May 26th, 2014

For Memorial Day: on nationalism and patriotism

The story “The Man Without a Country” used to be standard reading matter for seventh graders. In fact, it was the first “real” book—as opposed to those tedious Dick and Jane readers—that I ever was assigned to read in school. As such it was exciting, since it dealt with an actual story with some actual drama to it. It struck me as terribly sad—and unfair, too—that Philip Nolan was forced to wander the world, exiled, for one moment of cursing the United States. “The Man Without a Country” was the sort of paean to patriotism that I would guess is rarely or never assigned nowadays to students.

Patriotism has gotten a very bad name during the last few decades. I think part of this feeling began (at least in this country), like so many things, with the Vietnam era. But patriotism and nationalism seem to have been rejected by a large segment of Europeans even earlier, as a result of the devastation both sentiments were seen to have wrought during WWI and WWII. Of course, WWII in Europe was a result mainly of German nationalism run amok, but it seemed to have given nationalism as a whole a very bad name.

Here’s author Thomas Mann on the subject, writing in 1947 in the introduction to the American edition of Herman Hesse’s Demian:

If today, when national individualism lies dying, when no single problem can any longer be solved from a purely national point of view, when everything connected with the “fatherland” has become stifling provincialism and no spirit that does not represent the European tradition as a whole any longer merits consideration…

A strong statement of the post-WWII idea of nationalism as a dangerous force, mercifully dead or dying, to be replaced (hopefully) by a pan-national (or, rather, anational) Europeanism. Mann was a German exile from his own country, who had learned to his bitter regret the excesses to which unbridled and amoral nationalism can lead. His was an understandable and common response, one that helped lead to the formation of the EU. The nationalism of the US is seen by those who agree with him as a relic of those dangerous days of nationalism gone mad without any curb of morality or consideration for others.

But the pendulum is swinging back. The US is not Nazi Germany, however much the far left may try to make that analogy. And, in fact, that is one of the reasons they try so hard to make that particular analogy—because Nazi Germany was one of the very best examples of the dangers of unbridled and amoral nationalism.

But, on this Memorial Day, I want to say there’s a place for nationalism, and for love of country. Not a nationalism that ignores morality, but one that embraces it and strives for it, keeping in mind that—human nature being what it is—no nation on earth can be perfect or anywhere near perfect. The US is far from perfect, but it is a very good country nevertheless, striving to be better.

So, I’ll echo the verse that figured so prominently in “The Man Without a Country,” and say (corny, but true): …this is my own, my native land. And I’ll also echo Francis Scott Key and add: …the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


[NOTE: This is a slightly edited version of an older post. Note how it dovetails with today’s post on the recent European elections, even though this one was first written many years ago.]

41 Responses to “For Memorial Day: on nationalism and patriotism”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    Well, it;s not striving all that hard to be better, is it?

  2. Mr. Frank Says:

    Some countries and cultures work better than others. All over the world people are trying to get away from the ones that don’t work. Unfortunately, they often take their culture and world view with them. Let too many people in the life boat, and it sinks.

    If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.

  3. Beverly Says:

    Some of you already know this, but there are more verses to the Star Spangled Banner than the one we always hear.

    In this clip, a Marine stuns a crowd with his rendition of the concluding verse of our national anthem:

  4. Beverly Says:

    And yes, we read The Man Without a Country, too. Was required reading in the South Carolina public schools in the 1960s.

  5. Jed Skillman Says:

    The Man Without a Country is really an excellent work; an amazingly enjoyable and affecting read. The author was Edward Everett Hale who served as the Chaplain of the House of Representatives during the Civil War. Patriotism and love of country aside, his basic theme was “be careful what you wish for”. It is a lesson that many on the left don’t grasp. Like Lt. Phillip Nolan, Leftists often act as if they can wish ill on the United States and even consort with traitors, Aaron Burr in the story, and the same sun will come up every morning, the economy will continue to churn out profits and good jobs, and streets will always be safe. They have no clue what they are tinkering with.

