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Old 05-12-2019, 05:46 PM
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For what reasons did the Old South and Nazi Germany think they could win the war?


Both the Old South and Nazi Germany proved to be have overestimated their ability to win the war. What factors did they think would enable them to win? For what factual, philosophical or psychological reasons did they believe that?

If we draw a Venn Diagram of the factors they thought would give them victory, what kind of overlap or difference do we see between the Old South and Nazi Germany? If we look at the reasons why they believed that, how much overlap or difference?

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Old 05-12-2019, 05:52 PM
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Delusions of intrinsic superiority? That probably wasn't the only reason, but I think it was a big part, for both of them.
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Old 05-12-2019, 05:58 PM
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I think the situations are completely different. Germ,any needed to win, the US South only needed not to lose. That is, they had to last long enough for the North to get tired of fighting them. I'm not sure that was an unreasonable bet.
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Old 05-12-2019, 06:09 PM
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I think the situations are completely different. Germ,any needed to win, the US South only needed not to lose. That is, they had to last long enough for the North to get tired of fighting them. I'm not sure that was an unreasonable bet.
If the South thought the way to victory was to not lose until the North got tired of fighting them, they should have waged a guerilla war. The Peninsular war which gave its name to guerilla was from 1807 to 1814, enough time for those Confederate generals to have had the opportunity to learn about it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsular_War

Did they think of themselves as fighting the same kind of war, strategically and PR-wise, as Washington?
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Old 05-12-2019, 06:13 PM
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Did the concept of asymmetrical warfare really even exist yet, though?
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Old 05-12-2019, 06:58 PM
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Germany had a significant advantage at the operational and tactical levels. There mission oriented doctrinal approach supplemented with effective implementation of modern weapons allowed them to produce quick strategic victories at the operational level. The defeated their early opponents more quickly than the balance of strength would have suggested. They then defeated France, the smaller countries of western Europe, and the British Expeditionary Force far despite being at a disadvantage in many strategic factors. Their offensive into Russia culminated a little short of Moscow. Seizing Moscow would have at least shifted the strategic balance of power. Russia's ability to resist when important supply and communications lines that ran through Moscow would have been reduced. Russia's only T-34 plant was still in the area during the Battle of Moscow.

Of course they did come up short of seizing Moscow. Then their ally started a war with the US which was protected from rapid ground conquest by oceans. At that point Germany's strategic weaknesses came to the fore. They couldn't reasonably expect to strategically cripple or knock any of their remaining opponents out of the war with a single ground campaign. At that point the brutal calculus of their strategic weaknesses took over. At the point where they were making decisions, though, they weren't wrong about their operational and tactical prowess. When they could land a decisive first blow they could win wars before their weaknesses mattered.

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If the South thought the way to victory was to not lose until the North got tired of fighting them, they should have waged a guerilla war.
They were constrained by protecting the plantation system and it's slaves. Choosing a guerrilla strategy would have allowed the north to dismantle the very thing that prompted secession in the first place. The didn't need to conquer the North to win. They couldn't allow the North to operate relatively freely throughout the South until an asymmetric plan sapped Northern will.
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:44 PM
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Both the Old South and Nazi Germany proved to be have overestimated their ability to win the war. What factors did they think would enable them to win? For what factual, philosophical or psychological reasons did they believe that?

If we draw a Venn Diagram of the factors they thought would give them victory, what kind of overlap or difference do we see between the Old South and Nazi Germany? If we look at the reasons why they believed that, how much overlap or difference?
War is waged in a world of imperfect knowledge. You may assume a potential adversary lacks will or motivation and be proven wrong. But you might also be right. The US lost the will to fight in Vietnam. What factors did the North Vietnamese have that led them to refuse to capitulate?
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:49 PM
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War is waged in a world of imperfect knowledge. You may assume a potential adversary lacks will or motivation and be proven wrong. But you might also be right. The US lost the will to fight in Vietnam. What factors did the North Vietnamese have that led them to refuse to capitulate?
I think it was because the North Vietnamese were fighting on their turf. And we didn't commit to the war, even from the beginning -- it wasn't a whole-country effort like WWII.
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Old 05-12-2019, 08:05 PM
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War is waged in a world of imperfect knowledge. You may assume a potential adversary lacks will or motivation and be proven wrong. But you might also be right. The US lost the will to fight in Vietnam. What factors did the North Vietnamese have that led them to refuse to capitulate?
Same reasons The French and Americans insurgents refused to capitulate in the 1770s and 1780s. They, the North Vietnamese and many in the South Vietnamese population, were tired of foreign powers and/or inept kleptocrats oppressing them and saw the insurgency as a way to free themselves and improve their lives. Madame Nhu was as hated as Marie Antoinette for much the same reasons.

Does that mean that the Old South thought they would win because the North were softies who would run once you hit them a few times? At what point did they start to realize their mistake and what did they do about it?

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Old 05-12-2019, 10:02 PM
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If the South thought the way to victory was to not lose until the North got tired of fighting them, they should have waged a guerilla war. The Peninsular war which gave its name to guerilla was from 1807 to 1814, enough time for those Confederate generals to have had the opportunity to learn about it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsular_War

Did they think of themselves as fighting the same kind of war, strategically and PR-wise, as Washington?
A few problems with this. First, the ruling class had a lot of fixed assets. They could have gone into the swamps and forests but their plantations couldn't. The Yankees could burn their homes and free their slaves, which would be defeating the point.
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:15 PM
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Germany had a significant advantage at the operational and tactical levels.
Since you must be quite familiar with this: Is it true that the Confederates has generally better generals?

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Of course they did come up short of seizing Moscow. Then their ally started a war with the US which was protected from rapid ground conquest by oceans. At that point Germany's strategic weaknesses came to the fore. They couldn't reasonably expect to strategically cripple or knock any of their remaining opponents out of the war with a single ground campaign. At that point the brutal calculus of their strategic weaknesses took over. At the point where they were making decisions, though, they weren't wrong about their operational and tactical prowess. When they could land a decisive first blow they could win wars before their weaknesses mattered.
Did the Nazis think they could be at peace with the UK or US? There was a lot of isolationism in the US at the time but did the Nazis expect they could do whatever they wanted in Europe and the US wouldn't do anything but supply and bankroll the allies?

