We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Two bad articles in The Spectator

The Spectator is, and has been for many years, the leading conservative magazine in the United Kingdom. By ‘conservative’ I do not mean that it always supports the Conservative party (it has often had articles that have attacked the certain aspects of the Conservative party), but that the magazine opposes the socialist-social democratic forces that have dominated the United Kingdom for many decades (and it must be remembered that the basic cultural institutions of the United Kingdom remained under socialist-social democratic control even when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister).

However, it has long been a open secret in conservative and libertarian circles that The Spectator is often somewhat half hearted in its opposition to the “left” (for want of a better word). So one has to be careful about buying it. Under a poor editor, or even on a bad week in the time of a good editor, it may be little better than the BBC.

Last week I bought a copy of The Spectator. I wanted a change from the death-to-Israel, death-to-America line of all the television and radio stations and much of the print media in Britain (not that they have guts to just say ‘death-to-the-Jews’ of course – outlets like the BBC on the Daily Mail claim not to be anti Jewish in the slightest, it is just a matter of opposing the bad things that Israel does and opposing the backing of the United States gives to Israel).

The editor of The Spectator (Matthew d’Acona) may be a friend of the unprincipled David Cameron (present leader of the Conservative party), but he (like, to be fair, many of the people around Mr Cameron) is known to be pro-America and pro-Israel.

Also on the front cover of The Spectator it was advertised that Norman Tebbit had written an article. Tebbit was Chairman of the Conservative party when Margaret Thatcher was leader. He was always an independent man willing to argue with Mrs T. if need be, but always a loyal and honourable and was badly wounded by an IRA bomb (the same bomb left his wife paralysed and many other people dead) which led to his semi withdrawal from politics, thus leaving Margaret Thatcher exposed to the plots of her enemies. The Tebbit article was good (a polite demolition of Mr Cameron’s line of policy – too polite for my taste, but that is the way Norman Tebbit writes).

And there were other good articles in the magazine, however two very bad articles were present.

The first was by the ex Labour ‘minister for Europe’ (i.e. minister for the EU) Denis MacShane… Why an ex-Labour minister (who has not changed his beliefs) should be invited to write an article in a ‘conservative’ magazine is not clear. After all such opinions have many other outlets and people buy a conservative magazine in order to have a rest from such opinions. In this article Mr MacShane argued that Britain should have supported the Communists in the Spanish Civil War – although the words ‘Communists’ and ‘Communism’ were not present in the article. It was all about supporting ‘democracy’ you see. Even though it was perfectly clear that 1936 was to be the last time that anti-socialist candidates were going to be allowed to stand.

The armed revolt against the elected non-socialist government of Spain in 1934 was described as a “strike”, but the armed revolt against the elected Popular Front government of Spain in 1936 was very wicked – so wicked that Britain should have invaded Spain in order to defeat it. The fact that Winston Churchill supported Franco was mentioned, but the fact that this was because Churchill, correctly, believed that the new government of Spain was a tool of the Communists was left out.

The fact that Franco’s men killed lots of people was duly mentioned, but the fact that even ‘moderate’ leftist leaders wished to exterminate any owners of land or capital who resisted being robbed (and the people who really controlled the government wished to exterminate the owners of land or capital whether they resisted or not) was not mentioned. In fact a ‘Republican’ victory in the Spanish Civil War would have meant the extermination of all non-Reds (whether they owned property or not) – the ‘democratic’ leaders of the Popular Front government were a joke (as Churchill and others pointed out). Also a Red Spain would have (under the alliance between Stalin and Hitler – 1939-1941) have taken Gibraltar and closed the Med to Britain – thus handing over the Middle East (with its oil) to the totalitarian powers.

Instead Nationalist Spain (under Franco) made all sorts of excuses as to why it could not help Hitler just now. Just as Franco both smashed the various Red parties in Spain and castrated the Spanish Falangists – by making both the Falangists, the Carlists (and others) part of his ‘movement’. Franco may have often done the straight armed salute, but he saved more Jewish lives (by allowing refuge in Spain) than any other war time leader.

A Marxist Spain would not only have murdered many millions of Spanish people, it would also have led to the defeat of Britain in World War II – and the creation of what is called a ‘United Europe’ (many of the plans for European Economic and Monetary Union were drawn up by the National Socialists).

I do not know whether Mr MacShane is one of the many ex-communists who are in the present Labour government or not, but I do know that many ex-communists reacted to the fall of the Soviet Union by pinning their hopes on the European Union. What had failed on grand scale (collectivism), might succeed if done gradually – bit by bit, regulation by regulation.