    The dramatic content of the story consists of taking one of those malcontents and giving him exactly what he wants, and then seeing what happens when he gets it.

  6. Mr. Frank Says:

    Thanks for the link to the National Anthem. Made my day and choked me up. The crowd standing up was impressive. I’ve forwarded it to my children.

  7. Beverly Says:

    You’re more than welcome! I’ll send it to my nieces and nephew, and hope more of you will do the same. God bless.

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    Beverly, truly a war song though in years of late I haven’t heard it song as such.

  9. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    All of our treasured America songs have more than one verse. They’re easy to memorize. The Anthem, America the Beautiful, Our Country Tis of Thee, the Battle Hymn of the Republic—including the Civil War verse—and, for poems, ones like America For Me, the Blue and the Gray, and the poem about The Man Without a Country. (And the many verses of the Marine Corps Hymn.) It’s rewarding to have children come into contact with all of them.

    Beverly—thanks for the video link. That man has a wonderful voice, doesn’t he? When the people stood up, I got tears in my eyes.

    And then—serendipity!—on the same page was a commercial Budweiser made for 9/11. Incredible.

    And Red Skelton on the Pledge of Allegiance.

    And, since I have found so much joy in following links, I would like to mention a man named Vannavar Bush, who wrote a piece for The Atlantic in 1945 about the wonders he foresaw in conjoining computers and the quest for knowledge, and he described the basics of the process that we take for granted, the ability to concatenate pieces of information, videos, etc. so as to be able to retrieve them at will. I often wonder what he would think of the Internet we use so casually today. Remember, this was 1945!

    Part of his essay:

    “Thereafter, at any time, when one of these items is in view, the other can be instantly recalled merely by tapping a button below the corresponding code space. Moreover, when numerous items have been thus joined together to form a trail, they can be reviewed in turn, rapidly or slowly, by deflecting a lever like that used for turning the pages of a book. It is exactly as though the physical items had been gathered together from widely separated sources and bound together to form a new book. It is more than this, for any item can be joined into numerous trails.”

  10. Mac Says:

    Very well said, Neo.

  11. rickl Says:

    The only thing worse than nationalism is internationalism.

  12. oldschooltwentysix Says:

    According to many international law practitioners, the best mechanism to deliver human rights is the nation state, imperfect it may all be..

  13. Oldflyer Says:

    Perhaps some can relate to my own surprise and shock around 1967, or so, when I first realized that patriotism was a dirty word.

    The idea of Nationalism became tarnished by those who analyzed the origins of WWI, although, in truth it was more the practice of Imperialism that was the proximate cause. Still, in the name of their Imperial ambitions, mostly Regal rulers managed to enlist the emotions of Nationalism and the jargon of Jingoism in their cause.

    Leftists would no doubt disagree, but I believe that Nationalist attachments to a freedom based, Polygot entity are much preferred to–oh say, Tribalistic loyalties.

  14. Michael Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful article.
    I read: “The US is not Nazi Germany” …and thought that a few years ago that would have been incontestable. After the recent gay-stapo tactics, businesses being forced to comply, web ceos losing their jobs, and the “first lady” telling children to rat out their parents, I really can’t say that with such certainty.

  15. expat Says:

    I always think of patriotism as love of country, which is as necessary to building a healthy human as love of family. when a grown child says he has the best mother or father in the whole world, he does not say it to denigrate the parents of other children. In fact, he knows that the world would be a better place if all people felt that way. It is the people who grow up without love, with an inferiority complex if you will, who try to make up for their lack by blaming and scapegoating others.

  16. Sgt. Mom Says:

    There was a real Philip Nolan, by the way – and Edward Everett Hale apparently felt rather bad about using the name for his own character.

    I wrote about the real Philip Nolan here – it was even more dramatic than the Hale novelette.

