World War II problem

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Re: World War II problem

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:33 pm

Matt will want to know what those factual mistakes were..................like anyone else reading this post...............
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Re: World War II problem

Post by Balsamo » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:55 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Wed Mar 06, 2019 7:18 pm
Poodle wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:22 am
But back to the original post ...
The French fleet was attacked by the British because it was sitting there waiting for the Germans to take it over and use it against the British.
Now, what's difficult about that?
It's tantamount to asking why the Japanese attacked the US fleet at Pearl Harbour.
Yeah, as I remarked, the British Empire was standing alone against the Nazi threat. The Soviet Union had signed a non-aggression pact (and a let's-partition-Poland pact) with the Nazis; France had crumpled; the US was making strenuous efforts to keep out of war with Germany (and an American election was about to get underway). I ask any fair-minded person: Put yourself in Churchill's place and make the call. Do you trust the word of one French admiral with what might tip the balance of power in the continuing war?

I hasten to add that, unlike most Americans, I'm no fan of Churchill. He got a lot of Canadians massacred at Dieppe, and he raided the Australian navy to defend the British homeland. It was only because Japan lost the battle of the Coral Sea that Australia didn't have a much worse war than it actually did. Again, what he did may have seemed justifiable in both of these cases, but these were not his finest hours. But sinking (or trying to sink) the French fleet does not arouse any outrage in me, as it did in De Gaulle. (Although, truthfully, De Gaulle mostly hated the British because they didn't sign on to his belief that he could lead the French overseas empire to victory over Germany. Realistic as always, they preferred to deal with the Vichy government while using the refugee French military in Britain as an auxiliary force.)
Nevertheless, Mers-el-Kebir constitues a war crime committed with the pretext of "preventive strike".
1300 French sailors died, and many were wounded. I guess you would be outraged had you had some family members among those innocent victims.
I would even say that the decision to destroy this fleet was a political mistake that would have dire consequences on how the French government - which never was in London - behaved in the following years.
It could very well have been considered by the French as an "act of war" that would have "justified a switch of alliance", but it only contributed to destroy the "unatural friendship" between the two countries, and therefore contributed to the future "collaboration".

It is important to remember that article 8 of the Armistice treaty clearly states that France would not have to surrender its fleet (nor any colonial possessions) to Germany. And actually, Vichy France never did. When the Nazis broke the Arnistice treaty by invading southern France, the fleet was ordered to scuttle itself, and it did.

Mers-el-Kebir was a preventive crime based on unfounded fear.
The treaty of Armistice implied that the remaining French Armed forces should keep a neutral stance on the world events. Of course it was a constraining treaty. It is understandable that with over 1 million Pow's in Germany's hands, France could not take any liberty with this treaty.
In this context, the British ultimatum asking the French fleet to join Allied port or even America was unacceptable as it would have compromised the whole treaty.

Contrary to a widely spread belief, Paul Reynaud did not resign because he was refusing to cease the hostilities with Germany. Paul Renaud knew since the very beginning of this nasty campaign that the war was lost, and that it was all about "damage control".

The opposition between Reynaud and Petain was about how the cease fire was to be obtained. Paul Reynaud wanted a capitulation - considered humiliating by the Army - while the Army wanted that the government signed a treaty of Armistice.
But no one - except General de Gaulle - was promoting the continuation of the fight, which was something not even Churchill was asking the French government to do.

Speaking about the last government of the 3rd French republic. Paul Reynaud - because of the refusal of the army to sign a Capitulation - resigned personally from his post of president of the council (not to be confused by the resignation of the whole government), automatically transferring his powers to the remaining vice president of the same council, and that was already Marshall Petain.
With Reynaud gone, Petain, as the new legal president of the council, accepted to start negotiation for a Armistice treaty.

Some of you might ask what is the difference between a capitulation and an Armistice.
Well, the first is a military decision while the second is a political treaty between two governments. Both have the same immediate effect, that is ending a war. But the capitulation does not imply the responsibility of the government, which then can chose to continue to fight with other means, but only of the one who signed it. That is what King Leopold III of Belgium did later, as head of State and chief of the Armies, and he was later shamefully called a traitor.
Basically, Renaud position was quite hypocritical : He agreed with the need to cease the war, but did not want to be held responsible, and asked the army to take this responsibility instead.

De Gaulle rejected both options, and fled to London with Reynaud' secret blessing and some money, and was therefore indicted for desertion by the very same government. But that is another story.

This is the context of Mers-el-Kebir.

Now the great advantage of an Armistice treaty is that it was also kind of constraining to the Nazi. This treaty would become the tiny shield left in the hand of French authority. Article 8 will be used many times to deny requests made by the Nazis, including the use of French military bases in Africa.
Last edited by Balsamo on Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: World War II problem

Post by Balsamo » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:56 pm

some are addressed in the post above.
I thought it would be derailing to address posts made in a different discussion.
;)

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Re: World War II problem

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:02 pm

Thanks Balsamo. I find all these threads kinda slop over onto one another...maybe I don't spend enough time in review before jumping on the last post?

In that spirit: "Mers-el-Kebir was a preventive crime based on unfounded fear." /// Fears have their own foundations. Interesting that any pretext "at all" is given to treaties during a war when half the country is occupied by an invading force that broke treaties and committed war crimes to get there?

Unfounded?
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Re: World War II problem

Post by Balsamo » Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:56 pm

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:02 pm
Thanks Balsamo. I find all these threads kinda slop over onto one another...maybe I don't spend enough time in review before jumping on the last post?

In that spirit: "Mers-el-Kebir was a preventive crime based on unfounded fear." /// Fears have their own foundations. Interesting that any pretext "at all" is given to treaties during a war when half the country is occupied by an invading force that broke treaties and committed war crimes to get there?

