Who Decided the Location of the Second Front?

I wasn’t aware that Andy Bostom had written this article when I posted about American Betrayal early this morning. Dr. Bostom originally submitted his piece to American Thinker, and, like Diana West, was rebuffed — further evidence of the long arm of The Invisible Man.

Jeff Lipkes, Hanson Baldwin, and The World War II “Second Front Debate”

by Andrew Bostom

Déjà vu all over again, Diana West has noted at her website how she was not permitted to respond to a new round of critiques of American Betrayal at The American Thinker, which astonishingly included letter “appendices” containing two more rounds of ad hominem attacks on her by Ron Radosh and David Horowitz.

My own response to American Thinker’s “military expert” editor J.R. Dunn provides an introduction to a staid essay that was also summarily rejected without any ethical, or factual justification.

From: Andrew Bostom
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2014 8:48 AM
To: J R Dunn
Subject: Ike’s quote and your “interpretation”

One last item, as an estimable (per your own mind) World War II (WWII) “authority,” you wrote, with typically inappropriate hubris:

Re: The “Aegean” issue arises from a single quote by Eisenhower and nothing else. Ike had to have been referring to Operation Accolade, one of the Brits’ attempts at the “Underbelly”, consisting of landings in the Dodecanese. (I know something about this

The unsuccessful British Dodecanese efforts codenamed “Accolade” — which were apparently not very large troop deployments — at any rate took place between September 8 and November 22, 1943.

Eisenhower opined the following at Cairo on November 26, 1943, 2:30 PM, i.e., AFTER the failed Brit Dodecanese campaign, and focused primarily on the Po Valley, which mentioned (initial) “harrying operations” in the Aegean, followed by a sustained campaign only after other military objectives had been achieved within Italy/the Mediterranean theater, as reported in United States Department of State, Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers (FRUS), The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, (1943), pp. 359-60:

Italy was the correct place in which to deploy our main forces and the objective should be the valley of the Po. In no other area could we so well threaten the whole German structure including France, the Balkans and the Reich itself. Here also our air would be closer to vital objectives in Germany….

The next best method of harrying the enemy was to undertake operations in the Aegean. There are sufficient forces in the Mediterranean to take this area provided it is not done until after the Po line has been reached….The time to turn to the Aegean would be when the line north of Rome has been achieved. German reactions to our occupation of the islands had clearly proved how strongly they resented action on our part in this area. From here the Balkans could be kept aflame, Ploesti [Rumanian; a significant source of oil for Nazi Germany] would be threatened and the Dardanelles [a Turkish strait, connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara] might be opened. Sufficient forces should be used for operations in the Aegean and no unnecessary risks run. He considered that the earlier British occupation of the islands had been right and justified, but that the position was now different and strong German reactions could be expected. In either of the two assumptions it was essential to bring Turkey into the war at the moment that the operations in the Aegean were undertaken

You obviously compound your intellectual laziness — i.e. you NEVER bothered to read the relevant FRUS Diplomatic Papers, with a fundamental reading comprehension deficiency. This explains your non-sequiturs and generally confused, profoundly ignorant (albeit confidently asserted) “observations.” Seen in this light, although these errors are now understandable, they remain unacceptable. It is well past time for thoroughly incompetent, self-appointed “gatekeepers” like yourself to in fact be given the gate to the great benefit of intelligent readers, fully capable of separating wheat from chaff without your “remedial” censorship.

Installment two of Jeff Lipkes’ discussion of Diana West’s American Betrayal is entitled, “Diana and Ron: The Second Front.” Readers can decide for themselves whether or not Lipkes adequately represents Ms. West’s arguments by comparing his assessment to her own full chapter on the so-called “Second Front debate.” Regardless, I maintain readers wishing to understand this serious World War II (WWII) debate — and the post- WWII consensus about the geo-political consequences of its “resolution” — would do well to consider the historian Hanson Baldwin’s post-mortem assessment monograph, published shortly after WWII concluded.

Hanson W. Baldwin (d. 1991), was a military-affairs editor for The New York Times who authored over a dozen books on military and naval history and policy. Baldwin, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, joined The Times in 1929, and in 1943 won a Pulitzer Prize for his World War II reporting from the Pacific.

Before retiring from The Times, Baldwin reported on the strategy, tactics and weapons of war in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East and other theaters. Earlier, after covering the European and Pacific battles of World War II, as well as the immediate postwar transition period, so astutely, Hanson Baldwin had already earned recognition as one of the nation’s leading authorities on military and naval affairs.

In 1950, Baldwin published a pellucid World War II strategic assessment monograph of 114 pages entitled Great Mistakes of the War. Baldwin’s summary analysis identifies, in his words, the four “great — and false — premises, certainly false in retrospect and seen by some to be false at the time,” as the following:

    1.   That the Politburo had abandoned (with the ostensible end of the Communist International) its policy of a world Communist revolution and was honestly interested in the maintenance of friendly relations with capitalist governments.
    2.   That “Joe” Stalin was a “good fellow” and we could “get along with him.” This was primarily a Rooseveltian policy and was based in part on the judgments formed by Roosevelt as a result of his direct and indirect contacts with Stalin during the war. This belief was shaken in the last months of Roosevelt’s life, partly by the Soviet stand on Poland.
    3.   That Russia might make a separate peace with Germany. Fear of this dominated the waking thoughts of our politico-strategists throughout all the early phases of the war, and some anticipated such an eventuality even after our landing in Normandy.
    4.   That Russian entry into the war against Japan was either: a) essential to victory, or b) necessary to save thousands of American lives. Some of our military men clung to this concept even after the capture of the Marianas and Okinawa.

