July 19, 2007
ALWAYS LET THE BIG DOG HUNT:
Curtis LeMay: Bombing To Win (CARL ROLLYSON, July 18, 2007, NY Sun)
"Whatever other names arise," Barrett Tillman writes in "LeMay: A Biography", General Curtis LeMay and Admiral Chester Nimitz "were the two commanders most responsible for defeating the Japanese Empire." Nimitz rebuilt the Navy after Pearl Harbor and at Midway delivered a blow to the Japanese carrier force from which it could never recover. Similarly, LeMay took the air battle to the Japanese homeland, perfecting the B29 on bombing missions that may well have won the war even without the atomic bomb.
Not that LeMay opposed the bomb. He was certain it would shorten the war and minimize the huge losses an American invasion of the Japanese homeland would entail. Indeed, World War II confirmed LeMay's military doctrine of stipulating the use of maximum, overwhelming force to defeat an enemy. He deplored the gradual escalation of firepower in Korea and Vietnam, and as soon as he heard of plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion, he pronounced the invasion force doomed, especially when air cover was withdrawn, leaving the invaders easy targets for Castro's army.
LeMay was the quintessential Cold Warrior who gave no quarter. He was called a Neanderthal because he favored a first strike against the Soviet Union. But to LeMay it made no sense to absorb the deaths of millions of Americans and then retaliate.
LeMay emerges as a tragic figure in Robert Rhodes's Dark Sun, though that's not the author's intent. When his superiors quibbled that strinking moscow in the immediate post-war poeriod was too dangerous, LeMay had bombers make phony bombing runs to demonstrate that they
could do so with complete impunity. Instead of taking advantage, we absorbed the deaths of ten of millions over fifty wasted years.
Posted by Orrin Judd at July 19, 2007 8:41 PM