralized police state.

thanks, im sure the 50+ million workers killed in the world wars and cold wars really appreciated your wonderful revolution.

As you may have heard, Lenin died in 1924, a mere six years after the formation of the USSR. The wonders of the Worker's Revolution are in large part due to his illustrious successors (Stalin in particular).

4. the united states supporting various 3rd world dictators, religious fruitcakes, and scoundrels during the cold war.

it has caused all sorts of headaches and stress and september 11.

Ain't blow-back a bitch?

5. refinement of biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons

These are the kind of thing where it isn't a blunder to make them, it's a blunder to use them.

gosh, things like this give a bad name to violence. war has such a public relations problem nowdays that the pentagon has to spend tens of millions of dollars making war palatable to a public that in general gets in an uproar over animals getting hurt during films.

Naw, that's probably comparable to the propaganda costs at the begining of any of the US's major wars. It helps a lot when the other side hits you first. Too bad, Iraq doesn't seem to be going with the program.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Religious fruitcake.... (4.00 / 1) (#257)
by bayankaran on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:41:02 PM EST

...are they tasty?

I like that term, I am going to use that.

[ Parent ]
the battle of verdun (3.66 / 3) (#91)
by samedi on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:11:53 PM EST

For a brilliant analysis of the Battle of Verdun, see The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne. We used it as secondary material in one of my graduate history courses at the University of Washington. You can find a copy at Amazon.

Every time someone makes a comment about the French being pussies for having capitulated in WW2 so early, I remember this book and laugh silently to myself.


i am the king... of no pants! - www.penny-arcade.com

agreed (none / 0) (#147)
by DrSbaitso on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:40:32 AM EST

I've actually been to verdun on a quasi-school trip back the summer before my senior year in high school. The cemetery is one of the more impressive things i've seen in my life... just thousands of graves. Makes you think better before insulting the fortitude or courage of the French.

Funny that you mention alistair horne also, I met him on the same trip; my history teacher who was in charge of it happened to be good friends with the professor, and we had lunch at his country house somewhere in rural england. He's quite a smart guy :)

[ Parent ]

Blunders? (4.81 / 16) (#95)
by ktakki on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:29:05 PM EST

Verdun and Tsushima certainly qualify, as does the drive to the Yalu. However, I consider Singapore to be more of a daring maneuver by the Japanese than a British blunder. No one expected an army to travel the length of the Malay Peninsula. I'd consider Britain's "blunder" to be indicative of a lack of strategic vision on the scale of the French construction of the Maginot Line (and their general armored doctrine which treated their tanks as mobile pillboxes) or the Luftwaffe's decision not to construct long-range strategic bombers.

Hitler's decision to declare war on the US was more a manifestation of his personality flaws than a blunder per se. There was already a shooting war under way in the Atlantic between the Kreigsmarine and the USN; this was a bigger factor in Hitler's decision than the Tripartite Pact (which didn't require Germany to declare war unless Japan or Italy were attacked). Barbarossa was a bigger mistake on Hitler's part, IMHO, but if he had to attack the USSR, that was the time to do it (before the Red Army was fully recovered from the purges of the '30s).

I'd define a blunder as a mistake or series of mistakes made by one side that allow an adversary to profit or achieve victory without an excess of force, skill, or luck. The Battle of Midway, for example, would not be an IJN blunder because the USN used skill in breaking the Japanese codes, and was incredibly lucky to have their dive bombers find the Kido Butai carriers with fully fueled and armed planes on their decks and their fighter cover at low altitude.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf was an IJN blunder, both strategically (IJN reliance on "decisive battle" doctrine) and tactically (Nagumo's withdrawal despite having overwhelming firepower and nothing to stop him from slaughtering the invasion fleet but some USN destroyers and escort carriers). Halsey's mistake -- chasing the decoy Northern Force -- wasn't exploited, but even so this battle was Japan's last naval action.

I would also consider much of US early war doctrine to be a tragedy of errors, such as Admiral King's refusal to organize US East Coast shipping into convoys guarded by escorts, a blunder driven by King's anglophobia that resulted in massive amounts of tonnage being sunk within sight of US port cities, or the first USAAF 8th Air Force daylight bombardment raids over Europe, consisting of unescorted B-17s, no match for Luftwaffe interceptors.


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

good point (3.00 / 3) (#107)
by speek on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:21:56 PM EST

France declaring war on Germany and then getting their ass kicked has to count as a very major blunder. Most people think the Germans had them outmanned and outgunned. Not so, the French had equal if not more forces. But they hadn't changed their tactics since WWI, whereas the Germans invented the concept of massing their armored tanks. The rest, as they say, is history. Big blunder, even though no can honestly look back and say they'd do better.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

Sitzkreig (4.00 / 1) (#116)
by ktakki on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:39:06 PM EST

I wanted to enumerate how many ways the French screwed le pooch before May 1940 but I'd run out of time before the heat death of the universe. Also, I'm in the middle of Shirer's Collapse of the Third Republic and I don't want to spoil the ending for myself.

There was a period prior to 1937 where Marshall Petain and L'Armee could have marched into Berlin two weeks after crossing the Meuse. At the very least the Ruhr could have been occupied (as it had been during the '20s).


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

re Midway (2.00 / 2) (#171)
by adequate nathan on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:59:51 AM EST

You ought to specifically credit Spruance for totally rocking Japan's face on that one.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

History student of days gone by :-) (4.33 / 3) (#260)
by meaningless pseudonym on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:12:41 PM EST

I studied the mistakes of WW2 in some depth, so...

* The German military was built so quickly that they _couldn't_ have breadth of forces. Didn't have the time and money. They designed a whole military for short wars against small or demoralised enemies - so no need for long-range strategic bombers but medium range and dive bombers are good, and lightly armed but fast tanks are great.

* Look at the length of the Russian front. It wasn't winnable. History showed Stalin cared for nothing beyond staying in power so they should have anticipated a scorched earth policy and prison batallions. Geography showed they could simply move the factories behind the Urals and they were untouchable. Logistics showed that the supply lines from factories in Germany to the Ukraine (at best) are long and slow. Logic showed that they couldn't hope to defend the thousands of square miles they'd conquered so they'd always have problems with local uprisings. Meterology showed that Russia in winter would always be at least a bit cold. OK, 42 was a hard winter but they'd have been stuck regardless. The best time to attack Russia was in 1945, by when without the distraction of having had to fuel the Russian campaign they might have got atomic bombs stuck on the end of longer range V2s... We _know_ they tried to make nukes.

* France could have won at pretty much any point up to surrender IF IT HAD WANTED TO. It didn't. They had overwhelming numerical superiority on the western front in 1939 because all the German tanks were in Poland... Could have crushed much of Western Germany pretty easily. Stood a decent chance later, actually - still more units - but low morale and daft tactics. Speaking as a Brit I'm still not quite sure why we didn't somehow take command on the western front and attack, becase there'd then have been a reasonably honest battle in west to central Germany, depending on how fast the troops could retreat. With proper command, could have been interesting.

Oh well.

[ Parent ]

Good points, but... (4.66 / 3) (#313)
by ktakki on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 01:37:20 AM EST

* The German military was built so quickly that they _couldn't_ have breadth of forces...

Agreed, though this gave the Germans a distinct advantage: their tech was newer. The US/UK/USSR (and even the Italians and Japanese) weren't hobbled by the Versilles Treaty and produced arms and armor throughout the '20s and '30s. The Germans had the advantage of learning from everyone else's mistakes while sitting on the sidelines. Not having to support state-of-the-art production lines throughout the '20s and into the mid-'30s gave them an advantage going into the '40s.

These days the conventional wisdom suggests that the lack of Luftwaffe long-range strategic bombers reflected a continental mindset. Bombing American or trans-Ural targets was not on the agenda.

The best time to attack Russia was in 1945, by when without the distraction of having had to fuel the Russian campaign they might have got atomic bombs stuck on the end of longer range V2s... We _know_ they tried to make nukes.

They were nowhere near making nukes in 1945. Even Heisenberg was amazed that the US managed to make a weaponized nuke; the best the Germans could hope for was a heavy water-moderated nuclear engine for the Kriegsmarine. At best, Germany would have made a nuclear weapon in 1948, and that's not accounting for the industrial disruption of the Allied bombing campaign.

Neither Germany nor Japan were capable of the industrial effort necessary to create an atomic bomb, not in 1945, not in 1950, had the war lasted that long. The process for enriching uranium alone would have taken 30% of Japan's electrical output and 70% of their national silver reserve (Rhodes, 1986), and this was before the Home Islands were subjected to aerial bombardment. German atomic research effectively ended when the supply of heavy water from Norway was sabotaged. Supporting an industrial effort on the scale of the Manhattan Project was beyond German capabilities, even without the US/UK bombers overhead.

* Look at the length of the Russian front. It wasn't winnable.

According to Shirer, this was an example of Hitler believing his own propaganda. He held that the Bolshevik regime was a rotting structure that would collapse once the door was kicked in. Strategically, all that was necessary was that Moscow be taken, not Stalingrad, not the Caucasus, at least not at first. But the relocation of industrial assets behind the Urals was one of those wartime miracles, like Henry Kaiser building a Liberty ship every 17 days, or the US building 100,000 aircraft in four years.

The war was won with Soviet blood and US iron.

The war was lost by the German Einsatzgruppen, turning people like the Ukrainians, who had first welcomed the Nazis as liberators, into fierce partisan enemies once the brutality of Nazi occupation became the norm.

* France could have won at pretty much any point up to surrender IF IT HAD WANTED TO.

France's fate was sealed during Sitrzkreig. Belgium's King Leopold did the rest.


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

Is any of you watching the Discovery channel ? (3.66 / 9) (#96)
by acheon on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:38:58 PM EST

... instead of Much Music or Fox TV ?

Attacking Russia wasn't a mistake, far from it. Not running for Moscow, however, was stupid.

The campaign went very well until it's been suddenly put to an halt. Should Hitler have told himself : "Hey, why not waiting six months for the winter to come and the enemy to make defenses, call citizens to arms and crank them enough so they will blow themselves up rather than let us pass !", it wouldn't have been any different. Otherwise it would have worked. And like all other places Germany conquered, hordes of indigenous volunteers would have joined their ranks. The rest could have waited a little.

So NOT attacking when it was the time was the REAL mistake.

Besides, they could afford to split their forces in two, especially since attacking Russia involved groud troops while for Britain they obviously counted on air strikes and a naval blocus. NOT splitting forces in the north would have been really stupid.

The worst blunder of World War II was Germany attacking North Africa. While it wasn't an immediate disaster, they clearly had nothing to gain there -- it's a huge desert. Even controlling the Mediterranean Sea wasn't that important ; it was playing a strategic role during the Antiquity, but not in the 20th century anymore. And they could have done that with the Navy alone ; no need to settle on the entire shore -- if they had succeeded, that is.

North Africa (4.50 / 2) (#103)
by gsl on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:04:54 PM EST

The worst blunder of World War II was Germany attacking North Africa.

The Axis in North Africa was initially driven by the Italians and the German presence there was neglible compared to other theatres. At the launch of Barbarossa there was only something like one division in the Afrika Corps compared to 50+ divisions in the East (divided into 3 Army Groups).

The North African campaign is big for the British (and, in my case, the Australians) because it was one of their few active land theatres. For Germany, while a mistake to be sure, I doubt it amounted to a great deal compared to what was happening in Russia.

Geoff.
--
NP: Mostly Autumn - The Last Bright Light [Half The Mountain]



[ Parent ]
North Africa (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by chemista on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:09:30 PM EST

Actually, the Germans' biggest blunder was not pushing further east when they had the opportunity in 1942. If I recall correctly, Egypt had been almost abandoned in order to defend the British Isles themselves. If Germany could seize control the Suez Canal, suddenly a big chunk of the POL (from the Middle East) delivery to the Allies is lost, and the German POL access problem is solved. This is what several German senior generals wanted, but it was vetoed by Hitler.
Stop reminding people about the overvalued stock market! I'm depending on that overvalued stock market to retire some day! - porkchop_d_clown
[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 1) (#354)
by acheon on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 04:48:27 PM EST

If all the German (and, as pointed out earlier, mostly Italian) troops dispatched to North Africa had made it to the Middle East, their oil problems would certainly have faded ;). That would have prevented the debacle in Russia. And of course, controlling the Suez canal was an undeniable asset.

[ Parent ]
They DID run for Moscow (5.00 / 2) (#125)
by Eater on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:41:12 PM EST

They just didn't make it in time. They reached close to Moscow in early December and it pretty much went downhill from there. As for "hordes of inigenous volunteers", one would think this would be so, with the Russians being so happy of finally being rid the communists, but the Germans seemed to think they could do just fine without support from the Russians and instead torched whole towns.
As for splitting forces, surely Hitler didn't expect the remaining western powers to just sit idly by and wait their turn. Had he left more forces in the west, he would have been able to counter the invasion (hell, the invasion probably wouldn't even have been attempted).

Eater.

[ Parent ]
I don't know. (1.75 / 4) (#100)
by /dev/trash on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 08:46:25 PM EST

I think that trying to take on the Russians was a big mistake by Hitler.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
amerika, comrade? (4.41 / 17) (#102)
by zipper on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:01:37 PM EST

I challenge your statement that declaring war on the United States was more of a blunder than declaring war on Stalin.

As you say, the US was giving "all but war" support to England. Stalin on the other hand, was supporting Hitler. Stalin was excited to finally be talking with the 'big boys' in Europe, and was happily cooperating with Hitler.

Suddenly, Hitler turns around and attacks Russia. Stalin goes off on a drinking binge (supposedly) comes back, and kicks Hitler's ass all the way back to Germany.

There are a couple of reasons why attacking Russia was worse... the first being that it split the war into two fronts. Had (well, *when*) the US attacked, they were coming in on the western front like everybody else. When Hitler attacked Russia, he suddenly opened up his eastern side up to attack as well.

Second, he didn't just bait a country who was already close to attacking him, he attacked a country who was ALLIED with him.

Third, waging war on Russia is extremely difficult. I realize that some pro-american here is going to point out that attacking america is equally difficult, but I deny that. I think it was the emperor who said "Russia has two generals in whom she can confide -- Generals Janvier and Février." ...... Hitler also had to maintain supply lines deep into Russia... in the winter... while the Russians were using a scorched earth defense. It was no go. It didn't work for Napoleon, it didn't work for Hitler. meh.

---
This account has been neutered by rusty and can no longer rate or post comments. Way to go fearless leader!

I agree (4.20 / 5) (#123)
by strlen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:35:31 PM EST

I think that going to war with Russia (on Russia's own territory) has just about as much widsom as pissing on electric fence (especially if you're Germans). I think the declaration of war on the US was purely symbolic, the war between the Germans and the Americans was already going in the Atlantic ocean, and America's most important contribution to the war effort was their supplies (which fueled the Russian and the British way before Pearl Harbour) and their factories, which would have been available even if there were no US troops being sent into action.

However, if the Americans didn't land on D-day, we may have had Russians occuping France.. which would lead to some very very bad Vodka being produced, so I'm glad the Americans went to war!

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

Not supporting Hitler (4.00 / 3) (#162)
by Master Of Ninja on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:34:43 AM EST

I don't think Stalin was out and out supporting Hitler. IIRC it was a pact of convenience - Hitler didn't like the Slav peoples (which included the Russians) as he thought they were "sub-human". Stalin knew Hitler wasn't a danger. But when the pact was signed Hitler couldn't afford to take on a war on the eastern front, and Russia I don't think was militarily ready to defend. Furthermore Stalin was forced into the pact as Britain and France refused to form an alliance against Hitler. I think Stalin wanted to buy time before the inevitable onslaught.

Here's a good link that I found. It's probably a bit biased as it supports my POV. You can also this google search.

[ Parent ]
Not according to Mitrokhin. (4.00 / 1) (#213)
by haflinger on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:05:29 AM EST

See this comment. Mitrokhin was a KGB civil servant. His source data's pretty good. :)

It suggests that Stalin was insane. Certainly, the purges tend to support that theory.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

bear in mind (3.33 / 3) (#169)
by adequate nathan on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:57:26 AM EST

  • w/o American war matériel, the USSR would have been totally sunk
  • Hitler's declaration of war on the USA guaranteed that the USSR would receive much more stuff

    Given these two points, I believe the article is right - declaring war on America was much stupider than attacking the USSR. What did Hitler have to gain from war with America?