The common denominator for these basic misconceptions, Baldwin argues, excepting, perhaps the second, which became a stubbornly willful “Rooseveltian policy,” was,

…lack of adequate knowledge about Russian strengths, purposes, and motivations; and inadequate evaluation and interpretation of the knowledge we did possess, or failure to accept and apply it.

Baldwin reiterates his contention (i.e., regarding points 1 and 2) that American wartime policy hinged upon avoidable fallacious premises, which caused us to be victimized by our own hagiographic propaganda about Communism, Stalin, and the Soviet Union, observing:

Russian aims were good and noble, Communism had changed its stripes. A study of Marxian literature and of the speeches and writings of its high apostles, Lenin and Stalin, coupled with the expert knowledge of numerous American specialists, should have convinced an unbiased mind that international Communism had not altered its ultimate aim; the wolf had merely donned a sheep’s skin. Had we recognized this — and all past experience indicates we should have recognized it — our wartime alliance with Russia would have been understood for exactly what it was: a temporary marriage of expediency.

Baldwin concludes his introductory elucidation of the four false premises by returning to the misguided fear about the Soviet Union brokering a separate peace with Nazi Germany (in the latter stages of the war), and the disastrous U.S. policy of inducing Soviet entry into the Pacific theater war against Japan (when Japan’s defeat by the U.S. and Britain, without any Soviet assistance, was in fact clearly imminent).

[A] careful study of strategical facts and available military information should have indicated clearly the impossibility, from the Russian point of view [emphasis in the original], of a separate peace with Germany. Such a peace could only have been bought in the opening years of the war by major territorial concessions on Russia’s part, concessions which might well have imperiled the Stalin regime, and which, in any case, would have left the Russo-German conflict in the category of “unfinished business.” In the closing years of the war, when Russia had everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing the struggle to complete victory, a separate peace would have been politically ludicrous. [emphasis added]

Russia had everything to gain and nothing to lose by entering the Pacific war, particularly in 1944 and 1945 when the power of Germany was broken and Japan was beleaguered and in a strategically hopeless position. Yet again we begged and induced, though we, not Russia, occupied the commanding position. We should have tried to keep Russia out of the war against Japan instead of buying her entry.

Nearly six decades later, the former GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence) officer Victor Suvorov’s Soviet primary source-based re-analysis of Stalin’s grand World War II strategy, The Chief Culprit (2008), provided striking independent confirmation of Baldwin’s 1950 arguments. For example, Suvorov demonstrates the remarkable success achieved by the well-planned Soviet blitzkrieg against a tottering Japan, to the lasting detriment of its erstwhile U.S. “ally’s” interests, and regional freedom:

On August 6, 1945 the American air force dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, and on August 9, over Nagasaki. Japan was on its deathbed. And at this moment, on August 9, 1945, the Red Army carried out its sudden and crushing attack against Japanese troops in Manchuria and China. The operations of all the armies were planned according to the principle of surprise attack and overpowering the enemy with the immediate use of gigantic force. Even in secondary locations, the actions took on an active and maneuvering character.

Officially, the Soviet military campaign in the Far East lasted twenty-four days, but battles only took place for twelve days. Not even two weeks had passed before a massive surrender of the Japanese troops began. Japanese losses numbered 84,000 killed and 594,000 taken prisoner. Among the prisoners were 148 Japanese generals. Unbelievable trophies were captured. The results of the operation were enviable. The United States fought against Japan for almost four years, and what did it receive? The Soviet Union fought against Japan for twelve days, and all of China, North Korea, and North Vietnam fell under the Soviet Union’s control. [emphasis added] Vasilevsky [Marshal of the Soviet Union/Chief of Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces] happily reported: “By delivering a crushing blow to the Japanese troops in Korea, the Soviet Army created favorable conditions for the activities of revolutionaries…In the northern section of the country, workers led by Communists began to build the first truly independent, democratic nation in Korean history…As a result of Japan’s defeat, favorable conditions were created in China, North Korea and North Vietnam for the victory of people’s revolutions…The Chinese People’s Army of Liberation received huge reserves of trophy arms, military equipment, and supplies…The defeat of Japanese militarism opened the way for national liberation movements throughout Asia. On September 2 [1945], when the Japanese foreign affairs minister Sigemitsu and Chief of Staff Umezdu signed the pact of total capitulation, President Ho Chi Minh declared the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. On October 12 [1945], the Laos patriots pronounced the birth of Phatet-Lao.”