A fantasy perhaps, but a popular one in certain leftist circles.

The other bad article was by Ron Liddle – and ex B.B.C. man who was sacrificed by that organization when the government got angry over B.B.C. over coverage of Iraq war related matters (specifically “Today” programme, the show Mr Liddle was in control of, coverage on Radio 4). Mr Liddle informs his readers that the United States fought a war against North Vietnam which was “supposedly communist”.

In fact Uncle Ho and the rest were communists (no “supposedly”) and the war was fought to defend the Republic of Vietnam (‘South Vietnam’) – if the US military had been ordered to overturn the regime in the north they would have done so. But President Johnson and associates favoured ‘limited war’ blood soaked games instead. ‘Victory’ was a dirty idea that was not to be countenanced. Like so many media and academia types Mr Liddle has forgotten about the ‘boat people’ and all the other things that happened in the late 1970’s (which in my innocent youth I thought might make even the elite reconsider their anti-Americanism).

Mr Liddle regards the “obsessive and wicked machinations” of the British Prime Minister in 1956 (Anthony Eden) against Nasser (dictator of Egypt) as even worse than Vietnam. The fact that Nasser had violated the agreement he had made with Britain (indeed with Eden personally) in 1954 (the agreement that led to Britain removing troops from the Suez Canal Zone) by taking over the Suez canal is not wicked, the fact that Nasser was brutal dictator who nationalized everything in sight (not just things owned by evil Europeans) and financed anti-Western violence all over the Middle East – that is not wicked either. But resisting Nasser (as Eden tried to do) that is what Mr. Liddle thinks is wicked. A standard ‘death to Britain’, ‘death to the West’ line that one expect from a leftist (which is sad in the case of Mr Liddle as he has shown in the past signs of dissent from a standard leftist line). Ally with anyone who is anti-British – even Nasser.

Mr Liddle also repeats the old myth that it was the United States that caused the Anglo-French (and Israeli) operation against Nasser to fail. There was a lack of support in the United States (the 1956 election was coming up – and ‘anti-colonialists’ like Nasser were still popular with a lot of morons) and there were indeed anti-British people in some parts of the government (such as Herbert Hoover Jr in the State Department). But neither Ike nor John Foster Dulles really wanted the operation to fail. The choice not to prop up the Pound would have made no difference (after all the British cabinet already knew that fixed exchange rates were not the only option – Rab Butler had told them some time before). It was really Harold Macmillan (not an American) who caused the failure of the Suez operation.

Macmillan had given strong support to the operation (one of the supposedly strongest supporters in cabinet), but at the key moment he (as Chancellor of the Exchequer) exaggerated Britain’s economic problems – Macmillan being both a brave man and a man to whom morality was a alien concept (both features that he shared with his henchman Edward Heath – although I think even ‘Super Mac’ would have drawn the line at Heath’s later support for Mao, the greatest mass murderer of all time.) had seen his chance to destroy and replace Eden – and had taken the chance with great skill.

Mr Liddle goes on to complain of United States lack of support for Britain in the Falklands war – citing Jeane Kirkpatrick’s support for the ‘fascist junta’. Leaving aside that the bunch of military drunks that made up the government of Argentina would have been rather unlikely to be able to define what ‘fascism’ is (I rather doubt that Mr Liddle knows much about the principles of Mussolini and the other Fascist writers either), in reality the United States did support Britain in the war – and American military support was vital. Overall Mr Liddle’s case is that the United States has no ‘special relationship’ with Britain and acts in its own interests.

The trouble with this case is that it is not true.

For example, the support that President Wilson showed for Britain in the First World War (for example complaining about German submarines, but not really about British mines and the hunger blockage Britain imposed on Germany) was not in the interests of the United States – on the contrary this one sided policy led to war with Imperial Germany (a country that was no threat to the United States) and the loss of over one hundred thousand American lives (to leave aside the financial losses).

Nor can FDR’s support for Britain in World War II be explained as somehow a matter of American ‘self interest’. National Socialist Germany (evil though it was) was, even if had forced Britain to make peace in 1940-41, in no position to invade the United States. The story (beloved of Daily Mail writers) that America opposed Nazi Germany for selfish reasons (and therefore British people have nothing to be grateful for) is simply not true.