    This is a really excellent post, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

  • Support (4.00 / 1) (#238)
    by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:12:01 PM EST

    Roosevelt was a bit of a Russophile, and was determined to support them, war or no. It is debatable how much effect the German declaration had on the amount of lend-lease shipments. It is also debatable that the US could have stayed out of it in any case, what with German submarines bent on sinking US merchant marine ships headed for Britain and Russian. At the time, Roosevelt desperately wanted in...the German declaration made it politically easier, I suppose...
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]
    re: support (5.00 / 1) (#345)
    by adequate nathan on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:14:59 PM EST

    Germany's declaration helped to shut up the many wafflers in Congress. The next Lend-Lease passed by a huge margin (it might have been unanimous in the Senate,) which would have been inconceivable before Hitler's declaration of war. Hitler's declaration also forced America to think about Germany rather than just Japan.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Stalin feared Hitler (3.50 / 2) (#316)
    by frankcrist on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:19:03 AM EST

    If there was one thing that kept Stalin awake at night (after Trotsky found the wrong end of a claw-hammer), it was Hitler.  Russia was only capable of maintaining a sustained attack on Germany after the first season failed because Mussolini was being harried by the Americans, who were also knocking the hell out of N. Africa.  Hitler had to divert a lot of suppies and manpower to help the lackless Italian Facists.

    If the Americans hadn't come into the war for another season, I think it was highly debatable whether or not Russia would hold.  Remember that Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin were the "unlikely bedfellows."  Who do you think the odd man out was?  Nobody liked the Reds, especially not W. Europe and America.

    Maybe Russia would've held because of Hitler's insane policies towards all of the Russians (esp. the Ukrainians and peasants who hated Stalin), but I think it's a bit much to say that Russia would've held no matter what.  Lenin and Trotsky took it 20 years before...

    --x--x--x--x--x--
    Get your war on!
    [ Parent ]

    What about the Ardennes? (2.50 / 2) (#106)
    by unharmed on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:15:44 PM EST

    That operation was ill-judged to say the least.

    About 30 years ago... (2.00 / 4) (#108)
    by epipsychidion on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 09:22:55 PM EST

    I have not included any blunders post-1950, for a variety of reasons, chief among them being a lack of blunders on the scale of the above.

    One word: Vietnam.

    Vietnam (4.00 / 2) (#110)
    by leviramsey on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:02:57 PM EST

    ...was a series of comparatively minor blunders. I can't really think of one that was exceptional.



    [ Parent ]
    No way (4.00 / 1) (#119)
    by cameldrv on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:08:52 PM EST

    Vietnam was the result of the North being willing to fight to the end by whatever means necessary, and the lack of such a will by the U.S. Once the North realized this, they just kept losing battles until the U.S. gave up. The U.S. blunder was deciding to keep fighting at a low level without invading the North for years without acknowledging that this was not going to lead to victory.

    [ Parent ]
    And the decision to invade, I think (5.00 / 1) (#124)
    by leviramsey on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:39:39 PM EST

    ...was a result of Korea. In Korea, the US invaded the North, but (as the article makes clear) got its ass whupped back to the 38th Parallel. The classic military mistake: setting up to fight the last war.



    [ Parent ]
    Vietnam (4.66 / 3) (#122)
    by strlen on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:32:33 PM EST

    Vietnam wasn't a miliatary blunder, it was a political blunder. We used draftee troops in a country that couldn't care less about. What was done in the field had nothing to do with the current situation in the field -- it only had to do with what ordered from Washington.

    Only, 50,000 Americans were lost in the entire conflict (yeah I understand that they're also brothers, sons, husbands.. etc; death of any individual soldier is tragic). For a 7 year land-war in Asia that's remarkably low losses, especially for a war that was lost. Stalingrad for instance, a battle that was "won", a success for the allies, cost the Russian 1 million men. And I'm also sure that Iwojima and the like had the similar casulaities to time of engagement ratios as well.

    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]

    Twenty years, not seven. (4.00 / 1) (#177)
    by ti dave on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:24:06 AM EST

    February 12, 1955 to April 30, 1975
    "If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

    [ Parent ]
    longer than that (4.00 / 1) (#233)
    by aphrael on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:01:50 PM EST

    if you consider that the US was giving financial support and advice to the French before they threw in the towel.

    [ Parent ]
    True that... (4.00 / 1) (#268)
    by ti dave on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:24:26 PM EST

    Makes me wonder how many Black Ops we've undertaken against the Vietnamese government since '75.
    "If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

    [ Parent ]
    Operation Market Garden (3.33 / 3) (#117)
    by runlevel0 on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:43:23 PM EST

    In september '44 Monty made an attempt to give a nice show with paratroopers, wich fell straight in the middle of withdrawing Wehrmacht-forces and some SS corps (10. SS-Panzerdivision "Freudensberg" u.o. ) armed with Tigers and rocketlaunchers ("Nebelwerfer").

    Yeah, second that... (2.50 / 2) (#132)
    by unharmed on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:56:55 PM EST

    Bit of a schemozzle that one. Can't go past an operation that very nearly wiped out an entire division.

    [ Parent ]
    Not correct, - the tanks were supposed to be o/s (4.50 / 2) (#160)
    by hughk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:32:19 AM EST

    A lot of questions were asked as to why Market Garden took place when it was clear from aerial photography that there was an SS-Panzer division on their doorstep.

    The answer was Ultra decrypts. The general of the SS-Panzer division thought it was pointless to be sent to the Russian front so he instructed his crews to remove the tracks and to start routine maintenance work. He then contacted Wehrmacht high-command claiming that his tanks were unserviceable. Monty saw the aerial photographs and the Ultra and used the info that the tanks were declared unserviceable and were being overhauled from the photos.

    The tanks required only minimal work to reactivate, so the division was fully operational within an hour or two of the start of the landings.

    The real errors were a failure to use the resistance (it was reckoned to be compromised by the SOE). Parts were bad, but much was ok. Failure to use the telephone system to replace the HF communications vans were lost at the start of the action, so they only had short-range VHF. Surprisingly, the Dutch telephone system was open all the way to the front. The Dutch resistance were aware of this and haad been using this but they were disregarded. To be fair, there was also intelligence that the Abwehr was using Funk-Spiele, turning captured agents from SOE.

    The last major error was the failure to secure the only high ground in the area on the approach to Arnhem. It was a small hillock, but the British forgot that Holland and that even that small hillock can cause a lot of trouble with an 88 on it.

    I had a relative who served there in one of the British Airborne divisions and was supposedly sent to work the HF vans. He parachuted in but his van was sent in on a glider. The van was captured but he was able to avoid the German forces and ended up in the street-fighting. He was evacuated during the MI9 operation and had nightmares about the battle ever since.

    Nobody was aware of the Ultra side to this (apart from the senior Generals) until Ultra was declassified and first published in the 70's, in Winterbotham's book "The Ultra Secret". Monty was a great supporter of Ultra since his days in the desert but he never let on the reason why he disregarded the aerial photography. Very few others underneath him were Ultra cleared so all of the original accounts of Market Garden miss this important fact and disparage Monty for going "A Bridge too Far".

    [ Parent ]

    Another point (3.00 / 2) (#167)
    by hughk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:51:59 AM EST

    Market Garden was a gamble, but if it succeeded, then Germany would have fallen much quicker, possibly also avoiding a significant Soviet presence. Of course, they didn't know then exactly what it would means but many allies were distincly unhappy about Stalin. His ambitions for eastern Europe were already known from the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and he was known to be vicious from Katyn.

    [ Parent ]
    M-G not as bad an operation as commonly believed. (4.00 / 1) (#343)
    by DingBat1 on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:56:18 PM EST

    People are "trained" by Cornelius Ryan's book, and the movie, to think that M-G was a blunder, but the truth is a little harder to find than that.

    Probably the biggest problem with M-G was the underlying assumption by the allies that the Germans were fought out. By the time the operation kicked off, the Germans were already beginning to gather forces for the Ardennes offensive. Given this, even had M-G succeeded, 21st AG wasn't going anywhere.

    But, this wasn't known at the time. What was know was that XXX corp had just chased the Germans back to Antwerp in what ranks as one of the fastest advances of the war. There was every reason to believe one more push would take them to the Rhine.

    Add to that the fact that the 1st Allied Airborne Army had been cooling it's heels in England since D-Day. That was 40,000 men doing nothing. The pressure to use this force must have been incredible. It was also 40,000 men who would be supplied from England and therefore were not on 21st AG's bill.

    The movie implies that the British were caught by surprise by the presence of the SS Panzer Korp at Arnhem. This is simply wrong. XXX Corp could hardly have been unaware of their presence since they had been retreating in front of them since the breakout.

    Also, calling these units divisions is generous to say the least. One of these divisions was merely a headquarters (all of it's men and equipment had been transfered to the other division). In total, the Korp was really not much more than a regiment, if that. At any rate, they played little or no part in the fighting at Arnhem (but they did hold up XXX Corp at Nijmegan).

    One of the bigger problems with the operation was the inability of 1st Airborne to concentrate forces on day 1. Less than half of the line companies dropped on the first day were available to conduct offensive operations, the rest being allocated to defending the drop zones. The transport command was given far too much leeway in deciding the drop zones for the division. For example, had 1st Airborne been dropped north of Arnhem the would have been able to block German reinforcements heading to the bridge area.

    Ok, it wasn't the best move the allies could have made but this judgement is usually made with the crystal clear vision of the Monday morning quarterback. At the time, there was a more than reasonable expectation that the operation would succeed.

    /bruce

    [ Parent ]

    German declaration of war on U.S. (2.00 / 2) (#120)
    by cameldrv on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:25:34 PM EST

    You can't seriously say that Barbarosa was less of a blunder than declaring war on the U.S. Even without the U.S., the Russians would have defeated the Germans, as evidenced by the relative troop strengths deployed on the Eastern and Western fronts by Germany. In fact, for West Germany, the U.S. entry into the war was quite a good thing, as they didn't have to live under Soviet domination for forty years.

    Drop the "d" (2.50 / 2) (#127)
    by MeanGene on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:43:55 PM EST

    The name of Russian admiral in Tsushima was Rozhestvensky.

    no it's definitely not [n/t] (none / 0) (#346)
    by RelliK on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:24:10 PM EST


    ---
    Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism it's just the opposite.
    [ Parent ]
    it is ;-) (none / 0) (#367)
    by MeanGene on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 09:12:58 PM EST

    http://www.neva.ru/EXPO96/book/chap10-4.html

    [ Parent ]
    that doesn't make sense (none / 0) (#374)
    by RelliK on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 11:47:31 AM EST

    Probably just wrong spelling. Russian has a different alphabet so this spelling is not exact but an approximation. Still it simply doesn't make sense without the 'd'.
    ---
    Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism it's just the opposite.
    [ Parent ]
    Speed-reading (none / 0) (#381)
    by MeanGene on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 07:08:46 PM EST

    "Rozhdestvensky" is definitely a much more common surname ("Rozhdestvo" means Christmas in Russian).

    In Russian original, this admiral's name is spelled without a "d."

    Curiously, this fact is burned into my mind, because once I read an article about pitfalls of speed-reading methods.  As a test, author asked speed-readers to read a book on Tsushima for a comprehension test - and almost everybody got this name wrong (i.e. with a "d").


    [ Parent ]

    The correct spelling of his name is in Cyrillic. (none / 0) (#359)
    by haflinger on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 06:36:10 PM EST

    Any Latin alphabet transliterations are bound to be inaccurate.

    Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
    [ Parent ]
    What's a blunder? (4.66 / 9) (#129)
    by fury on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:49:51 PM EST

    I read this story and, especially by the closing paragraph, I'm left wondering what the authro regards as a blunder.

    Is the final result sufficient to categorize something as a blunder? Judging by some of the examples, and the comment that we'd have to see what Hussein will do in the future before judging, it seems that the author would categorize choosing coffee instead of tea as a blunder, if it meant they left the house 4 seconds earlier, in time to get hit by a bus.

    In my opinion, a blunder is when, given the information at hand, someone makes what can be shown to be an error in judgement based not on the actual outcome, but all probably outcomes. It's true that this is harder to tell, but it doesn't mean that if Hussein manages to find a dealer with a nuclear device next year, that not killing him was more of a blunder.

    On another axis, it would be nice if blunders were given scope as well. That is to say, if Macarthur made an error because he didn't have the intelligence (that is, information gathering) that someone in his position should, then it's a blunder on behalf of the US forces, including SigInt and whatever else was responsible. If Macarthur had the information and simply made a bad decision, then that would be a blunder solely on his shoulders.

    More interesting to me would be a list of blunders which could have proved devestating, except that, as chance would have it, they were cancelled out by other factors. Terrors that never were, but should have been, based on the stupidity of those in charge, as it were...

    Kevin Fox - fury.com

    Do You Play Poker? (4.00 / 1) (#159)
    by harryh on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:11:04 AM EST

    I agree with this comment completely. I think it's too bad that people tend to judge decisions (weather they be military, or otherwise) based on the outcome.

    My experiences as a poker player have really put this to light. You might occasionally win by making a bad decision, but in the long term it will end up costing you money. It's all about making a decision based on the information currently at hand. Not about the luck that happens when the next card is turned over.

    Of course in tournament play you might sometimes fold even if you are likely to win, becuase you estimate that you will be more likely to win later. But now I'm getting *way* off topic. Heh.

    -Harry

    [ Parent ]
    Russian Army (1.25 / 4) (#135)
    by spliff on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:07:24 AM EST

    I think the Tsushima citation is important. I also think the Russian army itself is the biggest military blunder of all time. Its history is that of butchery of its own soldiers. From the Crimean War to the invasion of Afghanistan to its suppression of Chechan rebels, the Russian army is criminally inept. From the little I know of Operation Barabarossa, Russia's "strategy" was to bury the Germans under a pile of Russian corpses and then defeat them when they couldn't move. Even today, the red army continues to kill its own soldiers through malnourishment and brutal hazing. Its almost beyond words.

    Russia in WW2 (4.00 / 3) (#224)
    by Merk00 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:26:57 AM EST

    In the beginning of the war, the Soviets basically through troops at the Germans thinking that would stop them. The Germans would then destroy or capture the armies. The Soviet army was practically destroyed in the first couple months of the war.

    Starting with the Battle of Moscow, the Soviets became much better at utilizing their forces. In particular, the Battle of Stalingrad was one of the first times the Russians executed a very strategic plan that paid off big dividends. From that point onward there was much less wasting of troops by just throwing them at the enemy.

    ------
    "At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
    - FIRST Mission
    [ Parent ]

    No (3.00 / 1) (#247)
    by ucblockhead on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:33:31 PM EST

    Stalingrad and Kursk were examples of brilliant military strategy.
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]
    You missed Pearl Harbor (4.40 / 5) (#137)
    by cestmoi on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:22:39 AM EST

    Not the attack per se, but Nagumo's failure to follow through and knock out the fuel depots and submarine pens. Had he destroyed the fuel depots, the Pacific Fleet would have had to operate out of the West Coast. Whether it would have been enough to turn the tide is impossible to say but it is doubtful we would have prevailed at Midway 6 months into the war had Pearl been de-fueled. Midway served several key benefits to the U.S.
    1. It provided a sorely needed morale boost by stemming the string of Japanese victories.
    2. It deprived the Japanese of 4 carriers.
    3. It conclusively demonstrated Rochefort's team's crypto prowess which gave Nimitz the edge he needed to overcome a superior Japanese adversary.
    Moreover, Nimitz relied heavily on the subs based at Pearl. Nimitz' reliance on submarines paid off huge dividends - the subs accounted for 50% of the tonnage sunk even though they constituted 6% of the fleet. Without the pens and fuel at Pearl, the subs would have been hard pressed to operate as well as they did.

    Did Nagumo's blunder cost Japan the war? It's hard to say. The Japanese would have been in a far better position by the time the bomb was ready to be dropped on Hiroshima and we may well not have had the forward airbases necessary to deliver the bomb. Tinian had only been wrested months before the Enola Gay took off. Moreover, Japan would have had more resources at her disposal in 1945 and she may well have shrugged the bombs off and kept fighting. If nothing else, had Nagumo acted instead of fled, the war would have gone on much longer than it did.

    This is incorrect (4.00 / 1) (#145)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:21:06 AM EST

    The Japanese simply didn't have the kind of resources to destroy all the military targets at Pearl Harbor. This seems more to me to be hindsight rather than a grevious mistake worthy of say the Treaty of Versailles.

    A more grevious mistake was the fact that the Japanese army took resources from the navy and air force. Eg, Japan was invading India when it should have been using those resources to strengthen its hand against the US.

    Incidentally, the battle of Midway is a more serious mistake. Because Nagumo didn't use his carriers effectively, he lost all four of them.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    Where did you find that? (4.75 / 4) (#225)
    by cestmoi on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:29:56 AM EST

    The Japanese simply didn't have the kind of resources to destroy all the military targets at Pearl Harbor.

    I'd be very interested in hearing where you found that, it's the first time I've heard it. As I understand it, the question was whether to reload and go back and inflict more damage or return to Japan. All the carrier commanders wanted to keep pressing the fight but Nagumo vetoed them and turned tail.

