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Jun 6

Written by: Diana West
Saturday, June 06, 2015 9:12 AM 

June 5, 1944: Gen. Mark Clark arrives in Rome, the first European capital liberated from the Axis.  

From American Betrayal, Chapter Nine:

The decision to abandon Italy as an expanding, leading front at the end of 1943 made very little sense—unless, cynically, the true objective was to ensure that Central and Eastern Europe remained open for Soviet invasion. Then again, maybe that’s putting things too crudely, too harshly. Let me rephrase: The advantages to enlarging upon Anglo-American gains in Italy were obvious. There was no good strategic objective to be served by virtually abandoning this theater. Not because I say so. The top U.S. commander of strategic bombing in Europe, Gen. Carl Spaatz, said so, too. Capt. Harry C. Butcher recounted Spaatz’s views as expressed to Harry Hopkins on November 23, 1943, in the run-up to the Cairo Conference.

Spaatz didn’t think OVERLORD was necessary or desirable. He said it would be a much better investment to build up forces in Italy to push the Germans across the Po, taking and using airfields as we come to them, thus shortening the bombing run into Germany. He foresaw the possibility of getting the ground forces into Austria and Vienna, where additional fields would afford shuttle service for bombing attack against the heart of German industry, which has moved into this heretofore practically safe area. Hopkins seemed impressed.45

Hopkins seemed impressed, or . . . was Mr. Poker Face about to have a cow?

More significantly, the top U.S. commander of ground forces in Europe, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, agreed with this same assessment—at least he agreed with it before he was made top U.S. commander of ground forces in Europe. On November 26, 1943, at the Cairo Conference, which immediately preceded the Tehran Conference, Ike told a beribboned, bemedaled gathering of the American and British brass how vital Italy and southern Europe were to the war. Quote:

“Italy was the correct place in which to deploy our main forces and the ob- jective should be the Valley of the Po. In no other area could we so well threaten the whole German structure including France, the Balkans and the Reich itself. Here also our air would be closer to vital objectives in Germany” (emphasis added).

Italy was the correct place to deploy? In no other area could we so well threaten “the whole German structure”? Ike wasn’t disavowing OVERLORD— neither would Churchill, for that matter—but he sure sounded gung ho for the Churchillian option, right down to Aegean action.

“The next best method of harrying the enemy,” Eisenhower continued, “was to undertake operations in the Aegean . . . From here the Balkans could be kept aflame, Ploesti would be threatened and the Dardanelles might be opened.”46

At this point in my reading of the State Department record, I reached for my copy of Crusade in Europe, Eisenhower’s 1948 war memoir, to seek some elaboration, some indication of how Ike’s extremely heterodox vision— heterodox to Hopkins and Marshall (and Stalin), that is—had gone over. Did Marshall chew him out, as he did Gen. Ira Eaker, who similarly boosted Adriatic operations, for having been “too damned long with the British”?47 Did Harry Hopkins have conniptions over Ike’s Italian/Balkan campaign just as he did over Churchill’s?48 We don’t know. Eisenhower doesn’t mention his enthusiastic advocacy of military measures in line with Churchill’s preferred strategy in his memoir. Anywhere.

Strange, no? Not only is it not to be found. Ike goes further still in his book, describing his position as having been for OVERLORD first, always, and practically exclusively, imagining only the most modest objectives for Allied forces in the Mediterranean. As he put it in 1948, “My own recommendation, then as always, was that no operation should be undertaken in the Mediterranean ex- cept as a directly supporting move for the Channel attack and that our planned redeployment [out of Italy] should proceed with all possible speed.”49

That’s funny, since didn’t he say in 1943 there was no better place than Italy from which to “threaten the whole German structure, including France, the Balkans and the Reich itself”?

Yes.

Of course, no one would be able to see that in black and white until 1961, when the State Department finally published the 1943 Cairo Conference records. Still, you didn’t need to be a military genius to know what would happen if the Allies abandoned southern Europe as a priority. All you needed was a map to see that the conquering Red Army would roll into the resulting vacuum on Dodge trucks, right up to and including Berlin. (Even so, it almost didn’t come off until Eisenhower halted U.S. forces before they could liberate Berlin, Prague, and Vienna.50 That was odd, too.) The same map told you that so long as Anglo-American armies were on the march from Italy, there would be no vacuum.