Then there are little things like the support the Federal Reserve Board gave to the Bank of England in the 1920’s – support for the delusion that the Pound was still worth the same (in terms of Dollars) as it had been before the First World War. This support – the Fed’s support for an expansion of the American money supply in order to prop up the Pound’s exchange rate to the Dollar – led to the boom-bust cycle that ended in the Great Depression. The support was indeed based on the special relationship between Britain and the United States – specifically between key people in Britain and the United States (such as the Governor of the Bank of England and the Governor of Federal Reserve System in New York – B. Strong and M. Norman).

I am not saying that Mr Liddle is a dishonest man like Denis MacShane. But Mr Liddle has chosen to write an article about a subject (Anglo-American political history) which he does not know very much about.

And no one on the staff of The Spectator seems to know enough to spot the errors

17 comments to Two bad articles in The Spectator

  • Marvellous article. I had always suspected that Franco was the least worst of the options available to the Spanish and now I know why. If Dennis “Dr Evil” McShane is slagging him off he can’t be all bad.

    I also always suspected that the argument about the currency at the time of Suez was a bit thin. And it’s nice to have that confirmed. But surely, Britain deserved to lose? Egypt had every right to nationalise the Suez canal – in terms of international law that is.

    I am not sure I would agree with you over America’s interests in the First World War. My understanding is that although the Royal Navy stopped any ship bound for Germany the owners were compensated. And, anyway, within a year the US had become a vast armaments factory for the Allies. And I can’t imagine that America would have been comfortable with the military defeat of the planet’s only other major democracies.

  • htjyang

    I agree with most of what Paul Marks wrote, though I think he is too kind on Eisenhower during the Suez episode.

    I did not read the article in question, but I doubt Mr. Liddle mentioned the close intelligence cooperation between the 2 countries (which is second to none) or the close military cooperation. (Aside from Falklands, there is Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Britain is also the only foreign country allowed access to Tomahawk cruise missiles.)

    If we are going to do a full accounting of the “special relationship”, we should make sure that the credit side is fully listed.

  • Mr Crozier,
    I assure you, the general public of the US in the first two decades of the last century did not consider Britain to be in any way, shape or manner a ‘democracy.’ Accuate or not
    There was enormous sentimental attachment to France, despite Napoleon’s failure to erect the guillotine in front of the Houses of Parliament, but anyone you asked in 1900 “What country will the US have a war with next?” would likely have said, “The Limies.” There was indeed considerable support for Germany, and not merely from Irish and German Americans. There was violent opposition to the idea of joining any alliance with Czarist Russia in it. However, Germany worked very hard (with the aid of superb British anti-German propaganda) to earn the emnity of the US, even ignorning the Zimmermann telegram, and eventually played into the hands of the anglophillic elite when it tried to make an alliance with Mexico against the US.

    Attiitudes were very different for the Second World War.

  • RPW

    “Leaving aside that the bunch of military drunks that made up the government of Argentina would have been rather unlikely to be able to define what ‘fascism’ is (I rather doubt that Mr Liddle knows much about the principles of Mussolini and the other Fascist writers either)”

    Oh, don’t be silly – “fascism” is whatever a leftist happens to disapprove of today, you should know that by now. Any resemblance to the actual policies of the Italian government of that name is purely coincidental. Franco incidentally wasn’t a fascist (although he exploited them to broaden the base of his support) – he was an old fashioned Spanish conservative sort of dictator.

    Agree with most of the other stuff (though I don’t think a red Spain would have gone to war with Britain – if Stalin didn’t declare war on us in support of Hitler his sock puppet wouldn’t either), but I think you’re being a tad sentimental on the whole special relationship thing. Yes, the US helped us in both world wars, but only after extracting the highest possible price for doing so, and a price furthermore that was not extracted from any other ally. Or am I wrong in my understanding that Britain is the only ally still paying off war debt to the US from WW2?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I have never understood why Rod Liddle is held in regard in certain quarters. I once chatted to a BBC woman who told me in no uncertain terms that he was a loutish brute with a sloppy regard for the facts. Sometimes he can be quite funny but far too much of what he writes is prejudiced, ill-sourced and innacurate.

  • Paul Marks

    President Wilson was pro British (as well as pro France). Although having a man who was very close to being a Fabian socialist (have a look at some of the comments he made about socialism whilst still an academic – and have a look at the wildly collectivist “Philip Dru: Administrator” written by his assistant and “other self” E.M. House) as pro British is not really a complement for Britian.

    I suppose it was the “democracy” thing. Whilst Germany had a wider franchise than Britian, President Wilson believed that the Monarchy in Germany had too much power.

