Monday, January 07, 2008

Re: Halberstam and History

January 4, 2008

Dean Velvel, a grand essay, with broad perspective. I will not laud its many good points but I have a few quibbles and a funny. First, you say the truth about Chiang's army was "kept from the American public by secrecy." Actually, the whole world knew it cracked like a crate of rotten eggs under Mao's attack. Also, I recall distinctly reading in Time, the China Lobby mouthpiece, that the average age of Chiang's army on Formosa was 32, the implication being it was much too old to fight effectively. It was also well known that the Seventh Fleet was steaming unto perpetuity around Formosa because Chiang's heroes could not defend themselves. Second, you write that Germany posed a serious threat to the United States. In fact, Germany was ill-prepared to start World War Two and Hitler counted on the Allies backing out on their agreement to defend Poland. When France and UK elected to declare war, one of Hitler's generals said to him, "Now what?" The head of the navy had begged Hitler to wait to attack as he did not begin to have the undersea fleet he needed to control the Atlantic. Also, Hitler had no long-range bombers capable of carrying the weight of bombs needed to reduce England, much less to bomb the East Coast, and had no navy to defeat the British Home Fleet which would have decimated Operation Sea Lion's invaders. Hitler could not cross the twenty miles of English channel, much less the Atlantic to strike America. Before he could do that, he would first have to subdue Europe and build a more powerful military machine. So the threat to America was really fairly remote. Finally, as for Douglas MacArthur's credentials, when Eisenhower, who had been MacArthur's aide for a time, was asked if he knew him, Ike replied, "Yes, I studied drama under him for four years." -- Sherwood

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