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Basil Liddell Hart: genius, fool, fraud

Ever since I have been aware of something called military history I have also been aware of someone called Basil Liddell Hart. He is usually described with great reverence as the man who invented the Blitzkrieg.

This is not really true. Yes, he was an advocate of an independent tank arm. Yes, he saw that it could achieve a tactical breakthrough. And, yes, he saw that it needed close support from the air. But that is not the full story. Firstly, he wasn’t original – that accolade goes to Major-General J F C Fuller. Secondly, while he saw the need for penetration the Blitzkrieg took it much further. Thirdly, there is no direct link between what he wrote and what the German armies did.

It gets worse. As Jonathan Mearsheimer points out in Liddell Hart and the weight of history there’s more to him than that. Or perhaps, depending on your point of view, less. For while Liddell Hart had indeed come up with some far-sighted ideas on tactics, by the 1930s he had more-or-less abandoned them.

In their place he argued that Britain’s generals were irredeemably incompetent and Britain should never again get involved in a continental war. He even found himself arguing that the tank was in fact far more useful in defence than attack.

These were dangerous ideas. Should the advocate of such ideas be in an influential position it would be likely that the British army would be starved of resources. This would mean that it would be in no state to fight a continental war and certainly be in no position to go on the offensive. That would mean that Britain would have no ability to deter an aggressor. As I said, if the advocate was in an influential position. Unfortunately, Liddell Hart, as Times military correspondent and confidante of Leslie Hore-Belisha, the Minister of War, was in just such a position – to the extent he was sometimes known as the unofficial Chief of the Imperial General Staff – and the British army in 1940 was indeed in no state to fight a continental war. Surveying its parlous state Field Marshal Montgomery Massingberd was in no mood to be generous:

He accuses Earl Haig and the British generals of losing lives in the last war, but I wonder how many lives are going to be lost in this war because of the teaching of that man and of people like him.

It took Liddell Hart a long time to realise he was wrong. He continued to argue that defence was stronger than attack. After the German annexation of the rump of Czechoslovakia he continued to argue against a continental commitment. And when the Germans broke through at Sedan he argued that it was only a matter of time before they were stopped.

The Times 18 July 1939 page 9

The Times 18 July 1939 page 9

After the Fall of France and the evacuation from Dunkirk Liddell Hart found himself (rightly) ignored. But you can never keep a bad man down and in the 1950s with the help of skint German ex-generals he managed to rebuild his reputation. He did such a good job of it that by the 1960s he was being lauded as the “Captain who teaches generals.” Such was his influence that it was almost impossible to make a career as a military historian without his help. The only exception to this was John Terraine: chief script writer of the Great War series part of which was recently repeated on BBC4 (amongst other things). When Terraine published a generally positive biography of Haig, Liddell Hart secretly organised a campaign against it.

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43 comments to Basil Liddell Hart: genius, fool, fraud

  • Mr Black

    This supports the comments made in “Panzer Leader” by Guderian. I don’t have my copy to hand right now but my recollection is that he said while Liddle-hart took a lot of credit for the ideas behind blitzkrieg, the thinkers in the German army were pretty much ignoring him as irrelevant and paying close attention to Fuller instead.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Mearsheimer dedicates a surprising amount of space to Panzer Leader. Apparently, Guderian showers praise on Liddell Hart in one particular paragraph. Mearsheimer argues that Liddell Hart leant on Guderian to include it noting that it does not appear in the German edition and that Liddell Hart’s works do not appear in the bibliography.

  • I’m somewhat biased, having a military historian in the family, but what is the basis for the statement that “[s]uch was his influence that it was almost impossible to make a career as a military historian without his help. The only exception to this was John Terraine”?

  • Patrick Crozier

    The list of those who developed close ties with Liddell Hart includes: Correlli Barnett, Brian Bond, Alastair Buchanan, Michael Howard, Alastair Horne, Paul Kennedy, Ronald Lewin, Jay Luvaas, Kenneth Macksey, Richard OgorKiewicz, Robert O’Neill, Peter Paret, Barrie Pitt, and Donald Schurman. The one exception was John Terraine.

    p213.

  • Mr Black

    I’ve read a similar statement regarding Guderians “praise” for BLH, that it was inserted as a favour to him for something or other but had no basis in reality.

  • How is John Terraine the only exception?

  • The ‘defense is stronger than attack’ idea is simply Clausewitzian orthodoxy.

