Battlepanda: Lesson from history


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Lesson from history

Jeff Goldstein's incredibly craven and immature whining that liberal critics are somehow to blame for the failure of the Iraq war has already been taken down all over...with the hardest smacks coming from Rob Farley (natch) and Glenn Greenwald. However, my buddy John from Dymaxion World draws a nice historical parallel that we haven't seen elsewhere. No, I'm not talking about Vietnam. Think further back and far away...
Of course, the people who back disastrous military expeditions always blame the opposition. The original "stab in the back" at the end of WWI in Germany was a deliberate fabrication by the military leaders who had so misled the German nation. The fact is, the German high command knew by the fall of 1918 that the Entente and the United States would soon be able to invade Germany itself, and that the German army no longer had the ability to win battles in the field after the disastrous campaigns early that year.

So the military commanders - who had run the entire country, not just the war - refused to sign the armistice of Nov. 11 themselves, instead bringing in a civilian government to sign the documents. But the important point is this: Those civilians - who had exactly zero influence on the prosecution of the war, or the negotiation of the armistice - were brought in to government specifically so that the commanders who were responsible for Germany's defeat could evade the blame for the disaster they'd brought upon Europe. It was those very military leaders, unsurprisingly, who later blamed the civilian government they'd saddled with the burden.

Eventually, the Dolchstosslegende had become so powerful - especially to the millions of veterans - that even the civilian government couldn't call it for the bullshit that it was without risking political suicide. The fact that no major German party ever publicly repudiated the "stab in the back" by saying that Germany was defeated in the field, not at home, was a great advantage to the Nazis when they took power. By the time Hitler started blaming the Jews (and advocating his own brand of final solution) the Dolchstosslegende was received wisdom - even if it was totally false.
Ah, the Germans. Why describe an idea with three words when a really big one will suffice...dolchstosslegende -- I like that, even if I don't how to pronounce it.