    And, of course, Germany’s ally was the house of Hapsburg in Austro-Hungrary. That violated both Wilson’s nationalism (the Hapsburg Empire being a multinational state) and his dislike of Roman Catholics.

    France and Italy were Catholic countries but the state was anti Catholic – that was not true in the Hapsburg Empire.

    If it had not been for the Monarchy and and the Catholicness President Wilson might have been convinced that Austro-Hungary was the sort of federation he favoured (after all his nationalism did not stop him also supporting various world federation stuff).

    One must remember that Austro-Hungary was the most bureaucratic state in Europe (more so even than Russia).

    Almost needless to say F.D.R. learnt his politics working in the Wilson Administration (although his faith in the rule of an educated but elected elite was already built up at his Groton [spelling alert] and Harvard).

    The terrible costs of American aid, largely a British myth. Lend-lease (and the rest of it) were a terrible deal for the American taxpayers.

    The cause of British decline lies in bad British policy (Dizzy laid the foundations for decline in the 19th century – but really it was the Liberal government after 1906 that took advantage of the principles of state interventionism he had outlined).

    Many Americans were hostile to the British Empire – but Britian (or rather the British government) destroyed itself – via regulations (such as the Trade Union Acts putting these organizations above the law and sacrificing manufacturing industry) welfare state programs, and two World Wars.

    As for Red Spain – it would have helped defeat Britian. After all it would not have had to do much in order to achieve that.

    Sorry “Uncle Joe” (Stalin) was no friend of Britian. And it was Stalin who really controlled “Republican” Spain.

  • Alex

    Your view is as ideological as the ‘socialist’ writers you attack. If we had such a special realtionship then why did the americans only loan us money(after WWII) on the basis that we alow the pound to float freely against the Dollar in 1946.

    No sane indivdual would keep his cash in pounds when the US accounted for over than 60% of world GDP and the british econmy looked on the verge of bankrupty. It lead to a massive depreciation in the pounds value overnight as cash poured out of the country.

    Maynard Keynes came back from the US many times complaing that the US seemed hell bent on destroying the both the Empire and the UK economy.

    I’m fed up of people talking about a special relationship btw the states and the UK. Yes we are allies – thats it – theres no speical relationship and if there is its because the UK seems to bend over and take it up the …. over and over.

  • steves

    The American support or the pound in the late twenties and early thirties was one of the chief causes for the extenet of the depression. Britain tied not to increase interest rates to stick to teh gold standard. With American support this was done for a while, with the obvious result that when as with black wednesday they failed to buck the market, the pound was shot, inflation was rampant and the depression ensued.

    Always considered Franco the same as Pinochet, not the sort of leader you want, but the one you are better off with if you have to have a murdering dictator. They at least built the economies of their respective countries and left each country ready for democracy. Not the result you would have got from a the “good” side.

  • Paul Marks

    I am ideological Alex – I am a libertarian. The non aggression principle is a political principle (an ideology).

    The alternative to having principles is to have no principles – such as Mr Cameron. Although, I admit, it is better to have no principles than bad ones.

    Better a corrupt man than someone with an evil set of principles.

    But none of this is got anything to do with what I said about the United States.

    Nor do I think that American policy towards the United Kingdom was senisble (I think not getting involved would have been a better policy in World War I).

    This is a matter of history – a discussion about history.

    A socialist may know a lot about history, but sadly Mr Liddle (who may or may not be a socialist) does not.

    As for your mention of fixed exchange rates.

    If one counties government produces more inflation than another (i.e. expands the money supply more – I am not talking about the “retail price index” or anything like that) then the value of its currency (in terms of another currency) will go down.

    Actually it was British efforts to pretend that the Pound was worth more in terms of Dollars than it was produced economic problems.

    From the 1940’s “Dollar shortage” to the crises of the 1950’s (Suez) and 1960’s (“Pound in your pocket).

    This clinging to delusion cost Britian dear – but the United States (for all its faults) is not to blame for it.

    Now if you could prove that the Americans had demanded fixed exchage rates against British objections you would have a point.

    As for you being “fed up” with talk of the Special Repationship – people tend to be fed up with people who help them. British people (and I am British) either tend to say that they would have won the First and Second World Wars without American aid (not true) or that follow the Daily Mail line that the Americans must have had selfish motives for helping Britian (not true either).

    As for the Cold War – either the Soviet Union was not a real threat (not true) or Britian could have held back without the United States (also not true).

