President Biden’s bizarre behavior during media appearances reminds me of something. The British general Edward Spears, who was Churchill’s personal emissary to the French Army during the campaign of 1940, described a meeting he had with Philipe Petain during the final desperate days of that campaign…his objective being to turn the old general away from his growing defeatist orientation and toward the direction of resistance. When Spears said that “What France needs today, Monsieur le Marechal, is another Joan of Arc”, the general’s reaction was startling:
“Once more he was all animation. His face lit up. “Have you read my speech on Joan of Arc?’ (no) ‘Well, that is too bad…I made it at Rouen, when was it, in 1937? 38? It was an extremely fine speech, I may say. I shall read it to you.”
To Spears’ consternation (for the military situation was very urgent), Petain began to search for a copy of the speech. Unable to find it, he summoned his chief of staff, who finally found it. The speech was very, very long, and Petain read it in a monotone. “I do not think he was really proud of that speech as a great achievement, for he did not caress it by inflections of voice as a sculptor might stroke a statue he believed to be a great work of art. He was recalling rather the pomp and circumstance of its delivery, the applause, and he wanted to include me in that admiring audience of years ago.”
And when the speech finally ended, Petain pointed out that “Joan of Arc was a peasant of France,” talked about the importance of peasants, and insisted in locating and reading another speech, this one about the French peasants.
“Genuine alarm brought me back to realities. Time was passing, I had endless work to do. The London telephone was certainly calling. How could I get away?”
Spears finally made his escape. But doesn’t Petain’s retreat to his old speeches, and, further back, to his old victories, mirror Biden’s verbal retreat back to the days when he played shortstop, and such?
A month or so earlier, Spears had discussed some of the key players in France with his combative friend, the Interior Minister Georges Mandel. Concerning Petain, Mandel had been dismissive:
“Surely you have seen for yourself–barely alive–and what there is left is pure vanity. He became a Hidalgo in Spain.”
I don’t think Biden has ever spent any significant time in Spain, but “what there is left is pure vanity” seems like a pretty good description of the man.
(The quotes are from Spears’ memoir Assignment to Catastrophe, a two-book series which is essential reading for anyone interested in the events of that period.)
37 thoughts on “A Prototype for Biden?”
The comparison reflects poorly on Biden. Petain was once a successful general. Biden has always been an inept mediocrity.
Biden’s behavior in the 2012 VP debate was evidence to me that he was not all there. I kept wondering that Ryan did not stop and ask him if he was all right. Ryan, of course, was mailing it in.
Jonathan…yes. Petain may have saved France at the time of the Army mutinies of 1917, by demonstrating a true concern for the lives of his troops, thru realizing the realities of modern firepower. Spears, who had known Petain well during the first war, was deeply saddened by his defeatism.
The comparison with Biden is more related to their mutual tendency to retreat into the past, and their mutual willingness to come to subordinate accommodation with aggressive and malign foreign powers. Even more reprehensible in Biden’s case, given that the US is not now in the desperate state vis-a-vis China that France was in 1940 vis-a-vis Germany.
David F: “… the US is not now in the desperate state vis-a-vis China that France was in 1940 vis-a-vis Germany.”
Germany then was walking all over France in a military sense. China today is walking all over the US in an economic sense. There is a parallel, especially in the nuclear age in which economic assault makes more sense for the aggressor than military assault.
Back to Resident Biden* — Look at the recent incident in which Sleepy Joe stated that the US would go to war with China to defend Taiwan. And then all his supposed subordinates stepped forward to explain that Biden* had not said what he clearly had said. This raises the question — Who is really running the show?
If we hypothesize that there is a cabal behind the scenes which is really calling the shots, then why did they select this geriatric as their puppet? The cabal’s ideal candidate was someone like Clinton or Soetero — a photogenic front man with a dirty past which could be used to blackmail him into submission (eg rapes in the case of Clinton; adopting foreign citizenship in the case of Soetero). A senile grifter like Biden* does not fit the bill.
Horrible thought — What if the shadow cabal is itself incompetent? Maybe even as geriatric as the aging leaders of the Communist Party in the collapsing USSR?
What if the shadow cabal is itself incompetent?
I think it is incompetent as is any cabal that has no experience running a complex organization. These people are faculty lounge types who have never run a major enterprise. Everything that happens will be unexpected. Long ago, when I was an engineer running data processing at a wind tunnel, we had a test case in which an engineer had gotten the signs in an equation reversed. His model, in a supersonic four foot wind tunnel, started to go up the throat of the tunnel against the wind flow. Everybody in the building grabbed something strong to hold on to. The metal model came back down the tunnel at mach 0.8 and hit the window for Schlieren photos, smashing it and decompressing the tunnel into the building. The roof was designed to slide up on rollers to let the pressure dissipate. Nobody was hurt.
