2010/09/26

Interesting allied operations from WW2 which never took place

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Operation "Plan R 4" and well as "Operation Pike" are very interesting early WW2 plans of the UK and France. Both showed how little the Allies valued the neutrality of nations at the time. This puts them into a quite unusual light.

That war was really messy and the standards of the time weren't even close to ours today (just remember the tyranny in colonies, the bombing of cities and the low casualty aversion). This is no excuse for anything, of course.

I think it's worthwhile to point at these plans because they could be of interest for some readers.

Sven
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13 comments:

  1. I think that Plan R4 was truly criminal. I have read books about the subject and my impression is that the British and the French simply expected the Norwegians and Swedes to do nothing while they invaded their countries. I don’t think they really considered what would happen if they should be met with stiff resistance. It also put into the question the so-called Democratic Peace Theory (DPT), since the question of democracy fighting other democracies apparently never played much of a role.

    The case of Operation Pike is somewhat different. It is easily forgotten today, but the Soviet Union was more or less an ally of Germany between 1939 and 1941. Far more than realised at the time. The Soviet Union participated in the invasion of Poland and thus became a part in the war against the Allies. The Soviet Union also executed thousands of Polish officers while they were POWs. The Soviet Union also helped the Germans and not only with the supply of raw material, but also by secretly giving the Germans a naval base inside the Soviet Union for their submarines. The Soviets also let the Germans use the harbour of Murmansk for German naval warfare against the Allies in the Atlantic and helped a German raiding cruiser sail around Siberia and into the Pacific, where it sank 64.000 tons of Allied shipping.

    In other words the notion that the Soviet Union was strictly neutral as you imply is at the very least questionable. It is possible to compare the role of the Soviet Union with the role of the United States, that also from 1940 began to provide aid to Great Britain. Despite opposition inside the Congress. At least half a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor an undeclared war was raging between the United States Navy and the German Navy in the Atlantic. Hitler might have been stupid when he declared war on the United States in December 1941, but it was not really unprovoked and without reason.

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  2. I'm not sure I'd agree that the provision of war materials can be considered neutral.

    I believe Sweden declared themselves "None Beligerant but involved" during the Winter War, whereas German support wasnt forthcoming (due to the Molotov-Ribentrop Pact).

    If its military strategy to bomb facilities providing war maeterials to the enemy armed forces, does their location matter?

    Personaly, I find the operations that did go through much more frightening.
    The 5 year mass bombing campaign carried out by a nation that considers "the blitz" a war crime of the highest order.
    The most monstrous being our own little holocaust.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_food_policy_in_occupied_Germany

    That we considered bombing the oil fields of a German Ally rather pales in comparison.

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  3. The city bombing campaign is well-known, but these plans are not.

    Norway may have violated its neutrality in the Winter War, but it was on the same side as the British (which gave some assistance to Finland as well), so there's absolutely no justification to be found for the allied preparations for a war of aggression against Norway and Sweden.

    The Soviet Union was no ally with Germany either. The invasion of Eastern Poland in Sept 39 justified a declaration of war at that time, but the planned bombing looks quite unrelated. The Soviet Union traded with Germany, which is well within bounds of neutrality.

    The U.S. was less neutral; it fought against German subs with destroyers and delivered substantial arms shipments, which the SU did not.

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  4. "so there's absolutely no justification to be found for the allied preparations for a war of aggression against Norway and Sweden."

    Yes there is, the war plans of the UK have been based on blockade (resource denial) for several centuries.
    The invasion and bombing of areas that supply your enemy is a logical extention of that.
    But as I have said before, International Law doesnt exist and if thrown out the window at the first convenience.

    The SU and Germany were also far more than disinterested trading partners. Poland and the winter war made it clear that they had signed a secret treaty to carve up Eastern Europe between themselves. Its hardly difficult to surmise that Germany would next to Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
    We had a choice of "saving them against their own will" or standing by and watching them fall.

    Quite recently, the UK was accused of "aiding Israel in its massacre" when the US airlifted weapons via the UK, and several groups declared we'd be attacked over it.

    "The city bombing campaign is well-known, but these plans are not."
    Well known amongst who?
    Your average Englishman quite probably believes Germany targeted cities and killed millions, we targeted that dam in dambusters, because that all he'll have been taught in school.

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  5. RT, you do know the ghastliness of allied bombing is a core subject area in schools now. My kids often come home with a thoroughly one sided view of our war crimes!

    As for planning operations against neutral countries, boo hoo.

    Total war means you soften your rules a bit and if it was a choice of a 1000 Swedes or a 1000 British then sorry, I know where my vote would be cast

    Harsh and unpleasant of course, but war is war.

    Remind me again, why these operations were deemed necessary or not in the first place

    I think a matter a tad more important than neutrality

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  6. TD
    Really?
    It wasnt even touched on until fifth year when I was a lad, and even then, the only mention was Dresden.
    Live and Learn.

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  7. It's not even always a chapter in German history teachings at school...