How much of an analogy can we draw between Gettysburg and the battles of Moscow/Stalingrad/Kursk?


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They were constrained by protecting the plantation system and it's slaves. Choosing a guerrilla strategy would have allowed the north to dismantle the very thing that prompted secession in the first place. The didn't need to conquer the North to win. They couldn't allow the North to operate relatively freely throughout the South until an asymmetric plan sapped Northern will.
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A few problems with this. First, the ruling class had a lot of fixed assets. They could have gone into the swamps and forests but their plantations couldn't. The Yankees could burn their homes and free their slaves, which would be defeating the point.
So, they thought they could get the Union to let the South secede through conventional battles? That the North would be "isolationist", for lack of a better term, to the point of not wanting to fight a war to prevent the union being broken up by slavery?
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:23 PM
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They were constrained by protecting the plantation system and it's slaves. Choosing a guerrilla strategy would have allowed the north to dismantle the very thing that prompted secession in the first place. The didn't need to conquer the North to win. They couldn't allow the North to operate relatively freely throughout the South until an asymmetric plan sapped Northern will.
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A few problems with this. First, the ruling class had a lot of fixed assets. They could have gone into the swamps and forests but their plantations couldn't. The Yankees could burn their homes and free their slaves, which would be defeating the point.
Right. What the Confederacy was created to protect required that there be a functioning state protecting it under law. If not fought conventionally they would have risked that by the time their independence was recognized, there would be nothing left of what they fought for.

And yes, there was (and is) a lot of cultural attitude that they were martially superior and more honor-bound than the Yankees. Martial spirit and "honor" ain't much against superior industrial output, though.

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Old 05-12-2019, 10:53 PM
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Right. What the Confederacy was created to protect required that there be a functioning state protecting it under law. If not fought conventionally they would have risked that by the time their independence was recognized, there would be nothing left of what they fought for.

And yes, there was (and is) a lot of cultural attitude that they were martially superior and more honor-bound than the Yankees. Martial spirit and "honor" ain't much against superior industrial output, though.
Didn't the Spartans have the same macho attitude of winning thru guts & balls rather than logistics & cleverness? It didn't seem to work out for them at Leuctra or overall.

The Japanese certainly seem to have put a lot of emphasis on martial spirit and honor in WWII. How about Jihadis, what do they think are the reasons they think they'll win, aside from divine will?
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:00 PM
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For Germany, part of the reason was the fact that the USSR couldn't even defeat Finland in 1939 which made Germany underestimate the USSR.

I'm not sure about the South. I once saw a cracked article saying the north had 4x the free population, far more industry and GDP, far more railroads, etc. Plus the south had 9 million people, of which 5 million were whites and 4 million blacks. The south had to know that if the north armed the 4 million blacks that they'd join the union to fight for their freedom. I have no idea what they were thinking. 20 million northerners and 4 million southern blacks would have an easy time destroying 5 million southern whites. I believe the union army was 2 million while the southern army was 1 million strong.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:35 AM
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I think the situations are completely different. Germ,any needed to win, the US South only needed not to lose. That is, they had to last long enough for the North to get tired of fighting them. I'm not sure that was an unreasonable bet.
I agree about the South — they didn't anticipate the huge War the Union would fight. For that matter, the Union would probably have let the South go if they anticipated what horrific costs the War would inflict.

But Germany also might have prevailed with a few changes. Imagine if the British Army had been taken prisoner at Dunkirk? Or if the bombing of London had demoralized the British nation? Or if Hitler had delayed his attack on Russia? Or if the German Naval Enigma codes were not decrypted and its U-Boat campaign more successful? Or if Franco had cooperated with his natural Fascist ally? The defeat of Nazi Germany may have been most likely, but it was hardly a sure thing.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:45 AM
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I haven't really studied the Civil War so I can't speak to that ; but the reason German (and Japanese) leaders thought they'd get away with it is because they were fascists ; and fascists are implicitly, inherently incapable of correctly estimating the strength of their bugaboos.



It's true of every fascist group, but probably even more marked in those two cases because so much of their ideologies were racist/based on pop-genetics on top of being fascist. And that's absolutely dysfunctional and schyzo at its very core because on the one hand, you can't be a fascist (or really an extremist of any persuasion) without an enemy to rail against. In the case of the Reich, it was communists and Jews (mostly) which were, in their opinion, such a dire and existential threat to Germany that they had to be destroyed ASAP. Every extremist policy, every "national purge", every robbing of liberty, every new law, every oversight on violence by the Nazis was invented and presented as the only possible effective answer to the twin headed, all-powerful, all-controlling hydra of Judeo-bolshevism which the Nazis were the one and only rampart against.
That's column A.


But in column B you have all the Aryan bullshit and the inherent superiority of the German race and culture over everything else ; especially the deviant less-evolved parasites that were Jews and Slavs. They weren't even human ! Human-shaped rats, cockroaches, lice on the world ! So how could they have possibly resisted the strong pure might of a proud German soldier kicking the door in, newly purged of any of his past social-democrat flaws and infused with a glorification of strength and brutality ? Unmöglisch !



The implicit contradiction led them to the notion that there was a war that absolutely *needed* to be fought immediately else Germany would be destroyed ; by an enemy that was, somehow, both perpetually historically victorious but also implicitly and inherently weak, lame, inferior etc etc... And if you think that's weird and dumb, hi, these are the Nazis, perhaps you've never met ? .
Turns out doublethink is not conducive to clear thought.


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Did the Nazis think they could be at peace with the UK or US? There was a lot of isolationism in the US at the time but did the Nazis expect they could do whatever they wanted in Europe and the US wouldn't do anything but supply and bankroll the allies?
They didn't even think the US would do that to begin with.