    Dennis Layton's, I Was There, describes a high-level postwar meeting between attackers and defenders where the US Navy asked the Japanese why they didn't keep fighting at Pearl and their answer was "Nagumo," not "We ran out of ammo."

    As to Midway, Nagumo certainly set himself up as a prime target loaded with exposed ammo once our dive bombers arrived but it's not clear he's what did in the four carriers. Phenomenally lucky timing on our part played a huge hand. As it worked out, the carriers were completely exposed just at the moment our dive bombers showed up because the Japanese air cover had just polished off our torpedo planes. Give the Japanese another few minutes to rebuild their air cover and Midway may well have turned out in favor of the Japanese. Or had the torpedo- bearing Dauntlesses and dive bombers arrived simultaneously, as called for by the American battle plan, or worse, had the dive bombers arrived earlier than the Dauntlesses, the Japanese air cover would have been far more effective at downing the dive bombers.

    To my eyes, luck, more than Nagumo, played the major hand at Midway. However, had Nagumo destroyed the fuel tanks at Pearl, we wouldn't have been able to muster the forces to defend Midway.

    [ Parent ]

    Maybe it wasn't luck! (3.00 / 1) (#303)
    by mveloso on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:25:59 PM EST

    Maybe it was good intel, not luck? You never know...

    [ Parent ]
    The US Navy and Nimitz (none / 0) (#365)
    by cam on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 08:34:42 PM EST

    Phenomenally lucky timing on our part played a huge hand.

    The daring manner in which Nimitz used the US Carriers in the Pacific War were the deciding factor that blunted Japanese naval supremacy. It wouldnt have made any difference in 1944, but in 1942 the Australian Army was holding on by the skin of their teeth in New Guinea and the USMC were holding on by their fingertips in Guadalcanal. The aggressive manner in which the US Carrier fleet was used made a huge difference.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    Pearl Harbor (4.33 / 3) (#219)
    by Merk00 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:24:46 AM EST

    One of the other major problems with Pearl Harbor was that it was targetted against battleships. In the Pacific, there were very few battles that involved battleships as the primary combatants (I know of one whose name I can't remember but happened during the invasion of the Phillipines). There simply wasn't the gain of any significant tactical advantage at Pearl Harbor.

    The other problem with Pearl Harbor is that it's a very shallow harbor. This meant that the ships, when sunk, merely rested on the bottom, instead of breaking up. Because of this, most of the ships that the Japanese thought they had sunk went on to assist in landings throughout the Pacific.

    ------
    "At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
    - FIRST Mission
    [ Parent ]

    My own list (3.62 / 8) (#139)
    by godix on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:35:55 AM EST

    1) WWI. All of it. The only war I know of where the battle cry of every nation involved should have been 'Why are we doing this?'

    2) Hitlers attacking Russia. No matter how much some want to rewrite history, America had little to do with Hitlers defeat. England and Russia are the two countries that defeated Germany. England by never giving up and Russia by being willing to have literally millions of troops die for victory. All America did was speed up Germanys defeat and prevent Russia from taking all of Europe afterwards.

    3) Vietnam. In terms of men killed it wasn't that major. In other terms, it was devestating. It changed popular view of the military from the victorious noble fighting men of WWII to the murdering baby killers view that still hasn't entirely gone away. It's effects on future strategy are a direct result of current problems; America would probably have removed Saddam in 91 if we weren't so scared of taking large casualties and losing popular support.

    4) Tsushima as you mentioned was a giant cock up by Russia.

    5) Africa, almost any country in it at almost any year of the 20th century. Most of the continents history is one giant military fuck up after another.

    6) Special mention: Americas attempt to free hostages in Iran. Thelizman wrote a good article about it so I won't go into details, but it was another highly public embarrassing defeat of Americas military might right when the country was trying to forget that Vietnam kicked our 'world power' militaries ass.

    Oddly enough (2.50 / 2) (#140)
    by leviramsey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:40:27 AM EST

    I think a stronger case can be made for Korea being worse than Vietnam. The casualty figures were about the same, but while Vietnam spread that out over more than a decade, Korea was compressed into three or four years. Further, the US was forced to maintain a large force in Korea to this day. The US achieved its objective in Vietnam: keeping the Saigon government from faling. The objective in Korea was the destruction of the Pyongyang government, which has yet to happen (and some level of a feeling of unfinished business is partially behind the placing of Pyongyang in the AoE).



    [ Parent ]
    I differ there (4.00 / 1) (#142)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:01:41 AM EST

    The US achieved its objective in Vietnam: keeping the Saigon government from faling. The objective in Korea was the destruction of the Pyongyang government, which has yet to happen (and some level of a feeling of unfinished business is partially behind the placing of Pyongyang in the AoE).

    That is incorrect. First, the Saigon government did fall in 1975. Saying that it fell after we "changed" objectives is just flawed reasoning especially given that we took ten years to figure that out. Second, the South Korean government didn't fall. Right there, the Korean War turned out better. When you toss in the public animosity that developed during the Vietnam War (a ten year war including the Draft), and President Johnston's private admission that he entered the Vietnam War with the expectation that the US was going to lose, you end with a bigger mess than the Korean War.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    The Saigon government didn't fall (none / 0) (#154)
    by leviramsey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:52:37 AM EST

    ...iirc, until the US left. It certainly wasn't a victory, but it wasn't a defeat, either, which is what makes Vietnam an interesting "war".



    [ Parent ]
    The Saigon government fell (5.00 / 2) (#157)
    by godix on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:06:54 AM EST

    as a direct result of the US leaving. When we left the war we knew that what we spent 10 years fighting for would fall within a few weeks at most. That sounds like a defeat to me.

    [ Parent ]
    And your point is? (4.00 / 1) (#158)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:08:34 AM EST

    The primary objectives, maintaining some sort of democraticaly elected government in South Vietnam and stopping Communism failed. While I can't cite proof, these pretty much were the reasons stated by the US for propaganda purposes. You do admit that the Saigon government fell, and that the US left Vietnam to communism. Why shouldn't I consider that a defeat?

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    WW1 (4.00 / 1) (#141)
    by gsl on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:47:14 AM EST

    Agreed. WW1 was a monumental blunder from one end to the other made up of a host of little blunders. So many in fact that it's hard to pick a winner. Even nominal victories (such as the 1918 Kaiserschlacht) turned out to be blunders. And when it was all done, the Treaty of Versaille was a blunder as well.

    It was a hard act to follow.

    Geoff.
    --
    NP: Mostly Autumn - The Last Bright Light [The Last Bright Light]



    [ Parent ]
    Well, except for the Bolsheviks. (4.00 / 1) (#146)
    by haflinger on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:36:54 AM EST

    They did pretty well during WWI.

    Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
    [ Parent ]
    Except... (2.00 / 1) (#234)
    by yooden on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:01:56 PM EST

    ...that they lost it.

    [ Parent ]
    Compare Russia: 1914 vs. 1918 (none / 0) (#236)
    by haflinger on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:06:53 PM EST

    In which time-period did the Bolsheviks have more power? ;)

    Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
    [ Parent ]
    the Bolsheviks didn't lose the war. (5.00 / 1) (#275)
    by aphrael on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:48:38 PM EST

    The *tsarist government* lost the war, and was overthrown. The more-or-less democratic government established in March, 1917, sued for peace and got it; it was subsequently overthrown by the Bolsheviks, who capitalized on the war-weariness and on the severe damage to the Russian economy caused by the war.

    [ Parent ]
    Interim Government (5.00 / 1) (#281)
    by Merk00 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:02:55 PM EST

    An interim government was installed after the Czar abdicated. Before negotiating, the interim government wanted to be in a better position militarily. Because of this, they can continued fighting in the war (which is why the Allies had no problem with this turn of events; Russia was then a democracy and fit in with the rest of the Allies). The Bolsheviks then capitalized on the war weariness and overthrew the interim government and sued for peace with the Germans. There also happened to be the Russian Civil War between pro-Bolshevik and pro-Czarist groups.

    ------
    "At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
    - FIRST Mission
    [ Parent ]

    Africa (4.00 / 1) (#209)
    by Rand Race on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:29:29 AM EST

    I can't remember the name of the battle, but during WWI in German East Africa the Germans lost a battle because they couldn't call for reinforcements. The reason was that their telegraph poles were only 3 meters high and giraffes kept breaking the lines.

    For the rest of the war German troops shot giraffes on sight.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Russia invading Germany? (3.00 / 1) (#220)
    by Arevos on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:24:53 AM EST

    Could Russia have invaded Germany? If it left Britain alone and had it's entire ground forces concetrating upon Russia, then could the USSR actually have invaded? It seems doubtful to me; Germany had one of the best, if not the best army in the world, in terms of troop training and combat experience. The USSR may have been good at defending its own, but could it really have invaded?

    Personally, I feel that Russian involvement had a lot to do with Germany's defeat. But I don't think it could successfully topple the Nazi regime. There would be a stalemate, then nukes would come into the picture. Germany would be more technically advanced on that front, but because it has lots of vulnerable cities and popluation centres, it presents quite a tempting target, so who knows how it might have turned out?



    [ Parent ]
    America not contributing? (4.00 / 1) (#223)
    by CLoaX on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:25:34 AM EST

    If not having as many of our boys die as the russians or english, then yes, you are correct that America had nothing to do with Germany's defeat. However if you broaden your limited view of what it takes to win a war from purely outlasting your opponent, than surely Britain couldn't have lasted as long as they did without the american industrial machine supplying them?
    My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right.
    [ Parent ]
    Please read the guys article (3.00 / 1) (#331)
    by Wulfius on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 09:17:35 AM EST

    Instead of jumping to your pre-programmed conclusions.

    I do remember that the Germans were saying precisely that.
    That they are saving europe from the Communist hordes.

    And if you consider that a fallacy, here is a little known historical fact.

    The Soviet Union ATTACKED Poland in 1920.
    (http://www.miedzynami.com/ElectronicMuseum/SovietPolishWar/SovietPolishWar1.htm)

    The Poles stopped the Soviets, after Poland, who knows what would be next? Germany? France? England?

    I will close with;
    "Those who do not know their history are bound to repeat it"

    ---
    "We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
    http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
    [ Parent ]

    No Pasaran (3.33 / 3) (#144)
    by wademcclain on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:16:48 AM EST

    "They shall not pass" was coined during the Spanish Civil War, at the defense of Barcelona, not at Verdun.

    You are incorrect, sir (4.00 / 1) (#151)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:34:11 AM EST

    Here is a French propaganda poster from the First World War that (through totally illegible due to poor resolution) is captioned with that phrase.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    My take on some of these "blunders" (3.33 / 3) (#150)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:17:12 AM EST

    I don't think that Operation Barbarossa was a blunder for the simple reason that people assume that Hitler entered a losing situation. The thing to remember is that the USSR before 1940 had invaded other countries for the past 20 years. It had a long history of invading their neighbors. I see Operation Barbarossa as the classic example of hitting your neighbor before your neighbor hits you. Having said that, there were blunders associated with the invasion. The key two being the lack of preparation for a long fight, and the ruthless slaughter of Russia citizens. Ie, Germany lost the opportunity to recruit Russian citizens to fight for them, and weren't prepared for the Russian winters (which cost them greviously).

    So here's my list of the top five military blunders:

    1) Germany enters World War One. All this talk of Germany and Russia trying to avoid military confrontation is wrong. Germany didn't need to assist the Austria-Hungary empire no matter what the treaties were. It's clear from the historical record that Kaiser Wilheim and his staff were eager to get in a fight. Further, if Germany really wanted to, they could have curbed the intentions of Austria-Hungary, their weaker partner.

    2) The Treaty of Versailles.

    3) In the Second World War, both Germany and Japan overextended themselves, but I consider other factors to be more significant. First, Germany lost the war in Russia. I don't consider the actual invasion to be a blunder. One side was going to invade the other. It made better sense from Germany's perspective to be the ones invading than the ones invaded. Stalin's guard was down and there was still a lot of warm weather to go before the winter. The biggest blunder here I think was the treatment of civilians in Russia (and in lands occupied by Russia). Germany made itself the worse of two evils.

    Japan's big failure was the quantity of resources spent on its army. This showed up in several ways. First, military adventures in Malaysia or Burma aren't protecting your home cities from bombers nor are they sinking American carriers. Further, the Japanese merchant marine might have lasted longer if it weren't supporting remote locations. The resources used to direct an invasion of east India (which failed, of course) could have been spent protecting the merchant marine from subs. As seen in the North Atlantic, subs can be stopped. The Japanese failure cost them their mainland empire.

    4) The Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The US and the USSR's blunders in Cuba are amazing. I think that if the US hadn't been so adamant about toppling the government of Cuba (a little lesson perhaps for the modern times) then Cuba wouldn't have become a client of the USSR. Perhaps instead, it would have been a sort of Yugoslavia or India. Ie, playing both sides against each other. It's clear that the mistakes in Cuba, particularly the Bay of Pigs invasion led up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Almost starting a nuclear war is a clear blunder IMHO even if the deed isn't done. FWIW, the US did well by the Crisis while the USSR lost face.

    5) The Afghanistan War (1981-1988). The US made significant blunders in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, but what was the excuse for the military and political leaders who invaded Afghanistan particularly when given the textbook example of Vietnam? It's clear that the US saw an opportunity to pay back the USSR in the same coin as in Vietnam - by supplying weapons and other support to the insurgents. That war destroyed the USSR and crippled Russia to the present day. Further, a lot of the current problems originated from that war. Al Queda was supported indirectly by the US (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries did the dirty work). A lot of the East/West hostility comes from this (and from the US's misguided support of regimes like the Shah of Iran or Idi Amin).

    Stating the obvious since 1969.

    correcting myself (4.00 / 1) (#152)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:40:35 AM EST

    3) Germany and Japan's mistakes were nothing compared to those of France prior to its invasion in 1940.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    Japan and Resources (4.66 / 3) (#153)
    by leviramsey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:47:22 AM EST

    Japan's strategy was to get India, Indochina, and China before the US could mobilize. Japan is extremely resource poor and needed the resources (oil, rubber, etc.) to successfully fight the US. Otherwise it was doomed. The major Japanese blunder was bringing the US in when it did, especially in light of how it put the pressure on Hitler to declare war.



    [ Parent ]
    Roots of WWI (3.00 / 1) (#180)
    by Curieus on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:48:59 AM EST

    Actually the roots of WWI go quite deep, at least all the way to the 1870 war, where bismark had deftly placed france in a diplomatic isolation, made the french attack and beat their armies brutally. Compounding the humiliation with founding the german empire in versailles, a symbol of the absolute power of Louis XIV.

    From that time on, the french have tried to begin a new war, but on their terms. The first order of business was to reverse the cards and diplomatically isolate germany, then once isolated attack.
    Between 1871 and 1914 France invested millions of francs in the Russian railways (mobilisation and troop movements) Later they managed to coopt the english who felt threatened by increasing german naval power.
    Meanwhile german isolation grew, until only Austria Hungary and italy were their allies.

    A problem for france was that they needed germany to attack in order to involve the British Empire. But in a move similar to Bismark in 1870 they increased pressure by placing troops at the franco/german border. Deliberately making those troops vulnerable to a german attack.
    Meanwhile in the east russia wholeheartedly supported serbia, since a war in the balkans would perhaps allow them to obtain the much coveted black sea/mediteranean passage. Serbia denied Austrian demands that they allow investigation of the nationalist cell that gravilo princip belonged too. Partially justified, the austrian demands were quite intrusive (but then imagine that someone kills Jeff Bush, how would the US react?), partially from national pride.

    With france already at its borders and russia preparing mobilisation, germany saw no other way to survive than to support their ally austria. They also saw that they could not support a two front war and initiated the von Schliefen plan.
    The rest is history.

    btw testimony of the success of the french foreign policy was that italy did not honour its treaty obligations with austria and germany, and later on, even joined the alliance against them.

    Turkey became a natural german ally the moment russia became involved since that passage to the mediterrenean so desired by the russians could only be carved from turkish held territory.

    The english were also interested in attacking the turks in order to gain permanent and full control of the Suez canal.

    In the history of WWI germany is often portrayed as the aggressor, while in reality, they were skillfully directed to play a role. They followed the rules of a script written in paris.

    [ Parent ]

    that proves my point (4.00 / 1) (#246)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 12:30:01 PM EST

    While I'm dubious as to Germany's innocence in this, it certain reinforces that Germany's entry into the First World War was a blunder.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    Well depends (none / 0) (#397)
    by Curieus on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 04:16:31 AM EST

    Germany saw a steady decline in international relations, ongoing for more than a decade.
    They also saw that that war with france was going to happen anyway, and the later, the worse the situation would be.
    So they chose to support their ally instead of waiting till they would really stand alone.
    At the time, the british were still playing a role similar to that of the US ambassador to Iraq just before the invasion of kuweit. What the germans did not know, and for that most of the british parliament neither, was that the UK had several secret agreements with france including a detailed plan on how to transfer a 6 division BEF to belgium within 9 days after mobilisation.

