Good letter in the Irish Independent on 3 leaders in WW2. Interesting, I suppose winners write history but still an interesting perspective, what's your thoughts ?
" A small exercise given to me by a friend helped to show my perceptions of truth against solid facts. It is how politicians work: on a need-to-know basis. The "truths" they tell are belied by omission of certain facts. It is always too late when you know the difference as we have discovered to our cost in the not-so-distant past.Anyway, three men are running for political office and the following were the facts given to me by my friend about their character to help me decide on my vote. The first candidate was responsible for the imprisonment of 120,000 citizens without trial. He was also a prolific liar while cheating on his wife for over 20 years with his long-term mistress.
Number two candidate was a chronic alcoholic who polished off more than a half bottle of whiskey a day; also a chain smoker who struggled with his obesity. This was not helped by the fact that he never rose out of bed before noon every day.
The third candidate did not drink or smoke, save for an occasional glass of wine. Courage and determination were his trademarks and he was also awarded a medal of honour for both after saving an officer from certain death under a hail of gunfire during battle. He was married just the once and never had a mistress.
My decision had to be made on the information given so far.
It came as a shock to know that the first candidate was three-time president and most beloved leader of the US, President Franklin D Roosevelt.
The second was Winston Churchill.
The third was Adolf Hitler.
I came away promising myself to be careful what I wished for, who I vote for, and what I believe in. For me, the truth is still out there. "
My thoughts are that the author of that letter is being very selective in the elements of each person that he repeats, and ignores other elements in an attempt to make some unrelated point. There are better ways to say 'be careful what you wish for' than this.
If you choose a different narrow selection of facts:
1. Didn't tell the whole truth like all politicians and had a loving non-sexual open marriage in where his wife had lesbian relationships and he had mistresses.
2. Fat bastard.
3. Rabid right-wing catholic who ranted that Jews should be killed from his early years. Also had an illegitimate son.
I did a masters dissertation on leadership during WWII - the advantages and disadvantages of the different styles that prevailed. I analysed the Battle of Britain and Ardennes / Alsace as examples of how leadership styles can profoundly influence strategic outcomes.
The obvious criticism of this letter is that it seems to presume that the quality of leadership relates to the personal qualities of the individual - which has been time and again proven to be wrong!
Plus, the letter writer never mentioned that nice shoe-maker's son from Georgia who went to a seminary to become a priest but who had to leave because he couldn't afford the seminary fees. He went on to develop a fetching collection of over-coats and put the 'great' in Great Purge
I would have thought that was the whole point of the letter, he is trying to show that the credibility of the subject (in this c\se Roosevelt and Churchill) is a product of being very selective in the elements of each person and ignoring other elements to make propaganda i.e. the winner and his propagandists write history to make himself look as good as possible.
Yes I had thought about that the letter writer had left Uncle Joe out, but then again Uncle Joe has been totally discredited for the last 60 years unlike Roosevelt and Churchill.
That's true about Roosevelt, but I think it's not so true about Churchill - the revisionists seem to be getting stuck into him and highlighting him for what he was - a blow hard, with a good line in rhetoric.
Marshall, Brooke and Zhukov seem to be getting more of their fair share of the credit for what was achieved.
The Germans began the War with a superior leadership philosophy ('Auftragstaktik') based around mission or directive command and the undermining of that philosophy was one of the many reasons they lost, or at least failed to turn victory in battles into a coherent strategic campaign.