Hitler was extremely surprised (and much angered) that the US didn't support him ; he'd got it in his silly head that the two countries were natural allies. And to be fair, eugenics and antisemitism were not exactly rare in the US back then. Naturally, when it turned out that Roosevelt wouldn't play ball, he turned around and accused him (and America) of having been Jewish/Freemason puppets all along. Because that's the only thing that could possibly explain such an illogical turn of events. Perfectly clear. Not a single doubt. The Nazi theory of history and the world was implicitly correct, therefore it's reality itself that must have been perverted and Wrong.



Similarly, he was adamantly convinced that the British, being a) democrats *ptooie* and b) not quite untermenschen necessarily would rapidly cave to his aggression, understand why he did what he needed to do, appease him and let him concentrate on destroying Stalin because after all, it was in their interest too, ja ? They, too, were threatened by the hydra of Judeo-bolshevism, that much was perfectly obvious ! And Hitler didn't even want to exterminate them ! So to keep fighting like they did was, in his own words, "contrary to all logic and necessity".
So yes. He really believed he could do whatever he wanted and the UK & US would let him, help him even. He really was that blinkered.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:08 AM
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Since you must be quite familiar with this: Is it true that the Confederates has generally better generals?
At the start of the war, yes. Fortunately for the Union, Lincoln learned to fire bad generals and promote good ones, something Davis never did.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:15 AM
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The Peninsular war which gave its name to guerilla was from 1807 to 1814, enough time for those Confederate generals to have had the opportunity to learn about it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsular_War
That may have gotten the word into English, but the concept is a lot older. Viriato was already using it against the Romans.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:24 AM
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Delusions of intrinsic superiority? That probably wasn't the only reason, but I think it was a big part, for both of them.
It was certainly true for both of them. The Confederates told themselves that the United States' numerical superiority was meaningless because one southern soldier could whip five yankees.

The Confederates also deluded themselves over the power of cotton. Most of the world's cotton was grown in the southern states and they felt it was a vital commodity for Europe. So they thought all they had to do was threaten to stop the sale of cotton and the European powers would take up their cause and force the United States to negotiate.

A more realistic appraisal was the asymmetrical goals of the Confederacy and the United States, as others have noted. The United States had to conquer the Confederacy to win. The Confederacy didn't have to conquer the United States; they won by default if they weren't conquered.

With Germany, their plans for success were pretty much entirely based on a delusion of their superiority. Hitler and the Nazis simply assumed that every opponent they challenged would quickly become demoralized and would submit to Germany. They never really developed a strategy for what they would do if this didn't happen.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:26 AM
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Or if Franco had cooperated with his natural Fascist ally?
Franco wasn't an ideological Fascist; he used both Fascists and Traditionalists because those were the tools available, but would have been equally happy to lean on the Sisters of the Silver Star and the Bugs Bunny Brothers if these seemed better. This is a detail which is easy to overlook, but which needs to be taken into account in order to understand his actions.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:35 AM
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At the start of the war, yes. Fortunately for the Union, Lincoln learned to fire bad generals and promote good ones, something Davis never did.
I don't think it was solely a matter of generals. I feel that a key factor in the Confederates' early success was that they were building up a new army while the Americans were expanding an existing army.

When a large number of southern soldiers quit the American army to join the Confederate cause, they gave the Confederate government a supply of soldiers with military experience that they could use to form new units around. That meant that newly formed Confederate units all had some experienced men to show the raw recruits what to do and provide an example for them.

The American army, on the other hand, kept its existing units intact and kept its pre-war soldiers in those units. The army was expanded by forming new units composed entirely of raw recruits; enlisted men, NCO's, and junior officers. These units, understandably, did not perform very well in the early months of the war.

This situation equalized as the soldiers on both sides acquired experience on the battlefield (or died). The Confederates made the mistake of thinking the soldiers they were fighting in 1863 were the same as the soldiers they had fought in 1861.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:40 AM
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But Germany also might have prevailed with a few changes. Imagine if the British Army had been taken prisoner at Dunkirk? Or if the bombing of London had demoralized the British nation? Or if Hitler had delayed his attack on Russia? Or if the German Naval Enigma codes were not decrypted and its U-Boat campaign more successful? Or if Franco had cooperated with his natural Fascist ally? The defeat of Nazi Germany may have been most likely, but it was hardly a sure thing.
Sorry, but those are all details. The truth is that the Nazis were absymal at managing anything (much less giant overextended conquests) and the whole regime would have crumbled on its own within a decade at the most. Hitler gets an undeserved reputation as the guy who turned the German economy around in the interwar ; but in reality that's really a belated effect of pre-Nazi measures and people. The Nazis were horribly terrible at any kind of planning, didn't understand economics, didn't understand people. Everything they did or built was inefficient and dysfunctional. As the Nazis took more and more power, they replaced more and more people who knew how to do shit or had good ideas with stooges and "ideologically pure" sycophants and what's more, Hitler positively loved having multiple departments perform the same general tasks and pit them against one another which is hilariously dumb (ask Sears why).

To give you an example, the Nazis started working on nuclear bombs in early 39, long before the Manhattan Project began. But Hitler didn't have "the German Manhattan Project" : there were nine separate projects, all squabbling over the same resources, none sharing any data or ideas with the others (in fact, they sometimes actively sabotaged each other) and all having to deal with Hitler (the *ahem* scientific genius) acting as a referee and fickle-mindedly favouring, not those who were the best, but those who most strictly adhered to "German physics" (none of that Jew relativity stuff for honest Germans ! Yeah...), those who bullshitted their reports best, those who were most skilled at sucking up to him. It of course didn't help that most of the high-powered brains in nuclear physics were, well, Jews. Who fled, and wound up working in the Manhattan Project.
And that, to Hitler, was excellent social darwinism, the absolute best system.


Imagine that applied to logistics, macro-economics, distribution of goods, industrial subsidies... Nazi Germany was a shitshow from top to bottom. It really was. I guarantee that you can think of any topic or facet of society, examine how the Nazis did it or wanted to do it or expected it to work, and palmface hard. Which is why it was spiralling the drain long before Genius Strategist Hitler attacked West because he really wanted to attack East.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:58 AM
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Franco wasn't an ideological Fascist; he used both Fascists and Traditionalists because those were the tools available, but would have been equally happy to lean on the Sisters of the Silver Star and the Bugs Bunny Brothers if these seemed better. This is a detail which is easy to overlook, but which needs to be taken into account in order to understand his actions.

