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Posts Tagged ‘D-DAY’

THE LIE OF “VICTORY THROUGH AIR POWER”

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics on July 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

Victory Through Air Power is a 1943 Walt Disney animated Technocolor feature film released during World War II.  It’s based on the book–of the same title–by Alexander P. de Seversky.

Its thesis is summed up in its title: That by using bombers and fighter aircraft, the United States can attain swift, stunning victory over its Axis enemies: Germany, Italy and Japan.

Although it’s not explicitly stated, the overall impression given is that, through the use of air power, America can defeat its enemies without deploying millions of ground troops.

The movie has long since been forgotten except by film buffs, but its message has not.  Especially by the highest officials within the U.S. Air Force.

Although the Air Force regularly boasted of the tonage of bombs its planes dropped over Nazi Germany, it failed to attain its primary goal: Break the will of the Germans to resist.

On the contrary: Just as the German bombings of England had solidified the will of the British people to resist, so, too, did Allied bombing increase the determination of the Germans to fight on.

Nor did the failure of air power end there.

On June 6, 1944–D-Day–the Allies launched their invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

It opened shortly after midnight, with an airborne assault of 24,000 American, British, Canadian and Free French troops.  This was followed at 6:30 a.m. by an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armored divisions on the French coast.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in history.  More than 160,000 troops landed–73,000 Americans, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadians.

Allied air power bombed and strafed German troops out in the open.  But it couldn’t dislodge soldiers barricaded in steel-and-concrete-reinforced bunkers or pillboxes.  Those had to be dislodged, one group at a time, by Allied  soldiers armed with rifles, dynamite and flamethrowers.

This situation proved true throughout the rest of the war.

Then, starting in 1964, the theory of “Victory Through Air Power” once again proved a dud–in Vietnam.

Air Force General Curtis E. LeMay said, “We should bomb Vietnam back into the Stone Age.”  And the bombers under his command did their best to achieve this.

From 1964 to 1975, 7 million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia–more than twice the amount of bombs dropped on Europe and Asia in World War II.

Yet the result proved exactly the same as it had in World War II: The bombing enraged the North Vietnamese and steeled their resolve to fight on to the end.

The belief that victory could be achieved primarily–if not entirely–through air power had another unforeseen result during the Vietnam war.  It gradually sucked the United States ever deeper into the conflict.

To bomb North Vietnam, the United States needed air force bases in South Vietnam.  This required that those bombers and fighters be protected.

So a force to provide round-the-clock security had to be maintained.  But there weren’t enough guards to defend themselves against a major attack by North Vietnamese forces.

So more American troops were needed–to guard the guards.

North Vietnam continued to press greater numbers of its soldiers into attacks on American bases.  This forced America to provide greater numbers of its own soldiers to defend against such attacks.

Eventually, the United States had more than 500,000 ground troops fighting in Vietnam–with no end in sight to the conflict.

Now, with forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launching a blitzkreig throughout Iraq, President Barack Obama seems to have caught the “Victory Through Airpower” disease.

ISIS has thrown the American-trained Iraqi Army into a panic, with soldiers dropping their rifles and running for their lives.

This has led Republicans to accuse the President of being about to “lose” Iraq.

As a result, he has shipped at least 300 American “advisors” to Iraq, to  provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the American Embassy in Baghdad.

And he has authorized American Predator drones to traverse Iraq, keeping tabs on the advancing ISIS forces.

So far, no American aircraft has fired on the insurgent army.  But this could happen at any moment that Obama gives the order.

Yet the giving of that order will not alter the balance of power in Iraq.  It certainly didn’t work for America in the 1991 and 2003 wars against Iraq.

Both wars opened with massive barrages of American missiles and bombs.  The 1991 war saw the first use of the vaunted “stealth bomber,” which could avoid detection by enemy radar.

The 2003 war opened with an even greater bombardment to “shock and awe” the Iraqis into surrendering.  They didn’t.

 

Baghdad under “shock and awe” bombardment

Nor did air power prove effective on the Iraqi insurgency that erupted after American forces occupied Baghdad and much of the rest of the country.

That war had to be fought by U.S. Army regulars and Special Operations soldiers–especially Navy SEALS.  It was a dirty and private effort, marked by nightly kidnappings of suspected Iraqi insurgents.

