The Blue Raccoon

Monday, August 04, 2008

Before He Was The Desert Fox
Rommel's book and his wartime experience would've been very different, if I could have my way...

Erwin Rommel, a decorated World War I battalion commnder, here displaying at his throat the coveted Pour le Mérit. He wrote an operational memoir Attacks published in 1934. [Image:]

"Rommel, you mag-nifi-cent bastard! I read your book!"

This is what George Patton, at least in the 1970 movie, shouts when he sees that his repulse of Rommel's forces is taking effect. [Note: the actual exclamation occurs at the very end of this clip; at 3:09 and by an inventve YouTuber received a rock music bed. Interesting]

I caught a portion of a chopped up Rommel biography on the History Channel last night and it got me to thinking about Rommel in conjunction with my own alternative history fantasy. That is, somehow stop the historic World War I for occurring as it did. Plan B is for Germany to basically realize the Schlieffen Plan is just a crock, not holy writ, and that with changing political realities, it's best to leave Belgium alone and try a "speak softly/big stick" approach with France. Plan A is rewiring the brains of the Black Hand cell to cause them madness and distraction, long before they assassinate Franz Ferdinand.

Rommel served in France 1914-5, Romania 1916-7 and Italy 1917. If my alternative world occurs, wherein the historical World War I vanishes and becomes something else, in all likelihood Rommel might've just sat out the opening phases of the war, and perhaps most of it, facing down France across the border in a "Phony War" variant. Instead of crossing into Belgium and triggering British retaliation, Germany instead puts its full weight against Russia.

With Russia attacked, this puts Britain and France in an interesting situation. They are both allied with Russia through the 1907 Triple Entente. France could--perhaps would--use this pretext to get its Revenge for 1870 licks in against Germany while the bulk of Wilhelm's army is shipped East. Given Britain's ambivalence about a Continental war unless absolutely necessary, I can't see them sending the British Expeditionary Force to support the French unless something goes very wrong on the battlefield and somehow Britain feels threatened. 

Germany needs swift, decisive victories against Russia --just as they did with Tannenburg an the Masurian Lakes in the historic timeline. Since they have more troops in our scenario, this shouldn't be problem. The key is: what does France do? If they attack, the Germans are in the defense mode, with interior lines of supply. They must either hold, or run the French home, and in any case, Britain will be pressured to declare war and get involved. 

I don't know if the 124th Wurttemberg Infantry Regiment in the 26th Infantry Division of the German Imperial Infantry was among those who would've been sent east -- the German rail road office had by 1913 had worked out such a possibility to a near-science, and would have the unit dispersal in a manifest somewhere. Just looking at his positions at the outbreak of the war, he may have been among those trained to Russia, and Attacks, if he survives to write it, will be about a totally different sphere of conflict and within a changed context.

And as for Rommel's foe, George S. Patton, his life would've also taken a far different course if the historical World War I didn't/doesn't occur. Perhaps there still is a running border battle with Pancho Villa for Patton to get his first taste of battle with; but if the Continental war doesn't evolve as it is in the books, there is little reason for the United States to get involved on the ground in 1917. Patton won't command tanks, at least not in France.

Without World War I to provide the overture for World War II's opera of catastrophe, there's no Nazis. What there could be, depending on which of my streams works itself out, are revanchist and nationalist France and Russia spoiling to get their cracks in at a big, dynamic, successful Germany.

Whether the German Empire would retain the silly old Kaiser is just one of several Big Questions. Germany could sit back, finish building the Berlin-t0-Baghdad railway, and start counting up its oil dollars. But the Kaiser would have to fight Britain for that privilege, too. Another reason to prop up the Ottoman Empire. [Image:]. And the cold war, while the naval arms race between Germany and Great Britain continues, could turn hot.

But a wise and just Germany (not known so much for either characteristic under the neurotic ninny Willy Deuce) should have, upon defeating Russia and establishing a Treaty of Brest-Litovsk arrangement, set up autonomous states -- Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, the Baltic countries, and Finland, the Kingdom of Poland, to provide buffer satellite states. If those nations are empowered and their populations have reason to be thankful for German liberation, Russia will have a more difficult time sweeping back across the steppes to get at Berlin.

