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Thread: The Real Churchill

  1. #136
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    Default Re: The Real Churchill

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I thought Anvil as the operation the Americans wanted to undertake on short notice to alleviate pressure on the Soviets in early 1942....
    Anvil's name was changed to Dragoon. Not entirely sure why. In addition to landing a number of American divisions, 6 or 7 French divisions were also landed at Marseille.
    Last edited by royal744; 08-09-2013 at 10:07 PM.

  2. #137
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    And here is the source of the 'soft belly' of Europe, rather than 'soft underbelly', quote I recalled in Churchill's words rather than the 'soft underbelly' commonly attributed to him, although contrary to my recollection it refers to Italy rather than Mediterranean France. p.433 in Churchill's 'Hinge of Fate' http://books.google.com.au/books?id=...lly%22&f=false

    To see p.433, go to 'Italy' on the linked page of footnotes and click on the page number.

    Clicking on p.586 in the footnotes will show a reference to 'underbelly of the Axis', which may have become linked with the previous reference in popular commentary to produce the oft quoted 'soft underbelly of Europe', which I still doubt Churchill said, or at least wrote.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 08-10-2013 at 08:50 AM.
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  3. #138
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    Default Re: The Real Churchill

    It should be noted that regardless of the context of the "soft underbelly" quote, Churchill was in fact a proponent of the invasion of Italy and of attempting to pushing into Austria and the Third Reich through the Alps. Of course, while the Italian Campaign did serve to tie down some of the best German troops preventing them from being sent to other theaters, the terrain was completely antithetical to a quick mechanized advance as most forum readers know...

  4. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    And here is the source of the 'soft belly' of Europe, rather than 'soft underbelly', quote I recalled in Churchill's words rather than the 'soft underbelly' commonly attributed to him, although contrary to my recollection it refers to Italy rather than Mediterranean France. p.433 in Churchill's 'Hinge of Fate' http://books.google.com.au/books?id=...lly%22&f=false

    To see p.433, go to 'Italy' on the linked page of footnotes and click on the page number.

    Clicking on p.586 in the footnotes will show a reference to 'underbelly of the Axis', which may have become linked with the previous reference in popular commentary to produce the oft quoted 'soft underbelly of Europe', which I still doubt Churchill said, or at least wrote.
    We'll have to differ on this one, RS. It isn't what he wrote in his history of the war that matters, but what he purportedly (and reportedly) actually said. The operative phrase is "soft underbelly" of Italy/Europe/the Axis. Not that any of this matters a whit - the troops were on the Mediterranean coast facing Sicily and Italy via the Strait of Messina. It made sense from a purely geographical and logistical perspective that the Allies would "go there", but Italy was anything but a "soft underbelly."
    Last edited by royal744; 08-10-2013 at 06:50 PM.

  5. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post

    I don't know enough about the details of each European colonial power and its possessions before the war, but my impression is that there weren't movements likely to win independence in any of them if things continued as they were before Japan attacked, regardless of the level of local opposition to colonial rule. It was only after Japan displaced the European powers that this became possible.

    For example, Malaya showed no prospect of displacing British rule before the war, but post-war insurrection eventually contributed to the creation of the independent states of Malaysia and Singapore.
    Reading some of the history on what were classed as Brushfire or Britains Small wars post WW2 you see a general theme come out.

    The allies (and to an extent the Japanese) trained and equipped local forces with almost no regard for their eventual loyalty - just they were fighting the enemy
    A huge amount of weapons and supplies were available post war which were never there for independence movements prior to WW2.
    Promises were made about independence (by both sides) in order to secure support for themselves.
    Large communist movements able to take advantage of the post war situation (many of the former colonial powers could not send troops back to the former colonies for years afterwards and some could only provide a limited colonial government).
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

  6. #141
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    Quote Originally Posted by leccy View Post
    Reading some of the history on what were classed as Brushfire or Britains Small wars post WW2 you see a general theme come out.

    The allies (and to an extent the Japanese) trained and equipped local forces with almost no regard for their eventual loyalty - just they were fighting the enemy
    A huge amount of weapons and supplies were available post war which were never there for independence movements prior to WW2.
    Promises were made about independence (by both sides) in order to secure support for themselves.
    Large communist movements able to take advantage of the post war situation (many of the former colonial powers could not send troops back to the former colonies for years afterwards and some could only provide a limited colonial government).
    All very good points.

    I hadn't considered the aspect of the Allies arming and training local forces, but it must have been a crucial factor.

    Combined with the Japanese displacement of the colonial powers and, as you mention, the inability of the colonial powers to reassert their control in the face of flowering local independence movements, the training and weapons must have put teeth into those movements which they lacked before the war.

    I expect that there was also a fair amount of weapons scavenging from both sides by locals in the wake of the withdrawal of both sides and the weapons and ordnance left after battles and perhaps in field or even warehouse stores.