Suvorov’s meticulous 2008 assessment of Stalin’s machinations for a quarter century, before and during World War II — which, again, validates Baldwin’s immediate post-World War II observations — opens with this ironic comparison of the Soviet Communist dictator, and his German Nazi counterpart, Hitler:

Hitler’s actions were seen by the world as the greatest of crimes, while Stalin’s actions were considered by the world as a struggle for peace and progress. The world hated Hitler, and commiserated with Stalin. Hitler conquered half of Europe, and the rest of the world declared war against him. Stalin conquered half of Europe, and the world sent him greetings. To ensure that Hitler could not hold on to the conquered European countries, the West sank German ships, bombed German cities, and then landed a massive and powerful army on the European continent. To enable Stalin to conquer and hold on to the other half of Europe, the West gave Stalin hundreds of warships, thousands of war planes and tanks, hundreds of thousands of the world’s best war vehicles, and millions of tons of its best fuel, ammunition, and supplies…For me, Hitler remains a heinous criminal. But if Hitler was a criminal, it does not all follow that Stalin was his innocent victim, as Communist propaganda portrayed him before the world.

Returning to Baldwin’s analysis, pages 25-45 drill down, objectively, on the so-called “Second Front” military debate, and its enduring geopolitical consequences, as a salient example of the operational impact of the four false premises (i.e., 1-3), he elucidated.

As is his wont, Baldwin immediately highlights one of the essential philosophical differences between the British and U.S. strategic outlooks:

…fundamentally, the British evaluation was politico-military; we [the U.S.] ignored the first part of that compound word.

Britain’s traditional policy, for centuries, Baldwin notes, “had been to check the expansionism of Russia.” He concedes that, “In 1942 and 1943, with the Russians in deep retreat and the Germans almost at the Caspian, the British may not have foreseen 1944 and 1945, with the Russians entering the Balkans…” However, Baldwin continues, the British,

…perceived clearly the political importance of this area [i.e., the Balkans], and they saw that an invasion there would preserve it — in the best possible manner by soldiers on the ground — against either Russian [emphasis added] or German interests…Thus the British believed Germany could be beaten and the peace won “by a series of attritions in northern Italy; in the eastern Mediterranean, in Greece, in the Balkans, in Rumania, and other satellite countries.”

Baldwin recounts an obvious impediment to the British forcefully promoting their sound political argument about thwarting Soviet hegemonic aspirations:

[I]n conferences which Russian representatives attended an effort had to be made to maintain the stability of the unnatural “Big Three” alliance that had been created. It must be remembered that during the latter part of the war it was Britain that filled the role the United States now occupies [circa 1950], of chief protagonist vis-à-vis Russia, in the battle for Europe.

As Baldwin also notes, the “British preoccupation with southern Europe” was not based exclusively on geopolitical arguments, emphasizing: “the British were never stupid enough to think they could win the peace by losing the war.” He observes,

Their military logic was good, although the difficult Balkan terrain did not help their arguments. They believed an invasion through the “soft underbelly” would catch the German Army in the rear, would find recruitment of strength from the doughty Slavs of the occupied countries, and would provide via the Danube a broad highway into Germany. But the British clearly were thinking of winning the peace as well as the war…

Despite the soundness of Churchill’s (representing the British) geopolitical and military arguments, Baldwin writes,

…on November 30, 1943, the invasion of Normandy was finally decided at [the] Tehran [Conference], and Stalin strongly supported the southern France invasion [emphasis in original], rather than a trans-Adriatic operation into the Balkans which was mentioned by Roosevelt and backed strongly by Churchill.

Major General John R. Deane was the head of the U.S. Military Mission in Moscow during WWII, and he attended the Tehran Conference in late 1943. Deane’s 1947 analysis, The Strange Alliance — The Story of Our Efforts at Wartime Cooperation with Russia, provides these additional telling observations about the “Second Front” discussions in Tehran, and the consequences of the course of action decided upon:

Stalin knew exactly what he wanted — the second front in France, and the quicker the better. Churchill based his argument on the disastrous effects of a long period of inactivity that would be necessary for most of the forces in the Mediterranean if they had to remain idle until the invasion took place…Stalin wanted the Anglo-American forces in Western, not Southern Europe; Churchill thought our postwar position would be improved and British interests best served if Anglo-Americans as well as the Russians participated in the occupation of the Balkans…From the political point of view hindsight on our part points to foresight on Churchill’s part. It will always be debatable whether Churchill might not have been right even though the action he proposed put an additional burden on our resources and probably would have prolonged the war.

Notwithstanding the Second Front military debate, Baldwin’s irrefragable characterization of the geopolitical landscape its “resolution” begot makes clear that the strategy was a geopolitical disaster:

…the dominant factor in the political complexion of Europe after the war was the presence of the Red Army soldiers in all countries east of the Trieste-Stettin line. The eruption of the Russians into the Danube basin gave them control over one of Europe’s greatest waterways, access to Central Europe’s granaries and great cities, and a strategical position of tremendous power at the center of Europe.

