Day By Day

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Perfect War?

Victor Davis Hanson has a terrific article on "The Lessons of D-Day". He recounts the terrible blunders and deadly errors made by allied forces in that most celebrated of military campaigns, and the terrible carnage suffered by allied troops in the Pacific theater. He concludes:

By any historical measure, our forefathers committed as many strategic and tactical blunders as we have in Afghanistan and Iraq - but lost tens of thousands more Americans as a result of such errors. We worry about emboldening Iran by going into Iraq; the Normandy generation fretted about empowering a colossal Soviet Union.


[T]he Normandy campaign reminds us that war is by nature horrific, fraught with foolish error - and only won by the side that commits the least number of mistakes. Our grandfathers knew that. So they pressed on as best they could, convinced that they needn't be perfect, only good enough, to win.

The American lesson of D-Day and its aftermath was how to overcome occasional abject stupidity while never giving up in the face of an utterly savage enemy. We need to remember that now more than ever.

Read the whole thing here.

The takeover of academic departments by the anti-war Left after Vietnam has created a terrible deficiency in the teaching of history. Military history is generally neglected. Many leading departments have no military historians on their staffs. The subject has all but disappeared from many standard textbooks, and is only discussed in a negative and superficial way in others. The result has been a general ignorance regarding the essential nature of warfare and this vacuum has been filled by Hollywood-style fantasies and delusions.

Previous generations of Americans knew, because there were always veterans around to tell them, what war was really like, and in those few places where military history is still taught and studied the memory persists, but in the MSM and general public the delusion is widespread that adequate planning and management can, and should, result in a clean and painless conflict. Today's American forces have come as close as humanly possible to such a situation. Few major conflicts in history, and none in the American experience, can approach the current one for efficiency and competent execution, but unscrupulous ideologues, political opportunists, and a corrupt media insist that the war has been "bungled."

It is good that we have people like Dr. Hanson around to remind us of just how delusional and dishonest current critiques of the Iraq campaign are.