Tag: Afrika Korps

Pearl Harbor +75: All in the Same Boat. Still.

Pearl Harbor +75: All in the Same Boat. Still.

A slight­ly extend­ed ver­sion of my piece on Pearl Har­bor: “How, 75 years ago today, we were saved,” in The Amer­i­can Spec­ta­tor, 7 Decem­ber 2016….

“All in the same boat.” New Bond Street, Lon­don. (Sculp­ture by Lawrence Holofcener)

Sev­en­ty-five years ago today, Win­ston Churchill was pon­der­ing sur­vival. Hitler gripped Europe from France to deep inside Rus­sia. Nazi U-boats were stran­gling British ship­ping; Rommel’s Afri­ka Korps was advanc­ing on Suez. Britain’s only ally beside the Empire/Commonwealth, the Red Army, was fight­ing before Moscow. Amer­i­ca remained supportive…and aloof.

Eigh­teen months ear­li­er he had become prime min­is­ter. No one else had want­ed the task.…

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Churchill, Obama, and the Sacking of Generals

Churchill, Obama, and the Sacking of Generals

“It is dif­fi­cult to remove a bad Gen­er­al at the height of a cam­paign: it is atro­cious to remove a good Gen­er­al.” —Churchill

Oba­ma and McChrys­tal (White House pho­to by Pete Souza, Wiki­me­dia Com­mons).

What can we learn by com­par­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s dis­missal of Gen­er­al McChrys­tal to Churchill’s dis­missals of Gen­er­als Wavell and Auchin­leck, two dis­tin­guished com­man­ders in World War II? I hope it will not be anoth­er reminder of how stan­dards of con­duct have dete­ri­o­rat­ed.

Dif­fer­ences first. Churchill’s gen­er­als were removed for not suf­fi­cient­ly oppos­ing Irwin Rommel’s Afri­ka Korps. McChrys­tal was not under­per­form­ing, and his sit­u­a­tion bears more resem­blance to that of Gen­er­al Dou­glas MacArthur, the Kore­an com­man­der relieved in 1951 by Pres­i­dent Tru­man for insub­or­di­na­tion.…

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Operation Mincemeat: The Sicily Deception

Operation Mincemeat: The Sicily Deception

A rather breath­less review in The New York Times in May described Ewen Mon­tagu, “The man who nev­er was,” as a prin­ci­pal in a decep­tion which tricked the Nazis into expect­ing an inva­sion of Greece rather than Sici­ly by the Allies in 1943, after hav­ing dri­ven Rom­mel and the Afri­ka Korps from North Africa. The idea—which the Times implies was unheard of until now—was to drop a corpse where it would con­ve­nient­ly wash up on a Span­ish beach, plant­ed with false papers nam­ing Greece as the inva­sion tar­get and Sici­ly as the diver­sion. The Spaniards would hope­ful­ly place the false papers in Ger­man hands, and the Ger­mans would shift their defens­es to Greece and ignore Sicily—the real tar­get.…

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