America’s woke military of 2021 has echoes of the heavily politicized French military that was routed by the Nazi Germans in 1940.
My grandmother and her family lived in the Vosges Mountains within 100 miles of the German border. Her father fought in the French Army in World War I. They lived through the German invasion and subsequent four years of occupation.
She told me about seeing French soldiers running as fast as they could to escape the German invaders, half of which had no shoes. The Luftwaffe bombed her home, Nazi soldiers paraded through her town, and a German soldier assaulted her with a rifle to her back.
Today’s increasingly bureaucratic, politicized, and visionless Pentagon faces a massive military buildup from the People’s Republic of China, not unlike that faced by France in the 1930s. The Chinese remain undeterred by the United States and its allies. Fear is gone.
China violated the pact with Great Britain that was supposed to have guaranteed Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2040 by quashing its special status and sending in troops, not unlike the German remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936.
China persecutes its minorities not unlike the Nazis did during the 1930s.
Most historians see the Rhineland remilitarization as the first evidence that Adolf Hitler showed he could get away with aggression that led to the annexations of Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938, and the invasions of Poland in 1939 and France in 1940.
It took four years between Hitler’s reoccupation of the Rhineland and his invasion of France. Some estimates say it could be four years before China can successfully invade Taiwan.
President Barack Obama purged 197 top generals and admirals who opposed his sociopolitical agenda, leaving his political cronies behind, not unlike what happened in France during the early 1930s when politically reliable generals like Gen. Maurice Gamelin ran the show.
“Obama will not purge a civilian or political appointee because they have bought into Obama’s ideology,” Investors Business Daily quoted U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely as having said in 2013. “The White House protects their own. That’s why they stalled on the investigation into Fast and Furious, Benghazi and ObamaCare. He’s intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged.”
France’s social divide negatively impacted readiness. Interwar France was dominated by a plutocratic elite that preferred appeasing the rising fascists to confronting them, not unlike in today’s America where the corporate elites refuse to confront China due to their economic ties. France’s plutocracy used the threat of violence to intimidate its government into the posture of appeasement.
The French Left opposed any strategy that would allow France’s military to go on the offensive and win. The Interwar French conscripts brought into the military on the eve of World War II were just as demoralized as today’s Americans.
France’s crushing defeat in June 1940 at the hands of Nazi Germany shocked the world. Its colonial empire spanned across the globe, from Africa to Southeast Asia, to South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. The country had the strongest military in Europe on paper. Bureaucracy and incompetent leadership combined with divisive, polarized, and politicized climate in the military hampered the French Army and Air Force’s ability to repel the invader. The French generals focused on refighting World War I. American generals and admirals remain entrenched in twentieth-century tactics and strategies.
America has the same problem.
“The Navy is a bureaucratic organization, parts of which occasionally fight in wars. The bureaucratic requirements that bombard shipboard leaders hinder professional fulfillment and develop a skill set and mentality that have little to do with warfighting,” a 2006 article that appeared in Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute said.
Last year, the Atlantic Council complained that the implosion of the American manufacturing base and technical innovation combined with the Pentagon’s refusal to address it has hobbled the U.S. military.
The bureaucratic French military spent heavily on its Navy before World War II to project the image of a strong colonial power and hid its hollowed-out state. It also spent an exorbitant amount on the Maginot Line. This is not unlike the runaway U.S. defense budget that has grown larger and larger amid repeated bloat and procurement failures.
Germany took advantage of advances in radio technology that gave its tanks advantages over the French, whose bureaucratic command structure and lack of similar innovation, resulted in the humiliation of France and the subjugation of my family by the Nazis.
By contrast, the Nazis were united, well-led, disciplined, and nimble. China’s military may be untested, but it has a similar ideological unity to the Germans and a home-field advantage that may lead the U.S. military to defeat just as the wargames have predicted.
Congress must exercise oversight over the nation’s top flag officers by making them subject to reconfirmation, thus making them accountable for their actions outside of the insider’s club. Flag officers should keep their eyes on their current commands instead of the riches they can expect to make consulting for defense firms and other entities close to the Defense Department. Congress should consider barring them from such activities for at least seven years after they leave.
America has become what France was in 1940, a paper tiger run by an impenetrable bureaucracy that lacks any strategy for decisively defeating the nation’s external enemies.
A radical streamlining of the bureaucracy and the elimination of privilege at the top is needed. A military without patriotism and a reason for being is one that’s destined for the same fate as France’s military in 1940. Give more power and command authority to those in the lower levels to make decisions without needing to run their actions up the chain of command.
Unless a radical shift happens, the United States could face its worst military defeat since Japan invaded the Philippines in 1942—a U.S. commonwealth at the time.
John Rossomando is a senior analyst for Defense Policy and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award in 2008 for his reporting.