Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Leaving Afghanistan: "Cut and Run"?

During Churchill's visit to Moscow in August 1942, Stalin consistently nagged the Allies to open a "second front" in France, so as to take pressure off the Soviet Army. Churchill consistently expressed the Allied view that such an undertaking would be folly until it could be realistically attempted. On August 13 he told Stalin:

"Compared with 'Torch' [the North African landing], the attack with six or eight Anglo-American divisions on the Cherbourg peninsula and the Channel Islands would be a hazardous and futile operation. The Germans have enough troops in the West to block us in this narrow peninsula with fortified lines, and would concentrate all their air forces in the West upon us. In the opinion of all the British naval, military and air authorities, the operation could only end in disaster. Even if the lodgement were made it would not bring a single [German] division back from Russia. It would also be far more of a running sore for us than for the enemy, and would use up wastefully and wantonly the key men and the landing-craft required for real action in 1943." --The Hinge of Fate, pg 491

Six days later, the Dieppe Raid was launched and did indeed end in disaster. Troops and equipment (in large part Canadian) were indeed used up wastefully and wantonly. As stated on the Government of Canada's historical web site :

"After nine hours fighting ashore, the force withdrew. [Emphasis added] Over one thousand were dead and two thousand prisoners were in German hands, more prisoners than the whole Canadian Army lost in either the North West Europe or Italian campaigns."

I have never heard it suggested that Canada "cut and ran". Abandoning a stupid operation seems smart; pursuing it..... stupid.