That phenomenon resembles what will happen with the Biden people and their plans. Except some people will get hurt,
One wonders when anyone will ever tell the true story of what’s going on to keep Biden capable of the occasional public appearance. No one wants to be Seth Rich’ed, so it will be a while, I’m sure.
The fact that this dementia addled freak is the best They could do does show their weakness, not their strength. They’re desperate to break the voting system to increase their margin of fraud, because they were badly stretched to pull off the 2020 steal. It wasn’t even close to plausible.
Filled my gas tank this morning. Yikes. They’re not gonna be able to steal next time, no matter how badly they gerrymander their states, etc.
That’s a great story, David. I’ll add Spears’ book to my piles.
Lukacs liked to bring up one of the most unusual episodes of history–a what-if in action that illuminates just how dire the Allied situation was, and how different two old warriors can be. This was Churchill’s proposal for an immediate political union of the UK and France in order to keep the latter fighting.
Quixotic, whereas Petain by then was just pathetic.
The US Senate is no reservoir of executive talent and leadership ability, and never has been. Both Johnsons were awful as president; Truman was not too bad; the O-man was fast-tracked all along and the Senate was pure ticket-punching for him. Clinton too was a darling of the herd from the beginning, Harris much the same–and only Truman had ever done anything in the real world.
Something I’ve noticed about presidential candidates from the Senate is how the people who know them best–their party colleagues in the Senate–are usually very lukewarm in their support. Cranky, jealous crabs in a bucket.
As for what calculations were made by the string-pullers who selected Joseph Marionette Biden, it’s too opaque for me to offer any guesses.
“a photogenic front man with a dirty past which could be used to blackmail him into submission… A senile grifter like Biden* does not fit the bill.”
Um, what? Who knows what the heck Slow Joe and his family are on tape doing. The stuff we know about is bad enough, imagine what happens behind closed doors when he thinks no one is listening?
Gavin…”Germany then was walking all over France in a military sense. China today is walking all over the US in an economic sense. There is a parallel, especially in the nuclear age in which economic assault makes more sense for the aggressor than military assault.”
The time constants are different, though. Everything played out in weeks in the campaign of 1940, whereas we have a few years to get our economic act together.
If France had modernized its military doctrine a few years earlier, and acquired some better airplanes and electronics equipment (they already had some excellent tanks, but few of them had radios), then the outcome of 1940 would likely have been very different.
Andre Beaufre, who in 1940 was a young Captain (after the war he became a general) said that the French General Staff had acted to suppress discussion of improved armor/motorization tactics, stating in effect that it was the sole authority on these matters and everyone else needed to just shut up.
France was lost when they did not march into the Rhineland when Hitler militarized it. The French had a good fighter plane but they were all lined up at the factory out of harm’s way. WWI took too much out of them. The French never recovered from 1870.
the officer corps was opposed to the blum government, they still had a hangup from the dreyfus case 50 years ago, the cagoule the protovichy was funded by scheller of l’oreal fame,
darlan was of a similar caliber,
France was lost the minute they didn’t take each and every Communist Party member out and shoot them in the back of the head. The true “untold story” of the Fall of France is just how unnecessary it really was, and how influential the Communists were in ensuring that it happened. From “slow-walking” the military procurement process to factory strikes, pre-WWII, the whole thing was part and parcel of the COMINTERN guidance to the Party in France.
I don’t know if the French military would have done any better than it did, but the crippling effects of the Communists in government were, I think, far more influential than anything else. A considerable part of the reason that the French didn’t intervene in the Rhineland came out of the Communist Party’s influence in government, along with the reason why the hide-bound military figures stayed in power in order to oppose them.
I’ve read all over the French history of that era, of which there’s not a hell of a lot in English, and the conclusion that I have to reach is that the main reason France fell was the Communists working from within–Which, I think, plays into proving the “truth” of the idea that Stalin intended to invade Europe after Hitler sufficiently weakened everyone. Stalin was not expecting the speed with which France fell, and was still trying to cope with the idea and change his plans when Barbarossa kicked off. I believe he thought that Hitler’s invasion would be a replay of WWI, wearing everyone down so that he could kick in the back door sometime in ’42 or ’43 as events transpired.
Unfortunately for his plans, the combination of what he did to weaken the French combined with the unexpected primacy of the German military led to the history we have, rather than the one Stalin wanted.