    So from german perspective there was still the chance of this being a Franco-russian vs German-Austrian-Italian war.
    And the situation was bound to worsen with time.

    [ Parent ]

    Cuban Missile Crisis (4.00 / 2) (#197)
    by Richey on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:21:26 AM EST

    FWIW, the US did well by the Crisis while the USSR lost face. Have to disagree here. The Soviets got what they wanted, withdrawal of the US missiles from Turkey, whereas JFK got to face down a big threat in an election year. Both sides seemed quite happy with the outcome. It doesn't seem to have been much of a blunder at all.

    [ Parent ]
    so a blunder can get you reelected (4.00 / 1) (#251)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:01:06 PM EST

    Have to disagree here. The Soviets got what they wanted, withdrawal of the US missiles from Turkey, whereas JFK got to face down a big threat in an election year. Both sides seemed quite happy with the outcome. It doesn't seem to have been much of a blunder at all.

    Let's see, the US invades Cuba, puts nuclear weapons in Turkey, almost causes a nuclear war, and it isn't a blunder? The USSR canned Khrushchev for his role in the affair. The way I see it, the world (and in particular the main two participants) got lucky in 1963.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    not a military blunder (4.00 / 1) (#272)
    by ringlord on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:40:39 PM EST

    The topic here is military blunders. From that perspective, I think you have to approach events by their real result, not by what might have happened. So I think the argument about almost starting a nuclear war is irrelavant. Talk about where the US, USSR, and Cuba stood before the event and after the event. What was the end result for all parties.

    [ Parent ]
    I have a different view on that (4.00 / 1) (#297)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 09:29:52 PM EST

    I consider this to be a military action. After all, there were lots of military hardware around, nuclear weapons in play, and people dying. The fact that this was all for strictly political reasons doesn't change that it was a military action (of the greatest consequences) brought on in part by some seriously stupid stuff (like explosive cigars, amateur invasions, and poisoned fish) and a little nuclear brinksmanship.

    As far as nothing happening due to the incident, well that may be so, but let's look at an example. Suppose I like to run across eight lanes of fast moving heavy traffic at night. Suppose I do it once and live. Suppose my pal (of similar talent and inclination) does the same thing and gets creamed by an eighteen wheeler. Who's the dumber person? Am I less dumb because I got lucky?

    A single full-blown nuclear exchange could have caused more deaths than the sum total of all wars of the century combined. That's pretty high stakes to be playing just because you don't like the dictator of Cuba. Sure the outcome was just political in nature, but battles often end up that way.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    another point of view (4.00 / 1) (#299)
    by khallow on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 09:41:57 PM EST

    There were military consequences to the Cuban Missile Crisis. First, neither the US nor the USSR ever got that far again. Cuba has never been threatened militarily by the US since nor offered serious provocation. This set the stage for military conflict in Central and South America particularly in the 70's and 80's. As you mention, nuclear weapons were removed from Turkey permanently.

    Finally, I think it set the stage for US involvement in Vietnam and elsewhere by restricting when full force could be used. Perhaps, the real reason why invasion of North Vietnam was never seriously considered was because the politicians were afraid of the potential consequences. Defending an existing country was just fine. Invading a proxy via your proxy was fine. Directly invading a proxy of the other side with your own military crossed the line. And head to head clashes between the US and the USSR were unthinkable.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    Nikita's fate (4.50 / 2) (#317)
    by tftp on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:27:46 AM EST

    The USSR canned Khrushchev for his role in the affair.

    Khrushchev was canned for many reasons, but Cuba was not one of them. His major sin was unilateralism - he made too many decisions on his own, and it was not supposed to be this way. Party had to be consulted.

    In brief, he was overthrown in a quiet "palace revolt", quite democratically too, as I recall (he was voted down by Politburo and then politely escorted off the premises.)

    [ Parent ]

    I love this place! (4.00 / 1) (#324)
    by khallow on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 06:46:43 AM EST

    Khrushchev was canned for many reasons, but Cuba was not one of them. His major sin was unilateralism - he made too many decisions on his own, and it was not supposed to be this way. Party had to be consulted.

    Where else can you be told, free of charge, that there are many correct answers but you missed them all? ;-) FWIW, I recall that Khrushchev's son wrote (in his biography of his father, don't recall the title of the book) that the crisis is what tipped the scale. Perhaps, Khrushchev got in so deep because of his troubles at home. Ie, made some mistakes and was in a bad situation. And then made things worse while trying to get out from under.

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    Operation Barbarossa: Why? (1.64 / 14) (#156)
    by tiger on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:00:52 AM EST

    If one were to believe the fictional WWII history that is taught to the world by the imperial powers, then Operation Barbarossa was indeed a stupid thing, a blunder. But this is assuming the imperialist version of history is true, which it isn’t.

    The imperialist version of history paints the Axis powers as the imperialist aggressors, and themselves, the imperialist powers—Britain, France, America, and Russia (Soviet Union)—as their victims.

    Getting at the truth is not an easy task, because the brainwashing done to people is very extensive. Most people only know the imperialist version of history; they only know what they are supposed to know.

    I was puzzled by Operation Barbarossa when I was young. It did not make sense to me that Germany would attack, but I only knew the false WWII history that I had been brainwashed with. Once you look at the real history, and who the real aggressors were, everything becomes clear.

    I wrote an article on this subject 2 years ago: Operation Barbarossa: Why?

    --
    Americans :— Say no to male genital mutilation. In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child



    Heh. (3.66 / 3) (#161)
    by paine in the ass on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:33:28 AM EST

    Germany was neve an "imperialist" nation? Gosh you're funny, tell another one.

    And while you're at it, get a better line to troll with, yours is uninformed, unintelligent, and uncreative.


    I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
    [ Parent ]

    Ignore the above (3.66 / 3) (#173)
    by hughk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:12:05 AM EST

    Unless you enjoy running around like the those guys in brown shirts and armbands in the Blues Brothers, you should ignore the above link.

    Essentially he argues that Stalin was seen to be a threat which is probably true, but in reality, Stalin was seen at the time to be weak (after the Winter War) and Germany needed Oil. Attacking the Soviet Union wasn't itself wrong in military sense, it was the underestimation of how big the place is and the difficulty of securing supply lines across poor internal communications.

    [ Parent ]

    The Oil (4.00 / 1) (#181)
    by Cornelius on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:52:11 AM EST

    Yes, of course. I didn't think of that.


    Cornelius

    "Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell", Hellraiser
    [ Parent ]
    The Barbarossa enigma (3.40 / 5) (#175)
    by Cornelius on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:14:50 AM EST

    I have also been equally baffled by Operation Barbarossa. But I have seen a totally different explanation than the one one you refer to. According to what I've read Hitler did not in earnest desire a war with Great Britain, according to these sources he saw their empire as an ideal, a proof indeed of the superiority of the Aryan race(!) Hitler's ideological enemy was the Communists (although he hated democracy too). He knew that the other Western nations feared the Soviet Union which was growing as an industrial nation, and which during the revolution had 'nationalized' foreign industry and resources (a source of fierce disgruntlement in both the US and Europe, where 'the rich' feared Communism).

    In short, Hitler hoped that the US and Britain would accept peace with Germany in order to defend central and western Europe against the Sovie Union (seeing him as the lesser evil). (And, as far as I remember, Hess even went to Britain to try to negotiate a peace?) In a recent tv documentary it was even claimed that Hitler entertained the hope of (peace and) a western coalition against USSR right up to the end of the war.


    Cornelius

    "Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell", Hellraiser
    [ Parent ]
    Rudolf Hess and the late Queen Mum (4.00 / 1) (#187)
    by PenguinWrangler on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:39:03 AM EST

    And, as far as I remember, Hess even went to Britain to try to negotiate a peace?

    Someone I know researching a book came across a lot of conspiracy theories regarding Rudolf Hess, and the official record on this has been kept restricted for far longer than government records usually are - and this is put down as because a high-ranking person connected with this was still alive.
    Can't help wondering if now the dear old Queen Mum has snuffed it, some information will come out on this rumour..?
    "Information wants to be paid"
    [ Parent ]
    Why Germany invaded Russia (3.50 / 4) (#194)
    by rcs1000 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:56:17 AM EST

    There are two questions posed here that deserve answers: (1) Was the Soviet Union about to invade Europe? and (2) If they were not, why did Germany invade it? I think the answer to (1) is a resounding no. Stalin had just completed the purges of his army, and had been largely humiliated at the hands of tiny Finland. Stalin would need to be not just meglamaniacal, but utterly delusional about the state of his army to engage in an attack on Germany. (There is the other question: if Stalin's armies were all of such high battle-readiness, etc., why were they defeated so easily at the beginning of the war?) What then is the answer to (2) - why did Germany invade Russia? The answer is not communism, but oil. Germany had no native oil reserves, the British had largely blocaded her ports, were bombing her coal to oil plants, and the Romanian oil-fields were being constantly disrupted. That is why Germany was also fighting in North Africa (for the Libyan oil) and went flat out for the Caucuses, not Moscow. See, simple really.

    [ Parent ]
    Faurisson? (4.50 / 2) (#216)
    by Caton on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:15:05 AM EST

    Your article uses sources that are, to say the least, biased. The "fictitious Holocaust" sentence is ground enough to dismiss everything you say as pro-Nazi propaganda.

    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]
    WHAT is this guy putting in his crack pipe? (3.00 / 1) (#283)
    by el_guapo on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:21:46 PM EST

    i mean, all that crap was just comical - is (s)he for real!?!?
    mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
    [ Parent ]
    This guy is a quack on so many levels (4.00 / 1) (#298)
    by Golden Spray on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 09:33:15 PM EST

    Go to this website and check out his book. I particularly like the part where he states:

    The approach taken in this book is to assume that deepest reality is computerized. Instead of, in effect, mathematics controlling the universe's particles, computers control these particles. This is the computing-element reality model.

    I like this because it totally ignores the fact that computers, at least the kind of computers that we have, and those "theoretical" computers we have designed, are completely describable mathematically. As such, anything that computers can do is describable mathematically. So in effect his model is able to describe a subset of what the model he dismisses can describe. Of course maybe I am being too literal with my interpretation of a "computer". Its hard to know, as he does not decribe the capabilities of one of his nanobots, or more precisely femtobots

    Plus he goes on about Alien caretakers and invents his own fundamental particles.



    GS

    [ Parent ]
    A few more... (3.33 / 3) (#165)
    by psycho tinman on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:44:43 AM EST

    The Soviet Union's involvement in Afghanistan dumped the morale of the once feared Red army down the tubes.. in fact, almost any insurgency (excluding, perhaps, the performance of the British SAS in Malaya) resulted in a stalemate at best.. Vietnam is probably another case in point here. Both of these campaigns had major repercussions along the line; for example, even now, sending troops to another country brings up a "remember Vietnam" message from someone.. (*Mogadishu, 1992 wasn't exactly a victory either, although the casualty numbers don't make it a major engagement in that sense)

    Ardennes: simple message, operation Overlord didn't mean the Nazis' were finished.. There IS such a thing as overextending yourself, and this is exactly what seems to have happened..

    Another perspective I have is that sometimes, blunders involved not actions, but simply inaction on the part of some country or side.. take for example the partition of Germany after the 2nd world war.. a more active involvement by the British or American forces might have avoided the subsequent Cold war (then again, it might not have.. certainly, what followed Stalin's land grab wasn't to anyone's benefit *shrug*)

    Morale and other things (4.00 / 1) (#318)
    by tftp on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:42:55 AM EST

    The Soviet Union's involvement in Afghanistan dumped the morale of the once feared Red army down the tubes.

    You are correct, if your statement is inverted :-)

    The SA had no morale before Afghanistan. All it had was harsh treatment of young soldiers, hazing rituals, and generally SA was evil. What else would you expect from a bunch of 18-20 yr old men? Officers were mostly detached from the life inside barracks.

    Afghanistan, however, bound all soldiers together. Seeing death and making death daily and casually changed them. A casual assault on someone, normal before, became a death wish in Afghanistan, because the beaten soldier had means and opportunity for revenge. At the same time, the need for such assaults disappeared, because violent people had more than enough ways to express their violence on enemies.

    As result of Afghan campaign, societies of Afghan war veterans formed, and they are still active and influential. Army units which prior to war were nothing but groups of violent teenagers transformed into blood-christened brotherhoods.

    [ Parent ]

    The problem with the list is... (3.25 / 4) (#172)
    by Master Of Ninja on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:08:47 AM EST

    ...that there are so many points to disagree on.

    I would have added these battles:

    1. The Battle Of Tannenberg
    2. The First and Second Battles Of The Masurian Lakes.
    3. The Battle Of The Somme

    I put the first two in as they were the battles which led to the defeat of Tsarist Russia quickly in the first world war (and indirectly led to the Russian Revolution), while the Somme led to 58,000 losses for the British alone on a single day (according to the website).

    In general you can say the whole of the first world war was a big mistake. The Western Front was a trench war with the generals wanting to win by grinding the other side down, without thought of casualties. Check the link out as some of the other battles seem quite spectacularly bad moves - it has links to the battles incl. Ypres and Verdun.

    OT bit: found the First World War website while browsing for references. While I have no other backup for references the website looks nice, seems to have lot of information and might be worth a read (if you have the time).

    The Somme (5.00 / 2) (#184)
    by gsl on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:09:29 AM EST

    the Somme led to 58,000 losses for the British alone on a single day (according to the website).

    The website is correct. According the the British Official History, the British casualties for July 1, 1916 (aka, The First Day of the Somme) were:

    • Dead: 19240
    • Wounded: 35493
    • Missing: 2152
    • Prisoner: 585
    • Total: 57470

    The Western Front was a trench war with the generals wanting to win by grinding the other side down, without thought of casualties.

    To be fair, the generals (at least on the British side) weren't intent on attrition battles. The original goal of the Somme offensive was to achieve a breakthrough for Gough's Reserve Army (cavalry) to exploit but a breakthrough never came. 3rd Ypres had the same sort of aim.

    At a stretch, you could claim the Somme was not a blunder (a success even, perhaps) in that it managed to relieve pressure on the French at Verdun which was one of the main reasons for launching it.

    Geoff.
    --
    NP: Mike Oldfield - Collection [Pictures In The Dark]



    [ Parent ]
    Also.. (4.00 / 2) (#321)
    by ajduk on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 03:42:55 AM EST

    German defensive doctorine at the time said that any ground lost must be captured immediately by counter attacks.  So when you hear of British soldiers coming out of their trenches to get mown down, you have to remember that the Germans were doing exactly the same thing...

    The Germans described the Somme as the 'muddy grave of the Inperial German Field Army'.


    [ Parent ]

    Stalemates and Blockades (4.00 / 1) (#300)
    by cam on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 09:44:34 PM EST

    Check the link out as some of the other battles seem quite spectacularly bad moves

    The allies had greater manpower than Germany, so at worst the land war only had to be a stalemate with the blockade being effective. I have written several posts on the effect the Royal Navies blockade had on Germany,

    So if I was to choose a blunder in WWI with hindsight, it would be the Germany Navy not being more aggressive in trying to break the blockade.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    What is a military blunder? (4.20 / 5) (#178)
    by hughk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:27:20 AM EST

    I don't consider the declaration of war, however ill=considered to be a military blunder. I don't consider a treaty such as that of Versailled to be a military blunder. They are both politico-economic blunders.

    I am unhappy about adding gambles such as Barberossa to the list because it could have been won if executed differently. Individual battles were definitely blunders and I would classify Stalingrad amongst those. Why insist on cracking a hard target which can be easily isolated and ignored? Both Stalin and Hitler raised Stalingrad to political status which is why when it was lost that it gave such an advantage to the Russians and disdvantage to the Germans.

    Another poor decision (by the Germans) was to switvh the attacks away from airfields and radar stations to the cities during the battle of Britain. Without airfields and radar, Britain could not have been defended from a sea-borne invasion.

    Personally, I would add Gallipoli to the list.

    Couple of points (4.33 / 3) (#195)
    by jw32767 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:00:21 AM EST

    The germans needed Stalingrad just like the need every bit of territory on the western bank of the Volga.  They didn't have enough men to cover the massively long front they had developed in Russia and they needed some natural boundries to help with that.  

    The really folly in Stalingrad was comitting Panzer Divisions to urban warfare.  They didn't do a whole lot of good inside the ruined city and they could have smashed one of the soviet pincers if they were kept as an intelligent reserve.

