Australia :: June 1994 - March 1995

Subject: The Big One II
Date: August 20, 1994 02:40


20:52 Kingscliff, Australia :: 30 JUL 94

Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. ALL REAL Americans, love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers . . . Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The biggest bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post, don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know . . . My God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against. My God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel. Now some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you'll all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood, shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo, that a moment before was your best friends face, you'll know what to do. Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything, we'll let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly, and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose, and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose. Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, "What did you do in the great World War Two?" You won't have to say, "Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana." Alright now, you sons of bitches, you know how I feel. Oh! . . . I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That's all.

  graphical element
General George S. Patton, Jr.
3rd Army speech-England
31MAY 1944-6th Armored Division

 

Could you guess it was Patton, or did you think I'd merely gone off my rocker?

The last several days I've been reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. Always wanted to read it but never got around to it. Now with some time to kill kickin' back on the beach I've waded about a third of the way into it (gotten as far as the Czechoslovakian occupation...Poland's next). Then this evening I uncovered Patton's speech as a loose page within, of all things, a Sequoia national park brochure. Interesting timing. I think the above rally cry could only have been effectively delivered by an American. Can you imagine Monty or Churchill or even the Feurher speaking in this manner? Had there not been a war to fight, Patton's only other hope for fame would have been the locker room where the likes of Buddy Ryan, John Madden and Yogi Berra performed at their American best. The intellectual Churchill reached you through your mind and, failing that, your righteous soul. Patton went right for the guts of it all, simply, directly. About the bowels of reality he was articulate.

18:42 Toowong, Australia :: 2 AUG 94

In Rise and Fall the Germans are about to embark on their greatest folly: suicide on the steppes. Earlier today I came upon Churchill's famed peroration of June 4, 1940:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We'll go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight in the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; w shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.

Oratory just doesn't get much better than that, eh? How about on June 18, after the fall of France and facing unaided the full force of the Wehrmacht, when he reiterated Britain's "inflexible resolve to continue the war" concluding:

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say: "This was their finest hour."

Certainly, Shirer's analysis benefits from hindsight (yet he frequently and unfairly discredits members on both sides for failing to act upon small shreds of important intelligence buried in a data-storm of contradictory information). But the accomplishment of his work lies primarily in studious extraction from the mountain of secret documents captured from Germany at its collapse. The secret documentation of World War in the making results in a compelling record and the comprehensive insider's point of view is not likely to become available to history in this scope ever again.

If there is a problem with Shirer's stunningly thorough and articulate work it is the Hogan's Heroes portrayals of the Nazi elite as mad buffoons, drunkards and sexual deviants (e.g. homosexual). He continually resorts to ad hominem diminishments: nearly every mention of Goering refers to him as corpulent or simply fat. Churchill, Goering's equal in girth, never receives such treatment. In the end these irrelevancies leave me wondering at the writer's objectivity and only serve to diminish his work. What information has he left from the "story" he's weaving. (Shirer often refers to the text as a "narrative.")

Particularly disturbing is Shirer's persistent vacillation between labeling Hitler as genius or fool, between acknowledging him as masterful political manipulator or decrying his disabling political naivete. You could possibly describe Hitler as one or the other or, most likely, something else altogether, but he could not change between such extremes from one moment to the next. Shirer appears to alternately admire and despise Hitler without any consistency, though clearly he would prefer to despise him. The author's prejudiced viewpoint belies the facts of Nazi successes in rising from oblivion to complete power in Germany in less than a decade and the subsequent occupation or control over the bulk of continental Europe accomplished under 2 years. The Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia fell to German occupation through propaganda, terrorism and diplomacy without armed intervention-German troops fired not a single shot. An unprecedented accomplishment, before or since. In a period spanning just more than a year Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and France fell before the German Blitzkrieg. The German army suffered the loss of less than a division in the year of fighting (though it lost nearly half the Navy in taking Norway.) Granted, the philosophy and behaviour of Nazism were reprehensible, however a ship of fools could never chart a course so adroitly.

Another amusing aspect is Shirer's renewed shock at every Nazi treachery. Deceit comprised German diplomacy; warriors disregarded the unwieldy "moral" conventions of war; Nazis showed no human regard for the conquered: these are all facts-I would prefer that he not renew his moralizing with every recounted transgression.

Shirer's recounting of the Nazi attack on Norway proves particularly amusing. Some of the Navy vessels were camouflaged with British colours and flags. Shirer considers this a despicable, immoral and cowardly, not to mention illegal, act of war. Personally, I perceive war itself to be as much. I've never bought into the idea of the honour and glory of the endeavour in the first place. Still, if Shirer must moralize he could at least dish it out with an even hand, which he fails to do when Churchill admits that had a Nazi invasion of England verged on success he would have deployed mustard gas (nasty stuff and quite "illegal" even in war) as a last resort.

Perhaps I am too cynical, but hopefully we've all lost our moral cherry here. Then again, the evidence suggests otherwise. Tonight I see that Oliver North recently won the Republican nomination to the Senate. This fall he'll contest the seat. He may even win it. Analysts figure that would leave him one step from a Presidential bid.

Shivers.

Recall now that this man organized the sale of arms to Iran, at the time a country with no sanctioned American diplomatic relations, in exchange for hostages. The profits from this sale were then channeled as aid to the contra "freedom fighter" guerrillas in an attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua. Congress expressly forbid any form of military aid supplied by any branch or office of the government. When they got wind of the operation Congress asked Ollie about it. Ollie lied. Sometime later he admitted his lie; he admitted it to Congress; TV cameras were in the room. If you ask him now though, he'll tell you he never lied to Congress. (He is of course, caught in a logical trap here. He either lied the first time Congress questioned him, or he lied to them when he later admitted lying on TV.)

The news commentator here forwarded an interesting question. "What would happen if Ollie ascended to the US throne and that Russian nationalist (whatsisname?) managed to oust Yeltsin?" Hmmm. What do you think would have happened if Reagan and Stalin had ever shared office simultaneously? Anyone prepared for The Big One III?

Yep. I'm too cynical.

Patrick.

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