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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 8:37amSanction this postReply
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You love baiting me, don't you?  :)

Look, the truth is: I have very, very mixed feelings about a lot of what you say, but I'm not going to re-open all those discussions, which we've beaten to a bloody pulp over the last couple of years. 

Let me recommend an essay by, of all people, Kenneth Pollack.  Pollack was a proponent of the invasion of Iraq.  His book, The Threatening Storm, was a key factor in generating support for that invasion.  Alas, Pollack eventually backtracked from his support of that war.  Recently, he has had some interesting things to say about Iran, however.  See the various links to Pollack's comments at my L&P post, "The Problem of Iran."  My other Iran-oriented writings are indexed here.

I'm not laying any bets on the course of action that might be taken by Bush in this matter.  I think there are a lot of variables at work right now; it remains to be seen.

(Edited by sciabarra on 12/05, 8:48am)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 9:09amSanction this postReply
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You love baiting me, don't you?  :)


yes!


Chris,

The article is not a re-hash of the "to Iraq or not to Iraq" debate (besides, that's a moot point now), my central theme is Iran.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/05, 11:02am)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 9:35amSanction this postReply
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Chris,

I finished reading that Pollack article you referenced. Here is my take on it:

Firstly, I could care less if he believes that Iran would not give nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda, I don't want Iran to have them either! That government does not need to look for a terrorist front organization, it is one itself.

Secondly, I sure as hell would never advocate a foriegn policy on Iran predicated on the wishful thinking of a pending reform there. Yes, I do agree that there are many reasons for hope, but the present reality is one of theocratic tyrants in charge.The United States should not base it's relationship towards Iran on 'best case scenarios', and ignore the present reality.

Lastly, Pollack argues against regime change in Iran due to the internal forces pointing towards a future self-reform; I agee (although with a far greater scepticism than Pollack). However, my article does not propose regime change either, it argues towards a pre-emptive military strike to destroy their nuclear research/production capacity.   

At one point Pollack argues: " Nor do strategic air strikes on nuclear targets seem like a viable alternative. One lesson Iran learned from Iraq was to widely disperse its nuclear facilities, duplicate them, hide them and harden them." To which I reply that there are many lessons by all sides to be learned. Among those lessons are that when the facilities are dispersed, then strike with a greater number of missiles and bombers over multiple days, if the bunkers are hardened, hit them harder or with weapons that can defeat the upgraded defenses (weapons which the United States has no shortage of). By any reasonable measure, the United States is more than capable of destroying these facilities at least to the point where the nuclear program is degraded to where it is no longer viable for Iran to create a  nuclear weapon within the next 2 years (as it is now). Pollacks argument is only true if the United States lacks the resolve to strike with the needed amount of force and as often as necessary. With the proper resolve, Irans nuclear aspirations would be destroyed or at least delayed by a decade or more.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/05, 10:20am)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 8:57amSanction this postReply
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George, I think it is very unlikely that there would be any U.K.  involvement in your scenario unless British subjects have died by Iranian hands in the interim.                          The U.S. has a special enmity with the Iranian theocracy dating back to Carter's presidency. This is just not duplicated in this country,however much people sympathise with the plight of hostages etc.
The Royal Air Force has no strategic bombers and inflight refuelling Tornadoes over Iraq would be hardly worth the effort for the sake of solidarity with the U.S.
I believe this scenario can still be avoided by real world diplomacy(bypassing the U.N.)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 10:35amSanction this postReply
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David,

The Tornado has an opertaional range that is more than sufficient for missions over Iran with airbases located in Iraq or other areas of the Persian Gulf. Furthermore, the Tornado is equipped to easily handle the role of bomber escort and air defense suppression ( it can be armed with anti-radar missles). Also, the Tornado GR4 is capable of carrying cruise missles. The RAF is also equiped with Jaguar Recce-Bombers that can deliver 1000 lb payloads, and GPS guided pin-point bombs.

Do not underestimate the RAFs capacity to deliver its own strikes, while also providing escort and radar suppresion.

I believe this scenario can still be avoided by real world diplomacy

I am not that hopeful. Whats more, there is every indication that Iran would honor a diplomatic agreement about as well as the Nazis did. Unless their is some type of dramatic turn-around within the current leadership of that nation, anything less than a pre-emptive strike will see a nuclear armed theocratic Iran within the next 2 to 3 years.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/05, 10:45am)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 10:59amSanction this postReply
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Interesting article George.

Targetted strikes of the sort George is advocating would in my opinion be far preferable to the kind of full scale invasion that took place in Iraq (though I do agree that that debate is now moot).