Also, Hitler met Franco once and immediately took a profound personal dislike to the man (for, as far as I know, unknown reasons). He said afterwards that he'd rather get all of his teeth pulled out than having to talk with Franco again.
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Old 05-13-2019, 04:14 AM
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Also, Hitler met Franco once and immediately took a profound personal dislike to the man (for, as far as I know, unknown reasons). He said afterwards that he'd rather get all of his teeth pulled out than having to talk with Franco again.
I don't think it was an immediate reaction. Hitler had assisted Franco in winning the Spanish Civil War and felt that Franco owed him. He wanted Franco to join the world war as a German ally.

But Franco was smarter than Hitler and saw that Germany's victory in the war was questionable. Franco had no desire to join what might be the losing side. But at the same time, he knew it would be unwise to refuse Hitler outright because that might prompt Hitler to declare war on Spain.

So Franco declared support for Germany without ever actually committing Spain. He deliberately kept stringing out the negotiations until Hitler finally gave up in frustration.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:33 AM
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One of the things that really stuck with me from high school history is how Hitler set up his organization so that lots of people had overlapping roles and responsibilities and powers. He did this to ensure that they'd be too busy squabbling among themselves to reach for his throne. This may be an effective way of ensuring that your underlings are too ineffectual to challenge your authority... But... It's an effective way of ensuring that your underlings are ineffectual, and that therefore your entire organization is ineffectual. This led to some... issues. Like the fact that nobody was able to send in Panzer reinforcements on D-Day because Hitler was asleep.

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On D-Day, the Germans had some formidable Panzer divisions available to provide defense of the coast, despite the fact that the Luftwaffe was nonexistent and the Allies had complete air and naval superiority. They might not have pushed the obscene number of soldiers in the Allied fighting force back into the English Channel, but they could have at least stymied some of the effort until more reinforcements arrived.

There were a couple problems with that tank defense, though. Since a number of German commanders were off hanging out in and around France during D-Day, there was some chaos as to what exactly should be going on and who exactly was in charge. But more importantly, none of the more than 1,000 tanks could be put into battle without Hitler’s express order to do so. Unlike the Allies, where Eisenhower allowed his commanders to make calls in the field, Hitler was obsessed with controlling every aspect of his war machine – he just couldn’t be bothered with it before noon.
People have this image of the Nazis as terrifying tactial geniuses. In some cases, maybe. But overall? Hitler was an idiot, and his organization was incredibly awful at actually achieving its goals. And that's without getting into the whole "the enemy is weak because we're aryans" bullshit.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:50 AM
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Franco wasn't an ideological Fascist; he used both Fascists and Traditionalists because those were the tools available, but would have been equally happy to lean on the Sisters of the Silver Star and the Bugs Bunny Brothers if these seemed better. This is a detail which is easy to overlook, but which needs to be taken into account in order to understand his actions.
What was he?



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The implicit contradiction led them to the notion that there was a war that absolutely *needed* to be fought immediately else Germany would be destroyed ; by an enemy that was, somehow, both perpetually historically victorious but also implicitly and inherently weak, lame, inferior etc etc... And if you think that's weird and dumb, hi, these are the Nazis, perhaps you've never met ? .
Turns out doublethink is not conducive to clear thought.
I noted the same thing when Neocons were talking about how the UN was nothing but a talking shop and how the UN was successfully countering Neocon plans.

This attitude seems to combine a pretty deep case of Dunning-Kruger because they couldn't emotionally bear to examine their flaws combined with projecting onto others the flaws they cannot bear to admit are in themselves.


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That may have gotten the word into English, but the concept is a lot older. Viriato was already using it against the Romans.
Thanks for that one. The Romans themselves used guerilla tactics when the Fabian strategy prevailed over Hannibal.


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At the start of the war, yes. Fortunately for the Union, Lincoln learned to fire bad generals and promote good ones, something Davis never did.
How come Davis never learned to fire bad generals and promote good ones?


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I don't think it was solely a matter of generals. I feel that a key factor in the Confederates' early success was that they were building up a new army while the Americans were expanding an existing army.

When a large number of southern soldiers quit the American army to join the Confederate cause, they gave the Confederate government a supply of soldiers with military experience that they could use to form new units around. That meant that newly formed Confederate units all had some experienced men to show the raw recruits what to do and provide an example for them.

The American army, on the other hand, kept its existing units intact and kept its pre-war soldiers in those units. The army was expanded by forming new units composed entirely of raw recruits; enlisted men, NCO's, and junior officers. These units, understandably, did not perform very well in the early months of the war.

This situation equalized as the soldiers on both sides acquired experience on the battlefield (or died). The Confederates made the mistake of thinking the soldiers they were fighting in 1863 were the same as the soldiers they had fought in 1861.
Do we see a major difference between new Union units entirely composed of raw recruits and old Union units composed of experienced men?

It's an interesting question to wonder how to expand military units and replace losses. In Vietnam, the US tried integrating raw recruits into experienced units on an individual basis and it didn't turn out well. What would be the possible alternatives to those 2 mistaken ways of doing things?
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:01 AM
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What was he?
An authoritarian and an opportunist.


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But Franco was smarter than Hitler and saw that Germany's victory in the war was questionable. Franco had no desire to join what might be the losing side. But at the same time, he knew it would be unwise to refuse Hitler outright because that might prompt Hitler to declare war on Spain.

