October 17, 2017

NOT MUCH OF AN ENEMY:

The Axis Was Outmatched from the Start : Hitler and his Axis cohorts couldn't match their enemies' resources to begin with. That they learned all the wrong lessons from military history while the Allies learned all the right ones doomed them. (Victor Davis Hanson, October 17, 2017, National Review)

When World War II broke out in 1939, Germany did not have a serious plan for defeating any of those enemies, present or future, that were positioned well beyond its own borders. Unlike its more distant adversaries, the Third Reich had neither an adequate blue-water navy nor a strategic bombing fleet, anchored by escort fighters and heavy bombers of four engines whose extended ranges and payloads might make vulnerable the homelands of any new enemies on the horizon. Hitler did not seem to grasp that the four most populous countries or territories in the world -- China, India, the Soviet Union, and the United States -- were either fighting against the Axis or opposed to its agendas. Never before or since had all these peoples (well over 1 billion total) fought at once and on the same side.

Not even Napoleon had declared war in succession on so many great powers without any idea how to destroy their ability to make war, or, worse yet, in delusion that tactical victories would depress stronger enemies into submission. Operation Sea Lion, Germany's envisioned invasion of Britain, remained a pipe dream -- and yet it offered the only plausible way to eliminate Britain from the war that Hitler had started. Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, then head of the Kriegsmarine, repeatedly warned Hitler that an amphibious invasion of Britain in 1940 was quite impossible.

To be fair, in failing to destroy the USSR and to decolonize the Third World, we demonstrated we hadn't learned anything from history either.

Posted by at October 17, 2017 6:59 PM

  

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