    --
    Krups, not only can they shell Paris from the Alsace, they make good coffee. - georgeha

    These views are my own and may or may not reflect the views of my employer.
    [ Parent ]

    the Yalu encroachment (3.50 / 2) (#179)
    by ti dave on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 04:36:35 AM EST

    I'm beginning to think that MacArthur's advance to the Yalu merely accelerated the timetable for the Chinese forces.
    I think it's likely, based on the vast Chinese logistical preparation for the offensive, that they would have intervened on the peninsula even if the UN forces had halted at the 38th.
    "If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

    A few comments.. (3.50 / 2) (#183)
    by ajduk on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:06:41 AM EST

    On Verdun..

    Erich von Falkenhayn only wrote his account of Verdun (and reasons for starting it) AFTER the battle.  It's very hard to tell if he wanted a breakthrough or attrition - inded, it's pretty hard to tell from accounts of the batle what he wanted.  This, I think, makes it even worse - starting a huge battle without a specific objective...

    Petain was not a defeatest in 1916 - it was just that (unlike a lot of french commanders) he didn't believe in reckless frontal attack on machine gun positions.

    post 1950 (4.50 / 8) (#189)
    by streetlawyer on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:28:56 AM EST

    Dien Bien Phu, 1953

    France unaccountably decides to make its entire Indochina policy stand and fall on the defence of an "impregnable" fortress in the middle of a nearly conical valley, way outside normal supply lines, on the basis of the belief that the Viet Minh Army couldn't possibly shift their artillery up hills, and that the hill tribes would remain loyal to France despite having been abominably treated for the preceding eight years.

    --
    Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

    and one more (1.50 / 2) (#191)
    by streetlawyer on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:31:37 AM EST

    You are perhaps forgetting that one of the worst military blunders of all time, the assault on Spion Kop in the Boer War, sneaked into the 20th century by 23 days.

    --
    Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
    No it didn't. (4.25 / 4) (#295)
    by ghjm on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:36:12 PM EST

    It missed the 20th century by 342 days. It happened in the final year of the 19th century.

    <rant>
    Suppose you work in a jellybean factory, and your job is to count jellybeans into bags of 100. Start counting at the first jellybean. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ..., 99, 100. That's the first bag. 101, 102, ..., 198, 199, 200. That's the second bag. Which jellybeans go into the nineteenth bag? 1801 through 1900.

    Or look at it another way. How many years are there in a century? 100. How many years are there in nineteen centuries? 1900. Suppose it is midnight on December 31, 1899. The span of time between the (nominal) birth of Christ and your current glass of champagne is now 1899 years. Have nineteen centuries elapsed? No, there's one more year to go.
    </rant>

    Sorry, I've been wanting to do that ever since they made me stay at work "for Y2K".

    -Graham

    [ Parent ]

    I dislike the whole premise (2.80 / 5) (#193)
    by GoStone on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:53:53 AM EST

    It is always easy to criticise, but difficult to be genuinely constructive. All the individuals concerned in these actions were doing their best with the information they had available. In most cases their arses were on the line, or they were aware of the judgement of history upon them.

    To call these actions 'blunders' seems merely facetious. As if the author would have done better in the circumstances. I believe it is more becoming to be respectful of those who are dead and cannot answer criticism.

    Of course this does not preclude attempting to learn from past mistakes.


    Cut first, ask questions later

    Those who do not learn history (4.00 / 1) (#206)
    by enry on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 09:49:27 AM EST

    are doomed to repeat it.  For a long time, the military has been looking backwards at their recent actions to see what they did right and wrong, both from a military and PR standpoint.

    [ Parent ]
    One would think that the people who make (4.00 / 2) (#267)
    by mingofmongo on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:17:20 PM EST

    these kinds of decision are doing the best they can with what they have. One would most often be wrong.

    History is crammed full of instances of people ignoring inteligence reports, disregarding damage reports, pulling strategy from dreams and religious visions... There is often much brilliant justification after the fact for actions that, at the time, were nothing but a pissing contest with lives at stake.

    For every military genius such as Robert E. Lee, there are fifty '800 pound gorrillas' such as U.S.Grant. And due to the intervention of random crap and resource allocation, the gorrillas often win anyway.

    There wouldn't even be wars if there wasn't at least one rabid blustering moron on at least one of the sides.

    Careful, rational people have much better things to do.

    So critisism is not just easy, it is justified and necessary, and often not done in nearly enough depth.

    "What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
    --The Onion
    [ Parent ]

    Some from Spain: (4.33 / 3) (#199)
    by oscarmv on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:36:36 AM EST

    99% of the spanish involvement in Morocco should be qualified as a military blunder. Even worse, the ones who lost that war went on to rise in arms against the II repulic a few years later... The remaining 1% was finally deciding to quit.

    is it a blunder if you meant to do it? (4.00 / 2) (#202)
    by Shren on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:56:26 AM EST

    During the Civil War, generals had soldiers march at each other firing thier guns. That's hardly high strategy compared to modern hit and run techniques, but that's the way they did it. How much of that attitude was left in the 1900s? Were they using antiquidated combat methods? Can we call it a tactical error if they meant to march men to thier deaths?

    Of course, we know now that suicide attacks are foolish because they give your opponent's hero XP. But did they know that then?

    But... (4.00 / 2) (#205)
    by vreeker on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 09:21:53 AM EST

    In the civil war they were still using muskets. These guns not only take a very long time to reload (dump in gunpowder, tap in gunpowder, drop in musket-ball) but their accuracy was insanely bad - So although they were told "march at each other" this was the best practice. If they had 10 people aiming forward, 1 musket *might* hit the opposing forces.

    [ Parent ]
    They had rifles... (none / 0) (#382)
    by tankrshr77 on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 08:42:51 PM EST

    during the American civil war.  Yet, they were not the primary weapon for all infantry until the end of the war.  Usually, the side with the most rifles won the battle since the generals were used to Napoleonic tactics where cannons would be brought up to the front line.  However, rifles, unlike muskets, now had the range to be  very effective against these cannons.  Also, the rifle contributed to the high causualty rate among assaulting infantry troops- defensive structures gave an advantage.

    A really good book that describes devotes a large section to explaning the significance rifles had in the changing tactics of war is:
    Lost Victories: The Military Genius of Stonewall Jackson, by Bevin Alexander.

    [ Parent ]

    Musket vs rifle (none / 0) (#408)
    by jubal3 on Fri Mar 07, 2003 at 03:56:36 PM EST

    While muzzle-loding weapons were the most widely used weapons in the US Civil War, they all had rifled barrels. That is, there was a groove on the inside of the barrel which imparted spin to the projectile, drastically improving range and accuracy of the weapon.
    The Springfield Model .58 Caliber Rifle and the British Enfield 3-ring "musket" were both rifles, and were by far the most widely used small arms in the war.
    To contrast with the smooth bore muskets of the Napoleonic era:
    Smoothbore range: 80-120 yards
    Rifle range:300-500 yards.
    Additionally, the Civil war saw the first extensive use of cartridges and percussion caps in war, which drastically reduced both loading time and misfire rates.


    ***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***
    [ Parent ]
    Some modernish tactics (4.00 / 3) (#208)
    by Rand Race on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:20:18 AM EST

    Cavalry raiders like Quantrill, Mosby, and Forrest most certainly presaged modern hit and run tactics. And while the line and column tactics were getting long in the tooth during the Civil War (and The Crimean as well), the rarity of repeating rifles and such made them still somewhat effective. The charge of the Light Brigade, however, was the last hurrah for the massed cavalry assault (which was proven ineffective at Waterloo 40 years earlier).

    But the continued reliance on Napoleonic infantry tactics in the First World War - where machine-guns and howitzers had replaced muzzle-loading cannon and long arms - was, to put it mildly, a strategic blunder on the part of all parties involved. I would go so far as to call it homicidal stupidity on the part of the leaders in that war. But, even then, the emergence of stormtroopers and the tactics employed in the colonial theatres of the war provided some hint of modern tactics.

    I would recommend C.S. Forester's The General to anyone interested in the mindset that produced such ignorance and callousness.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    Yalu River (3.00 / 5) (#210)
    by CodeWright on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:31:08 AM EST

    Would not have been a failure if Air Force General Curtis LeMay and Army General MacArthur had been heeded -- and nukes used against the advancing ChiCom corps.

    --
    "Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --
    Nukes (3.75 / 4) (#214)
    by Merk00 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:05:47 AM EST

    I suppose it's not a failure if you think that nuclear retaliation against the United States by the Soviet Union isn't a failure. Because, unfortunately, that was the most likely response to any nuclear attack against China.

    ------
    "At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
    - FIRST Mission
    [ Parent ]

    soviet nuke (2.00 / 1) (#252)
    by minus273 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:14:11 PM EST

    i dont think they had it yet...

    [ Parent ]
    Soviet Bomb (3.50 / 2) (#255)
    by Merk00 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:31:10 PM EST

    The Soviets tested their first nuclear weapon on August 29, 1949 (cite). The Korean War took place from 1950 - 1953. Hence, the Soviets had the bomb during the Korean War (and enough of them to flatten several US cities).

    ------
    "At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
    - FIRST Mission
    [ Parent ]

    Soviet Arsenal (4.66 / 3) (#261)
    by LobsterGun on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:23:38 PM EST

    The threat of retaliation really wasn't that great.

    Though the USSR had the atom bomb, they probably didn't have more than a handfull of them in 1950.

    The USSR also lacked an effective delivery system. ICMBs were still years away, and I don't believe they had any intercontinental range bombers then.

    [ Parent ]

    Great. They would've only nuked Seoul [n/t] (none / 0) (#358)
    by haflinger on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 06:29:48 PM EST



    Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
    [ Parent ]
    They had the bomb, yes (4.00 / 2) (#274)
    by aphrael on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:45:49 PM EST

    but they didn't have missiles, and the likelihood of their being able to get *bombers* into the US without being shot down by US fighters was low. In general, throughout that period, the Soviets lacked the ability to effectively project power at the US; that's *why* the Cuban Missile Crisis was such a big deal.

    [ Parent ]
    Moot point (3.83 / 6) (#265)
    by CodeWright on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:45:52 PM EST

    Even though the Soviets demonstrated their first nuclear bomb in 1949, their total arsenal was, at best, a couple dozen bombs.

    Furthermore, their only delivery systems were a series of prop-engined bombers shoddily reverse-engineered from the B-29 that they captured during WW2.

    The fastest that they could have attempted a first strike would be an all-or-nothing over-the-pole bomber strike. That strike would have been easily parried by American Strategic Air Command, and the reply would have been swarms of B-47 nuclear-armed bombers.

    In other words, the Soviets did not mount a credible threat to the continental United States.

    The largest risk would have been to our conventional forces already deployed in-theater -- Soviet nuclear bombers could conceivably have struck the 8th Army on the ground after having the way cleared by a suicidal pack of Mig-15s.

    If that happened (and I think MacArthur was counting on it), then the only conceivable response would have been worldwide mobilization for World War III.

    Hypothetical course of events:
    • MacArthur initiates Inchon breakout (historical)
    • US Army advances to Yalu River (historical)
    • US Army crosses Yalu River, invoking Chinese wrath
    • Forward scouting elements of US Army fix enemy position and guide B-29 / B-47 bomber strike force from Japan to eliminate ChiCom force concentrations with fission bombs.
    • Soviet Russia protests strenuously and immediately attacks Europe with 300 armor divisions and launches Tupolev nuclear-armed bomber strike at US Army in Korea/China. Atomic bomb hidden in Soviet embassy in Washington DC is detonated.
    • US Army suffers 30,000 - 50,000 casualties in Soviet nuclear strike. Outrage flares in US, more forces rushed via airlift to Japan / South Korea. North Koreans advance in the gap left by US and ROK forces, but are still disorganized from their own atomic drubbing
    • US Army reinforcements rally near Seoul and advance quickly back across the 38th parallel. Any concentrations of North Korean army are identified and hit with tactical nuclear weapons. US Army advances through routed (nuked) ChiCom army elements and seizes Beijing. Chinese Nationalist Army under Chang Kai-shek re-invades Chinese mainland and opens a second southern front
    • US Army forces in Europe are mauled by Soviet armor formations, but they use atomic landmines and limited atomic bomber flights to keep ground losses down to a steady grinding creep
    • US Army re-instates Chinese Nationalist elements as "recognized" leaders of China. War in China changes character from "invasion" to "fighting Communist rebels". Same thing in Korea (which is now re-unified)
    • War settles down into an industrial build-up mode reminiscient of WW2, with the Soviets occupying Europe (except for UK) and both sides maneuvering for a knock-out blow. As nuclear arsenals are replenished, they are utilized in quick but ultimately indecisive blows against enemy troop formations
    • Although the Soviets might beat the Americans to the development of ICBMs with world range (i.e., what Sputnik demonstrated), American industrial capacity outstrips the Soviets, and the Americans accumulate a critical mass of ICBMs and nuclear warheads sufficient to deliver a single decisive atomic knock-out blow to the Soviet Union. Remnants of Russia offer unconditional surrender in the radioactive shell of their homeland


    Note that none of the war is fought on American soil -- indeed, most of it is fought in Eurasia. This leaves the post-war Americans in control of an uncontaminated heartland and allows them to dominate world trade (just like what actually happened after World War II and during the Cold War).

    --
    "Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
    LeMay would be so proud! (nt) (none / 0) (#325)
    by Eloquence on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 07:08:07 AM EST


    --
    Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
    spread the word!
    [ Parent ]
    Because he was right (3.00 / 1) (#333)
    by CodeWright on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 09:56:38 AM EST

    If the Cold War was America's war to fight, then better to have gotten it over quickly, with Americans paying the price of victory rather than countless hundreds of thousands of cat's paws in the Third World (which is what actually happened during the Cold War).

    For the same reason, Curtis LeMay should have been able to bomb Hanoi back into the stone age -- rather than letting the CIA and RAND corporation experiment on innocent GIs and Vietnamese civilians for 10 years.

    --
    "Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
    Did those things even exist yet? (4.00 / 1) (#344)
    by ScuzzMonkey on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 01:51:59 PM EST

    I'm not too up on my nuclear history, but it seems to me that tactical nuclear weapons, landmines, and such, didn't exist at the time. Weren't we still in the "make 'em bigger and louder" phase in 1950? Certainly the delivery systems were not adequate for tactical use at that point.

    When were practical battlefield tactical nukes brought into service? I had thought it was later in the fifties and into the early sixties...


    No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
    [ Parent ]

    True, not in 1950 (4.00 / 1) (#356)
    by CodeWright on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 05:21:21 PM EST

    The first tac-nukes were deployed in '54 and were usually built around the W-54 warhead.
    • the M28 and M29 recoilless rifles could fire the M388 "Davy Crockett" tactical nuclear rocket (at ranges of 2200 yards and 4400 yards respectively); these rifles and their M388 rockets were mounted on everything from Jeeps to M113 APCs
    • a modified W-54, the B-54, was the core piece of the Strategic Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM) (an atomic landmine)
    • The W-54 was also deployed as the GAR-11/AIM-26A air-to-air nuclear missile (for shooting down enemy atomic bombers)


    --
    "Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
    Nukes are not the best tactical weapons (none / 0) (#386)
    by annenk38 on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 10:57:31 PM EST

    Nukes work best in places where the concentration of people and equipment is dense -- large cities, military bases. They are not particularly useful on the battlefield, as the risk of cross-contamination, and especially friendly fire is high. Furthermore, the entire US nuclear arsenal at that time would have barely dented the 100-million strong Chinese army.

    And if my left hand causes me to stumble as well -- what do I cut it off with? -- Harry, Prince of Wales (The Blackadder)
    [ Parent ]
    Tactical Nukes (none / 0) (#391)
    by CodeWright on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 04:29:33 PM EST

    Have blast radii of only a few hundred yards. They were designed to take out merely platoon sized groups of men and machines (i.e., 20-50 men and/or 2-6 vehicles).

    The M113 carrier of the M28 & M29 had about 20+ rounds of M388's. The idea was to deploy these types of units to seriously delay the advance of Russian armor divisions (by constantly disrupting their C3 & maneuver capability).

    Although tacnukes would have been less useful against the hardware-poor ChiComs, their use as a deterrent against massed charges would be sufficient to delay an attacking ChiCom force long enough to call in artillery or air support.

    Forward scouts would be tasked with discovering masses of ChiCom force and/or supply and would be able to radio direct atomic bombers to target them(with enough time for the scouts to withdraw to a safe distance).

    Furthermore, in the event that WMDs were already in use against the ChiComs, the US would probably have used their Japanese bio-weapons and German chemical-weapons to augment their nuclear arsenal.