  17. Artfldgr Says:

    Ignorant Or Lying? Watch Awesome Video Of Obama Finding Out About Every Scandal From Media

  18. ErisGuy Says:

    I am always astonished that two wars (the second started when Poland was partitioned between the National Socialists and International Socialists) disgraced nationalism and patriotism, but the gulag, laogai, and killing fields have never disgraced socialism.

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    I always think of patriotism as love of country, which is as necessary to building a healthy human as love of family

    There’s no difference as I see it. Patriotism is the same thing as love of family, because a country without people in it isn’t a country. A family without people in it, isn’t a family.

    Thus without families, a country does not exist. Without patriotism, a country cannot exist.

    People have priorities and there are different forms of love such as romantic love, sibling love, family love, etc.

    Without hate, it cannot be discerned. Without love, it cannot be seen.

    Because people have given up on patriotism, all they have left are the things to be hated, but without love, they have no guidance and are thus led down the Piper’s path by the Leftist alliance of rapists, murderers, and people who will make the world better.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Western will to live and fight was broken in WWI. All the time afterwards, even after WWII, was merely the death scream.

    Thus people who had lost the will to fight for life, could no longer justify the sacrifices needed to keep their country alive. All they had was their value in their own life. If Churchill was needed to keep them alive, they would cheer Churchill on. When he wasn’t needed and another party promised to use the national powers of Britain to save the people from hunger and poverty (just as Britain used it to save people in war time), then it was time to boot Churchill out and make the necessary reforms to save their own lives first.

    The Leftist alliance is a religion, thus to seek absolution they command that people must kill and conquer. The Western philosophy was one centered around life and the will to live. The Left’s death cult grows more powerful the more they kill. The Western civilization grows less powerful the more they have killed.

  21. Don Carlos Says:

    “Patriotism has gotten a very bad name” because the Left (see Hillary the screamer) has seized it and perverted it and used it for the Left’s own ends as if it were toilet paper.

  22. Don Carlos Says:

    And I don’t fly Old Glory anymore either, not while Hussein the Political Pervert is Prez.

  23. David Foster Says:

    Ymarsakar…”The Western will to live and fight was broken in WWI.”

    Ludwig Breyer, a German WWI veteran in Remarque’s sadly-neglected novel The Road Back:

    They told us it was for the Fatherland, and they meant the schemes of annexation of a greedy industry.–They told us it was for honour, and meant the quarrels and the will to power of a handful of ambitious diplomats and princes..They stuffed the word Patriotism with all the twaddle of their fine phrases, with their desire for glory, their will to power, their false romanticism…And we thought they were sounding a bugle summoning us to a new, a more strenuous, a larger life. Can’t you see, man? But we were making war against ourselves without knowing it!…The youth of the world rose up in every land believing that it was fighting for freedom! And in every land they were duped and misused; in every land they have been shot down, they have exterminated each other.

    …and another character, Ernst, who has become a teacher:

    There sit the little ones with folded arms. In their eyes is still all the shy astonishment of the childish years. They look up at me so trustingly, so believingly–and suddenly I get a spasm over the heart.

    Here I stand before you, one of the hundreds of thousands of bankrupt men in whom the war destroyed every belief and almost every strength…What should I teach you? Should I tell you that in twenty years you will be dried-up and crippled, maimed in your freest impulses, all pressed mercilessly into the selfsame mould? Should I tell you that all learning, all culture, all science is nothing but hideous mockery, so long as mankind makes war in the name of God and humanity with gas, iron, explosive, and fire?…Should I take you to the green-and-grey map there, move my finger across it, and tell you that here love was murdered? Should I explain to you that the books you hold in your hands are but nets in which men design to snare your simple souls, to entangle you in the undergrowth of fine phrases, and in the barbed wire of falsified ideas?

    …I feel a cramp begin to spread through me, as if I were turning to stone, as if I were crumbling away. I lower myself into the chair, and realize that I cannot stay here any longer. I try to take hold of something but cannot. Then after a time that has seemed to me endless, the catalepsy relaxes. I stand up. “Children,” I say with difficulty, “you may go now.”