If American troops once again face off with Iraqis, “Victory Through Air Power” will prove as hollow a slogan as it has in the past.

ONE DAY, TWO ANNIVERSARIES

In History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 6, 2014 at 12:01 am

“For it is the doom of men that they forget.”
–Merlin, in “Excalibur”

June 6–a day of glory and tragedy.

The glory came  70 years ago–on Tuesday, June 6, 1944.

On that morning, Americans awoke to learn–from radio and newspapers–that their soldiers had landed on the French coast of Normandy.

In Supreme Command of the Allied Expeditionary Force was American General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Overall command of ground forces was given to British General Bernard Montgomery.

Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion to liberate France from Nazi Germany, proved one of the pivotal actions of World War II.

It opened shortly after midnight, with an airborne assault of 24,000 American, British, Canadian and Free French troops.  This was followed at 6:30 a.m. by an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armored divisions on the French coast.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel–the legendary “Desert Fox”–commanded the German forces.  For him, the first 24 hours of the battle would be decisive.

“For the Allies as well as the Germans,” he warned his staff, “it will be the longest day.”

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in history.  More than 160,000 troops landed–73,000 Americans, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadians.

Initially, the Allied assault seemed likely to be stopped at the water’s edge–where Rommel had always insisted it must be.  He had warned that if the Allies established a beachhead, their overwhelming advantages in numbers and airpower would eventually prove irresistible.

German machine-gunners and mortarmen wreaked a fearful toll on Allied soldiers.  But commanders like U.S. General Norman Cota led their men to victory through a storm of bullets and shells.

Coming upon a group of U.S. Army Rangers taking cover behind sand dunes, Cota demanded: “What outfit is this?”

“Rangers!” yelled one of the soldiers.

“Well, Goddamnit, then, Rangers, lead the way!” shouted Cota, inspiring the soldiers to rise and charge into the enemy.

The command also gave the Rangers the motto they carry to this day.

The allied casualty figures for D-Day have been estimated at 10,000, including 4,414 dead.  By nationality, the D-Day casualty figures are about 2,700 British, 946 Canadians and 6,603 Americans.

The total number of German casualties on D-Day isn’t known, but is estimated at 4,000 to 9,000.

Allied and German armies continued to clash throughout France, Belgium and Germany until May 7, 1945, when Germany finally surrendered.

But those Americans who had taken part in D-Day could be proud of having dealt a fatal blow to the evil ambitions of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

So much for the glory of June 6.  Now for the tragedy–which occurred 46 years ago, on Thursday, June 6, 1968.

Twenty-four years after D-Day, Americans awoke to learn–mostly from TV–that New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy had died at 1:44 a.m. of an assassin’s bullet.

He had been campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and had just won the California primary on June 4.

This had been a make-or-break event for Kennedy, a fierce critic of the seemingly endless Vietnam war.

He had won the Democratic primaries in Indiana and Nebraska, but had lost the Oregon primary to Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy.

If he could defeat McCarthy in California, Kennedy could force his rival to quit the race.  That would lead to a showdown between him and Vice President Hubert Humphery for the nomination.

(President Lyndon B. Johnson had withdrawn from the race on March 31–just 15 days after Kennedy announced his candidacy on March 16.)

After winning the California and South Dakota primaries, Kennedy gave a magnaminous victory speech in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles:

“I think we can end the divisions within the United States….We are a great country, an unselfish country, and a compassionate country.  And I intend to make that my basis for running over the period of the next few months.”

Then he entered the hotel kitchen–where Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian from Jordan, opened fire with a .22 revolver.

Kennedy was hit three times–once fatally in the back of the head.  Five other people were also wounded.

Kennedy’s last-known words were: “Is everybody all right?” and “Jack, Jack”–the latter clearly a reference to his beloved older brother, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Almost five years earlier, that brother–then President of the United States–had been assassinated in Dalas on November 22, 1963.

Then Robert Kennedy lost consciousness–forever, dying in a hospital bed 24 hours later.

Kennedy had been a U.S. Attorney General (1961-1964) and Senator (1964-1968).  But it was his connection to  President Kennedy for which he was best-known.

His assassination–coming so soon after that of JFK–convinced many Americans there was something “sick” about the nation’s culture.