    --
    "Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
    what mass charges? (none / 0) (#400)
    by annenk38 on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 11:12:26 PM EST

    According to this faq,
    During battles, western forces were usually incapable of correctly estimating the strength of PVA forces, often times, they greatly exaggerated the number of attacking PVAs, such as taking a PVA regiment as a PVA division. PVA mostly attacked at night, blowing bugles and wistles, shouting thrills, even play "sweet music" to cause psychological stress, the PVA tactics made western forces feel that the enemy was everywhere from every direction. Moreover, PVAs were masters of infiltration, they often sneaked in and attacked directly on command posts, generating shock and chaos. Western combat history always refered PVA attacks as "swarm of Chinese", "human waves", "Chinese hordes", as if PVA simply threw its men into the fire and let itself slaughtered, such a description indicated a great misunderstanding of the PVA tactics. As some military analysts pointed out, PLA rarely use dense formation in their attacks, it seeks to inflict maximum damage with mnimum casualty. At various stages of the Korean war, PVA nevered had a commanding numerical superioty against UN forces, in fact, during the 4th campaign, it was greatly outnumbered by UN (it was always outgunned), yet it could still outmaneuver UN forces and even managed to counter attack at X Corps. PVA could achieve all these with inferior firepower because it had smarter tactics and strategy.


    And if my left hand causes me to stumble as well -- what do I cut it off with? -- Harry, Prince of Wales (The Blackadder)
    [ Parent ]
    Do you suffer (none / 0) (#404)
    by CodeWright on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:49:41 PM EST

    from a reading comprehension disability?

    My earlier comment described how tacnukes were intended to be used against small numbers of men (which, aside from foolish aberrations in World War I, is what most firefights are comprised of). Hence, for most conflicts in which US Army troopers would have been engaged, tactical nuclear weapons (deployed against small numbers of men and/or machinery) would have been ideal. The killing power of the tac-nukes would have given the US Army soldiers a sufficiently high kill-ratio to counter their inferior numbers.

    When I mentioned mass charges, I was saying that, even if the ChiComs had chosen to use that sort of tactic, strategic nuclear weapons (not tactical) would have been an effective counter.

    In short, your comment is a red herring.

    --
    "Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
    Maginot Line? (4.00 / 2) (#211)
    by sllort on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:56:46 AM EST

    Where would you rate the construction of the Maginot line without rotating turrets? Just curious.

    --
    Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
    Think about this (5.00 / 2) (#262)
    by llamasex on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:30:35 PM EST

    if the turrets rotated, what if it got taken over?

    Howard Dean punched me in the face
    [ Parent ]
    forgive my ignorance (4.00 / 1) (#269)
    by eudas on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:27:20 PM EST

    what if you give them limited rotation? say, <=170 degrees?

    eudas
    "We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
    [ Parent ]

    Two Words (none / 0) (#395)
    by sllort on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 09:40:17 AM EST

    Scorched Earth
    --
    Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
    [ Parent ]
    Dien Bien Phu? (2.50 / 2) (#217)
    by otis wildflower on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:18:20 AM EST

    Mighta come too late, but still..  French military genius indeed..  harrumph harrumph...

    Not that the US military genius fared better. (4.00 / 1) (#330)
    by Wulfius on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 09:03:50 AM EST

    At least the French werent stupid enough to
    drag on the circus for 10 years like the Yanks did.

    ---
    "We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
    http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
    [ Parent ]
    how about the arabs? (2.00 / 5) (#253)
    by minus273 on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 01:16:11 PM EST

    come on, the 6 day war, yom kippur war etc. were collosial military blunders. If not they were certainly hillarious.

    What a knee slapper (4.66 / 3) (#264)
    by Rand Race on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:38:25 PM EST

    As hilarious as the deaths of thousands of Nepalese?

    And I doubt Egypt sees the Yom Kippur War as a blunder since it regained them full control of both shores of the Suez Canal. Of course the west's support of Israel in that war lead to the oil embargo, so there was at least one strategic blunder committed.

    As for etc., the Suez-Sinai war of 1956 was most certainly a major military blunder... on the part of Britain and France. If anything signaled the end of any imperial aspirations on those nation's parts it was this event. And Egypt, even though they lost far more battles than they won, got every single one of their war objectives by war's end.


    "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]

    hmmm (none / 0) (#366)
    by minus273 on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 08:47:17 PM EST

    i still seem to see Israel exist... go check your history books .. from both sides. Unless you claim that there was never a war to destroy israel

    [ Parent ]
    Kamikaze (3.50 / 2) (#258)
    by Caton on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:01:36 PM EST

    Allowing (or inciting) your own pilots to commit suicide when you cannot replace them is A Bad IdeaTM. It is the worst strategic blunder I can think of.

    The worst tactical blunder, IMO, is Admiral Nishimura's attack in the Strait of Surigao, on Oct. 24th, 1944, during the battle of Leyte.

    Political blunders... too many of them.

    ---
    As long as there's hope...

    um, it worked really well, man... (4.00 / 1) (#266)
    by sayke on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:50:51 PM EST

    kamikazes laid waste to many US capital ships - if they had started using that technicque earlier in the way, they probably would have taken the pacific, and from there, who knows?

    remember how close midway was? imagine of kamikazes had been involved... that alone would have changed things in a serious way.


    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
    [ Parent ]

    I don't think so (4.00 / 1) (#270)
    by Caton on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 03:30:33 PM EST

    Total number of suicide pilots: 4.615 (kamikaze:2.630, tokubetsu: 1.985).

    American losses, sunk:

    • 2 escort carriers (CVE)
    • 17 destroyers (DD)
    • 3 mine sweepers (DMS)
    • 2 motor torpedo boats (PT)
    • 5 tank landing ships (LST)
    • 7 medium landing ships (LSM & LSMR)
    • 1 support landing craft (LCS(L))
    • 2 high speed transport (APD)
    • 1 station tanker (IX)
    Here's the source. There were 277 ships damaged by kamimake, too.

    As far as I know, no capital ship was sunk by a suicide attack, although there were damages. And most of the losses were during the first kamikaze attacks, those that killed the most experienced Japanese pilots. For example, after Nov. 1944, 300 Oka flying bombs were used by the Japanese, 3 hit a ship, and no ship was sunk.

    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]

    US Censorhip (3.00 / 3) (#329)
    by Wulfius on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 09:00:25 AM EST

    Its funny but I the US military is still censoring the impact of the Kamikazees.

    I expect its more because of the momentum
    rather than anything else.
    The Japs actually sank a shitload of ships.
    For every 10 ships they sunk, 1-2 were reported back home.

    Anyway. At the time when Japanese started to send out Kamikazes they had NO FUEL.

    NO FUEL!
    Their aircraft were powered by DISTILLED PINE TREE OIL.
    It took 10,000 pine trees to fuel a tank for a one way mission.
    Given this, the way to do maximum damage was to slam the motherfucker into the enemy ship.

    By this late in the war the Japanese were cut off from the Indonesia/Malesia (which they invaded for the oil). The allies were making mincemeat
    of any tanker traffic.

    What the Japs were doing wasnt fanatical.
    It was the most rational use of limited resources.
    60 years after the war and the US is still censoring  this information.

    ---
    "We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
    http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
    [ Parent ]

    Figures, Leyte and other stuff (4.50 / 6) (#332)
    by Caton on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 09:36:36 AM EST

    I do not think that the damages done by the Kamikaze are censored, and the figures I gave you come both from the US Navy and from a French book, Les Kamikazes by Jean-Jacques Antier, that relies mostly on Japanese data. The difference is not in the numbers, but in the classification of the ships: Japanese classified ships according to the number of chimneys, so sometimes destroyers were called cruisers and cruisers were called battleships, and did not differentiate heavy carriers, light carriers and escort carriers. But the numbers check, as well as the names of the carriers. Keep also in mind that for each ship sunk, there were two ships so damaged that they could not be repaired before the end of the war.

    The first official Kamikaze group was created just before the battle of Leyte, i.e. at a moment when the Japanese still had fuel from Dutch Indonesia.

    Before Leyte there was no Kamikaze group, but many qualified pilots crashed or tried to crash on American ships. For example, in October 1942, a Kate willingly crashed on the Hornet, and in November 1942, a Zero willingly crashed on the San Francisco. Those Jibaku were not organized as they were later, but were condoned if not encouraged by the Japanese army. I think that the pilots of the dozen or so Betty that tried to crash on the Enterprise during the battle of Santa Cruz were sorely missed by the Japanese later on.

    After Leyte they didn't have any oil source, so fuel very quickly became scarce. As well as Kamikaze successful attacks: I think all but 3 of the 40 ships lost to kamikaze were sunk at the battle of Leyte, in particular the 2 CVE. That late into the war, though, it didn't matter, I agree with you. Anyway, the qualified pilots killed themselves at and before Leyte.

    Finally, I'm not saying they were fanatical: what I know about the Japanese culture makes me think it can be considered a logical extension of the Bushido. But it is not a very efficient use of resources: the men (and women) who died because of the value Japanese culture puts on death for a cause, for example those civilians who jumped Banzai Cliff in Saipan, were sorely missed in the 50s and 60s.

    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]

    Bushido (3.00 / 2) (#362)
    by Wulfius on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 07:36:45 PM EST

    Youre right about Bushido. Its very hard for the westerners to comprahend what it means to be compelled to die honorably in battle. Funny about that because we honor our own heros who gave their lives in battle. Question. Does that mean that the West has not come to terms with warfare? It abhores it and loves it at the same time. A very schizoid relationship.

    ---
    "We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
    http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
    [ Parent ]
    The "West" does not really exist (none / 0) (#372)
    by Caton on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 06:32:39 AM EST

    France, Germany, UK, Canada and the US have very different views on warfare. Israeli warfare philosophy differs a lot from all of them. It's not fair to bundle together such different countries into a single West and expect a Western warfare philosophy. Just like it wouldn't be fair to take the WWII Japanese views and expand them to all Asia.

    A country-by-country discussion and comparison of warfare philophies would be very interesting. I'd love to read such an article!

    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]

    Missles into Turkey (3.00 / 6) (#259)
    by cyberbuffalo on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:08:11 PM EST

    How about the US decision to put nuclear missles into Turkey in 1962? Then the Russians felt compelled to put missles into Cuba and JFK almost started WW3. It may have even given someone cause to off JFK, assuming it wasn't the lone nut Oswald.

    eh? (4.00 / 2) (#263)
    by EriKZ on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 02:37:36 PM EST


    Because that was a POLITICAL blunder. No actual fighting occured.

    [ Parent ]
    war is a natural extension of diplomacy (none / 0) (#384)
    by annenk38 on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 09:16:49 PM EST

    From this link
    It was von Clausewitz's idea that war is an extreme but natural extension of political policy -- the ultimate tool of diplomacy. In his words, "War is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means." He firmly believed that war had a dual nature and that warfare could be either absolute or limited, depending on what modern writers term the objectives of the political grand strategy.


    And if my left hand causes me to stumble as well -- what do I cut it off with? -- Harry, Prince of Wales (The Blackadder)
    [ Parent ]
    We need a "Star Trek" reference here (none / 0) (#392)
    by SomeGuy on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 07:11:00 PM EST

    "The best diplomat that I know is a fully-loaded phaser bank." -- Lt. Cdr. Montgomery Scott -- Star Trek/A Taste of Armageddon

    [ Parent ]
    The Utilitarian incentive for war (5.00 / 1) (#393)
    by Cornelius on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 03:27:44 AM EST

    Arguably Clausewitz theories aren't as valid today, as they once were. If I remember correctly, he claimed that a war was sound if you stood to gain from the conflict, by for instance conquering a rich area. Today, most modern countries have realized that the greatest gains can be made in the area of industry and commerce, not by conquering other countries and taking their resources. Indeed, with the coming of nuclear weapons the utilitarian incentive for a major conflict disappeared: war would gain nothing, since a war would mean mutual annihilation.

    On the other hand, today's major empires, if the term is adequate, rattle their sabres in the third world; they are not stupid enough to go into conflict with an adversary of comparable strength! For instance, the US and Russia obviously invade minor countries for utilitarian reasons. Both have invaded nations to safe-guard their influence on the trade of oil. (Not surprisingly though both cloak their utilitarian motives in the usual rhetoric of patriotism, religion and love of democracy, etc.)


    Cornelius

    "Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell", Hellraiser
    [ Parent ]

    Defining Blunders.... (4.00 / 2) (#282)
    by DesScorp on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 05:03:23 PM EST

    I've very much enjoyed this piece, and the comments on it. I see a lot of people putting forward things like the Cuban Missle Crisis and such, but I'd have to limit the definition of blunder. I tend to think of them in terms of opportunity. A great military blunder is usually one in which the possibility for great victory existed, and the wrong turn was taken. Sometimes it's simply of matter of bad luck (the Confederate soldiers dropping battle plans on the road at Gettysburg, which were later found by Union troops comes to mind here). Things like the Maginot Line are more of a kind of long term stupidity; SOMEONE should have seen that failure coming. My five would have much in common with others in this list. Hitler gets the nod twice, one for Barbarossa (not so much for attacking the Soviet Union as for doing before they had Britain mopped up; intentionaly getting into a two front war is utter madness), the other for declaring war on the US. Again, don't take on too many fronts. One that I think a lot of people might disagree on is the Tet Offensive. Vietnam ended up winning their political goals in the end, but people tend to forget what an utter military disaster it was for the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. Though they caught US forces by surprise, communist forces were all but crippled in the South for a time. Gamble big, and you can lose big. Someone else had previously mentioned the 6 day war. I agree with that. Though Israel was pushed to the brink, the damage done to her enemies, both physically and psychologicaly, linger to this day. No Arab nation has dared attack Israel since (save for Iraq's desperate gamble involving SCUDs in the Gulf War). Since then, except for some battles with Syrians in Lebanon, all attacks against Israel have been indirect in nature, usually through the backing of militia and terrorist groups. And Egypt did NOT win the Sinai in the Six Day War; that was gained in peace negotiations in 1979, which unfortunately cost Anwar Sadat his life. I'd have to put Pearl Harbor on this list too. The US had good intelligence that a threat was real, and a series of blunders (and just plain nonchalance) gave the Japanese a stunning victory. The US was at a disadvantage in the Pacific for the next two years, even with the frantic pace of military production.

    But war is political (4.00 / 1) (#355)
    by crunchycookies on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 04:58:08 PM EST

    With respect to the Tet Offensive, they did gain their desired purpose. The Vietnamese were never able to defeat the Americans on the battlefield. Their only hope for victory was to defeat the Americans on the political front. This they did brilliantly. Yes, their soldiers died in vain from the military viewpoint but their deaths succeeded in convincing the Americans that the war could not be won, thus demoralizing the enemy.

    The Palestinians face the same situation. They are also using the same strategy.



    [ Parent ]

    Overextension, Anti-semitism, the west, China (4.33 / 3) (#296)
    by mlinksva on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 06:51:15 PM EST

    I only foggily recall details of WWI and II from watching PBS as a kid, but I'm struck by the failure of aggressors to choose ultimately beatable opponents and/or to continue attacking after the low hanging fruit (weak opponents) had been taken. The process of overextension and capitulation (as I gather is described in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 by Paul Kennedy -- I only read reviews) spanned centuries for the British empire, around a decade for the Nazis.

    A few points I'm kind of surprised nobody has mentioned, unless I missed something:

    • There's a big difference between strategic and tactical blunders, and there's a continuum/interplay of each.
    • Perhaps Hitler wouldn't have come to power and WWII wouldn't have happened (in the same way anyway) without anti-semitism, but if he had, Germany would have been in a much stronger position in several ways -- most notably it may have made an atomic bomb first.
    • Invading anyplace is nearly always stupid, but given that Germany was going to try to grab territory, I've always thought it made two big mistakes (in both wars):
      • Fighting the west at all other than defensively if necessary.
      • Not setting up freed Russian/Soviet territories as autonomous and German-friendly nations, but still under the thumb of Germany, kind of a reverse Warsaw Pact.
    • I don't know much about it, but I don't understand how Japan could've ever expected to ultimately "win" in China. That's like Vietnam times ten. Anyone know if the Japanese military had any plans to stop in China with some defensible gains? OTOH I guess the Japanese may have figured that the Mongols did it...
    All wars are stupid. Tell your Congressperson to make Bush back down from invading Iraq. While you're at it, tell them to end the insane "war" on drugs. Visit antiwar.com and stopthedrugwar.org. Sorry, I get a little worked up when I see all these deaths, no murders, spoken of so abstractly.
    --
    imagoodbitizen adobe unisys badcitizens
    China (4.00 / 1) (#301)
    by moosh on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 10:44:13 PM EST

    I don't know much about it, but I don't understand how Japan could've ever expected to ultimately "win" in China. That's like Vietnam times ten. Anyone know if the Japanese military had any plans to stop in China with some defensible gains? OTOH I guess the Japanese may have figured that the Mongols did it...