Either way, there is bound to be another conflict, probably in the approximate time frame of World War II, but without Nazis or Stalin. [Image:].

If the U.S. intervened at that point it might be on the side...of the Germans. But otherwise, there's no Battle of the Bulge, no Patton's Third Army for Barack Obama's grandfather to drive a truck in...see how I bring this around?

Meaningless Barack Kerfluffle No. 178

I do have concerns other than rearranging and altering past events. Like the unfathomable present. Making observations of current politics is wearying because, well, it's so fluid and anything can happen. And there are many score other places to go for such parochial punditry and I have little of note to add. Nothing meaningful will occur until the vice presidents are chosen and the conventions--hardly conventions, more like infomercials these days--have released their balloons and the guys with the push brooms are sweeping up the confetti. 

Despite my personal preference for Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, and what I see as plusses for him and what he'd bring to the O'bama ticket, (Catholicism, anti-death penalty, pro-gun, Virginia swing state, etc.) my gut says Gen. Wesley Clark. 

I know, Bayh and Biden are getting the look over. But I think this is for The Show. Clark's from Clinton territory and isn't a Clinton, he's a career military officer who used to run NATO, comes across well on teevee, and won't overshadow POTUS. There's some lingering dispute about some decision he made around Sarajevo, and deployments, but I don't think it'll be that important. And I think Romney is going to be McCain's. And I'm ready to be wrong, too.

I read this off the Huffington Post, the poster has the intriguing name of "Sepiastar." S/he's responding to Kathy Hilton's remarks about the waste of time and money spent on attacking Obama in conflating his appeal with that of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton (Kathy's mum)  --who are --Holy Bejeebus! White wimmin! Sepiastar's observations are similar to my own. So I'll let her/im speak for for me here.

"Senator Obama has to walk a thin line that other candidates can gleefully transcend. He's being held to standards that other candidates have not been measured against. If he seems to aggressive, he's labeled uppity, an elitist, and arrogant. If he remains poised and ignores the ignorant rant of his challengers, then he's viewed as weak and passive.

The mainstream media and the US citizens should have been this objective and analytical of every prior candidate they overwhelmingly elected in office for the past 20 yrs. That is the reason why the country is on a decline now, when you had inferior candidates, they were openly accepted.

Now, you have a viable, progressive candidate and his time is wasted on addressing menial distractions instead of focusing on his strategy to progress a stalled nation on the brink of a major decline. No one is even remotely addressing Senator McCain's voting patterns on important matters. He has 20+ years of congressional experience to choose a myriad of issues to attack him on but the mainstream media is obsessed with attempting to "expose" anything that may be negative to link to Senator Obama.

His advisors are providing "safe" strategies that will present major obstacles for him in the upcoming months. I don't think spending all of his time still attempting to expose voters to who he is will be advantageous for him." More here.

Perhaps he's "viable" but just how "progressive" Obama really is remains to be seen. He has taken "bundled" corporate money, despite rationalized protests to the contrary; he voted to renew FISA, and he's saying what he needs to for preventing panic and keep moderates and centrists on his side. I have to agree with Nader, who notes that Obama is speaking words he doesn't really mean in order to get elected --which makes him no better than any other politician, no matter his race.

Stay tuned for the next irrelevent dust up. Actually, don't - and I say this as a part-time consumer of CSPAN, Democracy Now! and Keith Olbermann.  But I feel bad about this at times and have for some days at a stretch not watched anything. So. This summer, take the time when you'd be glued to the news program of your choice and read that Russian novel you've been putting off. Try Dostoevsky's The Possessed/The Devils. It'll tell you more about politics than you ever thought possible. One of my favorite lines--paraphrased from memory: "If you have a guillotine in front of your programme, you philosophically really have nowhere else to go." Like all great books, there's a simple through line: a group of revolutionaries turning in on themselves and killing one of their own.

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