    I’m surprised to see Paret on the list of people who were influenced by Liddle Hart, the others, most of whom I’ve read, are OK, but not what one would call extraordinary.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Hmm, looks like I’ve added a full stop where there wasn’t one. The full sentence is:

    “The one exception was John Terraine, who became a bitter foe, for he is a staunch defender of Field Marshal Haig, the ultimate bete noire of World War I for Liddell Hart.”

    That’s all we’ve got.

  • I just happen to believe there have been more than sixteen war historians.

  • JohnK

    I imagine the reference was to the period when Liddell Hart’s influence was at its peak.

  • Mr Ed

    I haven’t heard of any of them. Why should I care what a military historian thinks? Those who can’t…

  • NickM

    Martin,
    Can I assume which military historian? Would that be the late John Keegan? I read a lot of his stuff. Excellent!

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Still, we must give him some credit simply for possessing a name like “Basil Liddle Hart.” It may not trump “Holly Rau Kronopatski” or “Hector G. Tubin-Tut,” but it compares well enough.

  • Snag

    IN that case, surely more credit must go to Field Marshal Sir Archibald Armar Montgomery-Massingberd?

  • Mr Ed

    Names? I’ll stake all my ‘chips’ on Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO and then check his record!

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Carton_de_Wiart

    At some point David Niven said ‘All the best Englishmen have foreign names’, albeit this fine fellow was a Belgian Irishman (as, I suppose, is Bob Geldof).

  • Paul Marks

    The small size of the British army was not the fault of BLH – it historically was small, and financial considerations, the Great Depression, made it smaller in the 1930s.

    As for British military policy in the First World War.

    Well there was incredible incompetence shown by the British army (or rather certain generals) at Sulva Bay, which ruined the chance to get the Royal Navy (which has shown its own incompetence previously) to Constantinople and knock the Ottomans out of the war – thus linking up with the Russians. The disunity of the Allies being a key weakness, preventing the true encirclement of the Central Powers.

    I despise Haig (the fate of such men as the two reserve divisions on the second day of he Battle of Loos, can not be defended), but even he would not have acted as the British commanders did at Sulva Bay – had they been actual German agents they could not have done worse. And I really mean that (indeed German agents might not have been so bad at Sulva Bay facing the Ottomans – after all they would have been afraid of being exposed).

    As for the Western Front. As Partick Crozier has recently reminded me General Haig had little interest in infantry tactics – somewhat of a problem as he was in charge of the Western Front, which was mainly an infantry war.

    The tactics of such things as the July 1st 1916 can not be defended – not by a honest person.

    Even in 1815, the Battle of New Orleans (long before modern artillery, or barbed wire or machine guns or repeating rifles) show that walking towards prepared defences, manned by determined and well armed men, is a form of mass suicide.

    It is true that some units, of example the Ulster Division, attempted to get round the insane orders they were given…..

    For example officers would take the ammunition for the soldiers, as they were ordered to do, but then HANDED THE AMMUNITION BACK (not a technical violation of orders you see).

    And the Ulster Division made a serious attempt to actually take its objectives (moving as fast as it could – rather than walking, to present a slow moving target for the enemy) and even did so – but such British units could not hold their objectives in isolation.

    For example, the Ulster Division had to retreat back over the battlefield , as it could not hold what it captured in isolation – other British units being killed before they could capture their objectives.

    British fire added to the problems – by killing some Ulstermen on their way back.

    Just one day in the life of the Western front.

    20 thousand dead British soldiers and about 30 thousand wounded, at least lots of Germans were dead to. But Haig summing up of the results of the “Black Day” – “the general situation was favourable” was not accurate.

    Not nearly as lopsided as the second day of the Battle of Loos (1915) – when Haig pretended (lied) that he was sending two reserve divisions to pursue a fleeing enemy – when he was actually sending them on a mass suicide attack against prepared enemy defences (manned by an enemy that was certainly was not fleeing).

    Of the ten thousand men sent in the attack some eight thousand ended up as casualties (killed or wounded) – there were virtually no German casualties at all (the British soldiers could not even see the Germans who were killing them).

    Then there was the mud farce of Passchendale – there were plenty of tactical successes during that offensive (mainly due to General Plumer), but the offensive itself was unsound – as the artillery barrage destroyed the drainage of the area (as Haig had been warned it would – he was not interested) and made the whole place a bog into which men would just drown in the mud.