I honestly doubt that things would have gone the same way, had you simply subtracted all the Communist-related BS. This is something you never hear anyone talking about, because they don’t want to admit to the truth–The Communists crippled the French, enabling the easy conquest of the country by the Nazis. There is so much crap buried back in the “unacknowledged history” that it’s not even funny–The French had some decent fighters, as you note, but they were carefully kept away from the combat units and sequestered in storage by order of Communist Party sympathizers in the Air Ministry. And, to add insult to injury, they were at the same time, procuring inferior American aircraft that wouldn’t be delivered until it was too late… Again, by orders of who?
Absent the inimical influence of the Communists, then the Fall of France might not have happened–At the least, not the way it played out in our history. It’s possible that WWII could have been a replay of WWI, to some degree, followed by God alone knows what when and if Stalin played the hand of cards he was shuffling for himself.
The French deal is why I find it so easy to believe what Suvorov had to say about it all. I really think that Stalin was playing with fire, and got his whole damn hand burnt off, to the everlasting detriment of Russia.
Re Communist undermining of the late 1930s French government — which, let’s never forget, was the government that declared war on Germany in 1939 and then sat on their hands doing nothing for the best part of a year.
An interesting parallel is Sean McMeekin’s recent book “Stalin’s War” — which could equally well have been titled “FDR’s War in Support of Stalin”. The extent to which FDR and his lieutenants were all-in for Stalin & communism is quite startling, even to the extent of denying severely needed supplies for the US and UK militaries in order to provide Stalin with everything he asked for (while asking for nothing in return). Communism then seemed to have a big slice of Western intelligentsia in its pocket. Of course, we see today that the West’s “Best & Brightest” still do not have the West’s best interests at heart.
David F: “The time constants are different, though. Everything played out in weeks in the campaign of 1940, whereas we have a few years to get our economic act together.”
Agreed, the timescales are different for military war versus economic war. It has taken a quarter of a century for China (with the cooperation of the West’s Political Class) to get to the point where China can bring the West to a standstill at any time of China’s choosing by cutting off the supplies of any of a myriad of products. Magnesium is today’s hot topic, but it could equally well be lots of products from Rare Earths to medical equipment.
If anything, the comparison between 1940s France and today’s US is even more unflattering to our Political Class. They have had decades to realize what was going on and change course.
“Horrible thought — What if the shadow cabal is itself incompetent? Maybe even as geriatric as the aging leaders of the Communist Party in the collapsing USSR?”
Obviously true. I mean they let Trump take their ball away, and run with it. No competent deep state would do that. I was both stunned and delighted by Trumps election. ;)
“The extent to which FDR and his lieutenants were all-in for Stalin & communism is quite startling,”
Not at all. The Russians killed almost 80% of all German soldiers killed in WW2. FDR was no dummy.
the French having seen the cataclyms of the last war, a generation spent on the battlefields of verdun and the somme, might have wondered what was the point, burleigh focuses on the vaccuum left theren and in other places, the socialists were not well liked in that period, including among the officer corps, so the prospect of an another slaughter was not reassuring,
Not at all. The Russians killed almost 80% of all German soldiers killed in WW2. FDR was no dummy.
To some degree that is true but his administration was heavily infiltrated. Harry Dexter White, for example, designed the World Bank and Bretton Woods. Stalin could have avoided the war but chose to cut a deal with Hitler. They were quite a pair.
“Stalin could have avoided the war but chose to cut a deal with Hitler.”
Stalin had what Hitler really wanted, he sure didn’t need 42 million Frenchmen. Stalin had the only land in walking distance from East Prussia and the biggest oil fields. All, conveniently in the possession of sub-humans according to Hitler.
Hitler should have avoided a war with France and Great Britain. He couldn’t attack Russia except through Poland. The Poles would probably have been willing, even eager to lend a hand.
“Hitler should have avoided a war with France and Great Britain.”
Difficult to avoid war with France and Great Britain when they declared war on Germany. Much of the discussion on WWII tends to ignore that inconvenient truth.