    Although my Japanese history is a bit rusty I'll try to answer this with my distorted, fading memory.

    The 1937-1945 Sino-Japanese war was in fact the second one, the first being fought and won by the Japanese in 1894-95. Japan and China before this had a big brother/little brother relationship and this was the first time that little brother had managed to push big brother around. The Japanese won this conflict in a large way due to its superior mordernised army.

    As mentioned in the article Japan also defeated a world power, Russia, in 1905.

    There's a Japanese story about an ernomous fleet of ships coming to attack Japan. The fleet never made it to Japan, it was sunk in a terrifying storm. Up until world war 2 the Japanese had never lost a battle. They thought they were invincible, even when vastly out classed and out numbered there was the lingering feeling of a saviour - similar to an entire fleet being sunk. (Disclaimer: I can't remember this story accurately, no doubt my "version" of it is flawed).

    When Japan did finally surrender in WW2, it wasn't because they were giving up. The Emperor gave the reason that it was to preserve civilisation. Civilisation stems from the Japanese, so if the Japanese were abolished then civilisation would cease to exist. This was their perspective on surrendering.

    The common theme through all of these points is confidence. The Japanese would have been confident of ultimately winning because they'd never lost and they were progressively winning against stronger opponents.

    [ Parent ]
    Sunken Fleet (4.00 / 1) (#304)
    by Edgy Loner on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:50:40 PM EST

    If I remember correctly, the war fleet was launched from China by Kublai Khan (Ghengis's grandson). As the story goes the gods sent a great storm to destroy the fleet. Japan was saved by this Divine Wind or Kamikaze. That's where the term comes from. The other Kamikaze didn't work out as well though, and Japan lost.

    This is not my beautiful house.
    This is not my beautiful knife.
    [ Parent ]
    The Divine Wind (4.00 / 1) (#337)
    by moosh on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 11:31:08 AM EST

    Yes, that's it! I've read a book with the same name. Thanks, that has been bugging me all day.

    [ Parent ]
    Sure (2.33 / 3) (#348)
    by RyoCokey on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:32:32 PM EST

    I only foggily recall details of WWI and II from watching PBS as a kid... All Wars are Stupid

    See what happens when you ignore history, children? Perhaps this is where they get pacifists from.



    Human's cannot be trusted to protect nature! We need stonger laws to protect all animals. - Leonardo Calcagno, Monteal, P.Quebec, Canada
    [ Parent ]
    GODWIN'S LAW!!!!!!!!! (1.33 / 3) (#302)
    by Type-R on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 11:17:55 PM EST

    I invoke Godwin's law!

    (just kidding) :)



    Another mistake of Hitler's (3.50 / 2) (#310)
    by nomoreh1b on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 01:15:35 AM EST

    One aspect of Operation Barbarosa that the author fails to mention:
    The Third Reich gave little incentive or opporunity for Ukrainians, White Russians etc. that hated to Red Army to fight for the third Reich. The Red Army was hated enough that had the Germans been just a little more accomodating, they could have had a rather large block of Slavic infantry fighting under German officers with Germany artillary and tank support.

    They did give incentive and opportuniny (none / 0) (#383)
    by annenk38 on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 09:01:38 PM EST

    What is astonishing is the number of people who accepted the offer. Here's the link in Russian, but I'll mention some key points.
    In the Autumn of 1941, Field Marshal von Boch has sent to Hitler's general staff headquarters a recommendation detailing a development plan for the creation of a 200-thousand strong volunteer army composed of enemy deserters and POWs. Also mentined were a plan for creating a local govenment is Smolensk. The response written by Field Marshal Keitel stated "such plans are not suitable for discussion with the Fuhrer". [In spite of this] the German commanders were creating detachments (Hilfswillige), consisting of the deserters and POWs, on their own initiative [...] which by the mid-1942 numbered over a million.
    Hilfswillige comprised almost a quarter of Wehrmacht in 1942. The 6th army under Paulus contained 51,800 of them (as of November 1942); and in particular, the three infantry divisions (71st,76th and 297th) their numbers amounted to nearly half of all personnel.


    And if my left hand causes me to stumble as well -- what do I cut it off with? -- Harry, Prince of Wales (The Blackadder)
    [ Parent ]
    Biggest WWII blunder (3.66 / 3) (#312)
    by skim123 on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 01:28:52 AM EST

    May not have been attacking Russia or declaring war on the US, but perhaps starting WW2 too soon. What if Hitler had waited, say, another 5 years before starting WWII. That would have been 5 more years of build-up, of technological advancements, etc. Also, had his stance not been so militaristic in the mid 30s he may not have gotten England and France so alarmed.

    Also, had Hitler worked harder at appeasing the English, he may have had better luck. He tried to convince England that he wanted to be peaceful with them and attack Russia, he wanted their help and assurance not to get their panties in a wad. IIRC, though, Hitler did not try too hard, or gave up too soon. Perhaps England would have been more open to his ideas if he had been less belligerent and militaristic, and, instead, used that time to build up Germany's military capabilities and industrial strength.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    YOU ALL MISSED THE BIGGEST BLUNDER OF ALL (2.50 / 4) (#322)
    by easyrider on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 04:29:52 AM EST

    The single biggest mistake of the twentieth century, was when the USA backed England in WWI. Had the USA backed Germany instead, the USA/German alliance would have won, and the following would have probably happened, in a world dominated by the Kaiser and Washington: NO HITLER AND NO WORLD WAR II. And as a result of the world being spared that little scrap, there probably wouldn't have been a Communist Russian revolution, any need for atomic weapons development, no iron curtain, and perhaps no Korean or Vietnam war. Why does everyone miss this, including most all American historians. US President Wilson was an Anglofile idiot, who just refused to look beyond his English preferances. At least he could have stayed neutral, and Germany would probably have prevailed, and the same positive results might have occured. Oddly enough, due to the massive German immigration into the USA in the later half of the eighteenth century, German's were the USA's largest minority. It isn't true that he wouldn't have found political backing within the USA for such an alliance.

    Hard to say (4.00 / 1) (#347)
    by RyoCokey on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:30:20 PM EST

    Predicting the future after such a big change is very difficult to do. To be a blunder, the effects need to be obvious and borne out. Missed opportunities aren't blunders, if you can't accurately gauge what was missed.



    The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
    [ Parent ]
    Or, America could have stayed out (3.66 / 3) (#369)
    by pel on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 10:14:21 PM EST

    From a 1936 interview of Winston Churchill with the editor of the New York Enquirer:
    America should have minded her own business and stayed out of the [first] World War. If you hadn't entered the war, the Allies would have made peace with Germany in the Spring of 1917. Had we made peace then there would have been no collapse in Russia followed by Communism, and Germany would not have signed the Versailles Treaty, which has enthroned Nazism in Germany. If America had stayed out of the war, all these "isms" wouldn't today be sweeping the continent in Europe and breaking down parliamentary government, and if England had made peace early in 1917, it would have saved over one million British, French, American, and other lives.
    - pel

    [ Parent ]
    interesting (4.00 / 1) (#376)
    by elotiumq32 on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 01:03:22 PM EST

    Interesting idea, but hard to say if it would averted further war in Europe.  Certainly Germany had the burden of paying enormous reparations - something like 6000 million pounds?  They were also furious over the partitioning of Danzig in the east and the  prohibition on Anschluss, etc.

    Would Nazi rhetoric have seemed so appealing had the German economy been in top shape?  Maybe the more important question is would world-wide economic decline have still occurred in the twenties and thirties without WWI?

    I think it's a little inaccurate to characterize Wilson as an "anglophile idiot" (and somewhat immature as well).  Wilson tried to form a more balanced peace than the British and French would allow.  Don't forget, the US rejected the Treaty of Versailles and signed a separate peace with Germany.

    You do make a good point about American sentiment toward Germans.  I've read that even in WWII similar attitudes were prevalent.

    ...
    ______________ yeah whatever
    [ Parent ]

    I disagree entirely (none / 0) (#385)
    by izogi on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 10:10:52 PM EST

    I don't think you can say that with much conviction at all. For one thing, there's no way you could show that a similar Hitler-type figure wouldn't have simply grown out of Great Britain and the British Empire after WW1.

    Having said that, it wasn't the raw result of WWI that led to WW2 -- at least not as much as the way the winning side cracked down on and tried to shatter the German economy as some sort of revenge tactic after they had won. This resulted in a hopeless economy and horrendous living standards that was the perfect breeding ground for Nazi Germany to develop.

    Had the allies stepped in after winning WWI and helped to re-shape Germany into a non-threatening, but livible society, Nazi Germany probably would never have developed. A historian would know a bit more, but I think it's similar to what the USA did with Japan after WW2. Instead of stepping in, walking all over the Japanese and taking absolutely everything as some sort of "punishment", it helped to re-build the society into something that seemed the Japanese people could live in and appreciate.

    If the greatest blunder of the 20th Century was the one that led to WW2, I don't think it had a lot to do with military tactics or decisions.


    - izogi


    [ Parent ]
    WWII, was caused by WWI. Allies created their own (none / 0) (#406)
    by easyrider on Sun Aug 25, 2002 at 04:23:21 PM EST

    monster in Hitler, Stalin, and all these other isms that developed because of an unrealistic punitive peace treaty. See the excellent response below, quoting Churchill. There is nothing to show that a Hitler type would have developed in England or France. Your just hypothicizing with no basis.

    [ Parent ]
    "Peace in our time" (4.00 / 2) (#323)
    by bint on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 05:29:04 AM EST

    Although Chamberlains surrender of Czechoslovakia wasn't exactly a military blunder, it had great effect on the war. Germany wasn't ready for a war at the time and Czechoslovakia itself wasn't military insignificant. A large number of the tanks later squashing Poland were of czechoslovakian origin. War was probably inevitable but an earlier war might have shortened it considerably.

    Actually, it was a military blunder (none / 0) (#378)
    by dxroland on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 01:38:12 PM EST

    Czechoslovakia was the only real threat to Germany's Eastward expansion in 1938. The Czechs had a Maginot-esque defensive wall on their common border with Germany that Hitler himself admitted the German army could not have taken while also defending the Rhineland. The Czechs also had a fairly modern and large standing army (as you mentioned) that was effectively neutralized without firing a shot. I'd say it was an extremely significant military victory for the Germans at a crucial time.

    [ Parent ]
    Is it possible to discuss WWII and its motives? (3.50 / 4) (#326)
    by Cornelius on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 07:11:59 AM EST

    It has struck me while reading under this post that the question of what were the motives of the various parties in WWII is hard to discuss. Although what I'm about to write is off topic, I've decided to post it anyway: One of the great ironies of a much written and talked about subject like WWII is that they tend to become filled with propaganda or at least apologetic rationalizations.

    What I mean is that all parties have an interest in painting a picture where they come across as the good guys. In my (demented?) mind there is no such thing as a good side. Because if you accept that the end justifies the means things become very fuzzy. Didn't even Hitler, conceivably, believe that he was doing something that in some sense might be labelled 'good'?

    To my mind all parties in a war are partly evil. I mean even the 'good guys' kill innocents, right?

    A perspective that might cut across the ideological smoke-screens is to ask oneself: what was the realpolitik of the war, what were the real political objectives?

    Arguably, Germany was squeezed by big neighbours who were independent when it came to natural resources. The Soviet Union had oil, so did Britain... Germany had none (or very little). Moreover, Britain and the Soviet Union had both developed into vast empires and could buy/acquire cheap resources from their colonies or subjugated states. So is it so surprising that Germany wanted to become an empire too? The true misstake of the war came long before the war, where Germany's neighbours failed to strike an amicable deal with Germany ensuring their stability and economic growth. As any economist will tell you, the way a deal turns out depends greatly on the relative strength of the two parties. If one of the parties has a better position he will get the better deal. Again, arguably, a bargain could have been struck between the parties that would European power struggle.

    My line of reasoning is of course completely hypothetical. The historical context and the individuals in the conflict came, as we know, to offset any possible negotiation. Hitler was insane and his personal influence on the turn of events was considerable. Maybe there wouldn't have been a war without him, or at least not one so grave and cataclysmic in proportion?


    Cornelius

    "Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell", Hellraiser

    Motives (4.00 / 1) (#327)
    by Master Of Ninja on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 08:33:53 AM EST

    One of the main reasons for war was the Treaty Of Versailles, the treaty which the defeated Germany had to sign after the 1st World War. Part of the build-up to the First World War was that (the recently formed) Germany wanted an empire like Britain and France, and these countries saw this as a threat, so leading to the policy of the alliances.

    There were many arguments on how Germany should be "punished" by the victorious nations, but the French viewpoint of trying to cripple Germany won through. The French already having been invaded by Germany twice (war of 1870 and 1st World War) wanted to make sure Germany was never a threat again. They were forced to make repayments to all the allied nations for "war damages" as well as not being able to militarise fully.

    This was of course very unfair, and the subsequent hyper-inflation and the Great Depression made a very poor and resentful Germany. Which was the ideal breeding-ground for extremists. It turned out eventually that the Nazi party (under Hitler) gained control, first democratically, then as a on-party state. The ideology was to make up for the embarassment of defeat for the first world war (so taking back lost lands), bound to getting more land for themselves (i.e build an empire, like you state) and the elimination or subjugation of peoples they considered inferior. There should also be a bit here about how the League of Nations (precursor to the UN) wasn't really good at keeping the peace and was in fact a victor's only club.

    Germany's aggressive military strategy was tolerated for a while, in which they broke the accords of the Treaty Of Versailles which was considered unfair anyway (the policy of appeasement). Eventually Britain and France realised they had to stop further German conquest, and so they threatened war. Hitler thought that they were bluffing and invaded Poland. War was declared leading to Hitler's conquest of most of Europe, and attempted conquest of Britain and Russia.

    With the British, French and Soviet(?) empires/commonwealth being quite big at the time a lot of countries were dragged in (esp Asia and Africa). The Italians helped out in Hitler's plans, and the Japanese took the initiative in the East (esp. China and the Pacific). The Japanese also wanted empire so were an ideal ally to Hitler,and so dragged in the USA. I think Italy and Japan might have felt hard done by not getting much out of the settlement of World War 1 (they were on the victor's side), so they're urge for empire was greater. I don't know much else about the motives but I think Japan was a military dictatorship at the time.

    I think I've ranted on for long enough. This should give you a start, but it is not even close to comprehensive. I might not have remembered most of the things properly but here as some links:

    The BBC World War 2 site - probably biased to the UK
    The google directory for ww2
    www.worldwar2history.net

    [ Parent ]
    I agree (4.00 / 1) (#335)
    by Cornelius on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 10:33:32 AM EST

    You've made a good job of summing up salient factors that contributed to the war. However, I would like to dra your attention to an important part of my previous posting. I was actually trying to say that perhaps we should be brave enough to entertain the possibility that Germany acted quite rationally when they went to war: Their demands were not filled. Instead the Britain (and France) claimed that Germany had too big claims, and they denied Germany the influence it could, arguably, be entitled to, considering her relative strength (a well-organized and industrialized nation).

    You might reply: "Germany was driven by fairly justifiable economic ambitions, so what? - I knew that." But I have the impression that the public, received and authorized explanation to the war is that Hitler and the Nazi party was the sole contributing factor to the war. But, this 'story' (that the war was master-minded and brought about by a small group of political extremists who were driven by malice and hatred) fails to satisfy me.

    In other words: if more moderate Germans would have run Germany in the 30s and 40s the war would have happened anyway (in some shape or form). But perhaps this is only true for the reason you refer to: the treaty of Versailles and its effect: a deeply ingrained feeling that one had been dealt with unfairly by one's neighbours, (and consequently the desire to 'make justice').


    Cornelius

    "Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell", Hellraiser
    [ Parent ]

    The Japs were also resource poor (4.00 / 1) (#340)
    by hughk on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 12:09:25 PM EST

    A significant factor for the Japanese (apart from a rising tide of nationalism) was their absence of natural resources. They had no oil and no rubber. They needed both for their economy.

    [ Parent ]
    Japs: Following America's lead (2.50 / 2) (#368)
    by pel on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 10:01:33 PM EST

    I would say that had Japan not been a victim of Admiral Perry's gunboat diplomacy in 1854, Japan's 20th century actions would have been fundamentally different. Japan had been a feudalistic nation with closed borders for over two hundred years and diplomatic recognition of only China and Holland, until a certain Commodore Perry of the United States brought a few warships into Tokyo Bay and "persuaded" them to open diplomatic relations with the U.S.

    Result? Japan evolved from a feudalistic nation into a fascist nation, ejecting their shogunate and deciding that the only way to overcome Western imperialism was to beat them at their own game.