One of the best summaries of Robert Kennedy’s legacy was given in Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960′s, by historian William L. O’Neil:

“…He aimed so high that he must be judged for what he meant to do, and, through error and tragic accident, failed at….He will also be remembered as an extraordinary human being who, though hated by some, was perhaps more deeply loved by his countrymen than any man of his time.

“That too must be entered into the final account, and it is no small thing.  With his death something precious disappeared from public life.”

WHY THE RIGHT WINS AND THE LEFT LOSES

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 12, 2014 at 12:00 am

Most Americans believe Nazi Germany was defeated because “we were the Good Guys and they were the Bad Guys.”

Not so.

The United States–and its allies, Great Britain and the Soviet Union–won the war for reasons that had nothing to do with the rightness of their cause.

These included:

  • Nazi Germany–i.e., its Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler–made a series of disastrous decisions.  Chief among these: Attacking its ally, the Soviet Union and declaring war on the United States;
  • The greater material resources of the Soviet Union and the United States; and
  • The Allies waged war as brutally as the Germans.

On this last point:

  • From D-Day to the fall of Berlin, captured Waffen-SS soldiers were often shot out of hand.
  • When American troops came under fire in the German city of Aachen, Lt. Col. Derrill Daniel brought in a self-propelled 155mm artillery piece and opened up on a theater housing German soldiers.  After the city surrendered, a German colonel labeled the use of the 155 “barbarous” and demanded that it be outlawed.

German soldiers at Stalingrad

  • During the battle of Stalingrad in 1942, Wilhelm Hoffman, a young German soldier and diarist, was appalled that the Russians refused to surrender.  He wrote: “You don’t see them at all, they have established themselves in houses and cellars and are firing on all sides, including from our rear–barbarians, they use gangster methods….”

In short: The Allies won because they dared to meet the brutality of a Heinz Guderian with that of a George S. Patton.

This is a lesson that has been totally lost on the liberals of the Democratic Party.  Which explains why they lost most of the Presidential elections of the 20th century.

It also explains why President Barack Obama has found most of his legislative agenda stymied by Right-wing Republicans.

Consider this latest example:

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he will place a hold on one of President Obama’s appellate court nominees.

Rand Paul

David Barron has been nominated to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.  And Paul objects to this because Barron authored memos justifying the killing of an American citizen by a drone in Yemen.

The September 30, 2011 drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric notorious on the Internet for encouraging Muslims to attack the United States.

So President Obama authorized a drone stroke against him, thus removing that danger.

Paul is demanding that the Justice Department release the memos Barron crafted justifying the drone policy.

Anwar al-Awlaki

Imagine how Republicans would depict Paul–or a Democratic Senator–if he behaved in a similar manner with a Republican President:

“Rand Paul: A traitor who supports terrorists.  He sides with America’s enemies against its own lawfully elected President.”

To Bepublicans, “lawfully elected” applies only to Republican Presidents.  A Democrat who runs against a Republican is automatically considered a traitor.

And a Democrat who defeats a Republican is automatically considered a usurper, and thus deserves to be slandered and obstructed, if not impeached.

Unable to defeat Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, Republicans tried in 1998 to impeach him for getting oral sex in the White House.

Similarly, 2012 Presidential candidate Herman Cain, asked in a conference call with bloggers why Republicans couldn’t just impeach President Obama, replied:

“That’s a great question and it is a great–it would be a great thing to do but because the Senate is controlled by Democrats we would never be able to get the Senate first to take up that action.”

In Renegade: The Making of a President, Richard Wolffe chronicled Obama’s successful 2008 bid for the White House.

Among his revelations: Obama, a believer in rationality and decency, felt more comfortable in responding to attacks on his character than in making them on the character of his enemies.

A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama is easily one of the most academically gifted Presidents in United States history.

But for all this, he failed–from the onset of his Presidency–to grasp and apply this fundamental lesson taught by Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science.

In The Prince Machiavelli warns:

From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. 

The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved….

And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is held by a chain of obligations which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails

Because Obama has failed to heed this advice, his enemies–which is what Republicans consider themselves to be–have felt free to demonize and obstruct him at every turn.

Nor is Obama alone in failing to learn Machiavelli’s lesson.

For Democrats to win elective victories and enact their agenda, they must find theiir own George Patton to take on the Waffen-SS generals among Republican ranks.

TWO ANNIVERSARIES–ONE GLORIOUS, THE OTHER TRAGIC

In History, Politics, Social commentary on June 6, 2013 at 12:01 am

“For it is the doom of men that they forget.”