He then carefully and persuasively argues how a Southern European invasion might have averted this “unfortunate climax” to a war of alleged “liberation,” which left half of Europe enslaved by Soviet Communist totalitarianism:

Champions of the western invasion point out that attack from the south might have permitted the Russians to advance through northern Germany, almost unchecked, to the Low Countries, and perhaps even into France. This seems highly unlikely. [emphasis added] In the north the Nazis fought in defense of their own soil; in the south, of alien soil. The bitter last-ditch German defense on the Oder and the bloody battle of Berlin showed the type of fanatic resistance the Reichswehr [German army] offered in the north; in the Balkans, on the other hand, resistance was sporadic. A large-scale Mediterranean invasion might have been mounted some months sooner than the June, 1944, attack in Normandy; bases already were available in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, and the dirty Channel winter weather was not a factor. There was a real chance, as Churchill believed, that a push from Belgrade up the Danube into Czechoslovakia, eastern Germany, and perhaps into Poland would have beaten the Red Armies to northern Europe. A southern invasion, in any case, presupposed a war of limited military objectives and definite political aims, not unconditional surrender or unlimited conquest. It implied a beaten Germany but also a weakened Russia. [emphasis added] And attack through the “soft underbelly” and invasion from the east were never mutually exclusive operations. One naturally complemented the other; this was particularly true after the successful invasion of Normandy. There can be little argument that the invasion of southern France two months after the Normandy attack had little military, and no political, significance; our main effort in the Mediterranean should have been transferred from France and Italy across the Adriatic. [emphases added]

All of this Churchill and the British had clearly foreseen; none of this insofar as the public record goes, did we foresee. Not all [emphasis in original] Americans, of course, were so completely bereft of political foresight. But those who possessed it were not in positions of power. A paper was actually written in the old Military Intelligence Division (G-2) of the War Department warning of the exact dangers which later developed. But the authors had their ears pinned back by a superior, who told them sharply: “The Russians have no political objectives in the Balkans; they were there for military reasons only.” [emphases added]

And Baldwin concludes, ruefully,

Today [circa 1949/50] some of the principal architects of our policy understand their mistakes; and many of our great military figures of the war now admit freely that the British were right and we were wrong. For we forgot that all wars have objectives and all victories conditions; we forgot that winning the peace is equally important as winning the war; we forgot that politico-military is a compound word.

Writing in 1949, Baldwin was not privy to the full record of the late November, 1943 Cairo Conference proceedings, which were not released in full, as Diana West notes in American Betrayal, until 1961. As I learned from reading American Betrayal, General Dwight D. Eisenhower extolled the suitability of both the Italian Po Valley, and the Aegean Sea “Second Front” approaches during the late November, 1943 Cairo Conference. Specifically, Ike opined the following at Cairo on November 26, 1943, as reported in United States Department of State, Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, (1943), pp. 359-60:

Italy was the correct place in which to deploy our main forces and the objective should be the valley of the Po. In no other area could we so well threaten the whole German structure including France, the Balkans and the Reich itself. Here also our air would be closer to vital objectives in Germany.

The next best method of harrying the enemy was to undertake operations in the Aegean…From here the Balkans could be kept aflame, Ploesti [Rumanian; a significant source of oil for Nazi Germany] would be threatened and the Dardanelles [a Turkish strait, connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara] might be opened.

Finally, West’s American Betrayal supplements Baldwin’s astute — and sobering — politico-military analysis with a disturbing exposition of the fanatically pro-Soviet influence operation orchestrated by FDR “Deputy-President” Harry Hopkins to extinguish support for the Mediterranean invasion approach advocated by Churchill and the British. Chapter 9 of American Betrayal is linked in full as a fitting updated epilogue to Baldwin’s conclusions published over six decades earlier, as a pdf file, here.

For links to previous articles about the controversy over American Betrayal, see the Diana West Archives.

15 thoughts on “Who Decided the Location of the Second Front?

  1. Reading Andrew Bostom’s embargoed article, like reading his scholarly investigations of Islamism, and like reading American Betrayal, and then reading some of the opposition “reviews,” provides an instructive contrast of sober and scholarly (and yes, although she may deny the label, Diana West’s technique would be the envy of any true scholar) investigation and explication, with the handy, ever-useful ad hominem screeching of those who have no basis for argument and know it. Left, Right, Communist or Fascist–the technique is always what those past masters of the technique–the Clintons–referred to as “the politics of personal destruction. I don’t know the identity of the Invisible Man, but I’m sure we will all know him when and if we meet him.

  2. All this talk of “soft underbelly” is, and was, misguided. The terrain there is, with the notable exception of the Po valley which Ike focused on, quite difficult. Any Allied invasion in Greece or the Balkans would have found itself mired in the same endless mix of hills, mountains, and streams which plagued the Italian campaign…with the additional drawback that the road and rail net in the Balkans and Greece was worse yet than that of Italy. Progress would have been painfully slow, even against second-string German forces. Think of Allied armies there as a queen, off grabbing pawns in some remote corner of the chessboard. Games can be lost that way.

    The invasion of South France resulted in the capture or decimation of a number of weaker German “static” divisions, which at least was convenient, and more importantly, it brought into the French theater several Allied divisions that would be badly needed for the Fall and Winter campaign in France.

