Annotated Text and Audio link to March 1st 1945 Yalta Speech

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Top Ten Disgraced American Military Leaders. Stanley McChrystal

The world loves lists. This one seems appropriate in view of the recent fracas over General Stanley McChrystal. I'd love to hear comments and suggestions for additions. Thanks!

In view of the recent highly-publicized firing of General Stanley McChrystal, I offer my retrospective list of the top ten American disgraced military leaders (in descending order).

1) Benedict Arnold
Arnold is the epitome of the word “traitor, the first in American history and by virtue of the fact that he actually led battles against his former country must head the list as the number one all-time disgraced military leader.

2) Douglas MacArthur
MacArthur’s greatness as a World War II general, career military officer and rehabilitator of Japan is unquestioned. His highly publicized recall by President Harry Truman for insubordinate behavior in Korea, nearly bringing about World War III with China, ranks as the greatest act of outright defiance of an American president.

3) George B. McClellan
The legendary firing of George McClellan by President Abraham Lincoln for failure to press the Confederacy is one of the defining moments of the Civil War. He was replaced by the bumbling and incompetent Ambrose Burnside, himself soon removed in favor of Joseph Hooker. Unsuccessfully ran for President against Lincoln in 1864.

4) Curtis Lemay
Another brilliant career officer. The orchestrator of B-29 incendiary bombing of Japan during World War II and subsequently fortified the Strategic Air Command. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, after the Soviets turned back he urged President Kennedy to bomb Cuba. Fortunately, he was overruled and a nuclear holocaust was averted. It was later revealed that the Russians had and were authorized to use tactical nuclear weapons in the event of invasion. After retiring from the military in 1968 he further reduced his credibility as the vice-presidential candidate of segregationist George Wallace.

5) William Hull
After fighting in American Revolutionary campaigns in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, in 1805 he was appointed governor of Michigan Territory. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, he was appointed brigadier general and charged with defending Michigan and attacking Canada. His poorly planned invasion of Canada forced him to retreat to Detroit, where he surrendered without a fight. He was court-martialed and convicted of cowardice and neglect of duty. His death sentence was remitted by President James Madison because of his earlier service.

6) Joseph Stilwell
A brilliant field commander and beloved leader during WW II, he nearly lost China to the Japanese while vainly campaigning in Burma and his “Vinegar” personality later so incensed Chiang Kai-shek that he threatened to make peace with the Japanese that would have mobilized over a million troops against our forces in the Pacific. He was recalled by President Franklin Roosevelt and replaced by the more diplomatic Albert C. Wedemeyer.

7) George Patton
The swashbuckling and brilliant field commander who nearly lost his command and was soundly and publicly disciplined by Dwight Eisenhower after slapping a shell-shocking soldier on August 3, 1943.

8) George McChrystal

9) George Casey/John Abizaid
Both men were fired in early 2007 by President George W. Bush in a “clean sweep” of the military leadership of the Iraqi war. They publicly opposed the buildup of troops on the grounds that it could delay "the development of Iraqi security forces and increase anger at the United States in the Arab world." Replaced by Admiral William J. Fallon.

10) Thomas Algeo Rowley
While commander of a division at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, the brigade suffered heavy casualties confronting Confederates and he was thrown from his horse during the retreat. Following a confrontation with Brigadier General Lysander Cutler, he was removed for drunkenness and disobeying orders. Convicted by a court martial, he was reinstated by order of Secretary of War Stanton only to resign on December 29, 1964 after not being re-assigned to a field command.

Dishonorable mention: General Ricardo Sanchez (Abu Gharaib). Lieutenant William Calley (My Lai)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Does anybody know Oliver Stone?

Just back from a "grand" time at the FDR Reading Festival at Hyde Park (as usual we were skipped over by book TV). Gave two lectures which were well received and signed about thirty books. The next event is the paperback edition in January.

Anyhow, I've been thinking that Oliver Stone would make a great movie of our book. A la "JFK" but this one really happened! Eventually the truth will be accepted. There's just too much evidence to ignore and an ever increasing body of legitimate historians are believers. It would nice, though, to get a bump from Hollywood. So if anyone knows Mr. Stone, please give him a heads up. For that matter, the same goes for the History Channel or HBO (they did a three part series in 1980 based on Jim Bishop's book, starring Jason Robards as FDR)

More new an interesting information to follow.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rewriting History: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Howard Gerald Bruenn.

Over and over, we find instances of how the written word changed or redefined a historical event. Perhaps the most quoted example, the epitome of Yellow Journalism, the “I’ll furnish the war” telegrams between William Randolph Hearst and Frederick Remington, are themselves open to dispute by W. Joseph Campbell. In his Summer 2000 article in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Campbell presents a well-documented and convincing argument that the communications, as reported by the sole source of the anecdote, James Creelman, were never sent.

It is undisputable is that the pen has had a remarkable and long-standing influence on the way history is perceived. No better example is the legacy of Paul Revere as defined by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in his epic poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” in the January 1861 issue of the venerable Atlantic Monthly. Prior to the poem, Revere was best remembered as a silversmith and engraver. After 1861, he rose to the iconic status he enjoys today as one of the major heroes of the American Revolution. Longfellow had the specific intention of creating a legend and, as the most “revered” poet of the age, his words were exceedingly successful to that end.

Over the years, historians have recognized that Longfellow’s account was, in great part, historical fiction and Revere’s role in the events of 1775 role have been taken in a more realistic perspective.

Intentional deceptions often take time to be realized and accepted and this is the case that I have been persistently making about the 1970 paper in Annals of Internal Medicine by Doctor Howard Gerald Bruenn entitled “Clinical Notes on the Illness and Death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “ Bruenn wrote that paper with very much the same intent as Longfellow- to redefine how the world thought about his mentor and patient. He had a great teacher. “The Juggler” Roosevelt practiced deception as religion. His masterful manipulation of the press projected a lasting and powerful impression on the vast majority of the American people of an image that often did not exist. Yet, if it was not reported, it virtually never happened.

The intentions of Bruenn’s 1970 paper are laid out in the accompanying editorial . “We are given, by Dr. Bruenn, the picture of a great and gallant man, fatigued by the burdens of his office and by his hypertension and reduced cardiac reserve, yet quite able to exercise his judgment and to use the fruits of his unique knowledge and experience in guiding the war effort.”

Twenty-five years after Roosevelt’s death, Bruenn’s paper set the standard for every subsequent historical account of Roosevelt’s life. The myths he perpetrated, the twentieth century equivalent of Longfellow’s “one if by land and two if by sea” remain, for the most part, unscathed.

Roosevelt didn’t care about his health and was never informed of his diagnosis? He remained mentally clear until the moment he died? The presidential physicians were incompetent and made false statements to cover their own shortcomings? All unadulterated poppycock!

If Longfellow had wrote it might have read this way:

Read on my children and you shall see
Of the health and the greatness of Franklin D.
His heart was sick, but his mind was clear
Free to inspire a freedom from fear

He led the nation through depression and war
With a pressure of blood that continued to soar.
His docs kept him going the best they could
Though they would not tell him that all was not good.

He lost forty pounds, his doctors aghast
“I like my flat tummy” he said when they asked
There were no strokes. There was no cancer
A bad circulation was the only answer.
He led us with vigor till the day he died
Out of the blue in April forty-five.