–Merlin, in “Excalibur”

June 6–a day of glory and tragedy.

The glory came  69 years ago–on Tuesday, June 6, 1944.

On that morning, Americans awoke to learn–from radio and newspapers–that their soldiers had landed on the French coast of Normandy.

In Supreme Command of the Allied Expeditionary Force was American General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Overall command of ground forces was given to British General Bernard Montgomery.

Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion to liberate France from Nazi Germany, proved one of the pivotal actions of World War II.

It opened shortly after midnight, with an airborne assault of 24,000 American, British, Canadian and Free French troops.  This was followed at 6:30 a.m. by an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armored divisions on the French coast.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel–the legendary “Desert Fox”–commanded the German forces.  For him, the first 24 hours of the battle would be decisive.

“For the Allies as well as the Germans,” he warned his staff, “it will be the longest day.”

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in history.  More than 160,000 troops landed–73,000 Americans, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadians.

Initially, the Allied assault seemed likely to be stopped at the water’s edge–where Rommel had always insisted it must be.  He had warned that if the Allies established a beachhead, their overwhelming advantages in numbers and airpower would eventually prove irresistible.

German machine-gunners and mortarmen wreaked a fearful toll on Allied soldiers.  But commanders like U.S. General Norman Cota led their men to victory through a storm of bullets and shells.

Coming upon a group of U.S. Army Rangers taking cover behind sand dunes, Cota demanded: “What outfit is this?”

“Rangers!” yelled one of the soldiers.

“Well, Goddamnit, then, Rangers, lead the way!” shouted Cota, inspiring the soldiers to rise and charge into the enemy.

The allied casualty figures for D-Day have been estimated at 10,000, including 4,414 dead.  By nationality, the D-Day casualty figures are about 2,700 British, 946 Canadians and 6,603 Americans.

The total number of German casualties on D-Day isn’t known, but is estimated at 4,000 to 9,000.

Allied and German armies continued to clash throughout France, Belgium and Germany until May 7, 1945, when Germany finally surrendered.

But those Americans who had taken part in D-Day could be proud of having dealt a fatal blow to the evil ambitions of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

So much for the glory of June 6.  Now for the tragedy–which occurred 45 years ago.

Twenty-four years after D-Day, Americans awoke to learn–mostly from TV–that New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy had died at 1:44 a.m. of an assassin’s bullet.

He had been campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and had just won the California primary on June 4.

This had been a make-or-break event for Kennedy. He had won the Democratic primaries in Indiana and Nebraska, but had lost the Oregon primary to Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy.

If he could defeat McCarthy in California, Kennedy could force his rival to quit the race.  That would lead to a showdown between him and Vice President Hubert Humphery for the nomination.

(President Lyndon B. Johnson had withdrawn from the race on March 31–just 15 days after Kennedy announced his candidacy on March 16.)

After winning the California and South Dakota primaries, Kennedy gave a magnaminous victory speech in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles:

“I think we can end the divisions within the United States….We are a great country, an unselfish country, and a compassionate country.  And I intend to make that my basis for running over the period of the next few months.”

Then he entered the hotel kitchen–where Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian from Jordan, opened fire with a .22 revolver.  Kennedy was hit three times–once fatally in the back of the head.  Five other people were also wounded.

Kennedy’s last-known words were: “Is everybody all right?” and “Jack, Jack.”  Then he lost consciousness–forever, dying in a hospital bed 24 hours later.

Kennedy had been a U.S. Attorney General (1961-1964) and Senator (1964-1968).  But it was his connection to his murdered brother, President John F. Kennedy, for which he was best-known.

His assassination–less than five years after that of JFK–convinced many Americans there was something “sick” about the nation’s culture.

One of the best summaries of Robert Kennedy’s legacy was given in Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960′s, by historian William L. O’Neil:

“…He aimed so high that he must be judged for what he meant to do, and, through error and tragic accident, failed at….He will also be remembered as an extraordinary human being who, though hated by some, was perhaps more deeply loved by his countrymen than any man of his time.

“That too must be entered into the final account, and it is no small thing.  With his death something precious disappeared from public life.”

TWO ANNIVERSARIES

In History, Politics, Social commentary on June 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

“For it is the doom of men that they forget.”