    War is to some extent a scale. Whoever throws the most mass into the balance wins—all else held equal. The pace of events is dictated by terrain and logistics, but who wins is heavily influenced by who has the most men and guns in the fight. The Western Allies cut it a bit too close in sheer number of divisions and manpower they brought to the main battle in France. They won, but a more pronounced superiority of firepower and numbers would have helped to get the job done faster. The Germans, as it was, brought off a counterattack that had poor chances (Bulge) but ideally should have had none at all. Take away half a dozen divisions or more from the Allied lineup in France and it is entirely possible that the Germans achieve some limited degree of victory in the Ardennes rather than the historical result of a painful defeat.

    There were sound military reasons for focusing on France. There were legitimate geopolitical reasons as well: Britain had lost her stomach for mass casualties and the Americans, while more willing to bear them, understandably preferred not to bleed too much if there was a better way. That better way was to win the fight in France, where a good road net and proximity to air bases in Britain made Patton-type blitzkrieg possible.

    Failure to take geographical realities into account, as trumping geopolitical wish-lists, would have been a betrayal of the nation and the soldiers who fought WW2.

    • I have to agree. Opening up a front in the Balkans would have not worked well for us since the terrain heavily favors the defender just like it did in Italy.

      We would have had to fight, bleed and die for every valley and hill top. It’s easy to second guess what needed to be done from a nice office, but I had a WWII combat vet as a father who fought in Sicily and Italy(3rd Division, 3rd provisional recce company), he essentially described it was one horror story after another for the men who fought.

      And yes Britain already lost her stomach for another nasty fight and the Americans after Italy were more than a bit gun shy stepping into another Southern style meat grinder and losing their men for nothing. This is what drove our invasion of Anzio to do a end run around German forces rather than confront them head on and bleed men. Sadly it didn’t work out well because of the timidity of the commanding general.

      Southern France was a much more palatable option than Yugoslavia or Greece.

      I know it’s not a popular opinion.

  3. Those that contend that the Southern Front was strategically inferior to a cross-Channel invasion to create a Western Front tend to point to the physical barrier of the Alps as insurmountable for land based forces to get across due to the natural defensive advantages they afforded.

    Because OVERLORD proved successful they also assume it was always going to be so. It was, all military historians acknowledge, a close-run thing – involving a lot of lucky breaks and mistaken German troop and armour dispositions that hugely favoured the Allies. Even then Caen fell many weeks after it was planned to.

    Mr Bostom cites the importance attributed by several Allied military leaders ( Eisenhower, Air Force General Spaatz – no doubt there were many others including chief British General Harold Alexander) to acquiring the Po valley in northern Italy as base for air raids on Germany (those southern and eastern areas hard to get at from English bases) and on Ploesti in Rumania. There are compelling reasons for why the Po was so sought after.

    After the Allies conquered the limited flat lands of Foggia (quite a way down south from the Po valley) the threat of the air war on Germany’s industries and transportation infrastructure ramped up considerably. When in February 1944 Albert Speer lay convalescing in Merano in the Alps and watched streams of silver four engined bombers from Foggia heading northwards to bomb the ( often expensively relocated) industrial targets in southern Germany and Austria he knew the war was lost. Because he understood better than anybody in the world what Allied bombing was doing to Germany’s capacity to prosecute the war.

    The Foggia bases also made it possible to bomb Ploesti: Germany’s principal source of gasoline to power it’s army and Air Force.

    With air bases in the Po valley the bombing runs northwards would be so much shorter thus so much more frequent and more damaging. One huge factor in why the Italian campaign proceeded so slowly and didn’t get to the Po until April 1945 was that it was never resourced as a primary theatre. And significantly the Italian mainland campaign commenced in autumn, just in time for the rainy Mediterranean winter to hamper offensive operations.

    The German defence under Kesselring was inspired, but if overwhelming air superiority had been applied to, particularly, preventing resupply of defending forces once good flying weather had recommenced in spring 1944, the German defenders would have been starved out – just as they were in Tunisia. But by that time Allied forces were being depleted: removed to England for the planned OVERLORD. And then again for ANVIL/DRAGOON.

    Ultimately of course ground troops would have had to get from the Po valley into Germany: with complete dominance of the air and overwhelming superiority in men, armour and artillery the route through the Ljubljana Gap to Vienna was a realistic strategic option.

    The biggest consideration is that in the “endgame” of WW2 the Germans – just as they did in 1945 – would have concentrated their diminished defensive capabilities towards the East to prevent Germany being overrun by the Red Army. It is instructive to compare the rate of advance by the Western Allies across Germany with that of the Red Army – this was entirely due to the relative strength and determination of German defenders against the Red Army. At some point with diminishing fuel, an increasingly inoperative Air Force and growing shortages of tanks, artillery and with seriously restricted mobility, they would have been forced to contract their defensive line in the West and South to defend the Reich from the threat from the East. It is entirely probable that the German occupation of France and Belgium would have disintegrated without actually being militarily conquered by the Allies just as that of Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands did.