I'm sure we all agree the best solution of all would be for the Iranians to sort a regime change out on their own, though as George hints, there is no guarantee as to when or even if this will happen. My concern would be that military strikes would actually damage what pro-western sentiment there is, in that the Iranian public would effectively swing behind their government out of solidarity. That said, if there is as serious a problem as it seems, the US shouldn't simply wait around and do nothing.

MH

(Edited by Matthew Humphreys on 12/05, 11:00am)




Post 6

Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 10:56amSanction this postReply
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Mr Cordero,

Even if Iran had nuclear weapons capability, wouldn't they face the same deterrent as every other nation that possesses them: utter annihilation if they use them?




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 11:13amSanction this postReply
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George, I'm going to address some of these issues in a forthcoming series, reviewing Peter Schwartz's new book on foreign policy, which will appear on Liberty & Power Group Blog this week (many of the points will be familiar to SOLO readers, as I, in fact, quote a lot from my previous SOLO articles and posts).

Wishful thinking though Pollack's take may be, I do believe that these scenarios of simply "taking out" the nuclear facilities in Iran are also wishful thinking... that the U.S. (a) will get all the facilities (many, I'm sure, are concealed), and (b) that it won't become a much larger war.  And you best be prepared for about a half-million American troops to be invading that country, which has 3 times the population of Iraq and is 4 times as large.  And if this does not involve military conscription, I will be very surprised. 

Be careful what you wish for.

Now, I'm not saying that a nuclear Iran is on my wish-list.  But truth is:  The U.S. took out Iran's biggest thorn---Saddam Hussein, and removed the Iran-irritant Taliban in Afghanistan.  The U.S., in other words, bolstered, inadvertently, Iran's geopolitical position in some respects.  Moreover, Iran has nuclear neighbors in Pakistan, India, and Israel.  It now has a U.S. presence on its Eastern flank and its Western flank.  As I argued back in Spring 2003, fast-tracking nuclear development would become the chief means of counteracting that U.S. presence.  It was easily predictable.  The Bush administration so far has been acting prudently.  We'll see how it plays out.




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 11:14amSanction this postReply
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Mr Cordero, Even if Iran had nuclear weapons capability, wouldn't they face the same deterrent as every other nation that possesses them: utter annihilation if they use them?


If this were a a Western dictatorship along the lines that the Soviets were, then yes. But this is not a Western nation. This is a terrorist state steeped in Islamic extreamism, and with a regard for human life (including their own) that is well below that of the West.

But there is another problem, that of a primative nation without a proper central command. In this case, a single General acting on his own could intiate a nuclear holocaust. While wild scenarios for this can be created for any nation, it is far and away more likely in the chaotic government of Iran

There is yet another scenario that makes Iran unique. That of the reformist begining to make progress and the leadership seeking a means to divert attention by means of war. Just 1 nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv would do the trick. Would they be willing to sustain the Israeli response for the sake of holding on to their tyranny? I believe that they would, or at the very least a strong 'might'.

Bear in mind that the type of leaders and statesmen we are dealing with here, are the same types that would strap a bomb on the back of their 14 year old daughter for a suicide mission. Even Stalin would be impressed.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/05, 11:36am)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 11:34amSanction this postReply
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Chris says: I do believe that these scenarios of simply "taking out" the nuclear facilities in Iran are also wishful thinking... that the U.S. (a) will get all the facilities (many, I'm sure, are concealed),
 
If perfection is the standard Chris, then we should have stayed out of WWII as well. The standard here is to ensure that the program is so severely damaged, that its reconstitution would be greatly prolonged. Total destruction of the program is the best case scenario.

Chris says: And you best be prepared for about a half-million American troops to be invading that country,

Once again, let me remind you that I am not advocating a ground invasion. What I am advocating is a tactical air strike. So that response has no relation to anything I have said so far.

Chris says: The U.S., in other words, bolstered, inadvertently, Iran's geopolitical position in some respects.
 
So what! When we destroyed uncle Adolf, uncle Stalin was bolstered. Later we dealt with the Soviets with a different strategy. One does not bury their head in the sand from a threat simply because there are other threats on the horizon. One prioritizes, and methodically deals with them one at a time.

Chris says: Moreover, Iran has nuclear neighbors in Pakistan, India, and Israel. 

Two democratic republics (relatively) and a pro-American (very relatively) Pakistan currently under a Musharaff that is despised by Islamist for his pro-US actions and for begining to come to terms with India. This only makes for an even stronger case for not allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Chris says: As I argued back in Spring 2003, fast-tracking nuclear development would become the chief means of counteracting that U.S. presence. 