So Franco declared support for Germany without ever actually committing Spain. He deliberately kept stringing out the negotiations until Hitler finally gave up in frustration.
There also wasn't much to send in the way of support; those were the years when potato omelette was made from maize flour and orange peels, rather than from eggs and potatoes. The ideological makeup of those who made up the División Azul (the one corps which Spain did sent to join the Nazi army) was a mixture of two extremes, both of which were bothersome to the dictator: true believers plus people who, being from families that were known to have a long history of progressive leanings, joined as a sort of expiation/a way to draw ire away from their relatives.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:04 AM
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At the start of the war, yes. Fortunately for the Union, Lincoln learned to fire bad generals and promote good ones, something Davis never did.
Well, the US had a General-in-Chief (Scott) who understood the grand strategy that could lead to a victory, right from the beginning. The rebels had some good tacticians, but I don't think they ever had a grand strategy (or leadership aware that they needed one).

The population difference between the US and the rebels is really striking. The largest city in the South was New Orleans - and there were more Irish Americans in NYC in 1860 than there were people in New Orleans.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:10 AM
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There also wasn't much to send in the way of support; those were the years when potato omelette was made from maize flour and orange peels, rather than from eggs and potatoes.
Didn't most of that maize come from the U.S.?
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:12 AM
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Well, the US had a General-in-Chief (Scott) who understood the grand strategy that could lead to a victory, right from the beginning. The rebels had some good tacticians, but I don't think they ever had a grand strategy (or leadership aware that they needed one).

The population difference between the US and the rebels is really striking. The largest city in the South was New Orleans - and there were more Irish Americans in NYC in 1860 than there were people in New Orleans.
Good at tactics, bad at strategy. Lots of distorted romantic notions but little clear calculation. Did the Old South also try to make up for their flaws by going for superweapons or élan vital/banzai? We often hear about them thinking their superior warrior spirit/elan/banzai/honor code would give them the advantage but how many times did they try it at the tactical or strategic levels? Pickett's charge comes closest as far as I know but people more knowledgeable about the Civil War may be able to offer more examples.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:50 AM
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Both the Old South and Nazi Germany proved to be have overestimated their ability to win the war. What factors did they think would enable them to win? For what factual, philosophical or psychological reasons did they believe that?

If we draw a Venn Diagram of the factors they thought would give them victory, what kind of overlap or difference do we see between the Old South and Nazi Germany? If we look at the reasons why they believed that, how much overlap or difference?
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, countries do not start wars just because they think they could win. The United States could conquer Canada in two weeks, but I do not expect an invasion because it is not in the interests of the United States to do that. However, were they to try, Canada would fight back, even though that would be a hopeless cause.

The South started the Civil War because its ruling class perceived the war to be in their interests. To continue being part of the USA would be equivalent to CERTAIN defeat; they believed, almost certainly correctly, that continued partnership in the Union would result in the end of slavery and the Southern economic and social order. A war offered the chance to avoid that, and anyone who says Southern defeat was inevitable is fooling themselves. It absolutely was not inevitable, and the matter was still up in the air in the first half of 1863. Remember, they were less than a century removed from the War of Independence, when a fledgling government defeated the greatest military power on earth.

The Nazis started World War II because they perceived it to be in their interest. Nazis believe that war is the permanent condition of all humanity, and in September 1939 it looked like the right time to start a war. For awhile they were right, too; bear in mind the overwhelming odds of 1944 were not what they looked like in 1939.

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How come Davis never learned to fire bad generals and promote good ones?
First of all, it's not easy to know who's a good general and who isn't until it's too late. Absolutely no one in 1861 would have thought Grant was a better general than McLellan. I'm not sure Grant's wife would have thought that. It took a lot of painful experience for that to be proven.

Secondly, generalships in the Civil War were often a matter of politics. The Union and Confederate armies were NOT like the United States armed services today. Today's US military is a wholly professional force that relies purely on meritocracy to assign duties. The armies of 1861 were highly political things, in keeping with the principles of Jacksonian democracy. Men often elected their own officers, and the command of regiments was just as often handed out by state governors as repayment for political owesies. Even general's stars were often political awards meant to curry favor in states were favor needed to be curried.

Third, the Confederacy just didn't have a lot of senior officers, which is what you'd expect when your entire army is built in a span of a year. In many cases bad generals had been fine colonels; Hood is a perfect example, as was Burnside. Again, whaddya gonna do? You don't know a guy is Peter Principled until he is.

Lastly, in fairness, Davis was an arrogant ass who never admitted he was wrong. No one liked him (except, in one of history's greatest ironies, his slaves, whom he treated with a degree of respect he rarely afforded white people. Yeah, it was weird.) He didn't take counsel easily, was not good at dealing with internal conflict, and far overestimated his own knowledge.
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:55 AM
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Didn't most of that maize come from the U.S.?
I have no idea but it was a common crop in Spain's less-dry areas, albeit one which had previously been considered a cereal of last resort; it was used almost exclusively for animal fodder.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:25 AM
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Yeah, trying to equate the two from a planning and strategic standpoint isn't really an easy thing to do.

I believe that, while the confederate soldiers may have been filled with piss and vinegar - we can whip them easy! - the leadership knew what was what. It's why they focused on breaking the nerve of the Union. Both the early invasions that ended at Antietam and Gettysburg were really designed to make the Union believe cutting a deal was better than continuing the war.

Even the appeal to Great Britain wasn't really intended to involve them in combat but to place pressure on the Union to throw in the towel and cut a deal.

The Nazis, on the other hand, were much more straightforward. They believed they had the ability to take what they wanted without working with other people if they could help it. A little subtlety could have gone a long way, there. But Hitler and his staff largely lacked the imagination to expand their approach that it went poorly for them.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:45 AM
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For a time the South was doing well. It would make sense for them to believe they would win. Why wouldn’t they? The North had to win a war of conquest and occupation. They did not expect such a thing as total war on the citizenry. It wasn’t the modus operandi of the US military quite yet. Today it would be foolish to underestimate the sheer depths of immorality the US military is capable of.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:18 AM
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AIUI, while Nazi Germany didn't have to start a war at all, at a certain point, once the war got to certain junctures, it became less about what Germany wanted to do and what it had to do. They had to invade Russia, because otherwise eventually a much-stronger Russia would probably wage war on them down the road, and so it was now or never, even if it was in Germany's interest to focus on consolidating its existing hold in France and the other occupied territories. (Sure, there was Lebensraum and the other reasons for invading Russia, but they couldn't just let Stalin and Russia be.)

