I enjoy reading history, primarily military history. The more I read, the more I come to the conclusion that an argument could be made that in all of the wars we have been involved in, since the War of 1812, except perhaps Hitler in WWII, we could have avoided involvement in all of them with competent civilian and military leaders using good diplomacy.
Consequently, I am writing a few essays to set out only why I believe that competent leadership could have kept us out of most, if not all, of the wars we have been involve in. It is not meant to denigrate, in any way, our conduct of the wars. That would be a much bigger project. Generally, the wars have been fought with unconditional terms as a goal which I agree with. I realize that hind-sight is 20/20 and it probably is not fair to judge our leaders when they did not have all the facts that history provides. Finally, “Ignorance is Bliss.” would be my excuse for any other of my errors in facts and/or judgments.
WORLD WAR ONE
By Dick Martin
Part One - Excuse Me!
Well, excuse me! But WW I (the Great War) has to be considered the stupidest of all of the American wars! In fact, except for WWII, I believe the cost in lives and treasure make all of the American wars since the War of 1812 unnecessary, impractical and immoral. WWI was fought to assuage big egos. From Churchill and Lord Mountbatten to George VI and Lord Kitchener, the civilian and military leadership on both sides lost controls of their egos and sent thousands of their youth to their slaughter in faraway places such as Gallipoli, Burma, and the Ottoman Empire. All the player’s egos played a significant role in the decision making to end the war. No statesman or military man had enough gravitas to end the slaughter, even if he wanted to. WWI is said to have eliminated the flower of England and Europe’s youth. The UK stood by and watched Winston Churchill send its youth to be slaughtered on the European as well as the Gallipoli peninsula. Gallipoli? Where in the hell is Gallipoli and why did Churchill think that it was important enough to sacrifice UK troops? Its only value was to control a non-essential waterway and satisfy Churchill’s ego. The Turks (Ottoman’s) proved that Churchill had greatly underestimated them. They sent Churchill’s UK soldiers back home with their tails between their legs. After attacking both sides of the peninsula and taking huge losses, the UK decided it wasn’t so important after all. Politically, Winston Churchill somehow survived this blunder. This may be the best example of out-of-control egos having a horrible effect on military affairs. You have to ask yourself; how did Winston Churchill survive Gallipoli and its 20,000 dead? I guess we should probably be glad that he did survive because of his role in WWII.
WORLD WAR ONE
By Dick Martin
Part Two - Alliances
WWI was a war fought by alliances: In one corner, were The Entente Powers led by the UK, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, and the United States (1917), and in the other corner, were The Central Powers led by Germany, the Ottoman empire Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary, and Serbia. In Sarajevo, the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian loser (Gavrilo Princip) lit the fuse that triggered the beginning of WWI. It was as if the Archduke and his wife wanted to be assassinated. After escaping death in the morning when a bomb was thrown at them, in an incredible act of stupidity, they left Sarajevo retracing the same route that had almost got them killed in the morning. Of course, Princip was patiently waiting for them at point blank range, giving him a second attempt at assassination. This time successful. Russia, Serbia, France, as well as the UK, who had an alliance with each other, were all drawn into WWI by the Archduke’s assassination. WWI, like all wars, lacked competent civilian leadership and an expectation of a short conflict; both of which would exacerbate the situation. Most of these short summaries were gleaned from three books:
A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin;
Mountbatten by Philip Ziegler; and
The First World War by Martin Gilbert