    Even Gough (the General Haig preferred to Plumer – because Gough shared the big-push ideology of Haig) came to understand that the offensive was insane – but Haig would not listen even to one of his closest supporters, and the mud farce went on till the end of 1917.

    Gough was to appear later – perhaps unfairly getting the blame for the defeat of the British 5th Army during the final German offensives of 1918. The British army in part of the front depended on “redoubts” (Patrick was very angry with me that I got the terminology wrong and called them “strong points”) which the German forces isolated (went between and around) and which then, understandably, surrendered.

    With all this, and vastly more, it is no surprise that B.L.H. became turned off in relation to the Western Front.

    It did not have to be as incompetent as it was, and the French (at least in 1914) were actually far worse in their tactical grasp than the British, but BLH became disenchanted with the whole thing.

    Actually Haig defenders, such as Patrick Crozier himself, are the problem – they are why B.L.H. and others just gave up on formal mass battle.

    If someone is going to just say “where are your sources” – official reports and university textbooks, one can not work with them. It is just impossible. They will not see what is in front of their nose – and the testimony of anyone who did any actual fighting is just dismissed as not an official “source”.

    If incompetent butchers like Haig are going to be put in charge (and Patrick would put Douglas Haig back in charge tomorrow)then PERHAPS it is indeed better not to turn up the battle at all.

    The real answer to someone like BLH is as follows….

    Yes Sir it is always going to be terrible – but sometimes one can not avoid taking on the enemy head-on (at least defensively).

    Lots of good men are going to killed yes, but it does not have not to have to be a farce with hundreds of thousands of men dying due to criminal incompetence.

    But whilst the official “sources” are in charge then PERHAPS BHL is correct, better to walk away (perhaps putting a couple of bullets in the commander’s head as one does so).

    After all Haig would do the same to you – take cover, rather than walk towards the enemy fire as ordered, and he will have you executed for “cowardice”.

    Risking your life is one thing – we all die, that is not a problem. But being ordered to throw your life away on hopeless suicide attacks is quite another.

    In 1914 all sorts of insanity happened – the French “battles of the frontiers” were examples of a mistaken idea of war that is almost ungraspable, but that was in 1914 (when most people did not know what they were doing – parade ground “commanders” who did not know their arse from their elbow).

    To be still doing this in 1915 (as in the second day of the Battle of Loos) or later is very odd.

    For example 20 thousand dead in one day (not counting the more than 30 thousand wounded) on July 1st 1916

    1916 – two years into the war?

    No he was not going to learn – he did not WANT to learn.

    If that is what the establishment was offering as a general (as a commander in chief) then no wonder BHL turned away.

    It does not have to be this way – YES it had to be terrible (it is always terrible), but it does not have to be the way it was with Haig and co.

    Or their supporters.

  • Paul Marks

    Short version.

    Sometimes BLH was right and sometimes he was wrong.

    Sometimes a continental enemy does not have to be taken on directly – indeed sometimes it is folly to do so.

    But at other times Britain does not have take on continental threats directly.

    Such times are always going to be terrible.

    But one has a obligation not to put people like Haig in charge.

    Otherwise there is no answer to BLH.

    And it is timeless.

    For example – it is one thing to argue over the “War of 1812” (which lasted till 1815).

    But it is quite another to endorse British tactics at the Battle of New Orleans of 1815.

    Someone who does the latter – or says they are “not interested”, should not be allowed anywhere near being in charge of the lives of soldiers.

    Give soldiers clear objectives – make it clear to them what has to be done, and then leave them to work out how to do it.

    If you do not know or you are “not interested” – then STAY OUT OF IT.

  • Regional

    All those tactics of tanks, track mounted artillery, radio for command and control, close air support for observation and dropping big bombs on strong points, mobility were developed during the First World War. Unfortunately for the Brits the smart generals out when the two range closed and the Ruperts stayed, whose main priorities were Mess etiquette and fencing and polo and being gentlemen, etc
    As for tanks they have to operate in tandem with infantry. At Tobruk the Australians dug everything in and let the tanks pass over the trenches and then jump out and take on the German infrantry who were mainly Mummys’ boys. As LCpl Jones was fond of saying ‘They don’t like it up ’em’. Australian tanks are fitted with phones at the rear so the tank can provide fire support during an operation and a quick target indication method has been developed, usually two words. Blitzkreig might win battles but it doesn’t win wars.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Snag
    December 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    IN that case, surely more credit must go to Field Marshal Sir Archibald Armar Montgomery-Massingberd?