–Merlin, in “Excalibur”

June 6–a day of glory and tragedy.

The glory came  68 years ago–on Tuesday, June 6, 1944.

On that morning, Americans awoke to learn–from radio and newspapers–that their soldiers had landed on the French coast of Normandy.

In Supreme Command of the Allied Expeditionary Force was American General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Overall command of ground forces was given to British General Bernard Montgomery.

Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion to liberate France from Nazi Germany, proved one of the pivotal actions of World War II.

It opened shortly after midnight, with an airborne assault of 24,000 American, British, Canadian and Free French troops.  This was followed at 6:30 a.m. by an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armored divisions on the French coast.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel–the legendary “Desert Fox”–commanded the German forces.  For him, the first 24 hours of the battle would be decisive.

“For the Allies as well as the Germans,” he warned his staff, “it will be the longest day.”

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in history.  More than 160,000 troops landed–73,000 Americans, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadians.

Initially, the Allied assault seemed likely to be stopped at the water’s edge–where Rommel had always insisted it must be.  He had warned that if the Allies established a beachhead, their overwhelming advantages in numbe3rs and airpower would eventually prove irresistible.

German machine-gunners and mortarmen wreaked a fearful toll on Allied soldiers.  But commanders like U.S. General Norman Cota led their men to victory through a storm of bullets and shells.

Coming upon a group of U.S. Army Rangers taking cover behind sand dunes, Cota demanded: “What outfit is this?”

“Rangers!” yelled one of the soldiers.

“Well, Goddamnit, then, Rangers, lead the way!” shouted Cota, inspiring the soldiers to rise and charge into the enemy.

The allied casualty figures for D-Day have been estimated at 10,000, including 4,414 dead.  By nationality, the D-Day casualty figures are about 2,700 British, 946 Canadians and 6,603 Americans.

The total number of German casualties on D-Day isn’t known, but is estimated at 4,000 to 9,000.

Allied and German armies continued to clash throughout France, Belgium and Germany until May 7, 1945, when Germany finally surrendered.

But those Americans who had taken part in D-Day could be proud of having dealt a fatal blow to the evil ambitions of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

So much for the glory of June 6.  Now for the tragedy–which occurred 44 years ago.

Twenty-four years after D-Day, Americans awoke to learn–mostly from TV–that New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy had died at 1:44 a.m. of an assassin’s bullet.

He had been campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and had just won the California primary on June 4.

This had been a make-or-break event for Kennedy. He had won the Democratic primaries in Indiana and Nebraska, but had lost the Oregon primary to Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy.

If he could defeat McCarthy in California, Kennedy could force his rival to quit the race.  That would lead to a showdown between him and Vice President Hubert Humphery for the nomination.

(President Lyndon B. Johnson had withdrawn from the race on March 31–just 15 days after Kennedy announced his candidacy on March 16.)

After winning the California and South Dakota primaries, Kennedy gave a magnaminous victory speech in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles:

“I think we can end the divisions within the United States….We are a great country, an unselfish country, and a compassionate country.  And I intend to make that my basis for running over the period of the next few months.”

Then he entered the hotel kitchen–where Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian from Jordan, opened fire with a .22 revolver.  Kennedy was hit three times–once fatally in the back of the head.  Five other people were also wounded.

Kennedy’s last-known words were: “Is everybody all right?” and “Jack, Jack.”  Then he lost consciousness–forever, dying in a hospital bed 24 hours later.

Kennedy had been a U.S. Attorney General (1961-1964) and Senator (1964-1968).  But it was his connection to his murdered brother, President John F. Kennedy, for which he was best-known.

His assassination–less than five years after that of JFK–convinced many Americans there was something “sick” about the nation’s culture.

One of the best summaries of Robert Kennedy’s legacy was given in Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960′s, by historian William L. O’Neil:

“…He aimed so high that he must be judged for what he meant to do, and, through error and tragic accident, failed at….He will also be remembered as an extraordinary human being who, though hated by some, was perhaps more deeply loved by his countrymen than any man of his time.

“That too must be entered into the final account, and it is no small thing.  With his death something precious disappeared from public life.”

A LIE TOLD BY BULLIES

In History, Politics on June 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Who controls the past controls the future.   Who controls the present controls the past. 

1984, by George Orwell

Sarah Palin and Richard “Rick” Santorum may not have read Orwell’s  classic novel.  

