Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hillary and History

No, Hillary Clinton isn't historic. If she does become president, she'll be the most banal option for the first female president (and will only become so if she destroys the first serious chance for a black president).

But the New Yorker had an intriguing article about the dynamics of the Democratic race. George Packer quotes Hillary Clinton as saying of Field-Marshall Montgomery that he:
was given great marks for being so brilliant and inspiring of his men, but often had a difficult time making a tough decision, often dithered about it, and claimed he needed yet more information before he could pull the trigger.
A rather trite and superficial, not to mention unoriginal criticism. While Monty's deliberateness annoyed some fellow commanders, it yielded extremely strong results. The central tactical error among the Allied Forces in World War II was Eisenhower's. Following the demolition of German forces in Normandy, the German Army was in disarray, reeling from the continual onslaught of the Allies. But the Allies didn't have the supplies to advance their entire forces swiftly enough to exploit the tactical weakness of the Germans. Both Montgomery and Patton argued that Eisenhower needed to prioritize one half of the Allied Forces to plunge the sword deep into German territory. Eisenhower's dilemma was less whether it was a good idea than dealing with the political cost of necessarily choosing either a British-dominated force or an American-dominated force to give the glory of the final thrust.

As it was, however, Eisenhower refused, necessitating a slower advance, which permitted the Germans to regroup and offer stronger resistance, dragging the war into the winter of 1944-45, which gave the Germans time to launch the Ardennes counteroffensive. Eisenhower's refusal to grant the resources to dynamically advance against the Germans probably prolonged the war about six months, in which time the Red Army ran through Eastern Europe, fating Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Eastern Germany to Communist rule. All because Eisenhower "had a difficult time making a difficult decision."

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