    I’ll see your Montgomery-Massingbird and raise you an Anthony Cornandance Gildersleeve; but I admit, it’s close. And of course, there’s no finer fictional British name than Claude Cattermole ‘Catsmeat’ Potter-Pirbright.

  • Patrick Crozier

    For the record, I am not a Haig “defender”. Where he deserves criticism he should be criticised. Where he deserves praise he should be praised. What I will do is defend him from unfair and inaccurate criticism.

    You really can’t do history without sources. I would have thought that was obvious. But it is particularly true in the case of the First World War. It is a pretty good rule of thumb that every quotation or anecdote or common perception you’ve heard about the war is untrue. For example, while the public is content to believe that soldiers played football during the Christmas Truce historians have been far from sure. That is because they couldn’t find a source. As it happens, a couple did recently turn up but it seems to have been a relatively rare event. Now, that’s a fairly unimportant example but the same problems keep cropping up again and again.

    I think it needs to be pointed out that BLH was not always a critic of the high command. When he was doing his “good stuff” in the 1920s he was a supporter. When he was doing his “bad stuff” in the 1930s he was a critic. It is far from clear why there was a dramatic turnaround in his views (because there are no sources) but it seems to have happened at around about the time he was forced to leave the army on medical grounds.

  • Mr Ed

    The ‘Christmas Truce’ in WW1 is the theme of a British supermarket’s Christmas advert this year. Seeing it for the first time in a cinema last night, After Tommy introduced himself by name and Jerry said ‘Meine Name ist Otto‘, I was sorely tempted to heckle Otto by shouting ‘So f*** off out of Belgium then!‘.

  • Regional

    At the Battle of the Somme the Brits prepared by carried out meticulous planning and achieved their plans But Haig became over confident and continued the offensive, that’s when the massive fuck up occurred.

  • Snag

    Montgomery-Massingberd took the latter part of his name from his wife when he married, which is a very 21st century thing to do. It may have had something to do with her large inheritance, but I’m not sure what or how.

  • The strategy of the indirect approach was Hart’s #1 contribution to warfare. He also wrote about its application to politics. I suggest it all the time. esp to libertarians. You do not try to defeat a government head on. You weaken it at the edges first. Which is why I’m such a rabid anti-prohibitionist.

    What is being argued here is mainly tactics which changes with technology and means (the tools).

  • Patrick Crozier

    The Indirect Approach. I haven’t got the book in front of me so I can’t produce the exact quote but Mearsheimer says something like “The indirect approach is so elastic to be virtually meaningless.” I would be interested to know if any commander has ever been able to successfully put it into practice.

    The Somme. My understanding is that a breakthrough was always part of the plan especially after Haig got involved. The consequence was that the artillery bombardment was not sufficiently concentrated. The fact that so many of the shells were duds didn’t help with the result that in many places the wire wasn’t cut.

    The Christmas Truce. There’s a fun anecdote in the Great War series.

    Fritz: To freedom and fatherland

    Tommy: Hang about, we’re the one’s fighting for freedom

    Fritz: No, we are

    Tommy: No, we are

    etc, etc

  • Tim Worstall

    Hmm, would seem worth most of the above reading “Mud Blood and Poppycock”. A fiver for the Kindle version I believe.

    1916: the British Army simply wasn’t well enough trained (this was the start of the New Battalions, the volunteers from 1914 onwards) to have any other tactics. Privates are pretty easy to train. NCOs and Officers (above the 2 nd Lt waving his pistol in the vanguard) rather more difficult. The tactics at the Somme (the Somme had to happen, France would break at Verdun without it, Third Ypres had to happen, France would be broken by the mutinies without it) were determined by what it was possible for the troops to do.

    I wouldn’t say that I wholly and fully agree with all of that but it’s certainly a well laid out case and highly convincing. Read the book.

    Oh, and Blitzkrieg? Invented by the Brits, we finally started getting it right in 1918. Combined arms, infantry, artillery, air and tank, working together in a coordinated manner. The first campaign to fully utilise it was the 100 days offensive, Aug 1918 onwards.

