I would have loved to have met President Reagan. I would also have loved to have met General George S. Patton.
I have a love of historical non-fiction that I’ve not been able to indulge nearly as much as I would like to. However, I just finished reading Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General, and have been intrigued by not only Patton the man, but also by the bureaucracy and dare I say it, ineptitude, that surrounded him.
Granted, Patton wasn’t a man known for diplomacy. His famous address to the Third Army on the eve of D-Day (according to today’s effete cultural standards) would have to be considered quite politically incorrect and would get at least an MA rating for the language he used. All the more reason for me to really admire the man.
The truth can be hard. The truth can be ugly. The truth can be as graphic and cold as the image of greasing the treads of tanks with our enemies’ guts. The truth is the truth even when people don’t like you when you point it out. The truth is the truth even when it runs afoul to the personal wheelings and dealings and schemes of those in high places.
We need a man like General Patton today. Someone (unlike me) who doesn’t have a 24-7 view of the lead dog’s hind end. I can’t (for a moment) imply that I am the fearless voice of anything. I’m doing good to not freak out just getting up and getting through my day.
I can only hope and pray that someone with conviction and guts and the audacity to stay on the truth track even if he’s the only one on the truth track will (somehow) land in a position of leadership. The only problem with finding people of conviction is, that even in his day, Patton was seen as brash and over the top. There are some who believe that his death in 1945 as a result of a car accident was actually an assassination, and that Patton was conveniently eliminated by the powers above him because he didn’t fit into the Allies’ post war plans. It is well known that Patton didn’t trust the Soviets (a distrust that was well-founded) and he had a greater disdain for Communism than he did for the Nazis. But history has proven him correct in many ways. Perhaps if the right people had listened to what Patton had to say, much of the strife of the Cold War could have been avoided, and Stalin wouldn’t have gained so much power following World War II.
Another hard truth is that history is often told by the winners.
I have much admiration for Winston Churchill, but I always thought the Brits sort of got the short end of the stick.
What would have transpired in the post-war world had General Patton not met with such an unfortunate end? Would he have been able to change the course of the latter half of the 20th century, even in some small way, and if so, would it have been better or worse?
Would confronting Stalin have led to a hot war with the Soviet Union that would have promised to have been as bloody and drawn out as the conquests of Germany and Japan? Or would it have led to a very different post-war landscape in which Eastern Europe would not have suffered under Communist oppression for forty years? Would the Brits have gotten a better deal when all was said and done?
What if (as some historians pose) FDR had passed before the fated Yalta Conference in which he conceded so much of post-war Europe to Stalin? Would Truman have been a better negotiator in that place, given that he was in better health and was a sort of plain, no-nonsense kind of person?
I know that I can’t change the past, but I think it’s important to learn from it. There’s way too much repeating the past and appeasing going on in this world (I need not mention the abomination that is the Obama administration, but I just did…) even though history has proven that feeding alligators only makes them bigger and hungrier.
Sometimes, as Patton said, (referring to the Germans and Japanese,)”The quickest way to get it (war) over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo.”
There is no negotiating with despots. The only way out of a bad situation is through it.
Too bad no one seemed to listen to Patton when he said, “I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”
We know Obama won’t listen to the hard facts and the truth of history, and his pandering to the despots and terrorists and thugs of this world will cost how many gallons of blood?