    There were certainly communist movements in some of the colonial countries, but on closer examination they tended to be strongly nationalist / independence movements informed by communist doctrine relating as much to overthrow of the local rich and powerful as to the colonial powers, rather than purely communist movements existing in a vacuum.

    The US missed a great chance to avoid the Vietnam war when Ho Chi Min sought US support for Vietnam's independence in the 1950s, in the foolish belief that the US as the nation founded on grand principles of independence forged in a war freeing itself from colonial domination would actually be sympathetic to those in other countries pursuing the same aim. His approach to the Americans indicates that, at that stage at least, he was far from committed to some doctrinaire Moscow, or Peking, line communism but that he was primarily interested in gaining independence for Vietnam.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 08-14-2013 at 05:14 AM.
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  7. #142
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    All very good points.

    I hadn't considered the aspect of the Allies arming and training local forces, but it must have been a crucial factor.

    Combined with the Japanese displacement of the colonial powers and, as you mention, the inability of the colonial powers to reassert their control in the face of flowering local independence movements, the training and weapons must have put teeth into those movements which they lacked before the war.

    I expect that there was also a fair amount of weapons scavenging from both sides by locals in the wake of the withdrawal of both sides and the weapons and ordnance left after battles and perhaps in field or even warehouse stores.

    There were certainly communist movements in some of the colonial countries, but on closer examination they tended to be strongly nationalist / independence movements informed by communist doctrine relating as much to overthrow of the local rich and powerful as to the colonial powers, rather than purely communist movements existing in a vacuum.

    The US missed a great chance to avoid the Vietnam war when Ho Chi Min sought US support for Vietnam's independence in the 1950s, in the foolish belief that the US as the nation founded on grand principles of independence forged in a war freeing itself from colonial domination would actually be sympathetic to those in other countries pursuing the same aim. His approach to the Americans indicates that, at that stage at least, he was far from committed to some doctrinaire Moscow, or Peking, line communism but that he was primarily interested in gaining independence for Vietnam.
    The communist groups were by no means the only nor even the predominant influence post war in many places, what the communists did have though was consistent external political support along with physical support (both covert and overt) against the Colonial powers.

    Once the ball started rolling it was only going to gather steam as more and more countries found it harder to influence and control their possessions, one country gaining independence showed others it was possible so gave them added political willpower as well as the physical ability to take on the Colonial Nations (talking as they were at the time the Colonial Nations as opposed to former).

    US and Soviet influence in such places as the UN against colonialism also made it harder politically (one of the few really major early times the USSR and USA seemed to agree) for Colonial nations to continue as they were.
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

  8. #143
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    I believe that independence movements following the war were simply not going to be denied regardless of what the former or soon-to-be-former colonial masters wanted or did not want. I also believe that it is true that the Japanese showed that the "white man" could be defeated even if that was a sort of "Phyrric" defeat - the Japanese didn't last long and weren't any better than the colonial administrators and perhaps much worse. Malaya is an interesting case because the British defeated the communist inurgency post war. They were aided by the fact that many, if not most, of the insurgents were actually Chinese, who were not universally loved by the local population.

    Indo-China, I agree, is vexing case. Ho Chi Minh's hero as a young man was Abraham Lincoln. It would have been best if the US had remained aloof from that conflict entirely because I believe it was essentially 1) a war of independence against the French and 2) a civil war. I don't believe it had much to do with communism except that the communists were the only ones who came to the north's aid. We forget that the Vietnamese actually fought a border war with the Chinese in the 70's, IIRC, or perhaps early 80s. There is little to no love lost between the Vietnamese and the Chinese.

    Given how little the local non-Indo population supported the Dutch during WW2, there was little to no chance that Dutch sovereignty would survive post-war in the Dutch East Indies. The mixed Indo population did support the Dutch but they represented a tiny fraction of the population. Someone once noted that the amount the US gave the Netherlands in the Marshall Plan aid was largely spent in a futile effort to re-assert Dutch power in the Netherlands.

    In India, honestly, Ghandi was right to ask, "What are you doing here? You don't belong here." Much as it may pain our British brethren in here, the Indians were no longer in thrall of the British Crown. The time when a small military contingent could control - more or less - a huge sub-continent through the clever and intelligent use of railroads was over. Although I think that the Indian leadership - the Congress - was much closer spiritually to the English than, say, to the Japanese and Chandra Bose's "leadership", the Congress knew full well that the time of British rule was going to end shortly. They had served loyally, but no more, and the bill was due.

    Even in North Africa, the French were fighting a rear-guard action in Algeria which had long been considered - by the French - as a part of metropolitan France in a war that would last well into the 60s. Although entrenched, they were a minority destined to lose. Tunisia was less close to France's vital interests and was a protectorate and thus psychologically easier to let go around 1956. Tunisia wasn't vital like Algeria was. The Tunisians, to my knowledge, never took up arms against French.