    The leading non-German prosetilyser of it as a tactic or strategy inter-war was a certain Col. Charles de Gaulle……. the Brits certainly knew all about it but up until about 1938 (actually, well into 1939) there was no intention of having another BEF nor of fighting a land war in Europe. Thus not equipped to do what they knew how to do.

  • Patrick Crozier
    December 21, 2014 at 7:47 am

    All rules of warfare are so elastic as to be meaningless. That is why warfare is an art and not a science. Sun Tzu had something to say about that quite some time ago.

  • Never was a fan of John Terraine as ‘Right of the Line’ has factual errors and several of his views on the strategic campaign are… weird… to put it politely.

  • Mr Ed

    Is BLH the ‘Keynes’ of military history?

  • Joseph W.

    I haven’t heard of any of them. Why should I care what a military historian thinks? Those who can’t…

    According to John Keegan’s The Face of Battle, Liddell Hart was brave enough at the Somme himself (taking command of a company that had lost its officers, and leading it back to the British lines, if I remember).

    He did excellent military biographies, at least of Scipio Africanus and William T. Sherman. His account of his interviews with German generals (after WWII) is in The German Generals Talk — I have to admit it was too technical for me to retain much, but they seemed to have studied and respected his ideas (whether or not he’d kept them himself).

  • Joseph W.

    (and if the story Keegan tells is true, a name that sounds like “little heart” wins him a prize for “most inappropriate name”)

  • Mr Ed

    Joseph W: well he was brave, so what? Does that mean Charles Upham, had he written, would have been worth reading? Worth admiring yes.

    So he was a good storyteller. Military historians are almost literally picking over the bones of the dead, but no man fights the same battle twice. Landscapes change, technology changes, capital invested in war changes and the men involved change.

    We know that most German Generals of note in WW2 knew what they were doing, but they were led by a murderous lunatic. Zhukov too knew what he was doing, from Khalkin-Gol to Berlin. He was led by history’s second most successful killer.

    But what military historians think is academic.

  • Jacob

    “The ‘defense is stronger than attack’ idea”

    In the age of the machine gun, from the American Civil War to the end of WW1 – this surely was true. It all depends on your resources and technology…. You usually need both…

  • Mr Ed
    December 21, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    No.

  • Joseph W.
    December 22, 2014 at 2:28 am

    The German Generals Talk is an excellent book. It would help to read his Strategy first to better understand it. And a good grounding in WW2 weapons wold be good. Also a read of Patton’s War As I Knew It. Also get into Ultra/Enigma/Magic.

    Rommel’s early successes were in part due to the breaking of the British codes (later fixed). His failures were in part from the rolling up of the German Egyptian spy rings and the breaking of the German codes. Those especially hampered his logistics.

  • Richard Thomas

    Jacob, I’m sure it depends what you are defending and how you do so. Defending a fortified position is one thing, defending a lightly fortified position in the middle of a field with insufficient resources while a well-supplied enemy is free to attack from a distance is less of a winning proposition.

  • Paul Marks

    Patrick if you are not Haig defender you do a very good impression of one.

    I have read your output on the First World war, with care, for some years And you do not understand the war – not strategically or tactically.

    As for your “sources” – you can shove them where the sun does not shine.

  • Paul Marks

    First World War.

    Strategic Level.

    Link up with you allies, the Russians, and knock Turkey (the only Central Power with its capital on the coast) out of the war.

    Frustrated by the criminal incompetence of British commanders are Suvla Bay in 1915.

    If people want me to give the names of the commanders and the details of their disgraceful conduct – I will, just send me a direct e.mail on the matter.

    Tactical Level.

    Frontal infantry attacks on prepared enemy defences well constructed and well manned, are generally unwise. Especially if the attacks are slow and lack skirmishers to cause various problems to the enemy – although attacks can still fail (and fail very badly)even if they are fast and with skirmishers.

    There was no reason to suppose that infantry tactics that failed at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 would suddenly start to work after the invention of barbed wire, machine guns and repeating rifles (indeed these inventions made such tactics even less suitable).

    Lying to brother officers does not help either. For example telling General Haking that his two “New Army” reserve divisions would only be used to pursue a defeated enemy – and then throwing these men against prepared German defences – entrenchments and barbed wire that was 19 feet thick.

    Of the ten thousand men who took part in that attack, eight thousand were killed or wounded – no German dead in that section of the line at all that day (Second Day of the Battle of Loos 1915).

