Worst Armchair Generals

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,301
Netherlands
No, it is a valid observation that doesn't entirely absolve Churchill. Further, plumbing is a far cry from the chaos of war. Numerous times, the Dardanelles invasion nearly did succeed (ironic that Neidell points this out as well). At one point, only a rally by Ataturk prevented the Ottoman positions from being overrun.

Not attacking? What a joke. The problem was not attacking in a tactically sensible manner. It was the Hundred Days Offensive that finally ended the war. Lloyd George offered zero tactical insight in how to break the stalemate, and as Saul Alinsky says, "The most amoral means of all is the non-application of any means." Churchill, on the other hand, was one of the first to recognize the importance of tanks in warfare.

It is better that Churchill tried, and failed, than did nothing at all. While Lloyd George wasn't quite "doing nothing," he wasn't really offering any tactical alternatives.
Not going into any deep WW1 debate. But the only decisive things that happened on the western front was the arrival of American soldiers and the blockade.
The whole George vs Haig debate is a bit ridiculous imo. Lloyd George was right in many of his criticisms and it is ridiculous to expect him to come up with alternatives at the front. His job is to keep up to date with the front (in which he failed imo) and react and anticipate events from there.

In the words of Lincoln to general Hooker:
"I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes, can set up as dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.
And now beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories."
If we are going to go with the highly flawed plumbing analogy, Churchill would have been an executive manager at a theoretical plumbing company, fairly far removed from supervisors in the field. Further, the type of plumbing equipment that the field techs are using would have to have never been used extensively before, and all previous plumbing knowledge would be obsolete. Lastly, we would have to add the fog of war: Historian Rory Muir comments that while war is often compared to chess, this analogy is incomplete. In order for chess to more accurately parallel war, one in three pieces (at random) either would not move as ordered (or not move at all), moves would have to be planned several turns in advance, and the player would only get an occasional glimpse at the board.

So yeah, given those circumstances, the pipes might still be leaking after a few service calls.
A PM/Prez shouldn't be concerned with the battlefield itself as he has a much bigger chance of being wrong than the person whose job it actually is. Contrast Churchill's constant hassling of his generals with Roosevelt. He had a relatively clear picture of what the generals needed and kept his military suggestions to a minimum.

With all that being said, I still consider Churchill one of the greatest of the last century, maybe even the greatest. Just not at operational stuff.
 
Jan 2015
5,563
Ontario, Canada
Assassination plots and coups as a whole have to be heavily compartmentalized, they cannot recruit everyone that might be interested for fear of the plot being exposed. They just need enough people to carry it out. What are the major army group and army commanders on the Ostfront going to do to support a coup in Berlin? Nothing. The few very senior individuals, like Speidel (Rommel's CoS) knew because he was a ringleader.

So for many the first time they knew a legit plot existed was after it failed. At that point they could support it and earn a death sentence, or condemn it to try to protect themselves. Overall, the plot was very hated by the military as a whole, who saw it as egotistical and traitorous on the part of the officer corps to launch such a plot in the middle of total war, only because they were losing.
Yeah this is true.
Although in the specific case of Kluge they did want him to join and expected him to. He had known about this for a while but he didn't seem to know about the specific Bomb Plot. The conspirators wanted to seize control of OB West and use it to facilitate their coup. I guess Hitler not being dead completely ruined this plan but at the particular time when they requested Kluge to declare for the new regime, he refused. But allegedly issued orders to arrest the conspirator's enemies. It does appear that Kluge was involved in some way, because when Hitler requested he come to HQ to discuss strategy, Kluge drank poison. Probably thinking that he was going to be arrested for his part in the coup. I doubt it was because of guilt over the loss in Normandy.
 
Jul 2016
9,676
USA
Yeah this is true.
Although in the specific case of Kluge they did want him to join and expected him to. He had known about this for a while but he didn't seem to know about the specific Bomb Plot. The conspirators wanted to seize control of OB West and use it to facilitate their coup. I guess Hitler not being dead completely ruined this plan but at the particular time when they requested Kluge to declare for the new regime, he refused. But allegedly issued orders to arrest the conspirator's enemies. It does appear that Kluge was involved in some way, because when Hitler requested he come to HQ to discuss strategy, Kluge drank poison. Probably thinking that he was going to be arrested for his part in the coup. I doubt it was because of guilt over the loss in Normandy.
You can't talk that much crap about Hitler for years and not be approached, he had to appear like a slam dunk recruit.

The problem with bringing in major commands is that while you might get the commanding general, there is no guarantee you'd get anyone else. Getting the Ersatzheer was necessary, because they needed the troops stationed in Germany itself. But they were planning on using subterfuge and deceit to trick them into participating, by controlling the post assassination narrative and blaming the Nazis for assassinating Hitler. How would non Kluge, who was neck deep fighting the Allies in France, get his command to assist in a coup? What happens when his primary army commanders, like Hausser, an SS man, or Salmuth don't play along? How is von Kluge supposed disengage himself in Normandy? At that point, Army Group B was starting to disintegrate.
 
May 2018
803
Michigan
Why do you keep quoting one of the most unethical politician scientists in American history?
Because as unethical as he was (which, in all honesty, wasn't very much), he was a political activism genius. Perhaps the "Napoleon of Activism."

I disagree with nearly all of Alinsky's political positions, but I respect his ability to agitate, change minds, and articulate his tactics. Republican Dick Armey even made Rules for Radicals mandatory reading for Tea Party Activists, who had far more to disagree with Alinsky politically than agree with him.
 
Jan 2015
5,563
Ontario, Canada
You can't talk that much crap about Hitler for years and not be approached, he had to appear like a slam dunk recruit.

The problem with bringing in major commands is that while you might get the commanding general, there is no guarantee you'd get anyone else. Getting the Ersatzheer was necessary, because they needed the troops stationed in Germany itself. But they were planning on using subterfuge and deceit to trick them into participating, by controlling the post assassination narrative and blaming the Nazis for assassinating Hitler. How would non Kluge, who was neck deep fighting the Allies in France, get his command to assist in a coup? What happens when his primary army commanders, like Hausser, an SS man, or Salmuth don't play along? How is von Kluge supposed disengage himself in Normandy? At that point, Army Group B was starting to disintegrate.
This is really the key point.

I guess they were planning on arresting all of these. They wanted to make peace with Britain and America, something which the Allies were not interested in. Their demands were also ridiculous... German annexation of Poland and a continuation of the war in the East. The Allies rejected less severe offers years prior, so these guys were delusional.
 

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