“We will have so much winning if I get elected [President] that you may get bored with winning.”
It was vintage Donald Trump, speaking at a September, 2015 Capitol Hill rally to protest President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
(That was before February 1, 2016, when Trump learned he had been beaten by Texas U.S. Senator Rafael Cruz in the Iowa caucuses for the Republican Presidential nomination.
(The man who had boasted, “No one remembers who came in second” found himself in exactly that place. And tens of thousands of Twitter users gleefully retweeted the quote to celebrate a defeat that Trump had said was impossible.)
“Believe me, I agree, you’ll never get bored with winning. We never get bored. We are going to turn this country around. We are going to start winning big on trade.
“Militarily, we’re going to build up our military. We’re going to have such a strong military that nobody, nobody is going to mess with us. We’re not going to have to use it.”
Trump’s boast reflected he mindset–if not the words–of an earlier CEO whose ego carried him–and his country–to ruin.
Ever since Adolf Hitler shot himself in his underground Berlin Bunker on April 30, 1945, historians have fiercely debated: Was der Fuehrer a military genius or a disastrous imbecile?
Literally thousands of books have been written on Hitler’s six-year stint as a field commander. But for an overall view of Hitler’s generalship, an excellent choice is How Hitler Could have Won World War II by Bevin Alexander.
Among the fatal errors that led to the defeat of the defeat of the Third Reich:
- Wasting hundreds of Luftwaffe [air force] pilots, fighters and bombers in a halfhearted attempt to conquer England.
- Ignoring the please of generals like Erwin Rommel to conquer Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, thus giving Germany control of most of the world’s oil.
- Attacking his ally, the Soviet Union, while still at war with Great Britain.
- Turning millions of Russians into enemies rather than allies by his brutal and murderous policies
- Needlessly declaring war on the United States after the Japanese attacked Pearl harbor. (Had he not done so, Americans would have focused all their attention on defeating Japan.)
- Refusing to negotiate a separate peace with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin–thus granting Germany a large portion of captured Russian territory in exchange for letting Stalin remain in power.
- Insisting on a “not-one-step-back” military “strategy” that led to the needless surrounding, capture and/or deaths of hundreds of thousands of German servicemen.
As the war turned increasingly against him, Hitler became ever more rigid in his thinking. He demanded absolute control over the smallest details of his forces.
This, in turn, led to astonishing and unnecessary losses among their ranks.
One such incident was immortalized in the 1962 movie, The Longest Day, about the Allied invasion of France known as D-Day.
On June 6, 1944, General Erwin Rommel ordered the panzer tanks to drive the Allies from the Normandy beaches. But these could not be released except on direct orders of the Fuehrer.
As Hitler’s chief of staff, General Alfred Jodl, informed Rommel: The Fuehrer was asleep–and was not to be awakened. By the time Hitler awoke and issued the order, it was too late.
Nor could Hitler accept responsibility for the policies that were leading Germany to certain defeat.
He blamed his generals, accused them of cowardice, and relieved many of the best ones from command.
Among those sacked was Heinz Guderian, creator of the German panzer corps–and responsible for the blitzkreig victory against France in 1940.
Another was Erich von Manstein, designer of the strategy that defeated France in six weeks–which Germany had failed to do during four years of World War 1.
Finally, on April 29, 1945–with the Russians only blocks from his underground Berlin bunker–Hitler dictated his “Last Political Testament.”
Once again, he refused to accept responsibility for unleashing a war that would ultimately consume 50 million lives:
“It is untrue that I or anyone else in Germany wanted war in 1939. It was desired and instigated exclusively by those international statesmen who either were of Jewish origin or worked for Jewish interests.”
Hitler had launched the invasion of Poland–and World War II–with a lie: That Poland had attacked Germany. Fittingly, he closed the war–and his life–with a final lie.
Joachim C. Fest, author of Hitler (1973), writes of the surprise that awaited Allied soldiers occupying Nazi Germany in 1945:
“Almost without exception, virtually from one moment to the next, Nazism vanished after the death of Hitler and the surrender.
“It was as if National Socialism had been nothing but the motion, the state of intoxication and the catastrophe it had caused….
“Once again it became plain that National Socialism, like Fascism in general, was dependent to the core on superior force, arrogance, triumph, and by its nature had no resources in the moment of defeat.”
The ancient Greeks believed “A man’s character is his destiny.” For Adolf Hitler–and the nations he ravaged–that proved fatally true.
It’s to be seen whether the same will prove true for Donald Trump–and the United States.