28 September 2007

Carnival in Review

I've been looking at some of the blog entries presented in Military History Carnival VI. My favourite at the moment is a review of the book The Wages of Destruction found at A Fistful of Euros. A Fistful of Euros is not a military history blog, so it doesn't feature on my blogroll, and I hadn't been aware of it before. The review has certainly stimulated me to look for the book, and rather than do a summary of its main points, I'd encourage you to point your browser there and read it for yourself.

I'd like to touch on two themes in the review that fit into a sort of rhyming pattern with ideas that percolate in my head and inform what I write here. One is the contrast the Nazis sought to make between their own vision and that of unfettered, decadent American capitalism. I've often felt that for politicians pursuing a Third Way don't realize that one already existed - fascism saw itself as exactly that, opposed to both America's liberal capitalism and the Red Menace of Socialism/Communism. You're making a Fourth Way, fellows, if not a fifth one. (Gandhian autarchy maybe needs to count somewhere.)

The other is that you'll find the review focuses at some length on Bomber Command's campaign against the German people. To quote at length what seems to me to be the nub of the issue:
Harris and his staff didn’t want to disrupt industry, after all; they wanted to “dehouse the German working class”, which they believed would lead to revolution or at least chaos. So this counterfactual would have required a different Bomber Command; one that didn’t believe in airpower theory, and therefore probably wouldn’t have existed.

A lot of the debate one finds about Bomber Command revolves around this point exactly. The Bomber Command zealots argue that attacking industry is a legitimate war target and it is one of the misfortunes of conflict that those living nearby get killed. But that's not the Bomber Command they are defending, which explicitly set out to kill ordinary Germans and destroy their homes.

Harris's campaign was a diversion of important resources to a secondary target when alternative military (or naval) policies might have been more effective in fighting the war. One could add the moral dimension that Harris certainly deserved to be subject to a War Crimes investigation, although possibly not a prosecution. I don't think Tooze's book would support me, but I find some comments to support my opinion in the review.

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