Is Hindsight Really 20/20?

Posted: July 31, 2012 by veeshir in Random Crap

I don’t think so. You know, except my 20/20 hindsight.

What makes me think of this is that I’ve been reading Churchill’s history of WWII for the last few years. I pick up a book, read ii for a week or two, put it down for a month or more, pick it up again…. I’m up to getting ready to put book 4 down for a while.

This got long so it’s below the fold.

I’m writing this because I really can’t force myself to write about politics. Obama and his Chicago Machine have been too horrible to really pay attention to and while I’ll vote for Romney, I’m not going to pay attention to what he says until then, I just don’t want to know.

What I’ve learned from reading Churchill’s books.

Churchill was a surprisingly whiny, superior yet low self-esteem guy.

The Brits were twits. I already knew that, but not really the depth.

Stalin was a dishonest, backstabbing, whiny bitch. Actually, I didn’t learn that, I already knew it.

Roosevelt was even worse than I had previously thought.

The Aussies were even better than I had thought.

First, the Aussies. (correctly pronounced “Ozzies”, not “awzees”, that’s important for later)

They sent the cream of their army to the Middle East and various British Empire cities on the Pacific Rim to help the Brits.

Great story, as they marched to battle in north Africa, they actually sang, “We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz“, the whole song  That’s fucking funny. Churchill had no idea where they got it.

They sent their troops all over the place and then were in big trouble when Japan got all frisky. More on that.

Now, Churchill.

At one point he inserts a letter from some upper class British twit of a General where the general writes,

“As America is now our great strategic reserve for the final blows, much of your time will have to be devoted to wisely guiding Washington in our war effort and not letting vital war direction slip out of our hands.”

You know, go fuck yourself. He sees us as a supply depot for them. They’re the dominant partner because we’re just a little too dim to understand.

He spends a lot of ink justifying his positions, but if you look closely, he was often not just wrong, but blatantly and obviously wrong, as events quickly proved.

For instance, he was all butthurt because the Aussies wanted two divisions back home instead of diverting them to try to hold Rangoon, Burma.

Some background, this was after they had lost other divisions trying to hold onto other, British Imperial possessions in Asia and the Pacific Rim.

This also has to do with general British twitishness. They put guys in charge because they had the right accent, went to the right schools (hence the accent) and knew the right people. The guy in the Pacific is a perfect example.

Churchill had sent repeated orders to the general to make sure Singapore was ready for a Japanese invasion down the peninsula and to fight to the last man. He stressed the need to make sure they had enough supplies, war machines, airfields and set defenses in place for this.

So the Japanese attacked down the peninsula and the Brits were caught by surprise. They ran out of small arms ammo when the battle was mostly artillery, planes and anti-aircraft, they had no prepared defenses and only one airfield.

So they kept throwing a division out, unsupported with no prepared defenses. Mostly, they found a good position and the Japanese just invested them and went around. The Aussie or Indian division would break out and attack from the rear, rampage around for a while then laager up again. Wash, rinse, bury your dead, repeat.

Meanwhile, the city fell. They surrendered to a numerically inferior foe and 2 of the best Australian divisions were gone. Hong Kong had the same experience. Then Java, Borneo, New Guinea and more. Look at a map. Next stop, Melbourne.

So there were two Aussie divisions on their way home from the Middle East and Churchill wanted them to go to defend Rangoon until they could be relieved by some other forces, the Aussies wanted them in Australia. Churchill kept whining and the Aussies kept saying, “No”. At one point, Churchill actually sent the transports toward Rangoon, when the Aussies found out they were furious. Churchill whined some more. “I thought you’d say yes” he whined in a 5 year old’s voice.

So Rangoon falls. Because the Aussies didn’t go there or course.

He doesn’t seem to think about the next chapter where we learn that Rangoon had no prepared defenses, was about to be attacked with overwhelming force and about a week later, there was a humongous Japanese battle fleet running free through the eastern Indian Ocean, including the Bay of Bengal.

In other words, there was no way the Brits could have gotten in by boat or gotten the Aussies out by boat, they had no prepared defenses against a well-prepared foe with overwhelming naval support (sound familiar? See Hong Kong, Singapore, Borneo, Java, the fucking Philippines, et al.). More succinctly, two more lost Australian divisions.

Yes, Australia was not invaded, but they didn’t know that at the time while the troops surely would have been captured to no good effect.

So what happened to the Brit in charge of the Pacific? The one who was in charge as city after city and island after island in his area of responsibility fell because they were unprepared despite being repeatedly told to prepare? Why, he went on to command in the Middle East, including north Africa, Iraq, Iran and up to Syria along the Med.

Under his command, of course, the Brits were kicked back almost to Egypt while Tobruk, after Churchill had repeatedly ordered it to be prepared and stocked for a defense to the last man, surrendered to a numerically inferior foe because of unprepared defenses and shortages of important supplies. (sound familiar? During all this, Churchill keeps writing to say what a great general the twit in charge was).

Sigh. So then they put Monty in charge of the military in north Africa. The man whose picture is used to illustrate “Brigadier-General, Upper-Class-Twit, one each”.

We would have won more quickly and with fewer casualties if Ike had told the Brits, French and Russians to shut the fuck up.

Stalin is, of course, well known. He was directly involved with the beginning of WWII, the Russians invaded their half of Poland 3 weeks after Germany invaded their half. Then, the Russians sold rubber, bauxite, stuff for gun powder, iron, fuel and all manner of other war materiel to Germany all while saying to the Brits, eh, what are you gonna do?

At this time, the Brits were begging him to get in the war because once Hitler took England, Russia was next. Stalin, through his mouthpieces and letters, basically just double-talked and never said anything.

Then Russia is invaded and all Stalin can do is whine about how we’re not invading France (more on that with fucking Roosevelt) so the Germans have to divert forces and we’re not holding our end up and Russia needs more stuff and so what if your convoys are losing 80% of their ships, send us stuff.

Fucking whiny bitch. It’s even worse considering how the Brits were begging for something similar and he told them to fuck off. Once his buddy Hitler turned, all of a sudden we’re jerks for not killing ourselves to save Stalin.

I personally would have stopped sending Russia crap as soon as they had the Germans on the run. Keep Russian troops in Russia and after we beat Germany, we could have freed eastern Europe instead of changing one murderous regime for another.

Which leads us to Roosevelt. He repeatedly took Stalin’s side in Stalin’s whining and rarely mentioned how he helped start the damn war while making money off it when Hitler was about to take out England. When he did notice it, it was to defend Stalin. Roosevelt also wanted Ike to listen to the Brits. WTF? He was pretty much Obama only not so dim and better educated.

This could get much longer as I just get more and more pissed at Roosevelt, but this bit says it all.

It’s a telegram from April 1942 from Roosevelt to Churchill about how badly we need to help poor, put-upon Russia, who really is bearing the brunt of the war. (the war they helped start)

At that time we didn’t have the men trained or the shipping necessary for the invasion of France, they’re discussing alternatives that will help the fucking murderous, war-starter, Stalin. (spit)

Since invasion on this scale cannot be mounted before April 1, 1943, at earliest, a plan must be prepared, and kept up to date,  for immediate action by such forces as may be available… as an emergency measure either (a) to take advantage of a sudden German disintegration, or (b) ‘as a sacrifice‘ (italics mine V) to avert an imminent collapse of Russian resistance.

He wanted a plan for sending divisions of American troops on a suicide mission to invade France to help Russia.We can argue the merits of the plan (I don’t think it would have accomplished its objective, the timing would have been very hard), but to just want to throw away American lives. That’s beyond the pale and how we fought WWII. Look at the Sherman tank. It was kind of fast but under-gunned and under-armored. We overwhelmed them with numbers. In other words, we went 4 tank crews out to die so the last one could hit the Tiger in the ass. I don’t like that math. I like when we spend 5 times as much making one tank that kicks the shit out of everybody else’s tank.

Later in the war, of course, he held up the Americans and Brits so the Russians would get Berlin and thereby doomed millions in eastern Europe to more than 40 years of commie dictatorship.

I’ll write more on this as I read more. If you’re going to read it, make sure you have lots of booze for book one. I read it in 2002-2003. The parallels between the book and current events was astounding, with all the same nation’s leaders saying all the same things. Bush wasn’t around in 1936 or things might have gone differently.

  1. Awesome. I have the collection. Been pushing myself to start it soon.

    • Veeshir says:

      Pace yourself. Accept that you can’t read that dense stuff for too long.
      The beginning of book 4 is especially boring. It’s all logistics. Books 1 and 2 are infuriating.

  2. jimmydoolittle says:

    Thanks for the advice.

    Like you say, we are about to repeat some of the global stupidity of both WW I and WW II. Have you read “When Money Dies” ? It is sobering at how long the Germans were convinced they weren’t doing anything fiscally wrong.

    • veeshir says:

      Actually, that period should be a learning experience for everybody in the world.
      People back then thought, “It can’t happen again. The bad stuff is over.”

      I read a story about a guy in Austria during the war, he watched this obviously respectable, Jewish matron, in her dingy, dirty, formerly pretty fine clothes, on her hands and knees, scrubbing the ground as German soldiers pissed on her.
      I bet in 1936, she and her husband both said, “It can’t happen again”.
      People in France and the Benelux countries thought, “It can’t happen again.”

      Then, the Nazis proved them wrong.
      We’re in another era where people can’t imagine exactly how close we are to barbarism.

      As earlier eras understood, any society is three meals from a revolution.

  3. jimmydoolittle says:

    Ferfal’s lessons from Argentina have been a pretty good guide for me. God (and Winchester) help us all.

  4. Berk says:

    long time lurker. Father had entire collection of Churchill’s works, not just second WW. While a whiner, the big take away from the entire collection is that he was one of the very few politicos, in any position of power, willing to call out the commie bastards for what they were (prior to end of WW2 & on both sides of the damn Atlantic). Very damn sad that the material he had to work with for General ranks was so poor (minus Slim). Love to hear your continued take on this.

  5. […] I’ve already stated, nobody’s hindsight is 20/20 except mine and intelligent […]

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