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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 12:53 am 
Pleasantly Twisted
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:35 pm
Posts: 8999
Location: Black Creek Bottoms
Ethel wrote:
This is yet another Osgiliation, and possibly a redundant one, but... are you familiar with the chart made by French engineer Charles Joseph Minard regarding the French defeat in Russia? I like it because it contains so much information in such a small space. Indeed, it is generally considered a marvel of much information briefly conveyed. I post it here:


The thick gray line depicts the invading army. The thin black line depicts the retreating army. It would be fascinating to see a similar depiction of Hitler's armies.

I especially like the graph of temperatures below.

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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 11:52 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 6:37 pm
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Location: Engineering a monarchist coup d'etat
Partisans/guerillas indubitably can drive an army crazy. But then that army's objectives may be more or less vulnerable to that sort of thing, depending largely on whether their only concern is with their own troops and their logistics, or they actually want to provide 'peace and security' to the inhabitants. The latter has been our Achilles heel in Iraq. The Nazis didn't give a rat's heinie whether the inhabitants lived or died, and were in fact perfectly happy to kill them off themselves in reprisals.

What Frelga and Nel have brought up is the strategy of attrition- which is not a winning way to fight a war (see, WWI, Western Front). A successful strategy has to be aimed at the enemy's military or political center of gravity. Going after the military COG, or the 'force in being' in Clausewitzian terms, was what Zhukov did- one by one the Wehrmacht's commands were encircled, pocketed, destroyed, from Stalingrad to the Vistula. We did rather the same thing near Falaise in 1944- and with the Fifth Panzer and Seventh Armies eliminated, the rest of France fell rapidly.

Giap took the other route aginst us- knowing he couldn't defeat the US military, he instead went after the political center of gravity, in the form of American public opinion. That was the goal of Tet, and it was a tremendous political victory, despite being in military terms a crushing defeat.

On Iraq: What we shoulda done in '03 and what we can do five years on are two different things. That dummy Bush framed the objectives and strategy in such a way that we have no choice but to stabilize the place now. A bailout such as Obama promises would be viewed (rightly) as a defeat, a betrayal, or both. A pullout as soon as Saddam was in custody, with *no* commitments made (we made the Iraqis no promises in '91, did we?) would simply have been the return of a victorious army: enemy crushed, hold the parades.

And I do think that there are military dictatorships and military dictatorships. A fairly benign US-oriented junta with no Saddam or Ba'athist ideology would have been a decided improvement.

The United States just can't get into the occupation business: that can only be undertaken successfully by societies far more ruthless and indifferent to life than we are.

Tosh: yes, Britain (or, rather, the Empire) stood alone, and frankly deserves credit for saving the word. "Their finest hour" indeed.

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