    The little ones look at me to make sure I am not joking. I nod once again. “Yes, that is right–go and play today–go and play in the wood–or with your dogs and your cats–you need not come back till tomorrow–”

    This novel is IMO one of the key books for understanding what WWI did to European civilization, the other being Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory. I reviewed the Remarque book here:

  24. Artfldgr Says:

    silly commentary…

    completely ignores the fact taht communists are international socialsits and in an international one government controls the world kind of thing, there is no place for patriotism, nationalism… as that is racism… (by trotsky and soviet definitions that created the word).

    its silly to sit and read and watch someone not get the very fundemental difference between hitler and stalins regimes… ie. national vs international…

    so the whole point to not liking anything that would seem to preserve culture..

    so they love feminsits, they are destroying culture
    they love blacks, who had their culture destroyed
    they hate nazis, who wanted to have their own place and control it (its a misnomer that national socialistm wanted the whole world, that was communisms claim!), and so on and so on

    failure to understand the ideology from its foundation up, makes for some silly commentary and misattributions that sound great, but are invented whole cloth.

    this is why they conflate patriotism with nationalism… to someone who wants nothing to be remembered or held sacred and be free to mold reality, they are two of the greatest impediments…

    its why we have the whole no one wins thing… ie. a winer is like a patriot their teem feels better to them… ie sets them apart… ie. their idea of where patriotism stems from (and individualism, etc)

    often times its like reading people who come in to discuss a degree glass and who have barely read the required reading, but instead are using movies and such to write their papers from… invariably, they include the same wrong things without any regard to finding out why or what other than some made up surmizing or some idea copied from an article that either did not know, or knew and lied by omission

    check out the white privelege thing….
    with the conference over, why not invest in cremetoria?

  25. Ymarsakar Says:

    Japan still has patriotism in the hearts of the people. Same for China and perhaps even Taiwan and South Korea.

    So long as the culture is alive, love can be transmitted. But when the culture is killed, the people are already dead, no matter if their physical bodies are still reproducing.

    Birth rates are more direly affected by immigration, economic policies, and whether you belong to a First World culture or a Third World culture that has women in the kitchen.

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    David Foster

    It often looks like a giant survivor’s guilt. They were ashamed that so many died, and they lived because of that. But instead of honoring the sacrifices, they rejected the lives of their fellow humans as being cannonfodder. They had no way to absolve their own guilt, other than by killing themselves. And they were too afraid of death to even do that. So they had nothing left but to believe in the Leftist alliance’s death cult dogma.

    Peace at all costs!

    Keep the black slaves and immigrant workers in their place, they are born to work!

    The blacks are too poor and stupid to ever become the equals of whites, so whites bear all the guilt and burdens and responsibilities for the state of the world!

    The patriots and those who lived to fight or fought to live, had little influence left, especially since the intellectuals and coward political priests had sent them to the front to be executed (Hussein in Benghazi and CIA Afghan). So power and influence inevitably shifted to the Neville Chamberlains, those who were part of WWI but served in an auxiliary role, far away from danger. In fact Chamberlain was responsible for some of the draft policies.

    Even still, over the years the patriots and those with an unshattered will, continued to fight. But the intellectual and political class had long given up. The pyramid can only sustain itself when inverted for so long.

    Japan faced a similar conundrum after WWII. How were they to continue to believe in Japanese beauty and cultural superiority, given the excesses of Imperial Japan, the military wing of the Japanese gov, and the acceptance of defeat by their Emperor? Many, after coming home to the firebombed cities and nuclearized cinders of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, merely gave up on life.

    But others did not.

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    David Foster:

    And yet somehow they went back to war in WWII. And not just due to Hitler, although he certainly had a huge role in it.

    WWI started the process, WWII finished it. Even by the time WWII began some countries had lost their will to fight. Not Germany, unfortunately. Not Britain, perhaps due to Churchill’s ability to re-awaken it. Not Poland, although it was doomed, and not Russia. But France—one of the countries that had lost most in WWI—seemed to just roll over.