Only towards a US that does not respond to it. It's a huge financial waste and a political disaster in the face of a US with resolve.

Chris says: The Bush administration so far has been acting prudently.  We'll see how it plays out.

Now here is the ultimate irony! I believe that they are half-assing on this one and increasing my fear of my freinds 'appeasment' scenario outlined in my article. You call it prudence by Bush? Please don't tell me that a year from now we will be exchanging posts with you praising Bush and me calling him a two-faced bastard. I don't think I could bear it. : )

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/05, 11:51am)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 11:58amSanction this postReply
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George,

I'm afraid your optimistic scenario is unlikely, but if W ever does do anything reasonable against either Iran or North Korea, then I will backtrack on everything I wrote against his foreign-affairs agenda.

My own reading of Bush's Near East policy is that he favors his fellow advocates of theocracy everywhere. Saddam's regime was evil, but less totalitarian and less theocratic than the existing regimes of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lybia, and Pakistan. Bush's post-victory policies in Iraq favor the most theocratic elements in that country, and the most likely result of those policies will be the establishment of an Iran-style theocratic democracy in Iraq.

Pakistan already has nuclear weapons, and military and security establishments dominated by absolute Islamists. The most likely price that Bush paid for getting Musharaf temporarily on "our" side was a promise not to intervene on behalf of India in the India-Pakistan conflict. I believe that this was another strategic mistake: India is a secular democracy and an important trading partner of the United States. I think that a strategic alliance with India, which is nearby and can provide military personnel much more economically than the United States can directly, would have been much more in the interest of the United States. (So would have privatization of the economy of Iraq, but Bush has taken Iraq in a more statist direction instead.) So if the past is any indication of the future, Bush is not likely to provide anything as radical as what we want to see.



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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 12:13pmSanction this postReply
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George writes:  Chris says: The Bush administration so far has been acting prudently.  We'll see how it plays out.  Now here is the ultimate irony! I believe that they are half-assing on this one and increasing my fear of my freinds 'appeasment' scenario outlined in my article. You call it prudence by Bush? Please don't tell me that a year from now we will be exchanging posts with you praising Bush and me calling him a two-faced bastard. I don't think I could bear it. : )




LOL ROFL

I'm not about to start damning Our President because his administration took a few months to think through the long-term consequences.

And let me just say this:  I'm not suggesting that you are advocating an invasion.  What I am saying is that these things have a way of taking on a life of their own.  Israel did what it had to do in taking out an Iraqi nuclear reactor.  We're not talking about one nuclear reactor. We're talking about bombing many facilities and killing a lot of people, and the U.S. needs to be prepared for what might thereafter entail a full-scale invasion of Iran, or the need to repel an Iranian counterattack on U.S.-occupied Iraq. And who knows how this scenario would play out with the theocratic-friendly Shi'ites in Iraq who are currently courting U.S. favor since a majoritarian election there would put them in power.  For the longest time, some have suspected that Iranian elements are behind certain Shia factions in Iraq.  Such factions might find it very difficult to support current U.S. Iraqi policy if their "brothers and sisters" in Iran were suddenly on the downside of U.S. missiles.  "Theocrats to the right of me, theocrats to the left of me, theocrats in front of me, theocrats behind me!"  Yeah, this can all get very complicated very quickly.  And without sufficient troop strength, it can get very bloody for the U.S. military. 

Also, I'm not suggesting equivalence between Iran and its neighbors; what I'm saying is that it is reasonable to expect Iran to want to "join" the nuclear club in a not-so-friendly region where proliferation continues.  I'm less afraid of Iran precisely because its neighbors are not allies; hence, these countries act in a deterrent capacity of containment.

As for World War II:   It's all moot, but I think in retrospect that Ayn Rand, Isabel Paterson and others were probably correct to have suggested that the U.S. stay completely out of the European theater---barring any direct attack on America (such as was perpetuated by Japan)---until after either Stalin or Hitler had destroyed the other.  The "victor" would have been so depleted that it would have cost far fewer American lives.  Entering that war on the side of Josef Stalin, and sending Russia billions of dollars in Lend Lease, and handing Russia all of Eastern Europe as the spoils of victory was an obscenity.  That doesn't mean that a Hitler victory would have been any better; it's just that these dictators were warring on each other, and the U.S. may have been in a better position strategically, in the long-run, had either Hitler or Stalin been depleted or defeated prior to U.S. engagement in Europe. 

Then again, had the U.S. not gotten involved in World War I... ah, well, as I said: It's all moot.