That and also, Germany's smashing success in the earlier phases of the war did indeed give the Nazis some logical confidence that they could win this war. Hitler's statement that "we just need to kick in the door and the (Russian) structure will come crashing down" was taking that confidence way too far, but Germany was indeed the most formidable military in Europe for some time being, with victory after victory to back up its psyche.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:36 AM
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Both were prepared and ready to fight a different war than the ones they ended up fighting.

Before the Civil War people believed in the big battle theory. At Waterloo Napoleon lost one battle and that caused France to lose the war. The planners of the day thought the Civil War was going to be like that. One huge battle and whoever wins that battle wins the war.

In a case like that, the Union's vast manpower and industrial advantages don't matter. The south had the most professional soldiers and their people were mostly rural farmers who knew how to use guns. No one was prepared for the kind of carnage both sides were willing to put up with. The Mexican war had cost the defeated side 15,000 soldiers killed and they had surrendered.

The Union suffered horrible defeats early in the war but never relented and the south was forced to fight a war of attrition which they could not hope to win.

Likewise the Nazis thought that they were going to be fighting a war like they did against France. France had one of the best militaries in the world and some of the best weapons. However it did not matter because tactically the Germans were so superior. They were able to use combined arms and the element of surprise to defeat a large force with low casualties. Once the french army was defeated the government capitulated quickly.

Against the USSR they were planning to do the same thing. They would attack with a surprise combined assault, capture or destroy the Soviet army and then the government would capitulate quickly. It worked very well at first and they captured or destroyed a larger amount of troops then they thought the russians had. However after handing the USSR some of the largest defeats in the history of warfare, the USSR kept fighting.

Once the initial attack was blunted they ended up fighting a war of attrition versus a foe that had a huge manpower advantage and once the US got into the war an ally with a huge industrial advantage. This type of war they had no chance of winning.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:48 AM
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I'm not a big fan of psychohistory but I think it's relevant here. I feel that Confederate government figures let their experience of the slavery system warp their thinking.

Southern plantation owners, who controlled the political system in the southern states, had grown up a system of masters and slaves. You were either in complete charge of everything or you were nothing. In an apt metaphor, it was a society of black and white absolutes.

So the Confederates often felt that they needed to assert control of events, even when doing so was not in their best overall interest. Davis ordered the shelling of Fort Sumter and the declaration of war against the United States even though it would have suited the Confederates better to have dragged out negotiations. The Confederate government declared an immediate embargo on cotton sales in order to force European to accept their demands rather than negotiate with the implied threat of an embargo in the background. Lee and other generals kept trying to lead invasions and fight battles even though this favored the United States with its numeric superiority; the Confederacy should have adopted a passive defensive strategy.

In all of these cases, you see Confederate leaders trying to deny the reality that they were in the weaker position. They were trying to show that they were in control of events and other people had to do what the Confederates were telling them to do.
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:04 PM
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Hitler's statement that "we just need to kick in the door and the (Russian) structure will come crashing down" was taking that confidence way too far, but Germany was indeed the most formidable military in Europe for some time being, with victory after victory to back up its psyche.
Oh no, that's just rhetorical bombast. The insane "taking confidence too far" is found in further things, like invading Russia and not bringing any winter gear whatsoever. Not because they forgot, or the factories had been damaged and couldn't produce enough, or because it cost too much and had to be taken out of the budget, or anything like that - things that you and me could understand (although we'd go from them to "then maybe don't start a war with Russia until you've fixed the thing ?")
But that's not stupid enough a reason.


The Germans deliberately didn't bring any winter gear because the Führer had promised the war would be over before Christmas - and fine, that's a bit daft to say (especially when you've been through WW1...) but just a harmless stump speech promise... except they were Nazis and had to turn it sinister. So the Führer's promise became a suicide pact. They didn't bring winter gear, because bringing winter gear would have demonstrated that they did not 100% believe what the Führer had said, thus that they allowed doubt to infiltrate the pure certainty of the Aryan thought process and lacked trust in their German comrade in arms, and bad things would happen to them. They didn't bring winter gear because they could point that out to the Führer and earn brownie points. They didn't bring winter gear because Hitler was legit convinced that as Aryans, his soldiers could thrive in sub-zero temperatures in nothing more than lederhosen. He fucking said that :
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Originally Posted by a different stable genius
Hitler was proud of his own hardiness in the cold, boasting on August 12, 1942, how "having to change into long trousers was always a misery to me. Even with a temperature of 10 below zero, I used to go about in lederhosen. The feeling of freedom they give you is wonderful. Abandoning my shorts was one of the biggest sacrifices I had to make… Anything up to five degrees below zero I don't even notice. Quite a number of young people of today already wear shorts all the year round; it is just a question of habit. In the future, I shall have an SS Highland Brigade in lederhosen."
So Hans, just shut up and march on, because the immensity that is Russia will be conquered before winter - and remember, they kicked off the invasion in June. Sure, 6 months is plenty enough time to conquer a continent, what ?

But wouldn't they have needed winter gear anyway, for the subsequent occupation and systematic murder of Russians ? Shut up. Don't doubt the Führer. He's a genius, our generals are the envy of untermenschen everywhere and you'll get us both shot you keep running your mouth like that.
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:08 PM
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In a case like that, the Union's vast manpower and industrial advantages don't matter. The south had the most professional soldiers and their people were mostly rural farmers who knew how to use guns.
This is a common statement but is generally not true. For one, most people in the North were farmers, too; it was much more urbanized than the South but was still mostly an agrarian economy. This is still the 19th century. For another, gun use wasn't as commonplace as the movies would have you believe. Gun ownership was fairly common, but not universal, and people weren't shooting them a lot; that was an expensive hobby. Most people had pretty limited experience with firearms and of course using them in war is a rather different beast.

Guns became much more common and popular AFTER the war than they had been before, in part because they were becoming cheaper and easier to use.
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:14 PM
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Southern plantation owners, who controlled the political system in the southern states, had grown up a system of masters and slaves. You were either in complete charge of everything or you were nothing. In an apt metaphor, it was a society of black and white absolutes.