Gavin, that’s just a tad disingenuous… The French and British declared war on Germany after Germany invaded Poland, and after having issued warnings that that is what they’d do. To put it the way you do, it sounds as if Germany were merely wandering around town, one day, when France and Great Britain leaped upon it from a darkened alleyway…
Germany declared war on Europe in general when it invaded Poland, despite the trumped-up nature of the so-called “Polish provocations”. I’ll grant that Poland was not the total innocent in everything–They’d turned down both the Germans and the Soviets for alliances against the other, and hadn’t exactly been entirely uninvolved in “naughty activities”, but… Still…
Had Stalin not negotiated the agreement with Hitler, would the war have begun ? Hitler’s invasion of France would have left him with the two front problem that the Kaiser faced in 1914. The Germans defeated the Russians, solving that problem. Stalin had just defeated the Japanese in Manchuria, a small war ignored by most of history. His army eventually defeated Finland after an embarrassing beginning. Hitler needed what the Soviets had. Oil and grain is what “liebensraum” was all about. What would Hitler have done?
it would have been hard to conduct the campaign, otherwise, also there is the fact that the wehrmacht trained in soviet russia, in the interim period, the officers who conducted the training were the ones that stalin first purged, on the pretext they were going to topple him,
now stalin had at least two networks imbedded in the german forces, the red orchestra and monarch, so he really had no excuse as to german intentions, the french underground was largely but not exclusively communist, so they were quiescent after the molotov/ribbentrop pact, now was petain an honorable man, one can’t say he was,
now stalin had at least two networks imbedded in the german forces, the red orchestra and monarch, so he really had no excuse as to german intentions,
And yet, he was surprised. Maybe he had syphilis after all.
he was thinking the long game, remember the 2nd international was he gave the marching orders against the german social democrats, he thought the nazis would more fragile then they turned out to be, they both hated the jews albeit for different reasons, at the end of the war, he had half of europe, and the communists had significant influence in the western half,
Hitler and Stalin ran neck and neck in self-delusion. They were unstable compounds of congenital suspiciousness, resentment of experts, brutality and idealism. They both had an impressive ability to believe what they wanted to believe–and to get others to believe it too.
Hitler proved more blithely and blindly aggressive, and was being quacked on by his doctors like Morell. Stalin became more, not less, realistic after 1941-42, and that’s a good thing for us, among others.
When the crunch came, the Soviets took and dealt the greatest blows to the German army, and despite a lot of whattiffery, they only were able to do that because the West gave them
full support to develop an effective offensive force and learn to use it properly. It was a war of mass, and alternate-historians are fond of imaging that the flow of stuff to the USSR could have been fine-tuned or tweaked so they didn’t end up with “too much” in 1945.
At bottom, the West allied with the sadist to put down the mad dog, which saved Western lives and shortened the conflict.
Kirk: “The French and British declared war on Germany after Germany invaded Poland …”
That also is true. But that is not an excuse to hold the French & Brits innocent of starting WWII. They made a choice, and — perhaps in keeping with some of your observations about today’s over-credentialed symbolic analysts — they seemed to believe that declaring war was the end of the matter. The whole “Phony War” shows that they had no clue about how they were going to repel the German invasion of Poland, and indeed they did nothing meaningful to aid Poland. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
The issue of the English/French starting a war supposedly to aid Poland is one that grates with me. Having done nothing to aid the Poles at the beginning of WWII, those noble English & French ended the war by giving Poland over to the tender mercies of Stalin. The English & French have a lot of which to be ashamed.
The issue at stake in 1939 was really the predominantly German city of Danzig (Gdansk), which happened to be in Poland. Hitler wanted to bring it into his unification of the German-speaking people. Negotiations with the Polish government went nowhere — perhaps because the Polish government believed that the English & French really would do something useful to prevent Germany resorting to force. Hoover believed that FDR was maneuvering in the background to encourage the Poles not to reach a negotiated settlement of the Danzig issue.
In any case, Europe by the 1940s was going to have another of its all-too-regular wars. If the cause had not been Poland, it would have been something else. But let’s never forget who it was who actually threw the first stone in WWII.
yes it would, but hitler had telegraphed his intentions as far as mein kampf, had the brits pushed just a little on munich, the generals would have folded but they were encouraged,
now stanley baldwin had done a terrible job in facing the challenge that nazi germany had posed, for reasons I’ve expounded about earlier
“But let’s never forget who it was who actually threw the the first stone in WWII.”
So, it was Hitler after all. Since he attacked a sovereign country with Stukas and panzers, and the Brits and French replied with a DOW (Declaration of War: words), that make the first throw his. In a world of miscalculations, Hitler’s were always among the very worst.
Hitler didn’t risk war in 1939 over Danzig; he thought in continents and centuries, not little port cities and scraps of marsh.
Eddie — Get serious! Germany had previously functionally invaded the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia — areas where the English & French might actually have been able to do something physical to help; but they had chosen to do nothing. When they did chose to do something, it was words instead of deeds. But France having declared war on Germany cannot really have been surprised when Germany decided that maybe France actually meant it and responded accordingly.