    The 1,000 for 1,000 analogy is false. For one, there was no such choice and second, it would still be morally unacceptable.

    What would you think if the wealthy mayor of the neighbour town decides that you need to die because he wants your heart for his survival?
    It's simply evil,. You must not let uninvolved, neutral parties suffer because you're in trouble unless there's some standing agreement on compensations such as an insurance.

    It's also interesting to compare the blaming of Germany for WWI (Germany merely backed the real aggressor, Austria-Hungary) with the readiness of France and the UK to violate neutral nations even a generation later.
    Or compare the invasion of Belgium in 1914.

    There are some oddities in history that deserve to be highlighted, that's why I wrote about those plans here.

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  8. "The 1,000 for 1,000 analogy is false. For one, there was no such choice and second, it would still be morally unacceptable."

    1,000:1,000 was false, it was more more like 1,000 or 1,000,000,000.

    Its easy to say things are moraly unacceptable when theres no one looking at you to make the decision.

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  9. You're making up figures. There wasn't a million dead among British and French even as badly as the war went historically.

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  10. "You're making up figures."
    Sorry, was that not obvious?

    "There wasn't a million dead among British and French even as badly as the war went historically."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties
    The UK and France actualy did suffer about a million dead, but thats not actualy what I meant.
    Given the desire for expansion and the methods with which it was to be carried out, murdering 1,000 neutral Swedes to save 100,000,000 innocent Slavs isnt the worst exchange anyone has ever contemplated.
    But as I said, its easy to sit on the side lines and judge when your not making the decisions.
    Its also easy to justify murder by saying its for a greater good.

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  11. I consulted the same page quickly before writing there weren't a million KIA, didn't include the holocaust losses.

    It's deeply immoral to weigh the murder of people against saving others. This kind of reasoning has been mis-used so often in history that it's simply not acceptably any more.
    You can make such comparisons in regard tot eh sacrifice of volunteers, but murdering innocents is simply morally out of bounds in any case.

    What you think is easy is actually evil. You should check your moral compass.

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  12. Sven
    So did I, Wikipedia, not the best source, but it lists Anglo-French losses at around one million.

    When were you elected High Lord Arbiter of Morality? How else can you decree that it is immoral to kill 1 to save 100?

    And You're also High Lord Arbiter of Acceptability?
    Presumably upon appointment by God?

    You may choose to look at the slaughtered innocents and say, "I am Moral, I spilled no blood".
    That is your choice.
    Others may choose to look at the slaughtered masses and say, "I am moral, at least the evil are amongst the dead".
    That is another choice.

    Each has a point.

    "What you think is easy is actually evil. You should check your moral compass."
    I think you misunderstand.
    Taking a pen lid off a pen is easy.
    Justifying murder as for the greater good is easy.
    I didnt say Right.

    Believe me, I'm a real, functioning, Amoralist Libertarian, you can beat me in an arguement by resorting to what you believe is moral.

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  13. I'd have to agree that it would have been very unjustifiable for the western Allies to attack Norway and Sweden. For one thing, I do believe it's immoral to intentionally harm uninvolved innocents, but as that case has already been made, here's a second line of argument:

    Such a policy has a bad habit of creating more enemies than you can handle. The UK and France might have been able to take Norway and Sweden, although not without serious investment of resources that were desperately needed elsewhere. I think today we tend to overlook just how good the Norwegian military was and how hard they were able to make life for the Germans when they invaded, and there is no reason the Swedes would not have put up just as hard of a fight. The Norwegians and Swedes woudl not have taken any invasion lying down, and the western Allies simply did not have the resources they would have needed to overcome resistance. This would also have driven Norway and Sweden straight into open alliance with Germany, thereby providing the Germans with access to the very resources the British and French wanted to deny, and the resources diverted to Scandinavia would likely have left France even more vulnerable than they already were when Germany invaded them.

    That said, a war against the Soviet Union might have been more justified, given how the Soviets seemed to be cooperating with Germany, but again the benefits versus costs would have been questionable. It's possible the western Allies might have been able to seriously damage Soviet industry for a while, but given how quickly the Soviets bounced back after the Germans did exactly that in 1941, it's doubtful the effect would have lasted. After that, the west may have had to deal with a Germany substantially supplied with countless tonnes of equipment manufactured in Soviet factories.

    Granted, given Hitler's desire to conquer the east, no such German-Soviet alliance could ever have lasted, but had the west provoked the Soviets into actively helping Hitler defeat them, Hitler may have decided to do what he should have done after all: Finish the war in the west before seeking adventures in the east.

    It's worth noting that the British employed a similar "attack whoever we have to attack to stay alive" policy in the Napoleonic Wars, when their desire to suppress any and all trade going to Napoleon's empire led them into an open shooting war with the United States, which turned out to be a costly and pointless drain on resources against an enemy that was, at the time, militarily far weaker than the British Empire. It's true that the US was never able to seriously threaten Britain or even their colony in Canada during this war, but the British definitely did not get any worthwhile gain for their effort either.

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