President’s Day is coming up in 8 days so here’s yet another seasonal post. It’s one of my random takes on one of our Presidents. Or in this case just one aspect of one of our Presidents.
GEORGE WASHINGTON – My other posts about Washington have bashed him over the slavery issue, but this particular blog post is on a whole different topic. (Point being don’t leave a juvenile, snarky remark about him being a slave-owner. Everybody knows that. You won’t be retroactively freeing a single slave by indulging your ego that way.)
THE INDISPENSABLE MAN – George Washington is often called the Indispensable Man to the success of the American Revolution. I’m generally not a Washington fan but I’ve yielded on this point over the years. Here are three reasons why:
A. Odd as it may sound, reading several books about the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Turks (1821-1830) helped convince me of Washington’s value. His name is never mentioned in any of my books about that war but there are parallels to our Revolution.
Scattered Greek guerrilla/ outlaw chiefs often let their petty feuds distract from fighting the common enemy: the Turks. Some chiefs would even refuse to let their men fight anywhere else in Greece, just in their own little fiefdom. Shades of how our various State Militias endlessly squabbled and would often refuse to cross state lines to continue fighting.
The Greeks lacked one unifying figure like George Washington, who exercised a kind of Eisenhower-style leadership in his – often unsuccessful – efforts to get all our disparate military units on the same page.
B. The outcome of the Greek War of Independence removed any qualms I used to have about the way America made a separate peace with Great Britain while France was still fighting them.
George Washington, from his lifetime in the upper crust, saw what many of us miss about the way Great Britain and France always played their global chess match: “lesser” countries were mostly just excuses to fight each other and jockey for greater position FOR THEMSELVES ONLY by war’s end.
Despite all the European fuss about helping the Greeks gain their independence the fact is that the big European powers were happy to negotiate away chunks of Greek territory and disregard other issues crucial to the Greek people. The Big Powers were happy at war’s end. The Greeks were left with barely enough to survive.
If the U.S. HAD stayed in our war instead of ending it when we could get favorable terms from Great Britain, we probably would have just been whittled down militarily and then when Britain and France made their inevitable temporary peace they might have just divvied up our new country between themselves, wiping us out of existence. AND leaving us with no real army left to try to fight our way out of that plight, like the poor Greeks by their war’s end.
C. Overall strategy. For a man as maligned as George Washington often is when it comes to his military mind, he kept his focus on the LONG VIEW.
His methods of reaching victory – fight when you can, if you lose at least extricate enough of your forces that you will remain a viable threat and never get caught in a geographical trap – have been imitated by everyone from Wellesley in the Peninsular War through Giap in Vietnam and on to the present day. Sounds like the man knew what he was doing. He was unconventional but successful.
FOR MY IRREVERENT LOOK AT U.S. PRESIDENTS CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2012/02/19/balladeers-blogs-presidential-pros-and-cons/
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