"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

What Would Patton Say and Do About the Present War?
by Victor David Hanson
(A paraphrase)

General of the Army, George Patton had superior insight. Time and space have overcome the dressing down and firing he received from President Truman after WWII. He was a great tactician, understanding "far more about strategy and global politics than either (Generals) Eisenhower and Bradley." He projected into future and instinctively sensed what enemy armies were about to do. A possible dyslexic, he didn't pull the information for his decisions from thin air, but "listened nightly to the BBC, read Rommel,the memoirs of Napoleon and Caesar's Gallic Wars," read passable French, and "based his opinions on studies of European history, news reports, and meetings with those that worked with the allies, even the "odious Russians."

Patton didn't always get what he wanted: the Allies didn't push on to Berlin to bring all of Germany behind the Anglo-American lines, a mistake later regretted by the West. He saw paying billion of dollars to the Soviets after the war a "forced matter of practicality” that smacked of naiveté of which he wanted no part as “all decisions made in 1945 would alter the future security of the U.S.,” and he was right! However, he believed that the soldier’s duty was to create an atmosphere in which U.S. diplomats and politicians could deal from a position of strength --- beat the enemy first, and then negotiate, not the reverse.

Patton’s tactics could be applied to today’s situation.

…Patton, who understood the hold of a radically triumphalist Nazism on a previously demoralized German people, would have the intellectual honesty to realize that we are at war with Islamic fascists, mostly from the Middle East, who have played on the frustrations of mostly male, unemployed young people, whose autocratic governments can't provide the conditions for decent employment and family life. A small group of Islamists appeals to the angst of the disaffected through a nostalgic and reactionary turn to a mythical Caliphate, in which religious purity trumps the material advantages of a decadent West and protects Islamic youth from the contamination of foreign gadgetry and pernicious ideas. In some ways, Hitler had created the same pathology in Germany in the 1930s.

Today’s enemy is far more sophisticated than were the Nazis during World War II because of the internet and globalization. They are both attracted and repelled by the success, wealth, and personal freedom of the West, and have created a “mythical solution in lieu of real social, political and economic reform that in short order would doom the power of the patriarch, mullah and autocrat” that have failed them miserably: “Blame the imperialist Americans and the Zionists Israelis who caused this self-induced misery.” Other Muslims are happy to see us take the fall as long as they don’t suffer, but when they do, we are also held accountable.

Would Patton approve of Bush’s program of reconstruction in Iraq? Yes and No. Yes, “helping the defeated re-build under democratic auspices would allow real reform.” No, because the enemy needed to be soundly defeated before re-building should commence. The insurgency should be soundly defeated to give Bush leverage against both the Europeans and the tyrannical Middle East “to prove to both friends and enemies alike the consequences and advantages of American power.”

Patton taught many lessons and gave advice that seems to have been forgotten by both the military and political classes. Among them, the lesson about public support is most appropriate: the American soldier and the American public are restless, with a short attention span. To be successful, a campaign must always be on the move. He seemed inconsistent, but we are an inconsistent people and this is an inconsistent war.

Read and contemplate the lessons of a military genuis. Patton, we need you now!


  • At Thu Oct 28, 01:19:00 PM PDT, Blogger dag said…

    "God help me, but I love it." Patton.

    There's a difference between soldiers and warriors, the two having little in common; and there's a difference between war and battle, again the two having not much to join them. There is war and there is Just War. Having the choice, as I do, I metaphorically pick up my ax and run into battle to fight for the Just. God help me, but I, too, love it.

    I am blessed above all men in that I have a chance to battle against evil for the good of Mankind, regardless of what kind of man I might be. I have a chance to do right for the good of even those who are my enemies. I am called to battle against Islam, and for me it is the greatest calling a man can have in our time. I rejoice in the fact that this is the battle I missed when my forebearers went to war against the Nazis. This is my time. My battle is just.

    I can't call others to come to this battle. Those who know the risks and the price they pay even for survival will come of their own accord, and I welcome those as comrades, but I cannot ask anyone to meet me in the front lines of this battle.

    I'm not a general, and my battle is not a war like those Patton fought. My war is a guerrilla war, and it's fought partly on the field of the internet. In time I'd like to continue to discuss the nature of this fight as I see it. Perhaps we'll find ourselves shoulder to shoulder facing the test of our time.

    I look forward to it all. I do love it.


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