Every time that guy opens his mouth, He reduces the sum of human knowledge.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Il Underbelly di Tutti Underbelli
“The soft underbelly of Europe.” This is Winston Churchill, urging the invasion that became the World War II Italian campaign. It’s classic Churchill—pithy, memorable, and largely wrong: wrong at least in part by reason of being pithy and memorable. It’s unclear whether Churchill was here, as on so may other occasions in his life, simply intoxicated by his own captious whim, or whether this was part of what Blackadder's Baldrick might have called “a cunning plan.” That is: Churchill believed (rightly?) that the Brits had a stake in maintaining a position in the Mediterranean—an objective costly to achieve and not shared by the United States. If he was going to bring it off, then rhetoric may presented itself as an indispensable tactical weapon. Either way, Field Marshall Kesselring pretty much discredited to the characterization as he forced the Allies to pay for each acre of Italian real estate all the way up to the Po, even as the Nazi cause was disintegrating across the (presumably more durable?) torso. There’s interesting background on the “underbelly” campaign here. For a pithy and memorable deconstruction of the Churchill myth, go here.