  28. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    The theory to which neo refers is known as Transnationalism, a European concept arising out of WWI & II that posits that nationalism is responsible for wars of aggression. Poppycock and sloppy reasoning. The cultural values a society embraces are responsible for its aggression or peacefulness. Canada bent on world conquest? Please. The US and Canada have no designs upon the others territory. England, France & Germany have always maneuvered for dominance. Even today’s surrender monkeys, the French, vie for political dominance.

    “its a misnomer that national socialistm wanted the whole world, that was communisms claim” artfldgr

    Try selling that to the Poles, French and Greeks… the Norwegians and Danes.

  29. neo-neocon Says:


    Actually, many people left socialism and Communism when Stalin’s crimes were publicized. Some in the 30s, and some later after Khrushchev’s speech. Not enough, but some.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left pinpointed the psychological motivation between nationalism and patriotism: love.

    So they destroyed love, with free sex and various other things. Mission accomplished?

  31. David Foster Says:

    Neo…”But France—one of the countries that had lost most in WWI—seemed to just roll over.”

    France’s defeat in 1940 was due to factors of national morale as well as bad generalship and bad military doctrine…but “roll over” is too strong. During this brief campaign, France lost 90,000 killed.

    I wrote about the military, social, and political factors that led to the defeat here:

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    David Foster:

    Have you ever read William Shirer’s book on the subject? I own it and have read some of it, but hardly have scratched the surface. It looks fascinating.

  33. David Foster Says:

    Neo…yes, I have read the Shirer book, it is worthwhile. Another book, very-well-written, is Alastair Horne’s To Lose a Battle.

    Probably hard to find, but the memoir of General Edward Spears, Assignment to Catastrophe, is superb. Spears, a British officer and MP, was a noted Francophile who was a liason officer in WWI and was Churchill’s representative to the French Army in WWII.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    Well, the Frenchies should now rest in easy that the National Front is revitalizing France. Even though what that means, hard to say.

  35. David Foster Says:

    Neo…”And yet somehow they went back to war in WWII.” Indeed…the disillusionment that Remarque describes so eloquently was common in all the European belligerent countries, but it was Germany where a resurgent militarism and nationalism (in the worst sense) became dominant. (Although there *were* strong Fascist-leaning groups in France.)

    Remarque has a character named Georg Rahe who simply cannot adapt to civilian life…he sees idealism perishing in a civilian existence that is “this pig’s wash of order, duty, women, routine, punctuality and the rest of it that they call life here”…he sees an ordinary city street as “All one long fire trench” and the houses as “Dugouts, every one–the war still goes on–but a dirty, low-down war–every man against his fellow–” These feelings drive him to join up again–whether the small regular army or one of the Freikorps units is not specified.

    “And though you tell me a thousand times that you hate war, yet I still say, we lived then. We lived, because we were together, and because something burned in us that was more than this whole muck-heap here…I’m going where comradeship is still to be found.”

    Why was this feeling especially common in Germany? I’m not sure, but suspect it partly had something to do with the humiliation of defeat.

  36. Artfldgr Says:

    The theory to which neo refers is known as Transnationalism, a European concept arising out of WWI & II that posits that nationalism is responsible for wars of aggression. Poppycock and sloppy reasoning. GB…

    not at all. its SOVIET reasoning!!!
    i can even show you the articles about it in the 30s, and 40s and post war…

    the point is to fulfil the quote of engels that predicted or said there would be a holocaust… which is why the word was made up, to deflect from the actual quote that would reveal that marxism has this as a goal, and not some quirk of germans or russians… (note what is actually happening and who is doing what to the jews in the ukraine)

    “its a misnomer that national socialistm wanted the whole world, that was communisms claim” artfldgr

    Try selling that to the Poles, French and Greeks… the Norwegians and Danes.

    as the germans invaded china, india, south africa, canada, south america, etc…

    the communists DID invade china, invaded korea, invaded those countries you list, changed cuba, changed laos, cambodia, large swatchs of south america. remolded the schools in the US, put people in our government, helped make china communist not nationalist…

    or did you forget chinese nationalism?
    Kuomintang???? and how its nationalism comes from soviets, germany, us progressives, etc.