So the Confederates often felt that they needed to assert control of events, even when doing so was not in their best overall interest. Davis ordered the shelling of Fort Sumter and the declaration of war against the United States even though it would have suited the Confederates better to have dragged out negotiations. The Confederate government declared an immediate embargo on cotton sales in order to force European to accept their demands rather than negotiate with the implied threat of an embargo in the background. Lee and other generals kept trying to lead invasions and fight battles even though this favored the United States with its numeric superiority; the Confederacy should have adopted a passive defensive strategy.

In all of these cases, you see Confederate leaders trying to deny the reality that they were in the weaker position. They were trying to show that they were in control of events and other people had to do what the Confederates were telling them to do.
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The Germans deliberately didn't bring any winter gear because the Führer had promised the war would be over before Christmas - and fine, that's a bit daft to say (especially when you've been through WW1...) but just a harmless stump speech promise... except they were Nazis and had to turn it sinister. So the Führer's promise became a suicide pact. They didn't bring winter gear, because bringing winter gear would have demonstrated that they did not 100% believe what the Führer had said, thus that they allowed doubt to infiltrate the pure certainty of the Aryan thought process and lacked trust in their German comrade in arms, and bad things would happen to them. They didn't bring winter gear because they could point that out to the Führer and earn brownie points. They didn't bring winter gear because Hitler was legit convinced that as Aryans, his soldiers could thrive in sub-zero temperatures in nothing more than lederhosen. He fucking said that :
Both seemed to have issues with admitting doubt, even only to oneself.

There seems to be some common ground between Bertrand Russel's quote " The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.", the Dunning-Kruger effect and honor culture.
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:31 PM
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I don't think every German higher-up was incapable of doubt, I think many had their reservations in private - but the system ensured that those who did voice doubt, any doubt, for any reason were quickly removed and replaced by yes-men and fanatics. Furthermore, the Nazi regime was super corrupt and running a lot on nepotism, so that there was a constant incentive for one-upmanship and taking things to further and further extremes in order to be granted more than the next guy - more promotions, more attention from the brass, more resources to do what you really wanted to do, or just being left alone to do your job without constant hassle (or bothersome micro-managing by the Führer who was convinced he knew everything better than everybody). And being (ostensibly) extra super certain of things was one way to rise up.

So people did that, and denounced anyone who wasn't extra super certain to try and bring them down. And it extended all the way down to everyday, random people who'd rat out any perceived deviance of their neighbours and acquaintances before they would be denounced themselves. As a quote in a recent nazi-shooting videogame I'm playing goes (by somebody living in Nazi-occupied Poland), "Everyone is a Nazi now, or pretending to be a Nazi and I can't tell the difference any more".
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:55 PM
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Right. What the Confederacy was created to protect required that there be a functioning state protecting it under law. If not fought conventionally they would have risked that by the time their independence was recognized, there would be nothing left of what they fought for.

And yes, there was (and is) a lot of cultural attitude that they were martially superior and more honor-bound than the Yankees. Martial spirit and "honor" ain't much against superior industrial output, though.
Which make me wonder how much they took industrial capability into account. The Civil War was the first really big war since the Napoleonic Wars (not counting Crimea which was localized.) The railroad hadn't even been invented then. Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, not the factories of Manchester after all.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:48 PM
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I dont think the Union would have won if it wasnt for the railroads. Railroads were still a kind of new thing and few understood their potential for moving massive amounts of troops and supplies.

Thing is the south was BIG. It was very hard to move massive armies anywhere and keep them supplied. Railroads allowed this.

And then the blockade. At the beginning the union navy was pretty small and the south never thought they would have the ability to blockade the entire southern coast and that they would always be able to import things they needed.
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:58 PM
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And yes, there was (and is) a lot of cultural attitude that they were martially superior and more honor-bound than the Yankees. Martial spirit and "honor" ain't much against superior industrial output, though.
And the "honor" of the South was shown to be a flimsy thing when the South lauded the cowardly attack by Preston Brooks on Senator Sumner

To review: Brooks was offended by Sumner's comments on slavery, but rather than challenging Sumner to a duel or spontaneously attacking out of immediate rage, Brooks waited until

a) Sumner was alone and unsuspecting, sitting behind a desk that was nailed to the floor (thus impeding escape or defense)

b) Brooks was armed with a cane

c) Brooks had two allies with him hold off anyone who might intervene.

Sumner was beaten so badly that he could not return to the Senate for several years. Brooks declined a challenge to a duel from a Northerner who would actually be armed.

Rather than disgusted by Brooks, the South universally praised him as a hero, gave him gifts and returned him to office by special election and Southern senators wore pieces of the cane Brooks used for the beating as jewelry.

Last edited by Andy L; 05-13-2019 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:34 PM
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A war offered the chance to avoid that, and anyone who says Southern defeat was inevitable is fooling themselves. It absolutely was not inevitable, and the matter was still up in the air in the first half of 1863. Remember, they were less than a century removed from the War of Independence, when a fledgling government defeated the greatest military power on earth.


Well, not your whole post, most of it was good, but I have a nit about that part.

That is because I do remember that that fledgling government was lucky to seek independence after powerful nations were involved on what some historians call a World War. France was seeking revenge for what had taken place on the Seven Years' War, and it did cost them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France...olutionary_War
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The Revolution was perceived as the incarnation of the Enlightenment Spirit against the "English tyranny." Benjamin Franklin traveled to France in December 1776 in order to rally the nation's support, and he was welcomed with great enthusiasm. At first, French support was covert: French agents sent the Patriots military aid (predominantly gunpowder) through a company called Rodrigue Hortalez et Compagnie, beginning in the spring of 1776. Estimates place the percentage of French supplied arms to the Americans in the Saratoga campaign at up to 90%.[3] By 1777, over five million livres of aid had been sent to the American rebels.
There is that, and related to the Civil War, the Confederacy never had those levels of support from other world powers. Far from it, France did not recognize the Confederacy and remained neutral; Britain officially did the same, but in practice, the Union was the one that got most of the trade then.

https://www.warhistoryonline.com/ins...the-union.html
Quote:
Great Britain remained neutral and was able to work out a deal for continuous trade with both sides. However, trade with the Confederacy fell by 90 percent after the beginning of the war. Only a little cotton was able to get to England, and a few munitions made it to Confederacy ports.
While not quite inevitable, defeat was coming when resources do not appear. And like southern historian Shelby Foote said on the classic PBS documentary The Civil War:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8Iw-j217yk
Quote:
"I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back. At the same time the war was going on, the Homestead act was being passed, all these marvelous inventions were going on.