But they share at least one thing in common with the fictionalized dictator–Big Brother–who rules Oceania:  A desire to attain power through the rewriting of history.

On June 2, Palin, the former Alaska governor, offered her version of Paul Revere’s famous ride: 

“And, you know, he warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.” 

Generations of Americans who had been taught that Revere made his “midnight ride” to warn colonists–not the British–of approaching British troops were understandably surprised.  

Revere made his ride without the ringing of bells and the firing of warning shots.  Secrecy was in fact critical as the silversmith raced to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were coming to arrest them.

And on June 7, Santorum, the former United States Senator from Pennsylvania, gave perhaps the most bizarre reason ever imagined for the launching of D-Day against Nazi forces in Normandy, France: 

“Almost 60,000 average Americans had the courage to go out and charge those beaches on Normandy, to drop out of airplanes who knows where, and take on the battle for freedom.

“Average Americans.   The very Americans that our government now, and this president, does not trust to make decision on your health care plan. Those Americans risked everything so they could make that decision on their health care plan.”

Generations of Americans who had been taught the June 6, 1944 invasion of France had been launched to destroy the Third Reich were understandably surprised. 

But there is more.

Palin supporters made dozens of changes to the Paul Revere page on the Wikipedia site  after Palin made her nonsensical claims.  Their goal  was to rewrite history to conform with the latest historical fallacy put forth by their political idol.

Wikipedia allows people to add information or make changes to pages, but an army of dedicated users worldwide seeks to ensure the information is accurate.

Jeff Schneider, a Wikipedia online editor and contributor, said that Palin interview videos weren’t considered “reliable sources” for updates to the site.  He added that he was the first to “remove someone adding historic information based on Palin’s interview.”

Again, Orwell’s novel is instructive:

“And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested.”

The leaders of the Soviet Union were notorious for repeatedly rewriting history to suit their own political ends.  Thus, Joseph Stalin wrote his longtime rival, Leon Trotsky, out of the history books.  

Similarly, his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, consigned Stalin to historical infamy–while ignoring his own role in carrying out Stalin’s murderous purges of millions.

And so on–through the succeeding reigns of Leonid Brezniev, Yuri Andropov, Constantin Chernenko and, finally, Mikhail Gorbachev. 

As a well-known underground joke went among Russians: “The trouble with writing history in the Soviet Union is you never know what’s going to happen yesterday.”

Neither Palin nor Santorum controls the “bully pulpit”  of the Presidency to shape public opinion.  So they must rely on their own powers of persuasion–and, in Palin’s case, on her army of political enforcers–to reshape history into whatever they want it to mean at any given moment.

Similarly, Republican leaders generally have enthusiastically used inaccurate historical comparisons to advance their party’s fortunes.  President Barack Obama, for example, has been labeled as both a Nazi (complete with a Hitler mustache) and a Communist.

The Nazi comparison ignores the most obvious truth about Nazism: There was no place in this party for anyone who wasn’t white.   And the Communist libel ignores the billions of dollars Obama authorized to save the capitalistic infrastructure that was on the brink of collapse.

Moreover, a man who was both a Communist and a Nazi would have to be constantly at war with himself.  The dictators of the Soviet Union (Joseph Stalin) and Nazi Germany (Adolf Hitler) felt themselves to be locked in a mortal struggle during the 1930s.

And, from 1941 to 1945, they–and the millions of soldiers under their command–waged that struggle openly and brutally. 

But for those bent on attaining total power, historical truth by itself means nothing.  History–like the lives of those they seek to rule–exists only as a means to whatever end they desire.

It remains for the potential victims of such power-seekers to remember the truth offered by Ernest Hemingway: “Fascism is a lie told by bullies.”

A similar alarm was sounded by the man Republicans now revere as their holy-of-holies: Ronald Reagan.   Speaking at a Presidential news conference on January 29, 1981, he bluntly described the philosophy of the leaders of the Soviet Union–in words that now apply as fully to the leaders of his own party:

“The only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat, in order to attain that, and that is moral, not immoral, and we operate on a different set of standards.  I think when you do business with them, even at a detente, you keep that in mind.”

ALL GLORY IS FLEETING

In History, Politics on June 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm
It wasn’t until the evening of June 5, 2011, that I remembered how I had spent that same day 43 years earlier–in 1968.
 