(Edited by sciabarra on 12/05, 12:24pm)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 11:08amSanction this postReply
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George, I have no doubt the RAF could rise to the challenge,(the whole post war history of the service is a marvel of stretching the most from the least.Operation Black Buck is a prime example). I just don't think the RAF will operate fast jets from Iraqi airfields and certainly do not think such an operation would be politically feasable unless Britain had been attacked directly by Iran. I concede that it would be militarily possible but the B2 would surely be a more likely candidate for the task along with Tomahawk missile.



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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 1:22pmSanction this postReply
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Chris,

Are you aware that the greatest penetration by the Iranian military during over a decade of war with the antiquated Iraqi military was 26 miles? An Iranian invasion of Iraq would be a slaughterhouse that even their ignorant generals would faint at the prospect of. As to the Shia factions and their brothers in arms, well yes this is one possibility, but a far more remote one than the invasion 'galvanizing' Iraqi nationalistic fervor. The last thing Iran would want.

As for WWII: Chris, whether Rand believed that or not, I simply do not agree. As much as I admire Ayn Rand, I do not believe she was a military genuis as well as a philosophical one. Had the Nazi taken out Russia (which most historians agree would have been the consequnce of a nuetral USA) they would have had the material resources to crush Great Britan in short order, expand an already sophisticated Jet and Rocket programme to levels that would have given them total control of the skies, and perhaps even success with their heavy water research. So while your scenario would probably have worked out eventually; the cost would have been significantly higher in American lives, and most likely the occupation of Great Britan by Nazi Germany.

Later you stated, "Entering that war on the side of Josef Stalin, and sending Russia billions of dollars in Lend Lease, and handing Russia all of Eastern Europe as the spoils of victory was an obscenity.  " These are 2 very different topics! Helping the Russians in WWII with material goods was a strategic must, on more than one occaision they came within a hair of being so badly defeated by the Germans that Stalin considered an armistice (he sent feelers out to Hitler both in '41 and '42). Had such an agreement been reached the world would have witnessed a still intact Soviet Union - ALONG with a Nazi Germany in control of all of Europe (East and West).  Bear in mind that Adi and Joseph had previously worked together in splitting up Poland, it would have set no precedent whatsoever for those 2 bastards to have worked together again after a peace treaty between them.  Handing over Eastern Europe was a POST-war decision made after Stalin broke his promise and kept those lands. Had the United States reacted with an ultimatum to leave those nations or face war, even Stalin would have folded, his population had suffered 20 million deaths and another 20 million wounded, his military was totally depeleted. It was only the Soviet aquisition of the atomic bomb along with a  post-war American passivity to Russian aggression, that sealed Eastern Europes fate by 1948.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/05, 1:36pm)




Post 14

Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 1:55pmSanction this postReply
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What if the Brits had also had the good sense to bide our time and wait for the Soviet v Nazi bloodbath to play out instead of fannying about guaranteeing Poland's security....uh hang on, that's moot too :-)

I don't personally think that Bush is "half-assing" anything. The best strategy is that which generates the best net result for the west. Taking the time to think it through is a neccessity. The same of course applies to Iraq - I still agree with Chris that it would've been better not to invade, BUT now that western troops are there, our governments have to make the best of it - quite apart from anything else, our troops are owed that much at the very least.

As to whether the UK will join any attack on Iran...we have a saying here, "in for a penny, in for a pound".

MH




Post 15

Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 1:58pmSanction this postReply
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One last note on this topic (the rest of you can argue it out if you wish).

You guys can sure make a man 'check his own damn premises!

It is the essential element that makes me loyal to SOLO, and an admirer of so many of its members.

George




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 2:09pmSanction this postReply
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   What if the Brits had also had the good sense to bide our time and wait for the Soviet v Nazi bloodbath to play out instead of fannying about guaranteeing Poland's security....uh hang on, that's moot too :-)


I have to answer this. Nazi Germany came within 10 miles of capturing Moscow in '41. Their failure that year was a combination of 3 factors: 1. The invasion was delayed by 3 weeks because of the Balken campaign, so the early winter deprived them of 3 weeks of clear weather to further penetrate into Russia, 2. Hitlers mistake to interefere with his Generals over the Keiv salient, historians agree that this tactical battle won by the Germans cost them the strategic victory. and 3. Germany was only able use 80% of its military for operation Barbarossa (the invasion of Russia). Had 20% of their military not been tied down fighting the British - Russia would have been vanquished within 6 months. The overwhelming majority of the 9 million German deaths in WWII occured during the last 2 years of the war ('44 and '45 while fighting on 2 fronts), in '41 and '42 they were fresh, well armed, well supplied, and kicking the shit out of everyone. A 'one on one' between Germany and Russia in '41 and '42 would not have seen a depleted Germany, only a far more dangerous one.