In the spring of 64 the Harvard-Yale boat races were going on and not a man on either crew ever volunteered for the army or the Navy, they didn't need them.

I think if there had been more Southern successes, and a lot more, the North simply would have brought that other arm out from behind its back. I don't think the South ever had a chance to win that War. "

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Old 05-14-2019, 06:27 AM
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I don't think every German higher-up was incapable of doubt, I think many had their reservations in private - but the system ensured that those who did voice doubt, any doubt, for any reason were quickly removed and replaced by yes-men and fanatics. Furthermore, the Nazi regime was super corrupt and running a lot on nepotism, so that there was a constant incentive for one-upmanship and taking things to further and further extremes in order to be granted more than the next guy - more promotions, more attention from the brass, more resources to do what you really wanted to do, or just being left alone to do your job without constant hassle (or bothersome micro-managing by the Führer who was convinced he knew everything better than everybody). And being (ostensibly) extra super certain of things was one way to rise up.

So people did that, and denounced anyone who wasn't extra super certain to try and bring them down. And it extended all the way down to everyday, random people who'd rat out any perceived deviance of their neighbours and acquaintances before they would be denounced themselves. As a quote in a recent nazi-shooting videogame I'm playing goes (by somebody living in Nazi-occupied Poland), "Everyone is a Nazi now, or pretending to be a Nazi and I can't tell the difference any more".
Also many higher ups like Rommel wanted to sign a seperate peace agreement with the western allies and concentrate on Russia. They had sent a deal that if they would remove Hitler they would agree to many concessions such as pulling out of occupied nations. The allies wouldnt agree though so the planned coup failed.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:35 AM
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My understanding of contemporary Civil War accounts is that Southern men were under the misimpression that they were especially tough fighters, that the North couldn't raise the resources that they did, that they wouldn't bring them South, and that other cotton-dependent countries would be on their knees begging to ally with the South. Basically what you'd expect from a bunch of hillbillies with delusions of grandeur.

My understanding of Nazi Germany is that if they had delayed invading the USSR, then they could have conquered Europe and "won the war" that way. They could have consolidated, regrouped, developed atom bombs, and possibly defeated the USSR as well. The Nazis had a very viable war machine, just bad leaders and rotten moral goals that kneecapped the military effort.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by DinoR View Post
Their offensive into Russia culminated a little short of Moscow. Seizing Moscow would have at least shifted the strategic balance of power. Russia's ability to resist when important supply and communications lines that ran through Moscow would have been reduced. Russia's only T-34 plant was still in the area during the Battle of Moscow.
Do you think they would have been more likely than not to knock out the USSR if they'd started the operation some months earlier? Or in early spring of 1942? They went for Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad. I remember John Boyd talking about how strategic breakthroughs are best done in 1 thrust instead of pincer/tentacle movements. Which major strategic objective do you think they should have focused on at first, Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad or something else?



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Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
It's true of every fascist group, but probably even more marked in those two cases because so much of their ideologies were racist/based on pop-genetics on top of being fascist. And that's absolutely dysfunctional and schyzo at its very core because on the one hand, you can't be a fascist (or really an extremist of any persuasion) without an enemy to rail against. In the case of the Reich, it was communists and Jews (mostly) which were, in their opinion, such a dire and existential threat to Germany that they had to be destroyed ASAP. Every extremist policy, every "national purge", every robbing of liberty, every new law, every oversight on violence by the Nazis was invented and presented as the only possible effective answer to the twin headed, all-powerful, all-controlling hydra of Judeo-bolshevism which the Nazis were the one and only rampart against.
Since France has had its Trump/Brexit for a generation, who are those enemies to FN types?

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 05-14-2019 at 06:55 AM.
  #49  
Old 05-14-2019, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelEmouse View Post
Since France has had its Trump/Brexit for a generation, who are those enemies to FN types?

Algerians (and Jews too, albeit to a lesser extent I think ? LePen father was callously dismissive of the Holocaust and never shied from antisemitic jokes, but he didn't really go further than that AFAIR. LePen daughter has tried to steer away from that and the honest to god skinheads her father employed as security personnel). The FN was founded as a revanchist move over the Algerian war, and LePen father himself was a veteran of that war. Its modern incarnation has moved on to "Muslims in general" in the post 9/11 and Syrian refugees zeitgeist.


Blacks are also a bugaboo, naturally, but less so I think. There is/was something more virulent, more malicious, more visceral about French anti-Arab racism than its anti-Black racism in my experience (although that isn't at all to say that Blacks have it easy around here...). I would have intuitively said it was because of the Algerian war, which was so horrible and cruel and plainly wrong that it is simply not talked about anymore ; but then again when I think about it some more VietNam/Indochina was pretty bloody as well and there isn't much anti-Vietnamese racism. So I 'unno.


But TL;DR, the modern FN goes hogwild on the Great Replacement. Think of every horrible shit racist Americans have said about Mexicans/Latinos ; and assume the FN is more or less a copy/paste (with the exact same contradictions as well - like the omnipresent doublethink that them brownies are lazy and shiftless to a man but also they take all the jobs and work longer hours for less pay)
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  #50  
Old 05-14-2019, 09:43 AM
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In the 1860s was the idea that wars were (or even could be ) won by the side with the most resources, not the side with the bravest, best drilled, troops and best generals, even be a thing?

We've have century or two of industrial warfare to the get used to the idea. But IMO I think may anachronistic to assume people in that era thought that way.
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