Tag Archives: germany

Review of “To Lose a Battle: France 1940,” by Alistair Horne

To Lose a Battle, by Alistair Horne (the author of A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962) is (1) a logistics-heavy description of the Battle of France, (2) a description of the general incompetence in both the France and German High Commands, (3) a tale of France, a country that was not then and never became a western democracy, and (4) a history of the end of France and Germany as distinct states.

1. The Logistics of War

“It was time that was the vital element which — more than weapons, even perhaps more than morale — France most lacked in 1940.”

Horne’s focus on logistics, timing, supplies, and materiel is refreshing, especially given so much strategy-focused writing by John Boyd and William Lind. I am not in a position to evaluate the completeness of Horne’s account, but his manner of writing certainly has fans:

Some two years later, I encountered at a London publishing party Israel’s leading military analyst and former Chief of Intelligence, Chaim Herzog (He was later to become Israel’s President.) We had met some years previously in Israel, and he had now just published his own account of the 1973 campaign, The War of Atonement. (Weidenfeld, 1975). When I commented on the similarities to the Manstein Plan of 1940, he smiled knowingly and said something to the effect that, only recently, General Sharon had referred to it, acknowledging a certain indebtedness to To Lose a Battle. Herzog kindly signed a copy of his book for me, adding the laconic but meaningful inscription, “In appreciation.”

I’ve never read a clearer account of battle that focused on the vital appointment of having the right materiel at the right location at the right time. Horne deserves major props for this part of the book, as he does for flowing between the political and military dimensions of struggle in his last book.

2. The Incompetence of the High Commands

Poor decisions went up to the part. “During the course of the Second World War,” Horne writes, “Hitler committed half a dozen key blunders that were to lose Germany the war.” Though in fairness, Hitler’s consistent habit was to bluff as much as he can while being prepared to rapidly ceed ground at the first resistance. Even as late as 1939 Horne believes that a French attack on Germany (during the Nazi invasion of Poland) would have reached the Rhine within two weeks.

The French and German general staffs, however, were fixated on the strategy of an orderly defense, and as such both were hesitant to move rapidly or seize the initiative. These “wrong lessons learned” for World War I, however, reach comic levels with the French, who even move troops away from Paris and towards the Maginot Line near the end of the fight.

3. France, an Unstable Democracy

The best insight I have from reading To Lose a Battle and A Savage War of Peace is that France was never a stable western democracy. Attempts to view its behavior as analogous to what the United States or Britain would do in a similar situation are unfounded, because France had a unique set of interests. Specific elements of French political life that made normal politics impossible were

  • A lack of separation between the political and the military
  • A militant left-wing (which was purposefully crippled by Stalin)
  • A revolutionary right-wing (which was sympathetic to military coups against elected governments)

The pattern of both To Lose a Battle and A Savage War of Peace is the old general, brought in from retirement, who oversees the death of the old Republic and faces resistance from an idealistic general

Philippe Petain v. the Third Republic and Charles DeGaulle
but then… DeGaulle v. the Fourth Republic and Roaul Salan

After reading both books, the solution is obvious: France is not a stable democracy.

Reading To Lose a Battle and A Savage War of Peace at first is strange, because the country appears to be a nightmarish version of the United States, but the U.S. is a democracy that has not had a new constitution since the the 18th century. France, by contrast, was never stable. Thus Petain, and DeGaulle, operated out the same frame: no stable government existed absent a strong leader, so a constitutional dictatorship was (for the time being) the only natural form of government for France.

The difference between Petain and DeGaulle was not between traitor and patriot (by our standards, they were surely both). Indeed, both recognized the unstable nature of French democracy, and sought to meld the French polity into Germany. Likewise, both (like Mao Zedong, Chiang Kaishek, and Wang Jingwei) differentiated between ‘diseases of the limbs’ and ‘diseases of the hearts’ — during their heights…

DeGaulle, unlike Petain, was an optimist as DeGaulle, unlike Petain, did not live with the guilt of overseeing a massacre. While other French commanders fled he attacked the Germans, achieving some pointless victories that did nothing to stop the German war machine. Thus, DeGaulle was willing to wait for a better time to commit his ethnic cleansing campaign and tie his country’s fate to Germany. Petain simply wanted to end the destruction of his country.

