Now again, as you read this post, don’t for one second think that I’m trying to find some backdoor way to promote Donald Trump. To the contrary, I haven’t had as much fun watching a President take it up the ass since Dick Nixon resigned back in 1974.
That being said (for the umpteenth time) I have just finished reading the third and final volume of Rock Atkinson’s history of the World War II European campaign, The Guns of Last Light, which covers the year from the D-Day landing until the war against Germany came to an end.
Like the previous two volumes, this book is also based on a combination of information from the Orders of Battle, which were the reports written by every American soldier who commanded any number of troops during an engagement with the enemy, plus a wide sampling of first-hand accounts created by observers on the scene, letters sent home and other primary sources.
The United States military suffered a half million casualties over the eleven months of that campaign, one-third dead and the rest wounded with injuries that would shorten their lives. And many of these deaths and injuries occurred because in either planning or executing the fighting across France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, our commanders just fu*ked things up.
I’m not just talking about the frequent lapses of communication or wrong orders given in the field. I’m talking about screw-ups at the top by Eisenhower, Montgomery, Patton, Bradley, et.al. Again and again, the intelligence was wrong, the communications which should have occurred didn’t occur, army units were sent to the wrong place at the wrong time, it for on and on.
Know why we fought the horrendous Battle of the Bulge which resulted in the deaths of at least 20,000 American troops? Because our failure to see the German army massing for their attack through the Ardennes was a worse intelligence screwup than our failure to see the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack.
Ultimately, the reason we won, and the Germans lost is because America was able to throw many more men into the fight and resupply guns, ammunition, and other war materials thanks to industrial output at home which couldn’t be matched by the Germans or by anyone else.
But what really made the European campaign so astonishingly costly in terms of American lives lost, was Rosevelt’s decision to accept nothing except Germany’s unconditional surrender, which was a strategy we invented when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox to end the civil war.
Traditionally, wars ended when the combatants agreed to a truce and the armies remained in place until an agreement to end hostilities was reached. That was okay for all those fuddy-duddy politicians in Europe, but it wasn’t the American way. And by rejecting any consideration to attempt to negotiate a peace, Roosevelt forced the Germans to keep fighting with a level of resistance that was far beyond what American military planners thought would occur.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we could have gotten rid of the Hitler regime any other way. But the fact that a negotiated end to the fighting wasn’t even considered reflected the degree to which the United States could sacrifice just about any number of troops and still come out on top.
Know this: Our population and military production exceeded the total population and military production of all our western allies combined. Of course, Russia had many more people living in that country than we had living in the United States. But not only did our military production cover all our needs on the western front, but we also supplied the Russians with much of their wartime supplies through lend lease.
Now let’s switch the scene back to Donald Trump, who at one point referred to himself as a ‘wartime President’ as he was flailing around trying to do something about Covid-19.
How many people died because of their presence in D.C. on January 6th? Try seven, of whom four were civilians and three were cops.
And by the way, roughly one-third of all Americans didn’t bother to get fully vaccinated against the ‘kung flu,’ and the death-rate for the unvaccinated population remained substantially higher than the vaccinated population from when the first vaccines were available in January, 2021 until at least April, 2023.
There’s a good possibility that if Donald Trump had been elected President in 1940 that the war against Hitler would have dragged on for God knows how long. But that’s just conjecture based on the way Trump behaves, as well as the fact that he’s simply not too bright.
But I keep thinking about the men who lost their lives or their limbs on the Western front, and I’m not so sure that the way we measure the success or failure of Presidents takes all the relevant circumstances into account.
Trump may talk about all the ‘violence’ that will occur if he’s sent to jail, but his use of violence to achieve his goals was nothing when compared to what happened in France and Germany after our boys stepped on the sand at Omaha Beach.