What that would have meant for England was a Nazi Colossus spanning from the Spanish border to possibly even the Urals. With Russian oil reserves, and a much smaller military committment to the Eastern Front, the Germans could have prioritized naval and aircraft production over the needs of the Army. England and all of the Middle East would have fallen to Nazi aggression. That said, I still believe that Nazi Germany was doomed to defeat eventually by the USA and Britons former colonies. But the price would have been far more enormous.

So Britons 'good sense' would have resulted in her possible occupation, and the loss of 100s of thousands more British lives. Oh, and as a side note, that 'good sense' would also of resulted in at least 2 million more Jews being exterminated, and God knows how many others.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/05, 2:37pm)




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Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 3:08pmSanction this postReply
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George,

I wasn't being entirely serious, but out of interest do you have any sources for the information above? I don't think it was that clear cut, so presumably I've read different historians.

Regarding Britain being at risk of occupation, there hasn't been a successful invasion of this spunky little island for close on a thousand years. At things actually went, the Nazis tried and failed to gain air supremacy, and then seemed to give up on the whole idea of invading us (presumably because they realised precisely what was going to happen to any German military force that tried to invade us without air cover).

As for the Jews, regardless of whether we went to war or not Britain could have saved millions upon millions of them if only we'd opened our borders and let them come over here.

Edited to add - none of the above alters the fact that Chamberlain guaranteeing Poland was just a total bloody joke. There was never any way in hell we'd be able to get our troops out there! Far from bringing "peace in our time" it more or less guaranteed war with Germany at a time of Hitler's choosing.

MH

(Edited by Matthew Humphreys on 12/05, 3:12pm)




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Post 18

Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 4:23pmSanction this postReply
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Howdy George; yes, I'm aware that the Iranians are not exactly rocket scientists in military strategy.  Alas, what concerns me is that the U.S. may, in fact, be dealing with too many complexities at once.  Too many factors to try and juggle at the same time.  Let's see how this pans out.

On WW2, I have no doubt that Rand was not a military genius, but I do think that her suggestion was not entirely unreasonable.  And 2 things about the Nazis: 1) I doubt that even if Hitler had gotten into Moscow that he could have vanquished the entire Soviet Union---which encompassed a gigantic land mass.  2) Even if he had conquered Moscow and Russia (something no other power succeeded in doing in history)... his military machine would still have been undermined by the long-term problems inherent in a state-dominated economy.

As for the Jews:  As MH suggests:  The Allies didn't do much to save the Jews from the Holocaust while it was happening, I'm sorry to say.  One has no way of knowing if a Russian-German bloodbath would have shortened the war in any event.  The U.S. might have been able to achieve a Pacific victory in the meantime, and then amassed its military for the European theater if need be.  Again: all speculation.

Anyway, glad we're all here to check each other's premises.  :)




Post 19

Sunday, December 5, 2004 - 5:02pmSanction this postReply
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MH,

Regarding Britain being at risk of occupation, there hasn't been a successful invasion of this spunky little island for close on a thousand years. At things actually went, the Nazis tried and failed to gain air supremacy,

Had Hitler defeated the Soviets, his ability to crank out aircraft would have been 3-fold. Direct invasion would have been an afterthought, th combined u-boat.air offensive could have starved Briton to death. The resouces of Russia plus the German production ability could not be matched by Britan.

none of the above alters the fact that Chamberlain guaranteeing Poland was just a total bloody joke.

True, the guarantee should have been given to the Czechs 2 years earlier.

Chris,

The goal was not the conqust of all of Russia, but the destruction of her ability to wage war on a significant scale along with a forced settlement that would gain Germany large chunks of Russian land. Taking Moscow would have cut the Russian rail lines in two, even if Russia remained in the War her military ability would have been a fraction of what it was. Hitler could gave reduced his forces there to a fraction of what he used historically, and over-run the Mediteranian and strangled/invaded England itself.

.his military machine would still have been undermined by the long-term problems inherent in a state-dominated economy

Wishful thinking, actual German war production was only surpassed by the Untied States and Russia. Germanys war economy dwarfed Englands. Furthermore, she was able to exploit the resources of conquered nations.

George

Sources: Liddell Hart, Dupey, Trevor-Roper, Irving, Macksey, Carver, Jodl, Keitel, Churchill and an endless stream of others. (mostly British historians, and German memiors).

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/05, 7:09pm)




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