4. The End of France and Germany

The hosts of heaven allowed the sons of man to form two nations, France and Germany, in June 840. The mandate was revoked in June, 1940.

Before France and Germany western Europe was controlled by a transnational aristocracy. After June, 1940, such a world returned.

The end of the book has a “where are they now” section. There seemed to be no correlation between the side of a leader and how his future career unfolded. Both German and French generals suffered under Hitler. Both German and French generals were executed post-war. Both German and French generals would enjoy a sunny career in NATO. June 1940 appeared to be the last month where the fates of Germany and France were, truly, antagonistic.

For centuries it was impossible imagine a world without these two countries. Now, it is impossible to imagine one with them. Considering the inability of either France or Germany to establish stable national democracies, the accomplishments of the European Union are astounding.

To Lose a Battle is a brilliant history of one of the first fights of the Second World War. Highly recommended!

Germany Supports Georgian NATO Membership

Germany (one of the original opponents of Georgia’s membership in NATO) has reversed course as the extent of Russian aggression has revealed itself.

AFP: Georgia ‘will join NATO’: Merkel
TBILISI (AFP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday assured Georgia would join NATO as she strongly backed the ex-Soviet republic’s President Mikheil Saakashvili in his conflict with Russia.

“Georgia will become a member of NATO if it wants to — and it does want to,” she told reporters before talks with Saakashvili in Tbilisi.

It was one of the strongest statements yet of support for Georgia’s NATO membership bid, which is fiercely opposed by Russia.

“We are on a clear road towards NATO membership (for Georgia),” she added at a later news conference.

On August 12, German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung had said the conflict in the Caucusus had changed nothing with regard to Georgia’s chances of joining the NATO military alliance.

At the last NATO summit in Bucharest in April, leaders agreed that Georgia and Ukraine should join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization eventually, but neither nation was given candidate status and no timetables were set.

The United States is strongly in favour of Georgia joining NATO, but misgivings from France and Germany prevented Tbilisi being awarded full candidate status in Bucharest.

Russia is a state in the Gap, a Central Asian dictatorship fundamentally similar to the rest of the Afro-Islamic Gap. and so it is wise for the Old Core (for whom any struggle with Russia is a fight of discipline) and the New Core (for whom a struggle with Russia may be a fight for survival) to use NATO as a “firewall,” preventing the worst exports of Russia from reaching the New Core.

Dreaming of a Lost Empire – or – the Germans are Planning Something

Catholicgauze found a nifty site of old road maps — including some nice German ones

Aral1950sstandard

From the 1950s!

And 1970s!

A more serious point: one hears complaints about supposed Japanese “remilitarization,” but Japan wasn’t mapping her lost Empire a generation after she lost it.

View the rest of the travel maps

Atrophied Reich

Five million Germans out of work,” BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4228739.stm, 2 February 2005.

I’ve writen before on Germany’s immigration problems, Europe’s growth deficit, and the Europe’s political weaknesss when it comes to growth, but this still surprised me

Germany’s unemployment figure rose above the psychologically important level of five million last month.

On Wednesday, the German Federal Labour Agency said the jobless total had reached 5.037 million in January, which takes the jobless rate to 12.1%.

“Yes, we have effectively more than five million people unemployed,” a government minister said earlier on ZDF public television.

Unemployment has not been this high in Germany since the 1930s.

It gets worse, but at least the CDU isn’t torified

The opposition also made political capital from the figures. It said there are a further 1.5 million-2 million people on subsidised employment schemes who are, in fact, looking for real jobs.

It added that government reforms, including unpopular benefit cuts, do not go far enough.

