- Jul 2015
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.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.
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."
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.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.
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.