    • Numerous studies and war games have been dedicated to the study and exploration of the possibilities for the Allies in WW2. Given that the Germans won’t be in the loop and won’t know where the blow is slated to fall, the invasion of Normandy was very likely to succeed.

      The Germans never penetrated the secrecy surrounding any major invasion [by the West] and most Soviet operations also succeeded in masking their intentions. For instance, the Germans completely guessed wrong about where the Soviet 1944 summer offensive would be.

      The earlier release of the Panzer divisions stationed near Normandy on D-Day would not have made it possible to drive the invaders into the sea. These divisions would have been much hampered, and meaningfully thinned out, trying to move by day on June 6 in the teeth of absolute Allied air supremacy and a surge effort to boot. Upon arrival, they would have needed time to sort themselves out and to learn just where the Allies were and in what strength.

      The best outcome for the Germans that was reasonably possible would have been that the breakout from Normandy was delayed a few weeks, with the Allies missing their chance to run riot across France in August and maybe win the war then and there.

      Play the game as many times as you like, from the German side you lose—assuming your opponent has anything like the mix of skill, flair, and sober caution that the actual Allied operational commanders demonstrated.

      In these same games, the player has the option to try his luck in Italy and the Balkans. The obstacles that historians cite are there on the game maps too and only a foolish Allied player will dismiss them.

  4. Someone please tell me what Radosh, Horowitz and American Thinker and others are up to in quashing Diana West and her meticulous history of FDR and his fellow travelers favoring the Communists.

    1) What do they gain by doing this?
    2) Why are they so squeamish about FDR, Harry Hopkins and the Democrats in general being USSR sympathizers?

    West is saying we were infiltrated by the Communists and watch out because we are now being infiltrated by Islam. That is the comparison she is drawing in her book. The fact is that Islam has totally infiltrated the Democratic Party and a chunk of the Republican Party. Except for blogs such as this and a few courageous individuals no one will speak the truth.

  5. It is always a pleasure to read Dr. Bostom’s writing. The attackers of Ms. West will rue the day of their judgements. The Baron is to be praised for his courageous stands on both Ms. West’s book and Islam in general.

  6. What is fascinating to me is that this whole affair demonstrates that two people can look at the same set of facts and come to completely different historical interpretations of those facts. IMHO Diana West has totally misread the historical context, in particular the mood of the times. Ms. West is a “conservative” and apparently believes that if people were only correctly and properly informed, everybody would be a conservative, this is not true. Capitalism was not popular with the US electorate during the 20th century, any more than it is now, if you doubt that, consider Obama and the very real possibility that Elizabeth Warren will be the next President.
    There is no question that many of the US political elite were (and are) sympathetic to socialism. Harry Hopkins and FDR among them. However there is a world of difference between being sympathetic to, and being an agent of. There certainly were communist agents of the USSR in the US bureaucracy but Ms West vastly overstates their influence. It is undeniably true that hitler (and the Japanese Empire) were threats to world peace but the USSR was not, however ghastly the crimes of Stalin they were internal crimes. Faced with conflict against both of the fascist empires FDR understood that Germany had to be defeated, and given that Germany had been responsible more than any others for the catastrophe that was WW1, had to be totally defeated, no armistice, no negotiations, no German militarism to survive. In order to achieve that, and defeat the Japanese at the same time, all possible assistance had to be rendered to the USSR. All possible assistance meant the total mobilisation of the US economy in support of the war effort. As for the Germans in the military who supposedly resisted Hitler, they only did so when they knew they were going to lose and hoped by duping sympathisers in the Allied camp they could retain some of their gains.
    As for the argument about the Normandy landings against a continued campaign in the Med/Italy/Balkan region; only someone who couldn’t read a map would support Churchill’s “soft underbelly” argument, just consider Cassino; where approximately 1,000 German paratroops assisted by another 1,000 drivers, clerks, bottlewashers and other German “non-combat” soldiers held up 5th army for 5 months. The whole campaign in Italy was a story of attacks against perfect defensive postions on a narrow front against highly skilfull German defenders. One thing to understand about Eisenhower; he was terrible battlefield general, he may have been the best manager/administrator/planner in history but his record in battle was terrible; torch was a shambles, his direction of the Sicilian campaign allowed 60,000 German soldiers with 10,000 vehicles to escape to the Italian mainland where they formed the backbone of the German defence of that country. His rationalization that the Med area was the best for continued offence was that there were not enough landing craft in 1943 for Overlord, he also understood the huge logistical problem of moving from Med area back to England. The 1944 campaign in NW Europe was hopelessly mishandled by Ike, he could have finished Germany in 1944 if he had made the admittedly very difficult decision to support Patton in a drive across France, leaving the British army to defend the flanks. Ike decided to advance on a broad front, and to include the British army as an equal partner even though, to put it politely, the British army had a “questionable” combat record; having quit in France in 1940, in Malaya in 1941/42, in Africa in 1942, in Greece in 1942 and again in Rhodes 1943. The British army and it’s lack of offensive spirit and skill slowed down the Allied advance into Germany and allowed the USSR to occupy central Europe. Given the Allied strength in armor, mobility, firepower and air, and the hope amongst the German military and civilian population that they could surrender to the Western Allies there was a huge lost opportunity for the post war border to be much further East than it actually became.
    As for our modern lack of will against Islam, this can partly be explained by the fact that Saudi Arabia, particularly through it’s long time and very able ambassador to the US; “Prince” Bandar, the US political elite has been bought, purchased, subverted and puppeteered to the extent that it is incapable of making any principled stand against muslim aggression. When a billion dollars is chump change to you, believe me in the money hungry atmosphere of US politics you will have lots of friends.
    sorry about the long post, but this is a huge subject, volumes have been written about it already and doubtless there will be many more.