Unfounded?
Fair enough.
But nevertheless, treaties are the one means in the hand of States. And if Nazi Germany indeed broke some treaties, it also complied with others, notably the ban on chemical warfare and the Geneva convention as far as western powers are concerned.

One could argue that this treaty of Armistice signed by Hitler was one of his political mistakes. He could have asked much more, actually. One of the reasons is that, by that time he had no real plans concerning the West.

This treaty is at the core of the relations between Vichy France and Nazi Germany, and basically would be the only rather small weapons Vichy could oppose to the Nazis' requests. Sometimes it works, sometimes less. But that was still something.
For that reason, i do consider that the treaty was a better option than just a capitulation. The Netherlands occupation was indeed much harsher than the French one.
Now when the treaty was signed, the German army did not occupy the whole of what would become the occupied zone. Some say the Wehrmacht was exhausted and could not have spread further without resupplying first. I don't know, but there was clearly a reason why Hitler accepted the idea.

Regarding you opening statement. Yes Fears have their own foundations, but it does not mean that fear can justify the action that this fear has inspired. a Preventive crime committed out of a justified fear does not make the crime legal, does it? When i say it was a crime, it is because it was regarding the existing treaties. Now of course, Nazi Germany did also such crimes when it invaded Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, but it was sentenced for that. Mers-el. kebir is an crime under recognized international laws, that is basically it. It will not be the only one committed deliberately by Great-Britain under Churchill, the same way it won't prevent Nazi Germany to break the rules more than one, to say the least.
Both cases just illustrates the fragility of those international laws, when the sake of the country is at stake, whatever the political regime governing those countries.

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Re: World War II problem

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:55 pm

Well thanks Balsamo. This all reminds me of the scene in Butch Cassidy where Butch starts talking about rules for the knife fight. Eveything you post sounds right...............but its a knife fight.
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Re: World War II problem

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:20 pm

Thinking about it a bit more................"should Churchill NOT have fired on the fleet?" In other words, abide by rules in this particular fight? What would history's judgement be had he done so and those ships were ultimately in Hitlers control? How many ships sunk, ALLIES lives lost?

Seems to me there is "realpolitik" at work here. What does it merit/reward a nation that loses a war that they adhered to all treaty obligations and Rules of War? I say: SUCKER!!!!! Treaties are a part of diplomacy. Diplomacy is War by other measures==>all part of the knife fight. ONLY REASON to honor a treaty or the Rules of War is a definite notion that some other more beneficial advantage will be gained.

In my view, Churchill did the right thing for the right reasons. I wouldn't want my life on the line for anyone less committed to winning. Let the diplomats pity the broken treaties.........AFTER we give them the peace to do so.
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Re: World War II problem

Post by Balsamo » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:27 pm

Bobbo:
In my view, Churchill did the right thing for the right reasons. I wouldn't want my life on the line for anyone less committed to winning. Let the diplomats pity the broken treaties.........AFTER we give them the peace to do so.
Any arguments, bobbo ?
Who is the WE you're talking about?

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Re: World War II problem

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:37 pm

We: the winners of any knife fight...................I still have the habit of putting "myself" as a draft dodging volunteer to my Nations Conflicts in the position of a field combatant in any otherwise political/grand strategy discussion. We had too many "rules" in Vietnam that I credit some of my friends dying for, not that they could not have died at other times. But being on the front line or being shot at ((I never was, but I was next in line and in contemplation of same for 4 years)), or as in this case facing the probability of same in some unknown future scenario, leaves me .........irritated. Its one thing to die because your card came up, quite another to die because diplomats 1000 miles away are playing by some set of rules.

Hmmmm....do I think Nukes should have been used in Korea or Vietnam?==>No, because the greater benefit is not pulling in Nukes from Russia or China...so a knife fight rule was followed.

I assume.............if the Vichy French could not be back-channeled to turn over the ships to the Allies, THEN it was best knife fight protocol to sink them. The higher advantage: fewer capital ships of war to fight against........and what is France/Germany going to do in retaliation? Seems like a win to me.............
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Re: World War II problem

Post by Balsamo » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:53 pm

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:37 pm
We: the winners of any knife fight...................I still have the habit of putting "myself" as a draft dodging volunteer to my Nations Conflicts in the position of a field combatant in any otherwise political/grand strategy discussion. We had too many "rules" in Vietnam that I credit some of my friends dying for, not that they could not have died at other times. But being on the front line or being shot at ((I never was, but I was next in line and in contemplation of same for 4 years)), or as in this case facing the probability of same in some unknown future scenario, leaves me .........irritated. Its one thing to die because your card came up, quite another to die because diplomats 1000 miles away are playing by some set of rules.

Hmmmm....do I think Nukes should have been used in Korea or Vietnam?==>No, because the greater benefit is not pulling in Nukes from Russia or China...so a knife fight rule was followed.

I assume.............if the Vichy French could not be back-channeled to turn over the ships to the Allies, THEN it was best knife fight protocol to sink them. The higher advantage: fewer capital ships of war to fight against........and what is France/Germany going to do in retaliation? Seems like a win to me.............
As usual you are losing yourself in your funny pragmatism.
Never mind.

PS: We were talking about Mers-El-Kebir which took place before what you call "Vichy France" even existed.
Still mentioning those cruisers that the allies...oups...Great Britain as there was no longer any "alliance"...was supposed to fight against, although it never had to in the end. Only 4 battleships were sunk by the way, not the whole fleet.
And there has never been a France/Germany fighting the Brits.

Glad you can see a win though...live happy.

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Re: World War II problem

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:34 am

You're saying I might be in the wrong harbor and/or looking at the wrong ships?==>I hate it when that happens!
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