    We won't mention the Philippines again because, as RS pointed out, it wasn't a colony in the traditional European meaning of the term having only been under American control - not including the Muslim Huk Belaheb - since 1898 when they sent the Spanish packing.

    My point is simply that imperialism's time was running out.

  9. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by royal744 View Post
    I believe that independence movements following the war were simply not going to be denied regardless of what the former or soon-to-be-former colonial masters wanted or did not want. I also believe that it is true that the Japanese showed that the "white man" could be defeated even if that was a sort of "Phyrric" defeat - the Japanese didn't last long and weren't any better than the colonial administrators and perhaps much worse. Malaya is an interesting case because the British defeated the communist inurgency post war. They were aided by the fact that many, if not most, of the insurgents were actually Chinese, who were not universally loved by the local population.

    Indo-China, I agree, is vexing case. Ho Chi Minh's hero as a young man was Abraham Lincoln. It would have been best if the US had remained aloof from that conflict entirely because I believe it was essentially 1) a war of independence against the French and 2) a civil war. I don't believe it had much to do with communism except that the communists were the only ones who came to the north's aid. We forget that the Vietnamese actually fought a border war with the Chinese in the 70's, IIRC, or perhaps early 80s. There is little to no love lost between the Vietnamese and the Chinese.

    Given how little the local non-Indo population supported the Dutch during WW2, there was little to no chance that Dutch sovereignty would survive post-war in the Dutch East Indies. The mixed Indo population did support the Dutch but they represented a tiny fraction of the population. Someone once noted that the amount the US gave the Netherlands in the Marshall Plan aid was largely spent in a futile effort to re-assert Dutch power in the Netherlands.

    In India, honestly, Ghandi was right to ask, "What are you doing here? You don't belong here." Much as it may pain our British brethren in here, the Indians were no longer in thrall of the British Crown. The time when a small military contingent could control - more or less - a huge sub-continent through the clever and intelligent use of railroads was over. Although I think that the Indian leadership - the Congress - was much closer spiritually to the English than, say, to the Japanese and Chandra Bose's "leadership", the Congress knew full well that the time of British rule was going to end shortly. They had served loyally, but no more, and the bill was due.

    Even in North Africa, the French were fighting a rear-guard action in Algeria which had long been considered - by the French - as a part of metropolitan France in a war that would last well into the 60s. Although entrenched, they were a minority destined to lose. Tunisia was less close to France's vital interests and was a protectorate and thus psychologically easier to let go around 1956. Tunisia wasn't vital like Algeria was. The Tunisians, to my knowledge, never took up arms against French.

    We won't mention the Philippines again because, as RS pointed out, it wasn't a colony in the traditional European meaning of the term having only been under American control - not including the Muslim Huk Belaheb - since 1898 when they sent the Spanish packing.

    My point is simply that imperialism's time was running out.
    I suspect that the dominance of communism in many independence movements flowed from it being a coherent social, political and economic philosophy which challenged both colonial control and the control of indigenous and frequently corrupt local elites.

    The desire for independence no doubt motivated many people, but combine that with the prospect of a just society in countries with vast poverty and communism, which embraced independence, was probably much more attractive than a simple independence movement.

    If we ignore what we know now on how things turned out after WWII, I don't know that imperialism's time was running out. But for WWII, which after all was essentially a war of colonial expansion by the three main Axis powers, there was probably nothing to enable local people to overthrow the various colonial regimes. Had the Axis won, there would have been a new and vastly more brutal form of colonialism in conquered countries than the British, French and Dutch had in their colonies. Had that happened, the ruthless colonialism of the Axis powers would probably have ensured that independence movements would have been crushed if they attempted the sort of armed insurrections which occurred after WWII in British, French and Dutch colonies where the colonial masters, albeit brutal at times, lacked the utter ruthlessness of the Axis powers. The Axis control would have been carried out without the inspiring example which Japan provided to show that the European colonial masters could be defeated.

    I think leccy's point about indigenous people being armed and trained by the Allies is also crucial in considering how things might have turned out if the Axis won. My knowledge is limited to the Pacific War but, although the Japanese had no shortage of spies and fifth columnists in countries they occupied, they didn't arm, support, supply and train them in the same way that the Allies did during the war in the Philippines.

    Against that is the fact that each colony has to be considered on its own circumstances as, as far as I am aware, the circumstances in the NEI were not conducive to the same sort of Allied sponsored guerrilla actions which occurred in the Philippines, while Japan's 'soft' occupation of French Indo-China was very different to its armed conquest of Malaya and Singapore.