    - pel

    [ Parent ]

    oops, typo (none / 0) (#373)
    by pel on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 11:13:09 AM EST

    Notice my use of "Admiral" Perry, then "Commodore" Perry. They should both be Commodore Perry.

    I regret the mistakes.

    - pel

    [ Parent ]

    Not thinking large enough. (4.66 / 6) (#328)
    by DingBat1 on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 08:34:18 AM EST

    To me, the examples provided by the author just don't seem to be really high quality blunders. Even Hitler's declaration of war on the U.S. didn't really do anything but save the americans the trouble of finding provocation.

    It's also interesting that the author chose Tsushima, which the Tsar survived, and did not choose the decision by Russia to come to the aid of Serbia thus triggering WW1. Ultimately, this cost the Tsar his country and his life.

    So, for some really good blunders, how about (in no particular order).

    1) The decision by Germany to challenge the supremacy of the Royal Navy at the beginning of the 20th century. This struck at the heart of British security concerns and created an enemy where on did not previously exist. Bad move, Kaiser.

    2) The crushing retribution of the Treaty of Versaille which sowed the seeds of the next war.

    3) The general muddling of strategy that was the conduct of the VietNam war. The senior officer corp of the U.S. Army seemed to be unable to think in any terms except WW2, despite the examples of successful counter-insurgency campaigns by the British. Given the damage that this war did to the U.S. army and the country in general, this has to be considered a blunder of high quality. Bad move, Westmoreland.

    4) The decision to invade Afghanistan. Apparently, the Soviets didn't read the same books the U.S. army didn't in VietNam. Bad move, Brezhnev.

    5) Nasser allowing himself to be goaded by Syria and Jordan into re-occupying the Sinai and closing the Straits of Tiran thus triggering the Six Day War. Any decision that results in your country's defeat in one of the shortest wars on record has to be a bad one, wouldn't you think? Bad move, Nasser.

    My $0.02,
    /bruce

    Verdun 1916 (5.00 / 5) (#336)
    by gleesona on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 10:57:38 AM EST

    Although I agree that Verdun was disasterous, in terms of so many casualties for very little gain, there were some other events in WWI that I think were its equal. Let's face it WWI was rich in talentless leadership, and it's difficult to know where to start.

    1. The alliance system

    That insured that one Serbian Student could start a world war!

    2. The battle of Tannenberg

    The German's Schlieffen plan relied on the Russians taking about 12 weeks to mobilize, and therefore the Germans attacked France first in an attempt to take them out of the war early. Unfortunately the Russians had two armies mobilized wiht a couple of weeks and they advanced on East Prussia.

    Fortunately for the Germans the commanders of the Russian armies, Samsonov and Rennenkampf hated each other and failed to communicate properly with each other. When they did communicate with each other they did so using unencrypted messages , which the Germans intercepted. With this intelligence they knew that Rennenkampf would not be coming to help Samsonov. This allowed the German 8th Army to take out Samsonov's army then later Rennenkampf. If the Russians had worked together, they would have defeated the much smaller German force and seriously derailed the German battle plan.

    3. The battle of the Somme.

    1st July 1916 was the worst day, in terms of casualties (over 57000 of which almost 20000 fatal), that the British army has ever suffered The plan was to relieve the pressure on the French by attacking the Germans and forcing them to take reserves away from Verdun.

    The plan was quite simple. First they shelled the Germans for several days, with a view to supressing the infantry and destroying the barbed wire in front of the German trenches. Unfortunately the Germans were well dug in, often in Concrete shelters, and also the shelling did not cut the wire as expected. Then when the shelling finished just before 7.30 about 10000 troops went over the top, and burdened down with 20Kg of equipment, they walked slowly towards the German lines!!

    The result was, of course, carnage. The germans mowed the slowly advancing lines down and in the first day there were 57000 casualties. If they had run (difficult with the equipment, and the fact that the German lines were several hundred meters away in some parts) they might have had a fighting chance. When Haig finally decided in November 1916 to call off the offensive they British and French had captured 125 Square miles (an advance of about 6 miles) for the cost of 600,000 casualties to the Germans 450,000.

    Part of the reason for the incompetant leadership, was the fact that both sides were stuck in 19th century warfare. The somme offensive was to break a hole in the German's lines so the cavaly could 'exploit' this. The commanders failed to realise the effectiveness of accurate artillery and massed machine guns. The infantry, of course came to understand how effective they were the hard way..
    ______________________________________________

    In short, a German spy is giving away every one of our battle plans.
    You look surprised, Blackadder.
    I certainly am, sir. I didn't realise we had any battle plans.
    Worst day (5.00 / 1) (#387)
    by gsl on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 11:52:05 PM EST

    1st July 1916 was the worst day, in terms of casualties (over 57000 of which almost 20000 fatal), that the British army has ever suffered.

    Officially (and pedantically) the Fall of Singapore was the worst day of casualties for the British Army where 80,000 soldiers were captured. I guess it's debatable which day was worse.

    The commanders failed to realise the effectiveness of accurate artillery and massed machine guns.

    I think by the middle day of the middle year of the war, after Loos, Neuve Chapelle, 1st & 2nd Ypres, even the most incompetent commander was aware of the new realities of war.

    Geoff.
    --
    NP: Genesis - Turn It On Again [The Carpet Crawlers 1999]



    [ Parent ]
    Yalu River - "masterful retrograde" (3.50 / 2) (#350)
    by Sacrifice on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 02:46:42 PM EST

    From http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28638

    In 1950, it was the First Marine Division that landed at Inchon, recaptured Seoul, chased the North Koreans all the way to the Yalu River and then - outnumbered at least six-to-one - defeated Red Chinese Army units in its masterful retrograde from the Chosin Reservoir.


    Hitler declaring war on the US? (3.00 / 2) (#361)
    by SvnLyrBrto on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 07:05:09 PM EST

    (I've been wracking my brain trying to find the refernce, but without sucess.  If I remember the title, I'll post a link to it on amazon in a followup comment...)

    But I read a "History of World War II" book once, that made a VERY convincing case that what really won WWII for the allies was:

    1/3  British codebreakers

    1/3  American factories.

    1/3  Miscelaneous

    Miscelaneous would include:

    -- New technology aside from the computers at Bletchley Park.
    -- The French resistance
    -- Bravery/fighting skill of the soldiers
    -- "Masterful tactics" of allied commanders (Which, mostly, amounted to putting their Ultra info to good use)
    -- "Blunders" on the part of the axis (Which, mostly, would NOT have been blunders, had Bletchley Park not been reading their mail)
    -- The atomic bomb
    -- Involvement of the various bit players
    -- etc.

    The book goes on to speculate that, perhaps, without America's factories supporting the allies, maybe they could have squeezed out a victory by making the best possible use of Bletchley Park to determine where to commit their limited resources.

    Or, perhaps, without Ultra, the allies could have just burried the axis under a mountain of the war material that was gushing forth from America's factories.  (And the US's WWII industry WAS truely staggering...  19 days to build a Liberty Ship, >100,000 fighters and bombers built in four years, etc.)

    But it was the combination of those two that won the war.  All the other factors were just fluff... make for some entertaining movies (Patton, Das Boot, Midway, Saving Private Ryan, etc)... but pretty much irrelevant nontheless.

    Given this premise, America's actual entry into, and fighting in, WWII was pretty much irrelevant.  Well before Hitler declared war on the US, our industrial base had already been committed to the other allies.

    Hitler's REAL blunder was torqueing off the British enough, that they decided to  create Bletchley Park and Ultra in the first place, and inspired FDR to come to Britian's aid with that aforementioned industrial capacity.

    I guess a close second would be Germany's continued belief that the Enigma was unbreakable.

    But the declaration of war?  And any actual FIGHTING by the US?  Irrelevant.  (According to that book anyway.)

    I WILL try to remember the title of the book, and get a link to it on Amazon up when I do.  It's an intresting read, and makes a VERY compelling case for its premise.

    cya,
    john

    Imagine all the people...

    Lots of factors, oil? (none / 0) (#364)
    by RyoCokey on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 08:30:01 PM EST

    Germany knew very well they would need lots of fuel, but didn't have significant oil reserves of their own. Hence they built huge coal hydrogenization plants to produce fuel from coal. The allies took a good deal of time to bomb these (inexcusably) but once they were gone, the German's were in dire straights, fuel wise.

    Japan didn't have significant mainland reserves either. They had to rely on various islands such as Burma for their fuel, and US submarines made that almost impossible by the end of the war. At one point, they had their ships burning unrefined oil (It was very high quality.)

    "The Prize" by Yergin has a very interesting section devoted to oil in wartime.



    The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
    [ Parent ]
    The Atomic Bomb Played No Role in Winning WWII (4.33 / 3) (#370)
    by a on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 02:02:42 AM EST

    ...what really won WWII for the allies was:

    1/3  British codebreakers

    1/3  American factories.

    1/3  Miscelaneous

    Miscelaneous would include:

    ...

    -- The atomic bomb

    ...

    Sorry, the atomic bomb played no role in winning World War II (I wrote a 40-page research paper on this very subject in college). Japan was already defeated at that point, its navy no longer existed, Tokyo and other cities had been reduced to smoldering ruins by waves of carpet bombing, and Truman knew that he did not have to risk any American lives to take Japan (a little dead tree research will turn up a number of references to military and political officials who say they told Truman Japan was was done for and could be safely bombed into submission).

    The Japanese had already decided to surrender, but were considering just how to go about it (Truman's demand of unconditional surrender made them a little worried -- for all they knew it could mean they were consenting to the public beheading of every Japanese official). I remember reading one account which said the man who came up with the idea for kamikaze attacks burst into the "how-do-we-surrender" meeting and began detailing his plan to arm every Japanese citizen with whatever they could carry and turn them into an army of kamikazes who would force America to give up. They threw him out without hesitation and continued their discussion of how to implement a surrender.

    The leaders of Japan did not even know about the first atomic bomb until the second one had been dropped. Communication and transportation lines between Hiroshima and Tokyo were understandably disrupted by the explosion, and those who actually witnessed the event were in no condition to make the journey (many were blinded, or their skin was literally falling off their bodies). Truman knew he was not providing enough time for a decision to be reached, but Russia was slicing through Manchuria toward Japan at a faster rate than had been anticipated and Truman wanted to convey that sense of urgency coupled with the perception that we had an inexhaustable supply of A-bombs.

    The atomic bomb was dropped to ensure a post-war victory for capitalism (forcing Japan to surrender before the Russian military could reach the island and demand the conquered nation be split like Germany), not to win the WWII itself. Truman reasoned that saving Japan (and perhaps the rest of the world) from communism justified killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. This from the same man who knowingly joined Missouri's corrupt, mafia-like political machine so he could gain the power to destroy that machine.

    For further reading I suggest any Truman biography and Gar Alperovitz's "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb."

    [ Parent ]

    All that said (none / 0) (#375)
    by leviramsey on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 12:45:22 PM EST

    I still hold Truman to be one of (if not the) best presidents of this century. His willingness to break his party's line on many issues makes him a paragon of integrity, imo (see his response to the railraod strike, his integration of the armed forces).



    [ Parent ]
    saving private ryansky (none / 0) (#377)
    by elotiumq32 on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 01:34:37 PM EST

    Good post.  I saw "Saving Private Ryan" with a Russian friend.  Quite a moving and disturbing film - I was discussing it with him after the movie and was surprised to hear him say it was a stupid movie.  He was irritated with that Americans give themselves so much credit for the victory over Germany in WWII.  Russians, he said, won WWII.

    I chalked this up to his Russian "confidence".  If you look at the numbers, though, he's probably right.  The difference in the numbers of Russian combat deaths compared to the numbers of the other Allied combat deaths is staggering.  Don't forget, the Russians took Berlin, not the Americans/Western Allies.

    I'd modify your list to include "at least 10 million dead Soviet soldiers plus at least another 20 million sick and wounded". (But hey, whether you're killed by German artillery or in the gulag, you're still dead).

    Plus, you're not acknowledging the absolute critical importance of who held mastery over oil (the Prize).
    ______________ yeah whatever
    [ Parent ]

    Death vs. Kill (none / 0) (#379)
    by Caton on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 01:50:34 PM EST

    The difference in the numbers of Russian combat deaths compared to the numbers of the other Allied combat deaths is staggering.
    Comparing contributions by casualties is meaningless. How many German soldiers were killed by Russians? British? Americans? French? That would be more interesting.

    Your Russian friend might just as well say that Iraq won the Gulf War because there were more Iraqi casualties than US casualties...

    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]

    true (3.00 / 2) (#389)
    by elotiumq32 on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 08:47:37 AM EST

    Yes, you're right that you don't tally up the dead to determine who won.  I think I muddied my point.

    A big part of Saving Private Ryan is about the tremendous sacrifice of lives during the war.  I think my friend took issue with this - he was saying that Americans have a disproportionate view of how much they really sacrificed to win the war (and I guess this means the war in Europe only).

    The Russian casualties were an order of magnitude larger than American casualties.  This can't be debated.  I think the Russians had good reason to give up so much life since the Germans had invaded their homeland.  

    If you consider that our borders were intact and not occupied by enemy armies, you might be able to argue that Americans were indeed sacrificing a great deal.  How do you motivate so many men to go to their deaths when the conflict is an ocean away?

    Personally, I think one life is one sacrifice too many.  It would be interesting to see how much the Germans lost on the eastern front vs. the western.  I'm betting that the majority of loss was on the west.

    In any case, I think my friend still had a good point about American attitudes.  I think he sees Americans as arrogant and ill-informed about what goes on in the rest of the world.  In reality though, that pretty much describes everyone on the planet.  People care about local things and believe that they are at the center of the universe.  Human nature.
    ______________ yeah whatever
    [ Parent ]

    east! (4.00 / 1) (#390)
    by elotiumq32 on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 08:50:16 AM EST

    "It would be interesting to see how much the Germans lost on the eastern front vs. the western.  I'm betting that the majority of loss was on the west."

    Oops!  I meant to say "I'm betting that the majority of loss was on the _east_"

    ...
    ______________ yeah whatever
    [ Parent ]

    Couple of things.. (4.50 / 2) (#394)
    by ajduk on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 05:12:59 AM EST

    Russian casualties - to some extent, this was a consequence of low training levels and appalling tactics.  At every stage of WWII, Russian casualties ran at an average of 3x the German. Total German casualties on the Eastern front were about 3-3.5 million.

    For more recent interest, the Arabs in the middle east (and the Chinese/North Koreans) were trained in soviet tactics.  And they keep getting thrashed when fighting western forces.
    (Ref:  Korean War (count the casualties), Vietnam (vietnamese casualties 10-20x US), all Arab-Israeli wars, Gulf war, etc.).

    German losses in the Desert, Italy and the Western front certainly ran into the millions, but the proportion of prisoners was much higher, since the German soldiers were less scared (with good reason!) of surrendering to the western allies.

    Regarding the US commitment - in the hypothetical situation where the US plays a strict neutral (and trades equally with everyone - a huge benefit to Germany and Japan), it would be more than possable that the US would have ended up as the last place on earth with any degree on democracy.  With hostile neighbours north and south, backed by all of the resources of Asia.  Calculate the US casualties when fighting the rest of the world..

    The US HAD to fight, for it's own long-term survival.  Fighting on someone elses back yard, and taking such low casualties (by comparison), is certainly preferable.

    As it was, the US ended up as the most powerful country on the planet, accounting for over half World GDP in 1945, inheriting from the British empire.


    [ Parent ]

    American and English won the war for Russians... (none / 0) (#401)
    by CtrlBR on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 08:47:26 AM EST

    ...by destroying its industrial capacity. Had the German been able to produce their more modern equipment massively things would have looked very different on the Eastern front. You can see this war purely has "the one who'll build the more unit will win", kinda like in an RTS game...
    If no-one thinks you're a freedom fighter than you're probably not a terrorist.
    -- Gully Foyle

    [ Parent ]
    russians and hitler (none / 0) (#402)
    by disfunk on Wed Aug 21, 2002 at 12:25:59 PM EST

    your russian friend has a point, they did bleed hitler dry of troops - however: 1. Significant material aid was sent by the US. 2. Stalin was begging for a second front starting in '42. 3. Hitlers blunders in the Soviet Union were a huge cause of defeat. and a side note: Patton could have taken Berlin before the Russians - the Supreme Allied Command did not want the casualties taking Berlin would have casused. They figured if the Russians want to take Berlin, they can - and lose thousands of troops in Urban combat. Addiotionally, if Stalin had sued for a separate peace with Hitler, its highly unlikely the D-Day invasion of Normandy would have been a success.

    [ Parent ]
    The 5 Worst Military Blunders of the 20th Century | 408 comments (361 topical, 47 editorial, 1 hidden)
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