    • As to Patton winning the war in 1944, I have to disagree. I’ve gamed this thing for decades in various scenarios. The terrain on the approaches to the Rhine, and on the other side of the Rhine in Germany, is rougher in the South than in the North. Supply lines are longer. The Allies had to have several out of the the ports of Rouen, Calais, Boulogne, Dunkirk, Ostend, and Antwerp up and running if they wanted to supply a full scale effort.

      The Germans had proved themselves masters of counterattack. Ike may not have been much of a battlefield general but any coalition featuring Patton running the show would have fallen apart due to wounded pride and hurt feelings. And Ike had fairly good judgment with respect to the big decisions. A wild melee on the approaches to the Rhine, running on a logistical shoestring and with many of our divisions stranded halfway to nowhere by lack of fuel would have been irresponsibly risky. Maybe it would have worked. But why bet the war on that risk when with a more cautious approach you’re pretty much certain to win?

    • >”Capitalism was not popular with the US electorate during the 20th century, any more than it is now, if you doubt that, consider Obama and the very real possibility that Elizabeth Warren will be the next President.”

      The people were never asked to vote on economic freedom (capitalism) vs. economic tyranny (socialism).

      Every single victory socialism scored in long war of attrition against freedom was won by a campaign of deception, subterfuge, betrayal, media blackouts of the outstanding spokesmen of freedom, and the politics of personal destruction. In fact, using tactics identical to the ones being deployed today by the deeply penetrated and compromised Establishment of the now-balkanized “Conservative” movement against Ms. West.

      >”However there is a world of difference between being sympathetic to, and being an agent of. There certainly were communist agents of the USSR in the US bureaucracy but Ms West vastly overstates their influence. ”

      Oh, so you haven’t actually read her book.

      >”It is undeniably true that hitler (and the Japanese Empire) were threats to world peace but the USSR was not,…”

      Ever heard of the Winter War, the two Soviet campaigns against Poland, the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Hungarian Revolution, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Prague Spring, the PLO, the Cuban military personnel fighting in Mozambique and Angola, and the Irish Republican Army and other terrorists from around the world training in Beirut?

      You don’t get around much, do you?

      >”…however ghastly the crimes of Stalin they were internal crimes. ”

      Yes, yes, as long as you consider Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Mongolia, North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam, China, Laos, and Tibet to be integral parts of the Soviet Union, and the massive crimes Stalin committed there to be strictly internal, then this statement is perfectly true.

      Except for the municipality of Coyoacan, Mexico, and the District of Columbia, where Leon Trotsky and Walter Krivitsky, respectively, were assassinated on Stalin’s orders prior to their respective scheduled appearances before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Yes, those also, along with many other similar places scattered around the world, would also have to be considered internal to the Soviet Union.

      And, speaking of the District of Columbia being under Stalin’s thumb — well, that was rather the point of Ms. West’s book, wasn’t it?

      • Cova,
        I will attempt to answer your post although my first response is to laugh at your [redacted].
        Your point about people never being given a choice between what you quaintly term “economic freedom” is [redacted], it may have escaped your attention but the Libertarian candidate generally polls around 1 to 2% of the popular vote. The reason for that is that we are perfectly well aware of the results of your economic freedom agenda; the ruthless exploitation of labor, material and environment, the irresponsible exercise of monopoly power to entrench privilege and the brutal subjugation of any perceived political threat to the wealth of the tiny elite. But to you and your fellow travelling libertarian fantasists the reason your agenda is rejected is because we are not informed correctly, now where have we heard that before?
        Let us start with the winter war: Stalin was well aware of Hitler’s war aims and reasonably decided that Leningrad (St. Petersburg) was vulnerable to German attack, so requested that Finland exchange some territory in the gulf of finland for a larger piece of territory in the nickel rich Petsamo region in the north. Finland, being a German ally, refused what was a perfectly reasonable request in a region where borders are fluid to say the least. Thus the winter war, which the USSR settled with pretty much exactly what they had reasonably asked for in the initial negotiations, they could have just swallowed the whole of Finland.
        Poland has the territorial integrity of a blob of mercury on a shaky table, they attacked the weakened and chaotic USSR in 1923 and seized territory, very foolish of them, the bear did not forget.
        I will make something very clear; in my opinion Stalin was a cynical brutish man, but he was also a brilliant politician and military leader, he saved Russia, and incidentally the West, from the most criminal regime and gang of thugs ever to exist in human history.
        As to your [redacted] list of troubles caused by the USSR I would direct you to a careful study of the origins and events of the Vietnam war, where the US acted in a criminal, cynical and manipulative manner to support a thug regime and suppress the clearly stated will of the Vietnamese people.
        The tone of your post is very revealing, it is clear that [redacted] is father to your philosophy, you and Murad would get on very well. You would do well to de-emphasize your own emotions, feelings and agenda and consider issues in a cool and unbiased manner, although [redacted].