    On the latter point, I wonder to what extent the Chinese dominated communist movement in post-war Malaya was in part a response to Japan targeting the Chinese in Malaya and Singapore for massacres and general mistreatment, along the lines of the post-war Jewish "we won't allow this to happen again" as a woefully persecuted people?
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  10. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    But for WWII, which after all was essentially a war of colonial expansion by the three main Axis powers, there was probably nothing to enable local people to overthrow the various colonial regimes. Had the Axis won, there would have been a new and vastly more brutal form of colonialism in conquered countries than the British, French and Dutch had in their colonies. Had that happened, the ruthless colonialism of the Axis powers would probably have ensured that independence movements would have been crushed if they attempted the sort of armed insurrections which occurred after WWII in British, French and Dutch colonies where the colonial masters, albeit brutal at times, lacked the utter ruthlessness of the Axis powers. The Axis control would have been carried out without the inspiring example which Japan provided to show that the European colonial masters could be defeated.
    This is a good and valid point. No doubt whatsoever that the Imperialism of Germany, Italy and Japan was much worse - catastrophically worse - than those of England, France and Holland, which were, by comparison, quite benign. I know from my own readings that both the Dutch and English - don't know about the French - were aware in some quarters of the irony of their own democratic systems and the rather autocratic systems they imposed in their colonies. It produced some peculiar contrasts in schools where the Dutch and British systems of government were extolled. I think the English inspired rather more admiration and loyalty among the indigenous peoples than, unfortunately, the Dutch who were in the Dutch East Indies at least as long as the British were in India and in Malaya. Unfortunately, they had oil and lots of it which put them squarely in the crosshairs of the rapacious and desperate Japanese. The Pacific War was really all about the Japanese getting their hands on Dutch oil. Everything else was pretty much collateral damage, but it was the "collateral" damage that did them in.
    Last edited by royal744; 08-15-2013 at 05:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by royal744 View Post
    This is a good and valid point. No doubt whatsoever that the Imperialism of Germany, Italy and Japan was much worse - catastrophically worse - than those of England, France and Holland, which were, by comparison, quite benign. I know from my own readings that both the Dutch and English - don't know about the French - were aware in some quarters of the irony of their own democratic systems and the rather autocratic systems they imposed in their colonies. It produced some peculiar contrasts in schools where the Dutch and British systems of government were extolled. I think the English inspired rather more admiration and loyalty among the indigenous peoples than, unfortunately, the Dutch who were in the Dutch East Indies at least as long as the British were in India and in Malaya. Unfortunately, they had oil and lots of it which put them squarely in the crosshairs of the rapacious and desperate Japanese. The Pacific War was really all about the Japanese getting their hands on Dutch oil. Everything else was pretty much collateral damage, but it was the "collateral" damage that did them in.
    Oil and Rubber were major benefits to the Japanese from NEI, Malaya, Burma, Singapore, I assume Iron ore, coal, coke (amongst other raw resources) from China along with food
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

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    Yes, Leccy, the rubber from Malaya and Indo-China were equally important.

    You mention "Indo-China" today and nobody knows what you're talking about.
    Last edited by royal744; 08-16-2013 at 12:18 PM.

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    Default Re: The Real Churchill

    Also oil and rubber and, I think, some metals in Burma.

    Although Burma's significance to Japan was more to do with closing the route to China and providing a buffer against an attack from, or a springboard for an attack upon, India.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 08-16-2013 at 07:44 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Also oil and rubber and, I think, some metals in Burma.

    Although Burma's significance to Japan was more to do with closing the route to China and providing a buffer against an attack from, or a springboard for an attack upon, India.
    Precisely. India was the be-all and end-all for Britain in the campaign against Japan. Had the Japanese succeeded in their efforts to sway a sizeable portion of the Indian population to join their campaign against the British, the Empire would have lost all credibility. As it was, the British managed to keep the Indians onside only by promising independence post-war. Churchill and Mountbatten made the best of a bad job.

    Cheers,
    Cliff

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    Quote Originally Posted by CliSwe View Post
    Precisely. India was the be-all and end-all for Britain in the campaign against Japan. Had the Japanese succeeded in their efforts to sway a sizeable portion of the Indian population to join their campaign against the British, the Empire would have lost all credibility. As it was, the British managed to keep the Indians onside only by promising independence post-war. Churchill and Mountbatten made the best of a bad job.

    Cheers,
    Cliff
    Agreed. An era was drawing a close. Sometimes, "things" come to an end. I think an interesting extension of this topic would be to speculate on what would have happened if Germany had succeeded in "winning" Europe and European Russia. If colonialism and imperialism around the world was drawing to a close, how successful could the Germans have really been in holding onto its captured territories and for how long? Can we draw examples from Napoleon and the Soviet Union? Was Germany with its limited population really capable of holding on to its prizes? How realistic were Germany's plans for colonizing Russia? One wonders...
    Last edited by royal744; 08-18-2013 at 01:52 PM.

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