Germany’s static economy managed to take a great economic boom and turn it into a spiraling nightmare. The absorption of the German Democratic Republic in the 1990s was a great gift to the Federal Republic. While America continuously imports workers from Mexico and other lands, Germany received an education population that spoke the language and shared a common history. What happened?

The worst unemployment since the Great Depression.

Germany’s economy is unable to adapt to reality. High barriers to entry, an overly regulated market, and powerful unions prevent sensible economic policies. For example, while offshoring in the United States helps the American economy as a whole, in Germany it is a net detriment.

And the situation only gets worse. Germany’s experiencing large immigration from Turkey, and if Turkey is admitted to the EU it will only get worse.

I have nothing against Turks, or immigration. I believe that the U.S. immigration policy is too fight, for example, and I have Turks in my family. But Germany’s government and economy are too backward to handle it. Germany is not an economy geared for growth, and the more it is watered the more it drowns.

Germany was the workhorse of the European Economy. It has 12%+ unemployment. More info at Zen Pundit.

Amerikabomber

Hitler’s ‘Amerikabomber’,” by Dieter Wulf, The Atlantic Monthly, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200405/wulf, May 2004 (from NWO).

U.S. terror war ‘over-reaction,’ top judge says: Gives criminals special status,” by Olivia Ward, Toonto Star, http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1105917010890&call_page=TS_World&call_pageid=968332188854&call_pagepath=News/World&pubid=968163964505&StarSource=email&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes, 17 January 2005 (from DU).

The American-led war on terrorism is a threat to international justice and a challenge to the rule of law in the 21st century, says one of the world’s most eminent jurists.

Sept. 11 led to a major overreaction by politicians in many countries,” said Richard Goldstone, the first chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

“Terrorism must be fought for what it is, that is, criminality. To use the analogy of a real war is to elevate the status of the terrorists, and hand them the advantage,” says Goldstone. In a time of crisis, he added, “the role of the judiciary is always weakened, and that is exactly when you need it.

I’m not going to comment on the sophistry of the judge’s comments, or how system perturbations require rule set resets, or any of that.

But when a declared enemy succeeds in creating an Amerikabomber

medium_amerikabombersm.jpg

It’s a pretty good indication that we are in a war.

Turkey in Europe

Turkish Premier Slams German Opposition
Deutsche Welle
December 12, 2004
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1426240,00.html

At first, a pretty typical story

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out in a Sunday newspaper interview at Germany’s conservative opposition for its drive to torpedo Turkey’s EU membership bid, accusing it of populism.

“Unfortunately, the opposition in Germany seems to believe that it can make domestic politics out of our wish to join the European Union,” Erdogan was quoted by the mass-market Bild am Sonntag newspaper as saying. “I consider that to be a fateful error.”

EU leaders are widely expected to give the go ahead for the start of membership talks with Turkey at a crunch summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, but under tough conditions.

While German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has strongly backed Turkish negotiations toward full membership in the EU, the opposition Christian Union parties reject this goal, calling for a “privileged partnership” with the predominantly Muslim country.

My first reaction? “Germany. Against the Liberation of Iraq. Against the Membership of Turkey. Against Muslims.” Pretty juvenile stuff on both mine and the Fourth Reich’s part, but then I read further:

The paper reported that the Christian Union parties would pass a motion in parliament Monday entitled “Do not close your eyes to the problems with Turkey.”

The document lays out what the opposition views as the dangers posed by Turkey joining the EU including “rise in gangland crime, Islamist threat and terrorist danger” in Germany.

Ah, because immigration problems in Germany are indicative of problems in… Turkey? It’s Germany that has the immigration problem. It’s Germany that’s invited thousands upon thousands of permanent “guest workers” into her borders, and gave them no way to integrate. Until very recently Germany even denied they were immigrants, or could ever be Germans.

As far as melting pots go, Germany is a nightmare version of the United States as it could-have-been. Desperate for workers, but unwilling to ever let the gaijan be “true” Germans. The problem is all on Germany’s end.

Expect the best of the new Germans. Even if his name is Gurkan or Safak.