    you sit here in a country where the left says white men are responsible for all the ills of the world and are basically german nazis… and you think the rhetoric of the purpose of X last centyury is pure and clear and so on?

    ie. if you take over the world, there is no such thing as NATIONAL… you cant be a NATIONAL Socialist if you have no nation… can you?

    the idea that he was going to take over the whole world was the rhetoric that helped motivate people to fight…

    but if we really cared if that was the goal, then soviet union would have scared us much more and we would not be siding with sovietisms today as good answers while calling the opposition nazis AS THEY DID THE SAME LAST CENTURY

    take the time and you can look up the changes to when the national socialists fell out of favor. its actually a great period of history to study to show how the actual leaders and such can turn on a nickle, whiel their useful idiots cant…

    from wiki:

    German Nazism subscribed to theories of racial hierarchy and social Darwinism, asserted the superiority of an Aryan master race, and criticised both capitalism and communism for being associated with Jewish materialism. It aimed to overcome social divisions, with all parts of a racially homogenous society cooperating for national unity and regeneration and to secure territorial enlargement at the expense of supposedly inferior neighbouring nations. The use of the name “National Socialism” arose out of earlier attempts by German right-wing figures to create a nationalist redefinition of “socialism”, as a reactionary alternative to both internationalist Marxist socialism and free market capitalism.

    unlike marxism, it did NOT claim the inevitable take over of the world, and the idea that it would take over the whole world was from the earliest propaganda.

    maybe that WAS its goal
    but we will never know, as what we know is assumptives that ignore the obvious… like, if your an international socialist, whats wrong with marxism or classical fascism wihtout the nationalism?

    This involved the idea of uniting rich and poor Germans for a common national project without eliminating class differences (a concept known as “Volksgemeinschaft”, or “people’s community”), and promoted the subordination of individuals and groups to the needs of the nation, state and leader. National Socialism rejected the Marxist concept of class struggle, opposed ideas of equality and international solidarity, and sought to defend private property.

    unlike marxism, there is noting in the ideoogy itself claiming to want the world…

    and note.

    hitler teamed up with stalin…
    stalin wanted the whole world, and was open about it, and the ideology was too…

    what would hitler have done with stalin and hirahito?

    they also claimed the japanese wanted the world too!

    we forget these other parts that reveal the point…
    stalin an international socialsts, of a country whose national anthem is the internationale, tried to use hitler who turned on him before he could… or do you think that stalin was more dishonest with the west than he would have been against the germans of which both reaally hated each other and knew it…

    if the us did not enter the war, you would have had three nations… german aryan nation, the soviet asian nations, and the japanese nations. the rest would still have needed to be worked out…

    but tiven that the japanese and germans almost had nuclear weapons too… we wont know, will we?

  37. Artfldgr Says:

    Why was this feeling especially common in Germany? I’m not sure, but suspect it partly had something to do with the humiliation of defeat.

    Nationalism is warped patriotism…

    the germans have a long history of war…
    not just the regretable ones that we look to today
    but a huge history of not just wars, but hiring oneself out to fight and more. remember the hessians?

    The Hessians were 18th-century German auxiliaries contracted for military service by the British government, which found it easier to borrow money to pay for their service than to recruit its own soldiers The British used the Hessians in several conflicts, including in Ireland, but they are most widely associated with combat operations in the American Revolutionary War. About 30,000 German soldiers fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War. Nearly half were from the Hesse region of Germany; the others came from similar small German states. Several more German units were placed on garrison duty in the British Isles to free up British regulars for service in North America

    and we forget that past.

    but also… we forget that the more sane german men who were able bodied and so forth, died in WWI…

    what was left was women without husbands and having children and a state who just invented the welfare thing, and also gave them the vote.