        • Russia could perhaps have gone ahead and conquered Finland in the Winter War. But at what cost? The Finnish Army was defeated but far from destroyed. Had they been given no choice but to fight on, they could have put up a protracted defense. Once again I point to terrain. Finland is no playground for massed armies. With winter waning, the time when tanks could cross ice and frozen marshland was running out.

          It was not out of generosity that Russia let Finland survive, but because the price of complete victory would have been too high.

          • Sam,
            Russian generosity had nothing whatsoever to do with the settlement of the winter war. Stalin wanted some territory to enhance the defence of Leningrad, he asked the Finns politely and (in his view at least) reasonably, they refused, he attacked and after a completely pointless and bloody campaign the USSR juggernaut prevailed and Stalin took what he had asked for in the first place. Generosity or even emnity had nothing to do with it.
            It is worth stating that Stalin was very well aware the a Russo/German conflict was inevitable, all his moves in the years leading up to June 22nd 1941 point to his understanding of the German threat. It is clear that he understood better than anyone (even Churchill) where Europe was headed.

  7. Thanks again to Ned for having the morals and guts to publish a simple exchange of ideas–which is all that Diana West’s book should have engendered in the first place. Alas that horse is so far out of the barn it is circumnavigating the globe for a second time now.

    Yesterday, I came across the following very matter-of-fact observations, circa 1957, by the late great political scientist, Samuel Huntington, from his “The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-military Relations,” p. 335:

    “In the Balkans versus western Europe dispute, the Operations Division of the General Staff, which served as Marshall’s command post, generally accepted the prevailing political orthodoxy. In the lower ranking staffs, however, there were at least some doubts. A staff study produced in the G-2 Division of the War Department warned of the political dangers of Russian dominance in the Balkans. But this occurred just at the time when the Joint Chiefs were acquiescing in the idea of Russian pre-eminence in Europe….” [goes on to quote the same Hanson Baldwin remarks reproduced in my essay about that G-2 report and the reaction to it]

    The only serious way forward if the goal is an honest assessment of the full context of this WWII-era debate is to ask more questions (i.e., like the ones American Betrayal poses, but addressing further, for example the specifics of this G-2 report, what it contained and how, why, and by whom it was “rebuffed”, identifying both the military and political leaders involved in this back and forth, via the appropriate archival sources). Huntington’s very casually stated observation that “the Operations Division of the General Staff, which served as Marshall’s command post, generally accepted the prevailing political orthodoxy,” a “political orthodoxy” which in fact had apparently succeeded in making the Joint Chiefs “acquiesce” to “the idea of Russian pre-eminence in Europe” confirms that a great deal more must be done to understand the details of how this (warped) mindset prevailed.

  8. Circa 1986, Col. John P. Lawton recorded these conclusions—and lingering questions—in his U.S. Army War College analysis, “CHURCHILL’S SOFT-UNDERBELLY APPROACH ONTO THE EUROPEAN CONTINENT – A MISSED OPPORTUNITY”: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a170152.pdf

    “In essence, the soft underbelly or Balkan approach into Europe was not supported because of the United States paranoia about British colonial interests, because of OVERLORD concerns and because keeping the Russians in the war prejudiced any reasonable debate of the issue….Did anyone discuss partisan support (Greek, Yugoslovian, Rumanian, etc); the long term gains (post-World War II) of having allied forces in Greece, Rumania, Bulgaria, etc., rather than the Russians? Did anyone point out the pressure such a campaign would put on the Germans, thereby providing relief both to the Russians and later to OVERLORD? How hard a case was made? The official United States Army history does not reflect any analysis other than preparation to rebut Churchill’s proposal…A Balkan campaign was possible, dependent on how lend-lease and the US might was used. We know that with the collapse and surrender of Italy, the Germans in July through October of 1943 increased the number of divisions in the Balkans from 10.5 to 16; in Italy from 6.5 to 19. Wouldn’t such a campaign help both the Russian front and OVERLORD by drawing more Nazi divisions to the Balkans?”

    “Churchill tells us he only wanted one-tenth of the total forces committed to Europe which equals two or three divisions for the Balkans. For the Mediterranean, those forces would be distributed 4/5 in Italy (already there), 1/10 in Corsica and 1/10 in the Balkans. The payback—gain the support of Turkey; dominate the Black Sea; shorten the supply sources to the Russians; and, not stated, a post World War II Western oriented occupation of key Eastern European countries by friendly allies. Our net loss. Lack of a strategy cost us a Soviet dominated Balkans and approximately one-third of our standing Army permanently stationed in Europe.”

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