    [none of this is "libertarian" it is just a matter of history]

    As Kipling said (in his poem to the United States in 1898 – calling upon Americans to pick up the “white man’s burden”) you will be “cursed by those you guard”.

    Although I suspect that Kipling did not guess that British people would be doing the curseing.

    As a libertarian I wish the United States had never got involved in guarding anyone. Such things as Spanish rule of Cuba were none of the United States’ business.

    A lot of money and human lives would have been saved if the United States had remained “isolationist” – i.e. had followed the policy suggested by Washington of friendship and trade with all nations and alliances with none.

  • Jason

    Interesting idea that that the US could have won the Vietnam war had it wanted to. I freely confess my knowledge of the campaign is limited, but it strikes me as odd that anyone would think the US could do anything other than lose a proxy war against the USSR and China (without nuclear-scale escalation – or is that what was meant?).

  • Paul Marks

    Partly it was fear of Chinese involvment if the U.S. Army attacked the north – well there was plenty of Chinese involvement anyway (but not full scale war).

    But this does not explain the failure to cut the supply lines on the ground in Laos (as Ike understood would have to be done if the south was to be protected – there being no sea on the western side of Vietnam, unlike Korea).

    Nor does it explain the insane polices that Robert M. forced on the military at a tactical level (gradual build up, hit this but not this……. and on and on).

    The Washingotn crowd viewed war as a sort of game. Sure they were not hard heated men (old Robert of Ford cried often at the death of people) but they had not the faintest idea of the pinciple of war.

    To them war was just terrible stuff one had to go through to get to “talks”. Or to give time for “development projects to their work”.

    The basic point that the talks were a farce never occured them. Nor did the idea that government developement projectes do not achieve anything.

    And not did the idea that the ememy should be DEFEATED ever occur to them.

    They really were 1960’s people, and the Nixon crowd who came in 1969 were not really better.

    They were not interested in winning and they would not pull out either.

    War as draw was their idea. The enemy were not interested is a draw – they wanted to win.

  • Nomennovum

    It never ceases to amaze me how certain people continue to voice the canard that the United States did not support the United Kingdom during the Falklands War. I remember those days pretty well and I also remember in the mid 1980’s an article in the Economist discussing the various ways the US helped the UK win. The aid comprised intelligence as well as logistics. So, not only was there American support of Britain, but the support was crucial. It is not certain that Britain would have prevailed without US aid. Indeed, Thatcher has said as much.

    This is not the first time the Spectator has indulged in the anti-American obloquy. I can recall a letter to the editor from an Thatcher era ex-ambassador (I think) correcting the mischaracterizations of the Spectator. (Unfortunately I cannot find a link.)

    I hope someone writes to the editor correcting them again.

  • hovis

    I’d generally agree with the views expressed but as htjyang said far too soft on Eisenhower – who later expressed regret at making a major mistake over Suez. This is not say that Macmillian wasnt a shit, but I dont buy the line being fed.

    As to the the US acting altruistically toward Britain in WWII – perhaps but lend lease and the desirte of Roosevelt to break the Bristish Empire isnt mentioned. Though I dont doubt not doubt there are strong cultural and political ties between the UK and US but the inverse to the relationship is an antipathy that surfaces from both sides from time to time. Often from previously antagonistic groups.

    That said I am an Americanophile and do despair at the idiocy spouted in the media and in the street ( usually an echo of the latter.)

  • Paul Marks

    I am prepared to accept that I was too soft on President Eisenhower (although I did say an election was comming up).

    However, his lack of support is rather different from “Super Mac”.

    To be the strongest supporter of war in the Cabinet and to then, during the war, to turn on the Prime Minister for your own personal advantage (even during the “soundings” taken for the leadership Macmillan’s people, such as Edward Heath, tried to put the blame on Rab Butler) is rather low.

    Macmillan had been a soldier himself (and a good one), but he still sent men to war and then stabbed them in the back.

    I agree that that many people echo the media. That is why I do not agree with the line that I hear from some libertarians that the media do not matter (“it is the internet that matters now Paul”).

    And the media get their attitudes from academia (they developed them at college – and before that at school), which is why I do not agree wih the opinion that the leftists in academia do not matter.

  • ATM

    Yes the UK had been paying back war debt all these years to the US. However, the interest rate has basically been below the market interest rate, which means the US was subsidizing the war debt all along.

    And the US should not have gotten involved in WWI, which should properly be considered just another stupid European war.