    what they then proceeded to do, was vote in SAFETY… so the more turmoile the soviets and germans nazis made, the more insecure they felt the more they would vote for someone to make it whole nice, etc… and they, like today, do not care one whit about the morality or such of things like that as most of whatever it is would never fall on them!!!

    neo and i have had this discussino before, you can look back and notice that they ALWAYS give the numbers in percentages and it takes a hell of a lot of work to figure out that it was women voting for things they wanted more of that hitler was appealing to.

    this is even more confirmed if you read hitler talking about appealing to them in speeches and how to do it.
    [this is why the US recreated the same broken homes situation that war created, but by other social means! history repeats and they who are in control of the repetiation can do what with the ending?]

    “the masses are feminine and stupid. Only emotion and hatred can keep them under control”

    men who fight more know better than to lose their control in anger… women on the other hand, dont… as they benefit from what a man would certainly lose from.

    so the masses made feminine, are easy to control, as you play with their EMOTIONS to key them… and women are easier to do this to than men, just ask madison avenue (As mentioned in the other thread)
    [edited for length by n-n]

  38. Ymarsakar Says:

    Single women are easier to manipulate using authority. Married women or women in love, would first need to have their authority shattered, as they are already in obedience to a higher calling.

    Propaganda and psychological warfare generally works on everyone, to high and lesser degrees.

    The ideology would expand merely due to cultural imperialism. So it doesn’t matter what people claim, they will claim as much land as their power can hold.

  39. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Ref France rolling over. I read an interesting report about how that might have been an accident.
    Said that a German intel officer was flying here to there during the Phony War. Sort of hitched a ride in a small utility aircraft. Wasn’t supposed to. Shot down in Allied territory with the Plan in his briefcase. Big intel no-no.
    Since the Germans figured the Allies had The Plan, they had to switch the center of gravity of their attack. As it happened, The Plan put them going at the Allies’ A team, which would have been a tough go. Switching put them against the B team. Lots has been said about the difficulty of attacking through the Ardennes. Well, it’s tough. You don’t do it unless there’s an advantage. And if the advantage is that the Allies are convinced–because they have The Plan–that you won’t, then it might work. Plus, by accident, you are facing the B team.
    Interesting it true.
    The fuss about nobody expecting an attack through the Ardennes implies the Germans were particularly fond of Ardennes-attacking and particularly good at it–unlike any other army looking at the problem–and not doing it as a second choice because the first was foreclosed.
    The Germans had an advantage in both World Wars in that they attacked before their opponents were ready, tactically and strategically and morally. They shot their bolt in about a year and a half and were on the defensive for the rest of each war. Attacking against a defense whose back is the nation supporting it is particularly difficult. Among other things, each time you retreat, your suppl lines shorten. Rather not have to retreat, of course, but if you have to, some things are easier.

    As to the character of the Germans, Manchester has an ominous reference both before and after his “The Arms of Krupp”.

    And if war is dysgenic, or conduces to peaceful conduct thereafter, you’d think the Thirty Years War would have done the trick.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    A lot of the old feudal wars were fought by mercenaries or warrior castes. Thus different from Napoleon’s national conscription scheme in its social effects.

  41. Richard Aubrey Says:

    True, especially the Thirty Years War. Or a lot of them, come to think of it.
    But the point is those guys have to come from someplace and when they get killed, they’re not there any longer.
    In addition, the countryside over which they are contending is devastated. One of the continental royals in the first decade of the twentieth century was said to have remarked that some areas of Germany were still depopulated due to the Thirty Years War.
    So in addition to taking out the fighting men, the rest of the folks would surely have been tired of it.
    Early in his career, Hitler gave a speech in which he said something like three hundred years of blood and war [this would have been about the tercentenary of the Peace of Westphalia] stand in no relation to the state of Germany today [at that time].
    Presuming every educated German knew about earlier wars due to history–and the Thirty Years War was local as was much of the fighting in the wars of the late seventeenth century–and having lived through WW I, they’d agree and be delighted that Hitler knew it as well and was not going to start all that crap up again.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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