    This was on top of gassing his own men on the first day of the Battle of Loos – the chorine gas just hung about in the centre of the battlefield and then he ordered his own men to charge into the gas.

    After the second day – sending ten thousand men on a suicide attack, Douglas Haig would have needed a lot more than official “sources” to save him.

    Fat lump that I am these days – I would still have killed the man, and with my own hands.

  • Paul Marks

    Not that General Haking was any better of course.

    In public these men seemed moral enough – telling men that there was a real plan, that if they made a real effort (and risked their lives) they could win a great victory.

    In private they were attrition types, throwing away hundreds of thousands of lives on the basis that as Germany had a vastly smaller population than the Allies, the Germans would not be able to sustain such casualties (assuming that if they lost vast numbers – the Germans must also loose vast numbers).

    The darkest truth of all is not that their plan for victory in places like the Somme failed – the darkest truth is that they never really had a plan for real victory at all. It was attrition – and most of the British generals (with the exception of Plumer) were not even good at attrition.

    It was all a lie. Oh yes there were official plans (lots of bits of paper – like official sources) but the high command did not seriously believe in them (they were not that stupid) – they were playing attrition games with the lives of vast numbers of human beings.

    I know “when you are dead you are dead” – but it is NOT true that it does not matter why you died.

    If a General really had a plan for a actual victory, if the sacrifice was going to capture something of vital importance – it does make a difference.

    And if the Commander is just playing games – well that is not acceptable.

    That is why they (the high command) were sometimes not prepared when units actually did capture what they were told to – as the Ulster Division did as the Somme.

    What do you mean they had ammunition in their rifles – that their own officers gave it back to them when we ordered it taken away? What do you mean they charged rather than walked and get mown down by the enemy fire? Actually captured what they were told to capture?

    How jolly unsporting of them.

    Do these fellows not understand that they are not being sent out there to win, they are being sent out there to DIE.

    And sent out there by people who were their “friends” before the war in 1914.

  • JohnK

    Paul:

    I doubt anyone would claim that the British General Staff in WWI were masters of the art of war; nonetheless I feel you are being rather harsh on them.

    They were faced with the problem of managing the transformation of a small, professional imperial police force into a mass citizen army fighting in the heart of continental Europe. They had to integrate artillery, machine guns, gas, tanks and aircraft into a new type of war. It took them four years and they made many mistakes, but if you look at the shambles of Iraq and Afghanistan after ten years of involvement, you might begin to think that the WWI British generals were not so bad after all. They seem to have been better in the end than the generals of France, Italy, Russia, the USA, Turkey, and even Germany.

    Haig may or may not have been a heartless butcher (I tend to think he was not), and like all senior officers he was a political animal. But in judging him we have the benefit of hindsight, he and his staff had to try and work out how to fight this war from first principles, with what they had to hand. Would any of us have really done much better in the same circumstances?

  • Mr Ed

    That is why warfare is an art and not a science.

    Well, the principles of Thermodynamics might be applicable to warfare, in that in order to succeed, one must create sufficient entropy in the enemy’s order of his war machine so as to prevail, be that by storming a trench, sinking a ship or whatever, so that ultimately, the side that achieves the right amount of disruption to the enemy’s organisation and power whilst avoiding the same is the one that prevails. Thus tactics and strategy are applied to that end.

    The modern Welfare State similarly seeks to prevail by creating entropy in its subjects, disrupting commerce and independence by the welfare state and permitting fractional reserve banking, seizing on the interventions’ outcome to justify itself further, creating entropy in private relations to produce its own apparent order, an order aimed at disruption.

  • Ed Snack

    Paul Marks, you are welcome to your own opinion, but not your own facts. The reserve divisions at Loos were under the direct command of French until the last minute, Haig was expecting them to be much closer and less tired.

    The rest of your tirade is just that, sounding off. Haig can certainly be criticised, but as an overall commander, theoretically there are always better leaders, but in practice did better ? Hindenburg and Ludendorff, Petain or Foch, or do you prefer Pershing ? French, Brusilov or Ivanovo, Cadorna, Ataturk, or is it easy to criticise in theory ?

  • Jim West

    My apologies for being so late to the battle of the multi-barreled names, but I don’t think the caliber of the entrants so far is really that high. For the truly pythonic / blackadderesque, one must look to the senior service. My personal favorite from the Great War: Admiral Sir Reginald Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax