Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Afstan and the Munich Security Conference


Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Thanks, Mark, for that very informative group of links. Petraeus' articulate speech was on the money, linking the necessity of well-planned well-coordinated military ops to secure Afghan national security and civil development ops to build a new economic and social reality for the Afghan people. Both must be integrated down to community level. Petraeus' emphasis on working with the Afghan people, their national, regional and especially local leaders was powerfully put.

(I don't know how many people are aware of it but Gen. Petraeus has a PhD in International Relations from Princeton University. He's probably America's most brilliant general since MacArthur, but refreshingly without a massive MacArthurian ego.)

Defense Minister MacKay's remarks seem to parallel these concepts, although he's more forgiving of some of our NATO partners' failure to walk the walk than are US State Dept Spec. Envoy Richard Holbrooke and British Defence Minister John Hutton.

It appears that 2009 is going to be an interesting year in Af-stan.

5:31 p.m., February 10, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Dave in Pa.: Thanks for your qualifier about MacArthur. In fact the more I read of him, the less respect I have, e.g.:

"The Pacific War: The Strategy, Politics, and Players that Won the War"

"MacArthur and Defeat in the Philippines"

A monomaniacal concentration on returning to the Philippines, a campaign of great death and destruction (Manila, 1945) and almost no strategic value.

"Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45" (UK and Canadian title)


7:01 p.m., February 10, 2009  
Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Mark, you join a legion of MacArthur non-admirers, a large number of whom are American.

As to whether or not the Philippines liberation was a strategic necessity or not, whether it should have been the ultimate bypassed island campaign of the Pacific war is I guess debatable. As you know, it was a pseudo-colony of the US, a more or less self-governing Commonwealth that, prior to WW2, was on a ten year -1935 to 1945- program of full independence. MacArthur was actually sent to the Phillipines in the late 30's as part of that program, to lead the development of the Phillipines Armed Forces, capable of defending their own country.

Besides his "monomaniacal obsession" as you put it, MacArthur did have a point that America had a moral obligation to liberate the Filipino people from what was an incredibly brutal Japanese occupation and restore their freedom. I know a Filipino man who's family lived through that and a couple of American soldiers who fought there in 44-45. Their stories of real experiences are horrific.

Although, under the argument to which you refer, this all may have been achievable by a peaceful evacuation of Japanese forces, after Japan surrendered. That may very well be the case but I doubt it. The Allies had to basically pound the Japanese into the ground from Burma to Okinawa, plus bomb half their homeland cities into ashes before they'd accept defeat. One point on which I think we can agree is we can all be extremely thankful -most especially the Japanese- that the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands turned out to be unnecessary.

(Final historical trivia. If you ever feel like doing some historical digging, you'll see why in the late 30's, Franklin Roosevelt once referred to Douglas MacArthur and Huey Long as "the two most dangerous men in America". We can all be thankful that MacArthur's 1948 campaign for the Presidency failed.)

9:20 p.m., February 10, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Dave: Certainly agree about the nuclear gift of no invasion (Hasting's "Nemesis" does in the revisionists yet one more time, but some people just don't want to learn).

There was a real effort by Republicans, of which MacArthur was well aware and did not discourage, to get him to run in 1944. Not exactly proper conduct during/during a war for a general, I'd say.

I will give him Inchon, blown not too much later at the Yalu.


9:39 p.m., February 10, 2009  

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