  • Paul Marks,

    You leave out the fear of nuclear war. America could stand a loss in Vietnam. It could not stand a nuke exchange.

    The Cuban Missile Crisis put the fear of God in us. I was there (18 at the time) and every day you woke up was a miracle. You could taste the fear in the air. People got married so they could have sex (back when marriage was still thought a necessity) before death in a nuclear holocaust.

  • Paul Marks

    During the Vietnam war Mao did not have a missile force capable of hitting American cities (the Chinese have been working hard to change this in recent years and, of course, the shelter program in China continues a new one for 200,000 people was ordered for Shanghai quite recently, although I suspect that the secret government shelters are more important, the Chinese policy has been since Mao’s time that they could ride out tens of millions even hundreds of millions of civilian casualties – but that their foes could not ).

    Of course the Soviet Union could have launched a missile attack.

    After 1962 (when long range Soviet missiles had various problems – which is one reason they wanted to put missiles in Cuba) the Soviets greatly improved their forces. Warheads were improved (a lot of the 1962 Soviet warheads are claimed to have been duds) and accuracy improved (even a thermo nuke is not wildly useful if it is on a missile that it is unlikely to get to the same time zone as its target) – and (of course) the simple number of warheads on long range missiles increased.

    And so you are quite right, by the 1970’s (indeed before 1970) the Soviets could have destroyed a great many cities in the United States.

    But, of course, the United States could still destroy a great many cites in the Soviet Union.

    Of course it is possibe that the Soviets could have decided to start WWIII if the United States decided to fight Vietnam seriously (for example by cutting enemy supply lines by putting large regular ground forces into Laos).

    However, it is possible that the Soviets could have decided on a thermo nuke exchange whatever the United States did.

    This is part of the problem in allowing a hostile power to build up a large number of accurate long range missiles with live thermonuclear warheads.

    I have never been a M.A.D. fan.

    Certainly (to turn aside from the Vietnam issue) the Cold War turned out O.K. – but it might not have done.

    I freely admit that I would not have risked the lives of vast numbers of civilians on both sides.

    Although it turns out it was not needed (i.e. that my fear would have been mistaken) I would have advised that some remote production facilites in the Soviet Union be destroyed (a lot of people did so advice – including the head of the U.S.A.F.). In order that the risk of the Soviets building up a force of nuclear weapons be avoided.

    Of course such attacks would have undermined Stalin’s authority and led to the fall of the Communism – but I do not see that as a problem.

    Remember the U.S.A.F. could attack the Soviets in the late 1940’s and 1950’s – but Soviet bombers could not really operate against the United States. (the Soviet bomber force had even been fairly useless against German cities – and they were next door). That is why the Soviets were so interested in long range missiles in the first place.

    True history has shown that such attacks were not needed (Soviet nukes were never used against the United States).

    But I can not see myself just sitting back in the 1960’s and seeing a force being built up.

    Now history is repeating itself with the Chinese build up – let us hope that the do nothing people are right again.

    I admit they were right last time.

    Still I have gone off topic.

    Nukes have little to do with how the Vietnam war was fought.

    I am not asking for nukes to have been used.

    All I am saying (at it is hardly original – loads of people have said it since Ike did) is that if you want to protect the Republic of Vietnam you have to cut off enemy supply lines into the Republic of Vietnam – and as (unlike Korea) Vietnam does not have the sea on the western side, that means you have to put large scale ground forces into Laos.

    The job can not be done by special forces and air power alone.

    Of course Westmorland (for the army) and Sharpe were under all sorts of other regulations from the political people in Washington as well.

    They both wrote books explaining the insanity of it all.

    My problem is that they did nothing public AT THE TIME.

    It is no good, years after the event, saying “lots of men under my command died and various objectives were not met because of orders from Washington”

    This sort of thing has to be said AT THE TIME

    In the public resignation letter.

    The letters that Westmoreland and the other top military people never wrote.

    The Washington crowd (especially that idiot from Ford who went on to head the World Bank) had no intention of winning and regarded the whole war as some sort of blood soaked ritual dance before a “solution” could be achieved by “economic and political means”.

    Fight the war as a war or pull out – those were the choices.

    There was no “third choice” and most people knew it – what they did not know was that their political leaders were away with the elves and goblins.

    Of course the policy of nonintervention is favoured by most libertarians.

    And this policy has strong arguments in its favour.

    It is just a policy of intervention but intervention in a way in which victory is not possible, that makes no sense.

    Either go in or stay out – do not go half in and tie everything up in red tape.