I was then 16, and finishing my first semester of high school.  During the early hours of June 4, a longtime family friend had called my mother to say that New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy had just been shot, after winning the California Presidential primary. 
 
My mother immediately awakened me, and I stayed glued to the TV for at least an hour, even though I faced high school the next day.  Then, when I woke up later that morning, I asked my mother if I could stay home to watch the news reports on Kennedy’s condition. 
 
I hadn’t read much about the Kennedys up to that point in my life.  I knew only that his brother John had been President and Robert had held a major position in that administration.  I was going on raw emotion, and for some reason, I felt I had to stay on top of the latest news bulletins about his condition until I learned whether he would survive. 
 
My mother said yes, and I stayed home that day, watching one news report after another.
 
Early on the morning of June 6, I turned on the news and learned that Robert Kennedy had died hours earlier, at 1:44.  I felt there was no longer any reason for staying home, since the worst had happened. 
 
My mother sent me off to school that morning with a note excusing me from the previous day’s classes on the grounds that I had been affected by the Kennedy assassination.  No school official questioned my reason for having stayed home.
 
At the time, the nation had been plunged into grief.  Few people could talk about anything else–or wanted to. 
 
Today marks the 43rd anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s death–and it means nothing except to those who intimately knew RFK (a rapidly shrinking number) and  scholars of political history. 
 
Ironically, 24 years earlier–to the day that Kennedy died–another violent event had siezed the world’s  headlines: On June 6, 1944,  the Allies had launched the invasion of France–known forever as D-Day–which marked the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.
 
In 1962–six years before Robert Kennedy’s assassination– 20th Century Fox released  “The Longest Day,” its World War II epic salute to the Normandy landings.   The movie is full of references to “how we’ve changed” since the invasion, as if there were only two dates in history: Before D-Day and After. 
 
But, today, 67 years after the landings, they are largely forgotten–except by scholars, World War II buffs and those rapidly disappearing ranks of elderly soldiers who took part in history’s “longest day.”
 
Remembering the anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s assassination serves two purposes:
 
First, to pay tribute to “a good and decent man” as his surviving brother, Edward, described him in his eulogy.  Kennedy was more than the brother of a martyred President, and more than a would-be President himself.
 
He was a man of uncommon common sense.  It was his wise counsel during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis (“I don’t want my brother to be the Tojo of the 1960s”) that prevented an American invasion of Cuba–and the subsequent launching of nuclear Armageddon. 
 
Unknown to the United States, the Soviets had already installed tactical nuclear weapons on the island.  An American invasion would have almost certainly triggered their use–and, in turn, a fullscale nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union.
 
It was Robert Kennedy who, as Attorney General, declared war on organized crime–and forced the Justice Department and FBI to do likewise.   The nation’s current successes in crippling the power of the Mafia and other criminal syndicates can be traced directly to Kennedy’s all-out drive of the early 1960s.
 
Second, the anniversary of Kennedy’s death should remind us of the transitory nature of history itself–and how events that we now believe to be of earth-shaking importance ssume that quality only for the moment, and then quickly pass into oblivion.
 
Again, the lesson of Robert Kennedy is instructive: From 1964 on, political pundits speculated about the inevitability of his running for–and even his becoming–President.  Comedians, likewise, had a field day with the subject.
 
“Will he or won’t dn’t he run?” was the Big Question before 1968.  And after he took the plunge, in March, 1968, the question was: “Will he become President?” 
 
And then, suddenly–in a series of pistol shots–it was over, and what had seemed inevitable was no longer a matter for discussion, or even interest. 
 
Suddenly, what was on everyone’s mind was: “What will Hubert Humphrey do?” “What will Richard Nixon do?”  Just as, today, we wonder:  “Will Sarah Palin run?”  “Will Barack Obama be re-elected?”
 
As breathlessly as millions now await the answers to such questions, they will be answered soon enough.  And, sooner than we want to admit, the events prompting this curiosity will, in turn, be eclipsed by others.
 
At the end of the 1970 movie, “Patton,” George C. Scott, as George S. Patton, recites what could well be an epitaph for the general–or anyone else who seeks power and fame. 
 
Speaking of the triumph awarded a victorious general of ancient Rome, Scott/Patton intones:  “A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown–and whispering in his ear a warning that all glory is fleeting.”
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