The Mistakes of D-Day and what they mean for us today

Victor Davis Hanson on Remembering D-Day on National Review Online

By any historical measure, our forefathers committed as many strategic and tactical blunders as we have in Afghanistan and Iraq — but lost tens of thousands more Americans as a result of such errors. We worry about emboldening Iran by going into Iraq; the Normandy generation fretted about empowering a colossal Soviet Union.

Of course, World War II was an all-out fight for our very existence in a way many believe the war against terror that began on 9/11 is not. Even more would doubt that al Qaeda jihadists in Iraq pose the same threat to civilization as the Wehrmacht did in Europe.

Nevertheless, the Normandy campaign reminds us that war is by nature horrific, fraught with foolish error — and only won by the side that commits the least number of mistakes. Our grandfathers knew that. So they pressed on as best they could, convinced that they needn’t be perfect, only good enough, to win.

The American lesson of D-Day and its aftermath was how to overcome occasional abject stupidity while never giving up in the face of an utterly savage enemy. We need to remember that now more than ever.

Read the whole article. It’s a lesson that bears remembering, as we deal with the mistakes being made by our leaders today. Just as our men on the ground overcame the mistakes made by their leaders in World War II, because we gave them time to win, so too can our men on the ground today overcome the mistakes made by their leaders if we give them time.

One thought on “The Mistakes of D-Day and what they mean for us today

  1. As an Army officer I learned quickly that no plan survives contact with the enemy. Hanson is right about that, and I can accept that our leaders will make mistakes.

    However, I still think there is a key difference between Iraq and WW2 in Europe that Hanson does not mention. The Normandy invasion was directed toward restoring democracy to nations that had previously enjoyed it.

    That is not the case is Iraq, where this is no history, tradition, or (for many people) desire for the type of government we are trying to give them. This may develop in time, but it’s not there now.

    So it is not at all clear to me that simply giving our troops time will allow them to prevail over the mistakes of their leaders. Victory is not inevitable, no matter how much patience we exercise.

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