In fact, a map was exactly what a New York Times correspondent used on September 12, 1943, after nearly two hundred thousand Anglo-American forces poured into mainland Italy at Salerno from Allied-liberated Sicily to assess the war ahead.

The invasion of Italy, by the way, didn’t count as Stalin’s “second front,” either.

The Times piece remains striking for both its clarity about the map still in play, and for its naïveté about Stalin’s designs on that same map. In fact, the piece still glistens with the kind of dewy innocence (ignorance) that was no match for the ideological imperatives of the Communist world revolution in progress. (Today, such ignorance is no match for forces laying the groundwork for an Islamic caliphate.)

The gist of the article by Times Russia correspondent Edwin L. James was as follows. The distance between the toe of Italy and the southern border of Germany was roughly the same as the distance between the Dnieper River on Russia’s western edge and the eastern border of Germany, as James pointed out. This meant that, should Hitler’s Germany collapse, no longer was the Soviet army the only army anywhere near the German frontier. With the likely opening of a major Allied front in Italy, James continued (foreknowledge of Stalin’s anti-Italy gambit to come at Tehran, which decimated that Allied front in Italy, was beyond his psychic powers), “the British and Americans are in a position to get to Germany just as rapidly as are the Russians.” As a result, he declared, there was no longer reason for concern among “those addicted especially to worry about the Moscow government’s role in post-war affairs”—no longer reason to worry that in the event the Red Army occupied Germany, “Moscow would gain control of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and France.”

And they lived happily ever after . . .

Unless, of course, the British and Americans were to gut their armies in Italy to reinvade the continent from northern France.

James writes, “The point is that the political implications of the Russians having the only army ready to march into a deflated Nazi Reich no longer exist. So far as geographical considerations go, Americans, British and Russians all have a chance.”51

If Stalin was reading along, he probably burst a krovenosnyi sosud. Not that he had much to worry about. Roosevelt, we know for a documented fact, by this time already regarded the Soviet conquest of half of Europe as a fait accompli. We know this because Cardinal Spellman, after spending ninety minutes with Roosevelt on September 3, 1943, nine days before James’s story ran in the newspaper, typed up an aide-mémoire of an extremely disturbing conversation in which Roosevelt said exactly that. (I first read about Spellman’s conversation in Martin Dies’s memoir, where Dies notes that FDR made similar remarks to him as early as 1940.) “The European people will simply have to endure the Russian domination in the hope that in ten or twenty years they will be able to live well with the Russians,” Spellman recounted FDR saying at this pre-Tehran, pre-Yalta moment. Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bessarabia, the eastern half of Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Germany—FDR conceded all to Communist regimes or Soviet protection! What is most weird and most disturbing about Roosevelt’s obdurate fatalism is that the entire Red Army at this time was still inside the USSR.

Spellman’s notes continued, “Finally, he hopes, the Russians will get 40% of the Capitalist regime, the capitalists will retain only 60% of their system, and so an understanding will be possible.”52 Convergence again. Convergence would rule, and neatly so.

Poor inkstained wretch James, meanwhile, had no idea the fix was in—in the president’s mind, anyway, which is where it really counts. Relying on precepts of pure Western logic, not muscular Marxist-Leninist strategy, the Times-man inserted the $64,000 question into his September 12, 1943, article: “What is there Stalin could gain from an Allied front in France which he could not gain from an Allied front in Italy, or another one in the Balkans?”

The answer to James’s question, of course, was nothing—if, that is, Stalin’s objective was the speedy defeat of Germany. But it wasn’t. It never was. On the contrary, as Russian historian Viktor Suvorov argues, Stalin wanted war to last as long as possible in order to exhaust both Germany and its Anglo-American opponents. Stalin was fighting to expand the Communist Empire. He wanted open-ended war to do so. He had been wanting such a war since the Spanish Civil War, back when his intelligence commissars failed to drag the Allied powers into it (and were shot for their failure), as Suvorov also argues. As his joined-at-the-hearts-and-minds ally, then, so, too—sometimes nefariously, mostly unconsciously—we were then fighting to expand the Communist Empire. ...

Continued here.

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