I am not defending the clearly expansionist Hitler here. Simply pointing out the hypocrisy & stupidity of the warmongering English & French — who were fortunate to be rescued from their own idiocy by the USA and the USSR.
Remember President Hoover’s contemporaneous assessment that if the French & English had not so stupidly created a Western Front for Germany by declaring war, the probability was that Hitler would have left them alone and gone east to the USSR. Then the Western allies could have come in later and cleaned up after those two had fought themselves to a standstill.
In the final analysis, Hitler was the one who started the shooting. Without his presence and actions, neither France nor England would have been declaring war on anyone.
You want to go untangling all the crap that went into both WWI and WWII, you’re basically wandering into a circus funhouse with all the distorting mirrors and off-kilter floors; nothing you see or hear is the entirety of it all, nor is it representative of the full reality.
It’s easy to argue in favor of one side or the other, but when you get down to it, the whole thing should have been collectively termed “The Stupidities”, because that’s what they were. Hitler could have been squashed in his cradle, so to speak–Only thing was, nobody wanted to, because he was a bulwark against the Communists. That’s what the German industrialists thought, that’s what the French and English thought, and that’s why they did what they did. In the end, they got it wrong–Hitler was really the more proximate threat. Stalin thought that he’d be able to support Hitler just enough to enable him to bleed the French and English dry, once again, along with Germany itself. Then, Hitler turned out to be a lot more dangerous than Stalin had gauged, and here we are.
Final analysis? All the smart people screwed themselves, and everyone else. It’d be very interesting to learn what is actually in all the archives from those days before WWII, and what the “experts” thought was going on. I’d wager that they left tons of evidence of their having “gotten it wrong”, but that’s likely been gone over and cleaned up thoroughly. I’d still love to know why the hell they were so set on keeping Rudolf Hess behind bars and incommunicado–There had to be some compelling reason that the Soviets had it in for him, along with the other Allied powers.
About the only thing I think we can safely say about either of the World Wars was that they were misadventures more than anything else. The level of idiocy demonstrated by the leadership all the way around the tables is incredible, and none of them were ever held to book. Stalin, for one? In a sane world, the Soviets would have put his ass on trial after the war, for gross errors of judgment and stupidity.
yes it was a blood letting on a massive scale, which sundered another generation, that delivered half a continent to the soviets, and the largest power in asia, into an seemingly unending horror 1949-1972, it was the spectre of another such conflict that midwifed the levialthan that is the eu, the national security state in this country, which has lost every war it has engaged in, since, korea vietnam, afghanistan iraq,
a tiny exemplar are the dulles bros, the younger missed out on preventing lenin from going to the finland station, would the Communist revolution have really started without him, he then moved on the inquiry that planned the Versailles treaty, we”ll leave out his german entanglements for another day, he is in large part the godfather of the company as we understand it today,
Kirk: “All the smart people screwed themselves, and everyone else.”
That is probably the best summary I have ever seen of European history.
For sure, every stupid act had stupid antecedents. If the French had not imposed such a draconian Treaty of Versailles, would there have been a World War II? Without Prussia’s defeat of France in 1870, would there have been a World War I? And let’s not forget that warmongering England had built its colonial empire in preceding centuries by — shall we say? — non-peaceful means. Worthless leadership is not a new phenomenon post the 2020 US “election”.
To return to historical analogs, perhaps one of the reasons FDR worked so assiduously to get the US into WWII was as a desperate way to end the effects of the Great Depression by moving to a war-time economy? A Great Depression which had been extended in the US by FDR’s own counter-productive regulatory explosion. With the US today suffering from the consequences of the Lock Downs and other foolish political actions, will Biden*’s handlers be tempted to cover up their culpability by triggering another conflict, another excuse for even more impositions on the American people?
Roosevelt really hated the Japanese with a passion, going back the 20s, maybe it was something his china trading (see opium) father imparted with him, stanley hornbeck, another long time china hand drove far east policy at state, but there were also soviet agents who steered the confrontation with the control faction,
I don’t think he would directly confront Xi, but he might be stupid enough to anger the bear, at least in a kabuki way, it struck me around 2012-3, how putins pro family standard raised such hackles and the invasion of ukraine almost none,
something like this
There is so much crap buried back in the “unacknowledged history” that it’s not even funny–The French had some decent fighters, as you note, but they were carefully kept away from the combat units and sequestered in storage by order of Communist Party sympathizers in the Air Ministry.
I’m amazed at just much evil communists have managed to do and how little they’ve been held to account for it all.
But not surprised.
Similar to the French experience, note how much the US Navy has spent on completely worthless navy ships, to pick one example.
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